Monday, August 31, 2015

Why wait?

A nation turns its lonely eyes to you:
Kanye West announced that he plans to run for president in 2020 at the MTV’s Video Music Awards on Sunday night in Los Angeles.

His comments came after being presented with the award show’s highest honor by Taylor Swift, who won four of the nine awards she was nominated for at the annual ceremony, including video of the year for Bad Blood, which features Kendrick Lamar.

West accepted the Video Vanguard award with a rambling 10-minute speech where he discussed grocery stores, baseball stadiums and awards shows. After admitting that he “rolled up a little something” before coming to the show, West made his political ambitions clear.

“And yes, as you probably could’ve guessed in this moment, I’ve decided in 2020 to run for president,” West said.
Why wait, Kanye? It's not as though you're any more absurd a candidate than anyone else out there. Meanwhile, I guess Miley Cyrus bared one of her breasts on the show. Unfortunately, she can't run for president until 2032.

Sorry, Bernie

Pros protect pros:
The Democratic National Committee is “dead wrong” by limiting the number of debates available to presidential candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on Sunday.

“I think that that is dead wrong and I have let the leadership of the Democrats know that,” Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union.

“I think this country benefits, all people benefit, democracy benefits when we have debates and I want to see more of them,” he added. “I think that debates are a good thing."
Ahem. You see that "I" after Bernie's name? That stands for independent. Not Democrat. The price of maintaining your independence is that the party you generally support doesn't have any obligation to pay attention to your plaints. The worker bees will protect the queen.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Dad's been gone for 25 years

A big smile and a big stogie
My dad passed away on August 30, 1990, now 25 years ago.

I'm fond of this picture of Dad, because it reminds me of who he was. Dad had a big smile and he displayed it often. He liked a glass of Scotch and a big cigar. He was a trusted professional and a hell of a raconteur, a generous soul who never lost his sense of wonder about the world.

Dad wasn't around as much as I would have liked when I was a kid. There were reasons for that -- his job required him to travel and our family situation was less than ideal. Like many men of his generation, he did what he had to do to provide for his family. While he wasn't around all the time, he was never absent. The years haven't changed any of that.

Dad has missed a lot of things in the 25 years since he passed away. Since that day, four of his six surviving children have married. He now has 8 grandchildren. He would have loved to bounce these kids on his knee.

Since I've become a father, I've thought about all the advice my Dad could have offered me. I've thought about the wisdom he would have shared with my son and daughter. I've thought about the delight that they would have had in each other's company. I've thought about the moments that he should have seen.

In the end, you can't worry about advice you don't get. You can remember the wisdom you receive. And when I think of Dad, as this unfortunate anniversary comes and goes, I'll try to smile the way he did. It seems like the wise thing to do.

Shadows of the indignant desert birds

And it will be said again
One of the advantage of being, ahem, middle-aged is that I've seen things change before. And things are changing, to the point that even Peggy Noonan is noticing:
One is the deepening estrangement between the elites and the non-elites in America. This is the area in which Trumpism flourishes. We’ll talk about that deeper in.

Second, Mr. Trump’s support is not limited to Republicans, not by any means.

Third, the traditional mediating or guiding institutions within the Republican universe—its establishment, respected voices in conservative media, sober-minded state party officials—have little to no impact on Mr. Trump’s rise. Some say voices of authority should stand up to oppose him, which will lower his standing. But Republican powers don’t have that kind of juice anymore. Mr. Trump’s supporters aren’t just bucking a party, they’re bucking everything around, within and connected to it.
Yep. That's precisely it. At the same time, a lot of Trump supporters are coming on like this:


So the peasants are revolting, in both senses of the term. To put it in popular culture terms, we're at a Katniss Everdeen moment, but the hero on offer comes on like some sort of combination of Juan Peron and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

Why is the Donald having this moment? We've all seen him say this:



And a lot of people want the political class fired. I do, too, but I'm a menshevik and I worry about what comes next. Have we seen this moment before? I don't think we have. Will the anger abate and will we settle into yet another Bush vs. Clinton election? Maybe, but I'm not so sure. Consider the scene here yesterday when the Donks came to town. You want 1000 words? Check this out:

If looks could kill, Martin O'Malley would be dead
Martin O'Malley, who apparently is running for president, although we can't be sure because he's on television about as much as Martin Balsam these days, was complaining about the debate format that the Democratic National Committee has put forward. O'Malley wants more debates. The DNC doesn't want that, because it requires Hillary Clinton to answer questions she'd rather not answer. So we had this scene yesterday, in which Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is at the helm of the DNC, gave O'Malley the skunk eye.

Can I sort it out? Naah. But something is going on.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Say it ain't so

News you don't want to read about your pastor:
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has put a Roseville priest on leave after receiving what it is calling a credible allegation that he sexually abused a minor in the 1980s.

The Rev. Robert Fitzpatrick is pastor at Corpus Christi parish and St. Rose of Lima parish and school.

Interim Archbishop Bernard Hebda announced the decision on Thursday and says police have been notified.
We are parishioners at St. Rose of Lima -- we joined the parish earlier this year after we'd grown disenchanted with our previous parish. I can't say that I know Fr. Fitzpatrick well, but we really like him and the other priests at St. Rose. I had no inkling that he might have trouble in his past. Fr. Fitzpatrick is pastor at both parishes because, frankly, there aren't enough priests to go around these days. Corpus Christi is significantly smaller than St. Rose and probably not large enough to have a pastor, especially now, but it's also a vibrant community.

Father Fitz and the Archbishop

Fr. Fitzpatrick had invited Archbishop Hebda to come to St. Rose for the upcoming 75th annivesary celebration of the parish school. Hebda was unavailable that day, but he came to St. Rose earlier this month -- the picture I've posted is from the parish website. St. Rose was the first parish that Hebda has visited since he became the interim archbishop. Now, less than a month after he came to St. Rose, he has to take action against Fr. Fitzpatrick.

It's going to take a while for me to process this information. It's possible that the allegation, while credible, may turn out to be false. I hope it is. We are all sinners in need of God's forgiveness, which is why this scandal is so deleterious. I understand that the Church is much, much larger than any individual priest, but it has to rely on its priests to survive. And with every revelation of misconduct, people are drawn away from God, just when we need Him the most.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Joe knows

Out stumping for Hillary Clinton in Iowa, former Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin suggested that Joe Biden better not start thinking about this presidency thing:
Mr. Harkin, who served with Mr. Biden in the Senate for nearly 25 years and is now supporting Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, said the vice president should not risk ending his career with what would be a third bid for the presidency.

“He has served the country so well and been a good friend of mine — I love Joe,” Mr. Harkin said in a phone interview. “I just don’t think this would be a wise move.”

Without prompting, Mr. Harkin added that there were “other ways Joe can serve the country.”

“With Hillary as president, I can see him being secretary of state or ambassador to the United Nations,” he said. “There are a lot of things he can do down the road that would be of valuable service to the country or the world.”
Why would Biden want to do those things? I suspect Yoni Applebaum of the Atlantic is correct:
The emails that Clinton gave to the State Department are now being released in tranches every 30 days. Her server has been turned over to the Justice Department, which is reportedly optimistic that it can recover at least some of the emails that Clinton had deleted. No one knows what the emails that have not yet been released may contain.

No one, that is, outside of the administration. Those on the other end of Clinton’s correspondence presumably retain their own records of their exchanges. The White House has reportedly monitored the situation since before the questions over Clinton’s email became public. And the State Department has assigned a team to sort through the emails, reviewing them for classified information.
It's still early. I am confident that Hillary Clinton's campaign will not survive the year. There's almost no chance that the professionals in the Democratic Party are going to let Bernie Sanders be the standard-bearer. The Donks have no bench. If Joe Biden enters the race, he's going to be the nominee. He may be a buffoon, a plagiarist and an all-around demagogue, but he's not fundamentally corrupt. As far as we know, that is.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The campaign

It's not a campaign, it's performance art:
Two minutes into Donald Trump's news conference here Tuesday night came the question he tried to
silence.

"Mr. Trump, I have a question," said Jorge Ramos, the top news anchor at Univision and one of the country's most recognizable Mexican-Americans, as he stood up in the front row of journalists.

"Excuse me," the Republican presidential front-runner told Ramos. "Sit down. You weren't called. Sit down."

Ramos, holding a piece of paper, calmly tried to ask Trump about his plan to combat illegal immigration. "I'm a reporter, an immigrant, a senior citizen," he said. "I have the right to ask a question."

Trump interrupted him. "Go back to Univision," he said. Then the billionaire businessman motioned to one of his bodyguards, who walked across the room and physically removed Ramos from the room.
Calmly? Not so much. There's plenty o' video:


Eventually, Ramos came back and got a five-minute exchange with Trump:
But moments later, Ramos returned to his seat in the front row -- and Trump called on him. For five minutes, they tangled over immigration policy, an issue on which both men have passionately different views. It was one of the more compelling moments of the 2016 campaign.

"Good to have you back," Trump told Ramos, signaling to him to begin his questioning.
Rick Perry might kick a reporter out of his next press conference, assuming a reporter shows up.

Indulgences

Of course it's a scam:
As a result of political horse trading at UN negotiations on climate change, countries like Russia and the Ukraine were allowed to create carbon credits from activities like curbing coal waste fires, or restricting gas emissions from petroleum production. Under the UN scheme, called Joint Implementation, they then were able to sell those credits to the European Union’s carbon market. Companies bought the offsets rather than making their own more expensive, emissions cuts.

But this study, from the Stockholm Environment Institute, says the vast majority of Russian and Ukrainian credits were in fact, “hot air” – no actual emissions were reduced.
And the beauty part? Even more gas:
According to a study released in the journal Nature Climate Change, plants in Russia “increased waste gas generation to unprecedented levels once they could generate credits from producing more waste gas,” resulting in an increase in emissions as large as 600 million tons of carbon dioxide—roughly half the amount the EU’s ETS intends to reduce from 2013 to 2030.
Working great. Maybe that's why you aren't seeing any calls to have the climate summit grandees meet on Skype -- they aren't serious about any of it.
As one of the co-authors of the report put it, issuing these credits “was like printing money.”
Perhaps when this all goes south, they can work for the Fed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

That nasty ol' blank screen

Most mornings I observe the same ritual. Get up early, post a "Song of the Day" on Facebook, then start looking for something to write about for a blog post. Some days it's easy to find a topic. So if you'll settle for a few ruminations, here we go.

  • The financial news isn't particularly encouraging. I don't doubt that we are heading into a period of financial difficulty that could prove quite severe. Still, the shrieking of various Cassandras seems self-serving. It's not coincidental that many of the people casting the warnings are suggesting that precious metals are a safe haven. It's also not coincidental that most of them are selling precious metals. If holding precious metals is the only way to avoid ruin, it's odd that so many people are trying to sell them to you.
  • I'm getting the distinct impression that any number of people want us to start a stampede. It's not just the Cassandras; I get the same vibe from some of the more vocal supporters of Donald Trump. While I'm largely sympathetic to the disgruntled conservatives who are flocking to the Trump banner, there's a lot of nonsense involved. If somehow Trump were to get elected, the best case scenario would be a presidency along the lines of the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger. We don't have time for that.
  • As a Packers fan, I'm bummed out about losing Jordy Nelson for the season. If it had to happen, though, this is a good time for it to happen. An ACL injury is typically a year-long event, which mean that Nelson will be available for 2016. There is also sufficient time for the Packers to identify a replacement for Nelson and a number of candidates are available. I'm guessing they have a Plan B.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Panic?

Headed for the exits?
U.S. stock index futures screamed lower, with Dow futures tumbling as much as 350 points, as fears surrounding the health of China's economy multiplied.

These concerns saw the benchmark Shanghai Composite index notch up its biggest one-day percentage loss since 2007 on Monday, closing down 8.5 percent.
I have friends who are in full freakout mode right now, convinced that "The Collapse"is nigh and that we're inevitably headed for some sort of Hobbesian State of Nature -- you know, the ol' "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short" thing. I'd like to have a little more faith than that in our ability to recover from our mistakes. Is that faith misplaced?

Let's talk about it. But first, a poll?

Is it time to panic?
 
pollcode.com free polls

Sunday, August 23, 2015

If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don't Want to Be NARN*

It's that time of year again when my friend, the estimable Brad Carlson, invites me down to the AM 1280 bunker for our annual tour through the NFC North. I'll be on from 2-3 p.m. CDT, but you should always consider Brad's show appointment radio and start listening at 1 p.m.

Besides tuning in to AM 1280 in the metro area, you can check us out at the Patriot website, on iHeartRadio, or even watch the broadcast via these UStream. So many choices.

*Apologies to Mitch Berg

Friday, August 21, 2015

Down to the root

The estimable Thomas Sowell, discussing immigration but in doing so explaining the larger issue:
Even if it were necessary to revise the 14th Amendment, it is sheer Progressive era dogma that Constitutional Amendments are nearly impossible to revise, repeal or create. There were four new Constitutional Amendments added in just eight years, during the height of the Progressive era in the early 20th century.

But it is indeed impossible if you are just looking for excuses for not trying. Republicans who are worried about Donald Trump should be. But their own repeated betrayals of their supporters set the stage for his emergence. This goes all the way back to "Read my lips, no new taxes." 
Indeed.

Uh-oh

Here it comes:
What happens when the Federal Reserve loses its stranglehold over debt markets? Investors are finding out.

The selloff in corporate bonds is deepening and investors are seeking safety in the longest-dated government debt, which does best when the economy does worst. Defaults are rising as oil tumbles and investors are looking for the best ways to hedge against credit losses.
That's the thing about a stranglehold -- eventually it leads to a strangling.

Are you not entertained?

Classy. Yuge. World-class trolling.

I use antlers in all of my decorating
Jeb Bush is considering a similar shot, but it involves a buzzard. Meanwhile, we get some even better trolling from The Donald (h/t Allahpundit):
“Here’s my question: So if I go to CNN and I say, Look, you’re going to have a massive audience, and if I say to them, I want $10 million for charity, nothing for myself, what happens? I’m not showing up, right?” he says. It’s a rhetorical question, the wheels of entrepreneurship are turning, the joy of being Trump dancing on his face. “I’m not showing up unless you give $10 million to cancer, to this, to that. You pick 10 great charities, $1 million per.” He’s not sure just how far the rules of democracy can bend, how big his ambitions can grow. “If I’m in it, they’ll get this crazy audience, and they’re going to make a fortune since they’re selling commercials every time we take a break. Would you ever say to them, would you ever say, I want $10 million for AIDS research, for cancer, for this type or not, or is it too cute?”
In other words:


Damn right I'm entertained.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Look for the union label

Walter Russell Mead, understanding incentives:
Why, you might ask, would a labor union that is supposedly dedicated to increasing the wages of its members be willing to sign a deal that allows workers to earn less than the minimum wage the union has campaigned to pass into law? The unions have said it gives them more flexibility in negotiations and shields employers and cities against lawsuits. But the real answer, silly, is the exemptions create an incentive to force companies like hotels and fast food chains to recognize labor unions precisely so they can keep labor costs down.
But that's not the real reason, is it?
In other words, empowering labor unions to strike sweetheart deals with employers is a way to divert money from workers to union bosses. Some of the unions backing these measures are run by well-meaning people who are looking for ways to build labor’s institutional power at a time when globalization, immigration, and automation have made traditional unions less relevant than ever in the private sector. But these measures will attract the wrong people back into the union business and create incentives that make unions attractive targets for mob power. (Not that anything like this could ever happen, say, to the casino workers’ unions in Las Vegas.)
Solidarity forever, chumps.

Darn the luck

So inconvenient:
State Department BlackBerry devices issued to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's aides Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin have likely been destroyed or sold off, the department said in a court filing on Wednesday.

Mills and Abedin “were each issued BlackBerry devices,” department Executive Secretary Joseph Macmanus wrote in the filing.

The department, however, “has not located any such device,” and believes that they would have been destroyed or removed from the department's control.

“Because the devices issues to Ms. Mills and Ms. Abedin would have been outdated models, in accordance with standard operating procedures those devices would have been destroyed or excessed,” Macmanus added.
Haldeman and Ehrlichman really should have considered BlackBerry devices. Would have saved them a lot of heartache.

Great Moments in Investigations

Los Angeles, 1969:

Investigator:  Mr. Manson, we need to ask you a few questions concerning the activities of some of your associates.

Manson: We're running a social outreach program here.

Investigator: Are you sure about that? We noticed a little trouble up at Sharon Tate's residence and...

Manson: I've investigated this and there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

Investigator: Okay. Sorry to have troubled you.

A movie set, circa 1976:

Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification.

Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: [with a small wave of his hand] You don't need to see his identification.

Stormtrooper: We don't need to see his identification.

Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: These aren't the droids you're looking for.

Stormtrooper: These aren't the droids we're looking for.

Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: He can go about his business.

Stormtrooper: You can go about your business.

Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: Move along.

Stormtrooper: Move along... move along.

Geneva, Switzerland, 2015:
Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate a site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press.
IAEA official: Let me see what's happening at Parchin.

Obi-Wan Khameini [with a small wave of his hand] You don't need to see what's happening at Parchin.

IAEA official: We don't need to see what's happening at Parchin.