Sunday, January 31, 2016

First "Voters" Go On Record Tomorrow

Tomorrow evening we get our first look at how politically motivated citizens are turning out for the various candidates for president. "Politically motivated" in Iowa requires more of a commitment than elsewhere, there is no mail balloting or dropping by to cast a ballot, one has to attend and stay awhile.

Iowa's population is roughly 3.1 million and the average turnout for presidential year caucuses totals 120,000 "politically motivated" people. That "eyeballs" at about 4% of the state's small population. If the turnout is higher, say 180,00, it is supposed to be good for Trump ... we'll see.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Turkey Rot

The Spectator (U.K.) carries a column describing Turkey's continuing drift away from democracy, becoming in the process what the pseudonymous author calls "a paranoid one-party state." While the murderous Sunnis next door in Syria try to resurrect the long-dead caliphate, Erdogan's Islamist AK party in Turkey tries to resurrect the Ottoman Empire.

It is a common theme among autocrats, Mussolini tried (with little success) to resurrect the Roman Empire. Putin is making similar moves with regard to the now-independent parts of the former Soviet Union - which was Russia's empire, even if never called such.

Sadly, Turkey needs a new westernizing Ataturk, not a new Sublime Porte.

Outrage Voters

Writing for RealClearPolitics, David Avella, chairman of GOPAC, makes an amazing claim:
More than one reporter has confided to me that the very same people can be found at rallies for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire.
He identifies these as "outrage" voters, whom he characterizes as follows:
This large group of dissatisfied Americans (snip) feel as though their world is falling apart before their very eyes. They evidence a sense of abandonment by institutions and leaders they may never have trusted that much in the first place.

Most, but not all, are white voters, according to the survey data. These individuals strongly feel that who they are and what they believe are under attack. They are told that it is time to understand they are the beneficiaries of “white privilege.” Of course, from where they stand, they see little privilege of any sort.
Avella concludes there are not enough such voters for both Trump and Sanders to win their respective primaries in New Hampshire. When the good folk of NH prove him wrong, I hope we see a "mea culpa" column from Avella.

Weird Transplant Science

The Independent (U.K.) carries news of research which appears to show that a person can "catch" or become infected by Alzheimer's. They found this happens via the transplantation of nerve materials or the injection of HGH, the human growth hormone.

Not clear from the article is whether one might also become infected via blood transfusion or other receipt of human-derived materials, for instance corneas or a heart or kidney transplant. It seems likely, suggesting donors should be screened for early-stage Alzheimer's, if such is even possible.

The finding makes me wonder if, like mad cow disease, Alzheimer's might be prion-based, or something similar. There seems no evidence to date it can be caught by associating with, or caring for, someone with the disease.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Quote of the Day

Sean Trende, writing for RealClearPolitics, about the Republican presidential primary process.
Trump is a creation of the Republican establishment, which is frankly uncomfortable with many of its own voters, and which mostly seeks to “manage” them.
In saying "creation," Trende does not infer intent but rather suggests an unintended consequence. He endorses the view that the elites of both parties have more in common with each other than with their respective bases.

At COTTonLINE we find ourselves straddling the divide Trende describes, with a foot in each camp. His "young Earth creationism" doesn't resonate with us, but rejection of political correctness and controlling immigration do.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

More Snark

Carly Fiorina, speaking about Hillary Clinton, during tonight's undercard debate, as quoted on Daily Caller.
Hillary Clinton has been climbing the ladder [to try and get] power and here now she is trying for the White House. She is probably more qualified for the big house, honestly. She has escaped prosecution more times than El Chapo, perhaps Sean Penn should interview her.

Shocking, Vulgar and Right

Writing for Politico, Tucker Carlson identifies the reactive nature of politics. His piece is titled "Donald Trump Is Shocking, Vulgar and Right."
American presidential elections usually amount to a series of overcorrections: Clinton begat Bush, who produced Obama, whose lax border policies fueled the rise of Trump. In the case of Trump, though, the GOP shares the blame. (snip) Trump is in part a reaction to the intellectual corruption of the Republican Party. That ought to be obvious to his critics, yet somehow it isn’t.

In a country where almost everyone in public life lies reflexively, it’s thrilling to hear someone say what he really thinks, even if you believe he’s wrong. It’s especially exciting when you suspect he’s right.

A Dream Only for Some

Tim Carney writes at The Washington Examiner some home truths about who speaks for those for whom the American Dream no longer lives.
A huge swath of the electorate is angry because they agree that the country "is a mess" and the game is rigged. They think it's self-evident, as Trump says, that "the American Dream is dead.

For many, the predominant feeling is pessimism rather than anger. Attend a Trump rally or a Sanders rally, and you'll see less anger than excitement. They're excited because they think they've found someone who stands for them, and with them. And the clearest sign of standing with them: declaring that the game is rigged and that America is a mess.

This pessimism sounds odd inside the Beltway, and among most Americans with college or graduate degrees. Most politicians, in both parties, operate in circles where the American Dream is alive and well. And if the game is rigged, it's rigged in their favor.
It was rigged in my favor, I earned multiple graduate degrees. I've long wondered what would become of the many Americans for whom school doesn't particularly "work." We can't all be software engineers and professors.

An economist on the PBS News Hour tonight commented that, in future, life for many in the U.S. will resemble serf's life during feudalism. Those finding work will likely end up doing the low-level service jobs not important enough to be automated. It's a dreary prospect.

A New Hegemon

RealClearWorld reports on the Syria-Iran-Russia alliance in the Middle East, calling it "the new hegemon," strong words. An impecunious Russia has somehow afforded to become powerful in the region without losing hundreds of soldier lives or billions of rubles.

What it took was the Russians grasping something our foreign policy establishment couldn't stomach - being realistic about what was possible in the region. Syria's Assad is no worse than other regional dictators we've supported for decades. For all his repressiveness, he is substantially preferable to ISIS or Al Qaeda.

Why Trump?

Writing at The Federalist, Ben Domenech identifies the four issues that fuel the Trump phenomenon, though for unclear reasons he calls them three issues plus a "cultural phenomenon." His 3 issues:
1. Immigration
2. Foreign policy
3. Elite corruption
His "cultural phenomenon:"
Animosity toward political correctness
Call 'em three or four issues, they're things about which the GOP base cares and with which the party establishment doesn't want to deal. Hence, Trump, a flawed messenger who speaks for the otherwise unrepresented.

Daily Snark

Comedian-actor Tim Allen, speaking of Bill and Hillary Clinton, as quoted by The Hollywood Reporter.
The Clintons are like herpes. Just when you think they're gone, they show up again.
Like the proverbial bad penny.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Labor Markets Shown Not Self-Repairing

Three economists writing for The National Bureau for Economic Research have looked at the impact of low-cost Chinese exports on U.S. labor markets. They find it has been both profound and long-lasting. See their abstract:
China’s emergence as a great economic power has induced an epochal shift in patterns of world trade. Simultaneously, it has challenged much of the received empirical wisdom about how labor markets adjust to trade shocks. Alongside the heralded consumer benefits of expanded trade are substantial adjustment costs and distributional consequences. These impacts are most visible in the local labor markets in which the industries exposed to foreign competition are concentrated. Adjustment in local labor markets is remarkably slow, with wages and labor-force participation rates remaining depressed and unemployment rates remaining elevated for at least a full decade after the China trade shock commences. Exposed workers experience greater job churning and reduced lifetime income. At the national level, employment has fallen in U.S. industries more exposed to import competition, as expected, but offsetting employment gains in other industries have yet to materialize. Better understanding when and where trade is costly, and how and why it may be beneficial, are key items on the research agenda for trade and labor economists.
Contravening conventional economic wisdom, "offsetting employment gains in other industries have yet to materialize." Hence the flat-lining blue collar incomes we've experienced in recent decades. Free trade isn't an unmixed blessing after all.

The Kiss of Death

The Boston Globe is a Democratic paper, owned by The New York Times. In a recent editorial the Globe endorses John Kasich in the GOP primary in neighboring New Hampshire. Make no mistake, the Globe believes he is the most Democrat-like Republican in the race, their reason for endorsing him.

To be sure, Kasich would be a better, which is to say, more moderate Democrat president than would either Sanders or Clinton. However, he'd be no Republican as we understand the term.

If you are a liberal NH voter, why would you vote for Democrat-lite Kasich when you can vote for a real Democrat? On the other hand, if you are conservative, why vote for someone found acceptable by the other side?

Oscar's Irrelevancy

Some hoo-hah about boycotting the Oscars because there are no "people of color" nominated. I'd be hard pressed to boycott them now since I quit watching shortly after Bob Hope stopped emceeing them. That was decades ago.

I've never read movie mags or doted on tabloid celebrities. It long ago occurred to me that watching the Oscars, Emmys, or Grammys amounted to working the same line of country. I like the occasional film but sometimes go three months between them without feeling deprived.

That said, I'll share a show biz thought with you. The two leads on the TV series Castle are this generation's Nick and Nora Charles, at least as much stylish fun with less booze. Unsurprisingly, both leads are Canadian actors. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Weird Genetic Science

The Telegraph (U.K.) reports scientists have discovered smart people are genetically predisposed to live longer and are also taller. Smart people simply get fewer diseases.

If I had to bet I'd put my money on smart folks having fewer genetic defects, which both cause disease and pull down mental acuity. Since I've retired from the university I've read the faculty obits as they come across the campus email. Occasionally I see where a friend or acquaintance has died.

What strikes me is that so many Ph.D.s live into their 90s, perhaps as many as half! As impractical as many faculty are, stupid they're not. I suspect we benefit from a healthy, relatively low-stress lifestyle with plenty of mental stimulation.

In my more philosophical moments, I muse that faculty are this (and last) century's version of the Middle Ages' monks, with the university campus as cloister. By the time I came along academic life was no longer one of genteel poverty, as it was before World War II. However I certainly did my share of "angels dancing on the head of a pin" jesuitical reasoning in academic journals and at professional meetings ... playing the monk's role.

The Oscar for Best Acting in a Candidate Role ....

Campaigning to be president is a performing art, like acting or stand-up comedy. Those who've been good at it in recent years include, famously, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. As the latter demonstrates, being a talented candidate doesn't always translate to being a good president, they are different skill sets.

In this year's election cycle, the most obviously skilled campaigner is Donald Trump. His years in reality TV were excellent training. Trump plays the media like a Stradivarius, perhaps as well as FDR did. 

The Trump candidacy gives the lie to the notion that the MSM only carries water for liberals who are their clear preference. Trump proves that if you are "good copy," or as The Atlantic's Molly Ball writes, "fun," they'll even cover a Republican.

All other things being equal, talented "performers" win elections. Maybe the GOP should go with the guy with the skills needed to win media coverage and cross-over votes, even if he isn't a down-the-line conservative. Does anyone question we'd rather spend four years listening to Trump bloviate on the evening news than Hillary?

Steyn: Defended Borders Come First

The often-quotable Mark Steyn reacts at SteynOnline to the conservative commentariat's National Review hit piece on Donald Trump.
Reagan's California no longer exists. And, if America as a whole takes on the demographics of California, then "the conservative movement" will no longer exist. That's why, for many voters, re-asserting America's borders is the first, necessary condition for anything else - and it took Trump to put that on the table.
Indeed, he did. And it took a blithe willingness to ignore charges of racism.

Monday, January 25, 2016

DeLay: FBI to Indict Hillary

The Washington Examiner reports former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has sources inside the FBI.
"I have friends in the FBI, and they tell me they're ready to indict," DeLay said during an appearance on Newsmax's Steve Malzberg Show. "They also say that if the attorney general does not indict, they're going public," the Texas Republican added.
Wonderful news, if true. Joe Biden, call your chief of staff.

Cold Advice

Are you still feeling a bit of warm, fuzzy "weekend hangover" on a Monday morning? Some sense that you don't yet need to be entirely up to speed? Kurt Schlichter has an antidote at his Townhall blog. It's an Rx in two words:
Buy Ammo
And his rationale:
I have never, ever had anyone tell me that he had too much ammunition.  Not in a combat zone, not in a civil disaster, not even in peacetime.  Never.  Nor have I lived through a time where our governing class was so deeply corrupt, so utterly foolish, and so dangerously focused on the perpetuation of its own power that it risked bringing down everything we have built not merely in the United States but in the entire West.

Right now, if you are watching the news, you have questions about the future.  And the answer to all of them is to buy ammo.
Bracing advice. I've not yet reached that point.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Poisonous Pakistan

There is a tendency for some to think V. Putin "invented" asymmetric warfare as practiced in Ukraine. Actually the practice is much older. The Pakistani army has practiced it against India for decades. See a timeline in The New Yorker for details.

Whereas in most countries an army is something a civilian government supports, in Pakistan a civilian government is something an army (sometimes) supports. Pakistan appears to be run by and for the benefit of its armed forces, tolerating a thin veneer of civilian "leadership" as a sort of camouflage "net."

Efforts by Pakistani presidents to make peace with India are continually frustrated by those whose ends would not be served thereby. A continual state of military tensions with India short of open warfare is the optimal state for Pakistan's military establishment, guaranteeing them a continuing large share of the budgetary pie.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

What Trump Supporters Seek

Writing at LifeZette, radio talk host Laura Ingraham lists three things she says Trump supporters are seeking. These are:
  • A return to traditional GOP law and order practices when it comes to illegal immigration.
  • A return to a more traditional GOP foreign policy that would put the national interest ahead of globalism.
  • A return to a more traditional GOP trade policy that would analyze trade deals from the perspective of the country as a whole and not blindly support any deal — even one negotiated by President Obama.
I don't see anything there with which to disagree, do you? Any GOP candidate could espouse them, most have not.

Growing Old in Wyoming

Wyoming, my adoptive home state, places second highest among the 50 states in USA Today's ranking of states that are good places to grow old. Hat tip to the other DrC for the link. See what USAT writes:
Wyoming’s elderly population is well off financially compared to elderly populations in other states. Just 6.2% of the state’s 65 and older population lives in poverty, the third lowest rate compared with other states. Also, 4.3% of elderly Wyoming households rely on food stamps, the lowest such share in the country. By contrast, 9.0% of Americans 65 and older receive SNAP benefits. Housing is also relatively affordable for elderly Wyoming residents. More than half of elderly American renters spend more than 30% of their incomes on housing costs. In Wyoming, just 40.2% of renters 65 and older spend such a high share, nearly the lowest proportion nationwide.
On the other hand, the winters are both cold and long, the altitude is relatively high, and you have to drive an hour or three to do serious shopping (anything beyond groceries, hardware, liquor, and fuel). It also helps to be comfortable with conservatism as WY is one of the reddest states, your neighbors are all gun owners.

If, like Greta Garbo, you "vant to be alone," you can accomplish it in WY. Among the states and territories, WY has the second-lowest population density - only vast Alaska is lower. WY has less than 5 persons per square mile, which equals 128 acres per person. Compare that to CA's 191 persons per square mile - and 11 states are even more densely populated than CA.

National Review's Rationale Explained

We commented yesterday at the bad timing involved in National Review's 22-conservative hit piece on Donald Trump, and we stand by what we wrote. Trump may in fact be a bad idea but he has done the party a vast favor by raising issues wealthy donors don't want raised: illegal immigration, Muslim refugees, and the refusal to put our national interests first.

On the other hand, NR raises legitimate questions about the Trump candidacy. If you have an interest in what NR's editor and publisher were thinking in putting together the issue, see an interview with NR editor Rich Lowry in The Washington Post. 

Conservative heavyweights who contributed to the anti-Trump NR issue includes Thomas Sowell, William Kristol, Glenn Beck, Mona Charen, Ben Domenech, Erick Erickson, Steven Hayward, Yuval Levin, Dana Loesch, Andrew C. McCarthy, Michael Medved, Edwin Meese III, Michael B. Mukasey, John Podhoretz, and Cal Thomas. Unlisted are seven others less well-known to me.

A "phantom" contributor is NR founder William F. Buckley, Jr. - long-dead of course. NR reruns something he wrote years ago about distrusting demagogues, which Trump is, a bit.

Implicitly, I believe NR did Sen. Ted Cruz - the other "outsider" candidate still in contention - a favor. I almost characterized it as "an enormous favor" and pulled up short, perhaps few Trump supporters read NR.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Bad Timing

Timing is everything. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal famously called Republicans "the stupid party" for our frequent foot-shooting episodes. Check out the most recent.

Within 24 hours the following two things have happened. First, Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post declares Trump the clear leader for the GOP nomination, a view supported by the polls.
Trump has pulled back into a tie with Cruz in Iowa, has extended his lead over the rest of the field in New Hampshire and leads in virtually every state that follows those two. If he wins Iowa and New Hampshire, look out: He'll almost certainly be the Republican standard-bearer.
Second, 22 well-known conservative pundits and spokespersons have come together at National Review to publish a condemnation of the Trump candidacy. Talk about bad timing.

How stupid is it to wait until WaPo's top prognosticator Cillizza says Trump has a clear lead before trying to kill his candidacy? Answer: very stupid. The time to attempt this was six months ago, before (a) Trump had momentum, and (b) he became a more adept candidate (which he has done). At this point all they accomplish is to provide ammunition to those who would damage the party's front runner.

Do you believe the third or more of GOP voters who support Trump will joyously shift their support to whomever the party leaders allow to get the nomination? Some will, many others will stay home as they did with Romney in 2012.

Trump is a flawed messenger but his message is powerful: we need to win again, we're tired of losing. None of the other aspirants have clearly enunciated that nationalist message, or have projected a fierce determination to make it happen.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Rewarding Incompetence

The Daily Caller reports on clandestine HR practices in the Federal civil service. Government agencies which wish to be rid of employees often put them on months (or years) of paid leave in return for their agreement to resign and not sue or appeal at the end of the leave. Another approach is to have the unwanted employee sue the agency which then negotiates a payment to settle the suit if the employee will resign upon its receipt.

Both approaches constitute bribing the unwanted employee to resign, done because OPM rules make firing an employee for cause a next-to-impossible process taking several years. I'll share with you what my boss John told me when, for a couple of years I was a visiting faculty fellow at USDA.

John, who'd spent his working life in various federal agencies, said every federal supervisor tries to fire one worker but nobody is ever masochistic enough to try it a second time. As you can imagine, as an on-leave B-school prof, I asked why that was so. You'll find his answer interesting.

John said the burden of proof required was very great, the bad employee had to first be coached on improving his performance, had to be given multiple chances to do better, and very likely would appeal repeatedly whatever action was taken against him or her. They'd be backed by their union which looked for opportunities to frustrate managerial action.

Often, John complained, a boss would go through the whole process and be told "no, you can't fire this individual." At which point the thoroughly angry individual still sat in your group doing little or nothing, fomenting unrest and flouting your demonstrated lack of authority. It was, he concluded, better not to antagonize losers, just ignore them and try to get the job done without their help.

We joked about bosses giving crappy workers glowing evaluations so they could apply for a higher-paid position in another agency. In the mid-1970s this was called "turkey outplacement."

My agency got stuck with a Director of Public Information (i.e., PR) from a smaller USDA agency who came with glowing recommendations and turned out to be a featherweight. Guys from his former agency laughingly asked "Why did you hire that doofus? We're glad he's gone." They'd outplaced their turkey to our agency.

Given the above, I give those bosses, the ones bribing losers with paid leave to resign, credit for creativity. It is effectively severance pay and can ease the separation process. True, the system shouldn't make firing someone so difficult, but I see little chance to change it anytime soon. That would require a 60 seat GOP majority in the Senate plus a Republican president, a relatively unlikely combination of events.

Revenge on Revisionists

James O'Keefe's investigative journalists at Project Veritas got Planned Parenthood to admit on video doing gross things with aborted fetuses. They have struck again.

This time their target is a former executive for publisher Pearson - Kim Koerber - who admits the anti-dead white guy bias in the Common Core AP History materials. She also says how much the publishers hate Texans. See the story at Breitbart.

Unfortunately for the left, the critical decisions that created the United States were all made by now-dead white guys named Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Hamilton, and Franklin. Whether they should have made the decisions is another question.

If we think our country turned out to be a nice place - most of us do - they get the credit. If like the writers of Common Core AP History you think our country is a horrid cesspit, you want to blame them or at least ignore them as much as possible.

As currently conceived by America haters, Common Core AP History must die!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Friedman Is Despondent

Are you suffering from excessive optimism? Sorely in need of a dose of bracing realism? I have your solution, Tom Friedman's recent New York Times column will bring you down like an avalanche.

I won't summarize all the things he sees going wrong simultaneously, the list is long. Sadly, I didn't see much with which I took issue.

Gerson Goofs ... Again

Writing at The Washington Post, well-known squish and David Brooks' PBS understudy Michael Gerson describes (with horror) Trump and Cruz. He insists both must lose to save the GOP's soul.

On the other hand, Gerson's description of Trump and Cruz isn't far off the mark.
Cruz represents the arrival of tea party ideology at the presidential level. He espouses a “constitutionalism” that would disqualify much of modern government, and a belief that Republican elites are badly, even mainly, at fault for accommodating cultural and economic liberalism. Trump has adopted an ethno-nationalism in which the constraints of “political correctness” are lifted to express frankly nativist sentiments: that many illegal immigrants are criminals and rapists who threaten American jobs, and that Muslims are foreign, suspicious and potentially dangerous.
Ummmm, right. Aren't they both correct? COTTonLINE is inclined to think so. Gerson's stumbles in his reaction to modern Republicanism.
For Republicans, the only good outcome of Trump vs. Cruz is for both to lose. The future of the party as the carrier of a humane, inclusive conservatism now depends on some viable choice beyond them.
Gerson's "humane, inclusive conservatism" sounds suspiciously like Bush's "compassionate conservatism." We all remember what a clusterf*ck that was.

Let's see if Gerson can somehow conclude that whoever - Trump or Cruz - wins the nomination is actually a lesser evil than Hillary Clinton. I hope Gerson chooses to "come out" as a Democrat instead of continuing as a tin-pot RINO.

If Gerson is Brooks-lite, rest assured David Brooks over at The New York Times is working the same compassionate conservative line of country.

Russian Air Strikes Succeeding in Syria

The Washington Post reports interesting developments from Syria. Russian air strikes are working, reducing the chances of a negotiated settlement. In other words, Putin is helping Assad win, albeit slowly.

The article doesn't say so but I am of the opinion that Russian air strikes are succeeding where ours failed because the Russians don't obsess over civilian casualties like we have. It is widely reported that a majority of U.S. air strikes return to base without dropping any ordinance (i.e., bombs, rockets, cannon shells). You can be certain the Russians do no such thing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

CO2 Good For Trees

Writing at Power Line, Steven Hayward summarizes the findings of a research report in the upcoming issue of Forest Ecology & Management. His summary of the findings follows:
Rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere are mostly good for our forests.

Multiple types of historical data indicate increasing forest productivity. 
COTTonLINE likes those findings a lot, we love trees and forests.

Safe Spaces Defended

As a person who, by choice, spent most of my life on university campuses, I retain an interest in what happens there. Generally, I have been put off by the whole campus "micro aggressions, safe spaces, trigger warnings" shtick.

Here from The Washington Post is a brief article by the President of Northwestern University defending the notion of safe spaces. I set out to read it feeling antagonistic and ended up thinking he has penned the best defense of the safe space thing I've seen. I can't promise you'll become a convert but it definitely will make you think twice.

Right-to-Work on a Roll

Posting at the Hot Air site, blogger Jason Hart reports the legislature in West Virginia is poised to make that state the 26th to pass right-to-work legislation. Hart links to a story to that effect at WV MetroNews. Hat tip to for the link.
A right-to-work bill introduced Wednesday by West Virginia Senate President Bill Cole was voted out of committee Friday. Cole is running for governor and has made right-to-work his top priority for the state’s 60-day legislative session.

If Cole’s WV Workplace Freedom Act becomes law, West Virginians in unionized workplaces will no longer be forced to pay union “fair share” fees as a condition of employment.
As this trend continues, can you imagine any firm deciding to site a new facility in a state without right-to-work? Not likely. Most growth will occur in right-to-work states.

In future, unions will have to convince workers it's worth paying dues. Managements will be challenged to act in ways which deny that conclusion. Perhaps the only losers will be paid union officials and inept managers.

Weird Metabolic Science

Reuters reports researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder, have learned sleeping in a couple of days per week can help prevent diabetes. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.
Researchers conducted a sleep experiment with 19 healthy young men and found just four nights of sleep deprivation were linked to changes in their blood suggesting their bodies weren’t handling sugar as well as usual.

But then, when they let the men get extra sleep for the next two nights, their blood tests returned to normal, countering the effect of the short-term sleep deprivation.
I knew there was a reason I'd been sleeping in 1-2 days a week all my life, after pulling near-all-nighters earlier in the week. Silly me, I thought I was just catching up with missed sleep.

What's the old Shakespearian saw about "sleep knitting up the ravelled sleeve of care?" We have long sensed that sleep was therapeutic, now there's data.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The EU on the Brink

Reuters reports German leaders are feeling a lot of pressure generated by their open-arms welcome of a million or more MENA (Middle East and North Africa) refugees. There is talk they might close their borders and drop the euro in favor a a new deutchesmark.

How much of this is scare-mongering and how much a serious evaluation of the situation is unclear at this point. They've made comments like "without Schengen there is no point in the euro,"

It should be an interesting year in Europe. They've been living in a U.S.-subsidized dream world and perhaps that is about to end, we hope not in warfare.

Clinton: No Individual Too Big to Jail

Hillary Clinton went on the record during the fourth Democratic debate, as reported by Fox News.
"There should be no bank too big to fail and no individual too big to jail," Clinton told the moderators during the first hour of the debate Sunday.
We can all be glad she cleared that up. I'm sure FBI Director James B. Comey is relieved to learn she isn't too big to indict under the Espionage Act, for failure to protect highly classified information.

A recommendation to that effect should be on its way soon to Attorney General Lynch. Three years in the minimum security slammer Martha Stewart once graced should be about the right penalty.

Sleep Vendors

Did you ever read the Harry Harrison novel Make Room, Make Room or see the film version entitled Soylent Green starring Charlton Heston? A New York Times article about the "sleep vendors" of Delhi, India, brings to mind the conditions starkly portrayed in that book and in the subsequent film.

Grim conditions in Delhi ... one doesn't think of winter India getting cold enough to freeze someone, except perhaps in the high Himalayas. Or realize the extent to which the absolutely inflexible demand for sleep is economically exploitable.

Reclaiming the Missing GOP Voters

Reuters reports Donald Trump may be reaching the so-called "lost voters." These are often the same sort of individuals who were once called "Reagan Democrats."

Following the 2012 election it was reported that a large number of white blue collar voters, particularly in the rust belt states of MI, PA and OH simply stayed home. They didn't vote for Romney who, as a smooth uber-capitalist, wasn't especially popular with this demographic.

Trump appears to speak the language of these voters, they like his emotive style. The key question is whether, when November rolls around, they can be bothered to vote this time. They tell Reuters they will pull the lever for Trump.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Rubio Doubles Down

Marco Rubio, an otherwise talented Senator and GOP presidential aspirant, has had an ongoing problem with the party base because he favored amnesty as a member of the 2013 Senatorial Gang of Eight. More recently, Politico reports:
Sen. Marco Rubio says people who immigrated to the U.S. illegally but haven’t committed any major crimes could be allowed to stay.

In an interview airing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the Florida contender for the Republican presidential nomination said felons shouldn’t be allowed to stay, but those who commit lesser crimes could still qualify. In this interview, he didn’t specify whether those allowed to stay would ever be able to become citizens.
NBC gave Rubio an opportunity to change his mind and he didn't bite. Thus, he has to live with the "let 'em stay" rap.

Weird Psychological Science

Politico reports research which finds the characteristic which best predicts a voter supporting Donald Trump is authoritarianism. Those with it are likely to support him.
Authoritarians obey. They rally to and follow strong leaders. And they respond aggressively to outsiders, especially when they feel threatened. (snip) Not all authoritarians are Republicans by any means.

My poll asked a set of four simple survey questions that political scientists have employed since 1992 to measure inclination toward authoritarianism. These questions pertain to child-rearing: whether it is more important for the voter to have a child who is respectful or independent; obedient or self-reliant; well-behaved or considerate; and well-mannered or curious. Respondents who pick the first option in each of these questions are strongly authoritarian.

In a general election, Trump’s strongman rhetoric will surely appeal to some of the 39 percent of independents in my poll who identify as authoritarians and the 17 percent of self-identified Democrats who are strong authoritarians.

Non-authoritarians respond to the perception of threat by behaving more like authoritarians. More fear and more threats—of the kind we’ve seen recently in the San Bernardino and Paris terrorist attacks—mean more voters are susceptible to Trump’s message about protecting Americans.
Author Matthew MacWilliams may be onto something with this, his dissertation research. It has what grad students once called "face validity," by which we meant something like "it feels right, even if as yet unproven."

Pat Nails It

Patrick J. Buchanan, quoted by David Shribman for RealClearPolitics, on the subject of the Republican Party establishment.
The Republican establishment is a church whose pews are empty.
It sucks when you believe you're leading the parade and discover, looking over your shoulder, they've all marched off in a different direction. The GOP establishment probably can't muster 1 million votes nationwide.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Trump Admits Having New York Values

At Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro has a transcript and video of Donald Trump being interviewed on Meet The Press by the late Tim Russert. The date was October 24, 1999.

In the interview, Trump admits New York values are "different" (more "liberal"). He explains his own views are shaped thereby. It is an entirely reasonable explanation but makes a mockery of  Trump's rejection of Cruz's accusation.
RUSSERT: Do you think gays should be allowed to be married?

TRUMP: It’s something I haven’t given lots of thought to. I live in New York City, there is a tremendous movement on to have and allow gay marriage. It’s just something that is too premature for me to comment on.

RUSSERT: How about gays serving in the military?

TRUMP: It would not disturb me. I mean, hey, I lived in New York City and Manhattan all my life, so my views are a little bit different than if I lived in Iowa, perhaps…
And a later exchange:
RUSSERT: Partial birth abortion. Eliminating of abortion in the third trimester. Big issue in Washington. Would President Trump ban partial birth abortion?

TRUMP: Well, look, I’m very pro-choice…and again, it may be a little bit of a New York background, because there is some different attitude in different parts of the country, and you know, I was raised in New York, and grew up and work and everything else in New York City.

RUSSERT: But you would not ban it.

TRUMP: No…I am pro-choice in every respect as far as it goes, but I just hate it.
Bottom line: Trump is on record, Cruz was right all along. You can watch Trump say it.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Reinventing the (House on) Wheels

The "tiny house" movement is alive and well in places like Portland, OR, and on the Home and Garden TV cable channel. Supposedly, anything less than the 500 square feet qualifies. And you see articles like this one from Canada's Globe and Mail, about people trying the lifestyle and giving it up.

This whole thing leaves the DrsC somewhat bemused. We have owned RVs for over 43 years and have lived in them for several months at a time. In fact, as I write this we are 30 days into an RV outing planned to last 75 days.

Our current (and largest) RV, when fully "popped out," has about 348 square feet. Only some of that 348 is floor space, the queen bed, counters, cabinets, closets and refrigerator all take up room, as do a dinette and chairs, sofa, and two recliners. We qualify as a "tiny house," any RV does.

Even more like a "tiny house" are the so-called "park model" RVs that are meant to be used exactly as  HGTV's tiny houses are used. That is, towed to a site, connected to utilities, and lived in.

What we don't "get" is why people are reinventing this particular "wheel." It already exists and you can go see park models on an RV lot if they're legal in your area.

If park models aren't legal in your state, any RV is effectively a tiny house and RV parks provide places to site them, paying rent of course. RVs aren't insulated to blizzard standards so parking in a relatively warm climate makes sense in winter.

Lots of people "full time" in RVs for multiple years. We've known several couples who've sold their homes to go wandering and loved it.

"White" America Persists (Because It Works)

John O'Sullivan writes for National Review about changing racial designations and how many immigrants are assimilating to become de facto "whites." About the current political campaign, he notes:
There is nothing odd about Rubio and Cruz adopting policies tailored not to the concerns of a self-conscious Hispanic minority but to those of an American majority that now includes many Hispanics, some fully conscious of a separate identity, others indifferent to it, still more adapting to a more “American” identity.
Imagine how much better off Cuba would be today if they'd kept their talented, successful people at home and utilized their intelligence and skill. Cuba's loss is our gain.

Islamism Explained

Writing for RealClearDefense, Matthew Bryza describes Islamism, and extreme Islamism, also called jihadism. Bryza compares Muslim extremists to Crusaders, a parallel COTTonLINE first drew five years ago.
Islamism shares similarities with medieval interpretations of Christianity, which justified the violent extremism of the Crusaders and the rigid political, economic, and social order of feudalism.

The core concept of Islamism is that a narrow interpretation of God's divine law, sharia, must be established everywhere to govern all aspects of life, including public and private law, ethics, politics, economics, business, and warfare. From the Islamist perspective, secular law, even if formulated democratically, is less legitimate than God’s own law. Thus, secular law must eventually yield to sharia until a single religious state, or Caliphate, replaces all the countries of today.

While Islamists all share these utopian goals, they differ significantly in terms of patience and tolerance. By far, most of the world’s Islamists are at peace with the present world and hold moderate views.

The least patient turn Islamism into fundamentalist extremism. They want the Caliphate immediately and are willing to use violence to pursue it.
Not clear from his discussion is how to disincentivize impatience among Islamists. Perhaps by treating those who preach violent Islamism with the same intolerance we show those who shout "FIRE" in crowded theaters. In other words, criminalizing the advocacy of criminal violence.

New York Values

In last night's debate, it is widely reported that Trump got the best of a back-and-forth with Ted Cruz over Cruz's linking Trump with "New York values." In a technical sense that is perhaps true, Trump's invocation of 9/11 heroism of police and firefighters was a good riposte.

Cruz, however, knows what he is doing. New Yorkers (city dwellers and suburbanites) are widely disliked as pushy, rude, and antagonistic. Traits valued by New Yorkers but widely detested by the rest of the country, particularly by Southerners like those in SC. Reminding folks Trump is a New Yorker is a way of reminding them of his less attractive features.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Quote of the Day

Presidential aspirant Carly Fiorina, quoted by Politico, on the unpleasant similarities between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
I think we have to end crony capitalism, the crony capitalism that starts with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. You know Hillary Clinton sits inside government and rakes in millions handing out access and favors. Donald Trump sits outside government and rakes in millions buying people like Hillary Clinton.
Ugly but accurate, eh?

A New Entertainment Category

Last year Hollywood produced a film conservatives liked - American Sniper. This year they've come up with 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, also popular on the right. Left-wing Hollywood must have held their collective noses both times.

Do you suppose we begin to see the same left/right divide in our entertainment that we've seen in news and in residential patterns? Fascinating, if true, but not entirely unexpected.

Why not? There are chick films, guy action films, surf films and films for teens, why not films for conservatives? Our money is as good as anybody else's, and we're said to be over half the populace.

The Bubble Bursts

Writing for RealClearPolitics, economics writer Robert Samuelson proclaims the China bubble has burst. COTTonLINE has been predicting that outcome for a couple of years.

It has always seemed to us China would go the way of Japan. That is, run out of steam as its aging population, endemic crony capitalism and corruption drag the economy to a crawl.

As Samuelson wisely suggests, what remains to be determined is how badly China's stumble will affect the economies of the rest of the world. If the Japanese example is any indicator, the West will do better - recover quicker - than China.

China's complete recovery is in doubt. One could argue Japan never fully recovered from its crash, caused by the same three variables.

Weird Diagnostic Science

I considered titling this post "Odd Smelling Mouse Pee" as that is what the US News article considers.
Researchers for the study (snip) observed mice who were given chemical treatment meant to mimic the abnormal brain activity of people with Alzheimer's.

These mice had a urine odor distinct from the urine of mice who were not given the chemical.

The difference in odor was detectable even before researchers could identify plaque build-up in the mice's brains, an indicator meant to simulate Alzheimer's symptoms.
Meaning a urine test for early stage Alzheimer's may be possible some day.

Mosquito-Borne Disease Spreading

USA Today reports the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, chikungunya, and most recently, zika. These are moving from the tropics into the warmer, wetter parts of the U.S.

As viral diseases, we have no cures for them, antibiotics don't work. Mosquito control provides the best way to limit their impact.

One wonders how long it will be before governments decide to bring back the number one mosquito killer - the much-maligned DDT? Nothing has ever been so effective. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Brooks Blots His Copybook

You may have read The New York Times' David Brooks column describing Sen. Ted Cruz as "brutal." He bases his "analysis" on arguments made while Cruz was the Texas Solicitor General.

No Christian himself, Brooks criticizes Cruz for not personifying Christian values. If you read Brooks and nothing more you'd get a skewed view of what transpired, one not flattering to Cruz.

Before drawing conclusions, you should read The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto. He digs a bit further into the TX case and finds that Cruz was doing the job for which he was elected by the state's good people. For a detailed legal analysis of the case criticized by Brooks, see what Scott Johnson has written at Power Line.

It appears Brooks intended a hatchet job on Cruz, and accomplished this by telling only part of the story. Brooks' goal appears to have been damaging Cruz's substantial appeal to evangelical voters.

In this election cycle, Brooks has shown a steadfast commitment to the GOP establishment. He appears ready to bitterly cling to Jeb! and the other "centrist" candidates (Christie, Rubio, Kasich) while watching with consternation as two-thirds of the base exits stage right following Trump and Cruz.

As a political commentator his role heretofore has been that of a voice of reason on the right. As the party center of gravity moves away from him, he has to wonder where (or indeed if) he will fit in the new political alignment emerging. Perhaps he can reinvent himself as a voice of reason on the left, that rarest of creatures, a conservative Democrat.

Al Jazeera America Folds

Politico reports Al Jazeera is shutting down its North American operations - newsroom, editorial office, and cable channel. One presumes they will continue to cover events happening here of interest to their predominantly Arab viewership, presumably using what we'd call "foreign correspondents" or stringers.

Reading between the lines, it would appear AJA couldn't generate the needed viewership in North America and, lacking viewers, couldn't sell advertising to support their operations. To understand most business decisions, including this one, follow the money.

Gov. Haley Shoots Own Foot

It is widely reported that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who gave the GOP response to the SOTU speech, criticized stands taken by presidential aspirants Trump and Cruz. Talk about dumb, Haley just disqualified herself as a vice presidential pick if either of the two current front-runners is nominated.

Perhaps Haley isn't interested in being VP if Trump or Cruz is nominated. That is an okay choice, even a principled one. However, going public with a position that puts her on the enemies list of the party's likely future leader is suicidally ill-advised.

Weird Oncological Science

A couple of Israeli scientists have come up with an approach to cure prostate cancer, and perhaps other forms of the disease. The approach, using modified chlorophyll, laser light and oxygen, is still undergoing clinical trials. See the report at the Weizmann Institute newsletter:
The first crucial element of the treatment is chlorophyll, the pigment that allows plants to utilize light for carbohydrate synthesis. However, the chlorophyll used to create this photosensitized drug therapy is not the common green chlorophyll, but instead bacteriochlorophyll, found in aquatic bacteria, that was chemically modified by Prof. Scherz's lab at Weizmann to fit the team's pharmaceutical needs. Once the photosensitized drug is injected, it meets up with the second crucial element in this therapy—light—at the targeted tumor site. The light comes from highly focused fiber-optic lasers that have been inserted near the tumor. As the chlorophyll absorbs the light, it can then interact with the third component in the process—oxygen—to produce oxygen radicals. This interaction initiates a fast cascade of pathophysiological events that cause instantaneous closing of the blood vessels leading to the tumor, followed by oxygen and nutrient deprivation at the tumor site, as well as other active processes that kill tumor cells. In 24 to 48 hours, the tumor undergoes complete necrosis. 
As Instapundit Glenn Reynolds often writes, faster please.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

SOTU: Nobody Was Energized

Nick Gillespie, writing at, about Obama's SOTU speech given earlier tonight.
He promised a short speech but then droned on for what seemed like a hell of a long time. He said he wouldn't give a laundry list and instead just sort of dumped laundry on the table. There were feints toward the sort of optimism—the hope and change—that energized his original victory, but nobody in or out of the Capitol was energized by it.

There's no question that the Republicans are awful in their ways, too. But if the best that Obama can do with the end of his time in office in sight is to invoke the hope and change he originally ran on, he must be judged a failure.
I post Gillespie's reaction since I couldn't muster the masochism to watch the SOTU. COTTonLINE is, after all, not a career but a hobby. I feel no need to suffer for it.

Later ... Variety reports many Americans agreed with me as TV viewership ratings for the speech were the lowest in 15 years. That "duck" is sure enough lame.

Quote of the Day

Bret Stephens, writing in The Wall Street Journal, about the mistreatment of German women by immigrant Arabs in Cologne and elsewhere.
Put bluntly, there is a pronounced tendency among Middle Eastern men to view women either as chattel or as whores. This is not a pleasant reality to acknowledge, but it’s an even more dangerous thing to ignore.
All cultures are not equally valid, some are grotesquely barbaric as these Arabs demonstrated graphically on New Year's Eve. Not a lovely group to import via immigration.

Better Hate Than Fear

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds commenting on a piece by Roger Kimball contrasting GOP establishment views of Trump and Cruz.
As Limbaugh says, they hate Trump, but they fear Cruz.
Cruz has proven he is not a go-along-to-get-along guy, whereas Trump, as a New York City developer, was a proud deal-maker. Metaphorically, Cruz is a bomb-thrower.

Disability = Winning Lottery

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Robert Doar argues  a major factor increasing non-participation in the workforce has been making various benefit programs - unemployment, food stamps, etc. - easier to get and keep for longer periods.

Writing to comment on Doar's article, medical practitioner Jeanne Ashworth focuses on the huge increase in people claiming disability payments from Social Security. She reports:
The vast majority of those who go on disability (even with potentially reversible health conditions) wll remain there permanently. In the low income area where I practice medicine, a disability-qualifying illness is considered by some like a winning lottery ticket. 
As regular COTTonLINE readers know well, for several years we've cited SSDI as a much abused benefit, an enabler of early "retirement" for those who'd rather not work.

Chicago a Shooting Gallery

The Chicago Tribune reports Chicago has started 2016 with a bang, actually with over a hundred bangs. See what they write:
As of Monday morning, at least 19 people have been killed in gun violence in Chicago this year and at least 101 more have been wounded, according to data compiled by the Tribune. This time last year, nine people had been killed and another 31 wounded. 
Parts of the Windy City are free-fire war zones. Nobody can remember the last time non-Democrats controlled Chicago. Democrats "own" Chi-town, thus responsibility for utter failure to control its street crime is entirely theirs.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Risk of Wishful Thinking

Kurt Schlichter, blogging at Town Hall, on the subject of a Trump Presidency, which he doesn't favor but doesn't discount the possibility of.
When your analysis syncs up with your preferences you need to check yourself and ensure that your mode of thinking is critical, not wishful.
Schlichter concludes that not only can Trump win the nomination, he could win the election as well and would be infinitely preferable to Clinton. I'm inclined to agree with all three estimates.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Internal Migration Resumes

The Pew Charitable Trusts report demographic trends for the U.S. The pre-recession trends have resumed.
Census population estimates show that the 16 states and the District of Columbia that comprise the South saw an increase of almost 1.4 million people between 2014 and 2015. The 13 states in the West grew by about 866,000 people.

In comparison, population growth in the Northeast and the Midwest — including what’s known as the Snow Belt — remained sluggish, growing by about 258,000 residents combined.
If you deduct the rapid population gain in North Dakota, due to oil exploration, the Midwest and Northeast would show no growth at all.

Quote of the Day

Anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon, quoted by Ed Driscoll guest blogging at Instapundit, on the subject of the true nature of the "noble" savage.
Real Indians sweat, they smell bad, they take hallucinogenic drugs, they belch after they eat, they covet and at times steal their neighbour’s wife, they fornicate, and they make war. 
I'd add: Indians are also implicated in the extinction of several species including the wooly mammoth and the saber-toothed cat. In sum, they are precisely as (ig)noble as the rest of the human species.

Your Sunday Snark

Brent Bozell, writing opinion for Fox News, on the subject of GOP elites.
Tuesday, Republican elites warned that if Donald Trump or Ted Cruz become the nominee it would ruin the Republican brand.
How's that for party unity and loyalty?
More to the point: What brand?
The GOP brand is already ruined. And they ruined it.
Yup, Messers Boehner and McConnell and lately Ryan too, all contributed to that ruin. Think of Trump and Cruz as the political equivalent of corporate "turnaround artists," trying to rescue the brand.

The Lonely 1%

Both The New York Times and The Washington Post have articles, linked by Drudge Report, about the division within the Republican Party. It's the division we've been discussing for some months between the financiers and elected officials on the one hand and the grass roots base on the other. NYT writes:
Rank-and-file conservatives, after decades of deferring to party elites, are trying to stage what is effectively a people’s coup by selecting a standard-bearer who is not the preferred candidate of wealthy donors and elected officials.

And many of those traditional power brokers, in turn, are deeply uncomfortable and even hostile to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz: Between them, the leading candidates do not have the backing of a single senator or governor.
At the heart of the division are different policy preferences. NYT continues:
The issues animating grass-roots voters — opposition to immigration, worries about wages and discomfort with America’s fast-changing demographics — are diverging from and at times colliding with the Republican establishment’s interests in free trade, lower taxes, less regulation and openness to immigration.
In an era of tribal politics, it isn't clear where the GOP elites will find a political home. Neither party's base wants exactly what they want. Do they become Dems and put up with higher taxes and more regulation, or stay in the GOP and live with immigration restrictions and trade restrictions?

In a European-style parliamentary setting they'd form their own party and try to become a coalition partner. Within recent memory, the last time that tactic worked here was when the Southern Democrats allied with the GOP in Congress. And that partnership lasted only briefly.

The elites' problem: they truly are only 1% of the electorate. At one time, their immense wealth enabled them to buy influence far beyond their numbers via political advertising.

In today's fractured advertising market their great wealth doesn't give them the leverage it did when everyone watched 3 or 4 network channels. Today many voters have "cut the cable" or fast forward through the ads on their VCR, or watch commercial-free on-demand TV off the Internet.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

White Vote Still Key

The New York Post shares a statistic you rarely see cited, but quite likely to be true.
Mitt Romney would have lost the 2012 election even if he had nabbed 70% of the Latino vote, 43 points more than he actually got. But he would have prevailed if he had increased his share of the white vote by just four points.
Verily, the importance of the Hispanic vote has been greatly oversold and that of the white vote de-emphasized. No coincidence, I believe.

Trump Liked by 20% of Dems

U.S. News reports the results of a survey of likely voters which found an interesting result - around 1 Democrat in 5 would vote for Trump. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.
Nearly 20 percent of likely Democratic voters say they'd cross sides and vote for Trump, while a small number, or 14 percent, of Republicans claim they'd vote for Clinton. When those groups were further broken down, a far higher percentage of the crossover Democrats contend they are "100 percent sure" of switching than the Republicans.
The last Republican to lure in substantial Democrat votes was Ronald Reagan, we all remember the well-reported "Reagan Democrats." If Trump could equal that achievement, he might become the next "legendary" GOP president, this generation's Reagan.

Steyn: At a Trump Rally

The always-readable Mark Steyn goes with his sons to a Trump rally in Burlington, VT. He reports in his SteynOnline blog about his experiencs there.

Steyn's conclusion are several. First, Trump campaigns without the usual huge retinue. Second, he is truly one hell of a showman with better comedic timing than most comedians.

Third, he may appeal to the angry but his rallies are joyous, happy events. This is a curious fact Molly Ball reported in The Atlantic, which article we linked to on November 27 of last year.

Fourth, it is obvious Trump is loving the process, having a heck of a good time, getting his money's worth in pure enjoyment of the audience adulation. As long as the excitement and fun lasts, why would he drop out? Answer: he won't.

German Gropefest

In German cities, over New Years Eve, the "chickens" of mass migration came home to roost. Gangs of Middle Eastern and North African men - asylum-seekers - gang-groped and raped women on the streets of Cologne and elsewhere.

Why Chancellor Merkel thought you could import a million men from a Middle East culture that treats women like cattle and have those men suddenly become well-behaved "good Germans" is a puzzle. As anyone halfway smart would predict, the immigrants are not behaving as polite guests.

If this massive miscalculation doesn't cost Angela Merkel her job, we'll have to conclude the German electorate is brain-dead. See what Der Spiegel writes about the all-too-predictable events.

Later ... Merkel knows she's in trouble politically, and has started sounding more condemning, more threatening. See a Daily Mail (U.K.) story for details of her response. My guess: too little, too late.

Weird Genetic Research

The Los Angeles Times reports genetic research showing many of us have Neanderthal genes as well as Homo sapiens genes. It appears there was interbreeding between the two groups, no big surprise.

Part of this finding suggests allergies may be a result of an early adaptation among Neanderthals which gave them increased resistance to disease pathogens. As this resistance had substantial survival value, it has persisted among modern humans.

I wonder if the next human species is out there somewhere, passing undetected its genes among the homo saps? How would we even recognize its existence?

The next human species will be an intentional development of selective breeding and/or gene splicing with increased disease resistance, intelligence, and longevity. We'll need to get beyond our eugenics phobia. Brave New World, here we come.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Snark of the Week

Politico's Glenn Thrush, writing about five ways Trump drives Clinton crazy. Here is #3 for your enjoyment.
3. He's fun. Hillary Clinton is a broccoli politician - Donald Trump is an all-you-can-eat donut truck.

Politico: Trump's Big Tent

Politico reports something we've been thinking: Trump's support is much more than blue-collar white males.
Certainly, non-college-educated men have formed his base. (snip) Trump's robust performance with this group, however, has deflected attention from the breadth of his coalition. Though Trump has less support with women and educated men, he's still at or near the top of the GOP field in those categories.

Trump also runs particularly well with people looking for a "strong leader."
After seven years of the whiny Obama metrosexual presidency, voters crave an anti-Obama. Testosterone-driven Trump is that guy.

He's a sort of latter-day Teddy Roosevelt, full of bluster and bravado. He'd probably call his style "high energy," which certainly described TR back in the day.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

In Defense of California

We've reported, perhaps too often, that California has problems. RealClearPolitics rebuts with a brief article showing that, for all its downsides, CA is doing well. A telling quote:
What the strong numbers do mean, Beacon partner Chris Thornberg told the Los Angeles Times, is "that being 'business friendly' is not the be-all and end-all of economic development." He went on: "When you actually look at the data, you'll find that as kooky as California is, it's not a state that's underperforming." 
In many ways CA is becoming another Hawaii, a place so pleasant people come there in spite of its high costs and tough regulations. And yes, CA really is the nicest place to live in the continental U.S.; take it from someone who has resided in all four U.S. time zones. I spent most of my working career living in a rural CA city that resembles a bucolic Midwestern college town where fortunately it never snows.

Willing the Means

Angelo Codevilla writes for Asia Times about what logic dictates regarding U.S. policy vis-a-vis ISIS.
Daesh/ISIS having murdered some Americans and continuing to instigate the murder of others, the US government’s quintessential duty is to exterminate any and all who have any part in it. Any number of US politicians make noises more or less in this direction. But he who wills the ends must also will the means. That is the first touchstone of seriousness. The second is like it: those means cannot be out-sourced. Minding our safety is our inalienable responsibility.
It's a responsibility our Muslim-enabling President will not accept. January of 2017 cannot get here too soon.

Brexit Looks More Likely

The movement in the United Kingdom to have their country leave the European Union is one we've followed. The Washington Post reports Prime Minister David Cameron has decided to allow his cabinet ministers to take either position - in or out - on Brexit, as it is called in Brit slang.

Candidly, the European Union has always been a conspiracy by European elites to frustrate popular democracy. The "body language" has consistently been that of technocrats who know best what is good for their people, people who can't be trusted to choose the right path via elections.

Traumatized by World War II and its aftermath, Europeans put up with being told to shut up and let the experts run things for decades, but perhaps not much longer. After all, those people who actually remember how bad things were during and after the war are now in their 70s or older ... many already dead.

The few times member countries have allowed their people to vote on acceptance or rejection of EU initiatives have often resulted in rejections. I expect Europe will find that self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous have been right all along, if folks don't want something, you can't really get their continuing cooperation.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

With Cruz in Iowa

If you read political commentary, you've seen that some consider Sen. Ted Cruz smart as a whip. The rap on him is that he has a "charisma deficit."

Power Line has a commentary by an Iowa observer who caught Ted stumping at a coffee shop in Missouri Valley, IA. His opinion: Ted rocks retail politics - good news for conservatives.

A Low-Level Civil War in Turkey

Writing for Politico Europe, Asli Audintasbas argues that Turkey's war against the Kurds is "unwinnable." Meanwhile, writing for the Council on Foreign Relations Stephen A. Cook comments on Turkish President Erdogan's "Hitler problem."

It would be hard to argue Hitler found his "Jewish problem" unwinnable, that's one "war" he did win. If as reported Erdogan admires Hitler, perhaps he will approach his "Kurdish problem" in ways suggested by those of Hitler.

Outright genocide would be difficult to conceal in today's web-connected world. I envision Erdogan making life so miserable in Kurdish areas that people choose to emigrate to Kurdish autonomous regions in Syria or Iraq. Not because he made them do so, but because he "tilted" the cost-benefit balance in favor of leaving. You could argue this effort is already underway.

Huge Trump Crowd in MA

The conventional wisdom is that Massachusetts is the most Democratic of states, home to the Kennedys and Elizabeth Warren. So Donald Trump holds a rally at a Massachusetts arena which holds 8000 and fills it SRO. See the Washington Post story and photo of the crowd.

People stood in line for hours in sub-freezing cold to get in. Sure, he's a celebrity and people just want to see him - but lining up in the cold?

The pundit  class continues to underrate Trump's chances, he's made them look silly so far. If somebody asks you to bet against Trump, make 'em give you very good odds.

Quote of the Day

From an editorial in Investor's Business Daily, on the subject of gun control.
The president is expected to announce new orders curbing gun sales. If he really wants to limit the number of guns, he should just shut up. Every time he opens his mouth, gun sales go through the roof. 
Obama has what George H. W. Bush once called "The doo-doo touch." Obama couldn't sell booze to an alcoholic.

Not Changing Their Minds

Brookings Institution scholar William A. Glaston, as quoted in a Washington Post article by Tummulty and Johnson, on the subject of political correctness.
Driving powerful sentiments underground is not the same as expunging them. What we’re learning from Trump is that a lot of people have been biting their lips, but not changing their minds.
Stop biting ... start acting. The same article quotes GOP  strategist Steve Schmidt about the unwillingness to confront Muslim extremists.
What animates ISIS is an ­apocalyptic religious philosophy. People look at that and don’t understand the unwillingness to say red is red and blue is blue. We live in a post-fact America, where the facts are subordinate to the advancement of an ideology.
Schmidt is talking about our President's fear of an anti-Muslim backlash.

Clinton = Mulder

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told a reporter in New Hampshire that, as president, she will get to the bottom of the government's knowledge of UFOs, alien visitations, and Area 51. See an article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer for more.

Golly, that's right out of The X Files. By echoing Fox Mulder the uber-troll has grasped the only conceivable way we could plausibly write "Hillary = Fox."

Explaining Trump and Sanders

Writing for Politico, Troy Campbell describes the social psychological processes underlying the related phenomena represented by Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. He describes these two as legitimizing beliefs that heretofore have not been PC. Campbell labels them "enabling dissenters."
Both candidates succeed because they draw out popular feelings of dissatisfaction. But their effect is more than that: They have legitimized for discussion “fringe beliefs” that millions of Americans beforehand had been unsure of or too shy to fully embrace, but nonetheless felt strongly about. They do not create new beliefs; instead they appeal to unspoken feelings often held by people who have recently felt increased economic strife and political disenfranchisement.
Social psychologists call the process by which enabling dissenters operate "social facilitation." Actually, we can go beyond Trump and Sanders to apply this rationale to the rise of Marine Le Pen in France, Nigel Farange in the U.K., Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, Viktor Orban in Hungary, and others. All speak for the formerly "voiceless."

Monday, January 4, 2016

The 2015 GOP Presidential Campaign

The Washington Post's chief correspondent Dan Balz and three colleagues have written a long, exhaustive summary of the 2015 GOP political campaign. Warning: this is for political mavens only as it is highly detailed, takes perhaps an hour to read, and features extensive on-the-record interview commentary by the various candidates. Think of it as "instant history," it's very well done.

Poll: American Dream Dead, Anger Widespread

An Esquire/NBC News poll reports on American attitudes toward several interesting questions, attitudes that bias people toward the Trump candidacy, incidentally. For example, 68% of respondents report seeing something in the news that makes them angry at least once a day.

Fifty-two percent report they believe the American Dream once held true but doesn't any longer. Fifty-four percent say the U.S. was once the most powerful country but isn't anymore.

There are many other interesting findings, cross-tabbed by race and gender of respondent. As you look at the data above, can you avoid thinking Trump knows his audience better than other candidates? I can't. Hat tip to for the link.

10 Challenges for 2016

The Daily Telegraph (U.K.) reports the predictions of The Eurasia Group which makes annual forecasts of the world's 10 most troubling issues for the year ahead. I don't find much to argue with in their list. Their headings:

The Hollow Alliance - the U.S. and Europe drift apart.
Closed Europe - overthrow of Schengen.
The China Footprint - unpredictability.
ISIS and "Friends" - no effective counter-strategy.
Saudi Arabia - conflict between royals.
The Rise of Technologists - mega-billionaires with attitude.
Unpredictable Leaders - Putin, Erdogan, and more.
Brazil - economic turmoil, political weakness.
Not Enough Elections - in emerging nations.
Turkey - slip-sliding toward autocracy, next door to ISIS.

The one factor the article underplays is the rise of populist nationalism - mostly on the right - in Europe and the U.S. It isn't clear whether the new nationalists are merely noisy, or actually developing a majority. "Elites ignoring the wishes of the governed" is the root cause of such movements, in both Europe and the U.S.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Quote of the Day

British philosopher Roger Scruton, as quoted at, on the subject of societal failure.
For this is how the suicide of nations begins, when sentimentality prevails over sense.
That certainly sounds like a description of the 21st century United States.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year

COTTonLINE wishes our readers a happy, healthy, peaceful New Year in 2016. It is a leap year and an election year. The former is merely a calendar curiosity while the latter will generate much of the news we see between now and early November.

We hope you join us for the adventure, Win or lose, it should be exciting as we live in the proverbial "interesting times."

Echoes of the Bradley Effect

Breitbart reports the results of a poll by Morning Consult which looked specifically at the issue of why Trump polls higher in online polls than in telephone polls. Its findings confirm our suspicion.
The study finds that Trump performs about six percentage points better online than via live telephone interviewing and that his [hidden] advantage online is driven by adults with higher levels of education.

Among adults with a bachelors degree or postgraduate degree, Trump performs about 10 percentage points better online than via live telephone. 
It has been widely reported, always condescendingly, that Trump is popular with less-educated voters. No wonder those with degrees don't want to admit supporting him.

It is the Bradley effect, without the racial component - people holding views which they believe cast them in an unflattering light. If the Bradley defeats are any indication, folks don't always reveal their non-PC views but they do vote them. Hat tip to for the link.

Quote of the Day

British parliamentarian and man of letters Hilarie Belloc, writing in 1938 on the subject of Islam, as quoted by Breitbart Big Government. 
It has always seemed to me possible, and even probable, that there would be a resurrection of Islam and that our sons or our grandsons would see the renewal of that tremendous struggle between the Christian culture and what has been for more than a thousand years its greatest opponent.
The man was prescient, as we have learned to our sorrow.