Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue:
- Red Flag
- NBA. The little realized business connection between the NBA and China put itself front and center in the news last week when Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey sent a tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters. The ChiCom government went nuts, which in turn made the shoe companies nuts, which led directly to the NBA getting itself involved. Morey deleted the Tweet almost immediately, though it was too late by then. Just to make sure everyone was paying attention, the ChiCom state-run TV dropped coverage of NBA preseason games being played in China. NBA gear disappeared from all their stores almost immediately. The same gear also disappeared from the pages of AliBaba, the ChiCom version of Amazon. The AliBaba reaction is doubly interesting as its owner also owns the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA. The immediate action both by the ChiCom government and the NBA getting into groveling mode got the attention of the non-basketball general public who started paying attention to ChiCom bullying and NBA groveling. As the week wore on, fans at NBA preseason games started showing up with signs in support of Hong Kong. They were summarily ejected from the buildings as being disruptive. This all triggered a blowback against the NBA asking why they were kowtowing to the ChiCom government, something the NBA vigorously denied. Note that kowtow is a Chinese term from the early 19th Century meaning “to bump head”, essentially bowing, touching one’s forehead on the floor in a token of homage, worship or deep respect to one’s betters. Players on a couple teams touring China playing preseason games also got themselves involved speaking out in support of the ChiCom government. Things got so bad that the NBA stepped in and stopped reporter questions on Hong Kong during the tour. So, what is going on here? We have an example of the way that China does business. When you choose to do business with China, you are in for the whole ride. We are not infecting China with American values. Rather, the ChiComs are infecting the business world with theirs. There is a marketplace in China with over 1.4 billion people. They like professional basketball a lot. They buy lots of gear, lots of shoes, lots of tickets to games in their national professional basketball league. And most importantly, they control the key to that marketplace. Say the wrong thing, and the door is locked. Do enough bowing and scraping, and the key is turned the other way. And it is done at the drop of the hat. The ChiComs exert economic control over NBA players via shoe contracts. The players make a LOT of money via those contracts. When the shoe companies call (think Nike), they listen. Jason Whitlock made the rounds of conservative media last week making the case that the shoe companies run the NBA, and they do not support of pro-liberty, pro-freedom, anti-ChiCom protests in Hong Kong. This something that is not limited to the NBA or shoe companies, as Apple has pulled a crowd-sourced app being used by Hong Kong protesters to organize their protests from the Apple Apps Store under pressure from the ChiCom government. Tell me again why these are people we want to continue to do business with.
- Sports. Let’s stay on sports for one more item. As the election season gets closer, I have been listening to Scott Adams’ Periscope audios daily. These generally run about an hour, cover a number of topics, and most importantly are a daily lesson in persuasion, who is doing it, how it is done, what works better than others, and critiques of who is using persuasion better than others. If you want an ongoing lesson in persuasion, an essential campaign skill, I can’t think of a better place to start outside reading books on persuasion. That being said, Adams has been toying with the notion of trans people in women’s sports and might just have come up with an acceptable solution, that is to stop dividing participation in sports by sex. Rather, divide the various levels by ability. The way it would work would be the top-level leagues (NFL, NHL, NBA, college men’s sports) would be mostly men. Mid-level sports would be mixed sex. Lower level would be mostly women. The technology exists today to let any fan watch whatever they want to watch. There are probably more questions about this than answers, but it seems to me it would nicely defuse a current hot-button argument by looking outside the current construct for another approach.
- Minneapolis. President Trump went into Minneapolis last Thursday with a rally. Minnesota was one of the states he did not win in 2016. This indicates he is going to be aggressive increasing the number of votes he is going after next year, always a Good Thing. The leftist Minneapolis mayor tried to force the campaign to pay $530,000 security costs for the rally. That cost was highly inflated over the last time O’Bama spoke in Minneapolis. He was charged $20,000. The outrageous security costs were based on threats of violence by local leftists. Apparently when local leftists riot, it is the fault of the visiting conservative. Normally most security costs are borne by the Secret Service which provides presidential security. The Trump campaign threatened a lawsuit over breach of contract and the mayor backed right down, though not without tossing a little brown floater into the mix on his way out. He prohibited law enforcement working the event from wearing their uniforms. No problem, that, as the police union printed up and sold a number of “Cops for Trump” t-shirts before the event. During the event, Trump called the police wearing the t-shirts onto the stage and introduced them to the crowd. Note to the Minneapolis mayor, never try to troll a master troll. You will be left in the dust and laughed at. He was. The event itself was raucous, with Trump going after everything possible. The event ended with the requisite violence after the event when people on their way home were attacked, MAGA hats burned, and a few spat upon.
- Goal. Limbaugh midweek suggested the ultimate goal for the impeachment effort by House democrats. He is of the opinion that nobody involved believes that the senate will ever remove Trump from office next year should the festivities get that far. Rather, the goal is to pick off some (any?) Republicans in both the House and Senate to vote for impeachment and conviction so as to demonstrate that the entire affair is bipartisan and run on that as their campaign issue next year. My guess is that there will be a few Republicans in the House to vote for impeachment. Justin Amash is one. And at least two in the Senate (Mittens plus some unknown number of additional Orange Man Bad Republicans). They will then run against Republicans at all levels claiming that impeachment was bipartisan, and the Republicans are party uber alles political hacks. Nice try, guys. Don’t think you’ll be able to get there from here.
- Jobs. Interesting article out of CNBC last Monday entitled Why so few teenagers have jobs anymore. The problem is that the share of teens participating in the workforce shrunk from nearly 60% ion 1979 to just over 35% today, a decrease of 42%. This covers teens 16 – 19 in the workforce. As first jobs are hugely important in future employment success, it is important to figure out why this is happening. It looks like the public schools are the cause, as there is simply less available time after the school day and during summer for teens to hold down part time jobs. The kids are working just as hard. Problem is all that work is being sucked up by the schools by homework, course requirements, and new requirements for public service for graduation. Likewise, summer programs have grown exponentially over the last decade. I ran into this 50 years ago when summer band started impacting full time employment. What starts out as a good idea, can only get worse. The tradeoff is that working teens spend less time on school than those who don’t work. There are only so many hours in the day. As this was a Brookings Institution study, it concluded that students who prioritized education over early work experience increased prospects for good job outcomes later in life, a conclusion you would expect out of the left. One of the rarely discussed positive outcomes of part-time and summer jobs is that students who have them end up learning about personal finances and how to handle money, lessons that will stay with them for life, lessons the left does not want them to learn. Left unsaid in the article is the negative impact of $15/hour minimum wages in the blue cities and blue states on the prospects of teen employment. New people in the workforce are simply not worth $15/hour, but the left already knows that.
- Outage. PG&E in California started shutting down electricity in 34 counties as their response to failure to properly maintain transmission and distribution lines last week. The outages will eventually touch over 2 million people. None of the outages touched the California nobility or clerisy on the coasts. Rather, the costs are all borne by those who live well outside the cities. The intentional power outages are being done in response to PG&E’s failure to properly maintain their power lines through California forests that led to the devastating wildfires last year. They should have had a year-round maintenance program to keeping brush and trees a safe distance from the transmission and distribution lines but were limited in their ability to do this by environmental rules in the state and national forests, and requirements to bring wind and solar online. One of the (many) problems with wind and solar is that the generation is distributed and requires many more linear miles of transmission and distribution to simply keep the flow of electricity intact. All the usual suspects made all the usual claims, with California Governor Gavin Newsome blaming the outage on years of mismanagement and corporate greed. Greens blamed it all on climate change. There has been at least one death so far when an elderly gentleman on an oxygen machine couldn’t switch over to battery power quickly enough after the power went out at night. So, the greens and the high-tech nobility in the coastal cities have managed to turn California into a third-world country, unable any longer to keep the lights on. They must be very proud. Sooner or later, the serfs are going to rise up against this. While there won’t be vigilance committees any time soon, I do expect the sale and installation of diesel and propane powered generators to go off the charts over the next several years in California.
- Red Flag. Jacob Sullum in Reason had a pretty good writeup on Red Flag laws, describing in excruciating detail how these laws leave gun owners defenseless. It starts out with a description of a 5 AM visit of a 61-year old by a pair of cops enforcing a, “emergency risk protective order” (ERPO). Maryland had passed the law barely a month before. The homeowner answered the door with a firearm in his hand, put it down when he saw it was the cops, picked it up again after the cops told him they were enforcing an ERPO, and was subsequently shot. The ERPO was based on a complaint by his sister following a family argument. MD is one of 17 states with ERPO laws, most of which were passed following the Feb 2018 Parkland shootings. There are multiple problems with these laws, most important of which is they are ex parte orders, meaning that the target does not have the ability to respond. And they are approved in MD at a 95% rate. The initial order can be extended to six months on “good cause” by a judge. A final ERPO can last another 18 months. Anyone can claim the target is mentally ill, forcing them into psychiatric care at any time. In CT, gun owners have to wait more than nine months on average before they get their guns back once the process starts. All in all, a great idea on paper that has the (intentional) side effect of stripping the target of his civil rights.
More later –