Last updated:
1:38 PM, 31 March 2015



Jim Miller on Politics

  Email:
jimxc1 at gmail.com



What's he reading? Francis Parkman.

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References:

Adherents
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FactCheck
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My Group Blog:
Sound Politics

Northwest:


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<pudge/*>
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Watts Up With That?

Media Blogs:
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R-Rated:
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*new



Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Need A Break From All The Grim News?  I do from time to time, which is why I recently picked up another collection of New Yorker cartoons.

The collection begins with an analysis of the famous Charles Addams skier cartoon, which you can see here.   (Or by doing the obvious image search.)

Although I analyze jokes all the time, I do so recognizing that analyzing a joke can be like dissecting a frog; in either case, at the end of the process the object is dead.  But, somewhat to my surprise, I found that analysis interesting for what it showed me about the visual design of the cartoon.

And, if you don't like that cartoon, there are 250 other cartoons in the collection, and I can almost guarantee that you will like some of them, though perhaps not the same ones I like.

(Here's the usual Wikipedia biography.)
- 1:38 PM, 31 March 2015   [link]


Troy Kelley's Suspicious Fire:  In 2008, our Democratic state auditor had a fire in a business office, a very convenient fire.
A spectacular nighttime fire that destroyed the Stewart Title Co. building is playing a key role in a federal investigation into state Auditor Troy Kelley’s business dealings.

Kelley, 50, a Democrat serving his first term, is being investigated for unpaid taxes in connection with an escrow-services business he owned, according to a report in the upcoming edition of Seattle Weekly.
. . .
His business partner, Old Republic Title, used Kelley’s escrow company to collect fees from customers who paid off their mortgages.  Old Republic claimed that Kelley pocketed $1.2 million which he should have returned to their clients.

Kelley, a former federal prosecutor, claimed he could have proved the allegations were untrue, but all the records from his Tacoma business were destroyed in the 2008 fire at the Stewart Title building, where he kept an office.  The cause of the fire has not been determined.
Old Republic reached an agreement with Kelley, before the case went to trial.  The agrement was sealed, but I believe the company has offered, more than once, to release it to the public.

It is worth repeating something I have said before:  Our local journalists are now making the investigations they could have made during the 2012 campaign; they are now looking at public records they could have looked at, then.
- 8:34 AM, 31 March 2015   [link]


Late Last Year, A Community Bank Celebrated Its First Year:   That may not sound like national news, but it is.
Based in a rural village in the heart of Amish country, Bank of Bird-in-Hand is the only new bank to open in the U.S. since 2010, when the Dodd-Frank law was passed and enacted.   An average of more than 100 new banks a year opened in the three decades before Dodd-Frank.

Bankers say the drought is a sign of new regulatory requirements in the wake of the financial crisis, which are boosting expenses and discouraging potential startups from even trying.   Regulators say the profit squeeze from rock-bottom interest rates is a bigger problem.
It doesn't have to be just one or the other, of course.

In my view, we now have enough evidence so that we should repeal — at the very least — large parts of Dodd-Frank, and should consider repealing all of it, and starting over.

(Chris Dodd reitred from the Senate, and became a lobbyist; Barney Frank retired from the House, and has written a book, about himself, naturally.)
- 7:42 AM, 31 March 2015   [link]


Sometimes The Obama Administration does something right.  Assuming, that is, you believe the Iranian regime.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard says a U.S. drone strike killed two of its advisers near the Iraqi city of Tikrit, where a major offensive is underway against the Islamic State group, but the U.S. said Monday its coalition conducted no airstrikes in the area during the time of the incident.

U.S. Central Command said it didn't target the area around Tikrit from March 22 through March 24, the window when the Guard said the two men were killed.
We have, as anyone who has followed events in Iraq closely knows, some scores to settle with the Revolutionary Guard.  If we did get a couple of their operatives, that would be something to celebrate.

(For the record:  The Iranian claim is probably false, but it's still a nice thought.)
- 7:14 AM, 31 March 2015   [link]


This Branco Cartoon Is Unfair, Brutal — and funny.

(All right, funny to about half of us.)
- 2:34 PM, 30 March 2015   [link]


"Germanwings Crash Settlements Are Likely To Vary By Passenger Nationality"  Here's something I hadn't known, hadn't even thought about, to tell the truth.
The extraordinary circumstances that led to last week’s crash of the Germanwings jet, where a pilot seemingly brought down an airplane, killing everyone aboard, means that the airline’s insurers could end up paying hundreds of millions of dollars to the victims’ families, according to legal experts.

But while the airline is responsible for the actions of its pilot, not all relatives will be entitled to the same payout.  The families of the three American victims, for instance, are likely to get a larger payment from the airline than other passengers because courts in the United States usually award larger compensation than European courts.
How much larger?  More than three times, according to the article, about $1.3 million for each German victim, and about $4.5 million for each American victim.  And families in some countries may have legal rights only to the minimum set by the Montreal Convention of about $170,000 per victim.   (I assume Germanwings's parent, Lufthansa, will offer them larger settlements, anyway.)
- 1:59 PM, 30 March 2015   [link]


Vladimir Putin's World View Was Shaped By The Fall Of East Germany:  That's the claim made by Chris Bowlby in this long BBC article.
Anyone who wants to understand Vladimir Putin today needs to know the story of what happened to him on a dramatic night in East Germany a quarter of a century ago.

It is 5 December 1989 in Dresden, a few weeks after the Berlin Wall has fallen.  East German communism is dying on its feet, people power seems irresistible.
Putin called for Soviet tanks to come and protect his headquarters — and they didn't come.

Anyone interested in understanding Putin's thinking will want to read, and perhaps even study, the whole thing.
- 9:48 AM, 30 March 2015   [link]


For Years, I Have Been Saying That I Hoped Obama Was Lying:  It was better, I thought, that he was lying than that he was deluded, better that he had a basically accurate view of the world — even though he wasn't sharing it with us — than that he was living in a fantasy world.

Quite often, I have been unable to decide whether he was lying, deluded, or some mixture of the two.  I am inclined to think, for instance, that he believed some of the lies he told about ObamaCare.  (He wouldn't be the first politician, or salesman for that matter, who believed most of his own pitch, despite the evidence against it.)

Now Michael Tomasky, who calls himself a liberal, has come to the same unhappy conclusion; he hopes Obama, and his administration, are lying about Iran.
And so what I hope is that Obama administration officials are, well, lying.  That is, I hope they’re just saying this stuff about a new and improved Iran because they think it might help build public support for a deal.  That’s not very appealing, but it’s better than the other possibility, which is that they actually believe this stuff.

And if they are just saying this for public consumption, then we can hope that once a deal is consummated, they’ll switch gears and start saying what they need to say to reassure people in the region, which is:  OK, this is good, we have a deal on nukes, but it doesn’t mean anything else.  We’re still with the Saudis on returning President Hadi to power in Yemen.  And while we’re with you in Iraq when it comes to fighting ISIS, we’re against you in that we want a pluralistic state that isn’t just an Iranian satellite, which is a point we somehow don’t seem to emphasize lately.
Like Tomasky, I hope Obama is lying about relations with Iran.  Judging by the tone of his column, I would guess that he puts that probability at 1 in 10, or less.  I would put it at 1 in a 1000, or less.

But I would be delighted if, by some chance, I were wrong.

Tomasky column by way of the Instapundit.

(For the record:  I don't agree with Tomasky that our choices are limited to war, or an agreement with Iran.)
- 9:20 AM, 30 March 2015   [link]


Last Wednesday, I said that the timing of the Bowe Bergdahl announcement suggested that the Obama administration didn't know what was happening.

Here's an exchange from Josh Earnest's latest press conference between Earnest and a reporter named "Francesca":
Q  Was the White House aware that the Army would release its report today on Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl and whether he deserted or not?

MR. EARNEST: I’m not aware of any plans for them to do that, but this is a process that’s being run by the United States Army, so I’d direct you to the Pentagon for an answer.
Which appears to confirm my speculation.

(As I explained on Wednesday, this is good sign.  For all their faults, we will be better off if our bureaucrats are making decisions, and setting policies, rather than Obama.)
- 8:20 PM, 29 March 2015   [link]


President Obama Has At Least Two Obsessions, Says Peter Wehner:  Weakening Israel and emptying Gitmo.
So we have a president with at least two obsessions: One of them is attacking the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and weakening the Jewish State of Israel; the second is to empty Guantanamo Bay and release terrorists committed to killing as many Americans as possible.
I'd add race issues to those two, but I think that Wehner is right.

And that should trouble all of us.

In general, calling someone "obsessive" is not a compliment.  There are exceptions, of course; companies, for instance, sometimes like to claim they are obsessive about quality.   But, on the whole, when we say someone is obsessive, we are implying that they are not entirely rational, or maybe not rational at all.

If Obama is obsessive about these two great issues, then he can not be easily argued out of his positions, as anyone who has tried to persuade an obsessive to change his mind about something can tell you.  It is generally a waste of time even to try.

(For some background on Obama's relations with Israel, see this post by David Bernstein.   It has a misleading title; there is nothing false about Obama's dislike for Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu, but it's a good summary anyway.)
- 8:02 PM, 29 March 2015   [link]


The Odd Presentation Of Names In That Press Conference Transcript:   Before I wrote the post just below, I followed James Taranto's link to the transcript of the press conference, and was surprised because Taranto had used a standard way of presenting a press conference or interview, but the original did not.  Taranto had given Jonathan Karl's full name and company, and then identified Josh Earnest and Karl by their last names, in bold.

Here's how the White House press office displayed some of the same material:
Q  Josh, just a quick one first on Yemen.  I know you’re asked this every time something terrible happens in Yemen.  But now that we have essentially complete chaos in Yemen, does the White House still believe that Yemen is the model for a counterterrorism strategy?

MR. EARNEST:  Jon, the White House does continue to believe that a successful counterterrorism strategy is one that will build up the capacity of the central government to have local fighters on the ground to take the fight to extremists in their own country, and the United States can serve both to diplomatically offer up some political support to central governments.  We can offer very tangible support to local security forces in the form of training and equipping, and we can also support the operations of those security forces through whether it’s the deployment of ISR capability, or even in the case of Iraq, military airstrikes.
(ISR = "intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance".)

All through the transcript, reporters are identified only by their first names; all through the transcript, Josh Earnest is identified as "MR. EARNEST".

Doesn't that remind you of a grade school class, with one teacher, and a bunch of kids?

(As a practical matter, that transcript makes it almost impossible, for anyone who does not follow White House reporters closely, to identify the reporters, without doing searches.  There are, as I can tell you, a lot of men named "Jim"; there are even a lot of reporters with my common first name.  And some of the questions aren't linked to any reporters, even by first names.)
- 8:07 AM, 27 March 2015   [link]


What Would Failure In Yemen Look Like?  Last September, President Obama was claiming success for his policies in Yemen.  Now, the United States has been forced out of that country, and the pro-American president has had to flee for his life.  There is a multi-sided civil war going on in the county, with none of the principal factions friendly to the United States.

About everything that could go wrong for us in Yemen, has.

So reporters naturally asked Obama's spokesman, Josh Earnest, whether the administration still considered their policies in Yemen a success.

They do.   Or at least say they do.  (You can get directly to the entire "Best of the Web" through this search.)

If I were a White House reporter and quick witted enough, I would have followed up by asking that question in the title: What would failure in Yemen look like?

I might even have said something snarky about Obama imitating Monty Python's Black Knight.

(Background:  If you want to know the basics about Yemen, you might start with this BBC Q&A.

Adam Baron argues that any foreign intervention in Yemen would be a mistake.   He may be right, but I must note that the Iranians appear to have had some success with their intervention.)
- 7:27 AM, 27 March 2015   [link]


Archives

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Coming Soon
  • Plan 17 Conservatives
  • FDR and Waterboarding
  • How Long Do Wars Last?
  • Carbon, Carbon Dioxide, and Crescent Wrenches
  • De-Lawyering and Attorney General McKenna


Coming Eventually
  • JFK and Wiretaps
  • Green Republicans
  • The Rise and Fall and Rise of Black Voting
  • Abortion, Cleft Palates, and Europe
  • Kweisi Mfume's Children
  • Public Opinion During Other US Wars
  • Dual Loyalties
  • The Power Index
  • Baby Dancing
  • Jocks, but no Nerds
  • The Four Caliphs




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