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

Musings

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 Lucianne.com 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 
Mohammad
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?"
or
"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.”

Hypertrophy

Census Bureau data reported by CNSNews.com 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 Lucianne.com 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"?

Symbolism

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.”

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Who watches the watchmen, who polices the police? It's a serious question asked by the Roman satirist Juvenal.

The Washington Examiner quotes a Tweet by Matt Drudge, founder of the Drudge Report, on the subject of odd doings at the FBI. Drudge is reported to have Tweeted:
We know what happens when one lies to the FBI. But what is the punishment when the FBI lies to us?
Or simply refuses to respond to legitimate Congressional inquiries? We may learn the answer to those conundrums sometime in the next two years.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Exodus

Consider this another chapter in COTTonLINE's continuing series on the decline (and eventual fall?) of California, the once-Golden State. The Los Angeles Times has an article containing a half dozen mini case studies of educated young people who've left SoCal and moved to Las Vegas and elsewhere for economic reasons.

The basic issue: housing costs - outrageous home prices and exorbitant rents. The alternative being up to a 2 hour each way commute from an area with lower prices. None of these conditions apply in Nevada.

An indifferently maintained 1200 sq, ft. CA bungalow with 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, built 70 years ago might sell for half a million, depending on location. Scarcity creates apparent value - brutal conditions and ridiculous prices the result of nimby regulations and punitive fees on new construction.

When my father's people moved to SoCal before World War One, it must have been glorious. I wish I could have seen it. I really dislike the greater Los Angeles of today and avoid it whenever possible. San Francisco is no better. High population density is a bitch.

Later ... California reporter extraordinaire Dan Walters writes in San Jose's Mercury News that Federal data shows the state may already have set foot down the slippery slope of its next recession, one somewhat overdue by historical standards. When it arrives a recession is likely to raise anew many questions about whether CA's blue state high tax model is long-term viable.

The Last Thing ...

Read what Harvard Law prof emeritus Alan M. Dershowitz has to say about Special Prosecutor Mueller charging former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn with lying to FBI agents. His article appears in The Hill.
The second question is why did Mueller charge Flynn only with lying? The last thing a prosecutor ever wants to do is to charge a key witness with lying.

A witness such as Flynn who has admitted he lied — whether or not to cover up a crime — is a tainted witness who is unlikely to be believed by jurors who know he’s made a deal to protect himself and his son. They will suspect that he is not only “singing for his supper” but that he may be “composing” as well — that is, telling the prosecutor what he wants to hear, even if it is exaggerated or flat-out false.
You can be certain the legal team for anyone against whom Flynn testafies will makes those suspicions explicit in summation. Dershowitz concludes the lying plea reflects weakness, not strength.

Favoring Economic Growth

There is a lot of lying going on concerning the tax revisions being enacted by a Republican Congress. You will undoubtedly read that it will raise taxes on the middle class, and it may. What hardly anybody will tell you is this, from RealClearPolitics:
America is a dynamic country. A year from now, after tax reform passes, many unemployed people will be working again for the first time in a long time. Guess what? They will be paying higher taxes. Than zero. Putting people back to work does that.
Wouldn’t we (and they) rather they were at work, paying taxes for a change? Damn straight, everybody wins when that happens.

Having jobs may even slow the opiod crisis. Employed people aren’t sitting around feeling sorry for themselves, concentrating on their every ache and pain. “Productively busy” is how people function best.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Tillerson ... Safe for Now?

After The New York Times article we cited earlier, which reported Rex Tillerson was on the skids as SecState, there have been further developments. President Trump has essentially denied the accuracy of that article, labeling it with his favored term "Fake News."

Lead author Peter Baker, while liberal as most of his NYT colleagues, is no rumor-monger. He believed he had good reason to write what he wrote, had at least two independent sources at a guess. So let's explore what may have gone wrong.

It is very clear the President and the SecState have held different views from time to time, no question about that. Trump underlings in the White House may have planned a SecState succession assuming quite reasonably the boss found these differences more irritating than he actually does.

Alternatively, the whole thing may have been planting a leak as a way to send Tillerson a message to shape up and get "on message" or resign. If Rex told POTUS "message received," maybe he really is in no immediate jeopardy. In that case Baker was used, and is probably furious with his "sources."

Or it may be that the notoriously touchy Trump truly was planning to dump Tillerson. Hating having his surprise leaked, he changed his mind just to muddy the waters and destroy the leakers' reputations as WH sources.

Tillerson had better hope this last wasn't the case. Trump can change his mind about personnel matters rather quickly; ask Gen. Flynn whose tenure as National Security Advisor lasted just 25 days!

Unlike government, business moves quickly to solve personnel problems. At NBC Matt Lauer went from $30 million man to unperson in less than a week. Trump does it “business style” when he can.

The Stealth Library Cat

How about something light-hearted for a change? Fox News has the story of Max, the Library Cat. He's a big, ginger cat who likes to sneak into the Macalester College library in St. Paul. The story has photos and considerable charm.

The librarians perhaps should put some live traps out to see if they, perchance, have been infiltrated by a few mice or even, horrors, rats. There is a good chance Max smells some elusive little furry prey lurking in the stacks.

I'm sure ts eliot didn't include Max in his practical cats compendium, clearly he should have done.

Saturday Snark

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds cracks wise about the Roy Moore special senate election about to happen in Alabama. Given the allegations of Moore’s youthful indescretions with gals....
If Alabama sends Roy Moore to the Senate, I think it will be for the same reason Caligula sent a horse: As a gesture of contempt.
Maybe ... or perhaps “lesser of two evils” is understood in AL as it is elsewhere.

Understanding the Mueller Witch Hunt

The attorneys who blog at Power Line provide a link to a National Review article by former Federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy. In it, McCarthy lays out the underlying rationale of the Mueller “investigation.” Key quotes:
We’re in the wooly realm of counterintelligence, where anything goes. And in the event our aggressive prosecutor can’t find any crimes — which would be no surprise, since the investigation was not triggered by a crime — no matter: The special counsel is encouraged to manufacture crimes through the investigative process. Misleading assertions by non-suspects made to investigators probing non-crimes can be charged as felony false statements.

The end game of the investigation is the removal of Donald Trump from the presidency, either by impeachment (which does not require proof of a court-prosecutable crime) or by publicly discrediting Trump to such a degree that his reelection becomes politically impossible. The latter can be accomplished by projecting the appearance of a critical investigation (notwithstanding that there is no underlying crime), turning administration officials into suspects, and hopefully generating the false-statement prosecutions that help depict the administration as dishonest and icky.

While all that plays out, though, behold the frightening thing Mueller’s investigation has become: a criminalization of politics. In the new order of things, policy differences are the grist for investigation and prosecution.
These are very third world, banana republic goings-on. Clearly a parting gift from the less-than-fully-American Obama administration.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Flynn Plea

I've been scanning pundit reactions to the Michael Flynn guilty plea. I've concluded that doing so you learn more about the pundit than about the plea.

The Flynn plea is a sort of litmus test, if you despise Trump you believe it is the beginning of Trump's end. If you like Trump, you say (probably accurately) Flynn has pled guilty to the same lying for which he was fired shortly after the inauguration and amounts to little.

Several attorneys writing about the Flynn plea say he lied about behavior that was not itself illegal. I am puzzled why he should lie about doing lawful things.

I am even more puzzled about why he had anything to say to the FBI beyond his name, address, and date of birth. The fifth amendment to our Constitution protects against self-incrimination, had he merely "taken the fifth" he would be a free man today.

Free, that is, unless he was already provably "dirty" and they've decided not to charge him for really bad things he did in exchange for him rolling on his former boss. Possible, yes, but breath holding is not yet suggested.

Later ... this latter possibility begins to look more likely in the cold, grey light of dawn.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

When Not to Trust Science

The website Quillette carries an article concerning the willingness of scientists to self-censor, to suppress socially undesirable lines of inquiry or unpopular findings.
When a topic is politically contentious, and there is some risk to our reputation or career from endorsing a view, we may hang back and fail to either form a belief on that topic or publicly proclaim our allegiance to that belief.

The logic of collective action is that when the costs of expressing a belief are borne by the individual, but the benefits are shared among all members of an epistemic community, it is perfectly rational to fail to reveal our beliefs about that topic, no matter how justified they might be.

The case for deferring to scientific consensus on politically contentious topics is much weaker. This is true because what scientists publicly say may differ from what they privately believe. (snip) Some of the research that bears on a topic might not get done due to the fact that those who authorize or accept funding for it might incur reputational costs for working on a topic that is likely to produce results that most people don’t want to believe.
Let me share with you an example I know from roughly a half century ago at UC Berkeley. A friend who died recently was a psychology doctoral student there employed doing research the express aim of which was to demonstrate that various racial groups have essentially equal distributions of intelligence or IQ.

It was hoped to show that differences found heretofore were the result of cultural or linguistic differences. The researchers had a measure which appeared to be pre-linguistic and culture-free; they examined hundreds of preschoolers from all major racial groups in daycare in the Bay Area.

Sadly, their data showed exactly the same politically incorrect significant differences normally found with regular IQ tests taken by adults. Their disappointing study findings were never submitted for publication.

The data set was thrown away because socially desirable results were not produced. Wasting several years and hundreds of thousands of dollars was deemed preferable to being tarred with a "racist" label. The commitment of scientists to truth is somewhat less than total, it turns out.

Reigning in Hell

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds is on a roll today, check out his description of the lefty leadership of most of our large cities.
As the trajectory of many big cities has shown, their leaders would rather reign in Hell than serve in Heaven. So I don’t expect these policies to change from within. And I think creating “conditions peculiarly ideal for left-wing agitation,” is seen as a feature, not a bug.
I’m thinking Rahm Emanuel has found being Chicago’s mayor largely a reign in Hell. Sort of like being Admiral of the sewage lagoon. Can he possibly enjoy it?

Targets of Opportunity

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds writes something snarky, true, and laden with schadenfreude, making it a trifecta. His subject, the #MeToo unloading on male mashers.
As for where this came from all of a sudden, I think the deliberate effort to weaponize female anger — before, and especially after, the 2016 election — had a lot to do with it. It was aimed at Trump, but since Trump seems immune, it discharged into whatever targets were available. And the targets around Democratic women are mostly Democratic men.
Targets of opportunity ... ya gotta love the irony. They’re shooting the wounded.

Bye-ku for Rex

With h/t to popularizer James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal, we offer a bye-ku to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. As noted below, the NYT is reporting he’s on the way out.

‘Bye Rex Tillerson,
A Trump homie you were not,
Retirement beckons.

A day later ... Peter Baker of NYT is usually plugged into good sources, but nobody at the WH or State will confirm. Perhaps Baker was used to send Tillerson a message that Trump doesn't want him deviating from the WH line, reminding him of the choice in the minilecture below.

Tillerson on Skids

The New York Times’ Peter Baker reports White House plans are underway to accept SecState Tillerson’s resignation sometime early next year, and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. If Baker’s intelligence is on the level, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR, no relation) will then take over the CIA directorship.

For those of us who’ve been paying attention, Tillerson and the President have often seemed to be of different opinions on important foreign affairs matters. This suggests Tillerson really doesn’t understand the SecState role.

PolySci Minilecture: In the executive branch, the President is the CEO, cabinet secretaries are his principal subordinates. They exist to manage their department and carry out the President’s policies. They have a right to be listened to, but no right to make policy with which the President disagrees. As in industry, a principal subordinate who disagrees with the boss has exactly two choices: enthusiastically advocate and implement presidential policy regardless of personal opinion, or resign.

One way or another, it appears we see this second option ripening, which suggests option one has become unpalatable. Perhaps Tillerson thought he could do it, maybe he was misled as to how much weight his opinions would be given. Honestly, it isn’t easy for a former CEO like Tillerson to be comfortable as second banana, especially to a flamboyant and opinionated boss like Trump.

Climate Models Overestimate Warming

The Daily Caller reports research findings showing global climate relatively stable, climate models overly sensitive.
University of Alabama-Huntsville climate scientists John Christy and Richard McNider found that by removing the climate effects of volcanic eruptions early on in the satellite temperature record it showed virtually no change in the rate of warming since the early 1990s.

Two major volcanoes — El Chichon in 1982 and Pinatubo in 1991 — caused global average temperature to dip as a result of volcanic ash, soot and debris reflecting sunlight back into space.

Those eruptions meant there was more subsequent warming in the following years, making the rate of warming appear to be rising as a result of man-made emissions or other factors, Christy said.

“Those eruptions happened relatively early in our study period, which pushed down temperatures in the first part of the dataset, which caused the overall record to show an exaggerated warming trend,” Christy said.
Not just a correction, but one that helps explain why earlier models have been overly sensitive.

You Are What You Drive

Due diligence: I love my F-350 4WD diesel pickup truck. It’s the most comfortable, practical, powerful and newest of the three motor vehicles we own. And it barely fits in our oversize garage.

The New York Post reports Stanford University research which shows a correlation between what you drive and how you vote. I don’t find this conclusion surprising at all.
When sedans outnumbered pickup trucks, there was an 88 percent chance the city would vote Democratic.

In areas with more pickup trucks, the odds switched to 82 percent in favor of Republicans, the researchers concluded.
The DrsC have joked about this for years. We’ve felt we could tell the politics of a region by whether parking spaces are big enough to accomodate full-sized pickups comfortably.

Classically, at our CA university the parking spaces were always too tight. Exactly what you’d expect in a hive of brie-eating, bicycle-loving socialists.

By contrast in WY, no problemo. WY has lots of room for pickups which are the modal vehicle and has lots of Republicans too. In some WY districts, Democrats don’t waste time fielding candidates for state legislator.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Bootleg Environmental Management

Lucianne.com has a link to a Smithsonian article about creative things occupants do to foil energy-saving features of supposedly "green" new buildings. Such buildings, the article notes, almost never produce the expected energy savings.

The article doesn't mention my favorite - having a small, portable electric heater hidden in a desk drawer or the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet. It was perfect for when the building didn't stay comfortably warm in winter as the thermostats in our university offices were designed so we couldn't adjust them.

For years I had a small heater in my office, a thing not technically permitted. The only person likely to see and report it was the night janitor so I put it away when I went home.

Mine certainly wasn't the only one. There were likely a dozen or more in my building alone, one of a score of such buildings. Many offices, including mine, also housed a small refrigerator and a microwave. We couldn't hide these but nobody complained and I had cold soda or hot soup as needed.

We Oversexed Anthropoids

Take the news this morning that NBC has fired Matt Lauer, co-host of the Today Show. Add the cascade of #MeToo revelations that began with Harvey Weinstein, the harassment on Capitol Hill and the problems Roman Catholics have had with pedophilic priestly misbehavior.

Splice on Bill Clinton’s zipper malfunctions and the fact in some demographics most children are born out of wedlock. Don’t overlook the untold numbers of babies we kill each year, euphemistically calling it “choice.”

The poor job we humans do of managing our reproductive (and associated recreational) behavior is stunning. Men abuse women and other men, women abuse men and other women, both abuse children and the aged. Even animals occasionally gain our unwanted attention. And yet, because of, or in spite of, all the activity, many have needs unmet or are scarred in the attempt.

It is altogether not a pretty picture. The scope of the collective problem is enormous. Our efforts at even a partial solution seem insignificant by comparison. I don’t expect answers anytime soon, perhaps not in the lifetime of any of us, perhaps never.

You have to wonder if unbridled, freeform horniness is the price we humans must pay to keep our species extant. It seems likely.

Later ... breaking news ... Minnesota Public Radio has announced they've fired long-time Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor for "inappropriate behavior." What other icons are about to crumble, one wonders?

I conclude folks in show biz and politics are even worse than my late father claimed. He swore they were nearly all low-life pond scum.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Insight

The New York Daily News reports an interview Denzel Washington gave while promoting his new film Roman J. Israel, Esq. Asked about the justice system, he replied:
It starts at home. It starts with how you raise your children. If a young man doesn’t have a father figure, he’ll go find a father figure. So you know I can’t blame the system. It’s unfortunate that we make such easy work for them.
The mirror is not a popular place to look for the source of one's problems. Often the right place, but almost never popular.

Cokie's Kerfuffle

Many sources are reporting ABC News/NPR analyst Cokie Roberts said on This Week it was well-known among Washington news gals not to get in an elevator with Rep. Conyers (D-MI).

Instead of taking others' word for what Roberts said, here is what actually went down, from the program transcript. We begin with host Martha Raddatz:
And what about Conyers and Franken? Nothing's happened since. What happens to them?
This is followed by quite a bit of back and forth cynical comment by panelists Palmer, Klein, and Roberts about the relaxed culture of Congress vis-a-vis sexual harassment, with no names mentioned. Then Roberts says:
Don't get in the elevator with him, you know, and the whole every female in the press corps knew that, right, don't get in elevator with him. Now people are saying it out loud. And I think that does make a difference.
It isn't clear if Roberts speaks about Conyers specifically, or about any number of dirty old men in Congress. You could conclude either. My guess is she meant Conyers, but now regrets her candor.

I wouldn't necessarily take Roberts' word for her intent, after she's had an opportunity to reflect on the non-PC impact of her words. She hasn't kept a decades-long relationship with left-wing NPR by being tough on Democrats.

Bye-ku for Gutierrez

With a hat tip to its popularizer - The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto - herewith a bye-ku for Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), defender of illegal immigrants. This haiku of farewell is for Gutierrez who has announced he will not run for reelection.

Adios, Luis,
Hasta la vista, baby,
You will not be miss’d.

And a second hat tip, this one to The Ahnold, noted phrase-maker in his iconic Terminator role.

Quote of the Day

Kurt Schlichter, who blogs at Townhall, has holiday season advice for fellow conservatives whom he labels the "real Americans."
The left hates you. Act accordingly.
SecDef and former Marine Gen. James Mattis, paraphrasing the Roman general and statesman Sulla, urged his troops to earn this reputation:
No better friend, no worse enemy.
Like Gen. Mattis, I believe reciprocity makes sense.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Meaning of a Moore Win

Scott Rasmussen started in politics as an innovative pollster, sold that firm and now writes political opinion, here for RealClearPolitics. His topic today - the wider meaning of a Roy Moore win in Alabama's special senatorial election, should it happen.
First, it would indicate that the Democrats have no realistic chance of winning anywhere in the South.

Second, a Moore victory would be further proof of how little credibility the national media has outside of the political class.

Third, it would also show the complete rejection of the Republican establishment in Washington.
Think McConnell and Ryan.
But the deeper implications of a Moore victory, however, would be to again show that voters grade politicians on an ethical curve. No matter what the offense, voters assume that others in office have done the same or worse.
Think Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy.
Donald Trump won 87 percent of the evangelical vote. It's not that evangelical voters approved of President Trump's lifestyle or thought he was one of them. Instead, they recognized that one of the most important tasks of a president was to appoint people to the Supreme Court. Many evangelicals believe that Hillary Clinton would appoint Justices hostile to religious liberty.
Is there any doubt of that?
For many Alabama voters, electing Moore may be seen as a lesser evil than giving Democrats control of the U.S. Senate.
Analysis: Almost certainly true, while understandably offensive to feminists.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Snark City

Twitchy echoes a Tweet by conservative firebrand Ann Coulter concerning Senator Al Franken (D-MN). She deals with his photographically documented proclivity for grabbing a woman's booty and his refusal (so far) to resign. Coulter writes:
Al Franken insists he will hold onto his seat.
Holding onto seats would appear to be his specialty.
Mr. Percussionist, that characterization calls for a rimshot.

Keeping Good Company

I was reading a CNN article about how we can’t stop watching President Trump, whether we like him or not. It is essentially true, and very useful to him.

He shares a trait with FDR, Jack Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill and Fidel Castro - he knows his audience and knows how to use media to reach them and to keep his name front and center in their collective consciousness. Current slang might say he is living rent-free in everyone’s head.

We called Reagan “a great communicator” and I think we’re well on our way to hanging that label around The Donald’s neck. Dilbert creator Scott Adams has been trumpeting this line for months and, so far, he has been on the money.

A telling point was the reporting that Trump would ask to view a replay of any televised interview he gave or speech he made. He would do so with the sound turned off.

In other words, Trump must believe what he says is less important than how he looks while saying it. At least where the use of media is concerned, Trump is playing 3 dimensional chess.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Workamping Defended

The Los Angeles Times reviews a book about the so-called Airstream lifestyle of RVing. It uses that review as a springboard to a discussion of people living full-time in RVs of various descriptions - mostly not Airstreams.

The biases of author Ellie Robins become clear immediately as she unloads on the perfidy of RV marketing folks. She finds little to admire in full-time RVing, whereas I write to take exception to certain of her sweeping generalizations.

She criticizes "workamping" which is often working 20 hours a week in return for a free place to park your RV plus utilities which RVers call "hookups." N.B., To RVers, hookups refer to water, electricity, sewer and sometimes cable TV connections, not to casual sex.

Please be clear, which author Robins apparently is not, workamping isn't meant to be a full-time income to support a person or a couple. It is relatively low skill work and pays not much.

Workamping is meant to supplement a retirement income and provide structure to fill some part of a retiree's days. It is especially useful for people who never developed hobbies, who can't think what to do with themselves all day long without a job to go to.

Workamping replaces the pre-retirement workplace as a source of human contact - it's a place to go, people with whom to talk, and a reason to get out of bed and get going. For those using it for its intended purpose - for retirees who own an RV - it works fine and takes much of the sting out of paying for a place to live.

Workampers I've known have mowed lawns, raked leaves, registered campers, inspected watercraft, clerked in stores, emptied trash, cleaned restrooms, and kept an eye on things. I knew one whose job was exterminating a plague of ground squirrels - cute little guys but very destructive to landscaping.

The DrsC have never workamped but have talked to a number of folks who've loved it. It isn't intended to be a living wage; those who try to make it so are one catastrophic financial event (a blown transmission, for example) or health emergency away from homelessness, as the article points out.

For the at-loose-ends RV-owning senior with some retirement income plus Social Security, and Medicare, workamping is great for the healthy years between the end of a career and the onset of physical and/or mental frailty at the end of life. That's all it ever pretended to be.

Most happy workampers like "having something to do" as they've spent a life being busy. They honestly are not prepared to productively use the idleness that, for example, has enabled me to research and write this blog for the last 11 years, an obvious labor of love.

Truths Better Left Unspoken

Merriam Webster defines a gaffe as either "a social or diplomatic blunder" or "a noticeable mistake." Wikipedia adds the refinement of a "Kinsley gaffe," named for political journalist Michael Kinsley," defined as "some truth that a politician did not intend to admit." That is, speaking an unpalatable truth.

The Guardian (U.K.) has a story about a coffee shop in Denver which made a doozy of this latter form of gaffe on a sandwich-board outside its door. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.
The Colorado coffeehouse chain ink! became a lightning rod for economic ire on Wednesday, after one of its Denver stores displayed a message on its sidewalk sandwich-board that read: “Happily Gentrifying The Neighborhood Since 2014.”
What made this a Kinsley-type gaffe is their traditionally black neighborhood actually has been gentrifying over the last few years. The coffee shop is likely both a force for, and a result of, whites moving in, rents going up, and minorities being priced out.

Gentrification was tolerable as long as nobody let on. Bragging about it was the PR disaster. Blacks don't like that it's intentional, virtue signalling whites don't want it said they're injuring the less fortunate ... a lose-lose gaffe.

Weird Metabolic Science

USA Today reports preliminary University of Michigan research results indicating the active ingredient in cinnamon - cinnamaldehyde - may be used to speed up human metabolism. It could thus help with weight loss.

Just thinking about it makes me hungry. My cynical side wonders if Cinnabon® paid for the research.

Is it too good to be true? The effect apparently has been shown to work in mice. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Birds of a Feather ...

About the impacts, plus and minus, of immigration, Robert Skidelsky takes the argument beyond economics. For Project Syndicate he writes:
David Goodhart, former editor of the journal Prospect, has argued the case for restriction from a social democratic perspective. Goodhart takes no position on whether cultural diversity is intrinsically or morally good or bad. He simply takes it for granted that most people prefer to live with their own kind, and that policymakers must attend to this preference.
Many people have told me they get angry every time a "phone tree" tells them to push "ocho por Español" or see signs in English and Spanish at Home Depot.

More Unintended Consequences

Writing at Politico, Matt Latimer argues the media's open anti-GOP bias and disinterest in correcting same is responsible in large measure for electing Donald Trump president. I wouldn't be surprised if Latimer is correct, at least in part.

What makes this story odd is the Politico organization is one of the most blatant examples we have of liberal media bias. Like the NYTimes, they have an occasional conservative voice fulfilling much the same Washington Generals-like token opponent role that Juan Williams occupies at Fox News.

Does running this article mean Politico plans to turn over a new leaf? I seriously doubt it, they are an advocacy group false flagged as a news + analysis shop.

Most national media voices are effectively Democrat operatives with bylines. Thus it's no wonder half or more of our population considers them propagandists beneath contempt and rightly ignored.

Ironically, the media would serve their own ideological (and financial) ends better by being balanced and therefore a widely trusted source of fact and ideas. In their current agitprop mode, any accurate criticisms the media make of the right gain no traction as they currently preach only to a choir of the likeminded.

Those PJ Media blogger Kurt Schlichter calls "real Americans" aren't listening, they're over at Fox News seeing mirror image coverage where all liberals are crap.

Playing a Long Game

At COTTonLINE we've repeatedly noted the importance of the young, conservative judges President Trump is appointing and McConnell's Senate is confirming. What makes these especially potent is they are lifetime appointments, which the appointee can occupy until retirement or death.

Writing for CNBC, columnist Jake Novak does an excellent job of exploring the importance of Sens. Grassley and Reid in setting up this rewarding scenario for the President. Every judge appointed gives a president leverage over outcomes lasting for decades beyond his term of office.

As we wrote months ago, if Trump never accomplishes anything more than several conservative judicial appointments we can consider his term in office a success. Trump has obviously surpassed our minimalist milepost in year one and has a every chance of compiling an outstanding record in the next three.

As conservatives, COTTonLINE readers know what fun it is having a hyperactive self-starter in the Oval Office. Most of what he's done to date, except his insistence upon fair trade, is thoroughly conservative by any objective standard.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Adams Predicted It

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, reacting to a Washington Post article whining that Trump and GOP senators are packing the Federal judiciary with young, conservative judges, writes the following choice words.
I guess we’ve made the turn from “Trump is Hitler” to “Trump is an incompetent boob” to “Trump is scarily competent at things I don’t like.” Just as Scott Adams predicted. . . .
And it happened so quickly too, almost as though it was intentional? Of course, the pace of activity in business is much faster than that of government.

Trump's background is business, so he doesn't get things taking a couple of years to begin. In his world, things are started in two weeks and completed in two years.

Note to POTUS: We're not tired of winning yet.

Bad Business

I am a long-time nonfan of NFL football and of televised college ball. Most years the only game I'll watch on TV is the Super Bowl, if that.

I loved live college football when, as a graduate student in Oregon, I had free access to high quality Pac 10 games. During three years in Eugene I only missed attending one home game.

Given my lack of involvement, I haven't felt compelled to comment on the tempest concerning player protests during the national anthem. I deplore it but, as a nonviewer, it doesn't much affect me.

On the other hand, as a lifelong business school prof, I am finally moved to comment on the poor business sense of NFL owners. Don't those yahoos have even a primitive understanding of their customer base? Of who their modal viewer is?

Unlike the owners, I haven't seen the survey data to be certain. My horseback guess is the typical NFL viewer is a white male patriot, a gun owner, and likely to favor nachos and beer over brie and chablis. In short, he's a Trump voter.

Knowing this, how in blazes did NFL owners think allowing a watered-down Black Lives Matter protest to spread through the league wouldn't be disasterous for their attendance and viewership? I suppose they, and their players, believed the game was immune to market forces, a true cultural icon.

Now the owners know better. They have to hope it's not too late to turn it around.

The owners' dilemma is that roughly 70% of NFL players are young African-American men who discover having plenty of money and fame doesn't automatically gain them favorable treatment or high status. Player anger won't just go away; perhaps owners can insist players indulge their free speech rights on their own time, not during games or in uniform.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Travel Blogging XXIII

Afterthoughts: I enjoy displays of cleverness in design. In the otherwise quite ordinary Mercure airport hotel in Sydney, I saw an in room feature I hadn't seen before. A 14" square centered at eye level in the seamless wall-to-wall bathroom mirror that didn't steam up from the shower, while the rest of the mirror became coated with condensate.

Curious as to how this was achieved, I felt the mirror where it fogged, and where it did not. The foggy majority was cool to the touch, while the 14" square was quite warm to the touch and hence unclouded. Clearly this was a design feature when the hotel was built and one I've not seen elsewhere.

If they heat mirrors 24/7 using electrical resistance heating, that is a nontrivial cost item. I wonder if they'd figured a way to use the hot water flowing to the shower to heat the mirror, making it do double duty and heating the glass only when showering. That would be doubly clever.

----------

After two months of no cooking, no housekeeping, no bed-making, unlimited ice cream and sodas and no-charge live entertainment, returning to workaday reality is something of a shock. We will have to go grocery shopping tomorrow, get our mail, handle medical/dental stuff, and get our RV ready for winter camping in the warm south, all while getting over serious jet lag which I experience as a medium-strength hangover atop the remnants of bronchitis.

On the other hand, I won't miss the ship's limited, expensive WiFi, the occasional rough seas, and the petri dish contagion level. Pluses and minuses ... life is full of tradeoffs.

Giving Thanks

COTTonLINE asks our electronic friends to take a moment to contemplate all the ways in which our lives are better than we have any right to expect. Let's begin with how good it is to not be suffering through 4 years of a Hillary presidency, on top of the miserable 8 years we had with Obama.

In a closely related matter, the economy is booming, jobs are plentiful, the stock market is at all-time highs, the dollar is strong, and illegal immigration is down by what some estimate to be 80%. One of these days we may even start to earn some interest on our savings. Again, much to be grateful for.

It is ungenerous to mention the schadenfreude we experience watching "libprogs" do sackcloth and ashes as St. Barack's carefully constructed crippling of the American spirit is undone by his antithesis - POTUS Trump. Their grief is truly delicious, a gift that keeps on giving.

I write this in the airport in San Francisco having spent the last half day flying nonstop from Sydney. The DrsC travel because they enjoy it, but I gotta say it always feels good to hear the passport control guy at the airport say "welcome home." Australia is a place I could easily live and yet I know of no place I like as much as the good, old US of A.

Thanksgiving - our annual harvest festival - is a good time to contemplate our good fortune. Whether you thank God or merely the foresight of our clever ancestors, we Americans have been dealt a good hand of cards. And foreign travel makes those advantages so much clearer.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

MBA Study as (Former) Immigration Dodge

A website named Axios has an article about declining enrollments in US MBA programs, particularly the full-time programs that attract international students. It quite inadvertantly reveals the motive (having little to do with education) which drove international enrollments.
A big problem is declining international interest: The enrollment at some mid-tier MBA programs is more than half international students. But 51% of B schools report a decline in international enrollment in fall 2016, a 13% jump from 2015, according to the MBA Career Services survey.

This is across the board: International enrollment at some top 25 schools is down, per Poets & Quants. For example, 32% of Georgetown's B school applicant pool was international in the 2016-2017 academic year, compared with 43% the year before. The trend is even more pronounced in the lower-ranked schools.

According to a GMAC survey conducted in February, 67% of prospective international MBAers would rethink their eventual study destination if they thought they'd be unable to obtain a work visa following the completion of their degree.
Gotcha! The US MBA was a shortcut to a green card, prosperity and US citizenship for one's children. Maybe no longer, as a loophole closes.

Lacking the Will to Win

Writing at National Review, military historian Victor Davis Hanson takes a stab at answering the question of why some wars seem to go on indefinitely. He basically comes down to two reasons.

In some cases the two sides are so evenly matched that neither can decisively defeat the other.
In other cases of never-ending wars, the two sides were clearly asymmetrical. One side easily could and should have won decisively and ended the conflict with a lasting resolution. Yet the apparently stronger side chose not to win, or for a variety of circumstances was prevented from victory.
And often the stronger side is aided in making this decision by the weaker side which chooses to never pose an extential threat requiring it to win.
The American slog in Afghanistan is somewhat similar. Americans feel that the level of force and violence necessary to obliterate the Taliban and impose a lasting settlement is either too costly, or not worth any envisioned victory, or impossible in such absurd tribal landscapes, or would be deemed immoral and contrary to Western values. Therefore, as in most serial wars, the U.S. chooses to fight to prevent defeat rather than to achieve lasting victory.

The bizarre modern Western doctrine of “proportionality” (akin to the tit-for-tat blood feuds of the Icelandic sagas) tends to ensure stalemate. Leisured Western publics are uncomfortable with using their militaries’ full strength, given the collective guilt and bad publicity that accrue when their forces inflict far more losses than they have incurred.

Paradoxically, disproportionality was always central to resolving chronic wars: Having much more power makes the weaker aggressor suffer so much that it never again tries to undertake another attack.

Weird Ecological Science

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports results of a study showing most oceanic plastic pollution comes from 10 rivers, eight of which are in Asia, the other two in Africa. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.
Up to 95 per cent of plastic polluting the world's oceans pours in from just ten rivers, according to new research. The top 10 rivers - eight of which are in Asia - accounted for so much plastic because of the mismanagement of waste. About five trillion pounds is floating in the sea, and targeting the major sources - such as the Yangtze and the Ganges - could almost halve it, scientists claim.

The 10 top-ranked rivers transport 88-95 per cent of the global load into the sea. 
We heard a lot about microplastic in the ocean on the cruise just ended. Those ten rivers are, in order of pollution dumped, are the Yangtze, Indus, Yellow, Hai He, Nile, Ganges, Pearl, Amur, Niger, and Mekong.

Given the squalor and poverty of the places in which these rivers arise, we have exactly zero chance of clearing them of plastic. Those concerned with the health of the oceans won't be best pleased with these research findings.

Poor Bolivia

We haven't heard a lot lately from Bolivia. I suppose assuming things were okay there was a conceptual bridge too far.

Would-be President-for-life Evo Morales keeps trying to toss out constitutional limits on multiple consecutive terms in office. The New York Times reports on his latest effort:
In 2016, he called a referendum on a constitutional amendment that would have eased term limits in the country’s Constitution and allowed him to run for a fourth time.

After 51 percent of the voters rejected the amendment, President Morales came up with a new plan. In September, his supporters in Congress brought a lawsuit in the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal seeking to revoke the Constitution’s term limit.

Mr. Morales’s supporters claim that the term limit discriminates against the president and undermines his political rights under regional human rights standards. They rely on a provision in the American Convention on Human Rights, the main human rights treaty in the Americas, which says that political rights can “only” be limited under very specific circumstances.
Morales is another banana republic dictator with dreams of glory, whose role model is Fidel Castro.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Merkel Update

The Daily Express reports the head of the Green Party in Germany - Hans-Christian Ströbele - doesn't see a way forward for Angela Merkel as chancellor. He said:
The end of the chancellorship of Angela Merkel has already been announced by the outcome of the general election. Now Merkel's political end can indeed come very quickly. In my opinion, Mrs Merkel will not be able to stay at the top of the government for much longer.
It somewhat depends on the decision of Germany's (mostly) figurehead President who can either call a new election or ask her to form a minority government. Current betting is against that latter choice.

Later ... writing for the Carnegie Europe think tank, fellow Judy Dempsey concudes:
What happens over the next few hours or days is anyone’s guess. One thing is certain: Europe is weaker and Germany has become unpredictable.

Travel Blogging XXII

At sea off the east coast of New South Wales, approaching Sydney Harbor: Our 55 day cruise ends tomorrow morning with disembarkation. We'll collect our luggage, catch a cab, and head for our hotel which is supposedly "near the airport." Tomorrow we fly back to the States, arriving several hours before we take off after spending something like 13-14 hours in the air.

I've used up the last of the 1000 minutes of WiFi we purchased almost two months ago leaving San Diego, and they cost $0.25 each. The other DrC and I shared the roughly 20 minutes a day that provided, it's likely I used more of it than she did.

The coping mechanism is to write things offline in Notes and then, once online, copy them to the blogger, editing all the while. This is quite useful for travel blogging, less so for commenting on the day's news. Thus these last two months have seen many more of the former than of the latter. I will post this piece tomorrow at the hotel where, I anticipate, the WiFi will be unlimited and faster.

One thing I've missed is playing Word With Friends, which can only be done online. Another unscratched itch is the ability, to which one is accustomed, of looking up answers to questions, be they biographical, geographical or merely whimsical.

Later ashore ... the hotel is in fact near the airport as advertised, one of the Mercure chain and not bad. The WiFi is good, the room not tiny.

We're both still trying to get over the "ship cold" that made the rounds on the MS Maasdam after we came to Sydney the first time some 30 days ago. A 'generous' soul brought it aboard there and shared it widely. By contrast, the prior crossing from San Diego was a very healthy voyage, hardly a sniffle heard.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Merkel's Future in Doubt

The New York Times reports the four way talks aimed at building a ruling coalition for Germany have failed. This happened when the business-friendly Free Democrats pulled out of the negotiations, claiming accurately that the differences among the four parties are too great to be bridged by meaningful compromise on key issues.

At a time when the EU looks to its most successful member - Germany - for leadership in the Brexit talks, Merkel is shown to be playing a very weak hand. Her future as Germany's chancellor is very much in doubt. History will conclude that she shot herself in the foot with her widely unpopular open borders policy.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Both Sides Now

Matt Drudge has a headline suggesting Saudi Arabia might go to war with Iran, or lead an Arab war against the Persians. Talk about a war where you'd sincerely hope both sides clobbered each other into bloody rubble, that would take the prize.

A Values-Alignment Strategy

The New York Times has an article about various firms being boycotted by one side or the other in our highly polarized political atmosphere. They were perceived to have taken sides when that was not at all their intent.

Examples given include Jim Beam whiskey, Papa John's pizza, and Keurig coffee. And a key quote from an observer of this phenomenon:
"What I think is constantly surprising is how polarized and divisive, certainly, the U.S. has become,” said Ken Kraemer, the chief executive of the agency Deep Focus. Brands are shifting from a world where they avoided politics at all costs, he said, to one where younger consumers want to know that their “values are aligned.” 
I can imagine a future in which companies will have a Janus-like approach to the market with two seemingly different brands, logos, ad campaigns, and spokesfolk. One brand aligned to progressive values and the other brand to conservative beliefs. I'd judge they will try to disguise the blatant pandering inherent in such an approach, though I'm uncertain how they'd do that.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Unintended Consequences, cont.

We've on occasion made the point that affirmative action has done as much harm as good for people of color. I begin to suspect a similar unintended consequence arising from the wave of accusations of sexual harassment following the revelations about Harvey Weinstein.

I would expect more men, including those not in the public eye, will begin observing the Mike Pence rule of not being alone with a woman other than their wife or mother. It is a way of armoring oneself against accusations of harassment, avoiding "he said-she said" situations.

If this behavior change takes place, it will have the effect of reducing harassment as such behavior is less likely when witnesses are present. However, it will also reduce women's career opportunities if men avoid working with them.

Travel Blogging XXI

At sea en route to Tasmania: We've been "at sea" since late September and yesterday, for the first time, we "blew off" a port call. We were scheduled to put ashore in Burnie, Tasmania, today but couldn't do so as there was "too much wind." As the sea was relatively calm, that seemed hard to credit.

What makes this peculiar is that Burnie is a regular port, not a tender port. That is, a port where we would tie up to a dock instead of one where we drop anchor off shore and go ashore in the ship's boats (aka "tenders").

Deciding conditions are too rough for tendering isn't especially uncommon. In all the cruising we've done I can only remember one other instance of skipping a dockside mooring.

We've spent the day cruising aimlessly, killing time as our next scheduled port call is tomorrow in Hobart. A ship can't show up early as slips are reserved like hotel rooms and the ship pays "rent" on the mooring.

Both DrsC are trying to get over colds with coughs, our cabin sounds like a TB ward. Amazingly, codeine cough syrup isn't a prescription med in Oz; it is definitely the med of choice if restful sleep is sought.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

With More Education, Climate Views Diverge

The New York Times reports an analysis of opinion research done by Gallup looking at issues where having more education causes opinions of liberals and conservatives to either converge or diverge. In the case of climate change, the answer is "diverge."

The Times' explanation for this phenomenon seems, to this educated conservative observer, somewhat lame as it is a liberal's explanation. Let me attempt an educated conservative's explanation.

Being more educated includes knowing more about the earth's naturally variable climatic history (warming periods, ice ages) and the relative impacts of human endeavor vs. solar variation and vulcanism. Such knowledge leads educated conservatives to see human activity as a relatively puny force for climate change, unlikely to be determinative.

Liberal appeals to "scientific consensus" cause us to recall the decades when plate tectonics was universally considered geological crackpot lunacy. It is now received wisdom; clearly scientific consensus is no guarantee of accurate knowledge.