November 18, 2017

Has China's economy jumped the shark?

China is running into some serious economic and demographic challenges, as this FT documentary from last year points out.  China's boom may not yet be over, but it certainly appears there's a very real end in sight.

There are implication for Sino-American relations and even how China deals with North Korea, as these changes develop.

Saturday Learning Series - Understanding Computers and the Internet

Harvard University lecture series: Understanding Computers and the Internet.

November 17, 2017

Friday Musical Interlude - Foreigner live

Foreigner's I Want To Know What Love Is, live, with my daughter's school choir.

November 16, 2017

Franken sense demure

Al Franken, groper.  Al Franken is of course now a senator from Minnesota.  The timing could not be worse for Democrats.  Or maybe it couldn't be any better.

Not fake news
US Senator Al Franken has responded to a woman's allegations that he groped her as she slept and "forcibly" kissed her in a rehearsal for a comedy skit.

Leeann Tweeden says the two incidents happened in December 2006 on a tour to entertain US troops overseas, before Mr Franken entered politics.

The radio host wrote that the former comic "aggressively" kissed her while saying they had to rehearse a scene.

Mr Franken, a former Saturday Night Live writer, apologised for the grope.
This is happening at a time when the Democrats hope to pick up Roy Moore's Alabama senate seat. Rush Limbaugh today said the best thing the Democrats could do is to acknowledge it and basically expel Al Fanken from the party and appoint a new senator from the state (who would be a Democrat).  That leaves them the high ground in the suspicious Roy Moore flap. But Rush thinks Democrats will ignore the Franken situation while continuing to go after Moore.

I sort of agree, but with one wrinkle.  Al Franken recently denounced Harvey Weinstein for this very issue. Maybe Al Franken was thinking of leaving the senate anyway.  This could be a back pocket option to allow him to step aside for another Democrat replacement and leave them the moral high ground in pursuing the destruction of Roy Moore.  

The Democrats do not let a crisis go to waste, so why not take the same approach for a scandal.  Take a scandal and turn it to your own advantage. Al Franken taking the high road on his own sins, would certainly fit that bill.  Could this all be a set up?  If Franken bows out, I think it was a back pocket Plan B for Franken and the Democrats all along. Then again if he doesn't bow out, maybe he's just a duplicitous double-standard-holding jerk.

Thursday Biden Bash - plagarism

The Washington Post has a buried section of what it terms the Clinton frenzy, on the 1988 presidential election Democratic primaries on Biden's exploded nomination run:
Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden Jr., a U.S. senator from Delaware, was driven from the nomination battle after delivering, without attribution, passages from a speech by British Labor party leader Neil Kinnock. A barrage of subsidiary revelations by the press also contributed to Biden's withdrawal: a serious plagiarism incident involving Biden during his law school years; the senator's boastful exaggerations of his academic record at a New Hampshire campaign event; and the discovery of other quotations in Biden's speeches pilfered from past Democratic politicians.

The controversy became two frenzies in one when it was disclosed that the campaign of Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis had earlier secretly distributed to several news media outlets an "attack video" juxtaposing the Biden and Kinnock speeches and revealing Biden's word theft. The Dukakis campaign at first stonewalled and denied any part in the tape's distribution, but when the truth emerged Dukakis was forced to fire his campaign manager, John Sasso, and political director, Paul Tully – the two who had orchestrated the maneuver. Dukakis himself insisted he had no prior knowledge of their actions, and though wounded, his candidacy survived the incident.
Two plagiarism incidents in one scandal.  It didn't hurt Obama during his run for the presidency but Biden isn't exactly Obama in terms of political cache. 

November 15, 2017

Sen. Ron Johnson's turn to shoot the GOP in the foot

Let's see - Obamacare repeal, X.  Border wall, X.  Tax reform and tax cuts - heading towards an X.
If the GOP can't avoid shooting itself in the foot on tax cuts, what good is it as a party.

Hey Senator Ron Johnson, shut up, suck it up, and do something for the team.  In the end any tax cut is a step in the right direction.  This isn't a matter of the perfect being the enemy of the good, this is a matter of getting something, anything, done before the midterm elections. ANYTHING.

It's not that I'm saying this is your last chance to do something...oh wait, it is.
WASHINGTON—Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) said he opposes the Senate Republican tax package, saying it unfairly benefits corporations more than other types of businesses.

“If they can pass it without me, let them,” Mr. Johnson said in an interview Wednesday. “I’m not going to vote for this tax package.”

Mr. Johnson’s position could undermine the Senate’s efforts to pass a tax plan by early December or get the bill to President Donald Trump’s desk by Christmas. Republicans are counting on near universal support from within the party to pass a bill on party line votes. With 52 seats in the Senate, Republicans can lose no more than two votes unless they can somehow find a way to win votes from Democrats.

Other Senate Republicans have expressed concerns. Jeff Flake of Arizona, for example, has worried about deficits and Susan Collins of Maine has worried about Republican plans to repeal the insurance coverage mandate in the Affordable Care Act as part of a tax overhaul.

Until now, no Senate Republican has come out definitively against the GOP tax plan. The risk for Senate Republican leaders is that other Republicans get behind Mr. Johnson’s opposition.
The one way this turns out to be good is that the GOP are trying to signal to Democrats that they can't get their act together so that the Democrats don't bother to mount a decent opposition and then the Republicans surprise everyone with a consolidated, fully GOP-backed bill that gets to the president's desk without significant obstacles. In other words they make fake obstacles so that real ones don't get put in place. Now that would be sweet. Then again, I'm 99% certain that's giving the senate GOP too much credit.
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