Monday, August 3, 2015

Cost: Blame Boehner, McConnel

The Weekly Standard's Jay Cost describes the Trump phenomenon as the manifestation of a "principal-agent" problem between Republican voters (principals) and the party leaders (agents).
Donald Trump is not the Republican party’s real problem; he is a symptom of the problem. There is a generationu-long climate of distrust between conservative voters and Republican politicians. Trump is simply taking advantage of this weakness.
I believe Cost is correct. The whole article is worth your time.

A Peronist, Not a Socialist

The Washington Post takes on the issue of whether Pope Francis is a leftist. Their short answer: no. In fact, they allege, he is something different but in the opinion of COTTonLINE, equally bad: a Peronist.

Juan Peron was one of a group of third world tinpot dictators who believed they discerned a "middle way" between socialism/Communism on one hand and capitalism on the other. Libya's Gaddafi was another, as were Egypt's Nasser and the Bathist lovelies Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Haffez Assad in Syria. All were noted for favoring a strong leader and government intervention in the economy.

As regular readers know, we've often bemoaned the deleterious effects Peronism has wrought on the Argentine economy. It regularly manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. This in a country that should be one of the world's wealthiest but is normally within sight of bankruptcy.

Strange thought: Pope Francis would like all of us to share the Argentine travails, to experience the "joys" of Peronism first-hand. No thank you, Holiness.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Travel Blogging III

Zurich: We spent most of the day on two trains - the Eurostar that runs London - Paris and the TGV Lyria which runs Paris - Zurich. At various points on the TVG we hit 202 mph with no drama whatsoever. The Eurostar is a bit cramped, the TVG less so.

Both Britain and France have much more farmland than you tend to suspect, most of France is fields of grain, corn, and hay. I actually saw some French farmhouses today, although many farmers live in the village and commute out to their property.

SOPs for Europeans and Americans are simply different, they're used to taking trains from one city center to another, then dragging their rollalong suitcase to a nearby hotel along the sidewalk. Being without a car at the destination is normal for them, not for us.

Urban planners (a COTTonLINE pet peeve) ask Americans to live like Europeans. Our typical response is to just ignore them. When forced to react we tend to say something like "Oh, hell no." We love our cars (and pickups and SUVs and RVs) and will not be dissuaded.

Living like a European is okay for a couple of weeks, longer than that is unAmerican. Yanks who want to live here are embryonic expats, something we've always produced in small numbers.

Tomorrow we are off to Interlaken via Bern. It's a resort town between two lakes, as the name suggests. We're there for four nights, we'll spend the days taking train daytrips that will return to Interlaken in time for supper.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Travel Blogging II

London: A weird weekend to be in London, they've closed a number of main streets to facilitate bicycle racing, first amateurs, then professionals. Cabbies are furious with Mayor Boris Johnson, a rising star in the Tory/Conservative Party, for the closure which makes their lives miserable. Since it is a weekend, I'm not sure how the rest feel about it, maybe indifferent.

We depart from St. Pancras station tomorrow morning on the Eurostar , the train that takes the "Chunnel" or Channel Tunnel to France. It should have us in Paris in a very few hours. There we change stations via taxi and get another train to Zurich.

Anyway, we have a very early get-up tomorrow which will be less trouble since we're still jet-lagged. Tomorrow is also when we meet a few members of our tour group and the group leader, Geoff. The rest of the group join us in Zurich tomorrow evening.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Noonan: Why Trump

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan comments on the rise of the Donald, with sympathy for his supporters:
American political establishment, take note: In the past 20 years you have turned America into a nation a third of whose people would make Donald Trump their president. Look on your wonders and despair.
The overall level of disgust is high. It's a good column, not behind the WSJ paywall.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Good News Story

Occasionally you find a gleaming nugget of good news in the dreary manure pile that is modern reportage. Today's example is from Newsweek, which reports the people responsible for the Advanced Placement U.S. History standards test - the College Board - have modified their curriculum to be less anti-American and more patriotic.

A new section on "American exceptionalism" now includes founding fathers Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams. Imagine leaving these amazing men out of U.S. History!

People found A.P. History to reflect a leftist, America-as-root-of-world-problems point of view, similar to that held by our President and, if we're honest, many academic historians. If the College Board has moved quickly enough and far enough to prevent wholesale dumping of the Common Core by patriotic communities and states is unknown. It may be too little improvement, done too late.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Coulter's Six Points

At kausfiles.com, Mickey Kaus summarizes Ann Coulter's 6 main points from her new book Adios America. In case you haven't time to read it, here they are quoted from his review:
1. Cultures differ, and culture matters.
2. Some cultures are "better" at becoming American than others.
3. Crime, in particular, is an issue.
4. Legal immigration matters.
5. Diversity sucks!
6. We need a moratorium on immigration. 
Those seem real issues to COTTonLINE. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Does Trump Have Mob Ties?

Writing at The Federalist, David Marcus cites several examples of Donald Trump - while developing real estate, building hotels, and running casinos - doing business with known mobsters in Atlantic City and New York City. As Marcus notes, it is time for serious investigative reporting about these disqualifying ties.

Trump's poll numbers require the press take him seriously and vet him. Likely he will claim, probably truthfully, that anyone doing what he has done in the cities in which he operated would end up working with the mob to some extent.

Having done so is no problem for Trump, the celebrity impresario. It is a problem for Trump, the presidential candidate.

An "Ally" Behaving Badly

Reuters reports via Yahoo News that Turkey continues to mount air strikes on the Kurds in Iraq. Since Kurds are just about the only effective fighting force opposed to ISIS, these strikes are not in our interests.

Through a third party (perhaps Israel), the U.S. should arrange for Kurds to acquire and learn to use MANPADs. With them Kurds can shoot down the occasional Turkish plane.

At the very least that would keep the Turks up high enough and/or far enough away to be inaccurate. And it would boost the Kurds' morale, no small thing in their chaotic region.

The Voters Let Us Down

Jay Nordlinger of National Review writes that 2012 left him discouraged about our political process:
I thought that Mitt Romney was a superb candidate, and that the ticket of Romney and Paul Ryan was one of the most appealing imaginable. The contrast with Obama and Biden was stark.

And the people chose Obama and Biden. Again. Over Romney and Ryan. What can you do with such a people?

The 2012 election took some of the wind out of my sails, America-wise, and I wonder whether other people know what I mean.
The majority who voted to reelect Obama/Biden deserve all the bad things that have flowed from that choice. Unfortunately, the substantial minority who voted Romney/Ryan have to suffer it as well, without deserving it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Carly

National Review's Jay Nordlinger does a long piece on Carly Fiorina in New Hampshire; he obviously spent time with her campaign there. Nordlinger liked what he saw, and asked her why she was doing it. Her answer is interesting:
I have been through some hard things in my life, and having been through those hard things, I really think that life is measured in love, moments of grace, and positive contribution. This is a positive contribution I can make. I can win this job. I can do this job. I can change the conversation this nation has. I can change how people think about their politics. This is a contribution I can make. And I’m willing to make it.

And having been through hard things, I’m not afraid of anything anymore. I’m not afraid of what people are going to say. I’m not afraid of what people are going to dig up. I’m not afraid of working hard. I’m not afraid.

So, to me, this is — honestly, it is hard work, but it is joyful work, and I feel as though it is the work I’m supposed to be doing now. So I’m happy to do it.
Fiorina's identification of Margaret Thatcher as one of her heroes resonates with me.

Weird Longevity Science

The International Journal of Epidemiology reports research that shows smart people live longer and the reasons are genetic. Good genes lead both to health and intelligence.

I've noticed that my former colleagues at the university tend to live to be quite old, many into their 90s. I read their obits in the campus news.

Do smart people live longer because they make better life choices? I'll bet that is part of the answer. Another part is simply having fewer genetic defects, predispositions to various ills that kill people before their three score and ten, or four score, are done.

Weird Metabolic Science

The Washington Post reports results of a preliminary study of a compound - a pill - that can have the same effects on your body as exercise, without the effort and boredom that exercise entails.

Only done at the mouse level so far, the drug labeled Compound 14 tricks cells into behaving as though exercise had taken place. As the Instapundit often says in such matters, faster please.

The Message Lacks Charm

Elizabeth Price Foley, guest blogging at Instapundit, observes wryly about Democrats:
If you keep suggesting that white, male, Christians who believe in earning a dollar are racist, ignorant, xenophobic, homophobic or otherwise evil, they probably won’t vote for you.
Evidence suggests they seldom do vote for Democrats. Dems, of course, have to keep suggesting those hateful things to stay tight with the victim groups forming their base.

Talent and Hustle

We rarely link to a HuffPost story, today we make an exception. See a feel-good story about a college coed who designs, makes, and sells jewelry, and won the 2013 National Federation of Independent Business Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. 

As long as we have young people with this kind of gumption the U.S. will be okay, in spite of Washington's best efforts to torpedo us. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

What Would It Take?

The reason.com website has an anti-Democrat screed with this semi-fascinating title:
Admit it, Dems: Hillary Could Strangle a Puppy on Live TV, and You'd Still Back Her
That's probably an exaggeration, I'm not sure by how much. Taking dirty money, sending classified emails via a hackable private server, failing to prevent the murder of an ambassador, and lying about all of it obviously doesn't disqualify her.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A New Victorian Era

Michael Barone writes for RealClearPolitics that the U.S. may be entering a new Victorian era, marked by reduced rates of teen sexuality, teen pregnancy, and hookup sex among college students. Perhaps, he says, we're seeing the end of the Age of Aquarius that began in the 1960s.

Trends do not continue forever. I suspect reduced teen sex has more to do with greatly increased time spent at a computer keyboard and may merely be the substitute of porn-enhanced virtual sex for often disappointing real in-person sex.

In Japan, where trends sometimes start, a near-majority of young people admit to little interest in real sex whatsoever. The Japanese birthrate is perhaps 50% of replacement level, by the way.

The Near East's Near Future

Steven Metz writes at World Politics Review about the new order emerging in the Middle East. He sees a three-cornered struggle, with Iran at one corner, the Saudis at another, and ISIS at the third. See what Metz says about the future U.S. role in the region:
Despite all the talk we are likely to hear during the upcoming presidential campaign about reasserting American “leadership” in the region, the changes that have taken place are not simply a matter of presidential will, but a reflection of deep and permanent structural factors.

All of this suggests that whoever wins the 2016 presidential election in the United States will be frustrated enough to consider, and perhaps undertake, disengagement from the Middle East. As long as Israel remains secure—and there is little likelihood of a regional threat that the Israelis can’t handle with modest assistance—the U.S. role in the new Middle East will continue to recede.
This presupposes Iran will not go all nuclear suicide bomber on Israel. It's interesting Metz doesn't see the Turks as players, doesn't mention them at all. Perhaps he believes they'll keep busy with the "-stans," the former SSRs, mostly peopled by Turkic tribes.

My sense: many Americans would welcome a withdrawal from the Middle East, particularly if our current energy independence can be sustained.

Another Unintended Consequence

Matthew F. Cancian and Michael W. Klein write in Fortune the greatly enlarged pool of college graduates has had an unfortunate unintended consequence: lowering the intelligence of military officers. Very likely the military becomes a residual career choice for some.

Often job offers appropriate to a college grad do not materialize for the less impressive grads in a class, or those whose majors do not lead to obvious entry positions.

The authors suggest using some form of intelligence test as a screening device. We might be stunned to learn how many wouldn't achieve a minimum cut-off score.

Schlichter Does Snark

Kurt Schlichter may become a favorite columnist. Here writing for Townhall about comparisons of 2016 with earlier years he says, forget 1992 with Perot giving the election to Clinton. Instead focus on 1968, his description of which reflects his obvious fond memories thereof:
Back in 1968, the Democrat Party was divided between liberals who loved America and liberals who hated everything about it. The situation is a little different now, with today’s Democrat Party divided between liberals who hate everything about America and liberals who really, really hate everything about it.
If that wasn't enough, try this:
Hillary is America’s First Wife, a sour, sexless, disapproving presence eager to spend the next eight years telling us all how we are failing to measure up to her exacting standards.
And since nothing succeeds like excess:
Nineteen sixty-eight was the year normal Americans saw the Democrats for what they were, and that’s the danger for them in 2016 too – that normal Americans will be reminded about what a circus of welfare-chiseling, race-obsessed, work-averse, baby-shredding freaks the Democrat party is.