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Some Non-Covid Links

George Will wisely predicts the return of the Disinformation Governance Board – the “DGB.” Two slices:

Government pratfalls such as the DGB are doubly useful, as reminders of government’s embrace of even preposterous ideas if they will expand its power, and as occasions for progressives to demonstrate that there is no government expansion they will not embrace. Progressives noted approvingly that DHS was putting a disinformation “expert” — a “scholar” — in charge, so science would be applied, including the “science” of sorting disinformation from real information.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s short-lived choice as DGB executive director was Nina Jankowicz. Before becoming, for three weeks, head of the “nonpartisan” (so said the president’s press secretary) disinformation board, Jankowicz had a colorful career chastising “Republicans and other disinformers.” The contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop? “A Trump campaign product,” she decreed. Her certitudes are many.


In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration conditioned one station’s license renewal on ending anti-FDR editorials. (Tulane Law School professor Amy Gajda’s new book, “Seek and Hide: The Tangled History of the Right to Privacy,” reports that earlier, FDR had “unsuccessfully pushed for a code of conduct for newspapers as part of the Depression-era National Recovery Act and had envisioned bestowing on compliant newspapers an image of a blue eagle as a sort of presidential seal of approval.”) John F. Kennedy’s Federal Communications Commission harassed conservative radio, and when a conservative broadcaster said Lyndon B. Johnson used the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 as an excuse for Vietnam escalation, the Fairness Doctrine was wielded to force the broadcaster to air a response.

As the Disinformation Governance Board floundered in ignominy, Mayorkas, the DHS secretary, said, “We could have done a better job of communicating what it is and what it isn’t.” It is ever thus: No progressive ideas are foolish or repellant, although a few are artlessly merchandized.

John Stossel decries the overly restrictive rules that reduce the supply of pilots.

GMU Econ alum Nikolai Wenzel reports on the return of gonzo journalism. A slice:

The final example of gonzo journalism moves from media to the academy, with Duke University Nancy MacLean’s historical novel, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America (2018). In this book, MacLean attacks economist James M. Buchanan and the Koch network – the narrative that brings everything together is, of course, racism, with a hint of oligarchy. I should note in passing that I don’t mind scholarly questioning of Buchanan and his Public Choice theory; I spent many enjoyable hours in graduate school analyzing Donald Wittman’s The Myth of Democratic Failure: Why Political Institutions are Efficient, among other critiques. After graduate school, I engaged in friendly battle with “idealist” conservative political philosophers. But MacLean’s gonzo style is not helpful. As a historian, she does not even attempt to engage with the economics of Public Choice. What is even more troubling is MacLean’s method of “speculative historical fiction,” which includes fabricated assertions presented as evidence, and speculative links with no foundation. This makes no sense, except if the work is understood as gonzo journalism; naturally, MacLean’s book fits with “the narrative,” so it garnered adulation from the usual suspects and a number of national prizes, despite the widespread criticism it received.

My GMU Econ colleague Dan Klein ponders the connection between jurisprudence and Deirdre McCloskey’s work on the Great Enrichment.

Alvaro Vargas Llosa laments the decline of liberalism in Latin America.

Jeff Jacoby reports that recent legislation in the state of Georgia that Progressives screamed would reduce minorities’ access to the polls is doing no such thing. A slice:

Yet all along, it was the racial demagoguery about the Georgia law, not the law itself, that was obscene and immoral. You wouldn’t know it from the rhetoric about “Jim Crow,” but Black voter turnout has been rising steadily for years, even in Republican-dominated states with voter ID requirements. In 2018, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center, “all major racial and ethnic groups saw historic jumps in voter turnout.”

In Georgia specifically, Black voters over the past quarter-century have become an ever-larger share of the electorate.

In 1996, the year Bill Clinton was reelected, there were 930,000 registered Black voters in Georgia, of whom 497,000, or 53 percent, cast ballots in the November election. By November 2020, all those numbers had jumped: There were 2.3 million registered Black voters, of whom nearly 1.4 million, or about 60 percent, cast ballots. In the face of such unambiguous evidence that Black Georgians are active and committed voters, the Democratic smear about “Jim Crow on steroids” was disgraceful partisan rabble-rousing.

The thunder of lies about S.B. 202 led some voters to expect the worst. The Washington Post spoke with Patsy Reid, a 70-year-old African-American retiree from Spalding County who, given the “reports of voter suppression against people of color in Georgia,” said she was surprised by how easy it was to cast her ballot in the Democratic primary.

“I had heard that they were going to try to deter us in any way possible because of the fact that we didn’t go Republican on the last election, when Trump didn’t win,” she told a reporter. “To go in there and vote as easily as I did and to be treated with the respect that I knew I deserved as an American citizen — I was really thrown back.”

There was no voter suppression, no Jim Crow, no “red-clay” assault on Black civil rights. Patsy Reid is one more Georgia voter who knows that now.

“Biden Administration Tacitly Admits Buy America Requirements Are Hindering Efforts to Improve Infrastructure” – so explains Colin Grabow.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy is optimistic that the profit motive will overwhelm wokeness. A slice:

Behind this whole mess is the progressive belief that demanding that a company sell you some mayonnaise with a side of social justice will be profitable for the cause and business. Both are unlikely. Attempts at measuring the profitability of wokeness reveal that many companies that build politically correct actions into their strategies could lose serious income and turn off large chunks of their consumer bases. Lost profits are bad for business sustainability, as Netflix’s CEO seems to have finally understood.

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