Thursday, May 31, 2018

Former Illinois governor: Practice politics, go to jail

An op-ed by former governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich (2003-2009) on p A19 of the Wall Street Journal, should get our attention.  That is, “I’m in prison for practicing politics”.
Apparently the US prosecutors can view any fundraising gifts by those in office (for the opposing party) as bribes.  “For most people in the political arena, the fundraising part of the job is no fun. I liken it to exercise. It hurts but makes you healthy and strong.”
Trump is reportedly considering pardoning both Blagojevich, and Martha Stewart (“Domestic Diva”), prosecuted for “insider trading” at the end of 2001.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Bring back the military draft for men, New York Post op-ed argues; debated on Fox News Sunday morning

This Sunday morning, Memorial Day weekend, Fox News reported and debated an op-ed by F. H. Buckley in the New York Post, urging resuming the draft, as a pullback from the “libertarian” measure (in 1973 with Nixon!) that has allowed young people to take the world for granted.  Of course, a libertarian would call the draft as involuntary servitude aka slavery.
That seems to be partly an answer to the public die-ins by “privileged” high school students that it is not fair for them to have to be exposed personally to gun violence that comes from “other people’s problems”.
He makes no bones about the idea that it should still be a male-only draft.  Gender confers obligations??  What would he do with Trump’s transgender ban attempt?  What would he think of the 2011 repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell”?  Trunp, of course, got out of it.  This is a "skin in the game" problem. 
He also refers to a Feb. 2017 op-ed by Debbie Truong in the Washington Post, “School boards increasingly embrace the ABC’s of social activism”, link .

Todd South had made arguments for resuming the draft in the Military Times in July 2017 .  He talks about egalitarian service as an obligation, and about the civilian-military gap. It’s likely he would want to include women (as does Israel).   There have been proposals to force women to register for Selective Service.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Ordinary gun control measures probably can't stop major incidents, because so many weapons are around and because our culture prods unstable people

German Lopez of Vox has a detailed article explaining why assault weapons bans and similar laws won’t do much to make schools safer.  The bans may help prevent mass events like in Las Vegas or maybe Orlando.

Lopez also examines stricter procedural requirements in buying weapons, which he says may be helpful, but are hard to pass politically.  He says an Australian-style buyback is very unlikely.

Indeed, the Washington Post over the weekend had run a story to the effect that the Santa Fe school system had done everything right (Tim Craig and others).

This leaves everyone wondering about other cultural influences (especially Internet and media) that seem to prod otherwise vulnerable people into military-style hostility.

And FEE (Kerry McDonald) even says that more parents will consider home schooling.
WJLA7 in Washington has even done a report on “building your own guns” from parts. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Could previous surgery lead to problems with TSA screening?

If someone has orthopedic surgery that resulted in the placement of metal in his/her body, could that person expect disruption when going through security with the TSA?

I had a plate placed on the left side of my pelvis after an acetabular fracture from a convenience store fall in Minneapolis in January 1998.  I was told that the plate was titanium and a new device. The surgery was successful and I recovered fully and relatively quickly, able to discharge crutches in late March.  I did not have an actual hip replacement.

Since 9/11, I have made at least twelve round trips by air (probably more) and this has never come up. My most recent air travel was by Southwest from Reagan to Florida in November, 2017.
Nevertheless, there is some literature on the issue. 

In 2008, the TSA wrote a posting saying that doctors’ notes didn’t do any good because a determined terrorist could fake one.  It admitted that extra pat downs were possible, although that has never happened with me.  The TSA said it was testing new equipment that could identify internal medical devices more accurately. 

Since then, there have been a couple of other posts(spinemd and Livestrong) that suggest that a note might help, and also say that screening is supposed to stop at the skin level.  (Theoretically, I guess a determined suicidal terrorist could swallow a device (as with drug mules), however, or even have one clandestinely surgically implanted, although this gets into Hollywood screenplay plots that we hope don’t ever happen – yet security experts say that writers and spy fiction authors are good for the industry by helping it keep up with “imagination”.)  

Recent articles say that medical identification cards are never required.  The recent TSA Bulletin (2017) confirms this. TSA does offer an optional blue notification card to carry. 
More interesting, there are comments that titanium doesn’t give out the same signature as steel, and that most surgical devices (like hip or knee replacements) have started using more titanium and plastic in the past decade.
I don’t personally have a problem with the idea of pat downs.  But in August, 2002, well after my layoff, I actually went to a job fair in Bloomington MN for TSA screener trainees.  I was concerned at that the time that, by analogy to “privacy” arguments that had been used to justify the now repealed “don’t ask don’t tell” policy for gays in the military, persons in my circumstances with self-publicized sexual orientation should not be allowed to take these jobs.  I withdrew from the job fair for other reasons, however (a miscommunication of the pay to be offered).

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Meghan Markle's volunteerism may outflank her gender equality activism

Many media sources are reporting on Prince Harry’s fiancĂ©e Meghan Markle’s activism back in 1993 when she wrote to Proctor and Gamble in Cincinnati for a Nickelodeon ad emphasizing that women do household cleaning (for their husbands), as well developed by an NBC Today Show report here
More subtle (not always mentioned) is her long term volunteering on skid row, as in Los Angeles, as reported here.  She even said that the welfare of others was more important than he own safety.

In more recent years (2016), I have refused to go into some areas by car in Washington DC for volunteering because of fear of carjacking.  I don’t have the social capital to deal with an incident like that.
Wikipedia attribution for picture of Proctor and Gamble HQ in Cincinnati. I passed by it in a rental car in 1992. 
CC BY 2.0, Link

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Ninth Circuit hears oral arguments on DACA, seems concerned about political appeals to base

The 3-judge panel Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments today on the Trump administration’s order to phase out DACA protection unless Congress intervenes, Los Angeles Times story here
The points raised were that the removal of people would be enforced more against some groups than others, and that Trump seemed to be trying to use DACA people as bargaining chips to get his Wall built to please his base.

This would be a good place to share Dave Bier's (Cato) analysis showing that Central American immigrants do assimilate well into the US.  

Update: May 17

Many in the House want to use a discharge petition to bring a vote on DACA, a vote opposed by Paul Ryan.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Individual "racial profiling" can undermine "see something say something" when it means something

I hadn’t really heard about this until the media reported it a lot this weekend.  But there have been sporadic incidents of white people calling police because POC are in the neighborhood “for no reason”.

It’s pretty obvious that this can undermine “see something say something” when it really is something.

Vox covers this in an article by P.T. Lockhart  .
Brandon Griggs at CNN has a detailed story on the incident at Yale, and here is the affected student’s Facebook video.

Yet there are times when decisive police and law enforcement action are essential, and this is getting undermined, for example today in southern Maryland. 

Monday, May 07, 2018

Breaking up California; Repeal the 17th Amendment? ; Keep the Electoral College?

Billionaire Tim Draper may very well get an initiative to split California into three states on the ballot in November.

The “New California” state would be centered around Los Angeles. “South California” would have San Diego as its largest city, and “North California” would include the Bay Area, and probably most of Silicon Valley.  (I think San Jose would be in it.)

Congress could conceivable approve it but it sounds like a long shot politically, especially if Democrats make gains in 2018.

Texas has the right to split into five states by budding or "asexual reproduction" (like that of jellyfish). 

There is some talk in conservative circles of repealing the 17tj Amendment, the direct election of senators.  That would make (local politics) and state elections more interesting to voters.

Rick Sincere carried on a debate about the 17th Amendment repeal on his own blog here
And, despite Trump’s election, George Will has called the Electoral College an “excellent system”. 

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Clean energy may be tainted with the bad karma of child labor

Clean energy could have a moral albatross that will attract Donald Trump’s attacks – child labor.

Tonight, CNN aired a short report on AC360 on how electric car makers have had to step up audits overseas, especially the Congo, to try to keep child labor out of the chain for making batteries for electric cars.  

We’re sort of back to “Blood Diamonds”.

This invocation of the Periodic Table could give us more ideas as to where we could have problems with rare elements.
Remember, Neptune has ice storms of diamonds, and there are whole planets made of diamond-grade carbon.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Climate Change activists warn of draconian measures against consumers in the future, sooner rather than later; "The Matrix"

David Roberts of Vox has published (April 28) a draconian paper on climate change, “It’s time to think seriously about cutting off the supply of fossil fuels”, link
Roberts goes into a discussion of “Restrictive Supply Side” (“RSS”) policies, and comes to the support of activists who have used vigorous demonstrations and the use of force or sitdowns to obstruct energy projects like the oil pipelines.
There is not enough attention in the essay, however, to the problem of what this should mean to individual Americans.  I still haven’t bought a hybrid car, although I could have in 2015 when another car was totaled in an accident (caused by the other party).  Moreover, I’ve insisted that any car I buy have long distance range because my own “business model” has always required some long trips alone.  Is there something wrong with this?
We saw previews of the implication of this kind of debate in the 1970s with gasoline rationing, prompted at the time by oil supply crises.
Roberts has a 2x2 matrix describing the four quadrants of climate policy:  Restrictive  and supportive (of substitutes) as rows, supply-side and demand-side as columns.
Roberts has a more recent paper, May 1, “The world’s bleak climate situation, in 3 Parts”, here .  Right now, we’re headed to 3 degrees C (5 F) by 2100, but it could be as bad as 5 C (8 degrees).  Instead of “climate science denial”, you could have a debate on how to live with it, from a policy perspective, if it happens. But you would have tremendous displacement of coastal populations, and much stronger storms, floods and droughts.