Sunday, June 24, 2018

McCain, Flake Unpopular at Home

COTTonLINE has been voicing disapproval of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for several years. It is interesting that, among home state Arizona voters, McCain is only popular with Democrats. Neither Republicans nor Independents like him, according to a CBS News poll.

What do we call being popular with the enemy? The word "treason" comes to mind, but doesn't quite fit. "Disloyalty" fits.

Whats more, nobody in Arizona likes Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) who is retiring: not Republicans, not Democrats, not Independents. What's going on in AZ, something crazy-making in the water?

A replacement for Flake will be elected this November. McCain seems too ill to finish out his term and may be replaced by his wife via a governor's appointment.

Hindsight, always superior, suggests it was a good thing McCain didn't beat Obama in 2008, bad as the latter turned out to be. Obama at least had the saving grace of being mostly stymied by a Republican Congress, after the first two of his eight years.

Worse and Worse

The San Francisco Chronicle is nothing if not a booster for their city, and has been for many decades. So an article by Heather Knight which begins with the following subscriber email is pretty startling.
There is a suitcase full of human s— on the corner of Isis and 13th. Last night, I had to threaten violence to a man smoking crystal meth on my front porch. This morning, my 2-year-old son and I watched a rat rummage through the trash in our gutter. Things have been getting worse and worse on my block since 2010, and the city does NOTHING to fix it.
I read on and discovered the author of that email was Ernst Shoen-Rene, a former faculty member at the university from which I retired. He has moved to SF and gone to work in the private sector, apparently.

I wish him the 'joy' of that move. It sounds terrible to me and it seems he's finding it not to his liking. Our rural college town lacks most of the hellish 'amenities' he describes.

All San Francisco mayors since 1964 have been Democrats. The place has become, in President Trump's felicitous terminology, a sh**hole.

When I was a San Jose State undergrad it was still pretty nice (and it had a Republican mayor). SF today is a good place to avoid.

Sunday Snark

Snark-loving Instapundit Glenn Reynolds makes the following sage observation concerning food trends:
Nobody’s ever trying to chop up meat and treat it so it looks and tastes like broccoli. Why might that be?
Because we are carnivores, red in tooth and claw. Every time I see a whiteface or Angus standing out in a green field, I think there's rib eye or prime rib, on the hoof.

I admit ... I exaggerated. We're actually omnivores, eating almost anything that's not poisonous. But meat is almost the perfect food, head and shoulders above everything else nutritionally, and in taste.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Mueller Probe Tainted by Bias

Legal reasoning is interesting, careful, and mostly dispassionate. Today The Wall Street Journal runs a longish article in which a former White House counsel's office and Justice Department attorney and a law professor jointly examine the extent to which the Mueller probe into Russian election influence is so tainted by prior bias as to be hopelessly compromised.

Their use of "the fruit of the poisoned tree" argument appears persuasive, at least to those of us who believe passionate bias existed a priori, that is, before the investigation began. The recent DOJ inspector general's report established unequivocally that such prior bias did exist.

While the IG was unable to prove bias influenced investigative actions and decisions, he doesn't deny its existence or possible influence, merely that no one would admit to acting from bias and no documents he reviewed showed it beyond a reasonable doubt.

If you are serious about the illegality of the Mueller witch hunt, you should make time to read the entire article.

Doing It Backwards

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds just wrote, seemingly offhand, what could turn out to be the best quote of the first half of 2018. Writing about the Mueller "investigation" he opines:
It seems pretty clear that this is a case of investigating a man in the hopes of finding a crime, rather than investigating a crime and hoping to find the man behind it.
They did a lot of this in Stalin's Soviet Union. Here it tends to be characterized as a "witch hunt" or simple attempt to destroy someone disliked, and we abhor the practice.

Once in awhile, as in the tax evasion case against Al Capone, the practice seems marginally defensible. Given his near-magical political skills, rabid Democrats think Trump is worse than Capone. That doesn't mean we should let them drive a stake through his heart.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Who We Are

The RealClearPolitics list of articles this afternoon includes two which, taken together, constitute a question and its answer. The titles are:
  • A Reckoning: What Kind of Country Are We?
  • Trump's Immigration Policies Are Surprisingly Popular
The first, by Karl Vick for Time, bemoans Trump's tough approach to illegal immigration as "not who we are." The second, by The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway, reports Economist/YouGov polling which shows that Trump's immigration policies are popular with a clear majority of Americans. Her article is summarized below.

Vick asks "what kind of country are we?" which is related to Obama's tiresome "that's not who we are" and "we're better than that." Hemingway's polling clearly shows that the Trump immigration policies are exactly who we are, that we are not 'better' than those policies, even a little.

We need to rub the runny noses of 'progressives' into the reality of who we Americans really are, and do it good and hard. Afterwards, they can decide whether "who we are" is something of which they can bring themselves to be a part ... or not. Trump's wall won't keep in people who want out.

Giving Up

Writing for Bloomberg about Democratic rage, author Francis Wilkinson quotes apostate conservative David Frum actually saying something wise ... accidentally, no doubt.
When highly committed parties strongly believe things that they cannot achieve democratically, they don't give up on their beliefs — they give up on democracy.
Several of us in the commentariat have been trying to tell Democrats this for over a year.  Collectively, our message can be paraphrased thus: "If you manage to get rid of Trump and Pence, in hindsight they'll look like pussycats compared to what we'll send at you next. When you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind."

Who has most of the guns in private hands? NRA members. How do they vote? Republican. Angry Democrats go carefully, no sane person in either party wants a bloodbath.

Later ... The Washington Free Beacon reports a recent survey indicates civilians own nearly 400,000,000 guns in the U.S. By comparison:
American civilians own nearly 100 times as many firearms as the U.S. military and nearly 400 times as many as law enforcement.

Possible Breakthrough for Alzheimer's

The Boston Herald reports higher-than-normal levels of herpes virus are found in the brains of those who exhibited symptoms of Alzheimer's disease before dying. So far, this merely shows an "association" and says nothing definitive about "causation."

The finding has generated considerable excitement and interest in the research community which had hit several "walls" in their search for a helpful therapy. As the Instapundit likes to write in cases like this, "faster, please."

Hysteria in Southern Neighbor

The Daily Caller reports the leading candidate for president in Mexico - Andrés Manuel López Obrador - favors basically all Mexicans moving to the U.S., or so he says. The election is July 1, nine days from now. They write:
Mexican presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) called for mass immigration to the United States during a speech Tuesday declaring it a “human right” for all North Americans.

“And soon, very soon — after the victory of our movement — we will defend all the migrants in the American continent and all the migrants in the world,” Obrador said, adding that immigrants “must leave their towns and find a life in the United States.”
I'll bet I don't have a "right" to emigrate to Mexico if I so choose. It sounds like the U.S. might need to support regime change in Mexico, if AMLO is elected. "Loose deck gun" doesn't begin to describe his craziness.

We Are Not Fooled

Mollie Hemingway, who writes for The Federalist, reports the results of an Economist/YouGov poll. It turns out Americans basically agree with Trump about immigration. She writes:
Asked which policy they prefer for how to handle families that are stopped for crossing the border illegally, two-thirds of the 1,500 surveyed said they support detention for lawbreakers and less than 20 percent responded that they support previous presidential administrations’ policy of letting the lawbreakers enter the country with a promise to return for a later court date.

Given a choice for how to handle illegal border crossing arrests, some 44 percent of Americans chose “hold families together in family detention centers until an immigration hearing at a later date.” Another 20 percent of U.S. adults chose detention options that would separate families. Only 19 percent chose to return to the policy of allowing people who cross the border illegally to go without detention on the promise they’d return for a court hearing at a later date.

The poll also shows that only 8 percent of American voters think illegal immigration is not a serious problem.
Things to keep in mind when the media frightens you with tales of the government brutalizing poor defenseless economic migrants. Don't be stampeded, the people stand with you while the lying media carries Pelosi-inspired "open borders" propaganda.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Bye-Ku for Charles Krauthammer

With the customary hat tip to WSJ’s James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku - a haiku of farewell - to Fox News panelist Dr. Charles Krauthammer, whose death from cancer was announced today.
Adios Charles 
We will miss your insights on 
The news of the day.

Criminal Conspiracy?

Slate is a leftist virtue-signaling site where regrettable people expose their ignorance for all to see. That said, it isn't impossible for Slate to share something useful, if only to yell how terrible it is. One such arises today.

They reported a provision of the "Stop Soros" law passed recently in Hungary I hadn't seen described elsewhere. It is a control the U.S. might like to enact here. The Stop Soros law:
Effectively criminalizes organizations that work to help undocumented immigrants. As the New York Times summarizes, under the new law, “helping migrants legalize their status in Hungary by distributing information about the asylum process or providing them with financial assistance could result in a 12-month jail term.” 
In the U.S. it could be sold as a law prohibiting "conspiracy to aid and abet the crime of illegal entry." It would have the added bonus of driving 'progressives' absolutely hysterical.

Remembering Another Summer Solstice

Today we celebrate the Summer Solstice. It is the day with the longest daylight in the northern hemisphere, and the official first day of summer. Starting tomorrow, each day’s light will be very slightly shorter, a process which continues until roughly December 21, the first day of winter.

Back in 1979, I think it was, we were in Fairbanks, Alaska, on this date, having driven north from the “lower 48” on the then-unpaved Alaskan Highway. I went outside our small motorhome in Fairbanks at 1 a.m. and it was so light my young eyes could read a newspaper with ease using only ambient light.

In those days there were three seasons on the Alaskan highway: snow, mud, and dust. We went north, and a couple of weeks later back south, during the mud season of late spring and early summer. At some points you could hardly tell what color our RV was, for the mud coating.

The roads in Alaska were paved so it was worthwhile getting the mud off after arrival. I remember northbound going into a car wash in Tok, Alaska, and spending a fistful of quarters spraying off sheets of Canadian mud. Underneath, the hot exhaust had baked mud onto the muffler and tailpipe like ceramic and it was probably still there when we traded the RV four years later.

That trip was an adventure, no doubt about it. For about 3 days southbound we were trapped at Muncho Lake with the road ahead (and behind) washed out from spring rains. Tired of eating fried Spam and listening to rain on the roof, we were literally the first vehicle through headed south, having ‘skirted’ the barricade without permission.

When we drove south into Fort Nelson it was overrun with vehicles and people trying to get north. Shelves in the grocery store were literally bare, and folks were camping on the streets and parking lots. It looked like scenes from a disaster movie.

Good times, great memories.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Dodging the Flores Consent Decree

The President caved in and ordered illegal immigrant families held together. That action was unfortunate but politically unavoidable, one supposes. A problem is the length of time required to settle asylum applications (>20 days).

I think I have an answer for the Flores consent decree saying you can't hold minors for more than 20 days. The answer is to hold their illegal immigrant parents and invite those detained parents to keep their children with them if that is the parents' desire. The children are not being "held," but being permitted to accompany their parents who are being held. This permission is extended as a courtesy in the interest of keeping families together.

One presumes most parents will have them stay. Some late adolescents will go, but they aren't the small children over whom everybody anguishes.

Criminal Responsibility

Amidst all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the separation of criminal border-jumpers from their children, a few are speaking sense. In City Journal, Bob McManus has this analysis:
The federal government is treating no one inhumanely; the “families” involved are not so much immigrants as they are economic migrants with no inherent right of entry into the United States—and to the extent that there is an “ongoing human tragedy” on the border, responsibility for it resides with those attempting to enter the county illegally.

Americans have the right, if not the duty, to lock their doors to keep their persons and property safe. Why shouldn’t the nation, too?

Opponents of the administration’s border policy are arguing for blanket immunity from the democratically legislated consequences of blatantly illegal conduct.
Analysis: true.

POTUS Knows Deals

If you viewed the 30-years-ago Donald Trump being interviewed by Oprah, to which COTTonLINE provided a link, you know he’s been concerned about unfair foreign trade for most of his adult life. When he met the G-7 leaders in Quebec and said as much to their faces everyone was ... shocked, shocked (classical allusion).

Now The New York Times has an article by German journalist Jochen Bittner, editor of Die Zeit, who writes Trump has a point.
Mr. Trump’s anger at America’s allies embodies, however unpleasantly, a not unreasonable point of view, and one that the rest of the world ignores at its peril: The global world order is unbalanced and inequitable. And unless something is done to correct it soon, it will collapse.

The Europeans have basically been free riders on the voyage, spending almost nothing on defense, and instead building vast social welfare systems at home and robust, well-protected export industries abroad.

All those German politicians who oppose raising military spending from a meager 1.3 percent of gross domestic product should try to explain to American students why their European peers enjoy free universities and health care, while they leave it up to others to cover for the West’s military infrastructure.

There’s a good chance for success if Europe engages Mr. Trump by his New York tycoon soul — he needs to be convinced that he’s getting a good deal. And right now, it’s easy to see why he thinks otherwise.
Nobody, including Europeans, likes it when their gravy train derails. Being told to pull up their socks and stop being dependent is not fun. (mixed metaphor alert) Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Economy Up, Disability Claims Down

COTTonLINE has been telling you for seven years (I checked) that the number of people claiming disability to seek a government handout is directly related to the state of the economy. The worse the economy, the more who will try for disabled status.

If this suggests to you that many such claims are in part or entirely bogus, you are of course correct. Now we have proof of this "bogosity," to borrow a neologism from NPR's Magliozzi brothers. Station WRAL posts a story by a New York Times reporter who writes:
The number of Americans seeking Social Security disability benefits is plunging, a startling reversal of a decades-old trend that threatened the program’s solvency. It is the latest evidence of a stronger economy pulling people back into the job market or preventing workers from being sidelined in the first place.

Fewer than 1.5 million Americans applied to the Social Security Administration for disability coverage last year, the lowest since 2002. Applications are running at an even lower rate this year, government officials say.
Like the man says, much of Social Security disability was just open-ended unemployment insurance in disguise, wearing a medical fig leaf. Once Congress called the SSA on their non-enforcement of standards, the agency started to close the tap and the numbers have gone down.

Analysis: the economy is up, disability is down, as expected. It turns out many of the “disabled” weren’t too ill to work after all, although of course this isn’t the conclusion the NYT wants you to draw.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Happiness Up, Except for Democrats

Instapundit links to a Gallup poll which finds people are darned happy with what's happening. Gallup writes:
Thirty-eight percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the United States today, similar to last month's 37% satisfaction rate but marking the numerical high since a 39% reading in September 2005.

Democrats were the only major demographic group to show no increase in satisfaction.

Now, at the midpoint of 2018, as the United States continues to enjoy a nine-year-long economic expansion, the number of Americans finding satisfaction in the country's direction is on the rise. This reflects more than a growing comfort with Donald Trump as president; growth in satisfaction has outstripped growth in Trump's approval rating.
The difference makes sense if you remember people give Trump higher marks for his handling of the economy than they do for his non-traditional presidential style. People haven't been this pleased with life for almost 13 years. Meanwhile, unhappy Democrats are a source of happiness for the rest of us, purest schadenfreude.

Video of a Young Trump

Wow! Long-time friend Earl sends a link to a YouTube video of a young Donald Trump being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on her TV show in 1988. No Photoshopping™going on, this is The Donald 30 years ago. The screen-top chyron says "25 years ago" but it's out of date.

With no presidential aspirations but expressing considerable frustration with supposed allies' unfair trade practices toward the U.S., he really hasn't changed his tune much. He was impressive then, he's impressive now, and undiplomatically blunt both then and now.

As a COTTonLINE reader, you probably like Trump. You'll like him even more when you see him at an unbelievably young-looking 42 (or thereabouts).

Nastiness in Nicaragua

COTTonLINE tries to keep up with goings-on in Latin America, it’s our “neighborhood.” Today World Politics Review reports the anti-Ortega unrest in Nicaragua is building toward a civil war.

Sadly, this condition is no newcomer to Nicaragua. We remember the “contras” fighting Ortega’s Sandanistas in the Reagan era, the most recent conflict, and before that the battle to oust Somoza.

Unrest and civil war comes and goes in Central America, the lucky countries (e.g., Costa Rica) dodge it if they can. Conflicts happen between indigenous peoples and European “settlers,” between left and right, sometimes between rival criminal gangs. And rarely they are “visited” by the U.S. military, think Panama.

Ortega faces student unrest, which is catching on with other elements of Nicaraguan society, and has responded repressively with deadly force. Author Ghitis believes this will lead to civil war.

Polling suggests President Ortega, 72, and his wife - Vice President Murillo - have become unpopular. They need to buy a villa in simpatico Havana and retire.