June 2015, Part 3
Jim Miller on Politics
If It's Good News, Obama Deserves Credit; If It's Bad News, Someone Else Deserves Blame: Yesterday and today, I saw a story and an editorial that demonstrated, once again, how our "mainstream" journalists distribute blame, and credit. Yesterday, I saw a story on a local TV station (Q13) about the coming job losses at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. So far, all we have is rumors, but they appear to be expecting job losses in the "thousands", which will be tough on that area.
And who deserves blame for those job losses? According to the pleasant young woman who did the TV story, the "military". Who, as everyone should know, are following President Obama's orders and, if they had their druthers, would almost certainly choose more jobs, not fewer.
Today, we got the opposite from the editorial writers at the New York Times. Their lead editorial (which I am deliberately not linking to) is headlined: "After Mr, Obama's Big Trade Victory". That victory belongs far more to Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell than to President Obama, for reasons that I explained, partly, here.
The Times doesn't even mention Boehner and McConnell in the editorial.
(Hope springs eternal. At the end of the editorial, the Times hopes that Obama can "strike better agreements that benefit the economy, raise labor and environmental standards and strengthen American relations with other countries". (I have no idea why they left out finding a cure for cancer from that list.) They are asking this negotiating miracle from a man who has shown he can not negotiate, productively, even with the members of his own party in Congress.)
- 2:11 PM, 24 June 2015 [link]
School Kids With ADHD Do Better If They Fidget: That's the conclusion of two small, but "suggestive", studies.
School children with ADHD should be encouraged to fidget in class, two new studies suggest.But, kids without ADHD did worse when given the same freedom to fidget.
Caveats: The studies were small and have not, as far as I know, been replicated. And I have never been happy with the state of our knowledge about ADHD, never been sure how much researchers really understood the condition, and never been sure how accurate those diagnoses are.
- 10:59 AM, 24 June 2015 [link]
"Judge Sues Neighbors After Donkey Attack" That's a headline in the "B" section of yesterday's Seattle Times. I glanced at it, chuckled, thinking it couldn't have been much of an attack by a harmless animal like a donkey, and wondering why a judge would sue neighbors. And then I read the article, which, in its on-line version describes the attack as "brutal", which it was.
A King County judge is suing her Carnation neighbors for unspecified damages after she was violently attacked by a donkey in February 2014.So the judge's quarrel is with their insurance company, not her neighbors.
And, after I got over how wrong my first impression had been, I remembered that donkeys are sometimes used to guard sheep from predators.
- 10:31 AM, 24 June 2015 [link]
The Confederate Battle Flag Shows Up in many unexpected places.
Back in 2012, as Napoli lost four-one to Chelsea in the quarterfinals of soccer's Champions League quarter final, a number of fans noticed something unusual hanging in the Italian club's end of the stadium: A Confederate flag.And there are more examples in the article.
If you conclude from that light-hearted article that I don't think an old flag is our biggest problem right now, you are right. I've never been fond of Confederate symbols, but I don't think they are terribly important, now.
(Technically, the flag usually called the Confederate flag is actually Robert E. Lee's battle flag; for many more details on the various flags used by the Confederacy, see this article.)
- 11:08 AM, 23 June 2015 [link]
Now There Are Some Hard Working Employees! Impossibly hard working, some would say.
Timesheets for employees of Amtrak are riddled with abuse, according to a recent audit report, with cases of workers claiming over 40 hours of work in a single day.Software folks will be mildly surprised to learn that the payroll software didn't have a "sanity check" against such impossible hours. But only mildly.
And a great many people will wonder what supervisors were doing while these hours were being reported. (Assuming the supervisors weren't doing it, too.)
- 10:36 AM, 23 June 2015 [link]
As Communism Was Collapsing In Eastern Europe, Greek Prime Minister Tsipras Was Becoming A Convert: Like many a boy, Alexis Tsipras was influenced by a girl.
The strong-willed Betty has been by Tsipras' side for more than 20 years. The pair met and fell in love at their Athens high school Ampelokipoi in 1987.The two of them met and fell in love when they were both 13. They turned 15 the year the Berlin Wall was torn down. They turned 17 the year the Soviet Union collapsed. They must have seen pictures of people celebrating their new freedoms after those events, but neither Tsipras nor his "registered partner", Peristera Batziana ("Betty"), gave up their leftist faith. They even gave one of their two sons the middle name of "Ernesto", after Che Guevara.
We can speculate that Tsipras was blinded by love, but it is hard to explain why those great events had, apparently, so little effect on "Betty".
(She has a degree in electrical engineering (Daily Mail) and is an "electrical and computer engineer" (Wikipedia), so she almost certainly is smarter than average, and she must have sometimes had to reject theories on the basis of evidence, as any engineer would.)
- 7:45 AM, 23 June 2015 [link]
Gossip And News From Greece: This Daily Mail article has both:
[Greek Prime Minister Alexis] Tsipras' stubborness ha sbeen backed by his partner and according to reports she said that she would leave him if he caves in to the requests of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission - the so-called Troika - for Greek austerity.From Putin's point of view, Greece is an almost perfect client state: strategic location, member of NATO and the European Union, shared Orthodox heritage, and small enough so that Russian aid could make a big difference, without damaging Russia's own finances.
(Here's Tsipras's Wikipedia biography, with more than the usual caveats. He is Greece's 186th prime minister, which shows that many of them didn't last long.)
- 6:23 PM, 22 June 2015 [link]
The Hillary Non-Paradox: Andrew Ferguson sees a paradox.
When news broke this spring about Bill and Hillary Clinton’s appetite for other people’s money and their indifference to other people’s rules, I was rereading my way through a shelf of old Hillary biographies. My memory thus was doubly stimulated. In the fresh revelations, as in the books, the traits of the Clintons were spread out for a new generation to marvel at: the furtiveness, the shifting accounts of hazy events, the parsing of language, the bald and unnecessary denial of often trivial facts (did she have two phones or one?). Her admirers, old and young, veteran and novice alike, were faced with the Hillary Paradox.There's more on how her admirers have tried to reconcile those two aspects, how they have refused to let less admirable actions change their conclusions about what kind of person she is.
But I don't think there is truly a paradox. Last year, I noted with amusement that she had described the American political system as "probably the most difficult, even brutal, in the world". (Which would surprise people living in, for instance, Syria or central Africa.)
But what if she and her admirers believe that, at least in part? Then she and they could combine high ideals with harsh actions. If you believe you are threatened by a "vast right-wing conspiracy", then many harsh actions become understandable, perhaps even acceptable, just as they do in war time.
If she and they do hold those views then, if she is elected president, she may be even more divisive than President Obama has been.
(The article gives a good overview of earlier Clinton scandals, including some details on her cattle futures trading, details which I had somehow missed. Or forgotten.
You may want to share the article with younger friends and relatives, who are unlikely to be unfamiliar with most, or perhaps even all, of those earlier scandals.
Many of you will speculate that she has a Manichean view of the world, an idea that seems plausible to me, as long as you don't push it too far.)
- 3:14 PM, 22 June 2015 [link]
Chris Cillizza Thinks President Obama Has Given Up On "Hope And Change" But, as usual (always?), it's not Obama's fault.
In a speech at a California fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee last week, President Obama offered a remarkably candid assessment of how he has tried — and failed — to change Washington. Two paragraphs, in particular, stand out.So, if things didn't get fixed, it's our fault, especially those folks in Congress.
In Obama's view, he didn't over promise; we under delivered.
- 10:24 AM, 22 June 2015 [link]
Worth Reading: Larry Getlen's discussion of former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren's new book.
Having spent years writing about Middle Eastern history, Oren paid special attention to the little-known Sen. Obama when he launched his presidential campaign, and says that Israelis were “confused” by America’s enthusiasm for the candidate.Some Americans were "confused" by the same thing.
And many Americans have come to the conclusion that ABB is not a sound basis for an American strategy.
- 8:04 PM, 21 June 2015 [link]
Father Knows Best? Today, one of the local stations (Joe TV) has been has been running re-runs of that old program to celebrate Father's Day, on its old TV sub-channel.
Which strikes me as ironic because every day the other sub-channels carry program after program that suggest that fathers do not know best.
And I have thought for many years that none of our networks could make a program with that name, and use the name straight, without a sneer, even though it is not hard to find fathers who do know best, more often than not.
Happy Father's Day to all of those fathers.
- 7:31 PM, 21 June 2015 [link]
Danish Treat: By a very narrow margin.
Denmark's opposition parties have beaten the governing coalition after a close general election.(Here's the Wikipedia scorecard. (Which will probably be revised and extended in the next week or so.) If you are like me, you may need an explanation of Rasmussen's Venstre party.
. . . full name Venstre, Danmarks Liberale Parti (English: Left, Denmark's Liberal Party), is a conservative-liberal and agrarian political party in Denmark. Founded as part of a peasants' movement against the landed aristocracy, today it espouses an economically liberal pro-free market ideology.I hope that isn't completely confusing.
The leading vote winners — though by tiny margins — in both the Faroe Islands and Greenland were from separatist parties. Each won one of two seats. Americans may be amused to learn the party in the Faroe Islands used to be known as the Republican Party, but has now shortened that to just "Republic".)
- 3:23 AM, 19 June 2015 [link]
Cartoonist Michael Ramirez has the right reaction to the mass murder in Charleston.
(Though I must warn you that some of the commenters after the cartoon don't.)
- 2:49 PM, 19 June 2015 [link]
Here's an example of one of stories that the Daily Mail will publish — but "mainstream" American news organizations wouldn't.
Of all the schools in all the towns in all the world, why did Michelle Obama visit a girls’ school in the Islamic Republic of Tower Hamlets this week?If you need a visual illustration of his point, compare the clothes worn by the Michelle, Sasha, and Malia Obama to the clothes worn by those girls.
(If Tower Hamlets seems vaguely familiar, that's probably because you have read about the extensive vote fraud there.)
- 8:32 AM, 19 June 2015 [link]
Ordinarily, American Politicians Court Journalists: Whatever the politicians may think of the journalists in private, they recognize that the people who buy ink by the barrel, sell TV time by the billions, and put up billions of words and trillions of pixels on the Internet can do much to help — or harm — a candidate.
And so American politicians ordinarily try, at least, to make it easier for the journalists to do their jobs.
Which is what makes the current Hillary Clinton campaign treatment of journalists so interesting; she, and her staff, have gone out of their way to offend many journalists. Not by picking fights with them, publicly, as a Republican candidate might do when faced by a leftist journalist, but by making it harder for the journalists to do their jobs..
James Taranto has a small collection of recent Clinton offenses against journalists. Here's the one I found the most interesting.
Driving through New Hampshire in the rain without knowing where you're headed is an unnerving experience, but that's where I found myself this morning after Hillary Clinton's staff said I wouldn't be allowed to do my job reporting on her campaign.But then someone, Clinton or someone acting for her, decided that David Martosko of the Daily Mail was unacceptable, and decided that too late for him to be replaced by a substitute "pooler". They gave him excuses for this treatment, which you can read if you like, but I think almost everyone even moderately familiar with the Daily Mail will conclude that she and her campaign just don't like the stories about the Clintons that have appeared on that newspaper's web site.
And chose this petty way of showing that dislike.
Which strikes me as irrational as poking a bunch of pit bulls with a stick.
(The newspaper has a large American presence:
OK, so DailyMail.com is owned by the Daily Mail newspaper from England but the US content is not EDITED by that newspaper, it is edited in New York and currently has nearly 200 employees growing at about 50% a year – and more US online readers than every big city newspaper in America other than the New York Times.Partly, of course, because of its willingness to cover American stories that American news organizations won't.)
- 7:59 AM, 19 June 2015 [link]
Appalling, But Worth Reading: Sidney Blumenthal's email to Hillary Clinton, celebrating the downfall of the Libyan regime. You'll notice that he doesn't seem to be concerned about the Libyans, or the least bit prescient about what will happen in Libya after the regime collapses.
- 2:12 PM, 18 June 2015 [link]
On A Different (And Much Lighter) Note, here's my semi-serious suggestion for the woman to be on the new ten-dollar bill. I think it wouldn't hurt us to be a little French and choose Marilyn Monroe.
In the decades following her death, she has often been cited as both a pop and a cultural icon as well as the quintessential American sex symbol.There's no reason that at least one of our bills can't be attractive.
- 12:05 PM, 17 June 2015 [link]
Mass Murder In Charleston: And you probably know as much about it as I do, since I've been out grocery shopping this morning.
Here's what Governor Nikki Haley had to say.
“We woke up today,” Haley said, fighting back tears, “and the heart and soul of South Carolina was broken. And so we have some grieving to do. And we’ve got some pain we have to go through. Parents are having to explain to their kids how they can go to church and feel safe. And that’s not something ever we thought we’d deal with.”There's nothing I have to add to that.
- 11:02 AM, 18 June 2015 [link]
"Transgender" Teenager Versus TB Tests: Today's New York Times put a teenager who had a "sex-change" operation while still in high school on the front page.
It wasn't quite their lead story; although the picture was at the top center of the front page, the story itself was in the middle of the page, and so would be the first story most readers would look at. The Times has been using this odd layout frequently lately, often for what I think of as "leftist morality lessons", stories intended to reinforce leftist thinking.
And that, I think, is why this story, of no great importance, is being treated as if it were.
In contrast, there was a story in yesterday's Wall Street Journal on the search for new TB tests that was enormously important.
As U.S. health officials treat an Indian woman who entered the country with drug-resistant tuberculosis, scientists at Texas A&M Health Science Center are trying to develop faster and more accurate ways to diagnose the infectious disease.Scientists, as you'll learn if you read the whole article, are also looking hard for faster ways to discover which antibiotics can be used to treat cases of tuberculosis. (And there are strains of TB where no antibiotics work. Fortunately for us, so far those strains are extremely rare in the United States.)
How important is TB, now? This important:
One-third of the world’s population has tuberculosis, though many carry it without displaying any symptoms. Between 1.5 and 2 million people a year die from it, the World Health Organization says.I'd say that's many orders of magnitude more important than a single teenager getting a drastic (and likely to be ineffectual) treatment for gender dysphoria.
(If you are interested in the "transgender teenager" story, do a search on the name he/she is using now: "Katherine Boone", or just go to the New York Times site.)
Here's the usual Wikipedia article on tuberculosis.)
- 2:24 PM, 17 June 2015 [link]
If Belonging To A Particular Race Gives A Person Advantages, then some people will fake belonging to that race. One of my favorite examples comes from years ago in Los Angeles. The schools decided that they needed to mix the races more, and to do that they were moving black teachers to mostly white schools, and white teachers to mostly black schools.
Many teachers figured out, immediately, that they could stay where they were, as many of them wanted to do, if they fibbed about their race on the forms the schools were using to determine who should be moved. Enough teachers did this so that the schools actually had to set up an official race classification board to check the teachers.
Similarly, two brothers in the Boston fire department — who looked completely Irish — claimed they were black because they had a black great grandmother, or something like that. (Their claim ended up in court. I think they lost, but I could be wrong.)
There is obviously a risk to such claims, but the clever and unscrupulous may succeed in using them. Howie Carr reminds us of one of the most successful, Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Rachel Dolezal is Elizabeth Warren on steroids.And some, as Carr says, will do it out of some inner compulsion, as Dolezal apparently did. (She hasn't, as far as I can tell, profited from her attempt to pass. And the people most hurt by her actions are her own family.)
As far as I can tell, almost no one on the left is bothered by Warren claiming to be part Indian (1/32 Cherokee) when she wasn't. Instead, they have chosen to accept her story, in spite of her having lied about her heritage and her past, again and again.
(When I glanced through Warren's career, it looked to me as if she had also benefited from her first marriage, that she had used it to pay for her law school education, and then abandoned that husband to hook up with a law professor. (You may have noticed that she isn't often seen with her children, which probably tells you something.)
Incidentally, though I linked to that Wikipedia article, you should distrust it, on everything except the most basic facts about her life. Her birth date is probably correct; what they say about her research is almost certainly misleading, at best.)
- 9:26 AM, 17 June 2015 [link]
Animal Killers: The Washington Post has a set of charts to remind us, if we had forgotten, that Americans are almost 30 times more likely to die from an insect sting, than from a shark attack.
That's true, but Christopher Ingraham doesn't discuss this point: There are many, many more stinging insects than sharks, so our dangers from any individual animal are much greater if that animal is a shark than a bee, a hornet, or a wasp. (How many more? We count sharks in the thousands; if we could count stinging insects, we might need to use billions.)
People who are allergic to insect stings should take extra precautions. Here's what the Center for Disease Control advises for people who work outside.
Workers with a history of severe allergic reactions to insect bites or stings should carry an epinephrine autoinjector and wear medical ID jewelry stating their allergy.And I assume they would give similar advice to others with that allergy who spend much time where there might be stinging insects.
(Ingraham says about 20 people are killed each year by "cows". He should say "cattle", so as to include bulls, which are far more dangerous than cows.)
- 7:06 AM, 17 June 2015 [link]