Sunday, April 30, 2017

Where Ideas Go To Die

John Kass writes opinion for the Chicago Tribune. Today he bemoans the rising fascism of the left, seen most vividly on our campuses. He writes:
It's there in front of you, the thuggish mobs of the left killing free speech at American universities. The thugs call themselves antifas, for anti-fascists.

They beat people up and break things and set fires and intimidate. These are not anti-fascists. These are fascists. This is what fascists do.

American universities were once thought to be the last great refuge of ideas, where ideas could flourish and be challenged and debated. But today, the university is the place where liberty and ideas go to die.

If the left agrees with your views, you may speak. If the left doesn't agree, they will shut you down. This is America now.

University administrators have made a show of wringing their hands. But they're hypocrites. They're part of this. They are of the same cloth. They allowed this seed to bloom. They watered it, by giving in to the young who demanded a safe space from intellectual challenge.

True enough, but we've told those "administrators" they absolutely must keep lots of minority kids on campus and graduate them. And minority kids do hear things that offend them, spoken intentionally or not. Sometimes it's because their subcultures hold different values than our mainstream culture holds.

Given power for the first (and possibly only) time in their lives, the minority kids bully college administrators, threatening to leave en masse or make a scene. To meet that first goal, administrators believe they must suppress things minority kids find offensive.

Should they? No, they should refuse such demands. They don't because white administrators know, unlike the minority students, they are expendable and replaceable, easily thrown under the bus, careers ruined.

Finally, nobody stands up for free speech by conservatives, since nearly all who could safely do so are lefties. Now you know why campuses roll over and play dead for angry snowflakes.

Actual Reportage at NYT

Writing in The New York Times, for which he reports, Peter Baker tackles the subject of
How Trump Has Reshaped the Presidency, and How It's Changed Him, Too.
Considering where it appears and how the NYT modal reader feels, the article is considerably balanced and not excessively judgmental. Props to Baker for stifling in his own feelings and describing the President relatively accurately.

Baker may have "committed" actual journalism. Isn't it sad real journalism is so rare as to be noteworthy?

True, it's more fun to be an opinion writer. But we opinion writers need good reportage, minus the bias, upon which to opine.

Let's honor decent reporting when we read or watch it. Way to go, Peter.

Trump's PA Speech

CNN quotes long-time political analyst David Gergen on the subject of President Trump's speech last night in Pennsylvania.
This was the most divisive speech I've ever heard from a sitting American president. He played to his base and he treated his other listeners, the rest of the people who have been disturbed about him or oppose him, he treated them basically as "I don't care, I don't give a damn what you think, because you're frankly like the enemy."
Was it divisive? Yes, certainly. Was Trump justified in so doing? Of course.

Are they the enemy? They have explicitly declared themselves to be his enemy.

Should he take them at their word? Trump would be a fool to do otherwise.

Remember who started this whole round of "identity group politics" ... Democrats. As we have said repeatedly, Democrats have sown the identity group wind and are now reaping the identity group whirlwind.

It is Karma.

Serious Sunday Snark

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds writing about the flop that was the White House Correspondents' Dinner without a President on hand to be roasted.
Under Obama, the press was allowed to pretend that it was made up of celebrities on a par with Hollywood stars. Under Trump, it’s been stripped of that delusion. And they’ll never forgive him for that.
Perhaps they'll pine away and die like post-Soviet Russians and post-industrial blue-collar Americans - two diminished groups who "usta be somebody" once upon a time.

Having had a film made about them, only Woodward and Bernstein halfway are celebrities. The rest ... not really.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Weird Oceanographic Science

Popular Mechanics has a piece on California's concerns about rising ocean levels. Especially at risk are the cities around San Francisco Bay. Hat tip to RealClearScience for the link.

There is nothing technically difficult about building an earth fill dam across the Golden Gate and installing locks to pass ships in and out. Add some big pumps to keep runoff from overfilling the bay and a rise of several feet need be no particular threat to the greater Bay Area and inland low-lying areas like Sacramento and Stockton.

Actually, in this scenario a good argument can be made for sending the surplus water to SoCal via aqueducts instead of pumping it into the Pacific. SoCal can always use more fresh water.

Over time the Bay would become brackish and perhaps eventually fresh water. This would destroy the salt pan operators near Union City.

Weird Physical Science

Seven years ago we wrote about boarding a cruise ship that had, the previous night, encountered a rogue wave in the Mediterranean Sea off the west coast of Italy, not far from Naples. We boarded on November 22, 2008, and the wave hit the previous midnight.

The wave broke windows in the buffet of the Grand Princess, located on the top deck over 100 feet above the waterline. And it stopped the ship dead in the water, when it was probably steaming at 16 knots. In spite of some damage, she left Civitavecchia (port of Rome) only a few hours late on the 22nd and did a decent job of the longish cruise we'd booked.

I remind you of this ancient "news" because I just spotted a link at Instapundit to an article about research on rogue waves. Having talked to people who, the night before, rode one out and were thrown about, I know they're no joke. reports:
By precisely controlling the quantum behavior of an ultracold atomic gas, Rice University physicists have created a model system for studying the wave phenomenon that may bring about rogue waves in Earth's oceans.

The research appears this week in Science. The researchers said their experimental system could provide clues about the underlying physics of rogue waves—100-foot walls of water that are the stuff of sailing lore but were only confirmed scientifically within the past two decades. 
With any luck, I'll never actually experience one of these at sea. Hearing about it from survivors was excitement enough.

Reflexively Anti-Reform

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., who writes for The Wall Street Journal, looks at forces which prevent the government solving problems everyone knows exist.
The major media (are) the most reflexively anti-reform institution in American life. Both major parties look like hotbeds of freethinking in comparison.
His point, whenever Congress or the President wants to eliminate a Federal program the media goes all weepy about the supposed victims who may lose something which (a) they probably should never have been given in the first place, and (b) likely has done them little or no good.

The main losers, never mentioned by the media, are the bureaucrats who "manage" the programs and who spend every waking moment scheming to increase their budgets.

Saturday Snark

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds reports President Trump sarcastically referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas," making reference to her phony claim of Native American descent. NBC News' Daniel Arkin does a story which alleges Trump is putting down Native Americans, when all he's really doing is putting down Warren. One of the comments is serious snark:
Warren = fake Indian.   Arkin = fake journalist.

Saturday Snickers

Every Saturday Steven Hayward of Power Line brings forth his current collection of cartoons, whimsically captioned photos, and general snark. You may have noticed I don't always identify my favorites, perhaps because some weeks bring forth not-so-funny reactions, or at least ones that don't amuse me much. This week's good ones:

Two photos, one of KKK members in hoods and robes, one of Antifa members in black hoodies and balaclavas. These are respectively labeled:
Democrat Party Then                Democrat Party Now
A movie still of Tom Hanks playing Forrest Gump, looking bewildered, captioned:
And one day for no particular reason
We became offended by everything
Two panel cartoon. First panel shows Obama who speaks to a generic bureaucrat:
Obama: Allow boys in the girl's bathroom or lose federal funding.
Bureaucrat: Cool.
Second panel shows Trump who speaks to the same generic bureaucrat:
Trunp: Follow immigration law or lose federal funding.
Bureaucrat: Unconstitutional.
Photo of the smiling leader of North Korea waving, captioned:
Kim Jong Un has people killed at the drop of a hat,
Yet curiously, allows his barber to live.
Photo of President Obama posed before an American flag, captioned:
Who remembers what this man accomplished in his first 100 days? Or during his 8 years in office?
Poster with this slogan:
If Democrats thought for one minute
that illegals were voting Republican,
you'd see the Border Wall from Space!
Cartoon of the Democrat donkey, lying dead on its back with four feet in the air, captioned:
A photo of two chicken McNuggets and a french fry drizzled with catsup, labeled:
Tender morsels of free-range chicken with heritage wheat crust,
Served with pommes frites and a sweetened tomato reduction.
You'll like the Star Wars light switch, too.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Trump Trusted More than Media

Morning Consult reports the findings of a recent poll looking at public trust in the pronouncements of the political media and the Trump White House. As everybody but Democrats now admits, only Democrats see the political media positively. Everyone else? Not much.
In the new poll, roughly half (51 percent) of Americans said the national political media “is out of touch with everyday Americans,” compared with 28 percent who said it “understand the issues everyday Americans are facing.”

Thirty-seven percent of Americans said they trusted Trump’s White House to tell the truth, while 29 percent opted for the media.

Partisanship was the main determining factor on how Americans felt about the state of national political reporting and analysis, with Republicans expressing much stronger misgivings about the media than Democrats.

The media also scored low marks among independents, with more than half saying they didn’t trust national news outlets to cover the White House fairly and that they trusted Trump more.
Instapundit tells us to understand the media as Democrat operatives with press credentials. The poll shows most of us do just that.

You'd hope the media would treat findings like this as a wakeup call. Honestly, they don't care much. Getting paid to sell 'progressive' views and call it "news" suits them just fine, even if most of us think they're blowing smoke.

If I reported news instead of commenting on it, I'd be disappointed that most thought me irredeemably biased. Actual media disappointment, to the extent it exists, consists of frustration at their evident inability to mask lefty bias.

The Right Enemies

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Peggy Noonan, of The Wall Street Journal, looks at the first 100 days of Team Trump and concludes:
The cursing pols, the anathematizing abortion advocates, the screeching students—they are now the face of the progressive left.

This is what America sees now as the face of the Democratic Party. It is a party blowing itself up whose only hope is that Donald Trump blows up first.

He may not be lucky in all of his decisions or staffers, or in his own immaturities and dramas. But hand it to him a hundred days in: He’s lucky in his main foes.
As Napoleon famously asked: "I know he's a good general, but is he lucky?" Lucky is good, Trump is lucky.

Barone: Capital vs. Countryside

Writing for RealClearPolitics, long-time political analyst Michael Barone declares the current axis of political discourse.
Capital vs. countryside -- that's the new political divide, visible in multiple surprise election results over the past 11 months.

This was apparent last June in Britain's referendum on whether to leave the European Union.(snip) It was plain in Colombia's October referendum on a peace settlement with the FARC guerrillas.

In both countries, the ethnic and geographic fringe -- Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Caribbean provinces -- voted with the capital. But in each case, the historic heartland, with the majority of voters, produced a surprise defeat for the capital establishment.

It was a similar story here in November. Coastal America -- the Northeast minus Pennsylvania, the Pacific states minus Alaska -- favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a 58-35 percent margin. But the geographic heartland, casting 69 percent of the nation's votes, favored Trump by a 51-43 percent margin.
He notes a similar pattern in France's recent first round of presidential voting. Le Pen did poorly in the metro areas, led in rural France. About what it means, he concludes:
In different ways, Brexit, Le Pen and Trump seek to counter the university-trained bureaucratic, financial and cultural elites in London, Paris and NY/DC/LA/SF. They resent overlarge and undercompetent bureaucracies and public employee unions, the paymasters of the Labour and Democratic parties. With blunt, often ill-advised rhetoric, they challenge the pieties of the universities.
This is clearly part of the underlying truth, described by a keen observer. The balance of the article provides historical context for this type of movement.

Later ... Instapundit Glenn Reynolds calls what Barone describes "Hunger Games politics." Defeat Panem!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Seoul As Hostage?

RealClearDefense has a discussion of this question: Could North Korea Annihilate Seoul with its Artillery? Conventional wisdom has said it could. The article argues the destruction has been overstated. It reports:
A 2011 study by the Nautilus Institute throws a considerable amount of cold water on this scenario. While the sheer number of artillery tubes could theoretically kill a large number of civilians, operational issues complicate matters and push the number of civilian casualties greatly downward. Despite the thousands of artillery pieces, only 700 heavier guns and rocket launchers, plus the newer 300-millimeter MRLs, have the range to strike Seoul. Only a third would normally be fired at once, and notional rates of fire would be slowed tremendously by the need to withdraw guns into their hardened artillery sites (HARTS) to shelter them from counter battery fire.

Other factors reduce the projected loss of life in the greater Seoul metropolitan area. The city has extensive air raid shelters for civilians that will quickly reduce the exposed population density. The North will struggle to keep these heavy artillery units supplied with shells, particularly with its aging supply system. Finally, U.S. and ROK forces will quickly begin hunting down units participating in the bombardment, causing their numbers to drop almost immediately.

Finally, the North would face a strategic dilemma. Artillery used to bomb Seoul could not be used to soften up border defenses for a  general invasion, and in wartime it would be critical to capture the enemy capital quickly as possible.
This last point may be why Trump believes he can get tough with the Norks.

Most Counties = 0 Murders

The Crime Prevention Research Center reports that for 2014, 54% of U.S. counties had zero murders. Two percent of the counties had 51% of the murders.
In 2014, the most recent year that a county level breakdown is available, 54% of counties (with 11% of the population) have no murders. 69% of counties have no more than one murder, and about 20% of the population. These counties account for only 4% of all murders in the country.

The worst 1% of counties have 19% of the population and 37% of the murders. The worst 5% of counties contain 47% of the population and account for 68% of murders. As shown in figure 2, over half of murders occurred in only 2% of counties.
See what I've been telling you about high population density? Murder is only the most horrific outcome, it's by no means the only negative result.

In excess of three-quarters of U.S. counties had 2 or fewer murders in 2014. The maps that accompany this article are worth a bit of study, although it's safe to say you won't be surprised at what you learn therefrom. The people committing most of the murders regularly vote Democrat. Coincidence?

Good News, Bad News

Fewer Americans are middle class than formerly, but more are upper-middle or upper, and about the same percentage are lower or sub-middle class. As this MarketWatch article shows, opinions about this vary - some are alarmed, some are enthused, it's a glass half empty or half full thing. The most interesting factoid cited:
The share of U.S. households making $100,000 or more has more than tripled between 1967 and 2017, from 8% to 26%, according to U.S. Census data, while the percentage of middle income ($35,000 to $100,000 a year) has fallen.
Imagine a quarter of our households making over $100K a year! I'm old enough to find that amazing. Which means I'm also old enough to think $100K a significant amount of money - not a fortune, but not insignificant either.

I betcha (intentional Palin-esque usage) those who moved from middle to upper-middle income are happy about their good fortune. I'd be a lot more concerned if lots more of the middle were moving down than moving up, which appears not to be the case.

What seems to be the case is there are fewer blue collar members of the middle class than previously. This is a result of fewer manufacturing jobs, plus competition from illegal immigrants forcing down wages.


New York Post's Michael Goodwin writes the most sensible thing I've seen about Donald Trump's first 100 days as President.
Most assessments of President Trump’s first 100 days will include a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly. The emphasis will reveal more about those doing the grading than Trump himself.
Depending on what you're looking for, you can find things to celebrate or things to bemoan. One thing nobody can say is that he has been idle, whether one likes what he's been busy doing is another matter.
I do, many do not ... life is like that.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Macron's Macaroon

Emmanuel Macron, the man who is expected to win the presidential run-off in France on May 7, has a unique 'romantic' history, as reported by New York Magazine.
In a story that would likely sink a candidate’s chances in a more uptight country (uh, here), the 39-year-old Macron first met his 64-year-old wife, Brigitte Trogneux, when he was 15. More specifically, she was a drama teacher and he was playing the lead role in the school’s adaptation of the Milan Kundera play, Jacques and His Master.

Trogneux was married at the time, and though there are rumors that they had an affair, it’s unclear when their romance actually began. They wed in 2007.
In the U.S., adult sex with a 15 year old is a felony. Those so convicted are forever labeled sex offenders. The dissolute French probably consider it a normal part of growing up.

For a British view of the general subject, see a story in the UK Progressive entitled, "Female teachers: The sex offenders no one suspects."

Kurds Under Attack

Reuters reports the U.S. is concerned about air attacks on our Kurdish allies in Syria, which killed 18. It is thought the Syrian air force did the attack, although it could have been Russians.

I don't believe the U.S. has much influence with either possible perpetrator. On the other hand, it should be possible to get the Kurds some Russian-made manpad rockets - man-portable air defense systems - and the training to use them effectively. If Kurds don't get U.S. manpads, we don't get the blame.

The Kurds would be happy to have the ability to return fire when blitzed from the air. It would tend to lower the likelihood of a repeat performance.

Birds of a Feather

Writing for Politico, Jack Shafer and Tucker Doherty tackle the issue of why most of the media so badly missed predicting who would win the 2016 election. They argue it is the old cliche "where you sit determines where you stand" taking another bite at the apple; in this case "sit" meaning where people work and live.

As media moved from bricks and mortar local newspapers to Internet publishing, the jobs became more and more concentrated along the coasts in the major media markets, places where Clinton won by large margins. It reminds of that famous Pauline Kael quote:
I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don't know. They are outside my ken.
Shafer and Doherty point out that same thing is true for nearly all of the national press and Internet media writers. Few who live or work near them vote R, voting D is what one does. And a key insight the authors have:
Journalism tends toward the autobiographical unless reporters and editors make a determined effort to separate themselves from the frame of their own experiences.
The best political writers always made that effort - David Broder, for example. Most do not.

The Shafer and Doherty article makes much sense and is worth your time. Their "solution" to the problem is the only lame part of their piece. To be fair, nobody really knows how to solve the problem since we Rs mostly moved to the country to hang with likeminded folk.

Birds of a feather, flocking together.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Good News

The world's first malaria vaccine has been approved for field trials in three African countries - Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi - where the disease is a serious issue. Developed by GlaxoSmithKline, Newser has the Associated Press story.
The vaccine, which has partial effectiveness, has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives if used with existing measures, the WHO regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said in a statement. The challenge is whether impoverished countries can deliver the required four doses of the vaccine for each child.
The vaccine, if it proves as effective as hoped, could also be useful for Americans traveling or living in tropical regions, including the American south - think Louisiana or Florida.

Longevity and Income Are Related

As regular COTTonLINE readers know, demographic data fascinates me. Bloomberg brings us a recent insight into American life expectancies.
Based on the latest year of data, the Society of Actuaries last fall dropped its life expectancy estimates for 65-year-olds in the U.S. by six months.

The result of these trends, according to a new study, is a widening gap between wealthier and poorer Americans.

In 1980, a 50-year-old man in the wealthiest fifth of the income distribution could expect to live five years longer than a 50-year-old man in the lowest-income group. By 2010, the gap between them had jumped to 12.7 years.
If you see their chart, with the population divided into quintiles (5 groups) by income, you see essentially three longevity groupings. The bottom two groups (= 40%) in the 76-78 range, the middle 20% at 83, and the top 40% around 88.

Only the bottom 20% has lost ground (-0.5 years) over the last 30 years. The top 60% has made substantial gains, 5-8 years more life expectancy. The next-to-the-bottom 20% gained modestly: roughly 1 year more.

There's an unintended consequence you may not have considered:
One important result of this 13-year life expectancy gap: Social Security and other government programs, such as Medicare, are becoming a much better deal for well-off Americans.
Because they live longer in retirement and thus collect, on average, many more (larger) monthly Social Security checks. To what do the researchers attribute the growing life expectancy gap between the social classes?
Some cite rising levels of substance abuse, obesity, and suicide. Others point to the ways economic inequality drive health inequality. The cost of good health care has skyrocketed, even for people who are technically covered by insurance.
Two things the study authors don't mention. I believe tobacco use is much more common among the less affluent, and its negative health effects are well-documented. Also, being (and staying) married is more common at higher income levels, and marrieds live longer.

Potty Mouth

CNN reports the activities of Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez as follows:
With children on stage behind him, Perez told an audience in Las Vegas this weekend that Trump "doesn't give a shit about health care."
Lovely ... an amazing role model for those kids. It would serve him right if hundreds of people mailed him Ziploc© bags of excrement, labeled "I give a sh*t."

The Bush Clan, a Retrospective

Writing at American Thinker, David Prentice looks at the legacy of the Bush family: two presidents and a governor. His conclusion: they were lame, particularly for the Republican Party.
Here were their mutual mistakes: 1. Lack of vision. 2. Not communicating or connecting well. 3. Not keeping their promises. 4. Not recognizing the depths of depravity of their political opponents.

While the left was, and is, at war with us (the right), the Bush family appeased it. In a word, they were naïve.
Hindsight, that clearest of all visions, suggests Prentice is correct. H.W. squandered the Reagan legacy, W. was "wet," to use Maggie Thatcher's term, and Jeb was just the wrong guy at the wrong time.

They seemed decent people, but not especially effective. Examples of the Peter Principle it appears. Hat tip to for the link.

Local Color ... Green

I ran across something interesting in Money magazine, a branch of Time, Inc. It is a discussion of the richest counties in the nations, as reflected in average income.

The article is mostly about how the shale oil/fracking boom has enriched some Texas counties. I found more interesting the following:
Fairfield County, Conn., topped the list in 2005, followed by Teton County in Wyoming (home of wealthy enclave Jackson Hole), and they were subsequently in the top 5 for the next few years, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), which collects data from the IRS.

But as of 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, only one of them is still in the top 5: Teton County, where the average adjusted gross income was $248,949.
I live one county south of Teton County. As you might imagine, many people who have everyday jobs in Jackson can't afford to live there. Commuting 30+ miles each way isn't fun in the mile-high Rocky Mountain winter.

Jackson has one of the most scenic airports in the nation; in summer there are normally 25-30 executive jets parked on the apron. Wisecrack common among real estate pros in Jackson Hole: The billionaires are buying out the millionaires. Not a huge exaggeration.

Fun factoid: wealthy Teton County is the only county in Wyoming that routinely votes Democrat. Weren't Democrats once the party of the common man (and woman)? What happened to that?

He's Been Busy

The old media would have you believe Donald Trump has done nothing in his first 100 days. This is, of course, nonsense. Still, if you'd like to see a compilation of what he's actually gotten done, or at least gotten started, see a column by Power Line founder John Hinderaker.

Hinderaker concludes that in many ways, Trump has gotten more done than most presidents reaching this early milestone. Allowing for a degree of boosterism among those who supported his election, the list is still impressive.

CEOs tend to be get-it-done people, it's how they get the job. We have our first CEO president, expect action.

Headed for Redder Pastures

For RealClearPolitics, demographers Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox describe people leaving cities, moving to suburbs. They move from cold places to the Sun Belt, and from blue states to red states.

On the right, we tend to stereotype everyone in large cities as Democrats. True of a majority but it overlooks substantial minorities of non-Democrats living (unhappily) in those human anthills. Very likely it is these who are, in the colorful military phrase for a retreat, "bugging out." Heading for redder pastures, if I can be forgiven for mixing metaphors.
In 2016 alone, states that supported Donald Trump gained 400,000 domestic migrants from states that supported Hillary Clinton. This came on top of an existing advantage in net domestic red state migration of 1.45 million people from 2010 through 2015. (snip) Metropolitan New York has led the way in out-migration, followed by Los Angeles and Chicago. Since 2000, these metropolitan areas have lost a net 5.5 million domestic migrants to other parts of the country.

The peak years for living in higher density, multi-family neighborhoods take place between ages 18 and 30.

Perhaps the biggest problem for the left lies in their embrace of policies that reject suburban lifestyles and, as we see in California, make housing hard to build and all but unaffordable.
High density is oppressive, it requires regimentation to be sustainable.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

France Has Voted

Exit polling of the first round of the French presidential election is out. The Los Angeles Times reports as follows:
Early estimates, based on results at several hundred representative polling stations, showed Macron leading at 23.8%, followed by Le Pen at 21.6%. The final count is expected to be close to that early calculation.
Other media outlets report essentially the same findings. Le Pen is the right-wing nationalist/populist candidate, Macron ran as an independent. The two long-time major parties in France, representing the mainstream left and right, did poorly and will have no one in the run-off which happens on May 7.

The major speculation between now and 7 May will be this: to whom will the roughly 55% who voted for neither frontrunner give their second-choice ballot? Historically, they have gravitated back toward the middle, which if it happens again this year will favor Macron.

On the other hand, quite a few have indicated they will not act in the time-honored way, but will either vote Le Pen or not vote at all in round 2. We'll know in two weeks.

Poll: Democrats Out of Touch

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll is out. The findings are interesting but probably disquieting to the two liberal venues sponsoring it. Some choice examples:
Sixty-seven percent say the Democratic Party is out of touch with the concerns of most Americans, even more than say the same about Trump, and similar to the Republican Party (62 percent). That's a steeply negative turn for the Democrats, 19 percentage points more critical than when last asked three years ago, including especially steep losses in their own base.

This poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds no evidence of buyer's remorse among Trump supporters. Among those who report having voted for him in November, 96 percent today say it was the right thing to do; a mere 2 percent regret it. And if a rerun of the election were held today, the poll indicates even the possibility of a Trump victory in the popular vote among 2016 voters.
To be fair, the poll also finds:
All told, 42 percent of Americans approve of Trump's performance as president, while 53 percent disapprove. That compares to an average of 69-19 percent for past presidents at or near 100 days in office.
If I were Trump I'd focus on the "possibility of a Trump victory in the popular vote" in a hypothetical rerun, wouldn't you?  Hat tip to for the link.

Weird Psychological Science

The Boston Globe reports on research studies which show that the more we communicate with others, or live near them, the less we like them. Thus, the Internet's global village only increases our crankiness as it links us together.
Psychological and sociological studies have been casting doubt on the idea that communication dissolves differences. The research suggests that the opposite is true: free-flowing information makes personal and cultural differences more salient, turning people against one another instead of bringing them together.

In a series of experiments reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2007, Harvard psychologist Michael Norton and two colleagues found that, contrary to our instincts, the more we learn about someone else, the more we tend to dislike that person.

Three professors from the University of California at San Diego studied a condominium development near Los Angeles, charting relationships among neighbors. They discovered that as people live more closely together, the likelihood that they’ll become friends goes up, but the likelihood that they’ll become enemies goes up even more. The scholars traced the phenomenon to what they called “environmental spoiling.” The nearer we get to others, the harder it becomes to avoid evidence of their irritating habits.
This all suggests that your Facebook© page or Twitter© account could be considered a "hate crime" in that it brings you closer to others and that may, prima facie, make you and they like each other less. Who knew?

France Votes, Round One

A quick web search suggests we should begin seeing exit polling from the French presidential election at about 11 a.m. Pacific time today. That's some 10 hours from now.

Will French voters do their normal shtick: vote protest on the first round, noncontroversial on the second? Or will they say "screw it" and elect somebody out of the mainstream - a rightist or a communist?

If you believe news stories influence elections, the terror attack on police in Paris this week should help Le Pen who, of the four running, promises to be toughest on Islamic militants. We'll know soon.

Late Nite Snark

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds cracking wise about attempts to resurrect the Clinton brand via Chelsea.
The Clintons are the political equivalent of herpes. They keep coming back, whether people like it or not.
That's cold ... true, but cold.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Rumination on Earth Day

Earth Day is today. People are marching in support of "science," which needs no support as nobody denies real scientific findings ... they are demonstrable.

The supposed "science" they march in favor is the belief that humans are destroying this beautiful planet. If you live in an urban area, that is an easy belief to hold.

Once you get 50 miles from the nearest urban sprawl, it becomes much harder, requires much more faith of the sort religion demands. Basically, the faith that asks no proof, no demonstration.

I have been around the world, sailed the major oceans and many of the seas, and visited 115 countries. Huge parts of this globe look exactly as they did before the first human saw them.

Yes, places of dense human habitation are changed, radically. Actually, most are quite unattractive, the exceptions like Singapore notwithstanding.

Part of the year I live next door to a nearly 300 acre pasture, which during winter is home to perhaps 50 cattle. They are picturesque, agreeable neighbors, we hear a moo now and then, not often. Perhaps once a year I'll get a faint barnyard whiff. That is low-density living for cattle.

Compare that with the feed lots you've driven past. The same exact cattle in high density conditions are ugly and they smell awful. You'd not live anywhere near them.

Too many people, living close enough together, can make small areas awful. The culprit is density, exactly the thing every urban planner loves and advocates most.

A march against density is a march I could join.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Wisdom About War

Writing about American reluctance to become involved militarily overseas, Victor Davis Hanson opines for The Hoover Institution as follows:
The U.S. military can ultimately accomplish any mission it is asked. But increasingly, if deployed on the ground in tribal fighting, with legalistic and politically correct rules of engagement, in haphazard fashion or for political abstractions, and concerned more with global than U.S. interests, it will pay a cost that is more than Americans are willing to pay, and for a cause the public deems not worth the effort.
That sounds reasonable to COTTonLINE. Given our national unwillingness to do the near-genocidal slaughter necessary to defeat asymmetric warfare, we should avoid involvement therein.

Spengler Goes Delphic

David P. Goldman who blogs as Spengler at, writes something peculiar about the upcoming French presidential election.
If I were French I would at least consider voting for Le Pen; as an American, I hope she loses as a matter of pure American strategic interest.
Translation: What's good for France is not necessarily what's good for the U.S.; certainly true in the abstract. I am not certain how it applies to this presidential election.

It Begins

Bloomberg reports Justice Neil Gorsuch has cast his first tie-breaking vote on the Supreme Court. He voted as part of a 5 justice majority to allow the execution of an Arkansas death row inmate to proceed.

If the Trump presidency accomplishes nothing else, installing Gorsuch on the Supreme Court will be a monumental achievement. I confidently expect much more, but would settle for Gorsuch and be very nearly content.

NB, I support capital punishment. Not for its deterrent value, which is probably minimal. I support it because death is the punishment that fits the crime of intentional murder. Sort of the flip side of the Golden Rule, in this case mistreat people as they have mistreated others.

Awkward Truth-Telling

Oh, my. Instapundit Glenn Reynolds has written something naughty, something double-plus un-PC. The target of his deliberate gaffe is student unrest at Claremont U.
My sense is that they admitted some students in the name of diversity who weren’t really able to flourish there in what are pretty demanding programs. Those students have turned their emphasis to “social justice” in response.
Reynolds writes something most know is true but no one is supposed to admit under interrogation, much less volunteer. He explains the time-dishonored, bogus "if I'm not doing well it's your fault" defense.

Decline and Fall

Have you been having a nice week? A nice spring season? I'm here to put a damper on that with a BBC article on how Western civilization as we know it can collapse. Talk about gloomy....
The political economist Benjamin Friedman once compared modern Western society to a stable bicycle whose wheels are kept spinning by economic growth. Should that forward-propelling motion slow or cease, the pillars that define our society – democracy, individual liberties, social tolerance and more – would begin to teeter.

Our world would become an increasingly ugly place, one defined by a scramble over limited resources and a rejection of anyone outside of our immediate group. Should we find no way to get the wheels back in motion, we’d eventually face total societal collapse.

Such collapses have occurred many times in human history, and no civilisation, no matter how seemingly great, is immune to the vulnerabilities that may lead a society to its end.
Everybody looks to the disintegration of the Roman empire as the textbook case. There is no need to go so far back.

Look at the slow death of the British empire, once world-girdling. Or the Soviet empire which collapsed quite recently. Brexit may be the first sign of the EU's coming-apart, along with various local independence movements across the region.

Big, impressive governmental edifices look permanent but are anything but. We live in interesting times....

Increasing Societal Stratification

The following quote from a City Journal article about the coming apart of French society could just as well apply to our own cities.
As a new bourgeoisie has taken over the private housing stock, poor foreigners have taken over the public—which thus serves the metropolitan rich as a kind of taxpayer-subsidized servants’ quarters.
Darn close to as true here as there, especially in today's California. And check out this statistic from the same article.
In London, where, according to Le Monde, the average monthly rent (£2,580) now exceeds the average monthly salary (£2,300).
I'll wager that's true in San Francisco as well.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Failure to Launch

CNS News reports on the findings of a new Census Bureau study of living arrangements of young adults in the U.S. They quote the Bureau as follows:
There are now more young people living with their parents than in any other arrangement. What is more, almost 9 in 10 young people who were living in their parents’ home a year ago are still living there today, making it the most stable living arrangement.
They continue, summarizing findings:
The Number 1 living arrangement today for Americans in the 18-to-34 age bracket, according to the Census Bureau, is to reside without a spouse in their parents’ home. That is where you can now find 22.9 million 18-to-34 year olds—compared to the 19.9 million who are married and live with their spouse.
When nobody was looking, a quiet revolution in the way people live has taken place. Long term implications are unclear. Prolonged adolescence is likely, fewer marriages, too.


The Bureau ranks states by the percentage residing with parents, and the bottom 8 are rural midwest and mountain west states:  KS, CO, MT, IA, NB, WY, SD, ND. Statistics for these may be somewhat misleading.

It isn't uncommon for rural state young couples to park a single-wide mobile home on the farm of one set of parents, or an older sibling. They mostly pay no rent, have their own electric meter, hook into the farm's well for water, and can live quite cheaply.

I betcha the Census doesn't call this "living with parents" even though it sort of is that. If the young couple gets established and buys their own place, the property owner can rent the mobile to an unrelated young couple, move a hired hand into it, or sell it to be moved to another farm to house another young couple getting started.

A Good Idea

Reuters reports Australia will institute an "Australian values" test for citizenship, in addition to an increased ability to speak English and four years of residency. They already have a test of basic civics. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

President Trump would do well to add an "American values" test to his "extreme vetting" package for people coming to the U.S. or for those seeking citizenship. I understand people can lie on such a test, probably will.

At least it puts them on notice about what behaviors we don't handle: female genital mutilation, pedophilia, spousal and child abuse, bigamy, involuntary servitude. And those we require tolerating: religious coexistance, same sex partners, etc. Basing the test on our laws, which require certain things and ban others, would be the surest way to capture our values.

Heart, Not Head

As noted in the prior post, Democrats seem to be turning to Bernie Sanders as their standard-bearer. This seems similar to what Labour did in the U.K. after losing to Cameron, they veered left and picked Jeremy Corbyn as their leader.

We said of Labour at the time that they'd given up on winning national elections. They had, we wrote,  chosen someone whose politics they admired, not someone who could be elected.

Why shouldn't we say the same thing about a Democratic Party which chooses Bernie Sanders, however informally, to be their leader? It seems to me they admire his unabashed socialism without making reference to his dubious electability.

I'm just sayin' ... isn't it the same syndrome at work?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

It's Sanders Party Now

Writing at The Federalist, John Daniel Davidson argues that the Democrats are being taken over by their extreme leftist wing, the Bernie Sanders people.
Put simply, this is Sanders’ party now. The avowed socialist’s insurgent presidential campaign last year exposed a sclerotic Democratic Party leadership woefully out of touch with its progressive base—a base that was at times openly hostile to the party’s designated heir apparent, Hillary Clinton, and completely uninterested in appeals to the white working class.

The irony is that those who lionize Sanders still don’t seem all that concerned about the things he cares about.

The problem is, he’s now the de facto leader of a party that has embraced his socialism but written off the white working class, which it needs to win national elections.
The white working class doesn't buy the whole #BlackLivesMatter mantra. Democrats have sown the wind of minority identity group politics, and are belatedly reaping the whirlwind of white identity group politics. Serves 'em right, IMHO. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Legislate or Shut Up

Gen. Jack Kelly is Secretary of Homeland Security. you gotta love what he told folks at a meeting at George Washington University, as reported by CNSNews.
If lawmakers do not like the laws that we enforce, that we are charged to enforce, that we are sworn to enforce, then they should have the courage and the skill to change those laws. Otherwise, they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines.
He supports his troops. A good man.

O'Reilly Leaving Fox News

CNBC is reporting Bill O'Reilly will not return to his highly rated Fox News network show. This after allegations of sexual harassment by the long-time program host.

In all honesty, O'Reilly has not been a favorite of COTTonLINE. I experienced him as a blowhard, his popularity was difficult to understand. Along with Shep Smith, the two were my least favorite FNN personalities.

My favorite FNN show is the Bret Baier Special Report. I like a straight news show with opinions confined to the panel.

CNBC reports Tucker Carlson will replace O'Reilly, raising the unanswered question: Who will take Carlson's current spot?
Somebody needs to talk about a business model in which the clear-eyed intent is to hire beautiful, smart, educated, poised women as on-air talent. Then expect straight men co-workers in this environment not to notice or be affected thereby. Is this even vaguely rational?

Remember the Hogwarts guys' reactions to part-Veela Fleur Delacour and her part-Veela cousins, as imagined by straight woman author - J. K. Rowling. Not much rational about that, tongue-stepping happening left and right. There are wall-to-wall "Veelas" at Fox News.

I understand the women often find guys coming on to them irritating, especially when the guys are old, ugly and uninteresting. My point is, to some degree the guys can't help it, any more than gals can help the behavior Trump incredulously described to Billy Bush. Humans are wired that way, however much we wish it wasn't so or find it embarrassing.
Later ... The Hill reports the new FNN lineup. Carlson moves from 9 to 8, The Five moves from 5 to 9,  their slot at 5 will be filled starting May 1 by a new show hosted by O'Reilly fill-in Eric Bolling,  Martha McCollum will continue at 7 but her show name will change from The First 100 Days to The Story. Baier continues at 6, Hannity continues at 10. All times Eastern.

GA Disappoints Ossoff

The good news just keeps on coming. The Georgia 6 House district did not give Democrat Jon Ossoff a majority. The outcome ensures a runoff which he is likely to lose to the leading Republican vote-getter - Karen Handel.

The suburban Atlanta district normally votes Republican. Ossoff raised and spent a ton of money, was endorsed by various celebrities, and ran against a splintered Republican field of nearly a dozen contenders. All to no avail.

Last week it was a district in Kansas where Republicans also prevailed. The special elections are called to replace House members Trump has appointed to various posts. He was careful to select people from "safe" districts.

Two consecutive loses suggest Democrats need to figure out how to get white votes, so far they've been failing to accomplish that. It isn't clear the goal is achievable with the "hating white privilege" flag nailed to their mast. They did better with the "we're for Joe and Jill Sixpack, of every race and creed" message Kennedy and Johnson ran on.

Perhaps there's no going back. Republicans certainly hope that is the case.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Bias on Display

Writing at The Week, Damon Linker correctly describes the political divide as one between urban and not-urban. It is clearly a major way to understand the presidential vote in 2016.

That said, he proceeds to describe the urban-rural split from the urban point of view. He contrasts the city's energy, dynamism, and diversity with the not-urban's squalor, backwardness, homogeneity, and religiosity.

In other words, there is no balance in his description - he's all urban=good, rural=bad. He contrasts what could be a city like Austin, TX, with a rural area like a WV coal town where the mines closed 5 years ago. Why not compare murderous Chicago with bucolic Idaho?

By way of comparison, see the same divide from a not-urban perspective. Cities are dirty, noisy, dangerous, frenetic, anomic but crowded, and expensive. Not-cities are natural, quiet, low crime, calm, friendly but roomy, and less expensive. That's the rural=good, urban=bad take.

What both sides can agree on is that the two are very different, different things are good about each, each has drawbacks. And people may like one at certain periods in their lives, another later (or earlier). That's been true for me.

As COTTonLINE readers know, I now favor the non-urban, whether rural or exurbia. As a retiree I can live where I choose; I choose rural. From where I sit in CA most of my "neighbors" are white-faced cattle grazing on winter pasture. In WY they are mule deer feeding on Aspen shoots. Life is good.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Republicans Like Trump in Office

Aaron Blake of The Washington Post cites findings of a Pew Research Center poll looking at whether people who voted for Trump are, or are not, happy with his presidency to date.
The poll showed just 7 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say Trump has performed worse than they expected him to. Fully 38 percent — five times as many — say he has performed better.

There is a real sense among some that Trump has underperformed. But it's almost wholly on the Democratic side, where 32 percent say he's worse than advertised, and just 3 percent say he's better.
One of the ways supporters think Trump has performed better is how many Democrats he has made grumpy. Him ruining their day is music to our ears. Love those snowflake tantrums.

America Got Its Feck Back

Retired Army colonel Kurt Schlichter writes for, today's column is about the muscular Trump foreign policy, which he likes a lot. The former infantryman does a fair job of channeling Gen. Patton. Watch him have fun with Trump's critics:
After eight years of Barack Obama’s pathetic fecklessness, America has got its feck back.

And the whiny progressives who prefer our woman-enslaving, gay-tossing, toddler-crucifying enemies to the guy who beat their designated heir to the Crown (Royal) are in a tizzy.

Oh no, America is refusing to continue down the path of submission, humiliation, and utter failure blazed by President Faily McWorsethancarter!

Heavens, we can’t have our enemies respecting us, much less fearing us!

Gosh, we can’t have America re-assuming its rightful place in the world – after all, weren’t we taught that the United States is the root of all evil by our pony-tailed TAs at Fussboy U?
Schlichter likes the contrast our current foreign policy makes with the past 8 years:
Putting America’s interests first does not mean putting our heads in the sand. Americans know these savages need killing, and they are happy to oblige.

Trump seems to get it. What Americans are tired of is having their sons and daughters coming home in bags because D.C. hand-wringers were butch enough to start a fight, but not men enough to finish it.

Monday Snark

Scott Johnson of Power Line quotes Jeff Halm, a spox for Chicago Young Republicans, asked by CBS News for his reaction to marches demanding Trump release his tax returns. Halm trolled CBS by quoting Hillary Clinton:
What difference, at this point, does it make?
The local newsreader was so clueless she read his response w/o identifying its original source - Clinton's notorious Benghazi gaffe to Congress - or the irony in its use in this context. See the video at the Power Line site.

The Semi-Authoritarian's Handbook

Writing for Bloomberg View, Noah Feldman distills from the Erdogan experience in Turkey a sort of "instruction manual" for soft autocrats, leaders he calls the semi-authoritarians.
The new authoritarians’ playbook calls for maintaining regular elections and the outward forms of multiparty democracy, while in fact consolidating power and cooking the books just enough to keep winning the popular vote. Erdogan, like his emulators and colleagues, has weakened the free press and free speech without completely shutting down all alternative political voices. 
That briefly describes what one does, here Feldman says why it works:
By maintaining at least the basic forms of constitutional democracy, the semi-authoritarian avoids alienating the opposition to the extent that it will try to overthrow him.

Of course the new semi-authoritarians might fantasize about total power. But their real fantasy seems to be getting re-elected forever by more than 50 percent of an adoring public.

It’s not a coincidence that these leaders’ parties are all populist. And populism glories in speaking for “the people,” defined narrowly enough to exclude the opposition.

The last self-interested twist in the semi-authoritarians’ strategy is that they are keeping their options open should they lose popularity someday. Most true dictators are assassinated or end their lives in prison or exile.

It emerges that semi-authoritarianism is a terrific way to stay in power so long as you have a populist base and a willingness to erode free speech and free elections.
In addition to the European examples Feldman gives, his model describes the behavior of Maduro in Venezuela, Correa in Ecuador, Ortega in Nicaragua, the Lees in Singapore and some others. One wonders if he also means to obliquely include Trump. It's harder here as our presidents are Constitutionally limited to two terms.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Repurposed Classic Quote

Austin Bay, guest blogging at Instapundit, on Obama claiming his deal with Russia got rid of Syria's chemical weapons, now shown to be false. Bay paraphrases the Democratic mantra of the Bush era.
Obama lied. People continue to die.
Damn straight, Obama was a wuss disaster.

Asylum? What Asylum?

Scott Johnson, a regular who blogs at Power Line shares the work of Elliot Kaufman, a Stanford undergrad. For The Wall Street Journal, Kaufman compares the Stanford applicant "essay" of Ziad Ahmed, to a ploy of a madman cited in the work of Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.

As his "essay," Ahmed simply repeats the phrase #Black Lives Matter 100 times and is accepted at Stanford and elsewhere. The madman had repeated the phrase "the world is round" to everyone he met and was immediately identified as insane and locked up.

Kaufman concludes:
It is no longer madmen who merely repeat obvious truths. Now the success stories do it too. The society in Kierkegaard’s parable immediately recognized that mindlessly repeating the truth was a sign of something wrong. Our society applauds it. That is the chilling part of this story. The young man or the society—it is no longer clear who has escaped from the asylum.
True enough, except for the inescapable fact that asylums basically no longer exist. The insane roam among us, although many are homeless and spend their days staring vacantly at nothing, or begging for coins. Some reasonable proportion of our society's collective insanity can be attributed to the intentional deinstitutionalization of the obviously delusional.

Trump In, GCHQ Boss Out

We've been following the story of British electronic surveillance of Team Trump since it was broached by Judge Napolitano on Fox News. First it was debunked by all and sundry, now the U.K. papers are admitting it happened, done by the GCHQ.

This most recent revelation comes from a long, encyclopedic article on the topic by Clarice Feldman at American Thinker. She writes:
The British Government Communications Head Quarters (GCHQ) had been partly funded by the U.S. NSA to the tune of over 100 million British pounds. So they had even more incentive to play ball with Obama. Three days after Trump’s inauguration the head of that outfit unexpectedly resigned for “personal reasons.”
It seems likely his "personal reasons" consist of having backed the wrong horse in the presidential race. In spite of what was announced, Robert Hannigan may have been told to resign to spare the U.K. further embarrassment.

This story is the gift that keeps on giving. I won't be surprised if we're still learning new things six months from now.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Happy Easter

COTTonLINE takes this opportunity to wish all of our readers a happy Easter, spent in the company of loved ones. Whether your family traditions are entirely religious, partially so, or entirely secular, have a great day.

Whether you're happy or sad about the nation's politics isn't the end of the world. Grin at those around you for no better reason than that spring is upon the land; that's nearly always a cause for optimism.

The birds are building nests, young animals are gamboling across green fields, and the days keep getting longer. All of that keeps happening regardless of who is in charge.

After a prolonged drought, northern CA has had a very wet winter. Our reservoirs are full, the rivers ditto, and the snow pack in the Sierras is phenomenal, maybe a record. Life is good.

France Votes Soon

Writing at his normal venue, The New York Times, Roger Cohen describes a trip he took through France to try to understand the issues and position in the presidential election which holds the first round of voting on April 23, and its run-off on May 7. He views the Le Pen candidacy with alarm but isn't convinced she will be defeated.

It's a long column, very 'atmospheric.' Cohen wanders the countryside talking to supporters of all the major candidates. He describes the candidates, sees some he likes, but seems unsure they are as attractive to the French as they are to him.

Assuming that he describes accurately what he saw, if with a decidedly 'progressive' bias, the French nation is in a glum, fearful mood. Cohen wonders, as do I, if that will lead to a Le Pen/National Front win come May 7.

If Brexit and Trump's win reflect something in the developed world's zeitgeist, perhaps Cohen is wise not to discount her chances. Le Pen promises to take France out of the euro zone, reintroduce the franc, and hints at maybe leaving the EU.

Cohen translates her party's war cry - On est chez nous - as "we are at home" and professes to be puzzled by it. I believe "this is our house" captures what they mean; very clearly they say by inference "it's not the Muslims' place." Basically, it's France belongs to the French - nationalism.

If France leaves the euro zone, the euro becomes essentially the German mark by another name. With France out of the EU, the European Union becomes something like a donut with a too large hole. You only have to look at a map to see that France is, almost literally. the heart of Europe.

It isn't clear that the EU would survive the exit of France, I'm tempted to say it would not. It would likely be replaced, in time, by regional alliances perhaps based on language groupings.

I imagine a Germanic group, a Scandinavian group, and perhaps a Mediterranean group which France might join. This leaves Ireland and the Netherlands wondering where to 'hook up,' perhaps with Britain. Eastern Europe would probably build on the Visegrad group, and the Balkans would just keep hating each other as they have for centuries.

We live in interesting times.


USA Today writes that young Americans aren't moving to take better jobs as they once did. The article mentions three reasons all of which seem to have what we once cynically called "face validity," that is, they seem reasonable.

I find it interesting that the trend for young people to live with their parents because they can't afford their own place while paying off college loans isn't explicitly mentioned. Perhaps it is indirectly inferred.

Rural ≠ Poor

A website I'd normally avoid - Talk Poverty - runs an article entitled:
Rural Americans Have Less Access to Books. There's a Way to Fix That.
Hat tip to RealClearPolicy for the link. I write to take issue with that claim. If we're talking "books to brouse and buy" off a shelf, maybe so. Libraries are a different story and Amazon delivers.

The rural valley I call home in western Wyoming has a total population of less than 10,000 spread across a half dozen tiny towns. The valley has three public libraries which are well-used and well maintained, even patronized by folks from neighboring Idaho.

Something to remember, rural ≠ poor, particularly in what I think of as "the Mormon West." That's UT, ID, western CO and WY, plus northern AZ and a fair part of rural NV. The early Mormons were amazing canal builders, bringing mountain streams to water an arid region. Their canals are still in use for agriculture.

A sign over the entrance to an RV park a couple of miles from my house says this: "Wyoming - the Way America Used to Be." Another indicator - a notice posted in the county clerk's office: "We Don't Care How They Did It, Wherever You're From."

There is more truth than poetry in those slogans, and we love it. Everybody is armed, many eat more elk than beef, and Democrats don't bother to field candidates in some of our elections. Full disclosure: the DrsC are not LDS, and rarely eat elk.

What's Left

Andrew Malcolm, writing at the Hot Air website, cracks wise about Elizabeth Warren's new book:
The book is heavily biographical, which means Warren is definitely running for the presidential nomination of what’s left of the Democrat Party in 2020.
His "what's left" is priceless. She is a geriatric white hoping to lead a party which has chosen as its constituency minority peoples and assorted other "victim" groups. You have to wonder when they'll tell her not to bother.

I'd remind you of my prediction: given Clinton's loss, the party will not nominate any white person for president in the next several quadrennial cycles. That's assuming they learn the lesson of the Obama years.

Protest March a Joke

We are seeing articles like one from The Hill at MSN about a supposed "nationwide march" to protest Donald Trump's failure to release his tax returns. What a joke, it's an excuse for snowflakes to scream and stamp their tiny feet.

Anybody who thinks the Obama IRS wouldn't have leaked like a sieve about any real problems they found in Trump's taxes is dreaming. Ergo, any problems are minor, essentially debatable among CPAs and tax attorneys.

We understand Trump is rich, virtually beyond the imagining of mortal man. Do you know personally anybody who owns a full-size passenger jet and a helicopter? A tower in Manhattan and a country club in Palm Beach?

Knowing all this we elected him anyway, perhaps in part because of it. How will anything in his tax returns change our opinion of him? Short answer: it won't.

Income Tax Deadline Nears

We normally think of April 15 as the Federal Income Tax filing deadline. This year, because the 15th is a Saturday and Emancipation Day, the 16th - celebrated in the District of Columbia and nowhere else - is a Sunday, it gives all Federal employees in greater DC Monday, the 17th off.

Therefore, your actual deadline is April 18. Go figure, another couple of days to procrastinate before filing.

Weird Hydrological Science

In the very first Star Wars film release (number IV in the story order) we meet Luke Skywalker as a very young man living with his aunt and uncle, who are water farmers on the desert planet. The family run wind stills, which pull water vapor from the arid atmosphere, producing water they sell to the dry planet's thirsty inhabitants. That was science fiction.

IEEE Spectrum, an engineering publication, reports the development of a device straight out of Star Wars. It describes the new invention:
The new device traps moisture at 20 percent relative humidity, which is the level common in arid areas and deserts of the world. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and MIT reported in the journal Science that their prototype was able to pull 2.8 liters of water from the air over a 12-hour period in experiments done at 20 percent humidity and simulated sunlight. Rooftop tests confirmed that it works in real-world conditions.
The device doesn't have to generate electricity as an intermediate step. It utilizes the heat energy in sunlight directly to completely power the device, which has no moving parts.

Imagine, a large example of this contraption could create an oasis where none existed, perhaps enough water to grow a few plants, and with no moving parts it could be left untended to, for instance, provide drinking water for grazing stock in dry savannah regions.

We need more such build-and-forget technologies, if that is what this turns out to be. It also could be a source of clean water in hot, humid climates where surface water is plentiful but unsafe, functioning as a solar-powered still.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Another Viewpoint

John Hinderaker of Power Line has another "take" on the "eavesdropping on Trump operatives by foreign agencies" story. He tries to understand the alleged actions of Russians and NATO allies from a Clinton-is-sure-to-win perspective. See what he writes:
The combined assets of all of these agencies failed to find any evidence of collaboration between the Trump campaign and Russia. (snip) They have nothing.

Everyone involved in this story thought that Hillary Clinton was sure to win the election. (snip) The Russians thought that Hillary was the certain winner, and if–a big if–they carried out a primitive phishing expedition into Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s email account, and subsequently sent the DNC emails to Wikileaks, it was to cause trouble for Clinton after she became president.

Likewise, British intelligence and the other agencies mentioned by the Guardian thought there was no doubt but that Hillary would win. How could they curry favor with the new administration, expected to be Obama’s third term? By feeding negative information about the opponent.
These arguments seem compelling to me. Plus, I don't see how could it be in Russia's interest to help elect a guy who promised to strengthen the U.S. military, and now seems to be doing exactly that?

Napolitano Vindicated

It turns out Fox News' Judge Andrew Napolitano was right after all. The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports British intelligence tipped off U.S. intelligence counterparts that members of Team Trump had contacts with Russians suspected of being spies or "agents of influence."

COTTonLINE readers will remember I predicted something of the sort nine days ago on April 4. I then wrote:
The U.S. isn't the only country eavesdropping on persons of interest. The possibility remains that Trump's people were actually wiretapped by foreigners - MI6 or equivalent. Their work product was then intercepted and decoded by NSA, no FISA permit required.

It is conceivable a foreign agency wiretapped Trump Tower at the request of NSA or CIA, again no FISA permit required, perhaps as part of a tit-for-tat deal: you eavesdrop on our opposition, we'll eavesdrop on yours, and we'll trade recordings. Subcontracting out dirty work is a fine old intel tradition, everybody does it.
The info came from GCHQ, not precisely MI6. It remains to be seen if any indictments come out of this investigation, to date we've seen zip, zilch, nada.

Considering how little regard former CIA Director John Brennan had for Donald Trump, you'd think if he had anything awful he would have put it on the table, before the election. I can hardly wait for the next shoe to drop.

Lack of Sweetness in Sweden

The Spectator (U.K.) reports Swedes are beginning to get serious about the problems posed by their large, indigestible lump of Islamic immigrants. These individuals exist on welfare, create no-go zones for police, commit crimes, harrass Swedish women, and send lots of jihadis off to join the Caliphate.

Meanwhile the Swedish government says "Everything is fine, nothing to see here, we can't imagine what Trump is talking about." In other words, the government ministers are virtue signalling like mad. In neighboring Norway being a jihadi is illegal, not so in Sweden.

It is likely the anti-immigrant, anti-establishment Sweden Democrats political party will do well in coming elections. Trump is correct, Sweden needs its own populist firebrand.
Factoid: "Swede" is British slang for the ugly-tasting root vegetable we call a rutabaga. I don't think Brits mean it to be complimentary to natives of Sweden.

Ruminations on "Returns to Experience"

We wrote yesterday about early and late ceiling occupations, whether one reaches peak earnings early or later in a career. I've had additional thoughts about the issue which I'd share with you, if you find the topic interesting at all.

Take the life of a carpenter who never becomes a contractor, but just keeps building houses career-long. I'd argue that while he will reach peak earnings in absolute inflation-adjusted dollars relatively early in life, his perceived affluence may nevertheless escalate later in life.

This is because, in the normal course of events, his children will have grown and left home and he will have fewer mouths to feed with a given income. Thus in middle age he may be able to afford a boat or an RV, which the budget wouldn't have covered earlier in life when he was buying scout uniforms and car seats, formula and diapers.
Think of the old adage "a rising tide lifts all boats," a way of saying a good economy improves everyone's lot. There is some evidence the adage is no longer true, if it ever was, particularly for the minimally educated who face competition from eleven million undocumented aliens seeking the same low-level jobs, depressing those jobs' wages.

Perhaps what those experiencing a lack of returns to experience are sensing is that the "rising tide" of the last couple of decades hasn't lifted their personal "boat," or the "boats" of those like them, at all. All the lift in the economic "tide" has gone to the upper 25% or so, with much going to the upper 1%.

Ads for cruises have to seem cringe-worthy to people living paycheck-to-paycheck, unable to write a check for $500. HGTV programs about people looking to buy overseas vacation places must have the same effect. They see affluence all around them, but do not experience any of it in their own lives. Hence depression, substance abuse, addiction, and suicide.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Weird Economic Science

The New Yorker has what amounts to a review of two papers by married Princeton economists, Anne Case and Angus Deaton. The first appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and the second in the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity.

The couple have done the widely reported work which found increasing mortality rates for whites with no college, what they called "deaths of despair" - suicide, overdose, cirrhosis, alcoholism.
They wondered if a decline in income might explain the phenomenon, but that idea turned out not to fit the data so well. They noticed that another long-running pattern fit more precisely—a decline in what economists call returns to experience.

The return to experience is a way to describe what you get in return for aging. It describes the increase in wages that workers normally see throughout their careers.

The chronology matched some general changes in the nature of working-class work, which grew less skilled over time and therefore provided lesser returns to experience.
Then, review author Ben Wallace-Wells ties this idea to the 2016 election result.
If returns to experience are in decline, if wisdom no longer pays off, then that might help suggest why a group of mostly older people who are not, as a group, disadvantaged might become convinced that the country has taken a turn for the worse. It suggests why their grievances should so idealize the past, and why all the talk about coal miners and factories, jobs in which unions have codified returns to experience into the salary structure, might become such a fixation.
Hence the resonance of Donald Trump's campaign, the claim we need to return to greatness. Perhaps for some "greatness" = "returns to experience," a payoff for hard-won wisdom.

Too many years ago, when I took economics, we talked of "early ceiling" and "late ceiling" occupations. "Ceiling" referred to when in a working life income peaked.

Blue and pink collar jobs were the former, professional jobs the latter, white collar jobs somewhere in the middle. Truck drivers and carpenters reached maximum earning early in life then, as now. Has the change been all that great?

Who Is the Actual Threat?

The New York Times' Tom Friedman knows a fair bit about the Middle East. Sadly, this convinces him he is well-qualified to opine on nearly everything; on other topics he merely beclowns himself.

Today Friedman writes about the area he actually knows, and raises an interesting question. Why should the U.S. attempt to defeat ISIS in Syria when it is making life miserable for the Russians, Assad, Hezbollah, and others we dislike? He likens ISIS to the mujaheddin who made life miserable for the Russians in Afghanistan.

Friedman makes the point that ISIS the semi-nation fighting in Syria and Iraq, and ISIS the evil web presence that inspires Muslim expats to become suicide killers, are in fact relatively separate entities.

Eliminating the first ISIS will not eliminate the second, it may even make it more virulent. It is the second that threatens us, the first threatens mostly neighbors and folks we dislike.

Clearly the fate of the Kurds, aligned against ISIS, doesn't interest him much. If one is coldly geopolitical, whether they thrive or die means little to long-term U.S. interests.

Friedman is working a line of country that holds the enemy of my enemies is, if not my friend, at least my temporary ally. I am uncertain he is correct, but he raises a strategically interesting issue.

Friedman argues, I believe, that our real enemies in the region are Russia, Iran, and Iran's proxy, Hezbollah. If this is true, our strategy should make their lives harder, more costly, not easier.

More Jobs Leaving California

The bad news just keeps coming for California. Now the Sacramento Bee reports Aerojet General will eliminate 1100 jobs at their plant in the Sacramento suburb of Rancho Cordova. Most will be moving to Huntsville, in right-to-work Alabama.

This after The Bee reported last October that Verizon was moving 1000 Rancho Cordova jobs out-of-state. Those jobs were reported moving to TX, SC, and FL, all right-to-work states. Do we see a pattern emerging here?

California is not a right-to-work state. Unions in CA can negotiate contracts requiring every employee in a bargaining unit to either pay union dues, or not join but pay a representation fee to the union.

Employers know when workers are not required to belong to, or to financially support, unions, many will choose not to do so. The resultant weaker (or nonexistant) unions are less of a headache for management. Management decides where to locate facilities and plants. Do the math, it isn't rocket science.

Hat tip to friend Charles for the heads-up on this story.

Missing Whites Found ... by Trump

Twice in 2013 we wrote about analyst Sean Trende's finding that six million non-college whites in the upper Midwest sat out the 2012 election, voted for neither Obama nor Romney. See those comments here and here.

Now David Byler writes for RealClearPolitics that Trump won by turning out exactly this group in large numbers, without mentioning Trende's finding from four years ago. Essentially in 2016 Trump energized the northern white working class vote; in 2012 Romney did not, while Obama could not.

Byler should have referenced Trende's earlier finding, with which he is certainly familiar. Perhaps the chapter from which Byler excerpted this column includes reference to Trende's earlier, highly relevant finding.

The United Debacle

Everybody has a negative reaction to the story of a passenger on a United flight who was asked to deplane to make room for United employees who were needed at the flight's destination in order that a flight originating there could take off. I'm no exception, at least in my initial reaction to the person being manhandled and dragged off.

On the other hand, what were they to do if they requested the passenger to deplane, were refused, asked again, were refused again, and then had a security officer arrest the person for non-compliance, whereupon he still refused to budge? How else to get aircrew to the next flight?

Generally, police won't take no for an answer, they cannot afford to do so. At some point people who try to bluff sworn officers discover this, usually to their extreme discomfort. The officer behaved as trained.

If United didn't like the negative PR they shouldn't have called an officer. Offering a larger bribe would have cost less in lost good will and likely produced a volunteer.

I've decided if I find myself in this situation my counteroffer to the airline is as follows: you may have my seat if you'll refund the price of my ticket and fly me to my destination on the next available flight gratis. If the layover is more than a couple of hours I want meal tokens and maybe a motel room if it is 8 hours or more. I suspect United will have learned (the hard way) to be very agreeable.

Remember the old adage - it is easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission. If an airline doesn't issue a boarding pass, they don't have this dilemma. It is easier to apologize for a screwed-up reservation than to evict someone off a plane. Good planning would have kept the four bumped passengers from ever boarding.

Standing Up To Soros

The government in Hungary is cracking down on "educational" activities funded by Hungarian-American leftist George Soros in their country, as The New York Times reports with alarm. Soros was a major backer of Hillary Clinton and generally funds the so-called Resistance in the U.S.

The Hungarian government has decided they will not allow their country to be overrun by Muslim economic refugees, and Hungarians support this stand. Soros opposes it, so it must be good.

It is fashionable among the elites to view the current Hungarian government with distain. COTTonLINE takes the view that the left is usually wrong, so perhaps that government isn't too bad. A wish to control the country's borders is no crime in our eyes.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Vindicated - Trump People Were Bugged

The Washington Post reports an informal advisor to President-elect Trump was wiretapped by the FBI after they succeeded in getting a FISA warrant to do so. A decade ago Carter Page had worked in Moscow for Merrill Lynch and has investments in Russian companies. No one has charged Page with a crime, nor is such anticipated.

It appears President Trump was correct when he Tweeted that his conversations had been listened to. If he talked with Page by phone the conversation was recorded by the FBI. I wonder how many more of these slimy deals will ooze out into the light of day?

What do you think the chances are that people who called Trump a liar on this issue will now apologize? Zero? I think so too. Apologies don't fit the narrative. Hat tip to John Hinderaker at Power Line for the link.

The 2016 Precinct Map: a Sea of Red, Islands of Blue

A statistician named Ryne Rohla who writes at Decision Desk HQ, has compiled a precinct-by-precinct map of who won in the 2016 presidential election. He also has maps for 2012 and 2008 if you want to compare. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Colored red (Republican) and blue (Democrat) his maps make excruciatingly clear how little geography is dominated by Democrats. The only truly large geographic areas of blue are where most of the population is Native American, Latino, or African-American.

Literally the two big blue regions are first, the so-called "Big Res" of the Navaho which sprawls across northeastern AZ and northwestern NM, and the adjacent reservations of the Hopi and Zuni located in those two states plus the adjacent Ute in southern CO.

Second, blue dominates interior Alaska which isn't a reservation but is mostly populated by native peoples at very low density. And there is a substantial, though smaller, area of largely Hispanic people in far southern TX.

There is also a string of "blue measles" across the interior deep South. These represent pockets of predominantly African-American population.

A cynic would look at this map and conclude the Democrat strategy of reliance on minority voters was much of what they had going for them in 2016. Rohla's map says "tribal politics" in a very graphic way.

Kubota - Gone to Texas

One of the continuing stories we follow at COTTonLINE is the poor business climate in California. It is manifest in the death-of-a-thousand-cuts, slow and painful exodus of firms moving their U.S. headquarters out of the Golden State. Every move takes hundreds or thousands of jobs with it.

Today's example comes from Farm and Ranch Guide, with the original link provided by Ed Driscoll who guest blogs at Instapundit. They report the migration of Kubota's© North American headquarters from Torrance, CA, to Grapevine, TX. The Japanese firm makes small tractors, construction equipment, and riding mowers.
Kubota has invested more than $50 million in the three-story, environmentally-friendly office building, which totals 193,000 square feet, and includes an onsite research and development facility, and is designed to maximize work efficiencies and conserve resources.

Currently, 275 employees are working in Grapevine as a culmination of new hires and relocated employees from Torrance, Calif., and Suwanee, Ga. The building is large enough to accommodate nearly 600 employees with room to expand.
You know how this sort of thing flies, executives will often make the move. Lesser folk often can't move because their spouse works elsewhere and can't or won't move, or they won't leave family behind.

Net gain for Texas, net loss for California. Mental image of CA Governor Jerry Brown strumming a guitar and singing "All of my ex's live in Texas," with apologies to George Strait.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Richly Deserved

The Wall Street Journal proudly announces their long-time columnist Peggy Noonan has won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. As COTTonLINE readers know, her work is frequently cited in these pages.

Many business school faculty read WSJ regularly, I did pre-retirement. In that context I first encountered her commentary and have followed it since.

Noonan brings to her writing a unique blend of head and heart. Unlike NYT's David Brooks, she hasn't been totally coopted by the elites with whom she associates.

COTTonLINE offers Ms. Noonan congratulations on winning a Pulitzer, the highest honor in American journalism.

China Moves Troops

Preliminary reports, like this at, say China's PLA has moved 150,000 troops to the North Korean border. It isn't clear what this means Beijing's decision-makers are thinking/fearing. I see three possibilities, one positive, one negative, and a third ambivalent.

First, they may believe the U.S. plans do something which will cause the collapse of the Kim Jong Un regime. This would potentially send a wave of starving Norks toward the Chinese border, a wave they intend to forestall. This is the positive implication of those troops' location.

The second implication is they are there to reinforce the North's army as they did during the Korean war 60+ years ago, in the event war breaks out on the peninsula. The troop positioning may be meant to give the U.S. a reason not to act. This is the negative implication.

Finally, it is entirely possible that the PLA is unclear which outcome will prevail but intends to be ready to deal with either outcome. China is clearly entitled to position the PLA anywhere within China they choose and Korea looks iffy at present.

It makes me wonder what Xi concluded from his recent meeting with Trump at Mar a Lago, what Trump conveyed intentionally or otherwise?

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Bantustans of the Interior

In The Orange County Register, one of the nation's top conservative regional papers, demographer Joel Kotkin describes the plight of interior California. He writes of a region some have called "a flyover state within a state." Kotkin complains:
Fresno, Bakersfield, Ontario and San Bernardino are rapidly becoming the Bantustans — the impoverished areas designed for Africans under the racist South African regime — in California’s geographic apartheid. Poverty rates in the Central Valley and Inland Empire reach over a third of the population, well above the share in the Bay Area.

By some estimates, rural California counties suffer the highest unemployment rate in the country; six of the 10 metropolitan areas in the country with the highest percentage of jobless are located in the central and eastern parts of the state. The interior counties — from San Bernardino to Merced — also suffer the worst health conditions in the state.
Kotkin's comment that the region has little political influence is correct. Interior CA often elects Republicans to the state legislature. They might as well not go to Sacramento, they have so little influence.

Full disclosure: I am a WY resident who lived in interior CA for over 40 years, north of the region he describes. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Saturday Snickers

As usual, Steven Hayward has posted his weekly collection of cartoons, captioned photos, and snarky sayings - what he calls "The Week in Pictures" - on Power Line. Some favorites described:

The famous still from Dr. Strangelove of Slim Pickins riding a nuke out of a B-52 bomb bay down toward Russian soil, waving his hat like a bronc rider. The grinning face of Mitch McConnell has been Photoshopped© onto Pickins' body. No caption needed.

Screenshot of a CNN talking head, with a map of Wyoming in corner, above a chyron which says:
Trump Assertions That Wyoming Exists Are Bogus
Famous Village People still Photoshopped© with Barack Obama as the cop, Joe Bliden as the hardhat, Al Sharpton as the soldier, Bernie Sanders as the cowboy, Elizabeth Warren as the Indian chief, and Hillary Clinton as the bad biker; captioned:
The Village Idiots
A somber photo of President Obama overcaptioned:
You Can Believe In 
Outdoor photo of modern GI in helmet and sun glasses. yelling:
Heads Down
Incoming Liberal Bullshit!
Imagine if Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) in drag had posed for the Mona Lisa portrait - someone has somehow created this near-sickening image ... grossly funny.

Highly modified photo of an old man with a greatly elongated nose, captioned:
Never snort