The Rabbi Versus the Governor

August 3, 2020 at 10:40 pm

Mishpacha magazine has an interview with Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, the 95-year-old head of an Orthodox Jewish school in Philadelphia. A student called him with a question:

As an operator of several nursing homes, he was being forced to accept residents who'd tested positive for the virus as they were released from hospitals that no longer wanted them. Despite the clear danger to their current residents and staff, the nursing homes were being given no choice.

Rav Shmuel told him unequivocally that to accept these patients was a form of retzichah, murder, since it put the other residents at serious risk. But then, on a conference call, the governor informed all nursing home operators that failure to accept the patients would mean losing their licenses.

The talmid called Rav Shmuel again. Lose your license, the Rosh Yeshivah ruled, but you can't put your elderly residents in danger.

The nursing home operator listened to his rebbi.

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How Regulation Made Pickup Trucks So Big

August 2, 2020 at 11:51 am

The increase in size of pickup trucks is the topic of a long article in the Wall Street Journal by a reporter who, as a pedestrian in a parking lot, almost got run over by such a truck. The Journal reports, "The average pickup on the road gained 1,142 pounds between 1990 and 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and 730 pounds since 2000."

Buried somewhere in the middle of the story is an explanation: "In 2011, a change in the way the feds calculate vehicle fuel economy (the so-called 'footprint rule') gave domestic truck makers incentive to go big."

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An Additional Three Cancellations

July 30, 2020 at 8:18 pm

They keep coming. Three more names to add to our growing List of People Canceled in Post-George-Floyd Antiracism Purges:

Siobhan Reardon, the director of the Philadelphia Free Library, resigned under pressure. The Philadelphia Inquirer quoted an organizer of Concerned Black Workers of the Free Library of Philadelphia as saying the library's next leader "should be a Black person."

Robert Moulton Jr. resigned under pressure from the City Council and School Committee in North Adams, Mass., after comments critical of the Black Lives Matter movement. The New Boston Post reported that the movement promised to protest at city council meeting until he resigned.

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How Trump Can Win

July 29, 2020 at 10:01 am

Dan Senor has a smart column in the Financial Times arguing that it's too early to write off Trump's victory chances: "focus attention on what has been dubbed 'cancel culture.'...If Mr Trump finds ways to amplify allegations that some teachers, journalists, business leaders and students have been fired or ostracised because of their beliefs, or even minor mis-steps, he could shift public opinion his way...Mr Trump could also make gains if there were cautiously optimistic news from leading western vaccine candidates, particularly if he is seen trying to assist and offering regular updates on progress. Despite Mr Biden's lead in the polls, it's clear that there is still time for this to become a real race."

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Sanders Socialism on the March

July 28, 2020 at 8:38 pm

To judge by the increasing volume and frequency of attacks on capitalism, it looks like the real winner of the Democratic primary campaign was the socialist senator, Bernie Sanders, I write in my column this week. Please check out the full column at the New York Sun ("Sanders' Ideas Are on the March Among Democrats"), the New Boston Post ("Fashionable Sanders-Style Socialism Would Leave Us Helpless Against Coronavirus") and at Newsmax ("Sanders' Ideas Are on the March").

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Dismal Science

July 26, 2020 at 7:48 pm

David Warsh reports: "Emmanuel Farhi, 41, of Harvard University, died last week, apparently by his own hand. It was the fourth such death of a prominent economist in a year, following those of Martin Weitzman, also of Harvard; Alan Krueger, of Princeton University; and William Sandholm, of the University of Wisconsin at Madison."

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Three Additional Cancellations

July 26, 2020 at 4:02 pm

Three additional names to add to our growing List of People Canceled in Post-George-Floyd Antiracism Purges:

Tzurit Or, the founder of Boston-area bakery and café chain Tatte, stepped down as CEO under pressure after an employee group posted an online petition complaining of, among other thing, "the company's complacency towards current events in regards to the Black Lives Matter movement."

Ana Myers, who had been the head of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, ousted after a Facebook post critical of anti-police protests.

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Read It Here First

July 23, 2020 at 8:52 am

"Surely it'd be better overall if U.S. coronavirus case counts were declining everywhere. But one offset is that Phase Three testing of vaccines will be much faster and easier with the virus running relatively rampant than they would be with the virus scarce," Silver Lining to Rising Case Counts, FutureOfCapitalism.com, July 15, 2020.

"In Phase 3 researchers track infection rates in 30,000 or so volunteers given vaccines or placebos. One small silver lining of the virus's summer resurgence is it could accelerate vaccine results," A Vaccine Progress Report, Wall Street Journal editorial, July 22 (in print July 23), 2020

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Trumpism May Outlast Trump

July 21, 2020 at 5:55 pm

Anyone hoping a Biden victory in the presidential election will somehow magically undo the last four years is in for a reality check, I write in my latest column. "On a whole range of issues foreign and domestic, even a one-term Trump presidency will have been enormously consequential, constraining Mr. Biden's options and setting America on a course that will be in certain ways impossible to reverse." Please read the full column at the New York Sun ("If Biden Wins, He May Discover Trumpism Abides"), Newsmax ("Trumpism Is Here to Stay"), and the New Boston Post ("Trumpism May Outlast Trump Presidency.")

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Silver Lining to Rising Case Counts

July 15, 2020 at 10:58 am

Surely it'd be better overall if U.S. coronavirus case counts were declining everywhere. But one offset is that Phase Three testing of vaccines will be much faster and easier with the virus running relatively rampant than they would be with the virus scarce. For a randomized controlled trial to work, you need to vaccinate people and not vaccinate another group of people, then set both groups loose and see who gets infected or sick. If there's no virus around, no one in either group gets sick or infected. That's great for those people, but it doesn't much advance the vaccine toward the market, because there's no observable difference between the two randomly selected groups. If there is lots of virus around, then it's much less difficult to see whether the vaccine is helpful in preventing infection or sickness. This is a big deal, especially because there are significant ethical issues around the alternative approach of deliberately exposing vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals to the virus.

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Slow Pace of Police Reform Feeds Frustration

July 14, 2020 at 8:25 pm

The slow pace of police reform is the topic of my column this week. Please check out the full column at Newsmax ("Slow Moving Police Reform Intensifies Frustrations"), Reason ("Sluggishness of Police Reform Feeds Frustration"), the New York Sun ("25 Years Later Calls for Reforms Echo on Policing"), and the New Boston Post ("Sluggishness of Police Reform Feeds Frustration: Would More Foot Patrol Help?")

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Three More Cancellations

July 14, 2020 at 8:14 pm

Three more names to add to our running List of People Canceled in Post-George-Floyd Antiracism Purges:

Bari Weiss, an editor and writer for the New York Times opinion section, resigned saying she was constructively discharged and "the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views."

Gary Garrels, the senior curator of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, resigned following a staff uproar after his comment that the museum would still collect the work of white artists. Artnet reported that he emailed staff saying, "I want to offer my personal and sincere apology to every one of you. I realized almost as soon as I used the term 'reverse discrimination' that this is an offensive term and was an extremely poor choice of words on my part. I am very sorry at how upsetting these words were to many staff."

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In 2020 Campaign, Enemies Emerge

July 12, 2020 at 11:44 am

One way to look at the 2020 presidential campaign is to understand who and what is being defined as the enemy. That's the topic of my column this past week. Please check out the full column at the New Boston Post ("Keep an Eye on the Enemies"), Newsmax ("Blaming Trump for Unrest Could Pivot Swing States to Biden"), and at the New York Sun ("Trump and Biden Will Be Defined by Their Enemies.")

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Four More Cancellations

July 3, 2020 at 4:16 pm

Four more names to add to our running list of People Canceled in Post-George-Floyd Antiracism Purges:

Mikaela Guido, president of the College Democrats of America, resigned after the organization's one black board member complained that she had "has not created an inclusive board," the New York Times reported. Guido, a law student at the University of Florida, said that "unsubstantiated claims of racism towards me have an appearance of being used as a front for personal disagreements."

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Even More People Canceled in Post-George-Floyd Antiracism Purges

June 24, 2020 at 7:48 am

The Wall Street Journal has a very good editorial, America's Jacobin Moment, that brings several more examples to add to our still-growing and regularly updated List of People Canceled in Post-George-Floyd Antiracism Purges. Among them:

The editor of Philadelphia Magazine, Tom McGrath, resigned after staffers complained that the magazine "has not taken sufficient action as a publication to combat systemic racism at large, or racism on our own staff, which has resulted in Black staffers facing microaggressions on a frequent basis."

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