Saturday, January 15, 2022

Everybody is failing in their professional responsibilities because something is forcing them (#110)


January 15, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Supreme Court’s Ruling On Vaccine Mandates Is Frighteningly Weak

Congress’s failure to expressly authorize the CMS to mandate vaccines at Medicare- and Medicaid-funded facilities represented but one of the problems with the rule. Justice Alito, in a separate dissent joined by Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, and Barrett, added to the analysis a discussion of CMS’s failure to comply with the notice-and-comment mandates Congress established before agencies could promulgate regulations. That violation, Alito explained, doomed the vaccination mandate because there was no “good cause” to sidestep those requirements.

In finding the CMS violated the notice-and-comment rule, Alito stressed, as did Gorsuch in his National Federation concurrence that, “under our Constitution, the authority to make laws that impose obligations on the American people is conferred on Congress, whose Members are elected by the people.”

“Elected representatives solicit the views of their constituents, listen to their complaints and requests, and make a great effort to accommodate their concerns,” Justice Alito continued, noting, “today, however, most federal law is not made by Congress. It comes in the form of rules issued by unelected administrators.” Under these circumstances, then, the notice-and-comment period proves indispensable, Alito explained—unless, that is, you are the Biden administration.

The Biden v. Missouri dissents, however, did not go far enough. The same separation of powers problems plaguing the OSHA regulation apply equally in the context of the CMS rule. Yet the dissenting justices gave short shrift to those concerns.

The question is, why? Also, why did Gorsuch’s concurrence in the OSHA case only garner three votes, including his own? Was it the procedural posture of the case: A hearing not on the merits but on the propriety of a stay? Was it the time crunch? Was it a desire for more detail and nuance?

Or was it because reaching a truly conservative five-justice majority is as elusive as an end to this pandemic.


January 15, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Insider Trading is Out of Control in Congress


I don't think this is efficient.

January 15, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Look Behind The Curtain: Discussion with Author Walter Kirn

Taibbi: That was the root of that bizarre story in Oklahoma, where the horse-paste eaters were supposedly so numerous that they were leaving gunshot victims outside. Everybody repeated that story. Nobody stopped to think: there’s probably not that many gunshot victims in rural Oklahoma…

Walter Kirn: I have to tell you, Matt, the middle of the country is being treated much as the middle of the country was treated back during the Indian wars. These are stories of strange tribes committing atrocities out in the middle of nowhere. Everybody in the metropolitan areas is reading these newspapers and thinking: “Oh, the Commanche just bore off another 30 white women into slavery!” or whatever. Or, the stories they would tell about Mormon polygamy as potboilers in East coast newspapers back in the middle of the 19th century. Living in Montana, which I promise you is no longer The Revenant — we aren’t warming ourselves inside of bear carcasses. It’s an incredibly sophisticated state with airline connections to the world, sometimes even with just one stop.

Yet we’re being described as though we’re on the precipice of savagery. I saw that with the Oklahoma thing. I was in South Dakota last year when I heard an NPR report that the hospital in Rapid City, which I was one mile from, was about to collapse. And I drove over. I had a thousand parking spots to choose from. Then when I rechecked the text of the NPR story, I saw that it was a speculative story, which interviewed a doctor about what might happen if things got so much worse. So, I’ve had that experience over and over of being reported on as a resident of the great frontier and then checking outside my door to see whether or not it was accurate and finding it wasn’t.


RTWT. Sad but true. Yesterday my son got sent home from his (Catholic, private) high school because his Covid test finally came back, and it was positive. He had not had any symptoms in 5 days, which were very mild anyway. The HS had recently changed the requirement for post-test quarantine from 5 days to 10 days. My physician pretty-Covid-paranoid spouse decided that he should go in; she had not heard yet about the rule change. It had gone out by email the day before. He was very anxious to get back to school, entirely just to see his friends. (He's no scholar.) While he was at the nurse's office, his positive report came in. The nurse was annoyed at that and LWJ had to drive down to pick him up. Now he has to stay out another 5 days, entirely, as far as I can see, because the test was so late getting back to the school, which is because the testing company is so backed up with people getting tests. None of this makes much sense to me. This while I am teaching remotely, which I don't object to too much because my commute is so onerous, but it does kinda suck the life of my classes, when they manage to have some. It would be better if this were just a natural disaster, like a wildfire, but instead there are other humans to blame, such as the virologists who could not resist the temptation to play about with cool but deadly viruses (on our dime) and the bureaucrats some of whom may mean well, but are both incompetent and authoritarian. It's a good time for everyone to practice their stoicism, I reckon.

January 15, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

What the 1619 Project Means by Helen Andrews | Articles | First Things

As for the 1619 Project, its fundamental assertion—that white racism is the biggest threat facing the country—is accepted by every power center from Silicon Valley to the Pentagon. The social media app Nextdoor now prompts users with an “anti-racism notification” if they attempt to post messages containing certain trigger words “that many find hurtful,” such as “Blue Lives Matter.” Diversity, ­Equity, and Inclusion advisers earn six-figure salaries working not just for UC-Berkeley ($325,000) but for the U.S. Marine Corps ($144,128). The most important phenomenon of the last decade, the opioid epidemic, was almost missed because Angus Deaton and Anne Case were discouraged from researching rising mortality among white Americans by “really senior people,” who, according to Deaton, said, “in no uncertain terms, how dare you work on whites.”

Sociologist Zach Goldberg, in his unpublished PhD dissertation “Explaining Shifts in White Racial Liberalism: The Role of Collective Moral Emotions and Media Effects,” includes a qualitative section featuring quotes from survey respondents, from which he posted a sample on Twitter:

“As a white person seeing the racism in America today and trying to understand the history of it, it makes me angry and ashamed of existing and being white. Just the fact that one group can hurt so many other people is disgusting to me.” –18 years old, Female, Weak Democrat, Very Liberal

“White people have been liars since the beginning. It’s awful. I feel awful. Why is this race like this?” –21 years old, Female, Weak Democrat, Moderate

“Honestly, as white Americans, I feel like generally we have walked over, sabotaged, and generally f**ked over any and every other group of people that has come before and alongside us. Native Americans, Africans, Asians; we’ve always made sure that we come out on top no matter who we have to beat down to get to the top. It is very sad.” –28 years old, Male, Weak Democrat, Slightly Liberal

“The thought of whites not being the majority one day is promising as I hope racism will decrease.” –26 years old, Female, Strong Democrat, Liberal

These statements evoke in me the same feeling many Americans felt when they heard about Kenneth Clark’s “doll tests,” made famous by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education. How can anything be right, the public wondered, that makes innocent young people hate themselves?

Goldberg’s respondents talk this way because the 1619 Project is not an insurgent faction but the reigning orthodoxy, which they hear from their teachers, their employers, their politicians, and their celebrities. Lorenzo Greene said his black history lectures left black and white students feeling ­exhilarated. The lectures of the 1619 Project have left young white listeners with feelings of self-loathing. They have somehow got the idea that in the version of America the 1619 Project envisions, there is no place for them, no noble course open except silence and self-abnegation. They are correct.


RTWT. Pretty darn depressing. What to do? I really don't know. I don't want to be "reeducated." A lot of work was involved getting educated (an ongoing process) the first time. And the reeducation involves swallowing a lot of (!) rubbish and nonsense. Very little of it BTW involves anything that actually helps actual black or brown people in any concrete way, as opposed to DEI bureaucrats.

January 15, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

How our universities became sheep factories - UnHerd

St Andrew’s, for instance, insists that students pass a “diversity” module in order to matriculate. Questions include: “Acknowledging your personal guilt is a useful starting point in overcoming unconscious bias. Do you agree or disagree?” The only permitted answer is “agree”. But what if you don’t feel, and don’t want to accept, personal guilt for anything? What if you think (like Nietzsche) that guilt itself is counterproductive? As one student aptly commented, “Such issues are never binary and the time would be better spent discussing the issue, rather than taking a test on it.”

My own university, Cambridge, wants academic staff to undergo “race awareness” training. This advises you to “assume racism is everywhere”. Attendees are also reminded that “this is not a space for intellectualising the topic”. You might have thought “intellectualising” — ie thinking about — it is the kind of thing Cambridge academics should do. But don’t feel bad about getting that wrong; or at least, don’t feel bad about feeling bad: we are also told that these sessions aim at “working through” the feelings of shame and guilt that you might have on your journey in “developing an antiracist identity”.

It isn’t just Cambridge and St Andrews. There is anti-racism or “unconscious bias” training being offered to, or more likely thrust upon, staff and/or students at Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Goldsmiths, KCL, Liverpool, Oxford Medical School, Sheffield, Solent, Sussex and doubtless hundreds of other universities and departments across the country.

It isn’t just training either. The very purpose of a university is being redefined. You might think they exist to conduct teaching and research. That would be naïve. Most universities now routinely call themselves anti-racist institutions, where this means: actively campaigning for a political end. For instance, Sussex says: “[a]s an institution we must actively play our part in dismantling the systems and structures that lead to racial inequality, disadvantage and under-representation”. Bristol expects all its members to “stand up” to racism “wherever it occurs”.


January 15, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (1)

New Evidence Connects Police Protests and Rising Violent Crime

In 2015 and 2016, the coincidence of a major surge in homicides following mass protests over the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, prompted a heated debate about whether the demonstrations, and the anti-police hostility they engendered, helped cause the murder spike. Law enforcement leaders and some public commentators—including City Journal contributing editor Heather Mac Donald—identified a “Ferguson Effect,” whereby public scrutiny reduced police proactivity and led to an increase in violent crime. Supporters of the protests just as fervently derided the idea as imaginary and “debunked.”

Social scientists made a few contributions to this debate, but the research they produced offered limited insight into the causal relationship between scrutiny, proactivity, and crime. Two new studies, however, rely on better data sets and methods to provide strong evidence that highly scrutinized officer-involved fatalities reduce discretionary police activity and lead to an increase in violent crime.

The more-recent study, just published in the Journal of Public Economics by university economists Cheng Cheng and Wei Long, looks at the effect of Brown’s death on police activity and crime on a week-to-week level in St. Louis (which is near Ferguson), and on a month-to-month level in 60 big cities. The St. Louis police department collects high-quality data on self-initiated activity, the authors note, allowing them to assess in specific detail police behavior just before and just after Brown’s death.


January 15, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

FedEx proposing anti-missile lasers for some planes - POLITICO

Package delivery giant FedEx wants to equip some aircraft with military-style missile countermeasures, which could allow it to continue flying over contested areas that might otherwise be closed to air traffic, according to a filing posted by the Federal Aviation Administration.


FedEx does say "when it absolutely, positively has to get there on time."

January 15, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Conservative Case for Philosophical Liberalism

Yascha Mounk: How do you think conservatives should think about liberalism and liberal democracy?

Harvey Mansfield: They should hold to it. I would just make some general observations. I like our good old, tried-and-true liberalism that comes from John Locke and his [view on], on the one hand, toleration, which is good for intellectuals, and on private property, which is good for businessmen. Already you see the basis for a two party system within liberalism. And I think that's the kind of thing we should hold to. Locke protects this view of liberty with constitutionalism, and this has been worked out by the American founders. 

Liberal democracy means democracy with liberties. That means rights which are guaranteed against majority interference. The problem in a republic is not so much minority exploitation, as majority exploitation. “Faction” was the word which is used in the Federalist, or “tyranny of the majority,” in Tocqueville. I think those who best understand democracy fear its tendency to uproarious, overbearing majorities. That's the main problem, and the reason it's the main problem is that a majority tyranny looks like a majority justice, or even a majority view of the common good. Those two things need to be distinguished and made operable, and you make them operable with the usual devices of constitutionalism: separation of powers, bicameral legislature, federalism. Plus the Bill of Rights, which are amendments to the Constitution. Don't forget the Constitution itself. All those things are, I think, still valuable and we shouldn't endanger them, much less throw them away. 


January 15, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 14, 2022

Welcome to the end of democracy - The Spectator World

We bemoan autocracies in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Russia and China but largely ignore the more subtle authoritarian trend in the West. Don’t expect a crudely effective dictatorship out of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four: we may remain, as we are now, nominally democratic, but be ruled by a technocratic class empowered by greater powers of surveillance than those enjoyed by even the nosiest of dictatorships.

The new autocracy rises from a relentless economic concentration which has engendered a new and fabulously wealthy elite. Five years ago, around four hundred billionaires owned as much as half of the world’s assets. Today, only one hundred billionaires own that share, and Oxfam reduces that number to a mere twenty-six. In avowedly socialist China, the top one percent of the population holds about one-third of the country’s wealth, up from 20 percent two decades ago. Since 1978, China’s Gini coefficient, which measures inequality of wealth distribution, has tripled.


January 14, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)