June 2018, Part 3

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings Says the right thing.

And it needed saying.

(Elijah Cummings)
- 7:39 PM, 24 June 2018   [link]

Another Old Joke That Could Be Re-Written As A Modern American Joke:  Browsing through this collection, I came across this joke:
In the 1955 election, Mapai was the dominant party in Israel.  On entering the polling station in a remote village of new immigrants each elector is handed a sealed envelope by a Mapai party official.  He is then told to go into the polling booth, stay there for a while and then come out and place the same envelope in the ballot box.  Everybody obeys but one man begins to open his envelope on his way to the booth.  The party official dashes up to him:
"What do you think you are doing, you fool?"
"I want to see what I am voting for."
"But don't you know that in Israel we have a secret ballot?"
You could make a modern American version of the joke by beginning with a "vote broker", a person who collects signed absentee ballots in exchange for cash, and then fills in the votes.

There are fewer such brokers than there were in, for instance, 2000, but I have no doubt that a few of them are still practicing their trade.

(If I ever had been familiar with the Mapai Party, I have long since forgotten what I once knew, so I looked them up — and found some fascinating information, including a picture of their symbol.)
- 3:39 PM, 24 June 2018   [link]

Worth Reading:  Stephanie Leutert's long, and fact-filled, article, "Who’s Really Crossing the U.S. Border, and Why They’re Coming".

Despite what the president says, the situation at the border is much more nuanced.  There’s not a flood of people racing across the border.  The majority of migrants aren’t dangerous criminals.  Many are women and families—and many are fleeing gang violence rather than seeking to spread that violence farther north.
. . .
The current crisis hasn’t been caused by a sudden influx of migration, either.  The peak in apprehensions of irregular migrants actually took place some 17 years ago, in FY2000.  At that point, U.S. Border Patrol agents caught 1,643,679 migrants attempting to enter the United States without the appropriate papers, compared to 303,916 apprehensions in this past fiscal year.   But this decreasing number of apprehensions should not be confused with a gentler, kinder approach to border security—in fact, just the opposite.  Since 2001, the number of Border Patrol agents along the southwest border has nearly doubled from 9,147 agents to 16,605.  Border fencing also increased: to date, there are 705 miles of fencing along the 2,000-mile long U.S.-Mexico border.
Partisans will note that apprehensions — and, presumably, illegal entries — soared during the Clinton administration and declined during the Bush administration.
- 3:43 PM, 23 June 2018   [link]

Is President Trump A Great Deal Maker?  Not judging by the evidence so far.
His 17 months in office have in fact been an exercise in futility for the art-of-the-deal president.  No deal on immigration.  No deal on health care.  No deal on gun control.  No deal on spending cuts.   No deal on Nafta.  No deal on China trade.  No deal on steel and aluminum imports.  No deal on Middle East peace.  No deal on the Qatar blockade.  No deal on Syria.  No deal on Russia.  No deal on Iran.  No deal on climate change.  No deal on Pacific trade.
In the North Korean "deal", Trump gave the North Koreans two things they have wanted badly for years, a face-to-face meeting with an American president and the ending of joint South Korean-United States military exercises.  In return, Trump got a vague promise that the North Koreans would, some time, give up nuclear weapons, a promise they have made and broken more than once, before.

Does Trump think that is a great deal?  He says he does.

Although Peter Baker would never say it this way, so far Trump has proven to be an even worse deal maker than President Obama.

(To be fair, many of those problems would be difficult even for the best deal maker.  But it is also true that Trump said he could solve many of them easily.)
- 2:46 PM, 23 June 2018   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" made me smile.
- 1:54 PM, 23 June 2018   [link]

News You May Be Able To Use:  You can fight depression by lifting weights.

Weight lifting works as well as aerobic exercise, which has long been known to be one of the best remedies for depression.

(That finding leads me to change, slightly, my standard advice on how to help a friend or relative fight depression.

In the past, if someone had asked how to help,I would have said that you should encourage them to get some aerobic exercise.

For instance, invite them to join you for lunch (or breakfast, or brunch, or supper) and then go for a brisk walk with them afterward.

Now I would say that you could also invite them to join in some weight lifting, for instance by helping someone move.)
- 2:33 PM, 22 June 2018   [link]

In Iraq, ISIS Widows Are Not Being Separated From Their Children:  Instead they are kept together — in prison.
And now, for those women still in Syria, they live in dust-coated tents, or sometimes in prison rooms, alongside their children, inhabiting a legal purgatory until one authority or another figures out what to do with them
Together at least until the widows are executed, as many will be.
Iraq is set to execute dozens of foreign ISIS brides as it exacts revenge for the three years of jihadi occupation that saw thousands killed at the hands of a brutal Islamic caliphate.

The women, who pleaded that they are victims of ISIS too, were given ten minutes to beg for their lives before judges decided to impose capital punishment.
After that the children go to Iraqi orphanages — which may not be up to American standards.

I am not criticizing the Iraqis for this policy, since I can not think of a less bad alternative, given their limited resources.

(For the record:  I would not be surprised to learn that some of the widows are, in fact, more victims than criminals.)
- 1:12 PM, 22 June 2018   [link]

As An Actress, Cynthia Nixon Knows A Good Line:  As a candidate for New York governor, she may have gone a little too far.
Actress and aspiring New York governor Cynthia Nixon is calling U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) a “terrorist organization” that ought to be disbanded.
That message may not help her win the law-and-order vote.  Even in a Democratic primary.
- 12:33 PM, 22 June 2018   [link]

This Week's Collection Of Cartoons from Politico.

My favorites:  Michael Ramirez's pawn, Ramirez's real security threat, and Matt Davies' Space Force.  (I'm a sucker for alien cartoons.)
- 9:27 AM, 22 June 2018   [link]

Tentative And Partial Good News From Arizona:   Martha McSally is leading in the Republican race.
Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) surged into first place with a commanding 14-point lead in Arizona’s closely watched GOP Senate primary, according to a new poll.

A poll conducted by Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights (OHPI) has McSally ahead with a little over 39 percent of the vote, followed by former state Sen. Kelli Ward at 24.5 percent and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio trailing far behind at nearly 14 percent.  About 22 percent of voters remain undecided.
Tentative because, although McSally has led in every poll since the beginning of the year except one, none of the polls looks especially professional.

Partial because none of the Republican candidates are leading the likely Democratic nominee, Kyrsten Sinema, though McSally has come closest.

Unfortunately, it is likely that Kelli Ward and her allies will attack McSally in ways that damage McSally's chances against Sinema.

So you shouldn't be too surprised this November, if Arizona elects a Democrat to the Senate.

Still, it could be worse; Joe Arpaio could be leading in the Republican race.

(Martha McSally and United States Senate election in Arizona, 2018)
- 3:50 PM, 21 June 2018   [link]

When Plastic Straws Are Outlawed, only outlaws . . .

You know the rest.

(Seattle just outlawed the straws, which inspired that thought.)

But to be serious, or at least semi-serious, for a moment:  I have been seeing a series of stories on how plastics are being dumped into our oceans, and how that is now a crisis.

Naturally, I don't think we should be dumping plastics into the oceans — but I haven't seen any evidence this is a crisis, and, as far as I can tell, the United States is not doing most of the dumping.

So, perhaps instead of banning plastic straws here, we should be trying to sell better waste disposal equipment to China, India, Indonesia, and other, similar nations.
- 12:57 PM, 21 June 2018   [link]

Last week, I Linked To a group of BEK cartoons, rather than the single one I wanted.

That may have confused some people, so here is the cartoon by itself.  (At least for now.)

That error gives me a chance to explain what I meant by my comment.  There are some parts of women's worlds that men know nothing about.

Example:  If, before her death, I had encountered a question about Kate Spade on a multiple-choice test, I would have had one chance in five of getting the answer right — assuming there were five alternatives to choose from.

The women news readers who told us about her death seemed not to realize that at least half of their audience didn't know who Spade was, or why she was so important to so many women.
- 9:09 AM, 21 June 2018   [link]

456 Lives "Shortened"  This BBC article, "Gosport hospital deaths:  Prescribed opioids 'shortened 456 lives'" is brief.

But horrifying.

The Daily Mail has more details.   For example:
Nursing staff first raised concerns about the poor prescribing and administration of opioids at the Gosport Memorial Hospital nearly 30 years ago but their fears were “silenced” by management, the inquiry reveals.

Early in 1991, Anita Tubbritt, a staff nurse at the hospital rang Keith Murray, the local Royal College of Nursing branch convener, to express concerns she and other staff shared over the use of diamorphine and syringe drivers.

Mr Murray had a meeting at the home of staff nurse Sylvia Giffin with five or six other nurses who said diamorphine “was being prescribed without due consideration being given to the use of milder sedatives first”.
(And many more articles.)

The nurses were right, but didn't get anywhere, going through channels.

It is my impression from the articles I've looked at that most of the patients whose lives were "shortened" were thought to be terminal — but there may well have been exceptions.

(What is the top story at the BBC?  As I write, Donald Trump's reversal on separating families at the border.)
- 3:57 PM, 20 June 2018   [link]

Almost Always, Children, Especially Young Children, Are Better Off With Their Parents:  Put that blandly and generally, few Americans would disagree.

In the past, we acted on that principle in ways we no longer do.

When we instituted the draft before our entry into World War II, we exempted fathers.  That was dropped, along with other standards, after Pearl Harbor, but we still gave fathers preference for the trips home, after the war ended.

Even during the Vietnam War, there were exemptions for fathers.

Now, with our volunteer Army, we have come to accept fathers, and even mothers of small children, being separated from their children for tours of duty.

Nor is that the only reason we have come to accept such separations.

In 2004, the Atlantic published a wildly controversial article by Caitlin Flanagan, describing how nannies were making feminist career choices possible for many women.  I was distressed to learn that many of the nannies in the Los Angeles area were not just illegals from Central America, but young mothers who had left their own children behind with relatives.

Nor is the United States the only nation that accepts such separations.

On Sunday, I watched this Asia Insight program describing how young Filipinos were being trained as "Caregivers" for work in other countries, including Japan.

The program focused on one young woman with a young son, who she was preparing to leave behind so she could earn enough money so her family could have a house of their own.  (The boy's father was no longer in his life, for reasons the program did not explain.)

From all this you have no doubt guessed that I oppose the Trump policy of separating children from their parents at our borders.

And you would be right.

But I also think we should do more to avoid those other separations, even if voluntary.

(Caitlin Flanagan)
- 11:23 AM, 20 June 2018   [link]

This Cartoon From My Daily Calendar made me laugh out loud.

(If you are wondering about the reference, you can find the answer in the next-to-the-last paragraph.)
- 9:30 AM, 20 June 2018   [link]

It Is Possible I Have Got This Wrong, but it looks as if Donald Trump is complaining because Canadians are buying shoes in the United States — and not paying Canadian taxes on them.

I can understand why that might bother Prime Minister Trudeau, but not why it would bother President Trump.

Canada has a national sales tax, as well as sales taxes in most provinces.   Combined, the total can be as high as 15 percent.

(A few years ago, Canadians were flocking to border towns in Washington state to buy coats.  In order to beat Canadian taxes, they would wear old coats down, and then discard them at the malls.  If I recall correctly, there were so many discarded coats at some of the malls that they installed special bins for them.)
- 4:27 PM, 19 June 2018   [link]

The Venezuelan Stock Exchange Continues To Soar:  Here are — I believe — current quotes.

And here are some numbers for comparison, from April.

No doubt that spectacular rise shows the wise policies of the Chavista regime.

All right, I couldn't resist that, having heard, so many times, similar claims about the American stock market from both Republicans and Democrats.

Actually, if I had to guess I'd say that some speculator or speculators are betting that the regime will collapse, relatively soon.
- 3:47 PM, 19 June 2018   [link]

Men Don't Always Make the best fashion choices.
- 10:16 AM, 19 June 2018   [link]

Four People Are Known To Have Died In The Osaka Earthquake:  Three elderly people, and one nine-year-old girl, crushed by a falling wall as she was walking to school.

That is a surprisingly small number, considering the strength of the earthquake and the number of people living in that area.  If a similar earthquake had struck a populated area of Iran, Afghanistan, or Pakistan, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, would have died.

It's been almost a century since the Great Tokyo Earthquake, which killed more than 100,000 people.  Since then, the Japanese have learned, earthquake by earthquake, how to minimize the death tolls, and the property damage.

From what I can tell, earthquake-prone areas in the United States have learned the same lessons in the same ways, and in about the same time period.

(As I was watching NHK World this morning, I learned that there was an immediate flare-up of suspicions against foreigners after this earthquake, just as there had been in 1923.  This time the xenophobia has not had the deadly consequences it did almost a century ago.)
- 2:15 PM, 18 June 2018   [link]

"Air Conditioning!"  That's what a new apartment building in downtown Kirkland is advertising.  People in most of the country would be surprised to see that as a special feature; people in a few parts would be astonished.

But, in fact, in most summers in this area, air conditioning is only needed for about ten to fifteen days during our summers.  (And I wouldn't be surprised to learn that central heating is not needed in most homes in Hawaii.)

Unfortunately, today, tomorrow, and Wednesday are likely to be among those days in which air conditioning would be welcome, so you may not see many late afternoon and evening posts here in the next few days.

(If you are curious, the building advertising that special feature is the Voda apartments.  It is next to the Kirkland Transit Center.  I have been told that rents range from $2700 to $3000 a month, so they don't do much directly to increase the supply of affordable housing here.

The Kirkland Transit Center is just the main bus stop in Kirkland.  It would be convenient for people who regularly commute by bus to downtown Seattle.  As far as I know it hasn't become a crime magnet the way transit centers often do, but I am rarely there in the evenings, and haven't been there at night for years.)
- 11:21 AM, 18 June 2018   [link]

From The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt", an honest car salesman.
- 9:07 AM, 18 June 2018   [link]

Worth Reading:  Senator Marco Rubio's essay, "Fathers Deserve More Than Stuff For Father’s Day.  They Deserve Respect".
An Internet search for “Father’s Day 2018” brings up a top hit: “20 Last-Minute Father’s Day Gifts That Are Amazon Prime-Eligible.”   Now, like most dads, I’m not one to complain about receiving gifts (especially when they involve a good weekend of fishing), but something is wrong when popular culture understands the obligations of Father’s Day as nothing more than a 30-minute phone call and shipping your dad something Amazon’s website said were “Dad’s Favorites.”

Like so many other things in our culture today, the commercialization of this holiday obscures its true meaning.  Father’s Day is about so much more than store sales and cheesy coffee mugs. It is, to borrow the words a resolution President Calvin Coolidge once signed on its celebration, a day “to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations,” and remind ourselves of the importance of fatherhood to our country.
I would guess that Rubio wrote this, hoping to publish it in a major newspaper.  If so, it's unfortunate than none of them picked it up.

(Marco Rubio)
- 5:33 PM, 17 June 2018   [link]

Blobfish Basketball:  Now this is more to my tastes than all the talk shows.

Even though neither man is a skilled basketball player.

(I know I am not being realistic, but I continue to hope for the mud-wrestling contest.

- 2:58 PM, 17 June 2018   [link]

Steve Bannon Absolutely Cracked Me Up with this joke.

He delivered it well, too.  Could he be hoping to be a regular on Saturday Night Live?
- 2:18 PM, 17 June 2018   [link]