Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year

COTTonLINE wishes our readers a Happy New Year. It's time to make resolutions you know you won't keep and remember Guy Lombardo and Auld Lang Syne. The year just ending has been eventful, interesting, but not restful.

I am of two minds about my wishes for 2017. Do I wish for another interesting, eventful year with lots about which to write? Or do I wish for the series of uninterrupted wins The Donald has promised us, which could get boring and uninteresting?

Instead, how about a nice mix of the two? Plenty to chew on combined with plenty to celebrate sounds good. I'll wish for that.

I hope most of you have learned that getting tipsy isn't worth tomorrow's suffering. My advice: stay home tonight, wish each other Happy New Year at midnight, turn in thereafter, and rise feeling rested to watch the Rose Parade.

Several nets carry the Rose Parade but my preference is the Home and Garden cable channel. They have historically done no commercial breaks and continue to the end even if it runs long because they don't have to cut away for the inflexible start of a bowl game.

One-Party Rule

The Daily Caller reports on a claim made by an angry-left prof in North Carolina that its government can no longer be truly viewed as democratic because one party - the Republicans - has won too many state elections. Lucky North Carolinians.

If that's true in NC, which I doubt, it's doubly true in places like New York and California. It has been years since any Republican held state-wide office in either.

Dems now have supermajorities in CA's legislature, which enable the open-ended passage of ever-greater taxes. And why not? Who knows better how your money should be spent than your legislators? With a third of the nation's welfare recipients, CA has many voters who love sky high income and payroll taxes since they pay not a cent of either.

Such places develop a kind of electoral politics not unlike that of Mexico during the decades of uninterrupted PRI rule. The legislature becomes somewhat irrelevant as it rubber-stamps whatever the party decides. The government of Japan operated in this fashion for some decades, less so today.

All important decisions are made within the party caucus, in tussles between interest groups or factions therein. Such government is at least partially representative, as people have ways to influence the party via their various linkages thereto via work or interest group affiliations.

Friday, December 30, 2016

No Interest in Ruling non-Russians?

Writing at The National Interest, Doug Bandow makes a cogent argument that Putin's Russia is not the old Soviet Union, risen from the dead. To be sure, it is a would-be superpower but it no longer is the marketing arm of a internationalist ideology with broad, if superficial, appeal outside its borders.
After some 17 years in power the Russian leader’s only geopolitical booty is Crimea, long part of Russia. He also has gained influence over the largely forgettable Donbas, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia. That’s not much of a new empire. He has shown no interest in ruling over non-Russians. He apparently realizes that attempting to absorb large populations determined to resist Moscow’s rule would certainly be a losing game and likely be a disaster.
Of course Hitler swore he only wanted to unify and protect Germanic peoples, as he absorbed Austria, Alsace and the Sudetenland. Then he invaded Poland and kicked off WW II. History suggests an autocratic leader's appetite for territory can get out of hand.

However, beyond ethnic Russians left behind in former SSRs when the USSR fell apart, who would prefer to be Russian citizens? Essentially nobody. Given the absence of an 'evangelical' ideology like Communism, Putin's aims for Russia would appear severely self-limiting.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Trump Appoints the Hawk

Forbes reports on the current state of economic play between China and the U.S., in anticipation of the Trump administration's less-friendly approach to trade. It could be a good time to short (or dump) the stocks of firms which have made major investments in China.
Trump’s Transition Team announced the creation of the National Trade Council. Peter Navarro, a University of California, Irvine economist, was picked to head up the new body.

Navarro, whose formal title will be Assistant to the President and Director of Trade and Industrial Policy, is being charged with developing a national plan to rebuild American industry.

“For the first time,” the Transition Team press release states, “there will be a council within the White House that puts American manufacturing and American workers first, and that thinks strategically about the health of America’s defense industrial base and the role of trade and manufacturing in national security.”

Navarro is not a hawk. He is the hawk, America’s pre-eminent China skeptic. Author of Death by China, the 67-year-old has led the charge against Chinese mercantilism and predation.

Trump did not win on November 8 because he had the support of GM’s Mary Barra, Apple’s Tim Cook, or Boeing’s Dennis Muilenburg. He won because he promised to bring industry back to America and thereby got the votes of blue-collar America.

If Beijing continues to pressure American companies, Trump won’t feel the heat from executive suites. In fact, he will revel in the distress of CEOs—and he will get a boost as they have one more reason to leave China and return to the U.S.
Sounds like Forbes is looking forward to a more muscular policy toward China trade. If you enjoy buying manufactured items cheaply - clothing and electronics - you might want to stock up in the next few months before the prices go up.

Quote of the Day

Thomas Sowell, as quoted by Steven Hayward for a retrospective at Power Line.
Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.
Virtue signaling strikes again, and again we all lose.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Ferguson Effect Persisted Through 2016

Heather MacDonald writes in City Journal that the Ferguson Effect is the only explanation for the spike in violent crime seen in 2016.
What I have called the Ferguson Effect—a drop in proactive policing leading to rising crime—is the only explanation for the crime increase that matches the data. The country has just elected a new president who understands that the false narrative about the police has led to the breakdown of law and order in inner cities. If the crime situation improves in the coming year, it will be because Black Lives Matter calumnies no longer have an echo chamber in the White House and because cops on the beat believe that they will now be supported for trying to restore order where informal social control has broken down.
LEOs of my acquaintance are hopeful the Trump presidency will bring about more support for their work and sacrifice. Let's bring back proactive policing; ironically, most of the lives saved thereby will be black.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Chicago as Shooting Gallery

Paul Mirengoff, who blogs at Power Line, writes about this year's record rate of shootings and murders in Chicago.
At least 27 people were shot, seven of them fatally, during a 48-hour period over Christmas weekend. The seven fatal shootings brought the total number of homicides in Chicago so far this year to 745, a 56 percent increase from the number at the same time last year. According to the Chicago Tribune, this year is the first in nearly two decades that more than 700 homicides have been recorded in the city.

Blacks made up around 78 percent of the homicide victims; Hispanics around 17 percent.

As for shootings in Chicago, the total now stands at 4,252. That’s an increase of 47 percent from the same time in 2015.
Therefore whites and Asians together made up exactly 5% of homicide victims. Chicago is no place to be black or Hispanic in safety. Gang activity is implicated.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

The week between Christmas and the New Year is a traditional time of stock-taking. It's a time we summarize what has happened and what may happen in the year ahead. Herewith COTTonLINE takes a stab at this sort of sanctioned thumb-sucking.

History will judge with the advantage of decades of hindsight, of course, but from this vantage point, it appears 2016 was a watershed year. By that, we refer to a year when prior trends fail to do what trends normally do, which is continue in more or less the same direction at more or less the same speed.

Mathematicians and economists refer to such years as "inflection points." Futurists and pundits with a flair for the literary call such unusual events "black swans."

Most of the time projecting current trajectories to continue essentially unchanged is a safe call; safe but essentially worthless in the sense that it's a call anybody can make. Forecasting that is useful is that which nails the inflection points, which "calls" the times when directions change, when economies or societies take a new direction.

This will be a year, I predict, when Francis Fukuyama will be shown to have been definitively off-base. History isn't dead, it's still being made. A raft of trend lines will hiccup and head off in new directions.

Polling has proven to be nearly impossible in 2016, the outcomes of the Brexit vote and the presidential election were both widely predicted incorrectly. If you like, you could also include the unexpected vote rejecting amnesty for the FARC rebels in Colombia.

It remains to be seen whether or not Donald Trump will be able to uproot and break the stranglehold of the bureaucratic "deep state" on our government. If he even tries, it will be a titanic struggle, fascinating to watch.

A Reader Contributes

Yesterday we wrote about Jewish voters' firm-but-unhealthy attachment to the Democratic Party. Subsequently a non-Jewish friend who has traveled to Israel several times wrote to me as follows:
Enjoyed your comments on William Levinson's article about Jewish voters. But I doubt being an "abused spouse" will change the majority of them to a more conservative stance. I think one of the defining differences between LibProgs and Conservatives is that much of what the LibProgs do politically is symbolic; it has far less to do with what is right in principle and far more to do with them thinking of themselves as "good" people doing what's best for others whether the others willingly hold still for it or not.

The focus is on how LibProgs feel about themselves. As such, those Jewish members will continue with the program, desperately trying to rationalize the lumps they take from their own (throw in a touch of "schuldig", Jewish guilt for existing) with the good intentions they think they have for their fellow man and it comes off exactly like a wife who makes excuses for a husband who bludgeons her because she thinks it may be her fault and she wants to be seen as a "good" wife in public. The motivation for loyalty has nothing to do with reality in such cases, me thinks.
He describes "virtue signaling" as it is now being called by the pundit class. And it explains, sort of, why progressives view conservatives as "evil." If one believes virtue signaling is an important and noble behavior, those who don't do it must lack virtue, must be evil.

Merry Christmas ... Ho, Ho, Ho

COTTonLINE takes this opportunity to wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas. We hope you can spend time with family and friends, feast, and celebrate all things positive and life-affirming.

The DrsC are preparing to travel to our - circus term - winter quarters. There we will bask in the sun, reconnect with our South Coast roots, read books, and eat French apple pie supplied by the local farmers' market. This year we also have a Potterworld film to track down and view, plus a StarWarsworld film, ditto ... two favorite genres.

Two months in the southern sun will thaw us out. Then we return to NorCal, teach our OLLI classes, and go on another cruise before heading off for summer in the Rockies.

It's our version of the rhythm of the seasons. Life is good.

AP: 2016 Top Stories

The Associated Press has chosen the election of Donald Trump as our next president as its top story for 2016. They picked the exit of Britain from the European Union, aka Brexit, as the runner-up.

Much as I might wish to quibble, I am forced to agree. These two stories are likely to have the most profound consequences going forward. They also have in common a strong populist/nationalist theme.


Two days ago we wrote expressing concern about the wisdom of A&E doing a reality series on the KKK. Our belief was that the programs could encourage some viewers to follow the KKK path.

Today Drudge Report links to a Hollywood Reporter story indicating the network has rethought their decision and killed the project. Not risking it is probably the wise choice.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

From Whence Trump's New Conservatism?

When Trump's candidacy for the Republican nomination was first announced, you may remember a common knock on him was his non-conservatism, including friendships with Democrats. It is reasonable, having had a look at his cabinet picks, to ask from whence comes his current serious conservatism?

The fellows at Power Line have proposed an answer that covers the observed facts and is congruent with what is known of the Trump personality. John Hinderaker, senior blogger at the site, suggests the Trump proclivity for counter-punching helps us understand his newfound conservatism.
My guess is that throughout the general election campaign and continuing to the present, Trump has been stunned by the insane outpouring of hatred against him and his family from the Left and the Democratic Party. (snip) Trump spends a fair amount of time on Twitter; how do you think he felt when he saw that #RapeMelania was one of the top trending hashtags?

One thing we know about Trump is that if you hit him, he will hit back. (snip) The liberals wanted war, so war they will get. Trump knows where his friends are–on the right–and it looks like that is where he will govern.
Power Line contributor Paul Mirengoff adds:
If John is right, we will probably see a vicious cycle for the Democrats. The more conservative Trump becomes, the more savagely they will attack him. The more savagely they attack him, the more conservative he may become.
This makes a whole lot of sense to me, how about to you? Trump subscribes to the Marine Corps motto: No better friend, no worse enemy.

The Jewish Voter as Battered Spouse

Writing for The American Thinker, William A. Levinson describes Jewish voters' attachment to the Democratic Party as being like that of an abused spouse. I find his description apt.
Barack Obama's refusal to veto the United Nations' recent resolution to condemn Israeli settlements in Israel underscores the status of the Jewish voter as the battered spouse who simply cannot bring herself to leave her abusive husband.
After reciting a whole list of Democrat snubs, insults and outright infidelities, Levinson concludes:
No, Jewish voter, he doesn't love you, and he never did. You gave him everything, and he gave you only slaps, bruises, and broken bones. This latest domestic violence will hopefully convince you that it is past time to pack your things, walk out on him, and leave him to drink himself to death with the left-wing politics that drove the blue-collar worker into Donald Trump's camp this year.
Hat tip to for the link.

Eve? Really?

Am I the only one who thinks odd the labeling as "Christmas Eve" the entire day prior to Christmas? "Eve" means the evening; arguably Christmas Eve should begin around sundown on the 24th, should it not?

All Hallows' Eve refers to the evening, as does New Years' Eve. Somehow we call the whole day before Christmas - morning, noon, and night - by the appellation "eve." Okay, enough semantic quibbling, I'll just have to deal. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.

In any event, the DrsC wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Travel safely, eat moderately, love extravagantly, and worship if you're a believer. I'm stuck at home trying to wear out a nastily persistent cough.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Echoes of Manzanar

In an OpEd piece, the Los Angeles Times reminds us that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Korematsu v. United States has never been overturned. In 1944,
The Supreme Court upheld a wartime order sending Americans of Japanese racial ancestry to internment camps.

Although the majority opinion allowed the internment, it also stated that “all legal restrictions which curtail the civil rights of a single racial group are immediately suspect” and “courts must subject them to the most rigid scrutiny."
Wanna bet Korematsu makes Muslim residents in the U.S. nervous? At what point, they might reasonably ask, could the Long War become sufficiently hot to convince desperate leaders to undertake a similar internment?

Potato, Potahto

Have you wondered about the name change for the country formerly known as Burma, now known as Myanmar? The Economist explains where we are now and how we got there.

Basically, neither is an accurate transcription into phonetic English of the local pronunciation of the name.
Though the words look radically different in Roman scripts, in Burmese they are pronounced almost identically: with a quick, unstressed first syllable, either “buh” or something like “munn”, followed by a longer “MA”. In neither name is there a hard “r” sound anywhere. It is never pronounced “MAI-an-marr”.

Gustaaf Houtman, an anthropologist who specialises in the country, explains that native speakers use both words: Myanmar is the formal, literary form and Burma an everyday term. Burma has the advantages of ease of pronunciation (for foreigners), and visual consistency: the adjectival form is Burmese.
Similarly, in the mid-1980s a guide in Beijing told us his girlfriend was a local, he said she was "Pekingese." The other DrC and I were proud we managed not to burst out laughing at the mental imagery that term invoked. He'd never have understood our mirth.

Bradley Effect Revisited

COTTonLINE has often written about the "Bradley effect," named for Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley who polled ahead but finished behind in the race for CA governor. For most of its history, the Bradley effect has specifically referred to people misleading pollsters about their preferences because one of the candidates was black.

As Peggy Noonan infers in The Wall Street Journal this week, perhaps race isn't the only factor which can trigger misleading responses to pollsters. She cites:
The spirited remark of a Manhattan social figure who, when I asked in September if he knew who he would vote for, said he would be one of the 40 million people who would deny the day after the election that they voted for Mr. Trump, but had.

A famous fact of 2016 is that of almost 700 counties throughout the country that voted for Barack Obama twice, a solid third went this year for Trump. Many were Democrats. Very few saw it coming.
Noonan implies we need to broaden our definition of the Bradley effect so it refers to the tendency of a significant number of responders to give pollsters a socially desirable misleading response when their intended voting action is socially undesirable. COTTonLINE concurs.

A Glimmer of Insight

I generally find the opinions of Catherine Rampell in the Washington Post tediously left-wing and out-of-touch. "Generally," but not always.

Today she writes about the white working class supposedly voting against their own economic interests, i.e., voting Republican. Rampell opines they do so out of frustration:
Maybe they believed any Big Government expansions would disproportionately go to the “wrong” kinds of people — that is, people unlike themselves.
She expands upon this theme:
Democratic policies probably would help the white working class. But the white working class doesn’t seem to buy that they’re the ones who’d really benefit.

Across rural America, the Rust Belt, Coal Country and other hotbeds of Trumpism, voters have repeatedly expressed frustration that the lazy and less deserving are getting a bigger chunk of government cheese.
Unlike Rampell and the coastal elites, the white working class actually know many undeserving screw-off dysfunctional layabouts who are their neighbors, and/or relatives. They resent tax money being spent on losers who are infamously their own worst enemies.

I understand and share those feelings. If we subsidize feckless behavior, we should expect to get more of it, as B.F. Skinner demonstrated.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Playing With Fire provides a link to an article at Heatstreet concerning a new A&E reality TV show Generation KKK. A&E describes its theme:
This series gives viewers an unprecedented look at what it is like to be born into hate. Our producers gained access to Klan families allowing for full immersion into this secret world and its impact on the next generation.
Clearly, the hope is that people will watch and be revolted. My concern is that more than a few people will watch and find common ground with white supremacists.

What if it becomes a recruiting tool for such groups? Stranger things have happened.

Realistic Art from an Alternate Reality

Guest blogging at Instapundit, science fiction author Sarah Hoyt provides a link to a series of haunting paintings by Polish artist Jakub Rozalski done as illustrations for the board game Scythe. I find them fascinating.

Hoyt sees similarities to the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back planet Hoth winter war sequence. I also see echoes of The Wild, Wild West starring Will Smith, Kevin Kline, and Kenneth Brannagh. And the armored polar bears of The Golden Compass. Also hints of the armored trains of Dr. Zhivago and the obvious imagery of Nazi helmets. Many less direct influences are apparent, including the Brothers Grimm. Love the saddle-bred musk oxen too.

It is a fascinating body of work, surreal, awful and beautiful all at once. As with all good science fiction, these paintings transport you to a plausible-but-eerie alternate reality.

Ten Years of Fun

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the founding of COTTonLINE. Our first post was on December 22, 2006.

As noted earlier, we've posted roughly 8400 items in that decade, an average of 2.3 per day. The blog has received some quarter million visits during the past decade. Respectable, but not world class traffic.

Having an audience for one's opinions is habit-forming. This blog has been a replacement venue for the 'editorializing' I did as a professor lecturing for nearly 40 years. Dear readers, thank you for your kind attention.

It is both ironic and appropriate that we begin our second decade of COTTonLINE at the beginning of the Trump era. I am confident it will provide many interesting situations upon which to opine.

In contrast to Michelle Obama, I now feel hope for the first time in 8 years. It's likely regular COTTonLINE readers are feeling it too.

Yet Another Reason

Stephen Green, guest blogging at Instapundit, enunciates clearly another reason (scroll down) Clinton lost.
Trump looked and sounded like he was having fun — and I suspect he was and still is. Clinton came across as annoyed that there was all of this campaigning to be done before her inevitable coronation.
So-called "happy warriors" don't always win, just ask Hubert Humphrey. That said, being one was still a plus for Trump. Enjoying campaigning was something Trump and Bill Clinton shared; for Hillary it was too clearly a grind.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Adieu to Autumn, Welcome Winter

According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, the 2016 winter solstice arrives here on the West Coast of North America at 2:44 a.m. tomorrow morning, Wednesday, December 21. At that point the hours of daylight stop becoming shorter and begin becoming longer, which lengthening continues until June 21.

Technically, tomorrow is the first day of de jure winter, today the last day of autumn. However, for much of the central U.S. de facto winter came over a week ago with record low temperatures for the time of year.

For millions of residents of flyover country, global warming has to seem a largely theoretical construct, one not especially connected to their daily lives. My neighbors who winter in Wyoming would enjoy less cold and snow, conditions with which the continent's backbone is too-generously supplied.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Electoral College: Trump Wins

A variety of sources report that the Electoral College has elected Donald Trump as our next president. The issue was never truly in doubt.

Now dog-in-the-manger Democrats claim they will impeach him if he fails to separate totally from his Trump company. It isn't clear why he should, if he's at all careful to avoid throwing government business its way.

Of course Democrats could only impeach if Republicans would join the effort in Congress, which Republican lawmakers will not do. It is time for the sad donkeys to get to work finishing up the five stages of grief.

If they can't shake identity group politics, they'll conclude they must nominate non-whites to have a chance at the presidency. In that sense, Sen. Cory Booker's chances are looking up in 2020.

Travel Blog Epilogue: The 'Longest' Day

Our flight this morning boarded in Ft. Lauderdale at 5:45 a.m., our alarm went off at 3:45 as we had to catch a cab to the airport, check in,, and get through security. Our United 737 had just come from SFO as a "red eye" and was headed back there non-stop with us aboard.

On that transcontinental flight, I was the can't-stop-coughing guy nobody wanted to be within rows of. "Nobody" included me, I'd have gladly been far, far away.

We flew for nearly six hours and arrived at SFO at 9:30 a.m. local time. Getting luggage and a rental car took perhaps an hour and we were on the road north before noon. A quick lunch and meds stop in Davis and we got home about 3 p.m. We'll return the rental car tomorrow a.m. within the 24 hour time limit.

So now I've been awake for 15 hours after a very abbreviated night's sleep, it's only mid-afternoon, and I'm exhausted and sick. The cough, remnant of a cold, persists with disturbing vigor and tenacity. I need to be healthy enough to load an RV and do the Christmas-with-the-family thing on Saturday.

On a happier note, the Winter Solstice comes up in a couple of days, a holiday celebrated since truly ancient times, several thousand years ago. The annual event is echoed in various pre-Christian celestial observatories like Stonehenge and New Grange.

On Thursday we celebrate the 10th anniversary of COTTonLINE, with about seven thousand posts and over a quarter-million page views. Paraphrasing Rush Limbaugh, this blog has been more fun than anybody should be allowed to have.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Answering the "Why" Question

Salena Zito writes political commentary from her base in Western Pennsylvania, I often findi myself nodding in agreement with her observations.

Her column today is from The Washington Examiner. her topic is the reasons for Hillary's loss. Herewith two choice excerpts:
Here is a shocker: I'd estimate based on my reporting that this election was baked before the debates, before the "Access Hollywood" tapes, before the hacked emails and before anyone took the time to actually notice, listen and understand just how upended the American voter is.

Hillary Clinton lost because she ran arguably one of the worst campaigns in the history of campaigns; there was no message, their team ignored the pleas of longtime grassroots activists to be more engaged, and to stop hating on anyone who was not brown, black, gay or part of some specialized voting bloc.
Zito concludes the media missed the story because they simply didn't want to believe it true. I'd add that reporters end up talking to people like themselves and all of those were for Clinton. It takes real journalistic professionalism to go listen to people you do not wish to know, or find distasteful. Perhaps even deplorable?

Travel Blogging XX

"Becalmed" in Ft.Lauderdale: The cruise ended this morning, the Prinsendam is now taking on pax for its next cruise. We headed for the airport and discovered that there was "a problem" with our airline reservations.

The terminal was a zoo, lines everywhere, and the AC seriously underperforming. The causes of the mess were, essentially, twofold. First, it is the Christmas season and many people travel. Second and more important is the giant cold snap dominating the middle of the country, the so-called "Arctic express."

With OHare, Denver and other northern airports closed or nearly so, many travelers were perforce flying a southern route through Houston or Dallas. Our bottom line: Our flight leaving Ft. Lauderdale was running late enough we probably would not make our connection in Houston for SF. And, there were no seats available on later flights today for the Houston-SF leg, all full.

The result: we overnight in Ft. Lauderdale and fly out tomorrow before dawn on a nonstop to SF. So we are doing a Holiday Inn, and have notified Budget that we'll need the car tomorrow, not today. Honestly, I'm not sorry. It gives me another day to recuperate from my cold.


On the cruise just ended we had six table mates at our dinner seating: a couple from Canada, two sisters from Louisiana and two friends (guys) who live in different states but meet up to travel. It was a remarkably cheerful and congenial group. We ended up doing some extra activities together which went beyond a shared meal.

The two ladies from LA were booked on our original flight this afternoon but had the same problem we had - no flight beyond Houston. Travel can be a mixed blessing.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Quote of the Day

Tom Trinko, writing in American Thinker, on a current piece of peculiar double-think.
If a man says he’s Napoleon Bonaparte, he needs help, but if he says he’s a woman he’s perfectly sane and if anyone refuses to go along with him he’s being oppressed.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Travel Blogging XIX

At sea enroute to Ft. Lauderdale: We spent the last two days in the ports of Curaçao and Aruba respectively. These are semi-independent Dutch colonies and very much the better for it.

Oranjestad and Willemstad are cities of considerable charm,   particularly Willemstad on Curaçao. If I had to pick a Caribbean island on which to live, it could be Curaçao, or perhaps Trinidad.

I didn't go ashore at either port as I'm trying to get over a cold before making the long, tiring flight back to CA, which happens on Sunday. I've been ashore on both islands on prior cruises.

Political news is in a pre-Christmas lull, our next significant milestone will be the vote of the Electoral College. One thing this trip has provided is good media availability: Fox News, MSNBC, and BBC 24/7, and good internet too.

Gone are the days when a cruise was a vacation from reality. Now we know what happens when everyone else learns it. Staying up-to-date is a mixed blessing.

This has been a nice cruise, I can see why many Holland America aficionados love the Prinsendam, she's old but elegant and gets the job done just fine. All the things that matter are modernized: enclosed lifeboats, wifi, flat screen TV.

It is unlikely I'll post any more travel comments before Sunday's disembarkation.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Political Thoughts

Docked in Grenada:  Much talk about Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon-Mobil, as a possible SecState. Part of that talk has been biographical, including that he's worked at Exxon seemingly forever.

I have no unique opinion on his fitness for office, clearly he's a talented guy to end up CEO of the world's largest corporation. But his promotion up through the Exxon ranks reminded me of received wisdom from my Management prof days.

It is a truism in Management theory, borne out in practice, that firms promote from within if they are doing well, are seen as market leaders. The reasoning being "it ain't broke, so we won't fix it." Tillerson is an example of this.

On the other hand, if a firm's board of directors believes it is not fulfilling its potential, it is routine practice to bring in an outsider as CEO. That outsider is someone not committed to the unsatisfactory status quo, a "new broom," a force for change.

At State Tillerson would be a new broom, and might be responsible for quite a number of retirements among the striped pants diplomatic corps. It isn't clear whether he has much experience as a change agent. I daresay he'd have to deal with quite a lot of passive resistance among hard-to-fire careerists.

A key thing Trump and the GOP Congress need to achieve is to simplify and shorten the process of letting go unsatisfactory civil servants for cause. As it stands today, firing is so difficult that most bosses in the federal bureaucracy don't bother to try. We all suffer the consequences of this particular malaise.

Travel Blogging XVIII

Alongside in Saint Vincent:  This island has pharmacies, even ones open on Sunday. It also has gas stations and supermarkets.

What it doesn't have is a very elaborate road system. Very few of the island's roads are wide enough to have a centerline. Most are 1 to 1 1/2 cars wide with no guard rails, no center lines, and very often a drainage canal alongside that is maybe 16" deep. If you dropped a wheel into the canal, you'd break something.

There are lots of very substantial, large mountainside homes. The locals don't live in them, except as housekeepers.

The big homes belong to foreigners, probably white, who use them as second homes. We are given to understand that the local tax structure is generous enough to encourage the wealthy to claim St. Vincent as their residence - owning a home here makes it more believable.

I kept an eye peeled as we drove around the island on tour. I saw exactly 3 whites who acted "local" and one more who was not white but other than African in ancestry. Everyone else I saw was black except the tourists off our ship. In other words, it's a typical Caribbean island. If the big-house expats were here I didn't see them, but perhaps I wouldn't as they're probably in their tinted-window cars and not pedestrians.

Our driver said there are six medical schools on island, I wonder who the faculty are? Retired Med School faculty from the States and Europe? Probably.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Travel Blogging XVII

At sea enroute to St. Vincent and the Grenadines: The ship spent the day in the harbor at Scarborough, Tobago. We did a shore excursion that was ho-hum, it did drive us around the island and we saw a lot of hillside homes. They are more substantial here than in Barbados.

The Brits built a fort atop a mountain overlooking Scarborough. This was smart inasmuch as the location gets a very nice sea breeze which ameliorates the humid heat. It would keep the mosquitos at bay too, particularly important in those days of yellow fever, dengue fever and malaria.

Just for fun I looked to see if I could spot a pharmacy ... no luck. I saw paint stores, hardware stores, building supply places, and markets, even a car dealership ... no pharmacies. I'm not sure I ever saw a service station selling gas, maybe one. It was an odd mix, perhaps coincidental.

Our guide mentioned that the ancestors of the African people who are the local majority were brought here as slaves to work the sugar cane. I have the normal modern person's aversion to slavery so my first thought was "ugh".

However my second thought was that the people now live better than if they had been left at home in Africa. These islands are healthier and better governed than wherever home was. And the people are proud and, for tropics dwellers, reasonably industrious and it's their island, they run it via elected officials.

In fact, a new "senior secretary" (think "island governor) will be elected in January. Together with Trinidad, the two islands constitute an independent nation. Each island has a senor secretary whereas the nation is headed by a prime minister.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Travel Blogging XVI

At sea headed north toward Tobago: This part of the Atlantic has been somewhat rough recently. Some are suffering mal de mer.

We are in the last third of this trip. The highlight experience of cruising the Amazon is behind us. We still have 2-3 islands to visit on our way back to Ft. Lauderdale.

I find ironic that our ship has deployed no Christmas decorations. If this had been a Princess ship they would have had the seasonal stuff out right after Thanksgiving.

You know how smokers and beer drinkers have "their brand?" My favorite fast food sandwich is the Carl's Jr. Western Bacon Cheeseburger. So I was cheered when CKE CEO Andy Puzder was picked by Trump for Secretary of Labor.

I'm certain Puzder is a "right to work" and "minimum wages kill jobs" kind of guy. As such, he will drive liberals crazy. Getting him confirmed may be tiresome.

My overall impression of the post-Nov. 8 transition has been positive. I don't know the records of all appointees but those I do know are impressive achievers.

The Donald Compared To TR

The Daily Mail (U.K.) has an article comparing Donald Trump to Teddy Roosevelt. I guess they can be forgiven for being behind the curve as they're foreigners; COTTonLINE first mentioned that comparison on Nov. 20, over a year ago, and several times since.

The men are alike in dreaming big, believing large things are possible, having much energy, and thinking outside the box. TR however took a more conventional path to power.

Let's hope the comparison proves apt, shall we? Sadly, there are no guarantees.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Travel Blogging XV

Re-crossing the Equator cruising downstream toward the South Atlantic: Today the shellbacks (us) initiate the pollywogs (them) into the sea-going society of line-crossers, cruise-ship style. The ones being harassed are crew, not pax; for us 'tis as painless as MASH's dentist.

I've been musing about things in the Amazon that were not "as expected." One thing I expected was that the terrain of the rainforest would be virtually flat - no hills or mountains. I was half-right, there are no mountains. There are occasional hills, rising perhaps 100 feet or a bit more, including some that border the river. I didn't expect hills.

Another unexpected thing is there are more substantial river towns, even cities, than we thought we'd see. They are still the exception rather than the rule, but they exist, perhaps a half-dozen meaning one every 100-150 miles.

We've experienced very few bugs, essentially zero mosquitos. The DrsC were liberally sprayed with deet but many in our midst were not, wore shorts and short sleeves and didn't get bitten either.

I'm thinking the fact that we kept moving in various river craft was a big help. Mosquitos like still air. However when we stopped moving to fish for piranha up a shallow side channel I saw no one slapping away bugs then either.

Holland America Line normally attracts an older crowd, older than the typical not-young cruisers. This trip, however, seems to have a slightly less old group, possibly because of the tough visa and yellow fever shot requirements. We have fewer walkers and electric power chairs on this trip than is typical on HAL.

HAL ships tend to have less spectacular atria than Princess or Royal Caribbean, quite tame in comparison. They also run to Indonesian crews, about 50% on the Prinsendam.

However, those aboard who handle liquor may be Filipino, as Indonesia's mostly Muslim population is supposed to take a dim view of alcohol consumption. I write "supposed to" because Indonesia - the world's most populous Muslim country - produces and consumes much beer.

Princess ships tend to have Filipino crews, reflecting the U.S. colonial experience in that nation. Royal Caribbean hires many Caribbean blacks for its crews, logically enough. I wonder if MSC and Costa cruise ships hire Europeans, perhaps from the poorer East?

A cynic would write that cruise ship crews are "plantation-like" with third world workers and mostly first world managers and officers. The shops tend to have European staffing, and often the casinos too. Maybe a better analogy would be a British India colonial army with indigenous enlisted and NCOs, white officers and specialists. Whatever ... it works.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Day That Lives in Infamy

COTTonLINE once again reminds Americans that on tomorrow's date in 1941 the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, sunk a number of U.S. warships, and killed many residents of Hawaii - military and civilians alike. They then attacked U.S. forces in the Philippines and Guam, and treated the survivors brutally.

One suspects that Japan's only lingering regret is that they lost ... big time. Their Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere left behind few friends in the countries they occupied, Taiwan being a possible, albeit partial, exception.

Remember Pearl Harbor. A peculiarity of this blog site is that whereas the time of posting appears to be approximately 9 p.m., that's CA time. Where I am in Eastern Brazil it is already Dec. 7, we're one time zone east of NY time.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Travel Blogging XIV

Anchored midstream off Parintins, Brazil: We didn't go ashore today, Parintins is a small river town a long way from anywhere. These don't often harbor surprises for the seasoned traveler.

The election just over a month ago was certainly consequential and hard-fought, perhaps even unique. The pre-presidency of Donald Trump has been busy and interesting as well.

You'd think our fellow passengers, most of whom are Americans, would be chattering about it. I've heard essentially nothing! No talk, no speculation, no opinions about appointees, nothing at all.

I find I've not been bringing up either. So I began wondering why we are reticent about the topic. People aren't indifferent about the outcome, this we know.

It isn't as though we have been getting no news about the election's sequelae on our ship, Fox News and MSNBC come in loud and clear, and a free summary of New York Times news and commentary is published daily.

My conclusion: we passengers fear the raw feelings of both winners and losers will poison the superficially genial relationship norm that exists on cruise ships. It is as though it would be impossible to be nice to people who hold stupid, evil views so we seek not to know those views. Fascinating group behavior, actually.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Election Musings

Further musings on the election just completed. Liberals and progressives convinced themselves that any sane, thinking person would vote for Clinton. She got a lot of votes but did not win.

Now they feel like this isn't their country after all, a disquieting feeling conservatives have known too well for the last 16 years. If their behavior is erratic, that helps explain it.

Plus, they look around the world and see things going south in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Not only does the U.S. not seem like their country, they don't see another that looks better, unless it's Canada.

The Canadians, bless them, are picky about who they give residency to, favoring the wealthy and those with STEM  skills. That bars most progressives with basically worthless social science or victim-group studies degrees.


The New York Times has an article about who votes in what numbers. It turns out income, education and age are all positively correlated with propensity to vote.

It makes sense that the poor often don't vote as they don't pay income taxes or property taxes. They do, however, pay sales and fuel taxes, vehicle license fees and the so-called "sin taxes" on alcohol and tobacco. Some of these are 'invisible' as they aren't called out separately on receipts, as is sales tax.

Black voter participation is high in their figures but these end with 2012. Without Obama on the ballot it may have fallen significantly in 2016.

Travel Blogging XIII

Cruising downstream from Manaus, Brazil: Today is day 15 of this 29 day cruise. It's the midpoint, two weeks behind us, two still to come.

Manaus is a large city, roughly 2,100,000 population. It was founded in the 1600s. Half the people in the entire Brazilian state of which it is capital live in Manaus.

There is actually a bridge across the river here, quite an engineering feat. There are a number of tall buildings, a refinery, a cement plant, and a navy base with a latter-day San Pablo docked there (P21).

If we saw few river craft on the lower Amazon, we've seen over a hundred here. Many are docked and some pulled out on the bank, which is to say out of use. Still, the waters around Manaus are busy with boat traffic. I also counted some 5-6 ocean-going ships at anchor or docked here.

We've been the only cruise ship in port yesterday and today, but they are prepared for such so we are hardly the only one that calls here. I know Princess sends a ship here, it's likely others do as well.

We had hard rain with thunder yesterday afternoon but the rainy season (summer) hasn't really started in earnest. Today is nice, but with the region's humidity you get buttermilk-colored skies - hazy. We got them in the DC area, too, another humid place.

Travel Blogging XII

Docked in Manaus, Brazil, nearly 1000 miles upriver from the South Atlantic: Manaus is probably as far inland as one can cruise on an ocean-going ship. On second thought, Thunder Bay, MN, may give it a run for the money.

When you think of Manaus, its most famous landmark is the Opera House, built by rubber barons in the late 19th century. Now 120 years old, it is elegant in an antique sort of way and has excellent acoustics.

We saw a symphonic performance there last night, very professionally done by an obviously local orchestra. The room has four tiers of balcony, the first only a meter or so above the general seating.

A friend sarcastically described Manaus as "like Dakar, without the charm." I'd say she was unkind and probably incorrect as well.

Today we took a river tour, largish local boat to the edge of some shallow water channels where we offloaded into roofed 10 passenger skiffs. These took us into the riverine environment to a settlement of floating houses, shacks really. The "pontoons" that float these buildings are giant rain forest logs, perhaps 3' in diameter, 4-6 under each building.

One of the shacks had an air conditioner and most of the others had a TV antenna and/or a satellite dish. This suggests they all have little gas-powered generators for evening use, I can't blame them.

Floating houses become important because the water level can rise 8 meters or more during the rainy season, which just began. We saw yellow boats which serve as school 'buses' as well as a floating school and perhaps a floating church. We also saw a child being bathed in river water by his mom, the same river water into which their floating outhouse deposits human waste - sorta gross.


I've been musing about the amount of hate that accompanied the last election. I believe at least part of it can be attributed to the ideological 'purification' the two major parties have recently undergone.

Once there were liberal Republicans in the Northeast and conservative Democrats in the South. A Republican could find ideological allies among Democrats and a Democrat could likewise find simpatico Republicans to hang with. Not any more.

Except for kooks and extremists, all conservatives are now Republicans and all liberals are Democrats, wherever they live. This makes a difference.

It is commonly joked that Republicans see Democrats as stupid whereas Democrats see Republicans as evil. Again, not any more. Today Republicans see Democrats as stupid, evil, and unAmerican. Democrats see Republicans the same way.

I have a relative who doesn't like to spend time with his parents because they're bright blue Democrats and he's a bright red Republican ... seriously. This is one of several things that are worse than they used to be.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Travel Blogging XI

Stopped at an Indian village upstream from Santarem: Technology is wonderful. Today's NYT is available electronically via satellite in the heart of the rain forest.

I just read a New York Times story about the difficulties victims of the San Bernardino shooting were having getting medical treatment. It's been an administrative nightmare these hurting people don't need.

Their problem is the terror shooting was deemed to have happened "at work" because the holiday party was office-sanctioned, not unlike a company picnic. That means their medical bills have to be covered by so-called "workers comp."

California Workers Compensation is a mess, of course. Maybe worse than the Veterans Administration, if that's possible. And closer to home....

Our niece is a LEO whose back was injured some years ago during martial arts training. Periodically it goes "out" leaving her in serious pain.

It went out in mid-August and her treatment, under CA workers comp, has not yet happened. She only had the diagnostic MRI last week. She is bored, hurting and longs to feel good enough to go back to work

I share these stories with you is to make the point that turning health care over to the government is a sure way to make it quite unsatisfactory. As long as there are multiple companies competing for the health insurance dollar, things won't get too bad.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Travel Blogging X

Sailing upriver from Santarem, Brazil: We went ashore today ... sort of. Actually, we left our cruise liner and boarded a smallish local boat and went out on the Amazon and into some of the channels that remain when, as we are now, the dry season is ending.

Our tour guide was a Russian emigre who came here a few years ago with multiple language skills and essentially nothing else and is today an entrepreneur, a radio host, a tour guide, and the founder of a language school. Now he has a Brazilian wife and two Brazilian kids, and couldn't be prouder of his new country. He reminded me so much of many legal emigrants in the U.S.

Santarem is pretty darn big, stretching along the river for several miles. I have to admit I'd never heard of it until I saw it on our itinerary. I'm no expert on it now, but at least I'll be aware of it when it next pops up on the news.

As I write this I'm watching President-elect Trump having too much fun in Ohio, doing a victory lap in his patented free-association style. Frankly, he is getting high on the crowd roars, applause and chanting; and I can't begrudge him the fun.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Travel Blogging IX

Cruising upstream in the Amazon basin: We've been river cruising all day today, and will do so again tomorrow. Ship authorities say we will go upstream 900 miles or more to reach Manaus. It is hard to imagine a deep water port for sea-going vessels that far inland.

River cruising is smooth sailing, there is seldom any sense of movement as rivers tend to be darned flat ... no waves or swells. Another nice part is there is usually something at which to look and that something changes every few minutes.

Considering how big the Amazon is, the level of river traffic is quite sparse, compared to the Rhine or Danube, or the Mississippi for that matter. The region isn't heavily populated, we see a very occasional house or tiny settlement along the banks but those are miles apart.

Some of the tributaries we've seen entering the Amazon would qualify as among the world's biggest rivers. To us who live in dry regions most of the time, this sheer volume of water in a riverine setting is surreal.

Tomorrow we go out on a local boat for some up-close-and-personal with these waterways, supposedly fishing for piranha during the trip. They're toothy little buggers, if I remember correctly from our last visit.

It's time to deploy the deet mosquito repellant.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Alt-Right Is Accurate

The New York Times has an article today concerning complaints about calling white nationalists/supremacists as "the alt-right." The article notes Trump consigliere Steve Bannon called "the platform of the alt-right."

I'd like to weigh in on this issue. Bannon meant that, as a conservative pro-Trump media group Breitbart was an alternative to the old-right media outlets like Weekly Standard and National Review which were overtly anti-Trump.

He was making the distinction between classical free-trade, small government, conservatism and populist fair-trade, helpful government conservatism. Bannon called the latter alt-right, as opposed to old-right. That isn't racist in any way, nor is Trump.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Travel Blogging VIII

At sea, "steaming" south from Devil's Island to the mouth of the Amazon in Brazil: The DrsC did not go ashore at Devil's Island, we've been here before on a prior cruise. This time our ship anchored much closer to the island, probably because this is a much smaller ship which has a shallower draft.

We get a sea day tomorrow and enter the Amazon sometime on Wednesday. It will take us a week to sail upriver to Manaus, stay there two nights, and sail back downriver to the South Atlantic. This leg of the trip has been on our collective bucket list for some years.

Cruise ships distill fresh water from sea water picked up in the open ocean. The result is very pure water but it's also "soft" as it lacks minerals - thus rinsing off soap can be a challenge.

We got an announcement today that beginning day after tomorrow we will be on restricted rations with regard to fresh water. This is the case because we cannot process river water. It will be so hot and humid we'll want two showers a day, but will have to limit ourselves to one, for example.

Amazon water is simply too dirty to distill and would clog the filters, etc. So the laundries will be closed and we are asked to reuse towels and curb water use to some extent. As Californians-by-birth, the DrsC know how to conserve water.

Travel Blogging VII

At sea between Barbados and Devil's Island, French Guiana: I have to say that I enjoyed Barbados, but it is less prosperous looking than Trinidad. We had an excellent guide, whose specialty is photography.

We were informed that Barbados is the only significant Caribbean island that is not volcanic. It has mountains - big hills really - but no peaks. It's the result of upthrust as two continental plates come together.

We learned about "chattel" houses, houses designed to be disassembled, loaded on a truck and taken elsewhere to be reassembled. These were built on plantation land owned by the big land owner and when that owner needed the land, the more-or-less squatters had to move on, taking their dwelling with them.

We also learned a poem which contains the recipe for rum punch.
One sour,
Two sweet,
Three strong, and
Four weak.
Translation: 1 measure of lime juice, 2 measures of simple syrup, 3 measures of rum, and 4 measures of fruit juice, orange for example. Add several dashes of Angostura bitters and store in the refrigerator overnight or longer, several days is ideal. We sampled the result - it is excellent, smooth and tasty, with a kick.

On another topic entirely, the U.S. just finished an extremely consequential election. We elected a controversial man as our next president. You would expect much political talk aboard our cruise ship, at least two-thirds of the passengers are U.S. citizens. You would, however, be wrong.

In a week on board, I've heard no political discussion on deck or over dinner. I suspect we all fear the topic would pierce the superficial geniality which is the behavioral norm on such ships.

It is known to the group at dinner that we are retired university faculty. They may suppose we are as liberal as most such, a supposition which would be incorrect.

President-elect Trump is the elephant in our table's conversational room, entirely unmentioned. I find this amusing, as does the other DrC. On our last night at sea, I may bring it up just to see if I've gotten the players on each team identified correctly.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Travel Blogging VI

At sea between Trinidad and Barbados: I have to say I was impressed with Trinidad and the city at which we were docked - Port of Spain. They were in better repair, more urban, more bustling, and generally less "third world" than the other Caribbean islands we've visited so far.

If you haven't traveled in the tropics, human-created things there tend to deteriorate very quickly. On the other hand, natural things tend to thrive, exhibiting exuberance in every way.

Counteracting tropical entropic forces requires a diligence in maintenance which tropical people often do not possess. Trinidad seems to be overcoming this natural tendency better than most.

Port of Spain city is impressive, has some high rise buildings, and an opera house, called NAPA for National Academy for Performing Arts, that rivals the opera house in Sydney for architectural drama. We were told it was built by the Chinese.

Trinidad & Tobago is, of course, a former British colony. We've visited former colonies of France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, the U.S., and Japan. Of all the colonial masters, the Brits seem to have been the most successful. Regardless of what you think of colonialism, doing it well is better than doing it poorly. The Brits were masters.

We visited the home of Angostura Bitters, used in a variety of cocktails. They also distill rum from molasses, all imported today as cane is no longer grown here. I had no idea the firm was headquartered in Trinidad. They would appear to be major competitors of Bacardi.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Travel Blogging V

At sea between Saint Lucia and Trinidad: First, COTTonLINE wishes all of our readers a Very Happy Thanksgiving Day. Our regular readers have much to be thankful for following November's election. Perhaps our once-great nation can become so again. At minimum we can retard the rate of decline for a few years.

In addition, the DrsC are thankful for relatively good health and comfortable circumstances in our household. Growing old is no picnic but we are doing it in some style and without over much suffering.

COTTonLINE will celebrate its 10th birthday in December, just over a month from now. We are thankful to have this venue in which to share our thoughts and discoveries. I'm certain you do not enjoy it as much as I do, and that's fine. I believe I missed having an audience when I retired from professing, and this blog gives me one.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

No Whites Need Apply

RealClearPolitics quotes former Bernie Sanders spokeswoman Symone Sanders (no relation) as follows:
In my opinion we don't need white people leading the Democratic party right now. The Democratic party is diverse, and it should be reflected as so in leadership and throughout the staff, at the highest levels.
Whites aren't needed as Democratic candidates for national office, either. Things are progressing as we have predicted.

Travel Blogging IV

At sea between the islands of Nevis and Saint Lucia:  Today we visited Nevis, and weird coincidence, Prince Harry arrived on the island today. We missed his arrival but heard of it.

Unlike St. Thomas which was overrun with tourists of of 4 cruise liners, we were the only cruise ship at anchor off Nevis. My sense is Nevis is more "authentic" or less touristy than many islands.

The island looks very much like any volcanic tropical island, although the people here are of African origin whereas those in the Pacific are of Asian extraction. Still the vegetation is very similar and the architecture is too, although more things here are made of volcanic stone cut into building blocks.

The roads are extremely narrow, mostly have no center line or shoulders and are perhaps 1.5 cars wide. The lack of width doesn't keep people from parking right on the road, so dealing with oncoming traffic is a matter of driving wherever there is room. Most vehicles are of modest size but I saw one full-size dump truck and thought how difficult that monster must be to drive here.

The island is the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton, a talented fellow whose portrait graces the $10 bill and who was our nation's first Treasury Secretary. The home where he was born is now a museum about him, and another museum features lore and artifacts about Horatio Nelson, famous admiral from the iron men and wooden ships era of the Royal Navy.

Nevis has a very attractive and well-done botanical garden featuring tropical plants from many lands. Particularly striking was a Rainbow eucalyptus tree with particolored bark.

Islanders proudly tell you that Princess Diana and two of her children spent one of her last vacations here at an attractive hotel upon a hillside overlooking the coastline. It seems the Brits are trying to turn Diana into an Evita-like figure, with some unfortunate success.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Travel Blogging III

At Sea, between St. Thomas and St. Kitts & Nevis: The all-news TV channels are abuzz with folks upset about some white supremacists celebrating Donald Trump's election.

Trump has said or written nothing which reflects their desires. It is true that as president Clinton would have done things they'd like even less. So what? So they see him as the lesser of two evils, how is that his problem.

Likewise, the U.S. Communist Party endorsed Clinton and would have celebrated her winning, had it happened. She is many things we don't respect, but is no Communist.

Communists likewise would have seen her as the lesser of two evils. Nobody seemed to think that was her problem.

A whole bunch of sore losers can't wrap their minds around Trump winning, and are lashing out. I hope they can get over themselves, but I'm not optimistic.


On a happier note, St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgins is looking quite prosperous. Like all U.S. territories it is probably execrably governed ... a sad reality. 

There were four large cruise ships tied up to the dock today, bringing probably 11,000 potential customers and their credit cards. Other than taking tours they don't buy much, some jewelry. 

Cruising is a big deal, both as leisure and financially. As we sailed away from Ft. Lauderdale three days ago, two other large cruise ships were keeping pace with us on essentially the same course. Another three or more left at roughly the same time but went in different directions.

The ship we're on is an old one, she'll have her thirtieth birthday in 2018. Normally a ship of this age would have been sold off to the Japanese or some European outfit catering to the backpacker crowd. Our ship got a reprieve because she was originally built for the five star luxury market and is more elegant than many. She's decently maintained but lacks certain amenities like soda guns in the bars. Her smaller size (and consequent shallower draft) makes her able to sail up the Amazon River or through the Kiel Canal.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Travel Blogging II

At Sea, enroute to the U.S. Virgin Islands: I was watching MSNBC's Morning Joe this a.m. and heard an interview where various people were arguing about Steven Bannon, formerly head of Breitbart and now consigliere to president-elect Trump.

One said they were with Bannon when he first saw a Trump rally. They reported his reaction was "Trump's another Andrew Jackson, or maybe Teddy Roosevelt," both great populists and spell-binding orators.

You may recollect COTTonLINE wrote this about him many months ago. We said we were reminded of Teddy Roosevelt, the non-stop talker and human whirlwind. LikeTeddy, Trump is his own man, more an independent than a political insider.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Cillizza: Obama Great for GOP

Breitbart reports The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza said the following on MSNBC's Morning Joe program.
I always say that the greatest thing that happened to the Republican Party is Barack Obama. Yes, he spent eight years in the White House, but during those eight years they have made massive gains.
Cillizza is a lefty, for sure, but not entirely stupid about who's up and who's down. The gains have truly been massive.

About Steve Bannon

Michael Wolff of The Hollywood Reporter interviews Trump consigliere Steve Bannon, and describes him thus:
If Trumpism is to represent something intellectually and historically coherent, it's Bannon's job to make it so. In this, he could not be a less reassuring or more confusing figure for liberals — fiercely intelligent and yet reflexively drawn to the inverse of every liberal assumption and shibboleth.

A working class kid, he enlists in the navy after high school, gets a degree from Virginia Tech, then Georgetown, then Harvard Business School. Then it's Goldman Sachs, then he's a dealmaker and entrepreneur in Hollywood — where, in an unlikely and very lucky deal match-up, he gets a lucrative piece of Seinfeld royalties, ensuring his own small fortune — then into the otherworld of the vast right-wing conspiracy and conservative media. (snip) And then to the Breitbart News Network, which with digital acumen and a mind-meld with the anger and the passion of the new alt-right (a liberal designation Bannon derides) he pushes to the inner circle of conservative media from Breitbart's base on the Westside of liberal Los Angeles.

What he seems to have carried from a boyhood in a blue-collar, union and Democratic family in Norfolk, Va., and through his tour of the American establishment, is an unreconstructed sense of class awareness, or bitterness — or betrayal. The Democratic Party betrayed its working-man roots. (snip) Likewise, the Republican party would come to betray its working-man constituency forged under Reagan. In sum, the working man was betrayed by the establishment, or what he dismisses as the "donor class."
The above is very close to a textbook definition of a populist thought leader. Trump, whose roots were anything but blue collar, nevertheless spent years dealing with guys in the building trades, who tend to be pragmatic hard workers. I can imagine Bannon and Trump find much to like in each other.

The Signal Being Sent

We wrote about Trump's personnel choices yesterday. Today comes a New York Times article characterizing those choices, saying what they mean.
Mr. Trump moved unapologetically to realize his campaign’s vision of a nation that relentlessly enforces immigration laws; views Muslims with deep suspicion; aggressively enforces drug laws; second-guesses post-World War II alliances; and sends suspected terrorists to Guantánamo Bay or C.I.A. prisons to be interrogated with methods that have been banned as torture.
 You know NYT strongly disapproves, but it sounds near-ideal to me.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Trump Picks

As I write this, Donald Trump has made five key appointments. They are Sen. Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, Rep. Mike Pompeo for head of the CIA, ret. Lt. General Mike Flynn for national security advisor, plus policy advisor Steve Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus.

I have to say I'm impressed. Priebus is a proven-competent bureaucrat, which is what the chief of staff needs to be. Wild man Bannon will keep Trump from being cooped by the DC Uniparty elite.

Sessions is an experienced prosecutor and a deep conservative who actually has Democrat friends. Pompeo is a West Pointer, a member of the Intelligence committee, and a conservative. And Flynn is nobody's pushover.

These are good folks, and to the extent they reflect Trump's plans for the nation, I am encouraged. I would like to see another 10 at this quality level.

Travel Blogging I

Ft. Lauderdale, FL - As you may have surmised, the DrsC are on the road once again. This time we've flown to FL to board a cruise ship which will thread its way through the Caribbean islands, stopping along the way.

Then we make our way to Brazil and sail up the Amazon to Manaus, very nearly half way across the country, stopping at several river ports along the way. After two days in Manaus, we head back downriver and back through the islands to Ft. Lauderdale. The whole thing takes about a month.

Not certain how much Internet I'll have on shipboard; the usual sort of posts may be somewhat limited, we'll see. Travel posts shouldn't be a problem, the question is whether we'll see things fun to share.

NYT: The Two Americas

The New York Times runs a short article with two interesting maps: terrain where Trump won, and places where Clinton won. Trump gets 85% of the land area, but only 46% of the population lives there. Clinton's 15% of the land area holds 54% of the population.

The Times estimates she got 1 million more votes than Trump, but they were concentrated in very "blue" regions - cities mostly, with some Indian reservations, and odd places like Teton County in WY, a wealthy enclave in a generally working-class "red" state.

The rural/urban divide isn't a joke, it's a real thing - see for yourself. The demographics are different and, face it, population density alone determines a lot of things. It is inversely proportional to the degree of personal freedom we have. The DrsC have tried both and long since decided we are "country folk."

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Broader Coalition

Writing for RealClearPolitics, David Byler reports some additional detail on who voted for Trump.
That isn’t to say that Trump performed terribly among whites who have a college degree. Exit polls showed he won that group, 49 percent to 45 percent. But these correlations underline the fact that Trump’s increased national and regional strength came mainly from non-college-educated whites, a group that he won 67 percent-28 percent.
Another way of interpreting the above data is that Trump won the white vote. Some parts were more pro-Trump than others: men more than women, older more than younger, non-college more than college grads.

The Brainy Are Less Social

A website associated with the Independent (U.K.) paper reports research findings about very smart people. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.
While it's widely accepted that socialising makes us happier, this might not be strictly true if you’re highly intelligent.

Evolutionary psychologists from Singapore Management University and the London School of Economics and Political Science found exactly this when they studied more than 15,000 young adults.

They concluded that, while people generally feel happier when they spend time with others, very smart people are an exception to this rule.
If you're really smart, you understand this finding. In my experience, really smart people and the less brainy sometimes don't enjoy each other's company.

Also, a bit of introversion often comes with a high IQ. When a lot is going on in ones head it is easier to entertain oneself, reducing dependency on others.

CA Is the Problem, EC is the Solution

A very lopsided Democrat landslide in California is the only reason Clinton won more votes than Trump. See an Investor's Business Daily article which describes this. The key quote:
If California was more like the average Democratic state, Trump would currently have a 400,000 vote lead in the nationwide popular vote.
Cloud cuckoo land, aka CA, is earlobe deep in illegal immigrants, many of whom likely voted. Thank heavens for the Electoral College (EC).

Witching Hour Snark

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds posts some sarcasm which is (falsely, I believe) attributed to VP-elect Pence.
Obama entered office without any successful executive experience. Eight years later he'll leave it the same way.
In a way we've been lucky. Imagine all the evil Obama would have done if he'd been half way competent.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Bradley Effect Lives

Posting at The Washington Post's political blog, The Fix, Aaron Blake asks and answers this question:
Who likes President Obama and voted for Donald Trump? Lots of people.
It's a good question Blake asks, I take exception only to his answer. My guess is that the actual answer is relatively few people.

Blake explains the President's relatively high approval numbers and the large vote Trump earned by imagining many people who like Obama voting for Trump.

I have an alternate spin which also explains that same apparent contradiction. I believe the President's consistently high approval numbers are a Bradley Effect artifact, not in all cases representing genuine approval.

Some people fear being viewed as racists if they say they don't approve of Obama. The socially desirable answer to the question, "Do you approve of President Obama's performance in office?" is "Yes." It is the answer no one is likely to ask you to justify, or take exception to on racial grounds.

Therefore some fraction of responders will falsely answer "Yes" when a true answer would be "No." People who answer insincerely might be predisposed to vote for Trump.

The Trende Line

Sean Trende writes for RealClearPolitics about the failure of the "demographics is destiny" meme for Democrats. This is a long, thoughtful article that is worth putting aside for when you can spend a bit of time digesting it.

Much of the piece is a thorough debunking of The Emerging Democratic Majority by Judis and Teixeira. See what Trende writes about that book's thesis:
To make the theory work, you have to find a way to explain the fact that, from top to bottom, the Republican Party is the strongest it has been since the 1920s. Whatever majority may be emerging, it does not look particularly Democratic right now.

If you look at turnout rates as reported by the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey dating back to 2002, African-American rates have always lagged Republican rates by around five points, give or take. (snip) This was true in 2010 as well as 2014. The exceptions were 2008 and 2012, when African-American turnout rates exceeded white rates.

Analysis focuses on the “fast-growing” Hispanic vote, but the Hispanic share of the electorate has actually increased glacially. (snip) The fact that Hispanics are increasingly adopting a “white” identity (what Reihan Salam calls “racial attrition”) may blunt this growth in the future.

Trump received more votes from white evangelicals than Clinton received from African-Americans and Hispanics combined. This single group very nearly cancels the Democrats’ advantage among non-whites completely. This isn’t a one-off; it was true in 2012, 2008 and 2004

If the last few elections have done nothing else, it has been to convince me that history has no arc; it bends toward nothing; we are certainly ill-equipped to harness whatever power it has. Rather, it simply meanders like a lazy river; we are carried along by the current.
Did you have any idea the evangelical vote is consistently bigger than the vaunted minority vote? I sure as hell didn't. Trende is one of the best election analysts in the business.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Classic Oregon

The NBC affiliate in Portland, KGW-TV reports about the anti-Trump riots that have occurred there. Hat tip to for the link.
PORTLAND, Ore. — More than 70 percent of the 112 anti-Trump protesters arrested in Portland didn’t vote in Oregon, according to state election records. The other approximately 30 percent did cast a ballot in Oregon or in another state.

At least seventy-nine demonstrators either didn’t turn in a ballot or weren’t registered to vote in the state.
In any sane world a judge would throw the book at those who are (a) eligible to vote, (b) didn't vote, and then (c) rioted. Nobody has recently accused Oregon of sanity; they'll get off with a wrist-slap.

TDS Claims First Victim

The first clear victim of Trump Derangement Syndrome has been identified. He is Matt Harrigan, founder and now ex-CEO of the PacketSled cybersecurity startup. He was fired for threatening to shoot president-elect Trump. See what The San Diego Union-Tribune reports he put online:
Harrigan posted "I'm going to kill the president. Elect," according to the Reddit copy of his Facebook comments.

When a friend responded “You just need to get high,” Harrigan wrote “Nope, getting a sniper rifle and perching myself where it counts. Find a bedroom in the White House that suits you, (expletive.) I'll find you."

When warned by a Facebook friend that he might get a visit from federal authorities, Harrigan replied “Bring it secret service.
Sounds like Harrigan was drunk or high. Now he's unemployed and "radioactive," anybody who hires him will be suspect. Hat tip to for the link.

Liberals Lying ... Again

There is much talk about how Steve Bannon, president-elect Trump's special counsel, is supposedly anti-Semitic and favors white supremacists. David P. Goldman debunks those charges at his Spengler column for PJ Media.

Inasmuch as Trump's favorite daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren are Jews, his appointing an anti-Semite seems far-fetched. As Goldman notes, his analysis of the Breitbart site's publications shows the charge is nonsense, in fact the opposite is true.

As COTTonLINE readers know, I respect Goldman's work. If he says Bannon is pro-Israel, I believe him. You might consider doing the same.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Voting One's Social Class

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, a source COTTonLINE seldom cites, Joan C. Williams argues that the key to understanding the Trump phenomenon is social class.
One little-known element of that gap is that the white working class (WWC) resents professionals but admires the rich.

Most blue-collar workers have little direct contact with the rich outside of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. But professionals order them around every day.

Women don’t stand together: WWC women voted for Trump over Clinton by a whopping 28-point margin — 62% to 34%. If they’d split 50-50, she would have won.

Class trumps gender, and it’s driving American politics. Policy makers of both parties — but particularly Democrats if they are to regain their majorities — need to remember five major points.

> Working Class Means Middle Class, Not Poor
> The Working-Class Resents the Poor
> Class Divisions Have Translated into Geography
> Emphasize Economics
> Don't Write Off Blue-Collar Resentment as Racism
Williams' article is worth reading in its entirety.


As a COTTonLINE reader it's likely you supported the presidential candidacy of Donald J. Trump. Given that support, you are at least somewhat happy at the outcome of last Tuesday's election. We certainly are.

You can imagine quite a few people don't agree with us. See a Washington Post article by Alexandra Petri, who writes of "The Five Stages of Trump Grief" they are experiencing.

Oh, the wailing, the gnashing of teeth, the rending of garments, the anguished sobs. For a Trump supporter, the article is richly endowed with schadenfreude, the pleasure derived from another's misfortune.

This is one of those rare events where nearly every moonbat you'd like to see suffering actually is suffering ... mightily. Which suggests the observation, "Karma is a bitch."

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Too Far Outside the Box

Jerry Bowyer comes up with an interesting idea for his Townhall column. His title pretty much sums it up:
Is President Obama Liberalism's Gorbachev?
For the historically challenged, Gorbachev presided over the collapse of the Russian Communists. Seeing Obama presiding over the collapse of liberalism and Democrats seems a bit strong for a party that actually cast more votes Nov. 8 than the Republicans did.

An Unintended Consequence

The New York Post has an article suggesting that Obama's opening to Cuba - restoring diplomatic relations and cancelling restrictions on the import of cigars and rum - may have irritated enough Cuban-Americans to swing Florida from Clinton to Trump. Absent FL's 29 electoral votes, Trump would not have gotten to 270, as he so far has 290.

Michigan and New Hampshire have not been called, one leans each way. We'd be sweating out their recounts, had not FL gone decisively for Trump. This was an unforced error, Obama could have waited until after the election to act.

CA Evolving Toward a Plantation Economy

Demographer/pundit Joel Kotkin, writing for The Orange County Register, looks at the election results in CA and how those reflect deteriorating political realities there.
Compared to the Bay Area, which now rules the state, the more blue-collar, Latino and African American interior, as well as much of Los Angeles, account for six of the 15 worst areas in terms of living standard out of 106 metropolitan areas, according to a recent report by Center for Opportunity Urbanism demographer Wendell Cox.
Forty percent of "worst areas" are in CA? That ranking puts them on a par with places like Detroit and Baltimore ... grim.
California is on the road to a bifurcated, almost feudal, society, divided by geography, race and class. As is clear from the most recent Internal Revenue Service data, it’s not just the poor and ill-educated, as Brown apologists suggest, but, rather, primarily young families and the middle-aged, who are leaving. What will be left is a state dominated by a growing, but relatively small, upper class, many of them boomers; young singles and a massive, growing, increasingly marginalized “precariat” of low wage, often occasional, workers. 
Kotkin ignores the army of union-represented government employees - teachers, prison guards, LEOs, parole officers, social workers - who "manage" what he calls the precariat. To the extent a middle class remains in CA, they will be most of it, filling the "overseer" role in CA's "plantation" economy.

A Staggering Toll

The New York Times' Frank Bruni describes the impact the Obama presidency had on the Democratic Party. Bruni writes:
His presidency will end with Democrats in possession of 11 fewer Senate seats (depending on how you count), more than 60 fewer House seats, at least 14 fewer governorships and more than 900 fewer seats in state legislatures than when it began. That’s a staggering toll.
Rendered at the voting booth, the public's verdict on Democrats isn't favorable. It would appear obituaries for the GOP are, to say the least, premature. Hat tip to for the link.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

U.S. Tribal Politics

Regular readers know we've been predicting that if (and now, when) Hillary lost, the Democrats would realize they can no longer nominate a white for president and win. Up to this point I've been a prophet crying in the wilderness. Now see what Instapundit Glenn Reynolds has written on the subject.
What if minority voters just won’t turn out for non-minority candidates any more? That’s a real problem for the Democrats, especially if all the racial politics they pursue in order to try to motivate minority voters (Black Lives Matter, immigration protests, etc.) actually serve to make minorities less likely to vote for whites, even if they’re Democrats. And if working-class whites start to vote Republican the way minorities have voted Democratic — and all that racial politics is likely to encourage that — the Dems are in trouble.
What if Bill Clinton is the last white Democrat president ... ever?

Saturday Snickers

Herewith are some of my favorites from Steven Hayward's weekly compilation for Power Line of cartoons, recaptioned photos, witty sayings, etc.

Map of U.S. counties, mostly red, showing whether each voted for Clinton or Trump. Captioned:
Trump has better coverage than Verizon
Can you hear us 'now'?
Two photos, the top one shows a woman pulling along a man on all fours with a dog collar and leash, captioned:
Hillary voters heading to the polls
The second photo shows the headlong charge of weird war vehicles from a Mad Max film, captioned:
Trump voters heading to the polls
A seeming screen capture from CNN, showing Trump speaking, headlined:
Trump Elected President
The subhead crawl says:
"Mass suicides" reported across college campuses//Riots in San Francisco
Movie still of the cavalry hat-wearing Brigadier General from Apocalypse Now, captioned:
I love the sound of liberals
Crying in the morning
Downward-looking photo of a nighttime urban street full of protestors, captioned:
The is what happens
When you give children
A trophy for losing
Photo of a rag doll, captioned:
Show me on this doll
Where the election hurt you
Photo of the Oval Office handshake between President Obama and President-elect Trump, captioned:
Photo finally emerges of
Trump grabbing a pussy 
Cartoon resembling famous "last helicopter from Saigon" photo, this one peopled by recognizable caricatures of Hollywood show folk desperately trying to board, captioned:
Last helicopter out of Hollywood
Photoshopped Hillary wearing an orange jumpsuit in jail cell, speaking with Bill who's outside the bars. Hillary speaks:
Any word from Trump about that pardon?
Bill speaks, through laughter:
Sorry, played golf with him yesterday and forgot to mention it.
Photo of a destroyed Smart car, captioned:
Wisconsin couple were treated for minor injuries at local hospital emergency, after their car hit a squirrel on Highway 8. The squirrel refused treatment and left the scene. 

Systemic Polling Bias

Normally, I respect the analytic work of Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics. Today his column argues that the polls did as good a job of predicting the election outcome as they did in 2012. I'm not entirely convinced.

Yes, it is true as he argues that most polls had Clinton ahead by a small margin and the polling margin of error was wider than that margin so a Trump win was possible. He believes the error was in the media's interpretation. I'm still not convinced.

I see a systemic error in the fact that almost all polls showed Clinton ahead by varying amounts. If it were merely random error, you'd expect roughly as many polls to err by overestimating Trump's chances as actually did err by underestimating them. This did not happen. Ergo, systemic bias.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Where as Important as Who

I'll be coming back with additional thoughts about the election just concluded for days, weeks, maybe months. It was that big a deal.

My latest thought is this. The pundits who observed the changing demographics in the U.S. overlooked a key variable: where those new non-white voters are located. They are not evenly distributed across the U.S.

Rather, for reasons we've explored here, they tend to cluster together, where their votes become largely superfluous. Who cares whether CA goes Democrat by 51% or 91%? It yields the same electoral and senate votes either way. Ditto in NY, IL, etc.

CA, for example, is probably majority non-white at this point, or soon will be. Adding additional black and brown Democratic votes to the CA total does little nationally, so long as an equal number of whites leave the state and go elsewhere. Perhaps it yields an additional handful of D House seats in CA whereas the displaced whites will yield the same number of R House seats elsewhere - nationally no change.

A map of which presidential candidate won each congressional district shows most of the U.S. bright red. The blues are concentrated along the west coast and the north east, with islands in the midwest. If lots more Democrat-voting minorities move to those states, their national political impact is minimal.

Just sayin'.,,,

A Word of Advice

A friendly suggestion to the unhappy souls demonstrating and even rioting in the streets of several major cities. Get it out of your systems before Inauguration Day in January.

A Trump Justice Department may take a dim view of violence in the streets. It probably won't pat you on the head and soothingly say we understand your pain.

I don't want to prejudge, but it just might leave you in jail for 90 days, and allow you to exit with a criminal record. The other DrC says: "Suck it up, Buttercup." And adds, for the last 8 years she hasn't had a president, now it's your turn.

Honor Our Veterans

November 11, the anniversary of the end of World War One, is the day we honor American veterans: those who served honorably and especially those who were wounded or died on our behalf. We owe them our thanks and our respect. Happy Veterans Day!

An Ugly Little Man

Lame-duck Senate Minority leader Harry Reid says ugly things about President-elect Donald Trump. It sort of fits, ugly comments from an ugly customer.

My rejoinder: In roughly 70 days Harry Reid, who is retiring, will be nobody. In the same 70 days Donald Trump will be leader of the Free World.

Reid couldn't win the Senate back for his party. Trump won the presidency for his party, and had coattails.

Which is a winner? Which is a loser? Answer: Reid's a joke and a sore loser.

Moving Downmarket

Reading Politico about Melania's sit down with Michelle at the White House, I had an extremely minor epiphany. Moving from the ostentatious luxury of Trump Tower and Mar y Lago to the White House has got to feel like moving from the Hamptons to a museum or perhaps to a Williamsburg-like recreation of history.

It isn't moving to a better neighborhood, for sure, although the job that comes with the house is arguably the biggest job in the world today. Like many recent presidents, the Trumps will probaby spent a fair amount of time at their own homes. Reagan, Nixon and the Bushes certainly did, as did Johnson and Kennedy. The Clintons and Obamas did not.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

GOP Looking Healthy

Writing at the Power Line blog he co-founded, John Hinderaker makes some interesting points about the very healthy state of the Republican Party. These are points you'd be hard-pressed to learn from the MSM.
As of January, the GOP will control the presidency, the House, the Senate, and an overwhelming majority of state government institutions.
That includes 33 governorships, and 24 states in which they control the governor's office, and both houses of the legislature. My understanding is that Democrats only have such complete statewide control in five states.

Change in Panem

Tuesday night Katniss and Peeta led an attack on the Capitol, and defeated the elites there. Very soon Panem will have a new leader, new policies less biased toward the Capitol, and a bunch of out-of-work elitists.

Raise the three-fingered salute to the rebels. Then, rotating your wrist 180 degrees, raise a one fingered salute to our lame-duck President 'Snow,' aka Barack Hussein Obama.