Sunday, January 29, 2017

Trump out-Hitlers Hitler

It took Hitler nearly 3 months to hand down a decree excluding students from universities because of their religion. Trump, 9 days.

Tulsi Gabbard is a disgrace to Hawaii

I am 70 years old, and all my life American politicians have been finding reasons to support rightwing tyrants. They at least pretended to be motivated by a desire to see the oppressed people eventually achieve democratic self-government.

Even if that was crap, at least it sounded nice.

But now, for the first time, I find myself represented in Congress by a frank supporter of tyrranny.

A news article on The Hill says that Gabbard's "allies" rushed to support her. That would be "ally." Dennis Freakin' Kucinich, who mocked the political process by making perhaps a doezen trips to Maui to "campaign for president."

Yeah, right.

Gabbard should resign.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Book Review 381: The Buffalo Book

THE BUFFALO BOOK: The Full Saga of the American Animal, by David A. Dary. 384 pages, illustrated. Swallow paperback

David Dary’s book is as much about the American gun nut as about the buffalo. Give an American a firearm, and his instinct is to kill something. The bigger the thing, the better.

Not only Americans. In the 19th century, British sportsmen — of the type who proudly claimed to have killed 100,000 brace of grouse — traipsed the plains of the United States and Canada wearing silly hats and shooting buffalo in a barrel. (Other nationalities as well, including a baby tsar, who, however, was such a bad shot that a mere 5 buffalo died for his pleasure.)

“The Buffalo Book” has a distinctive Kansan tinge; Dary was a third-generation Kansan, and he talked to the old-timers. Kansas was, for a while, the center of the buffalo murder, thanks to the presence of three rail lines to carry off the skins.

The skinners were comparatively useful persons; they at least harvested the skins (although they had to kill 3 buffalo to get 1 skin). Where there were no railroads, Americans shot buffalo just for the tongues. And where there were railroads, churches sponsored excursions so their believers (don’t ask what they believed in) could shoot buffalo for the pleasure of watching them die.

The Army advocated killing the buffalo in order to exterminate the Indians, although in Dary’s opinion Generals Sherman and Sheridan had relatively little impact. The skinners had pretty much accomplished the Army’s goal by the time the generals testified to Congress.

By 1895 or thereabouts, there were probably fewer than 1,000 buffalo left. By 1989, when Dary published the second edition of “The Buffalo Book,” he estimated the population was about 100,000. (Today it is said to be over half a million, although hardly any are not partly Asian cow.)

“The Buffalo Book” is largely a series of anecdotes, of greater or less reliability. Almost none of these anecdotes demonstrate any interest in or respect for the buffalo as buffalo. The longest chapter is about trying to train buffalos to pull wagons.

After reading this “full saga,” the status of the buffalo as America’s national mammal seems to be a sick joke.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Trust them, they have a plan

And as soon as thy figure out what it is, they'll tell you.

The Washington Post and several others got a tape of a meeting of Republican lawmakers to talk about what to do about health care policy.

Forget what they said -- although that is interesting in itself -- and think about what that tells us: the Republicans voted 60 times to repeal Obamacare, and they assured gulllible voters that there is a better, cheaper, fairer way.

But they don't know what it is.

I have said in other forums that I expect a Republican Night of the Long Knives, and soon, and that looks more and more certain. Unlike the original, I think it will be bloodless, although considering the overlap between the haters of Obamacare and the gun nuts, I can conceive of a violent version.

The leaking of the tape (unless somehow done by a Democrat, as happened to Romney in his 47% gaffe) looks like an early step in the plot. If I were a Republican, I'd stay away from gay spas for a while.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Book Review 380: A Fiery Peace in a Cold War

A FIERY PEACE IN A COLD WAR: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon, by Neil Sheehan. 534 pages, illustrated. Random House, $32

A favorite slogan of antimilitarists goes, It will be a great day when schools get the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber. There’s a lot truth in that, but most antimilitarists might be surprised to learn that the Air Force didn’t always get everything it asked for.

President Eisenhower, the former general, was skeptical of military to-do lists and committed to shrinking the national expenditure. In Neil  Sheehan’s very long runup to the story of Gen. Bernard Schriever and the Air Force’s ballistic missile program — Schriever doesn’t get to launch a missile until page 340 — the historian suggests several reasons, although never the real one.

Eisenhower (although he was registered as a Democrat when tapped to run for president) was a natural Republican of the old school — small government, low expenditures, disinclination to foreign adventures. He did not think a budget could be balanced if there was a big army, big navy and big air force.

Truman had already been seduced by the argument that A-bombs were cheaper than multimillion-man armies (which turned out to be incorrect), but in the late ‘40s it was still uncertain that America would return to full peacetime employment. By the time Eisenhower took over in ’53, business was desperate for labor. The Republicans, the party of business, did not dare suck millions of young men out of the civilian labor force.

The strategic bombers — meaning the crazed Curtis LeMay who really was just like the satirical version invented by Peter George, Gen. Jack D. Ripper, only meaner — were out to appropriate essentially all the military spending of the United States, and while they had to leave something for the Army and the Navy, they were determined not to leave an Air Force crumb for H-bombs on missiles  (with no flyboys to ride them).

Enter long tall Col. Bernard Schriever, who when he got a star was acknowledged to be the handsomest general in the service, and among the best golfers. It is worth a long pause to consider whether, if Bennie Schriever had been shorter, uglier or less coordinated, LeMay might have gotten the thermonuclear war he wanted.

Schriever was born in Germany but his parents emigrated. His father was killed in a particularly stupid industrial mishap, and his mother was then sponsored by a well-off family in San Antonio, who set her up selling lemonade and ham sandwiches to golfers. Thus Bennie, a poor boy, got a chance to learn golf.

Golf paved his way into the Air Corps, right up to Chief of Staff Hap Arnold, who picked Schriever to help bring the Air Force into a new technical wonderland, despite the doubts of the half-educated louts like LeMay.

“A Fiery Peace in a Cold War” is far more a bureaucratic than a technological history. Schriever who had learned how to manage men (and boys) he could not order around as head of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, was a Hairbreadth Harry of Air Force politics, helped by a corps of civilian engineers, scientists and engineer/businessmen, like Johnny von Neumann, Simon Ramo and Trevor Gardner.

He was just holding his own until Sputnik scared the wits out of America, after which it was just a matter of pouring money in until the rockets stayed lit.

It is an interesting story, if tediously told, and the one-man version of history is always suspect.

There are some incidents that demand more detail, and the most important of these is the first big move in Schriever’s campaign: get the missile development out of the hands of the uniformed services and into the hands of civilian scientists/engineers/businessmen. This is said to have been an insight of Arnold’s, based on the successes of the Manhattan Project bomb and the Radiation Laboratory radar projects.

If so, Arnold had to overlook the fiasco of the Norden bombsight. Sheehan, a specialist on the Vietnam War, confesses he was not well-versed on aviation or World War II topics, and it shows in his falling hook, line and sinker for the Air Force’s claims to be precision bombers. This was always shibai, the Air Force never even tried to aim until the invention of precision-guided munitions. (Admiral Raymond Spruance, the outstanding combat commander of World War II, mocked LeMay’s boasts of precision bombing, noting that it was being done “through ten-tenths cloud cover.”)

“A Fiery Peace in a Cold War” is full of controversial sections and requires careful reading.

Of these, the most consequential is the idea of Mutual Assured Destruction. Schriever’s belief was that the United States had to get an unstoppable, limitlessly destructive weapon as soon as, or nearly as soon as, the USSR; and the history is that he made it, be a small margin of time.

MAD worked, so far, although whether the USSR as sole possessor of such a weapon would have used it for foreign policy is an uncertain question. Nations do not use weapons because they have them. What is missing from Sheehan’s discussion is the fact that the United States, unknown to Schriever, was attempting to start a war in the Soviet Union and China.

The CIA, the Air Force, the Navy and perhaps other agencies were attacking the red countries, or paying surrogates to do so, sending planes over the borders, landing saboteurs. Had the Soviets or the Chinese been caught doing any of these things (they never did), there is no question there would have been public demands for open war. We know that within the military there were such demands being made outside the democratic process. 

None of this is in Sheehan’s book. Perhaps he, like most Americans, is not aware of the extent of the hot war America was fighting while proclaiming Cold War. It changes the moral balance of the discussion, since it was not international communism that was the aggressor. Americans may wish to erect a monument to Kim Philby, since it was his spy reports that provided the Russians with the ability to thwart the CIA attacks. In the absence of those, it might not have been possible for the Politburo to restrain its LeMayskis.

If we limit our view to just Schriever, we see a talented, brave, intelligent officer who was given a complex job and got it done.

It was a good thing for him — and maybe for us — that we didn’t know what he was up to, because if the press had known the background of the writing of the original contracts to ensure that Bunker-Wooldridge (the germ that became TRW) got them,  there’s no doubt that their would have been an outcry about fair dealing.

Of the making of missiles, like sausages, it does not help the digestion to know how it came about.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Voter fraud alert!

RtO interrupts its review of the subimbecility of Trump's advisers to bring this news about voter fraud from CNN:

Donald Trump's nominee to head the Treasury department, Steven Mnuchin, is registered to vote in two states, a CNN KFile review of paperwork obtained through open records requests in New York and California show.

(Trump tweeted)  "I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedure," the president wrote in a pair of consecutive tweets.

CNN's KFile has also confirmed that before Wednesday morning, Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist and senior counselor, was registered to vote in both New York City as well as in Sarasota County, Florida. Since then, the supervisor of elections for Sarasota County said that Bannon was removed from the voting rolls on Wednesday after his office received confirmation from the city of New York that Bannon was registered to vote there too
UPDATE Saturday

Trump has convinced me that the election was, indeed, illegitimate. He cited "people registered in two states" as one reason, and there is now evidence of a massive scheme to have Trump supporters registered in 2 states. Bannon, Mnuchin, Spicer, Tiffany Trump, Kushner:  a large percentage of voters closest to Trump are now known to be fraudsters.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Blowing off Joe Sixpack

Two days ago, it was reported that among the first things Trump did as president was to shut down the comment lines at the White House. Instead, an automated phone message told callers to use Facebook Messenger.

Now today, Variety reports that no such Messenger accounts exist.

I have never tried to call the White House, although from time to time I have written letters supporting or opposing presidential policies.

If it were some other administration, we might suspect a foulup among new staffers, with someone responsible for setting up the Messenger accounts not acting as fast as the person shutting down the phones. But that won't wash with this crowd.

One, they claim superior skills with social media.

Two, they had a social media director at the keyboard from midnight on the 20th shutting down social media outlets in several departments.

So we know what's going on. Trump isn't not listening to just the intelligence agencies, he's not listening to anyone, except maybe Putin, because he knows everything already.

This conclusion is reinforced by Conway's quick response to the We the People petition at (still functioning) that demands release of Trump's tax returns. The rules there are that if a petition gets 100,000 signatures within a few weeks, the White House will respond with 60 days.

Trump says nobody cares excet reporters. This morning there were over 300,000 signatures, more than there are reporters. But Conway had already said the returns won't be release.

It's the first thing I've seen her say that I believe.

A few days ago RtO said that Trump's Cabinet appointments were mostly imbeciles. At that time, they had not yet begun testifying to their senatorial review committees. Nor had some of them who are Cabinet-level or near that rank (and so do not have to undergo Senate review) begun performing. Now thay have.

RtO was wrong. They are not imbeciles. Quite a few are subimbeciles.  In that category, for sure now, are Flynn, Conway, Spicer, Perry, Carson, Price, DeVos, with a special mention for Crowley.

And a special special mention for the repellent Branstad, not an imbecile but a man who early in his political career (when I was in Iowa) was a decent, dull fellow. I didn't notice when it happened, because I was not in Iowa and not following its politics, but somewhere along the way he shed the decency.

Most of the leading Republicans in government are not imbeciles (although Rodgers is),  and even if I think they are either followers of an ideology that was proven unworkable before any of them were born or simply opportunists, they are intelligent enough to understand the minimum requirements necessary to keep a government functioning.

They cannot be sleeping well.


Additional evidence (though none is needed) that a social media directorate is managing the memory hole.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Book Review 379: The Ten-Cent Plague

THE TEN-CENT PLAGUE: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, by David Hajdu. 434 pages, illustrated. Farrar, Straus, $26

Those who did not have to live through the early ‘50s can hardly imagine how stifling the state of public opinion was then, nor how terrified the population was of seeming, in even the most trivial ways, out of step. Americans were frightened of commies, sex, Joe McCarthy and ideas generally.

It was not assumed that people were loyal citizens, they had to take oaths on it (although, since it was believed that commies held oaths in no esteem, the point of the oaths was difficult to discern). Americans were not just terrified, they were confused and stupid. And proud of it. Children, as I was then, were not required to take oaths but we did have to endlessly repeat a Pledge of Allegiance. We started imprinting In God We Trust on coins, but, really, we didn’t trust anybody.

If there was any part of American life where this stultification was absent, it was the comic books. Although devoid of ideas, they were stuffed with attitude, and the common scolds who dominated American public opinion did not like it.

But, as David Hajdu reports in “The Ten-Cent Plague,”  they had a hard time doing anything about it.

The Catholic Church made a run at it around 1940, which was just six or seven years since the comic book was invented, but didn’t get far. War took people’s minds off things and, up to 1940 and beyond, the mass of public opinion was anti-Catholic and so not inclined to rally to a Catholic-led witch hunt.

“The Ten-Cent Plague” is more a joyous history of what comics were than an excoriation of the illiberal attempt to corral them. (It is also, regrettably, not nearly as carefully edited as Hajdu’s joyous history of the singer/songwriters, “Positively 4th Street.”) Hajdu cannot seem to bring himself to give more than a barebones account of the anticomics movement.

He places comics in the same milieu that formed the wet core of the Roosevelt coalition: urban, northeastern, modestly educated, largely immigrant and outsider. (That may be why I don’t remember the lurid comics that set off the schoolma’ms. Brookhaven Pharmacy in rural Georgia, where I got my fix of Scrooge McDuck on the rare occasions when I had a dime, probably didn’t carry the violent horror comics that alarmed the straitlaced; at least, I cannot recall them although there were westerns, romances and Baby Huey in abundance.)

Where comics were read, they were read in megadoses. Sales totaled around 90 million copies a month, in a population of 140 million. The core reading population, from about age 13 to early 20s (although apparently there were substantial numbers of adults readers, too) was much smaller, so the average American teen must have been buying roughly a comic a week.

Hajdu accepts without question the claim that each purchased comic was read by 6 to 10 people. Similar claims were made then by Life and ridiculed mercilessly by Walt Kelly (who developed “Pogo” in funny animal comics), so the total readership might have been 2 billion eyeballs a month. Or not.  

Some hundreds of persons fed the stream, mostly from Manhattan: writers, limners, inkers, printers, colorists etc. “The Ten-Cent Plague” concludes with a list of workers “who never again worked in comics after the purge,” 66 names to a page, and it goes on for 14 pages.

A lot of them were Jews, although there were also rugged kids from heartland America, like Jack Cole (Plastic Man), whose parents allowed him to bicycle across country from Ohio alone as a young teenager; my, how we’ve changed. When the renewed assault came, there was a strong stench of the antisemitism that still pervades American Protestantism.

The Catholic Church supported but did not try to lead the second assault on the comics. By the early ‘50s it had tied its political hopes to McCarthy and its crusade against American values to an attempt to control films. Each family in the parish was pressured to subscribe to the anticomics Our Sunday Visitor newspaper and young Catholics like me were required to promise not to watch lubricious or antinazi movies, but the priests did not make the children pledge not to read comics.

There were plenty of illiberal organizations eager to take over for the church. The Girl and Boy Scouts were prominent, and the far-right American Legion balanced its support of baseball with antipathy to the First Amendment.

The characteristic protest of the anticomics movement was the public book burning. As Hajdu shows, the book burners were frankly aware of and comfortable with its association with Naziism.

Their figleaf of respectability was provided by Fredric Wertham (by a very mild irony, an immigrant himself), who was the kind of psychiatrist who gave psychiatry its reputation for phoniness at the time.

Hajdu gives us less about Wertham than we want but the basic story is nasty enough.

Wertham’s inquiries (which were not serious enough to be called studies) were conducted on juvenile delinquents in Harlem, where he found that comics led to deviance. Given what we know about white doctors and black kids, we are entitled to doubt that the subjects were in fact antisocial.

Wertham published popular books but never attempted to get into peer-reviewed journals. To the credit of the professionals, some academic and clinical psychologists criticized Wertham’s claims in public, but they were barely heard. In the ‘50s, viewing with alarm almost guaranteed an attentive audience.

Hajdu presents the conflict as between small-town people and urban values. It does seem that the book-burnings were almost all in suburbs and tank towns, but the book-burners were supported by the big-city presses. The ur-document (aside from Wertham’s books) that all banners referred to was a series on the comics menace in the Hartford Courant. Anticomics legislation passed in two of the three biggest cities in the country, Chicago and Los Angeles (although in that era both cities were politically in the hands of rightwingers). 

And then Hajdu’s story . . . stops. One day the comics were a vital part of young America, and on the next the distributors stopped distributing, or the retailers returned bundles unopened, and all the comics publishers closed down. Except for a short interview with Robert Crumb in exile in France, nothing of consequence remained to report about. There was no fallout.

There’s another whole book’s worth of fallout. William Gaines, whose EC had printed some of the most startling of the horror comics, had been experimenting with a new kind of magazine, Mad, and when he shut down EC he continued Mad.

Kids who were fascinated by the possibilities of telling stories graphically still had a place to go, no holds barred, and Gaines did not accept advertising.

Hajdu barely mentions it, but comics were almost alone among American publications in not relying on advertising money. This is not surprising. With a readership for whom a 10-cent purchase was a big deal, comics had almost no appeal for advertisers. Gaines got by entirely on newsstand revenue and was thereby the freest editor in the nation. When he decided to editorialize against the war in Vietnam, he infected some of the most restless, creative, don’t-give-a-damn kids in America.

The rightwingers had won their battle against comics, independent thinking and free expression. Within eight years, they had lost the war. Underground comix, inspired by EC and Mad, went right for the heart of rightwing religion and illiberalism from the start, with Foolbert Sturgeon’s “Adventures of Jesus.”  

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Wipe your feet here

As with so much else, the Duck Dynasty guys are unclear on the concept of doormats.
Perhaps if they wore shoes they'd understand.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Book Review 378: Clive of India

CLIVE OF INDIA, by Mark Bence-Jones. 377 pages, illustrated. Constable paperback

In 1707 the last man to control a really powerful Muslim army died. This was Aurangzeb, Great Mogul. Within 50 years, Robert Clive at the head of an absurdly small army — in modern terms, a company of Europeans and 2 battalions of sepoys — overthrew what was left of the Mogul’s empire and inaugurated the British Raj.

He didn’t mean to.

Mark Bnce-Jones’ forthrightly opinionated biography “Clive of India” describes how Clive, a young man sent out to work in the rag trade, was thrust into a fluid situation and made the most of it. His experience was slight: a few years working around Mysore, where he learned something about managing Indians, primarily the value of an imposing confidence.

He had no military training and operated entirely on the principle of overawing opponents. For that reason he avoided encounters with the French or Dutch.

Despite his genius for manipulating Indians, he knew very little about Indian customs and cared for them not at all, learning only pidgen and a bit of Tamil. No Persian, which was the language of the Muslim rulers. Bence-Jones makes the point that he had a concentrated course in dealing with the southern Indians, as a trader and by sleeping with the women, but that did not prepare him for the different culture of Bengal. Nevertheless, he managed his way through the murderous, treacherous intrigues of Bengal, Oudh and Delhi with only minor setbacks.

His guiding precept was to deal honestly with the Indians. Not fairly; at times he was brutal. But he adhered (mostly) to agreements.

The most amazing of the many amazing aspects of his short career  — only about 12 years of military and government activity in all — was that he did it while having to depend upon translators. These men seem to have been loyal and honest — more loyal and a lot more honest than some of the East India Company employees Clive had to deal with in India and back in England.

Clive outmaneuvered his English foes as adroitly as he had the Indians. He was more successful than his successor Warren Hastings though Hastings was, in Bence-Jones’ judgment (which he never hesitates to give) the better administrator.

Bence-Jones grew up in India and uses his intimate knowledge of the place to correct errors and misconceptions from library-bound historians. Clive was one of the most controversial Englishmen and remains so. Bence-Jones attempts to expunge some of the legends and outright distortions that cling to his memory among English people.

These will be obscure to American readers but Clive occupies a position in English national memory akin to that of George Custer in America’s. Everyone has absorbed a lot about the men, whether they cared or not, most of it inaccurate.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Fish story

Long ago, when I was a sports reporter and editor, one of my tasks was to edit "Fins, Fur and Feathers," the local column for outdoorsmen. That wasn't the only outdoor column I handled. There was another, written by a moonlighting game warden who had taken a course called "News and Article Writing for Recreation Managers" at my alma mater, Moo U.

Moo U did not have a journalism course but it did offer two credit courses in journalism. I took the other one.

"News and Article Writing for Recreation Managers" apparently taught its students never to call a thing by its name. A fish was not a fish but "a member of the finny tribe."

Eddie, who wrote Fins, Fur and Feathers, had not attended Moo U but had picked up a similar method somewhere else. This led to some memorably awful writing. A flounder was not a fish but  a doormat. So once, when the fish-murderers had had a successful weekend pulling up large flounders, Eddie reported that "the bay was paved with monster doormats."

A pair of monsters

Eddie moonlighted, too, but he seemed to put more effort into Fins, Fur and Feathers than into his real job, which was being president of a small savings-and-loan association. Those were the days when running an S&L was not demanding work. The gummint allowed S&Ls to offer a quarter-percent higher interest on time deposits and to lend on residential mortgages.

This may seem like unnecessary gummint regulation but when the regulatory stranglehold was relaxed, the S&L business was taken over by more fearsome predators than Eddie ever encountered around Chesapeake Bay. By that time, though, Eddie and his S&L were gone.

The job may have been undemanding but it was possible to underperform.  While Eddie was out murdering ducks, his cashier, a middle-aged virgin, was performing good works with Eddie's customers' money.

In not much more than 10 years, she donated more than $2 million to her church. In those days, the cashier at a small S&L couldn't have been paid more than $20,000 a year, but the preacher and his vestrymen never stopped to wonder how the cashier -- I think her name was Evelyn -- could contribute $20,000 a month to the church.

Anyhow, that is not the only reason I am automatically skeptical when Christians offer to instruct me about morality, but it's one of them.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Are you in danger from boiler explosions?

No, obviously, at least if you live in the United States.

Boilers are my favorite example of why government regulation of business is a good idea, and with a new president and Congress coming into Washington with visceral and profoundly ignorant views about regulation, today is a good day to remind ourselves why regulations are a good idea.

Around the time of the Sultana disaster (in 1865), people were forced to come to terms with how dangerous boilers could be. The year after that explosion, the first boiler-specific boiler insurance company in the U.S., The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company, was founded. At this point in history, industrial boiler explosions were taking place about once every four days, making them distinctly dangerous sources of energy.

Over the next several decades, more and more safety advocacy groups, safety-oriented legislation and testing codes were introduced, all with the goal of engineering and maintaining safer boilers. While these machines continued to malfunction on occasion, the frequency of catastrophic explosions was significantly diminished as the technology continually improved.
I doubt whether any of my readers has ever thought about boiler safety. That's because a sizable industry exists to improve and examine boilers, with the power to condemn the dangerous ones. (Some years ago the late Lahaina, Kaanapali & Pacific Railroad ordered a new steam engine which could never be used because its boiler was condemned.)

Voluntary standards were first, backed up with a form of financial coercion overseen by insurance companies; but while this was a good start, the "fireproof hotel" syndrome (about which RtO has often written) made it inadequate.

It requires the power of the state to enforce sensible behavior on businesses (for profit or otherwise).

Boilers are a poor example in one way, because they are hidden away in basements and outbuildings where no one sees or thinks about them. Comes now, however, an English engineering magazine which ran a contest for pictures of unsafe electrical installations. In poor countries these tend to be public and obvious.

There probably are regulations in most of the places where the "winning" photographs were taken (and certainly so in France, where one winner was found), but that brings up the next point: regulations have to be adequately enforced with regulators given necessary resources.

It costs money, which makes industrial regulation (and many other kinds) a First World solution to a universal problem.

Should anyone wish to dispute this analysis, here's a simple counterfactual: Describe any instance, current or historical, where a business spent money to forestall dangerous conditions before it was compelled to by government  force. (If you shop at a Lowe's or Home Depot, consider how they close off aisles where ladders are being used to restock and ask yourself, when did that start, why and have I ever seen the like at my neighborhood hardware store?)

(A list at Wikipedia, very far from complete, shows hardly any boiler explosions in the past 70 years.)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Nixon's treachery

From the New York Times, a sketchy account of Nixon's treachery in '68, to go along with his secret plan to end the war of '72.

Presumably a fuller version will be given in author John Farrell's new book, for which this seems to be a promotion.

More interesting to me is this throwaway line, also presumably to be  expanded in the book:

 They contain other gems, like Haldeman’s notations of a promise, made by Nixon to Southern Republicans, that he would retreat on civil rights and “lay off pro-Negro crap” if elected president.

That's why voters were justified during the election of 2016 in believing that the policies of the Republican Party were antiblack. They have been consistently for the past 44 years,  a disgraceful change from the previous policy of at least the liberal wing of the party. Yes, children, there used to be liberal Republicans, as there were conservative Democrats.