Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Another very responsible gun owner

I swear, we anti-gun nuts couldn't make this stuff up if we held a convention and offered prizes for the wildest stories:

The Portland, Oregon, police chief has been suspended for plugging somebody in the back -- an accident, yeah, sure -- and telling local police (the briefly famous Harney sheriffs) that the shootee did it himself and for not telling investigators he is (or was) a cop.
On Monday, Ward told the Oregonian that O’Dea never identified himself as a police officer or the Portland police chief when questioned by a deputy. Ward also said that O’Dea and others with him suggested that the shooting was self-inflicted.

“I do know it didn’t happen the way it was originally portrayed,” Ward told the newspaper. He said that his office was able to interview the injured man for the first time last week. Ward added: “The victim made it pretty clear he didn’t shoot himself. The victim knew who shot him.”
As we in the snarky anti-gun community like to say, was alcohol involved? The story does not say, but it would be irresponsible not to speculate.

At least this one is funny, unlike the death in Illinois of a 7-year-old girl shot be a 3-year-old who was given a gun at a family target shooting party. By a felon not allowed to have guns.

Was alcohol involved? The story does not say, but it would be irresponsible not to speculate. The mug shots suggest the "adults" were wasted on something.

Why are American Second Amendment supporters not outraged and disturbed by these everyday events? They don't care.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Where were you in 1960?

A Bloomberrg in Brief story led me to the following graph. The story is irrelevant to me and, probably, most or all of my readers, but the graph was a stunner. I was unable to linkto te Bloomberg graph, but I found one very like it:

This is overall world trade. And this is population, same period:

Lots more production.

(Trade from, population from

Monday, May 16, 2016

Fun with guns!

RtO hasn't made fun of gun nuts for, oh, several days now. All the stoikes about toddlers shooting themselves or being shot were too depressing.

But lo! Texas, armed and stupid always.

Seems a Marine general cleared his weapon in former governor Rick Perry's driveway by sending the bullet through his foot.

The page that funnels this entirely unsurprising news, Juanita Jean's The World's Most Dangerous Beauty Parlor  Inc., looks like fun.

Some of the inhabitants not so much:

          Micr says:
I carry a Colt Combat Commander (semi-automatic caliber .45 ACP handgun) cocked, locked and ready to rock. One round under the hammer, thumb safety pushed up toward the rear sight. The first round from Sam Colt’s semi-automatics is single action, all rounds shot thereafter are double action.

Juanita Jean's on a roll

One day a general, another day a cop. Juanita Jean loves her a man in uniform

Saturday, May 14, 2016

An anecdote about sex

This is as much as RtO will say about North Carolina's HB2, sex changing and angry Christian bigots.

In 1977, I reported on the extensive gay bar scene in Des Moines. At a disco, I interviewed an 18-year-old. I was curious about how he had found the place, since while there were lots of gay bars of every variety in Des Moines, they all operated quietly. One was even behind an unmarked door in a warehouse.  

I was especially interested because this 18-year-old told me he'd been coming to the disco for years.

"My choir director brought me," he said.

(This story was never published. 40 years ago, even the devotedly liberal Des Moines Register was  too uncomfortable about homosexuality to print a story about gay bars.)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Distant lands of which we know nothing

Forty-some years ago, Le Monde, the most prestigious newspaper in France, ran a series of portraits of great cities. For the USA, it chose Chicago.

Among the reasons it gave for Chicago's rapid advancement was that, unlike Boston, it had never been ravaged by a great fire.


Chicago was then the second city of America and I wondered, is what I think I know about France's second city (Marseille) as weird as what Le Monde thinks it knows about Chicago?

Local knowledge counts for something. I think of the Monde story often, and again today when I read a story about Maui's last sugar harvest in The Guardian.

It is an awfully bad story, although no different from others I have read in the San Francisco and some other papers, all of them based on propaganda from the anticane folks. I am pretty sure that all of them were written by vacationers, either staff or free-lance, who write off their vacations on their taxes by claiming to be doing reporting work. The author, Stephen McLaren, is a freelance photographer.)

(A practice I consider unethical.)

A fair indication of the reliability of the story is that McLaren gets the name of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. incorrect.

He did not bother to interview anyone from HC&S or even from anyone in, say, the general ag community.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The hemp campaigns

Perhaps I should explain that I am a man without party; a New Dealer. The 2016 Democratic Party has few things that appeal to me; and the Republican Party and its antidemocratic theocrats and degenerates nothing at all. But that doesn't mean I cannot enjoy the parade.

So these posts about the contest are merely about the race and imply nothing about the wisdom or rightness of any particular platform or policy proposal.

From Delaware, we have a weird report of a Trump (but ex-Carson) consigliere threatening Delaware party leaders about whom they should select as delegates. Trump hardly seems to be in a position to fulfill threats, and one thing I've learned from following party politics is that if you make threats, you had better complete them and leave no survivors. Because if you frighten or antagonize party men and women, they have a thousand ways of taking their revenge; especially in a small and probably tight-knit little party like Delaware's.

I can gleefully imagine the deputy chairman of the Republican Party of Kent (formerly Whorekill) County, Delaware, pop., 160,000, standing up in Cleveland and skewering Trump on worldwide teevee.

However, I doubt that will happen. despite his repellent persona and tactics, I still think Trump will win the nomination before the convention.

And he can thank Kasich. The only reason I can think of for him to keep running is the give-'em-enough-rope strategy: Trump and Cruz are so repellent that the party will, somehow, reject both and, for lack of anything better, turn to loyal Kasich.

This won't work, second because the pols are able to count. One-quarter of voters are Republicans, and one-tenth of those have shown themselves willing to vote for Kasich -- and sometimes then only because they would have  voted for a pinata stuffed with unwashed gym socks just to keep a vote from going to Trump.

Kasich is delusional if he thinks he can expand that core of one-fortieth of the electorate into a majority. And before the party leaders will let him try, they'll bring in somebody like Romney. Or Pence. There are several possibilities.

But first because there isn't going to be an open convention. Trump isn't going to do poorly in the Midwest and West. His supporters -- aggrieved white racist losers -- are distributed evenly throughout the country.

The Democratic campaign involves a different kind of hemp. 

In January, when the Sandersistas discerned a popular primary majority through clouds of pot smoke, they were saying that superdelegates should follow the vote of the rank-and-file. Now that even the stonedest of them understands that Clinton will easily win most of the votes, they are saying superdelegates should vote for the future of the party by switching to Sanders -- Clinton is currently ahead in superdelegates by 12 to 1.

Aside from the rank dishonesty of the argument, it neglects (as Trump's man Uddo neglected in Delaware) the way party politics works. What has Sanders ever done for the party? Why should people who have worked for the party -- often long, unpaid hours -- for 10, 20, 30, 40 years turn their organization over to a man who didn't even bother to join until a few months ago?

Not only that, but a man who has let his operatives accuse them incessantly of rigging the vote, being corporate whores, cheating and pulling dirty tricks?

Clinton will handily earn enough delegates to win without the superdelegates, but even if somehow she misses, the idea that over half of them would abandon the party in favor of a faction that degrades and insults them is beyond pot-happy. Those guys must be smoking batu.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Making themselves (almost) irrelevant

Not since 1972 and the credentials maneuvering at the Democratic National Convention (where young pol Gary Hart cleaned Boss Daley's clock) have the party rules meant as much as they look to do for 2016's Republicans. Nate Silver has a detailed look at them.

However, setting aside the way they are playing out tomorrow, I was struck by how remarkably foolish the New York party selection rules are; any year, not just this one.

The Democratic rules are uncomplicated and in almost any scenario will give the candidate with the larger statewide vote more delegates. There is one way in which that doesn't work.

Most delegates are awarded tree per congressional district, winner take all. Several states, including California, have similar rules. If Sanders, say, piles up huge margins upstate and, contrary to expectations, loses but by small numbers around New York City, then he could win the state popular vote but get fewer delegates than Clinton. But generally, each candidate should end up with delegates in close proportion to his vote totals.

Not so with the Republicans, who have a system that seems designed to keep New York from having much influence on the choice, in those uncommon years when the choice is sill unsettled this late.

In a two-candidate contest, the Republican rules work like the Democratic rules. But with three or more candidates, unless it's a runaway for one everywhere, the Republican rules are designed to cancel out advantages for  anyone.

In each district where there is no name with an absolute majority, the top finisher gets 2 delegates, and the second place name gets 1. So, if the two strong candidates are stronger in one region than another, for every advantage Trump gets by leading in a New York City district, he loses it to Cruz in upstate districts.

In a close contest, its seems probable that whoever gets the most delegates will end up with just a few more than the second-place man. It is not out of the question that the net impact of the millions of New York Republican votes could have less meaning at the Cleveland convention than the 130 Republican votes in the Virgin Islands.

Unlike at Cleveland, the delegates in the Vigin Islands were packing heat, but -- contrary to what Wayne LaPierre says -- that did not make their society polite. Far from it.

There is an additional complication in New York. In any district where third (or lower) candidates don't get 10%, those votes are thrown out, and it then becomes a winner-take-all district with the top finisher getting all three delegates.

Aside from the fact that throwing out votes sounds undemocratic (and unDemocratic), this makes predicting the delegate hauls tomorrow difficult.  Kasich has often shown himself unable to get to 10%, so I can (just barely) imagine Trump getting every district delegate. (There are an insignificant few statewide delegates.)

Or, I can imagine Cruz getting some threes upstate while Trump gets a majority of the delegates but not nearly the 60% the polls say he can expect in statewide votes.

I still think Trump wraps it up before the convention. The punditry expects him to do less well in the West, but he has not been a regional candidate like Wallace or Goldwater. Silver expects him to be around 75 delegates short of a first-vote majority.

I made a lot of money in the prediction markets in 2012, in part because I accepted Silver's analysis of the general election. But I don't think his poll-of-polls approach works so well, either for low turnout primaries or for Trump and his Trumpeters.

I do agree with Silver than Sanders has no chance and my expectation is that Clinton will get in the neighborhood of 160 delegates to Sanders's 131 tomorrow. But he won't drop out because he's ego-tripping. Has been since the start.

Also, if he was so smart, he should have become a Democrat a while back if he wanted the nomination of the Democratic Party. But I don't think he is so smart.


You cannot make things simple enough for some people.