Magic Beans

Well, the much hyped summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un is over.  The result?

Once again we see what happens when an amateur (Trump) faces a potential enemy. Said enemy, Kim, charmed Trump into saying terminally stupid things. Gratuitous things.

A brutal dictator, who even kills relatives when they get annoying,
is, according to Trump, “somebody that has a great feeling” for the people of North Korea. Right. Hate to see Kim when he doesn’t have that great feeling.  Here’s a pro tip:  never say gratuitously nice (or nasty) things which don’t forward your agenda.

Worse, Trump, the so-called master negotiator, got taken to the cleaners by Kim. In exchange for elevating Kim on the world stage and, verbally at least, agreeing to a long-demanded suspension of joint US-ROK military exercises, Trump got what, exactly? Some magic beans? Might as well have been, as Kim delivered nothing of substance, nothing focused on the ostensible purpose of the summit – to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons or at least agree to a road map of how to get there.

Trump’s real problem is that he can not deal with anyone who is remotely critical. Regardless if they happen to be the prime minister of a close ally. But he’ll attempt to appease tyrants such as Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. Add Kim to that list.


Justice denied

My memories of basic criminal law may be hazy, but isn’t the commission of a crime by a felon that results in a death the very definition of “felony murder?”

Felony murder does not require intent or motive. In this case, the perpetrator was, by virtue of repeated illegal entries into our country, a felon. He was also responsible, by his voluntary actions, for holding a weapon which was discharged without intent to harm. Allegedly without intent or motive. But with or without intent or motive, this at least meets the common law definition of involuntary manslaughter, if not felony murder. At least in sane jurisdictions.

So here we have a “sanctuary city” declaring at least some Federal laws null and void in their jurisdiction. With deadly results. Sounds somewhat similar to the 1832 Nullification Crisis

So, how was the South prior to the Civil War wrong to attempt to nullify laws they did not agree with, while San Francisco and other outlaw liberal enclaves are right? Oh, right. Liberals are always virtuous and pure; Southerners, by definition, are evil.

Yes, yes, slavery was evil. Of course. And we were right to end it by force of arms (yes, imagine that: violence does have some uses). But is it not also evil to allow illegal immigrants, who by definition have not been vetted and many of whom are criminals in their native countries, to roam freely in your city?

At the very least, this demonstrates that liberals in charge of sanctuary cities don’t have much regard for the rights of their actual American citizens.

A Very Trump Christmas

The Trumps have brought Christmas, i.e. a Mass for Christ, to the White House. And it is gorgeous. Cue the wails and lamentations of the Left.

Is it too much?  Too little?  Just right?   That is, is the White House over-decorated? Depends who you ask, but that’s a mere detail.  Nothing to do with emphasizing that the season is about the advent of our Savior which the very name “Christmas” should tell us.

No, Trump is not requiring non-believers to convert. He is merely showing that he and his family are Christians.  This must truly gall lefties who seek to impose their lack of faith in Christ on the rest of us.

Along came Jones?

The title is from a classic early rock and roll song by the Coasters.  Jones in this instance being Roy Moore’s Democrat opponent to serve the balance of Jeff Sessions’ term in the U.S Senate from Alabama.

As for Moore, I’ve thought (and written) that the allegations, even if unproven (or unprovable after four decades) create a miasma around the man. He stinks on ice.

That said, if he is elected, I’m reasonably certain he would vote as a conservative and would support pretty much the entire Trump agenda. As soon, of course, as we actually find out what that agenda might be beyond “I’m the Greatest! Me Me Me!”

Seriously, Moore would tend to vote with the Republican caucus, even if many of the holier-than-thou Republicans would rather he stayed at home. This is both a good and necessary thing.

On the other hand, if the Democrat Doug Jones should win, there’s the likelihood he would toe the Schumer-Pelosi party line. Also, he appears to be an abortion zealot, meaning he’d likely go along with killing a live-born, viable infant if that was the mother’s “choice.”  

Somewhat surprisingly despite all the accusations against Moore, recent polling shows that he is rising in the polls, and JMC Analytics reaches these conclusions:

(1) Roy Moore has regained his lead in the polls;

(2) Republicans have similarly regained the lead in the generic ballot test, and

(3) allegations of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore have not materially impacted the race.

My take?  Oftentimes you go to war with the army you have.  In this case, Roy Moore would at least tend to point his weapons away from his Republican comrades.  Tend to,  although it depends on how tied he might be to Steve Bannon, for whom Mitch McConnell somehow epitomizes Satan his very self.

Strange times, these.


From an article in IEEE Spectrum, some excerpts on a future you might not have imagined:

Ford, Google, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, and Uber, among others, have all boldly declared that they will get fully autonomous cars and trucks on the road in the United States by 2021. At the end of last year the Uber-owned company Otto sent a Budweiser beer delivery from Fort Collins, Colo., to Colorado Springs by autonomous truck. Chinese Internet company Baidu, partnering with Foton Motor Group, introduced its sleek semi-autonomous Super Truck. Daimler tested a driverless truck platoon in Germany.

We humans are apparently just too slow to safely drive ourselves. Now, I’m an engineer, and no kind of technophobe or luddite. And my long years of working as an engineer have taught me to beware of such predictions of perfection. As in, there appears to be the expectation that driverless cars will perform faultlessly.  Just like my GPS sometimes sends me to vacant lots when I’ve put in an address for a building that has been there for years.

A prominent example? Computers. I’ve been programming and using DOS and Windows-based computers for over 40 years. Fantastic progress has been made, and we’ve now reached the nirvana of the Windows 10 OS (/sarc off). Nirvana and tech perfection? Not quite. Waiting for the next improvement in the OS to work out the bugs in the latest one is more like it. But these machines are a mature technology. And they usually do what we ask of them. Usually.

My point? The BSOD (Blue Screen of Death), or some variant thereof will always be with us. The good news for users of computers (that’s practically all of us these days) is that computers that lock up and need to be rebooted are (usually) an inconvenience. A driverless car that locks up? Somewhat more than an inconvenience. A potentially life-ending event.

The caution here? In the real world of constant roadwork, detours, signalmen, potholes, etc. etc., asking a machine to make the complex decisions needed when we actually drive is asking a machine to be able to learn and deal with constantly changing parameters. Possible? Yes. Something I’d risk my life on in the next three or four decades? No sir.

The push for driverless cars (and trucks, an even scarier thought) reminds me of the pie-in-the-sky projections of life in the future from the 1950s and 1960s. E.g. every salaryman using his own private airplane to commute to the office. Uh huh.

Me, I’m waiting for food replicators and transporters as seen on Star Trek…


Ten months into his term, no one should be surprised that Donald Trump is not “presidential.” His approach to the job seems to be binary. On the one hand, statesman-like, scripted speeches that (usually) say important, correct things. On the other hand, Trump’s tweets and off-the-cuff remarks that might be confused with those from a middle school brat.

One of the worst things Trump has done since his election? Punching down, e.g. his unnecessary spat with Jeff Flake and gratuitous personal insults of Bob Corker.  Was any thought given by Trump to the notion that he might need these two senators to pass legislation he campaigned on?  No; Trump’s lizard brain was in control.

True leaders don’t do this. They don’t need to. Trump, for some reason (I’ll pass on psychoanalysis here) clearly believes he needs to do this.  It’s beyond dumb, and is the best answer to Trump Acolytes who claim that the man is engaging in four-dimensional chess that we mere mortals are just too stupid to fathom.

Trump has gone out of his way to alienate those in Congress he needs to accomplish anything that depends on passing legislation. Which is to say the most important things he ran on (repeal-and-replace Obamacare, tax reform). 

As for the “great and beautiful wall,” that was and is nothing but boob bait.  If you doubt this, how to account for the dramatic reduction in illegal border crossings under Trump?  Even the New York Times, hardly a friendly news source for him, acknowledges this.  Having a wall on those parts of our southern border where one is feasible will help.  But is hardly the answer to our overall porous borders and lack of “extreme vetting” of people from various Third-World hellholes.

A president needs to learn when to engage and when to ignore and rise above the fray. And to keep doing the good things he’s been doing.  If Trump is capable of learning anything, this is one thing that would make the rest of his otherwise all-but-assured one term better.

Chickens; roost; coming home

In case anyone missed it, the House will not be voting on any repeal and replace bill for Obamacare.  At least for the time being.  Before any fingers are pointed at Paul Ryan and the rest of the House leadership, consider President Trump’s role.   

Trump dropped what had been one of his signature issues of the campaign like a hot and heavy potato. For at least 18 months he would tell us, incessantly, and with far too many adjectives, how bad Obamacare was. And that one of the first things he would do as president was get it repealed and replaced with…something with another bunch of meaningless adjectives in front of it.

One might have gotten the impression it was actually important that we repeal it. Which is what he said on the campaign trail, over and over and over and… Got to stop it; I’m going all Trumpian here.

Besides trashing Obama and Obamacare (both correctly, in my opinion), Trump also repeatedly trashed the Republican leadership in the House and Senate. Way to make friends and influence people.

Perhaps Trump thinks that Republicans in Congress should bow before him, the mighty deal-making president. But they are not underlings in some Trump enterprise who report to him. They are leaders of a co-equal branch of our government.

The leaders are far from perfect, mind you. But put yourself in their shoes, trying to obtain cohesion from groups of Republicans who, unlike their Democrat brethren, actually think and have different thoughts on how best to govern. Like herding cats.

Let’s just say that Trump preemptively burned bridges with Republicans in Congress. Good will squandered is mighty hard to get back.