Thursday, May 25, 2017

Brazilian Autophagy

Writing at The American Interest of which he is Editor-at-Large, Walter Russell Mead looks at the current state of political upheaval in Brazil. Having impeached and ousted one president - Dilma Rousseff - Brazilians are now looking closely at the questionable behavior of her replacement - Michel Temer.
The leadership crisis is both an internal problem for Brazil—where important reforms to its destructive pension system may well fail thanks to the latest Presidential scandal—as well as an international issue.

The political class in Brazil is rotten to the core. (snip) More and more Brazilians are sick of it.
Historically when this has happened, the Brazilian military has stepped in to prevent anarchy. Alternating kleptocracy and military coups have characterized much of Latin America.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Family Affair

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports new information concerning the Manchester bombing.
An extraordinary picture of the family of Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi has emerged tonight, as his father who had Al-Qaeda links and his younger brother were arrested in Tripoli.

The mass-murderer - who apparently had links to the 'Man in the Hat' Brussels bomber - had only just returned from a three-week trip to war-torn Libya before launching his horrifying attack, friends said.

That revelation came as his father, Ramadan, was arrested by masked gunmen in Tripoli this evening.

Abedi's younger brother Hashem has also been arrested in Tripoli, Libya, on suspicion of having links to the ISIS who claimed responsibility for Monday night's atrocity.

He was 'aware of all the details' of his plans, a Libyan security force said. Hashem had been 'under surveillance for a month and a half' and 'investigation teams supplied intelligence that he was planning a terrorist attack in the capital Tripoli'.

Salman's older brother Ismail, 23, was arrested yesterday in Chorlton, south Manchester.
How could anyone have been suspicious of such a warm, loving, peaceful family? The blood of those killed and wounded in Manchester is on the hands of whoever let this nest of vipers into Britain. Sadly, this is only the tip of the iceberg, many more such lie in wait.

Pro-Gun D - Not a Complete Oxymoron

As I write this on Wednesday late afternoon before supper, the lead story at the Politico website has the following headline and subhead:
The Issue Democrats Wish Would Go Away 
Can the Democratic Party retake Congress by giving up on gun control? Should It?
Democrats have concluded that, in selected districts, they cannot defeat the National Rifle Association and might as well not try. The article cites three Dem Congressional candidates who have avoided (or even repudiated) the Dem gun control orthodoxy unpopular in their districts.

Snerk ... there is nothing quite like a string of defeats to encourage an exploration of policy alternatives. Might we one day see pro-life Dems? Free enterprise Dems? Small government Dems?

Venezuela Update

It's time for another quick look at once-wealthy Venezuela, now in a seeming death spiral. Yahoo News carries a Christian Science Monitor story that is, honestly, more atmospherics than facts.

In a messy situation like today's Venezuela, atmospherics can be more telling as there is little agreement about the facts or what they could mean. This piece is the interwoven interviews of Venezuelans at various socio-economic levels about their current lives, fears, and reactions.

----------

A quick review for those who haven't closely tracked Venezuelan developments. Former President Hugo Chavez - founder of their socialist revolution - shared JFK's ironic 'good fortune.' Both died in office before their ineffectiveness became widely obvious, and are thus remembered as near-saints.

Chavez' hand-picked successor - Nicolas Maduro - inherited the Chavez mess, ran out of other people's money, and cannot make the country "work." The mob will likely destroy him.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Another "Known Wolf"

A bomb at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, U.K., killed 22 and maimed more than twice that number. The suicide bomber has been identified as the son of Libyan refugee parents, one Salman Abedi, 23.
CBS News confirmed Abedi was known to British authorities prior to the attack. (emphases added)
It turns out most terrorists are "known to the authorities" prior to their violent acts. This is so common the media has developed a term for them - "known wolf" - wordplay on the trope "lone wolf."

FDR understood the wartime trade-off between civil rights and security; the result was internment of thousands of people of Japanese ancestry - citizens and aliens. They had done nothing wrong yet, and most probably never would.

Jihadis have declared war on our Western "crusader" society. At what point do we stop letting known suspicious characters run free until they do something awful? Perhaps we could consider deporting immigrants who are known malcontents and interning jihadis born here?

Decline and Fall, the Next Step

California takes another step down the proverbial Road to Perdition. The Sacramento Bee, effectively the paper of record for CA state government, reports on the costs associated with the single payer health plan Democrat lawmakers would like to enact.
It would cost $400 billion to remake California’s health insurance marketplace and create a publicly funded universal heath care system, according to a state financial analysis released Monday.

California would have to find an additional $200 billion per year, including in new tax revenues, to create a so-called “single-payer” system, the analysis by the Senate Appropriations Committee found. The estimate assumes the state would retain the existing $200 billion in local, state and federal funding it currently receives to offset the total $400 billion price tag.

The cost is higher than the $180 billion in proposed general fund and special fund spending for the budget year beginning July 1.
Democrat majorities in both houses of the state legislature most likely see the enormous cost of single payer as a feature instead of a bug. It will give them an excuse to take in twice as much tax revenue from an already heavily taxed state. Imagine the opportunities for graft and corruption.

Watch the state's remaining private employers close their doors and head for the border as their costs skyrocket. California can become another Venezuela-type disaster without half trying.

My WY neighbor remarked he'd vote to give CA back to Mexico just to get rid of its economically illiterate Democrats. I'm not quite there ... yet.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Felonia von Pantsuit?

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds links to Kurt Schlichter who blogs at PJMedia. Schlichter is often a good source for biting political invective and generalized snark. Today he grades President Trump an A+.
There can be no serious debate. Donald Trump has done a truly outstanding job of not being Hillary Clinton. His not being Hillary Clinton was and remains my sole expectation of Donald Trump’s presidency. Nothing else matters in the end; it is enough that Trump foiled Felonia von Pantsuit’s creepy scheme to subjugate forever the deplorable mass of normal people she despises. 
There's "despising" showing up again. Libprogs find hating entirely too much fun.

A Cold Civil War

John Kass writes political opinion for the Chicago Tribune. Today he shares findings of a study of media coverage of Trump's first 100 days, done by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard. It ran 80-20 negative vs. positive. See his conclusion about causes:
Many beltway journalists are essentially establishment creatures, gatekeepers for the political ruling class, members of that class and fierce guardians of their place in the empire. The political class sees Trump and the 62 million Americans who voted for him as the stuff they scrape off their shoes.
Journalists once hid their contempt better than they do now. We believed they respected their craft.

Reaching for a descriptive title for our current state of affairs, I come up with a (mostly) Cold Civil War. The left had better hope it stays cold; the right has the preponderance of privately owned firepower. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

New Tech

I really like innovative technology. Lucianne.com links to a Popular Mechanics article about three new innovations in internal combustion engines.

The first is a diesel developed by Mazda which is quiet, clean, and efficient. The second is a variable compression engine developed by Infiniti, which can give either lots of power or great economy at will. And the third is a two stroke with a unique starting system developed by the Ski-Doo/Sea-Doo company. This is neat stuff, enjoy.

The Current Political Scene

Various observers have described the all-out attacks on the Trump administration as a "coup" or a "coup d'etat" or a "civil war." A bit of hyperbole? Perhaps, but serious obstructionism is certainly the intent.

The Democrats' strategy, to the extent it has moved beyond the tantrum stage, appears to be to create so much chaos that enough Republicans will join them in an impeachment effort. Maybe I'd phrase it thusly: "If we can't have the government we want, we will have no government at all ... gridlock. It's our guess we can tolerate chaos better than you can, and you'll give in to get some peace."

If it turns out they're correct, the GOP is effectively dead.

McConnell, Ryan, et al. need to hang tough and do some legislating. If majorities are worth anything, they'll make 'em function to move an economic growth agenda. If they have to dump the filibuster, it should happen, go "full parliamentary."

This is war, undeclared but very real. And while they're at it, they need to reduce the protections federal career employees now have which enable them to mount a full-on obstruction.

Status Report

We haven't posted anything for a couple of days, my apologies. The DrsC have been enroute to our home in Wyoming, and are now "in residence."

The transition has been dramatic, from Tuesday's late spring at sea level to Friday's early spring at an altitude of 6000 feet. It isn't warm here and many deciduous trees have yet to leaf out. The mountains around our valley are still snowy.

Those aren't complaints, you understand. We're volunteers after all, we chose to make the move knowing full well WY wouldn't yet have "shirt-sleeves" weather.

We'll be out of breath for a couple of weeks until we adjust to the thin air, especially after climbing stairs. It comes with this (beautiful) territory.

Plus, it feels good to leave California's craziness behind. For the next several months those are someone else's problems, someone else's nightmare from which there is no waking.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Gallup: Dems as Unpopular as GOP

CNSNews.com reports Gallup polling organization has found the popularity of the Democrat party is now as low as that of the GOP, within the margin of error. They write:
Forty percent of Americans said they view Democratic Party favorably, down from 45 percent in November. The Republican rating dropped one point, to 39 percent this month from 40 percent in November.

The decline in Democratic Party favorability is mostly a result of lower ratings from self-identified Democrats, Gallup said. And both parties’ ratings are below their historical norms.

Gallup notes that historically, Democrats’ ratings usually exceed Republicans' ratings -- by six percentage points, on average.
They quote Gallup about the reason:
That could indicate Democrats are frustrated with the party's minority status in Washington.
Perhaps so; I wonder if the actual reason might not be voter disgust with the extreme public outrage elected Democrats are expressing. They have made a public spectacle of themselves, essentially throwing a tantrum, acting as immaturely as their nemesis in the White House.

Monday, May 15, 2017

France Shares the Problem

You've probably seen various articles that observe life expectancy for white working class (non-college) Americans has declined. We've commented on it here and here.

I'll wager you're under the impression the phenomenon is unique to the U.S., or as I noted some months ago, perhaps shared with Russia. Now comes an article in the New Statesman (U.K.) which points out the same "deaths of despair" are happening in France (scroll down).
Three years after finishing their studies, three-quarters of French university graduates are living on their own; by contrast, three-quarters of their contemporaries without university degrees still live with their parents. And they’re dying early.

In January 2016, the national statistical institute Insee announced that life expectancy had fallen for both sexes in France for the first time since the Second World War, and it’s the native French working class that is likely driving the decline. The French outsiders are failing not just in income and longevity but also in family formation, mental health and education.
The villain is globalization, which has shipped the good jobs for working class people to the third world where they can be done more cheaply. It has also brought hordes of immigrants to developed countries to do the no-skill jobs, also more cheaply.

Lacking opportunity and purpose, priced out of the job market, the native working class engages in unhealthy pursuits with life-shortening consequences. Globalization's victims, it appears, exist throughout the developed world.

Big Data: Non-White Voting Down

The Washington Post reports findings from an immense survey done by the Census Bureau of 2016 voters. It finds there was no very large spike in white voters, college-educated or otherwise.
There were significant changes in turnout in other demographics. Significant drops in black and Hispanic turnout in some states may have cost Hillary Clinton some previously blue states.
The data show turnout was either low or declining for every demographic except whites. In a generally down year, a group which isn't down could be said to have "spiked," don't you think?

My prediction that, given the Clinton loss, Democrats will not nominate another white for president in the next few quadrennial cycles is looking better with the passage of time. The data shows minorities are more likely to turn out for a non-white candidate.

Identity group tribal politics by Democrats eventually forced white voters to become a tribe too, called "Republicans." Unintended consequences are a b*tch.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Barren Continent

Less than a week ago we wrote about three European leaders having no biological children of their own. Now the Washington Examiner has an expanded list which reflects the same barren pattern.
Emmanuel Macron founded a new party, and his election as France's president is said to herald the "revival of Europe." Interestingly, Macron has no children.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also has no children. British prime minister Theresa May has no children. Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni has no children. Holland's Mark Rutte has no children. Sweden's Stefan Löfven has no biological children. Luxembourg's Xavier Bettel has no children. Scotland's Nicola Sturgeon has no children. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, has no children.
I'm certain this means something; exactly what it means isn't entirely clear. Maybe it's nothing more than parenthood is too intrusive and exhausting to permit the single-minded career focus required to reach leadership positions.

Alternatively, in a continent with more deaths than births among the native-born, perhaps it just means they are the quintesential Europeans, the distilled essence of modern-day Europe?

Saturday Snark, a Day Late

Once again we link to Steven Hayward's weekly compilation of cartoons, captioned photos, and other whimsy which he posts at Power Line. Some favorites described:

Photo of a very disappointed-looking Chuck Schumer, captioned:
I've just been informed that
the entire base of my party is
outside the mainstream.
Photo of a bright red baseball cap with this slogan embroidered across the front in white letters:
Make Schumer Cry Again 
Photo of a stern Leonard Nimoy in full Spock regalia, captioned:
Logic dictates:
if gun owners were as violent as anti-gunners say they are,
there would be no anti-gunners.
Photo of the three great pyramids of Egypt, captioned:
When will we take down
these monuments of slavery
Cartoon of former President Obama, at a podium labeled "J.F.K. Profiles in Hypocrisy." He says:
I call on lawmakers to have the courage to NOT
ram through a partisan health care bill, like I did... 
Photo of a gold plated, engraved presentation model 1911 Colt automatic pistol with bone grips, captioned:
The Trump .45
Since the 44 didn't work for
the last 8 years

The 'Mystery' Sentence

Virtually every commentator on the Comey firing has puzzled over the inclusion by Trump in the termination letter of a sentence in which the President mentioned three occasions on which Comey had said the President was not under investigation. I'm not certain why it's puzzles.

It seems clear to me Trump was establishing he had no conflict of interest in the firing. He was not interfering in an investigation of himself, inasmuch as he understood no such investigation was underway. The only confusing part is why he thought Democrats or the media (I repeat myself) would pay attention thereto.

Happy Mothers Day

To all readers fortunate enough to have a living mother, COTTonLINE wishes you and your Mom a happy Mothers Day today.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Unsecured Shipboard Artillery

The Hill reports as follows:
Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, offered high praise for Sen. John McCain on Friday, saying (of) the Arizona Republican's vocal criticism of President Trump: "I think frankly this is John McCain's finest hour."
Singing from the enemy's hymn book isn't cool. Nor is being praised by them. Both conservatives and populists wish McCain would retire.

Is there any remote possibility McCain could understand this "high praise" as a wakeup call, a sign he has totally sold out to the enemy? Not likely, he's been unsecured shipboard artillery for at least a decade.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Clinton Voters More Regretful

Andrew Malcolm, writing in the Sacramento Bee, quotes a statistic I haven't seen before, one you might enjoy. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.
A Pew Research Center poll last month found minimal Trump voter remorse, only 7 percent. A subsequent Washington Post-ABC News poll found even fewer regretful Trump voters, 4 percent. In fact – wait for it – far more voters regretted casting their ballot for Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, 15 percent.
Yup, Trump is the off-the-wall President we expected him to be when we voted for him. He's blustery, garish, inexact, ego-driven, impatient - a salesman who can't stop selling.

Let me repeat myself. If all we get out of the Trump presidency is several dozen conservative federal judges I'll rate it a success. Not a huge success, but better than his two predecessors.

I expect we'll also get an improved economy and, with luck, a simplified tax code. Simply enforcing existing immigration laws has nearly shut down illegal border crossing. Jaw-boning by him persuaded several firms to keep manufacturing jobs here ... a plus.

Maybe best of all, Trump drives progressives, liberals, academics, snowflakes, and the media bat-sh*t crazy. Their exploding heads? In the words of Gen. Patton, "God help me, I do love it so."