November 2018, Part 2

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

The Permanent Presidency Is Attacking Chinese Economic Espionage:  Overtly, says David Ignatius.
While the bombastic U.S.-China “trade war” has been getting the headlines, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been waging a quieter battle to combat Chinese theft of trade secrets from American companies — a practice so widespread that even boosters of trade with China regard it as egregious.

The indictments don’t just charge violations of law; they also expose details of Chinese spycraft.  And there’s a hidden threat:  The Chinese must consider whether the United States has blown the covers of not just the people and organizations named in the criminal charges but also others with whom they came in contact.
We have been slow to react to these Chinese thefts, despite their scale, and their effects on our companies.  I have seen an estimate — which I can't verify for obvious reasons — that the Chinese have stolen $1 trillion dollars worth of our secrets.

In 2015, the Chinese regime promised to stop these thefts.  They have't kept that promise, either.

(David Ignatius)
- 12:29 PM, 16 November 2018   [link]

This Woman is trying to be fair.
- 10:17 AM, 16 November 2018   [link]

Two Bittman Slow Cooker Recipes, With Notes:   I've been using these recipes for years, with good to excellent results:


Time: At least 4 hours

6 to 8 meaty spareribs, about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds
6 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
1 dried chili, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, chopped
1 pound penne or other cut pasta
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish.

1. If you like, brown ribs in a skillet before adding them to pot. Combine all ingredients except pasta and garnish in slow cooker.  Cover and cook until meat is very tender, 4 hours or more on high heat, 6 hours or more on low.

2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it.  Cook pasta until tender but not mushy.  Serve pasta with a rib or two, and a few spoonfuls of sauce, garnished with parsley.

Yield: 4 servings.


1. I almost always use country ribs, because they are cheaper.  I cut them up in chunks, two to four inches wide, before putting them in the slow cooker.
2. Crushed tomatoes are easier to find and, as far as I can tell, work just as well.
3. I slice the garlic cloves, so I don’t eat one whole.
4. The bigger the chili, the more spicy.  I usually use one a little more than an inch long.
5. It would probably shock Mark Bittman, but I like to use Parmesan cheese out of a shaker for garnish, instead of parsley.
6. I add salt just before I eat it, and have never found any reason to add pepper.
7. The dish freezes nicely, so I always make extra.


Time: At least 5 hours

8 short ribs, about 3 pounds
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar or honey
3 star anise
6 scallions, trimmed
1 3-inch piece cinnamon
5 nickel-size slices of ginger
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
Cooked white rice for serving
Chopped scallions or fresh cilantro leaves for garnish.

1. Combine all ingredients, except salt, rice and garnish, in slow cooker.   Cover and cook until meat is very tender and falling from bone, 5 hours or more on high, 7 hours or more on low.  Taste and add salt if necessary.

2. If you like, remove meat, strain liquid and refrigerate meat and liquid separately; skim fat from liquid, and reheat with meat.  Serve hot over white rice garnished with scallions or cilantro.

Yield: 4 servings.

1. When I first decided to make this dish, I had trouble finding the peppercorns, and ended up ordering them from Amazon.
2. Short ribs do go on sale, occasionally.
3. I have never found any reason to use salt.
4. Because the peppercorns are hard to spot, I wrap them in a small piece of cheesecloth.   A real cook would probably think of a better solution.
5. I sometimes serve them with slices of French bread, instead of rice.
6. This dish also freezes nicely.

As you probably noticed, Bittman, as a pro, cares way more about presentation than I do.

If this old link still works, here's the original article, which includes a third recipe, for the ambitious.

(I saw no way to include my notes and have them make sense, without quoting extensively from the article.)
- 8:02 PM, 15 November 2018   [link]

Japan And Russia May Finally Sign A Peace Treaty Ending World War II:  Let me repeat, may.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday the sovereignty of two islands that would be transferred to Japan on the conclusion of a peace treaty is subject to future negotiations.

A day after holding talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Singapore, Putin noted that a 1956 joint declaration, which will serve as the basis for the forthcoming talks, does not specify the islands' sovereignty.
. . .
Putin has acknowledged the legal validity of the declaration.  But his remarks indicate it will not be easy for Japan to realize the return of Shikotan and the Habomai islet group as stated in the document, even though Abe has apparently altered Tokyo's approach to the territorial issue to one that focuses on first regaining control over them and agreed to step up talks on the treaty.
Japan calls the islands the "Northern Territories"; Americans usually refer to them as part of the Kuril island chain.

Pure speculation:  When I first heard about this on NHK World, I wondered why Abe was raising the issue, now.

I suspect that he sees the United States as a less reliable ally, and is seeking to reduce tensions with all his neighbors.  I believe he is offering to give up claims to other islands in the chain, but could be wrong about that.
- 3:14 PM, 15 November 2018   [link]

"Timely Reminder: Recounts Are 3-23 In Past Two Decades"  From the Miami Herald by way of Hot Air.
But a recount that reverses an initial margin of more than a few hundred votes would be unprecedented in the recent history of American elections.   According to an analysis by the nonpartisan group FairVote, which advocates for electoral reforms that make it easier to vote, out of 4,687 statewide elections between 2000 and 2016, just 26 went to a recount.  Of those 26, just three recounts wound up changing the initial result of the race:  The 2004 Washington governor’s race, the 2006 Vermont state auditor’s race and the 2008 Minnesota U.S. Senate race.  The average swing in those three elections after the recounts? About 311 votes.
So the recounts in Florida are unlikely to change the results of the senate and governor races.

This is not as reassuring as it may seem.  Republicans — but very few Democrats — know that illegal votes almost cost George W. Bush Florida in 2000.  Washington state Republicans — but very few Democrats — know that Christine Gregoire would have lost the 2004 election if only legal votes had been counted.  And Minnesota Republicans appear to feel the same way about the 2008 election.
- 1:59 PM, 15 November 2018   [link]

Too Funny not to share.
- 9:35 AM, 15 November 2018   [link]

This Cartoon Gives Some Insight into the thinking of an often misunderstood minority — young men.

- 9:07 AM, 15 November 2018   [link]

Intense Minorities And Gun Control, Again:  Last Friday, KUOW's Gang of Four was discussing the easy passage (60-40) of gun control initiative I-1639, and wondering why similar measures have not passed the Washington state legislature.

The main reason for these different results is fairly simple:  Gun rights advocates are an "intense minority"; they may even be "single-issue" voters.  Legislators, knowing this, realize they will lose more votes taking a stand against the National Rifle Association than they gain.

But with initiatives, intensity matters far less, assuming candidates and other issues motivate people to fill out their ballots.

I was genuinely surprised that no one in the Gang appeared to know this; it is not an obscure concept.

(There is a secondary reason for the difference between legislative and initiative results:  Gun control advocates tend to be concentrated in urban districts, which means they influence fewer legislators than they would if they were more spread out.

You can find two earlier posts on intense minorities here and here.)
- 4:17 PM, 13 November 2018   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" made me chuckle.
- 9:47 AM, 13 November 2018   [link]

How Bad Are Our Long-Term Budget Problems?  This bad
The Congressional Budget Office estimates interest spending will rise to $915 billion by 2028, or 13% of all outlays and 3.1% of gross domestic product.
The outlook would be better if Nancy Pelosi had not blocked George W. Bush's proposals for entitlement reform after the 2004 election.  The outlook would be even worse if John Boehner had not slowed spending growth after the 2010 election.

I see no solution to this problem that does not include higher taxes in the years to come.

(United States federal budget)
- 4:08 PM, 12 November 2018   [link]

We're Still Counting Votes, but I think we can already say that this Rasmussen poll looks foolish.

(And the CNN poll doesn't look very good, either.)

But that won't stop Drudge from linking to Rasmussen.
- 10:28 AM, 12 November 2018   [link]

- 9:31 AM, 12 November 2018   [link]

Armistice Day:  On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice ended the fighting in World War I.  (Though not without difficulty.   Some American troops, having spare shells and wanting the glory of having the last shot, competed with each other, for a time, after the official end.)

For many European countries, the war was a disaster from which they have never completely recovered.  The casualties they suffered were so immense that, even now, they astonish.  They were so large that, from the very beginning, the combatants lied about them on a grand scale, and even now historians argue about the numbers, especially the numbers in eastern Europe.  This Wikipedia article gives some of the common estimates of the casualties.  The almost 1.4 million French military dead are more than all the deaths the United States has suffered in all our wars, combined.  More than 1 million of them were from France itself, with the rest coming mostly from the French colonies.  Since France then had a population of about 40 million, more than 1 in 40 died in the war; for us, now, the equivalent loss would be about 8 million deaths.

After World War II, we renamed Armistice Day to Veterans Day, to honor the soldiers of all our wars.  When we honor, as we should, especially today, the American soldiers who served, and sometimes died in our wars, we should also spare some thought for those who fought at our side and who suffered far more than we did.

(This is an edited version of a post I first put up in 2002.)
- 11:00 AM, 11 November 2018   [link]

Leftist Michael Tomasky Thinks Democrats Should Have A "Rural Policy"  If, as he admits frankly, they are ever to win control of the Senate again.

That's pragmatic enough, though I think those who live in rural areas will find his tone patronizing.

Democrats used to know this, but somehow have forgotten it over the last generation.  Older Democrats could even tell you how appealing to the rural vote gave Harry Truman his surprise victory in 1948.  But that knowledge has been disappearing, and vanished almost completely during Barack Obama's presidency.  (Obama doesn't even like suburbs, much less rural areas.)

As it happens, many of our rural areas do need changes in government policies, but they are changes Tomasky and company are unlikely to understand, or support if they do understand them.

For instance, there are strong arguments for selling off, over time, federal lands now being used by farmers, ranchers, and loggers.

But I doubt that would appeal to Tomasky, or other urban imperialists.

(Michael Tomask)
- 1:33 PM, 9 November 2018   [link]

Last Night, Seattle Leftists Demonstrated In Support Of Alabama Conservative Jeff Sessions:  They would't describe it that way, of course, but they were protesting his firing.

(Unless provoked, I wouldn't mention that oddity to any of them.)
- 9:34 AM, 9 November 2018   [link]

All Of The Current A-hed Stories make me smile.

And the pigeon story gives me reason for hope.
- 9:14 AM, 9 November 2018   [link]