January 2018, Part 1

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Some Evidence For My Ignore-Them Theory On The NFL Protesters:  Last September, I argued that the best thing to do with the NFL protesters was "nothing".

The public — and the politicians — should, I thought, ignore the protesters.

I made that argument because I think that we would be better off with less emphasis on race, and more efforts to understand individual cases.  That's especially true, I believe, for African-Americans.

Sadly, it is also true that politicians, on the left and the right, often can benefit, at least temporarily, by increasing those divisions.

And that is what they were doing by all their talk about the protests.

Those who want to see those divisions increase, because they hope to gain power, or "social justice", or whatever, will be unhappy that the rest of us have begun ignoring the NFL protesters.  And that is how I read this piece in the New York Times by John Branch.
The N.F.L. and Goodell, longtime practitioners in the status quo, tiptoed the fence, to no one’s satisfaction, waiting for the whole thing to fade away, which it kind of did.  They responded primarily with meetings, including with protesting players.  There were offers to spend more money on charitable causes, but people could not agree on that, either.  There was talk that the N.F.L. might just keep players in the locker room during the anthem next season.
Which, as I've said, is my preferred solution — especially if they bring in Cub Scouts and Camp Fire, and other similar groups, to do the flag ceremonies right.

(Recent pieces by Branch.)
- 7:33 PM, 8 January 2018   [link]

When Donald Trump said (again!) that he is a "genius", I immediately thought of this cartoon character.

Who, as I recall, lost more often than he won.

(I suspect Lindsay Graham shares my opinion of Trump's intelligence.)
- 3:37 PM, 8 January 2018   [link]

Worth Reading:  Patterico's post, "Terrorizing Ajit Pai".
The anti-Trump “Resistance” has aspects that are criminal and out of control, and the latest example is their treatment of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.  Noah Rothman had an excellent piece in Commentary Magazine today titled The Torment of Ajit Pai, about the disgusting treatment that Pai has received at the hands of the “Resistance.”  So what is Pai’s crime?  Deciding that the federal government might not be the best entity to put in charge of the new printing press known as the Internet.  But because we call this “net neutrality,” a bunch of self-righteous millenials with a Trump-level understanding of policy have taken it upon themselves to terrorize the man and his family:
Patterico doesn't mention this, so I will:  Pai's decision restored Bill Clinton's hands-off policies toward the Internet.

(For the record:  I don't know enough to have an informed opinion on the "net neutrality" question — and I suspect many of those who do have opinions know even less than I do.)
- 12:46 PM, 8 January 2018   [link]

Sad News From Pierce County:  We lost a deputy sheriff.
Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Alexander McCartney, who was shot and killed after responding to an armed burglary call Sunday night, is being remembered as a loving father and decorated Navy veteran.

McCartney, 34, responded to an armed robbery in Frederickson and was shot during a foot chase.  Frederickson is about 45 miles south of Seattle.
One of the two suspects was shot, and died at the scene; the other is being hunted.

(Pierce County)
- 12:19 PM, 8 January 2018   [link]

Some Writers Begin Early:  Even with traditional writers habits.
- 10:45 AM, 8 January 2018   [link]

Last Year's Collection Of Wuerker Cartoons from Politico.

This time, Politico selected the best from last year's cartoons by their in-house cartoonist, Matt Wuerker.  For a while, I wasn't sure I would find any I liked, but then I ran across the witches, and shortly after that, the circus, and the Clinton book title.

(I am no art critic, but I think Wuerker could improve his cartoons by simplifying his drawings, which almost always look too cluttered.   Andy Marlette and, even more, Michael Ramirez, show how effective less cluttered cartoons can be.)
- 11:42 AM, 7 January 2018   [link]

Those Enjoying The Arctic Air may like this cartoon.
- 5:24 PM, 6 January 2018   [link]

What Was Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn Doing Over Christmas Vacation?  Among other things, posing near Trotsky's shrine.
The hard-left Labour boss posed for photos near a shrine to Leon Trotsky during his holiday in Mexico
(I don't believe most Britons celebrate Christmas that way.)

In a New Year message, Corbyn said that Labour was "staking out the new centre ground".   To which one commenter replied:  "Their centre ground is somewhere between Stalin and Trotsky."

If Corbyn comes to power, we should not expect him to be the friend of the United States — or of any other democracy.

(It isn't just conservatives who suspect Corbyn may be a Trotskyite.

Jeremy Corbyn and Leon Trotsky)
- 4:23 PM, 5 January 2018   [link]

Parts Of Michael Wolff's Book Are True:  And parts of it are dubious, say Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, who have interviewed many of the same staffers.

The parts that they believe are true are well worth reading.   For example:
"It was during Trump's early intelligence briefings … that alarm signals first went off among his new campaign staff: he seemed to lack the ability to take in third-party information."
More than any other president in my lifetime — perhaps ever — Trump believes what he wants to believe.

(In thinking about the stories that are coming out of the book, it will be useful to keep this thought in mind:  Wolff recorded many of the interviews he had with White House staffers.  So we can be reasonably certain that many of the staffers said those devastating things we have been reading.  But that doesn't necessarily mean the things they said are true.

Unfortunately, since we voters need accurate information about how the bullfrog is behaving in the White House, and we often won't know what to make of any particular quote.

Allen and VandeHei's criticism of Wolff for "burning" some of his sources by printing their names, after promising not to, is an example of typical beliefs among "mainstream" journalists.

Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei)
- 2:08 PM, 5 January 2018   [link]

Well, This is different.
The Republican leader in the Washington state House says he was sexually harassed at the Capitol more than a decade ago.  Dan Kristiansen revealed his experience Thursday during a legislative preview event hosted by the Associated Press. He made his comments while answering a question about creating a safe work environment at the Capitol.
(As a gentleman — or perhaps just a prudent politician — he didn't name the woman who had harassed him.)

But not unprecedented.  I can think of a couple of incidents in my own life that could be called sexual harassment.  For the record, I was embarrassed, but not damaged, by the incidents.  And, no, I don't plan to discuss them in public.

(Dan Kristiansen)
- 12:39 PM, 5 January 2018   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" made me smile.

And so did the previous one.
- 12:14 PM, 5 January 2018   [link]

All?  That's discouraging.
Michael Wolff, whose upcoming book on President Donald Trump’s White House made waves when a series of stunning excerpts were released on Wednesday, wrote that he believes all administration officials have come to believe Trump is incapable of doing the job of president.

In a column penned for the Hollywood Reporter detailing his time observing the Trump White House, Wolff concluded that his “indelible impression” of “Donald Trump’s small staff of factotums, advisors and family” is that “they all — 100 percent — came to believe he was incapable of functioning in his job.”
Even if you have some doubts about Wolff's credibility.

(I suppose I should warn you that the Hollywood Reporter column is just brutal.)
- 10:12 AM, 4 January 2018   [link]

Yancey Wins!  By the luck of the draw.
Virginia Republican David Yancey is the winner of a tie-breaking drawing for a House of Delegates seat, a result that appears to allow Republicans to barely hang on to control of the chamber.

Each candidate's name was placed in a film canister; those were then placed into a bowl and one name was drawn.
The Virginia results, including this close race, are one of the reasons why I expect Republican losses in November.

(The random procedure seems reasonable to me, though I suspect it could be defeated by any professional magician.

David Yancey)
- 9:19 AM, 4 January 2018   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" Is, as usual, non-political.

(For which some of us will be grateful.)
- 7:43 AM, 4 January 2018   [link]

Steve Bannon Is Full Of Little Surprises, Isn't He?  Such as this one.
Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has described the Trump Tower meeting between the president’s son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”, according to an explosive new book seen by the Guardian.

Bannon, speaking to author Michael Wolff, warned that the investigation into alleged collusion with the Kremlin will focus on money laundering and predicted:  “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, reportedly based on more than 200 interviews with the president, his inner circle and players in and around the administration, is one of the most eagerly awaited political books of the year.  In it, Wolff lifts the lid on a White House lurching from crisis to crisis amid internecine warfare, with even some of Trump’s closest allies expressing contempt for him.
Bannon continues to surprise me, because I don't understand his ideology.  I know that he is obsessed with an "establishment" — which I think is a useless concept, and wonder what he sees that I don't.  For me, it's like trying to figure out why someone with a science education believes in astrology.

(I have been nearly certain that Bannon was a source of many of the leaks from the Trump campaign and the Trump White House.)
- 8:09 PM, 3 January 2018   [link]

That 3 on 5 Basketball Game:  On November 25th, Minnesota and Alabama played the strangest basketball game I've ever seen.

The first half was normal.  The two teams seem to have about equal talent, but Minnesota's greater experience gave them the edge.

Early in the second half, the players got "chippy" with each other (as the announcers like to say).  At 14:06, a Minnesota star, Nate Mason, got two technicals and was ejected.  The Minnesota coach, Richard Pitino, received another technical.

That didn't settle things down between the two teams, because, at 13:39 a scuffle stopped play.  Unfortunately for Alabama, all seven players on their bench had gone on to the court — which meant, of course, that all of them had to be ejected.

So Alabama was down to the 5 players that were already on the court.

At 11:38, an Alabama player fouled out, so Alabama was down to 4 players.

(The Alabama coach, Avery Johnson, could have conceded when he no longer had 5 players, but chose not to.)

At 10:41, an Alabama player had to leave because of an ankle injury, leaving just three players for the rest of the game.

Surprisingly, Alabama managed to play evenly with Minnesota, in spite of that little handicap.

Why?  Here are three reasons I saw, in increasing order of importance:
  1. Minnesota had lost a star player.
  2. Alabama's Colin Dexter had a spectacular game.
  3. Minnesota was . . . . merciful.
Minnesota did not exploit their advantage as they might have.  They slowed the game down, often passing the ball lazily around the perimeter before taking an outside shot.  They did not defend nearly as aggressively as they might have.  For instance, they did not contest inbounds passes, as they could have, easily.   Although they did double the man with the ball, they usually left him a way out, rather than trying to force a turnover.

When I first heard about the game, I wondered what strategies the two coaches would use in that unprecedented situation.

One seemed obvious; the Alabama coach would probably direct his players to play a 1-2 zone defense, but the other three were mysteries.  (Possible exception:   If Alabama had a superb shot blocker, they might have gambled with a 2-1 zone.)

After I saw the game I realized that Minnesota had chosen not to take advantage of the situation.  And the Alabama team played offense as if they were in a 3 on 3 game.

(I watched the game this week in pieces on the Stadium network.  They showed it Monday, Tuesday, and today, so there is a good chance they will keep showing it for a while.  Or you may be able to find it on the Internet.)
- 7:34 PM, 3 January 2018   [link]

How Are Republicans Likely To Do In Elections This Year?  (And 2020.)

Let's take the last, first.  As I write, British bettors are giving Donald Trump a 28.6 percent chance of winning re-election in 2020 — and a 52.8 percent chance of staying president until then.

(Trump's numbers are slightly better than they were before the passage of the tax bill.)

The same bettors give Republicans a 57.3 percent chance of controlling the Senate after November — and just a 41.0 percent chance of holding the House.

If you want to do you own estimates, Political Betting has the basic data.

Key points:
. . . President Trump is the least popular president after his first year in office since modern polling began. . . . Democrats are on average 12 points ahead of the Republicans in the so-called ‘generic ballot’ – polling that measures which party Americans would support for Congress irrespective of who is running locally.
Unless there is an international crisis, I don't expect either of those to change much, since they have been so stable in recent months.
- 11:09 AM, 3 January 2018   [link]

This Story Is Interesting:  Though I must add, immediately, that I have no idea whether it is true.
Esteemed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein says President Donald Trump‘s attorneys are soft-peddling the gravity of the Russia probe and telling the mercurial president what he wants to hear in order to keep him from acting in a rash way–like firing special counsel Robert Mueller.
And then add that, sadly, I can't say that I find it implausible.
- 8:13 AM, 3 January 2018   [link]

Skiers Will Understand this cartoon.
- 7:59 AM, 3 January 2018   [link]

Seattle Pays Off A Murray Accuser:  The timing of the announcement suggests a desire to avoid as much publicity as possible.
The City of Seattle has settled a lawsuit filed by a man who claimed former Mayor Ed Murray sexually abused him when he was a teenager.

City Attorney Pete Holmes announced late on Saturday that the city will pay Delvonn Heckard $150,000 to resolve the lawsuit, which led to Murray's resignation.

The lawsuit claimed Murray raped and molested Heckard as a teen and blamed the city for enabling Murray to use his political office to slander Heckard and others for months.
Four other men had also openly accused Murray of similar behavior; one was a cousin, and one Murray's foster son.

Murray agreed to the settlement — and is still claiming to be innocent of all these charges.
- 5:36 PM, 2 January 2018   [link]

Was Inadequate Training One Of The Reasons For The Deadly Amtrak Derailment?  That's what some are speculating.

If these descriptions are right, the training sounds inadequate.
It appears that there were two people in the lead locomotive control cab of the train who were both injured and hospitalized: an instructor engineer, and another engineer who was learning the territory and qualifying to operate the train along the route.

The derailment occurred on the first day of higher-speed service.  The propriety of conducting such training on the inaugural run of the service is debatable.   Railroad union hearsay alleges that the two locomotive engineers lost track of where they were because much — if not all — previous route qualification training had taken place at night when busy freight railroad traffic could accommodate the luxury of a non-revenue passenger train on multiple training runs.  As a result, on the maiden run the two engineers had difficulty associating daytime landmarks with their ever-changing location.
But we have to remember that these descriptions are — apparently — coming from men we would expect to be sympathetic to the engineers.

So far I have seen no descriptions of any other kind of training than those night trips, no mention of computer simulations, model runs, or even map walk-throughs.
- 8:19 AM, 2 January 2018   [link]

Hamlet Confronts a modern dilemma.
- 7:31 AM, 2 January 2018   [link]

This New Year's Resolution is larger than most.

But, proportionately, it's just right.
- 5:38 PM, 1 January 2018   [link]

Happy New Year!

- 4:20 PM, 1 January 2018   [link]