Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Summer Winding Down

The last day of August, another summer is winding down, having flown by much too fast. Technically, summer doesn't end for another 3 weeks, when we reach the autumnal equinox, but the sunlight has become more golden, the leaves are looking tired, the days are perceptibly shorter, and the Wyoming hillsides are beginning to show red mountain maple leaves.

When I was a kid, too many moons ago, Labor Day marked the effective end of summer, even though growing up in SoCal the hot weather persisted through October. Wearing stiff new jeans to school in the early September heat was near-torture, but we all did it.

The University of Chicago Provides Leadership

The University of Chicago recently sent a letter to incoming students putting them on notice that no trigger warnings or safe spaces will be on offer. No controversial speakers will be cancelled to preserve the delicate snowflakes' peace of mind.

This will drive the various ______ Studies faculties wild. You know - Women's Studies, Black Studies, Hispanic Studies, LGBTQ Studies, etc.

In short, U. of Chicago warned students they may find their beliefs challenged and offered no apologies therefor. As in, get over it, grow up.

Way to go, Chicago. Sure, it's long overdue, but bravo nevertheless. And I understand some other campuses of note have instituted the same tough love policy, for that's what it is.

Trump on Immigration

Donald Trump has tonight given his heralded speech on his immigration policies in Phoenix, AZ. See the text of his speech here at The Daily Caller website. First he identifies the problem:
The fundamental problem with the immigration system in our country is that it serves the needs of wealthy donors, political activists and powerful politicians. Let me tell you who it doesn’t serve: it doesn’t serve you, the American people.

When politicians talk about immigration reform, they usually mean the following: amnesty, open borders, and lower wages.
Trump didn't wimp out and he didn't waffle. The wall is still his policy, deporting all illegal aliens who commit crimes is still policy, forcing other countries to take back their felonious citizens by refusing visas to anyone from countries who won't take their losers back is policy. The bottom line:
There will be no amnesty.
Go read it for yourself, it is tough, fair, pro-American, and focused on getting immigrants who will be assets and will assimilate. The only illegal aliens who will be able to stay here unmolested are those who don't run afoul of the police and don't accept any public assistance. And he intends to track and chase visa overstayers who enter legally but don't go home.

I like it, perhaps you will too.

More on Trump in Mexico

Further thoughts on Trump in Mexico. By all appearances the meeting was at least a qualified success. To be sure, the two leaders don't agree on everything but were able to agree on a joint statement with some meat.

One reason they could agree about wall building is Mexico could really use a wall along its southern border to keep out the Central Americans. The U.S. might help them build it, or help pay for it.

Both have problems with drugs moving north, money and guns moving south, and the cartels making it happen. It is no stretch for them to agree to work on that issue.

Improving NAFTA? Show me a treaty that couldn't be improved after we've lived with it for some years.

Trump backed down a little on "keeping manufacturing wealth in our hemisphere." He'd campaigned on keeping it in the U.S.

His main plus, he looked and acted presidential. Doing so gives the lie to those who say he isn't up to the job. That alone is a huge win for him.

Ty Cobb: A Reappraisal

Did you grow up with your Dad telling you stories about great ballplayers of the past, with emphasis on Ty Cobb? I sure did.

If you had this same experience, you'll enjoy a book review in the Claremont Review of Books of Charles Leerhsen's Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty. Who knows? If your Dad (or Granddad) really got you hooked, you might even end up reading the book.

The Syrian State of Nature

A website sardonically named War on the Rocks runs a lengthy analysis by Tobias Schneider of the degeneration of the Syrian state into a series of localized warlord fiefdoms run by smugglers, gun-runners, and thieves. See his view of "President" Assad:
Over the past three years, despite foreign military aid and support, the regime under Assad has continued to atrophy at an ever increasing pace. If these trends continue, the Syrian president will soon find himself little more than a primus inter pares, a symbolic common denominator around which a loose coalition of thieves and fiefdoms can rally.
What strikes me is that Syria, as described by Schneider, now literally resembles our stereotype of the MENA area, a motley collection of armed tribes, villages, and clans, with flags. It is very nearly the state of nature, about which Hobbes wrote:
During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called warre; and such a warre as is of every man against every man.
We see in Syria what the post-apocalyptic world will resemble, if we let it degenerate that far.  Be prepared to defend your village, your block or your valley. As Kurt Schlichter writes at Townhall,
I have never, ever had anyone tell me that he had too much ammunition. Not in a combat zone, not in a civil disaster, not even in peacetime. Never.

Right now, if you are watching the news, you have questions about the future. And the answer to all of them is to buy ammo.
I'll admit I haven't yet followed Schlichter's advice, but if one lived in Syria its wisdom would have long since become self-evident.

Meritocracy on the Defensive

Writing in The Wall Street Journal about populism as an antidote to meritocratic elites, William A. Galston distills political wisdom with particular application in today's America.
In democracies, meritocracy will always be on the defensive. Its legitimacy will always depend on its performance—its ability to provide physical security and broadly shared prosperity, as well as to conduct foreign policy and armed conflict successfully. When it fails to deliver, all bets are off. This is what has happened throughout the West.
Our meritocracy has dropped the ball on physical security, shared prosperity, and winning wars. As Galston notes, it also identifies more with its peers abroad than with its fellow citizens at home.

It is the meritocracy's bad luck that their fellow citizens have noticed their failures. We fellow citizens are not amused, hence Trump and Sanders.

The Migrant Tsunami

Taki's Magazine looks at collapsing Puerto Rico, and reports the following:
In 2014 alone, a net of 1.8 percent of Puerto Rico’s population left for the mainland. The cumulative decline from its peak population in 2004 is now approaching 10 percent.

In contrast, the Puerto Rican population of the 50 states grew about 50 percent from 2000 to 2013. About three-fifths of all Puerto Ricans now live on the mainland.

That’s an important fraction to be aware of because we are often told that only a small percentage of the 6.1 billion people who live in the less developed nations would bother to decamp for the first world under a policy of open borders. But the experience of Puerto Rico, which is hardly poor (GPD per capita is near triple the world average), suggests that if allowed, third worlders would keep coming until life in America and Europe declines to third-world conditions. 
Donald, get busy and build that wall.

Trump In Mexico

As I write this has a headline stating Donald Trump has landed in Mexico. Trump is there to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, prior to his Phoenix speech on immigration scheduled for tonight. It's a ballsy move on Trump's part, and maybe on Peña Nieto's too.

We've just identified another reason to vote for Trump in November. His presidency will be much more fun to watch and experience. We can count on him acting large on the world stage, as he is today in Mexico.

What's puzzling me is our in-the-tank-for-Hillary MSM has told us how all of Mexico hates Trump - kids swatting Trump-shaped piñatas, etc. How can hosting Trump, doing a photo op with him, be good politics for a politically savvy Peña Nieto?

I understand Peña Nieto cannot run for reelection under Mexican constitutional law. However, he obviously cares whether someone from his PRI party wins next time.

My guess is Peña Nieto invited Trump expecting him to decline, giving Peña Nieto bragging rights that Trump was afraid to meet him. Trump then changed his schedule, agreed to go, and called PN's bluff.

As always, we'll watch and learn.

Impeached ... Convicted ... Removed

The CNBC website carries a Reuters article reporting the removal from office of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
Brazil's Senate removed President Dilma Rousseff from office on Wednesday for breaking budgetary laws, ending an impeachment process that has polarized the scandal-plagued country and paralyzed its politics for nine months.

Senators voted 61-20 to convict Rousseff for illegally using money from state banks to boost public spending, putting an end to 13 years of leftist Workers Party rule in Latin America's largest economy.
In a developed country her removal would count as good news. In third world countries, even upscale ones like Brazil, it is harder to predict what such actions might trigger. Revolution, civil war, even societal meltdown are possible sequelae, but so is muddling through.

Weird Technology

The Wall Street Journal has an article about moves in the direction of crewless cargo vessels plying the world's oceans.
Ship designers, their operators and regulators are gearing up for a future in which cargo vessels sail the oceans with minimal or even no crew. Advances in automation and ample bandwidth even far offshore could herald the biggest change in shipping since diesel engines replaced steam. Ship operators believe more automation will enable them to optimize ship use, including cutting fuel consumption.

A future unmanned ship could resemble some of the most advanced combat drones. It would sport infrared detectors, high-resolution cameras and laser sensors to monitor its surroundings. The vast troves of data would be transmitted to command centers where staff do little more than monitor progress and ensure ships are operating at optimum speeds.
I wonder about electronic hijackers who would hack a drone ship's communications and divert it to an unknown destination or run it aground or even sink it. What one group can invent, another can hack, either for profit or for malicious mischief.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Election Fairness at Risk

The Washington Examiner has a story about the Department of Homeland Security taking a "special interest" in the 2016 election. They are considering declaring it part of the nations "critical infrastructure" which then gives them control.

We trusted the IRS to deal fairly and later learned it didn't. We trusted the Justice Dept. to deal fairly and it didn't either. We trusted the Veterans' Administration to care for our vets, and it didn't. And we now know the Clinton State Department was for sale to anyone with a loose million or two.

Given the politicized nature of the Obama election as detailed above, would you trust the results of an election DHS ran? Do you believe Donald Trump could get a fair shake in that corrupt environment? I don't.

I am inclined to think our present decentralized election systems - all 50 of them - are less susceptible to systemic, centrally organized fraud. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

A Tiny Ray of Sunshine

The daily Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll for yesterday found Clinton the choice os 39.7% of those polled, while Trump was the choice of 39.1%. That is effectively tied.

On the other hand, the RealClearPolitics average of leading polls still has Clinton at 42.2% vs. Trump at 37.9%. That's still very close but likely not within the margin of error.

I know which one I'd rather believe; perhaps it is a harbinger.

Thatcher Saw Clearly

John O'Sullivan, at National Review, looks at Margaret Thatcher's evaluation of the European Union, and quotes biographer John Campbell who quotes her. Campbell writes:
Europe, she had concluded after years of trying was “fundamentally unreformable”. It was “an empire in the making . . . the ultimate bureaucracy”, founded on “humbug”; inherently protectionist, intrinsically corrupt, essentially undemocratic, and dedicated to the destruction of nation states. “It is in fact a classic utopian project, a monument to the vanity of intellectuals, a programme whose inevitable destiny is failure.” That being so, she now called, as she had never done so explicitly before, for a fundamental renegotiation of Britain’s membership, and if that failed — as it was bound to do— for Britain to be ready to leave the union and join the North American Free Trade Area instead, turning its back on the whole disastrous folly.
It is sad Baroness Thatcher didn't live long enough to see events prove her absolutely correct. The chattering classes in the U.K. hate her for being right, when they were wrong. The EU is the fond wish of progressives everywhere, "a classic utopian project."

Hispanics Are In Play

The Conservative Treehouse picks through a recent Gallup poll of voters. Gallup says their panel includes 525 registered Hispanics, of which 479 have an opinion about the Clinton/Trump matchup.

Of the 479 with an opinion, 151 favor Trump. In other words, the poll findings suggest he could get 31.5% of the Hispanic vote. Hispanics are not the monolithic voting bloc that African-Americans have proven to be. Hat tip to for the link.


Writing for Investor's Business Daily, the editors make a strong argument that our economy has nowhere near full employment. They cite the following from a new book by Nicholas Eberstadt called Men Without Work.
>Men age 25 to 54 now have a lower labor participation rate than they did in 1940, as the Great Depression was winding down. It's also far lower than in 1948, the year millions of men from World War II were flooding the labor market.

>As noted earlier, one in six men today have no job and most have given up looking. At current trends, one in five will be out of the labor force in a generation.

>African-American men are twice as likely to be in this condition as either whites or Latinos.

>Many of these nonworking men support themselves by government disability benefits.

>Surveys show an alarming increase among men age 25 to 54, the prime working years, engaged in doing such things as "socializing, relaxing and leisure," "attending gambling establishments," "tobacco and drug use," "listening to the radio" and "arts and crafts as a hobby." Many men, it seems, have virtually no work skills at all — and no way to get them.

>Many of these trends in the collapse of male work may be a result of our soaring prison population and the "prevalence of non-institutionalized felons and ex-prisoners," Eberstadt argues.
IBD paints a relatively dismal picture. Undoubtedly fedgov has made disability benefits too easy to qualify for, perhaps understandable during the Great Recession but no longer defensible.

Anti-Congress Feelings

Writing in National Journal, Charlie Cook muses about Republican voters' dislike of Republican leaders in Congress. The "executive summary" of the article says the following:
GOP voters are in no mood for bipartisan compromise. That’s why they nominated Donald Trump, and why Congress won’t get much done if Hillary Clinton wins.
Everybody seems baffled by the GOP base frustration with Congress. I've done no polling but I know from whence my frustration stems, perhaps it will be helpful to share that with you by way of a first approximation of an explanation.

Following strong showings in the 2010 and 2014 off-year elections, the GOP had a majority first in the House, then in both House and Senate. Not just bare majorities, but relatively convincing ones.

My frustration is that these majorities cannot pass legislation reflecting GOP values because (a) they don't have 60 votes in the Senate, to shut off debate; and (b) they face a presidential veto. Fine, it's not ideal but that is our system.

What irritates me is that these elected "representatives" then conclude they must pass legislation that can get out of the Senate and can receive a presidential signature. In other words, legislation reflecting the Democrats' values.

I, and I suspect people like me, are ready for our majority in Congress to say "We'll pass GOP-friendly bills, or try to, and if they never become law, so be it. We're not passing your stuff, period. If that means the government doesn't function, it's your fault. We did our part, you (the minority) wouldn't cooperate."

Unfortunately, the GOP congressional delegation believes any so-called "government shutdown" will be the death of their chances for reelection. What they don't "get" is that we don't care. They should do what we elected them to do, and if it turns out they're right, that people will then vote Democratic, my response is okay, we tried.

Refusing to consider Obama's nomination to the Supreme Court was the first time we saw the Congressional leadership show some backbone, and it was way overdue.

An Odd Story

The Associated Press reports via Yahoo News that the Department of Agriculture has temporarily closed six offices in five states, as a result of terror threats deemed credible. Agencies involved include the Forest Service, the Agricultural Research Service, and the Food Safety and Inspection Service, plus five other agencies not identified in the article.

Probably the most well-known of the six sites is the large ARS research center and library in Beltsville, MD, visible from the DC beltway. On leave from my CA faculty post, I spent 2 years as a management consultant for ARS in the DC area, including some work at Beltsville.

USDA is not a logical target for international terrorists, although they do a modest amount of international work. It could be someone who is really terrified of GMO agriculture.

In the absence of additional information, you should suspect someone or some group here in the States who has a beef with the department or one of its agencies. It's unclear how they identified those six sites to threaten, what they have in common, out of the department's scores of locations.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Administrative Hypertrophy

Writing for The Washington Free Beacon, Micah Mattix repeats the following grim statistic, cited to a New York Times article:
The number of full-time faculty in the California State University system increased slightly between 1975 and 2008, from 11,614 to 12,019, while the number of administrators nearly quadrupled during the same period, from 3,800 to 12,183.
I worked on four campuses of the California State University system, spending most of my career at one from which I retired as a tenured Full Professor. The number of administrators systemwide truly has metastasized, a term I utilize intentionally as the impact is a cancer on the organization.

The growth of higher ed. administrators is both disgusting and unnecessary. California's voters, which I am not, should demand it be reversed.

The State of the Race

Matthew Dowd blogs about the presidential election for The Wall Street Journal. He identifies seven things he believes are true this cycle, and in the column explains each.
1. The equilibrium of this race has been set for many months and trades in a narrow range.

2. The choice between the two major-party candidates is a dissatisfying one for a majority of voters.

3. Neither major-party nominee has improved their favorability rating in the course of this campaign.

4. Neither Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. Trump has expanded their “pro” vote since the primaries ended, and voters are primarily supporting them as a vote against his or her opponent.

5. Ad buying has no real effect on presidential races today.

6. Many in the media continue to cover the campaigns based on old models and anecdotes, reinforcing the legacy (and outdated) message of a binary choice.

7. The most important dynamic of this election continues to be the political environment and how the candidates match up to it.
The only one I'd disagree with is #6. Until a candidate of some third party wins a presidential election, I'm sticking with "the legacy message of a binary choice." My evaluation of Dowd's  "outdated" is it's possible, but unproven.

You could call this the "Who Do You Hate Least" election.

Sauce for the Goose

I've been wondering when someone would generate a conservative response to the naked Donald Trump statues, and now the Hollywood Reporter has the goods (see below).

Hollywood Reporter added the black bar to keep the pix something a "family" publication could run. The originals apparently do not have it. 

An Upbeat View

If you've been hoping for a Clinton loss, but feeling fearful of a Trump loss, I have an opinion piece you might enjoy. Writing in National Review, which mostly has been anti-Trump, Heather R. Higgins senses a groundswell for Trump which polls are only slowly picking up.
Given the choice between someone who will get pretty much every policy decision wrong and someone who might get some of them right, more and more people who now can’t see voting for Trump will decide that on the “lesser of two evils” spectrum, they will be a Trump voter, even if they are not a Trump supporter.

Particularly with more and more Clinton pay-to-play revelations, if by early October the social opprobrium shifts from “how could I possibly support him?” to “how could I possibly enable her?” then Republicans will win the presidency.
And she doesn't even consider the decades-long impact of Hillary appointing youngish liberals to the Supreme Court.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

More Jobs Leave CA

Another installment in COTTonLINE's continuing series chronicling the economic decline of California. The Los Angeles Times has an Associated Press story about Ashley Furniture closing its manufacturing plant and warehouse in Colton, CA. The plant's 840 workers were given notice of layoff.
A furniture manufacturer is cutting hundreds of jobs in Southern California as it shifts production to plants in North Carolina, Mississippi and Wisconsin.
Do you think it a coincidence all three of those states have right to work laws, while CA does not? I don't.  See this source for states with, and without, right to work laws.

Sunday Sarcasm

If you needed another reason to vote for Donald Trump, see a Daily Mail (U.K.) article.
Barbra Streisand revealed during an Australian TV interview that she will move Down Under if Donald Trump is elected President of the United States in November.
She indicated Oz or Canada would be her choices. You should see the photos that accompany the article.

At 74 she looks like Mel Brooks wearing a Jennifer Aniston wig. The years have not been kind.

Willful Ignorance

The Washington Post has an editorial today entitled "Republicans Can't Pretend Not to Know What Fuels the Trump Campaign." Of course, what they refer to is bigotry, specifically white bigotry.

An honest editorial, obviously too much to hope for, would have observed that both campaigns are fueled by bigotry. In fact the Clinton campaign is more guilty of this than the Trump campaign.

The Democrats not only hope, but expect, to get north of 90% of the black vote. In fact they count on anti-white bigotry among African-Americans to be their margin of victory. They also hope to be the beneficiaries of Hispanic anti-white bigotry, although not to the same level of near-unanimity.

There is no racial or ethnic group of which the Trump campaign can expect to get anywhere near those percentages. By that standard alone, his is the less racially charged, less bigoted campaign.

Clinton isn't responsible for the cop-haters, black nationalists and communists who prefer her to Trump. Trump isn't responsible for the skinheads and white nationalists who support him.

The fringe groups pick one of the binary candidates to support; the candidates don't go looking for kooks. It's the nature of our system, which WaPo deceitfully chooses to ignore.

Death by Demographics

Gatestone Institute posts a elegiac article by Giulio Meotti about Europe's plummeting birth rate and consequent importation of literally millions of Muslims from MENA.
Europe, as it is aging, no longer renews its generations, and instead welcomes massive numbers of migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia, who are going to replace the native Europeans, and who are bringing cultures with radically different values about sex, science, political power, culture, economy and the relation between God and man.

Demographic suicide is not only experienced; it appears to be wanted. The xenophile European bourgeoisie, which today controls politics and the media, seem imbued with a snobbish and masochistic racism. They have turned against the values of their own Judeo-Christian culture and combined it with a hallucinatory, romanticized view of the values of other cultures. The sad paradox is that Europeans are now importing young people in large numbers from the Middle East to compensate for their lifestyle choices.

An agnostic and sterile continent -- deprived of its gods and children because it banished them -- will have no strength to fight or to assimilate a civilization of the zealous and the young. The failure to counter the coming transformation seems to come down on the side of Islam. Is what we are seeing the last days of summer?
This is exactly the future the Obama/Clinton claque have planned for us. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.

Kotkin Damns Both Candidates

Demographer turned all-purpose pundit Joel Kotkin has no use for Trump and thinks Clinton equally bad. Writing for RealClearPolitics, he reiterates his disgust with Trump and his distain for Clinton.

He has already written off the results of the 2016 election and is looking ahead to 2018. The weak reed upon which his hopes lean is a multiracial uprising of suburban voters who reject the agenda of the oligarchs represented by Clinton.
The forces coalescing around Hillary Clinton -- mainstream Wall Street, particularly hedge funds, beltway lobbyists, the big media, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and green capitalists -- do not share the priorities of Middle America.

With Sanders conveniently dispatched, the crony-capitalist class is assured its worldview prevails. They can check all the boxes that Rob Atkinson has labeled as “the Davos application” of open immigration, greater globalization, free trade, and higher carbon prices.

In 2018, the real struggle will be to attract increasingly diverse suburban voters who naturally seek to protect what they have from the central bureaucracy. Latino and African-American families now ensconced in a comfortable, safe suburbs with good public schools may not appreciate a political party that wants to turn their neighborhood into the very one they escaped.
Kotkin could be right, Trump is possibly an oligarch masquerading as a faux populist. Perhaps we'll never know if, as polls currently suggest, he loses.

I fear Clinton backed by a solidly liberal Supreme Court will take us down the primrose path to societal oblivion. It's a path upon which Europe is already well and truly embarked.

A Very Old Plot

Much controversy over Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand during the National Anthem. I've been wondering how 49er quarterback Kaepernick got that unlikely name, turns out he was raised by white adoptive parents, according to Wikipedia.

Further backstory: he is apparently engaged to a NYC hip-hop DJ named Nessa Diab who is, according to a Conservative Treehouse post, a Black Lives Matter activist and a Muslim. The post has photos of him with his parents and of her.

They claim during the off-season he converted to Islam. Neither the first, nor the last young man led astray by a woman - a story at least as old as Genesis. I would suppose the senior Kaepernicks are chagrined. Hat tip to for the link.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

About Hillary's Health

Jeffrey Lord of quotes the following passage from a biography of Hillary Clinton written by famous Washington Post Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein entitled Woman in Charge: the Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
More than Bill, she was physically exhausted; she lacked his stamina and was losing weight. A newspaper story noted archly that Hillary 'looks thinner than ever, even though she confesses that her exercise regimen has gone the way of the middle-class tax cut since she moved into the White House.' On trips to the Hill, her aides noticed how she would perform perfectly during an appointment, then immediately afterward begin yawning and then collapse in the car on the way back to the White House.
In 1993, at the time Bernstein describes, Hillary was 46. Today she is 69. How many people do you know whose stamina has increased with age? Hat tip to for the link.

The Syrian Quagmire

Occasionally it's worth taking a fresh look at the mess in MENA, especially Syria. Check out a New York Times article, syndicated to The Morning Standard, about the civil war in Syria and the factors making it insoluble. Here are author Max Fisher's key issues, each explained in the article.
1. A conflict immune to exhaustion
2. No one can lose, no one can win
3. War’s structure encourages atrocities
4. Fear of defeat entrenches a terrible status quo
5. Syrian parties are built to fight, not to win
6. The dangers of victory
7. An obstacle to peace: no peacekeepers
8. A drift into disaster
Can it get worse? It almost certainly can. Murphy's Law suggests it probably will.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Weird Psychological Science

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports the results of a study done at the University of Western Australia. They found my favorite type of  results - counterintuitive, which is to say unexpected.
The Virtual Infant Parenting programme, and others like it, involve a £1,000 ($1,300) doll which cries when it needs to be fed, burped, rocked or changed. It measures and reports if the doll is mishandled, left to cry, or left unchanged.

The theory was that looking after the baby for a few days would expose girls to the reality of teenage parenthood. But the new trial, which involved nearly 3,000 girls aged 13 to 15, found pregnancy rates actually went up.

The study authors, whose work is published in the Lancet medical journal, suspect the attention given to the girls when they were looking after the dolls encouraged them to have a baby.
Earlier research found "Scared Straight" didn't work. Bummer ... back to the drawing board. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Quote of the Day

John Hinderaker, lead blogger at Power Line, reacting to the Clinton claim that Trump is fomenting hate.
Make American hate again? Hate has been spreading in America for years, but the culprit isn’t Donald Trump, it is Barack Obama. Obama did more to make America hate again than any politician of modern times.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Stepping on the Lede

Recently, Donald Trump has been seemingly backing away from his former forthright positions opposing illegal aliens. How much of this is campaign waffle and how much is genuine policy reversal is, as yet, unclear.

Much of Trump's appeal has been a result of his opposition to open borders, his defense of and advocacy for the nation's existing lawful citizens (as opposed to the more inclusive "residents"). To the extent to which he backs away from his former uncompromising stance, I believe he begins to look more a "politician" and less a change-inducing outsider.

Will the apparent weakening cause him to lose votes? Perhaps not, he is still more on the side of border enforcement than his binary opponent - Clinton. Will it however cause his base to be less energised, motivated? Probably, and it's clear he needs their energy, their motivation to win.

People have found much to criticize in Trump, I believe what irritates me most is his seeming compulsion to shoot himself in the foot. He lacks message discipline.

The Associated Press compilation of pay-to-play between the Clinton Department of State and Clinton Foundation provided a perfect opportuniity to dump on his opponent. So does he do that? No, he instead weakens his own message. It's infuriating to his well-wishers.

A Drive on the Wild Side

The other DrC and I, and a friend drove from western Wyoming to eastern Idaho and back today. Outbound we took the U.S. highway and coming back we drove a 40 mile unpaved Forest Service road that runs through country that, save for the road and some wandering cattle, mostly looks the way it was seen by early settlers in the region.

In that whole 40 miles we passed exactly two moving vehicles, which makes it some of the loneliest road you'll find anywhere. I was glad my truck was new, healthy, and full of fuel.

Here in the Rockies there are loads of places where going off-pavement can take you into unpopulated wilderness. It's pure eye candy, the feeling I get while looking at it is really amazing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Positive Signs

This afternoon brings some good polling news for Trump fans. Clinton's lead in North Carolina has dropped to 1 percentage point, 44 vs. 43 percent, according to CNN. The same source says Trump leads her by 5 points in Arizona.

Meanwhile, The Hill reports a new Florida Atlantic University poll which finds Trump ahead by 2 points in that swing state, 43 to 41 percent. Clinton's pay-to-play scandals cannot be helping her cause.

Our Direction of Travel

The Associated Press writes, via Yahoo News, that Democrats are becoming nostalgic for Mitt Romney, in reaction to Donald Trump.
Horrified by the prospect of Trump in the White House, Obama and his party have changed their tune about Romney. As they denounce Trump as "unhinged" and unfit, they're getting nostalgic about the 2012 Republican nominee they now describe as principled, competent and honorable.
And if they succeed in electing Clinton, they'll be nostalgic about Trump in 2020. Kurt Schlichter, who blogs at Townhall, has imagined the inaugural speech made by Clinton's successor. A sample:
The Tea Party was a polite request for fairness and respect, but the elite and its media lapdogs spat on you.

Donald Trump’s movement was an impolite request for fairness and respect, but the elite and their media lapdogs spat on you and, as we now know, rigged Hillary Clinton’s election.

Today, we are no longer requesting anything. We are demanding fairness and respect, and we will have it … by any means necessary!
So ends a multiparty republic with a 250 year history.

Outside the Box

Defense One reports Boeing has an off-the-wall idea, a new civilian use for artillery.
Boeing suggests, firefighters might get the job done faster by launching salvos of special 155mm shells from a dozen or more miles away. Packed with fire-suppressant material, the shells are fired from a field howitzer. (snip) The shell releases its load over the fire thanks to “a device comprising a timer, an altimeter, an accelerometer, a global positioning device, a temperature sensor, a pressure sensor, or a distance measuring device.”

Boeing officials estimate that each shell could put about one to six gallons of fire suppressant (depending on its load; less material means more range) on a 100-square-foot area. Steady firing with three-gallon shells could deliver 214,000 gallons of fire suppressant in about six hours — about twice as fast as a helicopter.

“Some guns may deliver the fire-retarding material within 15 feet of a target at a 15 mile range.
We already use artillery to safely trigger avalanches in snow country, this is new.

More on Pay to Play

The Washington Post is "in the tank" for Hillary Clinton, hence the extra impact of Chris Cillizza's reaction to the Associated Press reveal of her apparent selling access to the State Department. All caps in the following are Cillizza's.
COME ON, MAN. It is literally impossible to look at those two paragraphs and not raise your eyebrows. Half of all of the nongovernmental people Clinton either met with or spoke to on the phone during her four years at the State Department were donors to the Clinton Foundation! HALF.

It just plain looks bad. Really bad.

If you are Donald Trump -- or any Republican -- trying to sell the idea that the Clintons are and always have operated on a "pay to play" model, you just got a gift more amazing than you could have ever hoped to get.
The AP just handed Trump the ball, let's hope he doesn't fumble this opportunity to score.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Clever Word Play

This cover makes reference to the Associated Press article referenced below in my Pay to Play Proven post. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the image.

It's a Puzzle

Virtually all the pundits say Donald Trump is running a lame campaign; you've read them, you know it's true. So if they're correct, why do several polls have Trump and Clinton essentially tied?

The UPI/CVoter poll shows them effectively tied, separated by less than one percent. The L.A. Times daily tracking poll shows them separated by even less: 0.2 percent. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the links.

Perhaps Trump is running an effective campaign that looks nothing like recent effective campaigns, misleading the pundit class. Alternatively, Clinton is such a loser her supposedly effective campaign isn't helping. Are both true?

Maybe the prognosticating class is giving insufficient weight to the rarity of one party winning the presidency for three terms in a row. In recent memory, Bush I following Reagan is the only example where it happened. The electorate normally seeks a course correction, after 8 years on one track.

Pay to Play Proven

The Associated Press reports further evidence of Hillary Clinton's corruption, venality and greed. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.
More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money - either personally or through companies or groups - to the Clinton Foundation. It's an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.

At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs.

Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million.
The AP calls this "possible?" This is evidence of "pay to play" at its most raw and unvarnished level. Then the second AP bombshell:
Clinton met with representatives of at least 16 foreign governments that donated as much as $170 million to the Clinton charity, but they were not included in AP's calculations because such meetings would presumably have been part of her diplomatic duties.
Of course foreign governments can bribe U.S. officials if the officials are corrupt. What's unlawful is U.S. officials accepting those bribes.

Writing at Power Line, John Hinderaker characterizes the AP findings:
Hillary Clinton turned the State Department into a protection racket.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Monday Snark

I can't resist paraphrasing the best line from the Jason Bourne films, in the context of the current presidential election.
Get some rest, Hillary, you look tired.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Huma Abedin Becomes a Liability

It is well-known that Huma Abedin, wife of weird sexter Anthony Weiner, is tight with Hillary Clinton. See what the New York Post reports about Abedin's earlier career.
Hillary Clinton’s top campaign aide, and the woman who might be the future White House chief of staff to the first female US president, for a decade edited a radical Muslim publication that opposed women’s rights and blamed the US for 9/11.

Top aide Huma Abedin published articles in a Saudi journal taking Clinton’s feminist platform apart, piece by piece. At the time, Abedin was assistant editor of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs working under her mother, who remains editor-in-chief. She was also working in the White House as an intern for then-First Lady Clinton.
The Post quotes Abedin's mother writing the following in that journal:
‘Empowerment’ of women does more harm than benefit the cause of women or their relations with men. By placing women in the ‘care and protection’ of men and by making women responsible for those under her charge, Islamic values generate a sense of compassion in human and family relations.
Imagine what feminists, who support Clinton, must think of those views. "Sulfurous" would, I believe, describe their reaction.

Abedin, like Paul Manafort, has become a campaign liability. The usual fate of liabilities is to be metaphorically thrown under the bus.

The other DrC notes that, in the case of the Clintons, human liabilities often die violently - nothing metaphorical about it. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.

A Timely Reminder

Ed Driscoll, guest blogging at Instapundit, comments on recent complaints about the abject state of political journalism.
If you think of the vast majority of “journalists” as being, in reality, Democrat operatives with bylines working feverishly as king- and queen-makers for their party, there’s no need to write columns tut-tutting the demise of Beltway journalism, which died a very long time ago, indeed.
Amen, brother. Even the best, like WaPo's Dan Balz, are relatively biased.

CNN Makes Racist Inference

CNN headlines an online article as follows:
Trump wants GOP to court black voters -- then slams voting rights for felons
Instapundit Glenn Reynolds opines:
CNN thinks “Felons” is a synonym for “Blacks.”
COTTonLINE believes Reynolds has drawn the correct inference, and agrees with Trump.

Seeing the Last Election from Here

Blogging at PJ Media, Andrew Klavan thinks about the age gap between most #NeverTrumpers and those who've decided to support him, the former being substantially younger on average.
For the young, there very much does seem to be a future in which the conservative movement can rebuild no matter what damage Hillary wreaks on the nation. For those of us who have graduated into the Sage class, this may not be the last election... but we can see the last election from here. For us, it will be harder to keep hope alive during a Hillary presidency.
Include me among those old enough to find "it will be harder to keep hope alive during a Hillary presidency."

Weird Animal Behavior

As I write this there is a young mule deer buck in my forested backyard with two magpies sitting peacefully on his back, apparently grooming him. He seems not bothered at all, and they obviously find him a source of some kind of food, perhaps ticks?

Oops, now there are three, two on his back and another waiting its turn on an adjacent branch. What makes this unusual is that magpies normally avoid our forest. We see them in a more open area perhaps 200 yards down the road, but not here.

It seems clear the deer is the attraction bringing these large, slightly clumsy birds into the aspen forest. There appears to be no open wound on the deer's back and he's happily foraging on aspen leaves.

If you web search "magpies grooming deer" you will find several pictures on the Internet. Apparently this behavior is common and well-tolerated by the deer. Who knew?

I guess it works out well for both deer and bird. It's the first time the DrsC have seen it, and we've spent 16 summers sharing this forest with the deer, watching fawns lose their spots and grow.

See photos at the other DrC's blog:

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Random, Cynical Thought

If a Hillary Clinton presidency does for misogyny what the Barack Obama presidency has done for racism, American women will experience a serious setback.

Democrats Own Urban Despair

Writing for the Chicago Tribune, John Kass echoes some of what Donald Trump said in Charlotte, concerning the Democrats' responsibility for the plight of the urban poor.
Institutions have broken down. Generations of black families have been shattered by the welfare state. We've created government systems that maintain human beings in poverty and ignorance so that politicians can count on their votes. And that is a crime against morality.

What isn't discussed enough when riots happen and neighborhoods burn is the one thing most common to all these decaying urban tinderboxes. They're run by Democrats.

Baltimore is a Democratic city, Milwaukee is a Democratic city, Chicago, Detroit, and on and on. This is a most inconvenient truth. This is what binds them.

For decade after decade, Democrats have controlled policy and politics in the broken cities. This is the proof of Democratic success.

The broken schools have been run by Democrats for decades. The broken institutions are run by Democrats. The political corruption in these cities is Democratic corruption.

Those who suffer the most from broken urban policy are those who are told that Democrats are the only ones who can protect them. Protect them from what? Poverty, violence, joblessness and bad schools?
As Trump famously said to poor black voters, "Why not try something different? What the hell do you have to lose?"

Friday, August 19, 2016

Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

As long-time readers probably know, the other DrC and I are Harry Potter fans. We've read all seven books, own all eight films, have visited the Universal Studios Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park section twice, and own the seven books on CD, for listening on long drives.

We just finished reading the new Harry Potter story, book number eight. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not a novel, although it comes close. It is marketed as the script for a pair of plays now being staged in London. As a script it contains all the dialog, plus limited stage direction and indications of characters' emotional states. The other DrC has posted a review at

Readers of book seven, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will recollect that book ends with an Epilogue set 19 years after the book's action ends. In the epilogue we see two couples - Harry and wife Ginny, plus Ron and wife Hermione - seeing their kids off to Hogwarts on Platform 9 3/4.

The play begins at that very moment, and the action follows their departure to school. You won't find spoilers here, but be prepared for some well-known characters to act in unpredictable ways, and have some unexpected experiences.

Is it up to the standard of the first seven books? I am uncertain. Is it a good read, worth the time and effort of a fan of the series? Definitely, if only to discover what Rowling and Co. imagine happened to their characters in adulthood.

I suppose I found a few of the plot devices somewhat tortured, but that doesn't mean I could do better. I'm convinced I could not; non-fiction is my chosen field of endeavor. I echo the other DrC's thanks to her sister for the early Christmas present, it is very much appreciated.

Lacking Legitimacy

Jeff Greenfield is a long-time political analyst. He doesn't much like Republicans or Trump, but in a long screed for Politico claiming Republicans will never accept the legitimacy of a Hillary Clinton presidency, he stumbles on some truth.
For Republicans, Hillary Clinton’s failings are only part of the argument: The broader case is that the Democratic Party itself lacks the legitimacy to govern.
Generally, the view on the right is the Democrat Party is best understood as a criminal conspiracy masquerading as a political party, a trope attributed to columnist Michael Walsh.

Trump Tours Flood-Ravaged Louisiana

Donald Trump today toured flooded neighborhoods in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as reported by the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Meanwhile President Obama relaxed on Martha's Vineyard and would-be president Hillary Clinton spent the long weekend recuperating resting.

Question: Who acted presidential?
Answer:    Donald Trump.
Question: Who appeared not to care?
Answer:    Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Trump has given three major substantive policy speeches in the last week. People can hardly say they have no idea of his stand on issues.

His ambitions for our country are, in Trumpspeak, yuuuge, and admirable . Can he accomplish everything he's promised? It's unlikely, given the nature of our system.

I take Trump's promises as commitments to try hard to do the things mentioned. If he accomplishes half of them his presidency will be historic. I wish him well.

Clinton promises more of the same SJW nonsense, ferreting out new groups of social deviants to champion, and the same economic sluggishness. Ho-hum ... she's boring, when not disgusting.
Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Trump in Charlotte

RealClearPolitics has the transcript of a speech Donald Trump gave in Charlotte, NC. In it he explains himself, his sometimes over-the-top speaking style, and apologizes to those whose feelings he's hurt. He gives his rationale, why he's running and what he hopes to accomplish.

At least the first half sounds presidential, as I read it. The last half is largely campaign boilerplate, but effective even so.

Interestingly, he makes a direct pitch for Black votes - something no recent GOP presidential candidate has considered worthwhile. There is some preliminary evidence the pitch is working, which frankly surprises me.

Ransom Admitted

The New York Post reports the Obama administration has changed its tune about the $400 million it paid Iran, now they admit it was ransom, sort of.
State Department spokesman John Kirby was asked at Thursday’s press briefing: “In basic English, you’re saying you wouldn’t give them $400 million in cash until the prisoners were released, correct?”

“That’s correct,” Kirby replied.

In an Aug. 4 press conference, President Obama said the opposite. “We do not pay ransom. We didn’t here, and we won’t in the future,” the president told reporters, speaking of the Jan. 17 payment and hostage release.
As someone wrote, it was ransom, but it also wasn't ransom. We owed them the money, having confiscated it earlier. We had refused to return it to them for years, arguing they were state sponsors of terrorism.

As a sweetener for the recent nuclear agreement we agreed to return the money plus interest. Then we drug our feet until they released prisoners, treating the actual transfer as though it were ransom.

Ransom is at least somewhat inaccurate. What we did resembles a renter who won't pay his rent until the landlord gets the broken water heater fixed.

Turning a Blind Eye

President George W. Bush got no end of abuse for his seeming lukewarm interest in Hurricane Katrina and the flooding in New Orleans. Now Baton Rouge is underwater, most of Louisiana is half-drowned and President Obama plays golf on Martha's Vineyard.

Where is the outrage? Where is the condemnation of Obama's lack of interest in this natural disaster? Answer: there is a little in La. papers, not much elsewhere. If you needed more proof the media is in the tank for President Obama, and his chosen successor, Hillary Clinton, here it is. Exception: Fox takes note.

One of two things is true: either (1) Obama is being held to a very low standard because, after all, what can one expect; or (2) anything he chooses to do (or not do) is automatically blessed, and basically perfect, because his motives are deemed pure. Pick one.

My conclusion: either Bush was correct to let FEMA handle Katrina, basically hands-off, or Obama is as big a screw-up as Bush. Again, pick one.

Carve This in Stone

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, writing in USA Today, about limits being placed on free speech.
People don’t suppress opponents’ ideas because they are confident in their own. They suppress opponents’ ideas because they have more confidence in the argument of force than in the force of their arguments.
That is a nice turn of phrase.

Perry Could Best Cruz

The Texas Tribune reports a PPP poll finds former Governor Rick Perry would defeat Senator Ted Cruz in a Republican primary challenge. I'm no Texan, but that would work for me. Cruz, after all, basically stood before the Republican convention in Cleveland and committed ritual political suicide.

I have been impressed with Rick Perry ever since he was first mentioned as a presidential possibility in 2012. Cruz is probably smarter, but Perry is a smoother politician, more likely to deliver for his constituents. And I like that he's a veteran.

Trouble in the Tent

The New York Times' Thomas B. Edsall writes a column entitled "Can Hillary Manage Her Unruly Coalition?" His main focus is the conflict between Baltimore City, predominantly Black and Democrat, and Baltimore County, predominantly White and Democrat. They are, however, different groups of Democrats....

Baltimore County only became Democrat relatively recently, with an influx of well-paid federal workers who perhaps commute to DC. These federal workers are largely white Democrats, who value Black votes in the abstract but don't want to actually live near Blacks. Thus, the conflict is over housing policy, and whether the City can dump place inner city clients of welfare in their up-scale County neighborhoods.


I am reminded of something I experienced when on TDY for 2 years in the DC area, quite near Baltimore. My fellow civil servants suggested I look for housing in Montgomery County, as opposed to Prince George County, both in MD, because Montgomery "had better schools."

As an innocent from CA, I was puzzled as I had no children. After living there for several months, it occurred to me "better schools" was fed-speak for whiter neighborhoods or fewer blacks. Very Democrat federal employees - it's the party of government - nevertheless wanted to live in white neighborhoods and presumed I would also.

Edsall's larger point is that the Democrat "big tent" includes groups of Democrats with diametrically opposing interests, even quite different values. An example of this uneasy coexistence can be found at Huffington Post. It's nice to know Republicans aren't the only ones with a fractious coalition.

Migration Winners and Losers

Breitbart summarizes recent IRS data on internal migration and income, as usual the news is bad for California.
California was the third largest net exporter of citizens behind Illinois (82,000) and New York (126,800). In total, 30 states and the District of Columbia experienced net domestic losses between 2013 and 2014.

But California was number one in exporting the highest income spread. California’s average income per person is $36,100, which equates to about $17.00 per hour. But the average citizen that migrated out of the state had an average income of about $43,200, or $21.00 an hour.

According to Hoover Institution research fellow Carson Bruno, who studies California’s political and policy landscape, “Not only are Californians leaving the state in large numbers, but the people heading for the exits are disproportionately middle class working families — the demographic backbone of American society.”

Texas had the highest net domestic migration in the 2013 to 2014 period, with 229,300. Florida was ranked second in net domestic migration, with 114,400 — which was nearly 4 times as large as third ranking South Carolina (30,100). Colorado followed closely, at 29,500 net domestic migrants, with Washington placing fifth with 27,000.
Three of the five top destination states for internal moves have no state income tax: TX, FL, and WA. This is unlikely to be a coincidence.

CA swapped middle class folks for poor immigrants, mostly undocumented, for an actual (albeit modest) population gain. Gov. Brown bragged about adding 2+ million new jobs, which turn out to be the exact low-paying service jobs for which those illegal immigrants are typically qualified.

CA continues to morph into a "plantation economy" of highs and lows with few middles and those few mostly government employees, the "overseer class" of the plantation.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Out-of-Touch Elites, Another View

Keying off the same Peggy Noonan column I commented upon last Friday, R. R. Reno adds some good thoughts to the aggregation in a column for First Things. Reno starts with a so-called "elephant chart" by Milanovic showing globalism helping elites in the developed nations and middle classes in the developing world, while hurting middle classes in the developed nations. The truly poor seem beyond help.
Elites now have a strong interest in weakening the nation-state, and thus diminishing the power of the voters to whom they are accountable. A radical ideology of open borders is one way to do that. Another way is to increase the power of international human rights tribunals.

A global mission provides reasons to discount the concerns of non-elites in America. Convenient theories about the inherent racism of ordinary people nicely discredit their opinions. (snip) Ordinary people feel abandoned and frustration builds, driving today’s populism.

The decoupling of the leaders and the led is “something big.” The economic forces driving this decoupling are powerful. The ideological supports—a morally superior cosmopolitanism, a flexible multi-culturalism, and now dominant utilitarian thinking—are strong. As I’ve written elsewhere, odds are good that the democratic era will come to an end. The elephant chart suggests the future will be one of empire.
Here again is the cosmopolitanism we noted earlier today. Somewhere the ghost of Robert K. Merton cackles merrily in the purgatory sociologists infest.

Human Nature

Writing for CNN, African-American author Isaac Bailey writes something shocking to the pervasive PC sensibility, but absolutely logical nevertheless.
While we don't know exactly why that particular black police officer in Milwaukee shot Smith, who police say was armed and refused to drop his gun, we have enough data and research to know that the officer's skin color would not have inoculated him against the much-discussed implicit bias most often attributed to white officers. The truth is that nearly half of black people also harbor some level of implicit bias against fellow black people.
Of course they do. Who knows better how dangerous young black men can be than their black neighbors, who are also their most frequent victims?

Bailey goes on at considerable length about "implicit bias" and the need to eradicate it among police of all races. I remain unconvinced eradication is possible. Implicit bias seems another way of saying we are more vigilant around individuals who appear dangerous to us, and to society.

Let me make an analogy. While a cocker spaniel might bite you and a pit bull might lick your hands, I'll bet you're more wary with the latter than the former, and for good reason.

Knowing Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds are more ferocious is not bias, it is prudence. Assuming Golden Retrievers and Labs are more lovers than fighters is also widely understood to reflect experience.

How is this sort of wisdom not applicable to human beings? Yes, we are not animals, but I promise you I steer clear of any group of idle young men, especially if they've been drinking, regardless of their race.

Police spend their lives cleaning up the human messes in a society that seeks order and peacefulness. Their daily contact with the least socialized among us causes them to notice who are the frequent trouble-makers.

Such individuals get extra attention, attention they resent. I remember police paying extra attention to me as a teenager. I resented it, but understood it too.

Asking peace officers to ignore what they experience is like asking me to ignore a plate of warm-from-the-oven cookies, it won't work. It flies in the face of human nature.

A Deep-Seated Bias

In a Vox column that purports to deal with the issue of why the press feels so free to beat up on Trump, Ezra Klein actually does stumble across an interesting idea. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.
The national press is undoubtedly cosmopolitan in its outlook — it is based in New York and Washington and Los Angeles, and it prizes diversity, tolerance, pluralism. Within newsrooms, these ideas aren’t seen as political opinions but as fundamental values. There is no "other side" worth reporting when it comes to racial equality, no argument that needs to be respected when it comes to religious intolerance or anti-LGBTQ bigotry.

More than Trump’s campaign is conservative, it is anti-cosmopolitan. Trump’s comments on Mexicans, on Muslims, his reaction to the Khans and to Megyn Kelly, his jingoism and instinctual mistrust of immigrants — all of this amounts to an anti-cosmopolitan ideology that really does run him smack into a deep-seated bias in America’s urban newsrooms.
"Cosmopolitan" is not how I'd describe the values of most Americans, but it does describe the media's values. The key quote: "There is no 'other side' worth reporting." Bull droppings, of course there is.

Fishy Story

Here's a story from an Australian news site - - about a Chinese woman who fell off a cruise ship and swam/floated for 38 hours until picked up by a fishing boat. Several things about this story don't ring true.

I've cruised on this cruise line - Royal Caribbean - several times. To fall off the ship, as she is supposed to have done, would require massive stupidity. The rail is above waist-height, to fall off she'd need to have climbed up on it - a no-no.

She is described as an athlete and competent swimmer, a coincidence? Unlikely. And why did no one notice her absence? Was she traveling alone? That's quite expensive with the single supplement add-on fare. Did her cabinmate push her over the side?

This sounds like an instantly regretted suicide attempt, or a drunken stunt gone wrong. Sober people behaving themselves do not fall off cruise ships, although an otherwise faultless person could be thrown over the rail by a couple of bad hats. My conclusion: there's more to this story than we're being told. Hat tip to for the link.

Here's the Data

Two days ago we wrote about Brexit, indicating that we found arguments that Brexit would hurt the U.K. unproven and probably incorrect. Today comes an article in the Express (U.K.) with the following cheery news:
Proving doom-mongers fears of economic disaster have been wrong, unemployment fell by 52,000 between April and June to 1.64 million to remain at a rate of just 4.9 per cent - the lowest since 2005 - figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed today.

The last time there were fewer out of work Britons was between March and May 2008. At the same time, average total earnings increased by 2.4 per cent in the year to June, to a typical £501 a week.

The employment rate also reached a new record high of 74.5 per cent, with 31.75 million people in work in the three months to June - 172,000 more than the previous quarter. Furthermore, the number of people claiming job benefits in July also fell by 8,600 to 763,600 - the first fall since February.
Indeed, whatever is causing other Europeans to take a more favorable view of the EU, it isn't some terrible economic beating the U.K. is suffering. Perhaps mainland Europeans would like fewer Brits in their lives, who knows? Hat tip to for the link.

Trump on Establishing, Maintaining Civic Order

Donald Trump has given a substantive speech about urban violence and anti-police attitudes in West Bend, WI. You can read the transcript at The Conservative Treehouse website.

His main points: the main victims of urban crime are inner city residents of color; the police are the answer, not the problem; the Giuliani model of policing saves lives and protects the law-abiding; and the policies of Democrats, who run most such cities, make all of this worse.

Once again, I see little with which I disagree, although I suspect his asking for black votes is largely futile.

Liz Cheney - Wins WY GOP House Primary

Politico reports Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has won the GOP primary to be the party's nominee for the state's one-and-only, soon-to-be-vacant House seat. She defeated seven other Republicans who had filed to compete for the nomination.

As they once wrote about Southern Democrats, in the pre-Nixon days, Liz getting the party's nomination is "tantamount" to being elected. Wyoming is a classic red state which rarely elects a Democrat.

We saw a very telling thing at the polls this morning. We gave our names, they looked us up, announced the party of which we are members, and based on that handed us the relevant ballot.

I noted the pile from which our Republican ballots were selected, it was perhaps 3-4 times as tall as the Democrat pile. Which indicates the relative proportion of registered Republicans and Democrats in our precinct, as I'm certain we'd been shipped ballots based on our registration proportions.

A whimsical fact - the only county in Wyoming that routinely votes Democratic is Teton County, which includes Jackson and Grand Teton National Park. The combination of lots of relatively low pay service workers, many government employees, and not a few very wealthy people who claim WY residency for tax purposes is what does the trick. The other 22 counties can normally be counted on to vote GOP. Ironically, Dick Cheney and his daughter live in Teton County.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Trump Foreign Policy

On Monday, Donald Trump gave a major speech on foreign policy, terrorism, and immigration screening in Youngstown, Ohio. You can read the transcript at the website. Some key thoughts:
We will defeat Radical Islamic Terrorism, just as we have defeated every threat we have faced in every age before. But we will not defeat it with closed eyes, or silenced voices.

Anyone who cannot name our enemy, is not fit to lead this country. Anyone who cannot condemn the hatred, oppression and violence of Radical Islam lacks the moral clarity to serve as our President. The rise of ISIS is the direct result of policy decisions made by President Obama and Secretary Clinton

If I become President, the era of nation-building will be ended. Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of Radical Islam.

All actions should be oriented around this goal, and any country which shares this goal will be our ally. We cannot always choose our friends, but we can never fail to recognize our enemies.

We should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people. In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.

In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law.

Hillary Clinton wants to be America’s Angela Merkel, and you know what a disaster this massive immigration has been to Germany and the people of Germany – crime has risen to levels that no one thought would they would ever see.
I don't see much with which I disagree.

Thinkin' Ain't Slackin'

Wonkblog at The Washington Post reports research results concerning Need For Cognition and physical activity levels. It turns out individuals with high NFC exhibit less physical activity and the differences are significant, if not huge. The research appeared in the Journal of Health Psychology.
People who like to use their brains aren't necessarily smarter than those who don't. But they are a lot more comfortable being still with their thoughts.

The study's findings suggest that the relationship between brainpower and physical activity works in more subtle ways than most of us might have expected.

We should also give a little more benefit of doubt to the slackers in our lives. They may not be truly lazy, they may simply be living the life of the mind.
Finally, an excuse for my inertia.

John McLaughlin, RIP

The Internet is reporting TV panel moderator John McLaughlin is dead at 89. He had hosted The McLaughlin Group for PBS since 1982. Various alumni of his panel have gone on to prominent commentary roles on cable TV news and elsewhere: Gloria Borger, Pat Buchanan, Clarence Page, Mort Zuckerman, and others.

While never my favorite pundit panel, I certainly watched his slightly bombastic approach many times over the years. John's show was perhaps the first upon which the "wait to be called upon" rule was regularly violated. Multiple people loudly talking at once wasn't uncommon on TMG, at a time when it rarely happened on other shows. I always had mixed feelings about the resulting racket.

I'll end this remembrance of John with his typical sign-off: Bye-bye.

Cold Period Predicted

The Washington Times reports a scientist at a British university says other scientists tried to quash a report of her team's findings which point to a period of global cooling.
A physicist who foresees a 30-year period of global cooling says other climatologists have tried to “silence” her latest research on solar cycles.

The Royal Astronomical Society received requests to withdraw a press release on her team’s latest research pointing to a significant drop in solar activity by mid-century.

Her sunspot modeling indicates a reduced solar magnetic field from 2020 to 2053, producing conditions similar to those during the Maunder Minimum, or “Little Ice Age,” a 65-year period of reduced solar activity and low global temperatures during the 17th century.
As she notes, in the Northern Hemisphere during a solar minimum the rivers freeze and there is no true summer. Speculators might consider going short on air conditioning and long on heating oil.

Confusing Cause and Effect

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, citing his own work as "Reynolds' Law."
The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.
Subsidizing the markers of middle class status doesn't produce the traits which typify and maintain the middle class. But it does enable liberal virtue-signalers to (falsely) claim the possessors of those markers have become middle class. It's like slapping a ten gallon hat and boots on a city kid and claiming you've produced a cowboy.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Not Big Earners

Writing at The Daily Beast about Millennials' unusual consumption patterns, Samantha Allen debunks most theories and explains it with simple economics. She observes:
If you’re wondering why millennials don’t have much sex, and don’t buy cars, forget social theorizing: the harsh truth lies in their near-empty wallets.

Millennials are not some vast unsolvable mystery. According to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau (PDF), they earn $2,000 less than their parents did at a comparable age, they are more likely to live in poverty, and they are more likely to live at home.

So the next time you have a hunch about why millennials are the way they are, ask yourself if economic insecurity might be a better hypothesis.
Unbelievably high college loan debt is undoubtedly part of the Millennial problem set. Free online porn is a factor, too.

Brexit May Help the EU and the UK

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Pierpaolo Barbieri notes that the EU has become more popular among the citizens of its remaining members, now that Britain has announced its departure. He argues the difficulties faced by the U.K. are helping Europeans see that leaving is a bad option. I remain unconvinced.

Other things I've read recently have spoken of a Brexit economic upturn in the U.K., and Brits asking the Project Fear backers when (or if) the promised doom and gloom will arrive. I propose an alternate explanation for the observed increase in pro-EU sentiment post Brexit.

Let's be frank, the U.K. was never a whole-hearted member of the European Union. They didn't join the euro zone, didn't join the Schengen group of borderless countries, and kept asking the EU for special dispensations as deal sweeteners. And they were relative latecomers to the EU "party," only joining in 1973 with Denmark and Ireland.

Continentals may believe the EU will function better, be more harmonious, be less a debating society and more a force for their good without the British sitting at the table, dragging their bespoke heels on nearly every proposal.

It could very well prove to be the case that the EU will be a more effective organization sans Britain. I expect Britain to be a more effective nation without the EU.


I'm reminded of the elementary school faculty the other DrC joined shortly after our marriage and before she did the PhD. There was continual turmoil and conflict for two years, after which a popular teacher sought and received transfer to another district campus.

The following year there was no conflict and turmoil. It turned out the person who left was causing the trouble but nobody saw it until she was gone. Perhaps the EU will likewise function better without the Brits, and maybe at some level people sense that.

Raise Taxes, Lose People

Perhaps I'm preaching to the choir with this post, but truths bear repeating in this age of near-universal lies. John Hinderaker, senior contributor at Power Line and President of the Center of the American Experiment, writes in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, about Minnesota's less-than-stellar economy.
Over the last 15 years, Minnesota has been average with regard to economic growth; below average with respect to private-sector productivity; 30th among the states in per-capita income growth, and 28th in the rate of job creation.

Similarly, the Twin Cities metropolitan area ranks average or below average among the nation’s 15 major metropolitan areas in rates of economic growth and job creation.

With respect to an alarming number of leading indicators, Minnesota’s current performance points toward below-average prosperity in the future.

Every year, thousands of households — on net — leave Minnesota for other states, overwhelmingly for lower-tax states. In 2014, the most recent year for which Internal Revenue Service data are available, those households took with them — again on a net basis, subtracting those who arrived from those who left — $980 million in income. The Census Bureau’s latest migration data, issued in March, indicates that the exodus from Minnesota accelerated in 2015.
Lefty Garrison Keillor oversold Lake Wobegon; Minnesota isn't above average. High tax states like Minnesota lose jobs, and then population, to low tax states like Texas. It even happens in high tax California which has compensating attractions Minnesota lacks.

Weird Pharmacological Science

United Press International reports research done in England which finds women who took acetaminophen, aka Tylenol, during pregnancy are more likely to have children with behavioral and emotional problems involving misconduct and hyperactivity. If you know someone considering or involved with pregnancy, suggest they throw out the Tylenol and use one of the other NSAIDs.

A Role Model from Hell

Yahoo News carries an Associated Press story about VP Joe Biden campaigning for Hillary Clinton.
Joe Biden is offering a powerful testimonial for Hillary Clinton, saying having the first female president will have a major impact on women and girls across America. He says, "It will change their lives."
Clinton will be an amazing role model for women and girls. She has modeled the following exemplary behaviors: In the pursuit of your career goals, remaining married to a serial philandering husband is worth the trade-off. Being casually sloppy with national security secrets is just fine. Lying about things we all heard the FBI Director say is normal, appropriate behavior.

Interning at a Communist law firm is a good career move. Amateurs can make a killing in the futures market. Repudiating a trade deal you helped negotiate shows flexibility. Selling access to your government office in return for contributions to your family foundation is good.

There is more, but as the Brits say, that will do to be getting on with. You bet, Joe, Hillary is one fine role model for some Mafia don's favorite daughter, she's a latter-day Lucretia Borgia without the charm.

Irreconcilable Differences?

I've been wondering when this news would surface, now comes an article in the East Asia Forum asking whether young South Koreans feel much kinship with, or interest in North Korea and its people. Author Emma Campbell answers thus:
Survey data in South Korea consistently shows increased levels of antipathy and antagonism towards North Korea and unification. Young people who support unification do so with provisos that demand a net political and economic benefit for the South. They show little interest in the North. And growing numbers of young people actively and openly oppose unification.

As new generations of South Koreans become more antagonistic to unification, and further estranged from ideas of ethnic homogeneity and the history of a unified Korea, the South Korean identity will become more distinct and assertive. The implications for North and South Korea of this transformation will be profound indeed.
The costly and difficult experience wealthy Germany has had trying to assimilate East Germany has not been lost on South Koreans. Also relevant is the scenario, played out in many divorces, of two individuals "growing apart," which is to say, developing in different directions. As with individuals, so with nations. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

Our World, "Brave" and "New"

David H. Freedman, writing in The Atlantic, looks at the extent to which our present society has become one in which those with below average IQ (average = 100) really have little place. He makes the point that as recently as 60 years ago this wasn't the case.
Analyses suggest that each IQ point is worth hundreds of dollars in annual income--surely a painful formula for the 80 million Americans with an IQ of 90 or below.

From 1979 to 2012, the median income gap between a family headed by two earners with college degrees and two earners with high school degrees grew by $30,000, in constant dollars.

Instead of bending over backwards to find ways of discussing intelligence that won't leave anyone out, it might make more sense to acknowledge that most people don't possess enough of the version that's required to thrive in today's world.
Decades ago, when "automation" first became a hot topic, I remember telling my B-School students society would struggle with how to occupy the people who were displaced as their simple jobs were automated. Our 1970-80s world had no mechanism for supporting large numbers of essentially unemployable people.

Today, we see increasing numbers withdraw from the workforce. At the same time see increasing death rates among the middle aged poor.

The sketchy outlines of a default support "mechanism" are emerging. It includes long-term unemployment benefits, food stamps, disability payments, opiod and crack abuse, alcoholism, and suicide. Not a pretty picture; somewhere the ghost of Aldous Huxley laughs mirthlessly.

At Issue Is His Style

Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA) argues in Politico that Donald Trump has the temperament to be president.
What is so hard for Trump’s detractors to grasp is that what they don’t like about Donald Trump has nothing to do with temperament—he’s got it. He’s proved over the course of his highly successful business career that he’s got all the right qualities as a leader and a visionary.

What they really don’t like is his style—and they’re purposefully conflating the two.

It’s an abandonment of political correctness. Through that directness, he bruises the egos of the political and academic elites, and speaks to the heart and soul of hard working Americans in a way they comprehend. That’s why it’s so effective. Trump talks as regular Americans often do.
The reality is that Trump can't, or more likely chooses not to, self-edit to appear smooth and polished.  He's working a model that Rush Limbaugh perfected, which includes both plain talk and braggadocio.

Bluntness is a key part of his political brand. He doesn't code as part of the elite, and they hate him for it.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Travel Blogging XV

Home at last. Our summer RV trip is over for this year, we really enjoyed it. Traveling by RV gives the traveler a different perspective than that obtained by the auto-plus-motel, train-plus-hotel, air-plus-hotel or cruise ship traveler.

How, you may well ask? Because you are less a captive of the tourism industry. As an RV traveler you visit the same supermarkets the locals use, drive their streets, buy fuel in their service stations, really "live in" whatever area you visit. Yes, you're still a tourist, but you feel the place differently. We know this because we travel by other modes too: cruise ship and train-or-air-or auto-plus-hotel.

The trip just ended gave us an interesting comparison. The party of four we met in Banff were on tour via train/bus and hotel, before flying home. We joined them for meals twice at their hotel in Banff. Tellingly, we returned to the hotel's restaurant a second time even though the group wasn't entirely pleased with their first meal there. The reason, simple convenience as they had no car and our vehicle could only accomodate a total of five, not six.

The other DrC and I were okay with our meals there, but others in the party were not. However, had they not been staying at the hotel it was a restaurant we would never have visited a first time, much less a second. We dine at restaurants a fair amount when traveling by RV, normally chains like Outback, Applebee's, and Cracker Barrel plus some local eateries. We also eat our own cooking much of the time and rarely get a bad meal.

New subject: our route from Dillon, Montana, to western Wyoming took us through a series of small farming towns in eastern Idaho on a midday Sunday. There were many parked cars at every Latter Day Saints church we passed, and they were the only churches that looked busy. Whatever they're doing seems to work, attendancewise. This whole region - eastern Idaho and western Wyoming - is basically Alta Utah, we call it "the Mormon west."

Making a Separate Peace

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds quotes at length a Peggy Noonan Wall Street Journal column from 2005, sadly behind their paywall, about how our elites have tried to ignore the mess we're in.
Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us. (snip) I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they’re living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they’re going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley’s off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.

Many of our elites simply decided to enjoy their lives while they waited for the next chapter of trouble. And that they consciously, or unconsciously, took grim comfort in this thought: I got mine. Which is what the separate peace comes down to, “I got mine, you get yours.”

You’re a lobbyist or a senator or a cabinet chief, you’re an editor at a paper or a green-room schmoozer, you’re a doctor or lawyer or Indian chief, and you’re making your life a little fortress. That’s what I think a lot of the elites are up to.
There's more than a hint of roman a clef in this column. Peggy should have written "that's what a lot of us elites are up to" as she's a member of that elite, a green-room schmoozer. Eleven years later the hoi polloi sense the disconnect, hence Trump and Brexit.

Balz: It's Not Looking Good

Dan Balz writes politics for The Washington Post and tries harder than most of their reportorial staff to show balance in his work. Today he writes that Trump is in difficulty less than three months before the election, practicing the politics of subtraction by driving away voter groups he needs to reach a majority.

For all that I hate the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency, Balz does a fair job of convincing me I'd better face that distinct possibility. Of course, we're just one well-timed terrorist horror away from shoving the electorate in Trump's direction.

It is possible Trump will become this generation's William Jennings Bryan. Bryan was a populist of great personal magnetism who repeatedly tried and failed to be elected president. It doesn't often happen that populists gain a majority of the American electorate.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Travel Blogging XIV

Dillon, Montana: We had a nice, uneventful drive south from Great Falls to Dillon. Dillon is an old gold-mining town with some spectacular victorian-era houses. I anticipate some photos of those houses will show up at, the other DrC's blog.

You have to wonder what keeps the town going these days, I suppose The University of Montana - Western campus helps with salaries and student spending. It is also a railroad town perhaps half way between Idaho Falls and Butte and a definite stop on the track that connects them. The railroad probably bases some people here.

The surrounding terrain is basically too mountainous to be good wheat farming country. Cattle grazing would seem to be a big part of the economy. Tourism is a factor too.

Montana is a state committed to railroading, moreso I believe than many others. Time was the state took over some track the railroads wanted to abandon and ran their own short line operation, perhaps they still do.

A retrospective note: do you remember me talking about our campground in Lethbridge called "Bridgeview"? After getting a good internet connection we found out about the railroad trestle ("bridge") across the coulee that campground calls home. The trestle is the longest and perhaps highest in North America, about a mile long, and 314 feet above the Oldman River which it spans. It was built over 100 years ago and trains still cross it daily. It is an eyeful.

Like Montana, trains are important to Canada. They are how its grain gets to the ports for shipment all over the world. Two train lines cross Canada east to west - the Canadian Pacific near the U.S. border which reaches the Pacific at Vancouver and the Canadian National farther north which reaches the ocean at Prince Rupert, BC, just south of Alaska.

Barring accident or breakdown, we'll be home tomorrow in western Wyoming. Then we get to spend a portion of the next 6 weeks bringing our OLLI classes up to date. I do "World Affairs" and the other DrC does digital photography. Lots has been happening in Eastern and Western Europe so I'll have plenty of work to do with a couple of my sessions.