Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Lack of Will

From time to time we see a sentence or a phrase that just seems so right, so apt, that we have to share it with you. This one comes from RealClearWorld, from a column originally in Le Figaro by Renaud Girard. His writes how modernity has made the West unable to prevail in wars they once would have won.
The West engaged in costly wars in the deserts of the Hindu Kush, Mesopotamia, and the Sahel. Wars they can never win, for lack of being willing to resort to the level of cruelty of 19th century colonial expeditions.
Where did the idea of civilized, refined war come from? How absurd is that?

Historical Perspective

The unattractive people who brag that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste will try to tell you climate change is responsible for Hurricane Harvey, or responsible for making it worse. Before rushing to believe them, consider this brief historical piece from The Washington Free Beacon. Hat tip to for the link.

In it author Elizabeth Harrington reminds us that the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 (otherwise unnamed) was by several measures much worse, and that before human endeavor had released much carbon dioxide. In 1900, on the same Texas coast, the Galveston storm killed more people, had higher sustained winds, and a higher storm surge, she reports.

COTTonLINE believes humans don't understand enough about climate and weather to make claims about causation. One thing is certain, climates changed in times past when humans were insufficiently numerous or industrialized to have had an impact. 

What is unclear is whether present levels of human activity are sufficient to affect something as ponderously enormous as global weather. Our gut hunch is that it's unlikely, but we plainly label that a guess. 

We further guess that minor variations in solar activity, sunspots and the like, are a more likely cause of climatic variation. This because so much (some would say "all") of the world's weather is driven by solar radiation. Comparing solar impact to human impact is like comparing the Grand Canyon to a single raindrop.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Liberal Hypocrisy

Several sites are reporting that various Democrats have started speaking out against "antifa," among these is Nancy Pelosi. Let's be clear about why they've belatedly climbed aboard a bandwagon we've been on for weeks.

Democrats finally figured out that antifa was doing Trump a favor, and in the process making them look bad via guilt by association. So they decided to disassociate themselves from the direct action wing of their movement.

Antifa violence was wrong when it began and is wrong today. This we have consistently noted.

To Democrats, antifa violence was okay when it began. It only became wrong in their eyes when the public decided it was evil and associated it with Democrats. Up to that point their slogan was "no enemies on the left."

Liberal hypocrisy knows no limits.

A Cowardly Congress

Conrad Black writes, from a Canadian viewpoint, about American politics for National Review. Black supports what Trump is trying to do without being blinded to his idiosyncrasies. No so with Congress:
Three-quarters of Americans despise the Congress as tainted and ineffectual windbags wallowing in the public trough.
Having shared the public's view, Black adds his own:
In their way, the Democratic leaders have been doing their jobs. That cannot be said of Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. They have achieved nothing in seven months and have lost no opportunity to carp publicly at their president.
And he adds a prediction:
Ryan and McConnell have misled the country about their ability or intention to pass bills. If they don’t become more purposeful, the Republicans will lose the House next year, Ryan will be thrown out as speaker and House Republican leader, and the Republicans will gain a few senators but McConnell will be dumped for his duplicity. 
While it will serve both gentlemen right, as payback for their malfeasance, that outcome will do the GOP and the country no good. For their sake and ours, let's hope each can grow a pair before Congress reconvenes. They need to stop whining and either do their jobs, or resign if unable.

Houston in High Risk Area

Stephen Green, guest blogging at Instapundit, links to a Los Angeles Times article which asks why Houston is so unprepared for flooding.
Houston is built on what amounts to a massive flood plain, pitted against the tempestuous Gulf of Mexico and routinely hammered by the biggest rainstorms in the nation.

“Houston is very flat,” said Robert Gilbert, a University of Texas at Austin civil engineer who helped investigate the flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. “There is no way for the water to drain out.” Indeed, the city has less slope than a shower floor.

The storm was unprecedented, but the city has been deceiving itself for decades about its vulnerability to flooding, said Robert Bea, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and UC Berkeley emeritus civil engineering professor who has studied hurricane risks along the Gulf Coast.

The city’s flood system is supposed to protect the public from a 100-year storm, but Bea calls that “a 100-year lie” because it is based on a rainfall total of 13 inches in 24 hours.

“That has happened more than eight times in the last 27 years,” Bea said. “It is wrong on two counts. It isn’t accurate about the past risk and it doesn’t reflect what will happen in the next 100 years.”
So Houston, like New Orleans, is a city built in the wrong place, founded in a time when we didn't know better. Now everyone's reaction to Houston is "it's too big to move and too expensive to fix," again like New Orleans.

Your Wednesday Snark

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, cracking wise about the troubles besetting Evergreen State and the U. of Missouri.
Glenn's headline:
The news item:
Evergreen State College faces $2.1M budget shortfall, cites enrollment drop, issues layoff notices.
Glenn's comment:
As with Mizzou, you can wreck your university trying to make lefty activists happy, but they’ll never be happy because they don’t want to be happy.
"Lefty activists" are losers. They revel in their 'loserdom' and demand we stop our hateful winning. It's a demand best rejected out of hand.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Faith, did you ever see a name that said "Irish Roman Catholic" more strongly than "Michael Brendan Dougherty"? I have not. He writes an amazing opinion about the Church for National Review, basically saying Pope Francis is a doofus. Some key quotes:
Pope Francis is a gift to the Catholic Church, especially when he says something silly, clumsy, or even stupid. He allows serious Catholics to take the papal cult less seriously than they have been doing for generations. Overall, that’s a good thing.

Francis is now something less than a symbol of religion, or the living representative of Catholic faith on earth. He’s not a sign from God for all living in this moment. Through his own loquacity, he’s reduced himself to a stereotype that has become familiar to many Catholics: He’s the old liberal, who is just appalled by the young Huns entering his religious order.

Simply put, we don’t have to listen to popes when they are talking out of their rear ends. What Francis describes as an orderly procession of liturgical reform in the 20th century will very likely one day be seen as one of the greatest spams of iconoclasm in the history of Christianity.

And the fact that Francis is so wrong on this, as on many other things, will, one hopes, break the exaggerated papal cult once and for all. (snip) For that I’m grateful.
If anything, Dougherty may be too kind to this disciple of liberation theology. Not all CEOs are created equal, that's for sure.

Monday, August 28, 2017

All Cultures Are Not Equal

Two law school profs have written a short but profound piece of social criticism for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Their basic argument: the widely-shared bourgeois culture of the late 1940s to early 1960s simply worked better for most Americans than the more libertarian culture which has replaced it. They write:
All cultures are not equal. Or at least they are not equal in preparing people to be productive in an advanced economy. The culture of the Plains Indians was designed for nomadic hunters, but is not suited to a First World, 21st-century environment. Nor are the single-parent, antisocial habits, prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-“acting white” rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants.

These cultural orientations are not only incompatible with what an advanced free-market economy and a viable democracy require, they are also destructive of a sense of solidarity and reciprocity among Americans. If the bourgeois cultural script — which the upper-middle class still largely observes but now hesitates to preach — cannot be widely reinstated, things are likely to get worse for us all.

Among those who currently follow the old precepts, regardless of their level of education or affluence, the homicide rate is tiny, opioid addiction is rare, and poverty rates are low. Those who live by the simple rules that most people used to accept may not end up rich or hold elite jobs, but their lives will go far better than they do now.
The authors are correct that most successful people in this society follow the old norms because they work better than the alternatives. Of course, those committed to 'alternative' lifestyles are outraged by the article.

WWC Remains Pro-Trump

At Townhall, Guy Benson provides a couple of lengthy quotes from a Josh Kraushaar article in National Journal, unfortunately behind a paywall. Kraushaar writes about a poll done of white working-class voters, a group Democrats desperately need to win back.
Despite the Trump turmoil in Washington, Republicans held a 10-point lead on the generic ballot (43-33 percent) among these blue-collar voters. Democrats hold a whopping 61 percent disapproval rating among these voters, with only 32 percent approving. Even Trump’s job-approval rating is a respectable 52 percent with the demographic in these swing districts.

The more uncomfortable reality is that these blue-collar voters’ resistance to the Democrats is on cultural grounds, not economic ones—a finding that studies of Obama-Trump voters have repeatedly shown. Democrats are facing a double-whammy: They’re still experiencing resistance among moderate voters in suburban swing districts over tax-and-spend economic policies. Meanwhile, small-town voters are having a tough time voting for their candidates because of a growing cultural disconnect.

To win back control in the lower chamber, they will need to win Republican-held seats both in the suburbs and in small-town America. It’s not an either-or proposition.
The once-solid "Blue Wall" might be history. People don't like being called "deplorable." Politico has the basic poll document. Hat tip to for the link.

A Lot of Unpopular

Writing for Fox News, the always interesting Newt Gingrich puts President Trump's current poll numbers into context.
The most recent average of polls has President Trump at 39 percent approval.

Macron was at 64 percent approval in June. Now, less than two months later, he has fallen to 36 percent....BELOW TRUMP.

Macron is not alone. The elite media has also failed to inform viewers that the approval ratings of other world leaders have been recorded at similarly low levels in recent months.

For example, British Prime Minister Theresa May earned a 34 percent satisfaction rate, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a July approval rating of 34.2 percent, and the Democratic Party in the United States received 38 percent approval in June.

All of these approval ratings are lower than President Trump’s - but you don’t see the elite media fighting to break that news story.
There is a lot of unpopular going around these days, eh? Trump is still popular with those who voted for him. Heck, he was unpopular when he was elected, if our polls are to be believed. Perhaps those polls don't merit serious consideration.

WaPo: Antifa Violent in Berkeley

File this under the heading "Stories Appearing in Unexpected Outlets." The Washington Post heads an article as follows:
Black-clad antifa attack peaceful right wing demonstrators in Berkeley
Give WaPo credit for reporting something that does not support their basic narrative line. You have to wonder how this got past the editors.

The article actually supports the Trump assertion there is ugly violence on both sides. Amazing when you think how much crap he's had to take for claiming - accurately, it seems - both sides were at fault in Charlottesville.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Serving the Left's Interests

John Hinderaker, senior blogger at Power Line, asks the question "What is the difference between neo-Nazis and Communists?" Why is the press obsessed with the former and not the latter? I think you'll find his answer interesting.
It seems blindingly obvious that the answer is: hyping neo-Nazis became an opportunity to serve the Left’s interests in January of this year, based on leftists’ more or less insane association between neo-Nazis and American conservatives, while hyping the American Communist Party does not–and will not at any time in the future–serve the Left’s interests. That is the difference.
Particularly since there are many more Communists than neo-Nazis in the U.S., and have been for the last century.

Welcome Home, Part II

Nearly a week ago we cited a Bloomberg article on Millennials moving to the suburbs. Today Bloomberg is back with a panel discussing that very topic. One member, Justin Fox, states it plain:
  1. The fact that millennials weren’t buying homes or cars a few years ago was more the product of economic hard times than an expression of changing tastes.

  2. The supply of walkable, transit-friendly neighborhoods in the U.S. is limited, and it’s really hard for political reasons to add density to them or build more of them.
As we long ago learned to say in geometry class, "QED, suburbs ... here come the Millennials!"

Man, oh, man, does that spasm the backsides of urban planners who love high density designs. Urban planning, I'm forced to conclude, shares a basic flaw with socialism: both suffer from a fatal misunderstanding of human nature.

Urban planners admire the organized societies of bees and want humans to conform to a similar model of hive-like living. We are much more diverse than worker bees, and refuse to conform.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Saturday Snickers

Steven Hayward's weekly collection for Power Line of cartoons, captioned photos, and generalized snark has arrived. My favorites described:

Cartoon of a black couple sitting at the table holding a newspaper with the headline "7 Dead, 38 Wounded in Weekend Shootings Across Chicago." A voice balloon shows the man saying:
... And we're upset about statues?
Photo of a Bruce Lee statue on the Seattle waterfront, captioned with offensively bad grammar:
Seattle needs to remove this statue of Bruce Lee, who's (sic) name reminds me of Robert Lee, who's (sic) name reminds me of Robert E. Lee. So offensive.
A poster bearing this slogan:
Tearing down statues of
Christopher Columbus does
not go far enough. 
The entire District of
Columbia must be removed.
Quadruple Photoshop © of color image of Trump and B/W image of Obama. In each the Trump image approaches and then overlaps Obama until, in cel 4, Obama is no longer seen. The caption:
The Best Eclipse Ever!
Photo of a reporter in a newroom, saying:
At this point, if Trump came out in favor of oxygen,
Democrats would suffocate themselves.

Lilla, Pro and Con

On August 12 we wrote about a Wall Street Journal article by Mark Lilla which argued against Democrats' identity group politics and, at least implicitly, in favor of an economic or social class basis for their politics. Very clearly this was going to stimulate considerable push-back from those committed to the status quo.

Washington Monthly runs an article by Nancy LeTourneau which argues, with some justice, that racism is not simply color-coded economics. She writes:
In a rational world it is hard to come up with a logical reason for racism—especially if you are looking for one true explanation. A lot of (mostly white) people solve that problem by suggesting that it is a result of economic disenfranchisement. There is a layer truth to that.

There are a whole host of questions that such a view doesn’t even begin to address. For example, how does it explain racism among the upper classes? How does it explain the persistent discrepancy of outcomes in everything from criminal justice to employment to education to health that tend to be systemically rooted and persist regardless of the economic plight of white people?

All of this is to say that Lilla has identified but one layer on which the construct of racism has been built. If he stops there and assumes that enough white people will dispense with racism when their economic plight is improved, he is very badly mistaken.
True enough, racism is more than economics. It exists wherever multiple "types" of people exist side-by-side. We've recently written about racism in China, it is well-known in India, the Japanese practice it with gusto, the Arabs against Africans, etc. Tribalism is more of the same, and it's ubiquitous.

At its most primitive, the behavior is the defense of "our" DNA and those like ours against the DNA of "others" however defined or recognized. A pessimist would be tempted to hypothesize racism is hard-wired into human genetics, a battle to be fought surely, but never won.

While Lilla may be wrong about the underlying construct of racism, he may nevertheless be correct in his Rx for the Democrats, assuming they want to win elections. Doing so requires the votes of large numbers of the white majority.

Read Lilla as advocating a political strategy, not necessarily as a scientific explanation of racism, genderism, or whatever discriminatory process is the focus. I believe he is trying to design a "tent" big enough to cover an electoral majority of Americans.

Economics may be the practical way for Democrats to accomplish that larger "tent," FDR certainly thought so. Hating on whites has the opposite effect, it shrinks the electoral "tent."

Update on Turkey

French news service Agence France Presse reports the opposition to Erdogan's increasingly autocratic rule in Turkey has become more unified and better organized. That opposition is the secular Republican People's Party (CHP).

Erdogan, who started out as a reformer, has morphed into an embryonic sultan. He once famously said "Democracy is like a streetcar, when you reach your destination you get off." His behavior in office suggests he has not changed that ominous view. All who were sad to see Turkey losing its democracy and decidedly western flavor will cheer this news.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Arpaio Pardon

Multiple sources are reporting President Trump has pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Paul Mirengoff, who blogs at Power Line, describes the situation under which Arpaio was convicted of contempt of court. It is relatively clear it was a politically motivated prosecution, just as the pardon is likewise politically motivated.

Sheriff Joe was a zealous enforcer of immigration law during the Obama era. It was a time when the federal government, at the President's behest, chose not to enforce the full spectrum of existing federal immigration law.

Most COTTonLINE readers would probably support a prosecution of former President Obama for dereliction of duty. For failure to carry out his oath to enforce a federal law he found politically inexpedient and/or distasteful. That prosecution isn't going to happen.

We now have a President who promised to enforce existing immigration law, and is doing so with vigor. The Arpaio pardon is logical given the platform on which Trump was elected.

Meanwhile the senior Senator from Arpaio's home state of AZ, supposed Republican John McCain, continues to demonstrate RINO qualities by criticizing the President for the pardon and the ex-sheriff for enforcing the law.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

NYT: Affirmative Action a Failure links to a National Review article by David French which is, in turn, based on a data-rich article in The New York Times. The Times article documents that decades of affirmative action have failed to gain proportional representation for blacks and Hispanics in the nation's universities and colleges.

David French writes an explanation for why affirmative action has failed. As he says, it never had a chance to succeed. Some key quotes:
After decades of affirmative action, billions of dollars invested in finding, mentoring, and recruiting minority students, and extraordinary levels of effort and experimentation, black and Hispanic students are “more underrepresented at the nation’s top colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago”. White and Asian students, on the other hand, remain overrepresented as a percentage of the population, with Asian students most overrepresented of all.

On the one hand, these statistics represent a staggering failure. It’s difficult to overstate the modern campus obsession with diversity.

On the other hand, however, one wonders whether failure was inevitable. Not even the most aggressive of affirmative-action programs can find students who don’t exist. And when it comes to college admissions, the problem isn’t a lack of collegiate demand for qualified minority students but rather a serious deficiency in supply.

Here’s an interesting fact. The cohort that’s most overrepresented in American colleges and universities, Asian Americans, also happens to have the lowest percentage of nonmarital births in the United States. In fact, the the greater the percentage of nonmarital births, the worse the educational outcomes. Only 16.4 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander children are born into nonmarried households. For white, Hispanic, and black Americans the percentages are 29.2, 53, and 70.6, respectively.

There’s abundant evidence that even vast increases in public spending on education hasn’t led to corresponding increases in test scores, and when you understand how education really works, it’s easy to understand why. One of the most common characteristics of high-achieving students is they come from families that prioritize academic success.
And yet, in places like California, if the public colleges and universities can't get Hispanic kids to come, stay, succeed and graduate, Hispanic legislators will cut funding, campuses will close, and people will be laid off. Administrators are desperate to succeed, for the most selfish of reasons, but to date haven't figured out how to make it happen.

Like Yelling 'Go, Niners' in an Oakland Bar

Instapundit links to an article in Campus Reform which reports a Clemson University Assistant Professor of Human-Centered Computing who holds some radical views. From the August 16 Facebook post of Bart Knijnenburg comes the following:
All trump supporters, nay, all Republicans, are racist scum.

In another post, Knijnenburg equates President Donald Trump, Trump voters, the GOP, and Steve Bannon to “Nazis,” the “KKK,” and the “Alt-right,” declaring that they are “all racists.”

I admire anyone who stands up against white supremacy. Violent or non-violent. This needs to stop, by any means necessary. #PunchNazis.
For those who don't know the location, Clemson is located in South Carolina, between Charlotte and Atlanta. That qualifies as Deep South in my book. His too, for he writes:
You should come live in the south for a while. It's exhausting,
SC has many Trump supporters and many Republicans, a majority of his fellow citizens. Saying such things in a red state with a documented history of dealing violently with trouble-makers can be high-risk behavior.

Believing what he does, you'd think just going to the store would make Knijnenburg's skin crawl. Does he feel invincible, or perhaps suicidal?

My guess: he's looking for work in a blue state like MD or MA. I wish him luck, both he and SC will be happier if he finds it.

Rising Home Prices = More Mobile Homes

CNBC's Diana Olick reports the supply of low priced homes is lower than it has been for a long time.
Home prices are higher at virtually every price point, but the gains are biggest at the low end where demand is highest.

The median price of a home sold in July hit $258,300, the highest July price on record, according to the National Association of Realtors. The Realtors divide sales figures into six different price "buckets" in their monthly report. Sales in the range of $100,000 or below were down 14 percent compared with a year ago, while sales of million-dollar and higher homes jumped nearly 20 percent.
Basically, this means more people will be living in the mis-named "mobile homes." Not to be confused with recreational vehicles, these homes are anything but truly mobile, typically being moved only once. Some end up on foundations, others perch somewhat precariously on cement blocks.

It is affordable housing mass produced in factories. Particularly in rural areas, dropping a single-wide, or if more affluent, double-wide mobile home on a lot or in the parent's farmyard does the job for many.

Those who can't afford the lot and who don't have a relative to 'park' beside may rent a space in a mobile home park while owning their 'coach.' It isn't luxury living and even when coach and land are both owned not much of an investment, but it does provide affordable shelter.

Schlichter Vents

I don't think anybody writing today does pissed-off conservative quite as well as Kurt Schlichter, whose work appears at Today he tees off on Never Trump Republicans whom he quite reasonably sees as traitors.
The thing is, now we're woke, and we’ve realized that our establishment sucks, and that we’re tired of being the suckees. They didn't listen to us when we gave them the Tea Party, so now we gave them Trump. And they're very, very upset with us.

What are they thinking is going to happen? Do they think that one morning Trump is going to wake up and think “Gosh, all these people telling me I'm wrong and mean and crude and tweet too darn much must be right. I'll change, because I always take the advice of people who I've already broken and humiliated.”

Unlikely, because Trump doesn't respect you. And he doesn't respect you because he's already beaten you. He's not a gracious winner, but to be fair, you've hardly been gracious losers. Oh, how it must gall you to be so utterly defeated by someone you consider your moral and intellectual inferior.

Through all this Tea Partying and Trumping, we normals got a taste for power, and we like it. We're not just going to just shrug our shoulders when the guy we picked gets deposed in a coup. We’re going to get mad. Really mad. And you're going to get primaried. Just ask Jeff Flake (Dork-AZ). Have you seen his approval numbers? There are strains of the herpes virus that poll higher.

No, there's no going back to the old days. This is the new normal, and there are new rules, rules you better learn to play by. The most important of these is, “Take your own voters’ side in a fight.” You should try it, because if you didn't like the Tea Party, and you hate Donald Trump, you are going to be really, really, really unhappy with what we normals will do next.
Indeed, I can imagine his successor just might make Donald J. Trump look, in hindsight, like your raffish-but-lovable uncle.

Afghanistan ... the Changes

As a result of President Trump's recent speech about our involvement in Afghanistan, some have argued that it differs little from the Bush and Obama approaches. Writing for RealClearDefense, author Jeff Goodson argues the new approach differs in 12 ways.

Here are the dozen he lists. The ones I believe key are starred (*).
Security First
Conditions-based Action*
Close Hold Planning*
Intensity of Focus
Gloves Off*
A True Regional Approach
Instruments of Power
Afghan Accountability
Fight to Win*
Robust rules of engagement, killing terrorists, not announcing our moves or timelines in advance, and trying to win, not just keep from losing. Those, plus not insisting on participatory democracy in a place accustomed to warlords, are all worthy changes as seen by Goodson, a former USAID exec. incountry.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Snark at Antifa's Expense

From Chris Muir's Day by Day cartoon strip dated 8-24-17, the following Q and A:
Question: Why does the left pull down statues?
Answer: Because they can't pull down a job.
N.B., This strip's artwork is sometimes NSFW, although the one cited is harmless.

Obama Administration, Evaluated

John Hinderaker, senior blogger at the Power Line site, writes the epitaph of the Obama administration. Many of us feel the same but he says it better than most.
On issue after issue, Barack Obama passed the buck, making the situation worse than he found it and leaving his successor to pick up the pieces. Health care, military preparedness, the national debt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, North Korea and Afghanistan are some of the instances that come to mind.

What is galling is that because he is a Democrat, Obama was never held accountable for his fecklessness (or worse). The press, and the establishment in general, allowed him to skate.

Barack Obama’s administration was a horrific failure in just about every way, but he has had the press running interference for him for eight years and counting. His lies and broken promises about Afghanistan are a sobering reminder of what a poor job he did as president. So far, Donald Trump has been a vast improvement.
As Hinderaker notes, Trump benefits from how low Obama set the bar.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Welcome Home

Bloomberg reports Millennials are (belatedly) becoming much like their parents. As the economy improves and jobs become plentiful, they're moving out of their parents' basements and buying homes and big SUVs.
Americans aged about 18 to 34 have become the largest group of homebuyers, and almost half live in the suburbs, according to Zillow Group data. As they shop for bigger homes to accommodate growing families, they’re upsizing their vehicles to match. U.S. industry sales of large SUVs have jumped 11 percent in the first half of the year, Ford Motor Co. estimates, compared with increases of 9 percent for midsize and 4 percent for small SUVs.

Much of the generation delayed marriage, childbearing and home ownership after graduating with heaping student-loan debt and entering a weak job market. As more millennials overcome this, many want the life of their baby-boomer parents -- the kids, the house in the ’burbs and the beefy SUV.
Once again urban planners are disappointed. They hoped Millennials would remain permanently urban, permanently auto-free, addicted to apartment/loft/condo living and cafe society.

Wrong again. All it took was a robust economic upturn to turn them into Boomer-clone consumers.

The 2016 election not only represented a political shift, it was also a rejection of Obama's metrosexual way of being. Any year now, they'll be voting Republican and worrying about property values.

America welcomes you home, Millennials.

Weird Aging Science

The "anti-agathic" drugs posited by science fiction author James Blish in Cities in Flight (1957) may be on the horizon as something other than fiction. See what Sam Apple writes at the Wired website about the anti-diabetes drug metformin.
Metformin, which helps keep blood sugar levels in check without serious side effects, is typically the first-choice treatment for type 2 diabetics, and it’s sometimes prescribed for prediabetes as well.

Researchers started comparing the health of diabetics on metformin to those taking other diabetes drugs. What they discovered was striking: The metformin-takers tended to be healthier in all sorts of ways. They lived longer and had fewer cardiovascular events, and in at least some studies they were less likely to suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s. Most surprising of all, they seemed to get cancer far less frequently—as much as 25 to 40 percent less than diabetics taking two other popular medications.
The drug comes from an herbal source. It's tempting to use it prophylactically on spec.
It’s a slightly modified version of a compound that was discovered in a plant, Galega officinalis. The plant, also known as French lilac and goat’s rue, is hardly the stuff of cutting-edge science. Physicians have been prescribing it as an herbal remedy for centuries.
As the Instapundit writes in these situations, faster please.

The Wrong Emphasis

Speaking of Col. Peters, here is his reaction to the collision of the destroyer USS John S. McCain with a tanker, from the Fox News website.
Those sailors did not have the basic seamanship skills, but by God, they got their sensitivity, race relations and sexual harassment training,
The Obama military legacy: it was a gigantic social justice project, carried out in uniform.

Renting Hookers, Expecting Love

Last night we wrote of President Trump's new Afghan strategy. Today the New York Post carries Col. Ralph Peters' reaction thereto. Mostly, we like Peters' analysis of things military. His column is headed:
I hope Trump is right (and I'm wrong) on Afghanistan
That tells you his bottom line - Peters is dubious about our prospects. What he believes is actually going on in Afghanistan:
In Afghanistan, we’re the Redcoats.

The Taliban are barbaric, woman-hating pederasts, but they’re the home team for Afghanistan’s Pashtun majority, fighting for religious truth, Sharia justice and the Islamist way.

It really comes down to that blood test: What will men die for? The answer, were we willing to open our eyes, is that more Afghans will volunteer to die for the Taliban than for our dream of a “better” Afghanistan. Nor could the Taliban have survived without support among the population. This is Mao 101.

Well-meaning US officers convince themselves, again and again, that they’ve built a real rapport with their local counterparts, that loyalties are to us, to progress, and that our relationships are about more than the money we’re doling out. We’re renting hookers and expecting love.
Perhaps Peters means "We're renting hookers and telling ourselves it's love."

Monday, August 21, 2017

A New Afghan Policy

President Trump announced his policy vis-a-vis Afghanistan tonight. The key points are these: no nation-building, we're there to kill terrorists, and our continued presence or absence will be determined by conditions "on the ground."

What worries me is that Sen. McCain liked what he heard Trump say. I tend to think McCain is wrong about most things.

The President also said he was frustrated with Pakistan's non-support of our efforts next door in Afghanistan. He will consider cutting off U.S. aid to the perennially poor nation if their tacit support of the Taliban doesn't cease. Suggestion: Why not let the Chinese "carry" Pakistan for the next decade? It's their turn.

Kurds as Regional Standouts

The New York Times' Tom Friedman appears to have concluded (without evidence) he can write usefully about domestic politics. Perhaps he reasoned, with some justice, the Middle East is a lost cause, a slough of despond that cannot be drained.

Friedman's defection leaves Michael J. Totten as the best explicator of Middle East affairs, writing here in Middle East Forum, Today Totten writes in support of the Iraqi Kurds, who will soon hold a referendum on independence from Iraq. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.

As we've noted in the past, Kurdish nationhood will incense the Turks, who fear an enhanced independence movement among their own sizable Kurdish minority. Totten writes that Iraq's Kurds are the most pro-American population in the region, and the only group governing (and defending) itself with a degree of sanity, if not of honesty.

COTTonLINE has seen many references to Kurds as the closest thing the region has to deserving the title of "good people." The Trump administration should change its mind, support their desire for statehood, and gain an ally in that tough neighborhood.

Afghanistan Policy Tonight

At the Hot Air website, Andrew Malcolm muses about what President Trump is likely to say this evening about a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan. See what Malcolm writes about the history of this, America's longest war:
Obama was commander-in-chief for 50% of the Afghan war, but 73% of U.S. fatalities.
Barack Obama was not a popular commander-in-chief; he seemingly preferred American casualties to enemy casualties and structured the rules of engagement accordingly. Those rules have already been changed.

Live Blogging the Eclipse

Western Wyoming:

10:55 a.m. MDT - The sun's disc is perhaps 1/3 occluded, the "eclipse glasses" work fine. However, my attempt at a homemade pinhole camera is a flop. We have mostly clear skies and lovely shirtsleeve weather today, actually we have that most summer days.

11:05 a.m. MDT - According to a Vox-provided utility, totality is supposed to occur here at 11:35 a.m. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link. As the amount of sunlight begins to wane, the day while still fully light takes on the autumnal cast that occurs naturally every year as the sun's arc sinks toward the southern sky and its rays strike us less vertically and more obliquely.

11:10 a.m. MDT - I'm also tracking a NASA website which has a live feed of the eclipse from Salem, Oregon. You might check it out.

11:15 a.m. MDT - We are hosting friends and relatives from CA who are here for the solar event of their lives. In the WY Rockies, we enjoy snarking that we have only two seasons - winter and company. Living near two national parks can cause that. The eclipse makes it temporarily acute as opposed to chronic.

11:44 a.m. MDT - The eclipse arrived right on schedule and we didn't quite achieve totality where we live. We did briefly get quite close, it got very gloomy and cold, yes cold in August. Most of my company and the other DrC went north forty miles to experience the brief total darkness. The gloom we saw didn't last long but was very out-of-the-ordinary nevertheless.

11:50 a.m. MDT - One of my guests and I watched the near-totality from our driveway. As it was happening Mike looked down at the concrete pad outside the garage and pointed at strange narrow waves of additional darkness passing across the light gray concrete. Neither of us had any explanation for the phenomenon. He also noticed as we approached near-totality the birds got very quiet.

6:20 p.m. MDT - Our delegation who drove north to Moose to see totality were treated to a naked eye view of the corona, which it never got dark enough for us who stayed behind to see. On the other hand, we saw "ghost shadows" which is the semi-official name of the "strange narrow waves of additional darkness" mentioned above, and they did not see these. They heard NASA cannot explain the cause of "ghost shadows." We hear the traffic was as bad as it looked on the WyDOT traffic cam.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A Second Navy Destroyer Collides

CNBC reports another U.S. Navy destroyer has collided with a merchant ship in the Pacific. The USS John S. McCain, a guided missile destroyer, is reported to have collided with a Liberian-flagged tanker - the Alnic MC - in the congested waters near Singapore.

Apparently 10 sailors have gone missing as a result of the collision. Search and rescue efforts are underway. The whole affair is reminiscent of the collision suffered by the USS Fitzgerald.

One collision can be happenstance, two suggest the existence of a pattern of bad seamanship. You cannot blame the merchant ships which plod along on predictable courses at modest speeds.

I find inconceivable the skipper of the McCain, aware of what happened to his colleague on the Fitz, wasn't moving heaven and earth to ensure the same thing didn't happen to his command. Evidently he did no such thing.

The Navy needs to explore whether some malignant power has developed a way to "spoof" Navy navigation systems, foxing the radar and GPS, hacking the nav computers. While the strong temptation is to blame 'pilot error,' there could be something more sinister going on.

Later ... RealClearDefense explores this latter cyber-war possibility in a brief article.

Later yet ... Or just maybe U.S. Navy ships running into things is SOP and routine? See a New York Times article with a list of 10 Navy ship crashes dating back to 1989.

Fun Factoids

Jim Hoff at The Gateway Pundit reports two fun factoids, which he mined from the U.S. Treasury's TreasuryDirect website.
When President Trump was inaugurated on January 20, 2017 the amount of US Federal Debt owed both externally and internally was over $19 Trillion at $19,947,304,555,212. As of August 17th the amount of US Debt had decreased by more than $100 Billion to $19,845,188,460,167.

No President in US history has ever cut the amount of US Debt by this amount and no President has resided over a debt cut like this ever.

The last time the US Federal Government had a debt decrease between years was when Republican Eisenhower was President in 1957 and 1958. He cut the amount of US Debt by $2 Billion each year from $274 Billion in 1956 to $273 Billion in 1957 and again to $271 Billion in 1958.
No wonder the 'Deep State' is frantic. Trump has them on a diet, having cut their allowance.

Quote of the Day

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, musing about the workings of history as reflected in today's America.
You don’t get Hitler because of Hitler — there are always potential Hitlers out there. You get Hitler because of Weimar, and you get Weimar because the liberals are too corrupt and incompetent to maintain a liberal polity.
He assumes we all realize the citizenry has a limited tolerance for violent chaos. We begin to hear echoes of Weimar in places like today's Charlottesville and Berkeley.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Saturday Snickers

Time for our recitation of favorites among Steven Hayward's weekly collection of cartoons, captioned photos, and generalized snark for Power Line.

A photo of Tom Hanks, portraying the perpetually puzzled Forrest Gump, captioned:
And just like that
They stopped talking about Russia
A photo of the statue of a seated Franklin Delano Roosevelt, captioned:
Threw over 100 thousand 
Asians in internment camps
Are we taking
this one down too?
A photo of the pyramids at Giza, captioned:
When will we tear down
These monuments of slavery? 
Cartoon of a Google search for the term "diversity of thought." It has come back with the question:
Did you mean: thought crime? 
A photo of Hillary Clinton campaigning, captioned with obvious reference to her many associates who have died in mysterious circumstances:
Fasten your seat belts folks
Hillary wants to be a preacher.
It kinda makes sense. She's been
sending people to meet Jesus
for the past 40 years! 
Cartoon of a Trump-like emoticon, captioned with a snide reference to the Dune saga:
I identify as 
My pronoun is
god emperor. 
The famous cartoon once captioned "Keep on truckin'", now captioned:
Keep on Trumpin' 
And finally, a Photoshopped © mashup of an A-10 Warthog firing its cannon at a pair of Star Wars © battle walkers, while a voice balloon from the lead walker says:
Oh, shi...

Dilbert Dishes

Social commenter (and Dilbert cartoonist) Scott Adams has some of the best insight on current affairs. See his analysis of the furor surrounding the Trump comments on Charlottesville. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Adams calls it "mass hysteria" and in this I believe him to be correct. Adams' conclusion:
The guy who didn’t offer to be your moral leader didn’t offer any moral leadership, just law and order, applied equally. His critics cleverly and predictably framed it as being soft on Nazis.
Ancient wisdom, applicable here and elsewhere: this too shall pass.

The Reluctant Followers

Dan Balz of The Washington Post is this generation's David Broder, essentially the dean of political journalists. Today he writes of the dilemma facing elected Republicans vis-a-vis their relationship with President Trump. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.
First, whatever they and a majority of the public believe about the repugnancy of the president’s comments, they believe Trump was duly elected as president on the Republican ticket and that he retains a deeply loyal following within the party. They are reluctant to go against that Trump base.

Second, however personally upset they are by the president’s remarks, many lawmakers believe they must maintain a working relationship with the president if they are to accomplish their legislative goals — including tax reform and even health care. So far, they have little to show for their work this year.
With regard to that second point, since his January inauguration Trump has accomplished much more than the legislators. He may have pissed off a lot of people but he's moving forward: appointing judges, killing excessive regulations, making executive branch policy. The Republican majorities in both houses of Congress? Not so much.

Donald Trump effectively said to Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and their minions, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way." Having proved incapable of leading, they reluctantly follow.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Pershing's Pig

You're going to hear or read that President Trump tweeted using the "Pershing approach" to deter Islamic terrorists. And you will see that people debunk as myth the claim that Gen. Pershing advocated burying dead Muslim terrorists with a similarly dead pig, supposedly preventing their entry into paradise.

Daniel Greenfield at FrontPage has the New York Times quotes from the period in question which document Pershing admitting use of the practice. He said that it "sometimes deterred the would-be assassins."

Perhaps wrapping the corpse in a fresh pigskin before burial would suffice; bacon is a terrible thing to waste. Hat tip to for the link.


The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a leftist hate group. See a story at The Washington Times for details. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

An Attitude Snapshot

Anyone who has listened to National Public Radio knows it is liberal-to-the-bone. Which makes it mildly humorous that they paid for a poll done by Marist which found results I can promise you they don't much like.

Writing at The American Conservative website, Rod Dreher analyzes the poll results which belie much of the MSM shock at events in Charlottesville. Some choice bits:
Trump’s overall disapproval rate is 51 percent, but he’s still holding strong among Republicans. His disapproval rate has not substantially changed all year. Charlottesville didn’t affect it.

Comfortable majorities — no less than 60 percent — in each age cohort support the statues

The only group with a majority favoring removal (57 percent) are “Strong Democrats” — as opposed to “Soft Democrats,” who slightly favor keeping them (52 percent)

Americans overwhelmingly disapprove (over 90 percent across the board) of white supremacists, white nationalists, the KKK, and the alt-right

On Antifa, five times as many people oppose it (24 percent) as back it (five percent), but the overwhelming majority of Americans (71 percent) are either unsure or have no opinion.

Charlottesville was the first time most Americans will have been introduced to both Antifa and the Alt-Right.
Don't be surprised if POTUS keeps on being himself. His peeps are still with him and he knows it.

Distinction Drawn

Writing at, Jonah Goldberg draws an important distinction and supports it with a highly relevant historical example. Hat tip to for the link. Take a look:
Fighting Nazis is a good thing, but fighting Nazis doesn't necessarily make you or your cause good. By my lights this is simply an obvious fact.

The greatest Nazi-killer of the 20th century was Josef Stalin. He also killed millions of his own people and terrorized, oppressed, enslaved or brutalized tens of millions more. The fact that he killed Nazis during WWII (out of self-preservation, not principle) doesn't dilute his evil one bit.
Those who excuse the excesses of "antifa" make the same mistake as those who praise the butcher Stalin. Sometimes the enemy of my enemy is no friend but merely another enemy, certainly the case in today's U.S.

Interesting factoid: Jonah Goldberg is the son of Lucianne Goldberg, founder of the website which regular readers know we find uber-useful.

A 'Hot Potato' Passed

Someone with the screen name Sundance writes at The Conservative Treehouse site the following schadenfreude-laden snark. Hat tip to for the link.
President Trump, DHS and ICE have been cracking down on illegal aliens. As a consequence, in June of this year 884 illegal aliens fled the U.S. for asylum in Canada. A month later, in July, that number skyrocketed over four hundred percent to more than 3,100. And now in the first two weeks of August it has doubled again to more than 3,800 flooding into Canada through August 15th. At this rate August will see over 7,000 illegal aliens fleeing the U.S. for safe-harbor in Canada.

Heck, if we wait a little longer, pretty soon Canada might be paying us to build the Southern Border Wall.
We've wondered what to do with those who've come here illegally. It seems they've found their own answer: move on north to Canada. The famously polite Canadians will take them in, put them on the dole, and give them free medical care.

It makes you wonder how long Canadians will be welcoming before concluding (as we did) they cannot care for all of the world's poor. Like socialism, open borders are merely a way to share the world's poverty.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Barone on Identity Politics

Michael Barone writes at the Washington Examiner about the evils of identity politics. I know we've been somewhat obsessive about the subject recently, but it is both current and important.

Barone does the subject justice, showing how Obama's comments following the police shooting in Dallas were as tone-deaf as Trump's following Charlottesville. Both were accused, perhaps fairly, of sending a dog-whistle to extremists on their opposite sides of the divide.

Fitzgerald's Captain, XO Booted

The website reports the Navy has sacked the captain and exec officer of the destroyer U.S.S. Fitzgerald which somehow managed to get itself rammed by a container ship. You'll recollect the collision killed seven sailors who were off-duty and sleeping belowdecks.

Anyone who is surprised by this outcome hasn't been paying attention. As we noted when the collision happened in mid-June, as the faster, more nimble, more maneuverable vessel, with better radar and sensors, the destroyer had no business running in front of a loaded container ship plowing along minding its own business.

We said then, and reiterate now, that those who were responsible for the Fitzgerald's navigation and operation screwed up, and it was likely that heads would roll. Now they have, along with some senior enlisted personnel getting "nonjudicial punishments."

Racism in China

Carola Binney, a Brit who spent a year teaching English in China, writes in The Spectator U.K.) that most Chinese are hopeless racists. As in India, light skin is associated with higher status. Those Han who are a shade or two darker are teased or ostracized. Non-Han minorities in China are likewise second class citizens.

Some find it shocking that people of European extraction aren't the only racists. In fact, those of us who've traveled know racism is pretty much the norm the world around. Places where it is uncommon are, bluntly, the exception. Claims of lack of racism should be treated as dubious. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

History Lesson

Every president before Lincoln was complicit in slavery, most were slave-holders. The following is from the website of the Hauenstein Center at Grand Valley State University:
It comes as a shock to most Americans’ sensibilities that more than one in four U.S. presidents were slaveholders: 12 owned slaves at some point in their lives. Significantly, 8 presidents owned slaves while living in the Executive Mansion. Put another way, for 50 of the first 60 years of the new republic, the president was a slaveholder.

Following is the number of slaves each of the 12 slaveholding presidents owned. (CAPS indicate the president owned slaves while serving as the chief executive):

- GEORGE WASHINGTON (between 250-350 slaves)
- THOMAS JEFFERSON (about 200)
- JAMES MADISON (more than 100)
- JAMES MONROE (about 75)
- ANDREW JACKSON (fewer than 200)
- Martin Van Buren (one)
- William Henry Harrison (eleven)
- JOHN TYLER (about 70)
- JAMES POLK (about 25)
- ZACHARY TAYLOR (fewer than 150)
- Andrew Johnson (probably eight)
- Ulysses S. Grant (probably five)
To be sure, the above offends today's sensibilities. It was a commonplace at the time. A former slaveholder - Grant - won the Civil War for the Union.

If we are to stop honoring slaveholders, shall we change the name of the nation's capital? Of the state north of Oregon? Tear down the Washington and Jefferson monuments? Rename countless cities, counties, parks, and streets? Rewrite the history books to demonize these men? Redesign our money? Take the nickel, dime, quarter and most folding money out of circulation? I'm sure there are more than a few who would answer "yes" to all of the above.

Every president before Truman was complicit in a segregated U.S. military. Every president before Eisenhower was complicit in segregated schools.

It is our history, true. It is also our history that we overcame all of that. How much national self-hate is ever enough to satisfy? Answer: no amount, however large, will suffice for some; they luxuriate in their anger.

"Lost Decades" Ahead for China?

The Daily Mail (U.K.) writes about the threat to the Chinese economy, comparing it to that of Japan.
Sizzling property prices, a groaning debt load, wealthy tourists and tycoons willing to slap down eye-popping sums for art: China is starting to look like Japan before its economic bubble burst in the early 90s.

"What's scary is that people in China are thinking, 'China is special, so we are OK.' That's exactly how people felt in Japan during the bubble era," said Kokichiro Mio, senior economist at NLI Research Institute.
Regular COTTonLINE readers know we've been making this comparison for at least a couple of years. We've speculated it is what happens when you adopt some of the outward forms of capitalism without the underlying cultural factors which support and maintain it. Both countries veered into crony capitalism which, as a kind of neo-mercantilism, is unsustainable.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Pirates of the Indian Ocean

People who write columns (including me) are always looking for a hook upon which to hang a column. It's fun when one uses an experience they've had that I've also had, and I realize they are "milking" their experience perhaps more than is warranted.

For example, this PJ Media column by Tom Knighton about a long cruise Carolyne Jasinski took on the Sea Princess, with particular emphasis on the portion across the south end of the Arabian peninsula sailing "the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal." Hat tip to Stephen Green at Instapundit for the original link. She writes there was concern about pirates and measures taken to avoid them.

Back in 2013 the other DrC and I took an equivalent cruise through these pirate waters on the Legend of the Seas during a period when the concern was equally high. Yes, we were blacked out at night, yes we steamed at speed, and yes, there was a small group of extremely fit young men jogging and doing one-armed pushups onboard from Mumbai to Alexandria, likely ex-Israeli paras or Blackwater mercs.

I was certain at the time these men had arms, though I saw none. Any such probably came aboard labeled "machine parts" and went ashore labeled something equally innocuous.

The most interesting thing we experienced was one day off the coast of either Oman or Yemen we were buzzed at near supersonic speed by a jet fighter flying within 100 ft. of the water - very likely a hot-dogging Maverick-wannabe F-18 off a U.S. carrier in the Persian Gulf. I wrote about it at the time, a brief, noisy thrill in an otherwise peaceful trip.

Learned Nothing, Forgotten Nothing

Historian Victor Davis Hanson, writing at the American Greatness website, surveys the Democrats' chances in 2020 and concludes:
The Democratic Party has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. It is doubling down on exactly what lost it the Blue Wall.
Namely, it has forgotten that class based solidarity is a better choice for attaining an electoral majority than is identity group-based solidarity. Let's hope they continue to pursue losing strategies, eh?
The argument that Trump, the man, is so beyond moral redemption that Trump’s agenda is irrelevant will not fly with those who feel that they are already better off than in 2016.
And who feels that? Most of us who are here legally. Why? The economy reacts positively to a President who isn't suspicious of, or opposed to, wealth creation. And Trump's raft of conservative federal judges will be a long-lasting brake on the cultural revolution.

Monday, August 14, 2017


A columnist at PJ Media, Charlie Martin writes something that (a) should be obvious to all, but (b) apparently is not obvious to some.
Donald J Trump is president. Really. He won it fair and square, he was inaugurated seven -- almost eight -- months ago, and he very probably is going to be president for another three and a half years.


So, now, children, let's calm down. All of you people over there saying Trump is unqualified and should be removed? Give it up. He's qualified by the only qualification that matters: he is over 35, he is a native U.S. citizen, and he won the damned election.

The Constitution doesn't have a clause in it for removal by vote of the media, or because his political opponents don't like him. The only reason he can be removed constitutionally is if someone finds high crimes and misdemeanors.
Absent a Democrat supermajority in both houses of Congress - a thing less likely than August snow in the Mojave - impeachment's not happening. Get over it.

Echoes of Weimar

At the end of World War I, the Kaiser abdicated and loser Germany became a republic, known as the "Weimar Republic." Infamously, it morphed into Hitler's Germany through a series of steps which are well-documented and widely studied.

One of the major steps in Weimar's disintegration was the formation of violent street gangs on the right and left, Adolf Hitler's Nazi brown shirts vs. "Red" Rosa Luxemburg's Communist bully boys. These fought pitched battles in the streets.

We now see armed, angry street-fighting groups emerging on left and right in the U.S. It is time for all sane people to worry that, failing to remember history, we are doomed to repeat it. We really don't want to go down that road.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Summoning the Demons

Writing at The American Conservative, Rod Dreher takes as his topic "The Curse of Identity Politics." He does a good job with it too.
You cannot have an identity politics of the Left without calling up the same thing on the Right. Left-liberals who want conservatives to stigmatize and denounce white nationalism, but conservatives who do so will be sneered at by white nationalists as dupes and fools who advocate disarmament in the face of racist, sexist forces of the Left.
He follows this by listing eight separate things the Left does or condones that, in his words, "summon the demons of white nationalism." I didn't see much with which to disagree, perhaps you won't either.

Both Sides Now

For some months we've been seeing and hearing Black Lives Matter and Antifa misbehave, now in Charlotte we have seen the equivalent with "white nationalists" on the right. Both sides are ugly, both are violent, both are rightly condemned as extremist nuts. And BTW, Barry Goldwater was wrong when he famously said:
I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!
We can well do without extremism and violence from both sides in these fraught times. A degree of moderation is wholy appropriate today. Hat tip to Joni Mitchell for the loan of her song title.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Lilla Manifesto

The Wall Street Journal has an article by Columbia University humanities professor Mark Lilla in which he describes what he believes has gone wrong with liberal politics. He argues against identity/victim group politics which has typified the Democrats in recent decades.
The politics of identity has done nothing but strengthen the grip of the American right on our institutions. It is the gift that keeps on taking. Now is the time for liberals to do an immediate about-face and return to articulating their core principles of solidarity and equal protection for all.
The article is an overview of his forthcoming book The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics and he writes as a concerned liberal of the old-school FDR variety. As you will see many references to the Lilla article in political opinion columns, you owe it to yourself to read it.

Most conservatives will immediately see the truth of his argument, which automatically makes it highly suspect on the left. As we wrote recently, it is nearly impossible for Democrats to back away from the la Raza and Black Lives Matter activists, the LGBTQ single issue radicals, the men-hating feminists that have become their core constituency.

Saturday Snickers

Steven Hayward's weekly compilation of cartoons, captioned photos, and generalized snark for Power Line is out. Many focus on Google firing the author of a memo questioning received wisdom on diversity at the firm. Several favorites described:

Two compare Apple and Google. Both are photos of bus stop bench backs. The first is headed "Think Different." It shows the rainbow apple logo labeled "get hired" and a rainbow G for Google labeled "get fired."
The second portrays Apple founder Steve Jobs labeled "Think different" and Google CEO Sundar Pichai labeled "Not So much."

Two more show the Google name in rainbow letters. The first is subtitled "Celebrate Homogeneity." The second is subtitled, in homage to Orwell's 1984, "War is peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength."

A faux graph with a line that peaks at 19, and drops precipitately thereafter, captioned:
Statistics show teen pregnancies drop drastically after age 20.
Photo of a scowling Kim Jong Un, captioned:
Want To Get Rid of Kim?
Start a Rumor That He Has Dirt on Hillary.... 
A pie chart headed "Where Liberals Think Electricity Comes From" with sections sized and labeled 45% "wind, solar, hydro," 25% "unicorn farts," 20% "giant hampsters (sic) on wheels," and 10% "Electric Fairy." (N.B., spelling is a lost art)

Photo of an angry feminist shouting, captioned:
Judging people by their race and sex is wrong.
I wish you privileged white men would get that.
Photo of a tiger happily playing in the water, captioned:
Goes on a vegan diet.
Eats three vegans a day - feels fabulous!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities

Power Line links to an article in Stanford Medicine. It quotes Diane Halperin, past President of the American Psychological Association from the preface of the first edition of her text Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities:
At the time, it seemed clear to me that any between-sex differences in thinking abilities were due to socialization practices, artifacts and mistakes in the research, and bias and prejudice. ... After reviewing a pile of journal articles that stood several feet high and numerous books and book chapters that dwarfed the stack of journal articles … I changed my mind.
Give us a rimshot, Mr. Drummer-man. Stanford Medical School is a reputable scientific outfit, as is the APA. They don't make wild claims.

Will science deniers now put their fingers in their ears and hum loudly? Don't bet against it.

Rattling the Saber

I don't know whether a shooting war with North Korea is in the cards, it certainly isn't inconceivable. Col. Ralph Peters (USA, Ret.) writes about military matters for the New York Post. Today his topic is how a first strike on NK should go down. The whole thing is worth your time, note this comment.
The first step should begin immediately, well in advance and without firing a shot. All military family members, all Department of Defense civilian employees and all nonessential contractors should be evacuated from South Korea. Want to get North Korea’s attention? That single act would serve as a graver warning of our readiness than any amount of sanctions or saber-rattling.

For all of our spectacular technologies, I’m not convinced our leaders, civilian or military, are psychologically or morally prepared for a real war. We have taught our troops to break things, but to go to absurd lengths to spare all lives. Yet in warfare there’s no substitute for killing your enemy and all those who support him. And you keep on killing until the enemy quits unconditionally or lies there dead and rotting.

if North Korea’s nuclear program has tunneled so far underground that conventional weapons can’t destroy the infrastructure, use nukes. It may be time to remind the world just how terrible such weapons can be.

Iran would get the message.
Peters is a realist, about an ugly business. David P. Goldman, aka Spengler, has written much the same advice.

A Self-Created Handicap

Writing at The American Interest, Jason Willick riffs on the David Wasserman article we cited two days ago. He observes:
By doubling down on an agenda that plays well in metropolitan centers but flounders in key states and districts, the Democrats have in a sense ceased to operate as “an organized attempt to gain control of the government,” acting instead as a vehicle for certain ideals—and in so doing, created their own handicap. There is nothing stopping the party from adopting a more Bill Clinton-esque cultural stance that could win more seats in the Midwest.

Yes, the Congressional map is biased against the Democratic Party as it is currently constituted—but that bias is a choice. If the Democrats constructed a different coalition, the effect of the bias would be significantly attenuated or disappear.
Okay, but would the "different coalition" still be Democrats? The Dems have 'painted' themselves into a victim-group corner and don't see a way out.

The never-Trumpers in the GOP made a similar choice for ideological purity. Trump won in spite of them. It left them unrepresented by a political party, as irrelevant as libertarians.

It is the genius of our American political system that successful political parties appeal to a broad spectrum of Americans. Today's state and federal electoral evidence suggests the GOP is that broadly appealing party. Trump is its popularly elected leader.

Weird Dietary Science

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports research done at the University of Bristol which looked at 10,000 men in Southern England. It found a positive relationship between eating meat and mental health.
A study by Bristol University of almost 10,000 men in the south west of England found that those who gave up meat were almost twice as likely to suffer depression as those on a conventional balanced diet.

The paper, in the Journal of Affective Disorders, said a veggie diet led to lower intake of vitamin B12 and greater consumption of nuts rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which may be linked with greater risk of mental health problems.

The authors discovered just over half of vegans and 7 per cent of vegetarians were deficient in vitamin B12 – which is found in red meat and plays an important role in producing brain chemicals that influence mood.

However the authors did not rule out that the decision to adopt a vegetarian diet may be a symptom of depression.
I suspect eliminating meat or all animal products from the diet is a naturopathic attempt to self-treat depression. People I've known who tried it were already neurotic and grasping at straws. As the study shows, it doesn't help much but may generate some placebo effect.

N.B., I wasn't certain whether to title this post "Weird Dietary Science" or "Weird Mood Disorder Science;" it partakes of both disciplines.

Apartheid Neighborhoods and CA Roulette

Power Line links to a Victor Davis Hanson article at RealClearPolitics. Historian Hanson continues to chronicle the ditzy decline of California, our latter-day Paradise Lost.
About one-third of the nation's welfare recipients reside in California. Approximately one-fifth of the state lives below the poverty line. More than a quarter of Californians were not born in the United States.

Many of the state's wealthiest residents support high taxes, no-growth green policies and subsidies for the poor. They do so because they reside in apartheid neighborhoods and have the material and political wherewithal to become exempt from the consequences of their own utopian bromides.

A few things keep California going. Its natural bounty, beauty and weather draw in people eager to play California roulette. The state is naturally rich in minerals, oil and natural gas, timber and farmland. The world pays dearly for whatever techies based in California's universities can dream up.

Less than 40 percent of California residents identify themselves as conservative. But red-county California represents some 75 percent of California's geographical area. It's as if large, rural Mississippi and tiny urban Massachusetts were one combined state -- all ruled by liberal Boston.
I spent most of my working life in "red-county California" and was actually represented by Republican Congressmen during most of that time. It wasn't quite Mississippi, but it was a very rural place where cotton and rice were local crops, along with the more famous fruits and nuts.

The Trump Insight

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, F. H. Buckley reports the results of surveying 2016 voters about their economic and social views, and for which major party candidate they voted. An organization called the Voter Study Group did the survey.

Most Clinton voters were liberal on both economic and social dimensions, no surprise. However Trump voters, while conservative on social issues, represented the whole range of economic views.
The crucial differences between the two parties came down to social concerns, including pride in America, immigration, and especially moral issues such as abortion and gay marriage. The social-conservative awakening that helped elect Mr. Trump came when voters recognized that the liberal agenda amounted to something more than a shield to protect sexual minorities. It was also a sword to be used against social conservatives.

The Trump voters might have grumbled about the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, but same-sex marriage didn’t pick anyone’s pockets and no great political protest followed. That changed, however, when homosexual activists employed their newly won rights to start putting religious believers out of business.

The sweet spot in American politics is thus the upper-left quadrant of the double majority: economic liberals and social conservatives. It’s the place where presidential elections are won, and the winner is usually going to be the candidate who’s won’t touch Social Security and who promises to nominate judges in the mold of Antonin Scalia. In other words—Donald Trump.
Hassling the Little Sisters of the Poor demonstrated to blue-collar Catholics that Democrats were not their allies.

Travel Blogging XIV

Western Wyoming: We're home from Canada, and reflecting on several pieces of interesting trivia that we noted while there.

Item: At a market deli counter in Canada I ordered Pepper Jack cheese and got Jack cheese with cracked peppercorns in it. In the States Pepper Jack cheese contains jalapeño pepper pieces, in Canada this is called Jalapeño Jack.

Item: Canadians no longer use the one cent coin or penny, prices are rounded up or down to the nearest five cent multiple. They no longer have one and two dollar bills, but use coins called the "loonie" and "toonie" respectively. These last longer, save them money, work in coin operated machines, and nobody gripes. Their smallest denomination bill is the five dollar.

Item: In the U.S. diesel pumps at service stations are designated with green nozzles, green signs, etc. In Canada the diesel pumps are designated with yellow instead of green.

Item: When we started driving in Canada 40+ years ago major highways were two lanes with wide paved shoulders. Slow traffic would often drive on the shoulders to allow faster cars to pass. This has disappeared, I cannot pinpoint the year.

Item: Americans in Canada formerly saw vehicles there not imported to the States, and what we thought of as "American cars" with different names and slightly different trim details. Both are long gone.

Item: In both Montana and Alberta you see the name "Whoop-Up" given to various things or places. A Wikipedia search suggests this was a slang name for the region in the 1800s.

Item: Canadians prize their 'uniqueness' meaning ways in which they are not Americans. This is sort of like someone with a Chevy pickup prizing its differences from a GMC pickup made on the same assembly line out of almost all the same parts. Alberta probably has as much in common with Texas as it does with the Maritime Provinces. Canadians will not thank you for reminding them of their similarities to Americans.

Item: In Alberta a major highway normally has a name like "Crowchild Trail" or "Yellowhead Highway" in addition to a national or provincial number.

Item: We once really liked Caliebaut chocolates, until Papa was forced out of the company. Now their candy is merely good, but still priced as though it was world-class, which it no longer is. Papa now creates at Master Chocolat, which is worth a try if you are in Calgary.

Item: In honor of their 150th anniversary as a country, Canada's National Parks are giving away passes to the parks for free this year. It is a wonderful gift and we thank our northern 'cousins' for their generosity. Canada is a fine place to travel and the people are nice, we'll be back.

There will be no more Travel Blogging until late September when we embark on a long cruise. More about that later.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Friedman: Trump Not Always Wrong

As Steven Hayward of Power Line wise cracks, like a stopped clock, the New York Times' Tom Friedman is accurate occasionally, if only inadvertently. In Wednesday's column, Friedman notes four issues on which ... wait for it ... Trump is at least sorta correct!
• We can’t take in every immigrant who wants to come here; we need, metaphorically speaking, a high wall that assures Americans we can control our border with a big gate that lets as many people in legally as we can effectively absorb as citizens.

• The Muslim world does have a problem with pluralism — gender pluralism, religious pluralism and intellectual pluralism — and suggesting that terrorism has nothing to do with that fact is naïve; countering violent extremism means constructively engaging with Muslim leaders on this issue.

• Americans want a president focused on growing the economic pie, not just redistributing it. We do have a trade problem with China, which has reformed and closed instead of reformed and opened. We have an even bigger problem with automation wiping out middle-skilled work and we need to generate more blue-collar jobs to anchor communities.

• Political correctness on college campuses has run ridiculously riot. Americans want leaders to be comfortable expressing patriotism and love of country when globalization is erasing national identities. America is not perfect, but it is, more often than not, a force for good in the world.

Did Friedman actually write "America is not perfect, but it is, more often than not, a force for good in the world?" Progressives will throw him out of the club for such awful, unmitigated nationalism.

A Good Question

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds links to a John Fund article at Fox News which includes the following quote by Gail Heriot. A law professor at the University of San Diego and a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, she is disappointed in Google’s action.
It's particularly troubling to see this coming from the company that we rely on to bring us information. Can a company this intolerant of differing opinions be trusted to do that job? 
It's a thought that resonates with me as well.

Human Sacrifice

Debra Soh, Ph.D., writes science for The Globe and Mail (Canada). She shows the allegations made by James Damore in the now-infamous Google manifesto arguing that gender influences occupational choice are backed by much research, some of which she cites. In general, men and women make different life choices, although not every individual in each group will conform to group norms, nor need they.

Damore was fired, not for lying about the human condition, but for telling the truth when that truth is inconvenient, unpopular with societal opinion leaders. His true allegations were not politically correct, and Google leadership felt they couldn't afford to tolerate their promulgation.

Whistleblowers seldom thrive in situ. Damore was sacrificed on the altar of expediency. One has to believe he knew, or should have known, it would happen. Hat tip to RealClearScience for the link.

A Game Changer?

Looks like Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) will get a primary challenge by a man who says we need to support the agenda of President Trump. The "game changer" is the name recognition factor of the challenger, Danny Tarkanian. U.S. News reports:
Danny Tarkanian, the son of beloved former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, has announced a primary challenge to Republican Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada.
Since the most recent Senator elected by NV was a Democrat, the Republican nomination may be a mixed blessing for whoever gets it.


Breitbart reports US Department of Agriculture statistics showing food stamp usage is down in 46 of 50 states. They attribute this to improved economic conditions there which reimposes a requirement for work or study by all able-bodied adult recipients.
The only four states that did not see declines in food stamp enrollment are Alaska, Kentucky, Montana, and Illinois. Each of those states reported slight gains in SNAP enrollment.
Of course, some of the general decline also may be illegal immigrants who are afraid their usage of SNAP (aka food stamps) will bring them to the attention of ICE and result in their expulsion. Such fear is quite reasonable. Meanwhile, avoiding SNAP makes being an illegal immigrant here less attractive, no bad thing.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Texas Politics

It is reported by the Associated Press that Democrats in Texas - yes, there are some - cannot find a candidate to run in the next governor's race. Plus, one-fifth of the top 20 colleges for conservative students are in TX.

Rumors of TX turning purple appear to have been mostly wishful thinking by lefty media types. To date, no Texas Democrat with name recognition feels quixotic and masochistic enough to run what is almost guaranteed to be a losing race.

Belated Saturday Snickers

Better late than never, a few favorites from Steven Hayward's weekly collection of cartoons, captioned photos, and general snark, as compiled for Power Line.

Three photos - a cow, a water buffalo, and an elephant - captioned:
What can we learn from cows, buffaloes and elephants?
It's impossible to lose weight by eating green grass, salads, and walking.
A photo of a hippie couple, she missing teeth, both with dreadlocks and looking stoned, captioned:
We can't afford to feed and house them.
Please, spay or neuter your liberals.
Cartoon of Sen. John McCain with a large horn growing out of his forehead, captioned:
The world's oldest, living RINO
A smug portrait photo of former Vice President Al Gore, captioned:
I don't always lie about global warming.
But when I do, it makes me hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Human Differences

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, quoting a archived website entitled "The Google Memo: Four scientists respond on gender differences."
If the sexes and races don’t differ at all, and if psychological interchangeability is true, then there’s no practical business case for diversity. On the other hand, if demographic diversity gives a company any competitive advantages, it must be because there are important sex differences and race differences in how human minds work and interact.
You really can't have it both ways. Actually, there is very little "practical business case for diversity" except in Marketing and Public Relations.

There may well be "social peace advantages" to employee diversity as it helps forestall boycotts, lawsuits and other hassles. Claims of practical business reasons mostly represent attempts to make a business virtue of a social necessity.

A Structural Disadvantage

David Wasserman is a data cruncher at Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight site. He writes Democrats have real disadvantages in trying to regain control of the Congress.
Republicans don’t even need to win any “swing states” to win a Senate majority: 52 seats are in states where the 2016 presidential margin was at least 5 percentage points more Republican than the national outcome. By contrast, there are just 28 seats in states where the margin was at least 5 points more Democratic, and only 20 seats in swing states.

The GOP’s current 52-seat majority makes the Senate look tantalizingly competitive. But a look at the map reveals that the Democrats hold far more seats on borrowed time than Republicans do. The GOP doesn’t hold a single Senate seat in those 14 states that are more Democratic-leaning than the country overall. Meanwhile, Democrats hold six seats in the 26 more-Republican-than-average states, and all six are at risk in 2018.

All Republicans would need to obtain 60 seats would be to win every seat in the 30 states that Trump won — no Clinton states needed. That’s a plausible outcome over a few election cycles, thanks to today’s extraordinarily high rates of straight-ticket voting — if the basic contours of the nation’s political geography don’t drastically change in the next decade.
Conservatives deserve some good news occasionally, and get it rarely. This data-driven analysis is a welcome exception.

Unintended Consequences

Writing at Power Line, Steven Hayward argues that by firing the fellow who wrote the memo criticizing the PC "police" at Google, the firm has actually made things worse for women. This is, of course, exactly the opposite of their intent.

Hayward shows how this can happen in work organizations and political parties. I've seen it at work in academia, where the knowledge that admission standards are lower for minority students translates into an assumption of lack of ability that may or may not be accurate.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Travel Blogging XIII

Dillon, Montana: This is our last on-the-road overnite stop before getting home, when we've been to the Canadian Rockies as we have the last two summers. Dillon is a funky little railroad town in the middle of nowhere.

The intermountain West is dotted with these little burgs, each as much trainyard as town. As we noted earlier on this trip, Jasper in Alberta is another such, and almost equally remote.

As trains have become less labor-intensive, with the passing of the caboose signalling the reduction in train crew and ingenious machines replacing much track crew, rail towns have had to find other excuses to exist, other sources of income, and most have done so.

Dillon has become a supply center for surrounding ranches and home to a branch campus of U of MT. They also do some tourist business for those just passing through on Interstate 15 and as a base camp for those who explore, hunt and fish the still-wild backcountry hereabouts. It's not so very far from Yellowstone National Park, after all, maybe 60 miles northwest of the park's northwest corner.