Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Resistance Deconstructed

The Deep State in Washington DC and the Dems in general keep trying to pull down President Trump. So  far, they've had no luck. They keep on screeching and he keeps on doing his thing. I largely agree with his agenda, and wish him well.

As a number of pundits have observed, so far nobody has identified a crime that anybody can be acused of. Given the leaky nature of DC and the receptivity of the press to anti-Trump gossip, if no crime has been identified there probably was none committed. That means this isn't Watergate, but is a tantrum thrown by beside-themselves progressives, out of their collective minds because the "arc of history" Obama bragged about has proven to be bunk.

One supposes they are experiencing the feelings a Southern Baptist might have being governed by atheists. I understand it can't be fun for them, even if schadenfreude occurs in my vicinity with some regularity.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Travel Blogging II

Banff, Alberta, Canada: The drive here from the Calgary area is a pretty one, green rolling hills with the Canadian Rockies as a backdrop. They're the Canadian version of "the far pavilions" or "the front range." 

As you get closer, the mountains bulk larger until you and your vehicle on the Trans-Canada Highway are dwarfed into insignificance. Just outside the park Canmore has turned into a glitzy vacation spot for the wealthy, a kind of Canadian Aspen or Jackson.

Banff townsite has been overcrowded for years and is, if anything, worse than before. The sidewalks are mobbed, the parking is impossible, many of the former cottages have been torn down to build four story hotels featuring hunting lodge chic.

Parks Canada, their equivalent of the National Park Service, has restricted the growth of Banff townsite to its existing footprint so it cannot spread out. All of that sort of lateral growth is happening in Canmore. Instead the growth here in Banff is like that of Manhattan, albeit in a non-high rise basis. They go up instead of out, apparently limited to 4 floors.

We took a drive yesterday up the Trans-Canada Highway to the turnoff for Kootenay and came back via the Bow Valley parkway. With the exception of the parking for Johnson Canyon, it wasn't crowded or congested. Very pretty scenery, much appreciated. This is some of the most beautiful, spectacular scenery in North America.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Travel Blogging I

Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada: We spent the day driving north across a couple of hundred miles of steppe. Northern Montana and southern Alberta must have some the lowest non-desert population densities on the planet - vast wheat fields as far as the horizon dotted with lonely-appearing farm houses every mile or three.

 Every 30-40 miles there is a small town with one or more grain elevators where the wheat is aggregated and loaded onto rail cars for shipment to wherever it is milled into flour. Elevators are the highrise landmarks of this empty land, vertical wooden affairs 4-5 times taller than they are wide, standing beside rail sidings.

 If I've given the impression the region is flat, I need to correct that view. The terrain isn't flat but there are no mountains either. Driving across it one is mostly headed up or downgrade as the prairie undulates downward where rivers have cut what are locally called "coulees."

 Coulees are where the trees survive, along watercourses. They are often very pleasant and even park-like. And being lower than the surrounding terrain, they avoid the worst of the prairie's ever-present wind.

Our RV park tonight is in a coulee that runs alongside Lethbridge, cut by the Oldman River. Really. I'm not making a joke, that's the actual name. As they say, you can look it up. This coulee is quite deep, and is crossed by one of the highest, longest railroad trestles in North America - quite a sight, actually. Living in cities, it is easy to get the impression the world is overcrowded with people. The "world" isn't, but urban areas certainly are. The region we drove across today is an enormous food factory rather sparsely populated.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Senator John McCain, Get-Well Wishes

Various media outlets are reporting Senator John McCain was found to have a malignant brain tumor, which has been removed. As regular COTTonLINE readers know, we have often been critical of various positions taken by the senior senator from Arizona.

None of that means we ever wished him ill-health. Brain cancer is an ugly affair we'd wish on no decent human, in which category he certainly belongs. We wish him a speedy and complete recovery.

Instant History

As you read various opinion pieces to make sense of the debacle that was the failed attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, you could do much worse than the Dan Balz column for the Washington Post. Balz really tries to hold down the leftward spin and describe what happened.

As you might surmise, "what happened" wasn't pretty. It leaves the GOP in a place that can please only Democrats.

Later ... for a less balanced, more "who can we blame for this abortion" approach, see a Breitbart quote of Rush Limbaugh on-air:
Collins, Murkowski, Capito – these three female leftists in the Republican caucus are running the Senate, not Mitch McConnell. (snip) Three liberal women who call themselves Republicans are running the Senate.
Okay, "running" is an exaggeration. What they're actually doing is preventing the Senate from transacting business.

The three represent, respectively, Maine, Alaska, and West Virginia. They deserve primary challenges next time they face the voters.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Downer

It turns out the Republican's "big tent" is too big to be of any practical use. The failure of the U.S. Senate to pass a repeal and replace of Obamacare demonstrates this lack of cohesion. This outcome is depressing.

Perhaps Mitch McConnell should resign the Senate leadership in protest. Herding the GOP's 'cats' can't be much fun.

One is tempted to say it would serve the GOP right if most of their senators up for reelection in 2018 lost. Except the damage to our nation from a Senate led by Upchuck Schumer would be considerable.

Likely we'd all end up getting our health care from government clinics as bad as the VA, a grim prospect. And who knows what exotic new sexual 'variants' a Democrat Senate would end up protecting? Or whether they'd defund the Border Patrol.

A better approach will be to run good candidates against nonconformist outliers like Rand Paul, John McCain and Susan Collins in the GOP primaries, defeat them, and move on. Less satisfying, but also importantly, less dangerous. The RNC needs to get busy with this project.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Trump No Travel Impediment

The Associated Press reports that, contrary to some expectations, tourism to the U.S. from other countries is up since Trump took office. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.
Last winter, the U.S. tourism industry fretted that Trump administration policies might lead to a “Trump slump” in travel.

But those fears may have been premature. International arrivals and travel-related spending are up in 2017 compared with the same period in 2016.
The article notes travel to the U.S. is hindered more by the strong dollar than by who occupies the White House. The Canadian dollar and euro are both weaker than previously, making coming here more pricey for tourists from those regions. And yet they come.

Mercenaries for Afghanistan?

Writing for The Atlantic Sean McFate, himself a former mercenary, describes ideas being floated to turn the pacification of Afghanistan over to a mercenary outfit like Blackwater or DynCorp. It would report to an American viceroy, with a role not unlike that of MacArthur in post-war Japan.

McFate is apparently of two minds about this proposal, having seen some mercs do good, and others do evil. He warns against Praetorianism, although I don't see some merc leader setting himself up as a "white rajah" in Afghanistan.

The model might be a Raj-like Afghan army manned by local enlisteds with first world officers and tech specialists. Alternatively, it could be a SOF outfit of stone killers with hi-tech equipment, 'robust' rules of engagement, and no media oversight.

What worked in renaissance Italy might work in today's failed states.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A New Approach

David P. Goldman, who blogs as Spengler at the PJMedia site, writes the basis of dislike for Trump is Islam. See his reasoning:
Western leaders from George W. Bush to Pope Francis I struggled to avoid a clash of civilizations, praising Islam as a religion of peace. Trump, by contrast, told Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia May 21 that the onus was on them to extirpate terrorists from their countries and mosques. Trump isn't seeking civilizational war. He's giving Muslim leaders fair warning and a chance to avoid it.

The Democrats' notion of intersectional victimization includes Muslims as victims of Western colonialism and "people of color."(snip) The Republican Establishment and their neo-con punditeska view the Muslim world as a giant laboratory for the export of democracy. (snip) The Europeans want a long-term accommodation with Islam as they drift slowly into demographic oblivion.

That's why the Democrats, the Establishment Republicans, and the Europeans hate him so much. (snip) They made a commitment to coexistence with Islam, and Trump pulled the plug on it.
Oversimplified? Yes. Containing a large nugget of truth? Absolutely. Is Trump aligned with U.S. public opinion on the issue? Completely.

CA a Plantation State

At the overtly pro-Trump website American Greatness, Editor Chris Buskirk writes about two events which happen to coincide timewise: Joe Scarborough leaving the GOP while Kid Rock announces for the GOP Senate run in Michigan. His basic story is fun and not wrong.

I want to emphasize something he sort of throws in for "ballast" or justification along the way, a really pointed description of the "going to Hell" path my native state of California has been traveling.
The Golden State, once the incarnation of the American Dream, is collapsing. The state’s defenders—there are a few—will say, “Hey, California is the world’s sixth-largest economy!”

Behind that bit of boosterism lies illegal immigration, legal drugs, out-of-control state spending, massive unfunded pension liabilities resulting from years of the legislature paying off the public sector unions, crumbling infrastructure, and a gap between rich and poor that resembles nothing so much as the plantation states of Central America whose example California is eagerly following—a state divided between the monied gentry and the people who serve them.

California is now a vision of a potential American dystopian future.
Buskirk obviously infers: "the (white and Asian) monied gentry and the (brown and black) people who serve them." And he could have added a reference that, as in the antebellum South, a largely white and Asian 'overseer' class of public employees run the schools, hospitals, criminal justice and welfare systems.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Saturday Snarkfest

Herein follows my picks from Steven Hayward's weekly collection for Power Line of cartoons, captioned photos, witty sayings, and generalized snark. As Hayward notes in his intro, a lot of the same topics are recycled this week from last week and the week before.

A four panel cartoon: first panel shows a man beside a woman in a pink pussy hat, he says:
Watch this...
Second panel, he looks at her and says:
Trump
Third panel, she explodes and melts down as he looks smug.
Fourth panel, he says:
Works every time!

A cartoon send-up of the West Side Story musical poster, modified somewhat. Labeled Mess Side Story, and showing a singing elephant and a singing donkey.
The elephant sings:
I like to be in America!
Grow money tree in America!
The donkey sings:
Everything free in America ...
for a huge fee in America!
Two panels, side by side. First panel, the cartoon characters Beavis and Butthead. The second panel, a photo of Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, who bear an uncanny resemblance to the cartoon guys. This one you need to see to appreciate.

Photo of a very bummed George Clooney, captioned:
When you love refugees, but you have
to leave your Italian chateau, as it's not
safe anymore due to refugees
Photo of an aircraft dropping fire retardant on a suburban forest fire, captioned:
Official state bird
of California 
Photo of a World War II B-29 bomber, with nose art saying:
Enola
Homosexual
Only a WW II history buff will get that one.

Two photos, side by side. In the first the Snuggle™teddy bear, in the second an Ewok©. The pair captioned:
What happens when teddy bears do meth

Losers All

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports statistics on who were the G-20 protestors arrested in Berlin. The data was compiled by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany's FBI equivalent.
Of these 84 per cent were men, and 72 per cent were aged between 18 and 29.

A third of them were unemployed, and 92 per cent still live with their parents.

In 15 per cent of these cases, the victims were right wing activists.
In other words, 85% were angry left wing snowflakes whose parents need to stop enabling their radicalism. One of them may write this generation's Mein Kampf or Das Kapital, something the rest of us could handily do without. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Deeply Corrupt and Incompetent

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds links to a Washington Examiner article wherein Lisa Boothe puts the "Don Jr. meets a Russian lawyer" thing in perspective. See her conclusion:
To be clear, none of this is okay. This isn't an effort to justify Donald Jr.'s decisions. But politics is a dirty industry. Many of the people criticizing him have spent plenty of time playing in the mud. They could at least wipe themselves off before handing down hypocritical moral judgments on others.
To this, Reynolds adds:
Given that we have the worst political class in our history, yelling “Trump is not normal!” doesn’t persuade. Given that our political class is also deeply corrupt and incompetent, calling Trump corrupt and incompetent doesn’t carry a lot of weight either. Given how many of them — *cough*Hillary*cough* — are on the take from foreign countries, the Russian thing seems like weak sauce. 
Analysis: If anything, understated.

Nevada Goes to Pot

When Colorado legalized recreational marijuana I was puzzled, it didn't seem like a logical move for the home of 3.2 beer. On the other hand, when Nevada did the same thing my reaction was: "Weed is a perfect fit for Nevada, the only state in the nation with bars that never close and legal brothels."

Nevada is the libertine state, a place for Baptists and Mormons to let their hair down "off the reservation." What happens in Nevada stays in Nevada, as does your money, unless you bring home an STI or an unfortunate tattoo.

Be Careful What You Wish For ...

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds shares a whimsical thought on the whole dump-on-Trump thing.
Say Trump actually gets tired of this and resigns. Will Democrats be happy with what comes next? I suggest that they won’t. Two likely things: Trump doesn’t actually go away, but wages full-time political war against his critics, while Mike Pence becomes miraculously transformed into Hitler, just like all Republicans do once they’re president. Then if I’m Pence I name Ted Cruz VP, because enough Dems and Republicans would fear a Cruz presidency to put the kibosh on any efforts to get rid of Pence — and enough Dems and Republicans in the Senate dislike Cruz to ensure they’d confirm him just to get him out of there. . . .
And a Pence presidency would likely push a law requiring weekly church attendance ... just kidding, I hope.

The New Religion

William Deresiewicz, author of Excellent Sheep: the Miseducation of the American Elite, writing on the problems facing higher education, as quoted in a retrospective on Allan Bloom's Closing of the American Mind.
Selective private colleges have become religious schools. They possess a dogma, unwritten but understood by all: a set of ‘correct’ opinions and beliefs, or at best, a narrow range within which disagreement is permitted. . . . The assumption, on elite college campuses is that we are already in full possession of the moral truth. This is a religious attitude. It is certainly not a scholarly or intellectual attitude.
Sadly, the so-called "elite colleges" as opinion leaders are being copied by the less elite schools.  The dogma is globalist, multicultural, and white-and-male-hating. Fortunately, many students go through the motions without internalizing much of it.

Third-World Politics in CA

Politico is reporting California Democrats are battling among themselves, dividing into factions. This is being treated as somehow unusual or newsworthy. It may be newsworthy, but it is exactly what one should expect.

California has become, de facto, a one-party state. Republicans exist and elect a few Reps. to Congress but are such a small minority that Democrat supermajorities exist in both legislative houses in Sacramento. No statewide office is held by a Republican.

We know what happens when one party dominates a polity, we saw it in Mexico with the PRI's dominance for decades, in Japan with similar decades-long one party control, and it persists in China today. Under these circumstances, all decision-making occurs in negotiations among factions of the ruling party.

That is how California will experience politics for the foreseeable future, it has become a quasi-representative government. For the past several decades New York has operated this way. It works, after a fashion, but often becomes corrupt as "rascals" don't much get thrown out of office.

Several state officials in NY have gone to jail for corruption in the last decade. Also, a stream of elected officials in Illinois have left office in handcuffs, headed for the state penitentiary. This "feature" shouldn't take too long to surface in CA, perhaps a decade.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Self-Interest

RealClearWorld links to an article at the SupChina website which details a split in the Chinese-American community. The non-Chinese author, John Pomfret, writes that recent arrivals from mainland China are politically conservative and voting Republican whereas long-time residents and those from Taiwan are more likely to align with Democrats and liberals.

Opposition to affirmative action is the motivating issue. Pomfret describes the writings of a prominent Chinese-American blogger as claiming:
While affirmative action made sense “in the last century” to right historic discrimination against minorities, its use in today’s America as a way “to dole out racial quotas” marked a distortion of its original purpose.
The Pomfret article ties in nicely with something I wrote two days ago, reflecting on another article about people sorting themselves politically into like-minded communities. Of its author, I wrote:
He also assumes or hopes minorities will vote progressive forever more. Hispanics and Asians may do nothing of the sort, many don't now.
Once again, demonstrating the truth of an old Washington adage: Where you stand depends on where you sit. Translation: your stand on issues generally is determined by what will benefit you and those you care about. A truism that is neither new nor controversial.

The Next Target

Writing at National Review, Elliot Kaufman makes an interesting prediction.
The next successful Republican politician will rally the Right by making America’s universities his punching bag — and the universities will prove even more vulnerable to that politician’s attacks than the media were to Donald Trump’s.
Why will this work? What will be the specific targets?
Republican voters may disagree on policy and principle, but they can agree on whom they don’t like: Radical professors, race-obsessed provocateurs, gender-studies grifters, anti-Israel fanatics, weak-kneed administrators, disgusting libertines, angry feminists, and illiberal student protesters.
Kaufman draws a not-surprising parallel.
By refusing to own up to their own bias and weaknesses, the media didn’t make their critics disappear; they only angered and empowered them, making themselves more vulnerable to attack.

The educational establishment makes the same mistake but expects a different result, while its left-wing allies cheer it on. 
Thus, Kaufman's conclusion:
The next Trump, then, will play to the worst fears of parents by going after colleges and universities. In doing so, he will unite the best, the worst, and all the other elements of the Right. They will be primed to hear the critique, which will be partially or even largely correct. The next Steve Bannon will seek to “overthrow” the university system from behind the scenes. And the universities, like the media before them, will walk right into the trap, while the Left rejects potential voters as deplorable ignoramuses.
Unsurprisingly, most voters reject being characterized as "deplorable." Meanwhile, the university I retired from now tells professors they should not fail minority students. For untentured faculty, including the many adjunct faculty, "should not" is understood to mean "must not."

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Another Carter?

One of the downsides of "living long" (Spock's words) is that you begin to see patterns in events. One such occurred to me yesterday, let me share it with you.

A very religious outsider, Jimmy Carter was elected President in large part as a reaction to Watergate and to Ford's pardon of Nixon. Up to that point he had spent essentially no time in Washington, and if truth be known, probably didn't care much for it. Carter surrounded himself with personnel from Georgia who were likewise newbies in DC, Hamilton Jordan comes to mind as an example.

As we know, Carter was widely perceived to be a failed president and was not reelected for a second term. To some extent his outsider status, and that of his people, can be blamed for his lack of success.

Donald Trump is likewise an outsider, elected as a reaction to Obama's anti-Americanism. Like Carter, Trump probably doesn't much like Washington. He too has surrounded himself with outsiders, many of them family or campaign staff. They are newbies in DC, and to politics. Reince Priebus and Mike Pence being notable exceptions. Don Jr. chatting up a Russian lawyer is a classic outsider stumble.

I support Trump's program of action, and would hate to see it fail. What concerns me is the many similarities to the failed Carter approach I see happening under Trump. The Deep State has devious ways to get even with an upstart outsider, a Carter or a Trump.