Saturday, April 30, 2016

Foot-Shooting Time

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

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

Cruz Has Better Nov. Chance

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

Travel Blogging XIV

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

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

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

Friday, April 29, 2016

NY Blizzard a Record

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

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

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

Quote of the Day

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

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Travel Blogging XIII

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tuesday Night Snark

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

Travel Blogging XII

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

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

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

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

Monday Night Whimsey

Drudge Report has an item entitled: 

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

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

Monday, April 25, 2016

Travel Blogging XI

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

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

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

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

Nones Fastest Growing in West

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

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

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

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

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

Your Monday Snark

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

The Real Wage Gap

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

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

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

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

Travel Blogging X

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Less Empire = More Chaos

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

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

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Why They Cave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Travel Blogging IX

Dateline Moorea, anchored in the lagoon, in the rain: We had a sunny morning in Papeete, Tahiti, yesterday, very pretty. Then it clouded up again, conditions which continue today with rain. It is still April, still the rainy season, and still raining.

All three places we live during the year are between cool and cold when it rains. If I look out the window and see impending or actual rain I know it will be jacket weather. Not so in the tropics. Here it can rain and be hot at the same time, often that exact combination.

Moorea is less than twenty miles from Tahiti but where Tahiti bustles, Moorea saunters island-style. The DrsC like Moorea better than either Tahiti or Bora Bora, though not as much as Rarotonga. This trip I've gained a new appreciation for Raiatea.

Everybody raves about Bora Bora, which is certainly pretty. It is, however, seriously overdeveloped. There is little public beach on the island. A drive around the island shows you essentially wall-to-wall hotels with fenced-off beaches you must pay to use. Think low-rise Waikiki or Miami Beach, only more expensive and more remote. Bora Bora isn't the Polynesia of your dreams, Rarotonga comes close.

Weird Propulsive Science

Fellow science fiction fans, wouldn't it be great if somebody developed an actual no-reaction-mass-needed drive for space ships? There are rumors it has happened; if they prove out we're off to Mars and a Moon colony becomes feasible too.

See an article in which summarizes the findings to date. A major stumbling block so far is that nobody has a theory to explain the observed phenomena, making everyone doubt the reality of the findings. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Political Epiphany

Over the last nine years I've linked to a lot of Peggy Noonan columns in The Wall Street Journal, here we go again. Her topic today is the 2016 political epiphany, or as she calls it, "That moment when 2016 hits you." Some choice lines:
The Moment is that sliver of time in which you fully realize something epochal is happening in politics, that there has never been a presidential year like 2016, and suddenly you are aware of it in a new, true and personal way. It tends to involve a poignant sense of dislocation, a knowledge that our politics have changed and won’t be going back.

Lately conservative thinkers and journalists had taken to making clear their disdain for the white working class. I had actually not known they looked down on them. I deeply resented it and it pained me.

My country is in trouble. Because I felt anguish at all the estrangements. Because some things that shouldn’t have changed have changed. Because too much is being lost. Because the great choice in a nation of 320 million may come down to Crazy Man versus Criminal.
Noonan had been a leading voice mostly in sympathy with the GOP establishment. It's no wonder she feels dislocated, discombobulated by 2016.

In Praise of Suburbs & Exurbs

Writing at a Medium Corporation website, an economist with an interest in migration - Lyman Stone - tackles the question of why suburbs persist in spite of being economically irrational. He makes some interesting points.
I suspect urban, development, land-economics, and migration theorists underestimate the importance of open land. From the dawn of the United States to the present day, the average American domestic migrant in almost any decade has tended to move from more densely settled regions to less densely settled regions. Even during periods of urbanization, much urbanization is driven by immigration, rather than domestic migration, and many urban migrants move into the most dense parts of a state less dense than their origin.

By and large, people tend to move from places with a relative abundance of people to places with a relative lack of people.

The problem of price-spiraling cities is not that the poor leave. It’s that the middle-class leave. Entrenched poverty has a tendency to, well, be entrenched.

Yet middle-class people are likely to be able to afford nice cities. So why do they leave? Simple: they can find a better mix of costs and amenities. And this is where we come back to greenfields.

Your classic early-stage-suburb, often an “exurb,” has abundant supply of land. This means you can buy land cheap. This means you can build a bigger house given a fixed budget constraint. Or you can build the same size house, but buy much more land. This is valuable as an investment asset, but also because parks are nice. And if you own your own de facto park, that’s very nice.
I think of owning "your own de facto park" as having "elbow room." For nearly a decade I owned a home in a relatively dense suburb where, if I were in my backyard and my neighbor belched (or simply talked) in his backyard, I heard him. I didn't like it.

Now I live where my neighbors are far enough away so we can each do as we please (within reason) without the other being aware of it. Privacy is nice; it has utility difficult to put a dollar price on, but valuable nonetheless.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Travel Blogging VIII

Dateline Bora Bora Roadstead, in a driving rain: Well, I've done some research and the reason we've seen so much rain is that this is French Polynesia's rainy season. This is the soupy weather memorialized by Somerset Maugham in his short story Rain, set in Pago Pago. See what the travel website Lonely Planet writes:
March and April are hot and rainy.
The U.S. News Travel website says the following about Tahiti weather:
The best time to visit Tahiti is between May and October. (snip) Winter brings less rain and pleasant temperatures, while the summertime - November through April - can be unbearably humid and hot, not to mention rainy.
Okay, we're here at the wrong time of year. This rainy weather is normal for April, it is the final month of the tropical rainy season. Next month - May - should have nicer weather but we'll be back home by then, alas.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Trouble with Health Care

Blogging at Townhall, John Stossel writes he is in the highest rated hospital in New York for treatment of early stage lung cancer which he assures us they "caught early." He writes about his experience there being far from customer-oriented and explains why.
Customer service is sclerotic because hospitals are largely socialist bureaucracies. Instead of answering to consumers, which forces businesses to be nimble, hospitals report to government, lawyers and insurance companies.

Whenever there's a mistake, politicians impose new rules: the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act paperwork, patient rights regulations, new layers of bureaucracy...

Adding to that is a fear of lawsuits. Nervous hospital lawyers pretend mistakes can be prevented with paper and procedure. Stressed hospital workers ignore common sense and follow rigid rules.

I'm as happy as the next guy to have government or my insurance company pay, but the result is that there's practically no free market. Markets work when buyer and seller deal directly with each other. That doesn't happen in hospitals.

Leftists say the solution to such problems is government health care. But did they not notice what happened at Veterans Affairs? Bureaucrats let veterans die, waiting for care. When the scandal was exposed, they didn't stop. USA Today reports that the abuse continues. Sometimes the VA's suicide hotline goes to voicemail.
John, perhaps your experience is atypical. Maybe you're having a lousy experience because you are hospitalized in a huge city known for chip-on-the-shoulder nastiness and aggression. Things are better, people are nicer in fly-over country hospitals away from big cities.

The Primaries, an Update

So ... Cruz won his home state of Texas, Kasich won his home state of Ohio, and yesterday Trump won his home state of New York. None of that rises to the level of a big story.

Only a candidate losing his own state, as Rubio did in Florida, qualifies as a big deal. The race goes on, apparently even California will be relevant.

On the Dim, sorry Dem, side Hillary won her adopted state of New York while NY native Sanders lost because he had deserted NY. No big surprise here.

Drudge seems to be on-board the Trump train, His headline today "Trump Winning Over Party," as he links to a Reuters story at Yahoo News to that effect. If Trump gets to 1237 delegates before the convention, I expect most of the party to fall in line and back him, if not always wholeheartedly.

Travel Blogging VII

Dateline, at anchor in the Bora Bora roadstead: the weather continues muddy - overcast with occasional rain squalls and wind. We haven't seen a blue sky the whole time we've been in the South Pacific. It is quite warm and humid, however. Here in the roadstead between Bora Bora and Motu Toopua the sea is millpond calm.

The ship is substantially empty today, apparently many went ashore despite the weather. Bora Bora is a tender port (no dock) so the Westerdam puts people ashore in her tenders (aka lifeboats). We are here two days and will leave tomorrow night to sail to another nearby island, probably Moorea.

It turns out when we were in Raiatea yesterday the island right across the channel from Uturoa harbor  was Tahaa. We visited Tahaa off the good ship Paul Gauguin some years ago, and while there bought a delicious vanilla liqueur. I wish we'd looked for it in Raiatea, perhaps it will be available on Moorea.

Through a Glass Darkly

Various media are reporting roboticists at The University of Science and Technology of China have developed an extremely lifelike girl-robot named Jia Jia. Some are calling it the "robot Goddess." As Instapundit Glenn Reynolds observed, pressures to develop such technology are driven by the Chinese obsession with sons, resulting in a substantial shortage of young women.

The obvious sexbot implications are relevant far beyond China. I predict an eventual market wherever there are poorly socialized people with money. And not just for sex. If the Castaway played by Tom Hanks can turn a volleyball into a "companion" named "Wilson" I think many lonely people will warm to a lifelike robot. We are, after all, a social species who need others even if we do not attract them.

As the number of aged individuals grows there will be many more lonely oldsters who need, and can afford, a lifelike "companion" on duty 24/7, who won't steal the silver or abuse the querulous elderly person in their care. BTW, did you notice how naturally we slip into using personal pronouns for such machines, as I did in the prior sentence, writing "who" instead of "which"?

Random plot ideas for science fiction authors: Imagine a future in which rich children have android "twins" for company as well as an android nanny. Or a robot brothel in which each "girl" has a paper band around her hips imprinted with the words "Sanitized for your safety," as motel toilets once did. Alternatively, humans could end up as "pets" kept by machine intelligences which find us amusing and endearing, in a word, "cute."

Such eventualities could trigger Herbert's "Butlerian jihad" against machine intelligence. How long before the ACLU sues to get androids "human rights"?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Travel Blogging VI

Dateline Uturoa, Raiatea: I was too pessimistic yesterday, the captain got the Westerdam alongside in Uturoa, the port of Raiatea, at 9 p.m. last night, in the rain. Today we spend in port, the "all aboard" is at 5:30 and we probably sail at 6 p.m.

The other DrC had a shore excursion scheduled this morning but it was cancelled after they were on the dock as nobody wanted to go boating in the rain and wind. After lunch the rain let up somewhat and we walked ashore into the town, visited a couple of shops, watched some hula, etc.

This island doesn't appear overdeveloped like Bora Bora, the port town really is charming with the tropical French colonial architecture and palms everywhere. And it isn't too dirty, which can be a tropical problem.

Incarceration A Feature, Not a Flaw

David Brooks is only "conservative" compared to other New York Times columnists, most of whom would be considered left wing in Scandinavia. In spite of which he stumbles on the truth occasionally, and has done so today.
Incarceration reduces crime. Experts disagree on how much, but most studies show a significant effect. That's partly because most of the people who do serious crime are career criminals. Among inmates released from state prison in 2005, the average number of previous convictions was five and the average number of previous arrests was greater than 10.

Less aggressive policing means more crime.

As in life generally, every policy has the vices of its virtues. Aggressive policing cuts crime but increases brutality. There is no escape from trade-offs and tragic situations.
Ideally people who insist on committing crimes should be grouped together so that their victims are not law-abiding folks but are other career criminals; we call this policy "incarceration." It is not excessive but it is expensive.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Demographic Note

Number-cruncher Nate Silver writes at his FiveThirtyEight blog about the impact of racial demographics on politics.
Although it will be a couple of decades before the electorate as a whole is majority-minority, the Democratic vote is already getting there. In 2012, only 55 percent of President Obama’s voters were white, according to the national exit poll. Our demographic projections of this November’s electorate, which account for population growth since 2012, calculate that the white share of the Democratic vote will tick down another percentage point, to 54 percent. The rest of the Democratic vote will be black (24 percent), Hispanic (15 percent), or belong to Asian or other races (7 percent), according to our projections.
Paraphrasing children's TV show host Mr. Rogers, "Can you say 'tribal voting'?" Maybe the white vote for Democrats will "tick down" more than one percent - I predict it will.

No More Free Ride

Writing for Fox News, J. D. Gordon argues Trump is correct about Europe not paying its own way when it comes to defense. COTTonLINE readers know we've made the same point. See what Gordon writes:
NATO is an alliance of 28 nations with a population of more than 910 million. America makes up over 1/3 the population, yet pays nearly three quarters of the defense expenditures. Each country is supposed to pay 2 percent of their GDP on defense. Yet only America, the U.K., Greece, Estonia and Poland are currently meeting their obligations.

According to World Bank figures, during 2011-2015 America spent about 3.5 percent of GDP on military expenditures. Meanwhile, our wealthy NATO allies aren’t even coming close. Italy: 1.4%; Germany: 1.2%; Canada: 1%; Spain: 0.9%. Over in Asia, Japan has spent 1.0 percent and South Korea 2.6%.

Bottom line, our allies must get serious about defense. If they can’t pull their own weight, why should we go broke carrying them on our backs?

Time for a fresh approach.
Gordon echoes what we wrote on March 29; it's high time Europe carried its own share of NATO costs. If they won't, perhaps NATO has past its sell-by date.

Travel Blogging V

Dateline South Pacific, between Rarotonga and Raiatea, in a rain squall: The weather gods haven't been kind to this cruise. I wrote yesterday that we'd get into Raiatea tomorrow for sure because it had a dock to which we could moor.

Apparently I experienced a momentary optimism spasm yesterday, how atypical of me. Today the Captain's noon briefing included the fact that Raiatea harbor is difficult to enter in rough weather. It seems there is a narrow path we must travel to get through the reef and into harbor; at this point it remains unclear whether the weather will permit us to negotiate that tricky passage.

Long cruises like this one attract mostly experienced cruisers, few beginners take a 30 day cruise. Many of these folks have done more than a dozen voyages, quite a few have done 30-40. You can see that in how many were chowing down to lunch an hour ago, the unsteady deck and muddy weather isn't hampering a lot of appetites among these seniors.

Virtually all cruise line vessels are registered someplace other than the U.S. That makes them subject to the Jones Act. It says foreign registered vessels like this one cannot carry passengers between U.S. ports unless they enter some foreign port before returning to the U.S. to disembark passengers. It is the reason ships leaving Seattle to cruise to Alaska stop in Victoria or Vancouver in British Columbia.

Our passengers on this cruise understand the Jones Act. They joke we may have to divert to Ensenada, Mexico, to make the cruise legal, if continuing bad weather keeps us from going ashore in any South Pacific port. I suppose it is remotely possible, albeit highly unlikely.

An Oversize Banana Republic

The Associated Press reports via the Modesto Bee about political turmoil in Brazil. Its lower house has passed a bill impeaching President Dilma Rousseff and sent it to the upper house for trial. Hat tip to for the link.
More than the necessary two-thirds of lawmakers in the Chamber of Deputies voted to oust her.

The measure now goes to the Senate. If by a simple majority the Senate votes to take it up and put the president on trial, Rousseff will be temporarily suspended.
And things seemed to be going so well for Brazil, not long ago. Our concluding non-PC thought: it's almost as if elements of their culture sabotage good government, repeatedly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Representation Without Taxation

Market Watch has an interesting article based on research by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.
An estimated 45.3% of American households — roughly 77.5 million — will pay no federal individual income tax, according to data for the 2015 tax year from the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan Washington-based research group. (Note that this does not necessarily mean they won’t owe their states income tax.)

Roughly half pay no federal income tax because they have no taxable income, and the other roughly half get enough tax breaks to erase their tax liability, explains Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center.

The top 1% of taxpayers pay a higher effective income-tax rate than any other group (around 23%, according to a report released by the Tax Policy Center in 2014) — nearly seven times higher than those in the bottom 50%.

On average, those in the bottom 40% of the income spectrum end up getting money from the government. Meanwhile, the richest 20% of Americans, by far, pay the most in income taxes, forking over nearly 87% of all the income tax collected by Uncle Sam.
It is hard to understand what Bernie Sanders is complaining about, the rich already pay most of the income taxes collected - nearly 90% in fact. The awkward fact is that the 45% get to vote to raise taxes when they pay none.

The country's founders complained of "taxation without representation." COTTonLINE believes today's less affluent enjoy "representation without taxation" which seems almost as bad.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Quote of the Day

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds cracking wise about a story of a Chinese fellow who built a super robot with lifelike mannerisms.
I predict very rapid progress on sexbot technology, driven by China’s extreme gender imbalance. 
That's his prediction, I predict exports of this technology will be very popular among the poorly socialized in other countries, including the U.S. Besides sex, I see them providing "companionship" and care for the lonely, especially the elderly. I propose a generic term for such units: "soft hardware."

The Failure of Multiculturaliam

The Gatestone Institute reports on a survey of British Muslims, the findings are bad enough to give us pause. Examples:
The 615-page survey found that more than 100,000 British Muslims sympathize with suicide bombers and people who commit other terrorist acts. Moreover, only one in three British Muslims (34%) would contact the police if they believed that somebody close to them had become involved with jihadists.

In addition, 23% of British Muslims said Islamic Sharia law should replace British law in areas with large Muslim populations.

On social issues, 52% of the Muslims surveyed said they believe homosexuality should be illegal, compared to 22% of non-Muslim Britons. Nearly half believe it is unacceptable for a gay or lesbian to teach their children. At the same time, almost a third (31%) of British Muslims think polygamy should be legalized. Among 18-to-24-year-olds, 35% think it is acceptable to have more than one wife.

Thirty-nine percent of Muslims surveyed believe women should always obey their husbands, compared to 5% for non-Muslims. One in three British Muslims refuse completely to condemn the stoning of women accused of adultery.
While the Brits aren't doing a good job of turning their Muslim immigrants into Brit clones; few countries can claim to do better. It is somewhere between very difficult and impossible to do.

Travel Blogging IV

Dateline South Pacific, enroute from Rarotonga to Raiatea: Mind you, I may have misspelled that second island, it is pronounced something like "Rye'-uh-tay'-uh." This has been the Missed Opportunity Tour so far, we have blown off the last two stops - both tender ports - as the sea was too rough and the winds too strong to put passengers (aka "pax") ashore. We've missed going ashore on Fanning Island in Kirabati and now Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.

Our next stop is not a tender port; apparently Raiatea has a real port with a dock to which we can moor. That means we have an almost certain chance to get ashore and stretch our legs, perhaps even regain our "land legs" which tend to get rusty with non-use. We've been at sea continuously since Kona and by the time we reach Raiteia will have been sailing a week or more. 

People who sail as a low-impact way to see exotic places are frustrated; people who enjoy the cruising  itself are fine. The DrsC are in the latter category. port calls are okay but we enjoy the life of the ship. 

Think of cruising as a vacation from reality - no dinners to cook or clean up after, no wondering what to do for entertainment, no doctors or dentists appointments (with any luck), no shopping to do (unless you choose), few-to-no errands to run, no beds to make or laundry to do. Included room service hot breakfast on our balcony table is very pleasant, too. 

If you and your spouse have different diets (our case), you can eat what you like while your significant other eats what s/he pleases or avoids foods as required medically. I'm eating salty foods my lady cannot eat, and loving the Mexican and Italian food.

The downsides are few - the floor doesn't always stand still, the ocean view can be monotonous, the Internet is slow, and sleeping in a strange bed is less comfortable. There are retirees who live aboard cruise ships either much of the year, or all year. It is a low-hassle way to have lots of smiling servants who don't later become permanent residents of your town.


The New York Post reports the Bush administration covered up Saudi involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks. They quote sources among retired FBI agents and CIA operatives.
In its report on the still-censored “28 pages” implicating the Saudi government in 9/11, “60 Minutes” last weekend said the Saudi role in the attacks has been “soft-pedaled” to protect America’s delicate alliance with the oil-rich kingdom.

That’s quite an understatement.

Actually, the kingdom’s involvement was deliberately covered up at the highest levels of our government. And the coverup goes beyond locking up 28 pages of the Saudi report in a vault in the US Capitol basement. Investigations were throttled. Co-conspirators were let off the hook.
Was this coverup just appallingly bad judgment or something worse, perhaps treason? Somebody important should be tried for this malfeasance; if not Bush II, then some of his immediate underlings. How else can we learn the truth of the matter?

Your Sunday Snark

These gags were posted at Power Line by Steven Hayward.

Caption of a cartoon showing a game show host quizzing Bernie Sanders.
Game Show Host: Hillary called it her greatest achievement. Obama called it his greatest mistake.

Bernie Sanders: What is Libya?
Caption over a photo of a newly inaugurated Bill Clinton.
Presidents' Day sale at Target in honor of President Clinton.
Pants are half off.
Caption over a photo of Bernie Sanders.
Socialist jokes aren't funny unless everybody gets them.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Petraeus Model

The Washington Post has an article by General David Petraeus concerning what will be necessary to successfully combat Islamic extremism. I freely admit I began reading it with jaundiced eyes, fearing the usual hearts-and-minds manure COIN guys are known for.

Let me say I am pleasantly surprised. Assuming one doesn't choose to do "Fortress America" and let the rest of the world go to hell, what the general has written makes considerable sense. His five key points:

1. Ungoverned spaces in North Africa, the Middle East, and into Central Asia will become sanctuaries for Islamic extremists who will establish Sharia regimes and train terrorists.
2. Terror attacks will not be limited to the periphery of their territory but will occur in the West.
3. U.S. leadership is essential, no one else will do it.
4. Surgical strikes and bombing will not suffice.
5. U.S. efforts will need to be sustained over time, arbitrary deadlines are not helpful. The model is our involvement in South Korea, rather than the failed models of Vietnam and Iraq.

Doing what Petraeus asks is a dreary prospect, pretty much open-ended, but likely no less necessary.

The Pillars of ISIS

I don't know whether you have any interest in the theoretical ideological and philosophical underpinnings of radical political Islam. Most people knew they wanted to fight fascism without reading Mein Kampf.

However, if you're interested, Fawaz A. Gerges writes in the Los Angeles Times about the three underlying documents which philosophically underpin the Islamic State, aka ISIS or ISIL. And, it is likely, provide rationale for most other violent Islamists.

These include The Management of Savagery, Introduction to the Jurisprudence of Jihad, and The Essentials of Making Ready (for jihad). This last one was written as a manual for Al Qaeda trainees.

Gerges characterizes each work briefly. I have no idea whether any of these are available in English translation, all likely were written in Arabic.

Travel Blogging III

We just experienced two days in a row both called Friday, April 15. Yep, we crossed the dateline a second time going east. It is weird losing a day - Tuesday - while cruising west and then a couple of days later experiencing the same day - Friday - twice going east. If you notice below that I posted on a supposedly nonexistent Tuesday, it's because I never reset my IPad date, no point in confusing it.

I heard a passenger comparing the experience to Groundhog Day. Honestly, it is a poor comparison as the days didn't track exactly at all, the weather differed, as did our activities. Both were sea days, we weren't in port either day, and the day and date were the same, that's all.

One major advantage of cruising with the Holland America Line is their large library of movie DVDs, available at the Front Desk for free checkout by passengers to play in our cabins. We've held a Bourne retrospective - all four films - and also seen old faves like Spaceballs and Cowboys and Aliens. As I write this the other DrC is watching Coyote Ugly starring a very young Piper Perabo. They aren't brand new flix but many are worth rewatching.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Not Just ISIL

Breitbart reports National Security Advisor Susan Rice tells the cadets at the Air Force Academy about ISIS.
We have faced down and defeated much greater adversaries. ISIL is not Nazi Germany. It is not the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. This is not World War III or the much-hyped clash of civilizations.
Rice is correct, the threat of ISIL alone does not reach "clash of civilizations" proportions. What does reach that oft-touted level is the clash of the West with militant political Islam, which includes, but is not limited to, ISIL, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Jemaah Islamiyah, Hezbollah, the Salafists, Hamas, Abu Sayyaf, and the Moro National Liberation Front.

Taken as a collectivity of violent Islamic opponents of the West, our opposition to these is a clash of civilizations, if you can call them "civilized," which is admittedly a stretch.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ryan Shows Class

COTTonLINE isn't entirely sympatico with Speaker Paul Ryan, we disagree with him on a number of fundamentals. Nevertheless, today he showed class and we wish to recognize and honor him for it.

Folks unhappy with the remaining GOP presidential nomination aspirants have kept pushing his name forward as someone to whom the party could turn on a second ballot. The party establishment is comfortable with Ryan, no great endorsement in this anti-establishment year. reports Ryan today announced two very important things. First, he will not seek, nor will he accept, the party's nomination. Second, he asks the rules committee to adopt a rule limiting the party to selecting among those who have run active campaigns during the primary season.

This is entirely as it should be. Realistically, the party should select either Cruz or Trump as no one else has won any substantial number of state contests.

If Trump arrives in Cleveland with enough pledged delegates to win on the first ballot, he must get the nomination. In the event Trump has not achieved the 1237 necessary when the primaries end, then both he and Cruz will go recruiting among the delegates pledged to Rubio, Kasich, etc. Whether these will be released before the first ballot remains unclear. It should be an interesting summer.

The party establishment needs to accept the idea they've been repudiated. Four choices remain for them: decide to follow the lead of the base, sit out the 2016 election, become Democrats, or form a third party to ensure the GOP base doesn't elect their candidate. The party's nominee only has a chance of winning if the establishment takes choice number one.

Blame the Internet

Long-time political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes for Roll Call about a peculiar symmetry between the two parties. It isn't just the Republicans who are becoming more extreme, more ideological, and less willing to compromise. Democrats are similarly afflicted.

Many theories have been advanced to explain the drift from the middle, the hollowing out of the political center. For what it's worth, here's mine.

I believe the Internet has enabled people to find like-minded individuals and the resulting virtual groups are self-reinforcing. As grad students in Org. Psych., we learned research shows if even one person agrees with you it becomes vastly easier to hold unpopular views.

However, if a group agrees on something, a phenomenon called "risky shift" or "groupshift" occurs, for as Wikipedia notes:
Groupshift is a phenomenon in which the initial positions of individual members of a group are exaggerated toward a more extreme position. When people are in groups, they make decisions about risk differently from when they are alone. In the group, they are likely to make riskier decisions, as the shared risk makes the individual risk less.
Needing a group to agree with, to hang with, is one of the imperatives of a social species like ours. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Reflection Is Good

Writing opinion for the Boston Globe, Niall Ferguson begins his column saying he cannot imagine a President Cruz, and ends it as follows:
Now, I am not saying Cruz is Lincoln. I am just saying that, on reflection, maybe I can imagine him as president of the United States.
To reach that conclusion, Ferguson notes several Cruz characteristics:
The point about men like Ted Cruz is not their unpopularity with their classmates; it is their popularity with everyone else.

Like Trump, Cruz saw the extent to which Republican voters were sick of their party establishment. The difference was that, unlike Trump, Cruz didn’t make it up as he went along. Trump was engaged in what is known on the New York comedy scene as “improv.” Nothing Cruz does is improv. He is always the master of his brief.

The man is a politics machine.
There is risk electing Cruz who genuinely is intelligent, but it's likely to turn out better than has the incumbent who merely poses as smart.

It's Not News

AFP reports via Yahoo News a recently published study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows the rich live longer than the poor. Seriously, would you expect any other outcome?

Stanford researcher Raj Chetty, using IRS data, finds that the top 1% live 10-14 years longer than the bottom 1%. The value of his research is quantifying the size of the gap and demonstrating it is growing.

I hope no one is shocked a gap exists. If riches cannot buy a healthier, longer life, what good are they? If being the poorest of our poor doesn't either create or result from depression and unhealthy behaviors, what would?

My reaction to this research is like my reaction to the finding smarter people live longer: it would only be earth-shaking news if the reverse were true. It is likely opioid abuse leading to heroin addiction among the poor contributes to today's gap. It seems every generation of poor has its version of soma, earlier versions included weed, crack, meth and ethanol in various guises.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Travel Blogging II

Dateline: At Sea southwest of Hawaii's Kona Coast, en route to Fanning Island. One of the weird things about cruising west across the Pacific is that every couple of days you have a 25 hour day. The captain announces clocks will be set back one hour at 2 a.m.

The savvy tourist sets it back before bed the night before, and discovers s/he is going to bed at 9:30 p.m. instead of 10:30 p.m. whereupon you awaken too early. Fortunately cruise passengers have few required agenda items so they can take a nap or veg out by the pool.

Naturally enough, cruising east across The Big Puddle subjects a person to a 23 hour day every second day. That has its own consequences, not too unpleasant.

The big island of Hawaii was experiencing quite a bit of cloud cover the last couple of days as we've been ported first at Hilo and today at Kona, the latter a tender port where the ship cannot dock and pax go ashore in the rather elaborate, enclosed lifeboats called "tenders." We were never rained on but the mountain top was getting wet.

Assimilation - Mission Impossible

Trevor Philips, a former head of the British Equality and Human Rights Commission and himself a person of color, recently had the following to say about the failure to assimilate of British Muslims. My source is Metro.UK:
The integration of Muslims will probably be the hardest task the country has ever faced. I thought Europe’s Muslims would gradually blend into the landscape. I should have known better.
The difficulty isn't news to anybody who has been paying attention.

The Usual

Reuters reports via Yahoo News that media in Argentina say former President Cristina Fernandez and various fat-cat cronies are being investigated or under indictment for money laundering. This is sadly typical of Latin American regimes.

It is also one reason various Presidents in the region try to stay in office indefinitely, often by extra-constitutional means. Leaving office can mean prison, as in Fujimori's case, or exile. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

DHS Humor

Message on a blackboard outside a restaurant, as posted by Steven Hayward of Power Line.
Eating two strips of bacon for breakfast reduces your chances of being a suicide bomber by 100%.
Also this gem:
I'm a secondhand vegetarian. Cows eat grass, I eat cows. 

Subtropical Snark

Heather MacDonald writes in City Journal about Bill Clinton putting down several Black Lives Matter hecklers. Her opening paragraph is world-class snark, the "subtropical" part is me writing from the harbor at Hilo.
Bill Clinton injected a disruptive element into the Democratic presidential campaign yesterday: truth. The question now is: How will his wife recover from this alien intrusion?
Probably the way the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua normally deals with inconvenient truths, she ignores them or has a minion communicate that she does not find them amusing.

Micro Economics Vindicated

There has been a lot of talk about the impact of minimum wage hikes on employment. Claims have been made in both directions. Those of you who have studied some basic economics likely believe raising the minimum wage will hurt employment.

Guess what? You're right! Investor's Business Daily has the data. It turns out that only three states have seen a downturn in retail employment in the last 15 months: ND, CT, and MA. North Dakota is experiencing a localized depression as fracking became infeasible with low oil prices.

Connecticut and Massachusetts are the first two states to raise minimum wages and, mirabile dictu, employment in retail went down in both. IBD also finds other indicators which say business climate in both states has been hurt.

I fully expect similar impacts in Seattle and CA which have followed suit. A likely result will be growth in the underground, off-the-books economy. Workers there have no protection whatsoever.

Disqualified, Si; Unqualified, No

There has been a lot of talk about whether Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president. Apparently Bernie Sanders said she was not, and then walked the comment back, avering she is qualified.

I believe people are missing the point. As a multi-term senator representing a large and wealthy state and former SecState she was pre-qualified - no question about it.

Without knowing his mind, I suspect what Bernie meant to say was that, by her behavior in several arenas, she has disqualified herself. Clinton has acted in ways such that she is no longer qualified, although she once seemed so. In fact she is demonstrably a pawn of Wall Street, a peddler of influence and probably an indictable felon, as well.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Picking a President in Peru

Suffragio reports on the state of the Peruvian presidential elections which are now underway. At least a half dozen candidates are running, none is expected to get a majority on the first ballot.

The polls indicate Keiko Fujimori, daughter of former president and current prison inmate Alberto Fujimori, is expected to gain the most first-round votes. She will face a run-off against the second greatest vote-getter, about whose identity there is less certainty.

Regardless of who wins the run-off, author Kevin Lees expects Peru's policies to remain moderate and pro-business as those policies have served most Peruvians well. The left fears Fujimori, if elected, might pardon her father and bring his cronies back into government, things her supporters probably favor.


Carl M. Cannon, Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics, writes today on the topic of our insecure electorate. His main theme is that a combination of factors is troubling Americans: illegal immigration and governmental unwillingness to do much about it, terrorism and government refusal to admit the threat thereof, general governmental ineptitude in foreign affairs, urban unrest including attacks on police, and an economy that is very biased in favor of the few.
Even before the recent attacks in Belgium, polling at the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 revealed that security concerns have overtaken the economy as the dominant issue in voters’ minds. A survey done for Third Way, a moderate political group, revealed that 29 percent of Americans were worried about national security/terrorism—nearly twice as many who listed the economy as their top priority.

These numbers fluctuate, depending on the proximity to a major terrorist event and by how the question is worded. But the theme has remained constant. In late January, the Gallup Poll found that 23 percent of voters listed national security/terrorism/foreign affairs as their chief concern, compared to 17 percent who named the economy.
Third Way asked Americans the following question:
Looking ahead to the next few years, which party do you think will do a better job of protecting the country from international terrorism and military threats - the Republican Party or the Democratic Party?
I'll bet you are not surprised by their findings. More Americans chose the Republican Party by a margin of 52% to 36%, with 12% having no opinion.

Translation for the numerically challenged: an absolute majority of Americans believe Republicans will do a better job of keeping them safe. From my lofty perch overlooking the harbor and city of Honolulu, I call that good news.

Travel Blogging I

Dateline: Thursday in Honolulu. This city is growing like a weed, there are dozens of modern skyscrapers and at least five construction cranes visible from the ship's observation (top) deck. With the verdant green trees lining many avenues, it bids fair to be a competitor to Singapore, and that's really saying something.

We caught a cab today and zipped over to a Safeway to stock up on soft drinks. You can bring your own soft drinks on board, but not your own booze. The cabby waited for us and took us straight back to the ship. 

Being in Honolulu is nice, but we have no agendas here as we've visited HI many times. The ship sailed in around 10 a.m. and will be here until 5 p.m. tomorrow. 

Cruise ships rarely overnight in-port, many cruises have none and spend every evening at sea. I gather we are scheduled to do a second overnight somewhere in French Polynesia. It is the sort of things a month-long cruise can do.

Hawaii is warm (of course) but not terribly sunny. Yesterday we cruised under overcast skies all day and today has been cloudy here, and the trade winds are blowing. We'll see what tomorrow brings, weatherwise. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

EU Maybe on The Ropes

Colunnist Eamonn McCann writes in the Irish Times about the faltering state of the European Union.  Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link. McCann's title is revealing.
Undemocratic EU may not survive grim challenges
The basic argument is that nationalism is on the rise in Europe whereas the EU opposes national sovereignty, distrusts voters. You will find his conclusion curiously refreshing, I believe:
There is no democratic redress for any of the problems afflicting the union. Discontent will either be bottled up or will erupt on to the streets.

The EU may not survive.
COTTonLINE has suspected as much for some months now. Except the Brits, who have a commitment to democratic redress, may solve the EU issue for themselves via Brexit.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

PC Haters

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank writes that Trump supporters are modestly more racist than those of Kasich and Cruz. He makes much of this modest difference. I'd interpret it differently.

The Donald has repeatedly criticized politically correct speech, defined as saying not what you mean but what you know is widely acceptable, what you are "supposed to say." My guess: Trump's white supporters are no more racist than other whites. However, echoing their champion, they refuse to say they brook no racist feelings or resentments.

Those who really hate feeling compelled to say things they neither believe nor favor in order to be socially acceptable logically gravitate to Trump. He has derided the idiocy of political correctness. Expect his followers to do less self-editing for social desirability,

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

WI: It's Cruz and Sanders

Wisconsin has shown its maverick streak in today's two party primary ballotings. The challenger or runner up in each party won in Wisconsin.

Delegate-wise, Cruz did better than Sanders, if RealClearPolitics can be believed. The win for Cruz is particularly sweet as WI is not a state with an evangelical majority, supposedly his forte.

I believe we don't get more results for another couple of weeks, hope I have that right.

Seaborne Thoughts

On Sunday, our first day out of San Diego, we saw a whale breaching just a couple of hundred yards off the starboard bow. We could only see a bit of its back "fin" or ridge and the puff of vapor they blow into the air when exhaling, but we saw these twice in relatively quick succession.

At the time we were perhaps 300 miles west of California so it was likely a California gray whale, a species which births their young in the warm Gulf of California and when we saw it was likely headed for its icy Alaskan summer feeding grounds. They. make this migration twice a year, once in each direction. Others of the same species hang out around Maui in the Lahaina Roads channel in winter. The California Gray is a long distance swimmer for sure.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Finding a Pony in the Manure Pile

The Pew Research Center weighs in with a recent demographic report that contains much you already knew and some things perhaps you hadn't yet seen. One factor of which they make much is the decline of the middle class as a percentage of the U.S. population.

It is true, their figures show that during the period from 1971 to 2015 the middle class declined from 61% of Americans to 50%. If you believe our genius has derived from our massive middle class then that decline could be seen as a bad deal.

Now let's unpack the middle class declining by 11%, did all 11% end up poor? Not even close. Four of those 11 percentage points were people falling out of the middle class, ending up poorer.

On the other hand, the other seven of those 11 percentage points represented middle class people becoming more affluent! The "upper income group" grew by half, rising from 14% of the population to 21% of Americans.

In other words, of those leaving the middle class, almost twice as many (7%) improved their economic lot as opposed to becoming worse off (4%). I'd call that a cause for rejoicing, you should too. This is the "pony."

The rest of the report says as a nation we're becoming older, less religious, less white, and possibly more liberal. I expect many will find things in those sections to rue, reasons to believe the country is on the wrong track. This is the "manure pile."