Saturday, April 30, 2016
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 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.
Friday, April 29, 2016
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.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
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
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.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.
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."
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.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
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.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.
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.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
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.
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.
See an article in physics-astronomy.com 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
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.Noonan had been a leading voice mostly in sympathy with the GOP establishment. It's no wonder she feels dislocated, discombobulated by 2016.
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.
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.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.
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.
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
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
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.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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.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.
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.
Monday, April 18, 2016
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.
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.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.
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.
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.
More than the necessary two-thirds of lawmakers in the Chamber of Deputies voted to oust her.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.
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.
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.)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.
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.
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
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 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.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.
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.
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.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?
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.
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.Caption over a photo of a newly inaugurated Bill Clinton.
Bernie Sanders: What is Libya?
Presidents' Day sale at Target in honor of President Clinton.Caption over a photo of Bernie Sanders.
Pants are half off.
Socialist jokes aren't funny unless everybody gets them.
Saturday, April 16, 2016
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Politico.com 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.
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
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.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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.Third Way asked Americans the following question:
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.
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.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Undemocratic EU may not survive grim challengesThe 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.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.
The EU may not survive.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
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
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.
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
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."