Sanger Cancelled

July 25th, 2020

Planned Parenthood to remove Margaret Sanger’s name from center over ‘racist legacy.'”

In other abortion news: “Doctors pressured mother to abort baby with Down’s syndrome at 38-weeks.”

Protest Avoidance Behavior and COVID-19

July 20th, 2020

Denver economist Andrew Friedson thinks the George Floyd protests did not on net cause an increase in COVID-19 cases because they scared other people indoors. What this doesn’t answer, of course, is whether the protests themselves led to any new cases of COVID-19, or how many.

Federal Kidnappings in Oregon

July 20th, 2020

Federal agents have arrested people for no good reason in Portland.

Rioters Shut Down Denver Pro-Police Rally

July 20th, 2020

The difference between a protester and a rioter is that the latter hurts people or destroys property. On June 19, a conservative group attempted to hold a lawful, permitted pro-police rally in Denver. A group led by Denver’s Party for Socialism and Liberation intentionally “shut down” the rally, in some cases by violently attacking ralliers, and drove them from the area. As I mentioned on Twitter, the attack was not merely “opposing speech.” I noted that the ralliers “were met, in some cases, by violent assault. And infiltrating another group’s peaceful, lawful, permitted rally with the intention of shutting it down, which they did, is a violation of speech.” Michelle Malkin (with whom I often disagree) posted video of the event, where she had been planning to speak.

Tangentially related issue: Malkin reports that Governor Jared Polis blocked her on Twitter with his @jaredpolis account. My take (edited): “This is an interesting case given lawsuits regarding elected officials blocking people on social media. My quick read: Because this is Polis’s personal account, and he has a separate Twitter account in his capacity as governor [@GovoOfCo], he’s probably ok legally to block people.”

Colorado Price-Gouging Law

July 16th, 2020

Colorado law now bans price gouging during disasters — but doesn’t define the term.” Price controls are especially harmful during an emergency.

Progressive Eugenics

July 15th, 2020

The widespread acceptance of eugenics in the United States, especially by progressives, is a troubling part of U.S. history unknown to many Americans.”

Racism and Anti-Intellectualism on the Left

July 15th, 2020

A document from the National Museum of African American History & Culture overtly embraces racism and anti-intellectualism, asserting that “white culture” entails individualism, “emphasis on the scientific method” and “objective, rational linear thinking,” a belief that “hard work is the key to success,” and a “future orientation”—along with a bunch of other things that are either mixed, neutral, or bad. This is a package deal of epic proportions. It constitutes an extraordinary smear of the many great Black scientists (not to mention hard-working people in all fields) of history and of today. It is also comically self-refuting; for example, is it an objective fact that “white culture” entails those things, or is that merely the subjective preference of the author? If the latter (as it obviously is), why should we believe any of it?

In related news: “Museum Curator Resigns After He Is Accused of Racism for Saying He Would Still Collect Art From White Men.”

Peikoff and Trump

July 15th, 2020

It turns out that Objectivist philosopher Leonard Peikoff donated funds to the Donald Trump campaign. It is certainly ironic that, for decades, Leonard Peikoff has warned about the possibility of theocratic fascism coming to America, yet he now financially supports Donald Trump, who openly allies with conservative evangelicals seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade. (Ayn Rand was strongly pro-choice.) I take this as a sign that Peikoff is even more afraid of the nihilistic left in America than he is of Trumpian anti-immigrant, anti-free-trade, anti-reason conservatism. I think Trumpism is the greater and more immediate threat. Although some self-identified Objectivists are openly pro-Trump, most other Objectivist intellectuals are strongly critical of Trump.

Moderna Vaccine

July 15th, 2020

In a phase 1 trial with 45 people, the Moderna vaccine induced an immune response in all participants.

Hoppe’s Libertarianism

July 14th, 2020

In his Getting Libertarianism Right, Hans-Hermann Hoppe insists “”your existence and well-being depends decisively . . . especially on the continued existence of white heterosexual male dominated societies.” And that’s a good illustration of why I don’t call myself a libertarian.

In other libertarian news, Tom Woods defends his record, saying he’s “long since emerged from my paleoconservative phase.”

The Crime of Breathing

July 14th, 2020

Man’s aggressive cough toward woman on Aspen trail prompts misdemeanor charge.” This is an interesting story illustrating the contextual nature of rights. What a jerk this guy (allegedly) was!

Watson on COVID-19

July 13th, 2020

Nell Watson has an absolutely terrifying take on COVID-19. The upshot is that many people who get it are likely to have severe long-term health problems.

Liberty and Existential Risk

July 13th, 2020

Michael Huemer points out that libertarians have a hard time theoretically dealing with existential risk.

The Cancel Culture Debate

July 13th, 2020

I certainly do not intend this as anything like a comprehensive discussion of the issue at hand. These are just a few notes.

On July 7 Harper’s published a letter “on justice and open debate.” It argues, “The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.” The letter was signed by Steven Pinker, who recently has come under criticism for what I regard as stupid reasons. Other signers include Nicholas Christakis, Jonathan Rauch, and J. K. Rowling (who has faced her own barrage of criticism).

Osita Nwanevu writes for New Republic about the “willful blindness of reactionary liberalism.” Here is the thesis: “The tensions we’ve seen lately have been internal to liberalism for ages: between those who take the associative nature of liberal society seriously and those who are determined not to. It is the former group, the defenders of progressive identity politics, who in fact are protecting—indeed expanding—the bounds of liberalism. And it is the latter group, the reactionaries, who are most guilty of the illiberalism they claim has overtaken the American Left.”

Matt Taibbi writes, “The leaders of this new movement [of the left] are replacing traditional liberal beliefs about tolerance, free inquiry and even racial harmony with ideas so toxic and unattractive that they eschew debate, moving straight to shaming, threats and intimidation.”

Hannah Giorgis writes, “In recent years, defenses of ‘free speech’ have often been wielded by people in positions of power in response to critics who want to hold them accountable for the real-life harm their words might cause.” And: “Facing widespread criticism on Twitter, undergoing an internal workplace review, or having one’s book panned does not, in fact, erode one’s constitutional rights or endanger a liberal society.”

Megan McArdle writes, “The cancelers aren’t merely trying to expand the range of acceptable ideas so that it includes more marginalized voices. They are pressuring mainstream institutions, which serve as society’s idea curators, to adopt a much narrower definition of ‘reasonable’ opinion. The new rules would exclude the viewpoints of many Americans.”

July 14 Update: In her resignation letter, former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss writes, “A new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.” She claims various colleagues harassed her and that she faced “unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge.”

Brooks on Liberalism

July 13th, 2020

According to David Brooks, liberalism promotes emotionless rationality, atomized individuals, and base self-“interest” detached from moral meaning. Of course that is nonsense, and Brooks does not name a single liberal who advocates such things.

Brooks is right about some things. He writes, “We have to have the open exchange of views that is the essence of liberalism.” And he advocates a “morality of personalism,” an “effort to see the full depth and complexity of each human person.” But of course that just is an aspect of liberalism properly conceived.

Welfare through Insurance

July 12th, 2020

These authors have the terrible idea of rolling food and housing welfare in Medicare, Medicaid, and “private” insurance. The authors: “Michael Darrouzet is the CEO of the Texas Medical Association. Jennifer Hanscom is the executive director and CEO of the Washington State Medical Association. Philip Schuh is the executive vice president and CFO of the Medical Society of the State of New York.”

The Police Killing of Muhammad Muhaymin Jr.

July 11th, 2020

In 2017, Phoenix police officers arrested Muhammad Muhaymin Jr. over a “failure to appear in court over a charge stemming from misdemeanor possession of a marijuana pipe.” Officers killed the man during the course of the arrest. This is your War on Drugs.

Goldberg on Locke

July 11th, 2020

Jonah Goldberg has an interesting article out, “The Most Serious Attacks on the Founding Come From the Right.” One of Goldberg’s claims is that John Locke, although very influential on the American Founding, was not as influential as often assumed: “There’s ample evidence that his work in epistemology and psychology—then called ‘natural philosophy’—impressed the Founders greatly. But the Second Treatise on Government . . . simply wasn’t the Book That Changed Everything. I don’t say any of this to disparage Locke, but simply to note that Locke reflected ideas and principles that were already thick on the ground at the time.” He cites an article by Oscar and Lilian Handlin along these lines.

Goldberg also defends (classical) liberalism in his Newsweek column. He makes a lot of great points, but I think he concedes too much ground here: “There are a myriad downsides to radical individualism. America’s troubles today are inextricably linked with the breakdown of the family, local institutions, communities, organized religion and social trust.” What we might call atomistic individualism has always been a straw man version of individualism.

An aside: Goldberg mentions an article by Joseph Stengel on the origins of the Fourth Amendment.

The Possibility of Plasma

July 11th, 2020

Scientists have devised a way to use the antibody-rich blood plasma of COVID-19 survivors for an upper-arm injection that they say could inoculate people against the virus for months. . . . But the idea exists only on paper. Federal officials have twice rejected requests to discuss the proposal, and pharmaceutical companies—even acknowledging the likely efficacy of the plan—have declined to design or manufacture the shots, according to a [Los Angeles] Times investigation.”

I am continually amazed by how poor the American response to COVID-19 is—and how good it could be if people got serious about it.

Bailout Nation

July 7th, 2020

Prosecutors say [there have been] tens of thousands of attempts to rip off governments by fraudulently filing for expanded unemployment benefits or lying on applications for the Paycheck Protection Program.”

Racism in Ohio

July 6th, 2020

Is there racism in America today? As video from Bethel, Ohio clearly indicates, the clear answer is yes. See also Buzzfeed‘s report.

See also a report about a disturbing racist incident in Indiana.

A Death in Atlanta

July 5th, 2020

An 8-year-old girl died after she was shot during a night of violence across metro Atlanta. . . . The girl was riding in a car “confronted by a group of armed individuals.” This was one of “multiple other shootings across Atlanta.” See more about the other shootings.

A Black Militia

July 5th, 2020

There’s a black militia group in Atlanta called the “Not F***ing Around Coalition.” See also video of a march. The overtly racial tone of the group worries me.

Hogeland Versus Hamilton

July 4th, 2020

Among my friends and associates are Jeffersonians and Hamiltonians. One friend recommends William Hogeland’s 2007 article that harshly criticizes Hamilton. Hogeland is especially interested in Hamilton’s role in the Newburgh Crisis and in the creation of taxes on domestic goods, which Hogeland characterizes as “taxes that straitjacket markets, restrict opportunity, reduce competition, punish small operators, cripple local economies, and offer government cronies bonanzas at the direct expense of other citizens.” Hogeland also harshly criticizes Hamilton’s response to the whiskey rebels: “Using the military to trounce the rule of law and violate civil rights was integral to his vision of federal power, national wealth, and a strong union.”

Criticism of Alden

July 2nd, 2020

I’ve shared a few critical remarks about Alden Global Capital but pointed out that Alden is operating within a broader market that is brutal for newspapers. Ultimately, Alden makes money in the newspaper business because subscribers keep paying and journalists keep writing.

Savannah Jacobson has a new article out that criticizes Alden.