Sunday, March 18, 2018

March Showers and Flowers

You've probably seen stuff saying California is back in the drought as this winter season hadn't brought much rain. Well ... it hadn't ... but now it has.

We have had March rains and are scheduled to get more. Our pond is full and so are the neighbors' ponds. See photos at the other DrC's blog.

In case you aren't sure, the late rain is good news and has resulted in serious snowpack in the Sierras. That snow is the real source of our summer and fall water.

Somehow CA manages to overcome the silliness out of Sacra-tomato, and be semi-wonderful much of the time in spite of people's best efforts to screw it up. We're happy to visit CA but wouldn't want to call it "home" these days. Its politics are fantasy-based and toxic.

McCabe, Comey, and Mueller

Law Prof Jonathan Turley writes in The Hill about the impact of statements by recently fired Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe on the activities and future of both former Director Comey and Special Prosecutor Mueller. His treatment isn't brief but he makes some excellent points. Two examples:
McCabe appears to be suggesting that Comey was consulted before the alleged leak to the media on the Clinton investigation. Many of us had speculated that it seemed unlikely McCabe would take such a step without consulting with Comey. Yet, Comey repeatedly stated that he had never leaked nor caused anyone to leak information to the media.

While McCabe lashed out at Trump in his statement, he may have just given Trump the long-sought cover to use his pardon power. If McCabe is not charged, Trump could cite that decision as the basis for pardoning Flynn, as a matter of equity and fairness.
Thus pressuring Mueller to charge McCabe with perjury or lying to the FBI. This story is far from over, it's just the thing to keep our interest all spring and into the summer.

The Democratic Dilemma

It appears Conor Lamb won in PA 18, and he is pro-gun and anti-Pelosi. Democrats like Lamb could win in a lot of districts won in 2016 by Trump. Maybe they could reclaim their majority in the House.

A fair few would be pro-life, which is to say anti-abortion, even more would favor school choice or vouchers; many would be pro-gun. Most would be straight white males. Some might even oppose illegal immigration - shock!

Talk about making a deal with the Devil. The new, larger Democratic Party couldn’t very well espouse “San Francisco” values. It would be far less George McGovern and more Lyndon Johnson.

The leaders of today’s Democratic Party are two hard leftists: Thomas Perez and Keith Ellison. Can the party faithful who elected Perez and Ellison stomach making common cause with so many people whose values they despise?

Would such a truly big tent party stand for much? Would the Bernie bros, La Raza, Antifa, LGBTQ activists and the pussy hats shift to a third party or stay home? These are the dilemmas of big tent politics.

Merkel Murders Europe links to a Michael Walsh column at PJMedia which says forcefully something we’ve been pointing to for years now. Namely, Angela Merkel giving the ‘Saracens’ another chance to conquer Europe.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's disastrous decision to throw open an essentially defenseless western Europe to hordes of military-age males from the Islamic ummah will go down in history as one of Christendom's greatest blunders, either a triumph of wishful childless-feminist thinking or a malevolent act of epic proportions.
When did Europe collectively give Merkel the green light to destroy their culture? I must have missed the plebisite.

If uncharitable, you could argue the Germans earned cultural suicide via the Third Reich. The rest of Europe, where is their culpability? Every country had its despised Quislings but they don’t merit a continent-wide auto de fe.

I see a malignant parallel between Merkel and former President Obama. Both appear to despise the countries they were elected to lead, both worked to diminish their nations. The most rabid supporters of each hate their own societies. An ugly business ....

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Saturday Snickers

Gleanings from Steve Hayward's The Week in Pictures, St. Paddy's Day edition, as it appeared this a.m. at Power Line. He threatens to give us a Stormy Daniels photo, but wimps out.

A two panel cartoon of Vladimir Putin, in panel one he says:
No, no, no. We poison elections in America.
In panel two he says:
We poison people in England.
Cartoon of Democrat Party Headquarters, looking in the storefront window we see Nancy Pelosi (77) addressing Joe Biden (75), Bernie Sanders (76), Steny Hoyer (78), Elizabeth Warren (69), and Chuck Schumer (67), all looking older than dirt. Nancy speaks:
It's simple - we just have to appeal to the youth vote!
Cartoon of CA Gov. Jerry Brown wearing a Mickey Mouse Hat, smoking a cigar and delivering the following Churchillian oratory:
We will fight for our nannies in the Hollywood Hills, and our maids in the Silicon Valley.
We will fight for our gardeners and landscapers on the beaches of Malibu.
We shall never surrender!!
Cartoon of an imagined recruiting poster for Trump's proposed Space Force. You see an eagle wearing an astronaut's helmet and the words (some cartoonists can't spell):
Space Force
Kick some Astroid (sic)
Enlist today!
Cartoon of a stage in a prison, where a prism with guitar sings to an audience of prisms. The Folsom Prism Blues lyric:
I see the light a-comin'
Refractin' round the bend,
I ain't seen a rainbow
Since I don't know when ... 
A Fox News Breaking News headline over a photo of an unhappy Caitlyn, captioned:
Caitlyn Jenner says she was groped by Bruce Jenner for years  
Photoshopped™John McCain, Barack Obama, and Chuck Schumer as the Three Stooges raising drinks in a toast, no caption is needed.

Reaping the Whirlwind

The academy - our former home - is one of the subjects we follow at COTTonLINE. As comic Arte Johnson often said, in his persona as a WW II German soldier on Laugh In, “ it is verrrrrry interestink ... but not pfunny.”

Steven Hayward, the only academic among the Power Line bloggers, writes about the beginnings of a restructuring coming in academia. Hayward’s thesis:
I think we’re already seeing the beginnings of a de facto divorce of universities, in which the STEM fields and other “practical” disciplines essentially split off from the humanities and social sciences, not to mention the more politicized departments.

At this rate eventually many of our leading research universities will bifurcate into marginal fever swamps of radicalism whose majors will be unfit for employment at Starbucks, and a larger campus dedicated to science and technology education.
And he quotes the following from Inside Higher Ed about the University of Wisconsin, Steven’s Point:
Programs pegged for closure are American studies, art (excluding graphic design), English (excluding English for teacher certification), French, geography, geoscience, German, history (excluding social science for teacher certification), music literature, philosophy, political science, sociology and Spanish.
COTTonLINE, since its beginnings eleven years ago, has advocated college students choose majors which lead to careers where there is actual demand. Both of the DrsC taught in programs where our grads were recruited and got jobs.

Choosing anything else is self-indulgent narcissism. Lenders interested in repayment should stop supporting students pursuing non-remunerative majors.

The difficulty is how such hard-headed notions conflict with the politicized need for inclusion and diversity (i.e., non-trivial numbers of Hispanic and Black graduates, regardless of major).

Happy St. Patrick's Day

COTTonLINE wishes all readers, particularly those with actual Irish roots, a Happy Saint Patrick's Day. Contrary to American practices, the real Irish do not normally view this day as an excuse to get roaring drunk.

Wry side note ... many American universities now schedule their spring break, formerly Easter Vacation, so that it includes March 17. They do this to escape any responsibility for binge drinking deaths occasioned by this ethanol-sodden holiday. Think of it as a 'hangover' from the days of in loco parentis (pun fully intended).

Bye-Ku for Andrew McCabe

With the customary hat tip to WSJ’s James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku - a haiku of farewell - to former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, whom Attorney General Sessions fired late today.

Shame on you, Andy.
You leak'd like a colander
And lied about it.

Friday, March 16, 2018

FBI's McCabe Fired

Statement of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as reported three hours ago by Fox News. Releasing controversial information on Friday night is classic Washington timing. Sessions' statement:
Pursuant to Department Order 1202, and based on the report of the Inspector General, the findings of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility, and the recommendation of the Department’s senior career official, I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately.

After an extensive and fair investigation and according to Department of Justice procedure, the Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) provided its report on allegations of misconduct by Andrew McCabe to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

The FBI’s OPR then reviewed the report and underlying documents and issued a disciplinary proposal recommending the dismissal of Mr. McCabe. Both the OIG and FBI OPR reports concluded that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor − including under oath − on multiple occasions.

The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and accountability. As the OPR proposal stated, "all FBI employees know that lacking candor under oath results in dismissal and that our integrity is our brand."
McCabe was no. 2 under James Comey, who Trump fired 10 months ago, triggering the Mueller investigation. He was the "Andy" in whose office political things were discussed which were later referenced in emails between lovers Strozk and Page.

Two things are important to note: first, firing McCabe was the FBI's idea, and second, the person who promoted and supervised him - Comey - bears responsibility for his malfeasance. Trump, of course, is delighted.

Editorial Note

Looks like yesterday's Gateway Pundit leak story was at the very least premature, or maybe just plain wrong. Neither separation has shown up as of close of business today.

Sexual Choices Shaped Evolution

National Review has an article with an intriguing title: "Why Are Men Violent? What Evolution & Society Tell Us." Explaining masculinity, the author concludes:
Humans split from chimpanzees 6 million years ago and have been shaped in large part by what each sex found desirable in the other. Individuals with desirable traits were more likely to pass their genes on to the next generation, so those traits gradually spread through the population. As a result, there is no way to discuss what men are, biologically, without addressing what women choose, sexually.
Though the article doesn't mention it, vice versa is likewise true. Women became what they are because early men pursued females with those characteristics.

While we may not always like what men and women are today, the blame accrues to choices made by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. You have to love the irony.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Heads Up

Gateway Pundit has a leak story that VA Secretary Shulkin and Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly will be fired tomorrow. So far no one else is reporting it, although rumors of the ouster of both have floated in recent days.

We live in interesting times and can count on President Trump to keep them that way ....

Womanizing Presidents

Long time friend Jack wrote asking if we've ever before had a president involved with a porn star, suggesting perhaps Benjamin Harrison. I responded in long form and decided to share some of those thoughts with COTTonLINE readers.

My thoughts about horny presidents run back with some vividness through those I remember, including as a child. FDR was a life-long womanizer, and died in the company of one of his lady friends in GA. Both he and Eleanor came from a stratum of society in which one married for dynastic reasons and found love elsewhere, which both did.

Ike had his Brit driver Kay, Kennedy apparently bonked any willing woman, famously including Marilyn Monroe and a mobster's girlfriend. Johnson was a raunchy dude who Doris Kearns Goodwin seems awfully fond of.

One wonders about Reagan and Peggy Noonan, about G.W.Bush and Dana Perino. Clinton was a notorious horndog, with catholic tastes and semi-poor judgment.

Now we have Trump who has married three supermodels, none of whom badmouth him - can you say that about your exes? Does anybody who is paying attention believe Trump is too pure to take a fling at a friendly lady? Have you checked out how stunning Hope Hicks is?

History suggests, but does not prove, that Washington and Jefferson both had extramarital interests. I rest my case. Womanizing presidents are neither new nor particularly scandalous. What is semi-new is porn stars or prostitutes who are proud of their career choice, willing to de-closet themselves and identify their partners.

We understand presidents and other wealthy or powerful men attract a lot of more-than-casual interest from women, what is that about? It is the dream captured in the Cinderella story, an evergreen favorite. The "marry up" notion that resembles a woman winning the lottery. Moths to a flame where, as #MeToo has noted, many moths are burned. It is a story as old as time.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Special Election Blues

It appears Democrat Conor Lamb has eked out a by-a-nose photo finish win in the Pennsylvania district 18 special election. There may still be absentee ballots to count, this remains unclear as I write.

Lamb is a former Marine gun-supporter who says he won’t vote for Pelosi as Party leader in the House. What may have won it for him was being anti-right-to-work (his opponent was pro) in a heavily unionized district in the state’s southwest corner. The people who voted for him are exactly the people Obama said cling to guns and God, and Hillary called “deplorables.”

There is no way to spin this positively for Republicans. In 2016 Trump won the district by 20 points and he recently went to the district to ask their support for Lamb’s Republican opponent Rick Saccone, who ran as a Trump loyalist.

There is a pattern of a President’s party losing House seats in the midterm election following his election. If it happens again in 2018 no one will be much surprised.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Baltic and the Bear

The U.S. Naval Institute’s website examines the defense complexities of an outbreak of hostilities in the Baltic Sea region. Nations most involved include Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Russia (including Kaliningrad), plus the so-called Baltic Republics: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Norway, Germany and Poland also have skin in the game.

Given the various memberships in the EU and NATO and associated memoranda of understanding, the region’s defense against a possible Russian attack becomes a many-branched decision tree. This article is for the true enthusiast, or someone with roots in the region, it’s not precisely a casual read. Hat tip to RealClearDefense for the link.

Putin’s Popular Support

There are conflicting views of the at-home popularity of Russia’s President Putin. The conventional view is that he is popular with Russians. Jay Nordlinger of National Review wrote recently that claims of his popularity should be seriously discounted or ignored.

For a look at data which sheds light on the issue, see a BBC article with 10 charts which look at how things are going in today’s Russia. On the upside, population growth has resumed, Ikea™ is popular, and private auto ownership - nearly unheard of in Soviet times - now is relatively common, with something like half of Russian households owning a car.

Other positive indicators include a drop in vodka sales, a modest increase in champagne consumption, and a decline in families living below the poverty level. If the Beeb’s numbers are accurate, there are certainly bread-and-butter reasons for Putin’s stewardship being viewed by Russians as positive.

Something that doesn’t show in their charts, but a factor nevertheless, is that however you feel about Putin, he is a Russian patriot, a nationalist. I believe that resonates with many Russians in the same way Trump’s American patriotic nationalism resonates with many Americans.

I do find it passing strange the official British news service would carry this relatively positive article at a time when Britain is angry with Russia over the attempted nerve gas assassination in Salisbury of a Russian defector and his daughter. It is near-universally believed this attack was carried out by Russian government agents with Putins’s tacit or explicit approval.

Bye-Ku for T-Rex

With the customary hat tip to WSJ’s James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku - a haiku of farewell - to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whom President Trump fired today.

Ta-ta to SecState.
You liked the Iran nuke deal,
Tho your boss did not.

Monday, March 12, 2018

We Will Survive

The respected Scientific American journal has an article which argues that while climate change is real, the effects will be far less troublesome than most climate alarmists allege. Technology and adaptation plus the change's gradual onset will enable us to cope without experiencing Armageddon.

Generally speaking, the article seems sound. Another example that occurs to me regards the issue of raising ocean levels. Much of the Netherlands lives two meters below sea level behind dikes and, while vigilant about breaches, gets on with life.

It is unclear why similar measures cannot protect low-lying cities in other developed countries. If the Dutch can make "living below the high tide line" work economically, why can't the Americans or Chinese? Answer: they can, and if necessary will, grumbling all the while.


Perhaps it is worthwhile to restate COTTonLINE's position on climate change. The geological record clearly shows climate changes, and has done so off and on for millennia. The record is replete with ice ages and warm spells. Changes in solar radiation have been implicated in some of these.

Are recent human activities influencing climate change? The evidence for such influence is ambiguous. Unfortunately those who study it benefit professionally and financially if we believe humans pose a threat, and thus cannot be trusted to provide unbiased information and opinion.

What is absolutely clear is that climate changes without human intervention, and there is likely little we can do to influence those naturally occurring changes. We can however cope with whatever comes.

What’s Wrong with “College for All”

Instapundit links to a good New York Post article by economist Bryan Caplan, who takes as his thesis “the 5 worst things about colleges in America.” Here are his five headings:
1. A majority of college students don’t finish on time - and a large minority don’t finish at all.
2. Most of the curriculum is neither socially useful nor personally enjoyable.
3. The “hidden benefits” of college are mostly wishful thinking.\
4. The more education our society has, the more every worker needs to get a job.
5. Thanks to heavy government subsidies and “locked-in syndrome,” our dysfunctional system is built to last.
I have no argument with nos. 1, 2, 4, and 5. No. 3 is accurate as Caplan writes it. However he overlooks a major hidden benefit of college in finding a smart, achievement-oriented spouse.

“Assortative mating” is what it’s called - smart, achieving people marrying other smart, achieving people and having children likely to be smart and achieving. College is a better venue for upscale spouse “shopping” than a bar or gym.

Caplan’s best advice is this:
College major is also a reliable predictor of student success. Degrees in engineering, computer science, finance and economics all pay well, boosting earnings by 60 to 70 percent. Degrees in fine arts, education, English, history and sociology do about half that.

If you struggled through high school, college is a bad bet compared to an entry-level job. You’re better off saving your money and gaining real-world work experience. The same goes for low-paid majors. Unless you’re already made of money, either find a more promising major or don’t go to college.
These are points we’ve noted repeatedly over the years at COTTonLINE.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Meet Dave Ramsey

Politico does a profile of radio self-help guru Dave Ramsey, it is a good read. Ramsey does a call-in manage-your-finances show on 600+ radio stations and is third in listenership after Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity - doggone impressive.

He makes a strong point of encouraging listeners not to rely on politicians to bail out their personal financial situation, and his general notion is correct. Self-discipline starts with you getting control of yourself and your wallet.

On the other hand, economic policies like those Trump has pushed are doing more to create a buoyant job market and rising wages. Neither of those is a detriment to your family's financial situation.

I'm of the opinion that, while nobody else will be responsible for you, who you vote for is also important. It can, in the aggregate, make a difference.

Vote for a candidate who has realistic plans to foster economic growth, not for one who says, or more likely implies, the years of rapid growth are behind us. For a candidate who puts your situation first on his or her agenda, not who worries most about unfortunates in some third world backwater no one has ever heard of. Who prioritizes the needs of Americans ahead of refugees and illegal immigrants.