Thursday, May 26, 2016

Trump's Campaign Chair

COTTonLINE rarely cites an article in Huffington Post, a lefty online slough of despond. Rarely, but not never.

Today I call your attention to a Howard Fineman interview of Trump campaign chairman and chief strategist Paul Manafort. It runs with a footnote saying HP's editor hates literally everything Trump stands for.

Fineman doesn't put words in Manafort's mouth, doesn't quote him out of context, and generally does a decent job of letting the man have his say. If you find the Trump phenomenon interesting, reading the chief campaign guy's words are worthwhile. About the VP pick:
“He needs an experienced person to do the part of the job he doesn’t want to do. He seems himself more as the chairman of the board, than even the CEO, let alone the COO.”

The campaign probably won’t choose a woman or a member of a minority group, he said. “In fact, that would be viewed as pandering, I think.”
Skip the excretory footnote, unless you need the energy boost of a couple of minutes of anti-liberal hate.

Bolivia Update

Under President Evo Morales, Bolivia has been a less-than-stellar performer. He recently lost a national referendum seeking to allow him to run for another term.

The main reason for the loss: his former mistress, employed by a Chinese firm doing business with the Bolivian government, was thought to have exerted undue influence in obtaining contracts. She also bore him a child which he claims has died and she claims is alive.

Now the former mistress, her defense attorney and her aunt are all under arrest, charged with corruption. And Morales threatens to hold a second referendum because he didn't like the results of the first.

Poor Bolivia appears headed down the drain, suffering from Latin America's traditional bad government. See a New York Times editorial for details, its snarky headline:
"The Worst Boyfriend in Bolivia."

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Weird Archeological Science

Cave explorers in France have discovered stone circles built of snapped-off stalagmites which predate the arrival of homo sapiens in Europe, according to an article (with photos) in New Scientist. The circles have been dated to 175,000 years ago. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

About a half meter tall, the circles are sufficiently far underground as to be in total darkness, meaning the builders were using fire for light. Those builders were Neanderthals, previously thought not developed enough to build what must have been a ceremonial site. As the article states, Neanderthals are being reimagined as not so different mentally from the later homo saps.

Crossovers

Writing at Townhall, Matt Vespa quotes NBC's Chuck Todd to the effect that 17% of Sanders voters plan to vote for Trump in November. He also quotes ABC's George Stephanopoulos claiming 15% of Obama voters will vote for Trump. There are video links at Vespa's site.

Both Todd and Stephanopoulos are effectively Democrat operatives with press credentials. Neither could have been happy saying what he said. Which, paradoxically, makes what they reported more likely to be true, perhaps even understated.

Sudden insight: Trump's appeal to restore American "greatness" resembles what Charles de Gaulle promised France following the debacle of World War II and Vichy. It worked for de Gaulle, got him elected, why not for Trump? Incidentally, the same sort of restorational fervor maintains Putin's popularity in Russia. Restoration is potent political "stuff."

The Gender Gap Rethought

Writing for RealClearPolitics, analyst Sean Trende discusses the gender gap between the two major political parties. Normally, this is described as "women prefer Democrats," making them the "mommy party."

Trende makes an interesting point, in several recent elections Republicans won among men by larger margins than Democrats won among women. The GOP really is the "daddy party." So, Hillary will probably win among women, albeit narrowly, while Trump will likely win among men by a larger margin.

Put another way, if the Republicans have a problem with women, the Democrats have an even larger problem with men. Hillary comes across as the mother-in-law or ex-wife no man ever wanted, but more than a few ended up with - Ms. Bossy Know-It-All.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Candidate of Control-Alt-Delete

Historian Walter Russell Mead writes at his The American Interest website giving his answer to the question "Why Trump?" I'd share with you some of his pithier points.
Trump is an unconventional candidate whose proposition to the electorate isn’t about particular policy stands, experience, credentials or even personal and political honesty. Trump is the purest expression of the politics of ‘NO!’ that I personally can recall. He’s the candidate for people who think the conventional wisdom of the American establishment is hopelessly out of touch with the real world.

To many Trump supporters, Hillary Clinton looks like Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: the enforcer of a fatally flawed status quo and the personification of bureaucratic power in a system gone rogue.

Trump appeals to all those who think that the American Establishment, the Great and the Good of both parties, has worked its way into a dead end of ideas that don’t work and values that can’t save us. He is the candidate of Control-Alt-Delete. His election would sweep away the smug generational certainties that Clinton embodies, the Boomer Progressive Synthesis that hasn’t solved the problems of the world or of the United States, but which nevertheless persists in regarding itself as the highest and only form of truth.

Many Americans think that the Consensus is a scam and a flop when it comes to actually, well, making things better for the average person. It has made life better, much better, for the upper middle class; few would dispute its accomplishments there. And Wall Street has every reason to pay large speaking fees and make large financial contributions to the champion of the orthodoxy that helped make it so rich.

This makes it easy and profitable for Trump to wage negative campaigns. (snip) It also makes it much harder for negative campaigns to hurt him: his appeal doesn’t stem from approval for particular policies, but from opposition to elements of the status quo.
Transgender bathrooms feed the notion the insane are running the asylum.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Weird Developmental Science

The National Public Radio website has an article concerning the health similarities of long-time couples. Research shows people become increasingly similar over decades together, sharing both physical ailments and mental states. 

A couple of possible reasons the article doesn't consider. The researchers supposedly controlled for similarities extant at the time the couple originally formed, after which the growing-together phenomenon still existed. 

They did not control for the "couples who do not become increasingly similar do not stay together" possibility. In other words, instead of long-time association causing growing together, perhaps growing together causes long-time association. Couples whose life trajectories take them in different physical and psychological directions probably are much more likely to separate.

The other factor not specifically dealt with is shared environment. Long-time couples tend to live in the same place, eat mostly the same foods, share recreational interests, travel together, worship (or not) tegether, Perhaps we should be surprised if they did not "grow together."

Birds of a feather not only tend to flock together initially, the absence of continued similarity over time very likely leads to separation, divorce. Hat tip to the other DrC, with whom I've happily lived for 45 years, for the link.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Grand Partisan Realignment Concludes

Writing for Politico, Michael Lind has developed a comprehensive conceptualizaton of the realignment of our two main political parties. He makes several key points, I'll summarize them for you.
Though this election feels like the beginning of a partisan realignment, it’s actually the end of one.

What we’re seeing this year is the beginning of a policy realignment, when (snip) the party platforms catch up to the shift in party voters that has already happened. The type of conservatism long championed by the Republican Party was destined to fall as soon as a candidate came along who could rally its voters without being beholden to its donors, experts and pundits.

In both parties, there’s a gap between the inherited orthodoxy of a decade or two ago and the real interests of today’s electoral coalition. And in both parties, that gap between voters and policies is being closed in favor of the voters.

The culture war and partisan realignment are over; the policy realignment and “border war” — a clash between nationalists, mostly on the right, and multicultural globalists, mostly on the left — and have just begun.

The Republicans will be a party of mostly working-class whites, based in the South and West and suburbs and exurbs everywhere. They will favor universal, contributory social insurance systems that benefit them and their families and reward work effort—programs like Social Security and Medicare. But they will tend to oppose means-tested programs for the poor whose benefits they and their families cannot enjoy.

The Democrats of the next generation will be even more of an alliance of upscale, progressive whites with blacks and Latinos, based in large and diverse cities. They will think of the U.S. as a version of their multicultural coalition of distinct racial and ethnic identity groups writ large. Many younger progressives will take it for granted that moral people are citizens of the world, equating nationalism and patriotism with racism and fascism.

While progressives claim that nonwhite Americans will become a majority, this is misleading.

The growth of the nonwhite category by 2060 is driven overwhelmingly by the increasing Latino share of the population, from 17.4 percent to 28.6 percent.

Latino Americans increasingly identify themselves as white. (snip) If increasing numbers of Hispanics identify as white and their descendants are defined as “white” in government statistics, there may be a white majority in the U.S. throughout the 21st century.

As Latinos assimilate and intermarry, they will move from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party, following a trail blazed in the past by many “white ethnic” voters of European descent, including Irish-Americans and Italian-Americans.
Please forgive me for saying, "I told you so."

It's a Game

The Democratic Party might as well be the official party of Black America. Therefore, anyone who runs against a Democrat is, ipso facto, a racist, opposed to the interests of Black America.

It is also effectively the official party of American Jewry. Therefore, anyone running against a Democrat is, by definition, an anti-Semite.

It also bids fair to be the official party of the LGBT community, making anyone running against a Democrat a homophobe. See how easy this line of reasoning is? It's fun, anyone can play.

Or, turn it around. Historically, Republican voters were those for whom the society "works," its winners. Thus, if you run against a Republican you advocate failure to thrive, you represent losers, the not-coping, deadbeats.

The GOP normally gets the votes of most married people. If you run against a Republican you must support infanticide, broken homes, parentless children, blended families, and welfare dependency.

To run against a Republican, you must defend the indefensible, support the insupportable, and love the unlovable.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

That Explains It

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, describes the relationship between the mainstream media and President Obama.
They refuse to let the first black President be remembered as a disaster — even if, as here, he is a disaster. 
Affirmative action hires tend to get this treatment. Almost nothing is expected of them and, more often than not, they live down to those minimal expectations and wonder why they get no respect.

The Weekend Laughs

Steven Hayward of Power Line spends the week accumulating funny photo captions, cartoons, and other stuff to make us smile. These he posts on Sat. or Sun., depending I suppose on how busy he is. My favorites from this week's batch:
A collage of six photos of D. Trump with different black notables captioned:
"Donald Trump has been in the public eye for over 30 years ... and he was never once accused of being a racist until he decided to run against the Democrats."

A cartoon of a harbor tour boat passing a revised Statue of Liberty. She now wears a thong bikini, 5" heels, and a ribbon emblazoned "Miss USA" but still has the spiky tiara and carries the lamp. The caption: "President Trump insisted."

Side by side portrait photos of Presidents Kennedy and Obama, captioned:
May 1961, President John F. Kennedy
"We will put men on the moon"
May 2016, President Barack Obama
"We will put men in women's restrooms"

Three identical photos of the truculent-appearing mayor of Baltimore, in the first she says:
"I will not authorize my people to travel from Baltimore to North Carolina or Mississippi."
In the second a reporter asks her:
"Meaning what?"
In the third she replies:
"If those states want rioters and looters, they'll have to get them someplace else."

At a university graduation a line of cap-and-gown clad students being handed diplomas, after which they pass under an arch emblazoned:
"TRIGGER WARNING: Now exiting safe space into the real world."

Teflon Don

Maureen Dowd has a snarky New York Times column mostly consumed with wonder at Hillary's weakness as a candidate, unable to put away a charm-less Vermont socialist whose political mentor appears to have been Nineteen Eighty-Four's Emmanuel Goldstein as played by John Boswall. The following assessment isn't half bad:
Hillary’s Bataan Death March is making Republicans reconsider their own suicide mission with Trump. More are looking at Clinton’s inability to get the flashing lights going like her husband, and thinking: Huh, maybe we’re not dead here. Maybe Teflon Don could pull this off.

The 2016 race is transcendentally bizarre. We have two near-nominees with the highest unfavorables at this point in the race of any in modern history. We seem to have a majority of voters in both parties who are driven by the desire to vote against the other candidate, rather than for their own.
Dowd nailed it, voting against Hillary is my 2016 raison d'ĂȘtre.

Another Pair of Unintended Consequences

Raising the minimum wage is a strategy for moving working poor people out of a city or other jurisdiction. It makes jobs they would take to get a foot on the upward ladder uneconomic in that locale. Over time, people move to where perceived opportunity exists.

Restrictive real estate practices, including zoning and assessments, make both home ownership and rents higher, less affordable in a region. Again, this causes the working poor to move elsewhere.

It is likely most people who support higher minimum wages and restrictive real estate practices are unaware of the impact they have on moving the poor to other areas. Alternatively, perhaps they understand but don't care.

What if the two effects noted above are viewed as features, instead of defects? Imagine if the real motives are to gentrify the city or area, effectively limiting residency to people of high SES. Think of the scandal.

Go here to read a City Journal interview with Aaron Renn, who has written about the reverse migration of black Americans back to the South their grandparents left 70 years ago. The thoughts above are my reaction to points raised in this interview.

Unintended Consequences Watch

Here's another "unintended consequences" story to share with you. A few years back California adopted an unusual primary/general election system. See how City Journal describes it:
The top two vote-getters in the primary—regardless of party affiliation—will face each other in November.
But CA is, at the statewide level, a one-party state - Democrat.
If the current polling stands, the general election to fill the senate seat Boxer has held since 1992 will likely be a contest between two liberal Democrats: Harris (now at 27 percent) and Sanchez (at 14 percent).
Harris is the more liberal of the two likely finalists, and is more popular with Democrats statewide, so you'd assume she'll win, yes? Maybe not. Here's where the unintended consequences arise in November.
Golden State Republicans, having no candidate of their own to support, will be forced to choose between Harris and Sanchez. GOP voters in California are a minority but they still number in the millions. In a presidential election year, they will turn out in force. Expect them to vote for the least liberal of the Senate candidates on the ballot—Loretta Sanchez.
Ironically, CA's odd primary system gives its Republican minority more voice than they would have if there were a GOP candidate on the November ballot. It essentially forces what, in Europe, is called "tactical voting," voting for the least bad candidate.

Insofar as it causes CA Republicans to vote for the least liberal of two Democrat finalists, instead of for a sacrificial Republican, it may encourage Democrats to moderate their positions.

Got a Disturbance? Send the Legion

As regular COTTonLINE readers know well, on several occasions we've mentioned with favor the U.S. creating a foreign legion. Obviously, we're not the only one to whom this idea has occurred, see a World Politics Review article by Steven Metz which makes this same point, with substantially more groundwork laid.

My reasoning is as follows: the world is an increasingly dangerous and chaotic place. The United States will face continuing demands to act as its "policeman," demands that over time cannot be resisted or ignored.

Acting as disturbance-handlers isn't the role our regular Army and Marines are designed or trained for. A model of what is needed already exists - the French Foreign Legion. It has been the de facto policeman of French Equatorial Africa since the 1830s.
La Legion Etrangere c'est le gendarme de l'Afrique.
An unintended but very real side benefit: the quasi-colonial aspects of a foreign legion. American officers leading third-world troops will infuriate the anti-colonialists among us, most notably our incumbent President. Irritating Obama will be absolute karma after all the times he's irritated us.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Leave It Alone

Three days ago we cited an Aaron David Miller article, today we note another, this one in Foreign Policy. His topic today is SecState Kerry's documented obsession with the not sustainable nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Miller writes to argue Kerry is exactly wrong; the ugly status quo is highly sustainable - anything else is unthinkable to the parties on the ground. Basically, neither side can imagine living with a settlement the other would find acceptable.

Each side finds the often violent status quo preferable to a deal viewed as bad by many of its constituents. Miller's best guess: the one-and-two-halves-state status quo will persist into the foreseeable future. A U.S. president who understood this wouldn't waste time, energy and political capital trying to midwife a two-state solution neither party wants.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Whither Conservative Thought?

Scanning across this morning's offerings at RealClearPolitics I see an article by Bill Kristol vainly pushing his idea of a third-party challenge to Trump-Clinton. Another defends (in a backhanded way) Bill Kristol as not a "renegade Jew" but merely a sore loser.

This set me thinking about the future of the conservative establishment, as represented by two magazines: National Review and Kristol's Weekly Standard. Both are magazines I have read and cited over the near-decade COTTonLINE has been online. Both magazines have been a part of the recent #NeverTrump movement, bitterly so.

There has been a strong neocon presence in both - a commitment to a muscular, forward-leaning foreign policy Trump seems not to share. This element has favored a military defense of Israel, although it clearly stands for more than that.

If Trump loses in November, they'll write "I told you so" and continue on their present course. That much is a given.

The fascinating question is what they'll do if Trump wins? Will they mumble an apology and fall in line or become de facto allies of the Democrats? Is a change of heart even possible (or believable) after declaring Trump anathema?

If Trump wins, which appears likely at this juncture, I think these two icons of conservative thought may simply wither away, follow the many other magazines of opinion into the dusty archives of history. Like the Literary Digest, victims of the unforgivable sin of blatantly and unambiguously misreading the public will.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Fun With Numbers

T. A. Frank, writing at Vanity Fair, says what the white vote does is critical to Clinton's chances. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.
Fundamentally, then, a small percentage of white voters hating Clinton’s stance on immigration could outweigh a large percentage of Hispanic voters liking it.
Analysis: True. It's because the electorate is still something like 70% white.

Your Wednesday Snark

Victor Davis Hanson, aka "The Sage of the San Joaquin," writes in National Review about the callow group of flunkies with which Obama has surrounded himself, often characterized as "pajama boys" after the smug-looking, mug-cuddling, glasses-and-plaid-pajama-wearing idiot in the Obamacare TV ad.
Who hires and promotes Pajama Boys? Why, of course, Barack Obama, the Pajama Boy in Chief.
Celebrate the infinite arrogance of the prep school lad, an apprentice master-of-the-universe, dodging noblesse oblige.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Live Blogging the Kentucky, Oregon Returns

If it's Tuesday, there must be election returns, right? Yep, as of 5:45 pm Pacific time, with 87% of the votes counted in Kentucky, Clinton leads Sanders by 2816 votes, out of a total of 362,596 reported.

Clinton isn't all that popular among Democrats, and they swear she'll be nominated. My eyeball says they are separated by less than 1%. This in a state her husband carried twice, not impressive.

Seven minutes later ... now 92% have been reported, Clinton has 190,698 to Sanders 190,572, they are separated by 126 votes. That looks like maybe 0.1% difference, a for-sure recount. She cannot close the deal.

Polls in Oregon, where both parties are holding primaries, haven't closed yet.

At 6:07 Clinton's lead has opened back up to 1012 votes, with 95% reporting.

At 6:20 Clinton's lead has opened to 2500 with 98% reporting. RealClearPolitics has them separated by 0.6%.

At 9:20 p.m. Kentucky is still too close to call for either Clinton or Sanders, they are less than 2000 votes apart with Clinton in a slight lead. RealClearPolitics has them each taking 27 delegates.

Oregon has been called for Sanders on the Dem. side, and for Trump on the GOP side. Sanders gets 28 delegates to Clinton's 24, Trump gets 17 while Kasich and Cruz each get 3.