Wednesday, February 28, 2024

McConnell to Relinquish Leadership

The Daily Mail reports Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, 82, will step down from the leadership in November, while continuing to serve as a senator. He has been the "longest serving senate leader in American history."

I endorse the judgment of his Republican peers that his service has been in the nation's interest. The Supreme Court's conservative majority can be laid at his doorstep, no small accomplishment.

Father time remains undefeated. I am no longer the young man sitting in the back, hoping colleagues will remember my name. It is time for the next generation of leadership.

Fare thee well, Senator. live long and prosper.

Later ... Power Line identifies Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) as one of those who might succeed McConnell as leader of the Senate's Republicans and also, for now, majority leader. I wouldn't mind my home state guy being leader.

2024 a Referendum

Presidential re-election campaigns are normally a referendum on the performance of the incumbent. This one is no exception. 

Normally, however, the challenger has to convince voters he (or someday she) would do as POTUS a better job than the incumbent. This year’s challenger doesn’t face that hurdle. 

We have four years of data about a Trump presidency and he did a better job as POTUS. That makes this a tough sell for Biden and his handlers.

The Michigan Primary

The Michigan primary happened today. Trump won handily with nearly 70% of the GOP vote. Biden also won, but nearly 100,000 Democrats voted  "uncommitted" which basically was the anti-Biden, pro-Hamas vote. 

If these "uncommitted" Ds sit out the November ballot, Biden probably loses Michigan. If they vote for Trump, it is a rout. Data from RealClearPolitics.

Next Tuesday - March 5 - will be Super Tuesday, when a whole bunch of states and territories hold primaries. There's a good chance one or both of the major party leading candidates will have enough delegates to ensure nomination a week from today.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Poll: Trump Making Gains

The charts guy at Power Line - Steve Hayward - has a pictorial representation of findings from YouGov polling compiled by Pew Research. It looks at how Trump did in 2016 and how he is polling now.

Trump has lost a little ground with men, but more than made up for it with women. He has made substantial gains with Black and Hispanic voters, and is polling better with college grads and those with some college. It would be amazing if he got half the college grad voters on his side, which this chart shows could happen.

Figuring out most of us were better off in the pre-Covid Trump years than in the post-Covid Biden years isn't rocket science. That is particularly true for POC voters, as reflected in the gains shown above.

No Takers

Israel and Hamas don’t agree on much, obviously. One glaring exception is the two state solution, neither side has any use for the two state outcome. 

Both sides recognize they are locked in a death match, which can have only one winner, with the loser left dead on the field of battle. 

Who does want a two state solution? Nearly everyone else. The so-called “Palestinians” are a people with whom nobody wants to share their country, not Arabs, not Israelis, not Westerners, nobody.

The two Arab countries which have taken in Palestinian refugees - Lebanon and Jordan - have had much grief with them. Palestinians need their own country but nobody wants to share a border with them. As neighbors, they are as popular as a wasp nest. 

Monday, February 26, 2024

One in Three Torn Down?

Nearly two weeks ago I wrote about high vacancy levels in tall office towers. Today comes a Fortune article, echoed at msn.com, pursuing the same themes. In it Fred Cordova of Corion Enterprises opines as follows: 

There will be bifurcation... The product in a good location with a good, safe environment will recover. And then you've got another group that will somehow hang in there and get reset in pricing.

You have others that are basically worth nothing - the D class. Those just have to be torn down. That's probably at least 30% of all offices in the country.

As we noted earlier, not all office space can economically be converted to dwelling space that meets building code requirements. Two choices: (a) water down the codes, or (b) knock down the buildings to reclaim the real estate.

We Owe Ukraine

When the Soviet Union broke up, one of the SSRs of which it was supposedly a Union was Ukraine. A substantial portion of the USSR’s nukes were located in Ukraine. 

Not wanting the world to get another nuclear weapons power, NATO and the US convinced newly independent Ukraine to give its nukes to Russia. As a “sweetener” for the deal, we promised Ukraine to protect them from nuclear powers (Russia, obviously). 

Francis P. Sempa argues, for RealClearDefense that we owe Ukraine nothing. It is unclear whether he ignores our promise made in the early 1990s, or whether in fact he is unaware of it. He is, of course, correct that if we choose not to honor our promise there is little Ukraine can do about it.

Reneging on our promise would be ill-received in places like South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Israel to which we have made similar commitments.  

Sunday, February 25, 2024

A Sunday Drive

We took a Sunday drive to a local attraction today, called Valley of Fire State Park. It is near both Lake Mead and the town of Overton. 

We are familiar with the red rock formations in Bryce Canyon, Zion, and the Grand Canyon. These are different. I expect photos the other DrC took will show up on her blog, link here

Imagine a Swiss cheese version of red sandstone, with naturally occurring holes varying from the size of your fist to big enough to hide in. Add in jaggedness such that it truly does, in places, look like frozen flame. I saw saucer shaped formations that looked like Kirk's Enterprise crash-landed.

It is roughly 40 highway miles northeast of Las Vegas off I-15, an easy drive. Someone might run tours, but private car may be the only way to access it. 

Afterthought: We saw a spectacular sunset on the way home, see that photo here.  Do click to enlarge, it is a knockout.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Trump Wins Easily in SC

RealClearPolitics reports tonight Donald Trump has won the South Carolina GOP primary. He defeated Nikki Haley by 59.8% to 39.5%, with 99% of the vote counted. 

If you've been paying attention, you know SC is Haley's home state, one where she earlier had two generally successful terms as governor. You also know tonight's outcome is no surprise, the polling was accurate.

Politico breaks out the demographics:

A majority of every age demographic picked Trump over Haley. Men and women both backed Trump. Voters across all income ranges backed him, and he only narrowly lost college graduates while dominating among those without a college degree.

I expect Haley to continue campaigning at least through Super Tuesday. However I now expect Trump to pivot to general election mode and focus his attacks on Joe Biden. 

For a skinny old man, Biden makes a fat target. His shortcomings are many and grievous while his pluses are few.

Saturday Snark

















Images courtesy of Power Line's The Week in Pictures
and its Comments section.

The Great Sort, Revisited

Nomadic tribes everywhere have evolved a practical approach to the environment. They live in a favored spot until they cause it to become polluted and nasty. They then strike the tents and move to a new unspoiled locale, leaving time, sunshine, and weather to clean up the old one. The modern version of this behavior is less self-healing.

Power Line’s John Hinderaker muses about people fleeing blue state messes. Many are moving as Republicans to red states. This much is known.

When liberals flee blue state messes, do they go to less messy blue states? He isn’t certain that actually happens.

The Great Sort is under way, as normal people move to red states and liberals move to blue states. (That last is hypothetical and hasn’t actually been observed.) 

The bottom line is that the Great Sort continues to benefit Red America. The question is, to what extent is the out-migration of normals locking liberalism into the blue states?

I have two observations. First, when people who vote against you leave in greater numbers than those who vote for you, how can that be other than a political gift, even if it is an economic minus?

Second, and this is admittedly anecdotal, my conservative relatives who live in western Colorado are quite unhappy at all the bright blue liberals who’ve come to CO and turned it into a safe state for Democrats. My kin live in the ranching part of the state that still votes GOP but the urban centers along the front range outvote them on statewide offices - governor, both senators all Ds.

I expect OR and WA have had similar blue-hued internal immigration from CA. Progressives may feel sorry for the homeless but don’t want the homeless camped in their neighborhood.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Friday Snark







Images courtesy of Politico's Nation's Cartoonists on the Week in Politics.

Win, Lose - Both Bad

Writing for Asia Times, a paper based in Hong Kong, Renaud Foucart makes an interesting argument. It is his contention that Russia can neither afford to win nor to lose the war in Ukraine.

A British economist, Foucart argues that Russia is too poor to afford the cost of rebuilding Ukraine if they win, and are likely to disintegrate if they lose. The only thing they can afford to do is continue the war.

The problem I have with his argument is that a winning Russia might choose to not rebuild Ukraine. They might leave it in a shambles as an object lesson for any others who might consider fighting Russia. 

The holodomor - a man-made famine Russia caused in Ukraine - suggests failure-to-rebuild is a genocide-lite option Russia might implement. Russian values, after all, are not first-world, European values.

The Veep Stakes

Writing for the Washington Times, former governor Scott Walker argues Trump’s next VP pick should be a governor. Governors do have executive experience, a plus. There are a couple of women governors on his “possibles” list - Huckabee Sanders and Noem. 

However Trump’s last VP pick - Mike Pence - was a former successful GOP governor. Trump didn’t end up being very happy with Pence so I’m not sure how that suggestion will be received. Governors are accustomed to a degree of independence, while I expect Trump values loyalty.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

EVs on Back Burner

Politico, and other sites, are reporting as follows with regard to Federal efforts to force us to buy Electric Vehicles.

The Environmental Protection Agency is leaning toward approving a compromise regulation on car and truck pollution that could slow the initial pace of the required cuts compared with a draft proposal the administration released last year, the three people said. The change could mean that for the rest of this decade, electric vehicle sales would climb more incrementally than EPA had originally projected.

But the cuts — and expected EV sales — would accelerate after 2030. By 2032, more than two-thirds of new cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. would be electric, just as the agency had projected last year.

This gives Republicans a good shot at dumping the entire effort, if only they can find a way to agree on anything. Actually, both parties are very divided now. Republicans are divided on military aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. Democrats are divided on support for Israel. 

These are Heinlein's crazy years. There's always something upon which an interested observer (me, and many others) can comment.

It may be eventually be possible to produce affordable, practical, safe EVs with the ability to go 500 miles before recharging. Also motels with a reliable, affordable charging station for each room. 

It is worth remembering how long it took to make gasoline powered cars reliable enough to use as we do today. It didn't happen overnight, it took decades.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Truth to Power

Here is something you need to see, reposted at Gateway Pundit, but originally from the National Border Patrol Council, their union, addressed to President Biden.

Dear Joe, 

You OWN this catastrophic disaster at the border – lock, stock and barrel. You created it. You nursed it along. You encouraged it. You facilitated it. It’s all yours. Don’t run from it now like a coward.
 
Signed, 
The BP agents you’ve thrown under the bus.

Exactly. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Tuesday Snark

 The satiric Babylon Bee relates the following.

At a secret meeting of high-ranking party leadership, Democrats expressed grave concern that President Joe Biden may be too old to complete their party's mission of the utter destruction of the country.

"There's certainly a danger that the country will still be standing when President Biden leaves office," said Jaime Harrison, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. "He's made a lot of progress in just one term in office, and we know a second term would be more than enough time to wipe the United States out of existence… but it looks like Joe's just not going to make it."

After considering alternatives like Kamala Harris and Gavin Newsom, Democrats unanimously agreed that keeping Biden in office after his death would give them the best chance of achieving their ultimate goal.

Not much of an exaggeration here.

Biden's McJobs

Joe Biden keeps harping on about Bidenomics, how great it's doing creating jobs. Ah, yes, but what kind of jobs? Jobs in the private sector that create wealth, and pay taxes so government can pay its bills too? Not so much.


The chart, from the Committee to Unleash Prosperity based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data and posted at Power Line, shows that Health Care, Government, and Leisure and Hospitality make up the lion's share of the new jobs. None of them create wealth. 

You have to wonder how many "hospitality" jobs are in fast food or cleaning rooms in hotels? This looks like a lot of part-time and low skill jobs those doing them won't view as careers. It's even true for quite a few low-level hospital and nursing home jobs.

Joel Kotkin concludes
Government, social assistance, and healthcare account for 56 percent of the 2.8 million net new jobs over the past year, notes the Wall Street Journal, and for nearly all employment gains in blue states such as New York and Illinois. Professionals concentrated in government and largely public funded health programs have benefited mightily under Biden.

Whither Haley?

Nikki Haley made a major “state of the race” speech today in Greenville, SC. In it she disposed of the idea she will drop out, the idea she wants to be vice president, and ridiculed the idea she was campaigning for 2028. She claims she will stay in till the last vote is cast, and I mostly believe her. 

I believe she will leave her name on primary ballots across this land, I believe she will actively campaign as long as she can raise money, and I believe she would turn down the VP slot if offered. 

I’m less certain about her protestations vis-a-vis 2028. And I think she believes she has a chance in 2024 if the lawfare aimed at Trump results in a raft of felony convictions prior to the GOP convention. 

With no insider information whatsoever, I’m betting Haley thinks that she still has a shot at both 2024 and 2028. It requires either that something catastrophic happen to Trump before the election, or that he lose that election to Biden. She figures she comes out ahead in either of those scenarios. 

If Trump is the nominee, wins in 2024, and does okay for four years, she is toast. His successor will be a Trump clone and Nikki Haley will be as irrelevant as Liz Cheney is now.

Monday, February 19, 2024

A Spasm of Realism

I almost never cite The New Republic and mostly avoid anything written by Michael Tomasky. Today is a rare exception, only the third time in 17 years. One supposes Biden's disastrous poll numbers are what has brought Tomasky up short.

Here is the subhead to his column, which isn't a bad brief abstract of his argument.

For liberals and Democrats, Trump’s presidency was a moral hellscape. But swing voters have a very different view. Accepting this is absolutely vital.

Tomasky describes the liberal "bubble" inside which he and fellow Democrats live, and then moves on to those who are neither progressive nor in the MAGA "bubble."

I’m talking about the people in between. They’re the people who’ll decide this election. And this election year, those of us inside our bubble need to go put our heads inside theirs. Because where they live, incredible as this may seem to you and me, the Trump years were good, and he was a pretty capable president.

For these voters, Donald Trump is not a moral monster. He’s just not. He’s embarrassing. He’s a little wild with his rhetoric at times. They wouldn’t necessarily want their sons to be like him. But they think he ran the country pretty well. It may be hard to believe, but this opinion is widely shared.

Tomasky gets that voters in the middle don't share progressives' twin obsessions with racism and sexism. What I noticed is that he compares Trump's performance with Obama's but only rarely with Biden's, probably because the latter has been a shambles.

However, a comparison of Biden and Trump is what will likely face voters in November. More years of Trump or more of Biden. That isn't a tough choice for Joe and Jane Sixpack.