Friday, February 24, 2017

 

California Drought: Nigh About Over

Here is a chart of droughts in the West (including California) over the past 1200 years as shown by proxy studies (of tree rings). Looks like California was often pretty dry back then, and dry for very long periods of time. Was that the normal condition of the state or is the really wet version now the normal condition? Or is the fluctuation between the two extremes the normal condition? Hint: fluctuation is normal for climatic conditions.



Here is the Sierra Snowpack now, at 190% of normal. All of the state's biggest reservoirs (except one, the most southern one, Perris) are above historical averages. So things are a lot better as far as drought is concerned. 17% of the state still has mild drought conditions (like in the Mojave and Sonoran/Colorado deserts and in the LA basin).

It might be a smart move for the state government to table the fast train to nowhere boondoggle and repair the old dams and construct a few new ones for water storage. Who knows, it might go back to drought conditions all over the state again. Indeed, it surely will.

Don't want to brag unnecessarily, because a return to wet was always in the cards, but here is my prediction about the drought on my birthday in 2015 and here is an interim report last year. Even a stopped clock is correct twice a day.

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Some Democrats Are Waking Up

Nick Kristof, a columnist for the New York Times, is not my favorite columnist. He doesn't appear to have the intellectual rigor I enjoy in the opinion writers I read regularly. But he can be a bellwether. Behold here.

Money quote:

There are three reasons I think it’s shortsighted to direct liberal fury at the entire mass of Trump voters, a complicated (and, yes, diverse) group of 63 million people.
First, stereotyping a huge slice of America as misogynist bigots is unfair and impairs understanding. Hundreds of thousands of those Trump supporters had voted for Barack Obama. Many are themselves black, Latino or Muslim. Are they all bigots?
Second, demonizing Trump voters feeds the dysfunction of our political system. One can be passionate about one’s cause, and fight for it, without contributing to political paralysis that risks making our country ungovernable.
Tolerance is a liberal value; name-calling isn’t. This raises knotty questions about tolerating intolerance, but is it really necessary to start with a blanket judgment writing off 46 percent of voters?
The third reason is tactical: It’s hard to win over voters whom you’re insulting.

You have to love the double standard, self congratulation inherent in the sentences about tolerance, which is not merely a liberal value, it is a human value to be encouraged as often as it is reasonable. If it wasn't for double standards the left might have no standards at all. Who died and made them the arbiters of what is tolerance and what isn't? If it is bad for Republicans to be intolerant, it is equally bad for Democrats to be intolerant.

But on the bright side, Kristof seems to be getting a clue that "Vote for me you bitter-clinger, deplorable racists!" is not the best campaign slogan ever invented. He warns his fellow Democrats not to do that any more. Good luck with that, Nick.

As Glenn Reynolds points out, the Democrats' undeserved feeling of superiority to the stupid and evil Republicans is one of benefits of being a Democrat

But here is the strange part. He writes:

If Democrats want to battle voter suppression, it's crucial to win local races -- including in white, working-class districts in Ohio, Wisconsin and elsewhere.

What? What voter suppression? Requiring all voters to produce a photo ID? Are you talking about passing laws, completely constitutional (see Crawford v. Marion Count Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008)), which don't appear to stop anyone entitled to vote from voting? Is that the voter suppression you're talking about here?

You really have to be a racist deep down in your heart to think that black Americans, and other Democrat voter blocs, are less capable of getting a photo ID, an essential document for leading a normal life in the 21st Century, than white people and other Republican voters are.

But that tired, racist accusation is not the weird part. How in the world will winning local races, especially in white working-class districts in some states, battle the mythical voter suppression? It might be a formula for ending the current trend of ever fewer Democrats in public office, but how it specifically does anything to stop voter ID laws is a complete mystery.

The reason Democrats are losing is so clear it must take considerable effort for Democrats not to see it. The party has gone too far to the left for a majority of most states' voters. But you see in Kristof's plea to stop the name calling the Vital Lie the Democrats are constantly telling themselves. The tell themselves that we didn't lose because we're unpopular with voters. No! That couldn't possibly be it. They say we lost because of any of the myriad of false excuses the Democrats are clinging to (bitterly?) recently. Here the excuse seems to be the alleged (and apparently magical) voter suppression by the Republicans. That is really what's keeping our candidates out of office.

If you say so, Nick.

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

 

More Self Delusion

I am convinced that Chuck Todd views himself as a fair minded neutral journalist. He is blind to the beam in his eye. Here's an example from less than an hour ago. He had the somewhat squirrelly Reince Priebus on, as usual, and spent about 80% of the time talking about Mike Flynn and some vague, nefarious Russian connection of the Trump campaign with Russian 'agents'. It is as clear as the nose on anyone's face that Donald Trump is a sleeper Russian agent, a sort of Manchurian Candidate, so endless questions about this are clearly germane. But when answering a question/accusation that the White House was in chaos, Reince started to list the good things the White House has accomplished and Chuck Todd cut him off and promised to let him talk about the successes later.

And then he never let him talk about it.

That doesn't seem to be fair minded neutrality to me, but then I am evil and stupid, as lefty friends are at pains to point out to me. I'm not yet ready to go full belief that the Press is an enemy of the people, but they are just awful at their jobs. Almost all of them. For the past 20 years they have acted as Democratic operatives with a by-line* and in the past two years have stopped even pretending that they are fair minded and neutral. We noticed. Which is why the Press is lower than whale slime in the polls for trustworthiness.

I believe most rational thinking people believe a free press is an important bulwark against governmental overreach, but if nearly all the free press is of one party and makes no attempt to hide the members' collective desire to help that party and hurt the opposition (as it is now), how is that helping the American people?

*classical reference at Instapundit


Of course, when the Democrats have the same sort of contact with foreign nations as is alleged against the Trump campaign, that means it is not illegal and certainly not worth a single story in our glorious free press.



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Friday, February 17, 2017

 

Mind-Numbing Self-Unawareness

I haven't watched Bill Maher in a long time. The only thing I really liked was the "New Rules" segment anyway, but I have to admit that he is politically incorrect about Muslim Jihadis (but logically, historically, morally correct about them) and once in a blue moon he is willing to speak truth to liberal power. This might be one of those times.

Rather than wade through the article, here is the money quote from Jeremy Scahill (whoever that is) who won't be on the show if it is contaminated by the presence of gay gadfly Milo Yiannopoulos. He cites his reasons for not appearing:

Yiannopoulos’ appearance could also be used to incite violence against immigrants, transgender people, and others at a time when the Trump administration is already seeking to formalize a war against some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
I don't know if you've been keeping up with current events, Jeremy, but your ilk are the only ones using violence against vulnerable people in our society.

And high on the stupid meter is the term "formalize a war against..." What, do you think Trump is going to Congress (like FDR on 12/8/41) and asking for a formal declaration of war? I'm sure Mr. Scahill is of normal intelligence (pretty sure), but the ignorance evident in his position and statements is awesome.

Sorry I'm going to miss him on the show. Sounds like a fun guy.

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

 

I'm With These Guys

Here is an article from the American Council on Science and Health which makes a lot of sense. Not perfect sense, mind you, but in the main they are right. I'll summarize: Small, fail-safe nuke reactors; drill, baby, drill in the meantime; and, if there is a break-through in solar technology and battery storage in the future, we can start the switch to that renewable then (despite the myriad problems with it even if there are such break-throughs);

Screw wind power--ugly, noisy, fickle, delicate, useless totems to the religion of man-made global warming. Oh, and the blades kill hundreds of thousands of birds and bats each year. You have to wonder, reasonably, if its supporters hate birds and bats.

I part ways with the American council at #4, throwing more federal money at research in solar and fusion. When I was a boy, fusion power plants were 30 to 40 years away. 50 years later they are still 30 to 40 years away. Not everything imaginable is achievable. I've always been troubled also by the inherent disconnect with fusion. So we re-create a miniature version of the sun and then we use it to boil water. Really? That's the plan?

But the biggest disagreement is over who should do the research and who should pay for it. The Council says the federal government should. The federal government couldn't find its ass even if it used both hands. The private sector as always is the creative force in our semi-capitalist economy/society. How much money we throw at the research would be a question of utility. I'm OK, as usual, with reasonably amounts spent on pure research with an emphasis on useful things. How promising the research seems would of course tilt us towards spending more federal money. Right now, the taxpayer money paid for solar and fusion research should be quite small, no more than a couple of hundred million a year. Let the people with the most to gain from success pay their fair share (which is almost all of it).

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

 

Bad Court Rulings

I'll start with a little bragging and context. One of the few legal talents I have is an ability to read a court decision and tell if it is legally sound or utter bs. I've been reviewing some of the more suspect Supreme Court decisions lately (such is my powerhouse social life). I'm adding Justice Kennedy's Boumediene v Bush decision to the top five worst.

But the subject of this is the decision by the 3 judge panel of 9th Circuit in Washington v Trump. You can read it for yourself here. It's pretty much utter bs.

Let's start with some constitutional doctrine which no rational person disputes. The President is given the executive power for the nation in Art. 2, Sec. 1; and in Sec. 2 he or she is given the bulk of the power to conduct governmental business overseas. We call that foreign policy. He or she is admonished to take care that the laws of the nation be faithfully executed. He or she is the commander in chief of the nation's armed forces. These grants of power and duty would seem to include defending the nation from foreign invasion. There is plenty of case law that says he or she has plenary power regarding foreign policy (but Treaties must be approved by the Senate overwhelmingly). Congress in Art. 1, Sec. 8 has the sole power and duty to establish a uniform rule of naturalization (so much for sanctuary cities).

So here is part of what Congress put into the rules of immigration (the first step of naturalization) in 1955 in 8 U.S.C. § 1182(f).

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.


So this law allows the President, and the President alone, to decide if stopping immigration of an individual or class of individuals is a good thing for the defense of the country. According to the often cited concurrence of Justice Jackson in the Youngstown case, the President is on firmest constitutional ground when he or she acts regarding an inherent power of the executive which is bolstered by a specific grant of power from Congress. That's exactly what we have here. So it would seem that President Trump was acting in the mainstream of his executive powers when he ordered that we're taking a 90 day break in letting in people, even those who have a visa, from the 7 nations whose citizens the Obama administration identified as not deserving of visa-less entry. But there are judges who say differently. That they didn't cite, quote or even mention the above quoted law is proof positive how worthless their decision was. It's like saying we're reviewing the constitutionality of a law and then not mentioning the law.


Green card holders may get to be treated like citizens but foreign nationals, outside our borders, have no constitutional rights whatsoever, the brilliance of Boumediene notwithstanding.


So screwed up is the decision right now that the best thing to do would be to cancel the Executive Order in question and rewrite it specifically exempting green card holders. Put in some facts about Islamic terrorism and why it is impossible to properly vet at this time the citizens seeking entry to the US from the 7 nations identified as a problem by the Obama administration.


Then dare the members of the judiciary blinded to their duty and limitations by political animus to stop the temporary ban again. Double dog dare them.


Better legal minds than I have come to a similar opinion here, here and here.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2017

 

The Senate Minority Under Sen. Chuck Schumer's Leadership

Just watched the Senate vote on confirming Ms. Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. It was 50/50 and Vice President Mike "Doc Savage" Pence broke the tie and she's in, despite two Republican defections.

Gee, wasn't it a good idea to delay the vote on Sen. Jeff Sessions for Attorney General so he could be the 50th "aye" vote here? Brilliant.

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Sunday, February 05, 2017

 

Modest Proposal

I think we should compare the violent, lefty vandals in black, like the ones in Seattle in '99 or the ones at Berkeley days ago, only to the black shirts of Italy in the '30s, and not to the brown shirts in Germany at the same time. I say this for three reasons.

1. They share the same choice for an economic system as the Italians, a looser form of socialism tinged with anarcho/syndicalism;

2. They do wear black; and,

2. They're not as effective as the brown shirts of the National Socialist and German Worker's Party (now there's a name that screams out right wing). The neo-black shirts do piddling little things over piddling little perceived slights and are more annoyance than uprising.

The Nazis were evil but they were an effective evil. They got things done. I don't admire them for it but you can't read about the period without noticing it.

The Italians were more like these pathetic wannabes, but an order of magnitude more serious.

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