Democrat Strategy For 2018

We don’t follow the Democrats much because they rarely have much to offer us.  Lily Geismer and Matthew D. Lassiter, two history professors, are in the NYT suggesting that they are going too far to the center.  Really.  We are not making this up.  You should really read the whole thing before you vote.  Clearly, Lily and Matt are not speaking for their party but they are speaking for their block in the NYT.

We think the most interesting part of Lily and Matt’s article is what they want and don’t want for Democrat priorities.  This seems to be their list and rationale:

Democrats cannot cater to white swing voters in affluent suburbs and also promote policies that fundamentally challenge income inequality, exclusionary zoning, housing segregation, school inequality, police brutality and mass incarceration.

The political culture of upscale suburbs revolves around resource hoarding of children’s educational advantages, pervasive opposition to economic integration and affordable housing, and the consistent defense of homeowner privileges and taxpayer rights.

In their first paragraph they identify what they want to challenge.  We are not sure what kind of policies would provide the challenge and we don’t know why they would appeal to racial groups and folks without a college education that they want to attract.  Their opposition to “homeowner privilege” and “taxpayer rights” seems like a loser when two-thirds of Americans own their own home and, if we include FICA (payroll taxes), we have another substantial majority.  Here is evidence that paying federal income taxes is still a majority.

We would love to see the Democrat Party come back to the center.  Lily and Matt are telling us that it is unlikely to happen even if they happen to nominate some less extreme folks for a few Congressional seats.  It is a scary thing because eventually they are going to win.


Welcome Back Kevin!

Kevin Williamson is back with his Sunday column on NRO.  Amongst other things he says this:

Like Velvet Underground, Firing Line, was more important for the composition of its audience than the size of it. [hope we got it right as it would not copy]

Not only did Kevin come up with that sentence but he made sense of it.  You should read and enjoy the whole thing.  We, on the other hand, recognize our envy of his skills.  We often plead guilty to other deadly sins but Kevin’s writing leaves us, as the Beatles put it, green.


We’re With Pat … But

Pat Toomey in the WSJ is challenging The Donald on NAFTA:

If presented with this ultimatum, I will vote “no,” urge my colleagues to do likewise, and oppose any effort by the administration to withdraw unilaterally. Pulling out of Nafta by executive fiat would be economically harmful and unconstitutional.

We agree.  We hope that Pat and the rest of the GOP Senate enforce their right of advice and consent and support free trade.

We would like it to be an easy call.  Lower tariffs (taxes on American consumers) and fewer restrictions on trade are always good.  Pat suggests:

[T]he administration can accept the advice from many members of Congress and others to modernize Nafta in ways that expand trade opportunities without curtailing American consumers’ freedom.

We entirely agree.  It is not, however, likely to come down to an easy choice like that.  The likely choice is a “new” NAFTA that expands trade freedom in some areas while restricting it in others. We need a full discussion rather than name calling to make the decision.  Compromise is not necessarily a bad thing but neither is rejecting the potential new treaty.  To get two-thirds support The Donald is going to need to be in the compromise business too.


We had a lovely evening with the Lady de Gloves in the 77 square miles surrounded by reality.  For dinner we went to the Tempest Oyster Bar.  It was excellent although we didn’t go for the oysters because we were going to An American In Paris.  If it was Singing in the Rain we might have had to try them.  We had scallops for an appetizer and jerk swordfish and trout for dinner.  Everything was perfect.  The Pierre Ferrand Ambre cognac was a great finish.

Then we were off to see the touring version of An American In Paris at the Overture Center.  It is about a GI staying in Paris to paint after WWII.  We were never a big fan of the movie so we went with some trepidation.  We haven’t seen the movie in some time so we don’t have our criticisms at the ready but our recollection is that it was OK but given the music it could have been better.

The play is S’wonderful.  It is fast paced (OK, the ballet in the second act is the exception) with wonderful music, terrific dancing, stunning gowns, and great sets.  We are not quite sure how all of the mirrored sets with video work but they worked well.  It has the little touches that make a show ratchet up a notch.  One of the fake names used is Oscar Levant, who played Adam in the movie.  It dabbles with some bigger issues like the fate of the collaborators, without being preachy.  It differentiates between the resistance (and doesn’t diminish it by tying it to the current appropriation) and saving Jews.  It appears that local folks view the former as good while the latter is not entirely virtuous.  Of course, two of the main characters are Jewish.

In short, the play is great fun, beautifully presented, and has a good heart too.

Non-Local Politics

The headline in the local paper was: “This Is Not Hypothetical.”  Then they go on to talk about how Mayor Tim Kabat of our modest hamlet had decided that he needs to help the The Donald with climate change.  We hate to go all Webster on folks but says hypothetical means:

1. assumed by hypothesis; supposed:

a hypothetical case.
2. of, pertaining to, involving, or characterized by hypothesis:

hypothetical reasoning.
3. given to making hypotheses.
4. Logic.
  1. (of a proposition) highly conjectural; not wellsupported by available evidence.
  2. (of a proposition or syllogism) conditional.

We left the fourth definition in to give some hope to the headline writers.  They were trying to discuss a logic problem.

Climate change, nee global warming, is part of science and science is about hypotheses.  Climate change is a hypothesis or a bunch of hypotheses.  It is exactly a hypothetical.  In science a hypothesis is accepted until evidence leads to its rejection.

Sidebar: An enormous problem with climate change is the lack of precision.  For example, the efficient market hypothesis (EMH) has weak, semi-strong, and strong versions.  We suggest, partly in jest, that climate change adopt historical, reasonable, and hysterical.  End Sidebar.

There is also a second level of science: economics.  Once we decide about climate change then there is the issue of economics.  The cost to have a substantial impact on hypothesized climate change is large.  Is it worth the cost?  For example, we would support a modest carbon tax because the cost is small and the incentives are right.

The local paper has tied Mayor Tim to the local head of the Sierra Club:

Van Gaard warned that without immediate and drastic efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, millions of people will be left without clean water and food and millions more will be refugees as a result of extreme weather events.  “This is not a hypothetical. This is already happening. This is our future if we don’t take this seriously right now. Fuel efficiency standards are a necessary step to move us away from that future,” Van Gaard said.

We are unconvinced that the fuel efficiency standards are a necessary step. We need to analyze the alternatives.  Immediate and drastic actions will have enormous costs.  The millions and millions have turned out to be wrong several times.  The Sierra Club is welcome to try to influence policy.  It doesn’t look like a good trade-off but let’s look at the full cost of the alternatives.  It is hypothetical and we need to consider the alternatives and the risk involved. Meanwhile, we need our mayor to be worried about serious city stuff.


Hillary And Russia

James Freeman at Best Of The Web on the WSJ discusses the issue of how much trouble the previous administration should be in over its investigation into The Donald’s campaign and administration.  He is taking issue with the NYT over their recent reporting:

The NYT lays out a dossier-free explanation of the genesis of the federal investigation of the opposition political party [NYT follows]:

During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton. [Emphasis added]

You should read it all if you are a subscriber.  We would like to take a different issue with the NYT: the words startling and revelation.  This is not startling.  It is not a revelation.  If you picked the Patriots to win the AFC East [either 2016 or 2017] at the same time you were not nearly as safe as George.  Is there any sentient being that thinks that Russia and several other countries do not have political dirt on Hillary and The Donald?  Even if you are not certain that Russia hacked Hillary’s email you know that Russia is serious about spying and Hillary is careless.  Of course Russia has dirt on Hillary and The Donald.  The difference is that Hillary knows that the press will keep her dirt under the rug unless somebody like Russia forces the issue.  The Donald doesn’t seem to care about the dirt.  The leverage that the dirt on Hillary would give Russia might matter.

What we can’t understand is why a top diplomat from Australia would be surprised about this.  Was it George’s certainty?  Australia’s diplomats don’t seem very up on world events.  Or perhaps it is the NYT that isn’t up on world events.

Exchange Rates Still Matter

Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt is discussing the history of protests and pundits relative to Iran.  Then Jim brings up the Iran ransom and gives two views of the situation:

This morning, Matthew Dowd looks back at the Obama administration’s Iran deal and laments, “I am wondering how many folks are aware that the money the US sent Iran as part of nuclear deal was actually Iran’s assets to begin with. It was their own money we returned. It wasn’t taxpayer money.” Yes, but we froze those assets after they raided our embassy, took American diplomatic staff hostage in violation of just about every international law and treaty, paraded them before the cameras, and beat them. Think of the seized assets as a criminal fine, one of the few ways we could punish the Iranians for their barbaric acts against our people.

We want to be more direct with Matt.  Most of it was taxpayer money.  Below (no, we don’t cite ourselves) we explain the deal.

Given the turmoil in Iran it is not a surprise that the USD has been the stronger currency over the past 37 years.  So when it is stated in millions of USD we say that we received $400 and paid $1,700 37 years later.  But when we put it in IRR [Iran’s currency], we say that we received 28 billion IRR (an exchange rate of about 71 to the dollar) and repaid 52,904 billion IRR (an exchange rate of 31,120 to the dollar).

So the decision to add interest increased the payment by a factor of four.  The decision to denominate the assets in dollars increased the payment by a factor of over a thousand.  The previous administration caved in every possible way to make a large parent to Iran.  It was a bad idea to give Iran anything but it took fancy accounting to give them $1.7 billion rather than $1 million or so.