Sunday, June 25, 2017

Democrat Disinformation Reported

It's always gratifying when the worm turns (and bites the would-be biter). The New York Post has done opposition research on a firm which specializes therein. The firm, Fusion GPS, is run by Democratic donor/operatives with ties to Mexico.

This firm has a track record, the Post notes:
Fusion GPS was on the payroll of an unidentified Democratic ally of Clinton when it hired a long-retired British spy to dig up dirt on Trump. In 2012, Democrats hired Fusion GPS to uncover dirt on GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. And in 2015, Democrat ally Planned Parenthood retained Fusion GPS to investigate pro-life activists protesting the abortion group.

Federal records show a key co-founder and partner in the firm was a Hillary Clinton donor and supporter of her presidential campaign. In September 2016, while Fusion GPS was quietly shopping the dirty dossier on Trump around Washington, its co-founder and partner Peter R. Fritsch contributed at least $1,000 to the Hillary Victory Fund and the Hillary For America campaign, Federal Election Commission data show. His wife also donated money to Hillary’s campaign.
Fusion GPS hired retired Brit spy Christopher Steele who put together the thoroughly discredited "dossier" on Trump's imagined escapades in Russia. About Steele's "work," the Post concludes:
It’s now clear his “intelligence reports,” which together run more than 35-pages long, were for the most part worthless. And the clients who paid Fusion GPS (which claims to go “beyond standard due diligence”) for them got taken to the cleaners.

Steele hadn’t worked in Moscow since the 1990s and didn’t actually travel there to gather intelligence on Trump firsthand. He relied on third-hand “friend of friend” sourcing.

But his main source may have been Google. Most of the information branded as “intelligence” was merely rehashed from news headlines or cut and pasted — replete with errors — from Wikipedia.

In fact, much of the seemingly cloak-and-dagger information connecting Trump and his campaign advisers to Russia had already been reported in the media at the time Steele wrote his monthly reports.
Perhaps the scariest part of this story is the following:
The FBI received a copy of the Democrat-funded dossier in August, during the heat of the campaign, and is said to have contracted in October to pay Steele $50,000 to help corroborate the dirt on Trump — a relationship that “raises substantial questions about the independence” of the bureau in investigating Trump, warned Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe is said to have contracted with Steele. McCabe's wife was a Democrat candidate for state senate in Virginia. She received big financial backing from the Clinton camp.

This is our second post in two days raising questions about whether Republicans can have any faith in FBI even-handedness and honor, the other post being this one from Friday. A former FBI special agent suggests via Power Line the answer may be: no longer. He writes:
I regret to say that the process began in earnest under Bush, who appointed Mueller. An acquaintance recently complained that the Bureau was no longer what it used to be, or maybe never had been. I maintained that the institutional culture was changed through the Legal Counsel Division. That’s how it always work in America, isn’t it? If you want to enforce Liberal/PC norms, you change the lawyers.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Brookings on the Out-of-Work

The Brookings Institution has a big survey of the long-term unemployed, those who for whatever reason no longer look for work. A quick scan suggests they chose not to look at some causes, including prior felony convictions, that explain quite a lot of the variance. I wonder why this is so?

Sifting Through the Ruins

MoDo, more formally known as Maureen Dowd, writes bitchy snark for The New York Times, and leans left while doing it. However, like Ann Coulter on the right, MoDo is good at what she does, often entertaining as well as accurate.

Her most recent column says Democrats are as clueless as the Republicans, as evidenced by four consecutive special election losses. It's strong medicine for NYT readers, who aren't accustomed to such brutal realism.
----------

Republicans are scarcely flawless but, all things considered, in politics winning beats losing every time. And having something you are for - MAGA - works better than having something you are against - Trump.

Trump instinctively lives rent-free in the heads of every politician, reporter and editor - nearly all Democrats. They know it, and can't figure out how to evict him. Virtually every story is about him, one way or another.

CA Single Payer On Hold

The Sacramento Bee, essentially the house organ of CA state government, reports the efforts to pass single payer health care are "on ice" for the time being. Apparently the bill, as currently written, was more of a statement of aspiration than actual legislation. The Assembly Speaker adds the bill "is not dead" but sent back for much additional work.

According to the Bee, the California Nurses Association is the bill's major backer. My guess: they calculate many doctors will leave the state after single payer passes; nurses and nurse practitioners will be left providing most of the care.

Won't that be wonderful? The DrsC need to think seriously about selling our CA vacation home.

CNN Commits Journalism

Conservative media, including our humble efforts here at COTTonLINE, often beat up on CNN for its obvious leftward bias. On the other hand, when CNN does something right we should indicate out approval thereof. An example is at hand.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports CNN reporter Thomas Frank posted a story on Thursday evening concerning:
An investigation of a Russian investment fund with potential ties to several associates of President Trump.

But by Friday night, the story was removed from CNN's website and all links were scrubbed from the network's social media accounts.

"That story did not meet CNN's editorial standards and has been retracted," CNN said in an editor's note posted in place of the story. "Links to the story have been disabled."
That's what real journalists do when they learn they published something later proven untrue; well done, CNN.

It's Real Name Is "Treason"

Scott Johnson is one of Power Line's regulars. Today he reacts to a Washington Post article disclosing counterespionage efforts by the Obama administration against the Russians during the recent presidential election.

The story revealed highly secret information to the Russians, in an attempt to make Obama look less useless. Some key observations:
The Post dates the critical intelligence “bombshell” obtained by the CIA to August 2016.

CIA Director John Brennan deemed it so confidential that he withheld it from the President’s Daily Brief and conveyed it directly in writing to Obama by hand delivery.

In the end, in late December, Obama approved a modest package. In other words, President Obama declined to take any action while it might still have done some good.

One might infer from story that President Obama “colluded” with Putin to defeat Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump.

To be fair, we might consider the explanation that Obama was just a pusillanimous pussy disinclined to protect the interests of the United States from our enemies.

By contrast, however, the Post’s reportage offers no evidence of Trump’s “collusion” with the Russian interference intended to assist Trump’s election. Zero. Nada. Not even by inference.

Perhaps evidence of Trump “collusion” is beyond the scope of the Post’s story. If the Post had obtained such evidence from its numerous sources, however, it would be in the story.
Johnson quotes the Post as follows:
Obama also approved a previously undisclosed covert measure that authorized planting cyber weapons in Russia’s infrastructure, the digital equivalent of bombs that could be detonated if the United States found itself in an escalating exchange with Moscow. The project, which Obama approved in a covert-action finding, was still in its planning stages when Obama left office. It would be up to President Trump to decide whether to use the capability.
To which Johnson adds:
This is a piece of highly classified intelligence whose disclosure violates the oaths of those who gave it to the Post.

The disclosure of highly classified intelligence by government officials seriously violates the espionage laws of the United States. It is in all likelihood felonious several times over in the case of each of the Post’s numerous anonymous sources.

The Post and its reporters are accomplices to the crimes committed by their sources. They have disseminated highly classified intelligence to the enemies of the United States — as the left has lately discovered Putin and Russia to be.
Unless, of course, this is a piece of classic disinformation planted to cause Russians to look frantically for nonexistent "cyber weapons in Russia's infrastructure." Spy vs. Spy, anyone?

Saturday Snickers

It's Saturday, which means it's time for our weekly selection from Steven Hayward's The Week in Pictures for Power Line. 

General thought: The captions aren't compelling but cartoonists have done marvelous Nancy Pelosi caricatures this week, some positively haunting.

Movie still of the Air Cav brigadier general from Apocalypse Now, captioned:
I love the sound of liberals
crying in the morning
Cartoon of Russians Boris and Natasha from the Rocky and Bullwinkle series, in a rowboat, Boris speaks:
Iz funny how we get credit for Trump election!
Natasha responds:
Iz not funny at all!
We bribe Hillary to sell us uranium.
We no can bribe Trump.
Next we have a couple of comparisons of first ladies. In the first, photos of Michelle, Hillary, and Melania as each looked when visiting Saudi Arabia. Only the first two are wearing head scarfs. In the second, we see a rather plain Michelle dressed for a trip to the supermarket and a glamorous Melania dressed to kill, captioned:
Here's to all the fashion designers who dressed Michelle Obama and refused to dress Melania Trump.
 A roadside sign showing the following aphorism:
Puns about Communism aren't funny
unless everyone gets them
Photo of a hearse towing a brush chipper, captioned:
Apparently there's another option
Besides burial and cremation
Photo of a wok, with green plant material in it, and a stirring spoon, captioned:
Pro tip: If you stir coconut oil into your kale, it makes it easier to scrape into the trash.
Cartoon of Fred Flintstone, captioned:
We all get heavier when we get older because there's lots more information in our heads. So I'm not fat, I'm just really intelligent and my head couldn't hold any more so it started filling up the rest of me. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, June 23, 2017

FBI Bias Showing

Mollie Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist and a frequent panelist on Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier. Today she writes about the biased-as-hell, ridiculous press briefing the FBI gave about their "investigation" of the Steve Scalise shooting.

You need to read what she wrote, and - scary thought - wonder if we can trust anything the FBI says or does. The shooter's anti-Republican motives are clear on their face, whereas:
The takeaway of the briefing was characterized well by the Associated Press headline about it: “FBI: Gunman who shot congressman had no target in mind.” The Associated Press reported the FBI:
  • believes the gunman “had no concrete plan to inflict violence” against Republicans, 
  • “had not yet clarified who, if anyone, he planned to target, or why,” 
  • believes he may have just “happened upon” the baseball game the morning of June 14, and that the attack appeared “spontaneous,” 
  • are unclear on the “context” of Hodgkinson’s note with six names of members of Congress, 
  • does not believe that photographs of the baseball field or other sites “represented surveillance of intended targets,” and 
  • “painted a picture of a down-on-his-luck man with few future prospects.”
Does that FBI-painted picture have any meaningful relation to your understanding of the Scalise shooting? It sounds to me like something written by a Bernie Sanders staffer desperate to absolve his boss of guilt by association.

Cut Carbs = Get High? Maybe

The Daily Mail (U.K.) summarizes the findings from an article in The Conversation about the effects of low-carb diets, like Atkins. It turns out the body's process of switching to fat-burning from carb-burning produces BHB, chemically very similar to GHB, aka Fantasy, the party drug.

It is likey that some people on low-carbohydrate diets experience euphoria as a result. I share this article with you because of an experience the DrsC had.

The builder of our current house in WY, now some 17 years ago, happened to be on a low-carb diet during the build. As we were around the building site frequently we had many interactions with him. Our contractor was ebullient about the experience of the diet, he was an absolute evangelist for low-carb.

Looking back on it, I believe he was one of those individuals who "gets high" from cutting out carbs. On the other hand, perhaps 3 years later the other DrC and I tried a low-carb diet for about a year and got no such sensation whatsoever.

Unlike many, we lost maybe 20 lbs each and then plateaued at that level for month after month, eventually giving it up as a bad job. Maybe we cheated some, I don't remember clearly nearly 14 years later. I do remember we ate a carload of leafy green salad and a ton of meat.

Ship Collision Update

The Washington Free Beacon reports the latest info on the collision of the destroyer USS Fitzgerald with the container ship ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan. A key point: the container ship appears to have been proceeding on autopilot with no one manning the bridge, or indeed awake at the time of the collision.

There is still no information suggesting how a warship like the Fitzgerald could have failed to be aware of the Crystal's approach. Such ships routinely have multiple people on duty looking at radar and other data inputs when sailing.

I expect an eventual Board of Inquiry will find fault with the handling of both vessels.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Don't Like Leftists

Writing at American Thinker, Rick Moran expresses something I believe you'll enjoy and agree with. After listing all the lame excuses Democrats have given for failing to win GA-6, he concludes:
All of those excuses fail to get to the crux of why the left keeps losing. Ordinary Americans simply don't like leftists very much. And when Hollywood and Silicon Valley unite to tell them they are stupid, are ignorant, are racist, are homophobic, hate Muslims, and shouldn't love America so much, what do they expect the reaction from ordinary people will be?
Hmmmm ... "FOAD" sounds about right.

PC Run Amok

John Hinderaker of Power Line cites a story from The New York Times about Canadian universities "indigenizing" their curricula.  That is defined as follows:
A new, elastic term that means everything from drawing more aboriginal students and faculty members onto campuses built largely for white settlers, to infusing those stodgy Western institutions with aboriginal belief systems and traditional knowledge.
This isn't easy, for:
Aboriginal scholars say that colonial education philosophies and aboriginal theories of knowledge are incompatible.
At the University of Saskatchewan:
Last year, the academic governing body agreed that all of the 17 colleges and schools, from dentistry to engineering, should include indigenous knowledge.  
I love Hinderaker's comment about this:
I am not sure what the Stone Age engineering of Native Americans can teach modern engineering students, but I know this for sure: when it comes to “indigenous” dentistry, count me out!
The whole idea of indigenizing the curriculum is ridiculous. Establishing a department to respectfully study indigenous culture and folkways and their applicability to modern life is certainly reasonable.

Quote of a Busy Week

The Atlantic's Molly Ball writes the quote of a week which featured two special House elections:
Moral victories get no votes in Congress.
Ladies and gentlemen of the left, I recommend Mylanta Gas for your dyspepsia.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Positive, Not Earthshaking

There have been four recent special elections held to fill House seats vacated when President Trump appointed the incumbent Republicans to various executive branch roles. Conservative media, to the limited extent it exists, has made much of the fact that Democrats have won none of these elections.

Yes, this is wonderful. No, it isn't particularly unusual or unexpected. POTUS was strongly advised to avoid selecting individuals from toss-up districts where GOP incumbency is valuable. All came from districts which normally elect Republicans, so-called "safe seats."

There were reasons to believe GA-6 could become an exception to this generality. GA (and national) Democrats did everything they could think of, plus spent a ton of money, to help Ossoff win GA-6. It wasn't nearly enough.

I don't expect Democrats to get overly exercised about their "failures" in these districts where they are disadvantaged. And I'd caution Republicans not to become too giddy about the wins for exactly the same reasons.

We're happy the sun comes up each morning, but it isn't big news. These elections became important only if what we expected to happen did not happen. So far, no surprises, ergo not much news.

Sadness in San Juan

The Associated Press reports high unemployment in Puerto Rico has led to high levels of home foreclosures. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

The market, if allowed to operate, inexorably deals with economic problems; the process by which it happens is normally both ugly and unpleasant. Mostly banks there are selling off the non-performing loans to off-island entities which pursue foreclosures in federal courts, the article adds.

Those getting hurt are the same group of people who got hurt in the 2007 real estate crash on the mainland. Namely, those who in good times can just about afford to purchase a home but who, when times turn bad, cannot continue to make their mortgage payments.

In the long run, a wave of foreclosures is what Puerto Rico needs. It will drive down home prices and make buying there attractive to retirees from the northeast U.S. Plus it will encourge emigration of enough residents to bring the population into balance with what the tourism industry can employ.

In the short run, the level of human misery will be high. Like some diseases, Puerto Rico's economy will have to get worse before it can get better.

Those inclined to shrug off the human costs of this process should remember economist John Kenneth Galbraith's bleak observation about things being okay in the long-run. "In the long run, we are all dead," he grimly reminded us.

Pelosi 'Poisoning' In GA

The Washington Post notes uber-Democrat Nancy Pelosi contributed to the GA-6 election win by Republican Karen Handel, as quoted by regular Instapundit guest-blogger Stephen Green.
The most prominent and effective hit on the Democratic candidate was to tie him to the congresswoman from San Francisco.

Republican operatives say that 98 percent of voters in the 6th District already had an impression of Pelosi when they conducted their first internal poll, and she was 35 points underwater. When presented with the choice of whether they wanted a representative who would work with Paul Ryan or Pelosi, six in 10 picked the Speaker and three in 10 picked the minority leader. 
My envelope-back math says twice as many Georgians find Pelosi repulsive as find her attractive. Only twice as many? De gustibus non est disputandum, even in Georgia.

Missing David Broder

New York Post political writer Michael Goodwin commenting at Imprimis on the abysmal bias exhibited in most political reporting today. Hat tip to Charles Glasser, guest blogging at Instapundit, for the link.
Among the many firsts, last year’s election gave us the gobsmacking revelation that most of the mainstream media puts both thumbs on the scale—that most of what you read, watch, and listen to is distorted by intentional bias and hostility.

It’s not exactly breaking news that most journalists lean left.
Somewhere the ghost of David Broder wails in frustration. Whatever his personal opinions, in print and in person Broder treated politics as a neutral phenomenon like the weather. He dispassionately reported the who and what were actually happening, and as best he could decypher it, the why. Broder delivered real journalism, unlike today's opinion-driven advocacy masquerading as jourrnalism.

Serious Snark

Stephen Green, a regular guest-blogger at the Instapundit site, quotes Kurt Schlichter and adds a droll-but-trenchant aside. Schlichter is commenting with extreme prejudice on the attempt to overthrow Trump when he concludes:
What do they think comes after Trump? Someone nice?
To which Green adds the following, highly relevant comment:
Do you want President Duterte? Because this is how you get President Duterte.
N.B., Intemperate President Duterte uses extrajudicial murder as a favored instrument for combatting Philippine drug users and dealers.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Democrats Lose Two More

Two special elections were held today, one each in SC and GA. The reason: to elect replacements for two GOP Representatives who were appointed to cabinet positions by President Trump.

Georgia got most of the attention, likely because nobody believed a Dem. could win in SC. The GA-6 House race was the single most expensive such race ever held.

Dems believed they had a good chance to win in GA-6, and claim it a vote of no confidence on the Trump presidency. Instead, they lost.

Republican Karen Handel got 52.6% of the GA vote to Democrat Jon Ossoff's 47.4%. Likewise, in South Carolina Republican Ralph Norman beat Democrat Archie Parnell, 51.1% to 47.9%, in a race that drew less outside donor money and media attention. Vote percentages for both races are according to CNN.

Having lost both special elections, Democrats will now try to tell you "all politics is local" and the results cannot be interpreted as support for President Trump. You will hear this steaming puddle of sophistry from the likes of (up)Chuck Schumer. When you do, remember what Democrats planned to say if they won, namely that it showed people didn't support Trump.

Golly, on the right we can say these two elections show Trump is popular, disbelief in the old media notwithstanding. Two referenda on the Trump presidency were held and ... wait for it ... he won both!

Congress folk need to get busy legislating, the Trump agenda just demonstrated continued popularity. I'm tempted to claim Trump has the coattails his predecessor famously lacked.

Illegal Immigrant Voters

Trump alleged a lot of non-citizens voted in the 2016 election; most pundits pooh-poohed that claim, especially Democrats who benefitted therefrom. A new study suggests he may have been more right than they.

The Washington Times reports as follows:
A research group in New Jersey has taken a fresh look at postelection polling data and concluded that the number of noncitizens voting illegally in U.S. elections is likely far greater than previous estimates. As many as 5.7 million noncitizens may have voted in the 2008 election, which put Barack Obama in the White House.

For 2012, Just Facts said, 3.2 million to 5.6 million noncitizens were registered to vote and 1.2 million to 3.6 million of them voted.

There is hard evidence outside of polling that noncitizens do vote. Conservative activists have conducted limited investigations in Maryland and Virginia that found thousands of aliens were registered.
This nefarious practice needs to end, soonest. Noncitizen registration itself has to be a crime, not to mention voting.

Summer Begins

Today, June 20, is the summer solstice, the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere. Here it's the longest day (and shortest night) of the year. Whatever temperatures you've been experiencing the past few days, in this hemisphere it was technically late spring.

Now it's summer. Beginning today the days start getting shorter and the nights longer, a process which continues through late December when the winter solstice occurs sometime in the period December 20-22.

For those like us, who travel widely and often, today is also the first day of winter in the southern hemisphere. There will be skiing in the "alps" of south island New Zealand and maybe even in Oz. Summer people will have long since left Antarctica, only the handful of hardy year-rounders remain.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Climate Models Pessimistic

Climatistas suffered a double barreled setback today, as reported by Steven Hayward of Power Line. The first bad news was publication of an article in Nature Geoscience coauthored by noted warmists.  The complete article is behind a paywall, but Hayward quotes the abstract, which includes the following comments:
In the early twenty-first century, satellite-derived tropospheric warming trends were generally smaller than trends estimated from a large multi-model ensemble.

Over most of the early twenty-first century, however, model tropospheric warming is substantially larger than observed; warming rate differences are generally outside the range of trends arising from internal variability. The probability that multi-decadal internal variability fully explains the asymmetry between the late twentieth and early twenty-first century results is low (between zero and about 9%).
The second piece of bad news for anthropogenic global warming enthusiasts was an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It debunks a claim the U.S. can achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050. It concludes:
We point out that this work used invalid modeling tools, contained modeling errors, and made implausible and inadequately supported assumptions. Policy makers should treat with caution any visions of a rapid, reliable, and low-cost transition to entire energy systems that relies almost exclusively on wind, solar, and hydroelectric power.

A License to Obfuscate

Time for another entry in our occasional series - Weird Oregon. The New York Post has a story about Oregon offering drivers license applicants a third choice for gender, an X can go where the M or F would otherwise be. Classic Oregon move, that.

Most of Oregon's population lives under an annual 8-months-long rain cloud. It does strange things to their collective psyche, makes for a kind of Twin Peaks bizarro populace.

A guy from sunny CA, I spent three rainy seasons in OR during grad school, wearing out umbrellas and suffering subclinical SAD. While there, two B-School faculty swapped wives (legally), another drank himself nearly to death, radicals burned down the ROTC building, the acting university president committed vehicular suicide, the National Guard cleared the campus with fixed bayonets, and my study buddy's wife went schizophrenic, literally.

Oregon was not my happy place.

Beating Islamic Terror

Sarah Hoyt, a regular contributor at the Instapundit site, is an immigrant from Portugal and a science fiction author with interests far beyond what her background would suggest to the literal-minded. She has written a three part series on the subject:
How We're Losing the War to save the Islamic World
Its three parts are subtitled as follows:
Part One:  Saving the West
Part Two:  When Cultures Clash
Part Three:  How to Stop Terrorists and Allow Islam to Westernize 
Hoyt has some really good ideas, to which more attention should be paid. Her treatment of tribal cultures is particularly good.

More Messing About in 'Boats'

We wrote recently about the collision between a U.S. Navy destroyer and a Philippine-flagged container ship in the sea off Japan. A more thorough discussion of how the collision might have occurred can be found at the National Public Radio website.

The most important thing NPR adds to what I'd written previously is the details of how, in a congested and busy waterway, too many moving objects can overwhelm the ability of those plotting them to keep track. And we now know there is a possibility the container ship, after midnight local time, was proceeding on autopilot.

Find even more info on "the rules of the road" for ships - who is supposed to give way when two ships near each other - in a piece written by a former ship captain for War on the Rocks. He concurs with my view that human error on one or both ships likely played a role, how large a role is yet to be determined.

N.B., The vessels involved were of course ships, not smaller "boats."

Mueller Interest-Conflicted

In addition to being a prolific blogger and columnist for USA Today, Instapundit Glenn Reynolds is a professor at the University of Tennessee law school. That role qualifies him to identify the Mueller work on the obstruction-of-justice issue as suffering from conflict-of-interest, based on Mueller's long-time friendship with the key witness, James Comey.

Mueller should resign, in Reynolds' opinion, but if he does not then what? Reynolds' solution which accounts for the political sensitivities involved: Attorney General Jeff Sessions should appoint a second special counsel to focus on the obstruction-of-justice issue, leaving Mueller to focus on the collusion-with-Russians issue.

Understanding the Cosby Verdict

You've read of the so-called "hung jury" in the Cosby rape case in PA. Feelings about such cases run high, and the DA promises a retrial. How did the first trial turn out this way?

I've just read a very measured account of how such things happen, why the law sort of favors this exact outcome, and the issues involved. It was written by a Harvard law prof for The New Yorker.

She points out that the law was purpose-built to favor criminal defendants, for good reason. Her insider's viewpoint of the law and the issues is useful to our understanding of the unsatisfying-to-many outcome.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The View from Pittsburgh

David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, writes with wisdom about national politics from outside the Beltway. Today he examines Trump's impact on American politics.
Has a political party that for generations dedicated itself to serving the poor and the striving become instead the province of the educated and the elite? And, conversely, can a party that for decades has served business interests transform itself into a populist vanguard?

These questions may be troubling but are overdue for examination. One, maybe two, cheers for Donald Trump for raising them. But only one for the answers both Republicans and Democrats are providing.
Too right, bro, that's why we elected him. Our vote for Trump was a twofer; as much "no confidence" in the impotent GOP establishment as it was against Obama's malevolent Democrats.

Calling All Dads

Today is your day, have a great one. If you still have a dad, tell him how often you remember some piece of good advice he gave you. If your dad no longer lives, as mine does not, remember all the stuff you learned from him. Be thankful if you had a father in your life, unlike so many today.

Here is a quick sampling of stuff I learned at the paternal knee.
  • Most show folk are lefty pond scum.
  • Ladies are great, but their 'thermostats' don't work very well.
  • Shoot ahead of a flying bird, where it will be by the time the shot gets there.
  • Only point a loaded weapon at the ground, or at something you intend to kill.
  • Change vehicular oil regularly, it's cheap insurance.
  • Check that the doors are locked before turning out the lights and going to bed.
  • Words are gold, use them well and don't be shy about looking up meanings.
  • The concept, if not the exact words, "Happy wife, happy life."
I'm certain I'd come up with ten times that number if I kept a diary of remembered wisdom.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday Snickers

Steven Hayward of Power Line each week compiles cartoons, captioned photos, posters, headlines, and other stuff conservatives could find funny. My picks from this week's pile:

Photo of a bunch of civilians holding an American flag and their rifles, captioned:
Seriously. Conservatives own 200+ million guns, 12 trillion rounds of ammo.
If we were violent, you'd know about it.
Photo of an attractive young woman with strapped on sidearm holding an assault rifle, captioned:
If Conservatives trust God, why do they need so many guns?
Because they don't trust Democrats.
Composite photo of James Comey testifying, looking forlorn, with a framed portrait of J. Edgar Hoover in the background looking grim. The caption:
For Goodness Sake, Son.
Get a Backbone!
Four panel cartoon of two stick figures, one red, one blue. Blue figure standing on an American flag. Red speaks:
Dude, why are you stepping on that flag?
Blue answers:
I'm giving you a lesson on the First Amendment. Free speech, dude, you just have to accept it and let me do it because of my rights.
Red responds:
Oh?  
In 4th panel, red holds a Confederate flag and blue speaks:
That's different. I'm offended. 
Under a heading: "Fundamentally transforming America. - B. Obama," a 2 panel cartoon. Filthy hippy protester labeled "Victim" in first panel speaks:
There's a micro-aggressive, white privileged homophobe in my safe space.
Second panel, cute little girl labeled "Bigot" speaks:
There's a 40 year old man wearing a dress in the girls' bathroom.

Messing About in 'Boats'

There are news reports of a collision between a Japanese container ship and a U.S. destroyer - the USS Fitzgerald. Several sailors were injured, including the Captain, and others reported missing and presumed drowned.

Some writers are making much of the fact that the container ship sustained bow damage while the destroyer was hit in the side, meaning the destroyer was hit and did not ram the container ship. Don't be confused, it is likely our destroyer was at fault. How do I reach this conclusion when they hit us? Let me explain.

Large container ships are anything but nimble, mariners know they plow along at a moderate speed and take miles to make a turn or slow to a stop. Destroyers are among the more nimble largish warships, they can turn relatively sharply and are much faster than cargo ships.

It isn't like you wouldn't notice a container ship, they are the size of a city block or two and loom high. They have a radar signature the size of Texas. Night or day they cannot be missed by mariners paying attention and doing their job properly.

Most likely scenario: the container ship was plowing along on a predictable path and the destroyer somehow turned in front of it or crossed its bow. The container ship was unable to dodge out of the way or stop.

Whether the misjudgment was in calculating relative speeds, trajectories or something else is unknown. The crash will be the subject of a Naval inquiry and the Captain (and others including the helmsman) will likely lose commissions and/or careers over it. Apologies to Wind in the Willows for the sarcastic title.

Travel Blogging XII

Home in Western Wyoming: The small ship cruise from Malta up "the back of the boot" in Italy has concluded and we're home. The people on our cruise were nearly all nice folks, very pleasant, albeit libtard progressives.

We did our "who, us conservatives?" shtick well-remembered from university days and were accepted as okay folks. Meanwhile back in our cabin we'd snicker about how horrified they'd be if they knew we voted for and support Trump. Mostly nobody talked politics or religion, which was both smart and polite.

Interesting fact, the part of Italy we visited doesn't seem to have attracted many Muslim immigrants - a few but mostly in the Calabrian village which now makes a 'business' of 'socializing' economic migrants. It seems most want to get to Germany and Austria, or perhaps France and Belgium where the jobs are, or perhaps the more generous handouts.

Flying home from Europe always reminds me of the film title The Longest Day. Actual elapsed time from waking in Venice to bedding down in WY was 25+ hours, during which we slept little, perhaps an hour or two.

Most of the flying was routine, but the ground connection in Munich was a mini-nightmare. "Mini" in the sense that it wasn't protracted, rather it was compacted.

Our lame tour company gave us a 45 minute connection there between the flight from Venice and the flight to Denver; they would only change it at vast expense when the fault was theirs. The connection started positively, we were met at ramp-bottom by a van which whisked us to the right terminal and entry point. Then we were dropped off where the departure signs said our plane was boarding, but no one was at that gate.

We frantically asked personnel at another gate where our flight was boarding and were told another, nearby gate number. Then we couldn't find that gate as they were numbered "creatively." Eventually we did make our flight, probably some of the last to board. We could have done without the cliff-hanging drama.

Side note: Lufthansa has a lousy film library, or maybe the problem is Hollywood making crappy films. I did see one rather charming film of which I'd never heard: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Think of it as a peculiarly riveting cross between several genres: horror, coming of age, comedy, fantasy and love story. You won't be surprised to learn Tim Burton directed it, he loves and finds humor in the macabre.

Another strangely fascinating but flawed film is Assassin's Creed, imagine a clandestine war between Knights Templar and Assassins for possession of the infamous apple from Eden, much of it set in late 15th century Spain with Torquemada supposedly a Templar inquisitor. Too much over-the-top unbelievable ninja fighting, too little plot. It also has a modern component with hi-tech and covert action ... weird,  but visually amazing.

Anyway, we mostly had great weather, only one night of rough seas, and the only real rain we were out in was getting off the plane in Jackson last night. It was no gully-washer but we got damp and drove home behind the wiper blades' click-swish.

E got to see the Rialto Bridge which we'd missed on prior visits to Venice, she was happy. My favorite part of Venice was the water taxi ride from the hotel to the airport, very scenic and the taxi looked brand new and very nice. My favorite part of any visit to Venice is the boat ride out of town; that tells you something about my feelings for the iconic city.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Pit Bull Needed, Pomeranian Incumbent

David P. Goldman, who blogs as Spengler for PJ Media, cracks wise about the Comey firing:
Faced with a mutiny fed by illegal actions (leaking classified information is a felony that carries a 10-year prison sentence), the president requires a pitbull for a counterintelligence chief. Comey, who in 2005 earned $6 million as general counsel for the giant defense contractor Lockheed Martin, is more of a Pomeranian.
The old "square peg in a round hole" problem.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Dem Discovers Trumpism Lives On

We don't often link to an article in Vox, which consistently leans left. Today we have an exception, the link provided by RealClearPolicy. Jeff Stein writes:
The big lesson from Virginia's election: we're still underestimating Trumpism.
Obviously the "we're" refers to Vox's normal Democrat readership. His point, a GOP unknown running on Trump's platform almost beat former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie in the VA gubernatorial primary.

Stein makes much of the Confederate battle flags at some of Corey Stewart's rallies, which suggests he fails to understand how Virginia which hosted the capital of the Confederacy feels about their role in The War Between the States. Many Virginians would not like to see its role in that Lost Cause downplayed, its monuments destroyed.

Stein's main point, a real discovery for him but one you may see as old hat, is that Trump's platform is still motivational to a lot of voters, and can be adopted by downballot candidates to their benefit.

Later ... Molly Ball who writes politics for The Atlantic, reaches the same conclusion.

Mile-High Misery

As we have three long plane flights tomorrow (Venice - Munich - Denver  - Jackson) I've been musing about what a hassle flying has become. Then I see an item in Drudge with the following title:
Complaints against airlines jump 70%.
It is no wonder complaints are up. Flying economy means ever-tinier seats with ever-shrinking legroom, no amenities, and fees for everything once included in the fare. Scheduling software means nearly every flight is chock-full. Because of the resulting misery, I refuse to fly economy on flights longer than an hour.

If we can't afford first class domestically and business class internationally, I'm staying on the ground, staying home if need be. I refuse to be miserable for 5-10 hours to save money. Life is too short to voluntarily suffer.

The upshot is that we probably fly less often than we otherwise would. I'd guess we aren't the only ones making that decision. There ought to be a solution but I don't know what it is or how to get there.

Dementia on the Hill

Dementia is no respecter of the mighty, and seemingly shows no party preference. Three elderly public figures who appear to be losing it are Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters and John McCain. Unlike Ronald Reagan, they don't seem self-aware enough to take themselves out of the spotlight as they become foggy, unfocused.

As our President famously tweets, it's sad. All had careers anyone would be proud of, and all are in danger of overwriting their legacy by not instinctively knowing when to leave the stage while honor remains intact. This is a real dilemma for legislators who often survive in office into their 70s, 80s, and beyond.

Lousy Aim, Worse Idea

Yesterday a left-wing conspiracy nut with lousy aim fired, by some estimates, 50 rounds from an AR-15 assault rifle. He managed to hit a few people practicing for a Congressional baseball game, so far killing none. Capitol police, there as guards, fatally shot the shooter.

Listen up, lefties, I'm only going to say this one time. You don't want to go down this road. The guys with most of the weaponry, and almost all of the range time and shooting skill, are on the right.

Start a shooting war with the NRA (and police) at your peril. The outcome will be like a WW II banzai charge into .50 cal. machine gun fire, pathetic bravery by suicidal idiots determined to earn the Darwin award.

The wiseacre who said "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me" was wrong obviously, words can and do hurt. But the First Amendment protects the words, while the Second Amendment protects the guns. Let's confine our fighting to words, and of course to voting. Save the guns for sport, hunting, and defending our homes from intruders.

It's legal to wish your opponents dead, it's not legal to help them get there. Let's keep it legal and, win or lose, survive the experience.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Travel Blogging XI

Ashore in Venice:  We left the MS Artemis today, said goodbye to our doughty little ship and her jolly crew. They picked up a new group of 'victims,' I mean "passengers" here in Venice today, we met a few. They'll be doing the trip we did, only in reverse, ending in Malta where we began. I wish them fair winds and following seas.

Now we're in a nice hotel - the Bonvecchiati - not far from St. Mark's Square, the heart of Venice. I gotta say Grand Circle has put us in nice hotels on both ends of this trip, the Corinthian Palace in Valletta was nice too.

I don't like touring Venice. That's not the PC thing to say, but there it is. I think what I object to most is there are only two ways to get anywhere: on foot or by boat. Boat is fine, it's the on foot part I resent.

I also don't like the dirt, the crowds, the bridges to climb over, the occasional sewer smells on the canals, and the humidity. It is certainly picturesque and I love cruising out of Venice on a huge cruise ship, majestically looming over the city down whose main 'street' you sail.

Relatively few people live in Venice anymore. Most of those who work here live on the mainland and commute to this 'renaissance theme park' from homes ashore. Living there is cheaper and more convenient.

Italians moved to these islands originally to escape Atilla and his Huns who swept down here in the dying days of the Roman empire. The marshes were malarial and might kill you, the Huns for sure would kill you, so out here they moved.

Have I mentioned the weather has been very hot and sticky the last three days? Darned tough slogging for old and not-in-the-best-condition travelers carrying a few (okay, a lot of) extra pounds.

We're here one more full day and fly out day after tomorrow. I'm ready to go home to clean, dry air, simple food, open spaces, and getting around as providence intended: by motor vehicle. I miss it. Living downtown and getting around by bicycle or on foot - the 'bomb' here - just isn't me.

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Yesterday we were in Ravenna, very nice seaside town with a million bicycles, the town being flat helps. It was the ususal mix of old this and that, including a church repurposed as the city main post office and some world class mosaics. Plus one excellent restaurant in a former cinema, its screen is still there. 

An interesting feature is dozens and dozens of art students sitting about sketching the architecture of the main square, some were quite good. Nice to see representational art, I am unmoved by most 'modern' or nonrepresentational art.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Travel Blogging X

Docked in Pesaro, Italy:  This morning we did a walking tour of city center Pesaro, a town of which none of us were aware before arrival. We were shown the contrast between the elegant, old renaissance buildings and the post-war, bomb damage replacement modern buildings.

Our guide was dismissive of the latter. Like many Europeans his ideal place to live would be in an ancient, stylish city-center building with modernized interiors (bath, kitchen, and climate control).

Afterwards the other DrC turned to me and said, "You'd hate living here, absolutely hate it." She was correct, of course, I don't like old places to live - visiting them is okay.

As a native Californian I'm accustomed to new things, new buildings, new houses. Over nearly 50 years of marriage we've had five new houses (bought 2 and built 3); sold three at various times, and still own two. Antiques interest me only in the sense that others value them and will pay big bucks for them.

Our tour guide, Giorgio, talked me out of going to San Marino this afternoon. Said there would be a lot of stairs as the town is anything but flat. I didn't think my knees would tolerate that very well; they do okay on level ground for maybe a mile. We did that mile this morning; hills would be harder, stairs harder still.

Tomorrow we are in Ravenna, the knees should be rested by then. It is where Dante Alighieri did most of his work and where he died. He is Italy's Shakespeare, their wordsmith numero uno.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Travel Blogging IX

Moored in Pesaro, Italy:  Today we went by bus to the mountaintop town of Urbino, once the ducal seat for the region, then a part of the Papal States in central Italy which reported to Rome. Today it is a university town in a hilltop setting not unlike that of Oregon's medical school.

The surrounding mountainous terrain is particularly beautiful in springtime, which this is. The region builds with brick as there is plentiful clay. The defensive walls are brick as is the ducal palace. I passed on the two-hour walk through the palace and spent the time on the square watching people.

The Caribinieri were having a ceremony honoring, I think, retirees. A band played and there was saluting. Then some talented dude played solo cool jazz sax a la New Orleans French Quarter streetcorner.

I breathed enough second-hand cigarette smoke to cause consumption. Italians haven't gotten the quit-smoking word.

Then we got back on the bus and went to this remote guest farm where we were given another multicourse Italian celebratory meal, better quality today. Their own cheeses, wines, home-made ravioli, sausages, potatoes, prefaced by antipasti, followed by some ho-hum desserts and an excellent bitter cherry liqueur.

Our flaky-looking bus driver got our big bus up this tiny one-lane dirt road to the farmhouse/guest house. Like so many Italians the farm's owner had relatives in the States.

The Urbino region is so pretty one could wish to live there except in winter when it snows. I couldn't help noticing that the hills that gave it beauty would make it a hellish place to fight battles, it is natural defensive terrain as the Allies learned to their sorrow in WW II.

Tomorrow we go to San Marino, a tiny republic totally surrounded by Italy, and arguably the oldest republic in the world, founded in the 400s ce. The other DrC has been looking forward to getting our passports visa stamped there, an absolute formality but a fun one.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Saturday Snickers

Once again Steven Hayward brings forward his collection of cartoons, captioned photos, and posters in the spirit of conservative fun for Power Line readers. Some favorites described:

A fake ad for Depends incontinence products, featuring James Comey as spokesperson, captioned:
Man up with guards and shields for men
James Comey admits:
Sometimes I leak
A photo of the increasingly clueless Sen. John McCain, captioned:
Did Hillary help you hijack the plane?
Followed by a photo of a puzzled James Comey, captioned:
What?
Followed by another photo of McCain, captioned:
I said, do you know the muffin man?
Photo of one of those church billboards with movable letters so you can build your own message each week, the sign reads:
When I find myself in tweets
O' trouble Mother Russia
Comes to me, speaking words
Of wisdom ... covfefe!
Two identical photos of earth as seen from space, the first is labeled:
Earth before Trump exits the Paris climate agreement
The second is labeled:
Earth after Trump exits the Paris climate agreement
Cartoon of a giant wolf wearing a headcloth with open mouth, labeled "Radical Islam." Traipsing into its mouth are four little lambs wearing respectively the flags of Germany, France, Britain, and Sweden, singing: "We're not wolfophobic." The whole cartoon is labeled "Death by Political Correctness."

Photo of three young, long-haired women, open carrying holstered hand guns, captioned:
Dear Muslim Rapists in Germany
Try That Sh*t in Texas and
We'll 'Change' Your Life.

Travel Blogging VIII

Docked in Ortona Harbor:  Today we took buses to L'Aquila, which translates as "the eagle." It is in the Apennine Mountains and is an earthquake survivor. They had the "big one" in 2009 and are still trying to recover from it - many construction sites in downtown. It killed over 300 - no joke.

As you might surmise, it was the old "stone-on-stone" buildings in the city center which sustained the most damage. The newer buildings are built to earthquake resistant standards and came through with little trauma.

En route we saw a town which anchored the eastern end of the Gustav Line across the peninsula in the same way Monte Cassino anchored the western end. Like Monte C it was destroyed in the fighting and has been rebuilt.

We had our Grand Circle 'patented' home-hosted meal in L'Aquila and our group of seven drew the lucky household. Isabella, her husband Paulo, and her kid sister Laura were our hosts in a modern apartment on the outskirts. She works as a translator and travel agent, he in his family's hotel, and the cute sister is doing a masters in neuroscience. All three had decent, if basic, English.

They fed us the whole Italian festive meal, consisting of antipasti, bread, wine, followed by lasagna, followed by pork steak and salad, followed by excellent tiramisu, and finally a choice of 4 liqueurs. We couldn't eat it all but most was good and plenty and we felt we should try so as not to offend our hosts. It was over the top, basically a potlatch experience.

As I will tell GCCL when the questionnaire arrives, the main drawback to this trip has been the ship's parking places in port. These have all been a loooooong way from the town center, in some cases a mile or so.

They need to run a shuttle or at least set up a taxi pool so we could ride to town, sightsee on foot, and then return to ship by taxi. I'd spend the $$ gladly in order to avoid long boring walks on breakwater roads.

The lack of transport has kept me from going ashore a couple of days, and it didn't need to do so. When we've had a bus at the gangway, I've gone every time save one, and that one included a long walk at the site of the cave houses.

Tomorrow we dock in Pesaro and bus to Urbino, a university town I've actually heard of. We've only had one night of rough water - 2 nites ago - and I won't mind if we don't have another.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Disaggregation Trend Continues

I've been wondering when we would see the news reported in this story, by AFP for Yahoo News. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.
The leader of Spain's Catalonia region, where a separatist movement is in full swing, on Friday announced an independence referendum for October 1 in defiance of Madrid which is firmly against such a vote.

Speaking in Barcelona, Carles Puigdemont said the question would be: "Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic." Catalonia, a wealthy, 7.5-million-strong region with its own language and customs, has long demanded greater autonomy.
Current polling suggests it may face the same negative fate as the recent independence vote in Scotland.

Britain Votes

Last night ... The British parliamentary election happened today and, if exit polls are to be believed, PM May lost seats. Whether she lost enough to lose the majority is unclear at this writing. More later.

Today ... May did lose the majority, calling the snap election was a really bad choice on her part. I expect her to resign later today. My analysis (from too far away to be meaningful) is the Brits blamed her party for not stopping the three recent acts of terrorism. I doubt they believe other parties could do better but needed to punish the Conservatives for not trying harder.

The Tories still have the largest single bloc of seats in Parliament. I suppose they'll try to put together a coalition but it will probably be weak as just about every party except the Conservatives is anti-Brexit, for one reason or another.

In many ways the biggest story of the evening was the absolute pasting the Scottish National Party took, losing 21 of their 56 seats in Parliament. Brave talk about another referendum on independence rings hollow now. The big gainers in Scotland were Tory candidates. Labour which once dominated picked up a few, as did the Lib Dems.

Perhaps this was a "vote against" election; the victims: Conservatives and SNP. The beneficiaries were whoever was left, mostly Labour but also Lib Dem and the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.

Later ... May says she won't resign, but perhaps form a coalition with the main Protestant party in northern Ireland, the DUP. As I write she has yet to go to the Queen to ask permission to form a government.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Travel Blogging VII

Steaming in the Adriatic Sea:  A small ship in a rough sea is a recipe for a very rough ride. That's what we've had ever since leaving Monopoli. Perhaps 8 feet from wave crest to trough bottom.

MS Artemis is small, 48 passengers fully loaded. She's seaworthy, but doesn't much cushion the bucking and rocking. We skipped dinner, it seemed the prudent thing to do.

So ... eight hours of 'thrill ride' and no end in sight. The whole distance to our next port is only 14 hours  so perhaps another six hours of rocking and pounding? Our cabin is the farthest forward so it pitches up and down more than one amidships.

----------

In spite of the weather, the satellite TV reception has been good and we saw most of the James Comey testimony via CNN. We didn't hear all of it but could see the screen from where we sat. 

From CNN's headlines I gather the most damning thing he said was that he believed Trump had "lied" about him and the FBI. The exact nature of the lie wasn't clear, probably criticism with which Comey didn't agree. 

If the speaker erroneously believes what he is saying to be true, it cannot be a lie. It is instead a misstatement based on faulty or missing knowledge. The difference between a lie and a misstatement is not a trivial one. It speaks to the issue of intent to deceive.

The Dems' Many Problems

Thomas B. Edsall is one of the New York Times' house progressives and, as such, I normally avoid his columns. Today's column is an exception, in it he catalogues the Democratic Party's weaknesses.

Edsall cites source after source which make the point that Democrats have a problem with all working class voters, not just white working class voters. One of the most interesting things he notes is a study which found it was the successful members of the white working class who voted for Trump, moreso than the unsuccessful ones. In other words, those who pay income taxes which support the unsuccessful half, whom they know to be mostly drugged-up layabouts.

What Edsall never mentions is that the party has been captured by what Kotkin calls "the clerisy," defined as academia, the media, non-profits, and government. I guess outfits like the Sierra Club and PETA fit into the "non-profits" category. Happily for Republicans, the clerisy shares few interests with working class voters, once a key Democrat constituency, now a Republican mainstay.

Divorce Instead of Civil War?

Let me recommend to you an article by David French of National Review in which he argues that the process by which Americans are choosing to live near others of like belief continues apace. Some key thoughts:
Are we in the midst of a more or less conventional culture war? Are we, as Dennis Prager and others argue, fighting a kind of “cold” civil war? Or are we facing something else entirely?

I’d argue that we face “something else,” and that something else is more akin to the beginning stages of a national divorce than it is to a civil war. This contention rests fundamentally in two trends, one political and the other far beyond politics. The combination of negative polarization and a phenomenon that economist Tyler Cowen calls “matching” is leading to a national separation so profound that Americans may not have the desire to fight to stay together.

Here’s the New York Times, in a report shortly after the 2016 election: “The proportion of voters living in counties that were won in a landslide for the Democratic or Republican presidential candidate has steadily increased over the last seven elections and now makes up a whopping 60 percent of the electorate.”

A civil war results when the desire for unification and domination overrides the desire for separation and self-determination. The American civil war is a classic example. There were grounds for separation — North and South were culturally different on a scale that dwarfs modern divides between red and blue — but the North did not consent. It sought to first unify and then transform the southern states.

By contrast, had Scotland voted to leave the United Kingdom, would England have mobilized in response? No, the U.K. came close to its own national divorce, the dissolution of a union generations older than the American republic.
If the article has a weak portion, it is French's "solution" - federalism. He says let California be California and Texas be Texas. Basically, let red states follow conservative policies and blue states follow liberal ones.

I don't see our federal courts allowing sufficient leeway on issues like abortion and LGBT rights, for instance. Or on extent of welfare state benefits. Do you?

What is to keep red states from "exporting" their welfare populations to blue states by being stingy with benefits? Suppose CA wants to ban pistols, given open borders how do they accomplish this?

Given internal freedom of movement, how can Montana have a different refugee policy than Florida, or than New Jersey? How can red states keep out Internet porn, assuming they'd want to? Suppose Tennessee decided to admit no Muslims, could they do this?

I believe French lacked the will to follow his "divorce" analogy to its logical conclusion which is separate countries with separate constitutions, courts, and defended borders. Maybe not civil war, maybe just basic divorce: the going of separate ways, growing apart.

A final thought about "divorce" - I was chatting up a neighbor in Wyoming who said he'd gladly let California have independence just to get rid of all those damned liberals. It becomes "thinkable."

ABC: Comey Clears Trump

ABC News analyzes James Comey's released-in-advance opening statement to the Congressional committee before which he will testafy later today. Their conclusions are plain:
Comey says the Trump encounters -- nine one-on-ones over four months -- were uncomfortable, but not impactful. The investigations continued unimpeded. The conversations may have been highly unusual, if not grossly inappropriate, but not necessarily illegal.

Comey even reveals for the first time that Trump encouraged him in private to continue the FBI investigation into his associates: "The president went on to say that if there were some 'satellite' associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out."

Some members of Congress see in Mueller's blessing of Comey's testimony an all-clear for Trump. "In the mind of special counselor Mueller, there is no case to be made," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) –- a frequent Trump critic -- on Fox News tonight. "If he felt like he had a case, he wouldn't let his chief and only witness go out in public and get beat up."

"This is the best evidence yet that in the mind of the special counsel there is no obstruction of justice case to be made against President Trump," he added.
We'll know more following Comey's testimony later today. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Later ... law school professor Jonathan Turley looks at the evidence and the Comey statement for USA Today and reaches the same conclusion, in a more lawyerly way.

Coulter Nails It

Writing at the Daily Caller, snarkmeister Ann Coulter crafts a tasty mix of icy truth and sarcasm. Today her topic is the fear of Islamophobia.
In Britain, as in the U.S., when an Islamic terrorist is said to be, “known to law enforcement,” the translation is: “He is being actively ignored by law enforcement.”

After the latest terrorist attack in Britain — at least as of this writing — Prime Minister Theresa May bravely announced, “Enough is enough!”

What is the point of these macho proclamations after every terrorist attack? Nothing will be done to stop the next attack. Political correctness prohibits us from doing anything that might stop it.

Poland doesn’t admit Muslims: It has no terrorism. Japan doesn’t admit Muslims: It has no terrorism. The United Kingdom and the United States used to have very few Muslims: They used to have almost no terrorism.

Until any Western leader is willing to reduce the number of Muslims in our midst, could they spare us the big talk? “We surrender” would at least have the virtue of honesty.
Both snarky and true, worse luck. Nobody in authority is yet serious about Islamist terrorism; it is time for our leaders to grow a pair. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Travel Blogging VI

Docked in Monopoli, Italy:  Today is our second day in this port, we leave this afternoon. Yesterday we went to a village nearby which features insane circular houses made of piled stone, called "trulli." See photos of trulli at cruztalkingtwo.blogspot.com, the other DrC's blog.

They stack the stones very carefully without mortar and then plaster the interiors to seal the cracks. The roofs are conical and, again, stacked stone with no interior support structure. It doesn't look like it should work but it does. There are hundreds of them, amazing looking things.

We had lunch at a nearby guest farm, one of a series of fortified farms that this region once had, very picturesque with 1000 year old olive trees whose trunks may be 30 ft. in circumference - very gnarled. This place operates as an inn/working farm. Great food, great olive oil too. Much talk about recycling, renewables, and organic this and that, "the message" curated for the "woke," of whom I'm proud not to be one.

Today the truly athletic are hiking to a village where the houses are caves, carved in the soft limestone. It is supposed to be the oldest continuously occupied man-created space on the planet. It's a claim hard to disprove. I passed on that trip, I'm taking a vacation from my vacation.

Later ... I forgot to mention the folklore about why trulli were "invented." Folklore says it was tax avoidance. No house was taxable until completed, so when they heard the taxman was coming they'd take down the conical roof, until he left, whereupon they'd restack it and continue as before.

I call this "folklore" since I don't believe any tax collector was stupid enough to be fooled this way more than once. How could one imagine every house in town was incomplete? Total nonsense, but treated as gospel.

Gone to Texas

Entrepreneurship is a wonderful thing. Paul Chabot moved from CA to TX and loved it, so he's set up a company to help conservatives move from blue to red states. CNSNews reports his firm, Conservative Move, will help you make the transition, including job search before you commit.

He is touting an area northeast of Dallas in which the DrsC spent a year living some 13 years ago. We were actually in the adjacent county (Hunt) but for certain district purposes also considered to be in Collin county.

It is nice country, semi-rural, plenty conservative, and the weather isn't so different from interior Northern California, except for tornados. On the other hand, there are no earthquakes and houses are much cheaper to buy. Did I mention Texas has no state income tax whatsoever? Add that to the lower home prices and your salary will go far.

I would caution those considering moving about two things, first while Texans are some of the friendliest people on the planet, they tend to only become friends with members of their church. I make here a distinction here between geniality and willingness to take the next step and become a friend, someone who'd invite your family over for a meal.

Secondly, but relatedly, the concept of separation of church and state never quite made it to Texas. Government officials at all levels below federal tend to let their faith expand into their official roles.

We saw a state university president offer Grace before a meal that was an official part of the university's business, held on university property. Not a perfunctory Grace either, but one thought out and made relevant to the event at which it was offered, and done in "the Lord Jesus Christ's name," not in the name of some anonymous God.

Expect religion to be accomodated in the public schools, even prayer. Expect to hear people talk about their faith and how they want to invest additional time and energy therein. As a non-church-goer, expect to remain an outsider, albeit one treated kindly.

We did not leave TX because we disliked it. We already owned homes in two other states and never intended to stay longer than a year or two, as we'd come out of retirement to go work there "just to experience TX."

We did miss mountains. Talk about flat, when people in the Dallas area wisecrack there are no mountains between there and the North Pole, they're pretty much correct if you head due north. The Rockies are a couple of days' drive away to the northwest. If we moved back to TX - a possibility - we'd opt for the rolling hill country outside of San Antonio, much more scenic (less flat).

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Travel Blogging V

Alongside in the harbor of Otranto: Otranto is on the back of the heel of the boot. We spent the day here, it's one of the upscale resort regions of Southern Italy. There are wonderful fortifications, walls, an ancient village, and a newer section all gathered around a yacht/fishing harbor and beach.

Grand Circle had it planned that we'd walk from our mooring to the village, then walk around it, then walk back - too much walking. I opted to stay aboard.

E decided I needed to see Otranto so we hired a tuk-tuk back into town in the afternoon. We saw the cathedral's mosaic tile flooring, the various sights, and came back to the ship not tired. Costly, but so what?

The Turks decapitated some 800 local people who wouldn't convert to Islam. The Church has declared them martyrs to the faith. Not sure if that makes them saints. I wisecracked to our driver that Italy was again being invaded by the same aggressive faith, but he just looked blank, nonplussed. His English was perfunctory.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Travel Blogging IV

Cruising the Ionian Sea, south of Italy:  We spent yesterday at a location that could be the sole of the boot, Riace (pronounced REE-ah-che) in the province of Calabria. This part of Italy is poor, it looks like coastal Southern California, has somewhat similar weather, grows oranges and olives, and attracts hordes of tourists to its beaches.

Year round residents are mostly agriculturists and the land is clay, not great for growing. The small villages have lost population for decades, Riace managed to reverse that trend, a classic case of taking lemons and making lemonade.

The mayor took in a shipload of hungry, sick, desperate Kurdish refugees who washed up on the beach, and tried to help them. Being entrepreneurial, he got others (Germans, I think) to fund the effort and created a new "industry" for his dying village - refugee rehabilitation.

He housed them in the abandoned houses, which he then paid them to fix up. The Kurds are mostly gone, having learned Italian, perhaps a trade, and something about being a "European." Now the current refugees in residence are a mix of Africans and Pakistanis.

Our tour group, mostly Trump-hating liberals, should have thought the whole enterprise wonderfully uplifting and holy. Actually, a fair number wondered what doing make-work jobs and living in an ancient village would teach third-world migrants, how they would fare after leaving Riace.

In a region of clay, a logical occupation is potter. The village teaches some to be potters but I have to wonder if there will be a market for so much tourist kitsch.

As is typical with help-the-poor schemes, the main beneficiaries are the villagers who created employment for themselves as professional refugee-enablers. In his own way the mayor is a self-invented hero not unlike the founder of the Grameen Bank which makes loans to the poor.

The mayor of Riace is somewhat famous and in-demand as a speaker, like that bank founder. Perhaps his motives were pure, perhaps self-serving, I cannot say.

----------

On another topic, once you've seen Sicily and Calabria, you understand why so many Italian immigrants ended up in coastal California. Quite simply the California coast looked like home, had the same climate - wet winters and dry summers - and fishing was a realistic occupation. They looked at it and said to themselves, "I know how to deal with this environment."

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Chief Knows

Writing in the Dallas Morning News, former Dallas Police Chief David Brown says some insightful things about the drug problems at the center of much police work.
When I first joined the force, I thought it was about supply, and to the extent that you could curtail that supply, I reasoned, you could restore some order. That is not entirely untrue, but that approach does not do anything to address the demand for illegal substances. The drug dealers exist only because their customers keep buying.

What first drives people to experiment with drugs, and why do they keep returning? Aside from basic physical addiction, they keep coming back because, on some level, the drugs are working for them. They are meeting a need. They are blunting a pain that feels too overwhelming to contend with. Or they are medicating a mental illness that, in a world that still stigmatizes mental illness, has gone undiagnosed.
There is a huge amount of undiagnosed, self-medicated mental illness in our society. We no longer have the institutions necessary to deal with those, so many sufferers end up in prison.

Prison keeps the mentally ill off the street (for some limited period) but does little to identify and treat their underlying pathologies. See my recent rant on our non-treatment of mental illness here.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Travel Blogging III

Valletta Harbor, Malta:  Today we boarded the MS Artemis, sister ship to the MS Athena we sailed on some years ago. It can handle 48 passengers and we have over 40 aboard, plus the crew which is from Croatia, Montenegro, Romania, Slovakia, India, and Indonesia. There may have been a Serb in the mix, too.

Most of these guys - all guys, no women - are not far from home. We will sail up the western shore of the Adriatic Sea, and their homes - most of them - are on its eastern shore. Not, of course, true for the Asians who work in the "hotel" side of the ship - food prep, dining service, and room stewards.

It turns out Croatians are a seafaring people, our captain and his next couple of guys are from there. Some years ago the ship we sailed to Antarctica had a Croatian crew.

A fun fact: Valletta has a bunch of electric taxis that can zip you around its hilly streets. They are truly just big golf carts - no meters - but it got the job done, took us from atop the hill down to sea level and along the harbor promenade to the ship terminal. Perhaps other cities should consider it as they're quiet and non-polluting.

Valletta is not the historical capital of Malta, but was built on a greenfield site by the Knights of St. John Hospitaller, aka Knights of Malta. They built it as a fortification/headquarters city to defend the main harbor of Malta. It is the largest protected harbor in the Mediterranean and, as such, much desired by various occupying powers - most recently the British. Those who don't know their World War II history were reminded Malta was heavily bombed by the Axis powers.

We got a language lesson this morning, about Maltese language and culture. Maltese is an amalgam of Arabic grammar, Italian, Arabic and English vocabulary, written in Roman characters by a Christian people. There was no effort to teach us Maltese, as our lecturer said even Maltese kids don't speak it much, preferring English.

A Promise Kept

Like Trump or hate him, you have to say he is checking off his campaign promises, at least those he can do without needing Congress to dedigitate and enact legislation. Pulling out of the Paris climate accord was a campaign promise, now a promise kept.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Travel Blogging II

Valletta, Malta:  Yesterday we visited what is the supposedly most ancient site of neolithic human archetecture on the planet. A temple (they think) on a promontory overlooking the sea, made of enormous blocks of limestone by a people who vanished a thousand years before the pyramids were built, two thousand years before Stonehenge.

The temple has the same "aligned with the solstices" feature as Stonehenge, sun worship seems to have been very widespread among early humans. Apparently the temple is one of many on this island, some 50 miles south of Sicily.

Archeologists are relatively certain Malta was settled from Sicily, as it can been seen from there on an exceptionally clear day. The way they describe that process is brutal: primitive boats didn't have an excellent chance of reaching Malta from Sicily. Probably many foundered and the occupants died. However, if you launch 70 such rafts or boats, some will make it, and viola, settlement has occurred.

Today we transit from hotel to ship, but remain here in port until tomorrow as we have more of Malta to see, the ship becomes our "hotel."

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Travel Blogging I

Valletta, Malta:  We flew 1/3 the way around the world yesterday - Wyoming to Malta via Denver and Frankfurt - 8 time zones. Tell me that won't screw up our bio clocks a bunch.

Malta is a funny place, if you fly in as we did today you see how dry and barren the island is at this time of year. Rain happens mostly in winter, something it shares with California.

Malta is climatically more related to North Africa than to Europe. If you sail in you see the harbor which looks renaissance Italian.

The local language is a mixture of Italian and Arabic written in Roman script, very odd looking. The island holds a major election on Sunday and there are these billboards each picturing a most mainstream European looking man in suit and tie labeled with the frankly hellish looking local language touting their strengths, platforms or maybe their hat sizes, there's no way to guess.

It isn't clear why the Maltese bother with a local language, they were a British colony until the mid 1960s and nearly everybody speaks and reads English. Off island they use exclusively English as nobody there knows Maltese.

Parts of the quite large metropolitan area of Valletta look North African, parts look Southern Italian, and the formerly British parts look modern. Its population is roughly 300,000+.

The original inhabitants were Phoenician and Carthagenian, and most of today's indigenous population is nominally Roman Catholic. Brits retire here, if they can afford to do so, for the warm, dry weather.

Our hotel, the Corinthia Palace, resembles the palace hotel in Cairo - very atmospheric.

Longtime Lefty Slum

The New York Post, as well as others, have recently written about the way radical students have taken over Evergreen State College in Washington state. The wuss president has caved into minority demands to basically let them run the place and routinely humiliate him.

Chances are, you've never heard of the school and imagine something drastic has happened to it. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Evergreen State has been a slough of despond, a haunt of doped-up, 70s-nostalgic flower children and radicals for decades.

It is this very reputation, as a hangout of radicals, deviants, and malcontents, which attracted the black racists and native American nationalists who now terrorize the spineless president. He was doubtless chosen to maintain the school's unique "character;" assuming reports are accurate, he has succeeded admirably.

California has its own version of Evergreen State: the Santa Cruz campus of UC. Centralizing most of the odd bods in one location has its advantages, so long as those who go there understand its de facto "specialization" in weirdness.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Punch, Kick and Stomp Elites

The Chicago Tribune's John Kass has good insight. He sees Trump as a symptom of the failures of the coastal elites to respond to the needs of the "deplorable" interior, as we noted yesterday.
I grew up with these people. They don't deserve the shaming that comes their way.

They were betrayed. And all they want, really, is meaningful work and to not be told they're idiotic or hateful simply because they dare support traditional values, and that a nation should shape its culture by controlling its own borders.

They knew Trump was loud, they knew he was vulgar, they knew he was trouble. And they voted for him because they wanted him to make trouble.

They wanted him to punch the Washington elites in the mouth, to kick them and stomp on them as they had been kicked and stomped on. They detest the ruling elites in the modern Versailles so much that they installed a character like Trump.
Do you see much with which to disagree? I don't. A brash wealthy guy who was able (and willing) to self-fund a campaign was the only sort of candidate who could represent their values. All others were dependent on the donor class which was happy with the status quo and wanted no change therefrom.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Wisdom from An Odd Source

Andrew O'Hehir has spent the last 20 years at Salon, a left-wing website I normally avoid like the plague. Atypically, he has written a long article you might enjoy, taking fellow Democrats to task about their party's many failures. His message to delusional Democrats:
Get over Montana already — and stop trolling yourself with that stupid special election in Georgia too. They don’t mean anything, and anyway — that dude Jon Ossoff? He’s about the lamest excuse for a national progressive hero in the entire history of Democratic Party milquetoast triangulation. Oh, and since we’re on the subject: Forget about the “blue wave” of 2018. Forget about the Democratic majority of 2019. Forget about the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Have you even been paying attention? Because none of that stuff is happening and it’s all a massive distraction.
About Gianforte's win in a Montana by-election, after decking a persistent reporter:
I think it’s safe to say that likely Republican voters in Montana, and damn near everywhere else, can be divided into two groups: those who didn’t much care or were inclined to look the other way, and those who were absolutely thrilled.
As for the future:
My position is that Donald Trump is a symptom of the fundamental brokenness of American politics, not the cause.

Right now the Democratic Party has no clear sense of mission and no coherent national message, except that it is not the party of Donald Trump. I can understand the appeal of that message, the longing for a return to normalcy, calm and order that it embodies. (snip) There is no “normal” state we can return to.
Yes, O'Hehir hates Trump and wishes he would just go away, but his political grasp otherwise isn't far off the mark. Trump was nominated because establishment Republicans were empty suits, do-nothing careerists. Trump was elected because a huge swathe of voters felt unrepresented by the Democrats.

Trump represents a beginning in the rebuilding the Republicans needed to do, the Democrats haven't yet begun their needed rebuilding, but O'Hehir thinks they need to get started. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Tuesday Wisdom

Stephen Green, who guest blogs at Instapundit, pens a very puissant sentence (scroll down) describing today's politics of the left and its problems with black voter turnout.
The Democratic party has been captured by gentry liberals and tech titans who don’t share many interests in common with African-American voters, and President Obama’s race could provide cover for only so long.
Note: Green's "only so long" = 8 years. I'll remind you of my prediction - Democrats will nominate no white for president during the next several quadrennial cycles.

My prediction presumes Democrats continue to be serious about winning, unlike Britain's Labour Party which seemingly has given up.

Trump Right, Merkel Upset

CNBC columnist Jake Novak writes that Trump's approach to Europe - backing away from the Paris climate accords and insisting Europe pay its fair share of defense costs - is the right one. I won't try to summarize his arguments, you should read them for yourself.

Basically, Novak observes Europe has been "free riding" on U.S. aid and defense spending for the last 70+ years. You could argue it was justified for the first couple of decades of rebuilding wartime damage, it hasn't been justified for the past 50 years.

Free riding is how Europe affords elaborate social spending. Social spending we cannot afford because our money defends them, in addition to ourselves. Trump is absolutely correct affluent Europe needs to carry its own weight.

Arriviste

Writing at Investor's Business Daily, Dennis Prager examines the reasons why there are conservatives who persist in never-Trumpism. His main reason is one I'm not certain I share, it's the Flight 93 thing.

He believes the country was doomed if Hillary was elected, and the anti-Trumpers don't agree. I lean toward the "don't agree" side, but don't find that hindering me from supporting Trump, while recognizing his shortcomings. If we could survive Obama, we could have survived another Clinton but will do better with Trump, in my view.

I find more persuasive Prager's other reasons.
Anti-Trump conservatives are a very refined group of people. Trump doesn't talk like them. Moreover, the cultural milieu in which the vast majority of anti-Trump conservatives live and/or work means that to support Trump is to render oneself contemptible at all elite dinner parties.

In addition, anti-Trump conservatives see themselves as highly moral people (which they often are) who are duty-bound not to compromise themselves by strongly supporting Trump, whom they largely view as morally defective.
Translaton: It is a social class issue. Trump is nouveau riche - somewhat in fact, particularly in behavior. This is anathema among anti-Trumpers' contemporaries but endears him to many of those who were never rich (and would behave as he does if riches ever came their way). Hint: That group includes most Americans.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Not All Battle Scars Are Visible

Mike Allen writes at Axios about Memorial Day and about veterans' lives, which are often difficult.
About 20 veterans a day commit suicide, per the Veterans Administration: "In 2014, the latest year available, more than 7,400 veterans took their own lives, accounting for 18% of all suicides in America. Veterans make up less than 9% of the U.S. population."
By my envelope-back calculation, that means a veteran is twice as likely to commit suicide as a non-veteran. Many get what in the Foreign Legion is called le cafard. Watching friends die, and dealing death yourself ... these things put the mind at risk.

Memorial Day Musing

On Memorial Day, we honor those who have died while serving in our nation's military. I choose to also honor those who risked death and survived, but still carry the scars.

Our freedom isn't free, it was purchased with the blood of those who fought to secure it. Unless I'm much mistaken, we haven't seen the last of such "purchases."

We live in a dangerous world, at the top of the food chain. Our biggest threat is other people, often those who belong to other "tribes" or nations. While an unattractive aspect of humanity, it cannot be denied or wished away.

The Fourth Reich

ABC News has a longer, more complete version of the Angela Merkel quote cited in yesterday's post. She said:
The times when we could completely count on others, they are over to a certain extent. I have experienced this in the last few days. And that is why I can only say that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands.

Of course [we are] in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain and as good neighbors wherever that is possible also with other countries, even with Russia. But we have to know that we must fight for our future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans, and that's what I want to do together with you.
Angela Merkel is the latest in a line of German Chancellors who have stealthily accomplished what Adolf Hitler could not do by force - institutionalize German domination of most of continental Europe. Doing it via economics and the bargaining table in Brussels has generated less resistance but, of course, took much longer and probably wasn't as satisfying as Blitzkrieg.