Thursday, June 30, 2016

Quote of the Day

John Hinderaker, writing as Director of The Center of the American Experiment on their website, expressing heretical thoughts about public transportation.
When people can afford to drive cars, they prefer to do so. The automobile is the one mode of transportation that will easily take you from where you are to where you want to go. And we all make use of it, every day.

So perhaps public transportation, whether by streetcar, bus or train, isn’t the wave of the future. Maybe it is a relic of the past, that is being sustained (barely) by massive infusions of billions of dollars in taxpayer money. That, anyway, is what history suggests.
I agree - public transportation is "a relic of the past" we should stop subsidizing. Any lines which can cover their costs with fares and advertising are certainly welcome to continue serving the public.

----------o--0--o----------

As cruisers, the DrsC have used a form of subsidized public transport we think is just fine. On various Hawaiian islands (except Oahu), the local Walmart charters a free bus which transports people from the cruise ship to Walmart and back to the ship.

While some passengers take advantage of it, the main ridership is crew who go to Walmart to buy toiletries, toys for their kids back in the Philippines, off-duty clothes, cigarettes, candy, cell phones, laptops, etc. It's a good deal for the crew, and a big payday for Walmart - everybody benefits.

I can imagine Walmart stores in poorer sections of mainland cities doing this as a way of bringing in customers. I wonder if it's been tried?

Perhaps a big mall might fund buses to bring in customers. Ideally, you'd probably charge a quarter - a token amount enough to keep down joy riders.

Theresa May on Brexit

Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal quotes PM candidate Theresa May's comment on Brexit, for which she did not vote, after it passed. It sounds like something Margaret Thatcher would have said.
Brexit means Brexit. The campaign was fought, the vote was held, turnout was high and the public gave their verdict. There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it through the back door and no second referendum. Politics isn’t a game.
I like the sound of that.

IBD/TIPP: Clinton & Trump in Dead Heat

Investor's Business Daily sponsors a poll of voter preferences for president. In the latest poll, the following are the results:
[However] when Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are thrown into the mix. In that four-way matchup, Clinton leads Trump by just one point, 37% to 36%, with Johnson capturing 9% and Stein 5%.
The gap grows wider when Johnson and Stein are left out; Clinton loses more votes to 3rd party candidates than does Trump.

A Dilemma

Here's a question European leaders are asking themselves in the days after Brexit. How much punishment is my country willing to absorb in order to dissuade other countries from following Britain out of the EU?

Most EU countries do substantial trade with the U.K., trade that is now at-risk. Continuing that trade on advantageous terms will make Brexit look do-able to other countries. Dissuading others from following the Brexit path requires punishing Britain. However, punishing Britain also hurts their own national economies.

It is truly a dilemma. What makes sense geopolitically makes no sense economically.

Maybe Global Cooling?

The New York Post reports the sun is "going blank," meaning there are few-to-no sunspots. This happens from time to time and tends to be associated with mini-Ice Ages, periods with particularly cold winters and shorter than ususal summers.

You might want to send your Bronco Nagurski longjohns to the cleaners and buy a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Or check out a condo in Florida.

New PM Not Boris

We wrote last night that Boris Johnson might be the next British PM; it turns out he will not run for the post. See a SkyNews story for details.

I wonder, did Johnson fail the gut check? Has he now concluded that as PM he will not be able to deliver all the benefits he'd claimed for Brexit?

Michael Gove, who previously said he would not run, has now decided to do so. So have four other Conservatives. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile the Express (U.K.) reports Home Secretary Theresa May, another of the candidates has taken a suitably "iron lady" stance against  open-door migration. She says "Brexit means Brexit," no trying to have it both ways. She at least seems to understand what the voters want from their government. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Rasmussen: Trump Leads Clinton

The Rasmussen Reports polling organization reports Trump now in the lead.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey of Likely U.S. Voters finds Trump with 43% of the vote, while Clinton earns 39%. Twelve percent (12%) still like another candidate, and five percent (5%) are undecided.
As they note, this is Trump's best showing since last October. It remains to be seen whether this finding is the beginning of a trend, or an outlier.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Gut Check Time

We don't yet know who will be Britain's new Prime Minister, perhaps Boris Johnson. Whoever it will be faces an interesting dilemma, according to this Reuters story from Yahoo News.

The foreign ministers of the remaining EU nations, meeting without Britain, have announced that if the U.K. wants full access to the EU market, they will have to allow free access to all EU citizens who want to move to Britain to work and live. That is exactly what U.K. voters voted against - unfettered movement from all the poorer EU members to Britain.

A PM who represents British opinion will tell the EU, sorry fellows , unfettered access is off the table. Now let's talk about what kind of deal you want with our lucrative market without free movement of people.

Germany exports a lot to Britain, I doubt they wish to stop selling there. I daresay that is also true of several other important EU members.

Now we see if the new Tory PM has Churchillian backbone, Thatcherite courage.

Japanese Realism

Some countries are more realistic about profiling than we are.  Japan maintains surveillance of all Muslims, as well as mosques, halal restaurants and other places they gather.

According to The Independent (U.K.), in a story carried by msn.com, the Japanese Supreme Court has approved "blanket surveillance" of Muslims. It struck down an appeal of a lower court ruling that the intrusion was "necessary and inevitable" to prevent terrorism. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Too Close to Call, Deeply Divided

A new Quinnipiac Poll is out today, with results a Republican can like. Some examples:
Democrat Hillary Clinton has 42 percent to Republican Donald Trump's 40 percent - too close to call.

American voters are deeply divided along gender, racial, age and party lines. Women back Clinton 50 - 33 percent while men back Trump 47 - 34 percent.

White voters back Trump 47 - 34 percent. Black voters back Clinton 91 - 1 percent and Hispanic voters back her 50 - 33 percent. Voters 18 to 34 years old go Democratic 48 - 23 percent, while voters over 65 years old go Republican 51 - 35 percent.

Democrats go to Clinton 89 - 3 percent, as Republicans go to Trump 84 - 6 percent. Independent voters are divided with 36 percent for Trump and 34 percent for Clinton.

Trump will not be a good president, American voters say 58 - 35 percent.

Clinton will not be a good president, voters say 53 - 43 percent.
Wow! A majority of Americans say both Clinton and Trump "will not be a good president." The process between now and November will be a hate-fest. Negative ads will fill the media, and be effective. Whoever is elected will take office in a bitter atmosphere.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Trump Economic Plan

You've been told Trump has no program, no proposals to make things better. Maybe that was a little true, it is no longer. Politico has the complete text of Trump's speech in Pennsylvania which lays out his economic policy.

His policy has to do with being a tough customer and competitor in the world market. It puts the interests of Americans first. It advocates reprisals when other nations invoke protectionism, no more turning the other cheek.

Will it work as described? Probably not ... few policies do, whomever promulgated by. Is it worth trying? In my opinion, yes.

If you don't have the patience to read Trump's whole speech, John Hinderaker at Power Line has done a decent summary with excerpts.

Usual Violence in Chicago

On the same day we read of the terror in Istanbul cited below, Breitbart Big Government reports over the steamy weekend Chicago experienced 7 murders and 51 wounded. But the Chicago butcher's bill isn't considered terror, it's just folks going about their routine unlawful pursuits.

As Scott Adams noted, it's merely Democrats killing Democrats with guns. Nothing to see here, people, move along now.

Terror in Turkey

At COTTonLINE we've been critical of the current government in Turkey. Now comes word that suicide bombers at Istanbul's international airport have killed 41 and injured perhaps 200.

Let's be absolutely clear, we aren't comfortable with the Erdogan government but that in no way excuses terrorism.  It's a reminder, if one is needed, Turkey lives in a dangerous neighborhood, next door to Syria, and deals with a restive Kurdish minority which seeks its own nation.

NBC News reports as follows:
U.S. officials said the attack had all the hallmarks of ISIS, which has in recent months stepped up bombings in the country, although Turkey has historically suffered attacks from Kurdish separatists.
Kurdish attacks have focused on Turkish police and military, not on tourists. Turkey has been openly ambivalent about the ISIS movement which represents Sunnis (Turks are Sunnis) and opposes the (non-Sunni) Assad government as does Turkey. If there is any silver lining in this and similar attacks, it is that perhaps Turkish ambivalence will morph into steely opposition to ISIS.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Straw-Man Time

Writing in National Review, David French sets up a straw man - Trump caused Brexit - and then knocks it over. The notion is, of course, nonsense as I'm sure Trump would be the first to admit.

What is not nonsense is that the same sort of factors that caused Brexit are also responsible for Trump winning the GOP nomination. Trump didn't cause Brexit; populism and anti-global nationalism caused both the Brexit passage and Trump's primary win.

French is correct that the circumstances facing the U.K. and U.S. are different, but the angry feelings in the demos are more similar than different. People in both countries see out-of-touch elites pursuing their own agendas without considering the electorate's desires, and vast swathes of both populations left behind by globalism.

Trump and Clinton

Josh Kraushaar writes for National Journal, here about the presidential race and its two presumptive nominees.
The voters’ de­sire to give the pro­ver­bi­al middle fin­ger to the gov­ern­ing class is why Trump—des­pite his gaffes, ig­nor­ance of policy, and er­rat­ic tem­pera­ment—can’t be coun­ted out. Fo­cus groups show that even many Trump sup­port­ers have con­cerns about his abil­ity to serve ef­fect­ively as pres­id­ent. But they don’t care.

Make no mis­take: Polit­ic­ally speak­ing, Clin­ton is just about the worst pos­sible Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee to run in these volat­ile, anti­es­tab­lish­ment times. She hob­nobs with the glob­al elite, main­tains close re­la­tion­ships with Wall Street honchos, has trouble con­nect­ing with work­ing-class voters, and car­ries an air of en­ti­tle­ment. Polls show that voters don’t trust her and don’t much like her. She’s of­fer­ing a status quo mes­sage to an elect­or­ate that thinks the coun­try is headed off the tracks.
Analysis: Clinton's in trouble, but Trump may snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Your Sunday Snark

Dilbert creator Scott Adams blogs about gun control, one imagines with tongue firmly in cheek:
It seems to me that gun control can’t be solved because Democrats are using guns to kill each other – and want it to stop – whereas Republicans are using guns to defend against Democrats. Psychologically, those are different risk profiles. And you can’t reconcile those interests, except on the margins. For example, both sides might agree that rocket launchers are a step too far. But Democrats are unlikely to talk Republicans out of gun ownership because it comes off as “Put down your gun so I can shoot you.”
If only we could disarm the Democrats, much gun crime would disappear.

Quote of the Day

Bill Maher speaking on his HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher about xenophobia, as quoted by RealClearPolitics:
I hear a lot of talk today about xenophobia. Is it really phobia if you have something to be afraid of?
Answer: it depends on the definition. Some definitions merely reference fear, whether justified or not. Others require the fear to be "irrational" or unjustified, which seems to be the definition Maher is using.

If most immigrants vote Democrat, it is rational for Republicans to fear them. Depending on the definition used, that fear may or may not be phobic.

Brits who voted for Brexit have real concerns about overcrowding at NHS clinics and in the subsidized housing occupied by less affluent Brits, not to mention in the job market.

Thatcher and the Road Ahead

The controversial Conrad Black - life peer (Baron Black of Crossharbor), convicted felon, and former rival of Murdoch as 'king' of publishers - writes excellent columns for National Post, a paper he once owned. Today he muses on Brexit and Margaret Thatcher:
The greatest voice of caution (about the EU) after the retirement of de Gaulle in 1969 was Margaret Thatcher, who was finally pushed out by her own party despite having been the greatest peace-time prime minister in British history, at least since Disraeli and Gladstone (and a very good war and Cold War leader also). Her offence was overt Euroskepticism, and she has been proved right and last night was her victory, too.
I also like his forecast of the European future which at minimum is a reasonable extrapolation of existing trends.
I predict that there will gradually emerge a German-led bloc, including the Baltic and Scandinavian countries (except Norway), and the Netherlands, Austria, and probably the Poles and Czechs. In former four-term chancellor Helmut Kohl’s expression, it will be “a European Germany, not a German Europe.”

It will to some degree be the Grosse Deutschland sought by Bismarck, but assembled now by friendship, prosperity and example. The Germans will probably want to retain a couple of weak members in the euro to soften it and facilitate the sale of sophisticated German engineered products abroad.

The French will revive, after years of political floundering, as they always do eventually, and will more or less be at the head of the Mediterranean group and Belgium, in a looser echelon of states. The Eastern European members will progress at their own rate toward the French- or German-led groups.

Britain will revert to its game, played with great skill from Wolsey to Thatcher, of being friendly with all but shifting its weight as necessary to prevent the worrisome pre-eminence of any, and recruiting the Americans when they can’t hold the balance themselves. There will be some level of a Common Market with easy flows of money and people (but not swarms of migrants), between all the present EU members.
Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Missing the Point

Drudge Report provides a link to a McClatchy column about the impact of Brexit here in the States. That column quotes Democratic pollster Mark Mellman as follows:
I think among elites, everybody will be sitting at dinner tonight discussing Brexit. But if you look at the average American family having dinner, I don’t think they’ll be discussing Brexit.
Mellman is trying to say Brexit won't affect the U.S. election outcome, and he's probably correct. The average American spends little or no time thinking about or traveling overseas. Even for those of us who are in Europe every couple of years, the experience of traveling there will not change appreciably.

However, Mellman misses the point, probably intentionally. The point isn't that Brexit will influence our election, but that the Brexit win is yet another example of the populist wave that resulted in Trump securing the Republican nomination here in the U.S.

Very similar concerns powered the victories of both Brexit and Trump: nationalism, unwanted immigration, unpopular policies in high places, and out-of-touch elites peddling globalism. With any luck, those populist concerns will take Trump to the White House.

Exactly As Expected

Politico has an article currently with the juicy title: "GOP insiders alarmed by Trump;s fundraising." Of course they're alarmed, he's the first candidate who has ignored the big donors' priorities and campaigned on the base's issues.

The GOP base is accustomed to spending little or nothing on campaign expenses, letting the fat cats do all the heavy lifting. Naturally, the big donors who've funded GOP campaigns in the past aren't ponying up to fund Trump because he's not for amnesty, open borders, and globalization - issues they favor.

We've basically known we'd face this problem ever since Trump first burst on the scene and said "phooey" to the elites' agenda. Some of the big donors will come through, most probably will not. Either The Donald self-funds much of the campaign or us little folk will have to dip into hard earned and/or saved money for small individual contributions or he'll figure out how to campaign while spending significantly less, something he's done through the primaries.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Transnational Identity

Like everyone in the punditocracy, Bloomberg View's Megan McArdle is writing about Brexit. Her particular topic here is the reaction of the press and other members of the elite to Brexit.
I can certainly understand why my British friends who supported Remain are upset, and why people in other countries who are actually going to experience long-term effects from this decision are unhappy—if I were a Pole, I’d be worried as heck. But I don’t take it personally.

A lot of my professional colleagues seemed to, and the dominant tone framed this as a blow against the enlightened “us” and the beautiful world we are building, struck by a plague of morlocks who had crawled out of their hellish subterranean world to attack our impending utopia. 
My mental image is the Transylvanian villagers coming for Dr. Frankenstein, with pitchforks and torches. Hint: they'll swarm in early November. McArdle describes out-of-touch professional elites as "transnationals."
Trying to build the state without the nation has led to the mess that is the current EU. And to Thursday's election results. Elites missed this because they're the exception -- the one group that has a transnational identity.

CANZUK? Bless You

Writing for USA Today, columnist James C. Bennett makes the case for a CANZUK alliance to replace the EU alliance just repudiated by Brexit. See his argument:
This is the growing movement for closer ties between Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, the so-called CANZUK nations. A Change.org petition calling for bureaucracy-free movement between those 4 nations recently gained over 100,000 signatures in a few months without any financial backing or big names in support. Boris Johnson, the flamboyant ex-mayor of London, and now victorious leader of the Leave movement in the Brexit referendum, has endorsed CANZUK free movement as a near term goal.

As a superior alternative to the European Union, such a confederation would be a globe-spanning advanced technological, economic and military power bigger than Germany or Japan, and whose 4 members have individually been Americas most constant and capable allies. Unlike many so-called “allies”, when America has asked for help, these usually have shown up with soldiers, ships and planes. If such a plan went ahead, America could end up with the kind of partner it had always hoped the EU would be but which never showed up in reality. 
As Boris Johnson is the likely next Prime Minister of the U.K., his support adds weight to this proposal. If this begins to sound like the nucleus of an Anglosphere organization, it's an idea we've found attractive for many reasons.

The center of gravity of a CANZUK organization, however, might not be in the U.K. but perhaps in Australia. I'm not sure the English are ready for that eventuality, or for En Zed's disinterest in matters military.

Confusion

You have to love the sort of confusion Brexit has brought about. For example, Yshoo News carries an Agence France-Presse story headlined:
Europe demands quick divorce from divided Britain after Brexit vote.
Meanwhile, they also have a Reuters story headlined:
Merkel sees no need to rush Britain into quick EU divorce. 
Who do you believe, or is there any agreement whatsoever at this early date?

Saturday Snickers

Each week Steven Hayward of Power Line gathers cartoons, captioned photos and other funny and/or sardonic stuff for a post he calls The Week in Pictures. My favorites from this week's collection, described:

A classic oil painting of George Washington, in formal civilian attire, captioned:
So the British decided to throw off a far away power.
I wonder where they got that idea.

Classic still of the Terminator's Sarah Connor, in the desert, holding an AK-47 assault rifle with banana clip in one hand, a cigarette in the other, looking a hard-bitten survivalist, captioned with a Mike Adams quote:
If Obama were to announce a nationwide gun confiscation order, it might set off a civil war, pitting gun owners, cops, veterans, and preppers against the completely disarmed, trendy, undisciplined anti-gun, inner-city liberals. Gee, I wonder who would win that war?

Photo of a gun store owner holding up an assault rifle, captioned:
Yes sir, your background check came back fine...
But I gotta see you eat some bacon or it's NO SALE!

Cartoon divided into two vertical halves, each with a country logo. Left one captioned:
Honduras
Population: 8.2 million
Bans citizens from owning guns
Highest homicide rate in the entire world.
The right one is captioned:
Switzerland
Population: 8.2 million
Requires citizens to own guns
Lowest homicide rate in the entire world

Pictures of four American presidents, captioned:
Guided U.S. through Revolutionary War (Washington)
Guided U.S. through Civil War (Lincoln)
Guided U.S. through Cold War (Reagan)
Guided boys to the girls' bathroom (Obama)

Iconic photo of Pearl Harbor bombing, captioned:
On Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor
Was bombed by [omitted].

Photo of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), captioned:
Wall Street and the big banks are ruining this country
So I'm endorsing the candidate they gave the most to.

Cartoon of a bank teller confronted by a sardonic Frenchman wearing a black turtleneck and beret, holding a cigarette. He speaks:
Hand over the money or I'll explain the absurdity of all human activity.
This is captioned: "Existential Threat."

Head and torso of Miss Parton, photoshopped onto the body of a llama, captioned:
The Dolly Llama.

Churchill Would Be Proud

Well-known Donald Trump supporter and columnist Roger L. Simon blogs at PJ Media about the Brexit winners and losers, mostly the latter:
British sovereignty won. David Cameron lost. Jeremy Corbyn lost. The EU lost. Bureaucrats lost. Angela Merkel lost. Barack Obama lost. Globalism lost. Authority figures almost everywhere lost. And, most of all, unlimited immigration lost.

Long live the Anglosphere. Remember the Magna Carta and all that. This is a day truly to celebrate, even if stock markets are crashing around the world. They'll come back. Look on it as a buying opportunity. A bubble has broken, but it isn't a stock bubble. It's a human bubble consisting of elites who seek to govern in a manner not all that distant from Comrade Lenin, just hiding under a phony mask of bureaucratic democracy. They've taken a big body blow from the citizens of England. Churchill would be proud. Time for America to follow suit.

My Take on Brexit

It may or may not have been obvious from my work here the past almost 10 years, but I am an Anglophile. I like the Brits and Britain. It's probable a fair number of my ancestors came, directly or indirectly, from the U.K., some mix of English and Scots.

Although I had no right to vote in the Brexit election just concluded, I was for Leave and am happy with the result. Elections where my side wins are rare enough to be worth celebrating.

I understand the importance of forestalling war among Europeans, a major reason for the EU project. My soldier relatives served in both World Wars in Europe. Nevertheless, I have been repelled by the authoritarian, anti-democratic/technocratic ways of the EU apparatchiks in Brussels.

The pecksniffian EU leaders have long given offense, begging for rebuke. They seemingly answer to no one. Perhaps in the wake of Brexit they'll feel it necessary at long last to heed public opinion.

I wish the U.K. well in the months ahead, as they struggle to reclaim their sovereignty.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Growing Up

Long-time COTTonLINE readers know scarcely a year has gone by that we didn't drag out and dust off that old cliche that goes something like:
If you're young and not left-wing, you have no heart.
If you're no longer young and still left-wing, you have no head. 
Having lived this evolution I understand its widespread applicability. Here it is applied to Brexit, and to a 1975 referendum on Britain staying in the Common Market. Tim Stanley, writing in The Telegraph (U.K.), observes:
The young may have overwhelmingly voted Remain, too – but, hey, they will grow older someday. The young who voted Remain in 1975 overwhelmingly voted Leave in 2016. In part, perhaps, because they didn’t like being characterised as ancient bigots by the Remain side. 
And Bernie Sanders' young followers will, one day, vote for a latter-day Trump. Note the British spelling in that quote, they put no "z" in "characterised," as we do.

Merkelism

Writing for The Atlantic, David Frum considers the Brexit vote and its policy implications for the United States. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.
If any one person drove the United Kingdom out of the European Union, it was Angela Merkel, and her impulsive solo decision in the summer of 2015 to throw open Germany—and then all Europe—to 1.1 million Middle Eastern and North African migrants, with uncountable millions more to come. Merkel’s catastrophically negative example is one that perhaps should be avoided by U.S. politicians who seek to avert Trump-style populism in the United States.

Instead, the politician who most directly opposes Donald Trump—presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton—is doubling down on Merkelism. Hillary Clinton’s first reaction to the Supreme Court decision on executive amnesty looks at the issue exclusively and entirely from the point of view of the migrants themselves.

That U.S. citizens might have different interests—and that it is the interests of citizens that deserve the highest attention of officials elected by those citizens—went unsaid and apparently unconsidered. But somebody is considering it. And those somebodies, in their many millions, are being heard from this year: loud, clear, and angry.
Unlike Clinton, Trump has heard those voices. The citizenry see and appreciate his consideration.

Boris Who?

Most Americans of a certain age probably think of Boris Badenov of Boris and Natasha fame from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show TV cartoon, when they hear the name "Boris." By now, most who think first of Boris Karloff have probably become ghosts themselves.

We''ll need to get over those associations if the likely candidate - Boris Johnson - becomes Britain's new Prime Minister, replacing David Cameron. Unlike Cameron who opposed Brexit, Boris Johnson was a vocal supporter, perhaps the most visible leader of the Leave campaign.

Thus, the referendum became effectively an endorsement of Johnson's leadership. The reliably salacious Daily Mail (U.K.) has a National Inquirer-style biography of the probable next PM. It details his affairs, out-of-wedlock children, casually racist comments, and American birth. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Add his Oxford classics degree and Etonian background and Boris ends up being a hybrid of Winston Churchill and Donald Trump. Imagine the fun Boris and Donald can have as leaders of their respective countries! Imagine how much fun we'd have vicariously enjoying their hijinks. It isn't clear which is more outrageous, probably Boris, but it's a close call.

The Beeb Opines

The BBC, surprisingly, weighs in with some realistic analysis.
For many English voters, this was an opportunity to wave the flag of St George and restore a sense of national pride. Many resented what they saw as special treatment for other parts of the UK, particularly Scotland. In some respects, the vote for Brexit was a vote for English nationalism.

It was also a vote to stop foreigners and foreign ways changing the character of neighbourhoods and communities.
The spirit of the age, or zeitgeist, is a rediscovered nationalism, expressed as a Hydra-headed anti-globalism. I note in passing that PM David Cameron has announced his departure, as I indicated he would last night. He had tied himself to the mast of HMS Remain and perforce went down with the sinking ship.

Also from the BBC, Brexit's contagion factor:
France's National Front leader Marine Le Pen said the French must now also have the right to choose.

Dutch anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders said the Netherlands deserved a "Nexit" vote while Italy's Northern League said: "Now it's our turn".

The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats wrote on Twitter that "now we wait for swexit!"

Kristian Thulesen Dahl, leader of the populist Danish People's Party, said a referendum would be "a good democratic custom".

Beatrix von Storch, of Germany's Eurosceptic AfD party, praising "Independence Day for Great Britain", demanded that Mr Schulz and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker resign. "The European Union has failed as a political union," she said.

Balz on Britain's Brexit

The Washington Post's Dan Balz is one of the saner voices in political analysis today. Here is his take on Brexit's win in Britain, as syndicated in the Bend Bulletin. He echoes many of the thoughts I posted last night, including the societal parallels between the Trump phenomenon and Brexit.

Balz hints at an underlying motive I've suspected, the lack of accountability of many EU bureaucrats to any meaningful political process. Odd how their "we know what's good for you" smugness resembles President Obama's refusal to enforce immigration laws or admit an Islamic enemy.

In his second term Obama too could shrug off ballot influences, given his virtual immunity to impeachment. The 2014 midterm election sent a clear signal of disapproval he blithely chose to ignore.

Perhaps Britain's "Independence Day" is a foretunner of our November outcome. We can hope it is.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

BREXIT WINS

CNN has reported the "Leave" side has won the so-called "Brexit" election, Britain will leave the European Union. The United Kingdom has always been a somewhat halfhearted EU member, never joining the Euro zone or the Schengen group.

The Scots preferred "Remain" as did Northern Ireland. Wales, on the other hand, voted with England to "Leave." There is already talk that Scotland will seek another referendum on dissolving its bonds with England so that it can then join the EU. The only part of England voting Remain was London, much of which is no longer ethnically English.

The vote wasn't particularly close, Leave got over a million more votes than did Remain. Prime Minister David Cameron campaigned hard for Remain, and lost. If he doesn't treat this as a lost vote of confidence, his party should send him packing.

The issue powering Leave has been variously described as unchecked immigration and nationalism. You can make an argument these two factors are in fact highly interrelated.

Much ink will be devoted to the question of Brexit's relevance to American politics. My own sense is that the feelings underpinning Leave are quite similar to the feelings of Trump supporters.

This augury cannot be a happy one for Team Clinton. The zeitgeist is not with her and globalism, it's with Trump and nationalism.

A longer-term question is the fate of the remaining EU minus the U.K.  I expect to see more anti-EU agitation in France, perhaps in Italy as well. The Dutch have already spoken of a referendum like the Brexit vote. Don't be surprised if Putin finds a way to exploit the resulting turmoil.

Awaiting Results

I'm reasonably certain the Brexit polls have closed in Britain. Now we wait for results to be posted. Apparently there are no exit polls because such seem possible only in places where a similar item has been voted on previously. How having a precedent helps us if we're asking people how they voted is unclear.

I've written I believe this vote will be the most consequential vote of this decade, perhaps longer. A "leave" plurality will cause no end of turmoil in Europe and at least some for those of us who care about Europe.

I've been reading a variety of Brit pundits on the topic and the agreement is relatively general that the underlying issue between leavers and stayers is social class. Leavers are like Trump voters here, the people with the most to lose and least to gain from staying, which is to say, from the status quo.

Out-migration

The San Jose Mercury-News reports people are leaving the greater Bay Area because of crowding, high living costs including high taxes, and long commute times. Some key quotes:
During the 12 months ending June 30, the number of people leaving California for another state exceeded by 61,100 the number who moved here from elsewhere in the U.S., according to state Finance Department statistics. The so-called "net outward migration" was the largest since 2011, when 63,300 more people fled California than entered. (snip) California has seen negative outward migration to other states for 22 of the last 25 years.

"There is a declining middle class in the Bay Area," said Christopher Hoene, executive director of the California Budget Policy Center, a research group that recently completed a study about income inequality in Silicon Valley. "Widening income inequality can create polarization socially and economically."

"The region's middle class has shrunk, while the numbers of lower-income and higher-income households has grown," the report stated. Silicon Valley, for the purposes of the study, consists of Santa Clara County, San Mateo County and San Francisco.
The Bay Area is on track to become a "plantation" economy of wealthy "haves" served by poor "have nots." It's the likely fate of most of coastal California.

The downsides of overcrowding are well-known; above some relatively low number, higher population density is associated with lower perceived quality of life. The DrsC rarely experience traffic congestion or air pollution in the idyllic places we live, the result of careful planning and some luck. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Venezuela Winding Down

The PanAm Post reports the rest of the hemisphere is largely just watching idly as Venezuela slides into starvation and disease. Nobody much is rushing to help.
The fact is that Venezuela, while still pumping oil, no longer has a functioning economy. Seventeen years of nationalizations and confiscation of private industries, farms, cattle ranches, distribution companies, sugar mills, and even shopping malls have completely destroyed not only the local production, but the distribution networks necessary for the normal functioning of the economy.

The leaders of all countries in the hemisphere, except for Castro’s Cuba, are meeting now in Washington DC. These leaders will be remembered as those responsible for the first mass famine in the Americas, and the world will not forgive them.
I believe hemisphere leaders are doing the right thing. Venezuela, as a country, is about to win the Darwin Award. It's won by people who do things so stupid as to die as a result.

The people of Venezuela elected Hugo Chavez and then Nicholas Maduro, knowing what policies they'd follow and they now reap the "rewards" of those failed policies. Mass stupidity not only does, but should, have very negative consequences.

After hungry Venezuelans have hung Maduro and the Chavistas from lampposts, as Italians did with Mussolini, then it will be time to bring food and medical aid. Anything provided before a dramatic change in government (and punishment of malefactors) would merely be rewarding error.

Retrograde Turkey

The journal Foreign Policy carries an article defining several specialized terms much in use in Erdogan's Turkey. These are terms which his AKP movement have redefined to fit their anti-democratic needs. Those terms are national will, man of the nation, tutelage, mastermind, traitors, parallel state, Islamism, and Ottomanism.

Erdogan is gradually moving Turkey away from secular Kemalism toward a cult-of-personality authoritarian state. Author Mustafa Akyol concludes thusly:
Erdoganism belongs in the array of populist authoritarianisms similar to Peronism in Argentina, Chavism in Venezuela, and Putinism in Russia. It has already made Turkey, at best, an illiberal democracy where free elections take place but liberal values and institutions languish and decay.
You'll not be surprised to learn that back in January Erdogan spoke admiringly of several things accomplished by one Adolf Hitler in 1930s Germany.

Leave Looks Logical

George Friedman writes about foreign affairs, here for RealClearWorld. His topic in a word: Brexit. He examines the various arguments that have been raised to counter it, and serially demolishes each. He ends up seemingly on the side of "leave."

Like many observers, Friedman sees the EU as a failed experiment, a sort of geopolitical dead man walking. It doesn't especially work, it isn't democratic, and about all you can say for it is that Europe has experienced no major wars since 1945.

The EU likes taking credit for the "no war" situation but a more realistic analysis suggests peace is the result of the U.S. providing the region's defense since World War II ended. In the absence of large standing national military forces, wars aren't really possible.

As a semi-frequent tourist in Europe, I find the lack of borders and multi-country currency (the Euro) convenient. That never keeps me from going to the U.K. where I still need pounds and have to show my passport. Ditto Switzerland and Norway.

In the absence of a widespread willingness to form a real United States of Europe, with single elected government, unitary fiscal and monetary policy, region-wide military and citizenship, the EU seems somewhat futile to this sympathetic observer. That willingness is nowhere a majority opinion.

I don't know what the Brexit outcome will be tomorrow but I suspect Friedman is correct. Whatever the outcome, the EU is weakened and will go forward looking over its collective shoulder in apprehension.

California ... Still Crazy

My native state, CA, is often know derisively, but accurately, as "the land of fruits and nuts." The descriptor is accurate because CA is where much of the nation's fruit and nuts are grown. It is derisive because those using the handle make reference to nothing connected with produce.

They refer to all the oddball folk who kept moving west till they could drive no farther. Yep, CA has more than its share of unusual folk. It also has more than its share of people on welfare - something like a third of the nation's total.

City Journal has an article describing racial fault lines developing in the state's hegemonic Democratic Party. Hispanics, as the largest single group in the state, believe with some justice they should control most of the offices. At issue currently, the replacement for Senator Boxer who is retiring.

CA has an oddball primary system whereby the two greatest vote-getters for an office, regardless of party, compete in the November election. All primary voters, regardless of party affiliation, get the same ballot which lists all people who've filed to run for that office. Republicans are so far down the CA pecking order that the two finalists for the Boxer Senate seat are both Democrats: CA Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.

The Dem establishment backs Harris, Hispanics are likely to back Sanchez. Asians are a wildcard in this game, probably voting Harris.

Republicans have no candidate of their own in November. They are expected to prefer Sanchez as the (marginally) less liberal candidate. Also, if they've been paying attention, they'll know electing Sanchez will irritate the Dem establishment, which is a worthwhile goal in itself.

A normal primary system produces a nominee for each party on the November ballot. Under those circumstances in a one-party state like CA or NY, Republicans have no say in which Dem will be elected. In the CA model, they have a say in November, as well as during the primary if they so choose.  I'm not sure that was what the Dems had in mind when they passed the new system.

Trump Speech Destroys Clinton

Slate leans left; writing there Michelle Goldberg analyzes Donald Trump's speech describing the times Hillary Clinton has lied and finds it "terrifyingly effective." Some key quotes:
“Hillary Clinton gave China millions of our best jobs and effectively let China completely rebuild itself,” he said. “In return, Hillary Clinton got rich!” He added, “She gets rich making you poor,” and called her possibly “the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency.”

Describing Clinton as “a world-class liar,” he said, “Just look at her pathetic email and server statements, or her phony landing in Bosnia where she said she was under attack but the attack turned out to be young girls handing her flowers, a total self-serving lie. Brian Williams’ career was destroyed for saying far less.”

“We’ll never be able to fix a rigged system by counting on the same people who rigged it in the first place,” he said. “The insiders wrote the rules of the game to keep themselves in power, and in the money. That’s why we’re asking Bernie Sanders’ voters to join our movement, so together we can fix the system for all Americans. This includes fixing all of our many disastrous trade deals. Because it’s not just the political system that’s rigged. It’s the whole economy.”
Ol' Don does tap dance some on her face, doesn't he? Her whole career is target-rich, starting with her interning in the law firm of a California Communist. BTW, Goldberg agrees Hillary's Bosnia story was completely bogus. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Politico has the complete text of his speech, and it is worth your time to read. If nothing else, you'll like Trump's ambitions for our nation, they are Yuuuge.

Bad News

Rasmussen Reports has the results of a nationwide poll whose findings make sense, but are not good news for Republicans:
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 73% of Likely Republican Voters believe GOP leaders have lost touch with Republican voters. Just 20% say those leaders have done a good job representing GOP voters.
Ryan and McConnell are the "leaders" they don't like - especially Ryan Agonistes. By contrast:
Only 28% of Democratic voters say their leaders have lost touch with the party's voter base. Sixty-two percent (62%) believe instead that the party's leaders have done a good job representing Democratic voters.
Politics 101: The grassroots can find new leaders; leaders have a much harder time finding a new base. For now, Trump is the new leader.

If Trump wins, House Republicans will need a new Speaker. If Trump loses, Ryan may or may not look better with the advantage of hindsight.

Good News

Bloomberg Politics reports the results of a poll of likely voters:
A June 14th Bloomberg Politics national poll of likely voters in November’s election found that barely half of those who favored Sanders — 55 percent — plan to vote for Clinton. Instead, 22 percent say they’ll vote for Trump, while 18 percent favor Libertarian Gary Johnson.
Bloomberg adds the following:
The Bloomberg poll found that only 5 percent of Sanders supporters who don’t currently back Clinton would consider doing so in the future.
Obviously much can change between now and November. Trump may throw away this advantage. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Queen Seems to Favor Brexit

We Americans think all Brits love their Queen, but we're wrong in that belief. Nevertheless, most do.

She has let it quietly be known she favors Brexit, by asking people to give her three reasons for remaining in the EU. See the story in The Sun (U.K.).

I expect her influence may be considerable, at the margins. We'll know day after tomorrow.

Review: Alice Through the Looking Glass

The other DrC and I saw Disney's Alice Through the Looking Glass on Saturday, at a matinee. You'll note I didn't write a review immediately, and conceivably wonder why?

The film is beautiful, in the same way the Kung Fu Panda films are beautiful, which is to say a feast for the eyes. It's also bizarre, as anything associated with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp tends to be.

Mia Wasikowska, the gal who plays Alice, and played her in the previous film Alice in Wonderland, does a good job. Her character is plucky and decent, and she's not distractingly beautiful, merely pleasant-looking.

Depp plays the Mad Hatter, for whom Alice displays affection unexplained within the ambit of this film, perhaps a holdover from the first. I liked Depp better in film one, the other DrC liked him better in this film.

A cast member new to this film is Sacha Baron Cohen who plays the character Time, he's a large and vivid presence. So is Helena Bonham Carter who plays the Red Queen, in this film you learn why she is such a pill.

My hesitancy in reviewing the film is that, on a couple of occasions during the viewing I fell asleep briefly. I'd like to blame a full stomach and a dark room in the afternoon, but I'm not entirely certain the film doesn't share some blame.

My sense is the film is too long; it could have been edited more tightly, closer to a 90 minute length than the 113 minutes it runs. It is like a feast that has too much food you like, and would benefit from a somewhat quicker pace.

To Brexit, or Not to Brexit ....

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow, you're only a day away.
That's the refrain of the iconic song from the musical Annie. It feels particularly appropriate in contemplation of day-after-tomorrow's Brexit vote, long promised by PM David Cameron and finally almost here.

It looked like the Brits would vote "leave" until the Labour MP lady was murdered by a crazy who favored leave. Then it looked like the tide had turned in favor of "remain."

Right now, it seems too close to call. I'm guessing the Brits will vote Leave, if only narrowly, and perhaps by a wider margin.

Standing somewhat apart from the continent is a long-standing British tradition, one that has served them well. Culturally, the Brits are unlike their continental neighbors, especially in matters of economics.

We'll know the answer ... Thursday.

Monday, June 20, 2016

An Unforced Error

Reversing its earlier decision, the Obama Justice Department released the uncensored transcripts of Omar Mateen's calls to various people while holding hostages at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. See the story at the Fox News website.

This was an unforced error the administration needn't have made. How they could believe people would sit still for denatured transcripts is hard to fathom.

Our Islam-loving President was willing to look foolish to protect Muslims. In the end, Speaker Paul Ryan demanded release of the complete documents and Attorney General Loretta Lynch backed down, appearing weak in the process.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Obama Self-Disclosure

Elliot Abrams, a neocon and Cold Warrior, writes the following in National Review, with which viewpoint I may agree. He begins by quoting the intro of President Obama's speech given at Hiroshima on his recent visit, Obama said:
Seventy-one years ago, on a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.

Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not so distant past.
Then Abrams reacts to Obama's words:
The problem with these words is their utter lack of context: There is no mention of Japanese militarism and fascism, no attack on Pearl Harbor, no Bataan Death March, no Rape of Nanking. It seems as though on one “bright, cloudless morning,” the United States decided to obliterate Hiroshima. This is another insight into how the president thinks about America and the 20th century: We were not the people who saved the world from fascism and Communism, we were the people who opposed nationalism and equality — and who dropped the atomic bomb.
So Obama has spent the past 7+ years apologizing to the world for America's reprehensible-to-him actions. These are the same actions of which most of us are proud. Many have found it difficult to believe Obama an American because his beliefs are not those of an American.

Thinking About Dads

My father and I didn't always get along. Looking back, I believe he wanted a son who loved hunting, fishing, and athletics. What he got was a bookish kid whose interests more closely resembled those of his elder brother. A gene pool contains variety and then there's Murphy, working overtime again.

What I remember, looking back down the tunnel of years, is all the things he taught me. Examples: how to build a fire, swing an axe, saw a relatively straight line, aim a pistol or rifle and hit something with it, drive a car, bait a hook. How not to be, or act, low-class. That women are nice, but they're often too hot or too cold, and that's normal for them.

We shared a love of words. A cherished childhood memory is of my father getting an abstracted expression, walking over and picking up the dictionary to look up a word, maybe the definition, maybe the derivation. I find myself doing it too, mostly online these days. More often than you'd think, when writing in this blog, I'll check an unusual word for spelling or usage.

Things father never managed to teach me, although he tried, would include standing up straight (I slouch), catching a ball tossed to me (that coordination didn't come until my late 20s), or leading a flying bird with a shotgun (a knack I never got, though I understand the physics).

We ended up on different teams, politically, he a lifelong Democrat and I mostly a Republican. What I figured out long after he passed was that we were more alike than dissimilar. He was a Southern Democrat and, during the Reagan presidency, most of those became Republicans. He didn't live long enough for that to happen, he was not young when I was born.

I hope you had a father who could share things with you, and that those memories are good ones. Far too many in these latter days do not. To Dads everywhere, Happy Father's Day. And to my Dad, thanks.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Saturday Snickers

Once again Steven Hayward of Power Line has rounded up a bunch of political cartoons, captioned photos, and other fun stuff, what he calls The Week in Pictures. Described below, several of my favorites:

He begins with a Ramirez cartoon of a decapitated body in an orange jumpsuit, in the desert. The head says:
Yeah ... Guns are the problem.
Cartoon of a young man and woman, repeated four times, she in an Obama-logo shirt.
He: I don't believe women have any rights, and I think gays should be hanged.
She: Wow, what a complete primitive asshole you are! You must be a Republican.
He: No, actually, I'm a Muslim and those are my religious beliefs.
She: Oh! I'm sorry! I apologise! I hope you don't think I'm Islamophobic!

A photo of a happy Gloria Steinem wearing a "I had an abortion" T-shirt, the photo is captioned with a Steinem quote:
If banning guns and ammunition can save just one child then we should strongly consider it.
Cartoon of a man looking thoughtful, with this long, ironic caption:
We should make a law that says killing people is illegal. That will stop them. We should also make it illegal to have a gun in a gun-free zone. That will stop them. Crimes should be ... against the law. Then there will be no more crime!

Cartoon of Obama. Bearded terrorist firing assault rifle in background, shouting Allahu Akbar.
Obama: I blame guns.
Second cartoon of Obama. Hooded ISIS dude prepares to decapitate kneeling captive in background.
Obama: I blame knives.

Photo of assault rifle with banana clip. Top caption:
You don't need 30 rounds to hunt.
Bottom caption:
Correct, but the Second Amendment was not written in case the deer turn against us.
Publicity photo of Katie Couric, captioned:
I don't always report the news,
But when I do I edit it to fit my own personal agenda.
A panel of two tweets. First Hillary Clinton tweets:
If the FBI is watching you for suspected terrorist links, you  shouldn't just be able to go buy a gun with no questions asked.
Then someone named Cloyd Rivers tweets:
1776% agree Mrs. Clinton. And, if you're being investigated by the FBI, you shouldn't be able to run for President, with no questions asked.
Photo of a volleyball, captioned:
A lot of people don't realize that the actor who played Wilson in Castaway
is the same actor from the volleyball scene in Top Gun.
And finally, a cartoon of a Greek statue of a wise old dude catching the sideways glance of a trench-coated Humphrey Bogart look-alike, who says:
Here's looking at Euclid.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Delusional

Following the shooting in Orlando, the Gallup organization polled Americans. Their question: was the action Islamic terrorism or domestic gun violence.
Republicans and Democrats have starkly different interpretations of what the recent mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub represents. While 79% of Republicans view it primarily as an act of Islamic terrorism, the majority of Democrats, 60%, see it as an act of domestic gun violence.

It is clear that Americans' political views influence how they interpret the tragedy and, by extension, shape their views of the policies leaders should pursue to prevent similar incidents.
Do you get the sense Democrats and Republicans experience our country very differently? Results like these lend support to that view. Very likely each group views the other as delusional.

I believe the Orlando shooting was gun violence committed to perpetrate Islamic terrorism. It was "domestic" only in the sense the shooter was American-born, of parents who should never have been allowed to immigrate here.

Scanning Headlines

What follows is a compilation of headlines from Drudge Report today at 11:30 am Mountain Time.
51% of American Muslims want Sharia.
Islamic Speaker admits killing gays is 'moderate' belief.
Paul Ryan: we will sue Trump over ban.
Obama imports 1 million Muslims during presidency.
Muslim Youth League calls for massacre at gay rights parade.
Our president says Islam isn't a problem. Amazingly, some agree though it's hard to understand how anyone sane arrives at that conclusion.

As you know, Drudge isn't obviously archival so I can't give you a link to the specific page I'm seeing. Please take my word for having accurately transcribed the above.

The Jacksonians

Writing at National Review, Nicholas M. Gallagher makes a persuasive argument that today''s Trumpism is latter-day Jacksonianism. Jacksonians he describes as "the radical middle."

Jacksonians don't hang with movement conservatives or neocons. A lot of what Gallagher describes is reflective of Trump's appeal, however flawed the messenger may be. He notes:
As a form of nationalism, Jacksonianism has had two saving graces. First, it’s proven to be expandable in a way that no other folk nationalism in history has been.

Second, Jacksonianism has usually embraced and supported American idealistic patriotism. It’s an oversimplification to think of these as competing ideologies: One operates (mostly) at the level of feeling and the other at the level of principle. Most Jacksonians would profess to be ardent patriots and lovers of America’s founding principles, and most Americans have at least some Jacksonianism in them.
Gallagher concludes by saying that conservatives need to make common cause with Jacksonians instead of ignoring them or taking them for granted, as has been their recent wont. Do yourself a favor and read his piece.

Afterthought: Almost 24 years later, it is easy to forget presidential candidate Bill Clinton was something of a Jacksonian, running to the right of most liberals and progressives, and even governing that way via his famous "triangulation." Trumpism is as much a heresy of the right as Clintonism then was of the left.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Bread and Circuses

In order to keep the masses calm and jolly, the Romans issued bread and staged entertainments in the Coliseum and Hippodrome. It worked after a fashion, for a while, sort of.

Today's version is the Universal Basic Income or UBI, being promoted by thinkers on the left (no surprise) and the right (surprising, indeed). Oren Cass writes to oppose the idea at National Review, and mostly I agree with his views.

----------o--0--o----------

I chime in to give a historical example of the bad outcomes associated with such acts. The other DrC and I spent a year in the mid-1980s on the island of Guam - a U.S. dependency - as visiting faculty at its small territorial university.

What we saw was some of the highest Food Stamp utilization anywhere under the U.S. flag, high unemployment, and a territorial government which took as its main responsibility the creation of many political patronage jobs. Not a pretty picture.

Let's begin with some history: Guam was first visited by Europeans when Magellan arrived in 1521. He found the indigenous population - the Chamorros - living by fishing and agriculture.

Starting in 1565 Guam became a Spanish colony, a status it maintained until lost to the U.S. in the Spanish-American War of 1898. For over 300 years, Spain provided religious instruction (Catholicism) and some employment building infrastructure, but no subsidies - islanders continued to support themselves with fishing and farming.

When the U.S. Navy claimed Guam for the U.S., the island and its inhabitants became effectively the property of the Navy, without home rule. In order to keep the situation peaceful the Navy basically put the islanders on a dole, an earlier version of the UBI.

Unsurprisingly, the Chamorro who had never been especially ambitious, became much less so. Fishing deteriorated from subsistence effort to a sport, while agriculture atrophied. The pinnacle of most Chamorro's ambition became a government sinecure.

The lesson we took away was this: If you give people money they have done nothing to earn, you destroy their character. You essentially infantilize them, reducing them to dependency, earning few thanks for your trouble.

A UBI is exactly that - something exchanged for nothing. I can think of few things more potentially destructive to our national character.

The Blue State Blues

Steven Malanga of City Journal provides a link to a Gallup study of the factors which explain a desire to leave the state in which one currently lives. Gallup reports:
Residents living in states with the highest aggregated state tax burden are the most likely to report they would like to leave their state if they had the opportunity. Connecticut and New Jersey lead in the percentage of residents who would like to leave their state.

Even after controlling for various demographic characteristics including age, gender, race and ethnicity, and education, there is still a strong relationship between total state tax burden and desire to leave one's current state of residence.

Tax burdens are based on Tax Foundation data. The aggregated state tax burden is based on the combined income, property and sales tax rates in each state.
Who knew? People don't love paying taxes.

Neocon Quislings?

A small group of Washington would-be-insiders - nominally Republican - are openly backing Hillary Clinton. The latest example, according to Politico, is Richard Armitage. Others who've been mentioned may include Robert Kagan, Mark Salter, Peter Mansour and Max Boot.

My horseback characterization of the group is that they're "neocons," a group defined by Wikipedia thus:
The term "neoconservative" refers to those who made the ideological journey from the anti-Stalinist Left to the camp of American conservatism. Neoconservatives typically advocate the promotion of democracy and promotion of American national interest in international affairs, including by means of military force and are known for espousing disdain for communism and for political radicalism.
While it looks like they're migrating back to their leftist roots, another explanation is more probable. I believe this group of hawks see Secretary Clinton as being more willing to use military force - their preferred international intervention modality - than is Trump. Plus Trump's admiration for Putin's macho leadership doesn't sit well with these Russia-fearing Cold Warriors.

Trump Another de Gaulle?

Steven Hayward, who blogs at Power Line, writes an intriguing comparison of Donald Trump and Charles de Gaulle. Some key thoughts:
There are some notable similarities between both men as political phenomena that point toward taking Trump and Trumpism seriously, and moreover as something fundamentally different from ordinary political categories.
De Gaulle wrote in the intro to his war memoirs:
To my mind, France cannot be France without greatness.
To which Hayward adds:
Seems to me that Trump, in his inarticulate rhetoric, sees things exactly this way.
I've compared Trump to Teddy Roosevelt, but maybe de Gaulle is a better fit ... we'll see.

Pedophilia Routine in Afghanistan

Do you remember last Sunday I wrote the following questioning the Orlando shooter being angry about gays?
I can't imagine why he would be angry. American troops report such behavior is absolutely routine in Afghanistan, much of it involving adult males and preteen "dancing boys."
Today comes an article from Yahoo News describing the practice in considerable detail and indicating its absolute prevalence throughout Afghanistan, particularly among leaders of police units and others in positions of power and/or wealth.
Bacha bazi, which the US State Department has called a "culturally sanctioned form of male rape", peels away the masculine identity of boys in a society where the sexes are tightly segregated.

In conservative areas women are mostly invisible in public -- and often unattainable due to steep bride prices. Bachas supplant the role of women, adopting a feminine gait and sometimes wearing makeup and bells on their feet.

Many in Uruzgan see bacha bazi neither as paedophilia nor homosexuality, which is forbidden in Islam. If social norms had a pecking order, violating boys would be seen as far more ethical than violating women.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Populism Defined

Instapundit links to a Foreign Affairs article by Francis Fukuyama, of "death of history" fame, who provides a cruelly accurate definition of this year's hot political category: populism.
“Populism” is the label that political elites attach to policies supported by ordinary citizens that they don’t like.
Do I detect a whiff of snark in his definition? He continues:
There is of course no reason why democratic voters should always choose wisely, particularly in an age when globalization makes policy choices so complex. But elites don’t always choose correctly either, and their dismissal of the popular choice often masks the nakedness of their own positions.
Hence: Trump and Sanders, both only too willing to declare the elites' Emperor jaybird naked.

Poor Puerto Rico

If you've been following the sad story of Puerto Rico which, these days, isn't at all "rico," Fortune has an update on its status. The most recent event was the U.S. Supreme Court invalidating 5-2 an attempt by the island's government to give itself bankruptcy protection.

Meanwhile a bill is wending its way through Congress to begin a solution:
The 1952 Commonwealth Constitution did not emancipate the island from the federal Constitution’s territorial clause in Article 4. The same article that gives Congress the last word on the island’s status is also the source of congressional authority over Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy laws.

Budgetary retribution is expected to come in the form of a federally appointed control board empowered to bypass the budgetary powers of the island’s elected governor and legislature.

Today, the majority of all Puerto Ricans live on the U.S. mainland, not the home island.

The imposition of even higher taxes, continued cutbacks in Commonwealth government services, and other fiscally painful measures likely taken up by the federal control board will only inflame the conditions promoting this mass migration. And as more Puerto Ricans leave, the island’s tax base continues to shrink, making it all the harder for the Commonwealth to repay its debt.
Apparently, individual Puerto Ricans can walk away from the island's debts, leaving whoever remains responsible. Thought experiment: what if nobody is left behind? Do the creditors then take ownership of the island?

As we have written, ideally PR would become Hawaii East, a vacation paradise for East Coasters, with condos for sale, time shares, etc. The government's problem has been too many poor citizens who require its assistance in the form of jobs, etc. If most emigrate to the mainland, perhaps government expenses will drop to a level where tourism earnings will cover it.

Getting from here to there will not be easy or fun. It will have to get worse before it gets better.

MacArthur Redux

It has been de rigueur in recent decades to take a dim view of General Douglas MacArthur, siding with Truman in their argument.  I've never bought that line of thought, admiring instead his amazing accomplishments as satrap of post-war Japan and his generalship in the Southwest Pacific as major milestones in a towering career.

It is good to see MacArthur coming back into fashion, being appreciated. Writing for RealClearDefense, Francis P. Sempa provides an excellent survey of MacArthur biographies, of which more than a few have appeared.

One of my favorite MacArthur factoids is that, in the Southwest Pacific, he accomplished more with fewer U.S. casualties than any other allied commander responsible for a similar challenge, certainly fewer than the admirals running the comparable Central Pacific theatre.

It's War, Not Crime

Foreign affairs expert George Friedman blogs at Geopolitical Futures. Today his topic is how we think about jihadi violence, and where those thoughts need to go next.

Writing about the shooting in Orlando, he notes a decision first Bush and then Obama never made clearly:
Was this a criminal act or an act of war? Answering that question is the key to determining the appropriate response.

If these are criminal acts, then the criminals must be punished for their actions. If these are acts of war, then the enemy forces must be found and destroyed, not based on what they might or might not have done, but in order to destroy the enemy before they can strike again.
If it's war, FBI-style "burden of proof" issues go away. Friedman answers his own question; concluding terrorism is war, not crime:
To distinguish between crime and war, you have to look at intent, not means. The means may be the same but the goal is different. Criminals pursue money or are unbalanced and pursue fantasies. Terrorists are pursuing political ends, and therefore, their attacks are consistent with the definition of war. War is a continuation of politics by different means. War is intimately bound up with politics. Crime is not. There are always gray areas, but this definition works.
Friedman agrees with Peters, cited below. About defining with whom the West is at war, Friedman writes:
This is a war and jihadists are the enemy. Not all Muslims are jihadists, but all jihadists are Muslims. (snip) Giving up liberties may be too high a price, but we should be honest in admitting the price we will pay.
I'd add to the enemies list all who support and enable jihadists, directly or tacitly.

Peters: Defeating Islamic Fanatics

Military columnist for New York Post, Ralph Peters, explores how the U.S. could defeat violent Islamists. His bullet points, briefly summarized:
Declare war - against all jihadi organizations, however named, wherever located.
Call out double-crossing allies - the Saudis, Gulf States, Pakistan for example.
Empower law enforcement.
Surveillance is essential - to interfere with those preaching anti-U.S. violence.
Criminalize Internet jihad - as we have child pornography.
Mandate law enforcement intelligence-sharing.
Treat Muslims exactly as we would any other Americans - in a war, allegiance is required.
And his conclusion:
Our response to jihad must be violent abroad, sensible at home, intellectually honest, patient and relentless. We must stop making excuses for inexcusable behavior, and we must always put the right of American citizens to safety and security above the imaginary rights of terrorists. We must break the infernal alliance between political correctness and fanatical Islam.
As regular COTTonLINE readers know, I often agree with Peters' analyses.

Quote of the Day

Carrie Lukas, blogging at Acculturated, about the frustrations of modern feminists. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.
People who dedicate themselves fully to one arena, whether that’s work or parenting, are almost always going to achieve more in their chosen specialty than those of us who dabble in both.

Most of us are going to end up somewhere in the middle, and we hope to strike a balance that seems right to us. The good news is that society has become more innovative and created many more options for how we allocate our time. However, that doesn’t change the basic fact of life that our time is finite, and that not everyone can win a gold medal in everything they do.
Rich or poor, smart or stupid, everybody gets the same 24 hours each day to use or waste. Life is a series of trade-offs, "having it all" is not a realistic option  - carpe diem.

Your Wednesday Snark

Arthur Chrenkoff blogs at The Daily Chrenk, here he gives us his Ten Commandments for Social Justice Warriors (hint: progressives). Hat tip to Ed Driscoll, guest blogging at Instapundit for the link.
1. All cultures are morally equal and worthy, except one's own.
2. You can choose your gender, sexuality and ethnicity, but you can't choose your politics.
3. Only white people are racist; everyone else is fair and accurate.
4. Equality means superiority, tolerance means approval, debate means agreement.
5. Sticks and stones will break your bones, because your words always hurt me.
6. We have rights, you have obligations.
7. It's all our society's fault, and by "our" we mean "your," you white/male/hetero/rich bigot.
8. I do not agree with what you have to say, and I'll defend to your death my right to stop you saying it.
9. It's always "nothing to do with [insert religion]" unless it's Christianity, in which case it has everything to do with Christianity.
10. I can see your house from my moral superiority.
All of these (except the last) are entirely wrong-headed. There's nothing wrong with my moral superiority (written sardonically, of course).

Exit Poll Problems

Long-time political analyst Michael Barone writes for RealClearPolitics about problems with exit polling data, which as he says have been questioned. Two other sources show smaller proportions of minority and young voters than were found by exit polls.

It turns out white non-college grads - a Trump-leaning group - have been underreported by the exit polls. In addition to the problems Barone finds, I have another issue with exit polls he doesn't reference.

Exit polling must, perforce, totally miss people who vote by mail, by absentee ballot. I've seen statistics which show this group is growing exponentially and there is reason to believe it is not an absolute cross-section of the electorate but rather skews toward the more affluent, the more organized, and the more white.

The DrsC haven't been in a general election polling booth in years, maybe a decade. We always get absentee ballots and mail them in a couple of weeks before the election. We, and others like us, could never be counted in an exit poll. We do, however, vote with great regularity.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Forced Choice

The CBS Philly website reports a talk radio interview with openly gay Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos who says Islam is the problem, not just extremists in that faith. Key quotes:
There are eleven Muslim countries in which I could be killed for being a homosexual. The state penalty is death. One hundred million people live in country where the penalty for homosexuality is death. This is not radical Islam. This is mainstream Muslim society.

Anywhere there are large influxes of Muslim population, things don’t end well for women and gays. The left has got to make a decision. Either they (sic) want female emancipation and it wants gay rights or it wants Islam. It’s got to pick.
So far, the left has papered over this obvious dilemma by assuring gullible women and gays they have nothing to fear from Islam. As always, claiming what they wish to be true actually exists, when it quite clearly does not, and probably cannot. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Quote of the Day

John R. Schindler, writing at Observer, about how ridiculous our priorities have become:
Any American today who is accused of Islamophobia faces a ruined life with loss of employment and social stigma. Whereas the cost of not preventing mass murder is merely hurt feelings and regret.
Perhaps we can reverse this with our ballots in November? Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Your Tuesday Snark

The always acidly funny Mark Steyn, at his SteynOnline website, riffing on the fallout from Orlando.
I listen to people say 'oh, we're now going to have to have metal detectors in night clubs, security in nightclubs.' Ok, so what happens next? They blow up a bakery, they blow up a little pastry shop, so then you're gonna have to have metal detectors to get into the pastry shop?

Instead of having all these individual perimeters around every Dunkin Donuts franchise or every gas station, or every J.C. Penny, why not have just one big perimeter around the country? We could call it a border! And we could have, like, border security!
Golly, does Steyn mean we should keep out those people who come here because we're what they love to hate? Who want to live as well as we do but continue to be the sort of cretins whose medieval beliefs keep them impoverished and angry? He means exactly that, and The Donald agrees.

Trump on National Security - a Must Read

As regular COTTonLINE readers know, I haven't approved of everything Donald Trump has said and done. As a marketing guy, he sometimes gets a little carried away.

That said, I just finished reading the transcript of yesterday's Donald Trump speech on national security, posted at the Politico website. The speech is excellent, measured and thoroughly presidential. Please read it.

Trump takes on the shooting in Orlando, ties it to the failed immigration policies of the Obama administration, and says what we all know to be true. We must do better protecting our people from 'known wolf' shooters.

Sure, Trump takes some shots at Obama and Clinton along the way. When policies fail so spectacularly, as theirs did in Orlando, they become irresistible targets of opportunity.

Any Republicans who believe they need to distance themselves from the policy Trump enunciates in this speech should change their party registration before the sun sets tomorrow. They are nothing I recognize as Republican and, if officeholders, deserve a serious primary challenge.

Paul Ryan, you weasel, I'm talking about you and any who agree with you.

Federal Performance Appraisal Broken

The Washington Post reports the results of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) compilation of performance appraisal results.
GAO looked at 2013 ratings for almost 1.2 million staffers, not including Senior Executive Service (SES) members. The study found that only 0.3 percent were rated as minimally successful and 0.1 percent as unacceptable.

Feds deserve much respect, but rating more than 99 percent as fully successful strains credibility. It diminishes the truly successful and could deny the less successful the assistance they need to improve. The report gives a boost to those who seek to overhaul the civil service system, which critics say is short on employee accountability.
"Short on employee accountability" is a vast understatement. Permit me to elaborate.

Some decades ago, as a young B-School faculty member, I volunteered to be loaned to the Federal Government for two years. I served as an internal consultant to a major subdivision of a Cabinet-level Department, which subdivision employed roughly 10,000.

That division needed to create a management development program in a hurry, having discovered that fully half of its 100 managers would be eligible to retire within five years. As a young professor of Management with a fresh Ph.D. in the field and consulting experience, I was able to help them achieve their goal.

The office to which I was attached had as permanent staff a supervisor, four professionals, and two clericals. The supervisor was okay and one of the professionals was top-notch, luckily I worked with him. Another of the professionals was competent, but so phobic-acting and bizarre-looking as to be unemployable in the private sector.

I heard nothing bad or good about the third professional's work, perhaps because she was a minority. I assume she was also adequate. The clericals were lazy but their work got done. The fourth professional, no minority he, did very little and got away with it.

Thus, in my office one-seventh (14%) of the workforce was not "fully successful." My guess is that proportion was fairly typical at the time. Little has changed to improve the situation in the interim.

I asked the supervisor why he tolerated an idle professional and he replied simply, "What I'd have to do to fire him is so punishing to me that I refuse. It isn't worth doing and nobody expects me to do it." Multiply that by hundreds of thousands and you see why conservatives seek to keep tasks in the private sector where people still get fired.

A Complication

Multiple sources are reporting Omar Mateen, the shooter in Orlando, was himself a "regular patron" of the Pulse nightclub and may have made homosexual advances toward a male acquaintance at work. This is, to put it mildly, a complication.

His actions, which some have claimed or inferred as a "hate crime," may in fact be a "self-hate crime," a novel if no less heinous category. If Mateen's sexuality was ambiguous, he may also have been deeply ambiguous about it and about himself.

His attack may have been a flamboyant act of atonement for acting out forbidden-by-Sharia homosexual impulses. A sort of Allah-see-how-much-I-reject-the-gay-life-and-its-followers, combined with suicide-by-cop.

My guess: we'll never be certain of his total motivation. Perhaps he was merely gathering intel on his target. This answer is suggested by the Occam's Razor principle which rejects complicated scenarios in favor of the simplest solution that covers the observed facts.

Later ... Occam missed this time. The New York Post has a fairly complete story about Mateen being gay, his ex-wife says so, as do many who frequented the Pulse club and remembered seeing him there. The Post reports the comments of a club bartender and his husband who denied Mateen had snapped seeing two men kissing each other in public.
That’s bullcrap, right there. No offense. That’s straight-up crap. He’s been around us. Some of those people did a little more than (kiss) outside the bar. He was partying with the people who supposedly drove him to do this?
Whatever Mateen's motive, hating gays seems not to be a high probability alternative.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Your Monday Snark

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, as quoted by The Hill:
The terrible things that we expect from Donald Trump, we’ve actually already seen from Hillary Clinton.
Bazinga! Snark is even better when it's accurate. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Compassionate Death Sentence?

John R. Schindler writes at Observer about the shooting in Orlando and Obama's refusal to call it "Islamic" terror.
Just two months before this attack, an Orlando mosque hosted an Islamic theologian known for pronouncing homosexuals as deserving of death. “Death is the sentence” they merit as an act of “compassion,” the imam stated. While his invitation got some coverage in Orlando media, one wonders what the mainstream media would have to say if a white preacher in Charleston had pronounced blacks as deserving the death sentence only two months before Dylann Roof murdered nine African Americans in a church.
That's different, whites aren't allowed to take a dim view of anybody (except themselves). For all victim groups such views, though deplorable, are excusable because they're victims, just ask Josh Earnest, spox for the Victim-in-Chief.

Give It Back

Writing at The Wall Street Journal, Joseph Epstein tackles the question of why people support Trump. Epstein may get pretty close to the truth, without ever being a Trump supporter himself. He imagines Trump supporters seeing the following on their TVs:
Black Lives Matters protesters bullying the latest object of their ire; a lesbian couple kissing at their wedding ceremony; a mother in Chicago weeping over the death of her young daughter, struck by an errant bullet from a gang shootout; a panel earnestly discussing the need for men who “identify” as women to have access to the public lavatories of their choosing; college students, showing the results of their enfeebling education, railing about imagined psychic injuries caused by their professors or fellow students. 
Epstein concludes many who see this say, to themselves and to each other, "What happened to the country I once loved? This isn't it. I want my country back." To his list I'd add, calling a business and hearing "Para espaƱol, ocho por favor."

Epstein doesn't believe Trump will be willing or able to do anything about his supporters' angst but, among the candidates, only Trump speaks to their sense of loss, gives them hope.

Denial - Not Just a River

Using Obama's statements about the shooting spree in Orlando, New York Post columnist John Podhoretz demonstrates our President is delusional.
Omar Mateen called the cops to pledge his fealty to ISIS as he was carrying out his mass murder in Orlando early Sunday. Twelve hours later, the president of the United States declared that “we have no definitive assessment on the motivation” of Omar Mateen but that “we know he was a person filled with hate.”

Here again, and horribly, we have an unmistakable indication that Obama finds it astonishingly easy to divorce himself from a reality he doesn’t like — the reality of the Islamist terror war against the United States and how it is moving to our shores in the form of lone-wolf attacks.
The Wall Street Journal reports Mateen made trips to Saudi Arabia in 2011 and 2012 to do the Umrah, known as the "lesser pilgrimage." They note the shooter in San Bernardino had also made two pilgrimage trips there.

Do we see a recurrent pattern emerging here? If so, our President willfully refuses to recognize it.

The Right Prescription

Matthew Hennessey, writing for City Journal, about our society's reluctance to confront angry, violent Islam.
I think it’s well past time that we took off the gloves. Let the FBI surveil the mosques. Let the NYPD surveil the mosques. Let these agencies do what needs to be done without fear of offending the ACLU, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or the self-loathing secular liberals.
Now you're talking ....

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Wrong Prescription

Concerning the Orlando nightclub shooting, both President Obama and Secretary Clinton have spoken out saying it is further evidence we need gun control, according to The Washington Post. Let me suggest an alternative interpretation.

Suppose instead a half dozen or so attendees at the nightclub had carried permitted personal firearms with them. Isn't it likely many fewer than 100 would have been shot, fewer than 50 killed? 

I believe the butcher's bill might have been 10% of what it ended up being, had the patrons been able to defend themselves. They couldn't and we know the bloody awful outcome.

Quote of the Day

Donald Trump, tweeting about the Orlando nightclub massacre, as quoted by Karen Tummelty in The Washington Post.
Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism? If he doesn’t he should immediately resign in disgrace!
Except it should have happened over six years ago when it became clear he wasn't up to the job.