Last updated:
1:59 PM, 27 January 2015



Jim Miller on Politics

  Email:
jimxc1 at gmail.com



What's he reading? Francis Parkman.

News Compilers
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Atlantic Monthly
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References:

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ABC News Note
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Blogs
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My Group Blog:
Sound Politics

Northwest:


The American Empire
AndrewsDad
Chief Brief
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Croker Sack
"DANEgerus"
Economic Freedom
Federal Way Conservative
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Orcinus
Public Interest Transportation Forum
<pudge/*>
Northwest Progressive Institute
*Progressive Majority
Matt Rosenberg
Seattle Blogger
Seattle Bubble
Washington Policy Center
West Sound Politics
Zero Base Thinking


Other US:


Ace of Spades HQ
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Ann Althouse
American Thinker
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"Baldilocks"
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Michelle Malkin
Greg Mankiw
Marginal Revolution
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"neo-neocon"
Betsy Newmark
Newsbusters
No Watermelons Allowed
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The Ornery American
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zombietime


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Babalú
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"Franco Aleman"
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¡No-Pasarán!
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samizdata
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Bjørn Stærk
Laban Tall
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Michael Yon
This is Zimbabwe

Science Blogs:
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Real Climate
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Watts Up With That?

Media Blogs:
Andrew Malcolm
Dori Monson
David Postman
Rhetorical Ammo
Tierney Lab
*White House Dossier

R-Rated:
Horse's A**
Huffington Post

*new



Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Worth Buying:  Today's Wall Street Journal, for a number of reasons, including this Bret Stephens column, reminding us of some of the "micro" problems with the Greek economy, including the by-now famous OliveShop example.

Here's the bottom line:
It took OliveShop.com 10 months to get all the right stamps, certificates and signoffs.  The problem with the bank was resolved only when Mr. Antonopoulos opted for PayPal instead.   Registering with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, by contrast, took him all of 24 hours and one five-minute digital form.
(The bank wanted them to have a web site entirely in Greek — even though they were planning to sell most of their goods to foreigners.)

In Greece, as in many other countries, the owners of this business could have gotten the permits they needed more quickly, with the help of a few "little envelopes".

This practice is so common in Greece that some Greeks can't understand how we (mostly) do without it.
When I interviewed Syriza leader (now Prime Minister) Alexis Tsipras in New York two years ago, his first question to me was: “Here in the United States, why do you not have this phenomenon of passing money under the table?”
You may not find Stephens's answer entirely satisfying — I didn't — but he is right to call our attention to that question.

(For the record:  In some nations, low levels of bribery have helped businesses cope with ridiculous regulations, and sometimes even allow them to approach the efficiency they would have in an honest free market.  That's not an admirable solution, but it may be the only one available to a business, especially a small business.)
- 1:59 PM, 27 January 2015   [link]


Why Doesn't President Obama Use Nicotine Patches?  On his visit to India, Obama again offended some locals by publicly chewing Nicorette gum.
President Obama, in India for a state visit, was chided by local press after he was spotted chewing gum during Monday’s Republic Day parade, which celebrates the day that India’s 1950 constitution went into effect.

Calling the incident “an ungainly sight,” the Times of India reported: “In the picture captured by cameras and posted on Twitter by some users, Mr. Obama was spotted removing his chewing gum while [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi was seen trying to explain something to the US president.”
The Christian Science Monitor says that Obama has done this in China, in France (at a World War II commemoration), and at his own inauguration.

I have some sympathy for anyone trying to cope with nicotine addiction, as Obama has been doing, but I can't help but wonder why he doesn't use an unobtrusive fix at public events, like nicotine patches.

It's not a big issue, but that he doesn't use patches (or just tough it out at public events) tells us something about the man — and his lack of respect for others.
- 1:01 PM, 27 January 2015   [link]


The Sheldon Silver Arrest:  David Freedlander summarizes the New York background and the arrest.
One New York governor visited high-priced hookers.  A congressman accidentally tweeted a picture of his penis to his followers.  The state’s top financial officer was sent to prison.  The Senate majority leader was convicted of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes from a businessman.  A senator was charged with diverting state aid from a Little League to his own cigar business.  Another was charged with slashing his girlfriend’s face with a broken glass.  A state lawmaker took bribes to pay for his legal counsel while on trial for bribery.  State government ground to a halt for a month when Republicans and Democrats couldn’t settle who was in charge of the Senate.  At least three lawmakers were busted for inappropriate relations with young staffers.

Over the last 20 years of New York state political scandals, each seemingly more baroque than the last, Sheldon Silver has remained, Sphinx-like, seemingly untouched by chaos, with his power as speaker of the state Assembly and one of the “three men in a room” who rule New York uninterrupted.

That is, until midnight Wednesday, when the 70-year-old Silver was arrested for allegedly collecting millions of dollars in bribes from real-estate and medical interests with business before the state of New York.
(Freedlander doesn't say which party most of those miscreants belong to, which will make readers guess, correctly, that most of them are Democrats, very definitely including Silver.)

If the prosecutor, Preet Bhahara, is right in most of his charges, then Silver had many accomplices, and many more, especially in the Democratic Party, must have at least suspected that Silver was crooked.

But he was not a man you crossed, not if you wanted to succeed in New York politics, especially if you were a Democrat.

Freedlander says:  "But for liberals, Silver was a hero."  Which, as the rest of the paragraph shows, Freedlander intends as a compliment to Silver.  But, if you disregard his partisan claims (as you should), that seems more like an indictment of New York liberals.

(Here's Silver's Wikipedia biography, with even more caveats than usual.)
- 7:00 AM, 27 January 2015   [link]


The European Union Is Less Trusted In Greece:  No surprise, there.  It is also less trusted now than it was in 2007, in nine of ten major states polled, all except Finland.  (Finland doesn't trust the EU now, but trust there has risen from 29 percent to 35 percent, probably because the EU has given Finland some support against Russia.)
Europe is being swept by a wave of popular disenchantment and revolt against mainstream political parties and the European Union. In 2007, a majority of Europeans - 52 per cent - trusted the EU.  That level of trust has now fallen to a third.

Once, Britain's Euroscepticism was the exception, and was seen as the biggest threat to the future of the EU.
Now, it is found in every EU nation.  Of the ten major states, only in Ireland is the trust above 50 percent, but just barely, at 53 percent.

The reasons for the distrust vary.  Some, especially in nations like Spain, Italy, France, and Greece, blame the EU for economic stagnation; others, especially in nations like Sweden, Britain, and the Netherlands, blame the EU for unchecked immigration.

There is some truth to both critiques.

(The map is interactive, so you can mouse over it to see the numbers and basic facts for each nation.)
- 5:42 AM, 27 January 2015   [link]


Mitch McConnell Promised That He Would Allow The Senate To Vote:  He's keeping that promise.
The new Republican-controlled Senate has already voted on more amendments in one week than the Democratic-controlled Senate considered in all of 2014.

Republican senators applauded the feat when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced it on the Senate floor.

“We’ve actually reached a milestone here that I think is noteworthy for the Senate.  We just cast our 15th roll-call vote on an amendment on this bill, which is more votes — more roll-call votes on amendments than the entire United States Senate [did] in all of 2014,” he said.
It seems odd to celebrate a legislative body actually voting on amendents, but sometimes a return to normal is worthy of celebration.

Reid's stratedy may have been an error, in the long run.

Non-voting was an issue in Alaska last November, as Republicans pointed out that the incumbent Democratic senator, Mark Begich, had not gotten a vote on "a single amendment he sponsored during his six-year career".

He lost.  The margin was close enough — 2.13 percent — so that those non-votes may be part of the reason he lost.

(I haven't seen any good explanation for Reid's grip on power in the Democratic caucus.  I was more than half expecting that he and Nancy Peolosi would draw challenges after their election defeats, but neither did.).
- 9:15 AM, 26 January 2015   [link]


Boxes For Babies:  The BBC describes a traditional Finnish program.
For 75 years, Finland's expectant mothers have been given a box by the state.  It's like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed.  And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates.

It's a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it's designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they're from, an equal start in life.
. . .
Mothers have a choice between taking the box, or a cash grant, currently set at 140 euros, but 95% opt for the box as it's worth much more.

The tradition dates back to 1938.  To begin with, the scheme was only available to families on low incomes, but that changed in 1949.
It sounds like a good idea, though better suited to small, relatively homogeneous countries like Finland, than to the United States.

(Incidentally, the cardboard box sounds slightly safer to me than the traditional cribs used here in the United States.)
- 8:34 AM, 26 January 2015   [link]


Greece Has Just Given Power To The Radical Left:  Literally.  The name of the winning party, SYRIZA, means "Coalition of the Radical Left".

SYRIZA came in first, with about 36 percent of the popular vote.  Under a peculiar Greek rule — the party with the most popular votes gets a bonus of 50 seats in the 300 seat parliament — that was almost enough to give them a majority.  Right now, they have 149 seats.  (The news reports I have seen describe the results as "preliminary", which suggests they might change, slightly.)

So, SYRIZA is forming a coalition with another party, the "conservative" Independent Greeks, somewhat to my surprise.  (I had half expected them to get at least tacit support from the Communist Party of Greece.)
The far-left Syriza party, the winner of Greece's election, has formed an anti-austerity coalition with a right-wing party, the Greek Independents.

The coalition will have a comfortable majority in the new parliament.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras has vowed to renegotiate Greece's bailouts, worth €240bn (£179bn; $268bn).

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker congratulated Mr Tsipras while reminding him of the challenge of "ensuring fiscal responsibility".
There is an ancient quip that, if you owe a small amount of money to a bank, the bank owns you, but if you owe a large amount, you own the bank.

In the next few months we will see whether Greece owes enough money to the European Union so that it can re-negotiate their agreement and write off much of their debt.  I am inclined to think that they will not be able to get substantial relief, because those who run the EU and finance it worry about "contagion", about the possibility that other debtor nations will seek similar deals.

(Oddly enough, almost no one in power in the EU, or in Greece, seems willing to consider what seems to me to be the obvious solution:  Greece should go formally bankrupt, and leave the European Union.  Belonging to the EU has been terrible for Greece, first by tempting the Greeks with easy credit, and then by imposing an austerity regime that has caused considerable suffering.

A note on terminology:  I write SYRIZA, since it is an acronym like NATO.  The BBC, following a practice more common in Britain than here, capitalizes only the first letter of the party's name.

It is possible that the Greek Communists and the Golden Dawn party are not considered fit for membership in coalitions, in Greece.  That would make it harder, after some elections, to form a majority coalition.)
- 8:01 AM, 26 January 2015   [link]


Here's a fine Scott Stantis cartoon.

And I was simply astonished to see it, yesterday, in the Seattle Times.  If I were trying to imitate their choices of editorial cartoons, I would follow this procedure:  Look for a boring, soft-left cartoon and, above all, avoid one that criticizes President Obama or Senator Patty Murray.  And I think I would come close to their choices about 90 percent of the time.  So this one was an absolute surprise.

(The Times does publish his comic strip, "Prickly City".)
- 6:53 AM, 26 January 2015   [link]


There's A Market For Pro-American War Movies:  A big market, as "American Sniper" just demonstrated.
"So-called ‘sand movies,’ the term Hollywood sometimes uses for films set in Afghanistan and Iraq, have a terrible box office track record,” noted the New York Times.  Or rather, they had a terrible box office track record.  The release of American Sniper, a biopic about Iraq war veteran and legendary Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, has changed all that.

The film, which opened wide January 16, shattered the record for the largest opening weekend of a film released in January, a month traditionally considered a graveyard for ticket sales.  The film pulled in $105 million its first weekend against its $60 million budget—and the film that previously held the record for largest January weekend is Avatar, the highest-grossing picture in history.  Already, American Sniper has the markings of a cultural phenomenon.  In exit polls conducted by CinemaScore, movie-goers rated the film A+.  Phil Contrino, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com, has attributed the film’s success to a massive outpouring of favorable attention on social media.

Naturally, the commercial and artistic success of American Sniper—it received six Oscar nominations—has liberal Hollywood deeply conflicted, and pockets of the left outraged.
(Those other "sand movies", as you probably know, and as Mark Hemingway goes on to discuss, are almost all anti-American.)

The outrage is easy to understand; the conflict, harder.  If Hollywood were only interested in making money, then they would welcome this success, and would be planning, right now, to make similar movies in order to get a share of this untapped audience.

But those who run Hollywood (and almost all of those who work there) are not only interested in making money.  They are also on the left, politically and culturally.  And so there are some messages they do not want to put out, however profitable they might be, and however indirectly the message is presented.

(And, to be fair, the producers may no longer have many of the the directors and writers who once made such movies for them.)

This is not a new conclusion; Michael Medved came to it in his book, Hollywood vs. America, first published more than two decades ago.  And I suspect that others came to the same conclusion before he did.

But we see again just how hard it is for Hollywood to accept that conclusion.

(Brook Barnes, writing in the New York Times article that Hemingway quotes, begins by almost accepting the conclusion in my title, but then dances away from it, and ends by discussing the clever marketing used to sell the picture.)
- 3:12 PM, 23 January 2015   [link]


Surrounded By Cartoons:  This won't surprise those who have their own sites, but it might surprise others.

Whenever I link to a New Yorker cartoon, as I did yesterday, for the next day or two I'll see ads for that cartoon, and others, at many of the sites I visit.  For instance, yesterday Drudge was showing me at least different eight cartoons at a time.

It's a logical enough strategy, I suppose.  Since I searched for the cartoon at a site that sells it, I might be interested in buying it.  I don't particularly mind; there are worse things to look at than cartoons I have seen before.  But I do wonder, from time to time, how many I would see if I ever bought one of the cartoons.

(As I assume almost all of you have figured out, I use this indirect way of showing cartoons out of respect for copyrights — and the lawyers who enforce them.  And if one of you happen to buy one of the cartoons I link to, that's fine with me.)
- 8:07 AM, 23 January 2015   [link]


Did Bill Clinton Know That He Was Riding on the "Lolita Express"?
Just released flight records show Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz has been flying with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein on the financier's private jet dubbed the 'Lolita Express' since as early as 1997, despite public statements that they were only acquaintances.

The high-profile lawyer has been distancing himself from Epstein ever since a young woman named Virginia Roberts filed a lawsuit claiming she was recruited to work as a 'sex slave' for Epstein when she was just 15, naming both Dershowitz and Prince Andrew as two of her molesters.

The flight records, obtained by Gawker, also show former President Bill Clinton rode on Epstein's jet at least 11 times, and often with two of Epstein's female associates believed to have provided the dozens of underage girls to their boss and his well-connected friends.
(Emphasis added.)

As smart as Clinton is about some things, it is hard to believe that he didn't at least suspect that Epstein might be involved with underage girls.

(For the record:  Although there seems to be no doubt about Epstein's taste for underage girls, I would not automatically accept all the charges made by one of them, now.

Vladimir Nabokov's novel is not as famous as it once was, but I am sure Bill Clinton would know all about it.  I recall reading parts of it, years and years ago, but not finishing it, partly out of disgust.)
- 7:27 AM, 23 January 2015   [link]


Archives

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January 2010, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
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January 2011, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
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January 2012, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
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October 2012, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
November 2012, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3and Part 4
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January 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
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July 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
August 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
September 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
October 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
November 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
December 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4

January 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
February 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4
March 2014, Part 1. Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
April 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
May 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
June 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
July 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
August 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
September 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
October 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
November 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
December 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
January 2015, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4






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




Best Posts


Books


Strange Obama


The Unknown Bush


University Reform


Uncorrected Mistakes


Vote Fraud


The Gang of Four


Articles


Assignment Desk
(What's This?)


Columns


Common Mistakes
(What's This?)


Chomsky Cult Program


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