The Longest Day

Because it's 25 hours.

Separation of church and state has been a longtime liberal position, and it's one of their better ones. Some radicals advocate for the separation of school and state, for similar reasons, and I'm on board with that too. Let's hear it for logical consistency!

But, dear reader, very few move to the ultra-radical position I first broached here ten long years ago: separation of time and state. Twice a year, we're reminded that government has made a total hash of timekeeping, making nobody happy, probably killing a few folks here and there.

If the government wants to know what time it is, let them eat Coordinated Universal Time aka UTC (but not CUT or TUC).

If we ever come across the Klingons or Romulans out there, we'll just have to make them use UTC too. "Look, it's Universal. You can't argue with that, Worf."

Nevertheless, despite my kvetches, I lined up my "atomic" timepieces in a west-facing window last night, like Muslims praying to Mecca, the better to receive the incoming time signal from WWVB in Fort Collins, Colorado. And it worked like a charm.

As another indicator of how "interesting" these matters can become, see this Slashdot article: Leap Seconds Could Become Leap Minutes. What?! Quoting a New York Times article:

Later this month, delegations from around the world will head to a conference in Dubai to discuss international treaties involving radio frequencies, satellite coordination and other tricky technical issues. These include the nagging problem of the clocks. For 50 years, the international community has carefully and precariously balanced two different ways of keeping time. One method, based on Earth's rotation, is as old as human timekeeping itself, an ancient and common-sense reliance on the position of the sun and stars. The other, more precise method coaxes a steady, reliable frequency from the changing state of cesium atoms and provides essential regularity for the digital devices that dominate our lives.A

The trouble is that the times on these clocks diverge. The astronomical time, called Universal Time, or UT1, has tended to fall a few clicks behind the atomic one, called International Atomic Time, or TAI. So every few years since 1972, the two times have been synced by the insertion of leap seconds — pausing the atomic clocks briefly to let the astronomic one catch up. This creates UTC, Universal Coordinated Time. But it's hard to forecast precisely when the leap second will be required, and this has created an intensifying headache for technology companies, countries and the world's timekeepers.

The opposition to "leap minutes" has come from the Vatican (where, the article points out, they invented the Gregorian Calendar) (And also Gregorian Chants). And also Russia.

But, oh right, it's Sunday! So it's time to check out the betting odds for the 2024 election results:

Candidate EBO Win
Donald Trump 35.5% +0.9%
Joe Biden 31.6% -1.6%
Gavin Newsom 9.3% +0.9%
Nikki Haley 5.1% -1.1%
Robert Kennedy Jr 3.9% +0.3%
Ron DeSantis 3.1% +0.1%
Michelle Obama 3.0% unch
Kamala Harris 2.1% +0.1%
Other 6.4% +0.4%

"Save us, Other! You're our only hope!"

Also of note:

  • Don't people get arrested for this? The NR editors reveal: Joe Biden Was the Clandestine Agent of a Hostile Foreign Power.

    On the latest episode of his podcast The McCarthy Report, National Review Institute fellow Andy McCarthy reacted to the revelation that Joe Biden’s brother, James, wrote him a $40,000 check when a $400,000 payment from a Chinese concern came in.

    “It’s 10 percent for the big guy,” he said.

    “I can’t see any other way of looking at this,” he continued, “except to say that Joe Biden, as it turns out, is what they accused Donald Trump of being: He is a clandestine agent who’s been well paid by a hostile foreign power.”

    Addressing what makes someone “a clandestine agent,” he explained: “That you’re doing work for a foreign government and not disclosing what your status is or the fact that you’re doing it.”

    He added, “I don’t know what more to say about it. CEFC, this outfit that Biden was courting, it turns out according to James Comer’s committee’s report that came out in the last few days, it’s an arm of the Xi regime and the Chinese Communist government. There’s no mystery about that.”

    To answer the question above: they sure do. From the DOJ website concerning the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA):

    The penalty for a willful violation of FARA is imprisonment for not more than five years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. Certain violations are considered misdemeanors, with penalties of imprisonment of not more than six months, a fine of not more than $5,000, or both. There are also civil enforcement provisions that empower the Attorney General to seek an injunction requiring registration under FARA (for applicable activities) or correcting a deficient registration statement.

    I assume Joe will weasel out of this somehow, but it would be entertaining to watch. It would be nice if it got some coverage in the MSM, but I suppose that's too much to ask.

  • It's crazy, but it just might… nah, it's just crazy. But that won't stop Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. from suggesting it. Biden’s Only Salvation: A New Vice President.

    The obvious solution is for Joe Biden to get a new vice president. No offense to Kamala Harris, who, for all I know, may be supercompetent at everything except the parts of the job the public can see. In the best of circumstances, she’d be the wrong vice president now—too domestic, too ticket-punchy—for a country facing international dangers with a superannuated president.

    You saw this week what inevitably must follow. A vacuum exists when a president is Mr. Biden’s age and shows it. Barack Obama filled it. What president doesn’t return to his home state after his term to give his successors elbow room in D.C.? Mr. Obama doesn’t. His $8 million mansion in Kalorama Circle is built for entertaining. Just because the media practices unusual discretion about it doesn’t mean he isn’t holding court.

    Jenkins' specific candidate for Kamala-jettisoning is … Barack Obama! I'm unsure of the constitutionality there. But I think he's onto something, and the really obvious solution would be someone who's been in our EBO table for a long time: Michelle Obama.

    Sure, she lacks experience. Does anyone care about that any more?

  • The pundits are in agreement, though. Gary Schmitt of the Dispatch also sees the current veep as a boat anchor around the Biden campaign, and (worse) totally unfit for a not-unlikely scenario: The Veepstakes Are Too High for Kamala Harris.

    Let’s imagine what the global security environment might look like at the start of a second four-year term of a Joe Biden presidency. The war in Ukraine is still ongoing, but public support for the war is waning even while Ukraine continues to make small, incremental gains against Russian forces. In the Middle East, Israel occupies most of Gaza, and Iran continues to challenge the U.S. and Israel militarily through its proxies while also racing to finish acquiring a nuclear weapon. Meanwhile China is engaging in even more provocative military operations—against Taiwan in the wake of the Democratic Progressive Party’s third straight victory in Taiwan’s presidential race and against treaty ally, the Philippines, over the Second Thomas Shoal. And, 2027—the year Chinese leader Xi Jinping has said that China’s military must be ready to invade Taiwan—is now only two years away.

    Now imagine the following: On the day of President Biden’s second inaugural ceremony, it’s windy and bitterly cold. Instead of moving the event indoors Biden proceeds with the event on the Capitol steps. Not long after, he comes down with a cold, which eventually turns into pneumonia. Granted, that’s a dramatic and unlikely hypothetical, but just one of many voters must weigh given the president’s age: He could trip and fall during inaugural festivities, or the stresses of the presidency could induce a stroke. Whatever the case may be, his advanced age makes it more and more likely some physical ailment will force his Cabinet to decide whether to invoke the 25th Amendment and hand over the “powers and duties” of the Oval Office to recently reelected Vice President Kamala Harris.

    Who would think this was a good idea? Who wouldn’t want a “do-over” in picking Biden’s running mate back in the summer of 2024? Early in his tenure, Biden tasked Harris with the border crisis and Central America policy and she fumbled, showing she was not ready for prime time. She has done nothing since to suggest she is any more ready now. Standing next to the president at important events—as she so often does—doesn’t translate into being able to stand in for him if necessary. And that certainly appears to be the view of the American public. Her favorability rating hasn’t been near 50 percent since September 2021. Since January 2022, her disapproval numbers have outstripped her favorability by double-digits—with the average in the recent months more than 16 points. These are remarkably negative numbers considering how little she appears on the public stage.

    Schmitt has no specific suggestions for replacement. I assume Gavin Newsom is the wrong sex and color.

  • Good question. Charles C. W. Cooke asks it: Trump Fights — but for What?.

    In the New York Times this week, I learned that if Trump wins a second term, his team will seek out “a more aggressive breed of right-wing lawyer, dispensing with traditional conservatives who they believe stymied his agenda in his first term.” Last time around, the Times relates, “his administration relied on the influential Federalist Society.” Now, his “allies are building new recruiting pipelines separate from the Federalist Society.” This, of course, is their prerogative; there is nothing written in stone that accords the Federalist Society a role within our judicial-nomination process. But, surely, there are some obvious political consequences to this shift? I honestly cannot count how many times I have been told that traditional conservatives should be grateful to Trump for “saving the Supreme Court,” and, by extension, that they should be keen to help him do it again. “Are mean tweets more important than Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett?” I am asked. On its own terms, I can understand this argument. But if Trump is not going to do that again — if, rather, he believes that the people he appointed during his first term were failures, and wishes to look elsewhere as a result — then that case surely falls apart? The injunction, “Vote for me because I’ll do different things than the ones you liked four years ago” belongs in a madhouse, not a republic.

    A similar problem attaches to Trump’s record defending unborn life. I am routinely pitched on Trump’s record as the “most pro-life president ever.” But, if he believed that once, he doesn’t seem to now. Last year, Trump blamed pro-lifers for the Republican Party’s disappointing midterm push, and more recently, he has vowed to work with the Democrats in Congress to enshrine a “compromise” on the issue into federal law. May I ask which of these men is the one currently seeking office? Is it the pro-life stalwart who finally helped to kill Roe, or the snarling, equivocating critic who described the practical consequences of that shift as a “terrible thing”? Does Trump wish to build on his work or repudiate it? Naturally, he cannot do both.

    CCWC is to be commended for trying to sort out the logic behind Trump's statements.

  • Ahh, but the strawberries! That's - that's where I had them. Like CCWC, Nick Catoggio examines Trump's recent babbling, and is reminded of a character in a classic book/movie/play: The Queeg Factor. Exhibit A:

    He’s almost 46 points ahead of his nearest challenger in national polling. Barring divine intervention, he’ll be his party’s nominee for president. Yet here he is, with Iowa set to caucus in less than three months, babbling sympathetically about the goons who smashed up the Capitol to facilitate his coup attempt.

    That’s … weird.

    “Weird” doesn’t mean surprising. Trump sounding wistful about the insurrection is a dog-bites-man story for the sort of political news junkie who subscribes to this publication. But most American voters aren’t news junkies. Many barely follow the news at all.

    Do they have any idea what an obsessive freak Trump has become since leaving office?

    Another good question.

    (Our guest quote is from guess who.)

  • Because she's outstanding in her field? That's the obvious Iowan answer to Noah Rothman's headline: Why Nikki Haley Is Gaining in Iowa. It's a very inside-baseball look at polling and campaign messaging:

    Haley’s rise validates the notion that Trump’s competitors should have embarked on their campaigns from the outset with an eye toward appealing to the voters most amenable to their anti-Trump messages. With the support of a majority of the GOP’s Trump critics, the candidates might have built out their coalition from a position of relative strength. But neither DeSantis nor Haley took this approach at first. Rather, they retailed themselves as Trump without the baggage to voters who didn’t care about Trump’s baggage in the first place.

    Haley adapted when this strategy failed to generate traction, but her conventionally conservative messaging strategy risks putting an impenetrable ceiling on her support among Republicans. Still, if her fundraising holds out, the data give no indication yet that her campaign will stall after Iowa, when the long and hard-fought quest for pledged delegates begins. In contrast, DeSantis has placed a big bet on the idea that Iowa’s vote will vault him into contention — a theory predicated on the notion that he could beat Trump at his own game. Once he had assembled a minority coalition of MAGA-adjacent voters, DeSantis would present himself to Trump-skeptical Republicans as their only hope of defeating Trump.

    Out standing in her field! Get it? I remember cracking up at a joke with this punchline when I was eight.

  • Plus she's the only candidate who has a heavenly body… named after her, if you're forgiving on the spelling. Nick Catoggio (again, sorry) takes an astronomical approach to her campaign: Haley’s Comet. After looking at DeSantis's failure to catch fire:

    Enter Haley. She’s also seeing her best national polling to date at the moment, leaving her a mere … 51 points behind the frontrunner. “She’s breaking through at the right moment,” former Jeb Bush adviser Mike Murphy gushed to Politico. “Everything else has been ridiculous preseason coverage, like baseball teams at summer training. … I think it all starts now.”

    It probably won’t surprise you to learn I do not share his optimism. Jonathan Last recently pointed out that the candidate who’s gained the most ground in polling since the start of August isn’t Haley, it’s, er, Trump. He’s the one who’s “surging,” no doubt thanks to some DeSantis-curious populists concluding that they’re not so curious about the governor after all.

    OK, so she's still a long shot. Doesn't mean I still can't like her.

  • I'm in New Hampshire, and I've pretty much abandoned local TV channels. But sometimes political ads and commentaries break through my defenses. And I noticed some anti-Nikki stuff from the DeSantis campaign, specifically that she favored bringing Palestinian refugees from Gaza to the US. That got a pushback from Kim Rice, apparently pro-Nikki, in the NH Journal, and it's brutal: DeSantis Can’t Match Nikki Haley’s Israel Record – So He’s Lying.

    If Ron DeSantis felt secure about his record on Israel, he wouldn’t have to dispatch his supporters to lie about Nikki Haley’s record on Israel.

    But that’s exactly what he’s done. DeSantis’ charges against Haley have been called false by CNN, Check Your Fact, PolitiFact, Semafor, National Review, and Newsmax. The truth is Haley believes Arab countries in the Middle East should absorb Gazan refugees.