July 2018, Part 3

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Does Putin Know That A Visit To DC This Fall Would Hurt Trump, Politically?  I think so, and I think that is why Putin is playing coy.
The White House had invited Putin to D.C. last week after the Helsinki summit, but the Kremlin has indicated they have not accepted yet.
Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell certainly know that a Putin visit would hurt Republicans, especially a visit just before the November elections.
- 3:11 PM, 24 July 2018   [link]

Another Attack on science.

And more evidence of the power of fashions, however silly.

The good news is that this isn't common — at least not yet.
- 2:39 PM, 24 July 2018   [link]

"Venezuela's Inflation To Reach 1 Million Percent, IMF Forecasts"  Amazing, simply amazing.
Venezuela’s inflation will skyrocket to 1 million percent by the end of the year as the government continues to print money to cover a growing budget hole, the International Monetary Fund predicted on Monday.

The crisis is comparable to that of Germany in 1923 or Zimbabwe in the late 2000s, said Alejandro Werner, head of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere department.  He forecast the economy to shrink 18 percent in 2018 -- the third consecutive year of double-digit contractions -- as oil production falls significantly.
It is hard even to imagine how Venezuelans will cope with that catastrophe.  According to a recent story (BBC?), some Venezuelan mothers have abandoned children in neighboring Colombia since the mothers have no way to feed the children.

(Crisis in Venezuela)
- 9:55 AM, 24 July 2018   [link]

Makes You Wonder what the other two wishes were.
- 9:09 AM, 24 July 2018   [link]

Worth Reading:  Jackson Diehl's column, "Putin is probably still smirking about Helsinki.  He shouldn’t be."

Key paragraphs:
This is not to suggest Trump is pursuing a cleverly two-faced strategy designed to extract the maximum from Putin and Kim.  Rather, in his ignorance and naive zeal to strike deals with strongmen, he is making actual accords impossible.   In the case of North Korea, that’s bad for the United States, which is trying to alter the unacceptable status quo of the North’s possession of nuclear weapons.  In the case of Russia, the big loser is likely to be Putin, who needs American help to escape the quagmires of Syria and Ukraine, not to mention the sanctions that are squeezing his inner circle.

Notwithstanding his World Cup swagger, Putin is weaker than he has been in some time.  With Russia’s economy stagnant, the government has been forced to raise pension eligibility ages, a hugely unpopular move that sent Putin’s approval ratings crashing below 50 percent.  Despite Trump, NATO just adopted a tough new plan to counter Russian aggression.  And, despite the successes of pro-Putin parties in recent elections, the European Union just agreed to extend its own economic sanctions on Russia for six more months.
By way of Hot Air.
- 3:56 PM, 23 July 2018   [link]

It Surprises Me That Trump Opponents have taken so long to switch to this tactic.

(I do think that chicken needs a long, long tie.)
- 1:44 PM, 23 July 2018   [link]

JFK's Anti-Populist Book:  It's definitely worth reading, both for the history, and the general argument.
Profiles in Courage is a 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning volume of short biographies describing acts of bravery and integrity by eight United States Senators.  The book profiles senators who defied the opinions of their party and constituents to do what they felt was right and suffered severe criticism and losses in popularity because of their actions.
The book has its flaws, but I think almost anyone interested in American history and government can learn from it — and will enjoy the time spent with the book.

(As Wikipedia says, Ted Sorenson, not John F. Kennedy, wrote most of the book, but Kennedy contributed enough so that I wouldn't object to them being listed as co-authors.

The classic exposition of the general argument is in Edmund Burke's brief "Speech to the Electors of Bristol".)
- 1:08 PM, 23 July 2018   [link]

Charity, Vote Buying, Or Both?  Whatever the motive, there's no doubt that Willie Wilson is a generous man.
CHICAGO — Willie Wilson, the millionaire businessman and candidate for Chicago mayor, handed out cash to potential voters Sunday morning at a church on Chicago’s South Side.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, himself seeking reelection, joined Wilson at New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church at the event.

An aide to Wilson said the businessman gave away $300,000 to 2,000 people through the Dr. Willie Wilson Foundation, a 501(c)(3).
Both, in my opinion.

One reason I say both is the amount given to each potential voter.  That's way more than what votes typically cost.
- 10:44 AM, 23 July 2018   [link]

The Waiter May Be Promising more than the cook can deliver.
- 9:29 AM, 23 July 2018   [link]

Too Funny not to share.

(Or perhaps too symbolic.)
- 5:33 PM, 22 July 2018   [link]

Japan's Temporary Solution To Its Demographic Problem — Foreign Workers:  Yesterday, I watched an hour-long program on NHK World, describing Japan's demographic problem, an aging population, and their temporary solution to it, foreign workers.  (Sorry, no link; I searched for some minutes but couldn't find the program.  However, I found enough Grand Sumo highlights to satisfy almost everyone.)

At least for now, you can find some numbers here, which will show you how fast the number of foreign workers in Japan is growing, almost 100,000 a year increase over the last five years.

If I understood the program correctly. many of the foreign workers are there on five-year "technical intern" visas, so Japanese employers have to replace them continuously, just to stay even.

(Americans may find this surprising:  Some Japanese are beginning to worry that they will not be able to attract the workers they need because of competition from nations like Taiwan.  One small Japanese city has even put up a statue of Ho Chi Minh, hoping to make their Vietnamese workers feel at home.)

The Japanese are aware that this solution can not work forever, but don't seem to have any better ideas.  Perhaps they hope to buy enough time to think of something more permanent.

(Axios has some fine posts on this general problem, though you will have to hurry to see them.

Demography of Japan)
- 4:26 PM, 22 July 2018   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" made me smile.
- 2:15 PM, 22 July 2018   [link]

Fans Of A Certain Children's Cartoon will like this tribute.
- 3:34 PM, 21 July 2018   [link]

The Carnegie Team Was Looking For A New Planet; They Found Twelve New Moons:  All orbiting Jupiter.
Twelve new moons orbiting Jupiter have been found—11 “normal” outer moons, and one that they’re calling an “oddball.”  This brings Jupiter’s total number of known moons to a whopping 79—the most of any planet in our Solar System.

A team led by Carnegie’s Scott S. Sheppard first spotted the moons in the spring of 2017 while they were looking for very distant Solar System objects as part of the hunt for a possible massive planet far beyond Pluto.
The "oddball" is likely to be named "Valetudo", and may be temporary.
[S/2016 J 2] has a prograde orbit, but it crosses paths with several moons that have retrograde orbits and may in the future collide with them.[5]
Most likely, a similar search would find more moons of Saturn.

(Moons of Jupiter)
- 1:31 PM, 20 July 2018   [link]

What I Conclude from this.

Is that Paul Ryan really needs a few jokes these days.

And I can understand why he would.
- 12:15 PM, 20 July 2018   [link]

This Week's Collection Of Cartoons from Politico.

My favorites:  KAL's two views and Michael Ramirez's Constitution.
- 10:41 AM, 20 July 2018   [link]

It Doesn't Surprise Me To Learn That Devin Nunes may have crossed some ethical lines.
Rep. Devin Nunes used political donations to pay for nearly $15,000 in tickets to Boston Celtics basketball games as well as winery tours and lavish trips to Las Vegas, according to reports from the Federal Election Commission and two nonpartisan watchdog groups.

Nunes, R-Calif., has reportedly been a Celtics fan since high school, though he grew up in Tulare, California.  He used the money from his political action committee last year on three occasions to buy tickets.
But it does surprise me that a man who grew up in the Central Valley would be a Celtics fan.  (Maybe because they aren't the Los Angeles Lakers?)

(If I were in his district, I would suggest that he retire so he can watch even more Celtics games.

Devin Nunes)
- 3:45 PM, 19 July 2018   [link]

Worth Reading:  Jim Geraghty's column, "Obama Speech in South Africa Slams Habits That Made His Career", reminding us all that Barack Obama's fine words in South Africa are often inconsistent with his record.

For instance, in the speech Obama opposed identity politics; in office he made Al Sharpton his “go-to man on race”.

(Al Sharpton)
- 2:25 PM, 19 July 2018   [link]

More Trump Drag On The Republican Party?  That's one interpretation of these shifts, in Illinois, Iowa, and Arizona.

Not the only possible interpretation, but, for now, the most plausible one.

(Barack Obama was a disaster for the Democratic Party.  As far as I can tell, approximately zero Democrats blame him for all those losses.)
- 10:56 AM, 19 July 2018   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" made me chuckle.
- 10:07 AM, 19 July 2018   [link]

She Looks Perfect:  That was my reaction to this picture of the accused Russian agent, Maria Butina.

Perfect, that is, if she was trying to look as little like a Russia agent as possible.

Which she probably was.

(I am guessing that almost any American woman could explain how Butina's clothes choices contribute to that innocent look.)
- 4:44 PM, 18 July 2018   [link]

Paddy Power Changes The Odds On Impeachment:  By a lot.
A major European bookmaker has dramatically slashed the odds that President Donald Trump will be impeached following his disastrous summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

According to Yahoo Uk, the Irish bookmaking outfit Paddy Power has cut the odds on a Trump impeachment from 8-1 to 2-1.   This means that before the summit, Paddy Power put the chances of Trump being impeached at approximately one out of nine.  Now?  The chances are roughly one in three.

A Paddy Power spokesperson told Yahoo UK that the odds change was a direct result of post-summit action taken on the wager.
This strikes me as a publicity stunt, a clever one, but still just a stunt.

(The British bettors at Betfair appear to agree with me.

I would say that the chance that he will be impeached this year is close to zero, and that the chance that he will be impeached in 2019 or 2020 — even assuming the Democrats win control of the House — is less than 10 percent.)
- 1:24 PM, 18 July 2018   [link]

Brett Kavanaugh Is "One Great Guy"  That's according to one of his neighbors, who said that when interviewed by the Washington Post.

As Patterico says, that's not what's most important in choosing a judge:
Although a judge’s intellect, judicial philosophy, clarity of writing, fidelity to constitutional principle, and temperament are more important to his position on the Supreme Court than stories like this, it’s good to know that Kavanaugh seems like a nice guy.
But it does tell us something about the man's character.

And may make it just a little easier to confirm him.
- 12:51 PM, 18 July 2018   [link]

All Of The Recent A-hed Stories made me smile.

(Except the "Extreme Lawn Care" story, which seems a little creepy.)
- 10:47 AM, 18 July 2018   [link]

Progress Against Trachoma:  Even in some of the poorest countries in the world.
Quietly, in the shadow of better-known diseases like Ebola, AIDS and malaria, the 20-year battle against trachoma is chalking up impressive victories.

These successes, experts say, show the wisdom of advocating and enforcing basic public health practices, rather than waiting for a miracle cure or a new vaccine.

They are also a testament to the unheralded but steady generosity of Americans.
Since the campaign began, five nations, Cambodia, Laos, Mexico, Morocco, and Oman, eliminated the disease as a public health problem, according to the World Health Organization.  This year, two more nations, Nepal and Ghana, joined those five.

You will note that none of those nations is wealthy, or famous for being well governed.

Trachoma is the biggest infectious cause of blindness in the world, and a very nasty disease.

(Donald McNeil even gives a little credit to the George W. Bush administration, something he doesn't always do.)
- 7:27 PM, 17 July 2018   [link]

Definitely Worth Reading:  This interview, "Former CIA Director Hayden Tells Mediaite What Worries Him Most About Insane Trump-Putin Presser".
John Ziegler:   General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and author of the new book The Assault on Intelligence, thanks so much for joining me.  I’m quite sure that you saw the joint press conference between President Trump and Vladimir Putin.  Obviously, it’s not too often that we can just ask what’s your reaction, but why don’t we just start with that?

Gen. Hayden:   For the first 80% of it, if I had to score it I would say Putin was ahead on points.  There were no knockdowns.  There were no cuts above the eye.  I was preparing my thoughts to say tonight it was okay.  I was fearful about the summit, but I think there’s some positive things here.  Then we got this nuclear denotation at the end that blew all those judgements away because of a very difficult, hot and insightful [question] from an American newsman that he tossed at both presidents about what the Russians did during the 2016 campaign and elections.  At that point I think it’s fair to describe that for President Trump, in my view, all the wheels began to fly off, John.
What I like most about the interview is how calm and judicious Hayden is in answering the questions.

(I gather that, earlier today, Trump tried to repair some of the damage he had done, but I didn't watch his latest show.)
- 1:20 PM, 17 July 2018   [link]

Trump And Putin Tied On The First Move In the Helsinki Meeting:  Each proved that he could be rude.
In a bit of gamesmanship, Putin arrived in Helsinki about a half-hour late, while Trump didn’t depart the resort home where he was meeting with advisers for the summit until after the Russian leader arrived at the presidential palace.  The meeting was delayed about an hour as a result.
Assuming the account is accurate, that gives me a little hope, a little reason to believe that Putin can't always bully Trump.

(One of the things I dislike about Barack Obama is that he so often uses that late ploy; one of the things I like about George W. Bush is that he doesn't.)
- 9:24 AM, 17 July 2018   [link]

This Man May Not be ready for marriage.
- 8:43 AM, 17 July 2018   [link]