Articles of interest

1. So it seems that Clarance Thomas’s wife is one of those QAnon nuts. The NYT claims that she was at the January 6 rally and encouraged Trump officials to stop an elected President from taking office:

In the weeks between the 2020 presidential election and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, sent a barrage of text messages imploring President Donald J. Trump’s chief of staff to take steps to overturn the vote, according to a person with knowledge of the texts.

In one message sent in the days after the election, she urged the chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to “release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down,” invoking a slogan popular on the right that refers to a web of conspiracy theories that Trump supporters believed would overturn the election.

In another, she wrote: “I can’t see Americans swallowing the obvious fraud. Just going with one more thing with no frickin consequences.” She added: “We just cave to people wanting Biden to be anointed? Many of us can’t continue the GOP charade.”

When Congress tried to investigate the January 6 coup attempt, all Supreme Court members but one said that the Trump administration had to turn over records of its role in the fiasco. Can you guess who dissented?

The committee obtained 29 texts between Ms. Thomas and Mr. Meadows — 28 exchanged between Nov. 4 and Nov. 24, and one written on Jan. 10. The text messages, most of which were written by Ms. Thomas, represent the first evidence that she was directly advising the White House as it sought to overturn the election. In fact, in her efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power, Ms. Thomas effectively toggled between like-minded members of the executive and legislative branches, even as her husband, who sits atop the judiciary branch that is supposed to serve as a check on the other branches of government, heard election-related cases.

Justice Thomas has been Mr. Trump’s most stalwart defender on the court. In February 2021, he wrote a dissent after the majority declined to hear a case filed by Pennsylvania Republicans that sought to disqualify certain mail-in ballots. And this past January, he was the only justice who voted against allowing the release of records from the Trump White House related to the Jan. 6 attack.

Wait, Thomas didn’t recuse himself from a case that his wife was deeply involved in? Judges have been impeached for far less serious infractions. Read the whole thing.

2. Is it just me, or do you also find it hilarious that Trump’s top aides were themselves engaged in voter fraud?

On her one-stop application, provided this week by the North Carolina Board of Elections to The Fact Checker, Debra Meadows certified that she had resided at a 14-by-62-foot mountaintop mobile home for at least 30 days — even though she did not live there. At the top of the form is a notice that “fraudulently or falsely completing this form” is a Class I felony.

This form is the latest in a string of revelations concerning the former chief of staff — who echoed President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud in 2020 — and his wife. The New Yorker first reported that Mark and Debra Meadows submitted voter registration forms that listed as their home a mobile home with a rusted metal roof that sold for $105,000 in 2021, even though they had never lived there. North Carolina officials announced last week that Mark Meadows is under investigation for potential voter fraud.

3. Bloomberg reports:

China aims to greatly expand its wind and solar power capacity over the next several years through massive projects in the nation’s deserts, according to an industry publication.

A first batch of renewable-energy projects in the interior that was announced late last year will account for 97 gigawatts — enough power to run Mexico. A second batch of projects targeting 455 gigawatts of clean energy by 2030 will be located mainly in the deserts of northern China, such as Gobi and Inner Mongolia, SolarBe reported Saturday, citing an unreported recent notice from the National Development & Reform Commission and National Energy Administration. 

This seems kind of incredible. Does anyone know if it’s true? (I’m skeptical.)

4. The Economist reports:

So what do India’s 5,000 elected state and national legislators do, if they spend so little time legislating? Many are dedicated to serving their constituents. But many appear more devoted to winning back what they spent getting voted in, and more. According to the Association for Democratic Reforms, a research group, a record 43% of MPs who won seats in the 2019 general election had been charged with a crime, with 29% booked for grave offences such as rape and murder. This represented a 109% increase on the cohort of ten years earlier.

Crime seems to pay: analysis shows that a candidate with a criminal record is three times more likely to win than one without. Similarly, one with declared assets of more than 50m rupees ($670,000) is six times more likely to succeed than one with less. Term after term, compulsory declarations of assets reveal suspiciously huge rises in the wealth of incumbents.

Yikes. Now I feel a bit better about the US.

5. From the Cato Institute:

An Abbott spokesperson, Renae Eze, confirmed private businesses still have the option of mandating vaccines for their workers, saying, “Private businesses don’t need government running their business.”
— Texas Tribune, August 25, 2021

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued another executive order cracking down on COVID-19 vaccine mandates—this time banning any entity in Texas, including private businesses, from requiring vaccinations for employees or customers.
— Texas Tribune, October 11, 2021

6. The following is from a 2017 Reason article:

One of the surreal twists of the past year in American politics has been the rapid realignment in attitudes toward Russia. Democrats, many of whom believe that Russian interference was key to Donald Trump’s unexpected victory last November, are now the ones sounding the alarm about the Russian threat. Meanwhile, quite a few Republicans—previously the keepers of the anti-Kremlin Cold War flame—have taken to praising President Vladimir Putin as a strong leader and Moscow as an ally against radical Islam. A CNN/ORC poll in late April found that 56 percent of Republicans see Russia as either “friendly” or “an ally,” up from 14 percent in 2014. Over the same period, Putin’s favorable rating from Republicans in the Economist/YouGov poll went from 10 percent to a startling 37 percent.

So which party had a better understanding of Vladimir Putin?

7. On a lighter note, The Economist has an obit for the last full-blooded member of the Yaghan people, the tribe that lived in Tierra del Fuego. This made me smile:

For her first nine years she had spoken nothing but Yaghan. It was a vast language, catalogued by Thomas Bridges in the 19th century at 32,400 words. Many offered a tiny snapshot of Yaghan life: ilan tashata for the fierce winter storm from the south, carrying snow, which blew on the night she was born; tuock-olla for the act of hiring a man to carve bone to make spearheads. Some were extraordinarily concise, or caught nuances other languages did not even attempt: mamihlapinatapai meant “a look between two people, each of whom expects the other to do something that they both want but neither dares to start”. Her own favourite words were two of the simplest: januja, the Moon, and lamp, the Sun.



31 Responses to “Articles of interest”

  1. Gravatar of Richard A. Richard A.
    25. March 2022 at 12:17

    The world price of solar cells and panels is much lower than the domestic price here in the US. China has a major comparative in solar technology but because of our trade restrictions on Chinese solar thanks to Obama in 2012 along with other restrictions from the next two administrations, we in the US are not allowed to buy solar at the world price.

    The purpose of the carbon tax is to encourage a shift to green energy, but having a carbon tax while artificially increasing the price of green energy is like pressing on the accelerator and the brake simultaneously in a car.

  2. Gravatar of jj jj
    25. March 2022 at 13:14

    29% of Indian MPs charged with rape or murder? That kind of makes all of the numbers suspect, doesn’t it?

  3. Gravatar of Dzhaughn Dzhaughn
    25. March 2022 at 14:52

    (1) NYT has had a serious Clarence Thomas complex for years; they have earned extreme skepticism on this matter.

    Do you believe a justice (or judge?) has an obligation to shut his/her spouse up? Explain the precedent. Note Ginni Thomas holds no office. And would a divorce solve the problem for you? What about children of the judge?

    Tell us about a small sample of the “impeachments for less” you have in mind. Impeachment, in any case, is a political action with the thinnest of legal veneers. It is a banana republic quality tool.

    Thomas has always been an outlier in decisions, but that is because he is more princpled, not less.

    (3) I’d also be skeptical. Peter Zeihan offers this map from his book “The Absent Superpower.” So, I dunno, maybe you can put solar panels in China, but it is far from the efficient place to put them first. Note that electricity is expensive to move over long distances.

    (5) De Santis and Abbot abandoning libertarian principles bodes ill. But as you would agree they are following not leading here. The Federalist papers were ahead of their time. And also of our time.

  4. Gravatar of Dzhaughn Dzhaughn
    25. March 2022 at 15:24

    (6) Which party: None of the above? The party of GHWB? Political parties are feckless by nature.

    And see how they couldn’t even swing a Cyrilic font on the reset button label. Never, just never press a big red button in Moscow. Or DC.

  5. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. March 2022 at 15:34

    Richard, Good comment.

    JJ, “29% of Indian MPs charged with rape or murder?”

    Read it again.

    Dzhaughn, Do you believe a justice (or judge?) has an obligation to shut his/her spouse up?”

    No. Now perhaps you’ll explain what your comment has to do with my post. Do you seriously think I was making that argument?

    Now I have a question for you. Do you think a justice should recuse himself from a case where his wife is involved in the conspiracy being investigated?

    Everyone, Please try to improve your reading comprehension.

  6. Gravatar of Dzhaughn Dzhaughn
    26. March 2022 at 08:12

    Glad to hear it. I admit the question of recusal is different, but the aim of the article is to accomplish the same thing through a chilling effect.

    My perspective is that the judiciary has a pretty adequate tradition of recusal, even if it relies heavily on individual judges discretion. RGB openly advocated against Trump while building a film career. She didn’t need to recuse herself broadly as a result, as far as I’m concerned. If some “ethics expert” disagress, big deal.

    My question about who was “impeached for less” still begs for an answer. The good news is that, strictly speaking, you only have to look at 15 cases in US history!

    Of course, there are more at the state level. Maybe you want to inlcude those?

  7. Gravatar of vince vince
    26. March 2022 at 09:53

    “The NYT claims that she was at the January 6 rally and encouraged Trump officials to stop an elected President from taking office.”


    “.. it seems that Clarance Thomas’s wife is one of those QAnon nuts.”


  8. Gravatar of vince vince
    26. March 2022 at 10:11

    “Is it just me, or do you also find it hilarious that Trump’s top aides were themselves engaged in voter fraud?”

    Are you admitting voter fraud is a problem, or suggesting that only Republicans engage in voter fraud?

    By design, our system is unaccountable. Anyone who claims the election was fair is either ignorant, gullible, or a liar. See end-to-end auditable voting.

  9. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    26. March 2022 at 13:24

    Vince, I see you didn’t read the article.

  10. Gravatar of steve steve
    26. March 2022 at 13:33

    Thomas also said this.

    ““Biden crime family & ballot fraud co-conspirators (elected officials, bureaucrats, social media censorship mongers, fake stream media reporters, etc) are being arrested & detained for ballot fraud right now & over coming days, & will be living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition.”


    She is a QAnon nut.

    Anyone who thinks the election was fraudulent ought to be able to provide evidence. Close to 100 suits later, audits, recounts galore and there isn’t any.


  11. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    26. March 2022 at 15:53

    I love how Scott pretends critics of his comments “did not read his essays”. He implies or infers absurd ideas but since he is too chicken to write declarative sentences, he thinks he can say anything and pretend he didn’t.

    I love his belief that “Qanon” exists and everyone he despises is in it.

    But, as is apparent, he keeps forgetting who has been President for 14 months. And all that is bad is a republicans fault.

  12. Gravatar of vince vince
    26. March 2022 at 16:44

    Steve wrote: “Anyone who thinks the election was fraudulent ought to be able to provide evidence.

    Absolutely. Just as anyone ought to who claims it was not. See end-to-end auditable voting.

  13. Gravatar of vince vince
    26. March 2022 at 17:16

    steve wrote: ““Biden crime family & ballot fraud co-conspirators (elected officials, bureaucrats, social media censorship mongers, fake stream media reporters, etc) are being arrested & detained for ballot fraud right now & over coming days, & will be living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition.””

    Ginni Thomas was quoting another source. You did that too. And I just did it too.

    At least that’s what the news media is reporting. Interesting how these “leaks” occur.

  14. Gravatar of David S David S
    27. March 2022 at 03:28

    An article that interested me can be found here:

    It’s a well known fact in some circles that any improvements to infrastructure, reductions in crime, more jobs, better housing, more housing, etc….lead to the gentrification of neighborhoods. This is a terrible problem in America because private development displaces long time residents and ruins communities. We should have a 10 year moratorium on all housing and transportation construction until we can figure out how to solve this problem. A committee of experts–urban planners, community activists, architects, and local politicians–should take this time to draft a national housing plan that guides all future development. This will stabilize prices, keep neighborhoods intact, people safe, save the environment, and make a better future for all children.

  15. Gravatar of Spencer Bradley Hall Spencer Bradley Hall
    27. March 2022 at 06:36

    “The Taylor rule finds the current Federal Funds rate should be 9.6 percent!”

  16. Gravatar of foosion foosion
    27. March 2022 at 06:37

    A good guide to Republican wrongdoing is to see what they are accusing Democrats of doing. This applies to a remarkably large number of things, not just voter fraud or stealing elections.

    There is remarkably little voter fraud in the US. Consider the energy the Rs devote to finding it and the number of publicized, let alone prosecuted, cases there are. Lots of accusations and noise about voter fraud, but very little actual fraud. If it really was rampant, you’d think they could find some, other than the instances of them committing it.

    Calls for more election security are usually thinly disguised attempts at voter suppression, carefully targeted at any voting methods used more by Ds than by Rs.

  17. Gravatar of MIchael Sandifer MIchael Sandifer
    27. March 2022 at 06:40

    It’s obvious Thomas should have recused himself. The fact he didn’t means he should be impeached.

    Because the Democrats are some combination of stupid and cowardly, such a process will probably not even begin, much less succeed.

  18. Gravatar of Kester Pembroke Kester Pembroke
    27. March 2022 at 07:57

    Mainstream economics is a cult:
    This should be required reading for academic economists

  19. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. March 2022 at 15:56

    Michael Rulle, You said:

    “I love how Scott pretends critics of his comments “did not read his essays”.”

    No I didn’t. I accused him of not reading the article I linked to.

    Please read my comments carefully before responding.

    Michael Sandifer, Of course he should be impeached, but we’re a banana republic, so . . .

  20. Gravatar of Todd K Todd K
    27. March 2022 at 20:11

    I started think the U.S. is a banana republic after I saw how the CDC acted for two years during a bad pandemic. 90% vote Democrat.

  21. Gravatar of Sarah Sarah
    27. March 2022 at 23:31

    I keep hearing this term “coup attempt” used by the far left.

    It’s just a very bizarre way to use language. It’s like saying war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength. There is a sort of vindicative usage here, with the purpose of trying to create a false narrative.

    Subjective law applied arbitrarily, because you have some hatred towards farmers and oil rig workers is dangerous.

    I’ve never seen people conduct a coup without weapons, or take smiling photographs sitting in a chair with their feet on the desk.

    When the media said Trump “directed the coup”, I began to look for the evidence. I read his speech, and in the speech he asks his followers to “march peacefully”, and “make sure it’s peaceful”. So where is the evidence that he directed the coup? And more precisely, where is the evidence of the coup? Where is the violence perpetrated by the protesters? Idiots running around the capitol is hardly a coup? In fact, they do that everyday. They are called “politicians”.

    This is the problem with the far left’s concept of justice. Burning buildings is okay if you are “one of them”. But if you are one of those truckers, or farmers, or blue collar workers who enters the capitol building, then you are a “terrorist staging a coup”.

    Words are important. Smart people choose them carefully!

  22. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    28. March 2022 at 06:25

    I wish Scott were as precise in his language and arguments as he is in critiquing those who critique him—-but he was right—-he accused those of not reading essays he referenced——in the essay he wrote—not his own comments.

    Read Alex T this morning at MR. Yet another new theory. UV light kills 98% of viruses in large indoor closed spaces without harming humans. What are the odds this is true? I have no idea. He does not explicitly say it would reduce Covid—-but it was obviously implied. He says it’s like being on a windy golf course (St Andrews)

    Sounds like magic. A UK study. My best guess——no science —-a GUESS—-is it is not true. I hope it is true.

  23. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    28. March 2022 at 19:53

    I continue to notice a pattern by which a large portion of these crazy Trump supporters have the good of the country taking a backseat to their fundamentalist religious beliefs. They put their extraordinarily derranged, narrow-minded religious interests above all else, including democracy itself, except for their own uncontrollable perversions, of course. People who can least control their own behavior often want to force restrictions on everyone else.

    I’ve asked the craziest Trump commenters here whether they’re Christian at least twice, and none answer the question, even when they address it.

    I ignored religion for a long time, because I don’t care about it at all, in and of itself. But, I’m increasingly realizing that fundamentalist religion is a huge and growing problem in the world. I’m not just talking about the so-called Christians in the West, but obviously the fundamentalist Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and even Buddhists in other parts of the world.

    I used to see these sorts of fundamentalist beliefs as merely being sucked up by people who are intellectually challenged in some ways, even among the innately intelligent. Even some highly intelligent people are epistemically closed, and hence, functionally stupid and dangerous, considering they’re allowed to vote and raise children, for example.

    We need to start attacking these fundamentalists. Mind you, not all religious fundamentalists are problems. I don’t see what harm the Quakers do, for example. But, the bulk of these religious extremists represent an extraordinarily dangerous segment of society.

    Ironically, these extremist right-wing Christians are not Christians, they are not Americans, and they are not even democrats, small “d” intended. They are just nuts.

  24. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    29. March 2022 at 06:48

    @Michael Sandler

    While you write about religion you say “you don’t care about it at all”. That’s ok, I make similar kinds of comments all the time. But —-you do ignore one thing. I assume you have a set of beliefs——even if not religious. Is it not possible that all sets of beliefs, religious or not, can also lead to “huge and growing problems”. I do notice you said “we need to start attacking these fundamentalists”. That sounds like a function of your beliefs, I assume. Not sure what “attacking” means, but it does sound as “nuts” as you claim the religious are.


  25. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    29. March 2022 at 10:24

    Michael Rulle,

    Of course there are belief systems that are dangerous other than certain fundamental religious ones. Bolshevism is an example, which is obviously a derranged left-wing ideology. Chavismo is another left-wing example, along with Peronism. But, right now, right-wing fundamental religious beliefs are a huge problem.

    How to attack these ideas is an interesting question. I personally interpret the Constitution as meaning that we shouldn’t force classes about evolutionary theory, for example, on parents who don’t want their children exposed to it. On the other hand, it’s also unacceptable to force religious education on parents. So, I favor vouchers to allow parents to choose among public and private schools to educate their children. I’m confident that science-based education will outperform religious-influenced education in the free market.

    But, such a solution won’t come close to solving the entire problem. Some think we should try to further shame the religious extremists, but they seem to have no shame these days, so that strategy seems doomed to fail. I think a move back to trying to persuade, rather than shame or otherwise punish is probably a good approach.

    That said, we should have no tolerance for attempts to regulate human behavior on the basis of relgious belief. A perfect example involves attempts to outlaw, or at least restrict, abortion. There’s almost no non-religious person who favors much in the way of abortion restrictions. The vast majority of anti-abortionists believe in the existence of a soul, and hence believe life begins at or shortly after conception in an important way. This is, from a scientific perspective, total nonsense.

    The same goes for restrictions on marriage, gender identity, or any other behaviors that people engage in that don’t apparently harm others. I’d prefer to see the government cease to recognize marriages and stay out of family life.

  26. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    29. March 2022 at 10:30

    I do think that the type of mind that is subject to extreme fundamentalist relgious beliefs is essentially a very weak mind, subject to unusual absurdity of thought, and to being suckers for patently ridiculous figures such as Trump or, say, Kenneth Copeland. They seem to have no awareness of how silly they are.

  27. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    29. March 2022 at 12:40

    @Michael Sandifer

    It would not surprise me if we agreed on 60-80% (or more?) on specific policy issues. An obvious exception is your characterization of religious people.

    Of course, there are weak-minded religious people—but not because they are religious. There are also weak-minded non-religious people—-many people who think science is more than it is can be subject to weak-mindedness too.

    Science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God—-and most religious people are quite aware of this—-particularly religious physicists (for example, George Lemaitre–so called father of Big Bang; and who addressed the inability of humans to understand the so called quantum enigma (which is outside the field of science—see Rosenblum and Kuttner )

    Personally, I have my own guesses about these issues—but that makes me no less dumb than the smartest physicists—as I said the topic is outside the field of science.

    My point is religion should not be parodied as you seem to have a tendency to do—–nor does one need to know anything about science to not be parodied—–

    That is my only point.

  28. Gravatar of vince vince
    29. March 2022 at 13:08

    Wisconsin special counsel recommends decertifying Biden’s win. Same month, this is published:

    What do we do with these Qanon people?

  29. Gravatar of vince vince
    29. March 2022 at 15:53

    OMG and now a Qanon member of Congress is investigating collusion to hide Hunter Biden’s laptop that may have incriminated Biden and prevented him from winning the election.

    Should these Qanon people be imprisoned? Retrained?

  30. Gravatar of MIchael Sandifer MIchael Sandifer
    29. March 2022 at 17:09

    Michael Rulle,

    I certainly can’t say whether there’s a god, or if the question would even make sense if we understood more about the universe.

    I don’t think all religious people are weak-minded. Rather, I’m referring to the bulk of fundamentalists. There are plenty of bright, rational non-fundamentalist religious people for whom their religious beliefs seem to present no problem. As I mentioned. There are even bright fundamentalists who can be very productive within some specialties.

    I think the fundamentalists who are weak-minded are those who assume that some ancient texts hold the final word or any or all questions, particularly when interpretation is not even straightforward and when the intent of many authors is impossible to determine. My attitude is, who cares what ancient people thought about anything, except for those who developed mathematical tools, for example, which prove their usefulness today.

    Christians holding the Bible up as some form of ultimate relevant truth is especially absurd to me, particularly those who focus so much on the Old Testament. That book was written for Jews alone. How odd that people around the world should now worship a claimed Jewish Messiah that most Jews themselves don’t even believe was the Messiah. The Messiah was supposed to rescue the Jews!

    That said, the character Jesus has a great deal to admire morally, but the vast majority of Christians I see behave the exact opposite of what he taught and set forth as examples.

    The only good news here is that this absurd situation is underlined by so much fundamentalist support for Trump and similar figures in the eyes of the young. It appears the young will be less religious than they might have been.

    And many Christians know at some level that their beliefs are silly. That’s why they get so disturbed at anything, but praise at seeing them pray. They can never completely overcome the feelings of silliness and embarrassment when trying to talk to the invisible god of the ancient Hebrews in the sky.

  31. Gravatar of w d w w d w
    30. March 2022 at 08:52

    not sure why we (ss Americans…and others ) seem to confuse what science is about and religion. one answers how, the other answers why. those have some things in common, just not many

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