Friday, December 28, 2018

Singing a New Tune

BusPac Review has video and text of Senate Minority Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in 2013 taking a very un-Democrat sounding position on illegal immigration. He says:
One of the most effective things we do on the border is turn people back…they get up to the border and we find them and say, ‘go home!
The same article has CSPAN video from 2009 with Schumer saying:
The American people need to know that, because of our efforts in Congress, our border is far more secure today than it was when we began debating comprehensive immigration reform in 2005. Between 2005 and 2009, a vast amount of progress has been made on our borders and ports of entry. This progress includes … construction of 630 miles of border fence that create a significant barrier to illegal immigration on our southern land border.
Many Democrats formerly spoke in favor of border enforcement back when they still hoped to get white working class votes. Apparently Dems have given up on that demographic, which not only competes directly with illegals for both jobs and housing, but also suffers from their criminality.

Now Dems are counting on Hispanic votes, of which nearly a third go to Republicans. Their math doesn’t really work, does it? TDS is messing with their minds.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018


Roughly 10% of Venezuela's 32 million people have emigrated, the UNHCR estimates 3 million have gone. John Hinderaker of Power Line has the story, borrowed with credit from Jazz Shaw of the Hot Air site.

Hinderaker reminds us of something important, Venezuela's socialism is democratic socialism. Hugo Chavez was elected on a socialist platform and his successor Nicolas Maduro was as well.

The two of them proceeded to run one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America into poverty and starvation. And, as noted, mass emigration.

Magically, the same thing happened to Venezuela that happened in Cuba, for the exact same reasons. Everyone with get-up and go ... got up and went. This leaves behind those without energy, imagination, and the ability to defer gratification.  It is a recipe for disaster, one that essentially never fails to produce that undesired result.

Democratic socialism is the same system Bernie Sanders and Alexandra Whatever-Cortez want us to adopt. If it seems they might succeed, be thinking about where you want to relocate.

Happy Boxing Day

The day after Christmas British Commonwealth countries celebrate as “Boxing Day.” It has nothing to do with pugilism, the term is thought to have originated in the well-off giving something - perhaps money or left-overs - to the help once Christmas is past. Supposedly that something was often in a box, hence the name. It’s roots are in feudalism.

A variant of the practice persists in the eastern U.S. where a small gift of money, cigarettes or liquor to the postman and the doorman of one’s building is customary at Christmas. The practice is essentially unknown in the more egalitarian western U.S. where (a) noblesse oblige didn’t survive the break up of the hidalgo land grants and (b) doormen are uncommon.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Mistaken Identity?

Drudge Report links to a story from the Lexington Herald Leader concerning a mysterious sighting, at a distance, on a back road. A woman reports seeing something taller than most humans, the color of a tree (tree trunk, one supposes) which turned and looked at her as she rode in a car driven by her husband, who reports seeing its shadow.

People are talking about Sasquatch sightings, but I have a simpler suggestion. The description sounds much like a tall hunter wearing a ghillie suit, go here to see a Wikipedia description of this camouflage gear.

Developed in chilly Scotland by hunting guides, ghillie suits are quite warm to wear. They are most comfortable in cold weather - the norm this time of year.

The suits are sometimes used by military sniper units. They are effective visually but do not confuse FLIR (infrared) heat sensors.

Christmas Wishes

COTTonLINE wishes all of our readers a very merry Christmas. I hope there’s a family gathering where you are, with seasonal music, too much wonderful food and drink, good fellowship, and cheer.

As Dean Martin sang all those decades ago, “memories are made of this.”  Please drive safely going home; let’s give these good-time memories a chance to mellow with time.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Weird Cognitive Science

Scientific American writes about intelligence, and the advantages which accrue to having more of it.
General cognitive ability predicts a wide range of important outcomes in life, including academic achievement, occupational performance, health and longevity.
The article indicates recent research shows intelligence is also positively associated with well-being and emotional intelligence. Those of us who got more than our share of intelligence are fortunate folk indeed, major winners of life's genetic lottery.

I'm on email distribution for faculty obituaries from the university from which I retired. I marvel at the above-average life spans of long-retired former faculty, perhaps half living into their 90s.

The Hothouse Flower

At the American Greatness website, Michael Walsh writes about the desirability of getting U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and Syria. He decorates the whole with a title taken from the first Sherlock Holmes story where Holmes greets prospective sharer of bachelor digs Dr. John Watson by saying:
You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.
It isn’t a bad treatment of recent U.S. foreign military adventures, if the subject interests you. Spoiler warning: Walsh blames Bush I and II for our having troops there; a fair cop, in my judgment. A favorite quote:
Both Bushes made the same mistake JFK and LBJ made in Vietnam: thinking that inside every foreigner was an American yearning to get out, when even a cursory glance at the history of Southeast Asia or the Islamic ummah should instantly have disabused them of that notion.
Actually, the peculiar cultural conditions which allow freely elected representative government to flourish are neither widely distributed nor easily created. I fear successful self-government is more hothouse flower than hardy weed.

Weird Social Psychology

The College Fix summarizes research reported in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin on the relative attractiveness to women of feminist men vs. men who hold “benevolent sexist” views.
Women prefer men who display “benevolent” sexist attitudes because these indicate men are willing to make an investment — “protect, provide, and commit” — in a relationship.

Dr. David Ley in Psychology Today notes this “benevolent sexism” is “overtly less hostile and misogynistic” than typical sexism, and includes characteristics like believing “women should be ‘put on a pedestal,’” “women should be cherished and protected by men,” and “women are more virtuous than men.”

Sexism is more of an ideology that supports the reasons why we treat women differently.
Old attitudes die hard, if they die at all. Which SJW will be first to posit an explanation of widespread Stockholm syndrome?

Happy Christmas Eve

As we’re determinedly politically incorrect, we wish everyone a Merry Christmas Eve. Not for us the generic, ecumenical  “Happy Holidays.” Christmas as practiced in modern North America was originally religious, but today is available to all.

To be sure, if you are Christian, celebrate the birth of the faith’s founder. If you aren’t, the music, the decorations, the food, the drink, the fellowship, and the family gatherings are very fine indeed, and accessable to us all. It is Winter Fair, and we call it “Christmas.” 

Enjoy, and hold a fond thought for the Christians who created our version of this happy tradition.

Our Empty Earth

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds links to a story of a meteor fireball just west of San Francisco that was seen (and photographed} by many, and adds a comment I’d underscore.
“Fireballs aren’t rare; several thousand of them occur every day around the world, according to the AMS. But most of these dramatic meteors grace skies over the open ocean or thinly peopled tracts of land.” The Earth is emptier than we tend to realize.
Recent personal experiences reinforce Reynolds’ home truth. The Earth is very much emptier than we tend to realize.

Cruising for seven long days - at 500 miles per day - from Guam to Hawaii and seeing maybe one other ship the entire time. Or cruising up the Amazon 900 miles inland from the mouth to Manaus one sees little human activity.

Driving across northern Nevada noting hundreds of miles unused for anything, which we do twice a year, makes the same point. As does driving west across Kansas toward Denver - long distances, few people. The drive from Great Falls, MT, to Lethbridge, Alberta, is the same.

Much of lightly populated northern Canada is darned empty too. And how about the hundreds of miles of Russian boreal forest seen from a river cruise between St. Petersburg and Moscow?

We humans cluster in cities and then conclude the world is densely populated. The world isn’t densely populated; where we choose to congregate sometimes is.

Saturday, December 22, 2018


Drudge Report links to a study summarized at the site StudyFinds. The study asked American-born individuals: "... whether or not they’d aspired to live outside the U.S. for a period of time in the future."

Roughly a third answered "yes" and those were mostly people who reported having other than a "very strong American national identity." Political orientation was unrelated to likelihood of interest in going expat.

The question phrasing didn't seem to include "or have you already lived outside the U.S."  I raise this issue since the DrsC spent a year as civilians on the Asian island of Guam, a U.S. territory with a culture resembling a blend of Pacific Islander and Filipino. I suppose had we be surveyed we'd have answered "yes" as we went to Guam voluntarily and we felt like expats there.

Every time we travel outside the U.S. we ask ourselves if these are places we think we could live and be comfortable. More often than not the answer is "no" but we do come up with "yes" now and again.
However, in nearly 50 years of marriage we've only done it once.

The reason people gave for wanting to live elsewhere sounds very much like our reason.
The simple desire to explore the world.
That's also the reason we've spent at least a year living in each of the four U.S. mainland time zones - 2 years in Eastern time, 1 year in Central time, and for over a decade we've split each year between Mountain time and Pacific time. Trust me, you learn things from residing in a place you never experience as a visitor or vacationer.

Christmas Humor on the Right

Posting at Instapundit, Ed Driscoll links to a Youtube video at the website. It concerns attitudes toward Christmas, and the laughable nature of much of the left. A favorite piece of the dialog:
Listen kiddo, you’re getting older and it’s time we had a talk: There’s no such thing as Sanders — the man is real, but the policies are just fantasy. It’s something that we made up so that kids and college sophomores would have something to get excited about.
Who doesn't love the idea of 'free stuff''?  It's a lovely fairy tale, imagining wish-fulfillment: every girl a beautiful princess, every boy a brave hero, and both rich AF. If only ....

The Mattis Resignation

Former General Mattis has resigned as SecDef, citing policy differences with the commander in chief, aka President Trump. This is entirely appropriate, in every sense of the word.

A political appointee who finds him or herself in serious disagreement with some policy of the appointing figure, be it a governor or president, has only one honorable choice: resign and announce that policy difference as the reason. We have said this forever but it is surprisingly rare for someone to actually do it properly, as Mattis has.

Mattis is entitled to his opinion of our overseas commitments, as is the President. Whoever is SecDef is responsible for carrying out the president’s orders. If for whatever reason he or she cannot in good conscience do so, then resignation is mandated. As Mattis noted in his resignation letter, the President is entitled to have a SecDef who wholeheartedly supports the President’s policies.


The temptation to stay the course in hopes of redeeming the lives and treasure lost in foreign ‘adventures’ is well-nigh irresistable, especially for generals who ordered troops there and watched body bags come home. Gens. Mattis and McMaster persuaded Trump to stay involved in Afghanistan, against his instincts.

The subsequent distinct lack of promised progress has convinced Trump he was right and they were wrong. McMaster is long gone, now Mattis leaves. It makes a good argument for a civilian-background SecDef who will understand foreign involvement as an instrument of U.S. policy and interests while not viewing it solely as a test of our military’s testosterone level.

Pre-Christmas Musings

I write this latish Friday night and the federal government is - partially - shut down for lack of funds. Could be worse; if it lasts through Christmas a bunch of government employees who planned to use comp time or vacay to get Monday off to make it a four-day weekend will just not show up as they are - snerk - off the payroll. And the great part is that the Big Hearted Bureaucrats will pay them for the day anyway, as soon as the $$ is approved.

Trump campaigned on border security and that wall. He pretty much has to hang tough or look a complete wimp. Fascinating to see who blinks first, truly great if neither will do so, a really historic event.

On another note, Trump standing up to the military brass who want to continue the overseas deployments in no-win situations like Syria and Afghanistan is good. Is it too much to hope for that the Trump doctrine is “cause us trouble and we’ll come level your country, leave us alone and we’ll ignore you?” That would work for me, and I suspect many others.

Many see chaos, I prefer to interpret the DC flailing about as swamp-dweller death-throes. Hope I’m right.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

No Coincidence

As regular COTTonLINE readers know, I like to mark the seasonal milestones. Tomorrow is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere, the longest day of the year in the southern hemisphere. It marks the “official” beginning of winter here, the beginning of summer there.

Humans have been celebrating the winter solstice for thousands of years, nobody knows quite how many thousands. Early humans undoubtedly noted the cyclical nature of seasons. When their arithmetic and sky-gazing became sufficiently advanced and precise, they learned to predict the longest and shortest day.

The winter solstice in particular was important as it marked when the warmth-giving sun began to shine longer each day, when it “came back.” This was no small matter in northern Europe which isn’t overly warm or sunny under ideal conditions.

It is widely noted many cultures celebrate one or another key holiday around this time of year. Any who believe that to be coincidence are fooling themselves.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Another Evil Collusion

When conservatives and progressives agree on a program, it is very likely to turn out to be a disaster. The most recent example of this is the so-called First Step sentencing reform bill just passed by the Senate, which received 87 votes in favor, 12 opposed.

The most famous example of this collusion was the agreement between left and right to shutter the nation’s mental hospitals. The left thought people should be free to be as crazy as they pleased, and the right saw a way to save literally billions of dollars. The result, probably half of those imprisoned are screwed up mentally, and millions more are grocery-cart pushing homeless, mumbling to themselves, living under bridges and defecating on the sidewalk.

The reasoning going into First Step is probably analogous, the left thinks people should be free to use and deal drugs, and the right would like to spend less on prisons. In this case those set free in society will prey on the rest of us, not a nice prospect.

It is not as if we understood how to “rehabilitate” felons, very clearly we do not. Most reoffend and end up back in “the system.” The mistake is letting them out in the first place.

The unintended consequence of First Step is more law-abiding citizens getting and using concealed carry permits, and eventually more felons being shot by people who shouldn’t be forced to resort to such extreme means.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Quote of the Day

Ed Driscoll, who posts regularly at Instapundit, links to an article in The Guardian (U.K.) about the Labour Party’s hands-off attitude toward Brexit. It contains a choice quote I’d share with you:
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them,” said Maya Angelou. (snip) All far-leftists have shown you since 1917 they believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that catastrophe should be welcomed as the midwife of socialist revolution. Why not believe them?
Indeed, we should.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Dropping the Limit

The Hill reports Utah has passed a new anti-DUI law which drops the permissable blood alcohol level from .08 to .05. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link. This in spite of the following preexisting condition:
Utah had the lowest number of traffic deaths involving alcohol-impaired drivers of any state, about 19 percent, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.a
Interestingly, the article fails to mention the predominance of LDS adherents in Utah (AP: “nearly 62 percent”) and that church’s unwavering opposition to any consumption of alcohol. Clearly more than a coincidence.

This report will be viewed with jaundiced eyes in western Wyoming. Our conventional wisdom is to be leery of cars with UT plates, as they tend to be driven by the inebriated, far enough from home to drink without being seen by shaming neighbors.

Celtic Woman Roadshow

Two nights ago the roadshow version of Celtic Woman came to our little university town in Northern California. The traveling version included three principal singers Mairead Carlin, Eahba McMahon, and Megan Walsh plus violinist Tara McNeill, and they brought a pianist, 2 pipers - Scot and Irish, and a drummer. They were backed by the North State Symphony.

Their program was Christmas music, mostly, and the DrsC enjoyed it a lot. The women are talented singers who put on a good show.

Is it the full experience you get with a televised PBS concert? In a word, no. No costume changes, no massed back-up singers, no close-ups, no choreography and the venue is whatever is available locally.

Oddly, seeing in person performers you’ve repeatedly watched on TV is an eye-opener. Mairead who really sizzles on TV lacked punch live, while Megan was better in person than on TV. Eahba was about the same in both settings as was Tara. Go figure.

Weekly Standard, RIP

The Weekly Standard is shutting down. Over the years we’ve cited their articles some 20 times, so I suppose it is fair to say they’ll be missed.

It is certainly true that magazines in general have been doing poorly, witness the death of such longtime stalwarts as Newsweek. On the other hand, TWS remaining resolutely anti-Trump in the current era was a bridge too far for most conservatives. So, RIP, guys.

Like predecessors Andy Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Harry Truman, who were looked down upon while in office, Donald Trump too is a stylistically out-of-norm president. In retrospect, the three predecessors have been relatively well-treated by history.

Based on his ability to get the economy moving and get conservative judges appointed to the Federal bench, I suspect Trump will rank well in future as a consequential president, albeit one with oddball mannerisms and a thin hide.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Obamacare Ruled Illegal

Most of the time when a Federal judge declares something or other ‘anathema’ and bans it, it is a liberal judge out West in the Ninth District and conservatives are unhappy. Think of that as “dog bites man,” not really news.

Tonight comes a “man bites dog” story, a conservative Federal judge in Texas ruled that because Congress passed a law saying there is no mandate requiring the uninsured to buy insurance or pay a penalty some classed as a “tax,” the whole Obamacare law is thrown out. The usual caveat that an appeals court may overturn the ruling certainly applies here.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if a law every Republican campaigned against, but GOP majorities in both houses couldn’t overturn, was killed by an activist Federal judge? I’ll believe it when I see it survive appeal.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Mad Media Monopolist links to a Washington Examiner article quoting former (and probable future) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the subject of the press obsession with President Trump.
I wish the press would spend a lot more time on what we need to do here to meet the needs of the American people instead of morning, noon, and night allegations against the president. There are other things going on that are newsworthy.

I think you would have more viewers or readers if you address concerns that people have rather than just this ongoing, ongoing coverage of what’s current with the president from one day to the next.
She’s right, albeit for the wrong reasons. She thinks the attacks generate sympathy for him. Trump so monopolizes the news cycle that very little ‘oxygen’ (think column inches or airtime) remains for other players.

The genius of a reality TV star is knowing that all publicity is good publicity, even that which appears quite critical. As long as they’re talking about Trump nobody else seems important.

Trump’s bullyragging the media keeps them focused on him; they apparently cannot help themselves. Imagine how bummed he’d be if for several days in a row the press gave him minimal coverage. It would be fun to see the extreme lengths to which he might go to get back into the headlines, maybe a stroll on the WH lawn in his underwear?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Understanding Outcomes

Now for some wisdom of best-selling Canadian author and psychologist Jordan Peterson, from a column he wrote for the National Post.
Men and women are similar. But they are importantly different.

The differences matter, particularly at the extremes, particularly with regard to occupational choice and its concomitants. There are going to be more male criminals, and more male engineers, and more females with diagnoses of depression and anxiety, and more female nurses. And there are going to be differences in economic outcome associated with this variance.
This conclusion he draws from evidence described in the column but not quoted here. If you doubt he is correct, at least see the reasons he believes he is correct.

Be Un-Prepared

You will remember that the former Boy Scouts of America recently changed their name to Scouts of America, deciding to admit members of all genders, and scout masters of all genders too. And you knew this wouldn’t end well, didn’t you?

Now comes this story from the New York Post, sourced to The Wall Street Journal, reporting the Scouts are considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Hat tip to for the link.
The Boy Scouts of America is mulling declaring bankruptcy amid flagging membership and an avalanche of costly sex abuse allegations.

The organization has been fending off lawsuits over alleged abuse, including one filed by four former scouts who called the club a “pedophile magnet” and alleged that they were molested by scoutmaster Waldron Ackerman between 1974 and 1976.

The organization has reportedly lost two-thirds of its members — some 4 million boys — since the 1970s. The Mormon Church, where scout membership was long considered a rite of passage, has yanked 610,000 scouts over the last two years.
All together now, state the truism: “Get woke, go broke.”

May Hangs On

The BBC reports Theresa May got 200 of 317 possible votes and will continue as P.M. although 63% is no ringing endorsement. As we wrote a couple of days ago, she remains the Tory’s least bad choice and they stuck with her.

While May got a majority of her Tory party MPs to vote for her, it appears the Brexit agreement she negotiated with the EU cannot pass the entire Parliament. Between Labour, plus SNP, DUP, and anti-EU Tories who either think her agreement is weak (which it is) or don’t approve of Brexit at all, it now looks like it will lose. What happens then is unclear

May has promised she will not lead the Conservative Party into the next general election. As a politician, her promise is of course worth very little.

Snide speculations about how few urgings by her MP colleagues it would take to get her to break her promise are unseemly. That said, I’m guessing five would do it, being generous.

U.K. Info Soon

Various sources, among them the Daily Mail (U.K.) and the AP, are reporting PM Theresa May faces a party vote of no confidence this afternoon. Perhaps we’ll know her fate soon, given the time difference between GMT and the U.S. West Coast.

Reuters suggests we should know the result of the vote by party MPs by early afternoon, our time, which is 2100 Zulu or GMT. As I write this, that is ca. 1.5 hours in the future.

A Luke-warm Alliance

RealClearPolitics today links to two columns reflecting competing visions of U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia. They are:
Congress seeks to formally condemn Saudi prince for journalist’s death - Al Monitor
Punishing the Saudi prince rewards Iranian mullahs - Washington Times
What we have in the Middle East is one of those “a pox on both your houses” situations. It would be nice if both Saudi Arabia and Iran could lose. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way.

As presently constituted, neither the Saudis nor the Persians of Iran are natural allies of the U.S. Major elements of both societies are abhorent to most Americans. The Obama and Trump administrations obviously arrived at different choices about which was less evil, and with which we might sort-of ally.

Taking a cold-eyed view of the region, the only natural ally we have there is Israel. So perhaps our decision paradigm should be which of the three would-be regional hegemons (Turkey being the third) is least hostile to our ally. The temporary answer, which could change tomorrow, is the Saudis.

Whichever of the three would-be hegemons (Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia) finds itself our temporary ally takes as dim a view of us as we do of them. All three are, at base, antagonistic to Israel while recognizing its military and economic strength.

While we hold our nose and make common cause with one of the three, it does the same in return. All three view Israel as an outpost of antithetical Western values, much as the Crusaders once were, and those values are today as unwelcome as they were a millennium ago.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A U.N. Downgrade

Two days ago we wrote about the Heather Nauert appointment to be U.N. ambassador, the successor to Nikki Haley. Today comes a Politico  magazine article which, while reflecting disapproval of the Nauert appointment, does say worthwhile things about the Trump strategy vis-a-vis the U.N. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.
Just last week during a speech in Brussels, Pompeo dismissed the U.N.—along with a host of other multilateral organizations—as excessively bureaucratic, biased against Israel and committed to some sort of secretive global wealth redistribution scheme. Bolton has been making similar points for decades.

The more the U.S. can use its influence in the U.N. to stop the organization from functioning, the more Washington can prod other powers to deal with it on American terms. Haley’s great strategic mistake, at least according to the hawks’ logic, may have been to make the U.N. work too well. So, while Nauert is said not to be a hard-line anti-multilateralist herself, she could end up as a sort of diplomatic spoiler-in-chief in New York.
More tart-tongued anti-diplomacy at the U.N.? Just what the doctor ordered. Rumor has it the new U.N. ambassador will lose the cabinet status predecessors had.

Failure to Prepare = Preparation to Fail

At the CAP-X website, an article argues that while the May government claims leaving the EU with no deal will be catastrophic, it has done nothing to get the country ready to cope therewith. I would argue the May government wants the British people to suffer mightily in the event they don’t fall in line and approve May’s ‘deal’ with the EU. You can hear them thinking, “It’ll serve them right to suffer, the blind fools.”

Preparing for “no deal” is tantamount to admitting “no deal” is a viable option, which the Mayflies will not admit. By not preparing they very nearly guarantee “no deal” will be tough sledding, but perhaps they calculate that if  “no deal’ becomes reality they will be history anyway, relegated to the opposition back bench or ‘retired’ before their time.

The May ‘deal’ amounts to Brexit-in-name-only, combining the worst aspects of EU membership with the powerlessness of a vassal state. All this because those negotiating the deal never wanted to be in that role to begin with, they were (and secretly still are) “Remainers.” Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Brexit Vote Postponed

The Associated Press and other outlets report U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has cancelled the scheduled vote on her widely scorned Brexit ‘deal’ with the EU. It became apparent it was a vote she would lose and cancelling it is a way to keep the deal alive, barely. I really like how The Independent (U.K.) headlined the cancellation:
Today May chose the lesser of two humiliations
Both she and the EU are playing a game of “chicken,” each trying to bluff the other into accepting a bad deal. Most sources suggest she will not be PM much longer, and more than a few suggest she’s been there too long already.

The U.K. needs a Churchillian figure to lead the way forward and, instead, has produced a crop of Lilliputians. The leader of the official opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, is vaguely Maoist. May’s competition within the Conservative Party is splintered, none command a majority of its members. While a loser, she remains her party’s least bad alternative, as she’s everybody’s second or third choice.

The Tories (Conservatives) only hang onto power with the coalition help of a small Northern Irish Protestant party, the DUP, whose goals are not those of the Brexit-supporting English. If you think today’s U.K. politics are a mess, you’re right.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Nauert to the U.N.

From her usual perch at New Yorker, Robin Wright writes a snarky appraisal of the Heather Nauert apppointment as our U.N. Ambassador. In brief, her evaluation of Nauert is “low information, sharp elbows and snippy answers.”

What Wright doesn’t get is that Trump agrees with most conservatives that the U.N. is crap, mostly an embarrassment. His directive to our ambassador is to tell the U.N. off with great regularity. Nauert’s predecessor Nikki Haley did exactly that with aplomb.

Wright’s description of Nauert suggests she is well equipped to do likewise. The idea that we go there to befriend tin-pot dictatorships and third-world kleptocracies is ridiculous. We pursue our national interests, nothing more.

In Defense of Winter Fair

First-among-equals Power Line contributor, John Hinderaker, is recently returned from a vacation in the U.K., and posts several festive pix of the Christmas decorations he saw in London. His comment:
I keep hearing that Christianity is dying in Europe. Maybe so, but Christmas is thriving, at least in the U.K.
Of course it is, Christmas is a fun holiday regardless of one’s faith, or lack thereof. The beautiful decorations, wonderful music, structured generosity, food, drink, and mistletoe are all amazing.

Far from coincidentally, the “Christmas season” includes the winter solstice which humankind has celebrated since we figured out several thousand years ago that was when autumn’s waning sun began to ‘return.’

Don’t be surprised if Christmas outlives Christianity. It is a fun, festive Winter Fair as cute and easy to love as a teddy bear or Belgian chocolates. Christmas “works” with or without faith, although I’ll grant it is probably better with faith.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

A Third Down

Another Democrat is said to have withdrawn his name from the presidential stakes for 2020. British paper The Guardian reports New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced he no longer seeks the nomination.

That makes three, in addition to Michael Avenatti and Deval Patrick. At the rate losers are dropping out, maybe Trump can run unopposed (just kidding).

Bitter Clingers Redux

DNC Chair Tom Perez, quoted by Ed Driscoll guest blogging at Instapundit, on Democrats’ problems reaching many voters.
We need to build a bigger orchestra. They’ve had a big orchestra for some time and they’ve got the megaphones to amplify it, whether it’s Sinclair at a local level or Fox at a national level. I’ve learned this from the outreach we’ve done at the DNC. . . .And I had someone in Northwestern Wisconsin tell me, ‘You know what, for most of the people I know, their principal sources of information are Fox News, their NRA newsletter, and the pulpit on Sunday.’”
I’m hearing echoes of Obama’s “bitter clingers” in that WI description, certainly the guns and religion part anyway. But Perez is wrong about creating “a bigger orchestra.”

If ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, ESPN, Hollywood and most major newspapers aren’t enough “orchestra” or “megaphone,” what more could Democrats do to reach people who’ve deliberately tuned them O-U-T?

That train has left the station and gone, there’s no catching it. They’ve heard the Dem ‘message’ and rejected it. Maybe change the message? Maybe stop telling whites their very existence is toxic?

Brexit Update

With the caveat that I’m U.S. born and bred, and don’t carry a U.K. passport, I am however an Anglophile. Seeing the U.K., which hasn’t been successfully invaded for nearly 1000 years, willingly submerge its identity in an amorphous “Europe” hasn’t been a delight.

From the vantage point of a friend, I’ve been a supporter of Brexit - the U.K. leaving the EU. The pro-Leave vote was a ray of sunshine. What the Theresa May government has done with that mandate has been appalling.

National Review’s editor-at-large John O’Sullivan has a discussion of where the Brexit process now stands which Leavers will find congenial. He argues that Britain should go for so-called Hard Brexit, just leave and deal with Europe as they deal with non-European nations. It’s somewhat oversimplified but correct in its essentials, I believe.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Seventy-seven years ago this morning, warplanes belonging to the Empire of Japan bombed the island of Oahu, with particular emphasis on the U.S. naval facility at Pearl Harbor and the fleet there anchored. A surprise attack on a nation with which Japan was not then at war, it was the geopolitical equivalent of a sucker punch, a failed knock-out blow that led eventually to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Each year COTTonLINE urges our readers to remember this dishonorable perfidy. We need to learn this lesson of Pearl Harbor and stay on guard, particularly since as a world power it is occasionally necessary for us to act in ways other nations find inconvenient, or even threatening. 

Bottom line: it not only could happen again, it did on 9/11. My personal way of remembering is, whenever possible, not to purchase Japanese-made goods.

DC’s Plutocrats reports on where in the U.S. wealth is concentrated; no surprise it swarms around “the flagpole.” That is GI-speak for where the base commandant’s office is located, in this case the Capital.
The five richest counties in the United States when measured by median household income are all still suburbs of Washington, D.C., according to American Community Survey data released today by the Census Bureau.

In fact, ten of the top twenty richest counties in the country are suburbs of Washington, D.C., according to this new data.
The bedroom communities of DC constitute a giant collection of over-paid bureaucrats, fat cat lobbyists, think tank gurus, and “government relations” offices. The entire area needs to be put on restricted rations. If it happened, they would howl like banshees.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Roughly 3/4 of CA Immigrants on Welfare

This is an addendum to the Most Not An Asset story we posted on Monday. Today Breitbart is reporting further analysis of the Census Bureau numbers on welfare use by immigrants.
The latest Census Bureau data analyzed by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) finds that about 72 percent of households headed by noncitizens and immigrants use one or more forms of taxpayer-funded welfare programs in California — the number one immigrant-receiving state in the U.S.

Meanwhile, only about 35 percent of households headed by native-born Americans use welfare in California.

All four states with the largest foreign-born populations, including California, have extremely high use of welfare by immigrant households.
Nearly three-quarters of immigrant households in CA receive means-tested government support. How is this a good deal for Californians? Clearly, it is nothing of the sort.

Two Down

Announcing a new feature at COTTonLINE, we plan a tally of all those who’ve talked about running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination who later drop out of the race. So far, by my reckoning, there are two.

At this point, Michael Avenatti, labeled by Tucker Carlson a “creepy porn lawyer,” has already withdrawn. And now, according to Politico, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick says he’s no longer considering a run.

No Dem with presidential ambitions has yet put out enough effort to justify a bye-ku. Let’s see if we get a replay of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, shall we?

Monday, December 3, 2018

Trump Predicted

Related to the post immediately below, sometimes someone looks forward and sees the future with clarity. Perhaps they merely make a lucky guess about what portents foretell. Apropos of which, Steven Hayward of Power Line shares the following quote from the 1998 book Achieving Our Country by Richard Rorty.
Members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers — themselves desperately afraid of being downsized — are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.

At that point, something will crack. The non-suburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking for a strongman to vote for — someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots.
That does sound a lot like Donald John Trump’s 2016 platform, minus the “overpaid bond salesmen.” I don’t remember them being targeted.

Rorty even nailed the suburban (aka “college-educated”) hold-outs still voting D. He had amazing prescience, luck, or both.


With greater frequency than I’d hope, the headlines tell a story of our hopes, rather than our reality. This morning’s RealClearPolitics list includes the following four:
It’s Becoming Clear Trump Colluded with Russia
- New York Times
Mueller Has Failed to Deliver, Only Trying to Hurt Trump
- The Week
Cohen Deal Was a Tipping Point for Mueller Probe
- Slate
With Cohen Deal, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Exoneration
- RealClearInvestigations
Obviously, not all of those can be correct. In fact it is likely most of them will prove to be bad guesses about what will come.

At this point the Mueller probe is a Rorschach test, reactions to which tell us more about the reactor than about the thing reacted to. In describing the world we see we reveal our inner selves.

Most Not An Asset

The Washington Examiner reports results of a new study, based on Census Bureau data, showing large scale immigration is a bad deal for our country. They found 63% of non-citizens living in the U.S. receive some form of means-tested government assistance, aka “welfare.” Key findings:
In 2014, 63 percent of households headed by a non-citizen reported that they used at least one welfare program, compared to 35 percent of native-headed households.

Welfare use drops to 58 percent for non-citizen households and 30 percent for native households if cash payments from the Earned Income Tax Credit are not counted as welfare. EITC recipients pay no federal income tax. Like other welfare, the EITC is a means-tested, anti-poverty program.

Compared to native households, non-citizen households have much higher use of food programs (45 percent vs. 21 percent for natives) and Medicaid (50 percent vs. 23 percent for natives).
Roughly two-thirds of immigrants become a burden on taxpayers. This isn’t an argument for ending immigration but it is an argument for (a) being more selective in who we allow residence and (b) deporting immigrants who use “means-tested, anti-poverty programs.”

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Thiel: Higher Ed Is Broken

Peter Thiel, the only high tech billionaire who is openly conservative, famously spoke at the 2016 Republican convention which nominated Donald Trump. The College Fix reports on a speech he made to conservative student journalists at a recent meeting, his subject was what is wrong with higher education.
“Universities today are as corrupt as the Catholic Church of 500 years ago,” Thiel said.

During his speech, he spoke of an academia that has shut down debate, excommunicated conservative scholars, and insisted a college degree is the only way to “salvation,” that being a good job and solid future.

“The reformation is going to happen,” Thiel added, noting it won’t come from within, but from the “outside.”

In his speech, Thiel told the college journalists that the greatest political problem today is the “narrowing of debate.” As it relates to college campuses, he pointed out that the vast majority of scholars only think “one way.”

“At some point, if it’s 100 to zero, you start to suspect you’re in North Korea,” he said. He pushed back against that “madness of the crowd.”

“Does the unanimity mean you’ve gotten to the truth, or does it mean you’re in a totalitarian state,” Thiel said.

“We have this illusion that all sorts of important decisions have been decided,” he said, encouraging the students not to accept that narrative.
Theil is correct, ideologically our campuses now resemble Red Guard reeducation camps. They have become as narrow in focus as was formerly true only of bible colleges and trade schools. A very sad case of self-mutilation.

Campus panic over microaggressions and hate speech is fear of wrongthink. George Orwell would be saddened at the failure of his cautionary tale 1984.

Life Imitates Art

Do you remember the Washington Generals, the team of white basketball players who traveled with the Harlem Globetrotters? The Generals’ job was as the comedic foil for the Globetrotters, to whom they lost every pretend ‘game.’

In truth, it was no game but an exhibition of spectacular ball-handling and blacks-make-good-natured-fun-of-whites humor by the “‘trotters.” If you never saw the Globetrotters’ act in person or on TV, the following commentary won’t mean much.

The Daily Beast has a column which typifies a whole class of current commentary upon the death of our forty-first president, George H. W. Bush. The title tells you all you need to know:
George H. W. Bush Was a Better Kind of Republican
What is meant is that he was willing to play by gentleman’s rules while the Democrats played by a much less constricted set of guidelines and mostly won. He was the stuffy-but-genial nice guy who had the good grace to lose to Bill Clinton.

IOW, he played the Washington Generals’ role while the Democrats were the Globetrotters. Of course they liked him, he lost gracefully while they were boffing interns, buying votes and stealing elections.

Democrats’ idea of a worse kind of Republican is one who ad libs. Who does and says what’s necessary to win, throwing out the script which calls for the GOP to lose.

By the way, I don’t believe George H. W. Bush played to lose or was intentionally anyone’s patsy. I’m saying he was a decent man who played the game by an idealized set of rules while Democrats played dirty to win. They like him for his self-imposed limitations, which they do not share.

The left-leaning legacy media are saying the same nice things about the newly elected senator from Utah, Mitt Romney. He, too, knew how to lose gracefully playing the Washington Generals role, as the loyally ineffective opposition to Barack Obama.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Alien Trash?

The Gizmodo site reports the older Mars rover named Curiosity has uncovered an unusually shiny rock which looks like it melted and then cooled. They’re calling it a probable meteorite, but I’m not so sure.

Meteors don’t fly through space blazing hot, they heat up via friction coming down through Earth’s atmosphere at high speed. Mars has less gravity and much less atmosphere; is there enough to melt a meteor into a shiny glob that nevertheless isn’t so molten as to splatter when it hits?

It would seem to require an awfully specific set of conditions to deposit a shiny molten object on a non-pristine surface without it becoming coated with embedded debris. I’d like to hold open the possibility of some other etiology. Possibly it passed near enough the sun to become molten, then hardened in the vacuum of space while traveling out to the orbit of Mars.

Weird Energy Science

Science Daily reports researchers at Australia’s Queensland University of Technology have created a catalyst not requiring expensive exotic metals to split water into oxygen and hydrogen. It is mostly composed of relatively common cobalt and nickel oxide with a dusting of gold nanoparticles.

Combining hydrogen with relatively plentiful oxygen from the air, the two ‘burn’ releasing heat and creating as a combustion by-product ... non-polluting water. Hydrogen can today power fuel cells, and produce steam. Conceivably internal combustion engines could be modified to run on hydrogen as they now run on LPG or natural gas.

This catalyst could be a game changer. I can see using extra electricity produced by solar and wind to create hydrogen which can be stored and burned to create electricity during periods of calm and darkness. Storing hydrogen in non-degrading pressure tanks has to be cheaper and easier than storing electricity in complicated batteries which wear out.

ICYMI: Mark Steyn Gold

As the Christmas season rolls around, and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is heard once again, it’s time to recall a 2014 Mark Steyn classic (scroll down) on the inadvertant impact of this song. Hat tip to Ed Driscoll, guest blogging at Instapundit, for the link.
A few decades back, a young middle-class Egyptian spending some time in the US had the misfortune to be invited to a dance one weekend and was horrified at what he witnessed.
The room convulsed with the feverish music from the gramophone. Dancing naked legs filled the hall, arms draped around the waists, chests met chests, lips met lips . . .
Where was this den of debauchery? Studio 54 in the 1970s? Haight-Ashbury in the summer of love? No, the throbbing pulsating sewer of sin was Greeley, Colorado, in 1949. As it happens, Greeley, Colorado, in 1949 was a dry town. The dance was a church social. And the feverish music was "Baby, It's Cold Outside," as introduced by Esther Williams in "Neptune's Daughter."

Revolted by the experience, Sayyid Qutb decided that America (and modernity in general) was an abomination, returned to Egypt, became the leading intellectual muscle in the Muslim Brotherhood, and set off a chain that led from Qutb to Zawahiri to bin Laden to the Hindu Kush to the Balkans to 9/11 to the brief Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt to the Islamic State marching across Syria and Iraq. Indeed, Qutb's view of the West is the merest extension of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" — America as the ultimate seducer, the Great Satan.
Imagine, Saturday night in Greeley rivaling Carnival in Rio as a fleshpot of steamy eroticism. Sayyid needed to get a life. Instead he got a neo-puritan cause.

Bye-Ku for Bush 41

It is reported former President George H. W. Bush has died at the age of 94. At one point the youngest Navy combat pilot in World War II, he flew 50+ missions in torpedo bombers. Many who flew this perilous mission were killed, and he survived being shot down.*

With the customary hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku or haiku of farewell to the first President George Bush, father of the second and Reagan’s VP.

We honor H.W.‘s
Service to America
Throughout a long life.

*About the risk of flying topedo bombers in WW II, a word of explanation. To aim a torpedo at an enemy warship you had to fly flat and low nearly straight at that ship and get reasonably close so the ship didn’t have time to maneuver away from the torpedo you dropped. 

This offered the ship’s antiaircraft gunners a near-zero deflection shot, the easiest to aim. Very often they hit the attacking plane. It wasn’t uncommon for a flight of 6-8 torpedo bombers to attack a Japanese fleet and have as few as 1-2 make it back to their carrier.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Recidivism Nearly Universal

Power Line links to a Peter Kirsanow article for National Review concerning the FIRST STEP legislation currently dividing GOP legislators. See what Kirsanow writes about releasing convicted criminals.
Pessimism about the likelihood of recidivism is supported by a recently-released Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) study that tracked the recidivism of state prisoners for 9 years. (snip) These prisoners came from 30 states that collectively accounted for 77% of the state prisoners released in 2005. The recidivism figures are nothing less than astonishing: by the end of the 9-year period, 83 percent of the released prisoners had been re-arrested. “The 401,299 state prisoners released in 2005 had an estimated 1,994,000 arrests during the 9-year period, an average of 5 arrests per released prisoner. Sixty percent of these arrests occurred during years 4 through 9.”
Upon release, convicted felons are highly unlikely to avoid further episodes of criminal behavior. Letting them out early, as FIRST STEP proposes to do, will lead to more crime and more victims. It is bad policy which shouldn’t be enacted.

A Big Nothing

Buzzfeed News reports rumors President Trump planned to give the penthouse in a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow to President V. Putin. My reaction: Ho-effing-hum.

What do we learn? That Trump knows how to do business in a famously corrupt environment such as Moscow? How is this news?

As a developer, Trump cut his eyeteeth in the corrupt environments of New York City and Atlantic City. It’s likely he equates Putin with Cuomo and de Blasio, as merely another crooked boss.

Of course Trump knows how to do business with crooks ... you buy them off. It’s a cost of doing business, reflected in the pricing.

Only the terminally naive would be surprised that a NYC developer feels comfortable working in an ethically dubious environment, with deeply corrupt customers and collaborators. He isn’t pure as the driven snow.

We knew this of Trump and elected him anyway. Get over it.

Disappointment Looms

There comes a time in most poker games when the bluffing and trash talking is done, the high roller is called, and people show their cards to determine who won. Special council Robert Mueller appears to be nearing that point in his investigation of supposed Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.

Trump supporters aren’t going to fold. Soon Mueller is going to have to reveal what, if anything he and his small pack of highly paid Democrat lawyers have found. Those who wish the President ill are hoping for a smoking gun, something that will bring an end to the two-year nightmare that Trump’s presidency has represented in their lives.

While not sharing those feelings I understand them. I felt much the same despair about the failed Obama presidency. It is likely, however, those hoping for Trump’s demise will be disappointed.

Political Washington DC is as leaky as a colander. If there were evidence of Trump colluding with Russians to do something more consequential than build a Trump Tower in Moscow, it would have long since leaked to the eagerly receptive legacy media. The fact that it has not leaked is near prima facie evidence of its imaginary nature.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Why Elites Oppose Border Control

After a couple of posts about how elites are out of step with voters’ views (see below), it seems time to take a moment to remember why elites are out of step on immigration. Democrats want the future-voters-favoring-free-stuff that immigrants are thought to be. Their motive is clear enough ... self-interest.

So why do Republican elites drag their feet on immigration when nearly all Republican voters support border security? Unlike uber-wealthy Trump, most Republican politicians though far from poor, are not able (or willing) to self-finance their high dollar election campaigns.

This makes many Republican candidates reliant on big GOP donors who, for selfish reasons, favor the low labor costs that come with a nearly unlimited immigrant workforce. Pro-immigrant plutocrats pay the piper and call the political tune.

Elites Out of Step ... Again

On the subect of lost trust (see below), Scott Rasmussen suggests at RealClearPolitics another reason why America’s voters no longer trust elites. Based on recent polling, he writes:
Just 25 percent of voters believe Border Patrol's actions are too harsh on illegal immigrants. A plurality (43 percent) believe that Border Patrol is too lenient.

Americans overwhelmingly support legal immigration. (snip) Eighty-one percent say it's good for the nation.

Seven out of 10 Americans also support comprehensive federal immigration reform to secure our borders and resolve the status of illegal immigrants already living in the country. Fifty-five percent believe the top priority in any such reform should be ensuring that border security measures are implemented and effective.

American voters (snip) are prepared to support a reasonable plan that would secure the border, legalize the vast majority of those who are currently living in the U.S. illegally and set reasonable rules for future immigration policy.

Unfortunately, America's political and media elites have made it clear that they simply will not support any form of border security. As long as that remains true, the prospects for immigration reform are nonexistent.
As Davies writes below, when elites are seen to hold views that most do not support, they lose trust and populists thrive.

Evidence→Low Trust→Rise of Populism

A weekend is coming soon, when many have time for reading a long column on an important subject. Writing for The Guardian (U.K.), economist William Davies pens such an article on how the elites in modern society lost the trust in which their pronouncements were once held. A key point Davies makes:
To understand the crisis liberal democracy faces today – whether we identify this primarily in terms of “populism” or “post-truth” – it’s not enough to simply bemoan the rising cynicism of the public. We need also to consider some of the reasons why trust has been withdrawn. The infrastructure of fact has been undermined in part by a combination of technology and market forces – but we must seriously reckon with the underlying truth of the populists’ charge against the establishment today. Too often, the rise of insurgent political parties and demagogues is viewed as the source of liberalism’s problems, rather than as a symptom. But by focusing on trust, and the failure of liberal institutions to sustain it, we get a clearer sense of why this is happening now.

The problem today is that, across a number of crucial areas of public life, the basic intuitions of populists have been repeatedly verified. One of the main contributors to this has been the spread of digital technology, creating vast data trails with the latent potential to contradict public statements, and even undermine entire public institutions. Whereas it is impossible to conclusively prove that a politician is morally innocent or that a news report is undistorted, it is far easier to demonstrate the opposite. Scandals, leaks, whistleblowing and revelations of fraud all serve to confirm our worst suspicions. While trust relies on a leap of faith, distrust is supported by ever-mounting piles of evidence.
His analysis goes a long way toward explaining the renewed relevance of populists in today’s political arena.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Putrid Portland

It's time for another episode in our occasional series you could label "a jaundiced view of Oregon." Writing at Spectator USA, self-described gay Vietnamese-American journalist Andy Ngo riffs on the mess that Portland, Oregon, has become. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.
With its impeccably progressive monoculture, Portland is fertile ground for leftist ideologies such as intersectionality and Marxism. Most Portlanders have little to no experience of talking to real conservatives. The ‘#Resistance’ has become a powerful rallying cry for residents who think they are in a cosmic battle. In reality, they are often just targeting their neighbors.

For the foreseeable future, Portland will continue to grapple with political violence as its taxpayers foot the bill. The city has gained a comic reputation as a bastion of wokeness due to the comedy sketch show Portlandia. That’s way off the mark. Real life Portland is much, much worse, and it’s no joke.
Analysis: true.

The Roots of Identity Group Politics

Writing at Power Line, Steven Hayward quotes Harvard historian Jill Lepore on the antecedents of identity-group politics.
The whole Lincoln-Douglas debate in 1858 comes down to Douglas saying, Our forefathers founded this country for white men and their posterity forever. And Lincoln, following on the writings of black abolitionists like Frederick Douglass and David Walker and Maria Stewart, says, No, that’s just not true! (snip) Anyone who makes an identity-based claim for a political position has to reckon with the unfortunate fact that Stephen Douglas is their forebear, not Abraham Lincoln or Frederick Douglass.
Martin Luther King, Jr. understood this truth, and often said as much with vigor and force.

A Trump Flip-Flop

Power Line's Paul Mirengoff writes a short column in which he demonstrates President Trump has flip-flopped on tough sentencing for drug dealers - breaking a campaign promise to be tough-as-nails. Trump's support for the FIRST STEP legislation is unfortunate.

I understand President Trump's interest in courting black voters, as African-Americans are incarcerated in disproportionally high numbers. Research has shown, however, that these numbers result from excessive criminal behavior much more than from discrimination in law enforcement and sentencing.

COTTonLINE joins Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR, no relation) in opposing this legislation, as we have written here and here. Our nation does not have an over-incarceration problem. What we have too much of is repeat-offender crime.

Our Secular Era

The Atlantic reports on the declining role of churches in American life, hat tip to Drudge Report for the link. Trends noted first in Europe are repeating here.
Many of our nation’s churches can no longer afford to maintain their structures—6,000 to 10,000 churches die each year in America—and that number will likely grow. Though more than 70 percent of our citizens still claim to be Christian, congregational participation is less central to many Americans’ faith than it once was. Most denominations are declining as a share of the overall population, and donations to congregations have been falling for decades. Meanwhile, religiously unaffiliated Americans, nicknamed the “nones,” are growing as a share of the U.S. population.
These numbers translate to roughly 120-200 churches closing per week, an amazing figure. The article goes on to describe efforts to help declining churches recapture their former role as community gathering places, producing as a by-product increased church attendance.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

GOP Holds MS Senate Seat

Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith tonight won reelection in Mississippi, handily defeating Democrat Mike Espy in a run-off. This gives Mitch McConnell a 53 seat majority in the U.S. Senate for the next two years.

The victory enables President Trump to nominate very conservative judges who might not have passed muster with GOP women senators Collins and Murkowski. Their votes cannot be counted on in support of appointees suspected of pro-life sentiments.

With Jeff Flake (R-AZ) out of the Senate in January, RINO senators no longer have veto power. In one four year term President Trump will fill many federal judge vacancies and change the character of the courts going forward for a decade or more. The importance of this change can hardly be overstated.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Anti-American Americans

Stephen Green, guest blogging at Instapundit, links to a Michael Ledeen essay for PJ Media on the subject of Americans who don’t like their country. Ledeen writes:
So here we are, at Thanksgiving, surrounded by a crowd of arrogant, ignorant, self-proclaimed superior people who proclaim, as was once declared about Vietnam, that the only way to save the country is to destroy it. That the European welfare state is the proper model for us, and that our electoral choices are mostly wrong. And evil. The first anti-American president put it bluntly in an interview with with one of his cronies, saying Americans are "confused, blind, shrouded with hate, anger, racism, mommy issues."
Barack Obama has never understood Americans because, by upbringing if not by birth, he isn’t one. It’s no fun being an outsider all your life. Speaking of mommy issues, Barack‘s anthropologist mom dumped him on her parents in HI and took off.

Impolite Truths

Writing at the American Greatness website, historian Victor Davis Hanson observes that President Trump often speaks the truth but does so in blunt, undiplomatic terms to which the media objects. Hanson gives several recent examples.
In terms of Trump’s political liabilities—winning the independent and NeverTrump suburban voter—certainly it might be smarter for Trump to withhold comment or, for the interests of the presidency, to editorialize more delicately, through the group efforts of speechwriters and aides.

But an argument cannot be made in these instances that Trump’s commentaries are lies, or that he is less truthful than his critics. And that raises the question of how Trump became president in the first place: by employing the usual presidential euphemisms and “on the one hand/on the other hand” temporizing, or believing that candor—crass and crude that it can be—was what the people were thirsting for.
I’m thinking DJT appealed to a lot of “red meat” voters with his plain talk and failure to tiptoe around issues. I’m sure he thinks so too. Most of the time I find his bluntness refreshing.

Portland ‘Plug’

Power Line’s Steven Hayward links to a Youtube faux promotional video for Portland, OR. It is seriously funny, even though the narrator mispronounces Willamette, which is properly said Wi-LAM-it.

It begins to give you a sense of why I take a dim view of the Emerald Empire, having splashed through three gloomy years there. At less than 2 minutes in lenght, the video is a hoot.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Real Data

John Hinderaker of Power Line links to a Chicago Tribune article by John Lott, Jr. Think tank president Lott debunks the claim by Obama and other Democrats that the U.S. is uniquely plagued with mass shootings.
Over the course of 18 years, from 1998 to 2015, our list contains 2,354 attacks and at least 4,880 shooters outside the United States and 53 attacks and 57 shooters within this country. By our count, the U.S. makes up 1.49 percent of the murders worldwide, 2.20 percent of the attacks, and less than 1.15 percent of the mass public shooters. All these are much less than America’s 4.6 percent share of the world population.

Of the 97 countries where we identified mass public shootings, the U.S. ranks 64th per capita in its rate of attacks and 65th in fatalities. Major European countries, such as Norway, Finland, France, Switzerland and Russia, all have at least 25 percent higher per capita murder rates from mass public shootings.
Democrats try to tell us we are alone in suffering these attacks, claiming it for their own selfish reasons. The claim simply isn’t true.

Friday, November 23, 2018


Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff debunks the criticism aimed at President Trump over refusing to punish Saudi Arabia for its murder of Jamal Khashoggi. As Mirengoff points out, since World War II ended we’ve made common cause with a variety of autocratic regimes with spotty (or worse) human rights records.

As human rights outrages, none of them come close to FDR allying with the murderous Soviet Union against the equally murderous Hitler. Mirengoff’s analysis is supported by my recollection of post-war foreign policy. I recommend it to you.

Rethinking Pakistan

The U.S. alliance with Pakistan has been one of the most puzzling links imaginable, and it may be about to rupture completely, if not necessarily irretrievably. Writing in The National Interest, Mohammed Ayoob, an emiritus professor of international relations at Michigan State University, describes the relationship’s history, strains, and current condition.

Ayoob’s prognosis for the fraught alliance is gloomy and it’s clear he wonders why it ever happened. During a brief period when the U.S. wanted to make trouble for Russians occupying Afghanistan, we and the Pakistanis had shared interests. Ever since, our interests and theirs have diverged, becoming essentially opposites.

A historical parallel would be the alliance of the U.S. and Soviet Union during World War II. We were not friends before or after the war but had a shared interest in defeating the Axis during it.

Given the post-Soviet reality, cooperation with Pakistan against a shared enemy seems unimaginable in the current era. Maintaining the facade of alliance in the absence of shared interests seems neither useful nor realistic.

Black Friday

I’ll bet less than half of the people mobbing retail establishments today have a clue how today became known as “black Friday.” Time to dust off the old Business prof’s mortarboard and do a minilecture on the subject.

Many decades ago before the advent of machine accounting and computers, bookkeepers and accountants kept business records in ledgers on paper using pen and ink. When the DrsC ran a small business for several years I did it this way and, mirabile dictu, it works!

A convention among those keeping pen and ink account books was that when a business was losing money they expressed being in negative territory with red ink, while being ahead of the game or making a profit was written in black ink. That’s where the terms “being in the red” or “being in the black” arose.

Zoom back to the present. Retail establishments do as much as half of their business in the year’s fourth quarter. Shopping for Christmas and Hanukkah tends to ramp up in October and early November but begins in true earnest the day after Thanksgiving.

Retail establishments need to be big enough to deal with year-end shopping crowds, which makes them overly large for much of the year. Thus for the first three quarters their costs exceed their income and they run in the red, or lose money.

Fourth quarter rolls around and business picks up. When the holiday spending really hits its stride on the Friday after Thanksgiving conventional wisdom says big box stores start to show a profit, income begins to exceed costs, the books start to show black ink instead of red. Most of their profit occurs between black Friday and Dec.24.

Thus, the Friday after Thanksgiving became Black Friday, the day when retailers break even and start to show a profit.

Total (Culture) War

Writing at The Week, Michael Grunwald takes as his thesis the notion that we drag just about everything into the Red vs. Blue culture war. Sure, he’s on the other (blue) side but the article is even-handed enough for us on the red side to find useful. A sample quote that caught my eye:
Trump didn't create the so-called Big Sort of Americans into two ideologically polarized, geographically and racially segregated, mutually suspicious partisan camps. The rift between the mostly white camp of gun-owning, evangelical-church-going Fox News watchers who live relatively spread out and the more diverse camp of Whole Foods-shopping, funky-café-going NPR listeners who live closer together has been widening for decades.
 I think you might enjoy this article.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Segregated Bosnia

The New York Times has a good article on ethnic divisions in Bosnia, pitting Bosniaks (Muslims) vs. Croats with Bosnian Serbs sniping from the sidelines. There isn’t much current violence but also little mixing or cooperation.

The two groups coexist side-by-side like the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland or the French and English speakers in Canada. Anyplace that is taking in large numbers of ethnically different immigrants faces this sort of future.

It’s no fun, ask a Canadian or anybody else who has lived in those conditions. A future it would be well to avoid, if possible. See H. Clinton’s comments below.

Hillary: Trump Right About Something

A broken analog clock is momentarily correct twice a day. Speaking in Europe, Hillary Clinton actually said something with which I agree, at least in part. The Guardian (U.S. edition) has the story.

While mouthing the usual PC pieties about poor refugees, she warned European center-left politicians that welcoming waves of refugees creates an opening for populist opponents ... as for instance Trump here and the AfD in Germany. Her point: political survival requires politicians to back “control the borders” policies in order to achieve electoral success.

Implicit in her message was that she learned this the hard way, by losing to someone with such a message. Her pieties are bleeding heart nonsense, but her political advice is spot on. People don’t want to be overrun by odd foreigners and will vote for candidates who understand and share that view.

I wonder if she will have the same message for Democrat colleagues in the States? It could be a hard sell here, where importing future Democrat voters while frantically virtue signalling feels like a winning combination to those my late father called “parlor pinks” and we now call “progressives.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Giving Thanks

Once again we come to Thanksgiving Day, time to take stock of the extent to which things have gone well in one’s life. We’ll be joining relatives for tomorrow’s celebratory “harvest feast.”

The DrsC certainly have things to be thankful for, including that our house, barn, new RV, and two vehicles didn’t burn even a little, although the oddly named Camp Fire incinerated our pasture-style acreage. And we just came back from a nice month-long cruise, no small wonder in itself.

Global Cooling?

From time to time we’ve given you links to sites which discuss the climate impact of the solar minimum we are now experiencing. Instapundit links to a site called Electroverse which reports the theorizing of a Professor Valentina Zharkova of Northumbria University in the U.K.

She presented at the Global Warming Policy Foundation in October, 2018. A web search suggests her work is controversial among those scientists convinced humans are wrecking the planet. Those who give more credence to solar influences on climate are more accepting of her work.

Biased Judges

A federal judge appointed by President Obama ruled against a Trump initiative. The President called it a bad ruling by “an Obama judge.” Chief Justice Roberts did something he rarely does, he publicly criticized the President’s choice of words.

Riffing on Roberts‘ criticism, Paul Mirengoff, an attorney who posts at Power Line, looks at the evidence and basically agrees with the President. He notes POTUS should have said “an Obama-appointed judge” and observes this is likely what Trump meant.

If the U.S. ever faces a secessionist movement in the current era, the intractably liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will be a major precipitating factor. BTW, I hope no such movement arises.

Relative Military Strength

Business Insider publishes a list of the 25 strongest militaries worldwide. Hat tip to RealClearDefense for the link.

The U.S. is ranked no. 1, no surprise. The top 5 also include Russia, China, India, and France, in that order.

The remainder, also in order, are the following nations: United Kingdom, South Korea, Japan, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Egypt, Iran, Brazil, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, Spain, Vietnam, Australia, Poland, Algeria, Taiwan, and Canada.

For each of the 25, the article lists total population, total military headcount, total aircraft, fighter aircraft, combat tanks, naval vessels, and defense budget in dollars. It makes interesting reading if defense preparedness is your thing.

I’m not surprised New Zealand didn’t make the list. When we last visited there, I was told the island nation’s navy consisted of one minor warship, perhaps a frigate. A web search suggests two frigates and 6 patrol boats. These days Enzed relies on being too distant to be in harm’s way. So far, it’s working.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

More Evidence

Investor's Business Daily reports findings from a study done by researchers at Arizona State University and Texas A&M. It examined the political opinions of financial journalists, surveying 462 and follow-up interviewing an additional 18. Key findings:
Of the 462 people surveyed, 17.63% called themselves "very liberal," while 40.84% described themselves as "somewhat liberal."

When you add it up, 58.47% admit to being left of center. Along with that, another 37.12% claim to be "moderate."

What about the mythic "conservative" financial journalist? In fact, a mere 0.46% of financial journalists called themselves "very conservative," while just 3.94% said they were "somewhat conservative." That's a whopping 4.4% of the total that lean right-of-center.
Okay, IBD is being a little alarmist, but even lumping the moderates together with those who admit conservatism, you get less than 42%. It's amazing these are financial journalists, the one group of news writers you'd think might lean right.

Nearly sixty percent admit leaning left. I have to wonder if their responses reflect them reporting what they believed university-based researchers or their journalistic peers wanted to hear?

Full disclosure: The abstract doesn't emphasize political leanings as a major finding, someone at IBD apparently dug that info out of the complete study, which is behind a paywall.

Papal Scorn

The Federalist has a good article about Catholic clerical sexual abuse and Papal failure to deal with it, written by two Catholics - an attorney and a law prof. Hat tip to for the link.

The authors take a dim view of Pope Francis, particularly his protection of known abusers and those who enabled them and of his anti-Americanism. My favorite quote:
Francis’ attitude to the American church is by now unmistakable: He scorns it. Possibly this scorn stems from his hostility to things American generally — including our capitalist system, our belief in openness and transparency, our attitudes to sexual misconduct, our views on Mass, illegal immigration, or our current president. Or he may think that we are simply too nosy and noisy. In any case, he has regularly humiliated the American bishops and ignored the American laity.
They conclude the papacy has become an absolute monarchy, with all the drawbacks that entails, and yet has not always been so.

Sunday, November 18, 2018


We saw our burned-over and smoke blackened CA property today and, as predicted, the firebreaks and its generally incombustible construction had saved the day. The house sustained exactly zero fire damage, the barn and shed ditto. The firefighters even saved our rick of firewood ... amazing work.

What burned off was the pasturage which comprised most of our nearly 12 acres, it is black and sooty. Our landscaping got some damage, we’ll know more about that in a few months. We will have to replace much of our drip irrigation system, not a big deal costwise but doing so will keep our gardener busy for a couple of winter months when there is little else to do.

The house is smoky and abating that smell could be both difficult and expensive. We may end up with 2000 sq. ft. of new flooring, if the carpet is smoky. Ditto the upholstered furniture and drapes. And we may have to have the interior painted as a cover-up.

We heard of a family who had to replace the ductwork on their HVAC system to get rid of smoky smell, when all else failed. What we can’t do at the moment is open the place up to air it out because the outside air is worse, soot and combustion byproducts are very much in evidence outdoors. This smell abatement process will take time, ask us about it in 6 months.

We thought we might have to take the RV and “get out of Dodge.” However, we found the conditions are such we shall try to spend the next month there, starting tomorrow.

Some rain is supposed to be in the offing, perhaps later in the week. That will help put our the fire and clear the air but make the evacuated and dispossessed in temporary quarters miserable. Comments about the ambivalent nature of ill winds are apropos here.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Welcome Late Results

Various sources are reporting the governor’s race in GA has ended with Democrat Abrams losing to Kemp. Likewise, in FL it appears that Democrat Gillam has lost the governor’s race there to Ron DeSantis. Both Democrats are African-Americans.

It is possible states of the old Confederacy are not yet ready to vote for a black governor, or perhaps the fact that both Democrats were also very progressive, quasi-socialists was the issue and race was irrelevant. Anyone who tells you they’re sure they know why either of these normally red states didn’t choose to vote blue is exaggerating, lying, or deluded.

The true answer is probably some mix of all of the above. Asking conservative red state voters to vote for a Democrat is hard enough, when that D is also black and, by American standards, relatively far left, it is going to be a tough sell. This time, too tough.

If you’re keeping track, the only major race remaining to be settled is the FL senate contest between Nelson (D) and Scott (R). Chances are, if the D lost in FL at governor-level, the same probably happened for senate. Leastwise, if you were a wagering person you’d bet on Scott.

Later ... Scott has been declared the victor, Nelson conceded.

Culture War - Class War in Disguise

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds writes something semi-profound in considering how we have arrived at the present fraught situation in our society.
Bourgeois culture is bad because it limits the flexibility of the elites. When the middle class was ascendant, it had the power to force bourgeois norms on elites, and even many of the poor. This led to social goods that people miss now, but it was also experienced as confining by those so constrained. In America, remember, class war is disguised as culture war.
At the moment we suffer the ascendancy of the ‘values’ of the poor which can be summarized as do whatever feels good now, and damn the eventual consequences. I certainly miss the “social goods” that flowed from our former bourgeois culture.

On the cruise we conclude tomorrow, we’ve talked to a number of older couples whose unmarried grown children are living with the other parent of the grandchildren. Studies have shown it’s unlikely this ends well for the grandkids.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Metro news, a U.K. site, reports a NASA scientist has observed the unusual lack of sunspot activity and predicted a very cold winter. Martin Mlynczak of NASA’s Langley Research Center told Space Weather:
We see a cooling trend. High above Earth’s surface, near the edge of space, our atmosphere is losing heat energy. If current trends continue, it could soon set a Space Age record for cold. It could happen in a matter of months.
South Texas has already had snow, something they rarely get. Instapundit, who provided the link, has a two word Rx: Wool socks.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Travel Blogging XIV

At sea 2 days out of Los Angeles: The month-long cruise is almost over, which could be sad but isn’t. Yesterday the at-sea Internet died which made us aware of the extent to which we’d come to rely on it for ... call it “entertainment” although at least in my case much of what I do is factual, not foolishness.

I’m ready to get ashore and get on with the process of reclaiming our smoky home. We finally managed to get our hands on a document which shows where we live in CA. We will likely need it to get to our house which is still in an evacuation area, protected we’re told by national guard troops and roadblocks against looters.

Cruising eastward across the Pacific has meant setting the clocks ahead an hour just about every other day. It turns out so many 23 hour days in quick succession generates something not unlike jet lag. I find, in the absence of a reason to get up earlier, I’m getting asleep later and waking up later than I normally would. Arrival morning on Sunday in LA will put an end to that, we have an early disembarkation time as our flight takes off just before noon.

Later ... They got the Internet fixed, even though it is slow it’s better than nothing.

Thursday, November 15, 2018


Imagine someone who normally writes about politics and economics crafting a science fiction short story about  U.S. future history. A possible future is what this New York Magazine Intelligencer article describes.

The author sketches a path forward for a seriously divided nation, written as a policy retrospective. It reads like “how we got to where we are” from the perspective of perhaps 2070.

As a science fiction enthusiast and follower of political and economic trends and policy, I found it very interesting speculative fiction. It doesn’t particularly lean left or right politically.

The article is a reality-based projection of what could (not necessarily will) happen. I highly recommend it to you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

FIRST STEP = Wrong Step

Writing at Power Line, Paul Mirengoff reports most police organizations oppose the leniency movement’s FIRST STEP legislation that would take it easy on drug sellers and child pornographers. I don’t find their opposition either surprising or wrong-headed.

COTTonLINE believes our society doesn’t have an over-incarceration problem, if anything we have an under-incarceration problem. Too many criminals reoffend more or less immediately after release.

If we knew how to rehabilitate criminals that would be different, our efforts in that regard fall far short of success. Recidivism is the norm, not the exception.

FIRST STEP could easily become for prisons, like the earlier effort for mental hospitals, one of those unfortunate issues where liberals want to let everyone out and conservatives want to spend less money housing habitual misbehavers.

When this collusion happens, you and I are the ones who suffer the downside of living with violent, greedy people in our midst. In their gated communities, the glitterati are semi-immune.

Brexit Update

Against the deadline in March, the Theresa May government in the U.K. is trying to negotiate a deal with the EU that (a) they’ll accept and (b) can pass in Parliament. This article in New Statesman indicates she has accomplished (a) but the deal she provisionally struck won’t do (b). Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

If you are interested in why the author believes the PM’s ‘deal’ can’t get a majority in Commons, he explains that rather complicated analysis. I enjoyed it, you may experience it as TMI.

The short answer is that her ‘deal’ will lose the support of the small Northern Ireland party without which she has no majority. Most of Labor (the opposition) wants a new election to see if they can’t win and form the government.

Right now, if I had to bet, I’d bet on a “no deal” Brexit where the U.K. goes it alone and much chaos ensues. That is what the Leavers voted for, and what they should get - chaos be damned.

Americans should look long and hard at the sort of paralysis that can afflict parliamentary systems like the U.K.’s. May is a lame duck, has been since she called a snap election and lost the majority.

Divisions in her party meant nobody had more support than May so she stayed P.M. with the help of a hard-line Unionist party in N. Ireland. If the Unionists leave, May can’t pull a majority on key votes so the Unionists have an effective veto on what she does. Their prioities are not those of May’s voters. It’s a mess.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Definitional Wisdom

Writing at the obviously pro-Trump site American Greatness, Christopher Roach comes up witn a relatively succinct description of the two major political parties as they exist today.
The Republicans are now a party of the middle class and the middle of the country, and the Democrats are a party of the extremes, the rich and the poor, whose bases are chiefly on the East and West Coasts. Both parties and their voters have become more partisan and farther apart from each other in the process.
Does anybody want to argue that the middle class is NOT our nation’s backbone, largely what we are about as a people? If you do make that argument, I won’t be singing along  ...  just sayin’.

An Outrage

Steve Hayward of Power Line summarizes peer-reviewed research reported in Electoral Studies (behind paywall) which looks at unlawful voting in U.S. elections by non-citizens. The abstract says in part:
We find that some non-citizens participate in U.S. elections, and that this participation has been large enough to change meaningful election outcomes including Electoral College votes, and Congressional elections. Non-citizen votes likely gave Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress.
The study was done by Jesse T. Richman and colleagues at Old Dominion University. The survey size was 32,000 in 2008 and 55,000 in 2010, very large samples.

What can be done to stop the outrage that is non-citizen voting?

A Slow Learner

Ira Stoll writes at the New York Sun website an article with this underwhelming title:
Democrats Are Emerging As Party of the Rich
I hope he’s experiencing it as one of those “Wow, I finally caught on.” moments, for he certainly should be. This is no new insight, not even close.

A quick search of COTTonLINE shows the first time I wrote about the wealthy voting Democrat was eight years ago in 2010! Here’s the link.

Future Cops

The future of policing? Think Chips meets Blade Runner meets Judge Dredd as the police in Dubai take to the air in flying motorcycles, see the write-up at Gulf News. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Now imagine your neighborhood biker gang mounted on these ... airborne rolling thunder. Anyone for a “hover-in” at Sturgis?