Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Now It Begins

As an Express (U.K.) story reports, Brexit is officially "on," the letter beginning Article 50 has been delivered to the EU. The negotiations and machinations over the next two years will make fascinating history, live and on-camera. We expect to follow it relatively carefully, if not daily.

Inasmuch as no nation has left the European Union until now, there is no precident, no history to help us understand the kabuki in Brussels. Both the EU's negotiators and those for the United Kingdom will make it up as they go.

One of the questions raised is whether Brexit is a one-off or the first of several exits? Realistically, for economic reasons Greece should leave as should Italy. For quite other reasons, Ireland will think of leaving. In its case, their love-hate relationship and close economic ties with the Brits makes doing the same as the U.K. a real possibility.

Brexit has caused a resurgence in agitation for Scottish independence. Hoping to forestall Catalan desires for independence, Spain has threatened to veto any move by an independent Scotland to join the E.U. as a way to signal the Catalans they would similarly be barred. A novel event, Brexit is generating second and third order indirect consequences.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Wisdom from a Claremonster

Colin Dueck, writing in the Claremont Review of Books, restates wisdom we've seen recently, perhaps formulating it more elegantly. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.
Self-described liberals or progressives, less than one-third of the American public, devoted many long years to instructing their fellow citizens on the essential bigotry and wickedness of not voting Democratic. Accordingly, the only conceivable basis for opposing Hillary Clinton’s election must be sexism, racism, or stupidity. This ingenious strategy—winning votes by insulting voters—somehow failed to put Hillary over the top.
The strategy did succeed in getting voters to mislead pollsters about for whom they intended to vote. It is the same 'logic' you see in an old wisecrack about managers' dumb view of worker relations: "The beatings will continue until morale improves."

Thinking About Obamacare

Power Line's Paul Mirengoff takes an appraising look at Obamacare, what it is and isn't, what that means for changing it. Some key points he makes:
Obamacare (and Medicaid) differs materially from Social Security and Medicare, the classic entitlement programs. Everyone can get Social Security and Medicare if they reach a certain age. Moreover, because we pay into these programs, there’s a strong case that we are entitled to receive benefits.

Obamacare is a welfare program. It provides free health insurance to people who are slightly above the poverty line and subsidized health insurance to a group somewhat further up the income scale.

It is nearly axiomatic that true entitlement programs will never be eliminated. (snip) Welfare programs aren’t easily eliminated either but they can be, and sometimes they are cut back substantially.

Thus, in thinking about the possibility of eliminating Obamacare or curbing the benefits its provides, it makes sense to ask whether it is more like a classic entitlement or more like welfare.

I think it makes more sense to view Obamacare as welfare than as a classic entitlement.
Absolutely.

Counting Coup

Have you been depressed with the negative news about the Obamacare overturn failing? Thinking maybe the Trump presidency is over before it begins? I have for you the desired antidote and it comes from an unexpected source: The Washington Post.

James Hohmann details many of the ways Donald Trump is deconstructing the federal bureaucracy; there are dozens of actions already taken. This is great news for those of us who see the deep state as seriously gargantuan and too often stupid.

I won't try to summarize the column, you need to read it for yourself. As you do, imagine the heartburn it is causing at the breakfast tables of tens of thousands of federal bureaucrats for whom WaPo is Pravda.

Try to keep from grinning, I dare you.

One Possible Answer

The Conservative Treehouse site states their bias in their name - refreshing. Nevertheless, they have a very short take on what Nunes saw and why he saw it at the White House. Check it out.
The “tipster” source is unknown. However, the actual intelligence report(s) he reviewed, which contained the unmasked surveillance information, was simply President Obama’s daily intelligence Briefing(s).

It appears, most likely, someone (aka mysterious tipster), simply told Nunes which dates to review. Hence the Executive Branch SCIF was utilized. The ACTUAL intelligence product itself was the Executive Office Presidential Daily Intelligence Briefing.

Most likely a Clapper (ODNI), Rogers (NSA), Comey (FBI Counter Intel), and Brennan (CIA) work product. Remember, President Obama preferred written intel briefings which he reviewed from his secure iPad.
Is this true? I have no idea. Is it plausible? Definitely. If it is true, you have to wonder why Sean Spicer hasn't splashed it all over the WH press briefing. Difficulties getting it declassified, one supposes. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Sins of Omission

Writing in The Washington Times, Kelly Riddell reflects on the old media's unwillingness to cover the rape of a 14 year old girl in a Maryland high school bathroom. The perps were two illegal immigrant students.

The media's rationale, it might cause people to support Trump's crackdown on illegals, his description of them as "rapists."
The news media’s ultimate power is the ability to suffocate stories they disagree with, and fan the flames of narratives they want to advance. 

Demographic Indicators

U.S. Census Bureau data released March 23, 2017, shows some interesting trends. Let me share some with you. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.
These notable high-population counties continued to see population loss:
Cook County, Ill. (Chicago): -21,324.
Wayne County, Mich. (Detroit): -7,696.
Baltimore city, Md.: -6,738.
Baltimore city saw an increase in population loss this year primarily due to a doubling of its net domestic out-migration.
In addition the Bureau reports the ten fastest shrinking counties in the U.S., ranked from most lost to least. I've added the name of the major city or area associated with each.
Cook County, IL (Chicago)
Wayne County, MI (Detroit)
Baltimore city, MD
Cuyahoga County, OH (Cleveland)
Suffolk County, NY (Long Island)
Milwaukee County, WI (Milwaukee)
Allegheny County, PA (Pittsburgh)
San Juan County, NM (four corners)
Saint Louis city, MO
Jefferson County, New York (Watertown)
Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Saint Louis - do we see a pattern emerging? If it is old, cold, dirty, and disorderly, people leave for newer, warmer, less messy places. Such movement drives urban planners wild.

Heating technology developed much sooner than cooling technology which influenced early settlement patterns. Once refrigerated air conditioning became practical, people began moving to warmer climates and continue to do so - Phoenix and Houston are rapidly growing areas.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Hafa Adai

I was going to title this post OOG, which old Guam hands know stands for Only On Guam. However, it turns out Hawaii has tried the same "nativist" scam with the same negative court finding, so "only on Guam" isn't quite accurate.

As Paul Mirengoff of Power Line writes, a federal court has ruled Guam limiting the franchise to persons of native stock violates the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution. The case was brought by a retired Air Force officer, resident on-island but not of island native stock, who was not allowed to vote in local elections.

The current governor has vowed to resist this finding. He apparently is sympathetic to the island's "brown power" movement.

The governor should reflect on what happened to former Governor Ricardo Bordallo who also thought U.S. law didn't apply to Guam. He was sentenced to four years in federal prison and committed suicide in lieu of serving his sentence.

True, Ricky B. is viewed by some as a martyr. However, political martyrdom is an uncommon aspiration among the native Chamorros.

Secession

Power Line's Steven Hayward writes a clever description of the current political scene:
Trump is the first president since Lincoln who has received no “honeymoon” period in Washington as is typical for new presidents—and for the same reason as in 1861: Democrats have essentially seceded from the American people, and won’t accept the results of a national election. (snip) You can swap out “resistance” today for “rebellion” in 1861 and capture the Democratic Party mood accurately.
It's a reasonable characterization of our present situation. For the ahistorical reader, it was Democrats who rebelled against Republican Abe Lincoln in 1861.

Later ... thinking about Hayward's formulation raises for me three questions: (1) At what point does the "loyal opposition" become the "disloyal opposition" or literal enemy? (2) Have we passed that point? (3) What will this iteration's version of "shelling Fort Sumpter" turn out to have been?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Understanding the Problem

Andrew C. McCarthy writes in National Review the following, as in part his reaction to the recent terror attack in London.
When we speak of Islam, as opposed to Muslims, we are not speaking about a mere religious belief system. We are talking about a competing civilization — that is very much how Islam self-identifies. It has its own history, principles, values, mores, and legal system. Islam, thus understood, is not non-Western. It is anti-Western.

The remorseless fact is that before ISIS and al-Qaeda and the Khomeini revolution and Hezbollah and the Blind Sheikh and the Brotherhood and Khalid Masood, there was the single thing that unites them all. There was Islam.
I hear echoes of Samuel P. Huntington's Clash of Civilizations in McCarthy's formulation - nothing of which to be ashamed, by the way. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.

Lefty Press Admits Eavesdropping

The Daily Wire is out with a piece detailing 12 times when the old media or MSM admitted they knew the government headed by Obama was surveilling Team Trump. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.

I checked over half of the links and every one I checked was legitimately there, as reported. The MSM started backing away from knowing about surveillance when it appeared leaking the identities of Americans so surveilled could cause criminal difficulties for Obama and his minions.

Saturday Snickers

Once again Steve Hayward of Power Line comes forward with his collection - The Week in Pictures - of cartoons, captioned photos, wisecracks, and other fun stuff difficult to categorize. Some favorites described:

A poster with the following heading, all in caps:
TURD
it then continues:
Do you know someone
suffering from
Trump Unacceptance &
Resistance Disorder?
Four photos, the first shows a donkey head on Congressman Schiff's body as he asks from his head table seat in the hearing room:
Is there ANY evidence that President Obama
had wiretapped Mr. Trump's campaign?
Photo two shows FBI Director Comey answering:
No!
Photo three again shows donkey Schiff asking:
How can you be so certain?
Photo four shows Director Comey answering:
Because we've been monitoring communications
out of Trump Tower since last summer.
A cartoon of Wolf Blitzer on CNN portentously saying:
At this time we have some unconfirmed speculation
that we would like to pass on to you
as breaking news.
A photo of the Normandy landings on D-Day, captioned:
In the old days if you attacked London
We did this to you.
A photo of a lovely driveway blocked by elaborate wrought iron gates, captioned:
If you say you're for open borders but live in a gated community
you might be a liberal. 
A photo of a Lowes storefront with actor Rob Lowe's portrait Photoshopped in front, captioned:
How many Lowes could Rob Lowe rob if Rob Lowe could rob Lowes? 

Noonan on Ryan's Flop

COTTonLINE often finds The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan a voice of reason on matters political. Her column this week concerns the GOP's recent failure to repeal/replace Obamacare, see her distillation:
The central dynamic behind the bill’s difficulties is that the Republican conference in the House is divided between institutionalists, who support the leadership; conservatives, who found the bill too soft; and moderates, who found it too hard.

By putting forward the bill, they allowed this division—which was wholly predictable and may be irreconcilable—to play out as a public breakdown rather than an impasse. The president made a political mistake in throwing his lot with the leadership.
Stick a fork in him, Ryan is probably done. Boehner saw this coming and bailed out.

Will Irexit Follow Brexit?

Roughly two weeks ago COTTonLINE noted Brexit is complicating relations between the United Kingdom's Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland which represents the remaining 3/4 of the island. Following Brexit a border which has been wide open will need restriction, something unpopular on both sides of that border.

We wrote restrictions were needed unless the Republic of Ireland also leaves the EU, strongly implying such exit was unlikely. Perhaps I underestimated the likelihood of Irexit - the Republic of Ireland leaving the European Union.

See an article in the Daily Express (U.K.) which suggests the Republic leaving the EU is a realistic possibility. Although Irish Republicans resent their former status as a British colony, Britain is Ireland's largest trading partner. Closing the shared border is unpalatable so ... maybe Irexit could happen? Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Quote of the Day

William Voegeli, writing at the Claremont Review of Books, about the Democrats' reactions to their 2016 election debacle, pens the following gem of understatement:
One imagines that, sooner rather than later, even Democrats will come to suspect that denigrating people until they vote for you lacks a certain strategic plausibility.
Perhaps he gives too much credit ... ?

Planned Parenthood in a College Town

From the current hubbub about Planned Parenthood you'd believe all they do is abortions. I know they do other stuff, about which more in a minute.

For a couple of decades my post office box was located in an annex next door to the Planned Parenthood clinic in our college town. Going in to pick up my mail several times a week, I saw many women headed into and out of the clinic.

I could always tell when it was abortion day as there'd be protestors standing vigil by the door holding fetus photos and signs. Most days of the week protestors weren't there as no abortions were scheduled.

Nevertheless there was a constant trickle of women, mostly quite young, headed in and out. Many of the latter carrying small sacks. It required no genius to conclude PP was a major facilitator of recreational sex for college students by providing birth control products.

I never determined why students weren't using the Student Health Service on campus for their birth control needs. Maybe they sought anonymity or maybe the SHS sent them to PP.

Depending on your view of recreational sex, and of college student hook-ups, my observation may influence you to feel more or less positive toward PP. Having no daughters, I wasn't upset.

Ryancare, R.I.P.

President Trump and Speaker Ryan were unable to get a majority of House Republicans to agree on a bill to dump Obamacare and replace it with the AHCA, aka Ryancare. The bill was pulled from consideration by the Speaker this afternoon.

The failure makes Ryan look ineffective, Trump is a bit bruised too, and widely reviled Obamacare remains the law of the land for the foreseeable future. It will continue until it collapses when the last insurers bail out.

President Trump has indicated when that happens, when Obamacare dies a natural death, everybody in both parties will have a motive to fix the problem. Until then, he has moved on to other issues.

Whether Ryan can survive as Speaker is separate question, one to which the answer is unknown at this juncture. Similar intra-party disunity caused the resignation of Speaker Boehner, Ryan's predecessor. Verdict: a party's big tent can be too big to function.

Where the Poor Are

Cybercast News Service reports the results of a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The question was what percentage of the births in each state were paid for by Medicaid, aka welfare medical coverage for the poor.
New Mexico led all states with 72 percent of the babies born there in 2015 having their births covered by Medicaid.

Arkansas ranked second with 67 percent; Louisiana ranked third with 65 percent; and three states—Mississippi, Nevada and Wisconsin—tied for fourth place with 64 percent of babies born there covered by Medicaid.

New Hampshire earned the distinction of having the smallest percentage of babies born on Medicaid. In that state, Medicaid paid for the births of only 27 percent of the babies born in 2015.

Virginia and Utah tied for the next to last position, with 31 percent of the babies born on Medicaid.
First-ranked New Mexico reports the 72% you'd expect from a third world country. Perhaps NM should be downgraded from a state to a commonwealth like Puerto Rico. My home state of Wyoming ranked 44th with only 36% paid by Medicaid.
According to KFF, some of the nation’s most populous states shared the distinction of having 50 percent or more of the babies born there born on Medicaid.

In California, Florida and Illinois, for example, 50 percent of all babies were born on Medicaid in the latest year on record.

In New York, 51 percent of the babies were born on Medicaid.

In Ohio, 52 percent of babies were born on Medicaid.
Actually, the table shows half the states have half or more of their births paid by Medicaid. Reminds me of a wisecrack from my father's era: "The rich get richer and the poor get children."

I wish Kaiser had produced statistics on what percentage in each state were born to parents in the U.S. illegally. It's likely the two rankings would be highly correlated. My headline tips a hat to the novel, film, and Connie Francis song all titled Where the Boys Are.

Knowing What, If Not Precisely How

You've probably wondered why President Trump has confidently claimed he and his people were "wiretapped." Perhaps you think he simply made it up, read it in The New York Times, or whatever.

I suspect Trump knows they were wiretapped because they've found the content of their private phone calls showing up in public media stories, and knew it could get there no other way. I'll wager he and his people have experienced multiple examples thereof.

It looks like we may learn the gruesome details relatively soon. Washington is lousy at keeping secrets and this one is a doozy.

It may be as big as Watergate, but since the malefactors this time were Democrats there are no Woodwards and Bernsteins waiting to pounce, no Ben Bradlee to guide their searches. Unlikely as it might seem, the hero of this cycle couild be Portuguese-American Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA).

It's fun to imagine Barack Obama and John Brennan spending years in orange jumpsuits at Lompoc. It would lend weight to Michael Walsh's contention that the Democratic Party is "a criminal organization masquerading as a political party." Too much to hope for, one supposes, but fun nonetheless.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Eavesdropping on Team Trump

Let me tell you how the "eavesdrop on Team Trump" thing could well have gone down legally, up to the point where various people were "unmasked." Basically, you figure out where you want to go and then you go there in reverse so nobody notices.

Once Trump won in November, the identity of those close to him, helping with the transition, became known to anyone who cared enough to find out. Let's say people in government, maybe NSA or FBI, maybe some little outfit we've never noticed, decide they want to (or are supposed to) legally eavesdrop on the Trump people.

First they go to NSA files and use the phone logs of Trump aides to find out what foreigners the Trump people call with some frequency. Second, they get FISA taps on those foreigners' phones and wait for Trump people to call.

Third, record those calls. Fourth, in January convince the Obama White House to change the distribution rules for such forint, to make them much less restrictive.

Fifth, and here's where they go illegal, leak the calls with names unmasked. DC loves leaks so much hardly anybody gets in trouble for them, so the risk is low.

Another possibility, mentioned by Fox News' Bret Baier tonight, is to search calls made between foreigners for gossip about the Trumpistas; it can be lawfully done. Perhaps between spies with official embassy covers and their handlers back home, in Beijing or Ankara or Managua. Their calls should be monitored anyway. In other words, let foreign spies do the eavesdropping and/or wiretapping and "share" the data with or without their permission.

Later ... it could turn out that Fox News' Judge Napolitano was correct when he claimed the leaked intel came from the Brits' MI6. The Brits may have been absolutely correct that they knowingly shared nothing with the U.S. Perhaps NSA decrypted the Brits' wiretap info without their knowledge.