Sunday, September 24, 2017

Germany Votes

Germany held a national election earlier today, results now in. Angela Merkel's party won a third of the votes, and got the largest single bloc, meaning she'll continue as chancellor.

However, her CDU/CSU party lost some 8 percentage points, roughly the same as what the anti-immigrant AfD party gained to become the third largest party in the Bundestag. The second-largest Socialists lost 5 points, while the fourth-largest Free Democrats gained almost 6 points. Greens, the Left, and others gained or lost a half point or less.

The Chancellor has to assemble a majority coalition if, as in this case, her party doesn't win an absolute majority of the seats in the Bundestag. One supposes she will be shopping for that coalition which demands the least compromise in return for inclusion in the government and cabinet positions.

You can read the vote increases for AFD and FDP as protest votes against Merkel's policy of taking in a million or more Muslims, mostly young men. One German voter in five who voted for Merkel last time voted for someone else this time. In a 6-7 party race, that's huge.

Bottom line: German voters largely validated President Trump's negative evaluation of Merkel's refugee policy. Mutti Merkel is weakened by this vote.

Catholic Scholars Rebuke Pope

A continuing feature of COTTonLINE has been our outsider's disillusion with the leftism of Pope Francis. A search of our archive detects 20 different times we've referenced him directly or in passing, mostly in disparaging terms.

You can imagine, then, our fascination with a group of Catholic theologians issuing the sort of rebuke to a pope that hasn't happened in nearly seven centuries. The National Catholic Register has the story, hat tip to Instapundit for the link.
A group of clergy and lay scholars from around the world have taken the very rare step of presenting Pope Francis with a formal filial correction, accusing him of propagating heresies concerning marriage, the moral life, and reception of the sacraments.

Entitled Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis, meaning ‘A Filial Correction Concerning the Propagation of Heresies,’ the 25 page letter was delivered to the Holy Father at his Santa Marta residence on Aug. 11.

The Pope has so far not responded to the initiative, whose 62 signatories include the German intellectual Martin Mosebach, former president of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and the superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay (he learned of the document only after it had been delivered to the Pope and signed it on behalf of the Society).

The filial correction (is) the first to be made of a reigning Pontiff since Pope John XXII was admonished in 1333.
If papal doctrinal pronouncements are supposedly "infallible," the Francis papacy proves the process by which popes are chosen is as fallible as most human endeavors.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Why Not Paul, Collins, or Murkowski?

After writing that McCain is RINO-in-Chief, it occurred to me I should answer the question "Why doesn't Rand Paul (R-KY) deserve the title even more?" You could fairly make that argument, here's my reasoning.

McCain claims to be a real Republican, but rarely acts like one. Rand Paul, like his dad Ron Paul, is in fact a Libertarian who, like Socialist Bernie Sanders across the aisle, lines up with one of the two major parties out of convenience.

Paul doesn't claim to be a 'real' Republican, but is rather an individual who wishes all Republicans would become Libertarians (while knowing they won't). Sanders, on the other hand, appears to be getting his wish that many Democrats move to the left and embrace socialism.

And, yes, I excuse the squishiness of Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) as part of the difficulty women have with the Republican Party's bedrock policy of "tough love." We've written before about Rs being the "daddy" party and Ds being the "mommy" party.

As this society raises people, tough love comes easier to guys than to gals, easier to daddies than to mommies. Personally, I'm okay with that division of labor, I fully understand if you're not.

Later ... On the other hand, I will support (editorially) realistic primary challenges to any or all of these four defectors by men or women who embrace the Party's "tough love" policy and support its POTUS.

Noonan Rates the UN Speech

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan was, in an earlier life, a presidential speech writer for Ronald Reagan. She is a connoisseur of presidential speeches and thus her reaction to President Trump's UN speech is of interest.

So, did Noonan like it? She liked his UN speech a lot, while careful to hedge her bets as to its impact.
It was a strong speech—clear, emphatic, remarkably blunt. The great question is whether the bluntness will tend at this point in history to make things better or worse. We’ll find out soon enough.

This is the opposite of democracy promotion and nation building and dreams of eradicating evil.

A great line—because it spoke a great truth—was this: “The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.” Mr. Trump then paused and looked at the audience. It struck some as a “please clap” moment. It struck me as a stare-down: I’m saying something a lot of you need to hear. You’re not going to like it, and I’m going to watch you not like it.
Politicians like to believe they can command their economy. In fact the economy will not obey, a truth of which Venezuela provides only the most recent hard-to-watch, harder-to-live-through demonstration.

Friday, September 22, 2017

RINO-in-Chief

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has announced that he will not vote for the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. He's likely killed it. Due to arcane peculiarities in Senate rules, this was the last opportunity to dump Obamacare without being stopped by a filibuster, until perhaps January of 2019.

Every Republican (including McCain) swore to vote to replace Obamacare. McCain is letting his pique with Trump get out of hand. If this flip-flop doesn't make McCain the RINO-in-Chief, I don't know what it would take.

Good people of Arizona, you really need to replace ol' John with someone who will actually act and vote like a Republican. He has become an embarrassment to you and to the party.

Goodbye to Summer

Here on the left coast, the autumnal equinox occurs today at roughly 1 p.m. At that time the sun will shine directly down upon the equator and the daily length of sunlight and dark will be as close to equal as they ever get.

Today also marks the "official" end of Summer and beginning of Autumn, a season which will end on the 21st of December. I put official in quotes inasmuch as we've already had snowfall at home in the Wyoming Rockies.

For awhile it snows at night and melts during the day, then it gets colder and snow begins to accumulate. This, of course, is why we arrange to be elsewhere during the Rockies' long annual cold spell. We have the CA native's view of snow, it's fun to visit but you don't want to live there.

Upon retirement, the DrsC decided to spend as much of the year as possible in conditions of late Springtime - the "Goldilocks" season of not too hot, not too cold. It's a lot of work but worth it. We have successfully done this for the past 13 years, and hope to continue for many more.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Bream Joins the Fox Varsity

An update from Fox News about their fall lineup. Supreme Court watcher Shannon Bream will host her own hour long show weeknights at 11 p.m. EST, beginning October 30. Here on the left coast, she will air at 8 p.m.

The net describes her show - Fox News @ Night - as "hard news and analysis" which is roughly what Bret Baier does earlier at dinnertime. For all who tire of the MSM's late nite talk propagandists, this will be a decent alternative.

I've been wondering when Shannon would get her own show. After subbing for Bret and others off and on for a couple of years she joins the varsity squad.

Review: the Ken Burns Vietnam Series

The DrsC tried an episode of Ken Burns' Vietnam miniseries last night. We didn't even finish the one episode, having both concluded we had (a) lived through the Vietnam experience and (b) had no desire to relive it at Burns' usual snail pace.

So, we cancelled the recording and deleted it from our DVR "record to watch" list. Consider this a review of Burns' Vietnam show, and let's be clear, it is a pan.

Burns manages to make war boring, with lots of people speaking Vietnamese, plus most of the footage in dreary black and white. As over-educated people, the DrsC are supposed to love Burns' work; but neither of us does. He bores us silly.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Going Off the Wagon

A survey found that 37% of British vegetarians eat meat when out drinking booze. And as all regular watchers of BBC drama on PBS know, the Brits do love a drink.

Their top five choices when falling off the wagon are kebabs, beef burgers, bacon, fried chicken, and pork sausages. It's amazing how often the veggies' moral superiority pose falls by the wayside, eh? Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Destroying Themselves

Lead blogger at Ace of Spades HQ, the pseudonymous Ace, writes about the MSM's current self-destructive behavior. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.
They're destroying themselves, and sabotaging their own propaganda operations, because they're just too crazy to think or care about such things any longer.

And I gotta tell you: I love it.

Destroying the media is a thing to be dearly wished for -- but watching them destroy themselves is tons better.

They're now Othering themselves, and I think that's just fine.

People don't want to associate with weirdoes -- and now that they've decided to fly their freak flags proudly and put their Full Metal Weird on display for the world, I can only sit back and cheer.
Indeed.

When Family Income Matters

The Brookings has a statistical chart which shows in graphic form the impact of family income on children's performance in college. It turns out to be not so important for those with sub-3.0 high school GPAs or above 3.5 GPAs. Few in the former group and most in the latter win baccalaureate degrees, regardless of family income.

Family income seems to matter most for students with high school GPAs in the 3.0-3.5 range. Those from more affluent families do much better than those from poorer families.

These are kids who can go either way, depending on their degree of emotional and financial support. Coaching by parents who understand the higher education process doesn't hurt, either. Hat tip to RealClearPolicy for the link.

Tribalism, the Default Human Experience

Alexander Sullivan writes a long article about our latter-day tribal politics for New York magazine. It's decent and worth reading, if you have the time. A couple of choice quotes:
Tribalism, it’s always worth remembering, is not one aspect of human experience. It’s the default human experience. It comes more naturally to us than any other way of life. For the overwhelming majority of our time on this planet, the tribe was the only form of human society.

The tribes that best survived (and thereby transmitted their genes to us) were, moreover, those most acutely aware of outsiders and potential foes. A failure to notice incoming strangers could end your life in an instant, and an indifference to the appearances of other human beings could mean defeat at the hands of rivals or the collapse of a tribe altogether. And so we became a deeply cooperative species — but primarily with our own kind. The notion of living alongside people who do not look like us and treating them as our fellows was meaningless for most of human history.
And he quotes Townhall.com blogger Kurt Schlichter, an out-in-the-open example of tribal politics, who writes:
They hate you. Leftists don’t merely disagree with you. They don’t merely feel you are misguided. They don’t think you are merely wrong. They hate you. They want you enslaved and obedient, if not dead. Once you get that, everything that is happening now will make sense. 
The only reasonable response to such hatred is reciprocity. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Demographics and Health

United Press International runs a story about research which looks at health in seniors and finds, unsurprisingly, that wealthy, highly educated white seniors have much better health than the less well off and non-white. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.
Researchers reviewed federal government data on more than 55,000 older adults. They found that between 2000 and 2014, there was a 14 percent increase in the rate of those who reported good health.

Overall, 52 percent of older adults with good health had high incomes. Just 31 percent of those with poor health had high incomes.

Whites were more likely than blacks or Hispanics to have good health. The rate of good health among whites rose from 442 per 1,000 to 533 per 1,000 during the study. The rate of good health among blacks and Hispanics remained flat, but the rate did increase among other racial/ethnic groups.

Those with graduate degrees had the most improvement -- 56 more healthy people per thousand -- while the rate remained flat among those with only a high school diploma.
Since Medicare provides universal health care to everyone over age 65, it isn't entirely clear why income makes such a difference in health. Presumably different social classes have different life styles resulting in differing health sequelae.

One thing I know from reading faculty obituaries at the university from which I retired is that profs tend to die at advanced ages. They have graduate degrees, of course, plus reasonable incomes and most were white.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Setting the Bar Low

John Hinderaker, senior blogger at Power Line, meditates on the outcome of the 2016 presidetial election. His conclusion will, I believe, interest you:
So Trump is our president and he should exercise his powers vigorously. But Republicans also should understand that their victory owed at least as much to their opponent’s weakness as to their champion’s appeal.

The good news is that the Democrats don’t obviously have anyone much better than Hillary on the horizon for 2020.
I stand by my prediction that, give Hillary's loss, the Democrats will nominate a person of color as their 2020 presidential candidate. Whether that idividual can reanimate the Obama coalition is far from certain, but perhaps it is the Dems only chance for a win.

Upper Middle Class a Big Winner

Robert Samuelson writes about economics and demographics for The Washington Post and for RealClearPolitics. Today's article chronicles the return of prosperity to the American middle class, and it appears at RCP. All income figures in constant, inflation-adjusted dollars.
The income of the median household (the one exactly in the middle) rose to a record $59,039; the two-year increase was a strong 8.5 percent. Meanwhile, 2.5 million fewer Americans were living beneath the government's poverty line ($24,563 for a family of four). The poverty rate fell from 13.5 percent of the population in 2015 to 12.7 percent in 2016.

If you take $100,000 as a crude threshold of being upper middle class, then the share of households above the threshold was about a quarter (27.7 percent to be exact) in 2016, up from about a fifth (19.4 percent) in 1990.

By contrast, upward movement at other income levels was slight. Take the new record median household income of $59,038 as an example of what's happening in the middle of the income distribution. If incomes were rising rapidly, there would be a large gap between today's incomes and those of the late 1990s. There isn't. Today's income is less than 1 percent higher than the previous record of $58,665 achieved in 1999.
The real story of the last couple of decades is the growth of the upper middle class, which has been thriving. Farther down the ladder, things haven't been nearly as good.

The Korean Dilemma

George Friedman writes about foreign affairs at a website called GeoPoliticalFutures. His topic today is the tensions on the Korean peninsula. His conclusion is bracing:
A very coldblooded analysis places the destruction of North Korea’s nuclear capability as the logical choice strategically for the U.S. The case can be made that protecting the U.S. from nuclear attack must take precedence for an American president over the fate of Seoul. It’s all logical and coldblooded, but among the more unsavory choices I have seen.
As Friedman points out, we might well end up with the totality of Korea - North and South - hating us.

Trump at the United Nations

President Trump spoke to the General Assembly of the United Nations today, Politico has the complete text of his prepared remarks.

Very clearly, it is not a speech President Obama would have given. Trump did not apologize for our country even once.

The speech is too long, but not especially hectoring, and he dumps on North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela with force and accuracy. I have some problems with its internal consistency, see what you think.

Trump Right, Again

It has been revealed in a variety of outlets that one-time Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was wiretapped before and after the election. Trump famously claimed that his campaign was wiretapped and was widely poo-poohed for making that assertion. It turns out he was right, while the MSM was wrong.

Thinking back we see a pattern emerging of Trump assertions being proved right, long after the MSM has gotten much mileage out of denying them. Notice he never gets an apology for being proved right after much slander has happened.

Understand most MSM reporters and commentators to be Democrat operatives with by-lines and it becomes clear what's happening. The MSM is, among other things, the Propaganda Ministry of the progressive movement.

New Problem, Old Solution

Bloomberg reports Finland has a baby problem. While it is supposed to be the one place in the world which is most child-supportive, the birth rate has fallen far below the 2 per woman level needed for replacement. Supposedly nobody knows what to do about it.

I have an already tested idea. Why not make motherhood a decent career, a reasonable occupational choice? Pay mothers a per-child salary such that by raising, say, three or four children a woman could live independently and comfortably. It worked too well with welfare mothers in the U.S., might it not work in Finland?

In other words, if men don't want to marry and earn enough to support a stay-home wife and mother, they can support her through their taxes and accomplish the same thing. What it requires is for the society to decide it is truly serious about the problem, which I don't believe they yet are.

Why not? Low birth rate is a problem which is "out there" while taxes are a "now" issue.

CA Exodus Continues

The Sacramento Bee, the de facto house organ of state government in one-party, bright blue California, reports concerns over sky-high housing costs are prompting people to think of moving out of state.
More than half of California voters say the state’s housing affordability crisis is so bad that they’ve considered moving, and 60 percent of the electorate supports rent control, according to a new statewide poll.

Amid an unprecedented housing shortage, rents have skyrocketed and tenants have faced mass evictions, especially in desirable areas.

Of the 56 percent of voters who said they’ve considered moving, 1 in 4 said they’d relocate out of state if they did.
It's another installment in COTTonLINE's continuing series on the melt-down of a once-Golden State. It obviously saddens the DrsC, both CA natives. If rent control is imposed, the normal result is owners spend less on maintenance, furthering deterioration.

If the current trajectory continues unabated, the state will end up resembling the Matt Damon film Elysium. It pictures a future L.A. mostly looking like an unpaved squatter barrio in Ensenada or Tijuana.

Gated enclaves of the wealthy fenced off from vast slums of the poor. Eventually, the government employees who constitute the "overseer" class in this plantation economy, will perforce occupy lesser gated enclaves, the only dim reminders of a former widely-shared middle class lifestyle.