Sobering Thoughts

Comments on politics, the culture, economics, and sports by Paul Tuns. I am editor-in-chief of "The Interim," Canada's life and family newspaper, and author of "Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal" (2004) and "The Dauphin: The Truth about Justin Trudeau" (2015). I am some combination of conservative/libertarian, standing athwart history yelling "bullshit!" You can follow me on Twitter (@ptuns).

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Monday, November 19, 2018
 
We can't get to 100% renewable energy any time soon. And by soon, we mean decades.
Writing in the New York Post, Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the producer of a forthcoming documentary on electricity, explains the problem with the goal of getting to 100% renewable energy: it's not remotely realistic. Bryce explains:
But the hard facts show that renewables simply cannot provide the massive quantities of energy the world demands.
The fundamental problem is scale. Renewables aren’t growing fast enough to even match the torrid growth in global electricity demand, much less displace significant quantities of hydrocarbons.
Let’s do the math. In 2017, according to the latest data from BP, global electricity production grew by about 522 terawatt-hours. That one-year jump is roughly equal to the historical average.
Between 1997 and 2017, global electricity output climbed an average 571 terawatt-hours per year. Put another way, for the last two decades, the world has been adding one Brazil’s worth of electric consumption (the country used 590 terawatt-hours of juice in 2017) to its total every year.
What would it take to keep up with the growth in global electricity demand by using solar energy? We can answer that by looking at Germany, which has more installed solar-energy capacity than any other country in Europe — about 42,000 megawatts.
In 2017, Germany’s solar projects produced 40 terawatt-hours of electricity. Thus, merely keeping pace with growth in electric demand would require installing 14 times as much photovoltaic capacity as Germany’s entire installed base, and it would have to do so every year.
Prefer to use wind? OK. Let’s look at China, which has far more wind capacity than any other country: about 164,000 megawatts.
To put that in perspective, by itself, China accounts for about 32 percent of global wind capacity. It also has about twice as much wind capacity as the United States.
In 2017, China’s wind sector produced 286 terawatt-hours of electricity. Recall that global electric use is swelling by about 571 terawatt-hours each year.
Thus, just to keep pace with growth in demand, the world would have to install twice as much wind-energy capacity as now exists in all of China, and it would have to do so annually.
And keep in mind that electricity use represents only one facet of ever-growing global energy demand. Oil consumption is also surging.


Friday, November 16, 2018
 
WWE Power Ranking
Worst performance: Raw tag team division. Outside the Raw Tag Team Champions Authors of Pain and the team of Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler, the red brand's tag division sucks. The battle royale amongst the five tag teams that will take part in the Survivor Series featured teams that no one could care about and have either achieved nothing (Ascension, Gable & Roode), underachieved (The Revival), or are roster filler (Lucha House Party, because Raw needs five tag teams at Survivor, and former fluke Tag Team Champions, the B-Team). It is truly sad that champs from earlier this year -- Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas, the B-Team -- are completely irrelevant to the brand's tag division. As if to underline the fact these are nobodies, Braun Strowman interrupted the first of the two battle royales and leveled every single competitor. When one guy, no matter how big, can take out 11 competitors (Lucha House Party inexplicably was allowed to enter three members into the tag battle royale), it illustrates how terrible the lot of them are.
Honourable mention: Bobby Lashley (Raw) beat Elias in order to join the Raw Survivor Series team; NXT UK -- the entire promotion -- had a good week over two shows by responding to the challenge by Mustache Mountain to develop some tag teams and the announcement of the NXT Women's Title (which occurred months ago and was referenced to in the Women's Evolution PPV last month, but they are catching up on TV); Hanson (NXT) lost against Kyle O'Reilly in the Takeover go-home show for NXT, but he showed fans moves that people his size should not humanly be able to make; Charlotte Flair (Smackdown) was picked by Becky Lynch to be her replacement at Survivor Series to face Ronda Rousey.
13. Ronda Rousey (Raw). Her first promo, in the ring, was forced and unconvincing, and the crowd turned against her and for Smackdown heel Becky Lynch ahead of Survivor Series. But in a backstage interview, Rousey has a tremendous critique of Lynch for being hyper-senstive, avocado-eating millennial. Opinion was divided in our house, but I think it worked enough to generate some heat for the match that WWE had hoped would headline the Survivor Series. More about that shortly. (Last week: not rated)
12. Wolfgang (NXT UK): There were two NXT UK shows this week, and Wolfgang asserted his dominance in the brand by beating Ashton Smith in one show and joining the Coffey Brothers to beat up Mustache Mountain in the other. Wolfgang is one of the two pre-eminent heels in NXT UK. He looks strong (physically and booking-wise) and is the leader of the most interesting faction on the brand right now. (Last week: not rated)
11. Finn Balor (Raw): Finn Balor interrupted Drew McIntyre's promo and ended up fighting Dolph Ziggler, whom he beat. It was a good match, but more importantly, it gave Balor a quality victory and set up a potential storyline with either McIntyre or Ziggler. The WWE has under-utilized Balor throughout most of 2018. This is a step in the right direction for this character. (Last week: not rated)
10. Kyle O'Reilly (NXT): One half of the NXT Tag Team Champions faced Hanson from War Machine in a contest to win an unrevealed advantage for their respective team at NXT Takeover: War Games. The veteran Kyle O'Reilly is an under-appreciated wrestling talent who would be a big star if he any charisma or could promo even a little. He used in-ring craftiness (falling to the mat) to negative Hanson's size and strength advantage. The Undisputed Era and Ricochet, Pete Dunn and Rowe clashed outside the ring to allow O'Reilly to hit Hanson with the belt while the referee wasn't looking -- why he was paying attention to the fighting outside the ring rather than inside is dubious -- and O'Reilly scored the tainted victory. It was a fun match that added heat to this weekend's War Games contest. (Last week: not rated)
9. Zach Gibson (NXT UK): Zach Gibson is the #1 heel in NXT UK and this week he fought against Trent Seven in what has been probably the most even contest between two quality grapplers in the young promotion. Gibson has a signature win on his way to (presumably) an eventual NXT UK title match with Pete Dunn. (Last week: not rated)
8. Braun Strowman (Raw): Braun Strowman came out during the opening promo looking for Raw acting general manager Baron Corbin. It began with Strowman taking on every individual from the five tag teams that will represent Raw in the Survivor Series tag elimination match, and doing so handily. Strowman chucking one Lucha into another was one of the highlights of the week. Raw commissioner Stephanie McMahon came out and told him he had to be a good team player ahead of Survivor Series next Sunday, the Monster Among Men demanded some conditions: a universal title match against Brock Lesnar and a match against Corbin with whatever stipulations he wants. McMahon agreed as long as Strowman does not touch Corbin until after Survivor Series. This sets up several, simultaneous storylines, including possibly Stephanie McMahon's breaking her deal with Strowman. (Last week: not rated)
7. Cedric Alexander (205 Live): The former Cruiserweight champ ended his losing streak and delivered Lio Rush's first defeat on 205 Live in a phenomenal, closely fought contest with a lot of exciting moves. Alexander's Lumbar Check on Rush was intense and well-executed. (Last week: Not rated)
6. Rey Mysterio (Smackdown): The Miz didn't want Rey Mysterio as part of the blue brand's Survivor Series side but Paige wouldn't let the captain kick him off the team, so instead The Miz would get his way if he beat Mysterio. He didn't. It was a good contest, different enough from their match a few weeks ago to warrant another round on TV so soon. Mysterio will be part of Survivor Series. And after the match concluded, Mysterio dodged an RKO out of nowhere, in what is almost certainly a precursor to a Randy Orton-Rey Mysterio feud. (Last week: honourable mention)
5. Elias (Raw): This week Elias wrestled Bobby Lashley for the last spot in the men's Survivor Series. Before the contest, Elias pretended to call children's protective services because he feared for Lio Rush's safety. It was pretty amusing. Elias held his own in a physical contest against Lashley which is impressive and lost on a count-out because Rush emerged from underneath the ring to hold Elias' feet. This protects Elias while keeping him out of -- and getting Lashley into -- the Survivor Series. (Last week: 1st)
4. Drew McIntyre (Raw): Drew McIntyre had a terrific and long promo in which he recalled his brutality last week against Kurt Angle and declared that he was taking over the WWE and there would be "no more nostalgia acts." Fantastic. When Finn Balor came out to defend Angle's honor and challenged McIntyre to a match, the Scottish Psychopath threw Dolph Ziggler under the bus saying that if the Extraordinary Man who Can Do Extraordinary Things could beat his partner, he could earn the right to face him. Ziggler didn't like this, so the WWE is once again teasing dissension within this tag team. McIntyre clearly thinks he is better than Ziggler, and this week sort of proved it. Also, McIntyre delivered a Scottish Kiss (headbutt) that was believable and devastating. (Last week: 9th)
3. Dean Ambrose (Raw): The Lunatic appeared via video from outside the stadium, sitting on the hood of his car beside a garbage can fire, to answer Seth Rollins' question: why did he betray The Shield? He teased various answers, suggested neither the fans nor Rollins deserved answers, and then provided it: he is weaker with The Shield. He then threw his Shield gear into the fire. It was a deeply satisfying -- in part because of the delay over weeks -- explanation of Ambrose's actions. Rollins left the ring visibly angry. This feud is ready to go. (Last week: 4th)
2. Daniel Bryan (Smackdown): Paul Heyman interrupted the opening A.J. Styles promo and insisted that while the Smackdown World Champ is very good, he's not Daniel Bryan good. The WWE universe wants Bryan-Brock Lesnar, not another Styles-Lesnar match, Heyman claimed. Bryan emerged, angry that Styles was saying his name. That was odd. There was a lot of talk, Bryan smashed Styles in the face, and before you know it, the powers that be sanctioned a World Title contest for later that night, just six days before Survivor Series. The main event contest was nearly 30 minutes of incredible action and the final three minutes were ... phenomenal. A.J. hit the referee with a Phenomenal Forearm. Bryan took advantage of the ref being down to kick Styles below the belt. Bryan pinned the champ. In case anyone thought it was an accident, after Bryan savoured his title victory and began to look crazed, he brutally beat Styles by repeatedly kicking him in the face. This was an entirely unpredictable heel-turn. If you said you saw this coming, you're lying. Excellent storytelling. Great match. New narratives. I'm disappointed to see Styles lose the belt, but this should shakeup the blue brand. Any other week, Daniel Bryan would be #1. (Last week: not rated)
1. Becky Lynch (Smackdown): Scripting for Becky Lynch was incredible this week. An accident made it better and, at the same time, risked derailing her momentum. But even a concussion and busted face can't prevent Lynch from being the best thing happening in the WWE today. The probable main event for Survivor Series was a battle between the women's champions, Raw's Ronda Rousey and Smackdown's Becky Lynch. This battle has been given a fair bit of heat in recent weeks, and it was amped up way past eleven on Monday. Lynch attacked Rousey on Monday in the dressing room and put her in a Dis-Arm-er as a prelude to their respective promises to rip the other's arm off. Then she went ringside to lead a Smackdown invasion against Raw's women's division. It is always odd to see one brand's faces and heels work together to attack another brand's faces and heels. But Lynch was the leader of this attack and there is nothing out-of-character with The Irish Lass Kicker ready to take on the entire world. During the brawl, she took a (real) Nix Jax punch to the face that caused a nose bleed and cut near her left eye. That didn't stop her. Rousey came out and leveled a few Smackdown women until Lynch stopped her with a chair. Lynch hit Rousey several times before circling her victim. The crowd cheered "one more time" and Lynch obliged. The Smackdown women left through the audience and there was an extended shot of Lynch looking down on the carnage in the ring with satisfaction, bloodied herself from the battle. It set up an incredible, believable, meaningful feud between two wrestlers from the different brands. It probably set in motion an all-women's main event for Wrestlemania between Rousey and Charlotte Flair with rumours that the Survivor Series contest would result in Horsewomen v. Horsewomen standoff between Lynch, Flair, Sasha Banks, and Bailey against former UFC competitors Rhonda Rousey, Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir, and Jessamyn Duke. But the Rousey-Lynch feud need not take second fiddle to the presumptive writers' favourite narrative of Rousey v. Flair; indeed, this week showed that Rousey v. Lynch might be even better. The fans want to see Lynch succeed, even against Rousey. But we'll have to wait. We found out Tuesday that Jax seriously injured Lynch, who has a concussion and either a broken nose or broken bones in her face (for real). Charlotte Flair will replace Lynch at Survivor Series, expediting a return to friendship between the two former Horsewomen. It has been clear for some time that Lynch is the star of the WWE right now. Announcing that she wasn't cleared by medical to fight on Sunday, Lynch bragged she could still beat Rousey. We will have to wait for that battle. We don't know if Lynch's injuries may necessitate a longer break and perhaps even her belt being vacated. What we do know is that Lynch is a bankable star and that she had a phenomenal week even though she didn't have a sanctioned match and was removed from the forthcoming pay-per-view. (Last week: 3rd)


Thursday, November 15, 2018
 
2020 watch (Bob Casey Jr edition)
Based on a number of recent interviews (Politico, NBC News), the Washington Examiner reports that Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey Jr. might run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. Casey's answers are far from stating any real interest; all he's really doing is observing the conventional wisdom that there will be a large field and "we'll have to see what happens" or "I want to be open to all possibilities." That is not much upon which to base this kind of speculation. Casey has no constituency within the party and the idea that Pennsylvania is electorally important just doesn't carry any weight.


 
My Brexit politics thoughts
Are on Twitter with a long thread.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018
 
Brexit
I don't have time to read or write everything I want about Theresa May's Brexit deal. The Prime Minister will speak outside 10 Downing any minute now. Her comments to reporters follow a five-hour cabinet meeting. As Lib Dem leader Vince Cable tweeted, "If Theresa May is still struggling to get this deal past her own cabinet in No. 10, how will it win support in Parliament or the country?" Jacob Rees-Mogg is leading Tory and DUP opposition to May's Brexit. That should be enough to kill May's deal with the EU.
Two columns about the deal, made public earlier today.
Cap X's Andrew Lilico says no deal is better than this deal:
Was this what Conservative MPs entered politics for? So they could gift Northern Ireland to the indefinite jurisdiction of a foreign power and have the rest of the United Kingdom’s social, environmental, economic, competition and state aid laws made for it in another land with our having no influence over the key laws that govern our everyday lives, until that power graciously decided it didn’t fancy doing so any more? When they are old and their great grandchildren ask: “So, when you were an MP, what was the most important thing you did?” do they want to say: “I voted to break up my country and make the remains subject to laws set by others”?
The Daily Telegraph's Tom Harris says "Mrs May's deal is as good as it gets." Harris supported Leave and is unhappy that Brussels will have as much control of British policy as May has conceded. He also thinks that some of the open-ended agreements means that people will be able to read "if" or "when" greater independence from the EU will be achieved, depending on their preferences. Harris writes:
When we’re very young, we’re told fairy tales and encouraged to believe that everything works out in the end, that living happily ever after is only what we should expect. And then we grow up and we learn that sometimes – most of the time, in fact – we have to settle for the least bad option, that we have to compromise with people with whom we do not agree. It’s annoying but it is also a fact of life.
And since when was politics exempt from grown-up rules? I would prefer a withdrawal agreement that gave us full control of our laws, as well as full control of our seas and our borders. I would prefer an immediate right to forge trade deals with other countries. I also want to be 30 pound slighter than I am, but we can’t always get what we want. That isn’t an admission of failure, it’s an acceptance of reality.
Negotiating Brexit was never going to be easy. But Theresa May, who never faced a vote of her caucus or the Tory membership before becoming leader, made it more difficult that it needed to be. Her calculations were always based on domestic political survival rather than negotiating the best deal with Brussels. Now we'll see if she can survive the political fallout of the deal she was cornered into signing because she was committed to any deal despite her 2016 rhetoric that no deal was better than a bad deal.
The policy question for MPs (as opposed to the political calculus for opposition and Conservative MPs) is whether this deal is worse than no deal. I'd vote against May's deal if I were an MP. If the government falls, it falls. This deal is bad enough to risk a Jeremy Corbyn government. The reason is best described by Anne McElvoy in The Evening Standard:
[T]he quest to “take back control” is now rapidly sliding into vanishingly little control of anything outside of EU immigration and a few matters of which flag flies where. Most of the other decisive stuff will be rubber-stamped by the body we are trying to leave.
Is Corbyn really worse than the eurocrats? Are a few years of Corbynite socialism really worse than continued surrender of sovereignty?


Tuesday, November 13, 2018
 
'I'm from the government and I'm here to help'
The Kansas City affiliate of Fox reports:
The Kansas City Health Department threw away and poured bleach on food meant for homeless people.
The food was going to be distributed by a group called Free Hot Soup KC. The Kansas City Star said that the food, which included home-cooked chili, foil wrapped sandwiches and vats of soup, was destroyed on Sunday, Nov. 5, during a coordinated sting at several parks where volunteers had gathered.
The Health Department said the group did not have a permit and was putting people at risk.
"E. coli or salmonella or listeria can grow in the food," department director Rex Archer said. "And then you give that to homeless people who are more vulnerable, they will end up in the ER and even die from that exposure."
The mayor also agreed with the Health Department, tweeting that "Rules are there to protect the public's health, and all groups must follow them, no exceptions."
Yes, improperly stored food can cause food poisoning -- there are about 70,000 E. coli 0157 cases a year in the United States. It is not clear how many are caused by soup kitchens and other charities helping the homeless or otherwise indigent. But the alarmist worries about death are a little much. E. coli causes about 60 deaths a year in the United States, and even if the homeless are at greater risk, the possibility of poisoning should be weighed against the benefits of providing a meal to those who need it. There is never any indication that a cost-benefit analysis of potential risks measured against the very real benefits are ever considered. Instead, we get city officials raising hypothetical cost-cost alarm bells while destroying what might well be perfectly good food.


 
2020 watch (HRC edition)
The (London) Times reports that Clinton family pollster and confidant Mark Penn says Hillary is in for 2020:
Mrs Clinton, 71, will “take down rising Democratic stars like bowling pins” in the race for 2020, said Mark Penn, who worked closely with her when she lost to Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2008.
There was a widespread expectation that Mrs Clinton would win the 2016 election and two years after her defeat to Mr Trump she is preparing to embark on a six-month speaking tour with her husband Bill. She has given mixed signals about a return, both ruling it out and musing on how she would like to be president.
“She will not allow this humiliating loss at the hands of an amateur to end the story of her career. You can expect her to run for president once again,” Mr Penn wrote in a joint article in the Wall Street Journal with Andrew Stein, 73, a Democratic politician and former New York City Council president.
Yet polls still do not include Hillary Rodham Clinton among their potential 2020 Democratic contenders. Respondents to the Politico/Morning Consult survey find Dems prefer other septuagenarians, Joe Biden (26%) and Bernie Sanders (19%), who top the list, followed by Beto O'Rourke (8%) and Elizabeth Warren (5%), who will be 71 on Election Day 2020. But HRC's name does not appear among the options.


Saturday, November 10, 2018
 
John Cochrane on carbon taxes
Hoover Institute economist John Cochrane looks at possible ways to "sell" a carbon tax to voters. Here is one intriguing possibility: give citizens themselves carbon emissions which they can in turn sell:
Rather than a tax, give each American a right to, say x tons of carbon emissions that they can sell on a carbon market. That also gives everyone an incentive to vote for the system. And it states the issue squarely. You, a voter, are having your air polluted. You have a right to collect on that damage. It makes it clear that carbon is a fee, a penalty, not a "tax." The point is to disincentivize the use of carbon, not to raise revenue for the government to spend. "Tax" is a loaded word in American culture and politics. Carbon rights takes the whole discussion away from "tax."
A key point being lost amongst pro-carbon tax politicians, especially in Canada but also in other jurisdictions: if the carbon tax is being sold as a market mechanism used to incentive lowering emissions, the trade-off really needs to include a reduction in environmental regulations:
[P]air the carbon tax and fee with a trade: A hefty fee, in return for elimination of all the other carbon subsidies and regulations. To those who don't believe in climate change: ok, but our government is going to do all sorts of crazy stuff. Let's cut out the rot and just pay a simple fee instead. No more electric car subsidies -- $15 k from taxpayers to each Tesla owner in Palo Alto -- HOV lanes, windmill subsidies, rooftop solar mandates, washing machines that don't wash clothes anymore (hint: do NOT buy any washing machine built since Jan 1 2018), and so on and so forth.
As Cochrane says, voters in Washington state said no to a carbon tax that was designed to pay for further green initiatives. Voters quite correctly are skeptical of government-financed boondoggles (and crony capitalism) that seem to go hand-in-hand with many environmental programs. Economists who favour a "price" mechanism to lower carbon emissions view carbon taxes as an efficient alternative to regulations and subsidies. Whatever debate there is about the science of climate change, the debate over policy has been plagued by dishonesty and intellectual error.
In theory, I for one would trade a modest carbon tax (even though I think them unnecessary) in exchange for scrapping all environmental regulation tied to climate change, including the elimination of HOV lanes; the costs of regulations are still borne by citizens and the system can be gamed by clever consumers or companies that can afford lobbyists. My opposition to carbon taxes is based on the practical reality of how politicians work: the rates will go up or will not reflect the cost of "climate change," regulations will stick around or return, and in the case of "revenue-neutral" carbon taxes, that regime only lasts as long as politicians want it to.


 
WWE Power Rankings
Worst performance of the week: The Raw bookers. I understand that there a slew of injuries that the WWE is currently dealing with, but three consecutive weeks of a pointless Finn Balor-Bobby Lashley non-feud is brutal. Combined with back-to-back weeks of Ember Moon-Nia Jax on the heels of several weeks of Moon-Jax variations and yet another iteration of Riott squad vs. Bailey, Sasha Banks and Natalya that did not even conclude (suggesting more of these matches) is incredibly trying for viewers. Most wrestling pundits thought this week's Raw was boring. I almost couldn't watch the show. Yeah, there are injuries, but it seems that the writing team is so focused on the Seth Rollins-Dean Ambrose narrative, that they can't dream up any other storylines.
Honourable mention: Rey Mysterio (Smackdown) won his first round World Cup match at Crown Jewel and beat Andrade "Cien" Almas in an excellent match on Tuesday, as he continues to impress and earn a spot for the blue brand's Survivor Series match with Raw; Samoa Joe (Smackdown) beat Jeff Hardy to earn a spot on the Survivor Series Smackdown team before attacking Daniel Bryan who, as co-captain of the brand's five-man team, was ringside for the contest; Heavy Machinery (NXT) beat The Forgotten Sons in a fast-paced, quality match between two teams on the edge of seriously competing for the NXT Tag Team Titles; Lince Dorado (205 Live) teamed with Kalisto to beat TJP and Mike Kanellis is a funnish contest to kickoff the cruiserweight show, but the highlight was the Lucha star pulling out a new mask after TJP again de-masked him in the ring; Eddie Dennis (NXT UK) defeated the promotion's jobber Sid Scala to introduce this new talent to the WWE Universe -- looks like an interesting character who is wiry but mean; Pete Dunne (NXT UK) defeated Danny Burch in a perfectly serviceable NXT UK Championship defense; Mandy Rose (Smackdown) came out to point out why each of four women who appeared on the Tuesday show who will represent the blue brand at Survivor Series does not belong on the team and that as someone who beat her tag team partner Sonya Deville in the Battle Royale at Evolution, setting up (or at least teasing) a potential breakup; Daniel Bryan (Smackdown) did some good work the blue brand's Survivor Series team ready with co-captain The Miz, much of comic and goofy, but WWE is supposed to be fun and this week's Smackdown was downright entertaining in now small part because of The Miz and Bryan.
13. Brock Lesnar (Raw): If you win a title, you should probably automatically be in the power rankings. The Beast returned to the WWE to recapture the Universal title. He F5ed Braun Strowman five times to get the quick pin against the Monster Among Men who never got any offense in against Lesnar because acting Raw general manager Baron Corbin attacked Strowman with the belt before the bell rang. Strowman never recovered. Lesnar didn't win clean which is why he's so low on this list. Also, it means the WWE Universe will hardly get to see the champ on TV and the title won't even get defended at all pay-per-views. (Last week: not rated)
12. Jinny Couture (NXT UK): NXT UK had two shows again this week. In one, a brief video introduced fans to Jinny Couture and she looked like a potentially interesting character. In the second show, Couture attacked Dakota Kai and then informed the audience and Toni Storm that "this is my NXT UK." The sneak attack demonstrated that the fashionista is more than a diva. NXT UK's division is looking potentially quite good and Couture could be a star on the brand. (Last week: not rated)
10. (tie) Authors of Pain (Raw): Akam and Rezar beat Seth Rollins for the Raw Tag Team Championship. It's always good to win the titles, but beating a single wrestler -- Rollins' partner Dean Ambrose did not join him in defending the belts -- made them look weaker than they should have considering how dominant they have been over the past month or so. I understand that the story in this match is more about Seth than Akam and Rezar, but AOP was a casualty of the Rollins-Ambrose feud. I expect them to be Raw's top tag team for a while so its good to get the titles on this dominating tag team even if the way the WWE did it wasn't great. It would have been better to have them beat Rollins a little more easily. (Last week: not rated)
9. Drew McIntyre (Raw): Drew McIntyre beat Kurt Angle in the main event of the Monday show. Perhaps there is nothing special in that, but he won by employing two Angle finishers -- the Angle slam and ankle lock -- to defeat the Hall of Famer in his return. (Last week: not rated)
8. Dolph Ziggler (Raw): Dolph Ziggler won two matches in the Crown Jewel World Cup, cleanly against Kurt Angle although he had Drew McIntyre's help against Seth Rollins, but lost in the finals against Smackdown CEO Shane McMahon who didn't wrestle until the final match. On Monday night, Ziggler gave a great promo about how it went down unfairly (which is true, unusual for a heel) before being interrupted by Elias, whom he went on to face in a good match although he lost. Pretty good week for Ziggler and he made Elias look pretty good.(Last week: not rated)
7. Nikki Cross (NXT): When Smackdown Women's Champ Becky Lynch said she was ready to fight on Tuesday night and issued an open challenge, Sanity's music played and the male trio made their first appearance on the show in months. Then came out their NXT mate, Nikki Cross, who repeatedly asked the champ is she wanted to play. Lynch said she doesn't play, she wrestles. The two had a good match. Cross was a strong challenger against one of the two best female talents on the main brands. That's good for Cross' future in the WWE. Her character is interesting, she's a tough wrestler, and she can go toe-to-toe against the best. This match might mean Cross is coming to the main roster, but it definitely demonstrated she's ready. Here's hoping she's reunited with Sanity because when the men and women interact (without wrestling), sometimes it works; in NXT, this combination worked magic. (Last week: not rated)
6. The Miz (Smackdown): The Miz won two matches at the World Cup at the Crown Jewel but was forced out of the final contest against Dolph Ziggler due to "injury" setting Shane McMahon up for the win in the finals to be declared the Greatest Wrestler in the World. (That whole thing was silly.) Two wins in one show is impressive. On Tuesday night, The Miz was named co-captain of the Smackdown team for Survivor Series, alongside his nemesis Daniel Bryan. This is a great way to continue the feud storyline without having them fight each other in the ring. There is also some comic play here and the gimmick gave fans the chance to see The Miz in non-wrestling action even more than usual; considering promos are his strength both The Miz character and the WWE Universe benefit. (Last week: not rated)
5. Dean Ambrose (Raw): The Lunatic came out this week after Seth Rollins lost the(ir) Tag Team belts to Authors of Pain and met him in the ring. He asked Rollins if he wanted answers, Seth said yes, and Ambrose hit his erstwhile partner with Dirty Deeds. Ambrose leaves the ring, leaving both Rollins and fans in suspense. This is a great way to put heat on this feud without them actually fighting and keeping everyone wondering why he turned against his Shield brother. (Last week: 3rd)
4. Seth Rollins (Raw): At Crown Jewel, Seth Rollins beat Bobby Lashley in the first round of the World Cup and lost to Dolph Ziggler in the second round after Drew McIntyre interfered in the contest. On Monday night, acting general manager Baron Corbin made Rollins defend the World Tag Team championship alone against the Authors of Pain. Rollins lasted almost 10 minutes against a very strong tag team and I had some problem with how it was done. It would be one thing if Rollins held on for 10 minutes, but he did more than survive: he got in a lot offense and a handful of pin opportunities against AOP. That makes the new tag champs look weak. I understand that the point was to make Rollins look strong, but I don't think the WWE writers thought about the totality of the narrative in the ring. That said, Rollins remains near the top of the WWE despite losing the tag belts. (Last week: 4th)
3. Becky Lynch (Smackdown): Great promo saying she doesn't want to beat Ronda Rousey at Survivor Series, she wants to break her arm off. Then she faced NXT women's competitor Nikki Cross and was pushed but was ultimately victorious making them both look strong. Lynch is one of the top two or three absolute stars in WWE and showed why this week. Unlike the Rollins vs. AOP match on Raw, this contest made Lynch look strong but not at the expense of her opponent, who, even in victory, Lynch helped put over. Nice work. (Last week: 2nd)
2. Johnny Gargano (NXT): In a very strong promo, Johnny Wrestling admitted to attacking Aleister Black in August in order to have Tommaso Ciampa all to himself for the NXT Title at Takeover in Brooklyn. Gargano said that Black stood between himself and Ciampa and that he wanted to win the title (and presumably beat up Ciampa) on his own. Gargano said he's the same guy -- suggesting he is still a babyface -- but employing classic heel behaviour in justifying his actions as necessary for the larger good. If you remember the story that Gargano-Ciampa told in the ring at Takeover, this promo is even better, part of Gargano becoming just like the ruthless Ciampa -- becoming the person he hates. It's basically a Greek tragedy. Admitting he is not afraid of the dark was a nice touch, teasing a full heel-turn. (Last week: not rated)
1. Elias (Raw): Let's be honest: having a wrastler come out and sing and play the guitar weekly is silly. Or it should be. But Elias is a great character. The fans in Manchester were totally into the gimmick and the interaction between him and the WWE Universe as he strummed Seven Nation Army was marvelous. A great Elias promo puts him in the middle of the Power Ranking or higher, but this week he faced Dolph Ziggler, who just three days earlier, was in the final at the Crown Jewel World Cup. I'm not sure if the two lacked chemistry or the misses were part of the story, but it worked. More importantly, Elias, who usually only wrestlers briefly, went toe-to-toe with The Showoff for nearly 15 minutes. It was a great week for the fresh babyface. (Last week: not rated)


Friday, November 09, 2018
 
VDH on WWI
Victor Davis Hanson at American Greatness on November 11, 1918, and its aftermath:
What can we learn from the failed armistice of 1918?
Keeping the peace is sometimes even more difficult than winning a war.
For an enemy to accept defeat, it must be forced to understand why it lost, suffer the consequences of its aggressions—and only then be shown magnanimity and given help to rebuild.
Losers of a war cannot pick and choose when to quit fighting in enemy territory.
Had the Allies continued their offensives in the fall of 1918 and invaded Germany, the peace that followed might have more closely resembled the unconditional surrender and agreements that ended WWII, leading to far more than just 20 years of subsequent European calm.
Deterrence prevents war.
Germany invaded Belgium in 1914 because it was convinced that Britain would not send enough troops to aid its overwhelmed ally, France. Germany also assumed that isolationist America would not intervene.
Unfortunately, the Allies of 1939 later repeated the errors of 1914, and the result was WWII.


 
'Resistance'
It was bad enough that a Liberal MP "fixed" the Maclean's cover and it should have been embarrassing for so many Liberals to retweet it. But then Catherine McKenna made it worse.
What the Minister of Environment is describing is more like the "elite consensus" than the resistance. What a silly, silly person she is.