Five Leagues

It is halfway or almost for the five major soccer leagues (English, well, English-Welsh, French, German, Italian, and Spanish).  We see three descriptions.  In France, PSG is dominating the league with 51 of 57 possible points, a goal differential of 39, and a lead of 19 points after just 19 games despite playing 11 of 19 away.

The opposite is true in the Premiership.  No team has dominated.  After 19 games the leaders have 39 points and nobody has a goal differential over 18.  Italy is almost exactly the same as England.  After 17 games the lead is 36 and the top goal differential is 18.

Germany and Spain another almost matched set.  Both have generally played 17 games (Barcelona is the exception at 16).  In Germany, Bayern Munich and Dortmund dominate with 46 and 38 points and goal differentials of 38 and 24, respectively.  In Spain, it is Barcelona, defensive minded Atletico Madrid, and Real Madrid with goal differentials of 25, 16, and 29.  Nobody else gets to 10.

What are the implications?  Can we tell anything from teams playing in their own division?  It could be (but it isn’t) that the Premiership has lots of quality teams and they are beating each other up.  It might be that PSG is the best of a very weak league.  We think it is true that the teams dominating Germany and Spain are the best in Europe.  We expect to see UEFA work out that way.  Spain can’t match the Premiership record of four in the final eight in ’07-08 but it has an outside chance of three in the final four.  This is a year to expect the favorites.  Remember, it is your money when you bet.

Arsenal getting Barcelona in the round of 16 is great for us Arsenal fans.  If, as expected, they lose then they can get on with the Premiership.  In the unlikely event they win they get a good seeding and a chance at the semi-finals.  In a weak year their imperfect club has a good chance to win the Premiership.  It will have a better chance if it gets bounced from Europe early.

Tax Reform

Men With Gloves is a big fan of tax reform but you need to approach it seriously.  Later, we will celebrate Festivus by Airing Grievances.  One of those was to be arguments that consider optimal on one hand and actual on the other hand.  It is a favorite of the current President.  Bjorn Lomborg is the master of comparing reality to reality.  The optimal versus actual has shown up on the conservative side and needs a full entry.

John H. Cochrane’s piece in the WSJ is the optimal from one point of view:

The first goal of taxation is to raise needed government revenue with minimum economic damage. That means lower marginal rates—the additional tax people pay for each extra dollar earned—and a broader base of income subject to tax. It also means a massively simpler tax code.

We’re with Cochrane.  Eliminating the corporate tax (we’d eliminate tariffs too) and taxing consumption are great conservative ideas.  What we don’t like is John Hood’s application of Cochrane’s theory in NRO to the current race.  He concludes:

Both Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have a VAT-like mechanism as part of their tax-reform plans. Both are misguided, to say the least. Even if they were able to get their plans enacted intact in the short run, in the long run what we’d end up with is a new, costly federal sales tax plus a continuing, problematic income tax. In other words, we’d end up like much of Europe. Both senators have good ideas on many subjects of interest to conservatives, but not in this case.

If a theoretical tax solution attracted votes Steve Forbes would have been president.  The Democrat candidates don’t accept Cochrane’s first goal.  They want to raise the minimum wage.  To them economic damage by the government is a good thing.

It is about risk and reward.  The Cochrane (or MWG) plan is not going to get you elected President or be passed by Congress.  Where are you willing to take a risk to get a reward of a more sensible tax code?  We might suggest a carbon tax (Update: as does Greg Ip at the WSJ).  Cruz and Paul combine VAT and income.  We see the risks but what are the realistic alternatives.

There is also the implied approval of Donald Trump.  Since Cruz and Paul are not good conservatives (well, Paul is a libertarian) then The Donald but be at least as good a conservative as them. Nope.

28 Year Wait Is Over

After 28 years MWG finally won a game against his Nemesis.  We have been playing each other for 28 years and MWG has not won a solitary game to 21.  Not a match mind you but a single game to 21.  When we had more players the beatings were irregular but given the shortage of players we now get humbled every week so we can all get enough games.  There are always three games to 21 and if MWG makes a total of 30 in the three games then it has been an excellent week.

Today there was a miracle.  On the opponent’s serve at 20-19, we killed one left-handed off the back wall and a good serve and good volley led to the strangest of results.

We know a excellent tournament player who is unfortunate enough to match age groups with one of the great players in history.  I once asked him how many times he has beat him.  The answer was: “Once.”  We know a little bit about how he felt today.


Happiness In Haven

Haven has come to the end as a series.  It was great fun.  We liked the two-hour series finale.  We now have a supernatural solution the Roanoke colony.  We could see that some might find the finale too sweet.  We concluded that Haven deserved a happy ending after centuries (350 years?) of the Troubles.  It was well done, fun, and it tied up all the loose ends.  Well done Syfy.

Quantico Semi-final

Who is surprised that the White Privilege guy (WPG) is the bad guy in Quantico?  It seemed weird when it looked the the homosexual was going to take the fall figuratively but he only took it literally.  WPG just had to be the bad guy.  Simon is a Jew and a fake homosexual so he could have been it but he didn’t score as many negative social justice points as WPG.  Of course, Simon doesn’t get to be upset about the relatively more numerous hate crimes against Jews.  The Muslims get to be more upset about less.

Quantico is great fun (pretty girls, lots of boinking, pretty people doing stupid things) but it is really stupid.  They disarm the bomb that has a timer and then think, OK let’s have Simon let go of the bomb switch.  Doesn’t it seem likely that the switch goes to another bomb?  One without a timer?  At least it will help the new agents move up quickly by blowing up their superiors.

There will continue to be awful propaganda.  WPG mom is running for Vice-President and makes Carley’s comments seem tame.  The counter-propaganda is the incompetence and evilness of the government and especially the FBI, the folks with guns.  The expansion of government is a problem if it can’t handle its monopoly on force.

Climate Change Comedy

David Pryce-Jones on the Unintentional Comedy of the Paris Climate Conference:

You don’t have to be a cynic to think that most countries, China and India in the lead, are never going to do anything that might harm their economic development, nor will rich countries commit economic suicide.

We are convinced of the former but not convinced of the latter.  Economic suicide seems to be the policy of the current US administration, several current US candidates, and several other countries around he world.  We shall see if they are successful.


Information Battle

In Quantico, fictional Simon deals with with his (unknowing?) support of reprehensible acts by the IDF while in the real world Elliot Abrams reports that the High Level Military Group (HLMG) concluded:

We can be categorically clear that Israel’s conduct in the 2014 Gaza Conflict met and in some respects exceeded the highest standards we set for our own nations’ militaries. It is our view that Israel fought an exemplary campaign, adequately conceived with appropriately limited objectives, and displaying both a very high level of operational capability as well as a total commitment to the Law of Armed Conflict. It did this under challenging circumstances on a formidably complex urban battlefield.

So, who are you going to believe?

Sidebar: We haven’t seen last night’s Winter Finale because we were watching the Patriots live in Houston.  We found it interesting that last week (?) the sexy twin (the ABC site only list the orthodox twin, Nimah so we are not sure if the sexy version is Reina or Raina), the less orthodox Muslim, seemed to have the more radical beliefs on Jewish behavior.  Is it just the fire in her or was it a marker?  End sidebar.

Is it the fictional pair of the sexy twin and the self-loathing Jew or the HLMG who studied it?  Our continuing point is that propaganda in the arts is more effective these days when it is included in the backstory or subplots rather than the main story.

Republicans Negotiate

The WSJ has the word on Republicans trying to negotiate to lift the 40-year old ban on oil exports:

As part of the deal under negotiation, Congress would lift the ban and at the same time adopt environmental and renewable energy measures, including extending wind and solar tax credits and reauthorizing a conservation fund. The deal under this scenario also wouldn’t block any Obama administration environmental regulations, a frequent target of Republicans.

Seriously, when it comes to horse trading, if the Republicans had the Budweiser Hitch, they would be unable to pry an Icelandic Horse from the Democrats.  The GOP would just decide that the little horse was too cute (it has blue eyes!) and trade eight-for-one.

How to Succeed In Paris?

Bjorn Lomborg, per usual, has interesting ideas about “climate change”.  We can succeed in Paris if we don’t really try for a deal.

Instead of production subsidies, governments should focus on making renewable energy cheaper and competitive through research and development. Once the price of green energy has been innovated down below the price of fossil fuels, everyone will switch.

Getting rid of production subsidies is one of those theoretically obvious things like free trade that is a real practical challenge.  By combining the phase out of production incentives with the replacement by research and development (R&D) there is the possibility of win-win.

If we can make the deal then we come to the interesting question of how to encourage R&D.  The Tax Code already advantages R&D.   Should we have super R&D tax credits?  Should the government directly support some R&D?  We need to first agree that any program will be imperfect (a nice way to say there will be mistakes and corruption in administration) so they should be time limited.  We would suggest some combination of the two.  The government might have some incentives to support basic research while the private sector will be better at picking and implementing winners.

It is entirely possible that the best solution is leaving decisions up to the private sector.  Being able to phase out the production incentives, however, would lead us in the right direction and the support of basic research could have net benefits.



In bridge the joke is that you play all your hands that don’t fit with your partner in no-trump.  Usually, playing a misfit in no-trump leads to bad scores.  We try to avoid playing misfits in no-trump but are generally no-trump fans both in bridge and politics

Jim Geraghty in the Morning Jolt (you’ve gotta sign up for it) takes Trump to task:

Banning the immigration of those who belong to a particular religion, perhaps barring U.S. citizens abroad from returning to their own country, “closing that Internet up in some way” . . . let me guess, we’re going to destroy the Constitution in order to save the country?

In our view, there are three issues and Geraghty is on sound footing on two of them.  The first is immigration and here Geraghty is on thin ice.  Citizens and their representatives (and the executive branch that currently fails to enforce some of the laws) control immigration.  It seems clear that we could choose to eliminate immigration from countries of our choosing.  Countries with Muslim majorities might be chosen.

On the other hand, barring citizens from returning because of their religion and partially closing the Internet have Geraghty on very high ground.  As he points out, our actions against American citizens of Japanese extraction was highly suspect.  Citizens, residents, and non-residents are important classifications when evaluating rights.  Citizens get to come back unless they renounce their citizenship in some way.

A partial closing of the Internet is a really bad idea for us free speech folks.  Lots of the left will be OK with this but the right should be strongly opposed.  So, by taking umbrage at all three Geraghty allows the some to ignore the criticism because immigration is the choice of citizens whereas the last two really ought to disqualify Trump.