Thursday, December 14, 2017

Less Is Moore

Much is being written about the Moore loss in Alabama. Wishful-thinking Democrats will try to see it as the forefront of a wave promising good things for 2018. Republicans looking for a bright side will see a bullet dodged.

I’m inclined to think we see another unfortunate example of an oddball primary where a quite small segment of the electorate turns out in large numbers. Doing so, they nominate someone who doesn’t have a great chance of general election success. The Tea Party did this a couple of times with people who had to say they weren’t witches and otherwise suffered from foot-in-mouth.

There is definitely an Alabama constituency for Roy Moore’s defiant culture warrior stance, it just wasn’t a majority that would stick with him in the face of multiple allegations of harassment. A generic Republican with no baggage would have been elected easily, but that man didn’t win the low-turnout primary.

Tip O’Neill famously said “All politics is local,” which was, given his Boston blarney style, an exaggeration. Much is truly local, and quite a bit is not.

Today as I write this, men all over the country are reassessing whether they realistically have a future in politics, given certain half-remembered youthful indiscretions or courtship fails they’d rather stayed forgotten. For the next biennial cycle or two recruiting candidates will be more difficult for both parties, thanks to #MeToo.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Musings

With the #MeToo movement lots of guys in positions of authority are being accused of sexual harassment, probably most of them deservedly. Then along comes an article at The Federalist by Denise C. McAllister who says, okay, but women like men to pay attention, to be attracted, and that makes sense to me too.

Taken together, it makes me wonder if sexual harassment doesn't generally occur when men whom women don't find attractive, are nevertheless attracted to those uninterested women. Is it in fact this mismatch which creates the harassment situation? That is, harassment happens when the wrong 'fish' takes the bait.

Then there's the reverse deal, when nobody shows interest. That doesn't do much for a woman's self-esteem. These are not new questions, one supposes Egyptian men and women struggled with them 5000 years ago along the Nile.

Weird Icthyological Science

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds provides a link to a Nature paper describing how two Swedish researchers (a) published a paper reporting research that showed tiny particles of waterborne plastic were harming fish, then (b) retracted the paper when questioned by other scientists, and now (c) have been found to have committed "misconduct in research" by Uppsala University where they work.
To settle the controversy, the university’s vice-chancellor, Eva Åkesson, subsequently handed over the case to the newly established Board for Investigation of Misconduct in Research at Uppsala University for further scrutiny.

In its decision, announced on 7 December, the board finds Lönnstedt guilty of having intentionally fabricated data; it alleges that Lönnstedt did not conduct the experiments during the period — and to the extent — described in the Science paper.
This is good for two reasons, it suggests the panic over plastic particles in the seas may be overdone, and it is good when crooked scientists are caught and hung out to dry.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

I first saw this film on a long flight, and found it intriguing. Then I bought a copy so I could show it to the other DrC. This done, it's time for a review, with spoilers.

Miss P is a fantasy film, I suppose, in the same sense that the Harry Potter films are. Start with several strange assumptions about "special" traits children might have that would cause them to be deemed "peculiar." A child who can start fires by touching something flammable with her hands, another who is lighter-than-air and must wear lead shoes to stay on the ground, kids who are preternaturally strong, or invisible, or so ugly as to cause convulsions in any viewer.

Now imagine that a group of adult peculiars who can shift "time" itself decide the safest life for peculiar kids is to not grow up but to live in the everlasting present of a perfect day, endlessly repeated. Whereas a group of peculiars who did mature have turned into bad hats who prey on the children.

Eva Green's Miss Peregrine is as quirky as Julie Andrews' Mary Poppins was, by turns stern and loving. The kids do a fine job, one hopes they won't have the disastrous adulthoods most child actors seem to grow into.

The trick with a film of this sort is to make you care about the kids, and about a budding romance between two of them, all in the midst of much strange and fantastic violence. Oddly enough, the film succeeds in doing just that. I think it fair to say we both enjoyed it, particularly on a second and third viewing. Enjoy.

Jones Defeats Moore, Narrowly

Fox News has called the special senatorial election in Alabama for Democrat Doug Jones, who very narrowly edged out controversial Republican Roy Moore. The margin was 49.9% to 48.4%.

I'm of two minds about this outcome. On the one hand, it will make passage of the tax revision and other GOP legislation more difficult in the coming months. On the other hand, when the 2018 election rolls around eleven months from now, Roy Moore will be ancient history instead of a gamy albatross hung around the party's neck.

So ... let's hope Moore's loss proves to be a blessing in disguise, instead of an unmitigated curse. As the guys at Power Line noted, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) is the big loser tonight as he will now have to go through with his promised resignation.

Organizations which spent good money to underwrite polls that predicted one or the other candidate would win by 8 or 10 points need to rethink doing so; very clearly those expensive polls made seriously faulty assumptions.

What Is Wrong

Blogging at Townhall, John Hawkins writes about why so many of us think things in Washington are just wrong.
Is our border secure? Are we balancing the budget? Are politicians being responsible with our money? Do we have great public schools? How good of a job are they doing with healthcare? Are they protecting Social Security and Medicare for future generations? Are we taking care of our soldiers at the VA? Is the government staying out of our business?

We live in a country run by politicians and bureaucrats who can’t do anything right and yet they think the solution to that problem is to give them even more power over our lives.
That is why it’s swamp-draining time.

Courage and Cunning

Writing for Asia Times, David P. Goldman who channels Spengler, assesses the Trump presidency to date and finds it good.
Economic growth is accelerating, stock prices are rising, and consumer confidence is soaring. The only distressed asset in the US market is conventional wisdom, which dismissed the former real-estate developer and reality TV star as a blundering amateur.

On the contrary, Trump evinces a shrewdness about American voters better than that of any politician of his generation. Even more importantly, he has the nerve to take risks in order to draw his opponents into battles that he thinks he can win. I can think of no politician with his combination of courage and cunning since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Ranking Trump with FDR is not faint praise. Many think Trump’s accomplishments to date have been largely accidental, Goldman believes otherwise.

Looking at Trump’s life accomplishments, I have to agree with Goldman. Trump is a classiic successful entrepreneur. He does more winning than he does losing, though not everything he attempts turns to gold.

Do people remember the fabulously successful late Steve Jobs was also associated with the failed NeXT computer start-up? Most entrepreneurs fail as well as succeed, if like Jobs they succeed eventually. Understand Trump in this context.

Polling 101

Alabama votes today for a senator to replace Jeff Sessions, who left the Senate to become Trump’s Attorney General. Polls trying to predict the outcome are all over the map, from showing a big edge for Democrat Doug Jones, as unlikely as that seems in bright red Alabama, to showing a big edge for Republican Roy Moore, who struggles with allegations he hit on underage girls as a young adult, 40 years ago.

Why all the disparity in polling? Number cruncher Nate Silver writes a long column at his FiveThirtyEight website, explaining the whys and wherefores of polling - how the various polls draw unrepresentative samples and what they try to do to adjust their data to more closely model the actual voting population.

All of this is very much the “inside baseball” of politics and, as such, not everyone’s cup of tea. On the other hand, if you read COTTonLINE regularly you may find the intricacies of politics interesting. If you do, you may enjoy Silver’s mini-lecture on the various polling methodologies and the shortcomings of each.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Unintended Consequences Keep Coming

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds also writes a weekly column for USA Today, his topic in March of last year was how the GOP establishment brought about the rowdy blue-collar Trump movement without meaning to do so. Reynolds' conclusion restates something we've noted before:
The tea party movement was smeared as racist, denounced as fascist, harassed with impunity by the IRS and generally treated with contempt by the political establishment — and by pundits like (David) Brooks, who declared "I'm not a fan of this movement." After handing the GOP big legislative victories in 2010 and 2014, it was largely betrayed by the Republicans in Congress, who broke their promises to shrink government and block Obama’s initiatives.

When politeness and orderliness are met with contempt and betrayal, do not be surprised if the response is something less polite, and less orderly. (snip) Trump’s ascendance is a symptom of a colossal failure among America’s political leaders, of which Brooks’ mean-spirited insularity is only a tiny part.
Believe it.

Trump Is Winning, HuffPost Is Sad

On Friday we shared a CBS piece saying Trump almost has momentum. Tonight we write to share a similar piece from HuffPost, another one of the routinely left-wing sites we normally avoid.

This article is by a black author, one Earl Ofari Hutchinson, who certainly isn't happy with what he's writing, as his title shows:
Sadly, Trump Is Winning
He finds three areas of particular significance:
One is the GOP. It can rail and curse at him publicly and privately, but it needs Trump. He is more than the titular head of the GOP. He is the point man for GOP policy and issues and, in a perverse way, the spur to get action on them.

The second front he’s winning on is the continuing love fest that his devout base has with him. (snip) That’s Republican voters. The overwhelming majority of whom back him.

The third winning front for Trump is his perennial ace in the hole: the media. He remains a ratings cash cow for the networks and makes stunning copy for the print media. (snip) He will continue to suck the media air out of everything that the Democrats do and try to do.
This last one is particularly ironic inasmuch as Trump bashes the old media every chance he gets, and yet they still write and broadcast almost exclusively about him. He's their obsession.

Echoes of the Past

I grew up in the Ojai Valley about a million years ago. The family moved there after World War II ended and before the Korean War began. I left to go to college and never lived there again.

Ojai isn't on most people's mental maps ... a blessing. If you've heard of Ojai, the reason might be a tennis tournament, or a music festival, or maybe because the connection the area had with the bionic man and bionic woman TV shows. It is pretty, or was before it burned.

These days Ojai lures in retired hippies and other arty folk. As a result of the Thomas fire in Ventura County, Ojai has been in the national news ... it seems so odd. For example, I picked up this off the Lucianne.com website.

Palestinians Losing Clout

Conrad Black is a former press baron, a Canadian resident, a British Lord, and a frequent perceptive commenter on American politics. He often writes for Canada's National Post, which he once owned.

Today he revisits the conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories, in light of Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. First, he makes several interesting points.
This recent and contemporary bunk about Israel as an apartheid state is the last gasp of the useful idiots of primeval anti-Semitism. The Jews are the majority, unlike the Afrikaaners; the Arabs have substantial rights; and Israel was not just admitted to the United Nations as a territory and jurisdiction, like Canada and the United States and other existing countries in 1945 were, but was created by the United Nations as a Jewish state. It is the ultimate, legitimate country.

The agitation about Jerusalem as capital is nonsense — the Israeli Knesset and Supreme Court are there and Russia recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in April of this year, which makes their disapproval of Trump’s move this week a bit rich, even by the unvaryingly cynical standards of the Kremlin.
Then he concludes with some pointed advice for the Palestinians.
Donald Trump has recognized realities and done the Palestinians a favour, if they and their ancient terrorist leadership aren’t too punch-drunk to recognize the facts: the Palestinians were used and are no longer useful. Donald Trump is a realist and is not overly concerned with the American Jewish vote, which is now infested with Jew-hating Jews anyway. The Palestinians should take what they can get while they can get it.
Trump signaled to the Palestinians they’ve already turned down the best deal they’ll get from the U.S. The offers will continue to get less and less attractive the longer they stall.

If the U.S. never manages to settle the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, that’s an outcome it can live with, indefinitely. Can Palestine? Are they willing to live with a deteriorating status quo?

Will Palestinians choose to be a nation? If they do not or cannot, historians will eventually write about them as they do the Hittites or the Minoans, as a people who no longer exist.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Saturday Snickers

It's Saturday so Steven Hayward of Power Line has posted his week's collection of cartoons, captioned photos, and snark for our amusement. Herewith some favorites, described:

Before and after photos of Caitlyn and Bruce, side by side with this caption bridging the two:
Caitlyn Jenner came out today and said she was
groped by Bruce Jenner over a several year period....
Movie still of a pig-tailed Christina Ricci playing Wednesday Addams, glowering at us. It's captioned:
Here, I baked you that wedding cake,
just as your lawyers ordered me to.
Go ahead ... eat it 
Cartoon of a smiling young woman on the phone, placing an order. She says:
Hello, Islamic bakery?
I'd like to order a 
Mohammad
cartoon cake.
Yes, you have to.
And put some bacon in it. 
A factory-style safety poster, this one says:
President Trump
has been in
Office 320 days
With no death camps.
Where are the death camps?
Poster with the following statement:
I don't understand why people
say hurtful things like,
"Want to go for a run?"
or
"Try this kale." 

Fun Stuff, If True

A staple of mole hunting (aka counterintellingence) is planting misleading information differentiated so each suspect gets a slightly different example thereof. When the leaked material shows up in enemy hands, the mole hunters can determine which suspect leaked the (mis)information by determining which error it contains.

The happy warriors at Conservative Treehouse believe some (or all) of the stories CNN has recently broken, and then retracted as misleading, were the result of mole hunters closing in on a leak source among the so-called Gang of Eight.
The Gang of Eight holds oversight on every covert intelligence operation going on around the world. The Go8 oversee the NSA, CIA, FBI, DNI, and every single intelligence unit and operation. The Go8 are the only group with oversight on the CIA action from Presidential Finding Memos authorizing covert operations.
CTH guesses the leaker is Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), ranking minority member on the House Intelligence Committee. Since he works hard at being a jerk, it would be very sweet if it turns out they are correct and he can be busted for violating security. A perp walk would be a good look for Schiff.

On the other hand, John Hinderaker of Power Line is inclined to believe the leakers were Shiff's committee staff. Whichever, it's an ugly business.

Another Unintended Consequence

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds quotes a headline:
Congress Reeling from Sexual Harassment Deluge
He then appends a comment:
Prediction: the chief result will be fewer women hired. When every accusation is believed, and when an accusation can ruin a career, why run the risk?
Particularly in a setting where the likelihood of eventually having one or more disgruntled ex-employees is relatively large. File this as another entry in our Unintended Consequences series.

Not Alone, Merely the First

President Trump announces the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The usual suspects go nuts, announcing the end of the non-existent peace process.

Reading our media you’d get the distinct impression no other country had followed Trump’s lead. You’d be wrong.

Daniel P. Goldman, who channels Spengler at PJ Media, provides a list of other countries which have said they’ll follow Trump’s lead. That group includes Hungary, the Czech Republic, and the Philippines. One presumes others will follow.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Winners and Losers

Tom Bevan, co-founder of RealClearPolitics, takes a wander through recent polling data and mines some gems, including:
“In today’s economy, does everyone have a fair chance to get ahead” or is it “mainly just a few people at the top who have a chance to get ahead”? Seventy-seven percent of Republicans answered that “everyone has a fair chance,” while 76 percent of Democrats responded that “just a few at the top get ahead.” Independents were split, with 41 percent saying “everyone” and 55 percent saying “just a few.”
It is comforting to know one of the supposedly eternal verities still stands. Namely, that the GOP is the party of winners, the Democrats are the party of losers, and the independents are muddled.

Bevan manages to squeeze in some Star Wars polling trivia for fans, in honor of the new release - The Last Jedi - happening before Christmas, scroll down.

Almost Momentum

CBS News, than which it is difficult to be more mainstream, reluctantly reports President Trump is on a roll. First savor their headline:
President Trump starts to rack up wins
There follows a list of his recent accomplishments and the troubles experienced by his opponents. This starts with the tax code changes, and including the troubles Mueller’s hit squad is having with revelations of bias. Finally, enjoy their conclusion:
Right now, Trump is having a good moment, and is heading into the holidays with something that almost resembles momentum.
Do you have any idea the heartburn that conclusion must be creating at CBS, home of 60 Minutes? The picturesque comparison would be “napalm.”

In honor of the Christmas season I’m imagining a carol (to the tune of “Oh, Tannenbaum”) which begins “Oh, schadenfreude, oh, schadenfreude, how lovely are your examples.”

Hypertrophy

Census Bureau data reported by CNSNews.com shows what is wrong with our national government.
The five richest counties in the United States when measured by median household income are all suburbs of Washington, D.C., according to the American Community Survey data released today by the Census Bureau.
Here is proof, if any was needed, that our Federal government is too large, employs too many people, and pays them too much for accomplishing too little. Who should we blame for enlarging and enriching the DC swamp? Democrats in general, and quite a few establishment Republicans.

Not all of the salaries are governmental, of course. Some percentage are lobbyists and other, assorted hangers-on, their muzzles directly or indirectly in the FedGov feed trough.

President Trump, you have our mandate to get on with draining the DC swamp. By not filling many superfluous appointive positions, you’ve made a heck of a good start.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

FBI Taken to Woodshed

John Hinderaker of Power Line has posted on Youtube seven minutes of Fox News video of Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) interrogating FBI Director Christopher Wray before the House Judiciary Committee. That video is entirely worth your time and effort to watch and listen to, it's a definite must watch.

Jordan skewers Wray, who bobs and dodges. Jordan also builds a tough case against former Counterintelligence head Peter Strzok.

The FBI isn't looking good these days, not a bit. They sold out to the deep state and are frantic not to admit it.