Mike Maltz had some nice things to say about my photography. I have his back, and I added Chicago Science march pictures here.
I do hope those paid protesters take my investment advice.
I was a Dodger fan in youth, the only acceptable choice for a New York red-diaper kid. I didn’t know any Giants fans. One day I sat down to breakfast and opened a paper newspaper and learned that the team was going to Los Angeles; might as well have said “moon to move to new galaxy”. In fact that move was not the cynical greedy play it appeared to be, more the result of Robert Moses and New York political leaders flubbing the job (on the Giants’ side, not so much, having more to do with fan indifference). But the disillusionment was extreme, and put me off baseball for decades…living in Boston for twenty-five years, I entered a serious flirtation with the Red Sox, but still gingerly.
Parents advise their kids, “don’t fall in love with someone who just wants your money.” Duh. OK, a professional team isn’t a charity for the benefit of fans (though the municipal/nonprofit Green Bay Packers are a notable exception). But the departure of the Raiders from Oakland for a much less promising fan base and market, entirely because Nevada pols are willing to dip into their citizens’ pockets* to line Mark Davis’ while the admirable mayor of Oakland put her foot down and would not be rolled, is a good lesson for all. Sort of like the same lesson currently on offer from Donald Trump, as we see the only thing he actually wants to do is put his marks/voters’ money in the pocket of his rich pals, Russian and other.
Now, the Raiders are going to be here for two more years, and tens of thousands of fans have bought season tickets. I wonder if there’s a nice class action lawsuit here: “I bought tickets to see my home team, ; now it’s just a bunch of guys in black uniforms. Refund!” Update 28/III: the Raiders are refunding season tix. Good for them.
*Technical note: the Las Vegas subsidy comes mostly from a tax on tourists. Well, if tourists can be gouged for those hundreds of millions without damaging the local economy, they can just as well be gouged for schools, streets, and the like (Clark County schools are seriously hurting), so in the end it’s the locals’ money being shoveled to Davis.
Me, at Politico, on the shambolic fate of the American Health Care Act.
There was a conspicuous smallness to this AHCA effort, a puzzling shoddiness given the human and political stakes. Many in the GOP, above all President Trump, seemed strangely uninterested in the policy details. To the extent Republicans did have an animating passion, it was to puncture President Obama’s legacy—and to avoid looking foolish by failing to honor their “repeal and replace” rhetoric.
Only they had no viable replacement. For all their endless warnings about how Obama’s signature health law was hurting American families, driving up costs and putting us on the path toward socialism, it turns out they didn’t care enough to put in the work.
More here. (Editor’s title).
Sunday’s Washington Post included a front-page story, “Fear, hope, and deportations,” which merits a careful and sympathetic read from liberals, conservatives, and journalists trying to understand what is happening in America today.
Reporters Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan profile a 59-year-old Texas woman named Tamara Estes. She was born into some affluence, raised in “a grand home with a built-in pool.” But her mom died when she was four. Her dad died when she was nineteen. She married young, and by age 26 she was divorced with two kids. She has since traveled a sad path of downward economic mobility, never going to college, taking a succession of dead-end jobs. She now works as a school bus driver in Valley View, Texas, with an annual income of $24,000. “With four days left to payday, she has $118.72 in her checking account.”
She is a die-hard Trump supporter. She seethes at undocumented immigrants and their children in her own community. It’s pitiful to hear her. President Trump brings out the worst in his own neediest supporters before he betrays them.
Ms. Estes is also uninsured. Yet she supports a president and a party that specifically propose to put coverage out of reach for low-income near-retirees like herself. She so perfectly fits a certain political-demographic story that her biographic details might have been perfected at the MIT Media Lab or Huffington Post. As with most things, though, it’s a bit more complicated. I looked up what’s available to her under ACA, and it’s hardly surprising that she doesn’t feel particularly grateful for it.
I wrote about her story at healthinsurance.org. There’s a little snippet below.
Tamara Estes is not the world’s most appealing or most perfect person. She should take fewer puffs on bigoted and deceptive right-wing radio. She shouldn’t blame immigrants for her life’s disappointments and problems. Harming immigrants will do nothing to help her. As a friend noted on email, it wouldn’t hurt her to learn a little Spanish, too. If nothing else, she might learn a few kinds words for the kids she transports. She might be less lonely and isolated if she got to know her immigrant neighbors, who seem like lovely people.
But I can’t hate her. In violence prevention, we like to say: “Hurt people hurt people.” That’s true in politics, too. Tamara Estes is hurting, and she’s lashing out at her own neighbors. That’s ugly to see.
But she still needs help. She didn’t get enough from the ACA. She’ll get a lot less from President Trump, but we supporters of expanded coverage have given her too little reason to really know that. Whatever happens in the current knife-fight over health reform. We face a daunting moral and political challenge to fix that, to go in precisely the opposite direction Republicans are determined to go.
I received this post from a friend:
This morning I received an email from the National Academies Press (see the URL, below) containing both the script of President Trump’s recent Joint Address to Congress and — interspersed at relevant locations — copies of various NRC reports from the National Academies containing information, data and recommendations about the many scientific, engineering and medical issues facing our country (and the world).
My friend Jeremy Paretsky – whose sermon on the knowledge of God was posted here some time ago – is now the Sub-Prior (administrator) of a small Dominican Order house in New York. A man who works for him – a legal permanent resident of the United States, the father of two natural-born U.S. citizens – just had a deeply troubling experience with Donald Trump’s “unshackled” ICE. He was stopped for no reason other than his appearance, treated rudely, manhandled, held for interrogation for 90 minutes, and finally released without any apology or explanation other than that the stop was “routine”: which implies that it could be repeated at any time.
In the movies of my childhood, the cold-faced men demanding “Your papers, please” had German or Russian accents. I preferred it that way.
This event makes me think that whatever the shackles were, they need to be put back in place. Fr. Paretsky’s letter to Sen. Gillibrand follows. I can provide his contact information to any journalist or lawyer who would like to follow up.
The good news is that Sen. Gillibrand has offered to help. The bad news is that the victim of this outrage – I repeat, a legal permanent resident of this country, who has been accused of no wrongdoing of any kind – is too afraid to allow his name to be used. In the United States of America.
Footnote Do you routinely carry documents proving that you’re a U.S. citizen? Neither do I.
Donald Trump, in the peroration of a prepared speech to CPAC:
We are Americans, and the future belongs to us.
Trump may have been careless, but for Bannon, a trollish dog-whistle fits better. This song from Cabaret is pretty famous:
From the starting-point of 1932 the future did not work out too well for 12-year-old Hitlerjugend enthusiasts like the blond boy soloist. Membership became compulsory from 1936, and you can’t infer from membership that Josef Ratzinger or Günter Grass were true believers. Grass has admitted he was, and applied for the U-Boat service at 17. Luckily for him, Grass was turned down, and had (like the boy in the photo below) to make do with a slightly less risky SS Panzer division, where he was lucky again to be merely wounded.
The next 10 years went pretty well for the Nazi cause – but they were followed by three years of unmitigated disaster and slaughter for Germans. One under-recognized reason for the complete reversal in German political culture after 1945 was the very high and selective death toll among convinced Nazis. They tended to volunteer for high-risk services like the Luftwaffe, the U-Boats, and front-line Waffen SS units. Of the 41,900 serving German submariners in WWII, 28,000 died: almost exactly two-thirds. The 12th SS “Hitlerjugend” Panzer Division arrived in Normandy in June 1944 with 20,540 men, soon commanded by the fanatical and ruthless Kurt Meyer. On August 22, at the end of the Normandy battle, his division was down to 300 men. SS units didn’t generate many POWs, especially on the Eastern front.
The Nazi gamble on world domination was of course crazy from the outset. At least Donald Trump can look back at several historical moments of true American hegemony: 1919, 1945, and 1991. These partly reflected American economic and technical strength, but also and to a considerable extent the collapse of its adversaries and the exhaustion of its allies. Murphy’s Law struck everybody else, a stroke of geopolitical luck. 2017 is peacetime. There is nothing in sight to prevent the inevitable relative decline of the USA. China and India are much more populous, much poorer, and therefore growing faster.
Since 1945, and indeed before (as at Bretton Woods), American statesmen have sought to embed American values and interests in the world institutional order. It has been the only rational strategy for an outnumbered imperialist. Trump and Bannon despise this order and are are doing their worst to sabotage it by macho posturing, waving the bloody flag, and beating the tin drum of nationalism. The result is certain to accelerate, rather than delay, the inevitable readjustment.
The future won’t be American. It can still be a world in which Americans can be safe, respected and prosperous. The chances of this happy ending are shrinking ever day Trump stays in power.
It was, I admit, far from the worst falsehood in Donald Trump’s inauguration speech:
And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the wind-swept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they will [fill?] their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator.
This is roughly what the child in Detroit sees on a clear moonless night. The photo was taken in suburban southern California, which surely has less light pollution.
At a plausible inner city star visibility cutoff of magnitude 2, about 70 stars are visible from anywhere on the Earth, or at most 35 stars from a given point.
This is what the same night sky looks like from unpolluted and bone dry Death Valley:
Credit Grant Kaye (a fine professional photographer but I couldn’t find copyright info – I’ll replace if he objects)
… on blogging in the Trump reign.
I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street…
This is the opening line of Auden’s fine poem on the outbreak of the Second World War. A year later, Evelyn Waugh memorably pilloried Auden and Isherwood in his satire Put Out More Flags, as the poets Parsnip and Pimpernel bravely opposing fascism from New York. He had a point. In the summer of 1940, petit-bourgeois Kentish shopkeepers and lumpenproletariat middle-aged farm labourers were joining the Home Guard, Dad’s Army, in order to fight invading Panzers and Brandenburgers, a battle in which they would have got themselves killed. Every wargamed rerun of Operation Sea Lion confirms the wisdom of Hitler’s decision to cancel the invasion, but the shopkeepers didn’t know that at the time.
My excuse for Parsnippery is that I’m not American and don’t live in the USA, so I’m not running from anything. It would still be rather unseemly to egg on others to take personal and career risks from a safe vantage point in Spain. So for the record, let me say just once: I support the resistance to the odious acts and statements of an illegitimate, incompetent and dangerous President, and welcome what non-violent protest you feel up to. On violent protest, I am more with Macaulay than Gandhi and King, as long as it’s effective, which these days it rarely is. I do not expect to say this again. So what am I doing here?
A week ago I had a little exchange with Keith Humphreys. He wrote a post on blindness to “sweet spots” in public policy. I commented that such rational thinking had no place in the age of Trump’s nihilism. Keith rejoined that there are other players than the US federal government.
On reflection, Keith was right and I was wrong. So I, and as far as I am concerned my fellow RBC bloggers, should keep on doing what we have always done, as long as we have readers. There are negative and positive reasons for this. Continue Reading…