Overheard This Morning At A Greenwich Village Gym

On the front page of the New York Times this morning came the news that our erstwhile neighbor Harvey Weinstein was about to be arrested by the Manhattan prosecutors.  The arrest followed previous reports that Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance had declined to prosecute at least certain allegations against Weinstein after a lengthy investigation (and after the receipt of some substantial campaign contributions from Weinstein's lawyers).  From the Pravda article:

The Manhattan district attorney’s office faced an outcry over not charging Mr. Weinstein in the groping case, but the outcome this time was different.  He will be charged with first-degree rape and third-degree rape in one case, and with first-degree criminal sex act in another, law enforcement officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The following conversation was overheard this morning at about 9 AM at a gym in Greenwich Village a few blocks from Weinstein's house:

MEMBER #1:  Did you see in the Times this morning that Harvey Weinstein has been arrested?

MEMBER#2:  Yes.  But isn't that kind of ancient history at this point?  I mean, isn't the thing we really need to focus on now the upcoming elections?


Covert Surveillance By The Government Of The Opposition's Presidential Campaign Is Not OK

As more information comes to light of the extent of the surveillance of the Trump presidential campaign by the Obama FBI and CIA, the progressive media defense of the government's conduct becomes increasingly monotone and totally devoid of skepticism.  Of course our brave protectors had to surveil the opposition presidential campaign!  Trump and his people were talking to the Russians!

Over at CNN, they have now hired ex-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to utter the talking points of the day.  Recall that back in March 2017, appearing on Meet the Press, Clapper strenuously denied that there was any "wiretap" on the Trump campaign.  Clapper's new line, delivered on ABC's The View on May 22, is that actually the government wasn't really surveilling the campaign, but only "the Russians," and Trump should be happy about that:

"With the informant business, well, the point here is the Russians," Clapper said. "Not spying on the campaign but what are the Russians doing? And in a sense, unfortunately, what they were trying to do is protect our political system and protect the campaign."    

Over at the New York Times, the new official line is that, so long as the word "Russia" can be mentioned, any and all surveillance of opposition campaigns is perfectly OK.

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How To Become A Third World Country

It's not easy to take your country from relative prosperity to chaos and starvation.  Even most of the countries that we call the "third world" are currently in a process of gradual improvements in prosperity and slow rise of the people up from their former desperate poverty.  All you really need to do are to institute some modest protections for the private ownership of property, and to join the world trading system, and the next thing you know, wealth happens.  

But then there are a few countries out there that have gone into accelerating economic death spirals.  Venezuela!  They used to be one of the richest countries in Latin America.  How bad is it now?  The Wall Street Journal has a report today

By the end of the year, the economy will have contracted by 50% since 2013, hyperinflation is expected to top 13,000% and the U.S. has imposed sanctions on much of the top leadership of the government for alleged crimes, including drug trafficking.

I would only comment that the 50% shrinkage of the economy since 2013 is not a precise number, but rather a wild guess, since the Venezuelan government stopped publishing economic statistics back in 2016.  The actual shrinkage could well be something closer to 60%, or even 70%.

Of course socialism has everything to do with the economic disaster.  The government took control of the large companies, starting with the oil company that accounts for most exports, and then decreed that things like food and housing should be free or nearly so, all in the name of greater "equality" and social justice.  But then, when the economy started to fail, the people had the opportunity to vote the bastards out and restore some sanity.  Or did they?  Certainly the Brits pulled back from the serious socialism of the Labor Party back in the 70s, and voted in Margaret Thatcher and the Tories.  (And then saw their economy boom in the 80s.)  Germany and France and Italy and Spain have all had longer or shorter periods with governments characterized as "center right," and have preserved mostly decent if not great economic performance.

So at this point, with the economy far into collapse, why don't the Venezuelans just elect somebody new?  

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A Few Comments On The Latest Revelations Of FBI Corruption

Apologies to all for not being on the job when yesterday's big New York Times compilation of the latest FBI leaks dropped on the world. . . .

In the intervening day since the latest FBI revelations, a few thousand commentators have already thrown in their thoughts on the situation.  Rather than repeat what many others have already said, I will just offer a few observations.

First, I told you so.  On the question of FBI, and Obama administration, surveillance of the Trump campaign, sadly things are playing out just as I predicted over a year ago (April 7, 2017), in a post titled "Reasonable Inferences About The Weird Obsession With Russia."  The gist of that post was that you would be very unlikely to go wrong by inferring, even from what was known then, that high-ranking officials in the Obama administration had succumbed to the overwhelming temptation to use the tools of state surveillance to advantage their political friends and disadvantage their enemies.

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At Pravda, Touching Faith In The Perfection Of Government Bureaucrats

You knew it would come sooner or later, and then yesterday, there it was:  the New York Times lead editorial loudly calling for a world-wide ban on "trans fats."  The headline was "Making Trans Fats History," or, in the online version, "The World Doesn't Need Trans Fats."   Obviously, these things are evil -- poisonous, really -- foisted on us by the massive industrial corporations sometimes known as "big food."  Excerpt:

Trans fats are responsible for about 540,000 deaths around the world every year — deaths that could be avoided if countries banned the use of industrially produced partially hydrogenated oils, which can be replaced with healthier options like vegetable oil. Beyond the United States, countries like Canada and Denmark have taken action against the use of trans fats, but lawmakers and regulators in many other places haven’t — because they are either unaware of the health risks or they are reluctant to take on the food industry.

The link about the "540,000 deaths" goes to one of those very dubious epidemiological studies, this one from the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2016.  Are you sure that you've got the real cause right this time, guys?  Well, nobody ever got ahead in nutritional science by showing a lack of self-confidence.  

So, on to the world-wide ban.

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More On The "Science" Behind The Global Warming Scare

If you are still reading or watching legacy "news" sources like the New York Times, Washington Post, or one of the major TV networks, you may have the impression that all is going swimmingly in the consensus (groupthink) "science" supposedly proving that human CO2 emissions are destroying the climate.  Certainly, there continues to be unanimity among Democrat politicians that human use of energy from fossil fuels is a drastic problem that can somehow be cured by building thousands of windmills and solar panels at great cost.  See, e.g., Andrew Cuomo, Gerry Brown, and the 49 Democrat Senators who voted unanimously against the confirmation of suspected climate "skeptic" James Bridenstine to head NASA.

Lately, most of my posts on the subject of energy and climate have been devoted not so much to the science in question, but rather to the ridiculous costs and complete futility of trying to reduce CO2 emissions by means of the preferred solutions of windmills and solar panels.  See, for example, "Some Perspective On Efforts To Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions" on May 13, "Everyone Knows That Trying To Control The Climate By Reducing CO2 Emissions Is A Joke" on May 3, and "What's Really Happening In The World Of CO2 Emissions" on April 6. 

But still, it's fair to ask, is there any strong basis to believe the human CO2 emissions operate as some kind of direct control knob on atmospheric temperatures?  So today, let's return briefly to that subject.

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