Sunday, May 1, 2016

Hinderaker on Trump

John Hinderaker is first among the equals who blog at Power Line. Today he writes about the fracturing of the Reagan coalition which coalition has powered the GOP for the past decades but appears to be dying. Some of his choice thoughts:
I don’t want to join those who hail Donald Trump, after the fact, as a genius, but it must be acknowledged that more than anyone else, he tailored his candidacy to the new issues landscape. The subjects he emphasizes the most, immigration and trade, are the wedge issues of the day.

Trump is no conservative. He is, however, pro-America. His slogan, make America great again, resonates with conservatives of all stripes. On the other hand, it is anathema to liberals, who believe that America never was great, and certainly don’t want her to start being great now. And Trump, like no one else, pushes back against the Left’s efforts to suppress free speech, which usually go under the too-generous rubric of political correctness.
Hinderaker also notes that the social conservatives and economic conservatives, in the post-Cold War era, no longer have opposing Communism as a unifying theme. Getting unified around opposing jihadi radicalism hasn't worked the same "magic."

I particularly enjoy his "liberals, who believe that America never was great" wisecrack. I wish for them the joy of some Third World hellhole.

Happy May Day

COTTonLINE wishes our readers a happy May Day. Go find a socialist or communist and rub his nose in the utter failure of those systems.

The systems fail because they willfully misunderstand human nature, choosing to believe we're more selfless and altruistic than experience shows most of us to be most of the time. See, for example, Venezuela - a formerly wealthy country driven into ruin by the socialist policies of Chavizmo.

On a happier, if somewhat irreverent note, grad school friends from icy Minnesota celebrated the day thusly:
Yea, yea, the first of May, outdoor sex begins today.

Beyond the Horserace

Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard reprints an edited version of a memo written by Rich Danker, boss of the Lone Star Committee, a Texas super PAC supporting Ted Cruz. In it he freely admits Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee and tries to answer the question "Why?"

Danker seeks to determine what Trump did right and Cruz supporters (including himself) did wrong. His conclusion: Cruz was playing chess, Trump was playing some other - more relevant - game.

Danker contrasts the data-driven, consultant-managed style popularized by Obama and used to some effect by Cruz, with the broad-brush, press-available style common to Reagan and Trump. We know which was more effective and, not incidentally, cost less - the Trump model.

This analysis is darned interesting for those of us who like the "inside baseball" side of politics. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Travel Blogging XV

Dateline at sea west of Baja, about even with Los Moches, Mexico: We are roughly 30 hours sailing out of San Diego, our port of disembarcation. We ran under overcast skies all day Saturday, with calm seas.

Our month-long cruise is almost over, it's been pleasant even though the weather hasn't cooperated. The ship is experiencing a minor conjunctivitis epidemic at the moment, highly contagious "pink eye" isn't limited to children but most of the seniors on board haven't had it since their kids were small.

Ships are small, closed communities not unlike elementary schools - passing around a cold or other communicable disease is easy. Norovirus outbreaks gain the most notoriety but the infamous  "ship's cold" or in this case conjunctivitis are equally plausible villains.

In the days of wooden ships, sailors were actually healthier than landsmen. Sailing ships were often many weeks or months between ports. When a ship left port everybody had a cold for the first couple of weeks and then, lacking fresh sources of infection, folks who didn't die during the first two weeks were pretty healthy until the next port was reached, often months later.

----------o--0--o----------

Our ship carries a largish cast of singers and dancers who have talent and work hard, but are ham-strung by a persistently poor choice of music to perform. It isn't their fault, I'm certain an entertainment coordinator in Seattle makes the choices for all HAL productions.

It appears those choices are influenced by a desire to spend as little as possible on royalties. Many pax have remarked to us the performers keep singing music pax have never heard before, and that isn't what retirement-age audiences seek.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Foot-Shooting Time

In Orange County hundreds of anti-Trump demonstrators waved Mexican flags and rioted. Talk about not smart, it may be great theater on Mexican TV but it won't play well with American voters.

Waving Mexican flags was a wonderful way to say "Vote for Trump." I doubt doing Trump a favor was their intention but it sure as blazes was what they accomplished.

Cruz Has Better Nov. Chance

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza reports polling data shows Ted Cruz has a better chance of beating Hillary Clinton than does Donald Trump. He writes:
Cruz is clearly the stronger of the two candidates in a match-up against Clinton. While he trails her, it's by three points as opposed to the 8.5 point deficit for Trump. And, unlike Trump, Cruz actually has led Clinton in head-to-head polls -- albeit during a relatively brief period earlier this year.
While Cruz isn't popular with Washington pols, Trump isn't popular with women as a voting bloc. Women have more votes.

Travel Blogging XIV

Dateline at sea roughly as far north as Manzanillo, Mexico: Some sunshine Friday, not much Thursday, air temperature dropping out of the 80s into the high 70s, seas relatively calm. We are two days out of the "gritty waffle," more formally known as San Diego, where the cruise ends (for us).

Some pax will continue to Seattle where the ship will begin sailing the Alaska run, this run up the coast constituting a repo or repositioning cruise. We've had a nice time aboard.

We have substantial experience with four cruise lines: Princess, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Holland America. I can honestly say there are aspects of each I like. At this stage in our cruising experience, Holland has the most interesting itineraries. They do longer cruises and go to moe interesting places. 


Friday, April 29, 2016

NY Blizzard a Record

Local TV station WPIX-TV reports the blizzard NYC sufferend in late January was the worst since record keeping began. Obviously a clear case of global warming, right? Actually, not so much. You can be certain nobody felt anything like warm during it.

Perhaps it's time to restate our belief here at COTTonLINE: climates change, they have always done so, they will do so in the future with or without our help (mostly without). Tropical plants have grown in the near-Arctic and glaciers have extended halfway to the equator, that is how this planet operates quite independently of humans. 

Humans are, at their worst, the equivalent of a minor skin rash on an elephant, perhaps an irritant to Gaia but not a danger. We pose a much greater danger to each other than we do to the planet.

Quote of the Day

Dr. Charles Krauthammer, writing for The Washington Post, quoting Bismarck on why foreign policy isn't more central to political life in the U.S.
The United States is the most fortunate of all Great Powers, bordered on two sides by weak neighbors and on the other two by fish.
No wonder isolationism comes naturally to us. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Travel Blogging XIII

Dateline, at sea bearing NNE toward San Diego, at 20.2 knots: Early Wednesday morning, along about daylight we crossed the equator and reentered the Northern Hemisphere. By now we're maybe about the same distance north of the equator as is the Panama Canal. Wednesday evening we set our clocks ahead an hour. We're now only an hour behind the West Coast. 

On the outbound leg we had several 25 hour days, now homeward bound we will experience several 23 hour days. I guess it all evens out in the end. 

We've cruised for days on end without seeing another boat or ship. Tonight I walked out on the balcony and way off near the horizon there were lights so some kind of boat or ship was out there. 

The oceans of this planet are remarkably unaffected by human activity of any kind, don't let anyone tell you different. An ocean-crossing voyage exposes a person to more emptiness and pure uncluttered space than anything else on the planet.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tuesday Night Snark

Do you remember the large sign behind Ted Cruz at rallies which said:
TRUSTED
After losing big in the I-95 primary held today in five northeastern states, the Drudge Report labels him:
ELIMINATED
If it isn't true, it is nearly so.

Travel Blogging XII

Dateline at sea, enroute to San Diego: Today was the first of six successive sea days, just steaming along (it's called that although no steam is involved in our propulsion), effectively "heading home" to San Diego. The seas are calm and the sun shining at last.

I shall denominate this cruise the Somerset Maugham Memorial Cruise of the Polynesian Rainy Season. Everyone please hum a few bars of "Blue Pacific Blues" in memory of Rita Hayworth's portrayal of Miss Sadie Thompson.

Earlier today I finished Tom Clancy's massive Command Authority and took it back to the ship's library. Wondering what to read next I spotted the equally huge Threat Vector by Clancy and grabbed it.  The Clancy books are classic "guy" books, replete with weapon systems, espionage tradecraft, and suspense. I'd read Command before but 200+ pages into Threat I don't remember reading It.

People who need to be "doing things" all the time don't like sea days; I prefer them as shore excursions are often disappointing. At sea and traveling in the RV are the main times I read books these days, although I love to read. Ashore, things need to get done.

Monday Night Whimsey

Drudge Report has an item entitled: 

Surge in overdoses on Skid Row caused by zombie drug Spice.

My immediate thought was of the voice-of-doom tones of a Guild Navigator proclaiming "The Spice must flow." A slang reference, of course, to the psychoactive drug melange, product of the planet Arakis, also known as Dune, from the book (by Herbert) and film of that name.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Travel Blogging XI

Dateline Nuku Hiva, anchored inside the reef: Today we got the sort of South Sea island experience our fellow cruisers thought they'd signed up for. The island is tall, green, not over-developed, and feels "real." The sky is blue and the sun is hot. Early this a.m. as we had breakfast on the balcony, it wasn't even too humid, an oversight long since corrected as I write this just after noon.

I know people think these islands are paradise; they certainy are pretty, never cold, and mostly thinly developed and lightly populated. The everlasting humidity can get you down, ditto the isolation, and the heat and rain of summer are wearing, too. So ... they're nice but not paradise.

In the shower this a.m. I had a whimsical thought and here it is. If heaven exists, it has a lot in common with Switzerland. It is beautiful, mountainous, orderly, functional, lightly populated and does not tolerate slovenliness in all its manifold forms. It forms no tangling foreign alliances, defends its own territory with steely vigilance, and is organized for the benefit of the law-abiding at the expense of scofflaws. Oh, and everything works as intended. 

So why isn't Switzerland paradise? Too much snow and cold for my taste. I have the California native's notion that snow is something to visit, not something around which to live. Lovely as a novelty, it's ugly as an environment. Also a CA native is unaccustomed to humidity and, given a choice, avoids it. I've lived in humidity for a total of 4 years, and traveled in it perhaps another 2 years - that's enough.

Nones Fastest Growing in West

National Geographic reports the growth of a new "religion" ... none. It is particularly the case in those countries we think of as "developed" or the First World.
The religiously unaffiliated, called "nones," are growing significantly. They’re the second largest religious group in North America and most of Europe. In the United States, nones make up almost a quarter of the population. In the past decade, U.S. nones have overtaken Catholics, mainline protestants, and all followers of non-Christian faiths.

It’s happening startlingly fast. France will have a majority secular population soon. So will the Netherlands and New Zealand. The United Kingdom and Australia will soon lose Christian majorities.

Nones aren’t inheriting the Earth just yet. In many parts of the world—sub-Saharan Africa in particular—religion is growing so fast that nones’ share of the global population will actually shrink in 25 years as the world turns into what one researcher has described as “the secularizing West and the rapidly growing rest.” (The other highly secular part of the world is China, where the Cultural Revolution tamped down religion for decades, while in some former Communist countries, religion is on the increase.)

The secularizing West is full of white men. The general U.S. population is 46 percent male and 66 percent white, but about 68 percent of atheists are men, and 78 percent are white.

Around the world, the Pew Research Center finds that women tend to be more likely to affiliate with a religion and more likely to pray and find religion important in their lives. That changes when women have more opportunities. “Women who are in the labor force are more like men in religiosity. Women out of the labor force tend to be more religious,” says Conrad Hackett with Pew. “Part of that might be because they’re part of a religious group that enforces the power of women being at home."
My early mental image of the Catholic churches of Europe: a few elderly black-clad widows attending mass. By now most have died, Europe's churches today are more cultural artifacts and museums of faith than living churches.

Your Monday Snark

David Catron, writing in The American Spectator, about our presidential politics.
The leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination is an advocate of government-run health care, a proponent of massive tax increases, and hadn’t heard of the nuclear triad until questioned about it during a debate. The probable Democratic nominee is, as William Safire famously put it, “a congenital liar” whose tenure as Secretary of State produced a spate of scandal and skulduggery that would have made Richard III blush. How this world goes, in other words, is straight to Hell in a hand basket.
Sadly, true.

The Real Wage Gap

Liberals like to whine about the "pay gap" between men and women, said to be roughly 20%. Robert Samuelson writes for The Washington Post to debunk that figure as the true wage gap. 

The true wage gap is roughly 8%, he writes, while the rest reflects different working patterns reflecting different life choices made by men and women. Women choose different occupations, often with shorter working hours, less travel and fewer hazardous conditions, and they are more likely to interrupt work lives for child-raising.

The 8% is certainly suspect, but not nearly so serious as 20%. It is more in the range of "problems we need to keep an eye on" and less in the range of "stop everything, this is a tragedy requiring immediate and drastic action."

Samuelson seems not to consider the over-time decline in inflation-adjusted wages in occupations formerly mostly male that now employ large numbers of women. For example, journalism. Perhaps much of this decline is attributed to the basic microeconomic factor of increased labor supply without increased market demand, which normally results in lower wages.

Travel Blogging X

Dateline at sea enroute to Nuku Hiva:  There are few places in the world which aren't happy with the one hour increments the normal time zones provide, so they are a half hour off what they should be. It turns out Nuku Hiva is one of those. There is another somewhere in the Canadian Maritimes, perhpas Newfoundland.

We're headed east from Moorea bound for Nuku Hiva and have been advised to set our clocks 30 minutes forward. In other words, Nuku Hiva is a half hour ahead of Tahiti. I suppose it means their "noon" is closer to sun-at-zenith. The trip ends about a week from tomorrow and our last port is day after tomorrow in the Marquesas.

Holland America has been apologetic for the ports we've had to blow off and the changes in itinerary. Not that they've said so but they may also be apologetic about scheduling the cruise during the hot, rainy season. They're giving everybody a credit equal to 15% of the base price for their trip as a credit toward our next trip, if booked in April (i.e., on board before this trip ends). We've also been given an extra $100 each in shipboard credit. That isn't chump change., it could amount to $3000 per cabin.

A Day Later ... We are finally out of the rain clouds and into sunshine. In common with other highly humid places like DC, the sky is a buttermilk-like washed-out blue that's as much ivory as it is blue. Apparently low humidity is needed for really blue skies.

We got our passports back today, not sure why. Do we need them for going ashore in Nuku Hiva or did the passport check they did for Fr. Polynesia handle us for the whole region? All will become clear in the fullness of time.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Less Empire = More Chaos

Foreign affairs guru Robert D. Kaplan, author of a shelf of books on the subject, writes about the end of empires for The National Interest. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

As the theme from Ghostbusters sings, "it don't look good" but Kaplan doesn't tell us who to call. The following are his topic sentences, as a sort of outline of his argument.
Empire had its evils (snip) but one cannot deny empire’s historical function—to provide stability and order to vast tracts of land occupied by different peoples, particularly in Europe.
While the United States still remains the single strongest power on earth, it is less and less an overwhelming one.
This partial retreat of American power has international and domestic causes.
World disorder will only grow.
We are entering an age of what I call comparative anarchy, that is, a much higher level of anarchy compared to that of the Cold War and post–Cold War periods. After all, globalization and the communications revolution have reinforced, rather than negated, geopolitics.
In the course of all this, technology is not erasing geography—it is sharpening it.
There are no purely regional problems anymore, since local hegemons like Russia, China and Iran have engaged in cyber attacks and terrorism worldwide.
Globalization is not necessarily associated with growth or stability, but only with vast economic and cultural linkages.
In sum, everything is interlinked as never before, even as there is less and less of a night watchman to keep the peace worldwide.
Kaplan lacks the non-PC courage to say what we know to be true: in addition to Europe, 19th century empire was better - farer, more peaceful - for Africa and much of Asia than what has followed it. Home rule doesn't always produce superior results.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Why They Cave

Virtually everyone who writes opinion has taken a shot at the "safe spaces" cry-bully opposition to free speech on college campuses, for example this in American Thinker. Particularly puzzling to most of the commentariat has been the easy acquiescence of college administrators to whatever extreme demands the student groups present.

My goal today is to explain why they are so apparently spineless in the face of ridiculous demands. To understand, we have to go back to first principles. A university administrator's prime directive is to keep the campus operating and to hand it off to a successor in equal or better shape than when they took charge.

Two things keep the doors of a college open and keep it healthy: students and money. Money comes from three sources: tuition and fees, endowments (gifts), and government subsidies direct to the university and indirect via student aid (Pell grants, etc.), much of which pays tuition and fees.

Government tries to help minority kids by making its subsidies contingent on the school recruiting, retaining and graduating substantial numbers of minority students. A university which fails the minority "test" begins to die, from "starvation" of funds.

Minority kids prepared and motivated for college are scarce, with the exception of Asians who don't "count." Demand exceeds supply, making recruitment difficult.

Government refuses to listen to plaints of "We tried but were outbid by Stanford or Harvard." Perforce campuses admit underprepared minority kids in the hope they will do well in competition with prepared, motivated white and Asian kids. These are mostly vain hopes as the game is rigged against the minority kids, forcing them to compete with more qualified students who, as expected, win the competition.

Campuses then create majors like "***** Studies" in which minority kids mostly compete with each other.  These become places into which to recruit minority faculty, also scarce and in demand. These Studies programs with minority faculty and students turn into "safe spaces" which cosset students and assure them of victim status, shared with the faculty.

Public universities have a particular probem, a decline in the population of middle class white and Asian kids from which they've historically drawn most of their enrollment. As voting populations in more states become minority majority, public college administrators fear a lack of state support. This can result from low minority enrollments and consequent lack of support by minority legislators who don't see many of their voters' kids in the state schools.

Eventually, failure to recruit, retain and graduate minority youngsters can lead to campus closings and lost jobs. This is already happening to small private liberal arts colleges.

Bottom line, when administrators see anger and agitation among minority student groups demanding whatever set of special privileges and protections, they are predisposed to give in to keep the minority enrollments up, free speech be damned.

The Federal government doesn't enforce free speech, it does enforce minority quotas, however much they deny it. State governments are almost as bad.