16 December 2017

A Shallow Analysis

In Krugman's latest New York Times OP/ED, he observes that, "Republicans Despise the Working Class".

He's right, but his view is too narrow. Republicans hate everyone who isn't rich. They believe that wealth is synonymous with virtue, and they are acting accordingly.

The only reason that they achieve any degree of political traction on this is because the Democratic Party establishment also despises the working class, and it ain't just the whole "deplorables" thing, when we look at the lackluster support for labor unions, the suggestions that the solutions to the hollowing out of US manufacturing capabilities are in training everyone to be office drones, etc.

The US really needs a Jeremy Corbynesque "Old Labour" party.

Well, This is a Fine Kettle of Fish

In Australia, a royal commission charged with reviewing child abuse has released a damning report on child sexual abuse:
A royal commission investigating the sexual abuse of children in Australia found Friday that the nation was gripped by an epidemic dating back decades, with tens of thousands of children sexually abused in schools, religious organizations and other institutions.

The commission, the highest form of investigation in Australia, urged government action on its 189 recommendations, including the establishment of a new National Office for Child Safety and penalties for those who suspect abuse and fail to alert the police, including priests who hear about abuse in confessionals. It also urged Australia’s Roman Catholic leadership to press Rome to end mandatory celibacy for priests.

“Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions,” said the report, which was particularly critical of Catholic organizations. “We will never know the true number. Whatever the number, it is a national tragedy, perpetrated over generations within many of our most trusted institutions.”
The bomb shell is that they are recommending that the church end priestly celibacy, and to report to law enforcement child abuse admitted in confession:
Delving into sensitive territory for the Catholic Church, the report recommended that clergy be required to report suspected abuse that they hear in the confessional booth. Church officials, however, argue that confidentiality is integral to the ritual, and Archbishop Hart took issue with the proposal.
I rather imagine that there are a whole bunch of folks at the Vatican reading this report, and its recommendations, and they are banging their heads against their monitors.

Notwithstanding Pope Francis's moves toward greater inclusion and economic activism, these two recommendations will clearly a bridge too far for him.

Historical Recollections Validated

As a result of some newly declassified documents, we now know that the promises made to Gorbachev about NATO expansion were far more explicit and absolute than has previously been represented.

I would note that this is not a surprise.

Promises by the US government, even when secured by a formal treaty, have generally only been more honored in the breach than in the observance.  Just ask any student of American Indian history:
The U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union at the time it broke up and many other experts have said that the West promised Gorbachev that – if the USSR allowed German re-unification – NATO wouldn’t move “one inch closer” to Russia.

While Western leaders have long denied the promise, newly-declassified documents now prove this.

The National Security Archive at George Washington University reported Tuesday:
U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous “not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991, according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (http://nsarchive.gwu.edu).

The documents show that multiple national leaders were considering and rejecting Central and Eastern European membership in NATO as of early 1990 and through 1991, that discussions of NATO in the context of German unification negotiations in 1990 were not at all narrowly limited to the status of East German territory, and that subsequent Soviet and Russian complaints about being misled about NATO expansion were founded in written contemporaneous memcons and telcons at the highest levels.

The documents reinforce former CIA Director Robert Gates’s criticism of “pressing ahead with expansion of NATO eastward [in the 1990s], when Gorbachev and others were led to believe that wouldn’t happen.” The key phrase, buttressed by the documents, is “led to believe.”


The first concrete assurances by Western leaders on NATO began on January 31, 1990, when West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher opened the bidding with a major public speech at Tutzing, in Bavaria, on German unification. The U.S. Embassy in Bonn (see Document 1) informed Washington that Genscher made clear “that the changes in Eastern Europe and the German unification process must not lead to an ‘impairment of Soviet security interests.’ Therefore, NATO should rule out an ‘expansion of its territory towards the east, i.e. moving it closer to the Soviet borders.’” The Bonn cable also noted Genscher’s proposal to leave the East German territory out of NATO military structures even in a unified Germany in NATO.
This latter idea of special status for the GDR territory was codified in the final German unification treaty signed on September 12, 1990, by the Two-Plus-Four foreign ministers (see Document 25). The former idea about “closer to the Soviet borders” is written down not in treaties but in multiple memoranda of conversation between the Soviets and the highest-level Western interlocutors (Genscher, Kohl, Baker, Gates, Bush, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Major, Woerner, and others) offering assurances throughout 1990 and into 1991 about protecting Soviet security interests and including the USSR in new European security structures. The two issues were related but not the same. Subsequent analysis sometimes conflated the two and argued that the discussion did not involve all of Europe. The documents published below show clearly that it did.
The “Tutzing formula” immediately became the center of a flurry of important diplomatic discussions over the next 10 days in 1990, leading to the crucial February 10, 1990, meeting in Moscow between Kohl and Gorbachev when the West German leader achieved Soviet assent in principle to German unification in NATO, as long as NATO did not expand to the east.
The conversations before Kohl’s assurance involved explicit discussion of NATO expansion, the Central and East European countries, and how to convince the Soviets to accept unification. For example, on February 6, 1990, when Genscher met with British Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd, the British record showed Genscher saying, “The Russians must have some assurance that if, for example, the Polish Government left the Warsaw Pact one day, they would not join NATO the next.” (See Document 2)

Having met with Genscher on his way into discussions with the Soviets, Baker repeated exactly the Genscher formulation in his meeting with Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze on February 9, 1990, (see Document 4); and even more importantly, face to face with Gorbachev.

Not once, but three times, Baker tried out the “not one inch eastward” formula with Gorbachev in the February 9, 1990, meeting. He agreed with Gorbachev’s statement in response to the assurances that “NATO expansion is unacceptable.” Baker assured Gorbachev that “neither the President nor I intend to extract any unilateral advantages from the processes that are taking place,” and that the Americans understood that “not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees that if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.” (See Document 6).
(emphasis original)

If you wonder why Putin, and most of the Russian establishment believe that the cold war never really ended, and that the US will continue to prosecute a war against Russia, you don't have to look any further than this.

15 December 2017

Hashtag Metoo

This time, it's Andrea Ramsey, Democrat, woman, and Emily's List endorsee, who has been forced out of the race in Kandas' 3rd district:
Andrea Ramsey, a Democratic candidate for Congress, will drop out of the race after the Kansas City Star asked her about accusations in a 2005 lawsuit that she sexually harassed and retaliated against a male subordinate who said he had rejected her advances.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the case told The Star that the man reached a settlement with LabOne, the company where Ramsey was executive vice president of human resources. Court documents show that the man, Gary Funkhouser, and LabOne agreed to dismiss the case permanently after mediation in 2006.

Ramsey, a 56-year-old retired business executive from Leawood, was one of the Democratic candidates vying to challenge Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in 2018 in Kansas’ 3rd District.

She was running with the endorsement of Emily’s List, a liberal women’s group that has raised more than a half-million dollars to help female candidates who support abortion rights.

Ramsey will drop out on Friday, her campaign said.

“In its rush to claim the high ground in our roiling national conversation about harassment, the Democratic Party has implemented a zero tolerance standard,” Ramsey said in a statement Friday. “For me, that means a vindictive, terminated employee’s false allegations are enough for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to decide not to support our promising campaign. We are in a national moment where rough justice stands in place of careful analysis, nuance and due process.”
I understand her frustration, but this is how things are going to be for the next few months. (Just Al Franken).

There are a number of other candidates running in the primary in that district, which appears to be competitive.

I'm inclined to support Brent Welder, who worked for the Sanders campaign, and is a labor attorney, and has explicitly supported a $15 minimum wage and an end to "Right to Work" laws, but I do not have a dog in this hunt.

14 December 2017

Headline of the Day

Yes, Net Neutrality Is Being Stolen From Us in a F%$#ed Up, Undemocratic Heist

(%$# mine)

We can say all that we want about the F.C.C. repeal of network neutrality rules, but that hed nails it.

Here is hoping that the Dems in Congress do their level best to invoke the Congressional Review Act.

Adding to the List of They Who Must Not Be Named

Omarosa Manigault Newman.

Absent some sort of political activity, such as endorsements, running for office (PLEASE GOD NO!!), or her attempting to assassinate someone, she will not be mentioned here again.


Have some Nichols and May:

13 December 2017

A Load of Bananas Whirling Around

It does look like whirling bananas

And the 1980s predecessor
The aviation engine manufacturer Safran is looking at an open rotor engine, which was looked at, and largely abandoned in the 1980s because of issues with noise and airframe integration issues:
Safran Aircraft Engines now has clearly plotted the technological trajectory a counter-rotating open-rotor (CROR) engine can be part of, somewhere between an ultra-high-bypass-ratio (UHBR) turbofan and a boundary-layer-ingestion (BLI) configuration. Despite wavering interest from the rest of the industry, the France-based company believes its ground demonstrator here in Istres is proving the architecture is certifiable in terms of both safety and noise. It says it would be an efficient powerplant for the 2030-35 generation of narrowbody aircraft.

The CROR concept has to be evaluated long before a commercial program is launched. It would be a greater breakthrough than the UHBR, a geared turbofan with a bypass ratio of 15. The latter could be ready in the 2025-30 time frame and is Airbus’ priority. In Safran’s view, the CROR, with its bypass ratio of 30, would be next. That would proceed an engine designed for BLI, in 2040-45.

Compared to the CFM Leap’s fuel burn, the UHBR and the CROR would be 5-10% and 15% better, respectively. Being unducted, a CROR can have a greater bypass ratio, and therefore a lower fuel burn. At Mach 0.75, the CROR would require a minor concession in speed.


A major challenge for an unducted engine can be found in acoustics. A witness to GE36 testing in the 1980s remembers its “dreadful” noise. And, since May, no journalist has been allowed to see and listen to an actual CROR run in Istres.

Nevertheless, Safran says the problem has been solved. The pair of propellers has been aerodynamically optimized, with thin blade profiles and complex shapes. They meet the current Chapter 14 standard, according to wind tunnel-trial results. The noise level is well below that of a turboprop, Bonini adds.
The engine is in generally form remarkably similar to the GE/Snecma engine from 30 years ago.

Both are using a fighter engine in the 20,000 lb thrust class as gas generators, and in both cases the props are being driven by counter rotating free turbines without a transmission.

It's a bit of 80s technology that never seemed to find its way into production.

Maybe this time.

Another Stopped Clock Moment

While others in the Trump administration are downplaying his statement, Rex Tillerson's statement that the US is willing to engage in talks with the DPRK without preconditions, shows that he is the sanest Secretary of State over the past two administrations:
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered to begin direct talks with North Korea without pre-conditions, backing away from a key U.S. demand that Pyongyang must first accept that giving up its nuclear arsenal would be part of any negotiations.

Tillerson’s new diplomatic overture comes nearly two weeks after North Korea said it had successfully tested a breakthrough intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that put the entire United States mainland within range of its nuclear weapons.

“Let’s just meet,” Tillerson said in a speech to Washington’s Atlantic Council think tank on Tuesday.

The White House later issued an ambiguous statement that left unclear whether President Donald Trump - who has said Tillerson was wasting his time pursuing dialogue with North Korea - had given his approval for the speech.

“The president’s views on North Korea have not changed,” the White House said. “North Korea is acting in an unsafe way ... North Korea’s actions are not good for anyone and certainly not good for North Korea.”
Seeing as how state department staff have been forbidden from talking directly with their DPRK counterparts since the George W. Bush administration, and that has resulted in spectacularly bad results, it is rational to think that a change might effect better results.

Of course there is an entire regime change industry directed at Pyongyang,* so it's no surprise that there has been push-back.

*Note that there are also ones for Syria, Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, and formerly there was one for Libya.
And the nation state that negotiated in good faith, and reentered the respectable community of nations, because it accepted US and European promises? That one was overthrown by western militaries, and is now a morass of anarchy and literal slave auctions.
And people wonder why some "rogue nations" are not willing to play nice with the west.