Sunday, July 31, 2016

Travel Blogging V

Banff, Alberta: Canadians say their government has decided they will get at least one three day weekend per month; I'm not sure where I'd go to check this out. Anyway, this weekend is one such, something called "Heritage Day" is being celebrated. Actually, that is a very civilized notion, one we could copy.

This region is spectacular, huge mountains towering over river-cut valleys and much of it covered with a dense conifer forest. Where the mountains are bare, the rock is gray and likely sedimentary. There has been a lot of upthrust geologic activity. 

Glaciers are around and some of the rivers are actually milky because of suspended rock flour. When millions of tons of ice grind over rock the gravel at the interface between ice and rock acts like sandpaper, or maybe emery cloth. It literally turns the rock to fine powder called "rock flour." Imagine small lakes with milky aqua water, that's how it looks. 

Up closer to Jasper there is an icefield (def., ice not in motion) that is within a mile or two of the Icefields Parkway, as the road from Banff to Jasper is named. You can drive over to a parking lot near the toe of the ice and walk up to touch it if you like, or take a special ice crawler ride out on the ice.

The Armed Society

Howdy, partner, I just read a CBS News story about guns and Wyoming, written by long-time journalist Ted Koppel. It was so right-on I decided to use precious WiFi time to send it along for your enjoyment. Hat tip to for the link.

This is the Wyoming I know, everybody's armed and dangerous, and so everybody is polite as anything. Hardly anybody gets shot, even ex-wives are relatively safe here in God's country.

Travel Blogging IV

Banff, Alberta: We are getting rain in the Canadian Rockies, not unusual at this time of year. The day is cool and mostly overcast, people have put on sweatshirts with their shorts.

The party we are meeting arrived last night, on the Rocky Mountaineer excursion train. They were a couple of hours late. Mostly they are new to the area, whereas we're old hands so they're exploring the town while we do laundry at a laundromat that hasn't changed much in 30 years. There's another in Jasper we'll probably hit before leaving. 

A real part of the charm of national parks is how slowly they change. Mostly the natural features which are their attraction change very little. Even some of the older buildings are pretty much the same. 

Banff townsite has developed quite a lot since we first came here some 40+ years ago. That statement needs some explaining; I refer to Manhattan-style development, not CA style. 

The "footprint" of Banff is no larger than it was in the 70s, the acreage is the same. What has happened is that old small buildings have been bought up, demolished, and replaced with newer, larger, fancier structures.

Parks Canada won't let the townsite sprawl, so it has become more intensively developed on the existing footprint. There are lots of glossy resort-style hotels now, our friends are staying in one such. When we first came here the busloads of Asian tourists were Japanese, and most shops had a Japanese-speaking assistant. There are still busloads of Asian tourists but today they're Chinese. I expect shops now have a Mandarin-speaker.

Interesting sidelight: the deterioration that happened to the Japanese economy twenty years ago may now be happening to the Chinese economy. Many indicators point in that direction. Getting capitalism "right" appears to require cultural elements that are not universally present, and not entirely understood. Cronyism and corruption seem to be design flaws of many cultures.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Travel Blogging III

Banff, Alberta:  Prices in Canada are high, one supposes to cover the cost of government health care via embedded taxes. On the other hand, it generally feels like a decent place and farmers in the part we drove through the last two days keep their places tidier than farmers in the states.

Canadians like to plant flowers. They get that from the Brits, who do it too. The Tunnel Mountain campground in Banff for RVs is one of the nicest anywhere in a national park. It has full hookups (but no WiFi) and spacious sites that aren't cheek by jowl. We've seen elk wandering through the sites in years past, not yet this visit. 

We happened to hit here on a 3 day weekend, something about Heritage Day, which the Parks Canada kid who checked us in described as an excuse to have a nice long summer weekend. I've heard worse rationales. Isn't that sort of what Labor Day is in the States? Just for this weekend our campground is "alcohol free," we suppose they've had past gatherings that got out of hand. We can officially drink on Tuesday, but likely won't.

Our last visit to this part of Canada was seven years ago, in 2009. Calgary continues to grow like a weed, both southward and westward, perhaps the other two "-wards" too, we weren't on those sides.

Over the last forty years the roads have improved dramatically. Back in the day a "Canadian freeway" was a two lane road with wide shoulders. Today they tend to be four lane divided with wide shoulders. Many are still just big roads without the limited access that typified a U.S. Interstate, but the improvement is palpable. 

We were amazed at how little traffic we encountered on I-15 in ID and MT, not deserted exactly but definitely lightly traveled. Perhaps the traffic is heavier fall and spring when the Canadian snowbirds migrate south to keep warm and north to keep cool. Whole sections of greater Palm Springs and greater Phoenix are full of Canadian license plates in winter. 

Travel Blogging II

Banff, Alberta, Canada: We were in Lethbridge, Alberta, yesterday, The RV park is down in a coulee along the Oldman River. Every time I see that name I think of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. Of course the river they're thinking about is the Mississippi, and they're singing "Old Man River," not Oldman River.

Okay, you ask, what is a "coulee"? A coulee is a river valley cut down into otherwise flat plains. Hereabouts, as well as in Montana, the plains rolll on to meet the horizon, mostly without a hill in sight until you near the Rockies. The Rockies are the backbone of North America in the same way the Andes are the backbone of South America (and, incidentally, Antarctica). 

Whereas these plains are mostly wheat fields or pasture lands without trees, the coulees are treed and grassy, have a stream or river in the bottom, and unlike the plains, don't have that everlasting empty feeling that is slightly uncomfortable. To our eyes, they are more attractive and the locals treat them as parks, often. Lethbridge City is up on the prairie, people come down to the coulee to picnic and splash in the stream, or fish.

The drive from Lethbridge to Calgary isn't bad, but isn't interesting either. From Calgary to Banff is pretty, and so is the cutoff we use to avoid urban Calgary. We're here for a week, then we go to Jasper a couple of hundred miles north up the Icefields Parkway - a beautiful drive.

Banff is located along the Bow River in a valley among tall gray peaks. There are hot springs, a glorious old "railroad" hotel - The Banff Springs Hotel, and a once quaint little town that has become a tad too bustling for the tastes of us who've been coming here for forty years. Forty plus miles up the TransCanada Highway is Lake Louise, with another grand old hotel and amazing scenery. This is some of the best scenery in North America, believe it.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Management of Savagery

The Daily Beast carries a column which explains the rationale behind the indiscriminate use of terror by Sunni Muslim jihadis. It is their belief that by making the rest of the world hate and fear Sunnis, placing Sunnis beyond the pale, they will experience attack and rejection.

The world's Sunnis will be forced to turn to the terrorists for protection, as they did in Iraq, thereby delivering to the terrorists a huge fighting force. At some point what amounts to genocide - each side simply trying to kill all of the other side - could eventuate. Not an attractive prospect.

The Real Question

Okay, both major political parties have nominated candidates for president and the battle is truly joined. Hillary Clinton offers a continuation of the Obama years, perhaps with minor tweaks. Trump offers change.

What you've got to ask yourself is this: Am I and my country better or worse off than we were seven plus years ago when Obama took office. If these seven years have been good to you, and good for your nation, you've gotta vote Clinton. If you haven't noticed things getting better, perhaps even getting worse, vote Trump. I believe it is really that simple.

Somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of Americans think the nation is on the wrong track. That looks like a lot of Trump voters from where I sit.

An Eyeball "Poll"

The Daily Caller reports that more people watched Trump's acceptance speech in Cleveland than watched Clinton's acceptance speech in Philadelphia.
According to Nielsen Media Research data published Friday, an estimated 27.8 million people watched Hillary Clinton address the delegates in the Wells Fargo Center on the final night of the Democratic National Convention.

Meanwhile, an estimated 32.2 million people watched Donald Trump give his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last Thursday. (An additional 2.65 million viewers watched Trump’s speech on PBS, while another 3.9 million watched Clinton’s on PBS.)
I gotta think more viewers means something good for Trump, bad for Clinton. That said, I'd be the first to admit that's also what I hope is true.

The Underinformed

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, summarizing the Democrat's Philly convention.
It was captured in two events. The first was the moment, early Monday afternoon, when Bernie Sanders lost control of his movement. His rally audience jeered the idea of unity, refused to cheer Hillary Clinton, failed to boo Donald Trump lustily. A flicker of disoriented surprise crossed Mr. Sanders’s face. He was no longer riding the tiger, it was riding him.

The second was the moment when Leon Panetta—former chief of staff to a Democratic president, former defense secretary and CIA director, longtime and reliable partisan—was jeered at the convention Wednesday. “No more war!” they chanted when he spoke of terrorism. He looked mildly concussed. Get used to that expression, we’re going to be seeing more of it.

The Democratic Party is turning left. It’s not about “Bernie” now, and his followers are not going away. It is about the political impulses of the party’s young, which is to say its future. They are part of a tide of the passionate, the ideological and the underinformed. They have no idea what socialism is or what it has done in the past to great nations, and they appear to want it.
They've been treated like precious snowflakes, of course the ninnies "want it." They've just discovered life outside the university campus is no "safe space."

Evidence of Biological Programming

It's bad news for SJWs who see all gender-related phenomena as learned behavior. The New York Post reports study results which show quite young children (9-17 months) have already developed gender-related preferences for toys associated with their biological sex.
The experimenters, whose results were published in the journal Infant and Child Development this month, put 101 girls and boys between the ages of 9 and 32 months in a nursery with a variety of toys and observed which ones the children seemed to play with more.

Our findings of sex differences in toy choice in the 9 to 17 months age group add some weight to the suggestion that such preferences appear prior to extensive socialization and do not depend on gender category knowledge but are reflections of our biological heritage.
The idea that we are substantially pre-programmed by evolution via instinct is anathema to SJWs, who would prefer everything be learned, nothing be "hard-wired." Sorry, folks, we don't always get our "druthers."

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Home Ownership Lowest in 51 Years

Bloomberg, whose boss Michael Bloomberg has just endorsed Hillary Clinton, reports that home ownership is at the lowest level since 1965.  Look at the pathetic spin they try to put on this fairly terrible statistic.
The drop in the homeownership rate this quarter to historical lows isn’t necessarily a bad sign. This is because renter households are growing at a much faster rate than owner households, reflecting growing confidence of those who were most likely impacted by the foreclosure crisis. Still, low inventory and affordability plagues those who do want to buy a home.
Nonsense. People who'd like to be homeowners aren't, they can't afford it. How do you suppose they view today's economy? Positively? Hardly.
Net winner: Trump.

Travel Blogging I

Great Falls, Montana: We spent part of the day today driving north across this large state, on Interstate 15. We passed through two consequential towns, too small really to be called "cities" - Butte and Helena.

Most of Montana is wide open and very largely uninhabited. Perhaps it's the six month winters which discourage year-round residents or the very emptyness.

I don't think we dropped below an elevation of 4000 ft. today, while driving north perhaps 200 miles. I remember crossing the continental divide twice, and I may have missed a couple of crossings.

Much of the scenery was excellent, north of Butte there are lots of trees and mountains with streams just begging to be fished. We saw a few intrepid anglers but darned few considering how inviting it looked.

Great Falls is a small city, adjacent to a relatively major Air Force base: Malmstrom AFB. I believe it is involved with our ICBM force which tends to deploy across the north-central states.

The falls in the city's name no longer can be seen. Dams backed up the Missouri River and flooded them out. They were a major impediment to the Lewis and Clark expedition which had to portage around them, wasting precious weeks. The city is home to a very well-done Lewis and Clark museum on the banks of the Missouri.

Tomorrow we drive north to Canada, I'll write from Lethbridge if WiFi is available.

Not Counting the Cost

The U.K.'s Daily Mail carries an intriguing explanation for Donald Trump's popularity. In a nutshell, it is that he does not appear calculating but rather says what he feels, without filtering it through an obvious assessment of what's best in the long run.

Doing so, Yale psychologists find, makes one appear more trustworthy, less likely to sell out if that later appears more lucrative. If this rationale piques your interest, take a look here. Hat tip to for the link.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

JournoList Revealed

Do you recollect several years ago hearing about something called the "JournoList"? Instapundit Glenn Reynolds describes it as follows:
There was this email group, called Journolist, where journalists got together and talked about how to bury stories that hurt Democrats and push stories that hurt Republicans.
He has a link to an outfit called The Vail Spot which has the list and the places where the listees worked. I've checked it out and most are people whose work I avoid. Nate Silver is an exception. You can think of it as a roster of Democrat operatives with bylines.

It may be time for someone to compile a list of #NeverTrump columnists whose work we can likewise treat as suspect, beginning with most of the stable at National Review and at Weekly Standard.

Editorial Note

We're RVing toward the Canadian Rockies. We're in the states for another day.

We will have limited Internet access there for a couple of weeks. I will post some travel blogging if I can grab a WiFi signal now and then.

Philly Phunnies

Steven Hayward of Power Line has a mid-week collection of humorous "stuff" coming out of the Democratic convention. Some favorites:

Two photos, top photo of Elizabeth Warren declaiming, captioned:
What kind of man roots for an economic crash that costs millions of people their jobs?
Second photo of George Soros, captioned:
George Soros ... the man who's bankrolling you.
 A charming photo of the young Monica Lewinsky, captioned:
Bill Clinton had a secret
server, too.
 A photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson looking startled, captioned:
Scientists confirm
truth is still truth
even if the Russians
find it.

Shallow Spin

Appearing in Salon, Simon Maloy argues Trump has asked for Russian espionage to take place. He writes:
It’s not often you see a major-party presidential candidate invite a foreign power to commit espionage on an American public official, but that’s what we witnessed today as Donald Trump explicitly encouraged Russia to hack Hillary Clinton and release her emails.
What Trump actually said was:
Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.
It's very clear to me Trump thinks the Russians have already done the hacking and have the complete file, he's merely inviting them to share the deleted emails the FBI couldn't access. What Maloy alleges is arrant nonsense.

Independents Diss PC

The Daily Caller reports polling results which find independents aligned with Republicans.
A national survey released by Pew Research Center last week reveals that more than two-thirds of registered independents think Americans today are too easily offended by the language other people use.

On the issue of political correctness, independents align more closely with Republicans — 78 percent of whom agreed that Americans today are too easily offended — than they do with Democrats, of whom a majority said people need to self-censor more often to avoid offending others.
Blasting political correctness is a major Trump campaign theme. Pew has identified at least one issue on which independents agree with him.

Sanders Gives Up on Democrats

Heat Street reports Bernie Sanders, no longer a presidential candidate, will return to the Senate as what he was elected - an Independent. How do you think his supporters will view that move?

As we all know, Sanders urged his supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton. As we also know, many of them responded with booing and rejection. A part of his decision to revert has to be the shabby way his candidacy was treated by the DNC.

If I were a Bernie supporter (I'm not) I'd see him going back to being an Independent as effectively telling me that I'm now a free agent. I should follow my conscience as he does. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Trump's Genius Slogan

RealClearPolitics follows a whole collection of polls which ask respondents whether the country is on the right or wrong track. Nine such have been released within the last 10 days.

Without exception the nine show most people believe the country to be on the wrong track. The right track percentages range from 19% to 25%. The wrong track percentages range from 67% to 72%. Some small percentage has, it would appear, no opinion.

In summary, somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track, headed in the wrong direction.

This illustrates the genius of Trump's slogan: Make America Great Again. People who believe the country is on the wrong track are receptive to Trump's appeal, and polls show most of us believe exactly that.

Meanwhile, in Philly the Democrats are trying to convince us the status quo is excellent, otherwise why would we want to continue it? The polls show they will have a tough time selling us that rosy scenario.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Quote of the Day

Columnist Don Surber, writing on his blog creatively called "Don Surber's Blog," about why it's hard to attack Trump:
What scandal can Clinton use to dissuade his voters from crawling over broken glass and going to the polls this fall? Divorce? He's had two. Bankruptcy? Four. DUI? He doesn't drink and besides, he has a chauffeur. He gave money to a crooked politician? Yes, and her name is Clinton.
Trump knows Hillary's a crook, he "bought" her (and Bill's) services as celebrity wedding guests with a donation to their slush fund charitable foundation.

Four Numbers

Aaron Blake of The Washington Post writes about four numbers that are bad new for Team Clinton. He quotes recent poll findings to support each of these four assertions.
1) 68 percent say Clinton isn't honest and trustworthy
2) Her image has never been worse
3) Just 38 percent would be "proud" to have her as president
4) Nearly half of Democratic primary voters still want Bernie Sanders
Reading those, you'd be tempted to conclude the election is Trump's to lose. It's probably too soon to draw that conclusion.

Weird Diagnostic Science

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a test for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. The test is called the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test, according to US News.
Low smell test scores, or the decreased ability to identify odors correctly, correlated with dementia and Alzheimer's disease and appeared to predict cognitive decline.

Our research showed that odor identification impairment, and to a lesser degree, entorhinal cortical thickness, were predictors of the transition to dementia. These findings support odor identification as an early predictor, and suggest that impairment in odor identification may precede thinning in the entorhinal cortex in the early clinical stage of Alzheimer's disease.

At present, Alzheimer's disease can only be clinically identified in its later stages, after the brain is severely damaged. Approxi-mately 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

The Trump "Handle"

Writing for RealClearPolitics, David Byler argues the odds quoted by Nate Silver and others concerning whether Clinton or Trump will win are misleading to many who see them. He makes good points, worth considering.

A factor Byler doesn't mention is that Trump has been defying the odds since he first entered the race. Whether through luck or enormous insight, Trump has a handle on how many Americans view their lives and how government impacts them.

Trump understands what ticks people off and what turns them on. Like any good salesman, he is basing his program on their preference profile.

I don't know who will win in November, nobody does with any certainty. What I know, following an old horse player's adage, is that you bet 'em based on the way they've run in the past. Trump has done a lot of winning, he could easily do so again. Betting against him could be a winning bet, but it isn't a smart bet.

NR Foresees Nose-Holding

Writing in a National Review that has, recently, been associated almost exclusively with #NeverTrump purists, Victor Davis Hanson gets real and finds Trump better than Clinton:
The election is about just two things. First, is Trump’s agenda more conservative than Clinton’s, or, inversely, is Clinton’s more liberal than Trump’s? And, second, is either Clinton or Trump so morally flawed, so incompetent, or so inexperienced as to render their policies and platforms irrelevant to their own followers?

I seriously doubt that many Democrats will swear not to sully themselves by voting for a prevaricator and incompetent, and, likewise, I expect by November most Republicans will be ready to “hold their nose” and vote for Trump.

Like it or not, this election is about degree, relative political agendas, and comparative hazard, not about marrying ideological purity and consistency with sobriety and character.
There you have the ancient "lesser of two evils" principle, dressed up in pretty words. We know Clinton is evil, there is some chance Trump will be less so. The downside on both is pretty bad, but Trump has more upside potential.

Denial ... Not Just a River

Sixty-one people spoke on the first day of the Democrat convention, some obviously briefly, others at length. According to Politico's Politifact:
Based on our searches of C-SPAN closed-captioning text, Congressional Quarterly transcripts and other video archiving services, we couldn’t find any speaker who mentioned 'ISIS,' 'Islamic' 'terror,' 'terrorist,' or 'terrorism' during the first day of the convention.
Unbelievable. Somebody goose that stupid ostrich-in-a-donkey-suit to get its head out of the sand.

Missing the Red, White, and Blue provides a link to a quick note with photos in The Daily Caller, comparing the Republican and Democrat conventions.
PHILADELPHIA — The Daily Caller is at the Democratic National Convention Monday and it doesn’t look like there are any American flags.

The stage is bland and grey, with no red, white or blue present. A thorough look at the crowd present also turns up no American flags.

The Republican National Convention in Cleveland on the other hand was filled with Americana.
Sad, isn't it? Both major parties should be patriotic and proud of our country, whatever its faults. Patriotism is still "in" with Republicans, with Democrats not so much.

Perhaps that explains why President Obama has acted ashamed of the U.S. on his trips abroad. Clinton promises four more years of hang dog diplomacy.

Sharing a Work-Around

Let me share with you a trick I've recently figured out. Perhaps you've been using it for years. The problem is that certain publications, The Washington Post comes to mind, limit the number of their articles you can view per month.

What I've discovered is that many of their articles are syndicated to other papers around the country, normally with the same title. Put that title into your search engine and look for other papers running the WaPo article in syndication. Their sites are normally not embargoed.

Here is an example. RealClearPolitics linked to a WaPo Chris Cillizza article entitled "Yes, Of Course Donald Trump Can Win." I went there and found I'd exceeded my monthly limit of, I believe, five.

So I put that title into DuckDuckGo and up popped The Durango Herald, which had picked up Cillizza's piece on syndication. They allowed me to visit their site and read the article to which the Post wouldn't give me access. If I decided to reference the piece I'd reference it to the Durango paper, and indicate it originally appeared in the Post.

Happy surfing!

Wrong Messenger, Wrong Message

Politico reports Michelle Obama said, in her speech to the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia last night, the following:
Don't let anyone ever tell you that this country is not great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on Earth.
How short does she imagine our memories could be? When her most memorable former appraisal of the United States was uttered in 2008, when she was 44, also according to Politico:
For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country.
According to Ms. Obama, all of that "greatness" must have happened in the last nearly 8 years. Does her assertion square with your experience of these years?

The Obama years have brought recession, continued war, terrorism, angry racial polarization, open borders, political correctness, sexting, men in women's restrooms, assassination of police, a broken political process in both parties, the near-death of U.S. manufacturing, historic levels of workforce nonparticipation, interest rates near zero, a doubling Federal deficit, metrosexuals, a tattooed generation, plummeting birth rates and designer street drugs.

Not to mention a vast loss of international prestige and influence, the rise of China and rebirth of militant Russia, and metastasizing political Islam while our military shrinks.

I'd say we have a ways to go to achieve greatness. Looking at that list, I believe you'll agree.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Becoming Leak-Proof

People make the assumption their emails are private, as for example the 20,000 DNC emails that Wikileaks recently released. The people who wrote those never expected them to circulate beyond the intended recipient.

I have difficulty understanding this "belief in electronic privacy." I begin with the assumption anything written or spoken on electronic media can become public knowledge. Not "will become" but certainly "can become" known beyond the target audience.

The sheer volume of electronic communication serves to camouflage much of what we send. And most of it is of no interest whatsoever to others. However, given the ability to search for key words, what you should assume is that anything salacious, anything that can get you in trouble with your boss, the police, a spouse, or someone else whose opinion matters to you, has a reasonable chance of winding up in their hands.

The answer is self-censorship. Don't phone or write things that can later cause you grief. Face-to-face is safer, but not 100% safe, your conversational partner could be wearing a wire, could be recording your words.

Self-censorship begins with understanding what you might write or say that could come back to bite you in a tender spot. Most human communication does not have this potential, if only because of its utter banality.

We "Did Too Much"

Can you reasonably argue that Syria would have been a worse mess if Assad still ruled the whole country? I cannot. Seth Cantey cannot either, as he writes for USA Today.
The U.S. and its partners could have, and should have, let Assad win.

The main problem with U.S. policy toward Syria is not that the administration did too little early in the conflict. It is that the administration did too much. If the U.S. and its partners had not intervened, Assad would have stamped out the civil war before it began.

A brutal dictator would have retained control of his country, but the death toll would be lower, Syria would be more stable, the refugee crisis might not have happened, and ISIL might never have taken its current form.

When we look at Iraq and Libya, we see obvious examples of the unintended consequences of intervention. We should see that when we look at Syria, too.
The same applies to Saddam's Iraq and Gaddafi's Libya, but perhaps not to the Taliban's Afghanistan. Policy prescription: the only dictators who require toppling are those attacking Americans.

A Collection of Victim Groups

Oren Cass writes at City Journal about the descent of the Democrats into victim group politics. Some key points:
In early June, Hillary Clinton’s campaign website featured about 30 issue-specific pages focused not on a nation with problems to be solved but on discrete victim groups with wounds to be salved.

Based on an examination of Clinton’s website, “racial justice” is her campaign’s organizing principle.

Wherever racial linkages weaken, gender stands ready to pick up the slack.

Framing issues as who instead of what leads to a governing model that would divide society by race, gender, sexuality, profession, and location, targeting policies to each defined demographic.

In a world of fixed resources, such a model inevitably undermines the idea of equal protection under the law, pits groups against one another, and leaves some explicitly favored by government as winners.
The alternative to viewing the Democrats as a criminal conspiracy masquerading as a political party is to view them as a collection of victim groups seeking redress, seeking special favors to help equalize their situations.

I am reminded of the Kurt Vonnegut dystopian short story Harrison Bergeron in which everyone without a handicap is required to wear shackles (or equivalent) to slow them down and hamper their actions.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hillary Clinton, Another John Fell

English poet Tom Brown supposedly wrote this rhyme in 1680, and spoke it to Dr. John Fell, the then-Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. I was reminded of the verse when reading a Slate article about why people don't like Hillary Clinton.
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why -- I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.
Life is like that, our likes aren't always rational.  Hillary just pi**es off people.

Wikipedia reports the poem was a very loose translation of the 32nd epigram of Martial, a Roman epigramist.

Wasserman Schultz Update

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Chair of the Democratic National Committee, will resign at the end of the convention about to begin in Philadelphia. She has been under fire for Committee emails divulged by Wikileaks. See the story at Politico.

The emails show her DNC was actively working to stymie Bernie Sanders and aid Hillary Clinton, actions the DNC was not authorized to take. She may be added to some instrumentality of the Clinton campaign as a functionary or spokesperson.

Quote of the Day

Steve Sebelius writing in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, about Hillary Clinton:
Not being indicted isn’t the same thing as being innocent.
So true.

World Affairs 101

Okay, foreign affairs fans, herewith a brief primer on an infrequently discussed feature of diplomacy that is both blessing and curse. That feature is the "rule of unanimity" that prevails in many, dare I say most, international gatherings.

Organizations like ASEAN, NATO, the EU, and others, operate on the basis that the organization will only take a stand on things all members can agree upon. This means a single holdout nation can neuter the organization.

We have an example before us. Reuters reports via Yahoo News that, at an ongoing ASEAN meeting in Laos, Cambodia has refused to agree to a communique concerning the South China Sea.

The other member states wish included a reference to a recent UNCLOS court finding in The Hague. The court ruled China has no special dominion over the reefs and rocks scattered across the SCS. By holding out, Cambodia has prevented ASEAN from taking a stand the other members favor.

It is likely China offered Cambodia serious inducements in trade or infrastructure investments in return for an agreement to veto inclusion of the court's ruling. Obviously no quid pro quo will be admitted.

This is a very current example of the downside to unanimity. The upside is that, when all members do agree, their very unanimity makes arguing with whatever position is taken quite difficult. So for all its faults, diplomats hang onto the unanimity principle.

Sometimes, as in the case of NATO, the member nations in time of peace agreed to a charter which binds each to act in times of crisis. Now, if a member decides a change in that charter is needed, one nation could block the proposed change.

The Name Game

The story of Cain and Abel - Adam and Eve's two sons - is a Biblical meme from Genesis with which many are familiar. Now Clinton's pick of Tim Kaine as VP nominee has triggered all sorts of snarky alliteration and homophonic word play, around the name "Kaine" which is pronounced identically to "Cain."

Some favorites: Kaine and Unable, or even more apt, Kaine and Enable, making reference to Hillary's role as an enabler for Bill's misdeeds with a whole procession of willing and unwilling women. Then there's the "Democrats so blind they needed a white Kaine" snark.
Too much fun.

Clinton VP Pick Sleaze

Writing for Politico on the last day of June, Isaac Arnsdorf chronicles all the gifts Tim Kaine accepted as Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Virginia. Now Hillary Clinton has ignored the apparent impropriety and appointed him her Vice Presidential running mate.
Kaine reported more than $160,000 in gifts from 2001 to 2009, mostly for travel to and from political events and conferences, according to disclosures compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project. The givers included political supporters, a drug company that soon after bought a facility in Virginia, and Dominion, the state’s biggest provider of electricity.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine took advantage of the state’s lax gift laws to receive an $18,000 Caribbean vacation, $5,500 in clothes and a trip to watch George Mason University play in the NCAA basketball Final Four during his years as lieutenant governor and governor, according to disclosures he filed.
Isn't that exactly what the Clintons have traditionally done, take money and favors from people wishing to buy influence? They've got to think Kaine's their kind of guy. Hat tip to for the link.

Scandal in Philadelphia

The "experts" all said the Republican convention was chaotic. Now the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has lost her speaking slot at their convention. Reince Priebus of the RNC never suffered that fate, we heard him speak in Cleveland. CNN reports the story.

Wasserman Schultz will not speak after Wikileaks made public roughly 20,000 DNC emails which show the DNC was strongly (and inappropriately) biased against Bernie Sanders. This scandal will make it nearly impossible for Clinton to secure the votes of Sanders many backers, who must be furious at their guy's treatment.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Choosing Poorly

It is rumored via Bloomberg Politics that Donald Trump will invest perhaps 20 million in super-PACs to defeat Ted Cruz and John Kasich, should either ever run again.  Both, in different ways, dissed Trump during the convention just ended.

Paraphrasing what the old Templar from Indiana Jones III might have said about crossing the GOP's Godfather: "They chose poorly."

Timely Good News

Do you remember a story three months ago about Virginia Governor (and Democrat hack) Terry McAuliffe issuing a blanket pardon to over 200,000 convicted felons who'd completed their state prison sentences, thus enabling them to register and vote? CNN reports the Virginia Supreme Court has ruled McAuliffe is not constitutionally entitled to issue blanket pardons to entire groups.

McAuliffe assumed, and most observers agreed, the overwhelming majority of former felons will vote for a Democrat if enabled to do so. The Democratic Party is, after all, best understood as a kind of criminal conspiracy masquerading as a political party, so the fit is a natural one.

Frustrated by the court's decision, McAuliffe has indicated he will have his office get busy generating individual pardons for former felons, which he will sign one at a time. It is estimated he won't get very far through the 200,000 by election day, perhaps a few thousand. I predict he will tire of the effort and quietly let it drop by Thanksgiving.

Krauthammer Agrees

Columnist and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer describing the Ted Cruz convention non-endorsement, as quoted by RealClearPolitics.
Last night what Cruz delivered was the longest suicide note in American political history.
That's essentially what we wrote two days ago and, being fair to Charles, he made this comment yesterday.

DNC System "Rigged" After All

It turns out Bernie Sanders' claims that "the system is rigged" were true, at least with respect to the Democratic National Committee's actions vis-a-vis the two candidates seeking the Dem nomination: Clinton and Sanders.

Leaks by Wikileaks of DNC emails show a pattern of pro-Clinton bias at the highest levels of that organization. ABC News reports Sanders' campaign manager is steamed and wants answers. It is possible DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will have to "fall on her sword" over this flap.

An Angry Teen

In the post immediately below this we wrote that the Munich shooter - born of Iranian immigrant parents - was an unlikely Islamic radical. Apparently, the authorities have come to the same conclusion, see this Reuters story on the Yahoo News website.
Munich police chief Hubertus Andrae all but ruled out an Islamist militant link to the attack.

"Based on the searches, there are no indications whatsoever that there is a connection to Islamic State" or to the issue of refugees, he told a news conference.

"Documents on shooting sprees were found, so the perpetrator obviously researched this subject intensively."

The gunman was born and brought up in the Munich area and had spent time in psychiatric care, and there was no evidence to suggest he had had an accomplice, Andrae said.
The story notes the Munich shooting happened on the fifth anniversary of the Norwegian shooting by Anders Breivik that killed 77, an unlikely coincidence.

An Odd Terrorist

The news is reporting that the Munich mall shooter was a German-Iranian fellow. This is causing the police to be hesitant to ascribe Islamic motives to his shooting spree.

Most Iranians are Shia Muslims, most al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists are Sunni Muslims. Not that Shia Iran doesn't support terrorists, they do but those terrorists normally are not Iranians.

An Iranian is likely to have zero sympathy for, or interest in joining, ISIS, any of the al Qaeda clones or to find the so-called "caliphate" worth supporting. He is apt to be interested in the building of a new Persian Empire, much as a Turk might aspire to the new Ottoman Empire which Erdogan seems to be working toward.

Noonan Rates the Speeches

Peggy Noonan got her start in politics as a speech writer for Ronald Reagan. She has continued as one of the most eloquent voices in political journalism, writing mostly for The Wall Street Journal. Peggy is particularly good at evaluating politicians' speeches, which she does here.
Mike Pence’s speech was modest, simple and strong. He is going to be a powerful and effective figure in the coming campaign.

Ted Cruz did himself damage. (snip) If you can’t endorse, good for you and stay home. That isn’t politics, it’s basic human comportment.

Donald Trump’s speech was important. (snip) I think he succeeded, though with a certain grimness. He’d probably reply that the times are grim.

It was not an eloquent speech, not lofty, very plain and blunt.

But it was powerful.


Let me paint you a word picture. Imagine a cemetery with a lonely flagpole. On it a U.S. flag is flying exactly one flag length down from the top, as flag etiquette requires for mourning. The caption across the bottom reads:
The Obama Legacy
The Clinton Inheritance

NY Times Fact Checks Christie

Everyone who saw Gov. Chris Christie's "indictment" of Hillary Clinton at the Republican convention in Cleveland Tuesday night remembers the audience repeatedly shouting "GUILTY." It occurred to The New York Times to fact-check his claims of her misdeeds and, much as it must gall them, Shear and Sanger reported what they found.
Mr. Christie started in North Africa, accusing Mrs. Clinton of being the “chief engineer of the disastrous overthrow of Qaddafi in Libya.”
Fact check: Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state during the period in question, and she did make a humanitarian case for intervening to prevent Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi from taking over Benghazi in 2011.

In Nigeria, Mr. Christie said, Mrs. Clinton “amazingly fought for two years to keep an Al Qaeda affiliate off the terrorist watch list.”
Fact check: The Clinton State Department did decline to add Boko Haram to its list of terrorist groups.

When Mr. Christie got to the topic of Syria, he reminded the crowd that Mrs. Clinton had called President Bashar al-Assad a reformer and “a different kind of leader.”
Fact check: Mrs. Clinton’s comments about Mr. Assad came in an interview in 2011, before much of the bloodshed.

Mr. Christie accused Mrs. Clinton of giving President Vladimir V. Putin “that stupid, symbolic reset button,” and said she had harmed the United States’ security and sought instead to strengthen Russia.
Fact check: Mrs. Clinton did support a “reset” of relations with Russia early in the Obama administration, pursuing a hope of Mr. Obama’s that the United States could pull Russia into a closer and more effective working relationship. That effort failed as Mr. Putin consolidated power.

Mr. Christie said that Mrs. Clinton had “supported concessions to the Castro brothers” as part of the Obama administration’s outreach to Cuba.
Fact check: She did express support for his efforts.
Other Christie claims were deemed to be less-well-founded. The authors tried their best to put a positive spin on a negative story, but many of Christie's charges stick all too well.

Trump Acceptance Speech a Hit

Yahoo Finance reports the results of a CNN/ORC instant poll looking at reactions to Donald Trump's acceptance speech Thursday night in Cleveland. They link to a screen capture of the results. No surprise, you cannot find these results anywhere on the CNN website.
The majority of viewers who watched Donald Trump's speech to the Republican National Convention on Thursday night said it made them more likely to vote for him in November, according to a CNN/ORC instant poll.

Overall, 57% of viewers said they had a "very positive" reaction to Trump's speech. Meanwhile, 18% said they were "somewhat positive" and 24% said it had a "negative effect."
The whole media meme of a disruptive convention is wildly exaggerated. Yes, Ted Cruz committed political suicide in prime time with a roundly booed speech of non-endorsement. Other than that, and some brief arguments over rules, it was a happy gathering of Hillary-haters celebrating their rejection of her, everything she stands for, and everyone who stands with her.

The predicted protests and violence basically didn't happen. The #NeverTrump people were thwarted on Monday afternoon. And the whole "nobody in the party endorsed him" story was simply untrue; most of the candidates who ran against Trump have honored their pledges to endorse the nominee: Trump.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Editorial Note

Nobody has accused me of masochism recently. So don't expect the same level of coverage of the Democrats' chin fest in Philadelphia next week. I can only take limited amounts of their PC waffle.

Cleveland: Night Four

I watched the speeches of Peter Thiel, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump this evening. I saw some interesting things.

Paypal founder Peter Thiel, after comments about how much of the country isn't doing well, said the following:
I am proud to be gay.
I am proud to be a Republican.
But most of all I am proud to be an American.
He noted there were aspects of the platform with which he does not agree, but shrugged it off. After which he urged Americans to vote for Donald Trump, and received a standing ovation. Seeing a standing O for a gay at a Republican convention is an indication of how much attitudes toward the LGBT community have improved.

Ivanka Trump had been tasked with two things: to assure women that her dad is a supporter of women's rights and equal pay, and to introduce him. She did both well.

The nominee took his time going through his scripted speech, and deviated occasionally from that script. He did a good job and emphasized his desire to give voice to the voiceless, to speak for the unrepresented, and to fight for the marginalized.

Trump understood he had to reach beyond the Republican faithful, and did so. What's unclear is how many of the marginalized were watching.

What unifies the GOP most is a near-universal detestation of Hillary Clinton. Presumably many independents share that revulsion to a greater or lesser degree.

As the candidate of continuity, Clinton will appeal to those who are satisfied with the status quo, who will be happy with four more years of Obama lite. Teachers and civil servants will figure prominently in her support groups. Likely law enforcement and military will not.

Interestingly, Clinton is being supported by neocons, who have returned to their Democrat roots. What nobody has a handle on is whether minorities will turn out for her as they did Obama, one guesses not.

The Trump Foreign Policy

The New York Times doesn't like Donald Trump, at least as a presidential candidate. Their editorials have made this abundantly clear.

However, when The Donald sat down with David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman to talk foreign policy, they did a straight reportorial job of letting him have his say, without put-downs. If you're considering voting for Trump, their column isn't a bad primer on Trump's view of foreign affairs.

Straight reporting is what we expected (and mostly received) from the old NYT, it's darned rare today. I suspect David and Maggie believed Trump's views so far out of the mainstream as to require no spin. They may be shocked at how many find his views plain (if uncommon) sense.


It was wise to subsidize European countries' defense in the lean years following World War II. That is over two-thirds of a century ago and we're still doing it ... why?

Western Europe is no longer impoverished and shell-shocked, hasn't been for decades. They're taking 6 week vacations when many Americans don't take the 2 weeks they've earned. Today, fat and sassy, Europeans are still letting us defend them because we have been willing patsies.

A reappraisal of who pays is long overdue. Perhaps Europe has more defense than it is willing to fund, in which case it should have less.

I disagree with Trump's disparagement of so-called "tripwire" forces like those in South Korea and those planned for the former Eastern Bloc countries. Such forces raise the cost to an attacker at relatively little cost to the defender, or host nation. They do (or should) presuppose a major defense effort on the part of the frontier nation so protected.

Chicken or Fish?

Writing for RealClearPolitics Heather Wilhelm argues Chris Christie is wrong, that the election doesn't boil down too "chicken or fish." She hints at the correct answer, but dances around it because she doesn't like her choices this year.

The right answer is that if, as a Republican not in love with Trump, you live in CA or NY, by all means stay home or leave the president part of your ballot blank. Your vote is irrelevant anyway. All of your states electoral college votes will go to Clinton, regardless of your (in)action.

Similarly if, as a Republican not in love with Trump, you live in MS or WY, you can also stay home or leave the president box blank, your state's electoral college votes will go to Trump anyway, whatever you do.

Only in so-called "battleground" or toss-up states does your vote matter, and there a Republican who does anything except vote "Trump" effectively votes for Clinton. Here is where Wilhelm is wrong, where you really have to understand that nobody but Trump or Clinton is realistically "on offer."

If living in a toss-up state you truly see no daylight between Clinton and Trump, between who they will appoint to the Supreme Court, make an appointment with your ophthalmologist. Your macular degeneration is farther along than you thought.

The Pence Summation

Indiana Governor and VP Nominee Mike Pence, summing up the political year in a pithy paragraph, reported by the New York Post.
Over in the other party, if the idea was to present the exact opposite of a political outsider, the exact opposite of an uncalculating truth teller, then on that score you’ve got to hand it to the Democratic establishment, they outdid themselves this time . . . At the very moment when America is crying out for something new and different . . . Democrats are about to anoint someone who represents everything this country is tired of.
The Post characterizes this summation as "succinct, direct, reasonable and devastating."

Cruz Blots His Copybook

Last night Ted Cruz stood on principle, refused to endorse while taking up valuable prime time, and was roundly booed by the delegates to the Republican Convention. There is no way he comes out of this whole.

I agree that, in light of Trump's insults to Ted's wife and father, he was absolved of his pledge to support the eventual nominee. He apparently (but wrongly) believed he was making the first speech of the 2020 campaign.

True, the liberal MSM loves Ted, temporarily, for sticking his thumb in Donald's eye. Ted is delusional if he thinks that "love" will last beyond November; from their point of view he is on the wrong side of too many issues.

If in November Trump wins, Cruz becomes an unperson in the GOP. If Trump loses, many will blame him, in part, for the loss. How much more graceful (and practical) to simply stay home and keep his options open in the event of a Trump loss.

The NATO Story

Over two months ago at COTTonLINE we wrote the following:
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.
This morning the press is full of stories of Donald Trump essentially proposing something of the sort, in an interview with The New York Times, for example this ABC News article. We are not offended by stories of Trump seemingly channeling COTTonLINE, nor do we allege plagiarism.

If you can't pay your dues in an organization, they expect you to resign. It is long past time our allies in NATO either meet their treaty obligations or voluntarily drop their membership as Britain has decided to do with their EU membership, via Brexit.

Here's an example of why geography matters. Doing without NATO membership leaves a European nation at the tender mercies of Vlad Putin and his Russian bear hug. Putin may be a risk worth taking ... if you're Ireland or Portugal. For Estonia, Romania or Poland? Not so much.

Unclear as to why we say this? Look at a map of Europe and where countries are located with respect to Russia.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Evening's Best Wisecrack

Gov. Scott Walker talking about H. Clinton being the ultimate Washington insider:
If she were any more on the inside, she would be in prison.
Fits in well with the "lock her up" chant from last night.

Cleveland Night Three

I didn't listen to every speech made tonight, but I heard those of Walker, Gingrich, Cruz, and Pence. Walker wasn't bad, Gingrich was good, Cruz was Cruz, and Pence "exceeded expectations."

Actually, Cruz was booed by people who wanted him to endorse Trump - which he did not. I suppose considering the rude and crude things Trump said about Cruz's wife and father, the lack of endorsement was no particular surprise.

Everyone says Cruz aims to run after Trump loses, which begs the question: what does he do when Trump wins? It would have been more graceful for him to stay home. I'll be surprised if President Trump doesn't recruit someone to run against him in the Texas primary.

The other DrC heard Eric Trump's speech and liked it. I noticed the pundit class said essentially nothing about it or him.

I liked what Gingrich had to say about Islamic terrorism. He agreed with Trump we are at war - and we need to be clear about that.

Pence did a good job, rousing but very mainstream Midwest GOP. He was better than I expected, and I like that he has a son in the Marines. We need officials with skin in the defense game.

Pence said something telling about Trump: you can't fake good kids. Trump seems to have 'em.

A New (Unpleasant) Normal

I'm certain you are beyond tired of the mess in the Middle East. "Ugly, and getting worse" is the rule there.

Nevertheless, you could probably benefit by reading Marina Ottaway's article for RealClearWorld, done under the auspices of the Woodrow Wilson Center think tank. It is entitled "The New Normal in the Middle East" and is at least as depressing as you expect it to be. She writes:
Intervention in Syria and Iraq has already forced the United States into de facto alliances with organizations it does not want to support.

Unfortunately, such inconvenient alliances are not the result of poor but reversible decisions by the Obama administration, but of the complexity of the situation in the region, which the United States cannot orchestrate to its own liking.

The United States is staying in Iraq and Syria because it fears ISIS and other radical Islamist groups. In this fight, it lacks true allies in the sense of governments or other organizations that share its goals and its values. Even the partnerships of convenience it forges come burdened with unwanted linkages.

The Middle East is too dangerous for the United States to withdraw, but it is too complicated for Washington to manipulate and change. This will force Washington to continue working with inconvenient allies for short-term, limited outcomes.
Although I believe she exonerates the clueless Obama administration too quickly, the situation in the Middle East is as complex and fraught as relationships among crime families or street gangs.

The Roman Empire knew how to solve the region's problems - which is no help to us. Their solution involved genocide and slavery, modern-day no-nos to us, if not to ISIS.

Arctic Temperatures "Actually Below Normal"

The Daily Caller reports an expedition - the Polar Ocean Challenge - to circumnavigate the North Pole in polar waters is stuck in Murmansk - too much ice for them to continue! I love it, see what they wrote:
The Polar Ocean Challenge is taking a two month journey that will see them go from Bristol, Alaska, to Norway, then to Russia through the North East passage, back to Alaska through the North West passage, to Greenland and then ultimately back to Bristol. Their objective, as laid out by their website, was to demonstrate “that the Arctic sea ice coverage shrinks back so far now in the summer months that sea that was permanently locked up now can allow passage through.”

They are currently stuck in Murmansk, Russia because there is too much ice blocking the North East passage the team said didn’t exist in summer months, according to Real Climate Science.

Real Climate Science also provides a graph showing that current Arctic temperatures — despite alarmist claims of the Arctic being hotter than ever — is actually below normal.

The icy blockade comes just over a month after an Oxford climate scientist, Peter Wadhams, said the Arctic would be ‘completely ice-free’ by September of this year. While it obviously isn’t September yet, he did reference the fact that there would be very little ice to contend with this summer.

Wadhams says he expects less than one million square kilometers by summers end, but the current amount of Arctic sea ice is 10.6 million square kilometers, according to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
As we continue to maintain, climate knowledge is insufficient to make viable climate predictions.


Writing in the Los Angeles Times, a loon named James Kirchick argues that a President Trump might face a military coup. "Delusional" doesn't begin to describe this notion's unreality.

For starters, I'll wager that most career military will vote for Trump. Having done so, their natural inclination will be to see him succeed, not depose him.

How popular with our military does Kirchick think Hillary Clinton - the villainess of Benghazi - could possibly be? The troops understand the "security personnel" who died there defending Ambassador Chris Stevens were veterans - their brothers-in-arms - left to fight and die without backup, without a rescue mission.

It was a rescue mission for which she didn't fight, and she didn't resign in protest when the President refused. Does Kirchick imagine GIs can square her inaction with "leaving nobody behind"? Not even close.

Christie Indicts Clinton

Did you get a chance to see Gov. Chris Christie "prosecute" Hillary Clinton last night? He was on fire, on a roll, and the audience was egging him on like the congregation in a country church.

Christie would summarize one of Hillary's many failures and ask the assembled delegates "guilty or not guilty." They'd roar "GUILTY" at the top of their lungs, and often as not break into chants of "Lock Her Up."

I'm impressed, I had no idea just how good he is. The Christie I saw last night has a serious future somewhere. Senior contributor John Hinderaker at Power Line wrote of Christie's skill as a prosecutor:
I was a litigator. I spent years of my life in court, tried over 100 jury cases, took thousands of depositions and argued hundreds if not thousands of motions. And I would not have liked to go up against Chris Christie. He is very, very good.
Maybe Christie for Trump's Attorney General?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Weird Autoimmune Science

IEEE Spectrum reports research findings which promise hope for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis.
By selectively stimulating nerve fibers running from the brain to the spleen with electricity, researchers have successfully treated a small group of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Importantly, the team showed the exact mechanism by which the procedure works: Vagus nerve stimulation activates immune system cells to inhibit the production of key inflammatory proteins, called cytokines, implicated in the disease.
Wow! RA is a very bad illness, which disproportionally affects women. A cure, or even a way to keep it from getting worse would be huge. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

The Greatest Privilege

People have criticized Mrs. Trump's speech last night at the convention for a few words or phrases that closely resembled some spoken by Mrs. Obama 8 years ago. The following is something Melania said last night you can be certain Michelle did not say:
On July 28th, 2006, I was very proud to become a citizen of the United States — the greatest privilege on planet Earth. I cannot, or will not, take the freedoms this country offers for granted.
By contrast, at age 44 Michelle Obama famously said the following during her husband's first run for president:
For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country.
Those are two very different views of American citizenship. I know which I prefer.

As a person who has traveled to over 100 countries, I consider the day I was born in the U.S. the luckiest day of my life. I always feel privileged when returning from abroad.

The Weaponization of Grief

John Cassidy, no friend to Republicans, writes in New Yorker about the first night of the Republican Convention in Cleveland. I called him "no friend" but he does a reasonable job of summarizing the proceedings, except for Melania's speech at the end (perhaps he left early?).

I particularly enjoyed a quote he picked up from MSNBC commentator Steve Schmidt who characterized the proceedings:
What we’re seeing tonight is the weaponization of grief.
That's brilliant phrase-making, and relatively accurate as well. On the other hand I resented the incompleteness of a comment by Avik Roy, who worked for Marco Rubio:
Summary of #RNCinCLE Day 1: Brown people are making America less safe.
And exactly what color did Roy think Mrs Mendoza's and Mr. Shaw's dead sons were, if not "brown"? Here Cassidy's bias shows.

Convention Notes

Andrew Malcolm, writing at the Hot Air website, has the definitive statement on allegations of plagiarism in Melania Trump's speech:
As someone who has researched and written speeches for a potential first lady, I must note in fairness there are only so many ways for a woman to politely praise hubby in public. And they’ve all been used before, long predating 2008.
Malcolm also has a great quote from the speech of Army Ranger veteran Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR, no known relation):
We’d like a commander-in-chief who calls the enemy by its name. A commander-in-chief who draws red lines cautiously but enforces them ruthlessly. And it’d be nice to have a commander-in-chief who could be trusted to handle classified information.
Hillary doesn't qualify, according to the FBI Director.

Bush League

Former President George W. Bush is reported by CBS News to have told former aides and advisors:
I'm worried that I will be the last Republican president.
It isn't clear whether he means "Republican" in the sense he was a Republican, or whether he means there will never again be a president elected under that label. I suspect, as does CBS, he means the latter.

Let's be clear, if GWB's worry is well-founded, COTTonLINE believes much of the fault will be his own. W is about as popular as Herbert Hoover was during the Depression.

Bush could go down in political history as "the man who killed the Republican Party." I'm guessing that's a sobriquet he'd rather not earn.

Actually, the Party label will likely go on, but its platform may be something he'd neither recognize nor accept as Republican.

Another Shoe Drops

When sexual-harassment charges against Roger Ailes of Fox News surfaced, I wondered what star Megyn Kelly would have to say. It has taken awhile, but she is reported by CNBC to have indicated receiving similar salacious comments from him ten years ago.

The time lag doesn't make Kelly look good, having sat on her harassment charges for a decade. I wonder if Ailes' comments to Gretchen Carlson also happened long ago, but have only surfaced now when Ailes decided not to renew her contract.

I make no excuses for the casting room couch, it's vile. However, if women were offended by his interest why didn't their offense become public sooner? Surfacing now, it looks like getting even after taking his pay for years.

An Empty Robe

Victor Davis Hanson, writing at National Review, about jousting with Trump:
Ask the trash-talking Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg if she came out on top in dueling with Trump — or whether she virtually destroyed a quarter-century’s reputation in minutes and ended up no better than an elderly version of Rosie O’Donnell in a Supreme Court Justice costume.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Unrest in France

Jonathan Miller, a Brit who lives there, writes for CNBC about the sour mood of his neighbors in southern France. They are angry. He notes membership at a local gun club has quadrupled recently and most of the new members are not sportsmen.

Miller asks the question, could France be on the brink of a civil war? He asks and is unable to answer a definitive "No." It's very clear nationalist politicians like Marine Le Pen are gaining popularity as more of the French begin to fear the Muslim enemy in their midst.

A Bone to Pick

Historically, I've enjoyed Jay Nordlinger's columns and Impromptus for National Review. And I hope to again in the future. Right now, not so much.

Along with the rest of the NR crowd, he's decided Trump is as bad, in his own way, as Clinton and he'll have nothing to do with either. That makes philosophical sense, but much less so in the real world unless one is ready to join Ruth Bader Ginsburg in emigrating to New Zealand, which I'm prepared to wager he's not, nor am I.

One of the two - Trump or Clinton - will be president and those who remain here will live with that reality. "None of the above" isn't a rational choice for those who care more about country than party. Think Supreme Court appointments.

Reading Nordlinger's understandibly negative characterization of attacks on his position by angry Trumpites, I get a couple of overriding impressions. First, it seems much of his reaction is one of social class snobbery, a snobbery he shares with George Will whom he defends.

Trumpites are so de classe, they're obviously hard to stomach for the classical music critic and world traveler that Nordlinger is. Class prejudice is unattractive, particularly that directed downward toward the lesser orders.

My second reaction regards Nordlinger's objections to Trumpites' plaints about "globalism" and "open borders." He is of course correct that NR has supported neither, at least with any consistency.

What Nordlinger doesn't get is their sense a conservative voice like NR opposing Trump gives aid and comfort to Clinton who supports both globalism and open borders. If Trumpites don't make that point as clearly as they might, blame their preoccupation with careers not demanding wordsmithery as a prerequisite.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Speaking Fearlessly

Salena Zito writes political commentary for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, here she writes for RealClearPolitics about the 2016 presidential race.
Everyone is 1 degree away from melting like a snowflake over some imagined slight, and everyone is afraid to talk about it, for fear of sounding offensive or being labeled anything that ends in “ist.”

But many people see Trump as someone who doesn't censor himself; even when he says something incredibly foolish, his vice is forgiven because of his larger virtue of speaking fearlessly.
Right on, Salena.

More Police Shot, Killed

The latest outrage is the ambush-style shooting of several police and deputy sheriffs in Baton Rouge, LA. So far three are dead, another three (?) wounded. One gunman is dead, another two "persons of interest" have been taken into custody. See the story on the website of the local ABC-TV affiliate WBRZ.

Am I the only one who thinks it's time to make the death penalty mandatory for murderers of LEOs? I understand police make little effort to take cop killers alive, but some are arrested and should not enjoy the privilege of life they denied a now-dead officer.

Later ... As has been typical in recent attacks on police, it now appears this was a lone shooter crime. The other "persons of interest" have seemingly proven to be uninteresting after a closer look.

Jeb Beclowns Self

Jeb Bush writes in The Washington Post that Donald Trump does not represent the future of the Republican Party. Perhaps he will eventually be proven correct.

What is absolutely clear at this point is that Jeb Bush does not represent the present of the Republican party. During the primary season just ended he spent a ton of money proving his nonrepresentation beyond any argument.

In politics as in life timing is everything. Jeb's timing has been lousy. Had he been elected in 2000 in lieu of his brother George, history might have treated him much differently.

Today, Jeb's position vis-a-vis the GOP resembles that of the former governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller. Namely, as the avatar of a brand of Republicanism with many former customers.

One of those great realignments is happening, and Jeb has been left behind. The 2016 primary offered  Republican a spectrum of candidate choices, essentially no faction was omitted. Perhaps primary voters chose wisely, perhaps not, we'll know in November. What they did not chooose was Jeb.

Jeb Bush, requiescat in pace; go back to Goldman Sachs and try to get over yourself.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saturday Snickers

Once again Power Line's Steven Hayward comes forward with his weekly collection of cartoons, captioned photos, and witty sayings. A few of my favorites:

Many examples of cartoonists taking shots at Justice Ginsburg's politicized gaffes, including a mire with 4 hogs wallowing, in the middle stands an RBG figure saying, "And another thing."
The hogs speak:
Who is that?
Justice Ginsburg.
Her robe is ruined.
No, that's the facade of her impartiality.
A catalog ad for a Bernie Sanders doll, overstamped in red with the words:
Sold out
A cartoon of the Bernie-endorses-Hillary moment. She looks excited, he holds up her arm while he wears a sealed Hasmat suit.

The famous photo of Hillary wearing sun glasses eyeballing her Blackberry, captioned:
Nuclear launch codes
Now available on I-Tunes
A cartoon of Bill and Hillary Clinton dressed as 1930s gangsters, captioned:
The Untouchables 
A photo of a crowd holding a banner which originally said "#Black lives matter." The photo has been Photoshopped to add a girl holding a sign which says:
Fruits are people too
and the banner has been modified to read:
#Black olives matter.
A photo of the type of large cabover truck used by the Nice terrorist, captioned:
No civilian needs a truck this big
It's time to ban assault trucks.
A photo of the President, captioned:
Gun control will lower crime rates just like
Obamacare lowered health insurance premiums. 
Cartoon of a uniformed policeman speaking to his worried little daughter, captioned:
The "Talk" police officers have to have with their children ...
And the officer's voice balloon has him saying to her:
Sweetheart, Daddy may not make it home tonight, so
I want you to know that I love you. 
A drawing of the Gadsden flag of a coiled rattlesnake, with a pacifier in its mouth, captioned:
Don't tread on my safe space.
A physics joke Sheldon Cooper might enjoy:
You matter.
Until you multiply
yourself times the speed
of light squared. 
Then you energy. 
The classic eagle head photo against a U.S. flag backdrop, with the caption:
Why are there no knock knock jokes about America?
Because freedom rings.

Saturday Afternoon Whimsy

Trump is the anti-metrosexual, the anti-Obama.
Clinton is everyman's know-it-all, shrill ex-wife.

Meanwhile, the world is going to hell. Who ya gonna call?

Peters: Turkey's Travails

As regular readers know, we appreciate the work of military analyst Ralph Peters, writing here for Fox News. Today he writes about the tragedy that is Turkey, and the massive irony that our President urged support for its 'democratically' elected President Erdogan.

Erdogan is an elected leader in the same sense that Adolph Hitler was. He did get a majority of the votes, as did Hitler, but is now taking authoritarian action to ensure he never again faces serious electoral opposition. Hitler did the same and the German people cheered him, as the Turks have cheered Erdogan.
Who is the man our own president rushed to support because he was “democratically elected?” Recep Tayyip Erdogan is openly Islamist and affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood

Erdogan has dismantled Turkey’s secular constitution (which the military is duty-bound to protect). His “democracy” resembles Putin’s, not ours. Key opposition figures have been driven into exile or banned. Opposition parties have been suppressed. Recent elections have not been held so much as staged.

Erdogan has packed Turkey’s courts with Islamists. He appointed pliant, pro-Islamist generals and admirals, while staging show trials of those of whom he wished to rid the country. He has de facto, if not yet de jure, curtailed women’s freedoms.

Erdogan will use the coup as an excuse to accelerate the Islamization of his country and to lead Turkey deeper into the darkness engulfing the Muslim world.
Erdogan famously said: "Democracy is like a train. You ride it until your reach your destination, then you get off." Following this coup he will have reached his destination, and become the new Ottoman emperor.

Our hapless President found Erdogan worthy of support. I declare this to be pathetic virtue-signaling on Obama's part.

Huntington Was Prescient

Harvard scholar-historian Samuel P. Huntington, of The Clash of Civilizations fame, predicted the ideological conflict underpinning the current presidential race 12 years ago. See what he wrote in The National Interest, as quoted in The American Interest.
The views of the general public on issues of national identity differ significantly from those of many elites. The public, overall, is concerned with physical security but also with societal security, which involves the sustainability–within acceptable conditions for evolution–of existing patterns of language, culture, association, religion and national identity. For many elites, these concerns are secondary to participating in the global economy, supporting international trade and migration, strengthening international institutions, promoting American values abroad, and encouraging minority identities and cultures at home. The central distinction between the public and elites is not isolationism versus internationalism, but nationalism versus cosmopolitanism.
This man had an amazing crystal ball. The paragraph could have been written this afternoon by any number of astute observers, but he saw it in 2004.

Quote of the Day

Our quote of the day comes from The Washington Times, which puts on display a series of mots from Boris Johnson, new Foreign Secretary of the United (for the time being) Kingdom. My favorite:
Islam is the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness toward unbelievers.
Policy Rx: Official toleration of any faith should be directly proportional to its demonstrated willingness to coexist peacefully with unbelievers.

A Loser in a Bad Neighborhood

Spengler of Asia Times, aka David P.. Goldman, knows demographics and economics. See what he's written about the big picture facing Turkey, which nation managed to foil a coup last night. His basic points are two:
First, Turkey’s much-heralded economic growth spurt of the 2000’s has come to a grinding stop.

According to the Turkish central bank, consumer debt is now almost equal to total personal income in Turkey, vs. a bit over 20% in the United States. The average interest rate on consumer debt, the central bank reports, is just under 17%.
In other words, Turks have been living well by racking up credit card debt and they've about reached their limit, meaning consumption is going to drop and an economic downturn will follow.
Secondly, Turkey’s internal cohesion is at risk due to the rapid increase of its Kurdish-speaking minority and the relative decline of the ethnic Turkish population.

Despite Erdogan’s exhortations on behalf of Turkish fertility, the baby bust in Turkish-majority provinces continues while Kurds sustain one of the world’s highest birth rates. Even worse, the marriage rate outside of the Kurdish Southeast of the country has collapsed, portending even lower fertility in the future. 
Regardless of Erdogan's wishes, ethnic Turks are behaving like Europeans while ethnic Kurds are behaving like more typical Muslims - having large families. Perhaps, over time Turkey will morph into Kurdistan, eh?

Goldman's bigger point: Erdogan's victory over the Turkish military, and perhaps over Gulen's followers, is likely to be short-lived. In the longer run, Turkey looks like a loser living in a bad neighborhood. Hat tip to for the link.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Turkey Update

If news sources have their stories straight, the military coup in Turkey has failed. President Erdogan will now purge the military yet again to get rid of coup plotters and fellow travelers.

This probably marks the death knell of democracy in Turkey, it was already in serious trouble. I write this just before midnight, Mountain Daylight Time. I'll do a further update tomorrow as more is known.

Military Coup in Turkey

Multiple sites are reporting an attempted military coup in Turkey, apparently with the aim of deposing the Erdogan government and returning to Kemalist principles. It is unclear at this moment whether the coup will succeed.

Normally we don't favor military takeovers of governments. Turkey could possibly be an exception. Broadly representative government was already essentially dead in Turkey. Depending on what happens, this could turn out to be a good or a bad thing.

As regular readers know, the slow decay of democracy in Turkey has been a story we've followed. Updates later as developments occur.

Spengler Rides Again

David P. Goldman channels Spengler and writes a column for the Asia Times. Frankly, he's a bloody-minded rascal. Today his topic is how to defeat terrorism, see what he writes:
Western European Muslims fear the terrorists more than they fear the police. The West will remain vulnerable to mass terror attacks until the balance of fear shifts in the other direction.

When snipers fired on Union soldiers from Tennessee or Kentucky villages, (General) Sherman expelled residents, burned houses, and laid waste to crops. There are lessons here for what we used to call, quaintly, the Global War on Terror.

Destroying ISIS, al-Qaeda and other Muslim terror groups is not particularly difficult, far less difficult than Sherman or Sheridan’s task during the Civil War. It simply requires doing some disgusting things.

The way to win the war is to frighten the larger community of Muslims who passively support terror by action or inaction–frighten them so badly that they will inform on family members. Frightening the larger Muslim population in the West does not require a great deal of effort: a few thousand deportations would do.

This approach to quashing insurgency has worked numerous times in the past. It is not characteristic of peacetime life in western democracies, to be sure, but neither was Phil Sheridan’s ride through the Shenandoah. We prefer to think about winning hearts and minds. Winning the hearts and minds of a people, though, isn’t difficult once they fear you.
Israelis dynamite the homes of terrorists, echoing Sherman and Sheridan. However, Sheridan and Sherman weren't dealing with a suicidal death cult. I'm not certain Goldman's analogy holds, although his deportations represent movement in the right direction.

Quote of the Day

Jeremy Carl, writing for National Review, about our national reaction to radical Islamic jihadis:
Our leadership has devolved into a pusillanimous group of virtue-signalers for whom cowardice and cant masks itself as compassion.
COTTonLINE readers know to whom he refers - Obama, Kerry, and Clinton.

Flavors of Populism

Arthur C. Brooks, characterizing populism for The New York Times.
Populism comes in many flavors, sort of like Ben & Jerry’s. Some people like Socialist Swirl. Others prefer Chocolate Chip Autarky. 
That's a clever way to label the Sanders and Trump programs.

Pessimism Is Justified

We've all been bombarded recently with discussions of race in America and the deteriorating state of race relations. People of good will and honest intent have seen unfortunate behaviors on both sides.

For example, The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan quotes Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), an African-American, as having been stopped by the police seven times in one year as a U.S. Senator:
Was I speeding sometimes? Sure. But the vast majority of the time, I was pulled over for nothing more than driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood. . . . I do not know many African-American men who do not have a very similar story to tell—no matter their profession, no matter their income, no matter their disposition in life. 
I am certain he is correct, for as we wrote a week ago:
Inevitably, police sometimes pay attention to people of color who are behaving themselves and it is, naturally enough, resented. 
On the other hand, to expect police to behave differently when the criminals they encounter are disproportionally black and Hispanic - not just slightly but strongly so - is unrealistic in the extreme.

So here's how it may work: young black men hear their elders describe what Senator Scott reports, namely that the system is likely to believe a priori they are criminals. Given that, they may as well be criminals as it pays better than their alternatives.

Meanwhile, the police seeing lots of minority crime are inclined to profile minority individuals as criminals. Each side's behavior reinforces the continuation of the cycle.

Each blames the other, neither accepts responsibility for its continuation, while both are responsible. I am pessimistic about our chances of breaking the cycle of mutual reinforcement.

What If?

I have been thinking about the various elected Republicans who have gone on record as "unable to vote for Trump." Presumably they expect him to lose in November, whereupon they will be vindicated while those who went along with the primary voters' pick will be disgraced.

What happens to the "unable" if Trump wins? I haven't heard any speculation about that possibility.

Do you picture The Donald as a forgive-and-forget kind of guy? Or do you suspect he might harbor grudges? I predict he will reward loyalty and only forgive disloyalty when it is to his advantage to do so.

Expect substantial turnover among Republican party elites in the event of a Trump win. Many former poobahs may find themselves "exploring new career opportunities" or "spending more time with their families." Perhaps a new elite more in tune with the party base will emerge; it's an outcome much to be encouraged.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Victims and Perpetrators

For the second time in two days our President said something with which COTTonLINE agrees, speaking at a town hall sponsored by the Disney/ABC media conglomerate. See what ABC News reports Obama said:
It is absolutely true that the murder rate in the African-American community is way out of whack compared to the general population. And both the victims and the perpetrators are black, young black men.

The single greatest cause of death for young black men between the ages of 18 and 35 is homicide. And that’s crazy.
I certainly agree with the President's diagnosis of the problem. However, his prescriptions for solving it are the same lame old nostrums Democrats have been peddling for decades.

The problem is caused by toxic elements in black youth culture. The solutions are in the hands of black people who will have to bring about any meaningful change to that culture.

Terror in Nice

Various media are reporting a terrorist drove a large truck into a Bastille Day crowd in Nice, France, killing 80. If we needed proof, banning guns will not stop terrorists. Will our leaders next propose banning trucks and cars?

A person who wishes to kill a large number of anonymous people will find a way. Fire, poison, biologicals, vehicles, explosives, guns, gas are only the most obvious means. Stampeding a crowd in a theater can kill dozens. Sinking a ferry or tour boat or derailing a passenger or commuter train works too.

How about getting serious about identifying likely perps and sequestering them? Allowing religious figures to preach hate is akin to yelling "fire" in a theater. I believe that to be a type of speech which specifically is not protected by the First Amendment.