Friday, April 21, 2017

Fool's game

To the extent he has one, Trump's foreign policy is based on the idea that he will use "credibility' to scare other countries into doing what he wants:
[T]he politics of credibility are complex and ephemeral, and spending time, blood, and treasure to try to manufacture a reputation for toughness is, more often than not, a fool’s game. And foreign policy analysts probably shouldn’t encourage neophyte policymakers to use cruise missiles, aircraft carriers, and MOABs to chase “credibility” around the Pacific Ocean.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

I guess he wants to fit in one more failure before he hits that 100 day mark

This has no chance of becoming law. There is very little chance it will pass the House, and even if it does, it will surely die in the Senate. Maybe the President thinks he can get it through the House in a squeaker, as some kind of lame substitute for an actual legislative victory? Sad!

LID + 10

الآن بعد عشر سنوات، ما زلت أتذكر هذا التاريخ، على الرغم من أنها ليست مهمة الآن

Spinners gotta spin

There were 18 candidates on the ballot in this week's GA-6 special election: 11 Republicans, 5 Democrats, and 2 Independents. Jon Ossoff, the Democrat who came out on top, got 92,390 votes which was 48.1% of the total votes cast. None of the other Democrats got anywhere close to that number (the second place Dem was Ragin Edwards with 502 votes). Those four other Democrats combined received only 1,521 votes, or 0.9% of the votes cast.

The Republicans, meanwhile, had several candidates with significant segments of the vote. There was: Karen Handel with 37,993 (19.8% of the total votes), Bob Gray with 20,755 (10.8%), Dan Moody with 16,994 (8.8%), and Judson Hill with 16,848 (8.8%), plus seven other low performers (less than 1% of the vote) who garnered a combined total of 5,407 votes (2.8%).

So naturally when the Wall Street Journal writes a story about the aftermath of the race, it's the Democrats who are dealing with "party divisions."

(via Memeorandum)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

More signs of a Trump slump

The busiest airline in the world is cutting flights to the U.S. because of lack of demand. Even with both versions of the Muslim ban blocked by the courts, both that and all the stories of arbitrary detention of legal visitors at the airport will have a profound impact on the number of visitors willing to come to the U.S. (Emirates and other airlines are also subject to the new electronics ban, which will make things even worse)

Trump is raking in so much money by requiring the Secret Service to bust its budget paying for rooms at Trump properties, so maybe he won't notice when his occupancy numbers dip for lack of foreign visitors. But other businesses in the travel industry will notice, and I doubt they will keep quiet.

Taking the scenic route

So Spicy's explanation is he did not lie when they said that they were sending the  U.S.S. Carl Vinson to the Sea of Japan as a "huge deterrence" (sic) even though the Vinson was heading in the opposite direction because that ship sails around a lot and eventually it would get back to the Sea of Japan at some point before it is decommissioned?

So the next time my boss calls on the weekend and tells me there is a pressing issue at work I will tell him "I'm going back to the office" and then I will roll over and go back to sleep. That would not be lying because I'm sure I will set foot in the office at some point again before I die.

A Fitting Candidate for the Trump Era

Monday, April 17, 2017

United's ongoing P.R. problem

Now that it is everyone's most-hated airline, whenever it does any of those unpleasant things that all airlines do, the bad-United story will get picked up by the national press. Seriously, is there any airline that wouldn't kick coach-class passengers who keep trying to move up to more expensive seats even when the airplane staff tells them not to, that wouldn't seek to have them escorted off the plane. It's not like they beat these passengers up!

Friday, April 14, 2017


Does anyone else think it's strange that the U.S. military would name one of its bombs after Saddam Hussein's famous phrase: "mother of all battles"? Hussein said those words as a boast that Iraqi forces would somehow fend off the U.S.-led coalition in the 1991 Gulf War.

It turned out to be an empty threat, full of bluster with little real power behind it. So let's name one of our big bombs after it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

More Latin alphabet promises for Kazakh

That's a pretty bare-bones timeline. Essentially:

1. By the end of this year decide on a standard alphabet (not sure why they can't just go back to the Uniform Turkic Alphabet that they used between 1927 and 1940. Is there some problem with that alphabet as applied to Kazakh? If so, what is that problem?)

2. Start producing teaching materials in the new alphabet.

3. No later than 2025, profit! Kazakh should be written in Latin.

When I visited Uzbekistan in 2003, they were in year 8 of a 10 year transition period to move from the Soviet-imposed Cyrillic alphabet for Uzbek to a Latin alphabet. Aside from a few scattered holdovers, all the Uzbek street signs were in Latin script, but few people other than young people could read them. People would still write and print their own things in Cyrillic (I was handed a wedding invitation that I assumed was in Russian because of the script, but I later learned was in Uzbek written in Cyrillic. "Too many guests wouldn't be able to read it if it was in Latin" the local who told who identified the script explained). Even with all the Uzbek signs in Latin, older people, even older people who used Uzbek as their primary language, just relied upon the Russian-language signs--they could all read Russian because they had grown up as Soviet citizens. Now, 14 years later, things are probably better. But it was evident during my visit that 8 years was not long enough to make everyone understand a new script.

Maybe KZ will be better pulling it off than UZ was, but color me suspicious that in just 8 years Kazakhs will all be able to read their own language in Latin when they don't even know what the alphabet will be yet.

(Previous post about latinizing Kazakh (featuring a dead link!))

ADDING: Another article, but it really doesn't add many more details about the plan, because it doesn't look like there are any. But I do like the bit about how the timetable announcement was published in Kazakh but not Russian. Virtually all governmental announcements in KZ are done in Kazakh and Russian and the state run news source that originally published the story normally publishes in both languages.

Actually, the fascinating thing is Egemen Qazaqstan publishes its Kazakh edition in three different scripts--standard Cyrillic Kazakh, Latin Kazakh, and Arabic/Persian-script Kazakh. I didn't realize that publications in KZ were doing that. Arabic/Persian script is what the Kazakh minority in China use to write the language. I did not know that anyone currently wrote Kazakh in Latin.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Democrats should not drop the tax returns issue

I think it's a great strategy to make Trump's tax returns the issue when he tries to push massive tax cuts for rich people "tax reform" through Congress. It's not just good politics, there is a good argument there too. This is a President that has displayed little concern for his many conflicts of interest. The only way to make sure that his isn't pushing tax legislation for his own personal profit is to see his recent tax returns.

Job Security

Paul Ryan's biggest defense against being deposed as speaker is that being in charge of the House Republican Caucus a terrible impossible job that no one wants. People will criticize him and threaten his ouster, but unless someone is really gunning for the job, it is Ryan's until he either resigns or until the Republicans lose their majority in the House.