May 2018, Part 4

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

This New York Post Front Page Is Tasteless:  But I will admit it made me laugh out loud.
- 3:43 PM, 31 May 2018   [link]

Amazon And Seattle Could Learn From Bacteria:  (They won't.)

Recently, in one of her "Basics" columns, Natalie Angier reminded us of some important truths.
Gorging on glucose, bacteria in a petri dish died in their own acidic waste, . . .
There are always side effects.

And you can have too much of a good thing, whether that is food, jobs, or density.

Neither is exactly an esoteric idea, but both Amazon and Seattle have been ignoring them for years.

In 2010, when Amazon moved its headquarters to the South Lake Union neighborhood, they had about 5,000 employees in Seattle; they now have about 45,000 employees in that location, and will soon have 50,000.

(In retrospect, that choice of location looks perverse, for so many reasons that it deserves a post of its own.)

Congestion problems, already bad, have become horrible, rents have soared, and moderately-priced homes have disappeared.

Homelessness, already a serious problem, has gotten worse.

And so Seattle responded, finally, with a much-criticized "head tax" on larger companies.

It is not a solution I would have chosen, but the problems it attempts to alleviate are real enough.

Finally, there is one aspect of the problem that has received less attention than it deserves:  The soaring prices for real estate have caused a soaring tax take for local governments, very much including Seattle.

I may be too cynical, but I suspect that tax take is one reason local officials have talked about affordable housing, but not done anything very effective about it.

Maybe we should send them some petri dishes.
- 2:13 PM, 31 May 2018   [link]

A McDonald's In Pyongyang?  That's what the CIA thinks we might get out of any summit with North Korea.
A CIA report found that North Korea does not plan to give up its nuclear weapons in the near future, contradicting President Trump’s statements that the country would do so, NBC News reported Tuesday.

U.S. officials told the network that the report was circulated earlier this month, ahead of Trump’s decision last week to cancel his upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
. . .
The CIA analysis reportedly suggests that the U.S. might be more successful in getting Kim to reverse the country’s recent progress on its nuclear program than getting the nation to denuclearize altogether.

Officials also told NBC News that the report stated that Kim might be willing to open a Western hamburger franchise in the capital of Pyongyang as a gesture of goodwill toward Trump.  Trump is well known for his preference for fast food like McDonald’s.
The McDonald’s seems more likely than any real reversal.  And we should remember that there is no real way we can remove the expertise the North Koreans have developed.

Naturally, I hope my gloomy assessment is wrong.
- 10:12 AM, 31 May 2018   [link]

The Rockets Missed 29 Three-Point Shots In A Row In Their Monday Game Against The Warriors:  What are the odds of that?

According to Chris Herring, "1 In 72,000".

(If you are interested in sports statistics, you'll be impressed by how many factors Herring uses to get that number.

And if you read his complete discussion, you'll wonder whether he is implying that the usual independence assumption did not apply in that streak.  Which, of course, would reduce the odds.)
- 8:09 AM, 31 May 2018   [link]

This Morning, "Pepper . . . And Salt" made me smile.
- 7:33 AM, 31 May 2018   [link]

For A Top Diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif doesn't sound very diplomatic.
Considered a moderate by the international community, Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif is nevertheless seen chanting along with an incited crowd for the demise of the US, UK and Israel.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, considered a moderate by many, was caught on tape Thursday joining a crowd in a chant calling for the destruction of Iran's enemies—among them the US, UK and Israel.
We are lucky, I suppose, that he is a "moderate", rather than a hardliner.

(I am not sure why the Iranian regime is so fixated on Jews, but I don't think it is just tactical, since there is so much evidence they believe some of their own propaganda.)
- 3:43 PM, 30 May 2018   [link]

Arkady Babchenko's Remarkable Recovery:  When I woke up this morning he was dead; now he is alive.
Ukraine staged the murder of a Russian dissident journalist in Kiev on Tuesday in what it said was a sting operation to foil a Russian assassination plot.

Arkady Babchenko sent shock waves around the world when he arrived at a news conference on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after he was reported dead.

The head of Ukraine's security services, Vasyl Hrytsak, said the elaborate sting was set up to catch hitmen paid by Russian forces.
It is good to hear that he is alive — which is not true of every Putin critic — and we can hope that the sting operation was a success, as the Ukrainian government is claiming.
- 1:54 PM, 30 May 2018   [link]

Roseanne's Demise Was Quick:  In this area, not only did she vanish from the ABC affiliate, but her re-runs disappeared from a sub-channel at the CBS affiliate.

I have never watched her for more than a few minutes, never felt any desire to watch her, though I suppose I should have once or twice for what you might call anthropological reasons.

So I won't miss her.

But if it is wrong of her to describe Valerie Jarrett as the child of an ape — and it is — why was it not wrong for Guardian cartoonist Gordon Bell to routinely depict George W. Bush as an ape?

(Amazingly, that old link to one of his cartoons still works, so you can see an example if you want to.)

I thought it was wrong of Bell then, and think it is wrong of Roseanne, now.

And I wish more of our "mainstream" journalists agreed with me on Bell.

(Steve Bell)
- 11:16 AM, 30 May 2018   [link]

There Are Many Funny Stories at A-hed.

(And none of them are about Roseanne or Donald.)

My favorite:  Probably the Chinese rock collectors.
- 10:27 AM, 30 May 2018   [link]

Michael Avenatti does have a way with words.
"This whole mantra by Giuliani of draining the swamp, it’s an absolute joke,” Avenatti said.  “These guys have created a swamp within this administration that makes the Everglades look like a backyard plastic pool.”
I wish I had thought of that simile.

(It won't happen, but I continue to believe that a mud-wrestling contest between Trump and Avenatti — with Stormy Daniels presiding — would be the best way to settle this dispute.

Proceeds to go to charity, of course.)
- 1:41 PM, 29 May 2018   [link]

Soccer Dads will want to see this cartoon.
- 1:15 PM, 29 May 2018   [link]

Memorial Day:  When we should remember these brave men in Arlington Cemetery.

Arlington Cemetery

Earlier posts on Memorial Day here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

(Recycled from 2009.)
- 12:16 PM, 28 May 2018   [link]

This News from Cuba:
Rainfall has shuttered all but a few of Cuba’s 54 sugar mills, with output down nearly 40 percent to the lowest level in more than a century, which could force the island to import, official media and industry sources say.

While inclement weather played a big role in this season’s disastrous performance, local experts and officials also blamed inadequate reforms and decapitalization, reflecting more broadly the socialist country’s struggle to update its economy.
Will remind older folks of this ancient Cold War joke:
What would happen if the Communists took control of the Sahara desert?

Within five years there would be a shortage of sand.
No doubt the Cuban regime will soon find a way to blame these failures on the American "embargo".
- 7:20 PM, 27 May 2018   [link]

The current "Pepper . . . And Salt" Cartoon made me laugh out loud.

And so did this Mike Lukovich cartoon.
- 12:21 PM, 26 May 2018   [link]

Joe Scarborough Agrees With Me:  On the 24th, I wrote that I suspected that John Bolton was "Trying To Sabotage The Trump/Kim Talks".

Now Scarborough is saying the same thing
Joe Scarborough thinks that the cancellation of President Trump‘s denuclearization summit with Kim Jong Un comes back to national security adviser John Bolton.

For weeks, Bolton has recommended the Libya model as a possible approach to North Korea’s disarmament.  It is possible the rogue regime took notice of this, as before the meeting was cancelled, they threatened to pull out of negotiations by saying their nuclear weapons are off the table.
What is unclear to me (and probably to Scarborough) is whether Vice President Mike Pence, who has repeated Bolton's call for a "Libyan solution", has also been trying to sabotage the talks.

Even more mysterious is what Mike Pompeo has been doing; he helped arrange the talks, but then did nothing that I have seen to rein in Bolton.

(Some time ago, I came to the same conclusion that Michael Hayden has.   He has said that the North Koreans would be "idiots" to give up their nukes — and they aren't idiots.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't talk to them from time to time, but we shouldn't expect much from those talks.)
- 12:09 PM, 25 May 2018   [link]

My Apologies To The Republic Of Korea, And Especially President Moon:  (Donald Trump should be making these apologies, but he won't — perhaps isn't even capable of making apologies — so we have to make them for him.)

President Trump should have been consulting with President Moon all along, and, in particular, should have warned Moon before he sent that letter calling off the North Korean summit.

I apologize for Trump's juvenile behavior.

(I won't be apologizing for all of Trump's mistreatment of our friends and allies — there isn't enough time for that — but this was particularly disgraceful behavior.  In this, as in other ways, Trump is imitating Obama's errors.

Moon Jae-in)
- 8:13 AM, 25 May 2018   [link]

This Week's Collection Of Cartoons from Politico.

My favorites:  Clay Bennett's church sign and Matt Davies' caldron..

And I like this version of Snow White.

- 7:32 AM, 25 May 2018   [link]