August 2018, Part 2

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

The "Lowlife" Had Been Fired By The "Conman"  But he gave her a new job anyway, a job for which she had no obvious qualifications.

She didn't work out, and was fired again.

Now the lowlife is seeking revenge by saying nasty things about the conman.  (Some of them may be true.)

Neither is famous for telling the truth, but it would still be fun if reporters asked Omarosa Manigault Newman why she wanted to work for a conman, and Donald Trump why he hired a lowlife.

(Aren't you glad we are spending our time discussing important issues?)
- 11:32 AM, 13 August 2018   [link]

This Andy Marlette Cartoon Doesn't Make A Deep Point, but it made me smile.
- 10:52 AM, 13 August 2018   [link]

Anne Applebaum Wonders Why "Institutions" weren't able to stop Paul Manafort — and Donald Trump — years ago.

I've wondered about the same thing, ever since Manafort joined the Trump campaign, although I phrased my question differently:  Why, I wondered, didn't prosecutors go after Manafort, when it was so obvious he was guilty of something or other, probably many somethings or others?

And during the campaign, I learned enough about Trump's dubious deals to wonder why so few prosecutors had gone after him.

And I have come up with tentative answers to that question, for each man.

With Manafort, I think prosecutors made a cost/benefit analysis, though not in any formal way.  He was not, at that time, a big name, so convicting him would not have made a prosecutor's reputation.  And so much of the evidence would have been in other nations, many of them not all that cooperative with US law enforcement.

So a trial, they would have thought, would be expensive and difficult — and there would be no certainty of a conviction, because much of the evidence would not be available.

Trump escaped some prosecutions by buying off those who had claims against him.   (And, possibly, by the judicious use of campaign contributions.)

Most prosecutors would rather have a settlement than nothing, but settlements rarely enhance a prosecutor's reputation the way a big conviction does.

So a trial, prosecutors would have thought, would be expensive and time consuming, and would probably end, at best, in a settlement.

It would be enlightening if some journalist, Applebaum for instance, were to ask prosecutors who could have done more why they didn't.

(Is Rudy Giuliani one of those prosecutors?  That's a great question, to which I do not have an answer.)
- 8:45 PM, 11 August 2018   [link]

There Was A Small Ironic Point In Last Year's Charlottesville Demonstrations:  (Along with the hate, violence, and death.)

As I am sure you recall, among the demonstrators were open anti-Semites, and even neo-Nazis.

They were there, ostensibly, to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.

Who was supported, all through the Civil War, by Judah Benjamin.
Judah Philip Benjamin, QC (August 11, 1811 – May 6, 1884) was a lawyer and politician who was a United States Senator from Louisiana, a Cabinet officer of the Confederate States and, after his escape to the United Kingdom at the end of the American Civil War, an English barrister.  Benjamin was the first Jew to be elected to the United States Senate who had not renounced that faith, and was the first Jew to hold a Cabinet position in North America.
Confederates leaders had their faults, but they were not — for their time — especially anti-Semitic.

I suspect those neo-Nazis have never heard of Benjamin.
- 5:39 PM, 12 August 2018   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" made me chuckle.
- 2:52 PM, 12 August 2018   [link]

For An Entertaining (And Scary) Example of Artificial Intelligence Gone Wrong, you might look at Fred Saberhagen's Berserker stories.

I like the collection of his first stories, Berserker, and the anthology, Berserker Base.  The stories in the latter are written by a wild variety of authors, and it is fun to see their different approaches — and the hokey way Saberhagen ties them all together.
- 3:26 PM, 11 August 2018   [link]

Another Unforeseen Problem in artificial intelligence research.

(This one should be easy to solve.)
- 2:12 PM, 11 August 2018   [link]

Can Nancy Pelosi Save The Republican House Majority?  She has a better chance than anyone else I can think of.

Apparently many House Democrats agree with me on that, a fair number of them openly.

Here in Washington state, Democratic Governor Jay Inslee has sarcastically urged Donald Trump to come out and campaign for Republicans.  If Republican leaders have any smarts, they'll issue an invitation in the same spirit to Pelosi.

(Those outside Washington state are likely to see more of Inslee, since he is running for president.  Unfortunately.

For years, I've thought Inslee was evidence that sometimes the Peter principle is too optimistic, that sometimes a person can continue to rise long after they have reached their level of incompetence.

Inslee is not a bad man, and he is a competent campaigner, but he does not have the abilities a legislator or political executive needs.

Jay Inslee)
- 2:54 PM, 10 August 2018   [link]

I Haven't Said Anything About 3-D Printed Guns — Because I Don't Think There Is Much To Say:  Way back in the 1950s, I learned that semi-literate gang members were making usable, but lousy, guns from converted cap guns.

Later, I learned from history books that, hundreds of years ago, illiterate village blacksmiths in West Africa were making usable guns with primitive tools.  (I believe that some of the blacksmiths were able to make fairly good guns, for their time, but could be wrong about that.)

So the fact that there is one more way to make not-very-good guns doesn't bother me much.

And shouldn't bother anyone else who understands that the secrets of making guns were out hundreds of years ago.

(Perhaps I shouldn't say this but — if I were to decide to make my own guns — I wouldn't invest in a 3-D printer; I'd look for a book or two on gunsmithing and invest in some simple shop tools.  And that is as much as I intend to say about the subject.)
- 12:57 PM, 10 August 2018   [link]

Too Funny Not To Share:  Does that fan of the Confederacy, Corey Stewart, have deep roots in Virginia?

Stewart was born in Duluth, Minnesota.[69]  He transferred to Georgetown University after a year at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, and was the first member of his family to graduate from college.[70]  He also graduated from the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, and afterward settled in Virginia.[70]  Stewart works as an international trade attorney, and he and his family live in Bel Air, a historic colonial-era plantation house in Woodbridge, Virginia that was regularly visited by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.[70]   He met his wife, Maria, who is from Sweden, while spending a year teaching English in Japan before law school.[70]   The couple has two sons.[70]
Skeptics may wonder just how sincere he is in what he says at political events, considering that background.

(Caveat:  Stewart has been caught editing his own Wikipedia article.)
- 9:04 AM, 10 August 2018   [link]

This Week's Collection Of Cartoons from Politico.

My favorites:  Signe Wilkinson's Trump, Michael Ramirez's hysteria, and Steve Sack's Fox News.

(To be fair, I should add that there are fine journalists at Fox News; in fact, most of the Fox nonsense comes from opinion hosts, not news men and women.)
- 8:35 AM, 10 August 2018   [link]

Corey Stewart Is Not A Lincoln Republican:  In fact, Stewart appears to be on the other side.
Corey Stewart, the Republican nominee for a US Senate seat for Virginia, praised in a speech last year Virginia's decision in 1861 to secede from the Union, putting it on par with rebellions during the American Revolution and today.

The Virginia Republican made the comments in April 2017 at an event in South Boston, Virginia, hosted by an unapologetic secessionist.  A video of his remarks, given during his failed 2017 gubernatorial run, was posted on his Facebook account.
Judging by the polls, Stewart will lose to Democrat Tim Kaine by a huge margin — and will cause the Republican Party considerable collateral damage.

It is likely that the damage will take years to repair, even if Stewart goes away after his defeat.

(Corey Stewart)
- 3:16 PM, 9 August 2018   [link]

The DNC has a good idea.
Democrats running in November's midterms were warned Friday not to use devices produced by Chinese manufacturers ZTE and Huawei.  The warning, which came from the Democratic National Committee, was sent out after the DNC learned that a Democratic organization was considering buying ZTE phones for its staff, a senior Democratic source told CNN.
. . .
FBI Director Christopher Wray told the commitee the FBI is "deeply concerned that any company beholden to foreign governments that don't share our values are not companies that we want to be gaining positions of power inside our telecommunications network."

"It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information," Wray said.   "And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage."
But I think they should go further.

We don't want the Chinese Communists spying on us; we also don't want "Emperor" Xi to have our dollars, and so we should, whenever possible, avoid buying anything from the Communist empire.

Those who think I being too extreme should read, or re-read, John Garnaut's article.

(You may have heard that, for years now, travelers to China have been advised not to bring their usual phones and laptops, because it was nearly certain the Communists would try to install spy software on them.  Instead travelers were advised to bring a cheap phone — and discard it after the trip.)
- 11:03 AM, 9 August 2018   [link]

It Isn't A Cat Video:  But it is a cat cartoon.
- 9:32 AM, 9 August 2018   [link]