It’s a done deal, True Believers. The GOP convention is wrapped up and The Donald firmly ensconced as the Republican nominee for the Imperial Mansion. With that done, let’s have a look at the ever-worth-reading Victor Davis Hanson’s take on why Trump may actually pull this thing off. Excerpt:
Hillary Clinton has outspent Donald Trump in unprecedented fashion. Her endorsements bury Trump’s. The Obama administration is doing its best to restore her viability. The media are outdoing their 2008 liberal prejudices. And yet in John Connally delegate fashion, Clinton’s vast expenditures of $100 million plus have so far earned her only a tiny, if any, lead in most recent polls. If each point of approval is calibrated by dollars spent, Trump’s fly-by-night campaign is ahead.
Nor has Trump matched Clinton’s organization or voter-registration efforts. He certainly has blown off gifts from a number of Clinton gaffes and misfortunes, usually by gratuitously riffing on off-topic irrelevancies, from the Trump University lawsuit to the genocidal Saddam Hussein’s supposedly redeeming anti-terrorist qualities. Pollsters, gamers, insiders — everyone, really — have written his political epitaph for over a year. Rarely have conservative voices at mainstream-media outlets vowed not to support the Republican nominee. And yet the longer he stays viable, the more likely it is that Trump has a real chance at winning the presidency, which may already be a veritable 50/50 proposition. So why is the supposedly impossible at least now imaginable?
But this isn’t a normal election; it’s an election to replace the most feckless, inept and rudderless President since Jimmy Carter – maybe since Andrew Johnson. It’s an election where “direction of the country” polling indicates that the typical voter is damn sick and tired of the status quo. It’s an election where Congressional approval ratings are in single digits.
It’s an election where the common thread among almost every demographic is a disgust with the entrenched interests in the Imperial City. That’s why The Donald – the orange-haired, realty TV huckster – is suddenly an acceptable choice for the nation’s highest office to (at least) a plurality of American voters.
And as for his opponent: Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I is probably the best thing, election-wise, that The Donald has going for him. Highlighting the peccadilloes of the deeply and fundamentally corrupt, dissembling, shrill, bad-tempered Dowager Empress of Chappaqua may well be the best shot Trump has at winning – and Trump is just the guy to do exactly that.
Dr. Hanson concludes: Nonetheless, for a variety of reasons, an unlikely Donald Trump has become a liberal’s worst nightmare, not so much for what he says or represents, but because he still could win — and win in a way, along with the Congress and the prospect of a new Supreme Court, that we have not witnessed in 80 years.
Indeed. Let me be the first to say I’m not delighted with this year’s electoral choices. I was a Rand Paul guy early on, and were I not in a swing state, I would seriously consider tossing a vote in the direction of Gary Johnson. But I live in a swing state, one where a few votes may decide the election. So I guess I am, reluctantly and not without reservations, on the Trump train.
This big gray cloud does have a small silver lining, though. Distasteful as it may be, a vote for Donald Trump is the American voter’s best way of taking a huge, steaming dump on the entrenched Imperial ruling class. That, if nothing else, makes it worth doing.
NASA’s Kepler space telescope has discovered two more possibly life-bearing planets – that is, planet’s in their sun’s habitable zone. Excerpt:
NASA’s Kepler space telescope has spotted four possibly rocky alien planets orbiting the same star, and two of these newfound worlds might be capable of supporting life.
The four exoplanets circle a red dwarf — a star smaller and dimmer than the sun — called K2-72, which lies 181 light-years from Earth in the Aquarius constellation. All four worlds are between 20 percent and 50 percent wider than Earth, making them good candidates to be rocky, discovery team members said.
Two of the four planets, known as K2-72c and K2-72e, appear to be in the star’s “habitable zone” — that just-right range of distances at which liquid water can exist on a world’s surface, the scientists added.
Here’s what would make life weird for any possible colonists on those worlds:
Because K2-72 is a red dwarf, its habitable zone is much closer in than that of the sun. For example, K2-72c completes one orbit every 15 Earth days, yet it is likely just 10 percent warmer than our planet. K2-72e has a 24-Earth-day year, and it’s about 6 percent colder than Earth, the scientists said. (All four newfound planets complete an orbit in 24 Earth days or less, making them closer to K2-72 than Mercury is to the sun.)
Imagine living with a 15-day year! There is no information in the article as to how long each world’s day is, but at this distance from their sun it’s reasonable to assume that both may be tidally locked, as the Moon is to Earth – meaning that the concept of a “day” may not be meaningful, as the planets would only show one face to the sun. It would also mean that the actual habitable area of each world would probably be limited to a band around the day-night line.
Interesting stuff. Astronomers are discovering new exoplanets almost weekly now. The universe is a more interesting place than we had reason to imagine just a few short years ago.
It seems that Europe once was inhabited by Stone Age stoners. Excerpt:
Steppe herders believed to have been among the founders of the European civilization may have also been the first pot dealers, says a new study into the history of cannabis.
Called the Yamnaya, these nomads entered Europe about 5,000 years ago from the eastern Steppe region, in today’s Ukraine and Russia. According to the research, they brought with them metallurgy, herding skills and possibly the Indo-European languages.
They were also responsible for the first, transcontinental trade of cannabis some 5,000 years ago.
The conclusion comes from a systematic review of archaeological and paleo-environmental records of cannabis fibres, pollen and achene across Europe and East Asia.
Carried out by researchers from the German Archaeological Institute and the Free University of Berlin, the study determined the herb was not first used and domesticated somewhere in China or Central Asia, as it has been often assumed.
On the contrary, it was used in Europe and East Asia at almost exactly the same time between 11,500 and 10,200 years ago.
What’s interesting is that this time in human history is probably the time during which the first long-distance trade routes were established. The Botai horse culture of what is now Kazakhstan are known to have traveled great distances across the steppes of eastern Europe and western Asia, and they may have contributed to the spread of marijuana.
Could marijuana been one of the first major trade items in Europe? Well, probably not; it’s far more likely foodstuffs, pottery and other trade goods made up the bulk of trade goods. But intoxicants have never been insignificant.
Indeed, the history of humanity is a history of intoxication. Beer has been around for at least 7,000 years, while whiskey may be as old as 4,000 years. And the Yamna culture were likely the first “modern” Europeans, speaking the paleo-Indo-European language and bringing the nuclear family to the fore as the dominant social grouping in early European society.
And now we suspect that they liked to get high as well. Human history is perhaps a mixed bag, but at least it’s never boring.
File this under “disproportionate response”: Nottinghamshire police will now treat wolf-whistling and catcalling as hate crimes. Excerpt:
Uninvited sexual advances and unwanted verbal contact with a woman, including catcalling or wolf-whistling in the street, are to be recorded as a hate crimes in a new effort to tackle sexist abuse.
Nottinghamshire police has expanded its categories of hate crime to include misogynistic incidents, characterised as behaviour targeted towards a victim simply because they are a woman.
This means incidents ranging from street harassment to unwanted physical approaches can be reported to and investigated by the police, and support put in place for victims.
The force is the first in the country to adopt the separate misogyny hate crime category, and has provided specific training to selected officers in the past three months.
There are two things wrong with this.
First: What the hell is an “unwanted verbal contact?” How is this defined? What if a man tells a female co-worker “you look nice today”? Wolf-whistles and catcalls on the street may be rude, they may be boorish, but a furshlugginer hate crime? Who is injured by a wolf whistle? Whose civil or human rights are infringed by a catcall? Unwanted sexual contact is one thing; perhaps even an unwanted sexual advance if physical contact is involved. But if there is no contact, if the interaction is limited to a one-way verbal contact, then there is no crime.
Second: The entire concept of “hate crimes” is a canard; the very idea is the purest of corral litter, the malodorous assimilated digestive residue of the male bovine. How can crime A be somehow more abhorrent than an identical crime B, solely because of what the perpetrator of crime A may or may not have been thinking at the time?
And that last is the real stupidity of the Nottinghamshire policy. The very concept of a “hate crime” lies in punishing someone for thinking or believing incorrectly. That’s crap.
Key takeaway: If you’re an Italian man, stay out of Nottinghamshire.
Who says 19th century weapons are slow and unwieldy?
Here is the Ludwig Von Mises Institute’s take on what a prospective President Trump should do to get the economy rolling. The list:
First, the Affordable Care Act should be repealed in its entirety and, as you have already pointed out, any prohibition on interstate competition in health insurance also should be repealed. Health care and health care insurance should be left to the market.
Second, all recent thousand-page international trade agreements should be replaced with a single, clearly worded paragraph that allows any U.S. business (or consumer) to trade with any other business (or consumer) anywhere else in the world on terms that are mutually satisfactory. Period.
Third, you or the Congress should immediately remove cannabis (marijuana) from its current Schedule One prohibition status under Federal law; cannabis and drug policy generally should be left entirely to the states. (Ideally the entire Drug War should be scrapped and the production and consumption by adults of any “drug” should be legalized.)
Fourth, the federal minimum wage should either be permanently fixed at its current rate or reduced; legally minimum wages should be left entirely to the states. (Ideally, all minimum wage laws should be repealed since they cause job destruction.)
Fifth, the U.S. corporate tax rate should be reduced so that it is the lowest (not the highest) in the industrial world; ideally, it should be repealed entirely because it constitutes double taxation on shareholders of corporations who also pay income tax on their dividends.
Sixth, the Federal Reserve should be required by law to end all forms of quantitative easing and interest rate regulation now accomplished primarily through open market operations; interest rates for savers and investors should be market determined. In addition, the Federal Reserve’s budget should be determined by Congressional appropriations like that of any other federal department or agency.
And finally, as a long-run solution for our recurring financial problems and economic recessions, replacing the current inflationary paper dollar with alternative monetary arrangements that provide for a sound, market-based commodity money, such as the gold standard, should be seriously considered.
Some of those – the first, second, and fifth – tie in with what The Donald is already saying he’d do if/when elected. Granted, he is running for President, not king; he would have to have Congress pass legislation to put forth his agenda.
The Von Mises list is a good list. It’s a pretty libertarian list, as evidenced by items three, four and six. Enacting all seven items would go a long ways towards setting the tepid economy to rights and, oh, by the way, restoring some semblance of Federalism to our struggling republic.
As the saying goes: It’s a good start.
On to the spectacle that is the Trump campaign; the Veepstakes are over. It’s Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Excerpt:
U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump on Saturday presented his vice presidential running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, as the man who can unify a fractured Republican party and help him bridge the gap created by the candidate’s outsider status.
In a wide-ranging speech in which he touted his own “landslide” victory in the Republican primaries, Trump cast Pence as a perfect complement for the White House: a veteran of government, a man with a Midwestern sensibility and strong Republican credentials as a job creator and budget balancer.
“Indiana Governor Mike Pence was my first choice, I’ve admired the work he’s done, especially in the state of Indiana,” Trump said at an event in New York City.
“And one of the reasons is party unity, so many people have said, party unity. Because I’m an outsider,” he added in explaining his decision.
Trump and Pence made their debut just two days before the beginning of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where delegates from around the country will convene to officially nominate the pair as their party’s ticket for the Nov. 8 election.
It’s an interesting choice; not the one I would have made, but interesting (I’d have rather seen a young libertarian like Rand Paul.)
Pros: Pence brings a solid economic track record from his one term in Indiana, added to a solid hold-the-line record from twelve years in the House of Representatives. He is a Tea Party favorite, and that wing of the GOP still has a lot of pull.
Cons: It’s an odd combination with the outspoken and charismatic Trump; Pence is, by comparison, staid and (at least in his acceptance speech Saturday) comes off as rather dull. Perhaps The Donald thought that Pence would bring some gravitas to the ticket, but the staid Pence against a young Democrat firebrand in the one Veep debate may not end well.
Mixed bags: He is a staunch social-issues conservative. That will help the ticket with some remaining evangelicals who are skeptical of the serial-monogamist Trump, but will alienate a number of younger voters to whom the traditional social conservative stances on abortion and gay rights are a turn off.
As I said, it’s an interesting choice. It remains, I think, The Donald’s race to lose. Her Imperial Majesty’s poll numbers are slowly dropping, and we aren’t even into the nasty season yet. It’s going to be an interesting autumn.