Archive:

April 2018, Part 1

Jim Miller on Politics




Pseudo-Random Thoughts



This Week's "Pollapaloooza" is mostly devoted to one subject, "The Diversity Of Black Political Views".

There are many nuggets, for instance:
Data from this AP/NORC poll comports with Pew’s findings:  The majority of blacks say they are moderate (44 percent) or conservative (27 percent), while just 26 percent said that they are liberal.
You are almost certain to find something interesting in the other polls they report at the end of the main section, for instance:
If there is a trade war between the U.S. and China, 43 percent of Americans told YouGov that they think the U.S. would suffer more; 24 percent think China would.
That's not exactly a vote of confidence in the commander in chief.
- 3:26 PM, 8 April 2018   [link]


Intellectually Challenging:  Yoram Hazony's commentary, "The Dark Side of the Enlightenment", where he takes on David Brooks and Steven Pinker.
Today’s advocates oversell the benefits of unfettered reason.  They dismiss the contributions of tradition, religion and nationalism to human progress.
I'm still thinking about his arguments, but am inclined to say that I would give him at least a draw.

(Possibly related:  Peggy Noonan's column, "If Adults Won’t Grow Up, Nobody Will".

Yoram Hazony)
- 3:05 PM, 8 April 2018   [link]


More Transparency Isn't always a good thing.
- 9:29 AM, 8 April 2018   [link]


The Wall Street Journal Is Right:  That Wisconsin loss is not a good sign.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is warning about a “blue wave” in November after the liberal candidate won a state Supreme Court seat in a rout on Tuesday, and he’s right.  At risk is the GOP House majority as well as a decade of Republican progress in the states.
It wasn't even close, at 56-44.

Add this loss to the earlier Republican losses in New Jersey, Virginia, Alabama(!), Washington state, and Pennsylvania, and everyone but the Trumpistas will begin to see a pattern.

Remember when Trump said we'd be winning so much we'd get tired of it?  For Republicans that now sounds like a bitter joke.
- 4:35 PM, 6 April 2018   [link]


Sometimes Bing Is Better Than Google:   In my experience, the two search engines usually give similar results.  When there is a difference, Google usually has the advantage.

But not always.  Recently, I have been checking the Dow Jones frequently, and have found that I like Bing's standard answer better than Google's.

Though I will admit that there isn't a large difference between the two.

(I suspect Bing has fewer "bots" automatically searching the web, since I do, fairly often, find Bing missing the newest items.  Bing may also be better at respecting copyrights.)
- 9:17 AM, 6 April 2018   [link]


Elections Can Be Rough in Sierra Leone.
When elections come round in Sierra Leone parents are warned to take extra care of their children, as it's feared that candidates or their supporters may abduct them and use their organs in black magic rituals.  Olivia Acland reports on troubling signs that the rumours may be true.
I should warn you that some of the details are gruesome.
- 8:34 AM, 6 April 2018   [link]


This Week's Collection Of Cartoons from Politico.

My favorites:  Michael Ramirez's Bolton, Lalo Alcaraz's robots, and Signe Wilkinson's bad liberal.
- 8:12 AM, 6 April 2018   [link]


John Kasich's Chances In 2020 Are Better Than I Would Have Guessed:  This poll result, this early, surprised me.
The American Research Group poll, reported first by BuzzFeed News, found Trump leads Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) by 6 points, 48 percent to 42 percent, in a two-way race among likely Republican voters.  Trump leads Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) by a wider margin, 49 percent to 33 percent, with 18 percent of voters undecided, the poll found.

In a hypothetical matchup where Trump, Kasich and Flake all run in 2020, Trump leads with 51 percent.  Kasich earns 34 percent in that scenario, while Flake earns 4 percent.
It's just one poll, with a small sample size, but it is interesting.

As I write, British bettors give Kasich a 2.1 percent chance of winning the presidency in 2020.  (I am not sure which side of that bet I would take.)

(Here's how that 1 in 50 chance could happen.

First, Trump would have to lose support, especially among Republicans.  That is possible, considering the unending series of blunders and scandals that we should expect before 2020.  That is nearly certain if the economy stops growing, or there is some foreign policy disaster.

(The immense stimulus the economy is getting from the tax cut and the omnibus spending bill make a recession unlikely in the next year, but if Trump blunders into a serious trade war, that could change.)

Second, Kasich would have to raise enough money to be competitive in the early caucuses and primaries.

He would find it easier to raise money if polls showed him winning against likely Democratic nominees — while Trump was losing.

Then, if Kasich won the nomination, he would have to unite the party behind him, which might be difficult, given the personal connection so many Trumpistas have to the Donald.

And, of course, then Kasich would have to win the general election, which would be harder if the Democrats chose a relatively moderate candidate.

All that is unlikely, but not impossible.

John Kasich)
- 2:25 PM, 5 April 2018   [link]


When You Heard About The YouTube Shootings, did you immediately think that the shooter must be a vegan, animal rights supporter, originally from Iran?

I sure didn't.

Life is full of surprises.

(As I recall, I thought she might have a personal grudge, or a grudge against the company, but I thought the first more likely.)
- 1:24 PM, 5 April 2018   [link]


In The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt",Two Businessmen Face what is — for them — a tough decision.
- 9:15 AM, 5 April 2018   [link]


Worth Reading:  Jason Riley doesn't lack courage, as you can see in his latest column, "Martin Luther King: ‘We Can’t Keep On Blaming the White Man’".

Not many journalists would begin with the immediate effects of the assassination.
After Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead 50 years ago as he stood on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, Tenn., riots broke out in more than 100 cities.  There were also reports of violence on college campuses and even on military bases overseas, where some black soldiers refused to report for duty.
But those riots did long-term, sometimes even permanent, damage to the neighborhoods where they occurred.  Judging by the results, they were a big win for the racist who murdered King.

And it is true that King did sometimes urge blacks to be more responsible — which is good advice for all of us.

It is also true, as Riley does not mention, that near the end of his life King was moving left on foreign policy and domestic policy.  But he remained, above all, a Christian minister, something that won't get much emphasis, today.
- 4:37 PM, 4 April 2018   [link]


Perry Bacon And Dhrumil Mehta try to explain this oddity.
2018 seems like a bad time to be a Republican just about anywhere.  So you would think it would be even worse to be a Republican in deep-blue Massachusetts, where Hillary Clinton won by 27 percentage points in 2016.

But the state’s GOP governor, Charlie Baker, is doing just fine, thank you.   Actually, way better that fine:  Baker, who is running for re-election in November, may be the most popular statewide elected official in the U.S.  Of either party.
Their discussion isn't wrong, but I do think it is incomplete, missing as it does a powerful general explanation, a Massachusetts explanation, and a Baker explanation.

First, the general explanation:  In two-party elections, the candidate closest to the center usually wins.  (There is even a theorem explaining why we should expect that to happen.)

Baker's issue positions are close to the center — for Massachusetts.

Second, the Massachusetts explanation:  Massachusetts Democrats have chronic problems with corruption.

You can find a few of the many examples here, here, and here.

And there are others, if those aren't enough.

I have thought for years that Massachusetts voters chose Republican governors in part to keep Democratic corruption within bounds.

Third, the Baker explanation:  He is a competent manager and politician.

Are there any national lessons from Baker's success?  Sure, the obvious ones.  Centrist candidates have advantages in general elections, a party that tolerates corruption may be punished for that, and competence counts.

(Charlie Baker)
- 10:15 AM, 4 April 2018   [link]


The Greeting Might Give Customers second thoughts about patronizing that restaurant.
- 9:02 AM, 4 April 2018   [link]


What Mark Wright Left Out About Winnie Mandela:   This noon, I watched the King 5 news reader tell us about Winnie Mandela, who passed away yesterday.

Wright told us that she married Nelson Mandela, that she suffered under the apartheid regime, and that she was getting a state funeral.

All true.

But he didn't tell us anything about her other side.
In the mid-1980s Madikizela-Mandela exerted a "reign of terror" in Soweto, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) established by Mandela’s government to investigate human rights abuses revealed many of her violent activities during that period.  The TRC had found Madikizela-Mandela to have been "politically and morally accountable for the gross violations of human rights committed by the "Mandela United Football Club", her security detail.[3][4]  Madikizela-Mandela endorsed violent behaviour; including necklacing against alleged police informers and collaborators with the National Party government.  Her security detail carried out a number of these actions, including the kidnapping, torture, and murder of such individuals, most notoriously the teenager Stompie Moeketsi.[3][5]
. . .
As a senior ANC figure, she took part in the post-apartheid ANC government, although was dismissed from her post amid allegations of corruption.   In 2003, she was convicted of theft and fraud.  She temporarily retreated from active political involvement, returning several years later.
Which is less admirable.

I mention this, not because Wright's story is particularly important in itself, but because it is such a neat example of bias:  Wright told the truth — but not the whole truth.

(Necklacing)
- 1:12 PM, 3 April 2018   [link]


In July, Mexico Is Likely To Elect An Anti-American President:  As I predicted in January 2017.

The polls do not give us much reason for optimism.
MONTERREY (Reuters) - Mexican left-wing presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has an 18-point lead ahead of the July 1 election, according to a poll published on Monday that showed him with a growing advantage at the start of formal campaigning.
He can thank Donald Trump for some of that lead.

My prediction was not a difficult one to make; I simply assumed that the most anti-American of the major candidates would benefit from Trump's crude attacks on Mexico.

I'll repeat something I said in 2017:  "The United States is better off when Mexico is friendly, stable, and prosperous."

That should not be difficult to understand, either.

(Mexican general election, 2018 and Andrés Manuel López Obrador)
- 11:17 AM, 3 April 2018   [link]


Here's A Joke I've Been Telling Wrong:  From Bob Dole's Great Political Wit:
"In America," [Adlai] Stevenson reflected, "any boy may become President, and I suppose that's just the risk he takes. (p. 59)
How have I been telling it wrong?  In remembering it, I made two common mistakes:  I shifted the quote to a more famous person (John Kennedy), and I made the quote more suited to a joke, like this:
When he was a Senator, John Kennedy once said: "In America any little boy can grow up to be President.

And that's just a chance he has to take."
I've known about those two mistakes for decades, and I still made them.

On the other hand, from the reactions I have gotten, I suspect that my mistaken version is funnier.

(If you want to use my version semi-honestly, you could introduce it by saying the quote has been attributed to Kennedy.)
- 10:14 AM, 3 April 2018   [link]


Leaker-In-Chief?  That seems plausible enough.

The man does like to talk.
- 3:58 PM, 2 April 2018   [link]


Jeremy Corbyn Tries to cut his losses.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has deleted his personal Facebook account on the heels of backlash over his handling of antisemitism in his party, British media reported Sunday.

While his official page still exists, a link to what was apparently his personal page produces the message “sorry, this content isn’t available right now.”
Mike Smithson thinks it won't help.
The one way for LAB to close down its antisemitism crisis is for Corbyn to go but that is not going to happen
In fact, Smithson thinks the loss of more moderate Labour members from this scandal is actually strengthening Corbyn's hold on the Labour Party.
- 11:34 AM, 2 April 2018   [link]


Need A Facebook Cartoon?  Here's one.

(And here's a funny way some users are fooling Facebook.
Social media users are building false online identities to throw off advertisers and muddle databases—generating lots of ads for slippers.​
Officially, I disapprove, of course.)
- 10:19 AM, 2 April 2018   [link]


Happy Easter!  To all those who celebrate it today.

Easter flowers, 2008

Which is most Christians, this year.
- 4:33 PM, 1 April 2018   [link]