Tuesday, May 31, 2016

An Antidote to PC

Glenn Reynolds' weekly USA Today column focuses on pain-in-the-butt political correctness. He notes how violating it is winning Donald Trump support. Reynolds concludes:
Will electing Trump solve all the nation’s problems? Nope. But, as mentioned above, it will show that more than half the country rejects the culture of political correctness, and the political class that let it take over. And for many people, that’s reason enough.
It can be a big step in the direction in which we need to go.

Ever Hear of Loopers?

The Wall Street Journal has a fun article on loopers. Loopers are people with reasonable sized watercraft who circle the eastern United States by boat.

They sail up the Intercoastal Waterway from Florida to New York City, up the Hudson River to the Erie Canal, across to Lake Ontario, down Lake Erie, up past Detroit to Lake Huron, around the top of lower peninsula Michigan past Mackinac Island , down Lake Michigan to Chicago. There they take the Calumet Canal to the Des Plaines River, which connects with the Illinois River, which merges with the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis, down Old Man River past New Orleans to the Gulf. They then follow the coast east to Pensacola, Tampa, and around the tip of FL back to Miami, closing the loop.

Dang, that odyssey looks like fun. It's sort of "RVing on water," seeing the country at sea level. We've done much the same kind of trip on land in a succession of RVs, and that was a hoot. And yes, in RVs like in boats, you are never far from your toolbox, and a roll of duct tape is always handy.

Life Isn't Fair

1843 Magazine published by The Economist reports research findings from several studies on the impact of couples having sons vs. daughters on staying married, and on other outcomes too. This research seems to have been done by economists, who must be broadening their interest span. The findings:
Men were more inclined to propose to their partners if they discovered that a baby in utero was a boy, and they were less prone to getting a divorce if the first child was a boy rather than a girl. In the event of divorce, men with sons were more likely to get custody, and women with daughters were less likely to remarry.

Couples with a son were indeed more likely to be married three years after the birth of their child than those with a daughter. This effect can be seen in data on households across a number of rich countries, which show that adolescent boys are more likely than girls to live with both biological parents. The difference is small – in America, for example, 39% of 12- to 16-year-old girls live without their biological father in the house, compared with 36% of 12- to 16-year-old boys – but consistent.

In every Gallup poll since the 1940s, when asked which sex they would prefer if they could have only one child, Americans have consistently pulled for boys. Results from the most recent poll, in 2011, were startlingly similar to those from the first: Americans said they favour boys over girls by a margin of 12 percentage points. This preference is driven mainly by men; women are largely agnostic.

Parents of sons seem not just to earn more but also to spend more. An analysis of American consumer expenditure data from the 1990s found that married couples with one son aged 18 or younger spent 4-7% more on housing than those with a daughter, and consumed more of everything from plane tickets to meals in restaurants. Intriguingly, families with sons also spent more on “women’s goods” such as jewellery and personal services (eg, manicures and hair salons), indicating that mothers benefit when there is a boy around.
This seems to contradict the old saws about "daddy's girl" and "momma's boy."

Monday, May 30, 2016

Weird Psychological Science

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports the findings of a study done in the U.K. of children in various home configurations. The question examined was does marital status of parents influence children's self-esteem?
Previous research has found that confidence and happiness in childhood has a significant impact on future life chances and is more important than factors such as income.

The latest study contradicts previous claims that children are unaffected by their parents’ marital status.

It found that children whose parents were in stable, long-term co-habiting relationships reported the same levels of self-esteem as those from single parent households.

By contrast, children whose parents were married reported higher levels of self-esteem.

Overall, boys with married parents had the highest self-esteem, while girls with co-habiting parents had the lowest.
Not mentioned is that having married parents is highly correlated with higher social class status, at least in the U.S., probably in the U.K. as well. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

National Review Steps Back

National Review has been a home for #NeverTrumpers, perhaps their nerve center. That makes the appearance there of a John O'Sullivan article sympathetic to the Trump takeover of the GOP particularly interesting. Perhaps NR does plan to be relevant going forward.

O'Sullivan's point, the GOP's peasants have revolted and deposed the party gentry. They've done so because that gentry consistently pursued interests contrary to those of the party's lumpen proletariat.

Given where the article appears, it is remarkably non-judgmental of Trump who, O'Sullivan observes, simply reflects grassroots Republican feelings and attitudes. Right in one. O'Sullivan is less sure, of course, that those attitudes are the correct ones, but he observes them to be genuinely felt.

How She Loses: A Scenario

Writing at Politico, David S. Bernstein lays out a scenario whereby Trump can win in November. For it to work, Clinton will have to keep making four mistakes which Bernstein says Hillary is now making.
Take Hispanic enthusiasm for granted.
Alienate the young.
Let establishment Republicans find another place to go.
Fumble on trade.
If, like us, you'd like to see Clinton lose, you'll enjoy Bernstein's article. And he doesn't even mention that while blacks, when asked, say they support Clinton, they will be much less motivated to vote in November, 2016, than they were in 2008 and 2012.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Reaping the Whirlwind

From the Associated Press comes a story about crashing enrollments in urban public schools. The apparent villain: quasi-public charter schools. For instance, in Los Angeles:
More than 100,000 students in the nation's second-largest district were now enrolled in charters, draining more than $500 million from the budget in a single academic year.

If current trends continue, the district could be significantly diminished in another 10 years - at least a third smaller than at the start of the century.
More generally, in urban districts across the country:
In most states, schools receive funding on a per-pupil basis, and the majority of those dollars follow students when they leave for a charter.

Some charter advocates believe the resulting fiscal strain will eventually have a positive effect by pushing districts to be more competitive and provide better services. Yet there's no clear evidence of that.

Others also question how much charters are ultimately responsible for woeful district finances, pointing instead to other factors such as rising pension and health care costs, inflexible staffing allocations and low state funding.
The public schools have, for decades, been forced to pursue goals other than educating students. Their public image has suffered terribly thereby.

Charter schools help parents dodge the screwed-up priorities of the public schools. Expect charters to thrive unless the same creeping paralysis overtakes them, which it may.

On Perpetual War

On this weekend when we remember our war dead and wounded, it is useful (if not cheerful) to consider the current state of warfare and our nation's involvement therein. See a thoughtful article at the War on the Rocks website entitled "The Price of Perpetual War." Some key thoughts:
The traditional logic of American wars — that the United States would mobilize, fight, win, and end its wars through overwhelming force of arms — no longer seems to apply. Today’s wars can be characterized more as conflicts in the gray zone, ambiguous battles with less-defined shapes and even less-clear outcomes.

Wars that never end risk begetting militaries that are always fighting today’s fight and never quite looking ahead adequately to the bigger dangers of tomorrow.

The men and women of the armed forces are willing to fight — and die, if necessary — to defend the nation. But asking them to do so without acknowledging that they are at war is simply wrong.

Congress continues to pay the bills, but the lack of further legislative involvement essentially gives the executive branch free rein to continue and expand today’s wars.

The nation’s elected leaders — in the White House and in Congress — need to publicly acknowledge the reality of these wars: that they involve real combat, that traditional concepts of “success” and “victory” don’t apply, and that they require the support of the American people.

The United States did not choose this era of perpetual warfare. The threats are real and must be countered.

Barone Sifts the Numbers

Veteran political analyst Michael Barone writes for RealClearPolitics about the state of the presidential race, with particular focus on the details of the polling at this point.
There has been much focus on Trump's negative numbers among women, but Clinton does even worse among non-college white men, only 14 percent of whom support her according to the ABC/Washington Post poll. That's less than the 20 to 28 percent the May network polls show Trump winning among Hispanics.

Almost all of Clinton's popular vote majorities have come from black voters, especially in the South. Exit polls showed her losing white voters to Sanders in every non-Southern state where one was conducted.

Trump's biggest majorities came, especially in the crucial March primaries, from non-college whites. Not for nothing did he say on the night of the Nevada caucuses, "I love the poorly educated."

The higher turnout this year in Republican than Democratic contests suggests that Trump voters are energized, while Clinton may have trouble turning out heavily Democratic voters, especially the young.
I think it fair to say Barone believes Trump supporters can be cautiously optimistic.

The Obama Department of (In)Justice

Jay Sekulow is Chief Counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice. Today he writes for Fox News about failures and missteps at the Department of Justice.
Based on what’s happening inside the Obama administration’s Justice Department, it’s clear the Department of Justice is not doing justice.

These recent court findings underscore what we have known for some time: the Justice Department is focused on settling political scores, instead of upholding the Constitution and the rule of law.
Sekulow details the various examples, mostly called out by Federal court judges, in which the DOJ has dragged its feet, lied, and refused to uphold the law. He concludes:
Don’t expect to hear anything about this from the Obama administration. It continues to move forward with its 3-D strategy: Delay, Distract, and Deflect – acting like the Wizard of Oz – hoping the American people will pay no attention to what’s behind the curtain.

But thanks to insightful opinions from jurists like Judge Hanen, we can shine a spotlight on exactly what’s behind the curtain – a corrupt and unethical Obama administration that permits its lawyers to mislead both the court and opposing counsel in writing and in open court on multiple occasions.
January, 2017, cannot arrive too soon.

We Remember

For over 240 years good men, brave boys, and a few gals too, have died in fields and waters all over this globe to keep this America of ours free and functioning, to defend our culture. With their lives, they purchased our freedom which, sadly, is never free but comes at a high cost.

Contemplating this, it is hard not to have a jaundiced view of the human species which manages to be, as often as not, its own worst enemy. Today we remember the wounded and dead, veterans and civilians, who were in a bad place at the wrong time for the best of reasons.

While we are at it, let's remember too the first responders - police and fire fighters - who've died in the line of duty holding back the domestic enemy or facing the domestic catastrophe. We owe them the same debt of gratitude, they defend us every bit as much as our military does.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Missing Mojo

Writing in The Atlantic, Derek Thompson asks (and answers) the question "How America Lost Its Mojo." By this he means the following:
Americans today are strangely averse to change. They are less likely to switch jobs, or move between states, or create new companies than they were 30 years ago.
Thompson examines a variety of possible causes, including the aging population and the shift to tech jobs, but concludes the real reason is ... wait for it ... stratospheric housing costs in the most productive cities. He observes:
If labor markets were operating efficiently, workers would be moving to where their work was most valuable. Instead, the opposite is happening. People aren’t moving toward productivity. They’re moving toward cheap housing.

Whereas the middle class used to move toward productivity and jobs, (snip) they’re now barricaded from the most productive places by housing costs. So they’re moving toward cheap housing, instead. Tighter land-use regulations in rich metros pushed up housing values.
As an economist, Thompson completely ignores geographic sorting by political orientation as a reason people are moving to places with cheaper housing costs. Those tend to be the so-called "red states" which is to say, places that often elect Republicans. Places with high housing costs tend to be in "blue states" like NY, CA, CN, IL, where Democrats normally dominate local and statewide offices. He also omits considering "white flight" as a factor.

Political Snark and Humor

Not much happening yesterday, Obama went to Hiroshima and said - what else is new - assinine, wimpy things. What he should have said: "You asked for it at Pearl Harbor, you got it here, and you richly deserved every last megaton and roentgen."

On a lighter note, today I have for you my picks from Steven Hayward's The Week in Pictures from Power Line.

Picture a billboard with an angry Hillary pointing that finger at you as she snarls:
"I lie - just deal with it," the subhead says "Hillary in 2016."

Envision photos, of an Easter bunny with colored eggs, a Santa Claus, a fairy princess with wand, and Bernie Sanders. The caption:
"Popular with kids ... for the same reason."

A photo of the late Billy Mays, famous infomercial pitchman, with this caption above his photo:
"Billy Mays here with democratic socialism."
And this caption below:
"We're offering you famines, breadlines, gulags, and purges,
and if that's not enough, just wait, there's more!"

Three photos, in the first an earnest young boy says to his father:
"But I thought socialism would work."
In the second his father replies:
"I know, son."
In the third the father hugs the sad boy, saying:
"Almost everyone does when they're young."

A simple billboard with this message:
There's a word for people who look at
somebody and don't see a person, but only
a race and gender. That word used to be
"racist," now it's "progressive."

A cartoon of two dinosaurs, talking. The first says:
"Okay, my Mom was eaten by velociraptors, your brother was eaten by velociraptors, and Jeffrey was  eaten by ... guess who? Velociraptors. I'm startin' to see a pattern here, Gary."
To which the second dinosaur replies with scorn:
"Just stop it with the bigoted hate speech, Bill."

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Trump's Campaign Chair

COTTonLINE rarely cites an article in Huffington Post, a lefty online slough of despond. Rarely, but not never.

Today I call your attention to a Howard Fineman interview of Trump campaign chairman and chief strategist Paul Manafort. It runs with a footnote saying HP's editor hates literally everything Trump stands for.

Fineman doesn't put words in Manafort's mouth, doesn't quote him out of context, and generally does a decent job of letting the man have his say. If you find the Trump phenomenon interesting, reading the chief campaign guy's words are worthwhile. About the VP pick:
“He needs an experienced person to do the part of the job he doesn’t want to do. He seems himself more as the chairman of the board, than even the CEO, let alone the COO.”

The campaign probably won’t choose a woman or a member of a minority group, he said. “In fact, that would be viewed as pandering, I think.”
Skip the excretory footnote, unless you need the energy boost of a couple of minutes of anti-liberal hate.

Bolivia Update

Under President Evo Morales, Bolivia has been a less-than-stellar performer. He recently lost a national referendum seeking to allow him to run for another term.

The main reason for the loss: his former mistress, employed by a Chinese firm doing business with the Bolivian government, was thought to have exerted undue influence in obtaining contracts. She also bore him a child which he claims has died and she claims is alive.

Now the former mistress, her defense attorney and her aunt are all under arrest, charged with corruption. And Morales threatens to hold a second referendum because he didn't like the results of the first.

Poor Bolivia appears headed down the drain, suffering from Latin America's traditional bad government. See a New York Times editorial for details, its snarky headline:
"The Worst Boyfriend in Bolivia."

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Weird Archeological Science

Cave explorers in France have discovered stone circles built of snapped-off stalagmites which predate the arrival of homo sapiens in Europe, according to an article (with photos) in New Scientist. The circles have been dated to 175,000 years ago. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

About a half meter tall, the circles are sufficiently far underground as to be in total darkness, meaning the builders were using fire for light. Those builders were Neanderthals, previously thought not developed enough to build what must have been a ceremonial site. As the article states, Neanderthals are being reimagined as not so different mentally from the later homo saps.


Writing at Townhall, Matt Vespa quotes NBC's Chuck Todd to the effect that 17% of Sanders voters plan to vote for Trump in November. He also quotes ABC's George Stephanopoulos claiming 15% of Obama voters will vote for Trump. There are video links at Vespa's site.

Both Todd and Stephanopoulos are effectively Democrat operatives with press credentials. Neither could have been happy saying what he said. Which, paradoxically, makes what they reported more likely to be true, perhaps even understated.

Sudden insight: Trump's appeal to restore American "greatness" resembles what Charles de Gaulle promised France following the debacle of World War II and Vichy. It worked for de Gaulle, got him elected, why not for Trump? Incidentally, the same sort of restorational fervor maintains Putin's popularity in Russia. Restoration is potent political "stuff."

The Gender Gap Rethought

Writing for RealClearPolitics, analyst Sean Trende discusses the gender gap between the two major political parties. Normally, this is described as "women prefer Democrats," making them the "mommy party."

Trende makes an interesting point, in several recent elections Republicans won among men by larger margins than Democrats won among women. The GOP really is the "daddy party." So, Hillary will probably win among women, albeit narrowly, while Trump will likely win among men by a larger margin.

Put another way, if the Republicans have a problem with women, the Democrats have an even larger problem with men. Hillary comes across as the mother-in-law or ex-wife no man ever wanted, but more than a few ended up with - Ms. Bossy Know-It-All.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Candidate of Control-Alt-Delete

Historian Walter Russell Mead writes at his The American Interest website giving his answer to the question "Why Trump?" I'd share with you some of his pithier points.
Trump is an unconventional candidate whose proposition to the electorate isn’t about particular policy stands, experience, credentials or even personal and political honesty. Trump is the purest expression of the politics of ‘NO!’ that I personally can recall. He’s the candidate for people who think the conventional wisdom of the American establishment is hopelessly out of touch with the real world.

To many Trump supporters, Hillary Clinton looks like Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: the enforcer of a fatally flawed status quo and the personification of bureaucratic power in a system gone rogue.

Trump appeals to all those who think that the American Establishment, the Great and the Good of both parties, has worked its way into a dead end of ideas that don’t work and values that can’t save us. He is the candidate of Control-Alt-Delete. His election would sweep away the smug generational certainties that Clinton embodies, the Boomer Progressive Synthesis that hasn’t solved the problems of the world or of the United States, but which nevertheless persists in regarding itself as the highest and only form of truth.

Many Americans think that the Consensus is a scam and a flop when it comes to actually, well, making things better for the average person. It has made life better, much better, for the upper middle class; few would dispute its accomplishments there. And Wall Street has every reason to pay large speaking fees and make large financial contributions to the champion of the orthodoxy that helped make it so rich.

This makes it easy and profitable for Trump to wage negative campaigns. (snip) It also makes it much harder for negative campaigns to hurt him: his appeal doesn’t stem from approval for particular policies, but from opposition to elements of the status quo.
Transgender bathrooms feed the notion the insane are running the asylum.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Weird Developmental Science

The National Public Radio website has an article concerning the health similarities of long-time couples. Research shows people become increasingly similar over decades together, sharing both physical ailments and mental states. 

A couple of possible reasons the article doesn't consider. The researchers supposedly controlled for similarities extant at the time the couple originally formed, after which the growing-together phenomenon still existed. 

They did not control for the "couples who do not become increasingly similar do not stay together" possibility. In other words, instead of long-time association causing growing together, perhaps growing together causes long-time association. Couples whose life trajectories take them in different physical and psychological directions probably are much more likely to separate.

The other factor not specifically dealt with is shared environment. Long-time couples tend to live in the same place, eat mostly the same foods, share recreational interests, travel together, worship (or not) tegether, Perhaps we should be surprised if they did not "grow together."

Birds of a feather not only tend to flock together initially, the absence of continued similarity over time very likely leads to separation, divorce. Hat tip to the other DrC, with whom I've happily lived for 45 years, for the link.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Grand Partisan Realignment Concludes

Writing for Politico, Michael Lind has developed a comprehensive conceptualizaton of the realignment of our two main political parties. He makes several key points, I'll summarize them for you.
Though this election feels like the beginning of a partisan realignment, it’s actually the end of one.

What we’re seeing this year is the beginning of a policy realignment, when (snip) the party platforms catch up to the shift in party voters that has already happened. The type of conservatism long championed by the Republican Party was destined to fall as soon as a candidate came along who could rally its voters without being beholden to its donors, experts and pundits.

In both parties, there’s a gap between the inherited orthodoxy of a decade or two ago and the real interests of today’s electoral coalition. And in both parties, that gap between voters and policies is being closed in favor of the voters.

The culture war and partisan realignment are over; the policy realignment and “border war” — a clash between nationalists, mostly on the right, and multicultural globalists, mostly on the left — and have just begun.

The Republicans will be a party of mostly working-class whites, based in the South and West and suburbs and exurbs everywhere. They will favor universal, contributory social insurance systems that benefit them and their families and reward work effort—programs like Social Security and Medicare. But they will tend to oppose means-tested programs for the poor whose benefits they and their families cannot enjoy.

The Democrats of the next generation will be even more of an alliance of upscale, progressive whites with blacks and Latinos, based in large and diverse cities. They will think of the U.S. as a version of their multicultural coalition of distinct racial and ethnic identity groups writ large. Many younger progressives will take it for granted that moral people are citizens of the world, equating nationalism and patriotism with racism and fascism.

While progressives claim that nonwhite Americans will become a majority, this is misleading.

The growth of the nonwhite category by 2060 is driven overwhelmingly by the increasing Latino share of the population, from 17.4 percent to 28.6 percent.

Latino Americans increasingly identify themselves as white. (snip) If increasing numbers of Hispanics identify as white and their descendants are defined as “white” in government statistics, there may be a white majority in the U.S. throughout the 21st century.

As Latinos assimilate and intermarry, they will move from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party, following a trail blazed in the past by many “white ethnic” voters of European descent, including Irish-Americans and Italian-Americans.
Please forgive me for saying, "I told you so."

It's a Game

The Democratic Party might as well be the official party of Black America. Therefore, anyone who runs against a Democrat is, ipso facto, a racist, opposed to the interests of Black America.

It is also effectively the official party of American Jewry. Therefore, anyone running against a Democrat is, by definition, an anti-Semite.

It also bids fair to be the official party of the LGBT community, making anyone running against a Democrat a homophobe. See how easy this line of reasoning is? It's fun, anyone can play.

Or, turn it around. Historically, Republican voters were those for whom the society "works," its winners. Thus, if you run against a Republican you advocate failure to thrive, you represent losers, the not-coping, deadbeats.

The GOP normally gets the votes of most married people. If you run against a Republican you must support infanticide, broken homes, parentless children, blended families, and welfare dependency.

To run against a Republican, you must defend the indefensible, support the insupportable, and love the unlovable.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

That Explains It

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, describes the relationship between the mainstream media and President Obama.
They refuse to let the first black President be remembered as a disaster — even if, as here, he is a disaster. 
Affirmative action hires tend to get this treatment. Almost nothing is expected of them and, more often than not, they live down to those minimal expectations and wonder why they get no respect.

The Weekend Laughs

Steven Hayward of Power Line spends the week accumulating funny photo captions, cartoons, and other stuff to make us smile. These he posts on Sat. or Sun., depending I suppose on how busy he is. My favorites from this week's batch:
A collage of six photos of D. Trump with different black notables captioned:
"Donald Trump has been in the public eye for over 30 years ... and he was never once accused of being a racist until he decided to run against the Democrats."

A cartoon of a harbor tour boat passing a revised Statue of Liberty. She now wears a thong bikini, 5" heels, and a ribbon emblazoned "Miss USA" but still has the spiky tiara and carries the lamp. The caption: "President Trump insisted."

Side by side portrait photos of Presidents Kennedy and Obama, captioned:
May 1961, President John F. Kennedy
"We will put men on the moon"
May 2016, President Barack Obama
"We will put men in women's restrooms"

Three identical photos of the truculent-appearing mayor of Baltimore, in the first she says:
"I will not authorize my people to travel from Baltimore to North Carolina or Mississippi."
In the second a reporter asks her:
"Meaning what?"
In the third she replies:
"If those states want rioters and looters, they'll have to get them someplace else."

At a university graduation a line of cap-and-gown clad students being handed diplomas, after which they pass under an arch emblazoned:
"TRIGGER WARNING: Now exiting safe space into the real world."

Teflon Don

Maureen Dowd has a snarky New York Times column mostly consumed with wonder at Hillary's weakness as a candidate, unable to put away a charm-less Vermont socialist whose political mentor appears to have been Nineteen Eighty-Four's Emmanuel Goldstein as played by John Boswall. The following assessment isn't half bad:
Hillary’s Bataan Death March is making Republicans reconsider their own suicide mission with Trump. More are looking at Clinton’s inability to get the flashing lights going like her husband, and thinking: Huh, maybe we’re not dead here. Maybe Teflon Don could pull this off.

The 2016 race is transcendentally bizarre. We have two near-nominees with the highest unfavorables at this point in the race of any in modern history. We seem to have a majority of voters in both parties who are driven by the desire to vote against the other candidate, rather than for their own.
Dowd nailed it, voting against Hillary is my 2016 raison d'être.

Another Pair of Unintended Consequences

Raising the minimum wage is a strategy for moving working poor people out of a city or other jurisdiction. It makes jobs they would take to get a foot on the upward ladder uneconomic in that locale. Over time, people move to where perceived opportunity exists.

Restrictive real estate practices, including zoning and assessments, make both home ownership and rents higher, less affordable in a region. Again, this causes the working poor to move elsewhere.

It is likely most people who support higher minimum wages and restrictive real estate practices are unaware of the impact they have on moving the poor to other areas. Alternatively, perhaps they understand but don't care.

What if the two effects noted above are viewed as features, instead of defects? Imagine if the real motives are to gentrify the city or area, effectively limiting residency to people of high SES. Think of the scandal.

Go here to read a City Journal interview with Aaron Renn, who has written about the reverse migration of black Americans back to the South their grandparents left 70 years ago. The thoughts above are my reaction to points raised in this interview.

Unintended Consequences Watch

Here's another "unintended consequences" story to share with you. A few years back California adopted an unusual primary/general election system. See how City Journal describes it:
The top two vote-getters in the primary—regardless of party affiliation—will face each other in November.
But CA is, at the statewide level, a one-party state - Democrat.
If the current polling stands, the general election to fill the senate seat Boxer has held since 1992 will likely be a contest between two liberal Democrats: Harris (now at 27 percent) and Sanchez (at 14 percent).
Harris is the more liberal of the two likely finalists, and is more popular with Democrats statewide, so you'd assume she'll win, yes? Maybe not. Here's where the unintended consequences arise in November.
Golden State Republicans, having no candidate of their own to support, will be forced to choose between Harris and Sanchez. GOP voters in California are a minority but they still number in the millions. In a presidential election year, they will turn out in force. Expect them to vote for the least liberal of the Senate candidates on the ballot—Loretta Sanchez.
Ironically, CA's odd primary system gives its Republican minority more voice than they would have if there were a GOP candidate on the November ballot. It essentially forces what, in Europe, is called "tactical voting," voting for the least bad candidate.

Insofar as it causes CA Republicans to vote for the least liberal of two Democrat finalists, instead of for a sacrificial Republican, it may encourage Democrats to moderate their positions.

Got a Disturbance? Send the Legion

As regular COTTonLINE readers know well, on several occasions we've mentioned with favor the U.S. creating a foreign legion. Obviously, we're not the only one to whom this idea has occurred, see a World Politics Review article by Steven Metz which makes this same point, with substantially more groundwork laid.

My reasoning is as follows: the world is an increasingly dangerous and chaotic place. The United States will face continuing demands to act as its "policeman," demands that over time cannot be resisted or ignored.

Acting as disturbance-handlers isn't the role our regular Army and Marines are designed or trained for. A model of what is needed already exists - the French Foreign Legion. It has been the de facto policeman of French Equatorial Africa since the 1830s.
La Legion Etrangere c'est le gendarme de l'Afrique.
An unintended but very real side benefit: the quasi-colonial aspects of a foreign legion. American officers leading third-world troops will infuriate the anti-colonialists among us, most notably our incumbent President. Irritating Obama will be absolute karma after all the times he's irritated us.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Leave It Alone

Three days ago we cited an Aaron David Miller article, today we note another, this one in Foreign Policy. His topic today is SecState Kerry's documented obsession with the not sustainable nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Miller writes to argue Kerry is exactly wrong; the ugly status quo is highly sustainable - anything else is unthinkable to the parties on the ground. Basically, neither side can imagine living with a settlement the other would find acceptable.

Each side finds the often violent status quo preferable to a deal viewed as bad by many of its constituents. Miller's best guess: the one-and-two-halves-state status quo will persist into the foreseeable future. A U.S. president who understood this wouldn't waste time, energy and political capital trying to midwife a two-state solution neither party wants.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Whither Conservative Thought?

Scanning across this morning's offerings at RealClearPolitics I see an article by Bill Kristol vainly pushing his idea of a third-party challenge to Trump-Clinton. Another defends (in a backhanded way) Bill Kristol as not a "renegade Jew" but merely a sore loser.

This set me thinking about the future of the conservative establishment, as represented by two magazines: National Review and Kristol's Weekly Standard. Both are magazines I have read and cited over the near-decade COTTonLINE has been online. Both magazines have been a part of the recent #NeverTrump movement, bitterly so.

There has been a strong neocon presence in both - a commitment to a muscular, forward-leaning foreign policy Trump seems not to share. This element has favored a military defense of Israel, although it clearly stands for more than that.

If Trump loses in November, they'll write "I told you so" and continue on their present course. That much is a given.

The fascinating question is what they'll do if Trump wins? Will they mumble an apology and fall in line or become de facto allies of the Democrats? Is a change of heart even possible (or believable) after declaring Trump anathema?

If Trump wins, which appears likely at this juncture, I think these two icons of conservative thought may simply wither away, follow the many other magazines of opinion into the dusty archives of history. Like the Literary Digest, victims of the unforgivable sin of blatantly and unambiguously misreading the public will.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Fun With Numbers

T. A. Frank, writing at Vanity Fair, says what the white vote does is critical to Clinton's chances. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.
Fundamentally, then, a small percentage of white voters hating Clinton’s stance on immigration could outweigh a large percentage of Hispanic voters liking it.
Analysis: True. It's because the electorate is still something like 70% white.

Your Wednesday Snark

Victor Davis Hanson, aka "The Sage of the San Joaquin," writes in National Review about the callow group of flunkies with which Obama has surrounded himself, often characterized as "pajama boys" after the smug-looking, mug-cuddling, glasses-and-plaid-pajama-wearing idiot in the Obamacare TV ad.
Who hires and promotes Pajama Boys? Why, of course, Barack Obama, the Pajama Boy in Chief.
Celebrate the infinite arrogance of the prep school lad, an apprentice master-of-the-universe, dodging noblesse oblige.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Live Blogging the Kentucky, Oregon Returns

If it's Tuesday, there must be election returns, right? Yep, as of 5:45 pm Pacific time, with 87% of the votes counted in Kentucky, Clinton leads Sanders by 2816 votes, out of a total of 362,596 reported.

Clinton isn't all that popular among Democrats, and they swear she'll be nominated. My eyeball says they are separated by less than 1%. This in a state her husband carried twice, not impressive.

Seven minutes later ... now 92% have been reported, Clinton has 190,698 to Sanders 190,572, they are separated by 126 votes. That looks like maybe 0.1% difference, a for-sure recount. She cannot close the deal.

Polls in Oregon, where both parties are holding primaries, haven't closed yet.

At 6:07 Clinton's lead has opened back up to 1012 votes, with 95% reporting.

At 6:20 Clinton's lead has opened to 2500 with 98% reporting. RealClearPolitics has them separated by 0.6%.

At 9:20 p.m. Kentucky is still too close to call for either Clinton or Sanders, they are less than 2000 votes apart with Clinton in a slight lead. RealClearPolitics has them each taking 27 delegates.

Oregon has been called for Sanders on the Dem. side, and for Trump on the GOP side. Sanders gets 28 delegates to Clinton's 24, Trump gets 17 while Kasich and Cruz each get 3.

Van Drivers and Failed Novelists

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR; no relation) speaking with radio show host Hugh Hewett, about the Ben Rhodes fakery promoting the Iran deal, as reported by Scott Johnson of Power Line.
Ben Rhodes is what happens when you put van drivers and campaign flacks and failed novelists in charge of foreign policy and national security.

That chump may think that subsidizing Iran’s nuclear program with millions of dollars is a laughing matter. I don’t think it’s that funny. And if he or anyone else over there had ever been man enough to put on the uniform and pick up a rifle, and have to lead men in dodging Iranian-made bombs, they might not be laughing, either.
Obama's "pajama boy" administration strikes again, personable wannabes throughout. Selected, one supposes, because they pose no intellectual or experiential threat to the boss.

In Defense of Free Speech

Jo Rowling is a heck of a storyteller, the DrsC enjoy her Harry Potter series. Rowling doesn't love Donald Trump, there's no particular reason she should.

CNN reports J. K. Rowling, unlike a half million plus of her countrymen, is a defender of free speech.
I find almost everything that Mr. Trump says objectionable. I consider him offensive and bigoted. But he has my full support to come to my country and be offensive and bigoted there.

If you seek the removal of freedoms from an opponent simply on the grounds that they have offended you, you have crossed a line to stand alongside tyrants who imprison, torture and kill on exactly the same justifications,
COTTonLINE honors Rowling's defense of free speech. It's sad more of the fragile cry bullies on our campuses, who loved her stories, don't share her views.

Steyn Riffs on Superheros

The often amusing Mark Steyn writes, at his SteynOnline blog, about current political issues, casting them in a Marvel Comics 'verse of comic superhero stereotypes:
Captain America (Donald Trump) has gone to Avengers Headquarters in Washington for a showdown with Ryan-Man (Paul Ryan) over his plan to make America great again. Meanwhile, Rino-Man (Mitt Romney) and SuperPac-Man (Mike Murphy), who has the amazing superpower of being able to take $100 million and shrink it to a buck seventy-nine - now that their protégé Low-Energy-Man (Jeb Bush) is no more - are urging the Mighty Sasse (Ben Sasse) and the world's oldest boy-sidekick Buckeye (John Kasich), whose superpowers don't work beyond the state border, to jump into the fight against Captain America.

Captain America has the support of Newt-Man (Newt Gingrich) and the Incredible Bulk (Chris Christie) and the reformed evildoer Low-Key (Ben Carson), but which way will the Black Widow (Carly Fiorina) – she mates, she kills... which way will the Black Widow jump? Tomorrow night, Captain America has a romantic evening planned with the Scarlet Witch (Megyn Kelly)...
I deem that effort up to Steyn's usual standard of snarky excellence.

The Kibbutz Movement

RealClearPolitics has an article about the kibbutz movement in Israel, which comes from Deutsche Welle. As described, a kibbutz comes very close to being pure socialism in action, on a modest scale.

You might realistically conclude Israelis are among the few people to ever make collective farms a success, Perhaps Mennonites are another, about whom COTTonLINE is less well informed.

Most efforts at collectivism have failed, in places as different as Russia, China, Cuba, Vietnam and the U.S. Collectivism isn't nearly as prevalent in Scandinavia as outsiders think.

It is likely the underlying culture of the people involved needs certain characteristics to ensure success. Apparently the culture of many European Jews contained the requisite factors.


At COTTonLINE we try not to dwell overmuch on the Middle East/North Africa region, viewing it as essentially beyond help. That said, Aaron David Miller writes realpolitik concerning MENA for RealClearWorld that's worth sharing. His six bullet points:
Want Hollywood endings, go to the movies.
Blame America, but blame the locals more.
Doctrines are disastrous.
Want a perfect friend? Get a dog.
Don't let rhetoric outstrip reality or capacity.
Forget transforming the region.
If I can put words in his mouth, Miller views MENA as being like a case of type 1 diabetes. That is, you can't cure it so you manage it as best you can, knowing it will be a "forever" problem, with an eventual bad prognosis.

He's too cool to write it, but siting Armageddon in the region feels right. Putting it off as long as possible seems our only viable option.

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Sign of the Times

I know of no single indicator that does a better job of capturing the massive realignment of voting blocs than this Yahoo News headline:
A determined Clinton woos wary voters: blue-collar whites.
Since at least the 1930s and FDR, the Democrats have been the party of blue-collar Americans. Now 2016 may be the year the party loses the white subset completely. In terms of political science, that is huge.

In recent decades largely the political home of "grievance groups," the Democrats have lost their appeal to white union members, a bloc which continues to shrink in any case. In 2016 it is likely most of these remaining will vote Trump.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Ferguson Effect Lives

A good scientist goes where the data takes him (or her), regardless of the political correctness (or lack thereof) of their findings. Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, was widely quoted when he opined that the "Ferguson effect" did not explain the jump in homicides in St. Louis.

Now, The Guardian (U.K.) reports Rosenfeld, having delved deeper into the data for many large U.S. cities, has changed his mind. He now says of the national increase in murders:
That led me to conclude, preliminarily, that something like a Ferguson effect was responsible for the increase.
Where his original conclusion was reported by NBC News and Huffington Post, among others, we have to find his retraction in a British paper. In case you haven't made the connection, the nonexistence of a Ferguson effect is politically correct, it's existence is not.

Our MSM knows which answer they liked, his first one. Don't expect them to publicize his retraction.

Zap Motion Sickness

Regular readers know the DrsC take long cruises a couple of times a year. Friends and relatives tell us they get motion sickness and can't imagine cruising. There is now a non-chemical, electronic answer for their problem.

IEEE Spectrum reports on a device called ReliefBand which is a small, wearable TENS unit designed to stimulate an acupressure point on the wrist. An improved model under development promises to be more user-friendly. The article's author says it works well on her moderately severe motion sickness.

She formerly used meclizine hydrochloride (i.e., Bonine or generic) but claims it made her too sleepy. We use meclizine when cruising and find it merely guarantees a good night's sleep in our cabin's obviously strange bed, a decent trade-off.

Whatever it takes to be comfortable. Go to sea and learn just how truly empty most of our planet is. We wish you fair winds and following seas, both of which were atypically scarce on our latest voyage.

Disordered Assumptions About the Body

Writing at the Public Discourse website of The Witherspoon Institute, Paul McHugh is a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and chief psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins Hospital. His topic: what they've learned about the lives of transexuals.
When “the tumult and shouting dies,” it proves not easy nor wise to live in a counterfeit sexual garb. The most thorough follow-up of sex-reassigned people—extending over thirty years and conducted in Sweden, where the culture is strongly supportive of the transgendered—documents their lifelong mental unrest. Ten to fifteen years after surgical reassignment, the suicide rate of those who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery rose to twenty times that of comparable peers.

Most young boys and girls who come seeking sex-reassignment are utterly different from Jenner. They have no erotic interest driving their quest. Rather, they come with psychosocial issues—conflicts over the prospects, expectations, and roles that they sense are attached to their given sex—and presume that sex-reassignment will ease or resolve them.

Although much is made of a rare “intersex” individual, no evidence supports the claim that people such as Bruce Jenner have a biological source for their transgender assumptions. Plenty of evidence demonstrates that with him and most others, transgendering is a psychological rather than a biological matter.

In fact, gender dysphoria—the official psychiatric term for feeling oneself to be of the opposite sex—belongs in the family of similarly disordered assumptions about the body, such as anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder. Its treatment should not be directed at the body as with surgery and hormones any more than one treats obesity-fearing anorexic patients with liposuction. The treatment should strive to correct the false, problematic nature of the assumption and to resolve the psychosocial conflicts provoking it. With youngsters, this is best done in family therapy.
That is what we wrote just a day or so ago, the problem is mental, not physical.

Reluctant Racists

Londoner Jane Kelly writes in The Telegraph (U.K.) about the changing nature of her city. London now has its first Muslim mayor, a milestone like David Dinkins becoming the first black mayor of New York City.

Her London neighborhood is becoming a Muslim ghetto where she no longer feels at home or welcome. Kelly describes "white flight" happening in her borough as though it is some new phenomenon. It is instead a very old story.

She recounts a euphemism for good (i.e., white) neighborhoods being known by estate agents as places with "good schools." I heard that exact phrase in the Washington, DC, suburbs in the 1970s, directing me to seek residence in Montgomery County rather than Prince George's County because it had "better schools" which is to say more white residents. See her conclusion:
I, too, have decided to leave my area, following in the footsteps of so many of my neighbours. I don’t really want to go. I worked long and hard to get to London, to find a good job and buy a home and I’d like to stay here. But I’m a stranger on these streets and all the “good” areas, with safe streets, nice housing and pleasant cafés, are beyond my reach. I see London turning into a place almost exclusively for poor immigrants and the very rich.

It’s sad that I am moving not for a positive reason, but to escape something. I wonder whether I’ll tell the truth, if I’m asked. I can’t pretend that I’m worried about local schools, so perhaps I’ll say it’s for the chance of a conversation over the garden fence. But really I no longer need an excuse: mass immigration is making reluctant racists of us all.
It has that effect.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Anomaly Ended, Underlying Trend Resumes

COTTonLINE's favorite demographer Joel Kotkin writes for Forbes as follows:
From 2009-11, Americans seemed to be clustering again in dense cities, to the great excitement of urban boosters. The recently released 2015 Census population estimates confirm that was an anomaly.

Americans have strongly returned to their decades long pattern of greater suburbanization and migration to lower-density, lower-cost metropolitan areas, largely in the South, Intermountain West and, most of all, in Texas.
The South, Intermountain West and Texas include 6 of the 9 states with no state income tax (counting SD as "intermountain"). That factor is a draw, particularly for retirees.

Argentine Update

Former Argentine president Cristina Fernandez has been indicted for fraud and corruption in a scheme valued by the Express (U.K.) at $5 billion. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.
The ex-president, her economy minister Axel Kicillof, former central bank chief Alejandro Vanoli, and 12 others were charged with 'unfaithful administration to the detriment of public administration', according to court papers.

The accusation is that the central bank took billions of dollars worth of money-losing positions in the futures market ahead of a widely expected devaluation of the Argentine peso.

Federal judge Clauido Bonadio said a scheme to inflate the Argentine peso by selling the central bank’s US dollars below market value would not have been possible without the ex-president.

Judge Bonadio said the state lost more than $5billion (£3billion), allowing buyers to make a big profit on transactions.
Those "buyers" stand accused, of course. Corrupt politicians are a Latin American staple as we noted on Thursday.

Friday, May 13, 2016


If some Joe thinks he is Jesus, or some gal thinks she's Shirley Temple, we say these individuals are delusional, they have a mental illness, likely schizophrenia. Because few mental hospitals exist,  they get to live rough and push their possessions around in a stolen grocery cart, mumbling to themselves.

If some bloke has XY chromosomes and male "plumbing" but thinks he's a gal, or a biological woman who's XX believes she's a man, we call them transgender and protect their civil rights. Why aren't they delusional as well?

Help me understand how the first group is delusional while the second group is a protected class? A class health insurers are being coerced into funding for sex change surgery. You and I as fellow insureds get to pay for their elective surgery, designed to make their physiology more congruent with their delusional state.

Don't we call such behavior "enabling," meaning we are aiding the person to maintain his or her delusion?

Birth Rates and Immigration

Writing for The Atlantic, Howard W. French makes an interesting point having a direct bearing on the U.S. immigration debate. Let me summarize his thinking for you.

Highly developed, as well as moderately developed nations are experiencing falling birth rates, to well below the 2.1 children per woman required for replacement. China especially faces this dilemma. The consequent falling ratio of workers to retirees will be a serious problem as nations grapple with soaring eldercare costs.

Oddly, the U.S. does not much share the problem because immigration adds to our population and recent immigrants bring higher birth rates. It is possible population shrinkage was one motive of Chancellor Angela Merkel for allowing Germany to be overrun by immigrants from MENA.

French believes he's made an ironclad argument against the Trump approach to illegal immigrants, I totally disagree. Trump, you'll recall, favors legal immigration. The U.S. can get all the legal immigrants it needs by being selective, as the Australians are.

It will still be important to exclude most unskilled economic migrants. They add far more to our welfare and criminal justice costs than they do to our human capital.

Perhaps we could recruit unskilled migrants into a Foreign Legion, from which 20 year veterans could retire with a pension and U.S. citizenship. It's handy for a nation to have troops who, if killed, are mourned in another country,

More Unintended Consequences

As regular readers know, COTTonLINE likes stories of unintended consequences. Most often they are situations in which some rule or policy is instituted with the very best intentions, only to discover that it makes worse that which it was intended to make better.

Our example today is from the Urban Institute website, and it's a tale of trying to help black individuals with criminal records find employment by banning questions about a criminal record on employment applications, a practice called "banning the box." How, you are wondering, does it have unintended consequences?

It turns out when employers don't ask about criminal records, don't do background checks, they are less likely to hire individuals from groups with a history of high incarceration - in other words, blacks, and perhaps Hispanics.

Checking criminal records helps individuals with no criminal record get jobs. It proves they don't fit the stereotype of their group. "Banning the box" leads to stereotyping and costs law-abiding applicants job opportunities they'd otherwise have. That is, it makes worse a bias favoring whites and Asians. Hat tip to RealClearPolicy for the link.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Misleading Scare Headline

The Pew Research Center seems to have an agenda, when reporting income data. That agenda reflected in their headline appears to be how bad things are, how the middle class is shrinking. It is shrinking, but as broadcaster Paul Harvey would declaim, "Stand by for the rest of the story." If you read Pew's work carefully, you discover the following gem, in their words:
Among American adults overall, including those from outside the 229 areas examined in depth, the share living in middle-income households fell from 55% in 2000 to 51% in 2014. Reflecting the accumulation of changes at the metropolitan level, the nationwide share of adults in lower-income households increased from 28% to 29% and the share in upper-income households rose from 17% to 20% during the period.
In other words, net-net we are, as a people, better off than we were 14 years ago. The number of upper income households increased by 3% while the number of lower income households increased by 1%. Do you suppose any of those rising from middle to upper income are unhappy? Unlikely, isn't it?

Losing members of the middle class is not a terrible thing if those moving on have improved their economic lot in life, have actually moved up. However, a headline proclaiming one household in a hundred is doing less well than formerly would be a big ho-hum, nobody would care much. So ... a misleading headline to draw in clicks, readers.


David P. Goldman, who channels Spengler for PJ Media, writes that while he finds much to dislike about Donald Trump, and might even punch him in the nose, will nevertheless vote for him. In a tour d'horizon explaining his seemingly contradictory decision, Goldman says the following of NATO:
Germany is swimming in tax revenues, but won't spend enough on defense to keep more than one out of four of its fighter aircraft in service at any given moment. I'm for a strong NATO, but we don't have one and can't get one whether we want it or not.
At World War II's end, the U.S. made a decision to defend Western Europe to forestall World War III. Like anybody offered something for nothing, the Europeans took the sweet deal. Then like anybody on the dole, they became drones, unwilling to exert themselves in their own defense. Perhaps Trump will call their bluff.

Analogy: my best students always hated group projects. Because they cared more about their grades they ended up doing most of the work, while the slackers had a free ride and shared the grade. In today's NATO, the Germanys and Italys and Belgiums are the slackers, we're the good student who makes the effort to succeed while they coast along on our coattails.

I have a radical policy suggestion: what if the U.S. indicated that, beginning in 24 months, we'd only defend those nations which were actually meeting their current year NATO obligation of spending 2% of GDP on defense? Nations unwilling/unable to meet their obligations would be publicly declared "associate" NATO members, not "members in good standing" entitled to defense.

Rousseff Out in Brazil

Reuters reports the Senate in Brazil has voted 55 to 22 to put President Dilma Rousseff on trial for corruption. This means she is removed from office and her Vice President, of a different party, takes over.

The size of the vote to impeach suggests Rousseff is unlikely to be acquitted. Brazil meanwhile faces an economic downturn, Zika, and the impending Olympics for which preparations are still being made.

Rousseff's left-wing Workers Party, in office for 13 years, is deeply mired in the corruption charges for which Latin America is well known. Perhaps Iberian colonial policy, Iberian culture, or its incestuous relationship with the Roman Catholic church are contributing factors to this regional malaise.

I use the label "Iberian" because Brazil was a colony of Portugal. The balance of Latin America was colonized by Spain.

Cultural similarities between the two Iberian peninsula neighbors are much greater than their differences. I daresay the differences which exist seem large to Spaniards and Portuguese much as differences between Canada and the U.S. seem substantial to us but insignificant to the rest of the world.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Job You Wouldn't Want?

The New York Times' Tom Friedman is normally a reliable lefty. When his topic is foreign policy, as it is today, he manages to override his partisan bias.

Friedman basically calls a pox on both houses, citing Obama's Ben Rhodes bragging about "stage managing" public opinion on the Iran deal as well as Trump's less-than-edifying pronouncements on the topic. Of Trump, Friedman says:
He shows no sign of having asked the most important question: What are the real foreign policy challenges the next president will face? I don’t think he has a clue, because if he did, he wouldn’t want the job. This is one of the worst times to be conducting U.S. foreign policy.

What does the new president do when the necessary is impossible but the impossible is necessary? Yes, we’ve proved in Iraq and Afghanistan that we don’t know how to do nation-building in other people’s countries. But just leaving Libya, Syria and parts of Iraq and Yemen ungoverned, and spewing out refugees, has led to a flood of migrants hitting Europe and stressing the cohesion of the European Union.

The choices are hellish. I would not want the responsibility for making them. But nobody has a monopoly on genius here, and neither Obama’s victory lap around this smoldering ruin (Syria) nor Trump’s bombastic and simplistic solutions are pretty to watch.
Friedman calls the jihadis "networked nihilists."
These suicidal jihadist-nihilists are not trying to win; they just want to make us lose. That’s a tough foe. They can’t destroy us — now — but they will ratchet up the pain if they get the ammo. Curbing them while maintaining an open society, with personal privacy on your cellphone and on the Internet, will be a challenge.
Openness and privacy normally suffer in the face of external threat. If the jihadis and refugees aren't enough, Russia and China are reviving the Cold War as both seek to reestablish regional hegemony.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Double Standard

The Los Angeles Times reports the 16 black women cadets who posed for a group photo in uniform with raised fists, have been found by West Point to have broken no rules and will not be disciplined. Most observers saw their pose as support for the Black Lives Matter movement which violates Academy rules against cadet political activity (other than voting).

Try a thought experiment. Imagine there was some equivalent gesture or salute associated with white power (I know of none). Further imagine a like sized group of white cadets had been photographed giving that suspect "salute."

Do you believe white cadets would have gotten off with no reprimand? It's likely they would have been expelled forthwith. "White privilege" means being forced to adhere to rules which others may choose to ignore.

Quote of the Day

Radio talk host Dennis Prager, writing in National Review, about the diminishing impact of the American idea.
Since its inception, the Left has opposed the American idea, and for good reason. Everything the American idea represents undermines leftist ideas. And the Left, unlike most Americans, has always understood that either the Left is right or America is right.

America stands for small government, a free economy (and therefore capitalism), liberty (and it therefore allows for liberty’s inevitable consequence, inequality), the “melting pot” ideal, and a God-centered population rooted in Judeo-Christian values (so that a moral society is created by citizens exercising self-control rather than relying on the state to impose controls).
The Left disagrees with everything America stands for. One thing is certain: we've gotten as far as we have in spite of the Left, not because of it.

Trump's Style

It appears the major parties' candidates will be Trump and Clinton. These individuals both have deficits, both have irritated large blocs of voters, albeit different blocs.

Neither person is over-committed to the truth, is particularly moral, or is what most Americans would define as an ideal president. Neither is someone most parents would like their children to grow up admiring or emulating.

It isn't even clear their policies differ much. The exceptions are in two relatively well-defined areas: foreign policy/trade and immigration. Clinton is an internationalist, Trump is for America First.

What really differentiates Trump and Clinton, beyond gender, is entertainment value - which candidate is more compelling to watch. Viewing a Clinton speech is painful; her harsh voice and aggressive, hectoring manner type-casts her as everyman's mother-in-law or ex-wife. Your instinct is to hit the "mute" button or change the channel.

On the other hand, a Trump speech has all the fascination of a slow-motion train wreck; you can't look away. You keep wondering what shibboleth he will disparage, which opponent he will skewer with cruel malice, what iconic figure he will besmirch, what uncomfortable truth he will proclaim.

Trump's style is an unlikely combination of Muhammad Ali, George Carlin and Don Rickles. His slogan could be "I'm the greatest, the status quo sucks, and if you disagree, you're a loser." Sounds like an odd combination, but it obviously works for him.

Art Imitates Life

The FX cable TV program The Americans, is about a married couple with two children - Russian spies - living in the Cold War-era U.S. as "illegals," posing as American-born citizens. Did you have any idea it was based on real people, on the actual lives of real "moles"?

I'll admit I didn't know a very similar family existed, was caught by the FBI, and later swapped to Russia for some people they'd caught who spied for us. The Guardian (U.K.) has the story in considerable detail. 

The spies' two Canadian-born sons who speak little Russian are trying to get back out of Russia. To drum up sympathy, they have told their story to a British reporter.

Canada, it turns out, doesn't want to issue the brothers birth certificates and passports. Most Western countries won't give them visas. 

If you have some time, the long newspaper article is very interesting. It's a good "weekend" read.

Monday, May 9, 2016

CBO Youth Demographics

Breitbart reports youth employment and incarceration data compiled by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office or CBO. The news is bad, but also quite uneven.
Out of the 38 million young men in the U.S. in 2014, 16 percent were jobless (5 million or 13 percent) or incarcerated (1 million or 3 percent). The share of young men without a job or in prison has increased substantially since 1980, when just 11 percent of young men fit into either category.

The level of joblessness and incarceration varies based on young men’s educational attainment. The less they have, the more likely they are to be jobless or incarcerated.

The rates also varied among racial and ethnic groups. In 2014 young black men were about twice as likely to be jobless or incarcerated than white or Hispanic young men were. The disparity was largely due, however, to higher rates of incarceration among young black men.

Interestingly, while young men dropped out of the workforce, the share of young women who were jobless or incarcerated declined from 31 percent in 1980 to 22 percent in 2014.  
The problem has gotten worse on President Obama's watch. He shares the blame.

Trump the Anti-Obama

British historian Paul Johnson writes in Forbes about the evils of political correctness, seeing Trump as a needed antidote thereto. Of Trump, he says:
No one could be a bigger contrast to the spineless, pusillanimous and underdeserving Barack Obama, who has never done a thing for himself and is entirely the creation of reverse discrimination. The fact that he was elected President–not once, but twice–shows how deep-set the rot is and how far along the road to national impotence the country has traveled.
Paul Johnson doesn't feel hampered by political correctness, does he? Hat tip to Power Line for the link.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

University Left-Wing Bias

Reliably liberal Nicholas Kristof has written what is, for The New York Times, a piece of heterodox journalism. His topic: the scarcity of political conservatives and evangelicals on university faculties, particularly in certain departments.
Four studies found that the proportion of professors in the humanities who are Republicans ranges between 6 and 11 percent, and in the social sciences between 7 and 9 percent.

Conservatives can be spotted in the sciences and in economics, but they are virtually an endangered species in fields like anthropology, sociology, history and literature. One study found that only 2 percent of English professors are Republicans (although a large share are independents).
Having raised the issue of bias and to the satisfaction of most demonstrated its existence, Kristof condemns the lack of ideological bandwidth on faculties as counterproductive. We agree; as our Australian pals would say, "Good on you, mate."

The combined academic experiences of the DrsC suggest what Kristof has written is accurate. We'd add Teacher Ed. faculties to his list of departments with few political conservatives.

Outside the South, where they appear to be common, overt Christians are scarce in higher ed. How much of southern academics' religiosity is simply "protective coloration" adopted to gain acceptance is unknown.

Hyperbole Alert

CBS News headlines a story about political cross-overs: "Hillary Clinton: 'A lot' of Republicans want to help my campaign." Given how widely disliked Hillary Clinton is among Republicans, five (5) would constitute "a lot."

I believe there are a substantial minority who have qualms about voting for Trump. I doubt many of those will abstain, come November, and even fewer will vote for her. It is no fluke Republicans are the more motivated voters this year, she's the reason.

A Fourth Stage

Keith C. Burris, writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, asks "What if we've gotten Trump wrong?" He cites some interesting examples of how we've done this with past presidents.
What if the press has been wrong all along about Mr. Trump and what if we are still wrong?

We often get public figures wrong, just fundamentally wrong. The predominant view from the press, and the first draft of history, is just off the mark.
Burris then gives several spot-on examples, adding:
When I say Mr. Trump is smart, I do not mean only as a manipulator of symbols and a deft politician, I also mean he has gotten a couple of big things right. (snip) In this he reminds me of Ronald Reagan: He’s gotten a couple of big things right and connected with voters.

I remember when Ronald Reagan was called an “amiable dunce” and the most ignorant man to enter the Oval Office. He was neither. We got him wrong.
For all our sakes, I hope Burris is correct, don't you? It's a good column. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Mos Eisley on the Hudson

Instapundit guest contributor Ed Driscoll, uncharitably characterizing New York politicians:
Whose political class is better suited to Star Wars’ cantina: Charles Schumer, Michael Bloomberg, Bill de Blasio, Anthony Weiner, Al Sharpton, Hillary Clinton, and possibly joining them in November, Donald Trump.
It's a group of bizarros, for sure. Driscoll forgot Sheldon Silver. The New York Times reports:
Sheldon Silver, the former State Assembly speaker, will be sentenced at the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan today.

If Mr. Silver lands behind bars, he’ll be in familiar company.

At least six of his colleagues from the New York State Legislature are in the federal prison system.

John L. Sampson a Senate Democrat, and Dean G. Skelos, the former Republican Senate majority leader, are scheduled to be sentenced this month.
New York politics are as "colorful" as Illinois politics, and as productive of prison inmates, too. Illinois native Hillary must feel very much "at home" in the New York political swamp.

WaPo Disinformation

You may have seen a Washington Post article by Paul Waldman claiming Hillary Clinton would be "exonerated" of charges of keeping classified material on the closet email server. His argument:
In order to have broken the law, it isn’t enough for Clinton to have had classified information in a place where it was possible for it to be hacked. She would have had to intentionally given classified information to someone without authorization to have it. 
I'd been feeling this was a weak argument, a misreading of the law, when I spotted the following at Power Line by regular contributor Scott Johnson, an attorney. He counters:
Waldman to the contrary notwithstanding, the statute does not require that Clinton have “intentionally given classified information to someone without authorization to have it[.]” It doesn’t even require that the information be classified. It merely requires that the information “relate to the national defense.”

Andrew McCarthy is a former Assistant United States Attorney who handled serious cases involving national security. Unlike Waldman, he knows what he is talking about. Andy summarized potentially applicable law for the New York Times in part as follows
The laws against mishandling classified information are prosecution-friendly. For example, it is a felony for one entrusted with classified information not only to communicate it to a person unauthorized to have it, but also to enable its removal from its secure storage facility through gross negligence. It is also a crime to fail to report that information’s improper removal or communication. So is retaining materials containing classified information at an unauthorized location.

An Omen

Based in Pittsburgh, Salena Zito writes today for RealClearPolitics about the impact of the Trump candidacy on down-ballot races, particularly the House. Along the way, she makes an interesting point.
Trump and the Democrats' presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton, have “unfavorable” ratings of 60 percent and 59 percent, respectively, which means a large part of the electorate feels it faces a choice of being shot or stabbed. Do they vote for Hillary over Donald, not vote at all, or skip the presidential ballot in order to support their down-ballot representatives? 
In a 50-50 nation, both having "unfavorables" so high means each party contains many people who dislike their party's presidential nominee. This could portend a major realignment of voting blocs.

Happy Mothers' Day

COTTonLINE wishes all moms a Happy Mothers' Day. As a species with a very long developmental period, humans are particularly reliant on good mothers and particularly fortunate to have them. We owe our mothers so much.

If you are fortunate enough to have your mother still living, call her and tell her she's appreciated while you still can. You and your children are her message to the future, her time capsule.

A Funny Epitaph?

The Drudge Report links to a Maureen Dowd column in The New York Tiimes. MoDo today imagines (with snark pedal to the metal) a sit-down between Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan.

As you know, she does the literary equivalent of a cartoon that exaggerates real characteristics to make real points. What she writes is something like what each would be thinking, if not saying, in such a meet-up.

It's funny, I can imagine both men smirking while reading it. Oddly enough, it could also turn out to be an epitaph for Ryan as Speaker.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Quote of the Day

Stephen Stromberg, writing opinion for The Washington Post, about this cycle's #1 political topic: explaining the Trump phenomenon.
Trump’s ridiculous rhetoric and proposals have functioned as a form of signaling. They project strength, yes, but also, most of all, his willingness to say what is on his mind, which implies that most cherished of political attributes: authenticity.
Authenticity is in particularly short supply at Camp Clinton. She's been on both sides of far too many issues.

Weekly (Mostly) Political Humor

Each week, Steven Hayward of Power Line collects snide cartoons and photos with funny captions. He posts this collection on Saturdays, here are my favorites from today's chuckles.
Standing at a podium labeled "Trump Twofer," The Donald proclaims: "Not only am I sending illegal immigrants to Mexico, I'm driving annoying celebrities to Canada."
Over a photo of Trump in signature slogan cap holding his thumb up, captioned: "People are being paid to protest my rallies. I'm not even President yet, and already I'm creating jobs."
A photo of an overgrown front yard with a Bernie yard sign and the caption: "WAITING for universal lawn care."
Iconic photo of Jack Nicholson from The Shining, lustfully deranged, captioned: "Is this the Ladies' Room? I'm feeling a little feminine today."
Photo of a large Florida sinkhole in a residential neighborhood, captioned: "Rosie O'Donnel dies in terrible sky diving accident..."
And finally, a comedy routine rendered as a poster:
The economy is so bad that: I received a pre-declined credit card. CEOs are now playing miniature golf. Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen. Angelina Jolie adopted a child from America. Motel Six won't leave the light on anymore. A picture is now worth only 200 words. They renamed Wall Street as "Wal-Mart Street." Finally, I called the Suicide Hotline. I got a call center in Pakistan and when I told them I was suicidal, they got all excited, and asked if I could drive a truck. 

Eulogy Continues

It's time for another installment of a Eulogy for Turkish Democracy. Here's the latest.

The Economist reports Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan, and his AK party, have fired Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and will replace him, possibly with Erdogan's son-in-law. This move constitutes another loop of the downward spiral that is Turkey's path from elected government to autocracy.

Before entering government, Erdogan famously said of democracy, "Democracy is like a train. We shall get out when we arrive at the station we want" (Spiegel, 2010). The evidence is clear, Erdogan has reached the station he wants and is, one deniable step at a time, getting out.

It's a sad thing happening to a regionally important country. What's worse, it is happening because the Turks will it. Erdogan is popular, he wins elections. Ataturk's revolution has burned out, after decades it has failed.

A Canadian Perspective

Conrad Black writes opinion for the National Post, one of Canada's two national papers. He takes an contrarian upbeat view of Donald Trump. See what he writes:
I have known Donald Trump cordially for more than 15 years, and he was an ideal business partner in a co-development of a large property in Chicago and a loyal friend in my late legal troubles. What lunacy has possessed our media to be so horrified at someone who expresses mass exasperation over 20 years of misgovernment, failed fiscal and foreign policies, crumbling infrastructure, state education, a retrograde health-care reform, hemorrhaging public debt, the invasion of the country by 12 million illegals, and a self-satisfied political class incanting soporific lullabies about the “greatest nation in human history.”

Apart from taking a hard line against Islamist extremists and horrifying trade deficits, he is the radical centre. Useless idiots on the left who try to disrupt his meetings are responding to a caricature — the conservative intelligentsia have more reason to despair that he isn’t one of them. He isn’t, but the United States is not governed from the right-wing end zone, any more than from the opposite end of the field, where Hillary is scruffing after votes with Sanders. Donald Trump is a centrist who has attracted an army of disaffected, economically vulnerable, patriots. There is nothing very frightening in that.
Read Black's whole column, it is worth your time and energies.

The Ryan Dilemma

Republican primary voters have chosen Donald Trump as the party's nominee, from an array of 17 mostly qualified candidates. Yet the nation's senior elected Republican official - Speaker of the House Paul Ryan - cannot bring himself to support the voters' choice "at this time"?

Do you believe Paul Ryan truly wants to continue as Speaker? He has self-identified as disagreeing with the party's voters. One could argue Ryan has disqualified himself.

On the other hand, the Speaker represents not the will of the voters but rather the will of the elected Representatives. He is their elected leader, not ours. It is possible a majority of GOP Representatives disagree with the party's voters.

Our Representatives might want to rethink their choice for Speaker. Their failure to do so, if it happens, can be sorted out via primary challenges in congressional district elections around the country.

Goin' to Texas

A story we follow at COTTonLINE is the worsening business climate in California, among the bluest of states. Now the Los Angeles Times reports Jamba Juice, the smoothie company, is moving its headquarters from Emeryville, across the bay from San Francisco, to Frisco, Texas, some 30 miles north of Dallas.

The article also mentions earlier moves by Toyota, gone to Plano, TX, Occidental Petroleum headed for Houston, and Carl Jr.'s moving to Tennessee. The reason: taxes are lower. Homes are perhaps half price in TX and there's no state income tax in either TX or TN.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Bitterness, Division, and Frustration

Historian Walter Russell Mead writes, in The American Interest, about the troubled 2016 political race and its roots in a fragmenting American consensus.
A Trump-Clinton campaign will be one of the ugliest—and most unpredictable—in American history. November will not be the end of the bitterness, the division, and the frustration; the next President of the United States will have a difficult job. The consequences of unsolved problems will proliferate, the international challenges will become sharper, and public unhappiness with the status quo will likely continue to rise. Political passions will run high, and the polarization will run deep.
I am moved to quote Irish poet W. B. Yeats:
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Very timely, for a work written at the end of World War I. Perhaps things are often this messy.

Just Deserts?

Michael Brendan Dougherty (could he be more Irish?) writes for The Week a "pox on both your houses" diatribe about how wretched he believes Clinton and Trump to be. His conclusion:
These days American self-government is indistinguishable from self-incrimination. Our domestic policy is a nest of rent-seeking corruption, our social insurance system is an act of theft against posterity. And our foreign policy, described fairly, resembles the last weeks of a bloodthirsty crime family, led to its bitter end by demented octogenarians. Clinton or Trump 2016: a just punishment.
"Ah, Michael, God love ya. It's a priest ya coulda been, lad." That's my attempt at rendering an Irish encomium.

Star Power

Blogging at Townhall, Jonah Goldberg has a show biz take on the presidential campaign that is (a) fun and (b) very possibly accurate as well.
Clinton is rich, and morally and ethically corrupt. So is Trump. But at least he's entertaining. Everyone suspects they know what President Hillary Clinton: The Movie would look like. Trump: The Movie? That could be a wild ride.
Don't underestimate seeking entertainment as a voting motive. And Melania Trump is orders of magnitude more photogenic than careworn Bill Clinton, according to Chris Matthews of MSNBC.

A Checkerboard of Nights and Days

Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, the day Mexicans who don't live in Mexico celebrate the place they fled. That's entirely logical, yes? It must be like St. Patrick's Day, which isn't much celebrated in Ireland.

Day before yesterday was the celebration of all things Star Wars - May 4. If you don't get it, think "May the Fourth be with you." It sounds like "May the Force be with you," spoken with a lisp. Sort of dumb, isn't it?

A couple of weeks ago was April 20 or 4/20 or 420 - Marijuana Day. Google it if you care to know why 420, the history is as boring as most stoners.

Some are saying May 3 was a largely unheralded apocalypse, making reference to the Indiana primary that settled the GOP presidential primary season. My opinion: the world isn't ending just yet.

The next "day" to which I shall attend will be June 21, the summer solstice. That day spring ends and summer begins.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Associated Press Bias Showing ... Again

The Associated Press headlines an article "House Speaker Paul Ryan Refuses to Back Donald Trump." If you read the article, Ryan did no such thing. Here's the complete statement:
I'm just not ready to do that at this point. I'm not there right now. And I hope to. And I want to, but I think what is required is that we unify this party.
Trump replied that he isn't ready to support Ryan's agenda either, but hopes they can reach agreement on a policy that stops treating Americans badly.

A friendly headline would emphasize Ryan's hope, his desire. This unfriendly headline emphasizes the immediate (and likely temporary) refusal, in attempt to boost intra-party discord. A balanced, neutral headline would have indicated differences which both hope to bridge.


We began opposing Ryan as speaker in early October of 2015. and did so again a couple of days later. We've seen little to cause us to change that evaluation subsequently.

Ryan favors amnesty for illegal immigrants. He feels compelled to pass legislation the President will sign, generally it's legislation that should not pass.

We needed a speaker who would brag about the number of popular bills he forced the President to veto. Ryan is not that person.

Quote of the Day

In an otherwise lame Washington Post column, Danielle Allen inadvertently makes a valid point.
Polling shows that Trump has a problem with women, but it also shows that Clinton has a problem with men.
And Allen adds that Clinton's slogan "Fighting for us" won't play well with men, who normally don't favor women fighting their battles.

British Snark

Nick Allen, writing in The Telegraph (U.K.), about how Trump will campaign against Clinton.
At some point during the debates he will turn to Mrs Clinton and say: "You're so crooked I was able to pay you to come to my wedding."

Can Mr Trump win? Yes he can.
Perhaps he can flourish a piece of paper, adding "Here's my cancelled check to your so-called foundation." I can hardly wait.

Still Further Political Ruminations

Lots of pundits are bemoaning the "death" of the Republican Party, and half of those eulogists are Democrats. To that half I say, stop complaining. Shouldn't you be joyful? Your nemesis is gone, the Cold War is over, stand by for a peace dividend.

Oh, you don't think so? You fear there is a new "bear in the woods"? You're well-informed; he's there, he isn't tame, and he doesn't play nice at all. The political world remains dangerous for Democrats.

To the eulogists who actually are conservatives, I assure you, I get it. Those nasty voters repudiated your vision of conservatism and you're pissed, you feel jilted, unloved. You thought you were leading a parade and learned to your shock few were following. Get over it.

As Mort Sahl would mock-portentiously announce: "The future ... lies ahead." Life goes on for most of us, maybe even for you if you're nimble. The dismal alternative is irrelevancy.