September 2018, Part 3

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Worth Reading:  Josh Rogin's column, "China's interference in US politics is just beginning".
While the trade war rages in public, behind the scenes the U.S. government is preparing for the possibility that the Chinese government will decide to weaponize the influence network inside the United States that it has been building for years.  Although Beijing has not yet employed Russian-style "active measures," it has these capabilities at the ready.

"We've seen a lot of preparatory work by the Chinese, and we understand what the realm of possibilities would be," an administration official told me.   "Our position now is to make folks aware of the danger that exists.  These Chinese activities are all about influencing our democratic processes."
Among many other things, the Beijing regime has "bought up several Chinese-language media outlets inside the United States".
- 4:11 PM, 24 September 2018   [link]

In Retrospect, It Seems Obvious That Trump Should Have Picked A Woman From The Federalist Society List, Rather Than Brett Kavanaugh:  Was it obvious before the nomination?

I think so, though I will admit that I didn't think of it at the time.  (But then I am not being paid to think about such questions, either.)

First, there is the obvious political benefit, something Reagan recognized in 1980, when he promised to put a woman on the Supreme Court.

Second, if Roe v. Wade is overturned (or even trimmed back) by some future court, it would be far better if there was at least one woman in the majority.

Third, a woman would have been easier to confirm, for reasons that I don't need to explain to anyone who has been following the news.
- 2:26, 24 September 2018   [link]

Most Of Us Would Avoid this restaurant.
- 1:40 PM, 24 September 2018   [link]

Worth Reading:  (Perhaps even worth studying.)

This article describing a Yale study on immigration.
Immigration is the focus of fierce political and policy debate in the United States.  Among the most contentious issues is how the country should address undocumented immigrants.  Like a tornado that won’t dissipate, arguments have spun around and around for years.  At the center lies a fairly stable and largely unquestioned number: 11.3 million undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S.  But a paper by three Yale-affiliated researchers suggests all the perceptions and arguments based on that number may have a faulty foundation; the actual population of undocumented immigrants residing in the country is much larger than that, perhaps twice as high, and has been underestimated for decades.
I've been wondering for years just how good that standard number is, and now I really wonder.

Three observations:

First, both the traditional estimate and the new Yale estimate say that our population of illegals grew rapidly in the 1990s, leveled off in the early 2000s, and has been relatively constant ever since.

Second, if the new estimate is roughly right, then the crime rate for illegals is about half the usual estimate.  (It is already lower than the rate for the native population.)

Third, since large numbers of illegals are still arriving regularly, large numbers of them must be leaving regularly, too.
- 6:49 PM, 23 September 2018   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" made me chuckle, briefly.

And then I started wondering whether the "new guy" was sitting at the head or the foot of the table.  (Usually, bosses sit at the head.)
-5:23 PM, 23 September 2018   [link]

5 Percent?!?  I had trouble believing that — until I saw the other numbers.
According to The Minnesota Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio News, a poll of 800 likely voters have Ellison leading against Republican candidate Doug Wardlow in the state race for attorney general 41-36.

However, the poll asks voters about their views on the abuse allegation made against Ellison by his ex-girlfiend, Karen Monahan.

When asked, “Do you believe her allegation, or not?” 21% of voters say they believe her while 22% say they don’t.  57% of likely voters say they aren’t sure.

But when that question is broken down by party, the numbers take sharp turns.

42% of Republicans say they believe Monahan while 15% don’t and 43% aren’t sure.   Among Democrats, only 5% believe his accuser while 30% dismiss the allegation.  65% of Democrats aren’t sure.
The last number, 65%, makes the 5% more believable.  It is likely that many Democrats suspect Ellison, but are unwilling to say so.

(From the little I have read, I would be inclined to say I believe her.  But, as you can see in this example, I try to be cautious about coming to definite conclusions on these accusations.)
- 3:52 PM, 22 September 2018   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" made me chuckle.

(I'm not sure why, exactly.)
- 12:54 PM, 22 September 2018   [link]

Another Attack on science.

The next thing you know, that dangerous thought criminal will be saying that men don't have uteri.

I hope the biologists at Durham are embarrassed by this incident.

(Durham University)
- 3:12 PM, 21 September 2018   [link]

Now Scientists Suspect Microwaves in those attacks on our diplomats in Cuba and China.

(One oddity:  For reasons that escape me, some of the experts believe that the attacks in Cuba were done by a rogue faction within the government, not the government itself. That isn't impossible, but it does seem implausible.)
- 12:47 PM, 21 September 2018   [link]

Sometimes Being Second doesn't work out well.
- 8:12 AM, 21 September 2018   [link]

Democrat Kim Schrier Is Running For Congress in Washington's 8th district.

In one of her TV ads, the pediatrician says:
Because career politicians don't fix problems; they just make hard problems worse.
Which left me wondering which career politicians she has in mind.  Former president Barack Obama?  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi?  Washington's senior senator, Patty Murray?  Washington's governor, Jay Inslee?

All can fairly be described as "career politicians" — and, as you probably know, all are Democrats.

Wouldn't it be fun if some local reporter were to ask those officials whether they agree with her ad?

Since she brought up the subject, I'll add that elected Democrats are more likely to be career politicians than elected Republicans.

Examples:  Of Republican presidents since World War II, only Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford were career politicians; of Democrats, only Jimmy Carter was not.

(Schrier's campaign site)
- 7:29 PM, 20 September 2018   [link]

Interesting Reading:  This New York Times article, "Europe’s Triumphs and Troubles Are Written in Swiss Ice".

Among other things, scientists can see evidence of the Black Death and, preceding it, the Medieval Warm Period.
. . . temperatures in Europe and the nearby North Atlantic were as warm or warmer than they are now, and crops and forests flourished.
One surprise for me:  Corn (or maize, as the British call it) reached Europe with Columbus in 1493, but wasn't cultivated extensively there until about 1750.

(Medieval Warm Period)
- 4:29 PM, 20 September 2018   [link]

Today's New York Times Includes A Special Section:  Twelve pages of pictures, articles, graphs and time lines, titled, "The Plot to Subvert an Election: Unraveling the Russia Story So Far".

Obviously, I don't have an immediate reaction to all the material, other than to be impressed by the resources the Times has put into this investigation.   (The "So Far" implies that they expect to publish more, perhaps much more.)

You can get some idea of the section by reading a long excerpt from the lead article.
For two years, Americans have tried to absorb the details of the 2016 attack: hacked emails, social media fraud, suspected spies -- and President Trump's claims that it's all a hoax.  The Times explores what we know and what it means.
Or you can follow the link and read even more.

At this point, I should say that I am undecided, as I have been every since this story broke, about the central questions, whether Trump, or men in his campaign, "conspired" with the Russians.  (Recently, Senator Lindsey Graham said he didn't think Trump conspired with the Russians, because Trump doesn't think that far ahead, which should remind all of us of some of the difficulties we face in coming to conclusions on these questions.)
- 1:54 PM, 20 September 2018   [link]

Of The Current A-hed Stories, my favorite is the license plate bids.
Drivers obsessively seek tags with fewer digits, bidding up prices as high as $675,000 and sparring over them in divorces.
(Though I don't admire the people who make these bids, I am pleased to see states getting all this money, voluntarily.)
- 10:24 AM, 20 September 2018   [link]

Worth Reading:  Neo's post, "Memory and witnesses/victims".

Our memories are not nearly as good as we think they are, and false memories are surprisingly common.  As you probably know, therapists can sometimes create false memories, unintentionally, one hopes.

Does that mean that we probably will never know what, if anything, happened between Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh all those years ago?  Sadly, yes.
- 11:07 AM, 19 September 2018   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" made me smile.
- 10:35 AM, 19 September 2018   [link]