Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Zogby: Trump Brought “His A Game”

Democratic pollster John Zogby evaluates the SOTU at his eponymous website John Zogby Strategies, hat tip to Washington Examiner for the link.
We have to admit that the President had his A-game tonight when he delivered his first State of the Union message. Mr. Trump stuck close to his teleprompter and helped redefine his Presidency.

Gone was the edgy warrior, the hyper sensitive tweeter, the reality show bravado. Instead, we saw a mature man who seems to have grown into his job and one who elucidated his principles and his policies about as well as he has ever done. In the process, he not only moved well into the second year of his term but provided a strong and compelling message for Republican candidates in the 2018 elections.

His first State of the Union is a reminder of why he often wins his battles. Beware of efforts to sell him short. He hit a solid triple tonight. If he can sustain this message and tone, he will cross home plate standing up.
By which baseball metaphor Zogby means Trump can win reelection in 2020. Let’s be fair and note that Zogby thinks it likely Trump will repeatedly shoot himself in the foot between now and then. Combining the two metaphors - Zogby’s and mine - Trump may cross home plate standing, but also limping from self-inflicted wounds.

Understanding the Meaning of “Path”

In his first State of the Union address President Trump offered, as part of a comprehensive immigration reform package, “a path to citizenship” for some 1.8 million young people brought here illegally as children. Now let’s parse what “a path to citizenship” means, starting with his actual words.
Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States.
He didn’t offer to hand them citizenship, just for being here, as Democrats would wish. As I understand it, he is offering them citizenship sometime in the future perhaps a decade from now if, in the interim, they finish school, stay out of jail, and stay off public assistance. In short, if they earn it.

The wisdom of old time horse players is that you bet horses according to how they’ve run in the past. Applying that wisdom to these young illegals, what are the odds that they will avoid trouble and do the other positive things necessary to qualify for citizenship a decade downstream? My horseback guess (pun intended) is that less than half will so qualify, based on their checkered track record to date.

Translation: the citizenship offer is merit-based and, to gain it, these young illegals have to stay on the proverbial straight and narrow path for a decade. Many will not do so. Those who have the self-discipline to succeed have a reasonable chance of eventually becoming Republican voters, no bad thing.

Most Viewers Liked SOTU

CBS News reports an after-action poll of SOTU watchers. Three quarters of viewers liked the President’s State of the Union speech.

People who watched Trump last night liked his speech, unless they were Democrats. Particularly good news is that Independents by and large approved. They can, after all, be swing voters.

Does that mean 3/4 of Americans liked it? No, many Democrats didn’t tune in, just as many Republicans didn’t watch Obama’s dreary efforts.

At some point many decide they don’t need the grief of watching a guy they don’t like say things they don’t believe. This while other people they don’t like jump to their feet and applaud.

Democrats who glumly sat there in the House chamber trying to ignore the GOP pep rally going on around them were in a lose-lose situation and knew it. They looked dorky and sullen being there but might have looked worse staying away.

Present or absent, for Dems it was not fun; something to be endured, not enjoyed. As the old joke would have it, it is the Democrats’ turn in the barrel.

Review: SOTU

The other DrC and I watched the State of the Union speech earlier this evening. Our opinion: the Donald hit it outa the park, a clear home run. His best line, “Americans are Dreamers, too.” Perhaps his best conclusion was this:
They are Americans. And this Capitol, this city, and this Nation, belong to them.

Our task is to respect them, to listen to them, to serve them, to protect them, and to always be worthy of them.

The people dreamed this country. The people built this country. And it is the people who are making America great again.
Talk about putting paid to scurrilous rumors about mental deficiency or illness. Everybody who watched saw a sober, on-message President who didn’t get off-topic, wasn’t grandstanding, and demonstrated his chops as our booster-in-chief. If you want to read the entire speech, you can find it here.

Meanwhile, the Democrats in the hall were surly and bummed, sitting on their hands and playing with their phones. Trump was telling us we’re doing swell as the Dems sat there looking as screwed as a guy who just watched his exwife walk in holding hands with his boss.

To cap off the evening, porn star Stormy Daniels categorically and in writing denied having an affair with, or being paid money by, Donald Trump. The tabloids will have to find something else about which to speculate.

Millennials Finally Growing Up

Demographer Joel Kotkin writes for The Daily Beast that - better late than never - Millennials are moving to the suburbs (and exurbs) and having children. Urban planners everywhere are heartbroken at this good news. As OCD-afflicted micromanagers, they richly deserve whatever heartbreak comes their way.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Free Trade Hurts Many

RealClearWorld links to a George Friedman column at Geopolitical Futures. He writes the world’s current economic boom isn’t going to make populism go away.
Across European and American society, economic classes that were traditionally linked to left or center parties have shifted their allegiance. One major reason has been that the parties they have traditionally supported were advocates of free trade. The theory of free trade is that it benefits nations in the long run. The reality is that the benefits don’t necessarily get distributed to everyone. As important, the negatives of free trade are borne by the classes that can least bear it.

In both the United States and Europe, hostility toward immigrants has soared, and immigration has gone from a peripheral issue to a central one. Citizens of these countries worry about threats to their culture as well as to their safety and security. Above all else, though, is the fear of job loss.

The older parties and those benefiting from the economic recovery are waiting for these movements to go away. They become excited at reports of economic growth. But these movements are not going away, and this ceased to be a matter of economics years ago.
Do you have locks on your home or do you just let random strangers squat in your livingroom? You’re choosy about who gets invited in, are you? Why shouldn’t a country be similarly selective about who gets to move in?

We should admit skilled workers who understand and obey laws, learn English and try to fit in. We’ve got surplus unskilled labor already here. New technology and further immigration will only make their situation worse.

Being the Story

Ezra Klein, no fan of President Trump, writes at the Vox site. Today he observes that Trump is “winning,” and goes on to explain what he means. Hat tip to RealClearPolicy for the link. I believe Klein has stumbled across some truth, see what you think.
The secret to Trump’s success, the insight that has separated him from his competitors, is that he has cared less about the nature of the coverage he received than that he received coverage at all.

This is the law by which Trump lives his life. Attention creates value, at least for him. Before Trump, every politician hewed to the same basic rule: You want as much positive coverage, and as little negative coverage, as possible. Trump upended that.

His rule, his realization, is that you want as much coverage as possible, full stop. If it’s positive coverage, great. If it’s negative coverage, so be it. The point is that it’s coverage — that you’re the story, that you’re squeezing out your competitors, that you’re on people’s minds.
Klein concludes that being the lead in every news story, however critical, is “winning.” All other politicians are boring, not so Trump. No recent president has dominated the news to nearly the same extent.

Every story, even those seemingly about entertainment or sports, end up having a Trump “hook” somewhere. As another pundit observed, Trump lives rent-free in the heads of his enemies as well as his supporters. Fascinating stuff ....

Monday, January 29, 2018

Greek Pranksters

A group of not-so-merry pranksters in Greece called Rouvikonas (Rubicon) is happily trashing law offices, hassling utility workers, vandalizing embassies, and generally raising havoc. See an article about the group in Foreign Policy.

Generally speaking, Rouvikonas doesn’t physically harm people, even those they don’t like. Their main complaint is that elections in Greece are a farce, because whoever is elected, nothing changes. Does that sound vaguely akin to the movement that elected The Donald?

On the other hand, if you know Twentieth Century Greek history, Greeks acting unlawfully isn’t something new. They share a weakness for tax evasion and corruption with the other Europeans along the Mediterranean coast.

Turkey No Longer NATO-Worthy

Michael J. Totten writes for World Affairs Journal. He has been a consistent supporter of the Kurds, our most reliable ally in the Muslim world and the only one that doesn’t explicitly or implicitly hate us.

Today, in the wake of Turkey’s attack on the Kurds in Syria, Totten writes it is time to revoke Turkey’s NATO membership.
Last August, as Erdogan visited his “dear friend” Vladimir Putin in Moscow, NATO issued a telling statement. “Turkey is a valued ally, making substantial contributions to NATO’s joint efforts… Turkey’s NATO membership is not in question.”

Stop right there. Of course Turkey’s NATO membership is in question. Otherwise, why bother denying it?

The statement continues: “Our Alliance is committed to collective defence and founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty, human rights and the rule of law.” Indeed, the alliance was founded on all of those principles, none of which increasingly authoritarian Turkey adheres to any longer.

If Turkey were not in NATO, it would not be admitted. (emphasis added)
Erdogan has chosen to go his own way, so be it. NATO should expel Turkey, pour encourager les autres, and arm the Kurds.

McGovern, With Fondness

File this one under the heading “Predictions We Hope Are True.” Stephen Green, guest blogging at Instapundit, notes the 2020 presidential wannabes in the Democrat Party - Booker, Harris, Warren, and Gillibrand - all voted to keep the government shutdown, citing lack of protection for DACA illegals in the CR.  He  opines:
It’s too soon to make any predictions with confidence, but an early guess is that the Democrats are preparing for another McGovern Moment.
Oh, please ... do it, do it! Democrats and McGovern-style candidates go together like cookies and milk. How I love to watch them lose nearly every state. It’s schadenfreudelicious.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

A Countdown?

Instapundit quotes Daniel Greenfield on America’s current extreme political polarization.
Who decides who runs the country? When you hate each other but accept the election results, you have a country. When you stop accepting election results, you have a countdown to a civil war.

When you consistently reject the results of elections that you don’t win, what you want is a dictatorship. Your very own dictatorship.

The only legitimate exercise of power in this country, according to the left, is its own. Whenever Republicans exercise power, it’s inherently illegitimate.
Greenfield’s inflammatory statements are only slight exaggerations. His scenario is frighteningly plausible.

Democracy enshrines the public will as inviolate. Thus it is inherently unstable when the public will becomes anti-democratic (as sometimes happens).

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The World’s Rock Star

Steven Hayward of Power Line evaluates Trump’s impact at the Davos economic gathering.
Foreign politicians and business leaders alike can’t conceive of reaching the summit of politics in the manner Trump did. Deep down I think they know they can’t match Trump.

Love him or hate him, Trump is the world’s rock star these days. Pay no attention to what Davos Man says to reporters; they all want to be part of the Trump show.
Donald John Trump did what Sinatra sang about: the record shows, he took the blows, and did it his way (and won yuuuge).

Czech Nationalist Reelected

For those of you who are keeping score, anti-immigrant nationalists have won another presidential election. This time, Fox News reports, the win came in the Czech Republic.
Europe’s populist movement was given a shot in the arm on Saturday when Czech Republic President Milos Zeman, running primarily on an anti-migration platform, fended off a challenge from political neophyte Jiri Drahos.

Zeman won 51.4 percent of the vote from the two-day runoff while Drahos won 48.6 percent.

Zeman, who has warned of an “organized invasion” of migrants and asked why young men fleeing their country didn’t take up arms and fight back home, had embraced the populist wave that swept through the West in 2016.

He was one of very few European leader to endorse President Donald Trump’s bid for the White House and by calling for a referendum on the Republic’s membership of the European Union, has taken a page from the British “Brexit” vote.
Sounds to COTTonLINE like the pro-Czech candidate won and the globalist lost. Wonderful, a Czech that won’t bounce.

The Gotcha Clause

Instapundit links to a Monica Showalter article in American Thinker. She puts a not-bad spin on the Trump proposal for DACA illegals.
It makes sense because studies show that most Dreamers are underachievers, many of whom are just high school graduates, heavy welfare users, have petty crime backgrounds, and do not speak English. It's almost a given that most won't make it to the twelve-year finish line without getting into a bar fight, getting caught graffiti-spraying, or be picked up for drunk driving. The only ones who make it will be those with a work ethic and family values. Those actually are the ones who could become Republicans in the long run.
If they have to register to be eligible for eventual citizenship, cross-checking should be easy. As she notes, this is more of Trump’s merit-based immigration (here in disguise), largely a good thing.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Photo of Obama, Farrakhan Together

The following are from a website titled AZQuotes and headed “Top 25 quotes by Louis Farrakhan.”
The white man is our mortal enemy, and we cannot accept him. I will fight to see that vicious beast go down into the lake of fire prepared for him from the beginning, that he never rise again to give any innocent black man, woman or child the hell that he has delighted in pouring on us for 400 years.

God will destroy America by the hands of the Muslims. God will not give Japan or Europe the honor of bringing down the United States; this is an honor God will bestow upon Muslims.

The Jews don't like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler. Well, that's a good name. Hitler was a very great man.
Now go to Talking Points Memo to see a photograph by Askia Muhammad of:
Then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama (D) and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan that he took in 2005 at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting, but did not make public because he believed it would have “made a difference” to Obama’s political future. 
Those two gentlemen look pretty darn happy with each other. Far too many of Obama’s actions in office appear to have been informed by Farrakhan’s views.

Heritage: Trump 1.0 a Success

The Gateway Pundit website echoes a New York Times article (behind paywall) reporting that the conservative Heritage Foundation rates President Trump’s first year more successful than President Reagan’s first year.
The Heritage Foundation, which found in a new review that nearly two-thirds of its ideas had been carried out or embraced by the White House over the past year.

The results, Heritage found in its review, exceeded even the first year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, whose tenure has long been the conservative gold standard.
Conservatives I know are happy with Trump 1.0. To a person, they happily anticipate Trump 2.0 which just began. The quadrennium could be epic....

The Enemy Among Us

Power Line links to a Middle East Forum article on the activities of Pakistani-based Jamaat-e-Islami in the United States. It has multiple links to, and raises money for, terrorist organizations in Pakistan and beyond.

Its further U.S. activity on behalf of Obama’s “religion of peace” needs to be curtailed. The FBI needs to be doing this work, instead of fighting with our elected President.

Our Notorious Media Bias

Pro-Democrat bias in U.S. media is so notorious that commenters in foreign media take it as a given. See for example what John O’Sullivan writes in The Spectator (U.K.) about allegations Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party controls that country’s media:
Though Hungary’s Fidesz party (and its friends) have bought a dominant position in the media — as a socialist prime minister advised Orban to do when he complained of left media dominance — it’s very far from complete. Consider the opposition media’s lively coverage of government scandals last year. Indeed, it’s strikingly less dominant than the overwhelming favouritism shown to the Democrats by US media. (emphasis added)
Question: Why don’t wealthy U.S. conservatives buy up leading U.S. media outlets? Where are the Kochs and Adelson when we need them?

If Bezos can buy WaPo, why didn’t some uber-wealthy guys on the right outbid him? Probably because they, as smart businessmen, consider it a money-losing investment. Yet they spend tens of millions on political contributions.

Why not lose the money on Washington’s paper of record instead? Subtile propaganda hiding in plain sight as “news” isn’t stupid, it has more impact than paid political ads because its bias is covert. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.

Who Reads What

With a hat tip to the screen writers for the British TV comedy Yes, Prime Minister, Steven Hayward of Power Line identifies the reader- and viewership of major U.S. media sources.
The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country; The New York Times is read by people who think they ought to run the country; the Wall Street Journal is read by people who own the country; CNN is watched by people who think the country should be run by another country; and Fox News is watched by people who think it is.
Very snarky, with the distinct aftertaste of bitter truth.

Review: True Faith and Allegiance

True Faith and Allegiance appears to be the latest in the Jack Ryan/John Clark series of novels begun by the legendary Tom Clancy, and continued by him with co-author Mark Greaney. Following Clancy’s death, the series continues sole authored by Greaney very much maintaining the classic Clancy style.

I give full props to Greaney for writing a good “Clancy world” book, he learned it well. In this book President Ryan faces a wave of terror incidents on U.S. soil. The Campus, including John Clark and the President’s son Jack Jr. tackle finding out who is doing what and more importantly how the terrorists have the intel to do what they do.

This book explores how bad people who know how to follow clues online can learn much about people they’d like to harm from their social media presence; either from their own or their friends’ sites. It really shows we give away far too much personal data in our online postings.

If reading this novel doesn’t convince you to stay off Facebook and similar social media sites, probably nothing will. It is a good read, classic “guy” fiction, at which form Clancy, Cussler, and Griffin are masters. The topic is very timely, these online security issues are being discussed at Davos as I write this.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A Toxic Culture

Seattle Times reprints a syndicated New York Times article (behind NYT paywall) about our government concealing the widespread prevalence of pedophilia in Afghanistan. Specifically, Afghan men - soldiers and police - preying on underage boys, a practice considered normal there.

Afghanistan’s a place where you select one group of villains to be “our side” and they’re no better than the other group with the exception that “our group” doesn’t yet actively seek our destruction, but merely acquiesces therein. The country’s culture is so toxic you could reasonably argue it justifies genocide to eradicate it.

Why Trump?

David French, writing at National Review, about why Republicans voted for Trump.
Many Republicans — down to the very marrow of their bones — believed that the GOP had been “too nice,” and that nominating gentlemen like Mitt Romney meant that the party was unilaterally disarming in a no-holds-barred political war.
Can you say “No more Mr. Nice Guy?” It was time to pick a guy who sucker punches, plays for keeps, and stomps ‘em when they’re down. So far ... mirable dictu ... it’s inelegant but it works!

Public Wants Much Less Immigration

The Washington Times reports interesting opinion polling concerning public attitudes toward immigration. You won’t find these results in the legacy media, they’re very un-PC.
A Harvard-Harris poll taken in the run-up to the shutdown found Americans strongly support granting citizenship rights to illegal immigrant Dreamers. But they also back Mr. Trump’s three demands for a border wall, limits to the chain of family migration and an end to the Diversity Visa Lottery.

Most striking of all is the public’s demand for lower overall legal immigration — a position that has little traction on Capitol Hill but one that is overwhelmingly popular across the country. (emphasis added)
Okay, here is the deal for Republicans to get behind: give green cards to otherwise uncriminal Dreamers, build the wall, close the rest of the loopholes, and limit legal immigration. Failing that, start sending all the undocumented, including Dreamers, ‘home.’

With apologies to Frankie Laine, a tongue-in-cheek work song for ICE:
Movin’, movin’, movin’,
Though they’re disapprovin’
Keep those undocs movin’
Rawhide (whip crack)

Obama Was Complicit

Andrew C. McCarthy, former federal prosecutor, writes in National Review that President Obama must have mandated the Comey exoneration of Hillary Clinton on charges of mishandling classified material. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.
If Clinton had been charged, Obama’s culpable involvement would have been patent. In any prosecution of Clinton, the Clinton–Obama emails would have been in the spotlight. For the prosecution, they would be more proof of willful (or, if you prefer, grossly negligent) mishandling of intelligence. More significantly, for Clinton’s defense, they would show that Obama was complicit in Clinton’s conduct yet faced no criminal charges.

That is why such an indictment of Hillary Clinton was never going to happen. The latest jaw-dropping disclosures of text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and his paramour, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, illustrate this point.
As usual in Washington, the cover-up went all the way to the top, to the Oval Office. The second backside Comey was covering, when he famously announced Clinton did nothing criminal, was Obama’s.

OR’s Empty Threat

The Oregonian reports as follows:
A bill introduced Monday in Salem would require candidates for president and vice president to give a copy of their most recent tax return to the Oregon Secretary of State with written permission that the document can be made public. Alternatively, the candidate could fill out Oregon’s standard income disclosure form for public officials.
The obvious intent is to force Donald Trump seeking reelection in 2020 to release his tax filing. Inasmuch as he has exactly zero chance of winning Oregon, it would serve them right if he simply ignored the state or had a local Republican run as a surrogate. And he’s just brassy enough to say “Why should I bother?”

Let’s suppose the idea catches on, most blue states adopt the law, and let’s suppose further that an irritated Trump just runs in states where he has a chance of winning and doesn’t bother with the rest. It could be the weirdest election we’ve ever had.

I’m imagining a subsequent election where the Democrat doesn’t bother getting on the ballot in red states, the Republican doesn’t bother in blue states, and the only states where both are on-ballot are the so-called “swing states” that could go either way. That is almost what happened in 2016, swing states were the only ones in which candidates campaigned.

How much longer before most people move to a state where their guy (or gal) has a chance? We’d end up as two almost-countries living side-by-side, scowling at each other in mutual incomprehension and distaste. We aren’t too far from that situation now.

Davos Is Very Cold

Reports are the snow is maybe six feet deep at Davos, where global elites are now gathered. Meanwhile, climate warrior scientists are there trying to convice the assembled poobahs they must take immediate, drastic action on global warming.

Talk about poetic justice, blizzard conditions couldn’t happen in a more ideal setting or with better timing. “Immediate, drastic action“ will be a very hard sell. Expect a lot of lofty virtue signaling and minimal action.

A Common Delusion

Blogging at Power Line, Steven Hayward asks “Why do Democrats hate Israel?” and gets right into the perennial question, why do almost all Jews vote for Democrats who, a recent survey shows, don’t much like Israel.  Hayward quotes a Pew Research Center study:
Since 2001, the share of Republicans sympathizing more with Israel than the Palestinians has increased 29 percentage points, from 50% to 79%. Over the same period, the share of Democrats saying this has declined 11 points, from 38% to 27%.
Hayward implicitly is asking how Jews can side with folks who don’t much like Israel, though he doesn’t actually write those words. I believe he shares the delusion that most American Jews approve of today’s Israel; I suspect they do not.

My guess: many American Jews are embarrassed by the actions Israel takes to defend itself, and emphathize with the Palestinians. They’d almost have to hold that view to vote Democrat, something it is clear most do every two years.

Israel’s real defenders in the U.S. are evangelical Christians like VP Pence, for a variety of doctrinal reasons, and foreign policy hawks. The latter approve of Israel’s rapid, deadly responses to threats to its safety and see it as the only modern nation in a backward, corrupt region.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Weird Obstetrical Science

The Telegraph (U.K.) reports the results of a study of nearly 30 million births which found that children born via C-section are much more likely to be obese. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.
They found that the risk of obesity for under fives jumped by 59 per cent if they had been delivered through a c-section. The youngsters were also 21 per cent more likely to develop asthma by the age of 12.

Scientists said there was growing evidence that c-sections influence the development of the immune system and gut bacteria. And many women have the procedure because they themselves are obese, which also influences their baby’s health.

30 years ago only one in 10 babies were born through c-section but that has now risen to around one in four - around 160,000 babies a year.
People with obese parents are more likely to be obese themselves, since they inherit fat genes and learn a calorie-laden lifestyle. I remind the gentle reader the direction of causality is unclear in correlational studies, which this appears to be.

The article says C-sections cause obesity. However, it may well be that obesity causes C-sections, or both may be caused by some third factor unmentioned, perhaps unknown.

Prez Clinton: Deport Illegal Aliens

Long-time friend and former colleague Earl sends along a link to a C-Span segment of the 1995 State of the Union speech by then-President Bill Clinton. For roughly a minute and a half, Clinton speaks unambiguously about the need to curtail illegal immigration and deport those here without permission.

It’s a get-control-of-our-borders speech President Trump could deliver word-for-word without raising an eyebrow or offending his base. Amazing how far leftward the Democrats have moved in 23 years.

The speech reminds you the Bill Clinton who was President was both relatively conservative and the last successful Democrat president. His conservatism in office is deeply embarrassing to today’s SJW progressives.

Shutdown Snark

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, paraphrasing Conan the Barbarian’s view of what is best in life, to describe the outcome of this weekend’s government shutdown.
To pass a tax bill, to stop a shutdown, to see the Schumers driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women.
That last because Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and their ilk complained Schumer caved too easily.

Secret Society at FBI?

Ed Driscoll, guest blogging at Instapundit, links to a PJ Media blog which quotes a Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) Tweet as follows:
The thousands of texts @TGowdySC and I reviewed today revealed manifest bias among top FBI officials against @realDonaldTrump. The texts between Strzok and Page referenced a "secret society." 
Wow! A secret society, how very Dan Brown. Imagining something like the Priory of Zion embedded within the FBI, complete with robes, masks, and orgies. Or maybe Orwell’s Inner Party, living fat while real agents work clean for peanuts.

It is time to turn over the DOJ/FBI’s deep state rock and expose the swarming maggots beneath to sunlight and a stiff shot of Raid™.

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Hostage They Can’t Shoot

The Washington Times reports the U.S. Senate has voted to override a filibuster and will approve short term (till Feb. 8) continuing funding. I like this Majority Whip John Cornyn quote, characterizing the Democrats’ failed tactics:
They’ve got no exit strategy. They have no plan. You really need to ask yourself how does this end, and they really can’t answer that question. They can’t get what they want. They’ve taken a hostage they can’t shoot. 
Proving it truly was the Schumer Shutdown.

Baltics Up-Arm

Unintended consequences mostly seem to be bad, every now and then you get a good one. RealClearDefense reports the so-called Baltic republics - Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania - have reacted constructively to two threats.

The first threat is the military menace posed by Putin’s Russia. It claims the right to “defend” any remnant ethnic Russian minorities left behind outside Russia when the Soviet Union imploded. Each of the Baltics plays host to an ethnic Russian minority.

The second threat is President Trump’s stated reluctance to support NATO members which haven’t met their treaty-obligated requirement to spend 2% of GDP on defense. When he said that, roughly a year ago, only one of the three former SSRs was doing so.
As of 2018, each of the Baltic States will have finally reached NATO’s mandated minimum of defense spending equaling at least 2 percent of their GDP.
In addition to conventional military preparations, all are ramping up efforts to become places Putin would not find easy to “digest” after invading. They are working to develop, in advance, both the will and the wherewithal to field an armed resistance movement. This follows the much-admired Swiss/Finnish model.

The outcome is clearly not one Putin either wanted or anticipated, Trump on the other hand achieved his aim. Now, if only the rest of NATO would take defense seriously and stop “free riding” on U.S. defenses.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

2018 Is No 2010

For obvious reasons, Democrats are hoping the 2018 midterm election is like that of 2010, when 60+ House seats were won by the opposition party. Power Line’s John Hinderaker suggests why that may not be an appropriate analogy.
In 2010, Democratic Congressmen had cast two votes that were highly unpopular in most of America. They rammed both Obamacare and the now largely-forgotten nearly-trillion-dollar stimulus through Congress with zero Republican support.

That was the origin of the Tea Party. Democrats running in 2010 weren’t defending Barack Obama, they were defending unpopular votes that they had taken.

Nothing like that is true this year. Republican Congressmen haven’t done anything that is especially unpopular. The Democrats tried to portray the tax cut that way, but that was silly. Tax cuts aren’t unpopular.
Tax cuts are roughly as unpopular as ice cream cones, I’d estimate.

Septic Seattle links to an Aspen Times column by Glenn K. Beaton. In it, Beaton describes the death spiral of the once-proud city of Seattle, as it becomes a veritable vortex of virtue signalling (and sidewalk defecation).

If you don’t live in Seattle, or feel affection for it, the column is funny. Funny in the same way watching someone you don’t like step on a rake and hit themself in the face is funny, aka schadenfreude.

I’ve never liked Seattle so it doesn’t bother me that they’re turning into one of Trump’s sh*tholes. But then, I don’t much like cities anyway, and they’re becoming less likable (to me) every year.

Thomas Jefferson had the right idea in Monticello. Find a rural hilltop, build your home there, and keep your good neighbors at arm’s length distance. Low population density is a key ingredient of serenity.

Macron: French Don’t Love EU

In a bombshell interview reported in the Sunday Express (U.K.), French President Emmanuel Macron told an interviewer that French voters would have “probably” voted to leave the EU if given the chance. Here’s the relevant segment, note the Express likes one sentence paragraphs:
Speaking to Andrew Marr on the BBC, Mr Macron admitted that he would lose a French referendum on EU membership.

Asked about the Brexit vote, the candid president told Marr: "I am not the one to judge or comment on the decision of your people.

"But, my interpretation is that a lot of the losers of globalisation suddenly decided it was no more for them."

Marr then pushed the French president, regarded by many as the EU's new leader, on whether Britain's decision was a one-off.

The BBC journalist asked: "If France had had the same referendum, it might have had the same result?"

Macron responded: "Yes, probably, probably. Yes. In a similar context. But we have a very different context in France."
I can think of two quite different ways to interpret what Macron meant by “very different context.” One is that France, unlike Britain, shares a border with a Germany it must keep in harness via the EU.

The other is that French politicians aren’t dumb enough to ask voters questions whose answers they fear they won’t like. Maybe both interpretations are correct. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Narcissistic Wound

Glenn Reynolds, blogging as Instapundit, waxes philosophical about the dilapidated state of modern leftism and comes up with this:
When a sense of superiority is all you’ve got (and cultivated self-superiority is the core of the current leftist project), realizing that others don’t share it is a narcissistic wound from which there is no recovery. That’s what’s wrong with much of our political class, and it’s ugly and destructive — because much of our political class, at core, is ugly and destructive.
Cultivating “self-superiority” is what drives the virtue signalling that is destroying our culture.

Blue Collar Boom

Steven Hayward posts on Power Line a quote from The Wall Street Journal (behind their paywall) concerning the ongoing economic boom.
Americans with only a high-school diploma are seeing faster earnings growth than their highly educated counterparts, as employers in low-wage industries hungrily search for workers to fill job openings.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, median weekly earnings for workers 25 years and older with only a high-school diploma rose 2.3% from the same period a year earlier, new Labor Department data show. Meanwhile, pay for Americans carrying a bachelor’s degree edged up just 0.8% from the fourth quarter of 2016.

The trend has been ongoing, with year-over-year wage growth for high-school graduates outpacing wage growth for college graduates in each quarter of 2017.
Would you call this Trump delivering for the people who elected him? I emphatically would. Who would have guessed the GOP would become “the workingman’s friend?” Not I.

Many of the most decent, squared-away people I’ve met in recent years have been in the building trades. The U.S. totally needs a healthy, prosperous blue collar workforce and community. Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs is looking absolutely prescient.

Saturday Snark and Snickers

It is Saturday and, regular as clockwork, Steven Hayward has posted his weekly collection of cartoons, captioned photos, posters, and general weirdness at the Power Line site. A few I particularly enjoyed, described:

Cartoon of a married couple at the breakfast table, each reading part of the newspaper. Her section features stories of shootings in Chicago and people moving out of Illinois.
He says: “Trump called some place a s***hole.”
She asks: “Illinois?”

Cartoon of characters from Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger hugs Eeyore and happily declaims:
I got a tax cut and my boss gave me a bounus and a raise!
An unhappy Eeyore, appropriately wearing a Democrat donkey symbol, responds:
Oh, bother.
Cartoon of Obama and Trump maybe a year ago, Trump holding a McDonalds cup out to Obama. Obama speaks:
Manufacturing jobs aren’t coming back ... this rotten economy is the new normal
 Trump replies:
Here, hold my Diet Coke
Photoshopped pix of Trump wearing a falconer’s glove and holding a Twitter bird with the fierce eye and ripping beak of an eagle, captioned:
The Trump Twitter Bird
Remember Democrats as the “mommie” party? A poster with the following text:
M| ake.                             (D)
A| merica.                  Democrats
M| ediocre
A| gain
Photos of President Obama hanging the Presidential Medal of Freedom around the necks of Bill Clinton, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and Anthony Weiner. Caption:
I didn’t know there was a Sexual Predator Award
Photo of a one dollar bill, marked up with two zeros following each 1, captioned:
This dollar identifies as one hundred
If you don’t accept it you are a currencyphobe

North Korean Motives

If the topic interests you, The Atlantic has a decent article on what National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster believes North Korea’s intentions are in creating a nuclear missile capability. McMaster doesn’t buy the notion that it exists, as claimed, to deter a U.S. invasion and regime change.

It is his view the program exists to create a nuclear blackmail ability in the service of an overpowering desire to unify the Korean peninsula under Pyongyang’s rule. McMaster believes this desire drives the North Koreans in the same way it drove the North Vietnamese.

His view causes him to urge a more hawkish stance vis-a-vis North Korea. I find his reasoning persuasive, check out The Atlantic article.

The other DrC suggests I add a reminder of the recent announcement that North and South Korean athletes will march in together at the summer Olympics held in SK this summer. Such cooperation has not been the norm of late, and its meaning is unclear.

Personifying New York

Mollie Hemmingway, often a panelist on Bret Baier’s newscast at Fox News, writes in The Washington Post an upbeat article with this title:
I wasn’t a Trump supporter. I am now.
Basically, she’s pleasantly surprised that a formerly liberal-to-fit-in New Yorker has governed conservatively. I like this comment she wrote:
Like most people, I don’t particularly like Trump’s rhetorical style, juvenile insults and intemperate disposition — on full display in recent days. At the same time, having followed his career for decades, I am not surprised that he wakes up each morning as Donald Trump.
No kidding, he’s a prototypical son of New York City: brash, pushy, a booster, larger-than-life, in-your-face, and with an outsize chip on his shoulder. I haven’t liked most New Yorkers I’ve known personally, I might not like The Donald face-to-face.

My upside, I don’t expect to deal with him personally. On the national stage, being a bully for me and mine, he’s great. I like what he’s done so far, and hope for more. I’ll put up with his New York shtick in the spirit of taking the bad with the good.

A Blast from the Past

Instapundit links to an article in NRA Shooting Illustrated about the Krag-Jorgensen rifle and carbine. I grew up around one of these, a modified carbine my father used as a deer rifle. As the article notes:
Many Krags were sporterized into some mighty graceful deer rifles, as the performance of the .30-40 Krag cartridge fell somewhere between the .30-30 Win. and the .30-’06 Sprg.
I didn’t inherit dad’s rifle, it was stolen in a burglary of my parents’ home shortly after he died. I didn’t realize the design was as old as the article reports, originating in the late 1880s.

The Shutdown: Who Is to Blame?

Most Republicans voted for a continuing resolution to keep the government open while continuing to work on longer term funding; most Democrats voted against it. Paul Mirengoff, blogging at Power Line, does a good job of explaining the motives of the 5 Democrats and the 4 Republicans who voted against their partys’ preferred position.
Nearly every Republican Senator voted for the bill. The only exceptions were two pro-amnesty Senators — Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake — and two anti-spending hardliners — Rand Paul and Mike Lee.

Nearly every Democratic Senator voted against the bill. The only exceptions were five Red State Dems — Claire McCaskill, Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp, and [Doug] Jones — four of whom (all but Jones) are up for reelection this year.
It begins to look like Alabama’s Jones could turn out to be something not seen in recent years: a conservative Southern Democrat.

Postscript: White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders has labeled it the “Schumer Shutdown.”

Friday, January 19, 2018

Chile Has Voted

More often than not, post-Allende Chile has been one of Latin America’s bright spots. World Politics Review gives us an overview of the current state of Chilean politics. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

The nation just elected a former conservative president - Sebastian Pinera - to a second, non-consecutive four year term. That is good for Chile.

They did not, however, give him a majority in either house of the Chilean legislature. This lack will make difficult rolling back social welfare adventures undertaken by the prior socialist administration of Michelle Bachelet.  That difficulty is substantially less good.

Divided government is often a recipe for inaction, or halfway measures that satisfy no one. There are exceptions; Bill Clinton worked with Newt Gingrich’s GOP to do some useful things - welfare reform being the most well-known and least popular with Clinton’s party.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

About “Cheap Sex”

New York magazine reviews a book by Mark Regnerus, a conservative Catholic sociologist at the U. of Texas entitled Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy.
[It] provocatively explores how changes in technology and American society more broadly have reshaped intimacy in recent decades, creating a world in which sex is low-effort and abundant, marriage is late, and relationships tend to be fleeting.

Regnerus believes, in essence, that cheap sex has removed one of the chief incentives for men to grow up, resulting in the plague of perpetually adolescent men that have become a fixture of the American dating landscape.

The contemporary relationship market is producing two things in great abundance: highly educated single women and less-educated, low-status single men.

Single college-educated women are among the most liberal constituencies in America and are becoming more so. A recent study by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute found that 41.1 percent of collegbe freshmen women consider themselves liberal or far-left, the highest percentage ever recorded — and with the largest-ever gender gap.

At the same time, unattached, low-status men are a nightmare for civilization. They are more likely to kill, rape, steal, drink, and use drugs, and they provide ideal recruits for extremist movements of all kinds, whether fascism and communism in 1930s Berlin or ISIS and the alt-right today.

As Ed West and others have suggested, much of contemporary political extremism is, among other things, an exaggerated form of stereotypically feminine (in the case of the far left) and stereotypically masculine (in the case of the far right) behavior.
Nobody mentions a pressing issue for most developed societies: a disasterously low birthrate. Current “western” mores don’t succeed in the simple continuation of humanity; other problems seem somewhat less pressing by comparison.

This column at a website called Armed and Dangerous might be a good companion read to the above, dealing with the same issues at a more colloquial level.

VS: Being a Prig and Bore

Blogging at Instapundit, Ed Driscoll quotes Hugo Rifkind of The Times (U.K.) on virtue signalling.
There is a hunger today to find the flaw, to be the one who says “that thing you think is fine is not fine, and I am a better person than you for noticing it”. You aren’t. You’re a prig and bore. Yes, maybe there’s a mote in my eye. Some eyes have those. No need to gouge them out.
COTTonLINE concurs.

Pope Honors Dutch Abortion Advocate

Is the sky falling? links to a Breitbart story concerning a recent honor bestowed by Pope Francis on a Dutch woman politician who is a pro-abortion activist!
Pope Francis has conferred the title of “Commander of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great” on Lilianne Ploumen, a Dutch politician and vocal agitator for abortion rights.

Last year, Ploumen founded a pro-abortion organization called She Decides, which offers funding and support for international NGOs that provide, facilitate or campaign for abortion.

In an email to the Catholic Herald, Ms. Ploumen said that she was “very honoured” by the pontifical medal, which was sent via the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs last month.

In an interview with Dutch radio, Ploumen said she views the honor as a sign of the pope’s progressivism, as well as acknowledgement for her work in supporting abortion rights.

The Vatican press office has confirmed that the honor was indeed awarded to Lilianne Ploumen, but insists that it was not meant to signal approval of her pro-abortion activities.
There have to be ‘splodey heads’ all over the Catholic world. I try to imagine the dilemma of priests trying to explain to parishioners how abortion is mortal sin when the Pope honors a public abortion advocate and leader.

How does this honor not signal a backdoor doctrinal change for Roman Catholicism? Pope Francis semi-routinely ignores President Obama’s policy maxim: “Don’t do stupid sh*t.”

Unions Defend Mediocrity, Misbehavior

The Volokh Conspiracy has moved to the website. There law prof Jonathan H. Adler summarizes the findings of different studies looking at the effect of extending collective bargaining rights to law enforcement officers and public school teachers. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Sheriffs deputies in Florida received 27% more formal complaints about unprofessional behavior after collective bargaining was granted. This happened during a period when police in nearby communities, who already had bargaining rights, experienced no similar increase.

Economists looked at the outcomes for 35-49 year olds of having been taught by K-12 teachers with bargaining rights vs. those taught by teachers w/o such rights. They found former pupils taught by teachers whose unions had bargaining rights worked fewer hours per week and made less money 2-3 decades after leaving public school.

COTTonLINE has long believed that government employees should have neither collective bargaining rights nor the right to strike. Civil service protections and generous government benefits should suffice.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

By the Numbers

Commenting on the President’s characterization of Third World countries from which stream many legal and illegal immigrants into the U.S., Dennis Prager writes for RealClearPolitics the following:
According to data from the Center for Immigration Studies, 73 percent of households headed by Central American and Mexican immigrants use one or more welfare programs, as do 51 percent of Caribbean immigrants and 48 percent of African immigrants. Contrast that with 32 percent of East Asians and 26 percent of Europeans.
Making Europeans and Asians the best bets as productive immigrants. And even there we should be more selective than we’ve been.

End chain migration, deport visa overstayers and build that wall, Mr. President.

Japan Popular in Taiwan

On several occasions COTTonLINE has noted positive attitudes toward Japan held by the Taiwanese, as well as observing it was the only place the Empire of Japan occupied in the 1930s and 1940s where such attitudes today exist. Sources in the literature in support of this observation have been scarce until now.

Writing in The Diplomat, Eric Chan and Peter Loftus include the following concerning this relationship:
Tokyo will continue to have a strong interest in ensuring the de facto independence of Taiwan. The populations of both countries hold very favorable impressions of one another as indicated in two recent surveys, with a significant volume of bilateral trade. 
It is nice to have a source to cite in support of something we’ve observed while visiting Taiwan.

What Has Changed

Writing at City Journal, Kay Hymowitz looks at immigration then and now. She defines “then” as roughly 1850 to 1930.

It was a period when the U.S. took in millions of unskilled, often uneducated individuals and put them to work in manufacturing and building. During this period making it in the U.S. was largely sink or swim, no welfare, food stamps, etc.

Today sees opportunity for unskilled immigrants quite circumscribed.
Automation and offshoring to Third World countries have seriously eroded the number of blue-collar jobs. Manufacturing positions plummeted from 19.4 million in 1979 to 11.5 million in 2010. (snip) Today’s immigrants are more likely to be hotel workers, agricultural hands, bussers, janitors, and hospital orderlies.

They may be earning more than they could have in their home countries, but their wages—assuming they work full-time—are enough only to keep them a notch or two above the poverty line in the United States. Adding to their troubles is frequently a lack of benefits, unreliable hours, and little chance for moving up the income ladder.

The U.S. may want to welcome low-skilled workers to do the jobs “Americans won’t do” and to help them in the early years of assimilation. But the prospect of a multi-generational proletariat class, hovering near the poverty line and dependent on government help, is probably not what most Americans had in mind.​
Actually we already have a “multi-generational proletariat class“ who are the Democrats’ most loyal voters. Adding immigrant millions to that dependent class is the functional equivalent of finding yourself in a hole and not being smart enough to stop digging.

Obvious Answer Overlooked

A website with the unlikely name of Federal News Radio (aka Radio Swamp?) portentiously asks,
What’s in the Coast Guard’s secret sauce for high retention?
The answer given is that CG officers really care about their people, implying they do so more than officers in other uniformed branches. Nonsense.

The Coast Guard has great retention rates because it rarely posts people overseas, and even more rarely puts them in combat. Wherever they are posted, they normally see their families at least every few days.

Months-long sea duty is a Navy thing, CG not so much. And a lot of their people get home every night. This is the case because the “coast” they “guard” is the U.S. coast.

Don’t underestimate the ability to live what Americans consider a normal life as a motivator. Or perhaps the inability to do so as a demotivator, in those services with long overseas postings..

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Makers, Takers, and the New Tax Law

President Trump may have called certain wretched Third World countries cesspools, or equivalent. Writing at Forbes, William Baldwin calls eight states “sinkholes” and calculates what they call the “soak’em score” of each.
Do you live in a sinkhole state? There are eight of them, led by California and New York. These are places where the population dependent on the state — for employment, welfare or a pension — is larger than the population feeding it.

That excess of takers over makers is recipe enough for trouble when the next recession hits. But now some of the sinkholes have a new worry.

The Trump tax law enacted in December just about killed the federal deduction that prosperous people take for state income taxes. In states with stiff taxes, the cost of living has suddenly gone up.

Now high-income folks who pay the bills for big government in California, Illinois and New York will be even more motivated to decamp for Nevada, Florida or Texas.

I’ve quantified the Trump tax problem in the tables as a Soak ’em Score. This is the percentage of state tax revenues (from all kinds of taxes) coming from income taxes on people with incomes over $500,000. That tax revenue is vulnerable. Not every high earner can relocate, but a lot can.
It is worth remembering Forbes’ target audience is those with incomes over $500,000. Four of the eight “sinkhole” states have a high “soak’em score,” they are CA, CT, IL, and NY. Politically, all four are bluer than blue.

The other four “sinkhole” states - AK, LA, MS, and WV - have low “soak’em scores, and are thus not so vulnerable to the wealthy decamping for low tax havens.

Arresting News

Washington Times reports what could definitely turn out to be very good news.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen confirmed Tuesday that her department has asked federal prosecutors to see if they can lodge criminal charges against sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal deportation efforts.

“The Department of Justice is reviewing what avenues may be available,” Ms. Nielsen told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Democrat mayors and council members doing the perp walk ... God, I do love it so. Hat tip to Gen. Patton for that last bit.

Most Will Be Better Off

Something reminded me of an old Ronald Reagan campaign pitch, used when he was running against incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980. He famously asked, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

Reagan did so believing enough would answer “no” to win him election, and apparently was correct. The GOP could do much worse than that chestnut in 2018.

Ask the voters whether they are better off than they were two years ago. It is a time in the economic cycle when the answer for most will be “yes.”

Why change horses when you’re winning the race? Why would you want to go back to Obama-era policies that left so many of us treading water?

I have to think “are you better off” is the best pitch Republicans running in 2018 have got. A year from now we’ll know.

The Trouble With Identity Politics

I’ve been pondering the downside of identity politics and I believe I see a ray of sunshine stabbing through the clouds. My insight, if that isn’t too grand a label, is a restaging of the classic “what if they gave a war and nobody came?”

What happens to a political party reliant on identity group politics - the Democrats - if a majority of the country’s people don’t feel like victims, don’t identify as members of a down-trodden out-group? Are there enough people who feel guilty about how well they are doing to fill the gap? Not likely.

Ms. Pelosi is finding it difficult to spin today’s economy as a slow motion apocalypse.  It seems probable to me with the economy booming, nearly everyone who wants a job getting one, and wages rising, that most will think things are okay in November.

People who think things are okay tend to vote Republican, following the conservative adage that if something isn’t broken, it doesn’t need repair.

Monday, January 15, 2018

North By Northwest

Two days ago we got the U-Haul data on interstate movements, today we get the Washington Free Beacon’s summary of United Van Lines data on which states are experiencing out-migration.
Illinois, New Jersey, and New York were the top states in the nation for outbound moves in 2017, according to data from United Van Lines.

"The Northeast continues to experience a moving deficit with New Jersey (63 percent outbound), New York (61 percent) and Connecticut (57 percent) making the list of top outbound states for the third consecutive year," the report states. "Massachusetts (56 percent) also joined the top outbound list this year."
Most United Van Lines moves are paid for by employers, while U-Haul moves are mostly self-financed. As such, they represent looks at different market segments, different socio-economic strata, and as such, complement each other.

Meanwhile, five of the top six states for UVL inbound moves are in or near the Pacific Northwest: OR, ID, NV, SD and WA. The outlier is VT.

Three of these six have no state income tax - NV, SD, and WA - while OR has no sales tax. Half of the top six have no income tax while only 14% of all states are without an income tax. Without doing the cross-tabs, I’d eyeball the by-chance likelihood of income tax-free states being half of the top six as near zero.

CA as Poverty Magnet

Various publications (City Journal, LA Times) have been commenting on an apparent contradiction. California has generous welfare benefits yet, despite all this help, still has the nation’s highest percent living in poverty.

Writing at American Thinker, Rick Moran seems to have gotten a handle on explaining that contradiction, coming straight out of Skinnerian psychology.
The reason California is the poverty capital of America is that the state subsidizes poverty. When you subsidize something, you get more of it.
There it is, in a nutshell. You get more of what you reward, and less of what you make unpleasant. And Moran does a good job of looking at all the contributing factors.

If he leaves out one, it is that if you’re stuck being poor (or find work unattractive), why not do so where the weather is nice? I’m in SoCal as I write this and we’re experiencing 70℉ weather in mid-January.

In this era of free long distance calling via cellphone, did you imagine the poor don’t communicate cross-country? Effectively, CA has hung out a sign with the slogan, “Come for the weather, stay for the handouts.” The poor have come in droves, being a sanctuary state has only made it worse.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Obama in Hindsight

Blogging at Power Line, regular Paul Mirengoff asks the question:
Is Obama as shallow as he seems?
Unsurprisingly he concludes the answer is “yes.” Then he quotes an Obama appraisal done by Rich Lowry:
[T]he deepest truth about Obama is that there is no depth. He’s smart without being wise. He’s glib without being eloquent. He’s a celebrity without being interesting. He’s callow.
Too kind, perhaps, but true as far as it goes. It entirely ignores Obama’s dishonesty and self-absorption, both of which are anything but shallow.


We wrote yesterday about the missile attack false alarm in Hawaii. I’ve been musing about how living through that trauma will change people’s lives? Will some experience PTSD, will others turn to religion, or to drink? Will tourists and/or residents choose to go elsewhere? Will the State of Hawaii be sued successfully for damages?

The other DrC just read aloud an email account by a tourist couple who were in HI. They went through the whole “this might be our end” mental process including saying “good-byes” to each other during the half hour or so until it was announced a false alarm.

I’m social scientist enough to see what happened there as a huge natural experiment. Researchers can compare the baseline data from before the EMERGENCY ALERT with that collected afterwards for HI and for several comparison states. To the extent to which outcomes are different in HI than elsewhere, those changes can tentatively be attributed to this seeming “near death” experience.


If you haven’t experienced one, the “notify all cell phones” alerts really do work, really get your attention. We recently experienced a couple of them during the big storm that devastated wealthy Montecito, near Santa Barbara, and closed the US 101 coast highway with mudslides.

Given that people died in their beds, more than a few folks in the danger zone willfully ignored the alerts. Fortunately, we’re located a few miles away as the crow flies, in an area of essentially no risk.

Hazardous Duty Pay

Writing for Investor’s Business Daily, John Merline reports data reflecting the different occupational choices made by men and women.
In 2015, for example, there were 4,836 workplace deaths, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of those, 4,492 were men, and 344 were women. In other words, men suffered 93% of workplace fatalities that year. This wasn't some aberration. From 2011 through 2015, men accounted for 92.5% of all workplace deaths.

This huge gap has nothing to do with discrimination, of course. It has everything to do with the type of jobs men and women voluntarily choose to take.

The most dangerous professions — logging, fishing, pilots, roofers, garbage collectors, and so on — are all dominated by men. Low-risk occupations — administrative support, health care, education — tend to be dominated by women.
Next time someone complains to you about the men-women pay gap, give them a three word answer - hazardous duty pay. Anybody want to argue dangerous, dirty jobs don’t need doing? I didn’t think so.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Unexpected Insight

Through a cascade of links too lengthy to summarize, I was led back to a May, 2017, article in The Atlantic by Caitlin Flanagan who writes interesting things about the leftist political bias of late nite TV hosts. Check out this:
Though aimed at blue-state sophisticates, these shows are an unintended but powerful form of propaganda for conservatives. When Republicans see these harsh jokes—which echo down through the morning news shows and the chattering day’s worth of viral clips, along with those of Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, and Seth Meyers—they don’t just see a handful of comics mocking them. They see HBO, Comedy Central, TBS, ABC, CBS, and NBC.

In other words, they see exactly what Donald Trump has taught them: that the entire media landscape loathes them, their values, their family, and their religion. It is hardly a reach for them to further imagine that the legitimate (sic) news shows on these channels are run by similarly partisan players—nor is it at all illogical.
Loathing begets loathing, and foments polarization, which leads to hate. TV ratings are going where? Down, you say? In the immortal words of Casablanca’s Capt. Louis Renault, “I’m shocked, shocked....”

Wheels Within Wheels

At Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds has a photo of the supposedly erroneous Emergency Alert sent to phones in Hawaii. It said:
Responding to this, anonymous blogger Allahpundit tweeted:
Minor conspiracy theory: It was a hack, but
will be played off as an error by emergency
warning services
Major conspiracy theory: There was a
missile, we shot it down, and now it’s all
being played off as a false alarm
Responding to that tweet, Bill Hangley, Jr., tweeted:
Very major conspiracy theory: It was a hack by Russians or some
other enemy hoping to trigger a retaliation by us on NK, dragging us into war & crippling our economy, etc. i.e. a cheap, easy 9-11
COTTonLINE’s take: A screw-up by a low-level civil service doofus, bored out of his gourd and possibly “on” some controlled substance.

The Biggest Recent Scandal

John Hinderaker, senior blogger at Power Line, posts an opinion I’m inclined to endorse, obviously with reluctance.
The biggest scandal of our time is the manner in which the Democratic Party, under Barack Obama, weaponized the intelligence agencies and the FBI for political purposes.

A Radioactive Lawsuit?

James Damore wrote a memo while employed at Google suggesting that perhaps the reason there wasn’t more diversity among the firm’s employees was that women and minorities were less likely to be geeks who love to code. For this reasonable supposition he was fired and publicly shamed.

Now, Megan McArdle writes for Bloomberg View:
He’s joined with a conservative lawyer to bring a class action against the company, accusing it of discriminating against conservatives, Caucasians and men.

There are expensive, time-consuming, exasperating lawsuits, and then there are radioactive lawsuits that poison everyone who comes within a mile of them. And this lawsuit almost certainly falls into the latter category.

Perhaps Google thinks its market position is so strong that it doesn’t have to worry about piddly things like whether its employees spend a great deal of time using internal systems to slander half the company’s American customer base. 
McArdle’s whole article is worth your time, if bias in Silicon Valley interests you.

Gone to Texas links to a Breitbart Texas story of Americans relocating within the U.S. using U-Haul trucks - been there, done that, more than once. Texas was the number one gainer of people in 2017, see which other states have been winners and losers:
Following Texas, the balance of U-Haul’s top five net-gain states are Florida, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Illinois ranked in the bottom five, #46 through #49. California, at #50, had the largest net-loss.

U-Haul determines growth states by calculating the net gain of one-way truck rentals entering a state versus those leaving. The company compiles migration trends data for more than 1.7 million one-way U-Haul truck rentals each year.

Interestingly, U-Haul’s migration trends mirror year-over-year findings from the U.S. Census Bureau.
What most of the gainers had in common was low income taxes and warmer weather. The top two - Texas and Florida - have no personal income tax and number five - Tennessee - taxes only interest and dividends. The bottom five lean toward higher taxes and, all but CA have miserable winters.

Review: Dunkirk

Among my avocational interests is World War II military history. We were buying groceries this afternoon when, at the cash register, the market was selling the film Dunkirk on DVD and BR.

We bought one and watched it tonight. Here’s my reaction to this historically based story.

The aim of the film makers was to allow the audience to experience the Dunkirk evacuation from three perspectives. The film is not a history of Dunkirk, but a set of three interacting personal stories set during the evacuation.

Without overdoing spoilers, the film follows a flight of three Spitfire pilots, a couple of foot soldiers leaving the beach for the water, and a motor yacht owner and his son headed to the evacuation.

Interestingly, there is no pre-action build-up, the scene opens with the beginnings of the evacuation, and the whole film doesn’t cover much elapsed time. Is it fun? No. Is it good? Yes; it is grim, unheroic for the most part, and feels real.

Laughably, SJWs have complained that that nearly all the film’s actors were white males, blithely ignoring that Dunkirk’s participants actually were overwhelmingly just that: white males.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

About Immigration

Trump refers to countries like El Salvador and Haiti as “sh*thole countries,” inelegant to be sure, but somewhat accurate. The Los Angeles Times reports:
The president’s comments were in keeping with his long-standing position that the United States should shift its immigration policy away from poorer, developing countries, and instead focus on carefully selecting educated immigrants, especially from Europe, who can already speak English and have professional or technical skills needed in the United States.
Exactly right, we are well-supplied with laborers now.

Oprah As Snarkbait

Kurt Schlichter, who blogs at, appraises the “strengths” Oprah would bring to a presidential candidacy.
She’s got all the qualifications to be a Dem candidate - she’s vacuous, she embraces all the required liberal taboos, and she hates the right people - that is, people like you. And, best of all, Oprah isn’t one of the horde of weirdos, losers, and mutations already threatening to run.
 As usual, Col. Schlichter (ret.) takes no prisoners. You have to love his “weirdos, losers, and mutations” description.

Drip, Drip, Drip .....

As a follow-up to the post below, Paul Mirengoff blogging at Power Line names two different individuals - Sara Carter and Sean Hannity - who claim to have multiple sources telling them the Steele dossier was used by the FBI as “proof” to obtain the FISA warrant to wiretap the Trump campaign.

What I don’t hear is anyone denying its use in that application. As always, draw your own conclusions.

Conspiracy Hinted At

Something salacious to pass along from a site DC Whispers whose name suggests caution in taking its revelatons as absolute gospel. It concerns the alleged role of Sen. John McCain in the transmission of the Steele-compiled, Clinton-funded dossier on then-candidate Trump to the Obama administration.
The goal of providing the dossier to McCain, the Fusion GPS founders explained, was to pass the information contained in the questionable document to the U.S. intelligence community under the Obama administration.

The disclosure raises questions about whether McCain knew that the information he delivered to the intelligence community was actually an opposition document reportedly funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Their headline sums up the overall nastiness of the alleged conspiracy:
John McCain Worked With Foreign Agents, Obama White House, DNC, & FBI To Try And Defeat Trump In 2016
My Analysis:
McCain was entitled to oppose his party’s candidate, if he chose. It appears he allowed his office to be used to give a falsely bipartisan “aroma” to the dossier.

Seeing this, his party was entitled to take whatever punitive action against him was within their power - most likely backing a primary challenge. The “foreign agents” were hired hands who likely did nothing illegal, at least in the U.S.

While we’d expect nothing less than partisanship from an opposition party White House and national committee, eavesdropping on an opponent by falsely claiming a national security justification does cross a line and could be criminal.

If the FBI is proven to have been more than an unwitting tool used by non-FBI outsiders, that is criminal. Indictments should follow. We can’t have our national police takng sides in political campaigns, down that road lies tyranny.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Rove Misplaces Blame links to a Christian Science Monitor article quoting Karl Rove on why Romney lost. It is a nothing story; Rove essentially says Obama’s minions described Romney accurately and millions of white blue-collar voters stayed home, unwilling to vote for either man.

Blaming Obama won’t work. The fault was the GOP picking a patrician wealthy corporate raider as their candidate, one who looked like a shirt model. Expecting Joe and Jill Sixpack to find Romney a sympathetic likable guy was folly, he was too easy to tar (probably fairly) with the “he sent your jobs to China” label.

An Iranian and Saudi Youth Wave

Tom Friedman prefaces his column, syndicated to the Sacramento Bee from The New York Times (behind a paywall), by noting he began his reportorial career in the Middle East. COTTonLINE believe that troubled region is the only subject about which Friedman writes with clear authority. First he sets up his thesis:
The biggest question about the recent protests in Iran – combined with the recent lifting of religious restrictions in Saudi Arabia – is whether together they mark the beginning of the end of the hard-right puritanical turn that the Muslim world took in 1979, when, as Middle East expert Mamoun Fandy once observed, “Islam lost its brakes” and the whole world felt it.

Today Iran and Saudi Arabia have something new in common: a majority of their populations are under age 30, young people connected through social networks and smartphones. And a growing number of them are fed up with being told how to live their lives by old, corrupt or suffocating clerics – and they want to bury 1979 and everything it brought.
Then he notes the new, young leadership in Saudi Arabia, contrasts it with the old leadership in Iran, and concludes:
In Saudi Arabia there’s a move, from the bottom up and from the top down, to get past 1979 and birth a different social future. In Iran, there’s a move from bottom up by many youth to get past 1979, but regime hard-liners want to crush them from the top down.

We should root for both the Iranian and Saudi youth movements to bury 1979. It would be a gift for Muslims the world over – and for the world at large, which has spent trillions of dollars countering the furies fueled by that pivotal year.
Friedman’s entire column is worth reading, if the Middle East interests you.

Who You Believe

We often link, with approval, to columns by David P. Goldman, blogging as Spengler at PJ Media. Today, however, he devotes a column to the allegations of the Michael Wolff book - certainly easy enough to do - and ends with the idea that Wolff asks us “Who do you believe, me or your eyes?”

In the current pep rally environment, the answer to that question sadly is obvious. For most Americans, the answer will be simply “Whichever makes me feel good, regardless of your so-called ‘facts.’” Folks wanna root for their team, and unload crap on the opponent.

COTTonLINE isn’t immune to this virus. We try to root for the nation, right now the nation has an elected President Trump. Our nation is likely to share his fate for the next 3-7 years. If he does well, we’ll do well; if he does poorly, so will we. The nation seems to be doing well, therefore we wish him well.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Downside of Leeway

We give parents considerable leeway in the raising of their children. Some choose not to vaccinate, some choose to home school, all choose in what religious faith, if any, to raise the child, and they choose where to live. The downside of leeway is that parents are fallible, they make mistakes.

Let’s try a thought experiment. If your parents made bad economic decisions, did the government step in and make your family whole financially? Short answer: no. You had to live with the reduced circumstances a lack of money normally results in.

If your parents don’t vaccinate you and you sicken and die from something preventable, do we try them for murder? We don’t.

If your father was a felon, and spent many years in prison, did the government somehow magically make you something other than the poor child of a criminal? It’s likely the answer in all these cases was no, the government wasn’t responsible for repairing your parents’ mistakes.

Suppose your parents took you to a foreign country when you were small and stayed there even though they were not legally entitled to do so. The whole time you were there all members of your family were criminals, violators of that country’s laws.

Is it that government’s responsibility to ignore your crime and take care of you forever? I argue the answer is also no, the government isn’t responsible for repairing your parents’ mistakes. You are the victim of your parents’ lawbreaking, the guilt is theirs, it is not society’s guilt.

A Stable Genius

Lots of happy BS being written concerning whether Donald Trump is smart or not; whether he is sane or not. Think of this as “impeachment porn” and you’re not far wrong.’’ So-called “progressives” are using the attacks for something like sexual gratification. They’re like Confederates dreaming about a victorious Union disintegrating.

Meanwhile Trump, with great insight into what drives others crazy, intentionally trolls them and falls asleep grinning. Hindsight may show he actually is a stable genius. His behavior remains very consistent over time, which suggests “stable” and he gets his way a lot, suggesting much-better-than-average insight into others’ motives and pathologies.

Trump ran for president because he knew he would really enjoy the campaign and the office. He does things purists think gauche, because they are fun. This is probably the manner in which he is most like Teddy Roosevelt. He goes for the gusto, pretty much wherever it takes him, and we’re along for the ride.

Obama “Narcissistic, Self-Absorbed”

The Daily Mail (U.K.) quotes Steve Hilton, advisor to former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, concerning President Obama. Hat tip to for the link.
My old boss, former British prime minister David Cameron, thought Obama was one of the most narcissistic, self-absorbed people he'd ever dealt with.

Obama never listened to anyone, always thought he was smarter than every expert in the room, and treated every meeting as an opportunity to lecture everyone else.
Many of us on this side of the pond had that precise reaction. If Cameron was tired of being lectured, imagine how Americans felt since Obama was always pontificating on our news.

Wet But Safe

You’ve perhaps read or heard that Southern California is getting rain, lots of it. You may have seen stories like this from NBC News saying Santa Barbara County is experiencing dangerous mud slides as the area burned off by the Thomas fire lost its ground cover. All true.

Some of you know the DrsC are currently in SB county and may wonder if we are at risk. Short answer: no.

The area we are in did not burn off in the Thomas fire and was, until yesterday, picturesque but dry as dust. Other than a lot of rain, a power outage caused by wind knocking down trees is the worst thing we’ve experienced.

Heavy rain is not unknown in this area; several years ago we saw the large reservoir by which we park our RV fill up overnight! Santa Barbara would love it to fill again this year, it’s their main water supply.

Bias at Google?

Writing at The Daily Caller, Eric Lieberman shares his finding Google is treating conservative websites in a biased fashion, subjecting them to “fact checking” while giving left-leaning sites a free pass.
Google, the most powerful search engine in the world, is now displaying fact checks for conservative publications in its results. No prominent liberal site receives the same treatment.

And not only is Google’s fact-checking highly partisan — perhaps reflecting the sentiments of its leaders — it is also blatantly wrong, asserting sites made “claims” they demonstrably never made.
It will be interesting to see how (or if) Google responds to this claim. Full disclosure: Google provides the Blogger site where COTTonLINE lives.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Acceptance Implied

Director Lee Daniels, Oprah Winfrey and Harvey Weinstein at The Los Angeles Premiere of ‘The Butler’ after party, on Monday, August 12, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo byAlexandra Wyman/Invision/AP Images)

Four years ago we see director Lee Daniels, TV host Oprah Winfrey, and Harvey Weinstein, well known Hollywood sexual predator, as apparently great pals. Guilt by association does prospective presidential candidates no good. Hat tip to Ed Driscoll, guest blogging at Instapundit, for the photo.

Obama DOJ Malpractice

A website named AZCentral, part of the USA Today network, reports that Federal judge Gloria Navarro has thrown out the conviction of rancher Cliven Bundy and his sons. She did so “with prejudice,” meaning they cannot be retried for armed rebellion as a result of an armed stand-off with BLM agents.
The judge criticized both the prosecution and the FBI for not providing evidence to the defense as required under court rules. "The court finds that the universal sense of justice has been violated," Navarro said.
She determined Federal prosecutors failed to share with the defense team all evidence upon which the conviction was based, as required by law. Her ruling is further proof, if any is needed, that the Obama Justice Department delivered much that merits the label “injustice.”

An Ominous Omen?

James Taranto writes for The Wall Street Journal. Today he reports the results of an interview with Stanford political scientist Morris Fiorina:
He believes the U.S. has entered an era in which no party can hold a majority for very long. (snip) The party controlling the House, Senate or White House changed in seven of the nine elections between 2000 and 2016—the only exceptions being the presidential re-election years, 2004 and 2012.
Fiorina attributes this instability to the polarization of the parties and their donors, while he says the electorate is not polarized. I wonder if he is correct about the electorate?

Fiorina’s pattern suggests 2018, as a non-presidential year, should see the Dems win either the House or Senate. Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell had better get busy; it’s likely the GOP’s window of opportunity will close next January and we’ll be back to gridlock.

Or perhaps, as he has in so many ways, Trump will break the pattern. The Taranto article is worth your time and attention. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Taiwan ≠ China

Author Jeff Jacoby visited Taiwan, talked with Taiwanese students, did additional research and writes about his conclusions for the Boston Globe. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link. Jacoby observes that today Taiwan is not a part of China, if perhaps it once was.

The Taiwanese no longer feel themselves to be Chinese, even though their ethnicity is the same as most mainlanders - Han Chinese. He asks us to remember that the British who founded the U.S. made the same transformation, for some of the same reasons, when they became Americans.

I’d add my own observation about Taiwan, from several brief visits over the past 30 years, including one coincidentally during the brutal attack in Tienanmen Square. Taiwan is the one place in Asia, conquered by the Japanese during World War II, which retains some positive feelings toward Japan.

Everywhere else in Asia - especially China - holds quite negative attitudes toward their former Japanese occupiers, and thus toward today’s Japan. I hypothesize this difference occurs because Imperial Japan, acting in its own geopolitical interests, treated the Taiwanese as a unique nationality, as not-Chinese.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Review: Blade Runner 2049

I have been a fan of the original Blade Runner film since it was first out in 1982. I own the DVD, and had the VC tape before that. It may be the best science fiction film ever made.

Ridley Scott directed the first film and was involved with the sequel; his set decoration for the original was amazingly imaginative. From time to time I tune into to listen to the original Vangelis sound track, or to watch Rutger Hauer’s “tears in rain” soliloquy.

This afternoon the other DrC and I saw the sequel, Blade Runner 2049. It has been out a relatively long time but we were at sea cruising when it was released last fall.

Rumor has it the new film hasn’t earned what they hoped; 35 years was too long to wait for a sequel. Many fans of the original are dead. What is worse, few young movie goers will have seen the original. If you aren’t familiar with the original film, following the sequel will be harder and have, I believe, much less emotional impact.

Without writing spoilers, I’d tell you that during the first half of the 2049 film you’ll wonder what it shares with the first film besides replicants, flying police cars and dirty air. Somewhere just past the midpoint references to the first film, set 30 years earlier in 2019, start to come thick and fast.

If you’re familiar with the first film, it will become clear eventually the films are two halves of a single story arc, an arc the writers of the later film created. Somebody (Scott?) did a heck of a job imagining where the original characters would be 30 years later.

As Ridley Scott has said in interview, the film is maybe a half hour too long. I’d add his half hour should come out of the sequel’s first half, if a director’s cut is ever issued.

The male lead, Ryan Gosling, is a working “blade runner” named K who retires (kills) rogue replicants, and Harrison Ford reprises his Decker role now 30 years older and retired. The other big roles in 2049 are female, Lt. Joshi played by Robin Wright is K’s boss, Ana de Armas plays K’s holographic girlfriend Joi, Sylvia Hoeks plays Luv, a cute young stone killer, and there are several others.

Did I like the film? Yes, but then it was likely I would, true? As a near fanboy of the original I found the last 1/3 of the sequel emotionally gripping and sad. I will buy the DVD when available.

The other DrC tells me the reviews she’s read are either raves or pans, nothing much in between. My guess is those who loved Blade Runner will love the sequel, and those who either haven’t seen or didn’t like the original won’t care much for part II.