Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Resistance Deconstructed

The Deep State in Washington DC and the Dems in general keep trying to pull down President Trump. So  far, they've had no luck. They keep on screeching and he keeps on doing his thing. I largely agree with his agenda, and wish him well.

As a number of pundits have observed, so far nobody has identified a crime that anybody can be acused of. Given the leaky nature of DC and the receptivity of the press to anti-Trump gossip, if no crime has been identified there probably was none committed. That means this isn't Watergate, but is a tantrum thrown by beside-themselves progressives, out of their collective minds because the "arc of history" Obama bragged about has proven to be bunk.

One supposes they are experiencing the feelings a Southern Baptist might have being governed by atheists. I understand it can't be fun for them, even if schadenfreude occurs in my vicinity with some regularity.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Travel Blogging II

Banff, Alberta, Canada: The drive here from the Calgary area is a pretty one, green rolling hills with the Canadian Rockies as a backdrop. They're the Canadian version of "the far pavilions" or "the front range." 

As you get closer, the mountains bulk larger until you and your vehicle on the Trans-Canada Highway are dwarfed into insignificance. Just outside the park Canmore has turned into a glitzy vacation spot for the wealthy, a kind of Canadian Aspen or Jackson.

Banff townsite has been overcrowded for years and is, if anything, worse than before. The sidewalks are mobbed, the parking is impossible, many of the former cottages have been torn down to build four story hotels featuring hunting lodge chic.

Parks Canada, their equivalent of the National Park Service, has restricted the growth of Banff townsite to its existing footprint so it cannot spread out. All of that sort of lateral growth is happening in Canmore. Instead the growth here in Banff is like that of Manhattan, albeit in a non-high rise basis. They go up instead of out, apparently limited to 4 floors.

We took a drive yesterday up the Trans-Canada Highway to the turnoff for Kootenay and came back via the Bow Valley parkway. With the exception of the parking for Johnson Canyon, it wasn't crowded or congested. Very pretty scenery, much appreciated. This is some of the most beautiful, spectacular scenery in North America.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Travel Blogging I

Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada: We spent the day driving north across a couple of hundred miles of steppe. Northern Montana and southern Alberta must have some the lowest non-desert population densities on the planet - vast wheat fields as far as the horizon dotted with lonely-appearing farm houses every mile or three.

 Every 30-40 miles there is a small town with one or more grain elevators where the wheat is aggregated and loaded onto rail cars for shipment to wherever it is milled into flour. Elevators are the highrise landmarks of this empty land, vertical wooden affairs 4-5 times taller than they are wide, standing beside rail sidings.

 If I've given the impression the region is flat, I need to correct that view. The terrain isn't flat but there are no mountains either. Driving across it one is mostly headed up or downgrade as the prairie undulates downward where rivers have cut what are locally called "coulees."

 Coulees are where the trees survive, along watercourses. They are often very pleasant and even park-like. And being lower than the surrounding terrain, they avoid the worst of the prairie's ever-present wind.

Our RV park tonight is in a coulee that runs alongside Lethbridge, cut by the Oldman River. Really. I'm not making a joke, that's the actual name. As they say, you can look it up. This coulee is quite deep, and is crossed by one of the highest, longest railroad trestles in North America - quite a sight, actually. Living in cities, it is easy to get the impression the world is overcrowded with people. The "world" isn't, but urban areas certainly are. The region we drove across today is an enormous food factory rather sparsely populated.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Senator John McCain, Get-Well Wishes

Various media outlets are reporting Senator John McCain was found to have a malignant brain tumor, which has been removed. As regular COTTonLINE readers know, we have often been critical of various positions taken by the senior senator from Arizona.

None of that means we ever wished him ill-health. Brain cancer is an ugly affair we'd wish on no decent human, in which category he certainly belongs. We wish him a speedy and complete recovery.

Instant History

As you read various opinion pieces to make sense of the debacle that was the failed attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, you could do much worse than the Dan Balz column for the Washington Post. Balz really tries to hold down the leftward spin and describe what happened.

As you might surmise, "what happened" wasn't pretty. It leaves the GOP in a place that can please only Democrats.

Later ... for a less balanced, more "who can we blame for this abortion" approach, see a Breitbart quote of Rush Limbaugh on-air:
Collins, Murkowski, Capito – these three female leftists in the Republican caucus are running the Senate, not Mitch McConnell. (snip) Three liberal women who call themselves Republicans are running the Senate.
Okay, "running" is an exaggeration. What they're actually doing is preventing the Senate from transacting business.

The three represent, respectively, Maine, Alaska, and West Virginia. They deserve primary challenges next time they face the voters.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Downer

It turns out the Republican's "big tent" is too big to be of any practical use. The failure of the U.S. Senate to pass a repeal and replace of Obamacare demonstrates this lack of cohesion. This outcome is depressing.

Perhaps Mitch McConnell should resign the Senate leadership in protest. Herding the GOP's 'cats' can't be much fun.

One is tempted to say it would serve the GOP right if most of their senators up for reelection in 2018 lost. Except the damage to our nation from a Senate led by Upchuck Schumer would be considerable.

Likely we'd all end up getting our health care from government clinics as bad as the VA, a grim prospect. And who knows what exotic new sexual 'variants' a Democrat Senate would end up protecting? Or whether they'd defund the Border Patrol.

A better approach will be to run good candidates against nonconformist outliers like Rand Paul, John McCain and Susan Collins in the GOP primaries, defeat them, and move on. Less satisfying, but also importantly, less dangerous. The RNC needs to get busy with this project.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Trump No Travel Impediment

The Associated Press reports that, contrary to some expectations, tourism to the U.S. from other countries is up since Trump took office. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.
Last winter, the U.S. tourism industry fretted that Trump administration policies might lead to a “Trump slump” in travel.

But those fears may have been premature. International arrivals and travel-related spending are up in 2017 compared with the same period in 2016.
The article notes travel to the U.S. is hindered more by the strong dollar than by who occupies the White House. The Canadian dollar and euro are both weaker than previously, making coming here more pricey for tourists from those regions. And yet they come.

Mercenaries for Afghanistan?

Writing for The Atlantic Sean McFate, himself a former mercenary, describes ideas being floated to turn the pacification of Afghanistan over to a mercenary outfit like Blackwater or DynCorp. It would report to an American viceroy, with a role not unlike that of MacArthur in post-war Japan.

McFate is apparently of two minds about this proposal, having seen some mercs do good, and others do evil. He warns against Praetorianism, although I don't see some merc leader setting himself up as a "white rajah" in Afghanistan.

The model might be a Raj-like Afghan army manned by local enlisteds with first world officers and tech specialists. Alternatively, it could be a SOF outfit of stone killers with hi-tech equipment, 'robust' rules of engagement, and no media oversight.

What worked in renaissance Italy might work in today's failed states.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A New Approach

David P. Goldman, who blogs as Spengler at the PJMedia site, writes the basis of dislike for Trump is Islam. See his reasoning:
Western leaders from George W. Bush to Pope Francis I struggled to avoid a clash of civilizations, praising Islam as a religion of peace. Trump, by contrast, told Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia May 21 that the onus was on them to extirpate terrorists from their countries and mosques. Trump isn't seeking civilizational war. He's giving Muslim leaders fair warning and a chance to avoid it.

The Democrats' notion of intersectional victimization includes Muslims as victims of Western colonialism and "people of color."(snip) The Republican Establishment and their neo-con punditeska view the Muslim world as a giant laboratory for the export of democracy. (snip) The Europeans want a long-term accommodation with Islam as they drift slowly into demographic oblivion.

That's why the Democrats, the Establishment Republicans, and the Europeans hate him so much. (snip) They made a commitment to coexistence with Islam, and Trump pulled the plug on it.
Oversimplified? Yes. Containing a large nugget of truth? Absolutely. Is Trump aligned with U.S. public opinion on the issue? Completely.

CA a Plantation State

At the overtly pro-Trump website American Greatness, Editor Chris Buskirk writes about two events which happen to coincide timewise: Joe Scarborough leaving the GOP while Kid Rock announces for the GOP Senate run in Michigan. His basic story is fun and not wrong.

I want to emphasize something he sort of throws in for "ballast" or justification along the way, a really pointed description of the "going to Hell" path my native state of California has been traveling.
The Golden State, once the incarnation of the American Dream, is collapsing. The state’s defenders—there are a few—will say, “Hey, California is the world’s sixth-largest economy!”

Behind that bit of boosterism lies illegal immigration, legal drugs, out-of-control state spending, massive unfunded pension liabilities resulting from years of the legislature paying off the public sector unions, crumbling infrastructure, and a gap between rich and poor that resembles nothing so much as the plantation states of Central America whose example California is eagerly following—a state divided between the monied gentry and the people who serve them.

California is now a vision of a potential American dystopian future.
Buskirk obviously infers: "the (white and Asian) monied gentry and the (brown and black) people who serve them." And he could have added a reference that, as in the antebellum South, a largely white and Asian 'overseer' class of public employees run the schools, hospitals, criminal justice and welfare systems.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Saturday Snarkfest

Herein follows my picks from Steven Hayward's weekly collection for Power Line of cartoons, captioned photos, witty sayings, and generalized snark. As Hayward notes in his intro, a lot of the same topics are recycled this week from last week and the week before.

A four panel cartoon: first panel shows a man beside a woman in a pink pussy hat, he says:
Watch this...
Second panel, he looks at her and says:
Trump
Third panel, she explodes and melts down as he looks smug.
Fourth panel, he says:
Works every time!

A cartoon send-up of the West Side Story musical poster, modified somewhat. Labeled Mess Side Story, and showing a singing elephant and a singing donkey.
The elephant sings:
I like to be in America!
Grow money tree in America!
The donkey sings:
Everything free in America ...
for a huge fee in America!
Two panels, side by side. First panel, the cartoon characters Beavis and Butthead. The second panel, a photo of Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, who bear an uncanny resemblance to the cartoon guys. This one you need to see to appreciate.

Photo of a very bummed George Clooney, captioned:
When you love refugees, but you have
to leave your Italian chateau, as it's not
safe anymore due to refugees
Photo of an aircraft dropping fire retardant on a suburban forest fire, captioned:
Official state bird
of California 
Photo of a World War II B-29 bomber, with nose art saying:
Enola
Homosexual
Only a WW II history buff will get that one.

Two photos, side by side. In the first the Snuggle™teddy bear, in the second an Ewok©. The pair captioned:
What happens when teddy bears do meth

Losers All

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports statistics on who were the G-20 protestors arrested in Berlin. The data was compiled by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany's FBI equivalent.
Of these 84 per cent were men, and 72 per cent were aged between 18 and 29.

A third of them were unemployed, and 92 per cent still live with their parents.

In 15 per cent of these cases, the victims were right wing activists.
In other words, 85% were angry left wing snowflakes whose parents need to stop enabling their radicalism. One of them may write this generation's Mein Kampf or Das Kapital, something the rest of us could handily do without. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Deeply Corrupt and Incompetent

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds links to a Washington Examiner article wherein Lisa Boothe puts the "Don Jr. meets a Russian lawyer" thing in perspective. See her conclusion:
To be clear, none of this is okay. This isn't an effort to justify Donald Jr.'s decisions. But politics is a dirty industry. Many of the people criticizing him have spent plenty of time playing in the mud. They could at least wipe themselves off before handing down hypocritical moral judgments on others.
To this, Reynolds adds:
Given that we have the worst political class in our history, yelling “Trump is not normal!” doesn’t persuade. Given that our political class is also deeply corrupt and incompetent, calling Trump corrupt and incompetent doesn’t carry a lot of weight either. Given how many of them — *cough*Hillary*cough* — are on the take from foreign countries, the Russian thing seems like weak sauce. 
Analysis: If anything, understated.

Nevada Goes to Pot

When Colorado legalized recreational marijuana I was puzzled, it didn't seem like a logical move for the home of 3.2 beer. On the other hand, when Nevada did the same thing my reaction was: "Weed is a perfect fit for Nevada, the only state in the nation with bars that never close and legal brothels."

Nevada is the libertine state, a place for Baptists and Mormons to let their hair down "off the reservation." What happens in Nevada stays in Nevada, as does your money, unless you bring home an STI or an unfortunate tattoo.

Be Careful What You Wish For ...

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds shares a whimsical thought on the whole dump-on-Trump thing.
Say Trump actually gets tired of this and resigns. Will Democrats be happy with what comes next? I suggest that they won’t. Two likely things: Trump doesn’t actually go away, but wages full-time political war against his critics, while Mike Pence becomes miraculously transformed into Hitler, just like all Republicans do once they’re president. Then if I’m Pence I name Ted Cruz VP, because enough Dems and Republicans would fear a Cruz presidency to put the kibosh on any efforts to get rid of Pence — and enough Dems and Republicans in the Senate dislike Cruz to ensure they’d confirm him just to get him out of there. . . .
And a Pence presidency would likely push a law requiring weekly church attendance ... just kidding, I hope.

The New Religion

William Deresiewicz, author of Excellent Sheep: the Miseducation of the American Elite, writing on the problems facing higher education, as quoted in a retrospective on Allan Bloom's Closing of the American Mind.
Selective private colleges have become religious schools. They possess a dogma, unwritten but understood by all: a set of ‘correct’ opinions and beliefs, or at best, a narrow range within which disagreement is permitted. . . . The assumption, on elite college campuses is that we are already in full possession of the moral truth. This is a religious attitude. It is certainly not a scholarly or intellectual attitude.
Sadly, the so-called "elite colleges" as opinion leaders are being copied by the less elite schools.  The dogma is globalist, multicultural, and white-and-male-hating. Fortunately, many students go through the motions without internalizing much of it.

Third-World Politics in CA

Politico is reporting California Democrats are battling among themselves, dividing into factions. This is being treated as somehow unusual or newsworthy. It may be newsworthy, but it is exactly what one should expect.

California has become, de facto, a one-party state. Republicans exist and elect a few Reps. to Congress but are such a small minority that Democrat supermajorities exist in both legislative houses in Sacramento. No statewide office is held by a Republican.

We know what happens when one party dominates a polity, we saw it in Mexico with the PRI's dominance for decades, in Japan with similar decades-long one party control, and it persists in China today. Under these circumstances, all decision-making occurs in negotiations among factions of the ruling party.

That is how California will experience politics for the foreseeable future, it has become a quasi-representative government. For the past several decades New York has operated this way. It works, after a fashion, but often becomes corrupt as "rascals" don't much get thrown out of office.

Several state officials in NY have gone to jail for corruption in the last decade. Also, a stream of elected officials in Illinois have left office in handcuffs, headed for the state penitentiary. This "feature" shouldn't take too long to surface in CA, perhaps a decade.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Self-Interest

RealClearWorld links to an article at the SupChina website which details a split in the Chinese-American community. The non-Chinese author, John Pomfret, writes that recent arrivals from mainland China are politically conservative and voting Republican whereas long-time residents and those from Taiwan are more likely to align with Democrats and liberals.

Opposition to affirmative action is the motivating issue. Pomfret describes the writings of a prominent Chinese-American blogger as claiming:
While affirmative action made sense “in the last century” to right historic discrimination against minorities, its use in today’s America as a way “to dole out racial quotas” marked a distortion of its original purpose.
The Pomfret article ties in nicely with something I wrote two days ago, reflecting on another article about people sorting themselves politically into like-minded communities. Of its author, I wrote:
He also assumes or hopes minorities will vote progressive forever more. Hispanics and Asians may do nothing of the sort, many don't now.
Once again, demonstrating the truth of an old Washington adage: Where you stand depends on where you sit. Translation: your stand on issues generally is determined by what will benefit you and those you care about. A truism that is neither new nor controversial.

The Next Target

Writing at National Review, Elliot Kaufman makes an interesting prediction.
The next successful Republican politician will rally the Right by making America’s universities his punching bag — and the universities will prove even more vulnerable to that politician’s attacks than the media were to Donald Trump’s.
Why will this work? What will be the specific targets?
Republican voters may disagree on policy and principle, but they can agree on whom they don’t like: Radical professors, race-obsessed provocateurs, gender-studies grifters, anti-Israel fanatics, weak-kneed administrators, disgusting libertines, angry feminists, and illiberal student protesters.
Kaufman draws a not-surprising parallel.
By refusing to own up to their own bias and weaknesses, the media didn’t make their critics disappear; they only angered and empowered them, making themselves more vulnerable to attack.

The educational establishment makes the same mistake but expects a different result, while its left-wing allies cheer it on. 
Thus, Kaufman's conclusion:
The next Trump, then, will play to the worst fears of parents by going after colleges and universities. In doing so, he will unite the best, the worst, and all the other elements of the Right. They will be primed to hear the critique, which will be partially or even largely correct. The next Steve Bannon will seek to “overthrow” the university system from behind the scenes. And the universities, like the media before them, will walk right into the trap, while the Left rejects potential voters as deplorable ignoramuses.
Unsurprisingly, most voters reject being characterized as "deplorable." Meanwhile, the university I retired from now tells professors they should not fail minority students. For untentured faculty, including the many adjunct faculty, "should not" is understood to mean "must not."

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Another Carter?

One of the downsides of "living long" (Spock's words) is that you begin to see patterns in events. One such occurred to me yesterday, let me share it with you.

A very religious outsider, Jimmy Carter was elected President in large part as a reaction to Watergate and to Ford's pardon of Nixon. Up to that point he had spent essentially no time in Washington, and if truth be known, probably didn't care much for it. Carter surrounded himself with personnel from Georgia who were likewise newbies in DC, Hamilton Jordan comes to mind as an example.

As we know, Carter was widely perceived to be a failed president and was not reelected for a second term. To some extent his outsider status, and that of his people, can be blamed for his lack of success.

Donald Trump is likewise an outsider, elected as a reaction to Obama's anti-Americanism. Like Carter, Trump probably doesn't much like Washington. He too has surrounded himself with outsiders, many of them family or campaign staff. They are newbies in DC, and to politics. Reince Priebus and Mike Pence being notable exceptions. Don Jr. chatting up a Russian lawyer is a classic outsider stumble.

I support Trump's program of action, and would hate to see it fail. What concerns me is the many similarities to the failed Carter approach I see happening under Trump. The Deep State has devious ways to get even with an upstart outsider, a Carter or a Trump.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Low Tax, Well-Run GOP States

Investor's Business Daily reports the Mercatus Center at George Mason University has issued its annual ranking of the 50 (not 57 as Obama thought) states based on their fiscal condition.
The rankings in the fourth-annual "Ranking of the States by Fiscal Condition" report, which was released this morning, are based on a review of audited financial statements for 2015 covering five measures that gauge the states' ability to pay bills, avoid budget deficits, and meet long-term spending needs and cover pension liabilities.
The top ten states were these:
01. Florida
02. North Dakota
03. South Dakota
04. Utah
05. Wyoming
06. Nebraska
07. Oklahoma
08. Tennessee
09. Idaho
10. Montana
IBD notes each of these states voted for Trump and only Montana has a Democrat governor. The bottom ten states were these:
50. New Jersey
49. Illinois
48. Massachusetts
47. Kentucky
46. Maryland
45. Pennsylvania
44. Louisiana
43. California
42. West Virginia
41. New Mexico
IBD says 6 of these 10 voted for Clinton, two more have Democrat governors (LA, WV). Plus:
The most fiscally sound states also tend to have the lowest tax burdens, according to a separate analysis by the Tax Foundation, which measures state and local tax burdens as a percentage of state income.

Birds of a Feather

MSN.com has a story about the sorting-out that progressives and conservatives have been doing in regard to where they live. Author Reid Wilson casts the story in economic terms - the prosperous cities and suburbs voting Clinton vs. the not-so-prosperous countryside voting Trump.

Wilson's interpretation of what's happening isn't entirely wrong or right; some of each I think. He gives basically no weight to cultural issues - the countryside's rejection of the urban 'social justice' and multicultural globalism agendas.

My favorite part of the article is a map which shows the counties which voted 80% in favor of Trump (371) or Clinton (17). Many of Trump's supermajority counties are in a swath that runs north from TX and OK thru KS, CO, NB, WY, ND, SD, and MT. Mine is one of the WY counties.
Nearly 59 percent of Americans - almost 187 million of us - live in counties that voted for Clinton or Trump by 20 or more percentage points. An incredible 1,559 counties gave Trump more than 70 percent of the vote in 2016, and 99 gave Clinton the same percentage.

That's a marked contrast from the 2000 election, when another Democratic candidate also won the popular vote while losing the Electoral College. That year, George W. Bush took 70 percent of the vote in just 546 counties. Al Gore won the same percentage in 46 counties.
Wilson assumes (perhaps "hopes" would be more accurate) young people who move to the city and vote progressive will continue to do so lifelong. Considerable evidence suggests people become more conservative as they grow older.

He also assumes or hopes minorities will vote progressive forever more. Hispanics and Asians may do nothing of the sort, many don't now.

My suggestion is to concentrate on Wilson's demographics and skim his analysis. The former is data, the latter is opinion with which you may disagree. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Monday, July 10, 2017

"Settled" Science

Two headlines from Science Daily, posted at Power Line by Steven Hayward. The first, dated September 15, 2016:
Pacific Ocean's response to greenhouse gases could extend California drought for centuries.
The second, dated July 6, 2017:
California projected to get wetter through this century.
Hayward's comment:
Amazing how one wet winter can change the science.
Analysis: Climate "scientists" are largely clueless.

Climate Armageddon

Writing at New York Magazine, David Wallace-Wells poses the doomsday scenario:
The Uninhabitable Earth
Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak - sooner than you think.
You can imagine Wallace-Wells asking himself "What are the worst climate-related disasters I can imagine, assuming everything goes at least as badly as the worst pessimist can fear?" This article is the compendium that resulted. The operational word in his subtitle is "could."

If Wallace-Wells is anywhere near correct, Europeans who have no children whatsoever, including the elected leaders of most European nations, have the right idea. You wouldn't wish his dystopian future on anyone for whom you felt even a little love.

Wallace-Wells foresees a real shit-storm; a climate-driven Hobbsian state of nature - a war of all against all, where life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." If you suffer from excessive elation and ebullient spirits, and feel the need of a serious downer, this article''s your ticket, an express bus to depression.

There is, of course, at least some possibility that Wallace-Wells is correct, that all our worst nightmares will come to pass. It is also possible you could be struck by lightening or a meteor, or even a chunk of toilet ice falling from an airliner.

Most of us do not dwell on such outcomes, for good reason. While possible, they aren't exactly high probability outcomes. We're much more likely to experience our inevitable mortality from cancer or a heart that quits, or a car crash. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Snark at the NY Post

The New York Post is having too much fun with NYC Mayor de Blasio's trip to protest the G-20 in Hamburg, Germany. Their July 9 cover page shows him grinning with the following caption:
DEUTSCH BAG
Mayor feeds his
ego in Germany
after fleeing
a city in mourning
Very cute play on words, guys. "Mourning" refers to the NYPD officer who was shot in cold blood the day before de Blasio left.

A Strange Resemblance

Either a talent or maybe a failing I have is seeing individuals who remind me of others. Right now Drudge Report has a photo of Donald Trump Jr. as its lead.

In that photo Don Jr. is a dead ringer for Nicholas Lea. Lea is the Canadian actor who played the character Alex Krycek in 24 episodes of the TV series X-Files.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

California Nightmare

As California sinks into a Venezuela-like morass, Hoover Institution historian Victor Davis Hanson chronicles its decline, here for Investor's Business Daily. He asks why someone won't take action.

Like many of us oldtimers, Hanson remembers a time when California was a beacon of hope for Americans everywhere. Now it's a mess. My favorite line from his IBD piece:
One-third of Bay Area residents were polled as hoping to leave the area soon.
That can't be good.

Thoughts on the Presidency

Our presidents are complicated individuals. Very few are "plain vanilla" folks where what you see is what you get. Some examples from the years when I was paying attention.

JFK was elegant and polished in public, a philandering cad in private. Johnson was crude and ruthless, but a superb legislator and someone who knew when to leave the stage.

Nixon was privately paranoid and nasty, one of the best foreign policy presidents we've had, and couldn't finish his second term. Ford wasn't elected to the office, so let's skip him as he's basically a historical footnote.

Carter, a demonstrably smart man, tried his darnedest to be a Christian president, and was mostly a cheek-turning flop. Reagan played the role of president better than most, as he understood its many "performance" aspects as most do not. Bush I won a war (Gulf I) and couldn't get reelected in spite of it.

Clinton was both lucky and a natural politician, but what my grandmother would have called "a masher" who pushed himself at women who weren't interested in sex with him. Bush II was very likely a decent man but not entirely up to such a big job including the ill-omened Gulf II. Obama was personally elegant and smooth, but revealed his basic dislike for most things American entirely too often, and gave up our gains in Iraq.

That brings us to the current occupant, Trump is both crude and polished, a bully and a salesman, and a much-married family man seemingly popular with his five kids. Like many entrepreneurs he has failed more often than he's succeeded, but succeeded enough to breeze past the start-ups that didn't make it.

Spending time in show biz has given Trump practice in selling himself. And he is able to monopolize media attention like no one since, perhaps, FDR. He is able to both give brilliant speeches and tweet ugly put-downs. A complicated man, indeed, in good company with other complicated men who've held the office.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Liberal Self-Hate

At Power Line, Steven Hayward quotes a lengthy passage from James Burnham's 1964 book Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism. I reproduce that passage (ca. p. 178) here for your enjoyment.
The average liberal is just not too concerned about, not so emotionally involved in, nationhood, national patriotism, sovereignty and Liberty as is a fellow citizen to his ideological Right. It does not shock him when bearded young men say they will never fight for their country, nor is he indignant even when they express preference for a country other than their own. If a mob in an underdeveloped land smashes the consulate or embassy of his nation, he is not much aroused; indeed, he may well conclude, after interpreting the facts, that justice was on the side of the rioters.

He feels little thrill when the flag goes by. And quite probably finds pledges to the flag or oaths of allegiance actively distasteful. He approves of many of the weighty books setting out to show the relativity and morality equivalence of diverse religions and cultures, and to decry the backwardness of those Westerners who still believe that in some rather important sense Western civilization is superior to Buddhism, Islam, communism, atheism and animism, and therefore worth preserving. . .

It does not seem to him an anomaly that his own nation’s communications industry should on a massive scale print the books, produce the plays and movies, present the television scripts of those who hate his nation and his civilization, and seek, often avowedly, the destruction of both.
It is getting ever harder to shrug off the self-hatred Burnham describes eloquently. Part of me says it's okay to hate people who hate their own society. Some part of me still disagrees, I'm not sure for how long.

Francis No Friend

CNSNews reports the content of an interview Pope Francis gave Italian reporter Eugenio Scalfari, published in La Repubblica and translated by Agence France Presse.
I worry about very dangerous alliances between powers which have a distorted vision of the world: America and Russia, China and North Korea, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and (Syria’s Bashar al-) Assad over the war in Syria.

The danger concerns immigration. Our main and unfortunately growing problem in the world today is that of the poor, the weak, the excluded, which includes migrants.

This is why the G20 worries me: It mainly hits immigrants.
This is exactly what you'd expect from an Argentine leftist, which Francis was before being elected Pope. His pronouncements are redolent of Liberation theology. That leftist movement, condemned by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, is in favor under Francis.

An Echo from the Past

I'm placidly reading Instapundit on a quiet Saturday afternoon in Western Wyoming when I see a link to a story about my long-time employer, colloquially known as "Chico State," more formally it's California State University, Chico. This I don't expect.

The Heatstreet story reports employee SJWs there removed copies of the student newspaper, The Orion, from the Student Health Center because they believed an article therein might be "triggering" for transgender or other fragile individuals. This behavior was praised by several employees, including faculty.

It turns out the SHC broke State law in so doing. CA state law prohibits removing multiple copies of a free newspaper in order to prohibit the dissemination of ideas, ruling it a misdemeanor.
Penal Code section 490.6 The Legislature finds that free newspapers provide a key source of information to the public, in many cases providing an important alternative to the news and ideas expressed in other local media sources. The Legislature further finds that the unauthorized taking of multiple copies of free newspapers, whether done to sell them to recycling centers, to injure a business competitor, to deprive others of the opportunity to read them, or for any other reason, injures the rights of readers, writers, publishers, and advertisers, and impoverishes the marketplace of ideas in California.

I expect Democrat supermajorities in the state legislature to revoke this law in their next session. A politically correct state can't have heretical thought lying around in free newspapers where some poor snowflake might read it and melt down.

Keeping Others Awake at Night

Politico reports the Trump administration is cracking down on leakers in the White House, the intelligence agencies and elsewhere in government. Bureaucrats are experiencing paranoia about it. Good.

Deep State members should worry, they've been damned overt in their opposition to their new boss. I don't know what their governmental experiences have been, but in the private sector leaking, if discovered, can get you fired and blackballed; it can basically ruin a good career.

Bureaucrats beware, the new boss is from the private sector and embodies its values. Prior to joining government, his most famous quote was "You're fired!" These are words you don't want to hear, prefaced by your name. Hat tip to Secretary Mattis for the title.

Spengler: A Most Inspiring Speech

As regular COTTonLINE readers know, we often enjoy the commentary of David P. Goldman, whose nom de plume is Spengler. See his opinion of the President's speech in Poland.
President Trump's speech yesterday in Warsaw was better than inspiring. It was calculating and subtle, and sent strong messages to both our friends and adversaries.

It was a brilliantly crafted speech, the slickest as well as the most inspiring foreign policy address of any American president since Ronald Reagan.
High praise, indeed. Even though the foreign policy bar has been set fairly low during the last four presidencies.

Clinton was a good speaker but cared and spoke little about foreign affairs, neither Bush was memorable, and Obama was stylistically adequate but said hateful, anti-American things.

Saturday Snarkfest

Most of Steven Hayward's collection of cartoons, captioned photos, and snarky sayings this week for Power Line deal with the CNN meltdown. When those dudes shoot themselves in both feet, their aim is perfect. Some favorites described:

Photo of Donald Trump holding up a copy of the Chicago Daily Tribune, showing this headline:
YOGI BEAR DEFEATS CNN
Poster with the slogan:
Is that true?
Or did you hear it on
CNN
Photo of a flaming dumpster; dumpster is labeled "CNN"

Poster with this slogan:
CNN
THE MOST DISTRUSTED NAME IN NEWS

Cartoon of Trump flying on the back of a Twitter bluebird, while below a guy labeled "Media" holds a microphone and has bird droppings splattering his head.

Cartoon of Trump as NFL running back carrying ball, tackled by three guys in referee shirts labeled "lower courts." The caption below says:
After further review by the Supreme Court, the ruling on the field is overturned. First down, Trump travel ban.

Cartoon: at the back door of a McDonald's restaurant, a uniformed employee is thrust out the door by a robot. The fired employee holds a sign saying "$15 Minimum Wage Now" while a newspaper on a dumpster headlines "McDonald's Stocks Soar."

Nice Headline

Scott Johnson, another of the Power Line regulars, posts a photo of the front page of Friday's New York Post. Alongside a sneering photo of New York City mayor de Blasio, they print this headline:
The day after an
NYPD cop was
executed, Mayor
de Blasio jets
off to Germany
to rally lefties
against the G-20

AND DON'T COME BACK! (their caps)
Snarky tabloid journalism can be fun when it's on your side.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Quote of the Day

Paul Mirengoff, one of the Power Line regulars, reacts to a Washington Post story that claims 35% of DC residents have participated in an anti-Trump rally or protest.  He notes much greater numbers of those so reporting were white and made over $100K per year, whereas the district is more black and Hispanic than white. However, compared to the nation:
Washington’s population is disproportionately liberal, disproportionately affluent, disproportionately activist, and disproportionately mid-level bureaucrat.
To this characterization, COTTonLINE would add: disproportionately swamp-like.

Not Precisely Celibacy

The Daily Beast reports further info on the gay orgy in the apartment of Monsignor Luigi Capozzi, secretary to Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, who heads the Vatican Council for Legislative Texts. Nosy neighbors complained to the Swiss Guard about the noisy flocks of young men.

The article concludes by mentioning another papal aide and financial expert, Cardinal George Pell of Australia, who recently went home to face charges of sexual abuse alleged to have happened while he was a priest there years ago.

All this, and the many other examples of which we are sadly aware, suggest the "celibate priests" thing has had the effect of preselecting candidates for the priesthood who already knew they'd never marry a woman. The priesthood attracted pedophiles and gay men who had no interest in an adult heterosexual relationship and understood the priesthood gave them perfect cover by proscribing behavior they a priori found repellant.

Furthermore, the church has been aware of the problem for many decades. A former priest, long married to a former nun when I worked with him in the mid-1970s, reported a 'drill sergeant' priest at his seminary would angrily exhort the novices to "be manly."  He inferred both the existence of the problem, and an institutional awareness thereof, some 5 decades ago that I know of.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Canada Envy

Writing at The Walrus, Stephen Marche marvels about the current interest in Canada, particularly among U.S. liberals. He attributes it to Canada's ability to implement policy.

Marche doesn't say so, but the difference is Canada having a parliamentary system. Their national leader has a majority in the only legislative house that matters and can pass what he and his colleagues choose.

The U.S. government is based on the notion that most things government might want to do should not, in fact, be done. So the founders made it difficult to set in place new policies.

We have a presidential veto, they have none. We have two houses with different electoral cycles both of which must pass any new policy. Our Supreme Court can strike down a passed law if it is found to contradict the Constitution.

We should not be surprised, therefore, that Canada has a more activist government than does the U.S. It is their chosen modality, it is not ours'.

Piling On

Kurt Schlichter, who blogs at Townhall.com, observes the MSM in general, and CNN in particular, in trouble and gleefully piles on.
The mainstream media is almost entirely composed of liberal activists who hate normal people and who see absolutely nothing wrong with using their platform to aggressively promote a leftist agenda, all while presenting themselves as non-partisan public servants.

It’s all a lie, and we know it, and beyond the hate directed at us, having the hypocrisy of it rubbed in our faces is even more galling. You know, if you want the prestige and honor due a nonpartisan, objective truth teller, you need to actually be a nonpartisan, objective truth teller. If you won't do the hard work of doing that, then you don't get the benefit.

CNN’s own actions have validated every bad thing Trump has ever said about the lying media. That he was totally and completely correct about CNN's moral bankruptcy makes it all the sweeter.
Analysis: correct. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Thinking About Korea

Let's think about the threat increasingly posed by a nuclear-armed North Korea ruled by a psychopath with near-absolute power. China fears the very real prospect of being overrun by starving Norks, in the event the Kim regime collapses. Thus, they won't do what is necessary to rein in Kim.

It seems likely within 1-2 years Kim will have his threat assembled. At the point at which Kim has a nuke on an ICBM and threatens Seattle with it, what then?

Everybody says the 25 million South Koreans living in greater Seoul are hostages, under Nork guns, missiles, and bombs. Do you believe this U.S. president would shrug off Seattle to save Seoul?

More to the point, do the South Koreans believe it? Indeed, why would they? Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear he puts U.S. interests first. In extremis, it may well be in the U.S. interest to bomb North Korea mercilessly, even if that puts Seoul's millions at risk of annihilation.

If South Koreans conclude this is a likely outcome, might they not surrender to the North, open the border and invite the DPRK to rule them, in order to survive? Do you suppose that is Kim's plan for reunification of the peninsula? I wish I found that scenario farfetched.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Travel Ban Popular

Politico underwrote a poll by Morning Consult asking whether people supported the ban on travelers from six Muslim nations. One supposes they believed they'd like the results, but they don't.
Asked whether they support or oppose the State Department’s “new guidelines which say visa applicants from six predominately Muslim countries must prove a close family relationship with a U.S. resident in order to enter the country,” 60 percent of respondents said they support the guidelines, and only 28 percent oppose them.
I give Politico credit for reporting results they don't find pleasant. Is it too much to hope your decision to "commit journalism" was a conscious choice driven by professional ethics?

Cold Logic

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, implacably plays out the logic of dating/mating.
Women generally want to marry men who make more than they do, so the more career opportunities there are for women, the fewer "eligible" men there are.
Analysis: true. The result: fewer marriages.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A Fourth of July Wish

On this Independence Day I have a malicious wish for all of America's liberals. I wish you a successful Trump presidency that lasts a full 8 years.

As Niall Ferguson writes, that outcome is a liberal's worst nightmare. Unlike Ferguson, I don't believe it will be dumb luck if it happens.

President Trump is a survivor in a tough business, as well as subsequently in politics. He plays the media like a fiddle, runs a lean operation, is a workaholic, and is perhaps the best self-publicist on the planet.

Face it, any guy who can sequentially marry three supermodels, have children by each, and end up with none of them hating him, is a magician. And none of his kids is a drugged-out mess, which is no small feat.

Anti-CA Bias in OR

Lucianne.com links to a story in Portland's The Oregonian about a California couple who moved to Portland because his job was there. Someone in the neighborhood trashed their house and car with "Go Home" and "Don't Californicate Oregon" graffiti.

I spent 3 academic years in Eugene, OR, and I can confirm that anti-CA sentiment has been the norm in Oregon for at least 40 years. While there, I learned an interesting way to diffuse anti-CA bias.

I'd tell any Oregonian hassling me about screwing up Oregon that I didn't like their state and would leave as soon as I finished my degree. That was both useful and true. As long as I didn't plan to stay I was okay, that made me a visitor and visitors who go home are okay with most Oregonians.

You'd think some would have been mildly put out that I was sponging off the OR taxpayers at their state university. No native ever mentioned that flaw in my reasoning, and I failed to point it out to them. I guess relief that I wasn't a "settler" did the trick.

Eight months of the year, Oregon and Washington west of the Cascades Range are too wet and gloomy for people with a tendency toward Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. I have a mild case which leaves me sleepy and low energy, but not depressed, on days with no sun; I got through grad school in spite of it. Interestingly, the diaries of the Lewis and Clark expedition are full of complaints about the soggy winter they spent at Fort Clatsop near Astoria and the mouth of the Columbia River.

Happy Independence Day

COTTonLINE wishes all of our readers a Happy 4th of July. Be safe, have fun, remember the sun screen and mosquito repellant, eat and drink well in moderation, and enjoy tonight's fireworks. If you've got a U.S. flag, fly it today.

Something to remember on this day when we celebrate our Independence: freedom isn't free. Our freedom was purchased with the blood of patriots, the lives of heroes, and the expenditure of untold billions.

The DrsC have visited at least briefly 115 countries. We've yet to see a place we'd happily trade for the U.S. on a permanent basis.

Every time we return home from overseas, no matter how much fun we've had traveling, there is a relief as we touch down in the States. Warts and all, we love the good old U.S. of A., every state of which we've visited, most repeatedly.

Monday, July 3, 2017

We Don't Trust Much

The Daily Mail (U.K.) has a story about a "who do you trust" poll done by Marist College for National Public Radio. Americans were asked their level of trust in the intelligence community, the courts, fair elections, public opinion polls, the Trump administration, Congress, and the media.

Of the list above, only the first two had more people saying they trusted them a good amount or a lot, than said not very much or not at all. Elections broke even, all the rest were in negative territory - more distrusted than trusted.

The Trump administration was distrusted by 61% which looks bad until you note that Congress and the media are both distrusted by 68%. A confounding factor, public opinion polls are distrusted as much as the Trump administration.

In case you're wondering, I don't trust any of the above a great deal. A possible exception are national elections which are hard to covertly rig because there are so many diverse players in the vote counting and tabulating process. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

How and Why the Media Went Wrong

Michael Goodwin writes opinion for the New York Post. Using his column as a platform, he posts the text of a speech he gave at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Atlanta.

In it he describes the decay of the MSM, muses knowledgeably about the causes of its decline, and suggests what we as consumers of news can do to help solve the problem. If the state of the MSM, particularly The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the three senior TV networks concerns you, Goodwin's speech is very worth reading.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Battle Lines in Syria

Writing at War on the Rocks, Beirut-based Sam Heller paints a picture of the current state of play in Syria. He suggests we ignore the literally hundreds of armed groups and focus on the large groupings. Some key thoughts:
Syria’s war is complex, but it’s not random.

The three main opposition enclaves are disconnected geographically. (snip) Yet these opposition areas are also disconnected politically, each run by a different mix of factions sponsored by their own respective international backers. Only one of the three opposition enclaves, Syria’s rebel-held northwest, is reliably motivated and able to fight the regime.

The relationship between the Assad regime and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) – the dominant political force in those two Kurdish areas – is not properly adversarial. (snip) Importantly, the PYD has always set its ambitions for local autonomy below the threshold of secession or regime change in Damascus.

The picture is of a sort of non-aggression pact between internationally backed regime and Kurdish-led forces that are dividing the country amongst themselves before, potentially, coming to their own accommodation. The mixed opposition and the Islamic State have lost, by international consensus, and are being edged out of a future Syria.

How the regime’s various paramilitary auxiliaries relate to the central regime-state – and whether the Syrian regime and state still exist at all – is one of the most hotly contested and relevant debates on Syria today.

My understanding is that those militias – which, without context, look like a teeming, undifferentiated horde – actually fit into existing regime networks of control: a set of official and unofficial strings that all run up to the single, pivotal locus point, Assad himself. These sub-factions enjoy substantial autonomy to engage in criminality and local predation, but when those strings pull taut, they can be puppeteered in sync.

Winding down sections of the war, and America’s involvement in them, is going to require Washington to engage Syria as it really fits together and operates – Syria as it is, not as we want it to be.
Bottom line: Heller believes Assad will not be beaten, meaning any talk of regime change needs to stop. Backing groups that will lose makes no sense either.

Non-Contiguity

James Taranto, editorial features editor of The Wall Street Journal, interviews historian Allen Guelzo, a specialist in the Civil War at Gettysburg College. Their talk is about the divisions in the U.S. today as compared to those in the 1850s and 1860s.

Guelzo makes an interesting point. He believes the factor that made the U.S. Civil War "thinkable" was the contiguity of slave states.
What gave the question “political mass” was geography: Slavery had been outlawed throughout the North by the early 19th century, leaving 15 states where it was legal. “Because these slave states were all contiguous, they could look at a map and see themselves as a political unit.” Eleven did in 1860-61.
Today's divisions don't have that same geographic clustering, most progressives being bicoastal plus a handful of mid-country large cities. Then Guelzo focuses on what he calls:
A party’s “political center.” For Democrats, it is “local”; for Republicans, “national.” Mr. Guelzo isn’t talking about policy. His argument is that Republicans think of themselves as Americans first, whereas today Democratic localism takes the form of subnational identity politics.

“A sense of belonging to an American nation is much more attenuated,” he says. “Do you identify yourself as being a woman, transgender, black, Latino—you go down the list—or do you identify yourself as an American? That has actually now become an issue. This would have been unthinkable two generations ago.
If Trump voters think of themselves as "Americans," how long before they begin thinking of Democrats as something else, as not-American? Where do you suppose that thought can take us policywise? Some answers could be decidedly unattractive.

Abolish Sanctuary, Lower Crime

Fox News reports the comments of Levi Bolton, Executive Director of the Arizona Police Association,  interviewed by William La Jeunesse about sanctuary city policies with particular focus on Phoenix.
When we eliminated our sanctuary policy back in 2008, we saw crime, violent and stolen vehicles fall by 25 percent. We saw a 20-year low crime rate. When we were allowed and had the discretion to contact our federal immigration partners, crime fell drastically.
You could argue that eliminating the "sanctuary city" designation had the effect of causing the migration of the criminal immigrant population to other cities with more welcoming policies. Do you suppose that exodus offended law-abiding Phoenix residents? I'd guess they were delighted.

Finding "Home"

Sarah Hoyt is a naturalized American, a native of Portugal, a science fiction author, a Ph.D., a regular guest blogger at Instapundit, and therefore a conservative. Like many immigrants she loves the U.S., and in her latest column for PJ Media she reminisces about how she came to the States.

You could accurately call her either a successful American or a failed Portuguese, as many immigrants likely were failed whatevers wherever "home" was. Part of the magic of life is moving to where you fit in, feel comfortable.

For example, I knew expat "haoles" on Guam who loved it there and, while they'd visit "the mainland," wouldn't voluntarily move back to the States. I knew others who moved back for family reasons and regretted it. And some, like me, who moved back and had no regrets doing so.

I've had the same experience with brief (1-2 year) sojourns in the Washington, DC, area and in the Dallas area. All 3 were fun, interesting, and ultimately impermanent. I suppose for most of my life I fit into a category labeled "serial expat," I liked the expat experience but didn't want to make it permanent.

Ronald Reagan said something like "I didn't leave the Democratic Party, they left me" meaning they changed while he didn't. I've had that experience with California; it has evolved into something with which I'm no longer comfortable. It wasn't always that way, I once loved it and am sad about it's degeneration.

On the other hand, this is our 25th year of association with Wyoming, as property owners and, since 2004, residents. After 25 years I'm still an expat in WY - I still lock my house and car when leaving them, have never applied for a hunting license, and still flee the looooong winters. Expat or no, it is home and I'm proud of it, like any happy immigrant.

It's an experience I've had repeatedly in my life, the keep-looking-till-you-find-the-right-fit experience. It's how I ended up in a career I enjoyed, a 46 year marriage I cherish, and a state I admire. I believe I can relate to some of Sarah Hoyt's experience.