Archive:

January 2018, Part 3

Jim Miller on Politics




Pseudo-Random Thoughts



Worth Reading:  Marc Thiessen's column: "Democrats just got rolled.  They can blame Barack Obama."

Key points:
The government shutdown is over. Democrats finally realized that closing the government over illegal immigration was a losing political battle.  They created a needless crisis and got rolled.  So who is to blame for their current predicament?  Along with Charles E. Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, Democrats can put the blame squarely on the man who could have legalized the “dreamers” when he had the chance:  Barack Obama.
. . .
By the time Obama got around to immigration legislation, Republicans had retaken the House.  After failing to act when he had the votes, in 2012 Obama announced he would implement Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an unlawful executive action to effectively legalize the presence of illegal immigrants who had arrived in the United States as children.  The Post’s editorial board correctly called it an “unprecedented” move that “flies in the face of congressional intent,” adding that “Republicans’ failure to address immigration . . . does not justify Mr. Obama’s massive unilateral act.”  Even “Saturday Night Live” skewered Obama’s executive action.
As you may recall, President Obama had repeatedly said that he did not have the legal authority to take that executive action — before he took it.

Since Democrats did not act on immigration when they could have, it is fair to ask why they now say it is their top priority.  I am not the only person who has concluded that most prefer having the issue — and the current laws and gaps in enforcement — to any realistic reform.

And it is only fair to add that there are some Republicans who also prefer having the issue to passing any realistic reform.
- 3:24 PM, 24 January 2018   [link]


"Chinese Police Seize Publisher From Train In Front of Diplomats"  The Chinese regime is getting even bolder about suppressing dissidents.
A Hong Kong-based book publisher with Swedish citizenship who was secretly spirited to China and held in custody for two years, igniting international controversy, has disappeared again in dramatic fashion — snatched from a train bound for Beijing under the eyes of two Swedish diplomats.

The bookseller, Gui Minhai, became a symbol of the Chinese government’s determination to smother criticism from abroad when he was one of five Hong Kong booksellers who disappeared in 2015, and then resurfaced in China in police custody.
(When Britain returned Hong Kong to China, it got an agreement from China to respect free speech rights in Hong Kong.)

According to some accounts I've read, Xi Jinping and company object most to the gossip about Chinese leaders those five published.  No doubt much of that gossip is difficult to check, and some of it false, so Xi could say that he is just trying to eliminate "fake news".

We can hope that Gui is released soon, and that he finds a safer place to live.
- 10:33 AM, 24 January 2018   [link]


Wondering Why There is so much snow at Davos?

Obviously, it's the Gore Effect.
- 8:05 AM, 24 January 2018   [link]


Almost All Recent A-Hed Stories are worth at least a glance.

(I especially like the pizza waivers and the ‘Good Morning!’ texts,)
- 7:52 AM, 24 January 2018   [link]


Basic Numbers On Immigration To The United States:   These show why immigration has become a hot political issue.
13% of the population was foreign-born in 2009 – a rise of 350% since 1970 when foreign-born people accounted for 3.7% of the population,[112] including 11.2 million illegal immigrants,[113] 80% of whom come from Latin America.[114]  Latin America is the largest region-of-birth group, accounting for over half (53%) of all foreign born population in US,[115] and thus is also the largest source of both legal and illegal immigration to US.[116]   In 2011, there are 18.1 million naturalized citizens in the United States, accounting for 45% of the foreign-born population (40.4 million) and 6% of the total US population at the time,[117] and around 680,000 legal immigrants are naturalized annually.[118]
It is safe to conclude that immigrants, legal and illegal, now make up more than 15 percent of the United States population.  (I'm not sure why the authors of that Wikipedia article didn't use a more recent estimate than 2009.)

We're number 1.
The United States has a larger immigrant population than any other country, with 47 million immigrants as of 2015.[1] This represents 19.1% of the 244 million international migrants worldwide, and 14.4% of the U.S. population.
(The world's population is now about 7.5 billion.)

If you want to know how we got here, here's one more Wikipedia article.
- 2:42 PM, 23 January 2018   [link]


It Can Be A Mistake to follow the wrong crowd.
- 1:30 PM, 23 January 2018   [link]


Paddy Power Is Offering Bets on Donald Trump's marriage, and possible re-marriage.
Following the recent revelations about Donald Trump paying hush money to the porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about their reputed affair, the marriage of Donald and Melania Trump has come under scrutiny.  If you have no ethical or moral qualms about betting on the divorce of a couple then you might be interested in the above betting markets from Paddy Power.
I might not have mentioned these bets except for my favorite: 500-1 against the White House confirming that Melania is a robot, before the end of 2018.

That bet is, I suppose, a tribute to The Stepford Wives.

(I don't know whether Paddy Power offered similar bets on Bill and Hillary Clinton.)
- 2:59 PM, 22 January 2018   [link]


Robert Barro Believes That The Republican Tax Bill will make our economy grow faster.

(Barro is a serious economist — according to other economists.

If the tax changes are a success, who would deserve the most credit?  In my semi-informed opinion, Speaker Paul Ryan.)
- 1:20 PM, 22 January 2018   [link]


Trump's Self-Hugs, Again:  Ten days ago I described Donald Trump's odd self-hugs.

But I don't think I was as clear in my description as I should have been, so here's another try:  Trump hugs himself across his waist with his left arm, as if he were protecting his belly.  He hugs himself across his chest with his right arm, his right hand grasping his left shoulder, as if he were protecting his heart.

I cannot recall seeing another adult take such a defensive pose, though I have seen insecure toddlers do something similar.

Do those occasional Trump self-hugs tell us more about the man than all his bluster?   I think so, but there are many who disagree, for example.  (Or at least say they disagree, whatever they may think about the man.)

(For what it is worth, some anonymous White House aides also see him as a toddler.
Like the books that came before it, and almost certainly like the ones still to come, Kurtz’s book, “Media Madness: Donald Trump, The Press, And The War Over The Truth,” offers a portrait of a White House riven by chaos, with aides scrambling to respond to the president’s impulses and writing policy to fit his tweets, according to excerpts obtained by The Washington Post.

Kurtz, who worked at The Post from 1981 to 2010, writes that Trump’s aides even privately coined a term for Trump’s behavior — “Defiance Disorder.”   The phrase refers to Trump’s seeming compulsion to do whatever it is his advisers are most strongly urging against, leaving his team to handle the fallout.
Howard Kurtz)
- 9:19 AM, 22 January 2018   [link]


This Might Be a workable business model.
- 8:33 AM, 22 January 2018   [link]


What Kind Of People Are Most Vulnerable To Sexual Predators?  Those least able to defend themselves, right?

And that is just what NPR found, when they investigated.

NPR has done a series of stories on this difficult subject, beginning with this one.
People with intellectual disabilities are sexually assaulted at seven times the rate of people without disabilities.  It's a crime that often goes unrecognized and unpunished.
(As you probably already have guessed, the stories are not easy to listen to.)

NPR deserves considerable credit for tackling this difficult subject, knowing, as they must have, that it would get little attention, since the victims are not famous, or even glamorous.   The same qualities that make these victims easy targets make them easy to ignore — but that is precisely what we ought not to do.
- 4:57 PM, 21 January 2018   [link]


This May Be a little too early for a smart phone.
- 4:27 PM, 21 January 2018   [link]


I hope You Never Have A Job like this one.
- 1:56 PM, 20 January 2018   [link]


How Bad Has The Inflation Become In Venezuela?   So bad, says Francisco Toro, that "In Venezuela, money has stopped working".
A friend recently sent me a photograph that tells a powerful story about the situation Venezuelans find themselves in now.  It’s not a very good picture, really, just a blurry cellphone shot of trash: some wrapping material, an old CD — the detritus left behind after a store was looted last week in San Felix, a city in the country’s southeast.

And yet I can’t stop thinking about it, because strewn about in the trash are at least a dozen 20-bolivar bills, small-denomination currency now so worthless even looters didn’t think it was worth their time to stop and pick them up.
Toro says that the value of each of those bills is now about "$0.0001".  They probably can be used for starting fires.

(Venezuela is not yet the hyperinflation champion; according to Wikipedia, that title belongs to post-World II Hungary.  Their largest denomination was 100 quintillion.)
- 2:14 PM, 19 January 2018   [link]


This Week's Collections Of Cartoons from Politico.

My favorite:  Michael Ramirez's "tough language".

One didn't seem enough, so I found this Scott Stantis cartoon that should make almost all of us happy we don't live in Illinois — and sympathetic to thos who do.
- 1:17 PM, 19 January 2018   [link]


Want To Read More Dirt On Harvey Weinstein?  There's more available.
Vanity Fair reports that “one colleague [said] ‘[Weinstein] was burning through [money]’ on attorneys and other advisers and, whether related or not, was working to unload some of his real estate.”  For this reason, he “reportedly became so strapped for funds that he requested suspension of child-support payments to two daughters from his marriage to Eve Chilton, a former assistant of his.”
And that isn't all; there are clues in the article that will interest prosecutors.
- 3:13 PM, 18 January 2018   [link]


Venezuela's Slow Collapse Continues:   Some of the numbers are astonishing.
Over the past four years, the country’s economy has shrunk by about 40% and inflation has surged—topping 2,600% last year, according to the National Assembly.  Nearly one in four factories didn’t reopen after Christmas, according to a local industry association.
As I am sure you know, ordinarily depressions are accompanied by falling prices.

It gets harder and harder to believe that there will be a peaceful ending to this slow collapse.

What I do not know — and they may not either — is what China, Cuba, Iran, and Russia will do to prevent that collapse.

(Reminder:  There is more than one cause for this massive failure.  You can see the incompetence in the falling oil production.

And I suspect the level of corruption is increasing as officials in the Chavista regime steal more and more — while they still can.

It isn't just low oil prices or socialism, the two most common causes given for the collapse.)
- 3:00 PM, 18 January 2018   [link]


Kay Hymowitz Makes Two Common Mistakes in this article.

She underestimates the amount of help immigrants received in the "Ellis Island era":
In the Ellis Island era, the country took in “the tired and poor,” but it did not—it could not, in those hard-knock times—offer them more than a chance to manage on their own.  Private charitable organizations, mostly religious, sometimes kept greenhorns from starving or living on the streets, but there was no Department of Health and Human Services, no state and city welfare offices, no food stamps, Medicaid, housing subsidies, no Department of Education with Title I funds to augment local school budgets, no ESL classes or special education for immigrant children.
There were, however, free schools almost everywhere, and there were political machines in many large cities that provided help, in return for votes.  (For an example of what those machines could do, read the last chapter of Plunkitt of Tammany Hall.)

Second, Hymowitz fails to discuss values.  Instead, like almost everyone else who discusses immigration, she concentrates on skills.

An example will show why I think that is an error:  There is no doubt that he had many skills, skills which we could use in our economy — but I don't think the late Osama bin Laden would have been a desirable immigrant to the United States.

Or consider a less extreme example:  Millions of Chinese would like to immigrate to the United States, and many of them have skills we can use.  But it is also true that some of those millions would be more loyal to Xi Jinping's China than to the United States, even if they became American citizens.

Admittedly, determining whether an immigrant has the right values can be difficult, but it is not impossible, most of the time.  And I do think we can do far better on that than we have been.

(Kay Hymowitz)
- 8:29 AM, 18 January 2018   [link]


Doctors Sometimes Have to give their patients bad news.
- 7:30 AM, 18 January 2018   [link]


Another Republican Defeat:  This time in Wisconsin.
A Democrat’s victory in a special election to fill a vacant seat in the Wisconsin state Legislature is “a wake up call for Republicans in Wisconsin,” Gov. Scott Walker wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that Patty Schachtner, a Democrat, was victorious in Tuesday’s special election for Wisconsin’s 10th Senate District, a Republican-learning district in the northwest part of the state along the Minnesota border.  The seat had previously been filled by Sheila Harsdorf, who resigned last November after 17 years in office to join Walker’s administration as Wisconsin’s secretary of agriculture.
Judging by the district's electoral history, I would expect, everything else being equal. that Republicans would win it by about 10 points, 55-45.  (Romney won it by 6 points, Trump by 17.)  Democrat Schactner won it by 11.

Special elections do often give surprising wins to the out party, but even so that large a swing is not a good sign.

(According to one report I've seen, Bill Clinton encouraged Donald Trump to run for the Republican nomination in 2016.  I hope you will not think me too cynical if I say that Clinton probably did not do that (assuming he did) because he thought a Trump candidacy would help the Republican Party.)
- 4:13 PM, 17 January 2018   [link]


Worth Reading:  (As she usually is.)  Noemie Emery's reminder, "Hillary Clinton was not a role model".
The New York Times dragged out a sanitized version of Hillary Clinton once again, in a lament that she had to expire politically to create an uprising.  But people who want to see women advancing in politics should be glad that she lost.

Clinton was not a role model, as her model wasn’t available to anyone who hadn’t married a president.  A bad politician, she was dependent upon him, and when he turned out to be a chronic seducer and even abuser of women, she was willing to threaten and even destroy his victims to assure his success.
One of the curious things about the 2016 campaign was that she did not appear to take his political advice — as almost any other Democratic candidate would have done.

Bill Clinton has his faults, but there is no doubt that he knows something about winning elections.  (I imagine most of you have the same guess as I do about why she did not ask for and follow his campaign advice.)
- 1:08 PM, 17 January 2018   [link]


Today's "Pepper . . . And Salt" is moderately funny.

(In contrast, this New Yorker cartoon illustrates, again, how so many on the left find it hard to be funny about Trump (although I did like the artistic reference).)
- 10:43 AM, 17 January 2018   [link]