Patterico's Pontifications


Media Indifferent As Steven Crowder Infiltrates Antifa At Ben Shapiro Speech

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:30 pm

This is a fascinating video. It shows Steven Crowder and a colleague infiltrating Antifa before a Ben Shapiro speech, discussing weapons that they have (including some serious firearms) — and the curious indifference of media on the scene. Worth watching:

The always excellent John Sexton sums up the clip in this paragraph:

As you’ll see in this clip, Crowder’s producer Jared put on a disguise and met with members of Antifa who installed an app on his phone to allow them to communicate. The protest plan, according to the organizer, was “plain clothes and hard tactics.” That meant not dressing in black or wearing masks, which had been banned by police, but preparing for violence. At a subsequent meeting, one member of the group discusses the guns he has in his trunk. Another member hands Jared an ice pick. Jared immediately makes an excuse and takes the footage of local police who have already been monitoring the situation. Crowder ends the clip by focusing on the media.

Also astounding is watching lunatics like Lex Scott, a Black Lives Matter organizer, saying stuff like this: “People like Ben Shapiro are the most dangerous people on this Earth.”

Ben Shapiro is actually a fairly standard conservative with many sensible positions, most of which I share. It’s eye-opening to know that, even though I care about the poor and despise Donald Trump — but just happen to think that small government is the better way to solve our problems — there are people who see me as the highest form of evil, and would happily beat me senseless simply for holding the political positions I hold.

This movement illustrates the danger of applauding the whole “punching Nazis” thing. Yesterday they call Richard Spencer a Nazi and punch him. Today they call Ben Shapiro a Nazi and plan violence at his speeches.

Tomorrow, you’ll be the Nazi. And if you have applauded punching Nazis in the past . . . what principle will you invoke in your own defense? “I’m not really a Nazi”? If it didn’t work for Shapiro, it won’t work for you.

No, the only solution is to rule out violence against people for their political beliefs. Even if you really, really don’t like them.

Finally, let’s talk about the media ignoring this. Sexton says:

Media outlets are probably worried about getting scammed. They don’t know Crowder and the fact that he’s a YouTube host/comedian probably doesn’t inspire confidence.

But Sexton doesn’t let the national media off the hook. They have the resources to investigate something like this, he says. They just don’t care.

Sexton is right. Sure, any video that doesn’t give you the full context of remarks made on the video is subject to the criticism that it is heavily edited and all that. But it would take some pretty amazing context to render innocent the discussion of weapons and violence we see here.

Substitute “Nazis” for “Antifa” and Big Media would have been all over this.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

No Matter How You Look At It, It Looks Bad

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:07 am

[guest post by Dana]

Optics matter. They mattered then, they matter now.

Yesterday, a clearly desperate and distraught Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz of San Juan, made a plea for help for her ravaged island:

I will do what I never thought I was going to do. I am begging, begging anyone who can hear us to save us from dying. If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency.

So, Mr Trump, I am begging you to take charge and save lives. After all, that is one of the founding principles of the United States of … America. If not, the world will see how we are treated not as second-class citizens but as animals that can be disposed of. Enough is enough.

Since Hurrican Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, there has been an ongoing struggle to get relief aid directly to the people because of issues in the supply chain: due to the devastated infrastructure, truckers can’t be reached to transport the aid, roads have crumbled or been blocked as a result of the storm, there is a diesel shortage, and on it goes. In a nutshell, per a shipping company official on the scene, “The problem has been with the logistics, the parts of the supply chain that move the cargo from our terminal to the shelves or to the tables of the people in Puerto Rico. This hurricane was catastrophic.” According to recent reports, 44% of Puerto Ricans do not have fresh drinking water, and it may take months before electricity is restored.

President Trump, who had received fairly good marks for the response in Texas and Florida, could not resist taking the frustrated Cruz’s comments personally instead of taking them with measured grace and understanding. So, in a series of early morning tweets from his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J, the world was reminded of just how small and thin-skinned this president is, and how he makes nearly everything about himself. And in doing so, he took the attention away from the incredible work first responders are doing and put it on himself:




Following these tweets are several tweets about the amazing work by the first responders, but unfortunately, they got back-burnered so that President Trump could defensively lash out at a mayor who is facing an Herculean task. Also, predictably, the President blamed the “Fake News Networks” too.

In an interview, Cruz explained that her number one goal was to save lives:

“Actually, I was asking for help. I wasn’t saying anything nasty about the president,” Cruz said on MSNBC following the tweets. “It’s not about politics, it’s not about petty comments, it’s about moving forward, putting boots on the ground and saving lives.”

Unfortunately, for this president, being “petty” is exactly what he far too frequently excels in being.

As I’ve said here at this blog many times over since Trump was elected: There is no doubt the media and the Democrats, working in tandem, look for any opportunity to get this president, so for his sake, he should stop giving them so much to work with.



Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:01 am

“We have a lot of shippers and a lot of people who work with the shippers who don’t want the Jones Act lifted.” — Donald J. Trump, explaining why it took him over a week to waive the Jones Act.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Tom Price Resigns Today As Health And Human Services Secretary

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:45 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Tom Price, secretary of Health and Human Services, has been under fire since it was reported that “his travel tab has exceeded $1 million when accounting for both the overseas trips and the more than two dozen trips he has taken on private planes domestically since May.” Today, he resigned from his position in the Trump administration:

In a letter to Trump, Price wrote that he regretted that “recent events have created a distraction” from the administration’s objectives, and that he was resigning in order for the president “to move forward without further disruption.”

“Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price offered his resignation earlier today and the president accepted,” read a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, adding that Trump intends to designate Don Wright, the current deputy assistant secretary for health and director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion as acting secretary.

And while Price has said that he would reimburse the government, exactly how much that might be is in question:

A source with knowledge of Price’s intentions earlier said that he would pay $51,887.31 for the flights, just a fraction of the over $400,000 that the chartered flights were said to have cost. Military flights to Africa, Asia and Europe, on which Price was joined by his wife, pushed the total over the $1 million figure, according to Politico.

In 2009, then fiscal conservative Price seemed to be singing a different tune about government spending on private planes. Back then, he was he was critical of House Democrats seeking to increase spending to $550 million on eight passenger jets:

[Price] said a scaled-back request of $220 million for four jets also went too far.

“I think we’ve made it halfway of where we ought to and that is cut it from eight to four jets,” Price said at the time. “Now we need to cut it from four jets to zero jets. This is just another example of fiscal irresponsibility run amok in Congress right now.”

It’s interesting to note that Price’s resignation comes also on the heels of Congress failing for the third time to repeal and replace Obamacare, which was one of President Trump’s priority campaign promises.

There is now a long-term unintended consequence to face because of Price’s transportation decisions:

But the story also shows you why Price’s travel habits have become such a liability for the White House: Now every trip taken by every cabinet official is being scrutinized by the media now, and every time they find one that smells, it becomes part of a narrative that the populist president’s fatcat cabinet is living large on the taxpayer dime.

But with that, this is a good reminder that not every incriminating report put out about a Trump cabinet member or official is as it appears. Further, we know there are deliberate attempts made by the press to mislead the public about members of this administration.

Anyway, judging by the number of Trump administration officials who have resigned, it appears the swamp is draining itself.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


HUZZAH: Trump Nominates Don Willett to Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:56 pm

Few things could make a constitutionalist happier than to see this: President Trump has nominated Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

President Donald J. Trump is a fatuous idiot — a blundering oaf of a narcissist who disgusts every right-thinking person with his assishness and general dopeyness.

But if you looked at nothing but his judicial nominees, you’d be pretty damn impressed — not just with their quality, but with his willingness to nominate people who have mocked or criticized him in the past. Which, um, Don Willett has most definitely done.

Just to name a few.

Of course, like Gorsuch, this happened because Trump is uninterested in judges and outsources everything to Leonard Leo and the Federalist Society.

And you know what? Nothing could make me happier.

So: nobody tell Trump about Willett’s past tweets. Keep it all under wraps until he is confirmed. (To SCOTUS.)

In all seriousness: good job, Mr. President. You’re an ugly dark cloud, but some of your silver linings are pretty sweet.

The School Library Where Good Manners Go To Die And Dr. Seuss Gets The Racist Treatment

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:40 am

[guest post by Dana]

In recognition of National Read a Book Day, First Lady Melania Trump had the unmitigated gall to send a bundle of children’s books to schools across the country identified as having “programs that have achieved high standards of excellence”. Ten copies of various Dr. Seuss books were sent to one school in each of the 50 states. The titles included: Seuss-isms!; Because a Little Bug Went KaChoo; What Pet Should I Get?; The Cat in the Hat; I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!; One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish; The Foot Book; Wacky Wednesday; Green Eggs and Ham; and Oh, the Places You’ll Go!. Classics.

Unfortunately, not all librarians were thrilled with the gesture, nor responded with polite appreciation. Cambridgeport Elementary School’s Liz Phipps Soeiro said just as much in an open letter to Mrs. Trump. After a snarky opening, “Thank you for the ten Dr. Seuss titles that you sent my school library in recognition of this year’s National Read a Book Day. (Sent second-day air, no less! That must have been expensive,” Soeiro informs Mrs. Trump that because they receive so much funding as a Title I school, their per pupil spending affords the highly diverse school to provide well for their students, therefore they don’t need the books. She then proceeds to school the ignorant Mrs. Trump, putting her personal politics on full display:

Even so, we still struggle to close the achievement gap, retain teachers of color, and dismantle the systemic white supremacy in our institution. But hell, we test well! And in the end, it appears that data — and not children — are what matters.

Meanwhile, school libraries around the country are being shuttered. Cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit are suffering through expansion, privatization, and school “choice” with no interest in outcomes of children, their families, their teachers, and their schools*. Are those kids any less deserving of books simply because of circumstances beyond their control? Why not go out of your way to gift books to underfunded and underprivileged communities that continue to be marginalized and maligned by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos? Why not reflect on those “high standards of excellence” beyond only what the numbers suggest? Secretary DeVos would do well to scaffold and lift schools instead of punishing them with closures and slashed budgets.

(Note: I would like Soeiro to reflect upon the fact that it is precisely because of an interest in the outcomes of children that we are seeing the privatization of schools, an increase in the numbers of parents opting to homeschool their children, and the demand for more “choice”. Also, given that Soeiro’s personal politics are driving this, I would like her to reflect upon who runs the school districts of Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit, which group is responsible to allocate available resources, and to whom those resources are going. I spent a bit of time researching this yesterday, and it wasn’t too hard to find the common thread running through each of these cities. Further, I would like Soeiro to reflect upon who was president for 8 years until 9 months ago. )

And I’ll just say it: If Mrs. Obama had gifted Soeiro’s library with the same titles, you and I both know this letter would not have been written, and the books would have been graciously received, whether needed or not. And it would have been taken as an honor and distinction to have been recognized in this way.

Amusingly, Soeiro then goes on to launch an attack against an even bigger villain than Melania Trump: Dr. Seuss himself:

Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes. Open one of his books (If I Ran a Zoo or And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, for example), and you’ll see the racist mockery in his art.

Soeiro attached a list of recommended titles to her letter that she believes Mrs. Trump should instead consider providing to school libraries. A brief description by Soeiro of the titles provided accompanied the list:

The beautiful resilience of children who stand up to racism and oppression and for social justice and reform;

Children who are trying to connect with parents who are incarcerated simply because of their immigration status;

Children who integrate aspects of their own cultures and countries of origin into their new country;

Children whose parents risked everything to enter the U.S. so they can have a chance at a future free from violence and/or poverty;

Children who challenge society’s social constraints and are accepted and loved as who they say they are.

Anyway, I wanted to point out this proclamation by then President Obama in honor of Read Across America Day in 2016. A proclamation to which I could find no letter of condemnation published by Soeiro:

March 2 is also the birthday of one of America’s revered wordsmiths. Theodor Seuss Geisel — or Dr. Seuss — used his incredible talent to instill in his most impressionable readers universal values we all hold dear. Through a prolific collection of stories, he made children see that reading is fun, and in the process, he emphasized respect for all; pushed us to accept ourselves for who we are; challenged preconceived notions and encouraged trying new things; and by example, taught us that we are limited by nothing but the range of our aspirations and the vibrancy of our imaginations. And for older lovers of literature, he reminded us not to take ourselves too seriously, creating wacky and wild characters and envisioning creative and colorful places.

Today, and every day, let us celebrate the power of reading by promoting literacy and supporting new opportunities for students to plunge into the pages of a book. As Dr. Seuss noted, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Together, we can help all children go plenty of places along their unending journey for knowledge and ensure everyone can find joy and satisfaction in the wonders of the written word.

In conclusion, you might ask, can ten children’s books can really make a difference? According to this commenter, yes:

What school librarian turns down FREE books?? As a retired middle school librarian(I too hold a master’s in library science) and 36 years of experience, I started a book bank(Bowman’s Book Bank) last year to hand out free books to the children in my former school district(where I also volunteer) who have little to no access to books in their neighborhoods…I am constantly looking for free books for them. I also loathe Trump and what he is doing to our country, but that is beside the point. You are making this about yourself and not your students. A simple “thank you” would have sufficed and then perhaps you could have donated those books to someone like me who is trying to get books into the hands of children who have little to no access…am sure there are MANY places that would gladly take them off of your hands.

Of course that would require a thoughtful individual willing to put their personal politics aside because they truly believe the company line that it really is, “for the children”.

Cambridge Public Schools released a statement in response to questions about Soeiro’s actions:

“In this instance, the employee was not authorized to accept or reject donated books on behalf of the school or school district. We have counseled the employee on all relevant policies, including the policy against public resources being used for political purposes.”

Thanks to commenter narciso, we can see that when President Obama was in office, Soeiro’s view of Dr. Seuss was quite the opposite of what her letter to Mrs. Trump argues. Note the date of the tweet:


Thanks to commenter TomK, that was then, this is now:


(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)



New York Times Hit Piece: Trump Would Save Over $1 Billion Under New Tax Plan

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:30 pm

New York Times:

President Trump could cut his tax bills by more than $1.1 billion, including saving tens of millions of dollars in a single year, under his proposed tax changes, a New York Times analysis has found.

On Wednesday, the White House announced a sweeping plan to cut a variety of taxes that would overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy. The estimate of Mr. Trump’s savings is based in part on information from his 2005 federal tax return. The analysis compares what his tax burden would be under current law with what it would be under the proposal.

Mr. Trump’s 2005 return is the most recent available publicly and was released in March by David Cay Johnston, a former New York Times reporter. The Times’s figure also relies on an estimate of Mr. Trump’s net worth, calculated by the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index to be $2.86 billion.

“I don’t benefit. I don’t benefit,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday. “In fact, very, very strongly, as you see, I think there’s very little benefit for people of wealth.”

In fact, high-income earners like Mr. Trump are likely to benefit disproportionately if the White House proposal becomes law. The estimates, calculated with the help of Robert Willens, an accounting expert, and Stephen Breitstone, a tax lawyer, provide a view into precisely how.

My general reaction to this is: “So what?” Maybe even: “Good!”

Here’s the simple truth: the wealthy pay the overwhelming share of income taxes in this country. Here are the facts:

The top 1% of taxpayers pay a higher effective income-tax rate than any other group (around 23%, according to a report released by the Tax Policy Center in 2014) — nearly seven times higher than those in the bottom 50%.

So guess what? If you relieve that burden, who’s going to benefit? The wealthy.

And yet Big Media will always attack every single effort to cut taxes by pointing out that the cut benefits the wealthy. And they will never, ever point out the context I just gave you. True to form, the New York Times article I link here does not say a word about how much the rich pay.

Trump shouldn’t lie about it, of course. But he lies about everything.

I should add: Democrats like to pretend that soaking the rich will solve our deficit problem. That is a dirty lie. You can’t tax your way out of this problem. You could take 100% of what millionaires make — and assume that they wouldn’t stop working if you did (which of course they would) — and it wouldn’t come close to solving the deficit problem we have.

Nor does cutting discretionary spending come close to solving the problem.

The only solution is cutting entitlements. Which Trump has taken off the table. (And, to be honest, so has the voting public.)

This is why we’re headed for a crash. But lowering taxes isn’t going to change things much at all. So this handwringing over rich people — even Trump! — benefitting from tax cuts is horse feces. It’s nothing more than Big Media’s usual excuse for opposing every tax cut ever proposed.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

Hillary Clinton And Michelle Obama Make A Burn Book Of Post-Election Blame

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:44 pm

[guest post by Dana]

In a recent interview with Vox, Hillary Clinton unsurprisingly blamed the men in the lives of white women for influencing them to vote for a candidate other than her in the national election. In adopting this sexist thinking, she essentially accuses those disloyal to her as being unable to function independently of their men, and make a credible decision for themselves:

“All of a sudden, the husband turns to the wife, ‘I told you, she’s going to be in jail. You don’t wanna waste your vote.’ The boyfriend turns to the girlfriend and says, ‘She’s going to get locked up, don’t you hear? She’s going to get locked up,’” Clinton told Vox’s Ezra Klein on Tuesday. “Instead of saying, ‘I’m taking a chance, I’m going to vote,’ it didn’t work.”

And yet, by bucking the system of sisterhood, and *not* voting for Hillary, women did take a chance! The failed candidate’s comments clearly suggest that women are not capable of thinking independently apart from their men or the progressive women’s voting bloc. But, if they somehow manage to think for themselves, burn ’em! It never occurs to Clinton that perhaps, when all is said and done, women who didn’t vote for her simply didn’t find her worthy of their vote. Thus she remains bitterly ungracious and insufferably arrogant in defeat.

Clinton’s outrageous display of sexism, further demonstrated when she admitted that she had hoped gender would play a bigger role in influencing how women voted, truly reveals the dishonesty of the self-proclaimed champion of equality.

The stunning dismissal and denigration of women who dared to actually take a chance and vote for someone other than Clinton seems to be a common theme on the left, especially given that Michelle Obama has also come out and arrogantly denigrated women who did not vote for Hillary Clinton:

“Any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice,” she said.

“What does it mean for us as women that we look at those two candidates, as women, and many of us said, that guy, he’s better for me, his voice is more true to me,” Obama said. “Well, to me that just says you don’t like your voice. You like the thing you’re told to like.”

Oh really, Mrs. Obama? Women should have listened to your voice, and Hillary Clinton’s voice over their own? Is that what you really believe? Because I don’t think so:


Here are two very powerful and intelligent feminists of note, actually blaming fellow-women who dared to listen to their own voice, and voted for the candidate they felt earned their vote. Instead of applauding a demonstration of resistance, they are being woman-shamed by two sexist hypocrites. It’s an unattractive, mean-girl resentment that is revealed in this stubborn refusal to see and acknowledge that which most people readily acknowledge: Hillary Clinton was just a god-awful candidate.

Anyway, none of this is surprising, and it’s also not surprising that Hillary holds a grudge against women who betrayed her:

In her new memoir “What Happened,” Clinton recalls “more than two dozen women” coming up to her and apologizing for “not voting or not doing more to help my campaign.”

“When it first started happening, it was so soon after the election,” she said. “It was hard for me to comfort somebody who was coming to me and saying, ‘Oh, I wish I had done more,’ or, ‘I’m sorry I didn’t vote’ because I think this was one of the most consequential elections that we have faced in a long time.”


While a majority of women voted for Clinton, she failed to win a majority of white women — who voted instead for Trump. It is clear from the book that Clinton, whose campaign never missed an opportunity to remind voters that she would be the first female president if she won, was stung by this particular data point.

“These people were looking for absolution that I just couldn’t give,” she wrote. “We all have to live with the consequences of our decisions.”

Yes, yes we do, Hillary.

Also playing the wounded-Hillary-blame-game is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In an interview with Charlie Rose, she responded to his question about whether sexism played a part in the presidential election outcome:

Do I think so? I have no doubt that it did. There are so many things that might have been decisive. But that was a major, major factor.

Oh my God, just stop it. Stop blaming anything and everything apart from the candidate herself, and just be honest about the fact that the Democrats ran a horrible candidate. This effort to relieve Hillary Clinton of owning her loss has become painfully embarrassing.

Look, one thing that I’ve always believed is, if you criticized President Obama, it did not mean you were a racist. Like me, you could have cared less about his race but simply found his policies lacking, his dishonesty problematic and his tendency to rule by fiat troublesome. Likewise, if women voted against Hillary, that did not mean they weren’t listening to their own authentic voice, or that they were being influenced by their male partners. Those aren’t the only options. People didn’t like President Obama’s policies, and criticized him for it. A wide swath of women simply didn’t like or trust Hillary Clinton, and demonstrated it by not casting their vote for her. Both of those are viable and reasonable behaviors. (This does not negate the fact that there were some who criticized President Obama simply because he was black, and some women voted against Hillary Clinton because they were were influenced by their mates. But neither of these nullifies the flip-side of the equation.)

It goes without saying that this automatic, reflexive blame-game only reinforces a mean-girl mentality of self-consumption, dishonesty with oneself, and an unhealthy tendency to surround oneself by those willing to nurture the delusion. But those disloyal to the sisterhood go in Burn Book because their disloyalty must be recorded and remembered. They will not be forgiven. After all, it is this bitter, gender-victimization and blame that provides the fuel necessary to keep the progressive women’s Woe-Is-Me pyre burning brightly.


(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


The Jones Act Should Be Repealed

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:00 am

President Trump’s waiver of the Jones Act for Puerto Rico puts a spotlight on an absurd law. It should not be necessary for presidents to issue ad hoc waivers on occasions when there are natural disasters. Instead, the Jones Act should be repealed outright.

I have written about the Jones Act before. The NPR program Planet Money, which is often quite good even though it is on NPR, told the following story about the Jones Act. From my 2014 post:

Here’s the story told in the episode. The state of New Jersey ran out of rock salt to melt ice and snow — which was a problem, because they were in the middle of a giant winter storm. But all was well: Maine had a mountain of rock salt. Even better, there was a giant ship in Maine that could easily transport 40,000 tons of rock salt in a single trip. Best of all, the ship was already on its way to Newark.

Problem solved, right?

Wrong. You see, using that particular ship was illegal.

Was the ship not seaworthy? Had the captain neglected to file necessary paperwork? Had the company that owned the ship failed to pay taxes?

No, none of that was the problem. The problem was: the ship was not made in America and did not fly an American flag. And under a law passed decades ago called the Jones Act (aka the Merchant Marine Act of 1920), any ship that carries material from one U.S. port to another must be made in America, staffed by an American crew, and must fly an American flag.

The law was passed, as laws like this often are, to protect American businessmen who couldn’t hack it in the marketplace. We wanted to keep a strong marine industry, so we hurt the consumer by passing protections for business. Thing is, it didn’t work out so well. The U.S. doesn’t build that many ships any more. (We barely build anything anymore.)

So it’s not like an equally capacious American-built ship was standing by to haul the rock salt to Newark.

No, instead everyone waited for a little barge to come to the dock. It was filled with rock salt to melt the New Jersey snow and ice. The barge then took off with its load of salt — leaving a mountain of it sitting on the dock. Because, you see, the 40,000 tons could not begin to fit on the small barge. So the barge took some salt down to Newark, dropped it off, went back to Maine, got another “fraction” of the mountain of salt, and went back to Jersey.

The reporter does not say how many trips were required to transport the whole load, but it’s clear it would be at least three.

Apparently President Obama did not “waive” the Jones Act then. Does a president have authority to do so? The New York Times says yes, in certain specified situations.

A waiver can be granted only if it is in the interest of national defense and only if there are enough United States vessels available to meet national defense needs. Shipping costs or humanitarian needs cannot be considered, officials say.

Previous waivers were granted during Irma and Harvey, and before that during Sandy, according to The Times.

Regardless of the legality of any one particular waiver, the Jones Act is just silly and deserves to be repealed in its entirety. As I explained in 2014, the inefficiencies happen all the time — not just during natural disasters:

This rock salt example is just one of many examples of inefficiencies and expense created by the Jones Act. If you miss your cruise ship in a U.S. port, you’ll have to pay a giant fee to catch it in another port. A cattle rancher in Hawaii seeking to avoid the extra expense of using American-made ships has gotten his cows to the U.S. mainland in two ways. Formerly, he shipped them to Canada so they could travel over the border to the U.S. Now, he sends the cows by plane when they are younger and weigh less.

Absurd, right? You bet. Economists hate the law. Yet the chances of repeal appear to be zero.

Government interventionism is, as a rule, a bad thing for the economy and for society. Unintended consequences invariably result from well-intentioned policies. Allowing the free market to work is the best solution — whether you’re talking about health care, shipping, food, electronics, or anything else.

People in Congress either don’t know this or don’t care. But the consequences are very real.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]


Hugh Hefner, 1926 – 2017

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:57 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine, died earlier today at the Playboy mansion at the age of 91. As of this moment, no details have come forth as to the cause of death, but he had apparently been in failing health for some time now.

The basic rudiments of Hefner’s life are pretty well known (this link to his biography on Playboy’s website is potentially NSF; this link to an entry at should be ok): born in Chicago, educated at the University of Illinois, service in World War II as a reporter for an armed forces newspaper. While working at Esquire, Hefner scraped together enough money to start his own magazine in 1953, and fortuitously acquired the famous Norma Jean Baker (later known as Marilyn Monroe) nude photos from a 1949 calendar shoot, one of which became the centerfold in the magazine’s first issue published in December 1953. Playboy would go on to spawn an early cable television show, a set of private clubs, a resort, movies, and later a television channel and subscription website.

Contrary to conventional belief, Playboy was far from the first magazine to print nude images of women, but it was the first to attempt to bracket those nudes with insightful commentary, fashion tips, fiction from noted authors, and reviews of literature and the arts. If you look at a Playboy from the 1950s, one striking feature is how innocent it actually seems. The nudity is usually coy and subtle, and early issues of the magazine often only featured one or two actual nude pictures (most pictures were semi-nude, where the subject discretely covered herself in some way). As the Eisenhower Fifties morphed into the Kennedy Sixties, then to the age of hippies and free love, the magazine expanded its boundaries and gradually became bolder and more assertive in its nudity, helped along by competition from other magazines and the ubiquity of nudity in movies, theater, and even in public. In 1975, 20 years into the magazine’s run, Playboy had a circulation of 5.6 million for each monthly issue.

Today the magazine’s circulation is at about one-twelveth of that peak, back when it was estimated that one in four college men purchased the magazine every month. Playboy disastrously decided to stop running nudes in late 2015 only to reverse course and go back to the nekkid gals about a year later. But with the mainstreaming of sex and nudity in our society — in movies still, but now also on television and the Internet — Playboy is having a difficult time finding its market niche. Seeing “the girl next door” naked in the centerfold is no longer as big of a deal now that the she is posting nude selfies on Snapchat.

While there are likely some positive contributions from Playboy over the years — the Playboy Interviews (some of which were conducted by Hefner), Robert Christgau’s music reviews, Dan Jenkins’ column on sports, and fiction from some top authors — the overall influence of Playboy on our society is far more mixed, perhaps even largely negative. Hefner used his monthly column in which he laid out “the Playboy Philosophy” to advocate for a rather left-wing/libertine political platform, haughtily disdainful of anything that he thought faintly echoed of conservatism or traditional American values. Playboy made many young women into household names (well, in a certain kind of household if you know what I mean), and launched the careers of Jayne Mansfield, Stella Stevens, Shannon Tweed, and Pamela Anderson among others. At the same time, Playboy also caused considerable grief and tragedy in the lives of several of its models. A very good 50th anniversary of the magazine which ran on the E! network fourteen years ago was very direct in discussing the Playboy Playmates who ended up regretting their decisions to pose, oftentimes dealing with substance abuse, eating disorders, and even in a few cases suicide. If sexual urges were indeed sublimated in post-war America before Playboy came on the scene, surely we must acknowledge that today we are saturated with base lust and carnal desire, and perhaps that is not really progress after all.

As the final chapter of his life has now drawn to a close, let’s acknowledge that Hugh Hefner built a business and had a very major impact upon our society, and that it remains an open question of whether or not it was all for the better. Rest in peace.


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