Thursday, December 31, 2015

Steyn Compares Two Bills

Mark Steyn writes at SteynOnline that serial sexual predator Bill Cosby endorsed Hillary Clinton when she ran for the Senate. He compares the two Bills, Cosby and Clinton, and finds similarities in their (mis)treatment of women.

Imagine Bill Clinton - back in the White House - looking fondly at the spot in the anteroom to the Oval Office where Monica L. knelt in her famous blue dress. Hillary must not be elected. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Venezuela Update

At least twice we've written about the election in Venezuela, won by the opposition. We've consistently expressed concern that the Chavistas in power wouldn't accept the negative verdict of the voters.

Fox News Latino reports Chavistas are trying to get the election of several opposition legislators overturned, enough to keep the opposition from having a veto-proof supermajority. The left's commitment to constitutional processes and representative government - worldwide - has always been less-than-total.

This election challenge is important because President Maduro, a Chavez protege, continues in office. As we have seen with Obama, an opposition party president can stymie an elected majority's initiatives (when the majority is insufficient to override vetoes) and engage in much unconstitutional mischief by executive fiat.

Fascinating Factoid

National Public Radio comes up with a factoid which, if accurate, is very somber indeed.
Abortion is a common procedure in the United States. About a million were performed in 2011, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Three in 10 women have an abortion by age 45.
What isn't clear is whether 3 in 10 is a statistical artifact or an exact statement. For example, does a woman who has three abortions count as one woman or three? In other words, are there three abortions for every 10 women who reach 45 or is it literally true that thirty percent of women will have an abortion by age 45?

A Second Quote of the Day

Ben Weingarten, blogging at PJ Media, on the disconnect between the conservative base and the GOP leadership.
Conservatives are upset with the Republican Party precisely because they feel there is not a dime’s worth of difference between a Paul Ryan House and a Nancy Pelosi House, and because Republicans run on conservative principles and govern according to Democratic priorities.
True dat. For as William F. Buckley famously said, "A conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling  'Stop!'" He describes Cruz, not Ryan.

Out-of-touch Party Establishments

According to recent polls, the two leaders of the race for the GOP presidential nomination are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. All other candidates lag behind.

These two gentlemen are anathema to the Republican establishment, a fact that has been made abundantly clear by establishment voices like George Will and Charles Krauthammer. Nevertheless, taken together Trump and Cruz count over half of the party's likely voters as supporters.

The party establishment has money and media access, what they don't have is enough votes to win elections. The votes constitute the canvas of the proverbial "big tent." The establishment bids fair to find themselves out in the cold, no longer in the "tent."

Meanwhile a similar schism is taking place in the Democratic Party. Bernie Sanders is taking the ideologically motivated folks in a birdwalk to the left, leaving the Dem establishment behind.

Could we be headed for a three party system where the GOP and Dem establishments coalesce into a centrist party (the so-called "uniparty") while Sanders Socialists go off to the left and Cruz's Conservatives go off to the right?

Some argue the centrist merger already is happening. They point to Speaker Ryan's omnibus bill with its continued support of Planned Parenthood and other Obama priorities as evidence of centrist collaboration.

Quote of the Day

Jen Kuznicki, writing at Conservative Review, about the venom directed at Donald Trump.
If Trump is blasted as non-conservative by the measure of those who refuse to govern conservatively, it’s pot/kettle time for the Republican Party.
The same could be said for the rejection of Ted Cruz.

Pataki Is Passé

CNN reports former NY Governor George Pataki has decided to end his GOP presidential bid. In his honor we compose a haiku of remembrance, or bye-ku, a form popularized by James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal.
Sad George Pataki,
He spoke but no one listened -
 Now he's history.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Aim at Foot, Pull Trigger

Some years ago as a nation we began locking up career criminals for progressively longer periods of time and, mirabile dictu, crime rates went down. We encouraged proactive policing and, golly, they went down some more.

Now the trend is going in the other direction, opinion-makers talk about "over-incarceration" and argue for sentencing reform to lock up fewer people. And the ever-popular #BlackLivesMatter claque harass police into staying in their cruisers, leaving petty criminals free to metastasize into felons.

The results of freeing criminals cannot be good. Ironically, those arguing most loudly for jailing fewer perps are those who will be most victimized by the released criminals. Those harassing police are the ones most likely to be shot by another black person.

Like deinstitutionalizing the insane, this is an evil collaboration between liberals who believe criminals are "good at heart" and conservatives who resent spending so much money on prisons. Such collaborations leave our society in a worse place.

As Mr. Spock might have said, "It is not logical, Captain."

"Unexplained" Means Non-PC

Writing opinion for The New York Times, Steven Rattner takes a predictably left-wing slant at describing 2015 in charts showing various aspects of the economy. I was particularly struck by his look at (non)participation in the workforce.
Perplexingly, the percentage of Americans who either had jobs or were looking for one (known in the parlance as the “labor force participation rate”) continued its steady drop, descending to levels not seen since the late 1970s. A big portion of this decline can be traced to an aging society (52%), and a smaller slice to the economic downturn (14%). But, according to the Council of Economic Advisers, the cause of some of the shrinkage (34%) is still unexplained.

What we do know is that among so-called prime age workers between the ages of 25 and 54, the United States in 2014 had a lower percentage of men in the labor force than France and many other countries and about the same percentage of women working or looking for work as Japan, a country hardly thought of as a bastion of female employment opportunity. Among other consequences, the contracting labor force understates our unemployment rate.
Note: I added the parenthetic percentages to aging, downturn, and unexplained. The article shows them graphically rather than in the text.

Whoever assembled these figures at Bureau of Labor Statistics had to willfully omit the enormous increase in those drawing "disability" payments which explains how a non-trivial number of people are able to drop out of the workforce. Disability is only one of several programs which enable those leaving the workforce to subsist on what is, effectively, welfare. If we were less generous, more folks would bestir themselves to work.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Quote of the Day

Political theorist Hannah Arendt, on the subject of socializing children, as quoted by Jonah Goldberg in the New York Post.
Every generation, Western civilization is invaded by barbarians – we call them “children.”
The process of "civilizing" our little barbarians falls to parents and the schools. Clearly many parents and schools are dropping the ball, while increasingly people in developed societies are choosing to avoid that difficult task by not having children.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ryan No Improvement

The Hill reports conservatives are really upset with Speaker Ryan. Nobody at COTTonLINE is in any way surprised at this news, in fact we predicted it when Ryan was being considered for the post.

It was clear at the time that Ryan, while a fiscal conservative, was very much a member of the GOP establishment with all the negative baggage that entails. We knew, a priori, he favored a so-called "comprehensive" immigration reform featuring amnesty for 11 million illegals.

We should have known he likewise bought into the "you can't let Obama shut down the government in a conflict with Congress" idiocy that has neutered Congressional conservatives. We need a bomb-thrower as Speaker, Ryan is not that person. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Review: Star Wars - the Force Awakens

The other DrC and I saw Star Wars - The Force Awakens this afternoon, with our local host and friend Ed. Nogales AZ has a very nice theater, we caught the matinee there. Let's start with the bottom line: all three of us liked it a lot.

I shall endeavor to avoid spoilers in what follows, which will make plot details thin on the ground - my apologies. The new characters are good ones, the old characters do well in the reprise and the plot covers ground with which we are familiar in its general outlines, if not the details. The film is visually rich and the John Williams score has the grandeur we've learned to expect.

Episode VII ends with a cliff hanger which is just about guaranteed to create audience for film number eight. If you loved the original three Star Wars films, you'll love number VII - count on it.

May the Force be with you always.

The Ferguson Effect Defended

The Wall Street Journal's Heather Mac Donald takes on the critics of the "Ferguson effect" and shows how they willfully ignore the crime rise following attacks on police by the #BlackLivesMatter crowd. Actually, she reports murders are up somewhere between 11 and 16% in one year. It's a good column, see her conclusion:
To acknowledge the Ferguson effect would be tantamount to acknowledging that police matter, especially when the family and other informal social controls break down. Trillions of dollars of welfare spending over the past 50 years failed to protect inner-city residents from rising predation. Only the policing revolution of the 1990s succeeded in curbing urban violence, saving thousands of lives. As the data show, that achievement is now in jeopardy.

Remembering Christmases Past

Did you ever wonder if there is something like a born-again Roman Catholic? Let me be clear, I don't mean a Catholic who becomes an evangelical Protestant. I refer to a Catholic who has a born-again experience within the bosom of the Church.

In honor of Christmas, the always readable Peggy Noonan recounts for The Wall Street Journal having such an experience as a young girl (scroll down). It's at the end of a column about the modest Christmases of our youth.

I remember the sort of Christmases Peggy describes. One year I got a new, stocked shoeshine box and was happy to have it as - believe it or not - highly shined shoes were the fashion for high school fellows at the time. Hard to believe now, isn't it? 

What I like most about Christmas is the music and decorations, plus traveling to get together with family and friends. The food is fine, too.

Happy Boxing Day

COTTonLINE wishes all readers a happy Boxing Day. As all non-American Anglophones and American Anglophiles know, the term is non-pugilistic.

It refers to the practice, in times past, of giving a gift to the servants and regular tradespeople on the day after Christmas. This gift became known, generically, as "the Christmas box" and the day as "Boxing Day."

To a minor extent, the practice exists in some eastern U.S. cities where giving the mailman or building super a holiday gift is the norm. The practice exists, but the name does not.

All Grinch sympathizers can breathe a sigh of relief. They'll not hear a carol or see a red suit trimmed in white fur for 10 months or so. 

BTW, this was the first Christmas season in living memory during which I did not see a TV ad for the Salad Shooter or Ronco Vegematic. Next stop: New Years Eve and Day.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Profiling Lives

CBS News reports a. focus group of American Muslims stated the U.S. Government is more dangerous to them than ISIS. This seems to me entirely sensible and uncontroversial ... let's analyze.

ISIS has no beef with observant Sunni Muslims. In many ways ISIS is their champion, albeit a particularly brutal champion.

It is American Muslim's bad luck ISIS has effectively declared war upon the U.S. on their behalf. Given that declaration, is it any wonder the U.S. Government pays extra attention to their doings, their associations.

If they are fortunate that government will not find it necessary to reestablish the internment camps of WW II and make them it's guests.

A Present for Argentina

After 12 years of Peronism, Argentina has set itself on a different path via the ballot box. New President Macri appears to be taking the country in a better direction. See an article in the PanAm Post for details.

Whether Macri will be able to really undo all the damage done is unclear at this point. Even making the attempt matters. Maybe, in years to come, there will be less need to cry for beautiful Argentina.

PR Population Declines

We have written about the economic troubles of Puerto Rico, search for it if you're interested. Now comes a story from Fox News about the population decline the island has suffered, some 9% since 2004.

PR has been handed an economic lemon, it's time to make "lemonade." Local people leaving PR creates an opportunity for the island economy's rebirth. Basically, PR needs to reinvent itself as a tourist paradise, like Hawaii. 

A population decline should depress housing prices. Lower housing prices will create opportunities for retirees from the northern 49 to buy an affordable place in the sun under the protection of the U.S. flag

Retirees bring money but cause few problems, commit few crimes, need few schools. They spend on food, fuel, autos, clothing, and health care. They patronize restaurants, barbers and beauticians, they tend to pay their taxes and utility bills on time. 

There are downsides of this future. Cultural dilution is a real risk, perhaps loss of Spanish language dominance, and the proliferation of service jobs which are often low-paying.

Nationalism, Flavor of the Month

We've written about the surge of nationalism in Europe, and the echos of that surge here in both the Trump and Sanders campaigns. For a country-by-country description of what's happening across the pond, see a Daily Express (U.K.) article for a progress report.

Be warned, it is a trend of which the Express does not approve. Therefore expect a negative spin to the story, which is nevertheless accurate in most details. Hat tip to for the link.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas from AZ

I don't expect to be blogging early tomorrow, so I'll take this opportunity to wish all COTTonLINE readers a very Merry Christmas. I hope the good will and joy of the season enfold you and bring you happiness. Be safe on the highways and careful in all you do.

I write from southern Arizona where the daytime temperature today was purest shirtsleeve, under blue skies. I don't know if I'd call this arid terrain beautiful but it is certainly spectacular. I keep expecting to see the plume of a far-off sand worm, with fremen riding his back.

Ironic Timing

Politico reports the result of a new Gallup poll on the religious preferences of Americans. In the 7 years since Obama took office, the percentage of Americans claiming a Christian faith has dropped 5%, from 80% to 75%.

Correspondingly, the percentage of people claiming no faith has increased by 5%, from 14.6% to 19.6%,  The percentage claiming a non-Christian faith is stable at 5%.

COTTonLINE finds this bad news, coming during the "good news" season, particularly ironic for those who follow the cross. The U.S. seems to be following the same path other advanced countries are on, albeit not quite as far along.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Higher Education's Higher Costs

Writing in The New York Times, economist N. Gregory Mankiw proposes three reasons the cost of higher education has skyrocketed. Briefly, these are the causes he identifies.

First, the technology of teaching has advanced very little so it has not become more efficient, more productive. However the highly educated people who perform it insist on being paid for their education at rates commensurate with the earnings of other highly educated people. Second, rising inequality has increased not only the benefit of education but also the cost thereof. And third, the apparent cost of higher education is comparable to a hotel's "rack rate" which few end up paying.

I believe Mankiw is best thought of as an apologist for higher education. He entirely omits several major cost drivers, which I will identify briefly. Colleges and universities are under several kinds of pressure to admit and educate students they formerly would not have considered. The federal government pressures schools to have a diverse student population. Liberal faculty accept the rightness of that pressure.

Plus, public universities worry that if they cannot attract minority students enrollments will fall and perhaps campuses will close. Eventually in states like CA with many minority legislators, budgets will not pass if their constituents are not being served.

The universities' experience with underserved populations is that they are easy enough to recruit, if sufficient aid is provided and standards are lowered. What has proven very difficult is retaining and, more importantly, graduating those students.

Their reaction has been a proliferation of administrative positions with the task of helping minority students succeed once on campus. In the fifty plus years I have been involved higher education administrative overhead has effectively metastasized, become a cancer that absorbs untold resources and produces nothing in the way of either classroom education nor research.

Another factor is the desire of university officials to leave behind glorious buildings as "monuments" to their stewardship. For example, the campus on which I spent most of my faculty career enrolls today roughly the same number of students it enrolled 15 years ago, yet in that period it has completed several large buildings and parking garages.

Who do you suppose paid for those? CA's taxpayers did, of course. Are they nice? Certainly. Were they needed? Almost certainly not. The campus was entirely functional 15 years ago with basically the same enrollment. Of course all those new administrators need office space....

The New Feudalism

Joel Kotkin writes in Newgeography about the dominance of tech oligarchs, concentrated in CA.  Along the way he describes the direction of the CA economy and the possibility it may presage the nation's future economy.
The new political configuration works in classic medieval fashion, with the rich providing the necessities for the poor, without providing them opportunity for upward mobility or the chance, God forbid, to buy a house in the outer suburbs.

This ‘upstairs-downstairs’ California coalition could presage the country’s political future. Perhaps it’s best to think of it as a form of high-tech feudalism, in which the upper classes run the show, but bestow goodies on the struggling masses. This alliance will allow the present tech oligarchs to thrive without facing a populist challenge that could interfere with their profits and expansion into other markets.
Hat tip to RealClearPolicy for the link.

Monday, December 21, 2015

On Immigration: Cruz Strong, Rubio Weak

The Washington Examiner's Byron York clarifies the positions Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have taken on immigration. Rubio has claimed their two positions are essentially the same. York shows this claim is false.

Rubio has been weak on immigration when it counted, when the Senate was voting on the Gang of Eight bill that would have basically legalized 11 million aliens here without permission. Cruz is on record trying to cripple that effort.

COTTonLINE believes Rubio's immigration stand is a deal-breaker, unless Rubio specifically and unequivocally renounces all amnesty schemes and basically says he'll enforce existing law. To date he has been unwilling to do so.

Happy Anniversary, COTTonLINE

Tomorrow, December 22, is the ninth anniversary of the founding of this blog. During that period we have posted roughly 7000 items, on a range of topics.

Each year we celebrate the blog's anniversary, it has been quite a "ride." We hope you join us for our tenth year which begins the day after tomorrow.

Winter Solstice

Tonight is the longest night of the year, the winter solstice. All night owls rejoice at the wealth of darkness on tap.

Today is the last day of fall, tomorrow the first day of "official" winter. Beginning tomorrow the days start getting longer, a process that terminates on June 21 with the longest day of the year.

It is probably no accident that Christmas was "pegged" at this time of year. Humans have been celebrating the end of the sun's "retreat" for perhaps ten millennia.

Graham Goodbye

Sen. Lindsey Graham has announced he will suspend his campaign; "suspend" being campaign-speak for quit. In his honor, we write the following bye-ku, or haiku in remembrance, with hat tip to the WSJ's James Taranto who popularized the form.
Goodbye to Graham,
Your humor was a pleasure.
Not so your message.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Three Alternate Futures

The New York Times' Ross Douthat is often wise, sometimes foolish, like most of us who write conservative opinion. Today he pens some very decent observations about the GOP race's three front runners: Trump, Cruz, and Rubio.

Douthat believes they represent three distinct policy packages. Rubio is W-lite, Cruz is more true conservative, and Trump most closely resembles the nationalists of Europe, like Le Pen in France or Farange in the UK.

My shorthand descriptions don't do justice to Douthat's analysis. I think he captures something of the real essence of each and, as he notes, there are things to like in each package.

What is unique about Douthat's column is his recognition that Trump's mish-mash of positions does in fact have analogs in Europe among its Euroskeptics and nationalists. I believe him first with this observation which feels, at least at first blush, reasonably accurate.

Interestingly, Russia's Putin has indicated some admiration for Trump, which suggests he senses a kindred nationalistic spirit. This reported by AFP via Yahoo News.


We attributed the "horse thieves and Democrats" wisecrack made by Ted Cruz to Cruz family wisdom. It turns out it came from an FDR ancestor, one Warren Delano, according to Politifact, and was so attributed by Cruz. Hat tip to the other DrC for the correction.

Good News, for a Change

Instapundit provides a link to a blog by a Pepperdine Law School prof - Excess of Democracy - which reports as follows:
Total law school enrollment at lowest point since 1977; 1L class size lowest since 1973.
The article is based on ABA reporting data. Reduced production of attorneys is good news indeed. Ours is a too-litigious society, mostly the fault of overproduction of attorneys.

Eventually market forces dissuaded would-be barristers, as the likelihood of finding paying work diminished. All hail the market, what is bad for lawyers is good for our nation, in this case.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Venezuela Faces Chaos

On December 6 we wrote the opposition had elected a substantial majority in the Venezuelan legislature. At the time we were concerned about the transition:
Now it remains to be seen whether President Maduro will recognize the adverse results and cope with the change, or instigate a coup.
Now comes an article in the Financial Times which indicates the transition will be anything but smooth, and doesn't rule out a coup. President Maduro is quoted as saying
This is no time for cohabitation or coexistence with the bourgeoisie.
Old Marxists like Maduro are truly repellant toads. If you follow Latin America, read what FT says about the troubles in Venezuela.

Guns, Cigarettes Differ

If you looked at that title and thought "Well, duh!" I wouldn't be surprised. What Jonah Goldberg tackles in a National Review article is why efforts to outlaw cigarettes succeeded, while those to outlaw guns have failed.

His main point, cigarettes were ubiquitous whereas gun ownership and use is very unevenly distributed within the population. Of course there is no Bill of Rights amendment guaranteeing the "right to bear cigarettes" either. Also unmentioned, when used safely, guns are not dangerous. The same cannot be said for cigarettes.

Turn Off the Internet Valve

I've wondered why it isn't possible to shut off ISIS's access to the Internet. Breitbart reports that it is doable since the U.S. basically "owns" the system.

Milo Yiannopolis writes it would be relatively simple to close off the feeds to large parts of the world, if needed. The next president will need to do this; expect no such forthright action from the diffident incumbent.

It is massively ironic that, faced with a radical Muslim threat, we elected a President who by his Muslim upbringing in Indonesia is uniquely unqualified and unwilling to confront that threat. We needed a Churchill or a Thatcher but got instead a Chamberlain. His reluctance to act will cost tens of thousands of lives. I hope yours isn't one of them.

Cruz Family Wisdom

Politico quotes Sen. Ted Cruz, sharing Cruz family wisdom at the debate last night in Las Vegas.
All horse thieves are Democrats, but not all Democrats are horse thieves.
I believe Ted was analogizing to jihadis and Muslims. A nice, snarky laugh line. And from the same article, Cruz wisecracks about our southern border and Trump's pledge to get Mexico to pay for the wall.
We will build a wall that works, and I'll get Donald Trump to pay for it.
Sounds like Cruz had some of the best lines of the evening.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Weimar on the Potomac

Roger Cohen writes opinion for The New York Times. His current column focuses on Obama's "Weimar America."
Welcome to Weimar America: It’s getting restive in the beer halls. People are sick of politics as usual. They want blunt talk. They want answers.

Welcome to an angry nation stung by two lost wars, its politics veering to the extremes, its mood vengeful, beset by decades of stagnant real wages for most people, tempted by a strongman who would keep all Muslims out and vows to restore American greatness.

President Obama claims his strategy against Islamist jihadist terrorism, which he often sugarcoats as “violent extremism,” is working. There is little or no evidence of that.
Cohen wants you to see Trump as another Hitler, a bombastic bullyboy who offers to get a people back their self-respect. The parallel is inexact. Trump is more a fast-talking salesman trying to bamboozle us into buying him as president. He paints a glowing word picture of how wonderful our lives will be with him in the White House.

Peggy Noonan made the Weimar comparison four months ago, and we blogged about it here. Feckless government, which we've had for several years, creates a climate in which demagogues prosper as popular disgust wells up. Several recent Supreme Court decisions have added to the widespread discontent.

Getting It Right

Robert Verbruggen edits RealClearPolicy and likes to crunch numbers. Today he looks at three measures of poverty

Verbruggen itemizes the criticisms of the official poverty measure, and argues persuasively for the consumption-based poverty measure which shows the poverty rate in the U.S. is down to about 4.5% of the population. I call that good news, even if it does mean millions are subsisting on our tax dollar transfer payments.

Weird Psychiatric Science

A study published recently in JAMA Pediatrics reports finding the children of women who took antidepressants during pregnancy are more than twice as likely to exhibit the symptoms of autism. See an article at Bloomberg Business for details. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

What is less clear is whether the drug caused the autism or whether having a depressed mom caused it. There is evidence people with mental disorders are more likely to have children with mental disorders, of which both autism and depression are examples.

As regular COTTonLINE readers will remember, we often caution against inferring causation from correlational studies, which this study is. On the other hand, the greatly increased use of antidepressants is contemporary with the great increase in autism diagnoses.

Bergdahl to Court Martial

Reuters reports Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl will face a general court martial on charges of desertion and endangering U.S. troops. He could face a life sentence if found guilty.

This is good news; Bergdahl deserves his day in court. And the public deserves to have on the open record a fair investigation of the circumstances of his disappearance in Afghanistan.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Cynical View of Diversity

Scott Johnson blogs at Power Line, here he explains "diversity."
A few tenets that seem to me at the heart of the ideology of “diversity”: (a) outcomes must be equal among racial and ethnic groups, except when they accrue to the advantage of a racial or ethnic “minority” (including women); (b) disparate outcomes among racial and ethnic groups represent some form of institutional bias to be rectified by government action; (c) all cultures are equal, except for that of the United States, which is eternally guilty of racism and other -isms under (a) and (b) above; (d) the expression of views dissonant with (a) through (c) must be must be stigmatized as “racist” and/or suppressed.
I wish he was wrong; of course he is nothing of the kind.

A Radioactive Threat

Senator Ted Cruz, speaking about how, as president, he'd deal with ISIS:
I don't know if sand can glow in the dark, but we're going to find out.
Is there a way to understand this Cruz comment as anything other than a threat to nuke ISIS? Frankly, I see none.

Even the hyperbolic Trump hasn't gone there. The quote is from a Doyle McManus column in the Los Angeles Times (scroll down).

Kipling Knew

The third stanza of Rudyard Kipling's poem The Stranger, written in 1908, says wise things about today's refugee/terrorist issues. Hat tip to David Solway at PJ Media for the link.
The Stranger within my gates,
He may be evil or good,
But I cannot tell what powers control—
What reasons sway his mood;
Nor when the Gods of his far-off land
Shall repossess his blood.
There is no way to screen for benevolence, against malevolence.
Trump speaks for me on this issue.

The Fire - No Improvement Over the Frying Pan

A variety of sources are reporting Ted Cruz has passed Donald Trump to take the lead in the Iowa polls, for example Bloomberg Politics. Oh, the massive irony.

For Republican party leaders, Cruz is no improvement over Trump. They simply hate Cruz for being unwilling to go along in order to get along. Cruz never accepted the Conventional Wisdom that facing down the president at the risk of shutting down the government is bad politics.

Plus, Cruz isn't Mr. Warm Fuzzy, he doesn't come across as a lovable teddybear, as Rubio often does. Not only is Cruz often the smartest guy in the room, he doesn't hide it well.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Degree-Holders Like Trump Too

Dan Balz of The Washington Post reports the results of a Pew study charting
The steady decline of the middle class over the past four decades. It is a phenomenon often discussed and analyzed, but the new findings highlight a tipping point: Those living in middle-class households no longer make up a majority of the population.
Those with at least a bachelors degree have done no worse. However, Pew writes:
Those without a bachelor’s degree tumbled down the income tiers, however. Among the various demographic groups examined, adults with no more than a high school diploma lost the most ground economically.
He uses the finding to explain the Trump phenomenon, without giving emphasis to the first half of this comment:
Among white people with college degrees, he was at 23 percent and led his nearest rival by only four percentage points. Among white people without a college degree, however, his support ballooned to 41 percent.
We've been led to believe educated people don't like Trump, apparently we've been lied to. As a group they don't like him as much as do the less educated, he's still in the lead with degree-holders! Amazing ... this is the real slap-your-forehead takeaway from the Balz article but obviously didn't fit the narrative he was building.


BTW, as our society becomes increasingly technological, increasingly knowledge-and-logic-driven as opposed to skill-driven, it is no surprise the less educated are less demanded by the job market. Offshoring most routine jobs where practical, and filling many that remain with illegal immigrants, has amounted to waging economic war on our lower middle and blue collar classes. Trump gives these individuals hope.

Ludlow: Close the Borders

Economist Larry Kudlow is no stranger to those of us who follow business news, he's been active on TV and in print for decades. Writing at Breitbart National Security he reports a change of heart.
I know this is not my usual position. But this is a war. Therefore I have come to believe there should be no immigration or visa waivers until the U.S. adopts a completely new system to stop radical Islamic terrorists from entering the country. A wartime lockdown. And a big change in my thinking.

Let me emphasize that my support for wartime immigration restrictions is not based on religion. I think Donald Trump made a big mistake here. Instead, I agree with this Rupert Murdoch tweet: “Complete refugee pause to fix vetting makes sense.”

Of course, President Obama doesn’t get it. He never will. (snip) The president had his last chance last Sunday night. And he didn’t do it. He is not a wartime commander in chief. In fact, he is not a commander in chief.
I'd add: he is not a commander in chief because he rejects the role.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Things You Wouldn't Believe

Ed Driscoll guest blogs at Instapundit, where he proves he is a Blade Runner fanboy. He posts the following intro to a supremely ugly photo of Hillary from the Drudge Report, headed "Love will save the day."
I’VE SEEN THINGS YOU PEOPLE WOULDN’T BELIEVE. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate.
If you don't recognize it, those are the first three sentences of the tears in rain soliloquy from the 1982 film Blade Runner. The rest of the quote is this:
All those moments will be lost in time, like Time to die.
These five sentences are spoken by Dutch actor Rutger Hauer in the role of dying replicant (android) Roy Blatty, to Harrison Ford playing Deckard, a retirement "counselor." It is arguably the most famous set-piece speech in science fiction film.

Musing About the Disconnect

I've been thinking about the events of the past week, with particular reference to the disconnect between Republican voters on the one hand and their elected representatives on the other. I started to write "leaders" and realized these individuals were leading few anywhere, although they've clearly tried to do so.

They've marched off, loudly declaiming "Follow me!" and, looking over their collective shoulder, discovered darned few following them. You see their leadership failure in the modest poll numbers of their chosen candidates.

We of the grassroots don't believe the party officials have done much representing of our interests. Mostly, they've represented the interests of the big donors who live in gated communities, travel by limo or private jet, and experience immigrants - legal or otherwise - mostly as properly deferential maids, pool boys and gardeners.

Nationalism is on the march, in Europe, Asia, and here. "Make America Great Again" is a slogan appealing to that feeling. Candidates who understand this - and speak to it - have been prospering. It remains to be seen if that trend will continue through November, 2016, I predict it will.

Another Poll, Same Result

Rasmussen Reports shares polling data on the following question:
Do you favor a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the United States until the federal government improves its ability to screen out potential terrorists from coming here?
Their finding:
Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims coming to the United States has the support of a sizable majority of Republicans – and a plurality of all voters.
Sixty-six percent of likely Republican voters favor the ban, 24% oppose it, 10% are undecided. More broadly,
Among all voters, 46% favor a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, while 40% are opposed. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided.

A New Politics

The Washington Free Beacon is Matthew Continetti's site, he writes today about a possible party realignment reflected in the Trump movement. Continetti opines party alignment changes are no new phenomenon, and gives examples, including the Goldwater swing to conservatism for the GOP and the McGovern swing to the left for Democrats.
The tendency in Washington is not to take Donald Trump seriously. To describe him as a clown, as someone who will drop out, as someone whose beliefs are non-ideological. I believe that to dismiss him is a mistake. Since declaring his candidacy in June, Trump has been consistent on issues of immigration and trade and security. He has not deviated from building a wall on the southern border, slapping tariffs on imports, criticizing the 2003 Iraq war, praising Vladimir Putin, describing Ukraine as Germany’s problem not ours, and saying Middle East peace depends on Israeli concessions.

Trump’s nationalism has far more in common with the conservatism of Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, than with the conservatism of Ronald Reagan. Support for a “Muslim ban” is par for the course among European nationalists—by calling for it here all Trump has done is confirm how closely American politics resembles European politics. Reagan was an immigration advocate who signed the 1986 amnesty law.

Indeed, Republican nominees since Ronald Reagan have been internationalist in outlook. They have been pro-free trade and pro-immigration, have supported American leadership in global institutions, and have argued for market solutions and traditional values. A Republican Party under Donald Trump would broadly reject this attitude. It would emphasize protection in all its forms—immigration restriction, trade duties, a fortress America approach to international relations, and activist government to address health care and veterans’ care. Paeans to freedom and opportunity and equality and small government would give way to admonishments to strive, to fight, to win, to profit.
Continetti overstates some of Trump's positions to make his point, but the overall sweep of his analysis feels correct. You could even see stylistic similarities between Trump and Marine Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Perhaps ideologies are more shaped by their times than we would wish. A minority on Wall Street has already switched to supporting Democrats, Clinton in particular.

Antonin Scalia Defended

During arguments before the Supreme Court a couple of days ago, Justice Scalia was heard to suggest perhaps admitting less prepared minority kids to elite schools which only admit the very best white students, was unfair to the minority kids. See a Los Angeles Times article for details on the resulting firestorm.

Before you conclude Scalia was expressing racism, go see our review of a Stuart Taylor, Jr. article which argues persuasively that the practice of lowering standards for minority kids does them no favors. If you need more info, follow the link there to Taylor's original article.

In truth elite universities seek out inadequately qualified minority students in order to stay out of trouble with the federal affirmative action "police." Enrolling the students protects the university, not the students. They often experience unnecessary failure when, at a school with less elite admission standards for white students, they might be quite competitive and successful.

This is what Scalia was trying to say. Admittedly he did not express the thought as elegantly as he might (or should) have done.

Ironically, you can't blame the universities which do what they must to survive. You have to blame the strictures which force them to recruit likely-to-fail students to meet diversity quotas intentionally mislabeled as "targets" or "goals."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Happy Snark

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, commenting on a screw-up at the Grey Lady.
To be fair, these days The New York Times is a parody of The New York Times.
How the mighty have fallen.

ISIS as Fig Leaf

Slavoj Zizek writes in the New Statesman (U.K.) about what he believes is actually happening in Iraq and Syria. See his conclusion:
The “total war” against Isis should not be taken seriously – they don’t really mean it. We are definitely dealing not with the clash of civilisations (the Christian west versus radicalised Islam), but with a clash within each civilisation: in the Christian space it is the US and western Europe against Russia, in the Muslim space it is Sunnis against Shias. The monstrosity of the Islamic State serves as a fetish covering all these struggles in which every side pretends to fight Isis in order to hit its true enemy. 
There is some truth in his allegations. The article added one data point I didn't have before, it reports:
Countless number of Isis injured fighters enter the Turkish territory and are being admitted in the military hospitals.
If true, Turkey is a de facto ally of ISIS, regardless of what Erdogan says for Western consumption. We have suspected this.

The Elite's Problem

The New York Times' Ross Douthat writes a column which describes more-or-less accurately how no mainstream Republican candidates have the credibility to convince the grass roots they will solve the problems Trump has identified, without his bombast, his craziness. He asks:
Which prominent Republican can say to anxious voters now, with the ring of authority, you can trust me not to just be an open-borders guy on immigration, and my anti-Islamic State strategy won’t just end up in the same ditch as our last ground war in the Middle East?
And he answers his own question:
On the issues where Trump is making hay right now, no such authority exists.
Right in one.

Out-of-Touch Is the Bomb

Writing for RealClearPolitics, Heather Wilhelm describes governmental elites so out of touch they have no idea of the concerns of the governed. That completely describes our President but, as she points out, others as well.
It’s telling and appropriate that Angela Merkel just won Time magazine’s Person of the Year. In Germany, Merkel has morphed into the archetype of the out-of-touch government elite, the aloof bureaucrat who puts a preferred mission above the desires of the local rubes—and who is also completely clueless about the dangerous political dynamic she’s in the process of creating.
By all means Time, let's celebrate out-of-touch "leaders," including the entire cadre of GOP poobahs. Germany, meanwhile, is committing suicide ... that's their choice, or at least her choice for them.

Conventional Wisdom

An editorial in the New York Post begins:
Liar, liar, pantsuit on fire.
I don't need to tell you who they were writing about, do I? Who else could it be? Hat tip to for the link.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How Many Dead Americans?

Dilbert creator Scott Adams, from his dilbert blog (scroll down), commenting on current proposals to limit or curtail Muslim immigration and tourism, and the widespread criticism thereof:
I propose that instead of calling fellow citizens racists or idiots we do a deeper dive into the risks and put a price tag on our preference for religious intolerance. If the risk of future terror attacks is tiny, most of us would prefer maintaining our respect for religious differences.

But if the risk is more than tiny, can you put a price on your love of religious tolerance? In other words, how many dead Americans are you willing to accept?

In summary, I will agree with critics who say Trump’s call to ban Muslim immigration – even temporarily – is Hitler-scary. I hope all good Americans are offended by the suggestion on some visceral level even if you think it has to be done.

But if you plan to participate in this conversation, and you aren’t willing to put a price tag (in terms of American deaths) on your preference for maintaining religious open-mindedness, I will find it hard to take you seriously.
His is an interesting way to think about immigration risks. Adams says he is willing to accept up to 1000 American deaths to preserve "religious respect."

We have already lost more than 3000 on American soil, mostly on 9/11. Do you suppose he means "another 1000?" Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Why Trump?

Instapundit Glenn Harlan Reynolds, from his weekly column for USA Today, explaining the Trump phenomenon:
There’s a lesson for our ruling class there: Calling Trump a fascist is a bit much (fascism, as Tom Wolfe once reported, is forever descending upon the United States, but somehow it always lands on Europe), but movements like fascism and communism get their start because the mechanisms of liberal democracy seem weak and ineffectual and dishonest. If you don’t want Trump — or, perhaps, some post-Trump figure who really is a fascist — to dominate things, you need to stop being weak and ineffectual and dishonest.

Right now, after years of Obama hope-and-change, a majority of Americans (56%) think Islam is incompatible with American values. That’s true even for 43% of Democrats.

In that sort of environment, where people feel unsafe and where the powers-that-be seem to be, well, weak and ineffectual and dishonest, the appeal of someone who doesn’t seem weak and ineffectual grows stronger.
Hence ... Trump.

Historical Snark

Jim Geraghty, a regular contributor to National Review, recently posted the following about Angela Merkel, Time's choice as Person of the Year. I saw it reposted by Ed Driscoll, guest blogger at Instapundit.
No German chancellor has done more to change the demographics of Europe since ... oh.
I hope you understand the "... oh" refers to Adolf Hitler, whose "final solution" likewise had a substantial impact on European demographics.

GOP Primary Voters Back Trump's Plan

Over the past couple of days COTTonLINE has posted our belief GOP primary voters support Trump's proposal to stop Muslim immigration and tourism, pending a determination of its safety. Now there is proof.

Bloomberg Politics weigh's in with a poll done yesterday by Purple Strategies PulsePoll, here's what they learned:
Almost two-thirds of likely 2016 Republican primary voters favor Donald Trump's call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S., while more than a third say it makes them more likely to vote for him.
Stop worrying about Trump running as an independent. If he keeps on as he has so far, he'll win the GOP nomination fair and square. When that happens the party poobahs who have dissed him will have to decide whether to sit this one out or eat crow and back him. I predict they'll hold their collective noses and back him.

Those party elites have complained Trump proposes something "that isn't us, it isn't what we do." True, there is no direct precident for banning a religious group.

If one is willing to accept (as I do) that Communism was, in all important respects, a religion, there is precident aplenty. We once banned known Communists from our shores, including those who perhaps meant us no harm.

At no point in the past has a significant portion of a world religion declared war on our country, our culture. Faced with challenging new circumstances, we either adapt or die - it's the imperitive of evolution.

Public Agrees with Trump, Elites Disagree

Virtually every pundit and political figure in both parties has criticized Donald Trump's notion of a pause in the admission of Muslim immigrants and tourists until such time as the government "figures out what is going on." Given the general cluelessness of government, that could prove to be a very long time ... but no great loss nevertheless.

An exception is The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto, who writes:
Trump’s proposal for a pause in Muslim immigration “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on” strikes this columnist as entirely reasonable. That’s not to say it’s necessarily a good idea.

Instead of debating the proposal in a reasoned way, the political class—both parties—and many in the media are treating it as a thoughtcrime. Yet the PRRI poll suggests a large majority of Americans are thinking along similar lines. 
As we noted yesterday, many Americans agree with Trump; very likely a majority of Republican primary voters and caucus attendees do.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

We're Well Armed

The Gateway Pundit writes:
William La Jeunesse reported today on FOX News that 100 million guns have been sold in the US since Obama became president.
Obama is the world's most successful living gun salesman. The NRA should give him a lifetime achievement award. Imagine his apoplexy.

Gingrich: We Are Losing the Long War

The always interesting Newt Gingrich has penned a longish article concerning our national need to get serious about winning the Long War, for Breitbart Big Government. Let me share with you several of his key thoughts.
We are in a Long War which could easily last 100 years or more, which will transcend all national boundaries and which ignores or rejects a century of work trying to routinize and tame warfare.

There are technological and doctrinal breakouts on the horizon which will challenge our very survival. ElectroMagnetic Pulse, cyber war, loyalties to religiously inspired movements transcending traditional concepts of patriotism, militarization of space, are examples.

The efforts to turn war into criminal justice and to find “humane” methods of waging war have largely come at the expense of American national security. Confronted by enemies like Islamic Supremacists who don’t care about either the rule or law or the public opinion pressures created by visible violence, the United States will find itself at increasingly one sided disadvantages.

We are losing the Long War. Our elites in America and Europe have an enormous resistance to dealing honestly and effectively with the Islamic Supremacists who seek to kill us and destroy our civilization.

The Long War will last at least 50 to 100 years.(snip) We certainly have no plans or systems which enable America to cope with technological breakouts, Chinese scale and complexity, Russian opportunism and a Long War simultaneously.

Islamic Supremacism is a virus and has to be seen as an epidemiological phenomenon. Seen in this context the internet and social media are the centers of gravity for the Long War.(snip) It will be extraordinarily hard to get our national security bureaucracies and professionals to admit how big the failures are and how deep the change has to be. It will be even harder to get our political elites to understand how badly we are losing and how much we must rethink our current analyses, strategies, and activities.

Unavoidability is the first key to understanding the scale of the national security challenge we face. Whether we want to fight Islamic Supremacists or not is irrelevant. They intend to fight us. Whether we would like to live in a world of extreme nuclear danger or not is irrelevant. (snip)Whether we want to deal with domestic subversion and domestic enemies or not is irrelevant.
COTTonLINE endorses these sentiments.

Fecklessness ... No One Is Really in Charge

Damon Linker writes at The Week about the current state of U.S. politics and has plenty bad to say about both major parties. You'll enjoy his concluding assessment of the President.
Finally, there's the distinctive contribution of our well-meaning but frequently ineffective liberal president to our national neuroses. At another historical moment, Obama's cool-cat persona might have fit right in. But his temperamental aloofness and tendency to undersell threats are almost comically ill-suited to this moment of turmoil and angst.

In times of national anxiety, the country needs a leader who will acknowledge and validate those fears. Only then can he hope to moderate and dissipate them, and channel them in more publicly beneficial directions. Instead we're left with an image of presidential fecklessness — and the impression that no one is really in charge of an increasingly chaotic nation in an ever more anarchic world.
Our nation is coasting on pre-Obama momentum, we cannot know if (or when) chaos will finally derail us utterly. Linker says we verge on "a nervous breakdown," such Weimar-like times bring forth demagogues.

Quote of the Day

Ben Domenech, writing for The Federalist, comes the closest I've seen to explaining the Trump phenomenon. It's Obama's fault, he writes, for causing the yawning gap between the elites and the rest of us. The whole article is worthwhile, here is a key sentence.
Trump is a perfect personality to exploit these divides, offering the promise of an authoritarian who represents the people in place of an authoritarian who represented the elites.
Put that way, Trump could become America's Juan Peron - not a good thing - or a Robespierre - even worse. A more hopeful view would see Trump as a latter-day Teddy Roosevelt - a populist man of action.
I'm hopeful.


COTTonLINE believes these three statements are self-evident:
  • The Democrats are the party of government solutions to our problems.
  • Americans have little faith in government.
  • Republicans tend to express that lack of faith.
  • In any rational world the public's lack of faith in government should make the Democratic platform very difficult to sell.
  • This is demonstrably not a rational world.
  • The outcome in November of 2016 is not a foregone conclusion.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Oval Office Speech Characterized

Reactions to President Obama's Oval Office speech on terrorism has been generally negative. Investor's Business Daily headlines their story as follows:
Obama to America: My Failed ISIS Strategy Will Continue
I am reminded of what Albert Einstein said of stupid behavior:
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
To paraphrase, "My strategy and tactics with respect to ISIL aren't working so we'll stay the course." It is past time for a White House sanity check. Hat tip to for the IBD link.

Trump: Admit No Muslims to U.S.

The Associated Press reports Donald Trump has called for a moratorium on Muslims entering the U.S. See what AP reports:
Donald Trump called Monday for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," an idea swiftly condemned by his rival GOP candidates for president and other Republicans.

The proposed ban would apply to immigrants and visitors alike, a sweeping prohibition affecting all adherents of Islam who want to come to the U.S.
I am willing to bet a small sum honest polling would reveal a majority of Americans support Trump's view of this issue. Trump is willing to state un-PC opinions shared by many Americans, including a likely majority of GOP primary voters.

Trump may be correct but he knows it won't be done. The very fact it won't happen will be a good campaign issue for Trump, maybe a decisive one in the present terrorist-haunted climate.

Trump is merely taking a page from the wartime president's handbook "written" by FDR, starting on this date in 1941. Will internment camps for Muslims be the next proposal, it took FDR only 10 weeks to decide?

Pearl Harbor Remembered

Today, December 7, is the 74th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor by naval aviators of the Empire of Japan. President Franklin D. Roosevelt memorably called it:
A day that will live in infamy.
We need not to forget. While we're at it, let's also remember the Japanese perpetrators of the Bataan Death March, the rape of Nanking, and other atrocities. Japan briefly conquered most of Eastern and Southern Asia, leaving many enduring enemies in the occupied lands.

Each year on this day I thankfully remember FDR's successor - Harry Truman - who had the guts to do what was necessary at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He shortened the war and saved perhaps 100,000 GI lives, maybe one or more of your ancestors.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Snark by Instapundit

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds snarks about the President's Oval Office speech:
I’M GUESSING IT’LL BE US. YOU KNOW, SAME AS USUAL.  The President may be declaring war on someone tonight… but who?
Related:  President Obama Dogged By Credibility Gap. Well, when you say you’re at war with ISIS, but you only sound angry at Republicans, people notice.

Another Cotton Heard From

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR, not a relative) has posted at his official website a reaction to President Obama's speech tonight about terrorism. Cotton's whole statement is good, I'm posting a couple of his key points:
Radical Islam is at war with America; our only choice is to win or lose, and the longer we debate whether we’re at war, the closer we come to losing it. One cannot help but wonder how many more Americans will die before President Obama recognizes this fundamental truth.

We needed to hear from the president tonight how to win this war. But we only heard how we will continue losing it.
Truly. Hat tip to Paul Mirengoff at Power Line for the link.

72 on Terror Watch List Work at DHS

Boston public radio WGBH News reports an interview with Mass. Democrat Congressman, Stephen Lynch. See what he said:
Back in August, we did an investigation—the Inspector General did—of the Department of Homeland Security, and they had 72 individuals that were on the terrorist watch list that were actually working at the Department of Homeland Security. The director had to resign because of that.
OMG, these people are in charge of keeping us safe? When we aren't sure they are safe? Can it get much worse?

Good News in Venezuela

Reuters reports the anti-Chavismo movement has won control of the legislature in Venezuela.
Election board head Tibisay Lucena said the opposition Democratic Unity coalition won 99 seats to the Socialists' 46 in the 167-national (sic) National Assembly with some districts still to be counted.
It appears the opposition has a clear majority. Now it remains to be seen whether President Maduro will recognize the adverse results and cope with the change, or instigate a coup.

This electoral outcome constitutes very good news for Venezuela, which had appeared to be vanishing down the rabbit hole of totalitarian government. Mind you, it has taken too long to reach this point, but reach it they finally did.


Writing at Power Line, Scott Johnson reacts with disgust to His Imperial Spitefulness, Barack I.
Obama repeatedly peddles euphemisms and false assurances. Reality refuses to conform to Obama’s prescriptions. Obama is as impervious to experience as the worst men who ever lived. Obama does not trust the American people with the truth in part because he believes the American people cannot be trusted with the truth and in part because the truth is inimical to his projects.

Obama’s antipathy to the United States and to the American people render him unfit for the high office he holds. We have a square peg in the Oval Office.

Ramirez Rocks

Sunday's carries a good cartoon by right wing cartoonist Ramirez, it portrays in one panel an exaggeratedly frightening cross between an imam and a devil, leering out of a dark background. It's the caption that carries the water:
Mr. President, you may not believe in RADICAL ISLAM, but RADICAL ISLAM believes in you.
It's yet another repurposing of Leon Trotsky's famous quip "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." If you go here you can see Ramirez' handiwork for yourself. His basic point: ISIS will not allow itself to be ignored, however much POTUS wants to do so.

A Visual Representation Described

Longtime friend Earl sends a photo of a bowl of M&Ms with the following caption:
Syrian refugee situation explained:
Here's a bowl that contains 10,000 M&Ms.
Only 10 contain poison that will kill you.
That's a conservative estimate. Figures I've seen suggest 1 Syrian refugee in 8 is an ISIS sympathizer, that's 1250. If only 1 in 10 of the sympathizers ever does something violent, that is 125 "poisonous M&Ms." Imagine 125 San Bernardinos.

President Obama wants to put that candy dish on America's coffee table. It is something only a host who hates his guests would do.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

More on Women in Combat

If combat jobs will be open to women, why aren't women allowed to play baseball, football, soccer, basketball, etc. with fellows? In fact, why have separate teams for men and women? Hasn't the Supreme Court ruled "separate" is automatically "unequal" and therefore unjust in Brown v. Board of Education?

All the laws in the world won't make women and men of equal size, evolution has made men larger, on average. Perhaps boxing has an answer for the mixed gender athletic competition conundrum: weight classes.

Boxing doesn't make little guys fight big guys, people fight others of similar weight. Women and men of equal size and weight could compete with each other athletically. Just saying'....


While Col. Colt did make us all somewhat equal when we aren't born that way, war isn't based on weight classes. This policy feels like the camel's nose under the tent, the first step down a slippery slope that ends up with your princess daughter being drafted and made a grunt, a foot-slogger.

Some things are not yet clear about the "women in combat" meme. Do women get to choose whether they will be in one of the combat arms (infantry, armor)? Indeed, do men get this choice, or does the service assign people where they're needed? And if women get the choice and men don't, how is this equal treatment under the law?

How many daughters do we want to see with prosthetic arms or legs, or eye patches? Shell-shock or PTSD does ugly things to men, how will it be for women? PTSD sufferers often end up homeless ... strung-out, broken and alone ... suppose it was your sister, daughter or granddaughter. It's not a pretty picture.

A Sad Symmetry

Am I the only one who sees an odd, sad symmetry in two apparently unrelated events? The first is the whole-hearted suicidal participation of a young mother in the San Bernardino shootings. The second is the announcement that all combat jobs in the U.S. military will be open to qualified women.

What Tashfeen Malik did is entirely off the charts, beyond reason, and in conflict with bedrock human nature. In a strange way, what Ash Carter announced for DoD is almost as irrational. 

Our last generation of heroes was the Greatest Generation that won WW II, To the extent any are still alive, they must call both events examples of raving insanity. Perhaps we should listen to them?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Sad, Anxious Vegetarians

CBS Philly provides a link to a Women's Health article reporting research showing an association between vegetarian diets and mental disorders. See what has been found:
Australian researchers revealed that vegetarians reported being less optimistic about the future than meat eaters. What's more, they were 18 percent more likely to report depression and 28 percent more likely to suffer panic attacks and anxiety. A separate German study backs this up, finding that vegetarians were 15 percent more prone to depressive conditions and twice as likely to suffer anxiety disorders.

"We don't know if a vegetarian diet causes depression and anxiety, or if people who are predisposed to those mental conditions gravitate toward vegetarianism," says Emily Deans, M.D., a Boston psychiatrist who studies the link between food and mood. Most likely, says Deans, there's truth to both theories. People with anxious, obsessive, or neurotic tendencies might be more inclined to micromanage their plates (in one study, vegetarians had triple the risk of developing an eating disorder compared with meat lovers).

Anthropological evidence shows that, long before we could choose to subsist on cashew cheese and tofu, animal flesh provided the energy-dense calories necessary to fuel evolving cerebellums. Without meat, we'd never have matured beyond the mental capacity of herbivores like gorillas.

Today, stronger brains are still powered by beef—or at least, by many of the nutrients commonly found in animal proteins. At the top of the list are B vitamins, which your noggin needs to pump out neurotransmitters such as glutamate; low levels of it have been linked to depression, anxiety, and OCD (sound familiar?). Similarly, meager levels of zinc and iron, two nutrients far more prevalent in meats than veggies, may manifest as moodiness—or worse. (snip) Then there's tryptophan, an essential amino acid found almost exclusively in poultry. Your body can't make it on its own and needs it to produce serotonin, a hormone that acts as the brain's natural antidepressant.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

What's In a Name?

Have you wondered what to call the Islamic fundamentalist head-choppers in Iraq and Syria? RealClearDefense has a nice short article which explains the derivation of ISIL, ISIS, IS, the Caliphate, and Daesh.

Apparently, if you want to diss them, and your audience is au courant with the terminology, Daesh is the least respectful. They don't like it.

Didn't Kill Nearly Enough

Andrew J. Bacevich is professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University. For RealClearWorld, he writes a trenchant critique of U.S. foreign policy.
For at least the past 35 years -- that is, since well before 9/11 -- the United States has been "at war" in various quarters of the Islamic world. At no point has it demonstrated the will or the ability to finish the job. Washington's approach has been akin to treating cancer with a little bit of chemo one year and a one-shot course of radiation the next.

While there may be many reasons why the Iraq War of 2003 to 2011 and the still longer Afghanistan War yielded such disappointing results, Washington's timidity in conducting those campaigns deserves pride of place. That most Americans might bridle at the term "timidity" reflects the extent to which they have deluded themselves regarding the reality of war.

With the nation as a whole adhering to peacetime routines, Washington neither sent enough troops nor stayed anywhere near long enough to finish the job. Yes, we killed many tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans, but if winning World War IV requires, as Cohen writes, that we "break the back" of the enemy, then we obviously didn't kill nearly enough.
Bacevich's ultimate conclusion is what Eliot A. Cohen calls "World War IV" cannot be won without turning the U.S. into something we could neither recognize nor stomach. The costs, Bacevich believes, would be astronomical, the time frame might well run to a half century, and a military draft would be mandatory. I believe him to be nostalgic for the commitment and moral clarity of World War II.

Religious Grip on South Eases

The Associated Press reports a reduction in the influence of religion in the South, long the nation's most devout region. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.
A recent survey by the Pew Research Center showed 19 percent of Southerners don't identify with any organized religion. That's fewer "nones" than in other regions, but the number is up 6 percentage points in the South since 2007.

The same South that often holds itself apart from the rest of the country is becoming more like other U.S. regions when it comes to organized religion, said Jessica Martinez, a senior researcher in religion and public life at Pew.

And while race divides many things in the South, the trend is evident among blacks, whites and Hispanic adults, she said.

"We've seen this sort of broader shift throughout the country as a whole with fewer people identifying as being part of the religious base," she said. "In the South you see a pattern very similar to what we are seeing in other regions."
The Pew survey finding represents a real change from the last time the DrsC lived in the South, some 11 years ago. At that time, to have local friends required joining a church as people's friendship circles were church-based. As we were only there temporarily, we didn't bother.

A San Bernardino Post Script

I just heard a talking head expert on CNN (I didn't get his name) say the shootings in San Bernardino resist easy categorization as either terrorism or workplace violence. In fact, he opined, they may well partake of both motivations.

The level of preparation, weaponry, bombs, armor, black tactical clothing suggest long premeditated terrorism. The attack on colleagues suggests workplace violence.

CNN's expert argued, as have I, why not both, a twofer? Call it an ideological motivation to terror aimed at resented or disliked coworkers. Attacking what was clearly a de facto Christmas party, even if not named that, was powerful expression of religious antagonism.

At some point people will start asking if we can safely coexist with Muslims in our midst. Following San Bernardino, we are one step closer to the day that debate becomes public, and CAIR knows it.

Weird Genetic Science

The New York Times reports the results of a study done in Denmark. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.
Scientists were investigating a tantalizing but controversial hypothesis: that a man’s experiences can alter his sperm, and that those changes in turn may alter his children.

That idea runs counter to standard thinking (emphasis added) about heredity: that parents pass down only genes to their children. People inherit genes that predispose them to obesity, or stress, or cancer — or they don’t. Whether one’s parents actually were obese or constantly anxious doesn’t rewrite those genes.
My first thought was Lysenkoism, which a quick Wikipedia search reminded me was an offshoot of Lamarckism or Lamarckian inheritance. Both of these are long discredited theories of the heritability of learned or acquired experiences.

I predict many red faces among geneticists if the Danish studies prove to be valid. That however is how science is supposed to work; no finding is sacred, all are subject to being proved wrong later, using better science and/or technology.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

More Drip, Drip, Drip ....

The Los Angeles Times reports the following, with regard to the San Bernardino shootings:
Late Wednesday night, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan identified the people killed in the gun battle with police as Syed Rizwan Farook, a 28-year-old American citizen, and 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik.

Burquan said police are "reasonably confident" Farook and Malik, who may have been married or engaged, were the same two people who opened fire at the holiday party Wednesday morning.

Co-workers described Farook as quiet and polite, and said he had no obvious grudges with anyone in the office. The 28-year-old had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia and returned with a woman he met online.

The couple had a baby and appeared to be “living the American dream,” said Patrick Baccari, a fellow food inspector who shared a cubicle with Farook.
I wonder who has their baby? Identifying potential fifth column members is relatively straightforward, to anyone bold enough to profile.

So far, nothing yet revealed contradicts my hypothesis (see below).

Drip, Drip, Drip ....

Facts continue to emerge in the San Bernardino shootings. The New York Daily News reports the following:
Police said that there had been a dispute during the San Bernardino County Department of Health holiday event at the Inland Regional Center.

The Los Angeles Times reported Farook bolted from the holiday bash after arguing with another attendee, and then returned a short time later with the other two shooters.
Farook was an employee of the Health Department, an inspector of restaurants and hotels. The holiday event, like as not, had distinctively Christian overtones which might be offensive to a "devout Muslim." My hypothesis (see below) is looking more solid.

More on San Berdoo

Apologies for the slangy reference to San Bernardino above; as a SoCal native I couldn't resist. More has transpired on the shootings in SB: the police were tipped to a location, went there, saw two individuals leaving the area in a dark SUV resembling the getaway vehicle, gave chase, were fired upon, returned fire, and shot the two occupants - a man and woman - dead.

Now the LATimes and Fox News are reporting one of those shot was a Syed Farook, the woman's identity hasn't been released. Farook has been described by his father as a "very devout Muslim." It's reported the police may be holding Farook's brother but aren't clear whether he was involved in the plot.

The FBI is being very cagy about whether this attack was terrorism. The shooters' ethnicity and level of preparation - weapons, armor, clothing, masks - suggests premeditated, even rehearsed, terrorism.

On the other hand, the semi-private location, the irregularly scheduled event, the San Bernardino County employee status of those attacked, and the failure of the shooters to make a smooth getaway after eluding police at the scene all suggest impulsive workplace violence.

Suppose what we see is a combination of the two. Perhaps a terror event was being planned, at some future point, for which the weaponry, ammunition and gear was already assembled. Then suppose one member of the group is a SB county employee who was at the meeting and was somehow either (a) insulted beyond their tolerance threshold or (b) became suspicious the authorities were aware of their planned terror event, or (c) both.

Under that scenario, the plotters could decide to strike sooner than planned, before the authorities could interfere. That explains the preparation of the weapons and gear, but also the failure to have a second getaway vehicle lined up or a detailed bugout plan.

I'm hypothesizing the perps decided to avenge a personal wrong while also accomplishing their terror objective. That makes the attack both terrorism and workplace violence.

Caveat: all of the foregoing is a guess, it covers the reported facts known at this time, other explanations are quite possible.

Puzzling Attack in San Bernardino

CNBC is reporting via their website a mass shooting in San Bernardino, CA. It is claimed 3 are dead and others wounded. The facility targeted:
Inland Regional Center, located on the 1300 block of South Waterman Street, serves residents of San Bernardino and Riverside counties who have developmental disabilities.
"Developmental disabilities" is PC speak for was once called "retardation and birth defects." The shooters' motive is puzzling.

This facility doesn't seem a likely target for gang warfare, nor a logical spot for terrorism. Since the Third Reich ended, militant eugenicists only exist in speculative fiction.

Some allege the shooter(s) wore body armor, apparently none have been apprehended. At this writing nobody has claimed "credit" for the shooting.

Remembering Montenegro

The Wall Street Journal reports NATO is close to a decision to admit Montenegro as a member country. A mountainous Balkan principality, Montenegro is a place of considerable charm.

It is located on the Adriatic coast just north of Albania. The tiny country also shares borders with Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia, moving counterclockwise from Albania. The Balkans can be a tough neighborhood.

The DrsC have cruised into Kotor, Montenegro, which is a port at the head of what Norway would call a fjord. It is a walled city, very old, with cobbled streets. We thought it resembled Diagon Alley, the Harry Potter series' wizarding neighborhood in London.

Have you ever wanted to own a woman's shoe store? Kotor is your city. The women of Kotor wear over-the-top dressy spike heels that at least look expensive. The shoes must make walking on uneven cobblestones a challenge.

It seemed every not-old woman we saw was wearing 4 or 5 inch spike heels, shoes an actress would wear on the Oscar ceremony red carpet. Likely this fashion choice would also make Kotor a great town in which to be a podiatrist.

Montenegro produces a prosciutto-like ham that is delicious, but very pricy, and the beer isn't bad. Kotor would be a great place to sail to in your yacht - tie up and stroll the old town inside the walls. We liked it much better than tourist-clogged Dubrovnik up the coast.

Later: The invitation has been extended, and Montenegro is expected to accept. Russia is unhappy about this.

Weird Metabolic Science

Researchers at Newcastle University in the U.K. have shown that at least some sufferers of Type 2 diabetes can be cured by losing weight. I don't believe this finding is entirely original, but they developed further support for it, as reported in The Telegraph.

As they wisecrack, one only needs to lose 1 gram of fat, it's the fat that surrounds the pancreas. In order to do so, you must lose a lot of body weight. Once the 1 gram is gone the pancreas gets busy producing insulin.

Might it be possible to surgically remove the pancreas fat without the starvation diet? Do you suppose that would work? Maybe zap it with something like radio frequency ablation?

The article implies that either Type 2 diabetes causes fat to deposit around the pancreas, or that only some obese people develop the pancreatic fat deposits associated with (causing?) Type 2 diabetes. It seems losing a lot of weight counteracts the disease somehow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

White Student Unions

I've been wondering when we'd see mainstream white backlash at universities. It's a reaction to the special perks given various campus "victim" groups, representing ethnic and racial identities, minority sexual orientations, etc.

Now comes word the "white student unions" popping up on U.S. campuses are being emulated at schools in Australia, see an article at for details. It could be a trend; historically Aussies aren't multicultural.

Trump Was Once Vulnerable

Over at KausFiles Mickey Kaus writes about his bewilderment at the behavior of GOP elites who want to get rid of Trump. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Kaus argues the one key thing fueling the Trump boom is illegal immigration and his promises to stop it and deport the undocumented. If one or more mainstream candidates took that position unequivocally, Kaus believes it would let the air out of the Trump bubble.

I'm not certain at this late stage in the campaign any establishment candidate would be believed if they announced a Trumpian epiphany. Six months ago, maybe; if done now it would look like what it is: the rankest opportunism. No one would believe the claimant had honestly changed his/her mind to truly oppose amnesty.

In other words, Kaus is correct except for the timing ... it needed doing back in March or before to be effective. There is essentially no way anyone can today reveal previously unannounced opposition to amnesty without being accused of flip-flopping, or out-and-out lying.

The better question is why it didn't happen back when it was feasible? The only answer I come up with has two parts: first, they expected Trump to crash long before now, and second, the big money operators have such a strong financial stake in wide-open borders they couldn't bring themselves to act against it.

Because of Trump's expected demise-as-a-candidate, the GOP elites saw no need to give up on their beloved unrestricted immigration. They guessed wrong ... Trump lives ... now it's too late.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Kotkin Disses Brown

Writing at Newgeography,com, Joel Kotkin takes a long, mostly negative, look at California Governor Jerry Brown. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link. It's no secret Kotkin doesn't approve of where Brown has taken the state.

Brown's father, Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, was a CA governor of an entirely different stripe - he was a builder of university, transportation and water storage infrastructure we still rely on. His son has built little but prisons.

Now Jerry B. is off to Paris to pontificate at the climate summit, to brag about how green CA has become. He is basically turning CA into a plantation economy - Kotkin calls it "feudal" - like many less developed countries. The irony is that if Brown could accept that truth, he would hate it and change. He can't, so he won't.

Weird Apiary Science

For several years people have been writing and talking about the impending demise of the honey bee, without which many of our food crops would not pollinate or produce. This phenomenon has been called "colony collapse disorder."

Now The Washington Post reports the industry has turned around, the data says there are more hives in the U.S. today than there were 9 years ago. In fact the article infers that what was posited to be a mysterious malady was in fact the admittedly mysterious acceleration of a natural occurrence.

The immediate solution is simply to replace the missing colonies and keep on keeping bees, if the article is to be believed. Two quotes:
Randal R. Tucker and Walter N. Thurman, a pair of agricultural economists, explains that seasonal die-offs have always been a part of beekeeping: they report that before CCD, American beekeepers would typically lose 14 percent of their colonies a year, on average.

So beekeepers have devised two main ways to replenish their stock. The first method involves splitting one healthy colony into two separate colonies: put half the bees into a new beehive, order them a new queen online (retail price: $25 or so), and voila: two healthy hives. The other method involves simply buying a bunch of bees to replace the ones you lost. You can buy 3 pounds of "packaged" bees, plus a queen, for about $100 or so.
So, yes, more colonies are dying out and, perforce, being replaced. But, no, we are not running out of bees. And yes, it does now cost more to raise bees. Entomology still needs to learn what has accelerated the die off of bee colonies.

Marvelous Malta

RealClearWorld provides a link to a BBC News Magazine story about the island nation of Malta. It's a former British colony where Queen Elizabeth II lived as a young married princess in the late 1940s and early 1950s, before becoming Queen in 1952 upon the death of her father.

The BBC communicates something of the flavor of the place. Like Gibraltar, it mixes Mediterranean warmth and charm with British order.

The DrsC very much enjoyed the two visits we've made to Valletta. It's not as pretty as Corfu, but English is widely spoken and the weather's balmy.

If we decided to live somewhere in Europe, Malta would be an outstanding choice. We don't suffer overmuch from "island fever" and could afford to get away periodically, probably to Switzerland.

Spengler Endorses Cruz

Endorsements - of this or that candidate - are beginning to occur. We reported one for Fiorina a couple of days ago.

Now one of our favorite pundits, the trenchant David P. Goldman who channels Spengler for PJMedia, endorses Ted Cruz. Goldman lists 10 reasons to choose Cruz, see his top reason:
He can beat Hillary Clinton. Not just beat her, but beat her by a landslide. Mrs. Clinton isn't that smart. She looks sort of smart when the media toss her softballs, but in a series of one-to-one, nowhere-to-hide presidential debates, Cruz would shred her. Cruz was the top college debater in the country. He knows how to assemble facts, stay on message, anticipate his opponent's moves and neutralize them. He's a quarter-century younger than Mrs. Clinton, smarter, sharper, and better prepared. He's also clean as a whistle in personal life and finances, while the Clintons could reasonably be understood to constitute a criminal enterprise.
And who knows ... Cruz might even nab some Hispanic votes.

Questioning Free-Range Insanity

An old, crazy man shoots up a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, killing three and injuring several more. People will blame guns. He could as easily have rammed the people with his car.

The real issue is our decision in the 1960s not to institutionalize the insane. They live among us in their tens of thousands and several times a year one snaps and begins killing people.

I understand the civil rights argument for giving people the right to be "different" and not locking up everyone a little strange. Most such never do anything more than behave, or opine, somewhat oddly.

Most don't, a few do, and we''re not very adept at detecting a priori who will and won't turn violent toward others. Time was, we rounded them all up and warehoused them in asylums. And yes, those were grim places.

Similar places wouldn't need to be so grim today since we can control the more egregious behavior with meds which "work" in the sense that they rein in the weirdness. What they don't do is "cure" the underlying problem, so the treatment is palliative and must be continuous to be effective.

Sadly, those suffering mental maladies often don't like how dull their meds make them feel and won't take them if not monitored. This is particularly an issue with bi-polar individuals who miss the natural highs of that condition.

Since there is no realistic way to keep lethal objects out of the hands of the insane, perhaps we should consider keeping the insane where they cannot commit mass murder. Alternatively, we need to learn to accept the random violence we currently experience as "a cost of doing business in the preferred (maximum civil liberties) way."