Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue:
- Trial. The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump finished up last week with a final vote against calling witnesses. It was 51 – 49 against calling witnesses, with soon to be single term US Senator ‘Mittens’ Romney (RINO, UT) and Susan Collins (R, MA) voting to call witnesses. Romney likely sealed his fate as a one-term US Senator. Collins may have saved her election this November. Trump’s defense team closed its case a full 11 hours early, giving their remaining time back to the Senate leadership. The middle of the week was spent speculating on the witness vote and senators crafting questions that appeared to be aimed at irritating Chief Justice John Roberts. The worst three offenders were, in order, Kamala Harris (D, CA), Rand Paul (R, KY) and Elizabeth Warren (D, MA). Harris started the festivities crafting a question on the false notion that Trump was quoted as saying he could do whatever he wanted to do. The part of this question that was fraudulent was conveniently leaving out the context that Trump was speaking of his power to hire and fire people into the Executive Branch, specifically Robert Mueller. Rand Paul observed this and crafted a question naming both the whistleblower, Eric Ciaramella and his co-conspirator, Sean Misko hired on Schiff’s House Intel Committee staff as he filed his complaint. Chief Justice Roberts refused to read the question. At the next break, Paul marched out and read his question to the general public, releasing both names and Schiff’s collusion with them, forcing the media to report both. The comments in the stories were glorious. Final question came out of ‘Fauxhauntas’ Elizabeth Warren (D, MA), who wrote the following question which Roberts read:
At a time when large majorities of Americans have lost faith in government, does the fact that the chief justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Court and the Constitution?
Roberts read it but didn’t like it a lot. By this time, Murkowski, who had been wavering on the question of calling witnesses for weeks, decided she had enough and announced Friday she would not be voting to call any witnesses. Her statement was a veiled criticism of Warren’s stunt. Scott Adams is of the opinion that the 16-hour Q&A period could be better described as a way for the senators to punk the Chief Justice with idiotic questions than find out the facts of the case. Perhaps the case didn’t have any facts for them to explore so they were simply keeping themselves amused. The Friday evening vote on witnesses could have immediately been followed by a vote to acquit. Instead, with the agreement of the WH, Senate Majority Leader McConnell set Wednesday as the date that vote will take place. Both sides will make closing arguments Monday. Senators will get time to speak between that and the Wednesday vote. Tuesday is the State of the Union and Wednesday will be the vote whether to remove Trump or not. And there is a caucus in Iowa Monday evening. Should be quite the week.
- Kavanaugh. We also saw a replay of the democrat playbook last used against the nomination of Bret Kavanaugh to the SCOTUS. This playbook is an endless series of last-minute charges, witnesses, documents, right at the point where the entire mess is over. Each ‘bombshell’ is dropped with the complete participation and coordination of the drop with the media. In this case, it was second or third hand information from a book by John Bolton currently in the NSA for vetting / scrubbing / analysis of his time as National Security Advisor. The NYT dropped the dime in an exclusive story, pre-coordinated with the House Managers, who spent a full day and a half demanding witnesses, with Bolton being the first one. Of course, they chose not to call Bolton to testify while in the House. As it turns out, the NSC team reviewing the manuscript does have a problem with the book, with a letter from the head of that team to Bolton being concerned about classified up to Top Secret in its pages. If true, it will be a while before the book is released. The other interesting thing is that Army LtCol Vindman’s twin brother also happens to work on that team. I wonder who leaked the information to the NYT (/sarc). My prediction is that after all this is over, Shema is about to get 3 -4 new liaison officers for the next several years, 2 from the NSC staff, one from the CIA, and one from the House Intel Committee. I hear the weather is great in that part of Alaska this time of year.
- Loans. Democrat presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren had her Joe the Plumber moment last week when a father asked her about her promise to pay off all student loans. The father pointed out that he had done the right thing, controlled spending, took care of his kid, and took care of saving for and paying off student loans that put him thru school. He saved all his money and asked if he would get his money back under Warren’s promise. Warren’s response? Of course not. Essentially, sucks to be you, chump. The father went on to point out that he has a friend who makes more money than he does buys cars and goes on vacations instead of paying off his loans. Warren’s proposal will reward his friend rather than someone like the father who worked extra shifts and was responsible. He accused Warren of laughing at him. He and people like him and us do the right thing and get screwed. Warren is in full pander mode these days as she slips ever farther behind Bernie Sanders in Iowa and New Hampshire. Rick Moran wrote in PJ Media that Warren and the other democrats are building (and rewarding) an irresponsible society, that you are chump if you play by the rules. Is this the type of country we want to live in?
- Logo. Fun (and totally meaningless) story of the week was a little blip on the new logo for US Space Force. It looks a lot like the Star Fleet emblem from Star Trek and the anti-Trumpers immediately jumped on it for all it was worth. Even George Takei got into the act, demanding royalties from Trump and the Pentagon. Problem with all this is that the new logo looks like it was modeled after that of Air Force Space Command from 1982 and US Space Command (a joint MAJCOM) that was disestablished in Oct 2002. The Star Fleet logo first showed up in 1996, which in the story arc makes a small bit of sense as the new generally grows out of the old.
- Pompeo. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo kicked a NPR reporter out of the reporting pool last week after she lied to him twice. The removal also keeps her from accompanying him on an upcoming trip. Pompeo and his staff agreed to an interview about Iran. The reporter’s questions were all about Ukraine and former Ambassador Yovanovitch. The first lie was about questions to be asked during the interview. The second was about keeping the post-interview conversation off the record. Apparently, Pompeo showed her a map and asked her to identify Ukraine. He noted that Bangladesh is not Ukraine. This story led directly to a CNN on-air meltdown with Don Lemon, former GOP strategist Rick Wilson and one other guests, with all three of them insulting Trump, his supporters, and people who voted for him. The segment was immediately used in a GOP ad, essentially making the case that the media thinks we are all idiots or worse. NR Online called it a gift. And it was. One of the great things about the Age of Trump is the masks so carefully constructed and worn are coming off. And what those masks have been covering over the years is not very pretty.
- Achievement. PowerLine carried a report entitled Liberalism causes achievement gaps. The report by Chris Stewart of Brightbeam. It demonstrates the difference in educational achievement between progressive (liberal) cities and conservative cities. The data is broken out by race. And the results are devastating. There is an average of 15% difference in reading and math between blacks and whites and Latinos and whites based on nothing more than whether you live in a conservative or liberal (progressive) school districts. The report concludes:
Of all the factors we looked at, progressivism is the greatest predictor.
Apparently, decades of race baiting have not been a positive for kiddos in schools in progressive school districts. There are three reasons for this. First, perpetual claims of racism deprive students of agency, the sense that they can control their own destinies and that their efforts will make a difference. Second, social justice approaches to school and classroom discipline disproportionately harm minority students whose classes are being disrupted. Finally, lower standards set lower expectations, essentially Bush 43’s bigotry of low expectations. Solution to all this? Meaningful school choice. And minority parents know this in their bones, which is why they jump at the chance every single time it is offered.
- Prohibition. An interesting discussion in Bookworm Room reminds us that government ought not to legislate large social trends. The two most recent examples are prohibition and the Great Society. The reason neither worked is that both created massive, metastasizing permanent bureaucracies after the social problem had been solved. Worse, they didn’t lead to any social change and created all the problems always attendant with big government. For example, the Temperance Movement was a real response to massive consumption of alcohol in the US since its founding. The problem is that by the time Prohibition went into effect, it was the trailing edge as the problem had mostly been solved at the local level. The Great Society was passed in response to black poverty. The problem is that the poverty rate among blacks had already fallen from 87% in 1940 to 47% in 1960. At the time of its passage, the number of children raised in two-parent black homes was higher than that of white homes. Since its passage, the black family structure has been literally destroyed. Change ought to happen with the people. Once government gets involved, it brings corruption and bureaucratic deadweight. And once launched, government programs never, ever disappear.
- Brushfires. Jo Nova continues to do some of the best analysis of what happened and why regarding the brushfires in Oz. And this time, they have some actual numbers. The analysis is remarkably detailed and sobering. I will only summarize a few conclusions. It is best to read the whole thing, as we are doing the same thing in the western US, starting with the Yellowstone fires of the late 1980s and progressing into California today.
- Ten times the fuel means 100x the intensity
- Controllable fires are 0.3MW/m. This is the maximum we can extinguish. We now have fuel loads of 70 MW/m. (the numbers are fireline intensity – the rate of heat output per length of fireline expressed as thermal energy per meter of fire edge).
- Fireline intensity of the Oz 2020 fires is off the charts.
- Intense fires cause much more permanent damage.
More later –