August 2018, Part 1

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Today Is The 100th Anniversary Of The Batle Of Amiens:  The British have commemorated it, and we ought to at least remember this turning point in World War I.
The Battle of Amiens, also known as the Third Battle of Picardy (French: 3ème Bataille de Picardie), was the opening phase of the Allied offensive which began on 8 August 1918, later known as the Hundred Days Offensive, that ultimately led to the end of the First World War.  Allied forces advanced over 11 kilometres (7 mi) on the first day, one of the greatest advances of the war, with Henry Rawlinson's British Fourth Army playing the decisive role.  The battle is also notable for its effects on both sides' morale and the large number of surrendering German forces.  This led Erich Ludendorff to describe the first day of the battle as "the black day of the German Army".  Amiens was one of the first major battles involving armoured warfare and marked the end of trench warfare on the Western Front; fighting becoming mobile once again until the armistice was signed on 11 November 1918.
(Links omitted.)

The tanks were effective, but not reliable.
The infantry had outrun the supporting artillery,[27] and the initial force of more than 500 tanks that played a large role in the Allied success was reduced to six battle-ready tanks within four days.[28]
Many, perhaps most, of the missing tanks could be repaired, and were, soon.

But this reliability problem is one of the reasons the Allies advanced in a series of battles, rather than continuously during the next hundred days.

By then American reinforcements were arriving at at rate, if I recall correctly, of about 250,000 a month.  The were half trained, but they made a difference, anyway.

(The principal planner of the attack was John Monash, a remarkable man.)
- 9:50 PM, 8 August 2018   [link]

Worth Reading:  Sean Trende's analysis, "Tuesday Night Is a Bad Sign for GOP Chances in the House ".

Democrats will be pleased because he thinks a Democratic "wave" is possible in the House in November's election; Republicans will be unhappy for the same reason.

If there is a wave, I would expect it to be higher in the Midwest and West than in the South, judging by the results of special elections this year.
- 7:36 PM, 8 August 2018   [link]

US Sanctions Russia Over The Skripal Poisonings:  A State Department official made the announcement today.
The US is to place sanctions on Russia after determining that it used nerve agent against former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK in March.
. . .
The US determined "that the government of the Russian Federation has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law, or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals", US state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

The sanctions are to take effect on or around 22 August, she added.
It would be interesting to know what non-public information the US has on the attack.

(This is a neat example of my three layers analysis of the Trump presidency.  The permanent presidency made the determination, but it was announced by a member of the Republican presidency.  Ordinarily, you would expect Mike Pompeo to make such an important announcement, but he chose not to.

And the Trump layer?  Most likely the Donald knew about the announcement but we can't be sure he approved of it.

I don't think it was accidental that the announcement came on a day when most American journalists are discussing election results.)
- 2:56 PM, 8 August 2018   [link]

The Republican Won (Probably); The Swing Was A Warning To Republicans:  That's my double — and not at all original — summary of the incomplete results in Ohio's 12th district.  Troy Balderson is leading Danny O'Connor 101,574 to 99,820.   In 2016, the Republican won 251,266 to 112,638.

(Sometimes conventional thinking is correct.)

And we should not forget that the Republican Party put far more resources far more resources into the contest than the Democratic Party did.
- 2:07 PM, 8 August 2018   [link]

Yes, That Headline is "pretty odd".

But accurate.
- 10:39 AM, 8 August 2018   [link]

A Few British Bettors have gotten interested in the Ohio 12th special election.
The two final polls suggest that this is a toss-up.  Emerson has the Democratic contender 1% ahead while Remington gives it to the Republican by 2 points.  Both these are within the margin of error.
. . .
My betting rule in toss-up elections is that the option with the longest odds is the value bet.  I got on the Democrat with Ladbrokes at 11/10 this morning.  That has now tightened to odds-on.
I have no opinion on whether Mike Smithson has made a good bet.

But I can add a little information.  The Democrat, Danny O'Connor, is promising not to vote for Nancy Pelosi.  And John Kasich thinks that the Republican, Troy Balderson, is the stronger candidate.

Since special elections can produce surprises, I'll just say I won't be shocked if either wins by, say, 5 points.

There is one easy prediction:  If the Republican wins, Trump will claim credit; if the Republican loses, Trump will blame other people.

(Ohio's 12th congressional district special election, 2018)
- 3:06 PM, 7 August 2018   [link]

In Washington's Senate Primary, Voters Can Choose A Candidate Who Favors A Vigorous Foreign Policy:  Democrat George H. Kalberer has a simple solution to a difficult problem:  "North Korea— Kick Jung's Ass with 30,000 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles."

Kalberer favors a similar solution for Xi Jinping, though he believes it would require more missiles and a blockade.

The Democratic Party is a bigger tent than I would have guessed.  No doubt Republicans are happy that he did not choose to run as a Republican.

(I don't believe we have 30,000 Tomahawk cruise missiles in stock, and assume it would take a year or two to produce that many, even with a crash program.

United States Senate election in Washington, 2018)
- 8:04 AM, 7 August 2018   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" made me smile.
- 7:26 AM, 7 August 2018   [link]

Worth Saving And Studying:  John Garnaut's longish article, "Australia's China reset".

Americans will find it interesting, both for the similarities, and the differences.

Everyone can learn from his description of the elaborate efforts of the Chinese Communists to influence Australians, especially Australians of Chinese descent.
- 8:50 PM, 6 August 2018   [link]

Drinking Ourselves To Death:  This brief article startled me.
Deaths from cirrhosis and liver cancer are rising dramatically in the United States.  From 1999 to 2016, annual cirrhosis deaths increased by 65 percent, to 34,174, according to a study . . .
(Some of that increase was from population growth.)

The murder rate in the United States is a little over 5 per 100,000, so about twice as many people die of cirrhosis each year as are murdered.

To my surprise, in both groups the victims are disproportionately young men.   If I had thought about it, I would have guessed that cirrhosis was mostly a disease of middle-aged and older men.

(You may find the article interesting, but annoying, as I did.  There are many numbers, but they aren't organized.  A simple table would have solved most of the problem.

- 8:26 PM, 6 August 2018   [link]

There Are 29 Candidates For US Senate Here In Washington State:  In spite of the fact that incumbent Maria Cantwell is generally expected to win.

Why so many?  Because it is the only statewide race this year, and so provides the best platform for candidates who don't expect to win, but do want to make statements.

(There are serious Cantwell opponents, most notably Susan Hutchison.)

And what a variety of statements they make!

I found a few so interesting that they deserve separate posts — and may get them some time.

But for the moment I'll just mention this claim from Thor Amundson:  "backed by %100 of orca".  (Orcas can't vote here, but they have many fans who can, and do.)

(Fun fact:  Cantwell once worked with Jerry Springer.  To be fair, that was when he was a semi-serious politician, rather than host of a wild TV show.)
- 3:24 PM, 6 August 2018   [link]

Unfair But Funny:  The photograph the Associated Press chose to illustrate this fact check.
- 2:17 PM, 6 August 2018   [link]

Hospitals Have too many petty rules.
- 1:57 PM, 6 August 2018   [link]

The Curious Economic Continuity Between Obama And Trump:  As I have mentioned before, I have been struck by how similar basic economic statistics look, despite the change in presidents.  But I haven't gotten around to doing the simple arithmetic I should have to illustrate that point.

Fortunately for me, Steven Rattner has.

You'll want to look at the graphs and numbers, but here are the essential points:   More jobs were created during the last 19 months of the Obama administration than in the first 19 months of the Trump administration.  Allowing for inflation, wage growth was faster during the last 19 months of the Obama administration than in the first 19 months of the Trump administration.

But the differences are so small that I would not object if someone were to say there had been no significant change.

Which is strange because, by now, one would expect to see some effects of the tax cut and the increase in spending.  Ordinarily, you expect trillion dollar deficits to stimulate the economy.

(Possibly, the economy would have slowed down without the tax cut and spending increase.

Almost pure speculation:  The Trump show, entertaining as it is, may be making consumers and businessmen cautious about spending and investment.

Steven Rattner)
- 7:59 PM, 5 August 2018   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" made me chuckle.
- 12:52 PM, 5 August 2018   [link]

Entertaining:  Walter Shapiro's opinion piece, "What If Trump Is Trying to Throw the 2018 Elections?"
In this time of tumult, political truths are being knocked off their pedestals faster than Confederate statues.  But even now, it seems ludicrously self-evident that a president wants to elect a Congress of his own party.

Donald Trump, however, is a president who marches to a different brass band.  Consider what he has done in just the last week.
Is Shapiro correct?  Probably not, but the piece is way more fun to read than more serious ones, such as this one.
- 12:04 PM, 3 August 2018   [link]

This Week's Collection Of Cartoons from Politico.

My favorites:  Matt Davies's Giulianis, Michael Ramirez's "Kick me", and Scott Stantis's Kim.
- 11:39 AM, 3 August 2018   [link]

Worth Reading:  Noah Rothman's post, "Depravity and Theatrics on Donald Trump’s Stage".
The behavior of many attendees of Donald Trump’s campaign-style rally in Florida on Tuesday night was barbaric.  There’s no other way to put it.  The footage of rally-goers’ menacing and shouting profanity at reporters in slavish observance of the president’s goading was unbecoming of the citizens of a republic that values a free and independent press.  The normalization of the radical anonymous conspiracy theorist “Q,” who is conspicuously obsessed with the idea that child sex trafficking is a popular liberal pastime, is disgraceful.  A target of last night’s frenzied crowd, CNN’s Jim Acosta claimed that the “the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt.”  Indeed, this was a hostile assembly, and such crowds are capable of astonishing violence.  But, as he later learned and revealed, Acosta was probably not in that kind of danger.
Violence and threats of violence are wrong in a democracy.  That should be enough for most of us.

But for those it isn't enough, this practical point:  Republicans are far less likely to get away with violence and threats of violence than those on the left.

This is, no doubt, unfair — but to expect it to change any time soon is foolish.
- 7:50 PM, 2 August 2018   [link]

Sarah Jeong May Not Like People Like Me:  But perhaps I am too sensitive.

(Jeong "attended" Berkeley and Harvard.  I assume she graduated from both, as she claims, but I could be wrong.)
- 1:43 PM, 2 August 2018   [link]

Mostly For Fun:  (Unless you happen to be a actor in action movies.)

This New York Times article on Tom Cruise's five most incredible stunts.

All five impressed me.
- 12:39 PM, 2 August 2018   [link]

This New Yorker Cartoon made me smile.

And then think.
- 11:11 AM, 2 August 2018   [link]

"Trump’s Approval Ratings So Far Are Unusually Stable – And Deeply Partisan"  Pew researcher Amina Dunn is surprised by this stability.
Over the course of an eventful first 18 months in office, President Donald Trump’s approval ratings have remained remarkably stable.  There has also been a wider gap between Republicans’ and Democrats’ views of Trump than for any other U.S. president in the modern era of polling.

Four-in-ten Americans approve of Trump’s job performance while 54% say they disapprove, according to a Pew Research Center survey in June.  Trump’s approval ratings have hardly moved in surveys conducted by the Center this year, and his current rating is nearly identical to the 39% who said they approved of his performance in February 2017, shortly after his inauguration.
If this sounds familiar, it may because I said something similar almost three weeks ago.

But Dunn provides the numbers and the graphs that I didn't.
- 7:26 PM, 1 August 2018   [link]

Time For Another choose-your-own Sidney Harris cartoon.
- 12:13 PM, 1 August 2018   [link]