Monday, February 26, 2018

Double Penalties in Danish Ghettos

Last Friday we wrote about Denmark, a happy little country much admired by Bernie Sanders. I wonder how ol’ Bern feels about the latest from that merry peninsula, as reported by Agence France Presse?

 AFP notes the Danes have been having trouble with (Islamic) immigrants and have proposed a novel solution. See what it is:
The Danish government said Monday it was looking to reduce crime in trouble hotspots by doubling the punishment for offences committed there compared with other areas of the country.

Plans to introduce a scale of punishment for crime in so-called "ghetto areas", deprived areas with a high immigrant population, will be unveiled on Thursday by Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen as part of a wider plan of action for such places.
Imagine the outrage if the Governor of Illinois suggested such policy for the troubled areas of Chicago. It would appear Danish law doesn’t have an “equal treatment” clause.

No wonder the Danes trust each other, it isn’t a place where getting out of line is tolerated. You’d almost think the Danes didn’t want immigrants (and you’d be right).

Sunday, February 25, 2018

CA Dream, Turned Ugly

Economist Ray Keating, writing for RealClearMarkets, is singing from the COTTonLINE “California Death Spiral” songbook.
Dude, I totally get California. The weather rocks, and I love the beaches and varied coastline. (snip) In fact, if several million dollars suddenly dropped in my lap, a home on the Monterey Peninsula – one of the most beautiful locales I’ve ever visited – would make me quite happy. That’s the California dream.
I find Monterey too foggy and cold, but that’s a minor quibble. The Santa Ynez and Ojai Valleys are close to perfect year round. Like me, Keating sees much to dislike about how California is run, the decisions its politicians make.
Call it the California nightmare. That nightmare is about politicians punishing entrepreneurs, investors, businesses and workers. And when it comes to dishing out such punishment, California serves up the most sadistic elected officials among the 50 states.

Each year, I author the “Small Business Policy Index” for the Small Business Entrepreneurship Council. The index ranks the states according to assorted policy and policy-related indicators, including taxes, regulations, government spending and debt, as well as a few measures of governmental performance.

California’s elected officials batter the state’s economy with the highest state personal income and individual capital gains tax rates, along with high corporate income taxes. For good measure, California punches individuals and businesses at the pump by imposing the highest state diesel tax and second highest gas tax.
Okay, it’s a nice place badly run. Does that matter?
In terms of net domestic migration – that is, people moving among the states – California lost 556,710 people net to other states from 2010 to 2017. That came after net losses of 1.5 million from 2000 to 2009, and 2.2 million from 1990 to 1999. In terms of people voting with their feet, California excels at sending people elsewhere.
It is a nice place to live, but a lousy place to earn a living, buy things, or start a business. If your home is paid for, and you have money, it isn’t a terrible place to retire, but remains an excellent place to visit.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Local Deputies Stood By

Regarding the Parkland, FL, school shooting, CNN reports the following. Hat tip to Ed Driscoll guest blogging at Instapundit for the link.
When Coral Springs police officers arrived at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14 in the midst of the school shooting crisis, many officers were surprised to find not only that Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Scot Peterson, the armed school resource officer, had not entered the building, but that three other Broward County Sheriff's deputies were also outside the school and had not entered, Coral Springs sources tell CNN. The deputies had their pistols drawn and were behind their vehicles, the sources said, and not one of them had gone into the school.

With direction from the Broward deputies who were outside, Coral Springs police soon entered the building where the shooter was. New Broward County Sheriff's deputies arrived on the scene, and two of those deputies and an officer from Sunrise, Florida, joined the Coral Springs police as they went into the building.
Given the source is CNN, you may choose to doubt its veracity. I suspect it is accurate, but await confirmation.

The deputies didn’t cover themselves with glory if it is true. Their reported inaction gives various hot accusations by their boss, Sheriff Scott Israel, the appearance of a frantic CYA effort.

Trump More Popular Than Obama

From today’s Rasmussen Reports Daily Presidential Tracking Poll, a quote to carve in stone somewhere liberals congregate. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows that 50% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Forty-nine percent (49%) disapprove.

This is the president’s highest job approval rating since mid-June of last year. President Obama earned 45% approval on this date in the second year of his presidency.
Democrats really won’t like those numbers, nor will the legacy media; but I repeat myself, there’s no daylight between them.

The Benefit of Homogeneity

Megan McArdle writes columns for Bloomberg. Today her topic is Denmark - how it works there and why it won’t work here.

Her conclusions are essentially twofold: high-wage, high-tax, high-cost, high-benefits Denmark “works” because Danes trust each other. And they trust each other because they’re both virtuous and as alike as peas in a pod. Put another way, Denmark works because it is full of Danes.

The U.S. has people from all over and, instead of trusting one another, we do as Reagan suggested, “Trust, but verify.” All that “verifying” reduces our productivity and increases our operational costs.

No surprise, McArdle finds Mormon Utah to be the U.S. state most resembling Denmark. Western Wyoming is largely Mormon; Danish-like trusting behavior is common in our small town where many leave keys in trucks, and don’t lock doors. As transplanted outsiders, the DrsC don’t follow suit.

It’s a good, albeit semi-long, article which I recommend reading if you’ve the time.

Trump’s Luck

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, no mean snarkmeister, looks at the sequelae of the latest Florida school shooting.
Trump’s luck is pretty amazing. The entire media sets up a week-long hatefest aimed at the NRA, culminating in that shameful fake “Town Hall,” and then the very next day it comes out that there was a police officer there who was too cowardly to do anything, and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who was shaming and lecturing gun owners the night before, must have known it while he was up there on stage.

Trump’s superpower is his ability, just by existing, to bring out the deep and pervasive rot in America’s institutions and the people who run them.
Plus his ability to focus on himself the attention of most of the media most of the time. You could float a cruise ship on the ink devoted to Trump each week.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Hypocracy Alert

The Washington Times has a headline you’ll love if you’re tired of Europeans trashing us for our claimed disinterest in climate change.
Europeans rip Trump on climate change, import record amounts of U.S. coal.
And here are the numbers to back up that claim:
Through September 2017, France imported 1.5 million short tons of American coal — double the amount in 2016.

Through September, Germany imported 3.4 million short tons, compared with 2.5 million in 2016. Italy brought in 2.2 million tons of U.S. coal during the same period; in 2016, it imported just 1.3 million.

As a whole, Europe through September imported 28.4 million short tons, compared with 19.3 million the previous year, federal data show.
Given that information, I am entirely disinterested in European opinions of U.S. efforts to moderate climate change. It is clear they are all hat and no cattle, as Texans say of hypocrites. Speaking of hats, a hat tip to for the link.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Dead Russians in Syria

Michael J. Totten writes at World Affairs Journal, mostly about the Middle East which is his area of expertise. Here he reports American and American-allied forces in Syria killed some 200-300 Russian ‘mercenaries’ attacking a town called Deir Ezzor, described as “the largest in Eastern Syria.”

Totten leaves no doubt he considers the wounded and killed to be out-of-uniform members of the Russian armed forces, operating under the aegis of a Moscow-based merc outfit called the Wagner Group. Its client is not, as you might suppose, the Assad regime or Iranians, but the Russian Defense Ministry.

The story got little play in our press because no Americans were KIA or WIA. Both the U.S. and Russia have been at pains to downplay the seriousness of the occurrence, neither wants it to escalate into a Russo-American hot war.

If we needed another reminder of Putin’s fondness for deniable “hybrid warfare,” this is such an example. This one didn’t turn out well for him, what happens if he gets lucky next time and the dead are ours?

Indictable Acts links to a New York Sun column by Conrad Black, a Brit whose work we often find useful. See his bottom line on the weaponization of the Obama DOJ and FBI.
While I would not necessarily favor prosecuting them all, Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Comey, deputy FBI director McCabe, and quite possibly former senior Justice Department officials including Loretta Lynch and Sally Yates, have committed offenses that put them in the danger zone of indictable acts.
If some or all of these ‘worthies’ were engaged in “indictable acts,” the question becomes one with echoes back to Watergate, namely, “What did President Obama know and when did he know it?”  Perhaps President Trump will have the opportunity to follow the example of President Ford who pardoned his predecessor.

Or maybe not; the other DrC and I drove by the Federal Prison in Lompoc a few days ago on a sightseeing loop that included the gates of Vandenberg AFB and a really strange Amtrack station on the beach miles from anywhere. The prison looks secure enough to protect society from the depredatons of a felonious ex-President.

Americans Happier With U.S. Standing in World

A Gallup survey of American public opinion finds that our perceptions of the U.S. standing in the world is the highest it has been in 13 years. Translation, it went south under Bush II and stayed there under Obama, now Americans feel we’re back and Donald Trump can take a bow.
Forty-five percent of Americans are satisfied with the position of the United States in the world, a 13-year high and a 13-percentage-point increase from one year ago, just after President Donald Trump took office. The public is also more likely than it was a year ago to think the U.S. rates favorably in the eyes of the rest of the world.
Americans know Trump is unpopular with foreign leaders, knew Obama was popular, and yet believe our international standing is better. If I were writing for a British paper I would conclude that our President being popular with foreign leaders is a sign of U.S. weakness, whereas being unpopular means he’s standing up for our interests, not their interests.

The reason, Gallup says, for the increase in Americans’ view of our national position in the world is the result of Republicans seeing a big improvement.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Russian COIN in Syria

The Small Wars Journal has a short article on Russia bringing to Syria their model of counterintelligence or pacification, proved in the Chechen region of Russia. The main Russian COIN thrust appears to be picking a faction among the combatants and backing it to brutally dominate all other factions.

Americans don’t much like this approach - it is anything but democratic - but it appears to work. There are times when our values get in the way of achieving our goals, COIN appears to be an example of this.

People who’ve never experienced representative government can’t be expected to fight and die on its behalf, Putin’s insight: they will do so in pursuit of simple stability and order when those are missing. Hat tip to RealClearDefense for the link.

Unintended Consequences Bite Another Bum

It is being reported in various locations that the Florida school district in which the latest shooting episode took place had a policy which allowed it to happen. That policy was one of reducing juvenile crime statistics by dealing with teen infractions as school discipline problems, instead of as crimes.

Because of that policy, it is reported serial bad actor Nikolas Cruz had no criminal record and was able to pass a background check to legally buy the guns he had. Absent that policy, he would have failed a background check. Cruz was doubly protected because of his adoptive Hispanic family name, although he is not such by birth.

Policies like this were forced on school districts, including one in the MN Twin Cities, by the Obama DOE which believed black and Hispanic students were disproportionally targeted for discipline because of their race. That such students simply perpetrate many more infractions per capita is a truth the Obama DOE wouldn’t admit as it didn’t fit their victimization narrative.

It is likely we’ll see several more examples of the perverse unintended consequences of these see-no-evil policies before we can get them eliminated. We can hope no more mass shootings result, but that is far from a sure thing.

The Syrian Swamp

Stephen Green, a regular guest blogger at Instapundit, takes a jaundiced look at the current mess in Syria. See his snarky quote with parenthetic explanatory material I’ve added for those who, understandably, haven’t been following the Syrian mess closely.
We have US friends (Kurds) teaming up with a regime the US wants gone (Assad) to stop a US ally (Turkey) from killing US friends (Kurds) while the Russians accuse the US of messing things up in the Middle East.
The much-hated, thoroughly illiberal Assad semi-successfully ran a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional state in the Middle East, a region not known for tolerance of difference, until we opposed him. Now the country is the proverbial Hobbesian “state of nature” where all make war on all.

Meanwhile the U.S. seems unwilling to accept that long-time NATO ally Turkey is, under Erdogan, rapidly morphing into an Islamist enemy. Governing a restive minority Islamic population of his own, Russia’s Putin with some justice views the region as more his problem than ours.

American Tax Havens

Europeans with large incomes are well-known for moving to tax havens like Monaco. Less well-known is the same option in the U.S., moving to a state which takes less of your income in total taxes collected.

USA Today has an article which ranks the 50 states by the percentage of one’s total income the state takes in taxes. It looks at state income taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes and also has the state’s per-capita income.

For example, my state of residence - Wyoming - ranks number two, taking 7.1% of income in taxes.  Only Alaska is lower at 6.5%.

My birth state of California ranks number 47, taking 11.0% of income in taxes. Only Connecticut, New Jersey and New York are worse. New York - taking 12.7% - ranks dead last.

Check out where your state ranks, where you might pay less in state and local taxes, how much you could save. It is an eye-opener.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Weird Gender Science

An article in The Atlantic reports research showing that in the most gender-equal nations fewer women go into the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), whereas in the least gender-equal nations many more women enter STEM. How do they explain those findings?
The upshot of this research is neither especially feminist nor especially sad: It’s not that gender equality discourages girls from pursuing science. It’s that it allows them not to if they’re not interested.
It turns out that when women feel free to choose their path in life, it most often is not in STEM. When women see few choices to independence, STEM looks like an “out,” a route to a career in an otherwise unsupportive culture.

Policy Rx: If you’d have more women go into STEM, repress them.
Analysis: That policy won’t win votes.

The CA Dream Turns Nightmare

Historian Victor Davis Hanson writes for American Greatness about the mess that substantial parts of California are becoming. To be clear, I spend a few months each year in CA and the two places I visit are not so grim as where VDH lives.

Hanson had the bad luck to have his family homestead located in a region, because of its agricultural past and present, repeatedly overrun with illegal immigrants seeking farm labor work. Interestingly, VDH makes a veiled reference to the region’s last major onslaught of refugee immigrant poor, the dustbowl Okies. Still, these paragraphs are true of CA today:
Privately, residents assume it (illegal immigration) has something to do with the 20 percent of the state’s population that lives below the poverty level. Illegal immigration plays a role in the fact that one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients lives in California and that one of four state residents was not born in the United States—or that one-half of all immigrant households receives some sort of government assistance, and that one in four homeless people lives in California.

Note a final statistic. A record of nearly $30 billion a year is forecast to be sent this year as remittances home to Mexico. If the sum is assumed to be wired largely by the reported 11 million illegal aliens, then illegal immigrants are sending per capita around $2,700 home per year. Again, in per capita terms, a household of five would average about $1,100 sent home per month to Mexico—a generosity impossible without the subsidies of the American taxpayer.
Effectively, federal and state tax money is being used, via various forms of welfare, as indirect foreign aid to Mexico. Tax these remittances, build the wall with the proceeds.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Nanny State

I took this photo on California Highway 154 near the summit of San Marcos Pass north of Santa Barbara. It is a for-real CalTrans sign. You have to wonder what “genius” thought this was an important (but little-known) piece of information drivers should be given to stay safe.

Anyone who doesn’t understand this basic fact shouldn’t be allowed at the controls of a motor vehicle. Take it as another milepost on California’s decent into madness, and a minor one at that.

The Golden State is magically transmuting into Fool’s Gold before our eyes. In the words of a sitting President, it is “sad.”

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Reading the Mueller Tea Leaves

We’re starting to see what I’d describe as “second order” analyses of the Mueller indictments. I particularly like this effort at by attorney John Hinderaker at Power Line which “unpacks” the Mueller decision not to charge the Russians with interference in our election, itself a federal crime. The highlights:
Actually, Mueller indicted the Russians only for violating 18 U.S.C. §371 (conspiracy to defraud the United States), §§ 1343 and 1344 (wire fraud and bank fraud), and §1082(A) (identity theft). He did not indict them for violating 52 U.S.C. §30121 (contributions and donations by foreign nationals). The question is, why not?

So why weren’t they charged with the most pertinent crime they committed? Because Christopher Steele arguably violated the same law. He is a foreign national, and he contributed a “thing of value” to the Hillary Clinton campaign, namely the fake dossier.

Note, too, Section (2): it is a crime to “solicit, accept, or receive” such a contribution from a foreign national. Isn’t that what the Perkins, Coie law firm, the Clinton campaign, the DNC, and probably Hillary herself, did?

Too many people know the facts behind the Steele dossier, and if he had charged the Russians with meddling in the presidential election under §30121, he soon would have faced questions about why he didn’t indict Steele–and Glenn Simpson, Perkins, Coie, Clinton campaign officials, and perhaps Clinton–for the same offense.
As blogger-pundits routinely write, you really should read Hinderaker’s whole column.

A Saturday Snicker

Steven Hayward has his weekly collection of cartoons, captioned photos, and general snark posted at Power Line. Not that they’re inferior this week, but I have time only to describe my very favorite:

We see a Forest Service-type poster with Smokey Bear in ranger hat and blue jeans, holding a shovel down in the lower left corner. Behind him is a Dutch old master painting of a monk sitting in a big chair beside a table with a bunch of flowers on it. The caption is, IMHO, a priceless play on words.
Never buy flowers from a monk.
Only YOU can prevent florist friars.
If you don’t love that poster you just don’t appreciate wordplay.

Friday, February 16, 2018

War Via Sleight of Hand

Regarding the Mueller indictments of Russians, here is a Politico article that actually covers the story somewhat fairly, with less-than-usual bias. I was particularly struck by the last section which is headed “Internet agency behind interference campaign carried upwards of 80 staffers.”

What we see here is a part of Putin’s particular insight into modern conflict between nations. It is his “contribution,” if we can call it that, to the art of war. He is a practitioner of “hybrid warfare,” a doctrine that Wikipedia defines as:
Hybrid warfare is a mix (of) military strategy and political warfare that blends conventional warfare, irregular warfare and cyberwarfare with other influencing methods, such as fake news, diplomacy and foreign electoral intervention. By combining kinetic operations with subversive efforts, the aggressor intends to avoid attribution or retribution. (Emphasis added) 
To this point, Putin appears to have successfully avoided retribution, if not attribution. Whether further anti-Russian sanctions will be put in place is unknown but distinctly possible. Such behavior needs to be experienced by its initiator as having negative consequences.

Perhaps we need to develop a similar capability for use against states whose interests are inimical to our own.

A Dilemma links to a Daily Caller article which argues that the FBI keeps missing shooter warnings, true in several recent cases. The article’s author either misunderstands the FBI mission or chooses to ignore it.

The FBI measures success by the number of convictions they achieve; they are a law enforcement agency and have defined their job as catching, convicting, and imprisoning criminals. If they can’t amass the evidence necessary to prove in court a defendent is a criminal, they can’t act. 

Be clear, if the FBI tries to “prevent crime” that hasn’t yet happened, they will be sued for violation of civil rights. This is particularly true in the case of “known wolf” shooters and bombers. 

Such individuals do not collude with others, plotting their misdeeds alone, and sometimes brag they will do so online, in social media. I suspect there are thousands who make such claims for each one who carries them out. Should we warehouse them all? Under what law?

This is a difficult issue for the Bureau, and for law enforcement in general. People can legally say virtually anything other than “FIRE” in a crowded theater, without fearing arrest - First Amendment rights. So people say they will do something horrible, and a few of them actually do what they said. 

How do we deal with this? I’m fresh out of ideas, we can’t very well lock up all who make the claims or our prison budget would quadruple. Bring back mental hospitals? Monitor social media sites so people can’t post outrageous things? 

The Russians Already Came ...

CNBC is reporting that the Mueller group has indicted 13 Russian individuals and three organizations on charges of interfering in our elections.
A federal grand jury has indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for alleged interference in the 2016 presidential elections, during which they boosted the candidacy of Donald Trump, special counsel Robert Mueller's office said Friday.

While that effort was launched in 2014, by early to mid-2016 the defendants were "supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump ... and disparaging Hillary Clinton," the indictment charges.

On one day, Nov. 12, 2016, the defendants organized a rally in New York to "show your support for President-elect Donald Trump" while at the same time organizing a "Trump is NOT my president rally" that also was held in New York.
Let’s analyze the above. The effort started in 2014 when Trump was not yet a candidate. When Trump won the nomination, virtually 100% of American pundits gave him no chance of winning. So the Russians backed him. After Trump (improbably) won, the Russians organized rallies both to support and to oppose him.

What should we conclude? That Russians have a goal to mess up American society. That’s not exactly news, is it? We’ve been enemies since at least 1945.

The Russians backed the (supposedly) losing candidate to sow discord, to screw us up, to create more internal chaos. Perhaps by their lights they have succeeded, the so-called Democrat “resistance” is evidence.

The Democrats have been scrupulously following the Russian playbook and hating on our elected President. You have to read far down in the story to see this:
Rosenstein said there is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the scheme, nor is there any allegation that the scheme affected the outcome of the election.
I ask you to consider CNBC’s factually true but intentionally misleading headline for the linked article:
Special counsel Mueller: Russians conducted ‘information warfare’ against U.S. during election to help Donald Trump win
It is equally true that if Clinton had been widely predicted to lose the Russians would have helped her. The goal was societal disruption, not a Trump victory.

Somehow the CNBC headline writer doesn’t manage to convey that message. Democrats keep trying to excuse the Clinton loss.

Faith Demographics

At COTTonLINE we’re fascinated by demographics, as regular readers know well. Here comes a new batch dealing with religion, from The article summarizes key findings from various recent Gallup and Pew Research Center surveys:
“About half of Americans (48 percent) identify as Protestants or other Christians who are not Catholic or Mormon,” said Gallup in its analysis of its polling.

From 2007 to 2014, Protestants had dropped from 51.3 percent of the population to 46.5 percent. At the same time, according to that Pew survey, Catholics dropped from 23.9 percent of the population to 20.8 percent.

In Alabama, according to the newly released Gallup data for 2017, 77 percent said they were Protestant, making Alabama the most Protestant state in the country.

In Rhode Island, 44 percent said they are Catholic, making Rhode Island the most Catholic state in the country.

In Hawaii and Alaska, 33 percent said they had no religion, making them the most non-religious states.

In New York, 8 percent said they were Jewish, making New York the most Jewish state.

In Utah, 55 percent said they were Mormons, making Utah the most Mormon state.
My state of Wyoming ties for number 3 (with Nevada) for “most Mormons,” after Utah and Idaho. Particularly in western Wyoming where I live, a near-majority of the year-round residents are Mormon and they’re great neighbors.

California has an interesting distinction, appearing on the following lists:
Ten Most Catholic States
Nine States With Highest Percentage Claiming “No Religion”
Eight Most Jewish States
CA doesn’t make the lists for Most Protestants and Most Mormons.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wind Sown, Whirlwind Reaped

The press is full of reports about a mass shooting at a Florida school. Another “known wolf” - embittered and feeling he has nothing left to lose - kills 17. As usual, the legacy media strikes up the gun control refrain. America doesn’t have a gun control problem, it has a failure to incarcerate the insane problem.

Ugly as mass shootings undoubtedly are, imagine how many of the mental walking wounded aren’t quite ready or organized enough yet to make it happen, but want to or fantasize about it. That’s really frightening. We see them around us nearly daily, talking to themselves, moving semi-aimlessly, engaging in so-called “self-stims,” acting inappropriately, self-destructively.

COTTonLINE has written of this problem before. Liberals want people free to be “different” and “different” people to be free. Conservatives don’t want to spend billions on mental hospitals. Colluding together, they effectively decided to let people with broken minds go their own ways until they hurt someone, at which point they may get locked up in a jail or prison.

Most of the time this “works” if you don’t count the misery of desperate foggy minds living rough under bridges and in cardboard boxes, self-medicating with cheap wine and street drugs, perhaps freezing to death. Sometimes it doesn’t work, and bystanders get hurt or dead. When the number of collateral victims is large, we see it in the national news. When there are just 2-3 victims it only makes the local news.

Society made this choice when we shut down the mental hospitals, decades ago. Whether or not we understood at the time all the ramifications of what we were agreeing to is a different question.

Deinstitutionalization is a drug to which our society is addicted. It is hard to imagine us going back, getting clean, taking the people with mental problems off the streets and into protective custody.

The issue might be guns ... but only if you take as given that people have the right to be nuttier than squirrel poo and yet remain at liberty. COTTonLINE doesn’t accept this as a “right.”

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

South Africa’s Prez Quits

South African President Jacob Zuma has resigned, as reported by the Axios website, scroll down. He did so ahead of a no-confidence vote he would surely have lost.

The issue was corruption, as it often is in Third World countries. Zuma was no proper successor to Nelson Mandela.

Poor, sad South Africa has largely squandered its apartheid-era patrimony; replacinging an unrepresentative government that worked with a representative government that doesn’t.

South Korea‘s Penis Park

In South Korea, overlooking the port city of Sinnam, there is Haeshindang Park, known to Westerners as “Penis Park.” Hat tip to Instapundit Glenn Reynolds for a link to the Metro (U.K.) website which has several photos of the giant phalli there on display.

My favorite quote from the article:
Seeing a golden luge might be impressive, but it is obviously not as impressive as seeing a fifty foot long golden schlong.
What is okay/not okay for public display in different cultures is fun to see.

News of NATO

United Press International reports a speech given by the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.
More than half of NATO members will reach a goal of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense by 2025, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday in Brussels.

Stoltenberg said 15 of the 29 NATO allies are projected to pay their goal as determined at NATO's 2014 summit in Wales and urged last year by President Donald Trump.

In 2014, the United States, Greece and Britain were the only three allies spending 2 percent or more on defense.

"This year, we expect eight allies to meet the target," Stoltenberg said. "And by 2024, we expect at least 15 allies will spend 2 percent of GDP or more on defense.”

The additional countries since 2014 are Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Romania and Lithuania.
Is anyone surprised the 5 nations listed as having met the 2% goal since 2014 all were part of either the USSR or the Warsaw Pact? They understand too well the Russian bear, having experienced his unfriendly attentions in the not-distant past.

President Trump can take credit for chivvying NATO members into meeting their treaty obligations, something President Obama never imagined doing.

Silly Target

Hat tip to John Hinderaker of Power Line (and to Mrs. H) for the photo. As he notes, this is the worst kind of virtue signaling. Target should be ashamed.

Since we’re being hyper-inclusive, who says our affection object must be human? Any number of people’s favorite other is a cat or dog or horse. Or, in Japan, a sex toy.

Afterthought: For serious narcissists like Barack Obama, the offensive word is “you.” He is his own affection object.

A Valentine for the GOP

Today comes an article I’m certain Politico didn’t want to write, had heartburn while writing, and is busily gulping antacid to get over. It reports the results of a Politico/Morning Consult poll.
Republicans have erased the Democratic advantage on the generic congressional ballot in a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll that, for the first time since April, also shows President Donald Trump’s approval rating equaling the percentage of voters who disapprove of his job performance.

Fully 39 percent of registered voters say they would support the GOP candidate for Congress in their district, while 38 percent would back the Democratic candidate.

The new year has also produced a Trump polling bump. In the new poll, 47 percent of voters approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while the same percentage disapprove.
The new figures represent an improvement in GOP approval and a diminution of Dem approval. Trend lines have been edging upward for some weeks, in a variety of polls.

From the viewpoint of COTTonLINE regulars, this is good news. February’s paychecks with reduced tax withholding seem to have made an impression. I also credit the President’s strong SOTU performance and the Democrat attendees’ sour display. Even the Olympics plays a role, giving all Americans a chance to cheer together for Team USA.

❤Happy Valentine’s Day❤

COTTonLINE wishes our readers a happy St. Valentine’s Day. It is our hope you don’t lack for romance in your life. Give that special person an extra hug today, in addition to whatever you’ve planned.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

France at War, in Mali

Just because we haven’t written anything about it recently, doesn’t mean the French have stopped their efforts to suppress jihadist groups in central Africa. See a Worldcrunch article on French efforts in Mali against the salafist rebels.

The efforts there utilize quite high tech means as well as boots on the ground, and their emphasis is on identifying, finding and killing rebels. It’s a latter-day version of La Legion Etrangere c'est le gendarme de l'Afrique, as we’ve noted before.

Surprising how often today’s miltary is involved in what amounts to “pest control,” finding and exterminating violently anti-social elements. Whether it it Russian troops in Chechnia, French troops in Mali, Philippine troops in Mindanao or American troops in Afghanistan and Syria, it is the same painful, unglamorous business of “dangerous pest” abatement. In our hemisphere the Peruvian, Mexican and Colombian militaries have confronted similar “challenges.”

An Old Idea Made New

Someone in Trump’s Dept. of Agriculture has suggested issuing food boxes to SNAP (food stamp) recipients, while seriously reducing the amount issued which can be spent at local grocers. If the goal is to make being on food stamps less attractive and perhaps reduce the number drawing them, this should do it.

A surprising number of people have no idea how to cook a meal. Standing in the market checkout line I see them buy frozen, pre-processed food they can nuke in the microwave and eat out of the package it arrives in. It wouldn’t surprise me if some use plastic utensils and throw them out instead of washing dishes. Trump’s food box plan would seriously interfere with the zap-it lifestyle, no bad thing to do.

The calculation is that much money can be saved by issuing shelf-stable staples - rice, pasta, canned goods, cooking oil, dried beans, etc. Much of the savings would come from people not bothering to pick up the boxes, as they have no idea how to use the items therein. See a Politico article about the proposal.

Later ... this plan could give do-gooders a new “good” to “do” - teaching basic cooking skills, like how to cook dried beans into something edible.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Review: Kipling’s Kim

I just finished rereading for the nth time the novel Kim (1900) by Rudyard Kipling. I first read it as a pre-teen and enjoyed it then, I’ve reread it since, some years ago. It is in the public domain and is available online for free.

People criticize Kipling because he was an unabashed colonialist, as indeed most Brits were at the time. I read it the last few days with this in mind and have to say I believe Kipling was very fond of India and the Indian people, while regarding neither them nor their Brit colonial masters as saints.

Briefly, it is the story of a pre-teen Irish/English orphan boy growing up on the streets of Bombay (Mumbai) while living with a older Hindu woman who raised him. His widowed father, an enlisted soldier in a British regiment at the time of Kim’s birth, basically drank himself to death after his wife died giving birth to Kim.

Kim joins a Tibetan lama on pilgrimage as his chela and the two have a variety of  adventures traveling up and down India. Kim evenually links up with his dad’s old regiment and they send him to sahib school where he learns to be a Brit. Then he is recruited to be a spy for the Brits, and shows some talent at it as he routinely passes as an Indian, with the aid of skin dye.

Is it realistic? Probably not. Is it a fun read? Definitely, and this time I didn’t skip over the descriptive passages as I had as a youngster. There is a world of ethnography hiding in these pages. I believe I’ll try to find a DVD of the film version to see again.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

In Favor of Free Speech

The nation of Poland has recently passed laws defining as criminal statements that there was Polish complicity in the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis. Much controversy has ensued.

As is typical in such cases, there is justice on both sides of this issue. On the one hand, death camps and wholesale infringement of civil rights were not characteristic of free Poland prior to its invasion by the Germans (and Soviets). Poland had, for example, a large and thriving Jewish community.

On the other hand, it is also true that there were more than a few Poles who worked or collaborated with the Nazis. Poles who helped to round up and imprison Polish Jews and other “undesirables.”

Clearly there were Poles who shared the Nazi unwillingness to coexist with Jews, gypsies, Communists and those of non-binary sexuality. Rejection of the “other” isn’t uniquely German, it exists everywhere, among all peoples, including Poles.

Poland is correct that, as a free and autonomous nation it did not commit atrocities nor excuse those of its citizens who misbehaved toward others. That is not the same as saying no Poles shared Nazi ideals and helped them do evil things. On balance, I would judge these Polish anti-defamation laws to be understandable in intent, but unwise in practice.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Public Blames Obama

Investor’s Business Daily had polling firm TIPP ask Americans about the FISA-gate scandal much in the news. See the results:
We asked respondents "How closely are you following news stories about the role played by the FBI and the Department of Justice during the 2016 presidential election?" Of those who responded, 72% said they were following the story either "very closely" (39%) or "somewhat closely" (33%). Our responses were taken only from those who were following the story closely.

Some 55% of those said it was "likely" that the Obama administration "improperly surveilled the Trump campaign during the 2016 election."

On the question of whether a special counsel was needed to "investigate whether the FBI and the Department of Justice improperly surveilled the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election," 54% responded "yes," and 44% "no." 
As expected, Democrats were somewhat less likely than Republicans and Independents to hold negative opinions of the reported DOJ and FBI actions. The Congressional GOP has the “wind” of public opinion at their back, they (and Sessions) had better follow through.

Trump Right ... Again

Did you ever notice when you criticize something people actually did wrong, they hate it more than when you just take a cheap shot? President Trump tweeted something uncomplimentary about Britain’s money-pit National Health Service.

The Brits went nuts, of course. They love their NHS, though it is unclear why. It turns out Trump was right as this article in the Daily Mail (U.K.) points out in some detail. Hat tip to for the link.

Descriptions I’ve read of NHS “care” resemble stories of the abuses in our Veterans Administration hospitals during the Obama administration. Imagine routinely waiting 4 hours in the ER, it’s like the DMV providing your health care ... take a number and wait hours.

Snark or Truth?

DC Whispers writes bitter, cutting-edge stuff about the culpability of the Clintons and Obama. Are they correct? You decide.
The Clintons’ survival is rooted these days on their ability to convince anyone and everyone thinking of linking them to a multitude of crimes from illegal email servers to pay-for-play Clinton Foundation money laundering schemes, that should they go down, so too will Barack Obama. He is the red line of which those in power at the highest levels of government, the courts, and the Establishment Media, will not cross…

“Protect Obama.” That is a phrase uttered repeatedly before, during, and now more than a year after, his presidency. Billions were invested in Mr. Obama’s creation.

“We don’t report it – it didn’t happen.” That’s the mantra of the Establishment Media and it has never been used it so consistently as when it’s been done to protect Barack Obama. It allowed him to be elected, re-elected, and to stay out of prison.

Instead, this same Establishment Media continues to push the false narrative that Mr. Obama’s eight years in the White House represent a “scandal-free” presidency when in fact it has been proven time and time again to be among the most scandal-ridden administrations in history.
The Clinton Foundation’s pay-to-play history is relatively well-known. Obama is likely to remain an “unindicted co-conspirator” in that scandal. His involvement in the wiretap-Trump’s-campaign hocus-pocus is much more difficult to conceal. Hat tip to for the link.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

In Praise of Tycoons

Writing about Elon Musk seeking wealth in order to colonize Mars, Instapundit Glenn Reynolds makes a sage observation. The evidence suggests he is correct.
If you want to do big things, tycoon-based capitalism seems like the way to go, as opposed to corporate-committee-based capitalism.
Committees do “safe” things; tycoons do the risky big ones, like spending one’s own money to become POTUS. Obama was a “faculty committee” guy, Trump is a tycoon.

Claim: Page No FBI Employee

Scott Johnson, blogging at Power Line, has spent more time and energy looking at the various travails of Carter Page than I. He draws a conclusion that contradicts one drawn by Sundance at The Conservative Treehouse, which we reported with reservations.
Unlike some conspiracy theorists who try to solve an equation with too many variables to admit of solution, however, I am quite sure that Page is not a former employee of the FBI.
A witness is not necessarily an employee. I’m given to understand Page claims to have been their “witness.” Perhaps “employee” was a bridge too far.

VDH: This Time Is Worse

Historian Victor Davis Hanson writes for RealClearPolitics about the current FISA warrant controversy. Contrasting it with two earlier government scandals, he concludes:
FISA-gate may become a more worrisome scandal than either Watergate or Iran-Contra. Why? Because our defense against government wrongdoing -- the press -- is defending such actions, not uncovering them. Liberal and progressive voices are excusing, not airing, the excesses of the DOJ and FBI.

Apparently, weaponizing government agencies to stop a detested Donald Trump by any means necessary is not really considered a crime.
It turns out the key variable is the politics of the offender: if the offender is Republican the media is vigilant, if the offender is Democrat the media plays dead. This time the offenders are Democrats. Therefore, the legacy media’s attitude toward rogue elements in the DOJ and FBI is “move along, folks, nothing to see here.”

VDH could have added the example of “bimbo-gate,” President Clinton’s troubles with, and perjury concerning, women-not-his-wife. The media also called that scandal a nothingburger.

Trump More Popular than Obama

Gateway Pundit compares today’s approval numbers for President Trump with the numbers for the same day in President Obama’s first term, and finds Trump’s approval rating is 4% higher than Obama’s. Is this good? Sure, it is. Is it great? Perhaps not, Obama set the bar relatively low.

What is inarguable is that Obama was treated much better than Trump by the so-called mainstream (legacy) media. The Trump presidency, however, has been much more consequential. Hat tip to for the link.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

And Yet Another Shoe

Paul Mirengoff of Power Line reports an additional wrinkle in the Steele dossier’s provenance. He notes the role of long-time Clinton crony Sid Blumenthal (aka “Sid Vicious”).
Blumenthal’s involvement adds another layer. Team Clinton wasn’t just paying Steele to dig up dirt, it was providing dirt to Steele, via Hillary’s friend Blumenthal and, if I read the Grassley-Graham referral correctly, an unnamed official in the Obama State Department.

I’m interested in knowing who Blumenthal’s “foreign source” was. A Russian, perhaps? Regardless, it now appears that Team Clinton didn’t just pay for the dossier, it helped manufacture it.
The Clintons ... endlessly entertaining in a horrifying way. The drip, drip, drip of revelations is truly reminiscent of Watergate, for those old enough to remember.

Another Shoe Drops

Last Friday I wrote the following:
It seems unlikely Comey, Lynch, Strzok and McCabe acted without Obama’s knowledge and approval. As far as I am aware, documents showing POTUS involvement have not turned up. Can it be no one kept records or notes? I find it hard to credit this group of plotters with that much criminal cunning.
Today, Fox News and other sources reveal the following from an email between FBI officials Strzok and Page:
Page wrote to Strzok on Sept. 2, 2016, about prepping Comey because "potus wants to know everything we're doing."
Note well the date of that communication, two months before the defeat of Clinton by Trump. No question they believed Obama wanted to know, but unlikely they had direct contact.

Their sense Obama “wants to know” came from Comey, who could have exaggerated POTUS interest. Maybe it is time to check Comey’s emails to learn what he told them and Obama’s emails to see what he told Comey?

If the FBI found Clinton criminally negligent in handling of classified material, it was likely Obama was also guilty since he emailed her on what he knew to be her private server using a pseudonym. So of course he wanted to be sure she was exonerated.

Wisdom from Watergate and subsequent -gates: In Washington the cover-up is often more criminal than what was covered up.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Page Claims Work with FBI

Go here to see video of Carter Page telling Laura Ingraham of Fox News more about his activities with the FBI, on the Conservative Treehouse site.
Around 01:50 of segment #2 Carter Page says he emailed FBI Director James Comey on Sept. 25th, 2016 offering his help on any questions the FBI might have; and noted prior work with people within the FBI and the intelligence community. This is approximately a month before the October 21st, 2016, FISA “Title 1” application against him.

Around 03:05 Mr. Page mentions the prior DOJ case he was involved in, against Evgeny Buryakov, described by the DOJ as an FBI Under-Cover Employee (UCE-1), in this interview Carter Page describes himself as a “witness“.
At least as Mr. Page tells it, he worked with the FBI. Yet a month later they successfully sought permission to surveil him and those with whom he made contact. Did the FBI reveal to the FISA court that Page was a former employee or CI whom they’d come to suspect? If not, why not? Hat tip to for the link.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Who Was Carter Page?

Writing at Conservative Treehouse, the pseudonymous Sundance reports that it appears Carter Page was an undercover employee of the FBI. As a witness, he was responsible for the guilty plea of one Evgeny Buryakov to charges of working as an agent of the Russian Federation without registering with the Attorney General.

Check out what Sundance alleges:
On October 21st 2016 the FBI claimed to a FISA Court; to gain a “Title I” surveillance warrant; that Carter Page was working on behalf of a foreign government.

Carter Page was an FBI Under-Cover Employee in 2013, and remained the primary FBI witness through May of 2016.

If Carter Page was working as an UCE (FBI undercover employee), responsible for the bust of a high level Russian agent in 2013 -and remained a UCE- throughout the court case UP TO May of 2016, how is it possible that on October 21st 2016 Carter Page is put under a FISA Title 1 surveillance warrant as an alleged Russian agent?

Conclusion: He wasn’t. The DOJ National Security Division and the FBI Counterintelligence Division flat-out LIED.
If I understand his argument, it is that Page was talking to Russians at the behest of the FBI. Using this fact without revealing to the FISA judge their hand in Page’s behavior, they got a warrant to surveil his various communications and those of the people with whom he communicated. Sundance believes they did this because he was talking to Trump campaign people and thus they could surveil them.

Let’s be clear, I have no idea if the above is true. Somebody was an undercover employee of the FBI and played ol’ Evgeny, was it Carter Page? If it was, and the FBI wanted to surveil Page for real, they must have suspected him of being a double agent. If Page was double, why is he unindicted?

Sundance thinks they used his real (undercover) behavior as a ruse to get the warrant. This whole thing looks very hinky. Hat tip to for the link.

Immigration Policy Primer

Writing for RealClearPolitics, Robert Samuelson makes some very good points about legal and illegal immigration. It isn’t that he makes any breakthroughs, rather Samuelson lays out what we already know in a sensible, middle-of-the-road fashion that describes an immigration policy Americans could support, if only our politicians could agree to back it.  As a realistic policy, extremists on both sides will declare it anathema.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Page Never Charged

At the heart of the Nunes memo controversy is the hard nugget of fact that the target of the FISA approval for surveillance was directed at a man named Carter Page. The FBI got such approval once and renewed it three more times. They convinced a FISA judge that Page, a U.S. citizen, was likely a black hat, working for a foreign government.

I can find no evidence that anybody has ever filed an indictment against Carter Page for being an agent of a foreign government. Can you? Makes you wonder how many more innocent souls are being carefully watched, and for what nefarious purposes.

On the other hand, if watching an apparently innocent Page was merely a means to surveilling the Trump campaign, because as a suspected agent of a foreign power all his contacts could also be surveilled, the whole thing comes into focus. It can be seen as a sham done for political purposes.

Maybe I overstate the case; the problem is nobody wants to make the case with evidence that there was every reason to suspect Page and his associates even though it turned out he was okay. Now it looks like a political hit job and we are being asked to trust people who appear to have acted in an untrustworthy manner. That dog won’t hunt.

Again, Work Kampers

Drudge Report links to a MarketWatch website article about workampers. It’s basis thesis is that trying to earn a living this way is hard, desperate living, and of course they are correct. Let me echo what I wrote last November:
Workamping isn't meant to be a full-time income to support a person or a couple. It is relatively low skill work and pays not much. Workamping is meant to supplement a retirement income and provide structure to fill some part of a retiree's days.
Those who draw their pension or Social Security and do 20 hours a week in return for free camping and utilities enjoy it. It is particularly useful for those who never developed hobbies and find filling the empty hours of retirement a burden. For them it is perfect, and they do make friends.

For the sad souls who try to make a living this way and have no savings or other income, it is very likely awful and precarious. It is the difference between a teenager babysitting to pick up some money for extras vs. working fulltime in a daycare facility to earn a meager living. Or like someone stringing together three parttime jobs at different fastfood restaurants to make enough to live on - theoretically possible but unbelievably difficult and exhausting in practice.

We can all sympathize with those whose 401k plans were wiped out in 2008, got laid off at an age too young for Social Security and too old to be easily employable, and bought a house at the top of the market which then lost value and erased their equity. Mix in a divorce, and lives are often ruined.

This happened to a smart, hard-working grad school friend who for a couple of decades earned a six figure income in industry. He got divorced, got laid off at that awkward age, and couldn’t find new employment of the sort to which he was accustomed and for which he had excellent experience and training.

This friend ended up on Taiwan using his Ph.D. to teach English and business subjects to university students, very likely as a poorly paid adjunct prof. My guess, he was as unhappy as some workampers because he was underemployed and scraping a living, an early casualty of the gig economy. This kind of personal catastrophe happens, and is sad to see.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Saturday Snickers

Steven Hayward of Power Line has a new collection of cartoons, captioned photos and generalized snark for your Saturday morning viewing pleasure. Herewith several favorites described:

Cartoon of Joe Kennedy III doing SOTU rebuttal while drooling, captioned:
Ask not what your country can drool for you
Ask what you can drool for your country.
An unflattering photo of Nancy Pelosi holding a microphone, obviously addressing an unseen audience. She speaks:
We should only deport illegal aliens if they do something illegal.
A photo of several twenty dollar bills, showing the reverse side which depicts the White House. The photo is capitioned “Want to irritate a liberal?” And each bill has been graffitied with a felt marker to read “Donald Trump Lives Here.”

A photo of Obama speaking to Hillary, he says:
No one would know we wire tapped Trump if you would have just won the election that was completely rigged for you.
Two photos of a White House press briefing where Trump’s Navy physician answers questions about his health. In the first a reporter asks what the President weighs. The Navy doctor replies:
Yes, he weighs 0.73 Oprahs.
Spooky Twin Peaks type photo with the old X-Files catchphrase “The truth is out there.” Across the bottom someone has added, “But you won’t hear it on CNN.”

Two photos of General Mattis as SecDef, in the first an unsmiling Mattis says:
And then I said, Mr. President, there are no WalMarts in North Korea
And a smiling photo of Mattis where he adds:
Only Targets
Scary looking photo of a lioness with her whole muzzle bloody, captioned:
Sarah Huckabee Sanders after every White House press briefing
Cartoon of two women at the office water cooler, one carries a holstered Colt Peacemaker, the other has an assault rifle slung across her back. She says:
I don’t know if “open carry” has made this a safer place to work but it certainly has reduced sexual harassment.

Election-Rigging Attempted ... by Dems, DOJ links to a Breitbart article by John Nolte which lays out in detall why the contents of the Nunes memo constitute a serious breach of faith by government officials. Nolte list sixteen points in his memo tick tock, here are the last three:
14. Although the FBI and DOJ were willing participants in pushing a “salacious and unverified” narrative against a presidential candidate (primarily through media leaks), this was all hidden from congressional investigators. To begin with, for months, while under oath, Comey said he did not know where the dossier came from — meaning from the Clinton campaign. The Wall Street Journal explains:
We also know the FBI wasn’t straight with Congress, as it hid most of these facts from investigators in a briefing on the dossier in January 2017. The FBI did not tell Congress about Mr. Steele’s connection to the Clinton campaign, and the House had to issue subpoenas for Fusion bank records to discover the truth. Nor did the FBI tell investigators that it continued receiving information from Mr. Steele and Fusion even after it had terminated him. The memo says the bureau’s intermediary was Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, whose wife, incredibly, worked for Fusion.
15. All of this dishonesty occurred under Comey, the man our media now hold up as a living saint, a man so desperate to destroy Trump, he not only oversaw those committing the above abuses, he leaked classified information to the news media in order to see a Special Prosecutor appointed against Trump, which his pal, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, immediately did.

16. Much of the “salacious and unverified” material in the dossier came from the Russians. In other words, those disgusting dossier lies about Trump’s personal behavior came from Russian operatives. So there is no question that it was the Clinton campaign, Democrats, Steele, the FBI, and DOJ who colluded with the Russians to rig a presidential election.
Read the whole article to get the complete ugly picture.

The What and When

The elephant in the room is the degree of direct involvement President Obama had in the politization of the FBI and DOJ. It seems unlikely Comey, Lynch, Strzok and McCabe acted without Obama’s knowledge and approval.

As far as I am aware, documents showing POTUS involvement have not turned up. Can it be no one kept records or notes? I find it hard to credit this group of plotters with that much criminal cunning.

The ultimate questions: What did Obama know? When did he know it? Why did he permit (or foster) it?

Friday, February 2, 2018

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

David P. Goldman, who blogs as Spengler at the PJ Media website, looks at the Nunes memo on Obama-directed weaponization of the FBI and DOJ. He summarizes:
The Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign paid for a pile of inflammatory rumors about Trump, which it then sold to the press. The FBI—in full knowledge of this—then took the press reports to a court as “evidence” to obtain permission to surveil the Trump campaign.

No foreign intelligence service could learn anything from the House Republicans’ memo except that the FBI retailed the mercenary inventions of a retired British spook and concealed the provenance of its information.

Some may consider it dangerous to expose senior officials of America’s counterintelligence service as political hacks and fools. They needn’t worry. America’s adversaries have been well aware of this for a long time.
So ... who polices the policemen? Who investigates wrong-doing by the nation’s police force and its prosecuror’s office? I wish I knew a good answer to this very serious question. Maybe another special prosecutor?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Florida Dem Dreams Premature

Nate Cohn crunches numbers for The New York Times. Today he talks about the impact on Florida voting of (a) Puerto Ricans moving to the state from the island were they had no vote on national offices and (b) a law returning the vote to convicted felons who’ve finished their sentences.

Both groups are expected to vote Democratic. Cohn writes:
But the reality for Democrats is that neither development is likely to fundamentally alter Florida’s political character heading into the 2020 election.

The main reason? The electoral effect dwindles after accounting for the relatively low turnout rates among these groups.
On the other hand, there are the largely white retirees who, having nothing better to do, vote in great numbers:
The Villages, Fla., was the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States in 2016; it voted for Mr. Trump by 39 points. Over all, 10 of the 25 fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States were in Florida in 2016, and all except Orlando-Kissimmee — where there has been considerable Puerto Rican immigration — supported Mr. Trump in 2016.
An interesting side note about retirees moving to FL, the true poor can’t afford to relocate. Most who can, except from NYC and north NJ, are Trump voters. Don’t expect red FL to turn purple by 2020.

A Nice Place, Poorly Governed

COTTonLINE spends a fair amount of electronic “ink” criticising the way our native state of California is governed. We complain about the to-our-eyes goofy choices being made in Sacramento and in city halls and county boardrooms across the Golden State.

None of that should be construed as our falling out of love with the physical place that is California, it is still the closest thing North America has to Nirvana. Yesterday early afternoon, for example, it was 84℉ when we headed out to the laundromat (most RVs have no washer/dryer). Hard to argue with SoCal in late January, short sleeves and we actually ran the truck’s AC to cool down.

While much of SoCal is wall-to-wall buildings, freeways, and ticky-tacky, the part we’re in is beautiful, see pix at the other DrC’s website. If I were to describe it in a few words, I’d use terms like horse country, vineyards, rolling coastal hillsides, clean air, and truck gardening.

We’re a 2.5 hour drive from L.A. during off-peak hours, much longer during the commute. Our region is busy on weekends and holidays, reasonably serene otherwise.

Because it is horse country, many here own pickup trucks for ranch work - hauling hay, pulling horse trailers. This means parking spaces here are big enough to accomodate our generously proportioned F350, not unlike those we utilize in Wyoming.

Weird Philosophical Science

Ross Pomeroy writes for RealClearScience about the question of how (or if) those without religious belief find meaning in life. I think of it as the “Alfie question,” from the lyric “What’s it all about, Alfie?” Some have argued that without religion, life can have no meaning.

New research by David Speed from the journal SAGE Open finds that non-believers construct their own life meaning.
Atheists were far more likely than religious people to believe that meaning in life is endogenous – it is self-produced.

Speed's research suggests that atheists aren't the purposeless, depressed bunch that many believers brand them to be.
In developed societies, to an increasing extent, the point of life is what one makes of it.  Or, see Facebook™, how it can be curated or, more cynically, spun. Sadly, COTTonLINE is not entirely without sin in this matter.

Weird Interpersonal Science

The Independent (U.K.) reports research which found that women find men more attractive if they know those men have already attracted female admirers/lovers. This is reported like it was some whole new discovery. It’s reflected in the oft-heard plaint, “All the good men are already taken.”

In fact, it is just another facet of something we already knew. Namely, that a person is more likely to be seen as a good candidate for a job (or, as it turns out, a relationship) if he or she is already employed. That has been known since I was an undergraduate, too many decades ago.

I had my nose rubbed in this truism right out of college, when I found it hard to land a relatively low-paying first job but almost ridiculously easy to land a second job with 25% higher pay a couple of months later. What was different the second time was that I was already employed and that fact made me appear more “employable” in the second employer’s eyes.

So, should we be surprised that women utilize similar logic in “hiring” a consort? Not really. It does suggest that instead of a male “wingman” a guy looking to hook up might be better off with a gal sidekick.