Tiananmen OSINT

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” — Benjamin Franklin

[Readers are directed to the end of this post for an explanation of my timing and motivation.

UPDATE 6/5, 11 AM CDT: videos embedded!]

I. Anniversary Reconnoiter

At around nine in the morning local time on the thirtieth anniversary of the “June Fourth Incident,” I began a reconnoiter of Tiananmen Square in central Beijing to observe security measures and, if possible, witness any attempt at commemorating the massacre. I accompanied Dr. Andrew R. Cline, professor of media, journalism, and film at Missouri State University in Springfield. We were part of group of eleven people—four students, two faculty, and five others including me—comprising a “Study Away” program from MSU which had spent the previous twelve days in China, flying into Beijing and taking high-speed trains to Xi’an and Xining, then on via the Qinghai–Tibet railway to Lhasa before flying back to Beijing. Of all days, Tuesday 4 June 2019 was designated a free day for the group: no itinerary—and no guide. The remaining nine group members, as it turned out, had other ideas about what to do that day.

Andy’s motivation was broadly journalistic, garnished with a specific interest in whether any actual Marxists would show up. I went along out of a feeling that I had something of a reputation to uphold, and quickly decided during our approach that I would evaluate the security measures and write up a more quantitative report, although I will also pass along some thoughts about the organizational behaviors involved.

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Across the Great Divide

Peter Watson, The Great Divide: Nature and Human Nature in the Old World and the New (New York: Harper Perennial, 2013)

As my reviews tend to do, this one will highlight some negatives, but which I will get out of the way early on. Peter Watson is a highly successful author and journalist who has rather more than dabbled in archaeology along the way. I am … somewhat less of an authority. Nonetheless, The Great Divide is kind of a mess, but one that ends up being sufficiently thought-provoking to be worth the effort.

Fun stuff first—shout-out to Jim Bennett for recommending the book; and here are my ideas for relevant musical interludes while reading the following:

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“Root Causes”

The Biden administration wants to find and solve the ‘root causes’ driving the flood of refugees to the US from the south, and has assigned that task to VP Kamela Harris.  More generally, liberals and ‘progressives’ like to talk about ‘root causes’ for all kinds of things: crime, for example: instead of arresting criminals, just solve the Root Causes of crime!

Someone needs to explain to these people the concept of ask why five times, and how that concept is properly implemented.  Example:

PROBLEM: There is oil on factory floor.  Why?

Looks like it’s coming from that machine over there.

ACTION: Clean up the oil. But then ask…
WHY is there oil leaking from that machine.

The machine has a bad gasket.

ACTION: Replace the gasket. But then ask..
WHY was the gasket bad?

Check out the condition of the gaskets on some other machines.
Looks like we’ve been buying inferior gaskets.

ACTION: Change the specifications so we don’t get any more of these. But also ask..
WHY did we decide to buy the gaskets that we did?

Uhh…they were cheap? Turns out the purchasing policy for supplies like this says “always buy the low bid.”

ACTION: Change the policy to give more weight to quality as well as price. But also ask…
WHY did the head of Purchasing ever approve a policy like this in the first place?

Maybe because his *incentive program* includes a big component for year-over-year reductions in supplies cost, with no measurement for downtime impact of bad items?

ACTION: Change the incentive program.
WHY did a one-sided incentive program like this get created and approved?

And so on. (There is nothing magic about the number Five)

But importantly, you don’t wait until you run all the way up and down the chain of causation before you clean up the oil on the floor before someone slips on it and hurts himself. You don’t go through analysis of why inferior gaskets are being purchased before replacing the gaskets before the machine loses oil again and shuts down or destroys itself.

Democrat politicians often act like they don’t understand these points, even informally and intuitively. Many of them really don’t, I think…but also, many of them just don’t care; accumulation of political power for themselves and their faction is all that matters.  Among their voters/supporters, though, there may be some who can be brought to understand the fallacies of root-causes-only thinking.

And, very importantly, if you pursue the chain of causation upward to enough levels, you are likely to find causes which are either beyond your ability to influence, or for which such influence has a very long time constant.  In the manufacturing example, for instance, you may be a factory manager in a large company with very little influence on the incentive policies that drive Purchasing to acquire inferior gaskets.  That still doesn’t mean you don’t need to clean up the oil and replace the failed gaskets, anyway.  In the Biden/Harris policy case, serious thought would show that the ability of American leaders to influence the policies, economic systems, and cultures of our southern neighbors is strictly limited, and what influence we can exert is likely to have a very long time constant. That doesn’t mean we don’t need to do anything about the border crisis.

Better Explanations?

We might be forgiven for thinking that China does not have our best interests in mind, given their halt of all national movement from Wuhan and encouragement of all international travel from Wuhan in the pandemic’s early months, given the secrecy that surrounds the Wuhan Institute and the belated admission of and tight controls on the WHO inspectors, etc. etc.

The tragedy at our border is huge and this seems almost a small part of it, but some acts seem to parallel China’s: Why are Americans expected to isolate themselves from useful pursuits (such as work and education and church), while Covid-infected illegal immigrants are sent on planes and buses to the interior (not that I’m all that crazy about how their policies are also refreshing the epidemic in Texas).

Stirring division, encouraging wokeness and discouraging economic recovery in Atlanta, ignoring the vulnerability of the border to human trafficking and terrorist entry, encouraging defunding the police and justice systems that show little (in some cases any) respect for property or the victims of violent crime: the quantity of “ironies” might be more easily explained as expected consequences to Biden/Harris policies. And so we might be forgiven for thinking that they, too, do not have our best interests in mind.

With Trump I’d turn to Instapundit and notice every day little and big things that seemed to free us or make the future more attractive, one of the values was that doing and speaking seemed aligned and Orwellian obfuscation was not omnipresent; it is, now, as opposite patterns can be easily discerned. Both seemed to be “busy” presidents – though that this seems to be coming from Biden seems hard to believe, it certainly is coming from “his” White House. And one’s busyness leads to productivity and the other’s to stasis – the position of a sitting duck.

A (partially successful) attempt at a reasoned response

to Harris/Biden in Atlanta on Friday. Or an exercise explaining Why I swear at the tv. Mid-way to rational thought, it is at least better than ***!!!###. Aside: Posting here is a great gift. Writing – like speech with others – forces us to use words. Our founders would use the word deliberate, to move from gut response to reason. Let’s begin with them for perspective:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . . “

“Hate crimes” violate not only our laws but our core belief that in each (and all) is a divine spark, that is one way we are truly equal. However, “hate” for an individual or a random act of pointless violence is also hate. Inchoate anger is hardly virtuous. Haters choose the weak, the dependent, the isolated, the outlier; they want neither consequences nor pricks of conscience. “Knock out” punches throw the weak, the elderly, the unprepared to the ground and are often too random to easily assign blame; knowing society identifies less with such victims makes quick punishment less likely; an important distance comes from convincing one’s self such a victim is not “equal”, is not human – that stills the conscience.

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Texas Aggie Doctor Reports — Clinical Pearls Covid 19 for ER practitioners

The following information is from a front line ER doctor using the handle of ‘nawlinsag’ on a Texas Aggie web site.  I’ve included the link below. I’ve also included the complete text of his post in full in hopes medical professionals and lay people could get the most benefit from his observations of the course of COVID-19 in a small front line Louisiana hospital.

Short form: This is not the flu.  It is a horror show of death and disablement that is crowding out all other medical care including an immediate downgrade of life saving cardiac care.  Only on in seven people put on ventalators in this hospital is surviving, and then only after 10-t0-12 days of ventalator support.

—–

https://texags.com/forums/84/topics/3102444?fbclid=IwAR3s13SRnw7YNgtu-7LZyrMUSMIRRWScU67lwbuwZM8fna-6R8k4tqrtO3w

I just spent an hour typing a long post that erased when I went to change the title so I apologize to the grammar and spelling police. This one will not be proofread and much shorter.

I am an ER MD in New Orleans. Class of 98. Every one of my colleagues have now seen several hundred Covid 19 patients and this is what I think I know.

Clinical course is predictable.
2-11 days after exposure (day 5 on average) flu like symptoms start. Common are fever, headache, dry cough, myalgias(back pain), nausea without vomiting, abdominal discomfort with some diarrhea, loss of smell, anorexia, fatigue.

Day 5 of symptoms- increased SOB, and bilateral viral pneumonia from direct viral damage to lung parenchyma.

Day 10- Cytokine storm leading to acute ARDS and multiorgan failure. You can literally watch it happen in a matter of hours.

81% mild symptoms, 14% severe symptoms requiring hospitalization, 5% critical.

Patient presentation is varied. Patients are coming in hypoxic (even 75%) without dyspnea. I have seen Covid patients present with encephalopathy, renal failure from dehydration, DKA. I have seen the bilateral interstitial pneumonia on the xray of the asymptomatic shoulder dislocation or on the CT’s of the (respiratory) asymptomatic polytrauma patient. Essentially if they are in my ER, they have it. Seen three positive flu swabs in 2 weeks and all three had Covid 19 as well. Somehow this ***** has told all other disease processes to get out of town.

China reported 15% cardiac involvement. I have seen covid 19 patients present with myocarditis, pericarditis, new onset CHF and new onset atrial fibrillation. I still order a troponin, but no cardiologist will treat no matter what the number in a suspected Covid 19 patient. Even our non covid 19 STEMIs at all of our facilities are getting TPA in the ED and rescue PCI at 60 minutes only if TPA fails.

Diagnostic
CXR- bilateral interstitial pneumonia (anecdotally starts most often in the RLL so bilateral on CXR is not required). The hypoxia does not correlate with the CXR findings. Their lungs do not sound bad. Keep your stethoscope in your pocket and evaluate with your eyes and pulse ox.

Labs- WBC low, Lymphocytes low, platelets lower then their normal, Procalcitonin normal in 95%
CRP and Ferritin elevated most often. CPK, D-Dimer, LDH, Alk Phos/AST/ALT commonly elevated.
Notice D-Dimer- I would be very careful about CT PE these patients for their hypoxia. The patients receiving IV contrast are going into renal failure and on the vent sooner.

Basically, if you have a bilateral pneumonia with normal to low WBC, lymphopenia, normal procalcitonin, elevated CRP and ferritin- you have covid-19 and do not need a nasal swab to tell you that.

A ratio of absolute neutrophil count to absolute lymphocyte count greater than 3.5 may be the highest predictor of poor outcome. the UK is automatically intubating these patients for expected outcomes regardless of their clinical presentation.

An elevated Interleukin-6 (IL6) is an indicator of their cytokine storm. If this is elevated watch these patients closely with both eyes.

Other factors that appear to be predictive of poor outcomes are thrombocytopenia and LFTs 5x upper limit of normal.

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Books That I Cannot Wait Not to Read

Amanda at Mad Genius Club posted last week with some musings on the current publishing scene – er, that is what I took to calling the Literary Industrial Complex, back when I first went indy around 2008 – Indy Publishing that is. When people ask me who my publisher is, I look at them loftily, and reply, “I own the publishing company!” Which I do – a nice little small enterprise that I came into as junior partner, and which the original founder sold to me when she regretfully concluded that she could no longer carry on. We do other authors’ books, as well as my own; regional and small-press stuff, nothing which would ever excite the interest of the Literary Industrial Complex or the minions thereof. No point to it at this late date; as one of the other indy authors I associated with at the time often repeated – “If readers love-love-love the book, they don’t really care who published it.”

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Why I Do Not Care for Ilhan Omar

Oh, let me count the ways – first, a purely visceral and visual reaction: she’s a snake in a trendy head-scarf. Reminds me of the internet meme of Momo, actually. And the fact that she is a particularly nasty bigot and vocal anti-Ordinary American, and Jew-hater, and might very well have both perpetuated and benefited from immigration fraud.
And … Somali.

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Fixing the border facility crisis

It’s useful to review how to fix conditions of overcrowding in a facility. There are two fixes available.

1. You build more capacity
2. You increase training and oversight of the personnel running the facilities if they’re not behaving adequately

Both of these fixes require more money allocated by Congress. It helps when the Executive requests more funding but Congress doesn’t require it.

Go look at the legislative history. President Trump asked for more funds, Congress turned him down. It wasn’t his own party that denied him, it was the Democratic delegation that was against relief.

President Trump sought to work around the restrictions by declaring an emergency and using military construction money. It was left wing advocates who went to court to fight Trump, preventing him from building more facilities.

The left wing solution is to cause so much suffering so that our hearts break and we stop enforcing the law.

That’s cruel. It’s cruel on purpose.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez alleges misbehavior by camp personnel. She is one of a small select group, just 535 people strong who could directly improve the situation by introducing legislation that would force improvements in behavior. She has yet to introduce any.

The Congresswoman is a prominent part of the cruelty agenda.

In a normal country, hard questions would be asked by the mainstream media of those who have recently been part of this cruelty agenda.

Telemigration

It has often been asserted that the US doesn’t need to worry overmuch about our position in Manufacturing, because Services are the future and that is where we will have the most competitive advantage.  And, indeed, the balance of trade in services is more favorable than that in the goods-producing industries: for 2018, exports of services totaled $821 billion, whereas imports of services were only $557 billion.

However, while imports of services are today small compared with imports of goods, which for 2018 were almost $2.7 trillion, it would be a mistake to conclude that services businesses and services jobs are immune to offshoring.  Indeed, for many types of services, offshoring/exporting is easier than the offshoring/importing of goods:  there are no transportation issues, and, in the case of imports to the US, there are no tariffs at all.

Telemigration…the term was introduced by Richard Baldwin in his book The Globotics Upheaval…is the ability to have remote workers doing things that previously would have required their physical presence.  Obviously, the ability to do this has been greatly enhanced by the availability of the Internet and other forms of high-bandwidth low-cost communications.  Today, medical images and legal documents are being reviewed in low-cost-of-labor countries.  Software is being developed for American companies in countries around the world.  Offshoring of clerical operations has been practiced by US firms for a couple of decades, and, of course, the offshoring of customer service is common.

Baldwin also argues that telemigration will be greatly enhanced by the availability of machine translation technology, especially Google Translate.  I think he may be overstating the case here–from what I’ve seen, the quality of GT translations is highly variable.  Not sure how well this approach would work in facilitating the interaction that is often required among team members to create something or solve a problem, and I am sure I wouldn’t want to trust it exclusively for something like, say, translating the functional specifications for a life-critical avionics system to be programmed by non-English speakers.

But there are a lot of English-speakers in the world, and a lot of activities in which fluency in a common language is not essential.

One area in which a lot of telemigration seems to be occurring is in software development and maintenance.  Here for example, is a company which acquires application software companies and offshores much of the ongoing work (which presumably includes incremental product enhancements as well as problem-fixing) to contract programmers: company’s chief recruiter asserts that the current cloud wage for a C++ programmer is $15 an hour. As the Forbes article notes, that’s what Amazon pays its warehouse workers.  (Well, at least in the US–and $15/hour for a programmer in, say, India is surely worth a lot more than $15/hour in this country.)  What makes this story particularly interesting is that the founder/CEO of the company was noted, in his earlier incarnation in a different software business, for paying software people very well indeed and going to great lengths to recruit them.

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Our ‘Xanatos Gambit’ President’s Energy Export Strategy Tree

In my last post — President Trump’s ‘Xanatos Gambit’ Trade Policy — I spoke to how President Trump has set up his political strategy on trade policy to make any outcome on the USMCA Trade agreement that he negotiated to replace the NAFTA agreement would be to his advantage over House Democrats and the “purchased by the multi-national corporation China Lobby” GOP Senators.  In this post I am going to lay out President Trump’s “Global  Energy Dominance” export policy’s “Xanatos Gambit” strategy tree vis-à-vis the 2020 presidential elections.

To start with, I’m going to refer you back to this passage from my last post on how the Trump Administration is “gaming” economic growth measurements:

This is where Pres. Trump’s ‘Xanatos Gambit’ strategy tree kicks in via a macroeconomic and trade policy manipulation of the very simple economic equation of gross domestic product:

GDP = US ECONOMIC ACTIVITY + EXPORTS + FOREIGN INVESTMENT – IMPORTS – EXTERNAL INVESTMENT

The American economy just grew 3.2% in the 1st quarter of 2019.  It would have grown another 0.3% but for the 30-odd day federal government shut down.  The “markets” were expecting 2.5% GDP growth.  The huge half-percent GDP “miss” boiled down to:

1. The USA exported more.

2. The USA imported less and

3. There was more external foreign investment than expected.

All three were the result of a combination of Trump administration policies on oil/LNG fracking, tax & regulatory cuts and trade/tariffs.

The Trump Administration upon coming into office in January 2017 had a huge windfall of energy projects that the Obama Administration had held up approval of in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.   This windfall neither began nor ended with the  Keystone XL oil pipeline There was a whole cornucopia of oil and natural gas energy infrastructure projects that Democratic Party interests, only some of them environmental, that the Obama Administration was using the FERC to sit on for a whole lot of reasons that I refer to as “The Economic Cold Civil War.

While the media was spending a great deal of time talking about things like the Congressional votes to open the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in the early days of the Trump Administration’s energy policy implementation.  President Trump spent a great deal of his early political capital on getting his earliest political appointments through the Senate to the FERC to get those projects turned loose as a part of President Trump’s “Global  Energy Dominance” export policy.  The first fruit of this export infrastructure energy policy focus started paying off with the  Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) coming on-line in 2018.  See this Apr 16, 2019 article by Julianne Geiger at Oilprice.com:

U.S. Doubles Oil Exports In 2018

The United States nearly doubled its oil exports in 2018, the Energy Information Administration reporting on Monday, from 1.2 million barrels per day in 2017.

The 2.0 million barrels of oil per day exported in 2018 was in line with increased oil production, which averaged 10.9 million barrels per day last year, and was made possible by changes to the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) which allowed it to load VLCCs (Trent Note: Very Large Crude Carriers) .

The changes to LOOP and to the sheer volume of exports were not the only changes for the US crude oil industry. The destination of this oil shifted in 2018 as well, and even shifted within the year as the trade row between China and the United States took hold.

Overall, Canada remained the largest buyer of US oil in 2018, at 19% of all oil exports, according to EIA data. During the first half of 2018, the largest buyer of US crude oil was China, averaging 376,000 barrels per day. Due to the trade row, however, US oil exports to China fell to an average of just 83,000 barrels per day in the second half, after seeing zero exports to China in the months of August, September, and October.**

[**Please note above the nice thing about energy exports is how futile a energy user embargo is against it.  China’s economic embargo of US crude products only hurt itself.]

The impact of the Trump Administration’s energy export policies from those early days of his administration in terms of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities are now impacting the American economy. A large part of the extra 0.7% GDP growth achieved over the 2.5% Wall Street forecasts in the first quarter of 2019 came from the Corpus Christ 1 and Sabine 5 LNG export facilities coming on-line in late 2018 and making their first full export capacity quarter in Jan – Mar 2019.  The Cameroon 1 and Elba Island 1-6 LNG export facilities were also scheduled to come on-line in Late Feb-Early March 2019, and were very likely large contributors to LNG export surge.

This is how CNBC described 2019’s 1st quarter:

Robust demand for Texas oil and gas in the first two months of 2019 pushed the state’s export activity into high gear, strongly outpacing the national rate and contrasting with a slight decline by California.

Texas represented nearly 20% of all U.S. exports in the January-February period while California accounted for roughly an 11% share.

California has seen its share of total U.S. exports fall in recent years while Texas has been growing its share due mainly to the new oil boom.

CNBC table of US Exports in the 1st Quarter of 2019 Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/25/texas-exports-boosted-by-oil-rise-3-times-faster-than-us-increase.html
CNBC table of US Exports in the 1st Quarter of 2019  Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/25/texas-exports-boosted-by-oil-rise-3-times-faster-than-us-increase.html

And this is only the beginning for the US economy in 2019. See the following text and LNG export facility graphic from a Dec 10, 2018 report by the US Federal government’s Energy Information Administration:

U.S. liquefied natural gas export capacity to more than double by the end of 2019

U.S. LNG exports continue to increase with the growing export capacity. EIA’s latest Short-Term Energy Outlook forecasts U.S. LNG exports to average 2.9 Bcf/d in 2018 and 5.2 Bcf/d in 2019 as the new liquefaction trains are gradually commissioned and ramp up LNG production to operate at full capacity. The latest information on the status of U.S. liquefaction facilities, including expected online dates and capacities, is available in EIA’s database of U.S. LNG export facilities.

EIA projection of Liquefied Natural Gas Export Capacity from 2016 - 2021. Date of projection Dec 2018
EIA projection of U.S. Liquefied Natural Gas Export Capacity from 2016 – 2021. Date of projection, Dec 2018.

Given the above information, barring a war or serious election year intervention to kill the economy by the Federal Reserve, the cascade of LNG export infrastructure coming on-line in the 2nd and 4th quarters of 2019  will mean something on the order of a full percentage increase in GDP growth (in a range of 4.0% to 4.5%) in Jan – Mar 2020 over Jan – Mar 2019.  That is what going from 3.6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas export capacity to to 8.9  Bcf/d in Dec 2019 does for you.

This extra 1% GDP will be happening just in time for the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

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The very bad Continuing Resolution and how we got here.

We now have a a terrible non-compromise Continuing Resolution on border security. The Appropriations committee reported out HR31, the Continuing Resolution.

The Homeland Security division of this bill upholds Democratic values and funds smart and effective border security including construction and screening technology at ports of entry, where most drugs illegally enter the country.

The $1.375 billion it provides for border barriers is 76% less than the President demanded for a concrete wall, and critical protections are put in place for environmentally sensitive areas.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, yet every Democrat and nearly every Republican who served on the conference committee to write this bill has signed it in support.

Boilerplate. The real story is what was inserted in conference.

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How is the Shutdown Going ?

We are now in week three of the partial government “shutdown” over the refusal of Democrats to fund any of Trump’s wall. They see this as another “Read My Lips” situation which, if they can make Trump back down, it will kill his re-election campaign just as it did to Bush in 1992.

But Trump’s base takes the wall itself seriously, and, like George H.W. Bush’s 1988 campaign pledge on taxes, the wall has become the president’s “read my lips” albatross. His supporters may not abandon him over it, but Trump’s re-election hinges entirely on their enthusiasm. Yes, they will vote for him, but will they engage in the get-out-the-vote activities that drive to the polls enough additional voters to put Trump over the top?

How is that going ? Even Texas Monthly, no friend of Republicans agrees.

Jet skis dropping off pregnant women. Chinese border crossers in fancy workout attire. A park full of could-be spies. These sights of the Rio Grande are almost hallucinatory, but they don’t seem to alarm Spratte. They seem to fatigue him. Not long ago, he says, agents’ mouths would drop open when they’d hear about a group of fifty immigrants getting caught. Now, he says, “if you tell me, I’ve got a group of fifty, I need help, I would laugh at you. If you said, I’ve got a group of three hundred, now that would be cool, because that would be a new record. And the records are only going to keep increasing.” (According to Spratte, agents in the Valley have had a single pickup of around 280 immigrants.)

Trump visited the wall yesterday and CNN’s Jim Acosta gave Trump a hand at making his case.

I know this might be hard for you to comprehend Jimbo, but the reason why all of Twitter has been mocking you today is because you were at a part of the border WITH A WALL. So yes, of course it was working. Replicate that across the border & we’ll all be safer. #RealNews #ByeBye

It did not look too good for Acosta to brag about how safe it was near a wall. OR fence, if you prefer.

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Ahh – the New Year!

Well, it certainly started off with a bang … or, strike that, a number of spectacular public tantrums on the part of people that ordinary humans might have expected to have cultivated a more mature approach when it came to coping with others in the public sphere. I speak of the Gamestop shop customer of indeterminate sex who went off on the cashier for addressing … ummm, the customer as a man, when on the thin basis of some eye makeup, the customer apparently hoped to pass as a woman and not a member of a 1980s tribute rock band. Let me break it to you gently, guy – as a woman myself, you’re doing the woman-thing all wrong. A little more care with the coiffure, a skirt and some nice stockings and low heels, and a soft-spoken Southern lady demeanor – even adorning a six-foot-something frame with shoulders like a football quarterback – would make it easier for those you encounter in public to go along with a pretense of you being a delicate little flower of womanhood.

Of the vape-store clerk (now a former vape-store clerk) feeling all righteous and entitled to go off on an abusive rant against a customer wearing items of clothing identifying him as a Trump fan … seriously, when did it become OK to be an abusive butthead in public? Or is it just that incidents like this are more likely to be documented in this age of practically everyone having a telephone capable of recording short video? Cannot we all agree on a new year resolution – to act like mature, well-adjusted adults in public?

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Trump is winning on immigration.

We currently have a “partial government shutdown” which no one seems to notice. Most of the appropriations bills were passed and signed. The Homeland Security budget became a Continuing Resolution and is being held hostage in the Senate where Chuck Schumer has vowed “So, President Trump, you will not get your wall,”

Trump has not vetoed anything so the responsibility for the “shutdown” is not obvious. The 40,000 federal employees who are furloughed or not getting paid are over 80% Democrats. The most recent pay period will result in checks today. Then the next pay period in two weeks will be the one where the “nonessentials” will not be paid.

Schumer: “So, President Trump, you will not get your wall,” Schumer added. “Abandon your shutdown strategy. You’re not getting the wall today, next week, or on January 3 when Democrats take control of the House.”

How is this playing in the country ? Some surprises.

Ann Althouse reads the Washington Post so I don’t have to.

She notices the comments to that article on the child that died in US custody.

I’ve excerpted the parts of the article that might make a reader want to blame the father. Was the boy exploited? Was he regarded as expendable? There’s plenty else in the article that might make you want to blame the U.S. government (mainly for not giving quicker medical treatments). I would also think many readers would mostly feel sad that a boy died and bemoan poverty generally. So I was surprised at how harsh the comments were against the father. I didn’t expect this at The Washington Post. This is the most liked comment:
This child’s siblings in Guatemala are alive and well. The child was dragged to the US using money that could have paid the father’s overdue electric bill, which is not a reason to grant asylum.

I wonder how long the Democrats will let this go on if Trump does not cave in ? He seems to have a gut instinct about what Americans think.

CNN seems to think that signing MAGA hats in Iraq is some sort of crime.

CNN Pentagon reporter Barbara Starr said “a lot of questions” have been raised following President Trump’s surprise visit to troops in Iraq where he signed ‘Make America Great Again’ hats and flags.

“There’s a lot of concern because military policy, military regulation prohibits military members in uniform from doing anything that can be construed as a political endorsement. That’s what you want from your U.S. military. They’re not a political force,” Starr reported.

“How did the red hats get there? Some people are saying, well, the troops just brought them and wanted to get them signed. But even if that is the case, the question remains, there were commanders, there were senior enlisted personnel on the scene, they know the regulation. Why did this happen?” Starr asked.

The cluelessness is almost painful. Obama signed stuff when he was president.

What will the end game look like? The new House is even farther left wing than the Senate. Could the “shutdown” go on for months ?

Look at the comments to the WaPoo article.

Thank you. I am liberal myself but I get tired of people who shut off their critical thinking when it comes to brown people. This guy made a spectacularly risky decision, and his child paid the price. It’s on his head. This is, of course, on the assumption that the U.S. wasn’t negligent in the kid’s care – which is certainly possible. Nonetheless it’s his father who endangered him.

This looks like trouble for Democrats. What if Trump stares down Democrats for months ?

What will happen in 2020 ?

First, everyone should view this Steve Bannon Oxford Union debate.

It’s an hour long and, while I rarely watch hour long YouTube videos, this one is worth while.

He gives a talk about his European sessions with new “right wing” leaders like Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister.

Viktor Mihály Orbán is a Hungarian politician serving as Prime Minister of Hungary since 2010. He also served as prime minister from 1998 to 2002. He is the present leader of the national conservative Fidesz party, a post he has held since 2003 and, previously, from 1993 to 2000.

Orban is hated by the globalists in Germany because he has built walls to keep put “migrants,” which he says his county cannot support.

Orbán’s social conservatism, national conservatism, soft Euroscepticism and advocacy of what he describes as an “illiberal state” have attracted significant international attention. Some observers have described his government as authoritarian or autocratic.

In August 2018, Orbán became the 2nd longest-serving prime minister after Kálmán Tisza. If his current government lasts a full term, upon its completion, he will become the longest-serving Hungarian prime minister in history.

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Community

There was a bit of excitement a couple of weeks ago in the suburb where I have lived since the spring of 1995. I should make it clear that this is a working-class to middle-class suburb on the north-eastern fringe of San Antonio, a city which has pretensions to being Democrat-run and a smidge on the libby-lefty side. After all, this place did spawn Julian Castro, of whom I am convinced there is a picture in that Great Universal Dictionary in the sky next to the definition of that German word which means “a face in need of a good punching”. San Antonio may be well stocked with representatives of the lunatic left, but we are pretty far from being Austin, and the fact that one cannot throw a rock in this place without hitting at least four retired colonels and a dozen retired senior NCOs (Army and Air Force, primarily) – well, that keeps a ration of sanity in play. I’ve only spotted two signs for Beto “Blotto” O’Rourke lately, for whatever that counts for.

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Poisoned Fruit of the Poisoned Tree

This week, the month-long mystery of the missing college student, Mollie Tibbits, was sadly resolved, with the discovery of her body in a local cornfield. Developments in the search for her were updated frequently over the last few weeks, and always featured at the top, or near to the top of headlines on the English tabloid, the Daily Mail. Which, for all its’ eccentricities, abuse of grammar, spelling, penchant for the flamingly obvious, providing Piers Morgan with a salary, extreme Kardashian-worship, and light-to-moderate Trump disdain, does cover the American news scene without much fear or favor.
The longer the mystery of her disappearance went on, though – the greater the chance of a less than happy ending. And as it turns out that the chief suspect in her kidnapping and murder is a man with a distinctly dodgy background – an illegal alien of Mexican background, whose’ identity papers are something of a mystery. His American employers seemed to believe that everything was hunky-dory; this lends the cynical among us to assume that such paperwork must have been better forgeries than the usual run.

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Rickover

Recently watched an excellent documentary on Admiral Hyman Rickover, creator of the nuclear Navy. There’s quite a lot in the documentary that is relevant to today’s issues and concerns, for example:  circa 1972, the CIA had assured the Navy that the top speed of Russian attack subs was about 22 knots.  Rickover suspected that they were wrong, and he directed a carrier which was being shadowed by a Russian sub to gradually increase speed.  When it reached 30 knots, the shadowing sub was still there.

Which provides one more interesting data point at a time when we are being lectured about the need to treat the conclusions of the “intelligence community” with reverence.

In a 1974 speech, Rickover told of an ancient people called the Locrians:

These people gave freedom of speech to all citizens. At public meetings anyone could stand up and argue for changes in law or custom, on one condition. A rope was placed around his neck before he began to speak and, if what he said did not meet with public approval, he was forthwith hanged. That, no doubt, prevented disturbing the even tenor of familiar customs and ways of life.

I have encountered some in the Navy who look with nostalgia on this ancient custom.  But we must face the stark fact that an uncriticized society cannot long endure.

Quite a few organizations in America today are following in the footsteps of the Locrians–the universities, especially, but also certain Silicon Valley companies.  And not only them.

I learned of this documentary about the same time I read about a professor who was disturbed that Hispanic students that she interviewed credited their success to their own hard work and self-reliance rather than to affirmative action.

Rickover was Jewish, and he entered the Navy at a time when Jews were not common in that service…and the negative attitudes toward Jews which were prevalent in the society at large were also quite common in the Navy, perhaps even stronger there than outside.  (The Academy yearbook pages for both Rickover and the only other Jewish midshipman in his class were conveniently perforated for easy removal.)

And I wondered:  If Rickover had been influenced by professors and others endlessly and excessively beating the Victimhood drum, would he have been able to achieve the success and the great accomplishments that he did?  Or would he have just folded up and concluded that it was hopeless, that Jews had no chance in the Navy?

Well, probably not Rickover–he was an extraordinarily tough and resilient man.  But there probably are a lot of people who have high potential, though maybe not on the Rickover level, and who are being inhibited and will be inhibited in achieving that potential due in substantial part to such preaching.

Seth Barrett Tillman: My Post on CONLAWPROF: my response to a discussion about removing Trump from office

If your dispute with Trump and your call for his removal are based on policy (and his language about policy), rather than about discrete factual predicates amounting to legal violations, then you should eschew the language of the criminal law and push forward with debates (in this forum and elsewhere) about the prospective dangers you think Trump is creating or the harms he has already caused. But as I said, the country survived Johnson. To the extent that the argument against Trump is based on his saying stuff you think outrageous, I think the country will survive his talking big. I would also add that Trump has done little (as I see it) which substantially departs from his campaign statements—so a removal based on political disagreement about the expected consequences of policy is not going to be one with a strong democratic justification.
 
Technical point: It may be that deporting foreigners is not a criminal punishment, but exiling/banishing/deporting Americans who are in the country legally would seem to me to amount to a violation of a 14th Amendment liberty interest. This brings up an important cultural divide in America today (and not just in America, but across the Western world). Many of Trump’s supporters see the elites as being indifferent between their fellow citizens and foreigners. I ask you not to prove them correct.

Read the whole thing.

Draining the Swamp

Romney’s greatest charm was his history of taking a chainsaw to businesses and setting them on their feet. Those virtues are not always apparent in a campaign nor necessarily popular. Mick Mulvaney, backed by a businessman who was appalled at the waste in government (as almost all sentient beings are but someone that has planned large projects more clearly), is doing what I for one voted for Romney to do.

Simplifying permits, narrowing focus clears the brush, then we can build. The enlarging of bureaucracies encourage flakey, dishonest, bullshit laws that we don’t follow – that was Obama’s plan and we see it at its worst in the immigration fiasco, it works well to produce fear, malaise, and arbitry enforcement. The Home Land secretary put it best when she asked Congress if they had thought about the road they were going down in criticizing her for enforcing the laws they had made. Extraneous laws & large bureaucracies stunt growth, use up energy and frustrate. The result is malaise and a nation with less and less “trust”.
[Note: rewritten – parts unconnected – the commenters connected them but I realize it was rude of me. Great link! I added a second)

Continuing Derangement

By the Mystic Marbles of Matagorda, I thought that last week’s bout of Trump derangement was the far frozen limit, but here it is only Wednesday and the establishment media is already running around in hair-on-fire fits of hysteria, the distributed radical insurgency known as Antifa has declared bloody war on the employees of the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, a writer employed by the New Yorker magazine as a fact-checker has singlehandedly undermined the intellectual coinage working for that magazine, having been a Fulbright scholar and a graduate of Harvard … and after a nearly fifty year hiatus from public consciousness, Peter Fonda has hove once again into sight. Like a groundhog, only hairier and on a longer rotation.

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Seth Barrett Tillman: The Tale of the Swedish Prosecutor, the Citizen, and the Human Being

See: The Case Against Deporting Immigrants Convicted of Crimes

Then see:

The prosecutor made a recommendation against deportation.
 
The prosecutor reasoned that the defendant was unlikely to be rehabilitated by confinement, and therefore, the defendant was likely to commit the same crime again. The prosecutor’s position was that whether the defendant goes on to rape a Swede (or a non-Swede in Sweden) or someone in the defendant’s own home country should not be considered because the health, safety, and lives of all potential future victims should be valued equally. And equality is a value upon which we all do or should agree.
 
Did the prosecutor act rightly or wrongly?

Media and Politics

Bookworm writes about an ‘art installation’ at the (taxpayer-funded) Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  Here’s how the museum describes the exhibition:

Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s conceptual virtual reality installation CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible) explores the human condition of immigrants and refugees. Based on true accounts, the superficial lines between subject and bystander are blurred and bound together, allowing individuals to walk in a vast space and thoroughly live a fragment of the refugees’ personal journeys. An immersive installation that reunites frequent collaborators Iñárritu and Emmanuel Lubezki alongside producer Mary Parent and ILMxLAB, CARNE y ARENA is centered around a 6 ½-minute virtual reality sequence for one person that employs state-of-the-art immersive technology to create a multi-narrative light space with human characters.

Here’s Bookworm:

That’s a pretty bland, abstract description. A pro-illegal immigration Proggie friend of mine, though, went and was blown away by the wonder of it all. I’ve restated his glowing description in my own less glowing words, but the substance of what he said is still there.

The exhibition is meant to have you experience through virtual reality (it’s hot and sandy in the exhibition) what a Honduran, El Salvadoran, Merxican or Guatemalan experiences as he or she journeys north through the Sonoran desert to enter America illegally through Arizona. After you’ve signed a waiver, lest the good folks at LACMA make you uncomfortable, and taken off your shoes, your adventure begins.

Thrill to the experience of having border guards surround you with helicopters and vans to arrest you. Then, having gotten yourself (as promised) hot and covered with sand, you get to see videos of real illegal aliens reenacting their experiences for the camera. (I assume it’s some form of PTSD psychotherapy for illegal aliens.)

(Much more at the Bookworm link.)  This exhibit is very much in the style of the ‘tunnels of oppression’ which have become popular at America’s colleges and universities.

I recently ran across a passage from a pioneering media expert, writing in the 1920s, who remarked that social change could never be achieved merely via the written word; most people were inherently lazy (he argued) and were unlikely to pick up a book if it went against their existing views, or even pay enough attention to a leaflet for it have have real impact. So, oratory–the spoken word–was much more effective. BUT, there was a new technology which had still greater advantages:

The picture in all its forms up to the film has greater possibilities. Here a man needs to use his brains even less; it suffices to look, or at most to read extremely brief texts, and thus many will more readily accept a pictorial presentation than read an article of any length. The picture brings them in a much briefer time, I might almost say at one stroke, the enlightenment which they obtain from written matter only after arduous reading.

If movies have great potential in forming/changing opinions…and they do…then most likely an immersive experience such as the one at LACMA will be even more powerful.

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