Sunday, December 31, 2017

Oregon’s Split Personality

Mostly Michael J. Totten writes about the Middle East, and does it well. Here he writes for City Journal about the east-west conflict in his native Oregon. It is an odd place he knows intimately.
My hometown, Portland, Oregon, voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016, but the Democratic Party lost almost everywhere else in the state, including in every county east of the Cascade Mountains. Except for in Vermont and Massachusetts, the same urban/rural divide in American politics exists around the country.

Oregon is divided geographically, culturally, and politically by the Cascade Mountains, a spectacular range of volcanoes roughly 100 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean that pick up where the Sierra Nevadas leave off, stretching from Lassen County in northern California to the international border with British Columbia.

From the crest of the Cascades, you’d have to drive hundreds of miles before reaching a county that voted for Clinton, and you’d pass through just two—one in Idaho and one in Wyoming—before reaching the Continental Divide.
In ID it is Blaine County, home of Sun Valley, and the one in WY is Teton County, county seat - Jackson. WY’s other 22 counties are Republican somewhere between most and all of the time. The clusters of wealthy folks in Jackson Hole and Sun Valley vote Democratic, not what you’d once have expected.

Weird Metabolic Science

The Wall Street Journal reports research which suggests, somewhat tentatively, that restricting one’s eating to a 8-12 hour window each day is a method of holding down weight gain.
Time-restricted feeding, or TRF, (is) a strategy increasingly being studied by researchers as a tool for weight-loss, diabetes prevention and even longevity.

In TRF, you can eat whatever you want and as much as you want—just not whenever you want. Daily food intake should be limited to a 12-hour window, and ideally cut down to eight to 10 hours. But you can pick the hours you want to eat. (Note: This doesn’t mean you should stuff your face with cupcakes. Experts say you should dine as you normally would.)

Despite a lack of dietary restrictions, most people following TRF end up consuming fewer calories and lose weight, according to studies and experts. Preliminary evidence also shows other health benefits of fasting for 12 hours or more, including lower blood pressure and improved glucose levels, and physiological changes linked to slowing the aging process. Researchers believe that when the body kicks into fasting-mode it more efficiently breaks down food and fat, in particular.
I just might give this odd-ball idea a try. It sounds less painful than most weight-loss approaches I’ve seen.

The Issue Is Taste

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds collects several comments from others, and comments himself, looking at the opposition to Donald Trump by supposed conservatives. Start with Bret Stephens in the New York Times:
I admit it gives me pause. I agree with every one of the policy decisions mentioned above. But I still wish Hillary Clinton were president. How does that make sense?
Reynolds comments:
It makes sense in a world in which educated-class tribal loyalties outweigh policy.
And, as James Taranto noted:
This tweet validates my intuition that NeverTrump is about taste far more than policy.
To which, Reynolds adds:
There’s a big status anxiety component, too.
COTTonLINE agrees Trump is somewhat gaudy and loud, bumptious even. But he wins, he gets things done, for that I can forgive much.


Instapundit links to an article at the Campus Reform website which reports the contentions made in a summary of a Masters thesis posted at SIT Graduate Institute. Author Hadiel Mohamed’s main notion is that school is a place where assimilation of non-whites and immigrants happens and that this is bad and must be guarded against.

SIT Graduate Institute is a stepchild of the Peace Corps, the acronym standing for School for International Training. It is located in Vermont and exists to give Peace Corps volunteers access to a Masters in International Development.

COTTonLINE takes a diametrically opposed poliicy position; it is our belief assimilation must be fostered and emphasized. Is it too much to hope Hadiel Mohamed is not granted a green card?

Happy New Year

Random Thoughts:
I write this on New Year’s Eve day to wish you a fun evening tonight and a clear head tomorrow morning. The DrsC are among those who will not overindulge in grain alcohol this evening, it is possible we might have a single gimlet by way of celebration.
Pro tip: If you have access to the Home and Garden cable channel, watch the Rose Parade there instead of on the broadcast channels. H&G hides commercials in the proceedings without interrupting the viewing stream, and they tend to show the whole parade, however long it takes.
I haven’t made a New Years resolution for decades, and don’t intent to resume the practice. Making unrealistic commitments I know I’ll never keep is nonsense. I’m who I am; I’ll live and die comfortable with that identity. Psychologists call this state “self-acceptance.”

Angela’s Ashes

Filling Europe with unassimilable Islamic refugees was the wrong way to atone for the holocaust. Much blame must rest with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Hat tip to Steven Hayward of Power Line for the grim humor.

Memo to Left: World Didn’t End

Liz Peek of Fox News notes a list of horrible-to-them things liberals said a President Trump would do in his first year that he did not do.
He didn’t start World War III, he didn’t deport 11 million people in the country illegally, he didn’t eliminate guarantees of equal status for women, he did not toss the Iran nuclear deal, he did not fire Special Counsel Mueller or Attorney General Sessions, he didn’t cause the stock market to crash or upend our monetary policy, he failed to greenlight Putin’s mischief-making in Eastern Europe, he hasn’t reinstated the use of torture, and also hasn’t ignited a trade war. And, he didn’t plunge the country into recession.
He did spend the year making progressives and liberals very nearly as miserable as they could possibly be, outside of a cancer ward. Think of that list as his agenda for 2018, won’t you?

It’s schadenfreude on steroids. Meanwhile, me? I’m loving MAGA.

CA: Long Time, No Trump links to a Los Angeles Times article which shares the plaintive news that POTUS Trump hasn’t visited California in his first year in office, and so far has no CA visit scheduled. LAT believes this factoid interesting to its readers.

Given that CA didn’t much vote for him (only 31%) and that Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown is forever declaring CA an official part of the Resistance, I suppose Trump’s absence is no shock. The artcle says he’s visited just 29 states since being inaugurated, I wonder if the other 20 states feel left out too?

Many of us who grew up here no longer find CA especially welcoming. The other DrC has almost-relatives who are planning their “escape” to Idaho as I write this. We “escaped” 15 years ago and now merely visit CA a couple of times a year.

California is still expansive, often beautiful, enormously varied, and has the nation’s best climate. Beyond the eyesores that overpopulation has made of uber-LA and the Bay Area, none of that has changed.

What has changed is who is “minding the store,” and who are its immigrants. Where we once had competent governors like Jerry’s dad Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan, it is likely doofus Jerry will be the last non-Hispanic governor we’ll see in Sacramento, if not the last incompetent. Where its immigrants once came from the rest of the U.S., they are now aliens, mostly undocumented.

Questions: Will CA become another Puerto Rico, bankrupt and a mess? Will I live long enough to see its name changed to Alta California? Answers: Yes and No, respectively.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Actual Truth from CNN

Writing at resolutely anti-Trump CNN, attorney Paul Callan looks at the evidence and concludes something that has almost certainly has shortened his tenure at that fount of Fake News. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.
The ferocity of President Donald Trump's recent attacks on the integrity of the FBI has sent shock waves through an agency accustomed to public adulation in recent years. Sadly, much of the presidential criticism of the bureau may be entirely legitimate.

While I rarely agree with much of what the President does or says regarding legal issues, this time he's got it right. The FBI's reputation has been severely damaged not by the President's criticism but by a systematic failure of the bureau's leadership.

The field agents of the FBI should still retain the trust of the American people. Their honor and dignity has not been compromised; but the bureau's leadership ranks require a prompt and thorough house cleaning by the new director, Christopher Wray. The bureau's leadership has forfeited the reputation of a cherished American institution.
Props to Callan for truth-telling in a setting where it is both unwelcome and unusual. Like him, I am saddened to see the Bureau tarnished.

The Great Disestablishment

Reacting to a Michael Barone article in the Washington Examiner, Roger Kimball writes the following assessment/prediction for American Greatness:
Barone’s calm, dispassionate description of alternatives suggests two things. One, that the dreaded “normalization” of Donald Trump is proceeding apace, just as it did with Ronald Reagan, who also had been dismissed as an evil, warmongering moron before he was declared a statesman of rare genius. Two, that the vaunted policy establishment in Washington and the media, to say nothing of its support groups in academia and the world of celebrity, are just about to suffer a disestablishment that will rival in vividness, if not in carnage, what Henry VIII visited upon the monasteries of Tudor England.
As a former functionary in one of those “academic support groups,” I assure you its disestablishment is long overdue. Both of these articles are good reads.

Time to Decide

David Von Drehle writing opinion for The Washington Post, looks ahead to 2018 - a midterm election year.
The painful choice that faces partisans in a polarized time is whether to be true to an ideology or flexible in creating coalitions. Republicans made their choice in 2016 by embracing a candidate whose views on trade, diplomacy, human rights and a raft of other issues were far outside the GOP orthodoxy. They have conservative judges and a tax cut for their spoils.

Now Democrats must decide how big they are willing to make their own tent — understanding that Trump’s future may hang on their answer.
And what does Von Drehle believe enlarging their tent means?
Democrats need candidates and policies that speak to voters in red states and red districts. (snip) This will require wooing some voters who own guns, work for fossil fuel companies, shop at Hobby Lobby and eat Chick-fil-A — even attend churches where abortion is a vital concern.
But ... but ... such blue dog Democrats are anathema to today’s party stalwarts.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Anti-government Demonstrations in Iran

Drudge Report links to a Reuters story about street demonstrations spreading in Iran.
Demonstrators chanted anti-government slogans in several cities across Iran on Friday, Iranian news agencies and social media reports said, as price protests turned into the largest wave of demonstrations since nationwide pro-reform unrest in 2009.

The outbreak of unrest reflects growing discontent over rising prices and alleged corruption, as well as concern about the Islamic Republic’s costly involvement in regional conflicts such as those in Syria and Iraq.
While this is good news, it is premature to get our hopes up. Autocratic regimes are normally able to suppress such expressions of discontent - think Tiananmen Square. However regimes dealing with internal unrest may have less energy to invest in troublemaking beyond their borders.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

It’s a Tie links to a Daily Caller article which compares President Trump’s current standing with voters to that of President Obama at the end of his first year in office. Based on polling by the Rasmussen organization, Obama’s rating was exactly the same as Trump’s is.

What makes this so interesting is the disparate treatment the two men received in the media. Barack Obama was (and is) essentially worshiped by all U.S. media not owned by Rupert Murdoch - which is to say everything except The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and Fox News.

Donald Trump has been excoriated by the same media which worships Obama, again with the exception of the Murdoch media. Given their identical end-of-first-year ratings of 46% positive and 53% negative, in the face of opposite press treatment, one of two things is true.

Either (a) nearly everyone ignores what the media says about our president, or (b) Trump has done a better job than Obama did in his first year. You could argue that the polling is flawed, but the same firm did both polls.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Stay Warm

Matt Drudge is headlining record cold across the Midwest and East. It goes without saying that in the lyin’ eyes of climate alarmists this is evidence of global warming (don’t ask how).

Meanwhile, those of us less-than-convinced of anthropogenic climate change will remind you that we’ve been noting a quiet sun leading to an increased likelihood of a darn cold winter. Sunspots have been scarce lately.

Compare the relatively huge impact of solar radiation on the planet with the puny impact of human activity to understand our focus on the former. It’s time for Easterners to dig out their Bronko Nagurski long-johns, hat tip to the brothers Magliozzi for the reference.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Martha Channels Redd Foxx

Have y'all seen Martha Stewart's shtick at the Justin Bieber roast? She is off the wall, totally. She puts down everybody there individually and with venom.

Warning, it is dirt-filthy and racist to boot. You'll find it here.

If her cooking shows for PBS were this gross they'd be the top-rated shows on cable, TV couldn't broadcast them. Hat tip to friend Earl for the link.

Happy Boxing Day

The Brits and many parts of the Commonwealth (former empire) call the day after Christmas "Boxing Day." It is celebrated either on the 26th or the next weekday after Christmas if Christmas falls on Friday or Saturday.

This usage of "boxing" has nothing whatsoever to do with pugilism. It is believed named for the "box" or gift given to servants who were given the day after Christmas off to go visit their families. It may also refer to a gift given to the postman, dustman, or other functionary who provides relatively regular service to the household.

Interestingly, yearend tipping of the building super, doorman or postman is an East Coast thing in the U.S., particularly a New York City thing. It has not been widespread on the West Coast or, I believe, in the flyover country between the coasts, at least since World War II.

Some of this may be the relative rarity of condo and coop living and the lack of service provided to many renters. I spent nearly 15 years in West Coast rentals as a young person and never heard of anyone tipping a resident (or nonresident) manager, as they're typically called.

On the other hand, the only service they provided was rent collection, exterior maintenance and arranging for repairs in the event any interior system went "down." Mostly we were on our own (and preferred it).

Poles Apart

I was reading Steven Hayward's post on neo-liberalism at Power Line, it's worth your time. What particularly caught my eye was this:
Expect the same impulse to dominate the Democratic Party as it heads toward 2020. Elizabeth Warren or Bernie will save us! Anything less than this will not be tolerated by the increasingly leftist base of the Democratic Party. And this is the best thing Trump has going for him.
Perhaps the Hillary Clinton candidacy was the last gasp of the technocratic left in the U.S. Beginning in 2020 it looks like we'll see the ascendancy of the ideological left at the presidential level.

In that regard, perhaps the Ds are one 4-year cycle behind the Rs. You could argue that Romney represented the technocratic right whereas Trump represents the Breitbartian ideological right. I bet that''s what Steve Bannon would argue.

As the two parties become more polarized, as their centers of gravity grow farther apart, a candidate's cool competence no longer assuages an angry electorate's fire in the belly, they want raw meat and will choose "hot" candidates who give it to them.

Expect 2020 to feature forlorn never-Trumpers and never-Bernies. These left behinds nevertheless will be too far apart on policy to coalesce into a centrist party of any consequence.

Attkisson: The Butcher’s Bill ... So Far

Sharyl Attkisson is an investigative reporter. On her eponymous blog she lists eight FBI and Justice Department functionaries who have been separated, demoted, reassigned or are retiring. She does a short piece on each - who they are/were and what they did that led to their misfortune.
Sally Yates, Deputy Attorney General
Peter Kadzik, Assistant Attorney General
Andrew McCabe, Deputy FBI Director
James Baker, FBI General Counsel
Peter Strzok, top FBI official on the Mueller investigative team
Lisa Page, FBI attorney and advisor to McCabe
James Comey, FBI Director under Obama
Bruce Ohr, Associate Deputy Attorney General
You can almost hear the hum of mosquitoes hovering over this end of Washington’s swamp. It’s nasty. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

”United States of Europe” Likelihood Dims

If, like us, your ethnic roots are in Europe, it is difficult to ignore what happens there. Looking at a Geopolitical Futures article on the fragmentation of a formerly somewhat united Europe, I ran across this comment which really struck me:
The EU is under pressure from within. Multiple Europes are emerging.
If there is a trend to watch in 2018, that could well be it for Europe. Of course, to a lesser degree multiples Americas are emerging, too - think red and blue states. Perhaps it is the zeitgeist. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

U.S. Cuts U.N. Subsidy

Looked at from our preferred cynical perspective, the United Nations is a scam. A con in which clever individuals from third world countries get the U.S. and a handful of other affluent countries to pick up the tab for their prolonged luxury sojourns in the first world.

Once comfortably situated in New York, these welfare kings and queens revel in attacking the U.S. for its “abuses.” What saps they must believe us to be, how they must laugh at our folly.

Quite recently, the U.S. announced it had negotiated a modest cut in its subsidization of this international wealth transfer scheme. Ambassador Haley took a good first step.

Let’s cut U.N. funding every time these refugees-from-reality bash our interests. One suspects that budget cuts are a message they will eventually understand.

2018 in Latin America

At COTTonLINE we try to check in with goings-on in the Western Hemisphere periodically. At year’s end we take a tour d’horizon of what is likely in the region during the coming year.

Our go-to person for Latin America was once Mary Anastasia O’Grady of The Wall Street Journal. Her work has been hit-or-miss behind the WSJ paywall so I now turn to Andres Oppenheimer of the Miami Herald. He specializes in the region and his work is high-quality.

Oppenheimer‘s survey of Latin America for 2018 focuses on these six issues:
  • Six nations, including Mexico and Brazil will hold presidential elections.
  • Trump is likely to announce if the U.S. will withdraw from the North America Free Trade Association (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.
  • Cuba’s Raul Castro has promised to retire this year, from at least some of his leadership positions.
  • The Summit of the Americas will happen in Lima, Peru, in April; it is suggested Trump may not attend.
  • Argentina will host the G-20 meeting in November, perhaps Trump’s first visit to Latin America as President.
  • Venezuela will continue to melt-down, and its people will flee to neighboring countries.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Lacerate Liberal Friends and Family

Kurt Schlichter writes a take-no-prisoners blog at Imagine an Ann Coulter experiencing roid rage and you've pretty well caught Kurt's tone. See the concluding paragraph of his Christmas missive.
Now, as your late family gathers together, all dead because of Trump’s authoritarian reign of terror, try to remember that in the spirit of the season, you should mock your liberal friends and family unmercifully. It’s a painful time for them. The economy is booming, ISIS has been beheaded, and Mueller hasn’t found Schiff. That’s why it’s so, so very important to kick them when they are down. Because Christmas is a time where we celebrate giving, so give them grief. Because it’s the only way they’ll ever learn.
The family's liberals were so dispirited last night I wasn't sadistic enough to take the mickey out of them. My bad. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

On Santa's Wish List

Now here is an elf Santa would very much like to recruit. I'm not certain Mrs. Claus would agree. Hat tip to Steven Hayward at Power Line for the selfie photo of FLOTUS.

The Mueller Muddle

Blogging at Power Line, Paul Mirengoff shares information that makes a telling point about the troubles besetting the Mueller special prosecutorial operation.
A recent Harvard poll found that 54 percent of voters believe that “as the former head of the FBI and a friend of James Comey,” Mueller has a conflict of interest in the proceedings. Meanwhile, only 35 percent believe that evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia has been found.
More than a little evidence has surfaced that the Comey FBI, or some key elements thereof, strongly preferred Clinton to Trump. Do we suppose Mueller is willing to step up and accuse his good friend James Comey of wrongdoing?

Will Mueller recognize evidence as it surfaces? Is it an avenue of investigation he is likely to pursue? Isn't this asking too much of an otherwise decent man, which Mueller is claimed to be?

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Greetings

We wish every COTTonLINE reader a Merry Christmas. If it turns out Christmas isn’t the holiday you celebrate as Winter begins, we wish you a great example of your holiday as well.

While not especially religious, we have always enjoyed the American way of Christmas - the decorations, the music, the gifts, the food, the school holidays, the road trips, and the family gatherings. Join us in savoring the pleasures of this festive season.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Bye-ku for Andrew McCabe

With the usual hat tip to James Taranto - its popularizer - we bring forth a bye-ku or haiku of farewell for FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. His not-a-minute-too-soon retirement under fire impends.

Adios, Andy.
You pick'd the trench to die in
Was it worth your job?

McCabe On a Slippery Slope

I just checked the website and stories 1 and 4 were these. First, The Hill reports that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe will retire in less than 3 months when he becomes eligible for full retirement.

Second, Breitbart links to this Fox News Insider story concerning comments by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL):
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe indicated Hillary Clinton was going to get an “HQ special” regarding the investigation of her unauthorized email server and ties to the Clinton Foundation during her tenure as secretary of state.

Gaetz, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, described the circumstances at the FBI regarding the investigation as “extreme pro-Hillary Clinton bias.”
Looks like Mueller started out investigating the Trump team and ended up finding a lot of pro-Clinton bias and hanky-panky. Let's count how many bad actors have to fall on their swords when their clandestine behavior becomes public.

Later ... perhaps the count should include James Baker, former FBI General Counsel who lost that lofty position and has been reassigned (but not yet fired). He is credibly suspected of leaking confidential info to the press.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Humor from The Mossad?

U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley has been letting member nations know that their favorite sport of beating up on that gentle giant - the U.S. - could have real negative consequences. Liberals have naturally gone nuts over this reality check.

Now comes an appreciative tweet from Israel's rightly feared Mossad, quoted here by Power Line:
We're making a list
We're checking it twice
Gonna find out who's funding to slice
Nikki Haley's coming to town.
And a happy Chanukah to y'all, too. Haley for Pres. in 2024?

It's Called "Flop Sweat"

RealClearPolitics has a link to an article in The American Spectator with this title:
The Democrats Stink of Weakness and Defeat, and Other Pre-Christmas News
Author Scott McKay is correct; in show biz what he senses is called "flop sweat." It was stereotypical of you to think it the result of poor personal hygiene.

Obama Most Corrupt? links to DC Whispers which has this snark-laden gem:
Senator Paul has been on something of a tear of late and is now among POTUS Trump’s strongest allies in the Senate.

Word is there are a handful more senators pushing for the same kind of investigation. If given a green light it would likely expose Barack Obama as the most corrupt and dictatorial president in the history of our nation.
Obama set many records, why not that one too?

Happy Eleventh Anniversary

As we noted a couple of days ago, today is the eleventh anniversary of COTTonLINE. If you've had 1/10 the fun reading it that I've had writing it, you've a happy camper.

After 30.years as an academic writing stuff about which others made publishing decisions, it is nice to be my own editor. And yes, I occasionally write stuff I choose not to post. Those aren't all rants, either.

As Mort Sahl said mock portentously all those decades ago ... "The Future ... Lies Ahead." To which I add the invite ... "Let's go there together."

Later ... I just checked and we’re edging up on 400,000 pageviews, not bad all things considered.

Catalonia Votes, Spain Loses

Some months ago the Catalan people in the region around Barcelona held a plebiscite and voted to separate from Spain. Spain's Prime Minister Rajoy said the vote was illegal and cut arrest warrants for the local leaders who held it.

Yesterday officially sanctioned elections were held in the region and politicians who favor separation won. Reuters reports:
With nearly all votes counted, separatist parties won a slim majority in Catalan parliament, a result that promises to prolong political tensions which have damaged Spain’s economy and prompted a business exodus from the region.

Rajoy, who called the elections after sacking the previous secessionist government, had hoped Catalonia’s “silent majority” would deal separatism a decisive blow in what was a de facto independence referendum, but his hard line backfired.

The unexpected result sets the stage for the return to power of deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont who campaigned from self-exile in Brussels. State prosecutors accuse him of sedition, and he faces arrest if he were to return home.

“Either Rajoy changes his recipe or we change the country,” Puigdemont, said in a televised speech. He was flanked by four former cabinet members that fled with him.
Last century Spaniards had a history of killing each other. Are they about to start anew? This situation bears watching.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

21% of Federal Prisoners in U.S. Illegally

Fox News reports new Justice Department statistics as follows:
According to the data, there are 39,455 suspected or confirmed non-citizens currently in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, which amounts to 21 percent of the total federal prison population. Of the total 37,557 confirmed immigrants in federal custody, 94 percent were illegal immigrants.
And since we don't imprison people for being here illegally, those folks are all convicted felons. Interviewed by Tucker Carlson, pundit Mark Steyn reacted to these figures:
These statistics, which for political correctness reasons we were prevented from knowing in recent years, show that this country is, in effect, importing a criminal class.
Steyn added that federal prisoners are only 10% of the total imprisoned population, meaning there are  very likely close to half a million illegal aliens in our local, state and federal lockups. Imagine what they cost us to incarcerate every year, how much we could save by keeping them out.

Year One Accomplishments

Writing in the Washington Examiner, Paul Bedard itemizes 81 things the Trump Administration has accomplished in year one. While we could wish for more, it is an impressive list. The items are grouped under these 12 category headings:
Jobs and the economy
Killing job-stifling regulations
Fair trade
Boosting U.S. energy dominance
Protecting the U.S. homeland
Protecting communities
Combatting opioids
Protecting life
Helping veterans
Promoting peace through strength
Restoring confidence in and respect for America
As I read those I realized Trump-haters on both left and right will gag on the last one ... a pity.

General Patton Murdered?

The death of General George Patton at the end of World War II in a collision between his Cadillac staff car and an Army truck has fascinated conspiracy theorists for decades. Now comes someone with a theory of how his death was staged by our side.

The Telegraph (U.K.) has a review of a new book by military historian Robert Wilcox entitled Target Patton. The book makes the claim that the U.S. had General Patton murdered at the end of World War II because he was acting too belligerent vis-a-vis the Soviets.

It names an OSS (forerunner of the CIA) agent who, before his death, claimed to have staged the car accident which was blamed for Patton's neck fracture. Then, it is alleged, NKVD (KGB forerunner) agents poisoned the recuperating but cantankerous General.

If conspiracies are your thing, enjoy. Hat tip to RealClearHistory for the link.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Why Is Obamacare at Risk?

Celebrating the passage of the tax code revision, you may have heard the President say something like "we essentially repealed Obamacare." Making allowances for his natural tendency to exaggerate things, what was his point?

What was actually repealed was the mandate that required people who chose not to buy health insurance to pay an alternative "tax." This was actually a penalty for the misbehavior of failure to insure. How does repealing the mandate "essentially repeal Obamacare?"

The reasoning goes something like the following. Health insurance was always available to those who wished to purchase it, presuming they could and would choose to afford it. Obamacare tried to reduce the cost by requiring everyone to either buy insurance, thus increasing the pool of those covered, or pay the penalty "tax." However, by requiring qualifying plans to cover things not formerly covered, like birth control, adult children living at home, and mental health, the costs actually went up.

Now there is no mandate, many who formerly bought insurance because it didn't cost much more than the "penalty" will choose not to do so. The "pool" of insured will shrink, and will contain fewer well people. Insurers who stay in the business of individual policies will have to greatly raise their premiums which will drive away quite a few current insured.

Over time it appears that, absent a mandate, the marketplace will probably not be economically viable for insurers  or affordable for insureds. That makes Obamacare "essentially repealed" unless states step up to replace missing Federal funds with their own funding.

Comes the Winter Solstice

At roughly 8:30 a.m. PST tomorrow, December 21, 2017, the winter solstice occurs. Thus, tonight will be the longest night of the year, tomorrow will be the shortest day, and also the first day of official winter.

For each of the next 182+ days each day will have slightly more daylight than the day before. Adherents of the old faiths will tomorrow celebrate the sun's 'decision' to begin its return to our skies, at places like Stonehenge and New Grange.

Given the current lack of sunspots, it is likely to be a cold winter. Plus SoCal could use some rain on those fires.

Through a Glass, Darkly

Do you enjoy speculation about possible futures? Bloomberg has put together a pessimistic set of eight scenarios looking at what may happen between now and 2028. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link. Without going into detail, the eight scenarios they examine are these:
Trump Wins Second Term
Fake News Kills Facebook
Bitcoin Replaces the Banks
North Korea Launches an Attack
Corbyn Makes Socialism Great Again
Generational Warfare Destroys Europe
China Begins a Trade War
Electric Cars End the Oil Era
True to its business roots, Bloomberg ends by examining the investment implications of each scenario. That is, which sorts of firms may benefit and which may suffer given that set of alternatives.

These are treated as darkly pessimistic scenarios. Actually, at this point I sort of hope Trump gets a second term. That ought to be good for mass emigration and suicides among liberals.

Another Polarization

Science News summarizes research which finds that religious experience in the U.S., like much else in our public life, is becoming polarized. Hat tip to for the link.

To summarize, Americans increasingly are either committed believers in evangelical churches or non-participants in organized religious activity. What is losing ground (and members) are the mainstream, moderate churches which were once dominant in this society.

SN is careful to note that a fair number of non-participants say they remain believers but find no utility in church attendance. These report conducting their religious life “internally” between them and their God.


How much of the drop-off in church attendance do you suppose is driven by the increase in households where all adults are employed full-time? We know it is responsible for the decline in membership in service clubs and fraternal orders.

Having spent all of my pre-retirement adult life living in households where all adults worked, I know well that for many who live thus devoting a quarter of your weekend to church is a non-starter. The weekend is the main time you have for shopping, house and yard work, recreation, and catch-up sleep.

Escape to the ‘Burbs

Contrary to the fondest hopes of urban planners, Millennials are bailing on city centers and heading for the suburbs and beyond. Time reports:
Dowell Myers, professor of demography at the University of Southern California, first suggested in 2015 that cities would begin to see declines in millennials.

We analyzed a decade of Census data through 2016. We found that while tech hubs like San Francisco and Seattle are still drawing young people, large East Coast cities, like New York and D.C., are fast approaching peak millennial, with plateauing populations of those born between 1980 and 1996. And then there are cities like Boston, which already appear to have reached their peak. Boston lost roughly 7,000 millennials in 2016, after a record high of 259,000 the previous year.
Time also finds that Los Angeles and Chicago have become net losers. Likely this is a pattern that is more typical than not for large metro areas which increasingly become populated by the wealthy and the poor, with the middle class being forced out by high home prices and poor schools.

Try as they like, urban planners cannot convert Americans into Europeans. We Americans like our SUVs and backyards, where Europeans seem to like the planners’ preferred ‘hive’ housing and public transport. But then, Europeans have largely stopped having children....

America’s new high status vehicle: the deluxe heavy duty pickup truck! I love my 4WD F-350 diesel crew cab.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Market Musings

Did you ever take a good look at your trash and conclude you were looking at an investment idea? The other DrC loves buying online. I notice boxes with the Amazon swoosh piling up in my garage, and remember what I've read about the inroads Amazon and its online competitors have made into retailing.

Seems to me investing in firms that make cardboard boxes and other packing materials could make sense. Amazon and its competitors have to buy their materials somewhere, likely from a firm that specializes.

What I've not checked is whether there are any so-called "pure plays." Maybe the box manufacturers are just big paper companies and it isn't a big part of their business. Caveat: I am no investment advisor nor did I teach finance.

Mannheim Steamroller Time

Tis the season ... to binge listen to Mannheim Steamroller Christmas music. Chip Davis' happy band do a percussion-heavy upbeat take on the music of our version of Winterfest.

Their Good King Wenceslaus is not to be missed. The Steamroller's done several albums of this bouncy, happy stuff, available for listening at ... enjoy.

Chile Moves Modestly Right

Just a quick note to observe a mildly positive electoral outcome in Chile. The Weekly Standard reports former President Sebastian Piñera, whom they describe as "center-right," has been elected to a second, non-consecutive term.

Piñera replaces socialist, Michelle Bachelet, who unsurprisingly promised more than she was able to deliver. Chile needs to claw back some of the economic gains made under the guidance of Pinochet's Milton Friedman-trained Chicago economists and subsequently given up.

Piñera is a Harvard Economics PhD, which suggests he is closer to center-left than center-right. Whatever ... center-left is marginally better than solidly left.

Huntington Revisited

Writing for Reuters, Oxford research fellow John Lloyd reports the introduction of a new conflict-descriptive term: civilizationism.
In 1992, Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington wrote an article in Foreign Affairs magazine whose core was a few short sentences: “The principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.”

In another article in Foreign Affairs this month, Rogers Brubaker, a sociologist at the University of California in Los Angeles, detects a new ideology – civilizationalism – developed by far right, anti-immigrant parties, mainly in Europe. According to Brubaker, it’s a warrior ideology, “a pan-European civilizational identity”, threatened by and ready to threaten another civilizational identity – Islam. In doing so, it “poses grave dangers to liberal democracy.”
COTTonLINE believes we confront a warrior ideology in Islam, responding as warriors is the appropriate riposte. Anything else is suicidal. In a clash of civilizations, there is no prize for second place.

Another Never-Trumper Recants

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds quotes Rich Lowry, editor of National Review writing in the New York Post about President Trump's first year:
For much of the year, Trump’s presidency had seemed to be sound and fury signifying not much besides the welcome ascension of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Now it’s sound and fury signifying a discernible shift of American government to the right.
To which, Reynolds appends this clarifying comment:
Given that Lowry was pretty solidly anti-Trump, this is a significant shift. 
COTTonLINE adds The Donald is doing damn well considering he is "swimming upstream" against a fierce current of media and Deep State opprobrium.

Monday, December 18, 2017

An Anniversary Approaches

Friday, December 22, 2017, will be the eleventh anniversary of COTTonLINE. During that time we have posted in excess of 9300 entries, and probably repeated ourselves on occasion.

We've emphasized politics as seen from the non-fascist right, and observed the international scene with additional attention given to the Western Hemisphere. We also chronicle the decline of our native California, while describing with pride the successes of our adopted Wyoming.

Regular readers will have noted our fascination with demographics which, when you think about it, is mostly statistical anthropology. We also observe with interest the advances in science which our background permits us to understand somewhat.

At irregular intervals, we review a film, a TV show, or a book ... as the mood moves us. And we've noted the passing of the seasons, calling attention to solstices and equinoxes, to holidays and anniversaries. Plus travel writing when we're on the move.

We've written snide bye-kus to commemorate the exit from politics of various worthies. And we've shared with you our enjoyment of political snark and schadenfreude.

No longer young, we hope to be around for another eleven years, but who knows ...? Wish us luck.

Both Sides Now

Has the #MeToo movement gone overboard? Are the real abusers - the coercers and rapists - being lumped in with the merely socially inept or awkward? Do all such men deserve to be destroyed, or only those truly evil?

Spiked has a brief commentary - a couple of paragraphs - from each of 13 women authors who think the witch hunt has gone too far. See what you think. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

A First Reaction

Writing at the journal Foreign Policy, author Peter Feaver finds himself surprised at the extent to which today’s Trump National Security Strategy speech is in the U.S. foreign policy mainstream. Consider his analysis to be of the “glass half full” variety.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson, writing at the American Greatness website, has an altogether positive view of the speech. For him the glass is full, and the examples he gives tend to support that view.

I’ll reserve judgment until I can read the transcript; my hopes are for a foreign policy direction quite different from those of the two previous presidents. I want to see much less attempt to export our institutions and values to other nations than Bush II sought, and much less apology for imagined U.S. shortcomings than Obama offered.


Later today President Trump will deliver a major foreign policy speech. It will, by all accounts, make largish waves.

If you’d like a relatively positive preview of where Trump takes it, see this David P. Goldman article in the Asia Times. For a negative (what else?) view, Politico has that as an antidote, lest you become too euphoric.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Victory Remains Unreported

Ross Douthat, a never-Trumper, writes in The New York Times that the President has won the territorial war against the ISIS Caliphate and is doing better than expected with the rest of his foreign policy. You can read a detailed summary of the article here at Power Line which, unlike Douthat's article itself, is not behind a paywall. A choice quote:
The mainstream media has tried to mitigate the embarrassment of ISIS’ defeat by ignoring it. Ross Douthat is among those who have noticed.

He calls it “a case where the media is not adequately reporting an important success because it does not fit into the narrative of Trumpian disaster in which our journalistic entities are all invested.”
Like Rodney Dangerfield, Donald Trump "can't get no respect" ...  in the legacy media.

Confusion: Apparent but Unreal

You may see articles like this from Greg Jarrett at Fox News which claim Robert Mueller has so botched his probe of Russia collusion that he should be removed. Then you see others like this from the L.A. Times which reports President Trump doesn't plan to remove Mueller. If you are a normal human you could wonder how these can both be true.

I don't claim to know the answer; I will share with you my guess - plainly labeled as a hunch based on no inside info. I suspect a wounded Robert Mueller whose credibility grows shakier actually is a plus for the White House.

If anything damaging comes out of Mueller's investigation it is automatically suspect because of the real or imagined peculiarities and peccadillos of his operation. If, on the other hand, he finds not much, that's okay with Trump's people too.

Replacing him with someone squeaky clean doesn't especially serve the White House narrative, so don't expect it to happen. The more Mueller and his operation are perceived to be biased and unfair, the more irrelevant the investigation's output becomes.

Pro tip: If someone offers to appoint you as a Special Counsel, under no circumstances accept. Rather decline with thanks and breathe a sigh of relief that you've dodged an avalanche. The job tends to be a career destroyer.

Sweet Sunday Snark

As Lord Acton famously wrote in 1887: "Power tends to corrupt." Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, reacts to the story that pundit Chris Mathews talked dirty to women subordinates, who objected and were paid off by NBC.
Basically, all the people on the teevee going on about “have you no decency, sir?” are predators and pervs. Our media crowd is just one big Harper Valley PTA.
Add to "media crowd" the luminaries in DC. Decent members of either cadre are rare exceptions.

A Good Deed Punished

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds quotes a New York Times story (from behind its paywall), the topic is anti-Semitism in Sweden. Is anyone except the NYT surprised at these numbers?
Historically, anti-Semitism in Sweden could mainly be attributed to right-wing extremists. While this problem persists, a study from 2013 showed that 51 percent of anti-Semitic incidents in Sweden were attributed to Muslim extremists. Only 5 percent were carried out by right-wing extremists; 25 percent were perpetrated by left-wing extremists.

Swedish politicians have no problem condemning anti-Semitism carried out by right-wingers. . . . There is, however, tremendous hesitation to speak out against hate crimes committed by members of another minority group in a country that prides itself on welcoming minorities and immigrants. In 2015, Sweden was second only to Germany in the number of Syrian refugees it welcomed.
I wonder how you'd render these long-ago Johnny Rivers lyrics in Arabic or Swedish?
"Oh shut up, silly woman," said the reptile with a grin.
"You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in." 
If they didn't know, they were self-deluded.


Several sites, including Power Line and the Daily Caller, are commenting on a new survey out from the American Culture and Faith Institute. It looks at the opinions of liberals and conservatives and finds them profoundly divided on what constitutes patriotism and whether one loves our country. Daily Caller's title is particularly apropos:
Poll shows Nation Divided Between America First and Blame America First
As the Obama years made clear to any conservative paying attention, liberals aren’t nearly so fond of America nor nearly so likely to support it or think it the best place to live. No wonder the slogan “Make America Great Again” didn’t resonate with them, they didn’t think it was great before and don’t now. A telling example:
For conservatives, according to the poll, the most patriotic organizations and individuals include the National Rifle Association, Chick-Fil-A, the Republican Party, Fox News and Hobby Lobby. The least patriotic to conservatives are: CNN, The New York Times, NFL, Planned Parenthood, Target, Starbucks, Colin Kaepernick, Michael Moore, Rachel Maddow and Al Sharpton.

Liberals think the most patriotic institutions and people are the Democratic Party, Colin Kaepernick, the U.S. Supreme Court, Planned Parenthood, Michael Moore, The New York Times, and the NFL. The least patriotic to liberals are Chick-Fil-A, Fox News and Hobby Lobby.
No question, conservatives and liberals live in alternate universes, perceive alternate realities. Our icons are their objects of scorn or hatred, and vice versa. We have become each other’s enemy.

Given this, no one should be surprised that virtually everything done in Congress is entirely along party lines, with next-to-no crossover bipartisanship. “Crossing the aisle” is effectively treason.

As demographers have noted, we’re even moving apart geographically. I can’t think we’ve been this polarized since the mid-1850s.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Saturday Snickers

Saturday has rolled around again, meaning it is time to identify a few favorites from Steven Hayward's weekly collection of cartoons, posters, captioned photos and generalized snark, posted at Power Line.

Photo of Lone Starr and Princess Vespa from the Mel Brooks' film Spaceballs, captioned:
Star Wars Episode 8 Spoiler
Rey's Parents
Cartoon of a glum Garrison Keillor, wearing a tee shirt labeled "MEBEGON."

Poster with the following warning:
Breaking News:
Santa Claus Accused
Of Sexual 
Harassment For
Having Girls Sit On
His Lap And Asking
Them If They Are

Cartoon of a fierce biblical Moses, holding the Ten Commandments. His voice balloon says:
Of course, none of
these apply to the

A Branco cartoon in which Obama and the Democrat donkey point at Trump and Netanyahu who hold an Israeli flag in Jerusalem. The guys pointing yell "HITLER!" Branco's Trump looks like Christopher Walken with red hair.

Cartoon headed "Tax Cuts Explained." On left we see the GOP elephant saying, "You get to keep more of your money." On the right we see a more-than-normally-deranged Nancy Pelosi wearing a sandwich board labeled "The End Is Near" while she screams "This is Armageddon!"

Photo of a restaurant parking lot, where a sign proclaims:
Make America Great Again!
Photo of the NYC would-be suicide bomber from Bangladesh lying on the sidewalk where he ended up, captioned:
Help, I've fallen
And I can't blow up!
Finally, in lieu of the usual concluding photo of a swimsuit model holding an assault rifle, we have a cartoon of a very slinky lady wearing Princess Leia's costume and hairstyle from the first ever Star Wars film. She brandishes a broomhandle Mauser and leans against R2-D2.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Longmire, R.I.P.

The DrsC have been faithful watchers of the TV series Longmire, a sort of modern day cowboys and indians police procedural set in the imaginary Wyoming county of Absaroka. The title character, Walt Longmire, is the sheriff of a 'county' which is also home to a Shoshone reservation, and not far from a Crow reservation.

They filmed the exteriors for Longmire in Northern New Mexico, which was more picturesque than much of Wyoming. I'm thinking the imaginary Absaroka County, aka County 24, is located somewhere in the area between Greybull and Powell, although the show is careful not to pin it down.

We just finished the last two episodes; the series ended this fall after six seasons. You can view all of it on Netflix, although the first few seasons were originally broadcast on cable channel A&E and the last couple appeared only on Netflix.

We'll miss having new episodes next fall, and probably rewatch the old ones. In the high country, we take our mythic heroes seriously. It isn't unheard of to see a "Longmire for Sheriff" bumper sticker on a pickup at the market or hardware store.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Less Is Moore

Much is being written about the Moore loss in Alabama. Wishful-thinking Democrats will try to see it as the forefront of a wave promising good things for 2018. Republicans looking for a bright side will see a bullet dodged.

I’m inclined to think we see another unfortunate example of an oddball primary where a quite small segment of the electorate turns out in large numbers. Doing so, they nominate someone who doesn’t have a great chance of general election success. The Tea Party did this a couple of times with people who had to say they weren’t witches and otherwise suffered from foot-in-mouth.

There is definitely an Alabama constituency for Roy Moore’s defiant culture warrior stance, it just wasn’t a majority that would stick with him in the face of multiple allegations of harassment. A generic Republican with no baggage would have been elected easily, but that man didn’t win the low-turnout primary.

Tip O’Neill famously said “All politics is local,” which was, given his Boston blarney style, an exaggeration. Much is truly local, and quite a bit is not.

Today as I write this, men all over the country are reassessing whether they realistically have a future in politics, given certain half-remembered youthful indiscretions or courtship fails they’d rather stayed forgotten. For the next biennial cycle or two recruiting candidates will be more difficult for both parties, thanks to #MeToo.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


With the #MeToo movement lots of guys in positions of authority are being accused of sexual harassment, probably most of them deservedly. Then along comes an article at The Federalist by Denise C. McAllister who says, okay, but women like men to pay attention, to be attracted, and that makes sense to me too.

Taken together, it makes me wonder if sexual harassment doesn't generally occur when men whom women don't find attractive, are nevertheless attracted to those uninterested women. Is it in fact this mismatch which creates the harassment situation? That is, harassment happens when the wrong 'fish' takes the bait.

Then there's the reverse deal, when nobody shows interest. That doesn't do much for a woman's self-esteem. These are not new questions, one supposes Egyptian men and women struggled with them 5000 years ago along the Nile.

Weird Icthyological Science

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds provides a link to a Nature paper describing how two Swedish researchers (a) published a paper reporting research that showed tiny particles of waterborne plastic were harming fish, then (b) retracted the paper when questioned by other scientists, and now (c) have been found to have committed "misconduct in research" by Uppsala University where they work.
To settle the controversy, the university’s vice-chancellor, Eva Åkesson, subsequently handed over the case to the newly established Board for Investigation of Misconduct in Research at Uppsala University for further scrutiny.

In its decision, announced on 7 December, the board finds Lönnstedt guilty of having intentionally fabricated data; it alleges that Lönnstedt did not conduct the experiments during the period — and to the extent — described in the Science paper.
This is good for two reasons, it suggests the panic over plastic particles in the seas may be overdone, and it is good when crooked scientists are caught and hung out to dry.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

I first saw this film on a long flight, and found it intriguing. Then I bought a copy so I could show it to the other DrC. This done, it's time for a review, with spoilers.

Miss P is a fantasy film, I suppose, in the same sense that the Harry Potter films are. Start with several strange assumptions about "special" traits children might have that would cause them to be deemed "peculiar." A child who can start fires by touching something flammable with her hands, another who is lighter-than-air and must wear lead shoes to stay on the ground, kids who are preternaturally strong, or invisible, or so ugly as to cause convulsions in any viewer.

Now imagine that a group of adult peculiars who can shift "time" itself decide the safest life for peculiar kids is to not grow up but to live in the everlasting present of a perfect day, endlessly repeated. Whereas a group of peculiars who did mature have turned into bad hats who prey on the children.

Eva Green's Miss Peregrine is as quirky as Julie Andrews' Mary Poppins was, by turns stern and loving. The kids do a fine job, one hopes they won't have the disastrous adulthoods most child actors seem to grow into.

The trick with a film of this sort is to make you care about the kids, and about a budding romance between two of them, all in the midst of much strange and fantastic violence. Oddly enough, the film succeeds in doing just that. I think it fair to say we both enjoyed it, particularly on a second and third viewing. Enjoy.

Jones Defeats Moore, Narrowly

Fox News has called the special senatorial election in Alabama for Democrat Doug Jones, who very narrowly edged out controversial Republican Roy Moore. The margin was 49.9% to 48.4%.

I'm of two minds about this outcome. On the one hand, it will make passage of the tax revision and other GOP legislation more difficult in the coming months. On the other hand, when the 2018 election rolls around eleven months from now, Roy Moore will be ancient history instead of a gamy albatross hung around the party's neck.

So ... let's hope Moore's loss proves to be a blessing in disguise, instead of an unmitigated curse. As the guys at Power Line noted, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) is the big loser tonight as he will now have to go through with his promised resignation.

Organizations which spent good money to underwrite polls that predicted one or the other candidate would win by 8 or 10 points need to rethink doing so; very clearly those expensive polls made seriously faulty assumptions.

What Is Wrong

Blogging at Townhall, John Hawkins writes about why so many of us think things in Washington are just wrong.
Is our border secure? Are we balancing the budget? Are politicians being responsible with our money? Do we have great public schools? How good of a job are they doing with healthcare? Are they protecting Social Security and Medicare for future generations? Are we taking care of our soldiers at the VA? Is the government staying out of our business?

We live in a country run by politicians and bureaucrats who can’t do anything right and yet they think the solution to that problem is to give them even more power over our lives.
That is why it’s swamp-draining time.

Courage and Cunning

Writing for Asia Times, David P. Goldman who channels Spengler, assesses the Trump presidency to date and finds it good.
Economic growth is accelerating, stock prices are rising, and consumer confidence is soaring. The only distressed asset in the US market is conventional wisdom, which dismissed the former real-estate developer and reality TV star as a blundering amateur.

On the contrary, Trump evinces a shrewdness about American voters better than that of any politician of his generation. Even more importantly, he has the nerve to take risks in order to draw his opponents into battles that he thinks he can win. I can think of no politician with his combination of courage and cunning since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Ranking Trump with FDR is not faint praise. Many think Trump’s accomplishments to date have been largely accidental, Goldman believes otherwise.

Looking at Trump’s life accomplishments, I have to agree with Goldman. Trump is a classiic successful entrepreneur. He does more winning than he does losing, though not everything he attempts turns to gold.

Do people remember the fabulously successful late Steve Jobs was also associated with the failed NeXT computer start-up? Most entrepreneurs fail as well as succeed, if like Jobs they succeed eventually. Understand Trump in this context.

Polling 101

Alabama votes today for a senator to replace Jeff Sessions, who left the Senate to become Trump’s Attorney General. Polls trying to predict the outcome are all over the map, from showing a big edge for Democrat Doug Jones, as unlikely as that seems in bright red Alabama, to showing a big edge for Republican Roy Moore, who struggles with allegations he hit on underage girls as a young adult, 40 years ago.

Why all the disparity in polling? Number cruncher Nate Silver writes a long column at his FiveThirtyEight website, explaining the whys and wherefores of polling - how the various polls draw unrepresentative samples and what they try to do to adjust their data to more closely model the actual voting population.

All of this is very much the “inside baseball” of politics and, as such, not everyone’s cup of tea. On the other hand, if you read COTTonLINE regularly you may find the intricacies of politics interesting. If you do, you may enjoy Silver’s mini-lecture on the various polling methodologies and the shortcomings of each.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Unintended Consequences Keep Coming

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds also writes a weekly column for USA Today, his topic in March of last year was how the GOP establishment brought about the rowdy blue-collar Trump movement without meaning to do so. Reynolds' conclusion restates something we've noted before:
The tea party movement was smeared as racist, denounced as fascist, harassed with impunity by the IRS and generally treated with contempt by the political establishment — and by pundits like (David) Brooks, who declared "I'm not a fan of this movement." After handing the GOP big legislative victories in 2010 and 2014, it was largely betrayed by the Republicans in Congress, who broke their promises to shrink government and block Obama’s initiatives.

When politeness and orderliness are met with contempt and betrayal, do not be surprised if the response is something less polite, and less orderly. (snip) Trump’s ascendance is a symptom of a colossal failure among America’s political leaders, of which Brooks’ mean-spirited insularity is only a tiny part.
Believe it.

Trump Is Winning, HuffPost Is Sad

On Friday we shared a CBS piece saying Trump almost has momentum. Tonight we write to share a similar piece from HuffPost, another one of the routinely left-wing sites we normally avoid.

This article is by a black author, one Earl Ofari Hutchinson, who certainly isn't happy with what he's writing, as his title shows:
Sadly, Trump Is Winning
He finds three areas of particular significance:
One is the GOP. It can rail and curse at him publicly and privately, but it needs Trump. He is more than the titular head of the GOP. He is the point man for GOP policy and issues and, in a perverse way, the spur to get action on them.

The second front he’s winning on is the continuing love fest that his devout base has with him. (snip) That’s Republican voters. The overwhelming majority of whom back him.

The third winning front for Trump is his perennial ace in the hole: the media. He remains a ratings cash cow for the networks and makes stunning copy for the print media. (snip) He will continue to suck the media air out of everything that the Democrats do and try to do.
This last one is particularly ironic inasmuch as Trump bashes the old media every chance he gets, and yet they still write and broadcast almost exclusively about him. He's their obsession.

Echoes of the Past

I grew up in the Ojai Valley about a million years ago. The family moved there after World War II ended and before the Korean War began. I left to go to college and never lived there again.

Ojai isn't on most people's mental maps ... a blessing. If you've heard of Ojai, the reason might be a tennis tournament, or a music festival, or maybe because the connection the area had with the bionic man and bionic woman TV shows. It is pretty, or was before it burned.

These days Ojai lures in retired hippies and other arty folk. As a result of the Thomas fire in Ventura County, Ojai has been in the national news ... it seems so odd. For example, I picked up this off the website.

Palestinians Losing Clout

Conrad Black is a former press baron, a Canadian resident, a British Lord, and a frequent perceptive commenter on American politics. He often writes for Canada's National Post, which he once owned.

Today he revisits the conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories, in light of Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. First, he makes several interesting points.
This recent and contemporary bunk about Israel as an apartheid state is the last gasp of the useful idiots of primeval anti-Semitism. The Jews are the majority, unlike the Afrikaaners; the Arabs have substantial rights; and Israel was not just admitted to the United Nations as a territory and jurisdiction, like Canada and the United States and other existing countries in 1945 were, but was created by the United Nations as a Jewish state. It is the ultimate, legitimate country.

The agitation about Jerusalem as capital is nonsense — the Israeli Knesset and Supreme Court are there and Russia recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in April of this year, which makes their disapproval of Trump’s move this week a bit rich, even by the unvaryingly cynical standards of the Kremlin.
Then he concludes with some pointed advice for the Palestinians.
Donald Trump has recognized realities and done the Palestinians a favour, if they and their ancient terrorist leadership aren’t too punch-drunk to recognize the facts: the Palestinians were used and are no longer useful. Donald Trump is a realist and is not overly concerned with the American Jewish vote, which is now infested with Jew-hating Jews anyway. The Palestinians should take what they can get while they can get it.
Trump signaled to the Palestinians they’ve already turned down the best deal they’ll get from the U.S. The offers will continue to get less and less attractive the longer they stall.

If the U.S. never manages to settle the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, that’s an outcome it can live with, indefinitely. Can Palestine? Are they willing to live with a deteriorating status quo?

Will Palestinians choose to be a nation? If they do not or cannot, historians will eventually write about them as they do the Hittites or the Minoans, as a people who no longer exist.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Saturday Snickers

It's Saturday so Steven Hayward of Power Line has posted his week's collection of cartoons, captioned photos, and snark for our amusement. Herewith some favorites, described:

Before and after photos of Caitlyn and Bruce, side by side with this caption bridging the two:
Caitlyn Jenner came out today and said she was
groped by Bruce Jenner over a several year period....
Movie still of a pig-tailed Christina Ricci playing Wednesday Addams, glowering at us. It's captioned:
Here, I baked you that wedding cake,
just as your lawyers ordered me to.
Go ahead ... eat it 
Cartoon of a smiling young woman on the phone, placing an order. She says:
Hello, Islamic bakery?
I'd like to order a 
cartoon cake.
Yes, you have to.
And put some bacon in it. 
A factory-style safety poster, this one says:
President Trump
has been in
Office 320 days
With no death camps.
Where are the death camps?
Poster with the following statement:
I don't understand why people
say hurtful things like,
"Want to go for a run?"
"Try this kale." 

Fun Stuff, If True

A staple of mole hunting (aka counterintellingence) is planting misleading information differentiated so each suspect gets a slightly different example thereof. When the leaked material shows up in enemy hands, the mole hunters can determine which suspect leaked the (mis)information by determining which error it contains.

The happy warriors at Conservative Treehouse believe some (or all) of the stories CNN has recently broken, and then retracted as misleading, were the result of mole hunters closing in on a leak source among the so-called Gang of Eight.
The Gang of Eight holds oversight on every covert intelligence operation going on around the world. The Go8 oversee the NSA, CIA, FBI, DNI, and every single intelligence unit and operation. The Go8 are the only group with oversight on the CIA action from Presidential Finding Memos authorizing covert operations.
CTH guesses the leaker is Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), ranking minority member on the House Intelligence Committee. Since he works hard at being a jerk, it would be very sweet if it turns out they are correct and he can be busted for violating security. A perp walk would be a good look for Schiff.

On the other hand, John Hinderaker of Power Line is inclined to believe the leakers were Shiff's committee staff. Whichever, it's an ugly business.

Another Unintended Consequence

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds quotes a headline:
Congress Reeling from Sexual Harassment Deluge
He then appends a comment:
Prediction: the chief result will be fewer women hired. When every accusation is believed, and when an accusation can ruin a career, why run the risk?
Particularly in a setting where the likelihood of eventually having one or more disgruntled ex-employees is relatively large. File this as another entry in our Unintended Consequences series.

Not Alone, Merely the First

President Trump announces the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The usual suspects go nuts, announcing the end of the non-existent peace process.

Reading our media you’d get the distinct impression no other country had followed Trump’s lead. You’d be wrong.

Daniel P. Goldman, who channels Spengler at PJ Media, provides a list of other countries which have said they’ll follow Trump’s lead. That group includes Hungary, the Czech Republic, and the Philippines. One presumes others will follow.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Winners and Losers

Tom Bevan, co-founder of RealClearPolitics, takes a wander through recent polling data and mines some gems, including:
“In today’s economy, does everyone have a fair chance to get ahead” or is it “mainly just a few people at the top who have a chance to get ahead”? Seventy-seven percent of Republicans answered that “everyone has a fair chance,” while 76 percent of Democrats responded that “just a few at the top get ahead.” Independents were split, with 41 percent saying “everyone” and 55 percent saying “just a few.”
It is comforting to know one of the supposedly eternal verities still stands. Namely, that the GOP is the party of winners, the Democrats are the party of losers, and the independents are muddled.

Bevan manages to squeeze in some Star Wars polling trivia for fans, in honor of the new release - The Last Jedi - happening before Christmas, scroll down.

Almost Momentum

CBS News, than which it is difficult to be more mainstream, reluctantly reports President Trump is on a roll. First savor their headline:
President Trump starts to rack up wins
There follows a list of his recent accomplishments and the troubles experienced by his opponents. This starts with the tax code changes, and including the troubles Mueller’s hit squad is having with revelations of bias. Finally, enjoy their conclusion:
Right now, Trump is having a good moment, and is heading into the holidays with something that almost resembles momentum.
Do you have any idea the heartburn that conclusion must be creating at CBS, home of 60 Minutes? The picturesque comparison would be “napalm.”

In honor of the Christmas season I’m imagining a carol (to the tune of “Oh, Tannenbaum”) which begins “Oh, schadenfreude, oh, schadenfreude, how lovely are your examples.”


Census Bureau data reported by shows what is wrong with our national government.
The five richest counties in the United States when measured by median household income are all suburbs of Washington, D.C., according to the American Community Survey data released today by the Census Bureau.
Here is proof, if any was needed, that our Federal government is too large, employs too many people, and pays them too much for accomplishing too little. Who should we blame for enlarging and enriching the DC swamp? Democrats in general, and quite a few establishment Republicans.

Not all of the salaries are governmental, of course. Some percentage are lobbyists and other, assorted hangers-on, their muzzles directly or indirectly in the FedGov feed trough.

President Trump, you have our mandate to get on with draining the DC swamp. By not filling many superfluous appointive positions, you’ve made a heck of a good start.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

FBI Taken to Woodshed

John Hinderaker of Power Line has posted on Youtube seven minutes of Fox News video of Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) interrogating FBI Director Christopher Wray before the House Judiciary Committee. That video is entirely worth your time and effort to watch and listen to, it's a definite must watch.

Jordan skewers Wray, who bobs and dodges. Jordan also builds a tough case against former Counterintelligence head Peter Strzok.

The FBI isn't looking good these days, not a bit. They sold out to the deep state and are frantic not to admit it.

Pearl Harbor Day

Each year on December 7 we write in remembrance of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor carried out by the Empire of Japan 76 years ago today. For us, the day continues to, in FDR's memorable phrase, "live in infamy."

Thousands died, many more were wounded, several large ships sank, and in the war that followed, Japan committed many atrocities, including the Bataan Death March and the rape of Nanking. To this day Japan has few friends in Asia.

Never forget what happened or who was responsible.

Karma Time

Ronald Brownstein writes on politics for The Atlantic. Today he describes a trend he perceives in recent GOP-driven legislation, most particularly in the tax code revisions passed by both houses and headed for a conference committee.
The biggest losers in the plans are the constituencies of the Democrats who universally opposed them. It’s not just redistribution: The tax bills are also grounded in retribution.
Quoting a former governor of Alaska, "You betcha!" For eight years the Obama administration ignored the interests of Red State middle America. Now we have the ball and are moving it in a direction that ignores the interests of Blue States. It's karma.

Those who sow the wind should expect to reap the whirlwind. Odd how they're always surprised when it happens.

Sacking* the Senator

It is easy to write off the Washington Post as irretrievably biased, and yet, sometimes they do something quite even-handed. We have at hand an example of the latter sort, concerning the (bad) neighborly atttack on Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

The author seems to have made a good faith effort to understand what moved the neighbor to blind-side Paul, knocking him to the ground and breaking 6 ribs. The two physician neighbors had marginally different standards of yard maintenance, though nobody seems to believe these reached anywhere near the level of fisticuffs. Their politics were quite different, but probably not the issue.

Paul is a prickly iconoclast and, as such, easy to dislike as he willfully goes his own way on many issues before the Senate. It is easy to imagine having a committed libertarian as a neighbor might be challenging.

On the other hand, the much less well-known neighbor who attacked him is shown to have been in a slow-motion spiral of emotional deterioration as his life fell apart bit by bit. Neighbor Rene Boucher’s life gradually became less and less the tidy affair his OCD-like proclivities would have preferred. A long-time marriage gone south, grown children moved out of state, hassles with other neighbors, and attempts to sell his home falling through with potential home buyers sued.

Reading between the lines you see the picture of a control freak losing control gradually until he snapped. Not wishing to be sued, author Justin Jouvenal allows us to draw that conclusion from likely accurate data points he’s unearthed.

*Used here in the football sense.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Weird Psychological Science

Scientific American reports a survey of Mensa members (limited to those who score high on IQ tests) asking about their physical and mental health. The original research was reported in the scientific journal Intelligence. The key finding:
The biggest differences between the Mensa group and the general population were seen for mood disorders and anxiety disorders. More than a quarter (26.7%) of the sample reported that they had been formally diagnosed with a mood disorder, while 20% reported an anxiety disorder—far higher than the national averages of around 10% for each. The differences were smaller, but still statistically significant and practically meaningful, for most of the other disorders. The prevalence of environmental allergies was triple the national average (33% vs. 11%).
However, SA drops the other shoe, and more power to them for doing so.
It’s also possible that people who join Mensa differ from other people in ways other than just IQ. For example, people preoccupied with intellectual pursuits may spend less time than the average person on physical exercise and social interaction, both of which have been shown to have broad benefits for psychological and physical health.
Or my favorite explanation of the findings: it's screwed up bright people who join Mensa. Healthy smarties are too busy living and loving to hang with a Big, Bang Theory crowd of the psychological walking wounded. Instead of "Superior IQs associated with mental and physical disorders" the subtitle should be "Mensa membership associated with mental and physical disorders."

Weird Agricultural Science

Popular Mechanics asks the question, "Is it okay to pee on your lawn?" The answer is simplicity itself, diluted with two parts water to one part pee, it is an excellent fertilizer. Here's the money quote:
There is certainly no need for a suburban family to ever buy any fertilizer. Diluted urine grows wonderful vegetables.
Fail to dilute, however, and you'll burn the grass or whatever. Uncut pee is too strong, too salty. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

A Snowflake Response to Labeling

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports the results of a study done by the British insurance firm Aviva, which surveyed in excess of 2000 young Brits in the 16-24 age group about being labeled "snowflakes."
Almost three quarters of 16-24 year olds surveyed believe the moniker is unfair and are adamant it could negatively affect their mental health.
Okay, I'm prepared to believe it could be unfair, until I read further and see that they believe being called that name "could negatively affect their mental health." They just proved the accuracy of the label out of their own mouths.

Believing being called a disparaging name can negatively affect ones mental health is the absolute essence of being a snowflake. It's saying I may be too fragile to survive in the occasionally abrasive world.

Oh, boo-hoo! Honestly, I despair of our species' future. Hat tip to for the link.

Later ... it is being reported that William Shatner, of Star Trek fame, has suggested an alternate name for these sensitive youngsters: "delicate flowers." Tell me children, do you prefer the label "delicate flowers?" How about "sensitive souls" or "fragile spirits"?


It is widely reported that President Trump will soon move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the city Israel says is its capital: Jerusalem. The usual suspects are gnashing teeth and wailing that this will doom efforts to create a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Pardon me, has there been any movement on this eminently practical solution since 1948? There hasn't? That's what I thought, too. So exactly what is it that we're giving up?

For complicated reasons, no Palestinian government can agree to a two-state solution. It isn't something Israel can implement alone.

Watch for an announcement later today, the actual physical move may take much longer.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Weird Dietary Science

The Telegraph (U.K.) reports research results from Australia, with an interesting and counterintuitive finding. Professor Felice Jacka, who led the research at Deakin University, Victoria, is quoted as saying:
We had originally thought that red meat might not be good for mental health but it turns out that it actually may be quite important.

When we looked at women consuming less than the recommended amount of red meat in our study, we found that they were twice as likely to have a diagnosed depressive or anxiety disorder as those consuming the recommended amount.

Even when we took into account the overall healthiness of the women's diets, as well as other factors such as their socioeconomic status, physical activity levels, smoking, weight and age, the relationship between low red meat intake and mental health remained.
I'd urge caution in interpreting these findings. While diet may influence mood, as the article seems to suggest, it is also possible that mood influences diet. It's a chicken and egg problem.

Depressed women may avoid red meat because their depression makes them more anxious about their health. Red meat has a (mostly unearned) bad reputation among the health conscious. Hat tip to Instapundit Glenn Reynolds for the link.

The Dirtiest Cop in America?

RealClearPolitics has a transcript of Fox News' Tucker Carlson interviewing Joe DiGenova, former US Attorney for the District of Columbia. Asked about the FBI's troubles and former Director James Comey, DiGenova replied.
I think the FBI is in very serious trouble. It started with James Comey. Comey, the dirtiest cop in America, destroyed the FBI's reputation with his bizarre personal behavior, beginning way before his July 5th news conference. The bureau is in trouble. It needs a major overhaul, and if it continues to resist Congress, I believe the contempt of Congress for the current director and other people in the agency is absolutely justified.
Um, yeah ... I guess so. I hate to think DiGenova's correct, but the Bureau's troubles are palpable out in flyover country.

Bye-ku for Conyers

CBS News reports embattled Representative John Conyers (D-MI) has announced his retirement, effectively immediately. Conyers stands accused of sexual harassment by several women.

As is our custom, we present a bye-ku to commemorate his exit, with h/t to James Taranto, the form’s popularizer.

Farewell John Conyers,
To that good night go gentle,
Elderly lecher.

A GOP Epiphany: Why Not Tax the Rich?

Writing in The Washington Examiner Stephen Moore asks a question I’ve been waiting for someone with access to Republican ink to ask:
Democrats are now the party of the rich — so why not tax the rich?
The rich have become the guilty virtue-signalers, the agressive globalizers, the enemies of American workers, those whom open borders actually help. The rich have benefitted hugely from Democrat policies which harmed the American middle class, Their wealth insulates them from the downsides of Democrat policies with which the rest of us cope daily.

As the key beneficiaries and supporters of Democrat goals, they should pay the price of their selfishness.  And yes, these sweeping generalizations don’t apply to every wealthy individual, exceptions (c.f., the Kochs, Adelson) are both noted and appreciated.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Conflict of Interest at FBI

Various news outlets are reporting that Peter Strzok, FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Counterintelligence, was let go by the Mueller investigation for sending a colleague (and lover) emails outlining his disrespect for President Trump. Strzok is the same fellow who interviewed National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, catching him lying.

He also intervened to weaken the language in Director Comey's statement condemning Hillary Clinton's shoddy email practices. Taken together, these things make him a sort of all-purpose Democrat operative who coincidentally carries an FBI badge and supervises other agents.

What in the world has happened to professionalism in the Bureau? Founding Director Hoover must be rolling over in his grave.

A Never-Trumper Recants

Rich Lowry is a long-time conservative activist and current editor of National Review. He has also been a bitter never-Trumper and, in the latest NR issue, he finally “gets” Trump. It is as close to an apology as he’ll likely come, and honestly it is close enough.
There is a meme used by anti-Trump conservatives on Twitter. Whenever Trump steps in it, they tweet the words “But Gorsuch.” It is meant to mock Trump loyalists who hold out Gorsuch’s nomination as a Trump accomplishment that overshadows any of his failings.

But I’ve never quite understood why anti-Trump conservatives would be so slighting about Gorsuch. He will presumably be a bulwark of the Constitution long after Trump has departed the White House.

It’s simply not true that all we have to show from the Trump administration is Gorsuch.
He follows this with a decent, if incomplete, list of Trump’s accomplishments in office in less than a year. And Lowry concludes:
Trump has governed so far as more of a Republican and conservative than I expected.
Not exactly an apology, but close enough for government work. Welcome home, Rich. We’ve all made mistakes; it appears we agree the key thing is to recognize and learn from them and move on.

I’ll grant you some of the WWE/show biz aspects of Trumpism are undignified and a tad embarrassing. Misquoting a line from Casablanca, “We’ll always have Reagan.”