Archive:

October 2018, Part 2

Jim Miller on Politics




Pseudo-Random Thoughts



Who Will Win Three Weeks From Today?  The Democrats will win the House, the Republicans the Senate.  That's the conventional wisdom, and I think the conventional wisdom is right, this time.

(It usually is.)

When last I looked, FiveThirtyEight was giving the Democrats 6 chances in 7 of winning the House.  That seems about right to me, though I think their predicted gain, 40 seats, is a little high.  (I should mention that the British bettors are giving the Democrats about a 65 percent chance, last I looked.)

It is too early, I think, to make a useful Senate prediction.

(The Wikipedia article on the House election has gobs of data, and a link to the 2016 election.)
- 4:03 PM, 16 October 2018   [link]


That Baby Megan Markle Is Expecting?  When born next spring he or she will be an American citizen, as well as being seventh in line for the throne.

Markle is an American citizen and legally married.  She's in the process of becoming a British citizen, but that "takes years", according to the article.  (The article doesn't say whether she plans to renounce her American citizenship, after that.)
- 2:02 PM, 16 October 2018   [link]


Chinese Money Often Comes With Chinese Racism:  That's the hard lesson Kenyans are now learning, according to this New York Times article.

The racism is of the crudest sort, separate bathrooms, denying Kenyans responsible jobs, calling them "monkeys", and so on.

The resemblances of the current Chinese regime to pre-World War I Imperial Germany are disturbing, to say the least.

(After the election, Barack Obama could do us and Kenya a favor by going there and speaking out against Chinese racism and neo-colonialism.)
- 1:04 PM, 16 October 2018   [link]


Ever Wonder What Those In Different Fields Are Thinking?  You can find some possibilities at xkcd.
- 8:40 AM, 16 October 2018   [link]


Now That Senator Elizabeth Warren Has Had The DNA Test, Do American Indians Think She Is An Indian?  Specifically, is her possible Indian ancestry — 1/1024th or less between 1/64th and 1/1024th — enough to enroll her in any recognized tribe?

It seems unlikely.

(Tom Maguire thinks it significant that she did not announce in advance that she was having the test done.

So do I, and I would add that, if I were trying to prove I had a certain ancestry, I would have at least three tests done by independent experts.

(Elizabeth Warren)
- 2:54 PM, 15 October 2018   [link]


Too Funny (Unless You Are An Arizona Voter) not to share.
Emails obtained by the Washington Examiner show [Democratic Senate candidate Kyrsten] Sinema inviting a prominent group of feminist witches in Arizona called Pagan Cluster to celebrate International Women’s Day and to protest the war in March of 2003.
The witches did come, if you are wondering.  I have no idea how large the witch vote is in Arizona.

(Kyrsten Sinema)
- 1:53 PM, 15 October 2018   [link]


I Hope You Never Have this bad a day.
- 9:07 AM, 15 October 2018   [link]


This Littlle Story Cheered Me Up:  And may cheer you up, too.
- 7:15 PM, 14 October 2018   [link]


First, Save The Lummi Indians:  The recent loss of one orca calf, and its mothers's grief, drew national attention — and enormous amounts of local attention.

Southern resident orcas, we were told, probably correctly, are declining in population because they aren't having enough babies, and not raising enough of those they do have to adulthood.

(Orcas are, world wide, listed as "threatened", but, as far as I can tell, their total population is not deciining.)

There is another large mammal in this area that is not having enough babies to keep the population constant, and that mammal has received little attention, nationally or locally.

That mammal is homo sapiens.

Nationally, that is especially true of Native Americans, who have a total fertility rate of 1.289, far below the 2.1 births per woman necessary to keep the population constant.

It is likely that is true for the Lummi Indians, who live in the same area as the southern resident orcas, but get almost no attention, even locally.  There are, I am sure, Lummi mothers who have lost babies, and grieved over their losses.

We ought, I think, to do what we can to comfort them, and prevent similar losses, even if it means paying a little less attention to the local orcas.
- 10:09 AM, 13 October 2018   [link]


Is The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" a dig at Donald J. Trump?

Probably not, but it can be read that way.
- 9:00 AM, 13 October 2018   [link]


Mt. Rainier Is Looking Pretty Today:  And is likely to continue to do so for at least the next few days, assuming the weather folks are right.
- 1:09 PM, 12 October 2018   [link]


A Prominent American Politician Who's Popular — Across Party Lines:  Nikki Haley continues to do what hasn't been done before, or, in this case, what hasn't been done recently.
American voters of different partisan stripes don't agree on much nowadays, but they can agree on this: most of them approve of US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

A broad 63% of American voters approve of her job performance vs. only 17% who say they disapprove in a new Quinnipiac University poll.  Twenty percent had no opinion.  Her approval spans party lines: 75% of Republicans, 63% of independents and even 55% of Democrats say they approve of how she's handling her job.

Her support among Democrats is virtually identical to the share of Democrats who approve of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (56%) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (55%) in the same poll.
Her popularity among Republicans is making Steve Bannon nervous.

(Would Haley make a good president?  She'd be better than Barack Obama and Donald Trump, but that isn't saying much.

She does have the mix of experience I like; she's been a successful governor and has held a Cabinet-level position.

What I don't know is whether she would be a good strategist, and we really need one, now.)
- 12:25 PM, 12 October 2018   [link]


This New Yorker Cartoon may be too timely.

(If you need an explanation or just a review, look here.)
- 9:47 AM, 12 October 2018   [link]


Hurricane Humor from Andy Marlette.

(In bad taste?  Perhaps, but it made me chuckle.)
- 8:15 PM, 11 October 2018   [link]


Reverse Coattails In 2016 (6):  Last year, I argued, in a series of posts, that Donald Trump's victory was caused by "reverse coattails", that he had been pulled to victory by more popular Republicans below him on the ballots.

In the first post, I promised to extend this famous metaphor:.
There are many versions of the story; this one comes from William Safire's New Political Dictionary.   A local candidate said:
"Why is it, Hymie, that your whole budget for posters and literature is for Governor Roosevelt, and nothing for the candidates on the local level?  I need to become better known, Roosevelt doesn't.  How about a few signs for me?"

Hymie did not answer directly.  "You ever watch the ferries come in from Staten Island?"  The candidate allowed as he had, and waited for Hymie's point.

"When that big ferry from Staten Island sails into the ferry slip, it never comes in strictly alone.  It drags in all the crap from the harbor behind it."   Hymie let the message sink in before adding, "FDR is our Staten Island ferry." (p. 346)
Isn't that a better metaphor than coattails?

Now to extend it to reverse coattails in the 2016 election:

Imagine a race between two large ships, the SS Hillary and the SS Donald.  As we look closely, we see that the Donald is leaking and creaking toward the finish line, but gaining because, ahead of it, there are hundreds of smaller, but better, ships, and their wakes are pulling the Donald ahead.

(You can find the earlier posts in this series here, here, here, here and here.)
- 3:56 PM, 11 October 2018   [link]


Michelle Obama Said The Right Thing:  After Hillary Clinton said the wrong thing.
Michelle Obama Rebukes Hillary Clinton’s Uncivil Advice for Liberals: Fear Is Not a Proper Motivator
Good for Michelle.
- 12:13 PM, 11 October 2018   [link]


Classic Joke 1:  Those of you who are, like me, of a certain age, may recognize this one:
Jones had noticed that his friend Smith had a happy marriage, so one day he asked Smith to tell him the secret.

"Well", Smith explained, "It's really very simple.  Several years ago, my wife and I came to an agreement; I would make the big decisions and she would make the small decisions.  For example, I decide what our strategy should be toward China, and how we should prevent Social Security and Medicare from going bankrupt, and she decides when it is time to buy a new car, and where little Johnny should go to school."
(There's some advice in that joke, as you may have noticed.)
- 10:57 AM, 11 October 2018   [link]


Fun Read:  This New York Times article on Margaret Kivelson, a physicist who is still very active — at 90.
She still works in her office each day and hosts a weekly dinner and meeting on Wednesday nights at U.C.L.A. for graduate students and faculty, a tradition she started 33 years ago.
Kivelson may be most famous for finding evidence that Europa may have a salty ocean underneath its surface, an ocean that might harbor life.

(Margaret Kivelson)
- 8:42 PM, 10 October 2018   [link]


How Do The States Compare On Public Education?   For years, I have wished that someone would take the NAEP scores and compare them to how much the states spend on education, so we could see which states are the most efficient.

Now, I learned from Joanne Jacobs, two researchers have done just that.  The top results don't surprise me:  (But they probably would surprise Paul Krugman.)
Which state has the best schools?  Traditional rankings, such as those in U.S. News, factor in school spending, write Stan Liebowitz and Matthew L. Kelly in Reason.  In their results-only rankings of education quality, based on National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) scores, Virginia is number one, with Massachusetts, almost always ranked first, in second place.  Florida, New Jersey and Texas round out the top five.  Here’s the table.

They also rate schools on efficiency:  Florida, Texas, Virginia, Arizona and Georgia get the most brains for the buck.
Florida and Texas both had governors who worked hard to reform their schools, using evidence-based approaches.  Maybe the Bush brothers did something right, after all.

Those who want to make a partisan point are free to do so.  Don't forget that Massachusetts has had many Republican governors in recent years.
- 3:20 PM, 10 October 2018   [link]


Maria Cantwell Is More Powerful Than I Had Thought:  Washington state's junior senator is running an ad saying that she "passed" a bill — without mentioning any other senators.

Those who were paying attention to those "how a bill becomes a law" lessons back in high school will find her claim puzzling.

(Cantwell isn't the first legislator to make this absurd claim.  Whenever I hear it, I wince.)

I'm not sure what the bill does, because I stop listening whenever I hear that "passed".

Nor am I sure what part Cantwell played in its passage.  She may have just voted for it.  Or sponsored it.  Or helped write it.  Or even — and this is often the hardest task of all — negotiated a compromise that made passage possible.

(Cantwell is running against Susan Hutchison this year.  Unfortunately, Cantwell is a heavy favorite.)
- 12:32 PM, 10 October 2018   [link]


The Second Hypothesis wouldn't have occurred to me.
- 10:03 AM, 10 October 2018   [link]


The Donor Trap?  The Seattle NPR station KUOW is running its annual fund drive — and making me wonder whether they are in a donor trap.

At noon, for example, host Bill Radke gave about 15 minutes to far-left journalist Chris Hedges.

They had no trouble raising their goal that hour.

But I wonder if they would have raised as much money if, instead of Hedges, Radke had talked to, for instance, Christopher Caldwell.

Unfortunately for the cause of science, the station is unlikely to run that experiment, or similar ones.  Instead I expect them to go on presenting people and programs that range from the far left to the moderate left.

And I have to admit that they might suffer if they were to present a wider range of people and ideas — not, as far as I can tell, that they want to.
- 3:39 PM, 9 October 2018   [link]


Orrin Judd Agrees With Me:  He says:
The fact that Hillary beat Donald by so many votes has tended to obscure how much the rest of the GOP beat him by and that they carried him to victory.
In 2017, I said, in a series of posts, for example here and here, that "reverse coattails" gave Trump his victory margin in key states.

Which is another way of saying that the GOP "carried him to victory".

(I think my analysis is correct, but I haven't seen anyone else make it.)
- 1:07 PM, 9 October 2018   [link]


You Can Stretch Farther Than You May Have Thought:  I found this mind boggler in today's New York Times.
An estimated six feet of strands of DNA resides in each cell of the human body — a total of 67 billion miles if all the strands in the human body were unspooled and laid end to end.
By way of comparison, the distance from the earth to the sun is about 93 million miles.  And the planet Neptune is about 4.5 billion miles from the sun.

Since pro football linemen are about twice as big as an average person, presumably their DNA would stretch about twice as far.

(For the record:  In the past I have seen smaller estimates for the length of human DNA.  It may depend on what is meant by "unspooled".)
- 11:37 AM, 9 October 2018   [link]


My Favorite Of The Current A-hed Stories?   Probably the coffee clashes.
- 11:06 AM, 9 October 2018   [link]