Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sunday roundup

Stephen Hayes at The Weekly Standard says that just because DJT has bellowed that no changes will be made to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and thus given the more timid Pubs in Congress cover, the problem hasn't gone away:

The math isn’t complicated. If the federal government doesn't reform entitlements soon, the country will face a debt crisis. There is no disputing this. It's inevitable. The only unknown is timing. And the stubborn determination of some leaders in both political parties to ignore runaway entitlement growth—the most urgent domestic challenge facing the United States—means the crisis will come sooner rather than later.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, in 2008 federal debt was 39 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). In the summer of 2016, it was 75 percent of GDP. Without changes, it's projected to be 86 percent of GDP in 2026, and 20 years after that, in 2046, it will be 141 percent of GDP—an all-time high. That is a disastrous trajectory with potentially devastating consequences. In the anodyne jargon of the CBO: "The prospect of such a large debt poses substantial risks for the nation and presents policymakers with significant challenges."
Hayes points out that Paul Ryan is the only person in the conversation who is willing to talk about taking action right away, but that even he presents a problem. His pony-in-here-somewhere sunniness puts way too much stock in bringing Squirrel-Hair along:

Paul Ryan doesn't see the gulf between congressional Republicans and Trump that seems clear to us. Ryan said last week that he believes Trump will support some entitlement reform, despite the president's many promises to protect the current system. "[In] all my conversations with the president, he says, 'I don't want to change Medicare benefits for people in or near retirement,' and we agree with that," Ryan said.
We suspect this is better seen as evidence of Ryan's undying optimism than a real possibility of entitlement reform under President Trump. But if the president truly wants to fix Washington and address the expanding debt, as he often claims, he can turn to Ryan for solutions.
As the president said in his address to Congress: "The time for small thinking is over." 
David E. Sanger and William J. Broad at the New York Times look extensively at the full scope of the North Korean nuclear missile threat.  The argument can be made that they tell us more than we really should know, but there it is: the previous administration had a program of ramping up cyberattacks against North Korea's missile tests. Now that that cat is out of the bag, it is useful to know that the program had limited success, and now the scenario comes down to this:

[President Trump] could order the escalation of the Pentagon’s cyber and electronic warfare effort, but that carries no guarantees. He could open negotiations with the North to freeze its nuclear and missile programs, but that would leave a looming threat in place. He could prepare for direct missile strikes on the launch sites, which Mr. Obama also considered, but there is little chance of hitting every target. He could press the Chinese to cut off trade and support, but Beijing has always stopped short of steps that could lead to the regime’s collapse.

In two meetings of Mr. Trump’s national security deputies in the Situation Room, the most recent on Tuesday, all those options were discussed, along with the possibility of reintroducing nuclear weapons to South Korea as a dramatic warning. Administration officials say those issues will soon go to Mr. Trump and his top national security aides.
They point out, toward the end of the article, that DJT tweeting "It won't happen" with regard to North Korea acquiring intercontinental missiles does nothing to enhance his range of options. As we saw a few short years ago in the Syrian situation, red lines causally tossed out by US presidents can have unsavory consequences.

While we're on the theme of Squirrel-Hair running his mouth and thereby upping the chaos level in our country, we see the latest evidence that Ben Sasse is the kind of principled and level-headed political figure we need more of in post-America. He released a statement laying out the stakes of tweeting that Obama tapped phones in Trump Tower without immediately substantiating such a claim:

Claims are one thing, but we need to deal in actual proof. If the president of the United State is to offer up the idea that wiretapping did occur, he should be ready with evidence to back it up. Otherwise, it looks like an attempt to distract from something else.
Politicians in D.C. should take note and model themselves after Ben Sasse.
“We are in the midst of a civilization-warping crisis of public trust, and the President’s allegations today demand the thorough and dispassionate attention of serious patriots. A quest for the full truth, rather than knee-jerk partisanship, must be our guide if we are going to rebuild civic trust and health.”
Wiretapping is a serious claim. If it occurred, it needs to be dealt with, regardless of political party. If not, alleging such things should result in swift rebuke.
Identity politics doesn't play Peoria nearly as well as the jackboots assume:

ABC can’t be accused of underplaying When We Rise, its eight-hour drama miniseries chronicling the struggles and setbacks of LGBT activists in the 20th century.
Some thought the show, created by award-winning gay activist Dustin Lance Black and aired on four nights this week, goes out of its way to portray middle America as intolerant homophobes. When We Rise received saturation ad coverage during the Oscars ahead of its premiere this week, to the extent that one Twitter commentator joked that if he drunk alcohol every time he saw an advert for the show, he’d be dead by the end of the Academy Awards broadcast.
But part one of When We Rise flopped on Monday. As a result, ABC rescheduled Modern Family to run just before the second installment to boost ratings. However, viewership of the second part fell almost 1 million viewers from its premiere, netting an audience of only 2.05 million on Wednesday, which is pathetic for prime-time slot on a commercial TV network.
The final part of the miniseries is Friday night. (President Trump’s address to congress on Tuesday delayed the show’s transmission by a day.)
Doubtless there will be devotees of the show who will blame the president for interrupting the flow of When We Rise, which stars Guy Pearce, Mary Louise Parker and Whoopi Goldberg.
But its failure more likely stems from the fact that viewers don’t respond well to ‘virtue scheduling’ on TV. When We Rise at times resembled an infomercial for GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders). Even the New York Timesdidn’t give the show a rave—when the Grey Lady sniffs that a starry gay-rights drama “plays like a high-minded, dutiful educational video,” you know the show is in trouble.
The marketing was also disastrous, with Lance Black coming across as vocal and passionate about his series but never seeming to make up his mind whether he wanted to appeal to Trump voters or take them on with his new creation.

Good on ya, Elaine! The new Transportation Secretary halts funding for California's bullet train.


  1. For peeps who never watch TV (like me)a more thorough understanding of what you call this base perversion that used to result in jail, libel and slander, ruined careers and more than a few suicides, take a gander at this 312 page gem to be found at your local public library (I know because I checked it out; I know your ilk would have a fit over public money purchasing it, at least back in the day when it was allowed to throw a conniption fit over allegedly "unfit" books to be found in the public library, but I, for one am grateful those days are hopefully over):

    “The first book to cover all of LGBT history from 1492 through the present is Michael Bronski's A Queer History of the United States (Beacon Press). It is wonderfully readable and looks at the way we understand the history of the United States. The LGBT population moves from the margins to the mainstream and we see that the history of this country also is our history."

    Of course you will argue about how very very late in the day it is. From this book I got that it is a new morning in America.

  2. They are statistically abnormal


  4. So are albinos, harelips, clubfoots, retards and even, to a greater extent, lefties, etc. etc. "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, that you do unto me." JC

  5. As for marriage not making gays happy, I can understand that. A preponderance of heteros aren't all that happy, judging from divorce statistics. And fundies have a relatively high divorce rate too.

  6. Re: albinos, hair lips, etc.: those traits do not have any impact on what kinds of views about what a family is gain or lose prevalence in our society.

  7. Oh, I thought you were saying homosexuality was abnormal. I did not change those laws on marriage. The courts did. I thought that was the way we do things in these free states of law, not men. Still, however uninformed about homosexuality you may be, you are entitled to your opinion. Be my guest in your fight to turn back the clock on either homosexuality or gay marriage, or both. Go gettum!

  8. I know you'll classify shrinks and the WHO as in league with the devil or something, but in 1974, the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. The American Psychological Association Council of Representatives followed in 1975. Thereafter other major mental health organizations followed, including the World Health Organization in 1990.

  9. No species has been found in which homosexual behavior has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at all, such as sea urchins and aphis. Moreover, a part of the animal kingdom is hermaphroditic, truly bisexual. For them, homosexuality is not an issue.

    "1,500 Animal Species Practice Homosexuality". 2006-10-23.

  10. "The courts changed the laws on marriage." What the hell does that have to do with anything on the levels of morality or common sense?

  11. And what percentage of any of those species engage in it? On a sustained basis or in isolated instances?

    Or here's a question for you: have any such liaisons ever made more members of their species?

  12. One more thing to consider with regard to lower species: They are driven by instinct, by pure impulse. Sex is one of the most powerful drives found in any animal - perhaps the most powerful. Therefore, it stands to reason that a zebra or a dog or a muskrat would gravitate to the easiest source of gratification. There is no question of morality involved in it for them.

  13. And the naked ape does sex, for better or worse, than the minks and the jack rabbit. The prevalence of homosexuality in the human species is less than 5%.

  14. Only the human animal screws out of estrus and for pleasure only.