Weekday Reading #3

How Sweden swerved Covid disaster (UnHerd)

But the experiment didn’t end there. During the year that followed, the virus continued to ravage the world and, one by one, the death tolls in countries that had locked down began to surpass Sweden’s. Britain, the US, France, Poland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain, Argentina, Belgium — countries that had variously shut down playgrounds, forced their children to wear facemasks, closed schools, fined citizens for hanging out on the beach and guarded parks with drones — have all been hit worse than Sweden. At the time of writing, more than 50 countries have a higher death rate. If you measure excess mortality for the whole of 2020, Sweden (according to Eurostat) will end up in 21st place out of 31 European countries. If Sweden was a part of the US, its death rate would rank number 43 of the 50 states.

Catholic Constitutionalism: A Primer (Ius & Iustitium)

First I will say a bit about the Catholic doctrine as to the constitution of the temporal power. By constitution, I will always mean a small-c constitution in the classical sense, that is the total set of fundamental institutional and customary arrangements that structure public authority in a society. These may or may not be embodied in a large-C  “Constitution” in the modern sense, which is a single unitary written document that purports to lay forth the fundamental institutions in a text. In the classical sense, there is very much such a thing as the British constitution, although there is no single British Constitution in the modern sense. That is, the British constitution is often called an unwritten constitution, although a more accurate description is that it is an uncodified constitution. It is composed of a number of fundamental statutes that have constitutional force, like the Act of Union 1707, of foundational constitutional principles (“What the Queen in Parliament enacts is law”), and also of fundamental unwritten normative customs or as the British call them “conventions.” All this was true of the Roman constitution as well.

Why Does Michigan Still Have 25,000 Dead People On Its Voter Rolls? (The Federalist)

On Wednesday, a federal lawsuit filed against the Michigan secretary of state revealed the state’s voter rolls potentially include more than 25,000 dead people, including names of more than 20,000 individuals who have been dead for more than a decade.

In the lawsuit filed by the Public Interest Legal Foundation, or PILF, a nonprofit law firm dedicated to election integrity, the group alleges that the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office, headed by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, violated Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. That federal law requires states to “conduct a general program that makes a reasonable effort to remove the names” of voters who have died.

In the past year, my reporting on critical race theory in America’s institutions has helped catapult the issue onto the national stage. My reporting inspired a presidential order, a fierce public debate, and legislation in nine states impacting 75 million Americans. The New Yorker called me the “conservative activist [who] invented the conflict over critical race theory.” While this might be a pejorative, it is also an unintended compliment — my work broke through the Left’s defenses and struck at the heart of their political project.

Sinking Deals, Shifting Alliances (Chronicles)

The rise of China, the corresponding shift in the balance of global power, and the desire of some of China’s neighbors to contain her assertiveness, is producing a new and perilous geostrategic mix. Most recently it was marked by the reconsolidation of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, known as the Quad. It came into being in 2007, but remained dormant for over a decade. The new spirit of Quad 2.0 was symbolized by the Sept. 24 meeting at the White House between President Biden and three prime ministers: Scott Morrison of Australia, Narendra Modi of India, and Yoshihide Suga of Japan. It was the first in-person leaders’ summit of the Quad, six months after they held a virtual meeting.

All Cost, No Known Benefit (Quadrant)

The following FOI request was filed with the NSW Treasury on August 16, 2021: “I seek a copy of the cost-benefit analysis undertaken to justify the current lockdowns (i.e. those stay-at-home and other orders and restrictions imposed by the Premier on 26/6/2021).” This seemed an entirely reasonable query, as the NSW government’s  Guide to Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) explains how “a  CBA  should  be  completed  and  submitted  to  Treasury  where the  following  thresholds are (sic)  met: Capital  expenditure  with  an  estimated  total  cost  of  $10  million or  more.” As the estimated cost of NSW’s lockdown ( June 26 – November 1), according to the Sydney Morning Heraldran to “about $1 billion a week”, my curiosity suggested the required and requested document should make interesting reading

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