Admiral Michael Rogers

December 28th, 2019

Joe diGenova says that former NSA head Admiral Michael Rogers is being “very cooperative” with Durham on the Russia probe, regarding the Three Unwise Men – or Wise Guys – of Christmas past (Brennan, Clapper, Comey). We all know that their criminal behavior didn’t start with Trump and Carter Page, and now it looks like someone who was high up in the chain of command might actually be an honest guy who can blow the whistle on these creatures. We’ll stay tuned. HT:GP

A modest suggestion

December 27th, 2019

November 2016 NYT:

It really does now look like President Donald J. Trump, and markets are plunging. When might we expect them to recover? Frankly, I find it hard to care much, even though this is my specialty. The disaster for America and the world has so many aspects that the economic ramifications are way down my list of things to fear. Still, I guess people want an answer: If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never. Under any circumstances, putting an irresponsible, ignorant man who takes his advice from all the wrong people in charge of the nation with the world’s most important economy would be very bad news.

“The Dow Jones Industrial Average officially reached 28,333 on Monday, hitting a 10,000 point high since Trump’s victory.” Suggestion: try a different “specialty”.

Bonus, albeit weird, fun: the guy has a Nobel Prize in his specialty. How does he have a job?

Longevity

December 26th, 2019

A piece that quotes Darwin. We’ve covered the topic on and off over the years. Other positives from Barone.

Merry Christmas in today’s coo-coo world

December 25th, 2019

Somebody named Joe: “There is no denying the existential threat of climate change — and time is running out to address it. If we give Donald Trump another four years in the White House, our planet may never recover.” As usual, Death Destruction Trump! So let’s let Joe and his kid lead the effort, since they’ll be unquestionably great.

Then and now

December 24th, 2019

Terrible sacrifice versus triviality:

Then, via VDH: “Seventy-five years ago, at the Battle of the Bulge (fought from Dec. 16, 1944, to Jan. 25, 1945), the United States suffered more casualties than in any other battle in its history. Some 19,000 Americans were killed, 47,500 wounded and 23,000 reported missing.” Now, via GP: “Mood Media is pulling It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas from its holiday playlists because the song includes a lyric about guns: ‘A pair of hop-a-long boots and a pistol that shoots’.”

Yes, but today we have Saint Greta and Holy Fisa!

Twilight Zone 2020

December 23rd, 2019

2020 is the time for Twilight Zone and its Greatest Episodes to rise from the ashes. The weirdness today lets us know that Rod Serling could film today’s transcript episode with (a) the original 50s/60s conclusion in red states, and (b) an opposite, Bizarro World conclusion in NYC, SFO, Portland, DC area, LA, and so forth. 100% market share with very low added filming costs and a nice pick-up in ad revenues. Hey, maybe Perry Mason could be remade the same way, but he’d have to lose a few more cases.

There’s no fun in that other universe

December 22nd, 2019

On the jog, we tuned into Pacifica’s show featuring distinguished professors and authors. Within seconds, professor 1 had broken Godwin’s Law re you-know-who, and later professor 3 said the attorney general needed to be removed because of Opus Dei or something. These people really have no fun in their lives. Gosh, who was it that said “they’re not after me, they’re after you”? Oh yeah. HT: MG

In a related matter, who wins this year’s Freudian Academy Award for Projection? Comey? Clapper? Brennan? All excellent choices but we’ll go with Schiff, noting well the Eric Hoffer comment from long ago.

So boring

December 21st, 2019

(1) The tick-tock. Get with the indictments already. (2) The debates. We don’t watch them of course, but it’s hard to avoid the blathering about them. We’d commit to watching every minute if the candidates would do the 2 things we say should be a condition for a high school diploma: (a) take a few weeks to live on a 19th century farmhouse; and (b) watch all of the Top 100 TCM movies made before 1960, with a particular emphasis on WWII and some musicals. (Yeah, we know that Bernie is old enough to have done both, though we understand his flicks have an emphasis on 1917.)

Crime and Punishment?

December 20th, 2019

Crime. Punishment? Not if the judge is a crook too.

Candidate 1 versus Candidate 2

December 20th, 2019

One: As president, he’d like to see fossil fuel executives criminally prosecuted. “The fossil fuel industry is probably criminally liable because they have lied and lied and lied when they had the evidence that their carbon products were destroying the planet, and maybe we should think about prosecuting them as well,” he said.

Two: has different plans for nuclear that encapsulate the debate, not only ruling out building new plants, but also wanting existing ones to close.

No nuke, no oil, no gas, no coal. Okay!! Punchline, as you sit outside your teepee trying to read at night: they’re all the same guy.

A Club, but not The Mickey Mouse Club

December 19th, 2019

VDH has an interesting piece on Comey, McCabe, Brennan and Clapper, “who have all lied either under oath or in the public sphere,” and who “detest the president of the United States.” Further, “all in their post-Obama administration careers are either paid cable news analysts or frequent guest commentators.”

All very true, but our focus is a little different. They are all members of a Club, but not the Mickey Mouse Club. Collectively, they have spent well over 90% of their working lives as employees of the government or government contractors – and have never really been part of the private sector where a business has to make a buck to survive.

VDH says: Comey has compared Trump to a mafia don and stated that he is morally unfit to be president. McCabe, who was likewise fired from the FBI, has called Trump’s behavior “disgusting.” Clapper said that Trump may be working with Putin as a Russian “asset.” Brennan called Trump a “disgraced demagogue” as well as venal, corrupt and amoral.

It is very interesting that these four gentlemen are all members of the government funded Skim Is The Scam Club, as opposed to 93% or so of the rest of the population. Gosh, we wonder what they think about the rest of us in the private sector (and not at MSDNC).

When Left and Right can agree

December 18th, 2019

Anton (HT:PL):

People capable of feeling shame would not have immediately followed up the Russiagate hoax fiasco with another transparently phony—and in “substance” nearly identical—attempt to remove President Trump from office, overturn the 2016 election, and shower deplorable-Americans with contempt and hatred. But our ruling elites have no shame.

That is not to say, however, that they are entirely cynical. The means by which they’ve so far tried to crush the Trump presidency may be nasty and illegitimate, but our overlords are 100% convinced of the righteousness of their cause, and of themselves. Hence they do not even need recourse to the cliché that the ends justify the means. The means are good because the end is sacred; they cannot countenance even the thought that the means might be suspect or (ahem) trumped up.

Near the beginning of his epic history of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides distinguishes the “publicly voiced” causes of that conflict from the war’s “truest cause, though least in speech.” We may—indeed, must—subject the “impeachment” coup to the same bifurcated analysis.

The Democrats, the corporate-Left media (CLM), the permanent bureaucracy or “administrative state,” and the “deep state” (which is not precisely the same thing), along with a few Republicans, have “publicly voiced” many causes for removing the president—a few specific but most maddeningly, yet safely, vague.

From the beginning—that is to say, from November 9, 2016—impeachment has been a cause in search of a trigger, an occasion. The president’s enemies hoped they’d finally hit pay dirt when an anonymous “whistle blower” alleged that the president made, or attempted to make, foreign aid to Ukraine contingent on that country’s government investigating his likely 2020 challenger. Or, in other words, that Trump attempted to “collude” with a foreign power to influence an American election.

Where have we heard that before? It only took two years, $32 million, 19 lawyers, 40 FBI agents and other staff, 2,800 subpoenas, and 500 witnesses for a special counsel to “not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” according to the Mueller Report. Yet here we go again?

But let’s drill down a bit. If we are to take the current “publicly voiced” cause at face value, then we may say that the entire Washington establishment, plus most of the country’s elites, are trying to remove the president from office on the basis of an anonymous individual’s private opinion of the content of one phone call he heard about second or possibly even thirdhand. A phone call, let’s remember, of which we have extensive notes that almost, but not quite, constitute a transcript—in other words, whose content everyone in the country can examine for himself.

That the “telcon” (national security geekspeak for what people are calling the “transcript”) does not support the “publicly voiced” cause is made plain by two facts. First, you can read it yourself and see that it doesn’t say what it is alleged to say. Second, if it did say what the president’s enemies want it to say, they could just quote it verbatim, which they never do, instead of deliberately mischaracterizing it, which they always do.

you might think that those railing loudest about “foreign interference” over the last three years would also want to know, but of course we all know what a howler that is. The loudest railers are precisely those most responsible for, and most involved in, the illicit effort to spy on and sabotage candidate Trump, set him up for a non-crime he didn’t commit, abuse their power to destroy lives, and much else. So, no, they don’t want to know—or, more precisely, they don’t want you to know. The more that becomes known, the more legal—and possibly criminal—jeopardy they may face.

Greenwald:

Before evaluating the media component of this scandal, the FBI’s gross abuse of its power – its serial deceit – is so grave and manifest that it requires little effort to demonstrate it. In sum, the IG Report documents multiple instances in which the FBI – in order to convince a FISA court to allow it spy on former Trump campaign operative Carter Page during the 2016 election – manipulated documents, concealed crucial exonerating evidence, and touted what it knew were unreliable if not outright false claims.

If you don’t consider FBI lying, concealment of evidence, and manipulation of documents in order to spy on a U.S. citizen in the middle of a presidential campaign to be a major scandal, what is? But none of this is aberrational: the FBI still has its headquarters in a building named after J. Edgar Hoover – who constantly blackmailed elected officials with dossiers and tried to blackmail Martin Luther King into killing himself – because that’s what these security state agencies are. They are out-of-control, virtually unlimited police state factions that lie, abuse their spying and law enforcement powers, and subvert democracy and civic and political freedoms as a matter of course.

In this case, no rational person should allow standard partisan bickering to distort or hide this severe FBI corruption. The IG Report leaves no doubt about it. It’s brimming with proof of FBI subterfuge and deceit, all in service of persuading a FISA court of something that was not true: that U.S. citizen and former Trump campaign official Carter Page was an agent of the Russian government and therefore needed to have his communications surveilled.

Nice when such agreement happens. And BTW, the other side is insane.

The non-deplorables of

December 17th, 2019

Hollywood! – versus thinking like this and this.

Whoa…

December 16th, 2019

WSJ:

Boeing will temporarily halt production of its 737 MAX jetliner in January, according to a person briefed on the matter, escalating the crisis confronting the aerospace giant and raising the prospect of job cuts and furloughs across the global aerospace industry. The company has continued to assemble around 40 planes a month at its plant near Seattle since the MAX was grounded in March following a second fatal crash of the aircraft in five months. That has created a backlog of around 400 jets as Boeing has sought regulatory approval for the MAX to return to service. Airlines and government officials don’t expect that approval to come until February at the earliest. Boeing’s decision to halt production of the 737 MAX is likely to reverberate throughout the U.S. economy. The plane maker is the nation’s largest manufacturing exporter

B737 classics go back about 40 years, and the -400’s to 1986. Engine weight and placement became larger issues over time (it’s a long way from JT8D to CFM56-7B to LEAP on a modestly altered airframe), and now they have the MAX to deal with. Halting production is a very bad sign. Stay tuned.

Looters and Moochers

December 15th, 2019

From Real Clear Energy. Gosh, just like the enemies of fracking.

Doomed

December 15th, 2019

WSJ: “The discussions at the U.N. summit came as many scientists warn that the threat of human-caused global warming is growing more urgent. The long-term effects are already manifest in coastal flooding, heat waves and changes in ecosystems, U.S. federal scientists said this year. The past five years have been the hottest in modern times. In September, a scientific panel under U.N. auspices said oceans are warming and ice sheets are disappearing as greenhouse-gas emissions trap heat in the atmosphere. Both human communities and wildlife are at risk. “We lack the ambition needed to avoid this climate emergency,” Norway’s youth delegate to the U.N. summit, Sofie Nordvik, said Sunday. China, the top emitter globally, is adding more coal-fired plants than the rest of the world combined, while also building them internationally. The U.S., the world’s second-largest emitter, is rolling back emissions-reducing rules on energy and transport enacted by the Obama administration. U.S. carbon emissions rose 3.4% in 2018. “Over the past 25 years, the U.S. government’s commitment to climate action has proven to be critical for progress at the U.N. talks,” said Nathaniel Keohane, a former economic adviser in the Obama administration who now leads the climate program at the Environmental Defense Fund, an advocacy group. Global negotiations suffer, he said, “when U.S. leadership is absent, as has been the case under President Trump.” The Paris accord seeks to limit global temperature increases to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, with an ambition to cap it at 1.5 degrees Celsius. The World Meteorological Organization said this month that average temperatures world-wide in 2019 were 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. With current commitments, global warming is on track to rise to 3 degrees Celsius by 2050 — the date many scientists say is the deadline to reach carbon neutrality or risk irreversible changes to climate patterns and ecosystems world-wide.”

Just in case you missed it, we’re doomed. Yawn.

Long, interesting piece on the British election

December 15th, 2019

Quilette:

Corbyn isn’t the main reason C2DE voters have turned away from Labour, any more than Brexit is. Rather, they’ve both exacerbated a trend that’s been underway for at least 45 years, which is the fracturing of the “Hampstead and Hull” coalition and the ebbing away of Labour’s working class support.

Another, related phenomenon that’s been overlooked is that these “topsy turvey” politics are hardly unique to Britain. Left-of-center parties in most parts of the Anglosphere, as well as other Western democracies, have seen the equivalent of their own ‘Red Walls’ collapsing. One of the reasons Scott Morrison’s Liberals confounded expectations to win the Australian election last May was because Bill Shorten’s Labour Party was so unpopular in traditional working class areas like Queensland, and support for socially democratic parties outside the large cities in Scandinavia has cratered over the past 15 years or so.

Thomas Piketty, the French Marxist, wrote a paper about this phenomenon last year entitled ‘Brahmin Left vs Merchant Right: Rising Inequality and the Changing Structure of Political Conflict’ and it’s the subject of Capital and Ideology, his new book. His hypothesis is that politics in the US, Britain, and France—he confines his analysis to those three countries—is dominated by the struggle between two elite groups: the Brahmin Left and the Merchant Right. He points out that left-wing parties in the US, Britain and France used to rely on ‘nativist’ voters to win elections—low education, low income—but since the 1970s have begun to attract more and more ‘globalist’ voters—high education, high income (with the exception of the top 10 per cent of income earners). The nativists, meanwhile, have drifted to the Right, forming a coalition with the business elite. He crunches the data to show that in the US, from the 1940s to the 1960s, the more educated people were, the more likely they were to vote Republican. Now, the opposite is true, with 70% of voters with masters degrees voting for Hilary in 2016. “The trend is virtually identical in all three countries,” he writes.

In Piketty’s view, the electoral preferences of the post-industrial working class—the precariat—is a kind of false consciousness, often engendered by populist snake-charmers like Matteo Salvini and Viktor Orban. He’s intensely suspicious of the unholy alliance between super-rich “merchants” and the lumpen proletariat, and similar noises have been made about the levels of support Boris has managed to attract.

A little more on Piketty here. BTW, we don’t know what to make of all this fancy analysis.

Completely silly addition: where was KR in Genesis?

Up Up and Away, continued, continued, continued…

December 15th, 2019

WSJ:

Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders at the end of an annual closed-door conclave, promised more fiscal and monetary measures with the aim of supporting everything from consumption to infrastructure investment and employment in the coming year—all to ensure that the growth rate will be kept stable. “The downward pressure on the economy has increased,” with this year seeing “a clear increase in risks and challenges at home and abroad,” said a statement by the state-run Xinhua News Agency. because of its stimulus efforts during the past decade, debt levels in China reached a peak of more than 270% of its $13.6 trillion economy last year, according to UBS —a level that worried many policy makers and prompted them to intensify their campaign of tamping down asset bubbles and financial risks. Now, with the economy softening and U.S. trade tensions escalating, Beijing has been gradually easing up on those efforts and increasingly prioritizing raw growth. In 2019 alone, Beijing has cut taxes, pushed banks to lend more and instructed local authorities to front-load bond issuances in order to fund big-ticket infrastructure projects.

We’ve been following this for a long time, but they have yet to hit the wall.

2 clever countries

December 15th, 2019

AFP

Veteran observers of UN climate talks were stunned by the state of play nearly 24 hours after the negotiations had been due to close. “I have never seen such a disconnect between what the science requires and the people of the world demand, versus what the climate negotiations are delivering,” Alden Meyer, strategy and policy director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told AFP. Alexandria Villasenor, a 14-year-old climate activist, said she was “disappointed” in the lack of action at COP 25. “The difference between the youth on the streets and the negotiations is that the youth on the streets are acting with urgency,” she told AFP. “COP 25 has failed us and it’s another year of failure.”

China and India, the world’s No. 1 and No. 4 carbon emitters, have made it clear they see no need to improve on their current emissions reduction plans, which run to 2030. These emerging giants have chosen instead to emphasize the historical responsibility of rich nations to lead the way and provide financing

We’re reminded by China and India of a movie question.

Bonus unfun: the wise and good come together to kill fracking.

What do these pieces have in common?

December 14th, 2019

One:

The Party That Ruined the Planet. The most terrifying aspect of the U.S. political drama isn’t the revelation that the president has abused his power for personal gain. If you didn’t see that coming from the day Donald Trump was elected, you weren’t paying attention. No, the real revelation has been the utter depravity of the Republican Party. Essentially every elected or appointed official in that party has chosen to defend Trump by buying into crazy, debunked conspiracy theories. That is, one of America’s two major parties is beyond redemption; given that, it’s hard to see how democracy can long endure, even if Trump is defeated. However, the scariest reporting I’ve seen recently has been about science, not politics. A new federal report finds that climate change in the Arctic is accelerating, matching what used to be considered worst-case scenarios. And there are indications that Arctic warming may be turning into a self-reinforcing spiral, as the thawing tundra itself releases vast quantities of greenhouse gases. Catastrophic sea-level rise, heat waves that make major population centers uninhabitable, and more are now looking more likely than not, and sooner rather than later. But the terrifying political news and the terrifying climate news are closely related. Why, after all, has the world failed to take action on climate, and why is it still failing to act even as the danger gets ever more obvious? There are, of course, many culprits; action was never going to be easy. But one factor stands out above all others: the fanatical opposition of America’s Republicans

Two:

Donald Trump Is Bad for the Jews. The Trump administration is, beyond any reasonable doubt, an anti-democratic, white nationalist regime. And while it is not (yet) explicitly anti-Semitic, many of its allies are: “Jews will not replace us” chanted the “very fine people” carrying torches in Charlottesville, Va. You have to be willfully ignorant of the past not to know where all this leads. Indeed, it’s happening already: anti-Semitic incidents have soared (and my hate mail has gotten interesting). Jews aren’t the only people who have figured this out. Many Asian-American voters used to support Republicans, but the group is now overwhelmingly Democratic. Indian-Americans, in particular, are like American Jews: a high-income, high-education group that votes Democratic by large margins, presumably because many of its members also realize where white nationalism will take us. In all of this, Republicans — not just Trump, but his whole party — are reaping what they sowed. Their strategy for decades has been to win votes from working-class whites, despite an anti-worker agenda, by appealing to racial resentment. Trump has just made that racial appeal cruder and louder.

So what do the pieces have in common? A guy with a Nobel Prize wrote them. Instead of copying these pieces, today we were going to ask what on earth the D’s hope to accomplish with this super-silly impeachment rubbish, since it looks very self-destructive to us. But in that parallel universe (here and here) that the columnist inhabits, he’s just trying to save us from the anti-semitic godzilla monster who’s destroying the entire planet. Ah, it all makes sense now!