Archive:

June 2018, Part 1

Jim Miller on Politics




Pseudo-Random Thoughts



You Need Not Agree With Orrin Judd's Cynical Speculation — to think that Julia Ioffe has asked a good question.
- 3:46 PM, 8 June 2018   [link]


This Week's Collection Of Cartoons from Politico.

My favorites:  Michael Ramirez's Golden State, Matt Davies' Puerto Rico, and Clay Bennett's throne.

In this last week, Andy Marlette drew a cartoon that will offend supporters of Bill Clinton — and a cartoon that will offend supporters of Donald Trump.

(I like both.)
- 9:12 AM, 8 June 2018   [link]


Andrew Rudalevige Asks — And Answers — this question:
If the Iran deal had been a Senate-confirmed treaty, would Trump have been forced to stay in?  Nope.
Presidents, including recent ones, have unilaterally withdrawn from treaties.

Thomas Jefferson, I learned from the post, thought withdrawing from a treaty should require a vote in the Senate.  I think he was right, but recognize that it is rather late to make that argument.

(When I first read the post, it explained that Jefferson had made that argument in his manual of rules.  I don't know what happened to that paragraph or paragraphs.)
- 2:55 PM, 7 June 2018   [link]


Gail Heriot Says We Can Call Her a "cultural bigot".

You can call me one, too.
- 2:14 PM, 7 June 2018   [link]


How Much Of A Chance Do The Cavaliers Have Of Winning The NBA Finals?  Less than 1 in 16.

Most of you will have already figured out how I got that number, but for those who didn't, this explanation:  I simply assumed that each team had an equal chance to win each of the four games remaining.

That's a simple approach, but I have found that such simple probability calculations are often surprisingly useful.

(FiveThirtyEight's more sophisticated model currently gives the Cavaliers just a one percent chance.  That strikes me as a little too low, but I don't know how they rounded off the number.)
- 9:01 AM, 7 June 2018   [link]


Sweet:  This BBC story on the Mexican nuns who are helping save the axolotl from extinction in the wild.
Conservationists from Chester Zoo have formed an unlikely partnership with an order of nuns - in a project that could save a critically endangered amphibian from extinction.

The axolotl - a salamander that is unique to Mexico - has almost been wiped out of its freshwater habitat by pollution and over-fishing.

Now, scientists say that the nuns hold the key to bringing it back from the brink.
Axolotls are in no danger of extinction in laboratories.  Scientists have been studying them for decades, since they have the ability to regrow lost limbs, a trick we'd like to copy.

(Axolotl)
- 8:28 AM, 7 June 2018   [link]


Another Mis-Remembered Joke:  Recently, I told a friend an old joke from Egypt.  But I didn't remember it correctly, and told it this way:
One morning, a minister in the Nasser's government went down to the Nile.   As he walked by the river, he heard a strange voice coming from it:  "Bring me a horse, bring me a horse."

The next morning he again goes down to the Nile, and again hears the strange voice asking for a horse.

On the third day, unable to keep this a secret, he brings Nasser down to the river, so he can hear the voice too.

And this time the voice says:  "I asked for a horse — and you brought me a donkey."
Why was I thinking about that joke?  Because there is an obvious modern version:
One morning, Mike Pence goes down to the Potomac . . .
And the original?  It switches Nasser and the minister.  (Which may have made the joke safer.)
- 6:57 AM, 7 June 2018   [link]


No, California's Top-Two Primary Is Not "Unique"   Though many journalists think so.

Washington state uses it, except for presidential elections, and it is used in some special elections, elsewhere.  (Louisiana has a similar system.)

(Wikipedia is, in my opinion, needlessly confusing in its terminology.  I prefer to call the system now used in Washington and California simply a top-two primary, and the system used before simply a blanket primary.  By now, it is probably best to keep calling Louisiana's system a "jungle primary", even though a candidate can win the general election in the first round, by getting more than fifty percent of the vote.)
- 11:21 AM, 6 June 2018   [link]


Uber And Google Won't Like the current "Pepper . . . and Salt".

But I do.
- 10:09 AM, 6 June 2018   [link]


It Isn't Mud Wrestling, And It Isn't Trump And Avenatti:  But it's a start.
- 7:19 PM, 5 June 2018   [link]


Two Small, But Interesting, Trade Disputes:  First, British Columbia.
The U.S. is still negotiating with Canada over where imported wine can be displayed, and now the European Union and Argentina want to take part in the proceedings.

The quarrel between the countries stems from a 2015 regulation, which stipulates that in British Columbia grocery stores, imported wine must be sold in a "store within a store,” according to CNBC, that employs a separate cash register from the main shop, where the domestic bottles are sold.  The first complaint against the strict rule was filed under President Obama; the Trump administration has now filed another complaint.
(Links omitted.)

Customers in the Canadian province can buy imported wines in the provincial liquor stores.

Second, Rwanda.
When East African countries announced a ban on the import of second-hand clothes to help their own textile industries, this irked US President Donald Trump.  All but Rwanda have now backtracked.  What's at stake?

It's one of US President Donald Trump's trade wars that makes few headlines:  The one over used clothes.

In 2016, member states of the East African Community (EAC) came up with a plan to ban second-hand clothes and shoes by 2019.  The EAC doubled a common external tariff rate for worn clothing to $0.40 (€0.34) per kilogram.   Rwanda increased its per-kilogram import tax to $2.50.
If you have been donating clothes to one of our major charities, chances are they have ended up in Africa.
- 1:55 PM, 5 June 2018   [link]


Worth Reading:  Lawrence Summers' op-ed, "Trump's trade policy violates almost every strategic rule".

Frederick the Great (who knew a little about strategy) said:  "He who defends everything defends nothing."

Similarly, we might say of Trump's trade "strategy" that he who attacks everywhere attacks nowhere.  By picking fights simultaneously with Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Japan, and the European Union, Trump has made it almost certain that he will lose the fight that matters most, with China.

(Lawrence Summers)
- 11:10 AM, 5 June 2018   [link]


Here's A Thoughtful Answer to an ambiguous question.
- 10:11 AM, 5 June 2018   [link]


Fifty Years Since His Assassination, Bobby Kennedy Is In The News Again:  So here's a joke he told on himself.
During his Senate campaign in 1964, Robert Kennedy told an audience in New York City, "People say I am ruthless.  I am not ruthless.  And if I find the man who is calling me ruthless, I shall destroy him." (pp. 23-24)
How would I laugh if I heard that joke?

Nervously.
- 1:15 PM, 4 June 2018   [link]


FiveThirtyEight is giving the Warriors a 76 percent chance of winning tonight's game — and an 85 percent chance of winning the series.

(FiveThirtyEight's Chris Herring was seriously peeved by the first game.  I wasn't because I am tired of the breaks LeBron James gets from the referees, and so I am pleased when he loses, for whatever reason.)
- 4:41 PM, 3 June 2018   [link]


Fifteen Percent Increase In Homelessness For Every $100 Rent Increase:  Yesterday, on KUOW's "Week in Review", panelist C. R. Douglas said that was the relationship that had been observed in King County during the surge in homelessness in recent years.

We shouldn't treat either of those numbers as exact, but I think they are probably roughly correct.

And they are consistent with the small increase found in the latest count — after a year in which apartment rents finally began to stabilize.

(C. R. Douglas)
- 2:25 PM, 3 June 2018   [link]


The Current Pepper . . . And Salt" made me laugh out loud.
- 1:28 PM, 3 June 2018   [link]


Japan's Population Is Shrinking:  Even faster this year than last.
The annual number of newborns dropped to a record low of 946,060 in 2017, staying below 1 million for the second consecutive year, a government survey showed Friday.

Japan’s population thus fell by the largest margin yet, with births dropping 30,918 from the previous year and deaths climbing to a postwar high of 1,340,433, for a natural decrease of 394,373, the health ministry’s data showed.

Marriages also fell, hitting a postwar low of 606,863, down 13,668 from the previous year.

The total fertility rate — defined as the average number of children a woman will bear in her lifetime — fell 0.01 point to 1.43, far below the rate of 2.07 needed to stabilize the population.
The Japanese government hopes to raise that rate by 2025, not to 2.07, but to 1.80, a rate that some demographers say allows a nation to decline "gracefully".

Meanwhile, Japan has already started importing nurses from Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Japan is not alone; all of the East Asian nations: China, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan have fertility rates below replacement.  (I was startled by how low Taiwan's is.)

Why have these nations, so successful in many ways, become unable to do something essential?

I have answers to that question, but not the answer.  And if any demographer has the answer, I haven't seen it.

Americans shouldn't feel we are immune from this problem; our fertility rate has been below replacement since the George W. Bush administration, and fell again last year.

(Demography of Japan)
- 10:13 AM, 2 June 2018   [link]


This New Yorker Cartoon made me laugh.
- 9:26 AM, 2 June 2018   [link]


Too Funny not to share.
Donald Trump and Tony Schwartz teamed up to write the 1987 business bestseller The Art of the Deal.   But while Trump was the person in the collaboration widely deemed to have the negotiating prowess, it was Schwartz who actually perfected the art of the deal on The Art of the Deal.

According to Politico, Schwartz scored himself a sweetheart deal to write the Trump tome.
It will be even funnier if you don't think about the fact that Trump is supposed to be our negotiator, now.
- 11:09 AM, 1 June 2018   [link]


This Week's Collection Of Cartoons from Politico.

My favorites:  Signe Wilkinson's casino and Michael Ramirez's Roseanne.
- 10:41 AM, 1 June 2018   [link]