January 2019, Pqrt 2

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

I Like Both Jokes:  Even if they weren't intentional.

Donald Trump's.

And Nicolle Wallace's.

But the best joke I found this morning was this Post parody.
On Wednesday, activists were seen handing parody versions of The Washington Post with “UNPRESIDENTED” splashed on the front page, alleging President Donald Trump “abandoned the White House and abdicated his role as president.”
(Should they have saved that joke for April 1st?  Perhaps.)
- 10:02 AM, 16 January 2019   [link]

Donald Knuth Turned 81 Five Days Ago:  If you are serious about software, you know who he is, and why he is important.  If you are unfamiliar with this wonderful man, I'll tell you that you use his work every day, and urge you to at least glance at this New York Times article, or his Wikipedia biography.
- 6:59 PM, 15 January 2019   [link]

The Purpose Of NATO:  For decades many statesmen would have agreed — privately — with a quote attributed to a British general, Hastings Ismay.
To keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.
Which the alliance has done, quite successfully, since its founding in 1949.

This latest revelation will make many of us wonder, even more, whether Donald Trump agrees with any of those three objectives.

- 1:11 PM, 15 January 2019   [link]

Two More Estimates Of The Effect Of The Shutdown On Economic Growth:  One official.

One not.

If Dimon is right, the shutdown could stop economic growth here in the United States.
- 12:39 PM, 15 January 2019   [link]

This Andy Marlette Cartoon Is Crude, Funny — and makes an important point.

We are now on our second president who believes that he can find the best policy by doing the opposite of what his predecessor did.  That saves thinking, and has allowed them to spend more time on basketball and golf, but it isn't a rational way to make decisions.

Sadly, too many of us have been following their lead.  The results can be funny, but rarely lead to optimal policy choices.

(More Andy Marlette.  I should warn you that his latest cartoon is brutal, and that not everyone will find it ' as funny as I do.)
- 7:59 AM, 15 January 2019   [link]

Foreign Journalists Are Often Ignorant, Too:   Yesterday, I heard a news reader on the French network, France 24, say that malaria was caused by a virus.

Not even close.  Malaria is not caused by a virus, or a bacterium, but by a eukaryote, specifically a plasmodium.
. . . a mosquito-borne infectious disease affecting humans and other animals caused by single-celled microorganisms belonging to the Plasmodium group.[2]
Since it isn't a virus, it is difficult to develop a vaccine against it; since it isn't a bacterium, ordinary antibiotics don't work against it.

(The context may interest some of you.  The news reader was telling viewers about the wonderful anti-malarial properties of an old Chinese herbal remedy, a plant belonging to the Artemisia genus.

The news reader seemed to think that this wonderful natural cure was being suppressed by the big pharmaceutical companies.  I could be wrong about that; I was so shocked by the virus error that I was only half paying attention to what followed.

But if I am right, then this is another reminder that Green superstition is even stronger in Europe than it is here.)
- 6:38 PM, 14 January 2019   [link]

Historical Background On US Shutdowns:  Wikipedia has a little list.

And as much information as most of us would want.
In United States politics, a government shutdown occurs when Congress fails to pass sufficient appropriation bills or continuing resolutions to fund federal government operations and agencies, or when the President refuses to sign into law such bills or resolutions.  In such cases, the current interpretation of the Antideficiency Act requires that the federal government begin a "shutdown" of the affected activities involving the furlough of non-essential personnel and curtailment of agency activities and services.
So the President and the Congress each have a veto.  Or, to be more precise, the President and each house of Congress have vetoes.  (As I mentioned a few days ago, Congress can over-ride a presidential veto.)

If you glance at the table, you will see that the Gingrich/Clinton shutdowns stand out for their length.  Gingrich says that their cost was worth it, because of the long-term policy gains.  We will never know whether the gains could have been achieved without the shutdowns.  Most observers thought they cost Gingrich and the Republicans, politically.

That may help explain why there were no shutdowns while George W. Bush was president.

(Greg Mankiw makes a rough estimate that the current shutdown is costing the economy about $100 million a day.  Scroll down a couple of posts to see his argument.)
- 11:17 AM, 14 January 2019   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . And Salt" Made Me Chuckle:  Fans of Twitter may have different reactions.
- 9:47 AM, 14 January 2019   [link]

Paradise, Up On Mt. Rainier, Is Looking Lovely Today:   And, if the weather folks are right, will look lovely tomorrow and Monday, too.

You won't see many people in the pictures, because of the government shutdown.

(An expert snowmobiler or a private helicopter pilot could take you there.  Both ways would involve rials, physical, and, probably, legal.)
- 1:46 PM, 12 January 2019   [link]

Another Chinese Spy Caught:  This time in Poland.
Poland's security services say a Chinese businessman and a Polish man, both employed in telecoms, have been arrested for spying.

The Chinese national, Wang Weijing, works for Huawei, according to a source with knowledge of the case.
Millions to go.

I'm not joking when I say that.  The security forces of the Chinese "empire" expect all its citizens who have any contact with foreigners to report anything they see or hear.
Chinese tech giant Huawei is at the centre of several diplomatic rows, most spurred by concerns over security.

Under Chinese law, firms are compelled to "support, co-operate with and collaborate in national intelligence work"
From what I have read, Western intelligence agencies are awed by the extent of Chinese spying, and the way the empire uses ordinary citizens to gather millions and millions of little bits of information.

- 3:41 PM, 11 January 2019   [link]

Too Funny Not To Share:  Eight quotes from Trump's wild press conference.

For example:
1. I “never said” Mexico would pay for the wall directly

Trump: “Who’s going to pay for the wall?!”

Crowd: “Mexico!!!!”

That was such a common refrain from Trump’s rallies that it’s become a running joke. But at his Thursday morning presser, Trump said he didn’t really mean it.
In case you need evidence, the facts.

At times, Trump reminds me of a little boy I saw on a home video show years ago.  The boy, his face covered with chocolate frosting, is denying having eaten any of the cake on the table.

(Yes, Trump's persistent lying is a serious problem — but it is also, often, very funny.)
- 11:16 AM, 11 January 2019   [link]

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

(And this time I know why.)
- 1:08 PM, 10 January 2019   [link]

No, There Is No "Crisis" At The Mexican Border; No, Building A Wall At The Border Is Not "Immoral"  Apprehensions at the border peaked at 1.64 million in 2000, fell rapidly while George W. Bush was president, and stabilized at about 400,000 a year while Barack Obama was president.

We have a chronic problem, not a crisis.

Building additional walls along the border may be ineffectual and wasteful, but it is hardly immoral, contrary to what Nancy Pelosi has claimed.  It is likely that Pelosi, like other prominent Democrats, has voted for walls in the past.

Trump and Pelosi are both wrong in their central claims, but neither has any graceful way to admit they are wrong, and back down.  So don't expect the partial shutdown to end soon.

(My standard solution — that the two settle this with a mud wrestling contest — is, unfortunately, inappropriate.)
- 8:00 PM, 9 January 2019   [link]

Overall, The Nancy And Chuck Show Had Higher Ratings than the Donald show.

I can not think of another time when a congressional reply outdrew a presidential talk.  Usually a presidential talk outdraws a congressional reply by a solid margin.
- 3:20 PM, 9 January 2019   [link]

Courting Crickets?  That's the latest explanation for the sonic "attacks" on American and Canadian diplomats in Cuba.
High pitched noises that were once suspected to be “sonic attacks” used against officials at the U.S. embassy in Cuba turned out to be especially sharp sounding grasshoppers, a new report suggests.

University of California’s Montealegre-Zapata and Alexander Stubbs released the study last week after the mystery has baffled U.S. officials and media for two years.
The scientists even think they know the species making the noise.

But, as they also say, the Cubans may have been making other attacks on the diplomats.
- 8:32 AM, 9 January 2019   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" made me laugh out loud.

(I'm not sure just why.)
- 7:56 AM, 9 January 2019   [link]