Monday, August 31, 2015

Sanders a Failed CO Applicant

ABC News reports Democrat/Socialist presidential aspirant Bernie Sanders applied for conscientious objector status during the Vietnam war. Apparently Sanders didn't want to be a soldier then, but he wouldn't mind commanding them now.
"As a college student in the 1960s he was a pacifist," Michael Briggs, campaign spokesman added in an email. "[He] isn't now."
Even funnier is that his application for CO status was turned down by the Selective Service System. In their opinion, he didn't qualify. Was he lying about it? I predict this knowledge will make Dems like him more, not less.

The Blue State Blues

The Sacramento Bee reports demographic data from the IRS on household moves. My state-of-origin, California, lost a net 1.1 million people over the last decade. Their top five destinations were (in order) Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
An unprecedented number of Californians left for other states during the last decade, according to new tax return data from the Internal Revenue Service. About 5 million Californians left between 2004 and 2013. Roughly 3.9 million people came here from other states during that period, for a net population loss of more than 1 million people.

The trend resulted in a net loss of about $26 billion in annual income. About 600,000 California residents left for Texas, which drew more Californians than any other state. Roughly 350,000 people came from Texas to California.

The recession and housing bust, which hit California harder than most states, likely played a role in the trend. Conservative analyst and Hoover Institute Fellow Carson Bruno also blames the state's high cost of living and tax structure.

The latest, separate estimates from the state Department of Finance showed net domestic migration losses slowing, but not abating, in 2014.
COTTonLINE agrees with Bruno. California's tax-paying public is leaving while its "tax-eating" public grows as a result of poor immigrants from abroad.

It's not difficult to imagine a CA future in which its two main groups of employed middle class people will be government employees and health care professionals. Who will pay the taxes to cover their salaries - retirees? Won't the retired conclude both TX and FL are also pleasant, warm places to live with no state income tax?

When the retirees emigrate, who pays then? Movie moguls and tech nabobs? Wealthy as they are, I don't believe they can afford to run CA as a plantation economy with a few very wealthy people supporting a horde of poor service workers: gardeners, baristas, dog-walkers and pool boys. The Matt Damon film Elysium portrays a version of this future, brace yourself and take a look.

Middle East Update

The foreign policy analysts at Stratfor look carefully at the Middle East and make predictions for RealClearWorld about who will side with whom (and against whom) in the near future in this volatile region. The money quote:
Overall, the Iran nuclear deal then will not mean less violence or war; it will mean more. The uprisings in the Arab world in 2011 created power vacuums across the region; proxies supported by outside powers, as well as local militias and groups, found new space in which to operate. Conflict in the region will become increasingly about Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt using various groups to compete against one other, rather than groups taking advantage of failed states to carve out small fiefdoms of power and responsibility for themselves.
It appears Stratfor sees the Islamic State or caliphate as primarily a regional pawn rather than as a rising major player. COTTonLINE reserves judgment. ISIS has consistently exceeded everyone's expectations.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cillizza: Nomination - Yes ... Election - No

At The Washington Post, politics analyst Chris Cillizza looks at the Democrat primary and concludes there is little reason to expect any nominee other than Clinton. On the other hand, he believes she will have a hard time winning the general election. 'Tis music to my ears.

Douthat Suspects ....

At The New York Times, columnist Ross Douthat meditates upon the Trump phenomenon, and its likely impact.
In a healthy two-party system, the G.O.P. would treat Trump’s strange success as evidence that the party’s basic orientation may need to change substantially, so that it looks less like a tool of moneyed interests and more like a vehicle for middle American discontent.

In an unhealthy system, the kind I suspect we inhabit, the Republicans will find a way to crush Trump without adapting to his message. In which case the pressure the Donald has tapped will continue to build — and when it bursts, the G.O.P. as we know it may go with it.
Parties die; has anybody talked to a Whig lately? How about a Know-Nothing? A Dixiecrat?

Are the other aspirants for the GOP nomination paying attention? Can they afford to, given the "moneyed interests" who fund campaigns? Can they afford not to, given the "middle Americans" who provide votes?

It's an interesting dilemma. Expect much fence-straddling which Trump need not join.

Sex at Columbia

Writing for Commentary, Heather MacDonald examines craziness at Columbia University: their Sexual Respect and Community Citizenship Initiative, required of all students. She infers Columbia requires students to allege to espouse or embrace a particular set of values which make little sense in terms of how human beings actually exist and behave.
The sexual-respect initiative never challenges the regime of drunken hook-up sex. To do such a thing, of course, would not be “sex-positive.” Rather, the initiative simply assigns wildly asymmetrical responsibilities and liabilities within that regime, consistent with the current practice of college administrations everywhere.

One of the initiative’s videos portrays two females drinking frenetically at a series of dance clubs; a male disengages one of them and escorts her to her dorm room where he has sex with her, allegedly non-consensually because she is too woozy from the boatloads of booze she consumed to offer proper consent. The moral of the video is that bystanders should intervene if they think that someone is too drunk to agree to sex with a stranger. Several additional interpretations come to mind. First, that university administrations should perform an “intervention” on the entire booze-fueled hook-up scene. Second, that females almost always have control over whether they end up in a mentally compromised state and should therefore be careful to avoid such a condition.

This second reading is unthinkable in today’s university, however, where the male is always responsible for regretted couplings, and the female a wilting victim. If this sounds like a resurrection of Victorian values, that’s because it is, but with one major difference: The modern college co-ed retains the prerogative of unbounded promiscuity (think: “sex-positive”), while also retaining the right to revert at will to a stance of offended innocence.
If, in fact, men pursue sex because they want to have sex, then a different set of strategies is called for. And one of those strategies might be to tell females in blunt terms: Don’t drink yourself blotto, take your clothes off, and get into bed with a guy you barely know. A sexual-assault counselor will never utter those empowering words, however, because preserving the principle of male fault is more important than protecting females from “rape.”
The American university’s plunge into triviality may have become irreversible. (snip) Columbia proudly claims that it has developed one of the first university-wide programs on sexual respect in the nation. Expect desperate one-upmanship to follow as our national descent into a new academic Dark Age accelerates.
This Columbia program, if as described, is nuttier than squirrel poo. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.


The Globe and Mail of Canada reports the world's forests are flourishing, reversing some of the deforestation that occurred in prior decades. This is good news vis-a-vis climate change as the world's biomass - mostly trees - traps and holds atmospheric carbon, reducing carbon dioxide, a primary greenhouse gas.
The return of the trees teaches us a lesson. To reduce our destructive carbon output, the solution is not to reduce economic activity; rather, it’s to combine a booming urban economy with smart policies that make growth and ecology work in harmony.
When Europeans first came to North America all the land between the eastern seaboard and the Mississippi was forested. It was said a squirrel could traverse the entire span without setting foot on the ground.

East of the Mississippi River, any land that isn't plowed yearly begins to grow trees. Driving in the region we've seen many formerly farmed fields reverting to forest.

Forest is less common west of the Mississippi. Much of the region, in the rain shadow of the Sierras and Rockies, gets too little rainfall to support trees, remaining grassland savanna, desert or near-desert.

In much of the mountain west you see trees on the north and east side of mountains, grass or scrub on the south and west facing slopes. Water - from rain and snow - is the issue; it persists in the shade nourishing trees, evaporates in the sun. This pattern is common in our region of the Rockies.

An Antidote

The other DrC tells me there has been, of late, too much downbeat commentary at COTTonLINE. As a step in rectifying this shortcoming, see a piece from RealClearPolitics by Carl M. Cannon.

Cannon's topic: a handful of upbeat stories about recent American heroism, about people doing good, gutsy things. Enjoy.

Hear the Drums

Have you run across articles like this one for RealClearPolitics about the teapot tempest concerning the Hugo Awards? The Hugos are the Oscar-type awards for science fiction, fan-driven in large part.

The basic battle is between SJWs who require science fiction and fantasy to advance a "progressive" agenda and those who find this tiresome and want sci fi to be good stories about specuative ideas, even if the protagonists in them (or the stories' authors) might be straight or white or male or even, God forbid, all three.

The solution to this dilemma can be found in what has happened in web-based political commentary, two micro-universes now exist in which conservatives write for a conservative audience, and progressives write for a progressive audience.

I see no reason, given the lack of cost constraints in the on-line environment, why this bifurcation cannot occur for sci fi authors and fandom. Very likely, it is what will happen, downstream. Sci fi fans, pick your drummer and march to him (or her or it ... whatever).

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Deputy's Murder a Hate Crime

The execution-style shooting of a sheriff's deputy in Texas was, almost certainly, a hate crime. The deputy, in uniform, was fueling his police cruiser at a gas station and was repeatedly shot in the back.

The suspect appears to have had no prior interaction with the dead deputy, although he has a rap sheet with several entries. Breitbart Texas has the story and a head shot of the suspect, as does The Washington Post.

Nationalism and Patriotism

Julius Krein, writing for The Weekly Standard, suggests an explanation for the Trump phenomenon that makes a lot of sense:
What Trump offers is permission to conceive of an American interest as a national interest separate from the “international community” and permission to wish to see that interest triumph. What makes him popular on immigration is not how extreme his policies are, but the emphasis he puts on the interests of Americans rather than everyone else. His slogan is “Make America Great Again,” and he is not ashamed of the fact that this means making it better than other places, perhaps even at their expense.

Nothing is more terrifying to the business and donor class—as well as the media and the entire elite—than Trump’s embrace of a tangible American nationalism.

Trump shows that what is most in demand, however, is not ideological purity but patriotic zeal.
Being pro-American makes Trump the anti-Obama. What could be more attractive to Republicans?

Patriotism and nationalism have gotten a bad reputation among the chattering classes. At COTTonLINE we echo Ronald Reagan in endorsing both isms.

2K Body Bags Headed East

A Russian publication, apparently inadvertently, published figures which show how many of their soldiers have died fighting in eastern Ukraine. The Daily Caller reports as follows:
Buried in a mundane report on army salaries, Delovaya Zhizn (Business Life) noted that family compensation went to the families of 2,000 soldiers killed “taking part in military action in Ukraine.” The information was briefly online before Russian censors detected the fact and took it offline.

That some 2,000 Russian service members have died, all fighting a war that the Kremlin does not acknowledge exists, is a staggering admission of President Vladimir Putin’s commitment to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian war has lasted for exactly 18 months — by comparison, the U.S.’ nearly 14-year involvement in Afghanistan has claimed the lives of 2,154 American soldiers.
Civil wars are always exceptionally bloody meat grinders; ours certainly was. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Venezuela, Vaya con Dios

Bloomberg View's Megan McArdle writes about the inflationary death spiral Venezuela appears to have entered. The Maduro government is printing money in ever-larger denominations just to keep up with the cratering of the bolivar.
This is the end game of Chavismo. For about a decade, some sectors of the left hoped that Hugo Chavez represented an alternative to the neoliberal consensus on economic policy. (snip) Chavez was in fact direly mismanaging the economy, diverting investment funds that were needed to maintain oil output into social spending.

The problem was that the money he was using was, essentially, the nation's seed corn. Venezuelan crude oil is relatively expensive to extract and refine and required a high level of investment just to keep production level.

In the beginning, printing money may have looked like the best of a lot of bad options. By the time it became clear that the country was not fudging its way out of a temporary hole, but making a bad situation worse, it was committed to a course that is extremely painful to reverse.
As Margaret Thatcher famously said, "The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples' money." In the case of Chavez, the "other people" whose money he misappropriated was the government oil company.

Today's low price for crude doesn't help. Venezuela faces a double threat: the lower price per barrel and fewer barrels produced. Weimar on the Orinoco, anybody?

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Democrat Future

Writing at Huffington Post, Howard Fineman defines what he sees as the future Democratic Party. We post it here because it appears to be the direction the Party is headed, not because it has any appeal at COTTonLINE.
It is a yet-to-be-defined mashup of Black Lives Matter; pro-immigration activism; non-European cultural consciousness; tolerance of all religions, lifestyles and genders; genuine urgency about the fate of the planet; confidence in technology, social media and the sharing economy; and skepticism about America’s right, power and duty to lead the world.
In short, mostly things to which we are opposed (technology is okay). His "tolerance of all religions?" Liberals are embracing anti-Semitism, disguised as anti-Zionism. As a Semite, Fineman doesn't want to admit this unattractive reality. He's whistling past the graveyard.

A Path to Nomination

Donald Devine was a campaign strategist for Ronald Reagan. Writing in The American Conservative, he poses a scenario by which Donald Trump could win the GOP nomination. Let me share it with you:
If Trump wins Iowa and New Hampshire, it is difficult to see any opponent who could rally South Carolina two weeks later, or Nevada. Then on March 1 a half-dozen Southern states with many fatalists (remember Huey Long) will split the opponent’s ranks further. On March 15 Bush could be ousted by Marco Rubio in Florida, with John Kasich winning by a smaller than expected margin in Ohio. Trump could win by losing, saying they were only favorite sons. No one would be left anyway. If he wins either state, it is all over.
Okay, political mavens, what has Devine written with which you fundamentally disagree? If Trump wins the nomination, blame McConnell, Boehner and their allies in Congress.

Caveat: A lot can change, either way, between now and the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire vote. Guest posting at Instapundit, Mark Tapscott calls this article "absolutely essential reading." A hat tip to him for the link.

The China Bubble

Writing for Politico, Jacob Soll looks at China's chances of succeeding in competition with free economies.
There is no historical example of a closed imperial economy facing large capital-driven, open states and sustainably competing over a long term. That is not to say that China isn’t an economic powerhouse and a remarkable site of energy and potential. It is certainly both. But we also know Chinese debt — as secret as the state likes to keep it — is enormous, and that its financial system is like any other bubble. It is predicated on inflated earnings reports and expectations.

The great “Beijing Consensus,” China’s absolute commitment to showing 8% growth every year, is unsustainable, at least through legitimate means. And without it, China is beginning to look like an enormous totalitarian ponzi scheme — a phenomenon common enough in world history, but extremely dangerous (to) be near in the long run. 
Analogies of exploding bubbles and emperor's new clothes come to mind.


Writing in Tablet, Paul Berman muses about ISIS' barbarities and concludes:
Mankind is not a lesson-learning entity. Civilizations can learn lessons. But civilizations come and go. Impassive mankind remains uninstructable and stupid, such that, if once upon a time the barbarities of the 7th century thrilled and inspired a substantial portion of mankind, we can be confident that 7th-century barbarities will remain forevermore a viable possibility.
A demonstrable truth. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

Guns and Violence

Do guns cause violence? Numbers guy Robert VerBruggen writes for RealClearPolicy real wisdom about this issue.
The two fundamental laws of gun studies are: One, if a given author reaches a pro- or anti-gun result in one study, all his future results will point in the same direction; two, if it appears in a public-health journal, the results will suggest guns are bad.
A more clear-cut evidence of bias would be hard to find. So what do studies show, in his opinion?
What we have learned is this: A bunch of states started letting almost any random person walk around a gun, and if anything good or bad resulted, it doesn't reliably show up in the data.
VerBruggen concludes:
Yes, it's possible that confining gun ownership to the people willing to jump through various government hoops might have some marginal effect on violence. But that effect will probably be so small as to be difficult to detect, and there may be no effect at all.
On the other hand, confining insane people in mental hospitals (or prisons) will have a positive effect, directing most of their violence at fellow inmates.

A New Dark Ages

No self-respecting conservative agrees with The New York Times' David Brooks all the time. Refusing to read what he writes, good stuff maybe half the time, is likewise folly. Today's column is one of the good ones.

Brooks argues we aren't taking ISIS nearly seriously enough, It exists, he believes, to destroy Arab nation-states representing weakness and decadence, and to resurrect the values of a thousand years ago, complete with official slavery and organized, sponsored rapine, and mass killings as both an instruments of policy and religious sacraments.

The only appropriate response to such ideas is to treat them, and their adherents, as a virulent plague and do our level best to eradicate both as we have smallpox, or polio. This will require a force of will, a clarity of purpose, indeed a bloody-mindedness the West is likely unwilling (or unable) to muster.

ISIS can therefore win.

Imagine, for a moment, what that will mean. The collapse of Rome under the onslaught of barbarian hordes will, by comparison, look like a warm-up act. A new Dark Ages looms.

America in Play

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan summarizes the political landscape in our country today:
America is so in play.
Meaning, fellow old-timers, the historic verities are up for grabs, stuff is in flux, coalitions are shifting, the conventional wisdom may be anything but (anything but wisdom, that is).

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Your Major Matters

The number crunchers at FiveThirtyEight have a good article on the relationship between college major and starting salary. As you might guess, STEM jobs pay well, so do a number of the business school majors, plus computer science/management information systems.

If you know a young person either about to graduate from high school or in the first year or two of college, you might want to send them the link. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.


Instapundit Glenn Reynolds evaluates the presidency of Barack Obama:
Worst president ever.
Wow, that's strong. I don't know the 19th century presidents well enough to write "ever." I am certain of "Worst in the last century."

Vox Foxed

The guys at Power Line post a screen shot of something foolish posted at the liberal website Vox. It was subsequently taken down after someone who knows a bit of "ancient" history told them how badly they'd screwed up.

Who knew there were multiple NRAs? Clearly, nobody at Vox knew. For our younger readers, the NRA whose poster is pictured was Roosevelt's National Recovery Administration, founded in 1933.

That NRA was one of FDR's "alphabet soup" agencies established to kick start our depression economy. It has nothing to do with the National Rifle Association, today's most well-known NRA.

A Marcos Redux

The Telegraph (U.K.) reports Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is exploring a run for the Philippine presidency next year. The family power base is in Ilocos Norte, where he formerly served as governor, a post now held by his sister, Imee Marcos. His famous mother, Imelda, also serves that region.

I claim no particular expertise directly in Philippine politics. However, people who know say Philippine politics is mirrored in the politics of Guam, about which I do know something.

Let me share what a year's residence on Guam taught me about its politics, lore which may help us understand how a deposed dictator's son might reasonably aspire to win election in the Philippines.

The first thing to understand about both related cultures is that they are quasi-feudal. In addition to extended family ties of blood, unrelated families are knit together by godparent links.

Wealthy people become godparents to many unrelated infants, a relationship which makes them financially responsible in some ways for the child's future as a young adult. Once a wealthy person becomes godparent to your child, you and your family are bound to their family by ties which approach an oath of fealty.

If they run for office, you are obligated to work for their election and, of course, vote for them. If they win, you may receive a patronage job or at least positive attention to your needs from government offices. Corruption? It is absolute, pervasive, and totally consonant with the culture which emphasizes the exchange of favors.

In Ilocos Norte, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is a godfather, in the Mario Puzo sense as well as in the literal sense. Will its people vote for him? Count on it. They owe him.

Are there Marcos supporters scattered across the archipelago? Count on that, too. Marcos Sr. knew his culture and played it like a fiddle. Many people benefitted during his presidency, and they remember.

Fortress Russia Reborn

Brian Whitmore, writing in The Atlantic, summarizes at length a recent article by economist Vladislav Inozemtsev, director of the Moscow-based Center for Post-Industrial Studies.
“The real consequence will be Russia’s retreat from the global market and its economy’s transformation into one which is much more closed,” Inozemtsev wrote. “This way leads us towards a quasi-Soviet economy detached from the world and, at the same time, proud of its autarky; towards a deteriorating economy which compensates for the drop in living standards with pervasive propaganda.”

“Can Russia ‘opt out’ of contemporary globalization? I do not see any reasons which would prevent this,” Inozemtsev wrote. “How long will it remain stable under the new conditions? I believe much longer than the majority of today’s analysts are prepared to admit.”
Finally, Whitmore draws his own conclusion:
We should soon learn whether we are witnessing the death throes of the Putin regime or the birth of a new fortress Russia.

Quote of the Day

W. James Antle III, writing in The Washington Examiner, about the well-springs of conservatism.
A lot of conservatism is based on an inchoate sense that something important about the America of old is being lost. Maybe it's because the government is getting too big, or social values are changing, or the demographics are different, or even a feeling that the country's foreign enemies are ascendant.
Damn straight, it is. We conservatives want to hold onto what is right and good about America. We see this nation, which has treated us well, under daily attack.

Dauntless Teens

COTTonLINE considers it okay to link to something lighthearted on occasion. Today's example is a New Yorker article on the faulty operation of the teenage brain. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link, although why it appears at that particular site is unclear.

Two theories are presented, one that the brain continues to develop into the late 20s and, because incomplete, makes bad choices when adolescent. The other is that the so-called "pleasure center" or nucleus accumbens is overdeveloped in teens. Taking risks is just too much fun for teens, in this view.

We don't lump this article into our Weird Science series because author Elizabeth Kolbert, mother of three adolescent sons, takes a less-than-doomsday approach to the story. See her conclusion:
Adolescence evolved over a vast expanse of time when survival at any age was a crapshoot. If the hazards are new, so, too, is the safety. Which is why I will keep telling my kids scary stories and why they will continue to ignore them.

Barnes: Trump's Believers

The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes watched Frank Luntz's focus group with Donald Trump supporters. Barnes describes what he saw in some detail. See his conclusion:
One thing stood out: Trump has a solid base of support that won’t soon fade away. Those who think otherwise are kidding themselves.
Barnes finds Trump supporters to be true believers, a dangerous breed. How long before the Donald stages torchlit "Nuremberg-style" rallies? Does he need an Albert Speer, a Mike Deaver, to organize them?

Maybe not. I question whether Luntz's methodology selected "normal" Trump supporters or whether he inadvertently selected from among the most committed, the true believers.

An analogy: I and most of my peers enjoyed Beatles music, bought their albums, but were not among the screaming, hysterical fans dogging their every step. Nor did we read tedious fan mag stories about them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Trump's Followers

Robert Tracinski writes for The Federalist on this subject: who are the Trump partisans? He identifies six possible subgroups, who range from "low information" voters to angry racists. Tracinski estimates the importance of each subgroup, and concludes:
Trump is likely to be relevant only if the non-Trump Republican nominee ends up being particularly weak and uninspiring.

You don’t suppose there are any chances of that happening, do you?

Which is to say that perhaps the wise thing to do is to spend less time focusing on Trump and more time figuring which is the strongest, most principled, and most inspiring of the other nominees.
That lets out Jeb, John, Lindsey, Rand, Ben, two Ricks, George, Jim, Mike, Bobby, Chris, Scott and Carly. Who's left? Ted and Marco. Of those two, Marco probably cannot win the anti-immigrant bloc who now favor the Donald whereas Ted can. Maybe a Cruz/Fiorina ticket?

Going Ga-Ga

John Kass, writing in the Chicago Tribune, finds a parallel that will make newsroom colleagues uncomfortable. He sees in Trump admirers something he's seen before.
What is it about them that drives liberal pundits mad? Perhaps it's that they're so darn wiggly with excitement at Trump's approach. Their eyes become glassy with adoration. Their mouths open in wonder. They've given up their hearts and minds to him, and they will be betrayed. So they're mocked for fools.

I've witnessed the same exact Trumpian phenomenon in another distinct group. There was that same adoration, the identical enraptured crowds, the same wiggly eagerness you find in excited puppies, and it's a safe bet that a few carpets were soiled. By whom? Journalists, when Barack Obama drew near.
Yes, and those journalists were betrayed, as well. Betrayal is the preordained fate of true believers.

The Management Analog

Yesterday we wrote about voters taking a chance on a change agent when things have gone wrong. As a now-retired management professor, we many times lectured on the analogous behavior in large corporations.

Successful firms facing a CEO succession tend to promote from within, insuring continuity. Their motto is "It isn't broken, let's not fix it."

A firm whose directors conclude its performance is sub-optimal are very likely to hire an outsider as the new CEO, to shake things up. Does it always work? No. However, promoting from within under adverse circumstances would be considered akin to malpractice. Their motto: "We're in a hole, let's stop digging."

CNN Takes a Cheap Shot

CNN reports segregationist and Klan member David Duke likes Donald Trump, as though that were news. It is likely Duke also likes beefsteak, should we all become vegetarians? I'll bet he likes several things you like, so what? Answer: so nothing.

Let me give you an exact parallel. Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian. Does that make all vegetarians Nazis or Nazi-sympathizers? Of course not. He also wore clothes, should we all become nudists?

Along with Franklin Roosevelt, Hitler was among the first politicians to skillfully utilize the new medium of radio. Does that make them brothers, allies? Demonstrably not, more like implacable foes.

This story approaches the absolute nadir of journalism, it is intentionally misleading propaganda. I declare it to be even more reprehensible than TV interviewers who shove a mic in the face of someone grieving and ask them "How do you feel?" as though the picture doesn't surpass any words they will then utter.

If Trump says he likes David Duke, that is legitimate news. If Anthony Weiner, the noted sexter, says he likes Hillary, as he almost certainly does, that is not news. If Hillary says she likes Weiner, that is news.

Shame on CNN.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Prime Snark

Writing at The Federalist, Mytheos Holt cracks wise about social justice warriors; his particular target is the SJWs trying to insure the science fiction Hugo Awards remain an exclusively lefty preserve.
What’s the difference between ISIS and social justice warriors? Well, one recruits its members from the most pathetic, disaffected, pathological members of society, claims to stand against shadowy conspiracies and bullying by the West, and destroys revered cultural institutions in fits of fanaticism. The others are unhinged terrorists in the Middle East.
The shrill intolerance of SJWs is legendary. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Sometimes We Get Lucky

In the New York Post, market guru Charlie Gasparino opines current market difficulties increase the likelihood of a Trump nomination and eventual presidency.
History teaches us voters often take chances when times get rough by electing candidates who challenge the status quo.

Sometimes they get lucky, as they did when they elected an agent of change named Ronald Reagan. Sometimes they don’t — and they get a Barack Obama.
We live in interesting times.

An Empty Threat

Writing at Investor's Business Daily, Andrew Malcolm whines that a Trump candidacy will cost the GOP Hispanic votes. There is no argument the Donald has been less-than-complimentary about the illegals here from Latin America.

On the other hand, relatively few Hispanics vote and most of those vote Democratic anyway. It isn't clear how many votes the GOP stands to lose.

You could argue that a Bush, Cruz, or Rubio candidacy might attract some Hispanic votes. I agree it could happen, although it remains to be proven.

On the other hand, how many Hispanics would vote for Walker, Kasich, or Fiorina but wouldn't vote for Trump? More than a handful, percentagewise? Unlikely.

Poll: Hillary Should Suspend

Rasmussen Reports polling shows something unpleasant for Hillary Clinton. I predict she will ignore these sentiments.
Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 46% of Likely U.S. Voters believe Clinton should suspend her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination until all of the legal questions about her use of the private e-mail server are resolved. Nearly as many (44%) disagree. Nine percent (9%) are undecided.
I ask myself whether I agree with the plurality who favor "suspend." My answer: I'd rather she stays in the race and loses decisively in November, 2016. That outcome is more likely to push Her Unpleasantness, the Dowager Queen of Chappaqua, off the public stage and out of our lives.

Sardonic side note: Mentally groping for the Clintons' NY town of residence, I typed (without thinking) "Chappaquiddick." Realizing I'd made inadvertent reference to an earlier Democrat scandal involving a drunk driving fatality, I corrected it. Not all slips are Freudian, some are Sherlockian.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Saucy Snark

Blogger Allahpundit, writing at the Hot Air site, on the subject of Jeb!
It’s been fully eight months since Jeb Bush announced his exploratory committee and still no one’s excited. He comes off like a less charismatic, more centrist Mitt Romney.
Jeb is as bland as room temperature tap water.

The Truth May Be Out There

The Mirror (U.K.) carries a story and photo of an anomaly photographed on the surface of Mars by NASA's Curiosity Rover. At the distance from which pictured - a hundred or more meters - it doesn't look exactly like a natural occurrence.

I imagine alien technology on a wrecked spacer that has lain there for centuries, perhaps with freeze-dried crew bodies inside. The result of too much science fiction read as a young person? Guilty as charged.

The find would be exciting; what if the bodies were essentially identical to ours? Maybe humans are the "gone native" descendants of survivors of an on-earth crash, eh? Perhaps marooned here by an interstellar war?

Weird Immunological Science

Two independent groups of scientists have created flu vaccines that, arguably, will immunize against all strains of influenza instead of just a targeted few strains. See the AFP article on Yahoo News for details of the innovative approach both used.

The article cautions that translating these animal-based studies into proven human vaccines widely available could take several years, during which thousands will die from flu. Faster, please....

Birthright Citizenship: an Expensive Beneficence

National Review reports on the costs to the American taxpayer associated with birthright citizenship and birth tourism. The article notes that roughly one baby in ten born in the U.S. is born to illegal immigrant parents.
Inflation-adjusted figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture projected that a child born in 2013 would cost his parents $304,480 from birth to his eighteenth birthday. Given that illegal-alien households are normally low-income households (three out of five illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children live at or near the poverty line), one would expect that a significant portion of that cost will fall on the government.

According to CIS, 71 percent of illegal-alien headed households with children received some sort of welfare in 2009, compared with 39 percent of native-headed houses with children.

U.S.-born children of illegal aliens are entitled to American public schools, health care, and more, even though illegal-alien households rarely pay taxes.
"CIS" referred to above is the Center for Immigration Studies.
Illegal aliens rarely pay income and property taxes, true of all low-income people. They do pay sales and motor vehicle taxes, which are not means-tested.

Is China Another Japan?

Stories abound on the market crash in China, examples here and here. The impact on other markets worldwide has been sharp and painful. Likely the pain isn't over yet.

What strikes us at COTTonLINE are the parallels between the crash of Japan Inc. in the early 1990s and the apparently ongoing crash of China Inc. today. In both cases crony capitalism seems to be a major culprit.

Corruption was also an issue in both. And in neither case was the government structure or the culture truly compatible with a healthy market economy.

Japan may never regain its former dominance. The days when Americans studied "Japanese Management" and praised nemawashi and quality circles are long gone.

Given China's rapidly aging population and bubble economy, could it be going the same way as Japan? It is too early to bet the farm, but the parallels are suggestive and, if forced to bet, it would be the way you'd lean.

Rethinking Walker

I am forced to conclude that Gov. Scott Walker, of the impressive resume', has been a disappointing presidential candidate. There is much to like in what Walker has accomplished in Wisconsin, breaking the backs of public employee unions and fighting off a recall election in a somewhat liberal state.

On the other hand, since declaring for the GOP presidential nomination Walker has been underwhelming, taking several different positions on immigration within one week, and failing to leave a strong impression during the first televised debate. Trump has been eating Walker's lunch.

When people set out to run for president, they need to have developed clear positions on issues in the public arena. They also need thought-out answers on issues of personal values and beliefs, and episodes in their life about which questions could arise. If developing these requires testing various answers on focus groups, that testing should have happened before announcing. It appears Walker hasn't done this, to his detriment.

Oddly, the above ukase doesn't hold true for Trump. He says whatever pops into his head and shrugs off press carping that he is inconsistent. Better political scientists than I may eventually suss out why the rules apply to everyone else, but not to the Donald.

Trump aside, it's very clear the rules do apply to Scott Walker. I wonder if he will be the 2016 version of Rick Perry in 2012, a strong governor unable to transition effectively to a national campaign?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Descent into Irrelevancy

Power Line's Steven Hayward reproduces for our enjoyment the Facebook remarks of London mayor Boris Johnson. A rising Tory star and Trump-like figure in U.K. politics, Johnson writes about the opposition Labor Party's apparent choice of leader - Jeremy Corbyn - following the disastrous-for-them election earlier this year.

Corbyn is more leftist than predecessor Ed Miliband, whom the electorate deemed too far left. You get the sense Johnson can't quite believe his good luck.

Apparently, a fair analog would be our Democrats nominating George McGovern to run for president in 1972. McGovern carried only two jurisdictions (MA, DC) but not his home state of South Dakota.

Perhaps Labor has decided, with their former stronghold Scotland gone, they have no realistic chance of actually gaining a Parliamentary majority. Under the circumstances, why not choose a leader who advocates their true goals, who says what they feel?

August Snowfall in Calgary

Snow fell in Calgary, Alberta, Canada yesterday; more than a trace, too. The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports the story with several photos of the event. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

I'm waiting for someone to associate this seemingly random event with the global warming meme. Believers blame everything from glaciers retreating to spreading Antarctic ice on it.

Here in western Wyoming natives claim it can snow any month of the year, at our 6300' (2000 m) elevation. I say locals claim it, in 20+ summers spent here, I've never seen snow in July and August down where people live. Up on the peaks, maybe, but I will believe it about the valley floors when I experience it myself.

Nuclear Preemption

Writing for American Thinker, John Bosma explores the possibility that Israel might launch a nuclear preemptive strike against the now-ratified-by-negotiations Iranian nuclear sites. His highly technical reasoning is interesting, albeit not entirely persuasive.

Will it happen? Few Israelis know the answer, and they aren't talking. Iranian leaders seem to believe it won't happen, but they buy Russian S-300 SAMs just in case they're wrong. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.

Canadian English

At COTTonLINE we like Canada, especially the Canadian Rockies; we find it a pleasant place to travel (in summer). Therefore, unlike most Americans, we pay some attention to happenings up north. Probably not as much attention as Canadians give to the U.S., but a non-trivial amount nevertheless.

On the BBC website, comes a nice article on the unique characteristics of Canadian English, influenced by both England and the U.S. along with uniquely Canadian elements arising from its culture and its bilingualism in French.
The founding English-speaking people of Canada were United Empire Loyalists – people who fled American independence and were rewarded with land in Canada. Thus Canadian English was, from its very beginning, both American – because its speakers had come from the American colonies – and not American, because they rejected the newly independent nation.

Canadianisms stand as evidence of the difference between Canadian and American culture. It is very important for Canadians to maintain that difference, even if people from Vancouver sound more like people from San Francisco than people from San Francisco sound like people from San Antonio. Though English-speaking Canadians remain loyal to the Queen, they aren’t truly interested in being British or sounding British; they’re just interested in using the British connection to assert their independence from the independent United States, which they left because they didn’t want to leave.
And where Canadian retirees choose to spend their winters, fleeing the northern cold. Understand I mean no criticism, the DrsC are "snowbirds" too.

My favorite "Canadianism" is calling electricity "hydro," coming from hydroelectric power which is common in much of Canada. I remember an RV campground host, pointing to an electric connection, saying "You can hook up to hydro there." To my untutored ear "hydro" sounded like water, which of course it technically means. He had no idea I didn't know hydro was another term for the electric line, what down under they call "the mains."

One Size Does Not Fit All

Channeling Spengler, Daniel P. Goldman writes at Asia Times about the legacy - good and bad - of neo-conservatism. Basically he takes issue with a column by Stephen Walt deriding neo-cons as always wrong.

Goldman believes the neo-cons should get credit for the dowfall of the Soviet Union, but blame for the debacle of Iraq. The reason for this failure - they ignored Irving Kristol's insistence on understanding culture as a mediating variable.

The cultures of homogeneous Poland and fractious Iraq could scarcely have been more different. Yet the neo-cons took a one-size-fits-all approach to Iraq, ignoring all the ways it did not resemble Poland. He wisecracks that to a hammer everything looks like a nail.

Saddam's Iraq, properly understood, resembled Tito's Yugoslavia much more than it resembled a unified nation. When Tito's secret police stopped crushing separatist sentiments in Yugoslavia, it fell apart into, at last count, 7-8 mini-nations. Iraq has spent the time since Saddam trying hard to do likewise, to become 3 nations in the absence of Saddam's secret police repression.

Spengler/Goldman is sometimes good, sometimes tedious. This column is one of the good ones, worth your time. Hat tip to for the link.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Another Nonstory

The Daily Mail (U.K.) has a photo story showing first daughter Malia (age 17) looking sour while biking with the Obama family on Martha's Vineyard. This is strictly dog-bites-man stuff, a non-story.

What teenager wants to spend time with family when there are other teens to hang with? Only a weird one, and apparently she isn't weird. Cut the kid some slack.

At 17 everything your parents do is infinitely embarrassing and uncool. It's only several years later when you recapture the appreciation of their fine qualities you had as a primary school tyke.

Down Memory Lane

Do you remember drive-ins from the 1950s? With car hops and window trays? Have you seen one recently? You haven't? I have.

In the tiny western Wyoming town of Afton, population roughly 2000, there is an old-fashioned drive-in called The Red Baron. The car hops aren't in uniform, don't wear roller skates, and probably only work in summer (Rocky Mountain winters are both cold and long). But they employ several at this time of year.

Window trays are available, or you can eat inside (a must in winter). The parking is covered, carport-style, and the menu is readable through the windshield of your pickup truck.

This unselfconsciously functional antique is located on U.S. 89 (the main drag) at the south end of town. Locals like it a lot.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Falklands Safe for Now

You can certainly understand why UK Defense has a story about the disintegration of the Argentine military. It underscores the Argentine's inability to again invade the Falkland Islands.

A darn good thing too, as the U.K.'s military is also weaker than it was during the Thatcher years when the first invasion occurred. Everybody (except China and Israel) is prioritizing social welfare over defense. Hat tip to RealClearDefense for the link.

Poor Peru

Terrorism has returned to Peru, a slightly less ideological but no less violent version than last time when it was all Shinning Path. Now it seems to be mostly criminal and perhaps a little ideological: narcoterrorism, extortion and lawlessness. See the story at Worldcrunch.

I wonder when fed-up Peruvians will turn to a Fujimori-like strongman to once again get the violence under control? You have to ask why they've let it flare up?

Probably the same "reasoning" that now takes New York City back into the toilet Rudy Giuliani fished it out of. Producing order in inherently unstable systems requires a heavy hand, a curtailing of civil liberties of which people tire. When order is no more, they soon tire of the ensuing disorder.

Ultimately leaders must ask "Who is my constituency? The law-abiding, or the scofflaws and criminals?" In a drug-money-saturated society, criminal cartels may buy politicians' if not allegiance, at least forbearance.

Poll: Trump Likely Nominee

Rasmussen Reports' polling surfaces some interesting findings:
Our latest national telephone survey finds that 57% of Likely Republican Voters now think Trump is likely to be the Republican presidential nominee next year, with 25% who say it’s Very Likely. That compares to 27% who felt a Trump nomination was likely two months ago when he formally announced his presidential bid, a finding that included just nine percent (9%) who said it was Very Likely.
I don't see anything here that dissuades the Donald from continuing to run, do you?

You're Not Allowed to Want That

Ben Domenech writes an interesting analysis of the Trump movement for The Federalist, here is the money quote:
A sizable portion of the country is saying, “We want to stop illegal immigration,” and both parties are telling them, in essence, “You’re not allowed to want that.”

If a large – sorry, yuge – portion of the country wants existing bipartisan immigration laws to be enforced, and one party tells them “Yes,” but means “No,” and the other party tells them, “No” but means “You’re a racist,” then it’s only a matter of time before some disruptor is going to emerge to call them out for their game.
You could argue the two parties' big tents are shredding, resulting in the Trump and Sanders phenomena.

Lying with Figures

Writing in Mother Jones, Kevin Drum takes issue with Trump's figures for those not in the workplace which he mislabeled "unemployed." That said, it's only fair to also quibble with Drum, who says:
Counting retirees? Or students? Or the disabled? Or parents taking care of children? Sorry, but no.
Hat tip to RealClearPolicy for the link. I agree Trump took too big a bite at the apple. He can't reasonably include the retired, stay-at-home moms and full time students. About the disabled, as Joan Rivers used to say, we need to talk.

As regular COTTonLINE readers know, we've been convinced for several years that the ballooning roll of "disabled" Americans includes millions whose actual-as-opposed-to-claimed disability consists of an inability to find a reasonable job. This phenomenon recurs whenever there is a serious economic downturn.

Indeed it happened with World War I vets during the great Depression of the 1930s. Huge numbers belatedly discovered "war-related disabilities" for which the Veterans Administration should recompense them; "disabilities" which were not manifest during the boom times of the 1920s. The VA hired temp hearing officers to adjudicate the overwhelming stream of applications.

A Disastrous, Terrible Legacy

Writing for Politico, Jeff Greenfield begins the legacy assessment of the Obama presidency. By at least one measure it has been catastrophic.
No president in modern times has presided over so disastrous a stretch for his party, at almost every level of politics.

Measure the clout of the president’s party when he took office and when he left it. By that measure, Obama’s six years have been terrible.

When Barack Obama leaves office in January 2017 the Democratic Party will have ceded vast sections of the country to Republicans, and will be left with a weak bench of high-level elected officials.
The Democrats have become geriatric, the entire party leadership is eligible for Social Security.
Its two leading presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are 67 and 73. The sitting vice president, Joe Biden, is 72. The Democratic House leader, Nancy Pelosi, is 75; House Whip Steny Hoyer is 76 and caucus Chair James Clyburn is 75, as is Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, who will retire next year.
The party deserves it's dilemma, getting itself stuck with an affirmative action president who has no coattails.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Only U.S., Canada Offer Birthright Citizenship

Liz Peek, writing in The Fiscal Times about the rarity of birthright citizenship. Hat tip to for the link.
Among developed nations, only the U.S. and Canada still offer automatic citizenship to children born on their soil. Not a single European country follows the practice. We take this right for granted. 
A legal expert on the PBS News Hour earlier this evening said several European countries once had the right but repealed it. We should emulate Europe in this regard.

Fallacious Thinking

Dan McGroarty writes for RealClearWorld about Putin's predilection for fomenting trouble as a pretext for his desired belligerent response. Today's Russia is dependent on high prices for oil. McGroarty predicts something nonsensical, see if you can spot the fallacy.
Low-priced oil may well tip Russia's economy into a death spiral. Which brings us back to that crisis of convenience. How hard will it be for a country that manufactures oil and conspiracies to manufacture a crisis that drives Western economies into recession - and Russian oil prices higher?
My understanding is that ceteris paribus in recession the demand for oil drops, causing prices to fall. Likewise, in boom times people buy and use more petroleum products, pushing prices up.

Ultimately the world price is, if not set, heavily influenced by Saudi production levels. These they adjust to meet Saudi/Sunni geopolitical goals, first among which is hamstringing Shia neighbor Iran whose budgetary break-even oil price is much higher than the Saudis'.

I suppose Putin could foment all-out war in the Middle East, causing severe petroleum infrastructure destruction and thus a world recession caused by shortage-induced higher oil prices. Except U.S. fracking firms would benefit almost as much as Putin would, so probably no recession in North America.

Looking North

Atlantic columnist David Frum has Canadian roots and dual Canadian-U..S. citizenship. Here he writes about the Harper Derangement Syndrome manifest among what he terms the "Laurencian elites" who once controlled our northern neighbor, but lead it no longer.

Frum's appraisal of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is quite positive. We could wish our nation had been as well led as Canada for the last decade; sadly it has not.

The Clinton Curse

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza is no conservative maven, which makes the following from his current column amazing. Explaining an obscure question on the new Quinnipiac poll, he writes:
Scroll all the way down to question #46, which asks, "Would you say that Hillary Clinton is honest and trustworthy or not?"

Thirty-two percent of respondents in Florida and Pennsylvania said she was; 34 percent of Ohioans said so. Just in case that's too much math for you: Only one in three voters in the three largest swing states in the country think that the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination is honest and trustworthy.

But wait, you say! Context matters. I bet those same voters trust the Republican frontrunners even less!

Except, again, no.

The only Republican candidate with honest/trustworthy numbers like Clinton is Donald Trump. And, Trump's numbers are still not as bad as Clinton's.


Kyle Wingfield blogs for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His topic today is Trumpism or, more accurately, the anti-establishment views of many voters.
A month ago, what I’ll call the Not-Washington Crowd of candidates — Trump, neurosurgeon Benjamin Carson and businesswoman Carly Fiorina, plus anti-establishment Sen. Ted Cruz — collectively got about 38 percent of voters, excluding undecideds, in the Huffington Post Pollster average. Eight current or ex-governors got a combined 45 percent.

Now, the tables have more than turned. The Not-Washington Crowd has 50 percent, and the governors have fallen to 35 percent.

The biggest risers have been Trump, Fiorina and Carson, in that order. The biggest drops: Scott Walker, then Jeb Bush. (Everyone else in the 17-person field has been virtually flat.)
Blame the lame Congressional leaders: Boehner and McConnell for repeatedly promising what they cannot or will not deliver legislatively.

Poll: Clinton Hurting in FL, OH, and PA

Elizabeth Price Foley, guest posting at Instapundit, summarizes the results of  a Quinnipiac poll of voters in FL, OH, and PA.
In Florida: Bush, Rubio and Trump all lead Clinton now:  Rubio +12; Bush +11; and Trump +2.

In Ohio: Clinton is still holding on to a slim lead over Bush and Trump (+2 and +5, respectively), but now trailing Rubio (who is +2 over her).

In Pennsylvania: Bush and Rubio lead Clinton (+3 and +7, respectively), but Trump trails her by 5 points.

The same poll showed that among likely GOP voters in the Republican presidential primary, the present frontrunner is Trump in Florida (at 21%, which is +4 over the next closest candidate, Ben Carson); Kasich in Pennsylvania (at 27%, which is +6 over the next closest candidate, Donald Trump); and Trump in Pennsylvania (at 24%, which is +11 over the next closest candidate, Ben Carson).
While these findings may appear contradictory, they are not. The match-ups with Clinton are asked of all voters. The ranking of GOP candidates represents the views of Republicans as only they vote in GOP primaries.

Birthright Citizenship No Longer Needed

The so-called "birthright citizenship" concept some find in the Fourteenth Amendment made sense when it was important to grant citizen rights to freed slaves following the Civil War. It hasn't made sense for some decades.

Yahoo Politics reports the views of GOP presidential nominee aspirants regarding this doctrine. Seven oppose it, listed in alphabetical order: Carson, Graham, Jindal, Paul, Santorum, Trump, and Walker. Seven favor it: Bush, Fiorina, Gilmore, Huckabee, Kasich, Pataki, and Rubio. Not clearly on record, but leaning "anti" are Christie and Cruz.

Needless to say, three of the four Democrats favor the doctrine. Webb's views are not reported. Virtually nobody is taking the candidacies of Republicans Santorum, Gilmore, and Pataki seriously, nor those of Democrats O'Malley and Webb.

Opposing birthright citizenship could become a litmus test for conservatives, one of several. Inasmuch as children born to foreign citizens who are resident in the U.S. are automatically citizens of the same nation as their parents, this doctrine is not needed and should be scrapped.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Weird Genetic Science

The Associated Press reports via Yahoo News that scientists at MIT and Harvard have found an obesity gene called FTO; when defective it causes food energy to be stored as fat. It is believed this creates a new pathway to develop drugs to help people control obesity ... no small thing.
Obesity affects more than 500 million people worldwide and contributes to a host of diseases. In the U.S., about one-third of adults are obese and another one-third are more modestly overweight.

The FTO gene turns out to influence obesity indirectly, as a master switch that affects two other genes that control thermogenesis, or burning off energy. It's long been known that brown or beige fatty tissue — the so-called "good fat" — burns calories, while the more common white fat stores them. The body constantly makes fat cells, and the two genes determine whether they become brown or white ones.
We've all known people who eat like a horse and never gain a pound. This sounds promising. Faster, please.

Rasmussen: Voters Favor Border Wall, Deporting Felons

Rasmussen Reports has polling data which show Americans favor two immigration proposals made by Donald Trump. Hat tip to for the link.
70% of Likely Republican Voters agree with the GOP presidential hopeful that the United States should build a wall along the Mexican border to help stop illegal immigration.

Ninety-two percent (92%) of Republicans agree that the United States should deport all illegal immigrants who have been convicted of a felony in this country.
The ideas aren't just popular with Republicans, among all likely voters.
51% favor building a wall on the border.

Eighty percent (80%) support the deportation of all illegal immigrants convicted of a felony.

the Fiorina Backstory

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Holman W. Jenkins demystifies Carly Fiorina's ultimately unsuccessful tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. He points out that she won the job just before the tech boom went bust, and her performance was no worse than the two CEOs who have followed her at HP.

Fiorina was a strong leader who tried some big things, at a time that hindsight says was inopportune. It happens. That only disqualifies her if, like the late General Patton, you put a big premium on leaders being lucky.

George Patton was a sometime mystic, who after much battlefield success and several public relations disasters, proved ultimately unlucky himself. He died as the result of a car accident shortly after the war ended. Proving, I believe, that predicting a leader's luck is a chump's game.

If you've liked what Fiorina has said but were concerned about her performance at HP, you should read Jenkins' article. Fortunately the article is not behind the WSJ paywall.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Her Negative Charisma

Yuval Levin, writing in National Review about the primary process, spraying drive-by shots at la Clinton in the process.
Populist-leaning Democrats, meanwhile, are frustrated with their shortage of options, and are not eager to be stuck backing a bungling, power-mad, Wall Street cipher with negative charisma.
"Bungling, power-mad, Wall Street cipher with negative charisma" contains no charity whatsoever.

Cool War

As regular COTTonLINE readers have undoubtedly guessed, I love words, particularly new words or neologisms. Reading an article about U.S.-China relations in Bloomberg View, I came across a term, new to me, used to describe the less-than-friendly relations between the two nations: the Cool War.

Obviously, the intent is to describe something less fierce than the Cold War often was. We trade with China, cooperate with them in certain arenas, but also oppose their attempt at hegemony in the South and East China Seas, their cyber attacks and their far-from-stellar human rights practices. A web search shows the term has been around for a year or more but I just encountered it for the first time.

The author of the Bloomberg View article, Noah Feldman, has written a book with that title, so the article is likely a promotional effort for the paperback edition coming out 1 September 2015. Cool War was also the title of a 1982 science fiction novel by Frederik Pohl. It didn't catch on as descriptive of what was happening geopolitically in the 1980s, before the Soviet system fell.

Trump Doubles Down

Donald Trump, running for the GOP nomination for president, has taken a detailed position on illegal immigration, as reported by The Washington Post.
Deport the undocumented en masse. Sieze the money they try to send home. Deny citizenship to their U.S.-born children.

All of those ideas have been embraced by Donald Trump, the front-runner in the Republican race.
Meanwhile, CNN reports Trump has pulled further into the lead among voters polled. Especially interesting is that majorities of Republican men and women trust him on the issues of the economy and immigration. See what Trump's website says our principles should be:
1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.
2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.
3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.
However crudely Trump expresses it, there is no way 10% of all living Mexicans should be resident in the United States, most here in violation of Federal laws our President gleefully refuses to enforce. It's Obama's sweet revenge against the U.S. for being a colonialist power over a century ago. The ever-quotable Mark Steyn posits the following:
As every functioning society understood until two generations ago, immigration has to benefit the people who are already here. Government owes a duty to its own citizens before those of the rest of the planet - no matter how cuddly and loveable they might be. The fact that it is necessary to state the obvious and that no "viable" "mainstream" candidate from either party is willing to state it is testament to how deformed contemporary western politics is.

WaPo reports Trump's popular stands are slowly forcing other GOP aspirants to express similar sentiments. It is clear these are beliefs shared by many conservative voters. Bush and Kasich are unlikely to go along, and likely will be left behind.

I still don't see Trump as the eventual nominee but he is doing the nation and our party a favor by championing these concerns. Who knows? Maybe he will grow into the role; he's no bigger rascal or boor than the priapic Bill Clinton who turned out to be an okay President.

Unintended Consequences Watch

KIRO 7, the Seattle CBS station, reports on the impact of the liberal city's new higher minimum wage law. Unintended consequences abound. Hat tip to long-time friend Earl for the link.
Nora Gibson is the executive director of Full Life Care, a nonprofit that serves elderly people in various homes and nursing facilities. She is also on the board of the Seattle Housing Authority.

Gibson told KIRO 7 she saw a sudden reaction from workers when Seattle’s phased minimum-wage ordinance took effect in April, bringing minimum wage to $11 an hour. She said anecdotally, some people feared they would lose their subsidized units but still not be able to afford market-rate rents.

For example, she said last week, five employees at one of her organization’s 24-hour care facilities for Alzheimer’s patients asked to reduce their hours in order to remain eligible for subsidies. They now earn at least $13 an hour, after they increased wages at all levels in April.

Gibson said she fully supports a minimum wage increase but was not surprised when her employees asked for fewer hours. “The jump from subsidized housing to market rate in Seattle is huge,” she said.
Two questions: First, why do we subsidize rents for the poor? This is primarily a govt. subsidy to slumlords. Second, why have a minimum wage?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Travel Blogging XIII

Airborne over Lake Michigan: The first and longest leg of our journey home is nearly done as we're approaching Minneapolis. The second leg will be shorter, crossing only one time zone instead of six.

Later, in Minneapolis: Long hauls going west turn into "the longest day" as the hours spool by but the clock reflects little elapsed time. We took off at 12:30 p.m. London time and landed at 3:30 p.m. Minneapolis time. It is now about 5 p.m. and my body thinks it is midnight, that's the current time in Switzerland.

Minneapolis has a nice international airport, it is one of our favorites. There are somewhat fewer potential terrorists in the passenger mix here, and yes, I'm profiling.

An interesting observation: airlines went to the trouble of installing USB power ports by first class seats but made them too weak to charge an IPad or laptop, they will change a cellphone. That wasn't good planning as the relatively affluent and business travelers who fly up front are quite likely to want to work on a laptop, netbook, or tablet that will need the greater power to recharge.

Later still, home at last: All that remains of this great adventure is unpacking, laundry, jet lag recuperation, and, on the upside, amazing memories. I'm going to sleep at the same instant people in the Alps are breakfasting.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Travel Blogging XII

On the TGV Lyria somewhere east of Paris: We're back in the EU (the Swiss are not members) and we're headed for a cross-Paris taxi ride from Gare de Leon to Gare Nord from whence the Eurostar departs for London. I don't much like trains that are full, particularly when the people are speaking loudly in several languages I don't understand.

Europe is overrun with Chinese tourists this summer, and Muslims from a variety of places as well - from India and the Gulf, and probably elsewhere, escaping the heat. Given that the Chinese economy is headed into the toilet, it is somewhat surprising that the people are traveling on holiday. 

My guess: the trips were arranged and paid for before their stock market tanked, so they might as well take them as there aren't refunds. If the downturn continues, there will probably be fewer next summer, fewer Chinese that is. The Muslims, who knows?

Guide Geoff's wife Sheila is going to Britain with us as she has to go back to work as a nursing supervisor for a firm doing forensic medicine. We bail out at St. Pancras station but she takes an additional three trains to get home, somewhere in the Midlands.

Throughout Switzerland we didn't have to schlep luggage as the Swiss have a system for groups where the hotel you're leaving sends the group's checked luggage on to the next evening's hotel. It typically arrived before we did. Now on the way home we are our own luggage porters and it is a pain, particularly when moving from one platform to another often entails negotiating two sets of stairs. 

They should have elevators or escalators but few stations have them. We consider ourselves lucky if there is a ramp instead of stairs. Tugging a 40 lb. suitcase up or down stairs is no joy. Ah, well, it is soon over. This time tomorrow we'll be in the arms of Delta and they'll get our checked luggage to Jackson. 

An interesting factoid: Switzerland which is aggressively neutral (not a member of the EU or NATO) is nevertheless a member of the Schengen group within which nobody checks travel docs at borders. The U.K. is not a member, which is why a whole bunch of third world "migrants" are piled up at Calais trying to sneak across the channel into the U.K. where there are jobs. 

The French are mad at the Brits because these people pile up in France in squatter camps. The French blame the Brits for having jobs which lure the migrants to the channel, essentially maintaining an attractive nuisance. The solution is for the French to run those migrants out of there, they are illegal entrants and have no right to be there. My guess: the French don't want to be seen as the villains harassing poor SOBs whose main crime is trying to better their economic situation. 

Later, aboard the Eurostar: The transition through the Gare de Leon to the taxi rank was smooth, and the cab was quick on a Sunday afternoon as most of Paris was either on summer hols or home digesting a large dinner and worrying about the state of their livers. Where they were not was on the Paris streets. We got through Brit passport control and after a short wait, boarded the Eurostar and claimed good seats Geoff had reserved for us. London, here we come.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Quote Of the Day

Scott Rasmussen, writing for RealClearPolitics about the voters' reaction to the presidential primary season now underway.
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different outcome, many voters see a Bush-Clinton match as simply insane.
Anybody favor "same old-same old"?

Travel Blogging XI

Lucerne: Today was our last full day in Switzerland, and was in its own way the equal of yesterday with respect to uniqueness. We hopped a train to Bern, the capital. There we boarded an extremely odd conveyance, a chartered steam tram or streetcar.

Think of a tiny coal-fired steam locomotive no longer than a sedan pulling one passenger car. That was our 120 year old vehicle for touring Bern, using the regular streetcar tracks. We rode around the city for a couple of hours attracting envious stares and hundreds of smiles, waves and grins. Our picture was taken by a zillion cell phones too.

The steam tram makes regular runs one Sunday a month, and does charters like ours. Our group had the whole tram to ourselves. I never remember seeing a photo of such a tram in old scenes in U.S. cities. I was of the opinion we went directly from horse power to electric power. You will soon see photos of the tram on the other DrC's blog, found at

Tomorrow we train to Zurich, then to Paris, and finally to London where we overnight. The next day we take Delta from Heathrow to Minneapolis, and then home to Jackson. We've had a great time but I'm ready to go home.

Geoff Cooke does this RR-oriented excursion very well, and is a good guy too. If riding nearly every passenger conveyance that can be considered a train sounds like fun, check out his website
at Switzerland is superfine too, I love the mountain scenery.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Travel Blogging X

Lucerne: Looming over this city is a mountain known as Pilatus, atop which at roughly 7000 ft. there are two hotels, restaurants, etc. To get there one takes either an aerial tram or a cog railway of such steepness that the cars are built to keep passengers level while the car goes up the mountain at an almost 45 degree angle.

It is supposed to be the steepest cog railway in the world. Our guide, a train buff, says the only steeper conveyances are funiculars, pulled by cables. I believe it. The ride up that mountain is frankly scary it's so steep. Meanwhile Swiss cattle contentedly graze to within a few hundred feet of the summit. Why they don't fall off the mountain I cannot fathom.

We came to the base of the mountain at Alpnachstad by lake ship, this one not a steamer. These lake ships run regular schedules whereby many stops are served by ships hourly - like buses.

The weather is cooler today, somewhat overcast and had rained before we set out. The views up top were amazing. On a clear day, which we didn't have, you can see 72 peaks from the summit.

After an hour or so at the summit we headed down on the aerial trams, a larger one comes down the first long reach, and then a smaller one like that at Disneyland brings us down the long second reach. These were also beautiful rides, and surprisingly unfrightening, not sure why. A city bus brought us the final few miles back to the hotel.

There is an underground mall by the Lucerne train station that must be below lake water level as the lake is within 100 yards of it. We've found things we like there, including a good bakery. Tomorrow we go to Bern to ride a steam tram and see the bears.

Noonan on Public Discontent

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan writes about what is wrong with American politics.
What the American establishment has given us the past 20 years is sex scandals, money scandals, two unwon wars, an economic collapse, an inadequate recovery, and borders we no longer even pretend to control.

The party elites don’t have the power they once had. They’ve been undone by a generation of bad leadership. They’re afraid: A monster just came out of a swamp and is lurching their way.

I don’t know what happens with Mr. Trump, but Trumpism? That’s here now—outlandish candidates backed by indignant, enraptured people who’ve lost their judgment. Congratulations to the leaders of both parties: The past 20 years you’ve taken us far. We’re entering Weimar, baby. The swamp figure is up from the depths.
Maybe you see another interpretation for "Weimar;" it appears to me Noonan just compared Trump to Hitler and, by extension, Bernie Sanders to "Red Rosa" Luxemburg.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

About Germany

The Economist takes a long look at Germany's current role in the EU. They endorse a view first proposed over a century ago.
It is the same dilemma the historian Ludwig Dehio described after the country was first unified in 1871. Germany became “too big for a balance of power in Europe and too small for hegemony,” he wrote; “not powerful enough to impose its will on the continent, but at the same time powerful enough to be perceived as a threat by other powers.”
Not that they haven't given hegemony a heck of a try in two world wars, something no neighbor is willing to forget.

Weird Geriatric Science

CBS Atlanta reports results of a study of intelligence (IQ) and longevity. As you would surmise, smarter people live longer.
Researchers found that about 95 percent of the link between intelligence and longevity can be explained by genetic influences on both traits.

Researchers say the new study indicates that intelligent people don’t necessarily live longer because of healthy lifestyle choices or access to better amenities, but that their genetic makeup builds toward a bright and long life.
I read the faculty obits from the university at which I labored for 30 years. Darn few die young, many reach their 90s. I hope we can agree that, whatever their eccentricities, most profs are high IQ people.

How Classified? Very

The Daily Beast reports the sort of classified info found on Hillary's private server emails. We're talking stuff from NSA phone and data intercepts and spy satellite look-down photos, some of the most secret material the government collects.

Somebody needs prison time for this breach. I wonder which loyal minion will fall on the grenade to protect Clinton? That none will is too much to hope for.

Travel Blogging IX

Lucerne: When this summer ends Europeans are going to be receptive to allegations of global warming. It has been a humid scorcher in this place where almost nothing is air conditioned.

Our hotel waitress, a hospitality intern, says she's happy it is hot as they had no summer last year. We have had wonderful weather - almost no rain - but tire of sleeping in stuffy, hot rooms.

Today we took the lake steamer to Viznau. The lake ship had side paddle wheels and a beautiful big piston steam engine that was made in 1901. The piston shafts are enormous hunks of polished machined steel, imagine connecting rods so large two strong men could not lift one.

At Viznau we took the cog railway to the top of Rigi. It was very comfortable at 6000+ ft. - cool and dry.  After a soda and chocolate break at the mountaintop eatery, we rode a different cog train down to Goldau where we caught Swissrail back to Lucerne. All of this was extremely pleasant. Now we're taking the afternoon off "for good behavior" and skipping the transport museum option.

The trip is winding down, Switzerland has been as beautiful as we expected or better. I can see why wealthy people choose to call it home; it is orderly, organized, and scenic.

Switzerland seems not to tolerate the social deviance that other nations put up with in the name of individual rights. In Switzerland you have no right to be a pain in the butt to others.

For example, I have seen zero homeless, I'd guess it is unlawful to "live rough" here. The cost of living is high and military service is universal, but there is much to admire, to envy even.

If my comments about prevalent construction cranes left you at all confused about exactly what I meant thereby, the other DrC has a photo of one at her blog. It's in a photo of a church in Fluelen.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

More Snark

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds posts a Tweet he got from somewhere:
The earnestly naive Bernie Sanders is who the Democratic party wants to be. The corrupt and venal Hillary Clinton is who they are.

Travel Blogging VIII

Lucerne: Today we crossed the Gotthard Pass from Tirano to Lucerne, although we left the train in Fluelen to board a lake steamer for the almost three hour cruise to Lucerne, at the far end of Lake Lucerne. In the process we traveled from Italian Switzerland to German Switzerland, which you'll know because everything gets obsessively tidy as you cross the pass.

A tip to travelers, the cruise from Fluelen to Lucerne is too long, you'll get tired before it ends. The benches are hard as rock. Comfortable enough for the first hour or so after which your backside gets progressively more sore.

I really enjoyed the cruise from Fluelen to Brunner, I recommend you leave the steamer there and take a train to Lucerne. Coincidentally, the lake steamer docks within a 100 yards of the Lucerne train station so you'll end up in the same place either way.

A random thought, unconnected to the above: Someone must have made the Swiss an amazing deal on 10,000 construction cranes. These are not the portable cranes mounted on heavy trucks, but rather installed on a concrete base at the site, to remain there until the project is done. They have a fixed tower supporting a long arm parallel with the ground and in the U.S. we use them mostly on taller buildings. In Switzerland many lumber yards have one just to move supplies around the yard and load it on trucks. I even saw one being used in Brunner to backup a guy topping a tall tree. A city of any size here has maybe 6-10 of them, even small bergs may have one or more.

It's a Feature, Not a Flaw

Moments ago I was watching CNN International in my hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland. Their talking head, a Brit, said  the U.S. had moved a half dozen F-16s to Incerlik AFB in Turkey to bomb ISIS in Syria next door.

Her disparaging remark was that ISIS was recruiting new fighters as fast as we were killing them. Her strong implication was that was a bad thing. Au contraire, sez COTTonLINE, it's a good thing.

People who wish the U.S. ill are being killed, far from our shores. There is relatively minimal risk to Americans and Europeans who are smart enough to avoid the conflict area.

If the new recruits come to Syria from Europe, North America, or Australia/New Zealand, so much the better. They've won the Darwin Award and maybe 70 virgins. They've improved our societies at the same time, it is a true win-win for everybody. Faster please.

Snark Alert

Blogger Allahpundit posts wonderful snark at Hot Air in response to the news that top secret documents were on Hillary's private email server.
Hillary’s perp walk will be the greatest moment of live TV since the moon landing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Travel Blogging VII

Bellinzona: We spent two nights in Davos, home of the famous economic conference. Our hotel was outstanding, called the Grischa Hotel, the decor was amazing, the food good too, and the wifi very fast, plus it is across the street from the train depot.

This is our second night in Bellinzona, in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland. We've dipped into Italy but haven't overnighted there. This region isn't as manicured as the German-speaking regions - different cultures, different mores.

Yesterday we crossed the Bernina Pass, very high and barren. An interesting sighting at the top, a triple line of very large rocks that had obviously been placed across the "navigable" portion of the pass. Each the size of a small car, and staggered so a person could walk betwen them easily, I took them for a tank trap, too massive to climb over or push aside. There was a gap for the rail line, otherwise the pass was obstructed.

We were actually on a Swiss train that ran 10 whole minutes late today ... shock, shock. Mostly you could set your watch by them. Views in the mountains of northern Italy and southern Helvetia are more like the mountainous parts of California. We bussed past Lake Como and noted that it was completely ringed by houses and businesses, a couple of blocks deep - a sad business.

Tomorrow we're off to Lucerne, with a lake cruise along the way. It should be a relaxing day. The really hot weather has cooled a little, to the point where it is just shirt-sleeves comfortable, not at all cold. We both brought coats and have worn them hardly at all.

Orphaned Voters

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds writes a weekly column for USA Today. This week he describes the leadership failure that has led to the Trump and Sanders candidacies. Considering he's an attorney, it isn't bad sociology.
Today's ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters — speaking the ‘in’ language — serves as a badge of identity.

To this ruling class, the rest of the country is sometimes an annoyance or obstacle, sometimes a source of necessary funds or votes, but always the “other” — not our kind, dear. Too ignorant, too unpolished, too unconnected to the right institutions and pieties to really count. With ruling-class Republicans having more in common with ruling-class Democrats than with the people they rule, it’s unsurprising that, as Codevilla predicted in a later essay, millions of voters feel orphaned.

In this election cycle, Trump and Sanders have come forward to claim the orphaned vote. It’s very likely that, this time around, the ruling class will manage to put orphaned voters back in the political orphanage by the rtime Election Day rolls around next year.

But the orphans will still be there, still longing for someone powerful enough to give them a voice. And the politician who will ultimately manage to do so, unless our ruling class does a better job of listening, could be one who will make Trump and Sanders look mainstream.
Ever heard of Kingfish Huey Long? He spoke to this audience.

Jindal Disses Dems

Investor's Business Daily reports some vintage campaign snark from LA Governor Bobby Jindal, who surveys the opposition.
The Democrat candidate in first place is under investigation by the FBI. The Democrat candidate in second place calls himself a socialist, which by the way means he is more honest than the candidate in first place.

The Democrat candidate in third place claims that ISIS was caused by climate change, and he apologized for saying that 'all lives matter.' The Democrat candidate in fourth place thinks that America should be using the Metric System."

And Jindal noted, "This list doesn’t even include Joe Biden. I hope Biden gets into the race. We need some of his bizarre comments. We don’t have enough of that already. Let’s tell the truth here — This crop of Democrat candidates is terribly weak. It’s a joke."

Then, Jindal's kicker: "Also, did I mention Donald Trump?"
Meanwhile, Trump threatens to give the presidency to one of these clowns out of spite.