Monday, April 30, 2018

Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit

Whenever I feel the need to listen to some pungently funny hate speech directed at Democrats I drop by Kurt Schlichter's column at Townhall. Ol' Kurt says we're winning so much it's almost too much, and finishes with a choice dig at Hillary.
Don’t be down. Don’t be discouraged. We’re winning. And somewhere, in a dark room, Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit sits sucking down tumblers of Canadian Club and dreaming of the American Venezuela that might have been.
A-effing-men, Brother Schlichter, tell it like it is.

Idea Not Original

The Mirror (U.K.) has a story from South Africa, which is experiencing a serious drought. Some there are talking about towing icebergs from Antarctica to Cape Town for their fresh water. They quote salvage master Nick Sloane as follows:
We want to show that if there is no other source to solve the water crisis, we have another idea no one else has thought of yet.
It's not a terrible idea, but Sloane is wrong about it being original. Two times ago when Southern California was in drought, towing icebergs from the Arctic was definitely considered, though eventually other approaches were taken.

For instance, Santa Barbara built a desalination plant to extract potable water from the sea. Other cities tried different kinds of water rationing and recycling.

2 Years of Record Global Cooling ... Ho-Hum

RealClearMarkets has a column about a major two-year global cooling event, and how such things are not often reported.
The greatest global two-year cooling event of the last century just occurred. From February 2016 to February 2018 (the latest month available) global average temperatures dropped 0.56°C. You have to go back to 1982-84 for the next biggest two-year drop, 0.47°C—also during the global warming era.

The 2016-18 Big Chill was composed of two Little Chills, the biggest five month drop ever (February to June 2016) and the fourth biggest (February to June 2017).

If someone is tempted to argue that the reason for recent record cooling periods is that global temperatures are getting more volatile, it's not true. The volatility of monthly global average temperatures since 2000 is only two-thirds what it was from 1880 to 1999.

Statistical cooling outliers garner no media attention. The global average temperature numbers come out monthly. If they show a new hottest year on record, that's a big story.

When they show cooling of any sort—and there have been more cooling months than warming months since anthropogenic warming began—there's no story.

There should be equal attention on warming and cooling records. Coverage should be based on how unusual the event is, not whether or not it increases support for favored policies. (snip) Very unusual events, 3 standard deviations and more, deserve investigation
Amen.

Debating Collateral Damage

Writing at The Week, Rachel Lu argues that legalizing marijuana is a mistake, and she makes a reasonable case. She does allow that there are people who use it in moderation with few-to-no ill effects.

I think of legalized weed as facilitating the workings of the Darwin principle, giving self-destructive people an assist. Sadly, innocent bystanders will be hurt in the process, and whether their suffering is an acceptable cost is a question worth debating.

Good News

The following copied verbatim from today's RealClearPolitics page:
Trump Job Approval: Gallup Jumps 4 Points, RCP Avg Hits 1-Yr High at 42.9%
Seemed like something our regular readers wouldn't mind knowing. Meanwhile Rasmussen Reports, which runs a little high, has him at 47%.

Human Behavior 101

Investor's Business Daily, in an article about the failure of a trial of guaranteed income in Finland, cites a truism all would be well to remember.
What you subsidize you get more of, and what you tax you get less of.
This is what is wrong with most welfare schemes, they subsidize sloth, thereby increasing its prevalence. And with most taxation schemes, they tax things we'd like to see more of, like enterprise.

Wisdom of the Raj

Gail Heriot guest blogs at Instapundit, today she has posted something very much to the point when thinking about cultural relativism.
Charles Napier, a 19th century official of the British Empire in India, well understood the limits of cross-cultural tolerance. When told by Hindu leaders that it would be inappropriate for him to interfere with the “national custom” of burning widows alive on their husband’s funeral pyre, he responded:

Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.
 Napier was a mensch, no question. The practice of “suttee” ended.

Millennials Seeing Light, Moving Right

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll of Millennial voters finds their support for Democrats down. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.
The online survey of more than 16,000 registered voters ages 18 to 34 shows their support for Democrats over Republicans for Congress slipped by about 9 percentage points over the past two years, to 46 percent overall. And they increasingly say the Republican Party is a better steward of the economy.

That presents a potential problem for Democrats who have come to count on millennials as a core constituency - and will need all the loyalty they can get to achieve a net gain of 23 seats to capture control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November.
While it will be surprising if the GOP doesn’t lose some seats in the House this November, the widely predicted (and hoped for) “blue wave” may be more of a blue ripple. One can at least hope to hang onto a bare House majority.
————— 

Long time COTTonLINE readers shouldn’t find the observed changes in political orientation of Millennials puzzling. We have long noted the pattern of people becoming more conservative as the maturation process winds down in their 30s.

It’s why Democrats fight to keep the campesino pipeline flowing, they know the Bernie bros will grow up, buy a house in suburbia and, finally having something to lose, sell out and become Republicans. If pied piper Kanye West leads any significant number of African-Americans away from the Dems, they’re in a real hurt.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Victims Twice

Paul Mirengoff, one of the regular bloggers at Power Line, writes about Muslim anti-Semitism in Germany, a growing problem.
The Washington Post reminds us that Merkel’s decision to allow the mass influx of Syrian refugees was widely seen as “a grand gesture of atonement for the worst crimes of German history.” Jews were the primary victims of these crimes. Now, they are the primary victims of the “atonement.”
The only bright side is that Christian Germans will be the next group victimized by these 'charming' immigrants. Accepting these “refugees” is a supposed good deed that definitely will not go unpunished.

WHCD

Much being written about Michelle Wolf’s comedy routine at the White House Correspondents’ Dinnerconservatives are saying that it was too blue, too mean. Come on, guys (and gals), grow a pair.

It was a roast routine, and reasonably well-done. For example, compare what Wolf said to what Martha Stewart said at a Justin Bieber roast. It’s the same shtick, knock everybody who either is, or should be, present. And do it brutally, but funny.

Michelle Wolf is a young, black Don Rickles wannabe; meaner than a snake, potty-mouthed, and funny-if-you-like-putdown-humor. It’s admittedly not everyone’s taste, plenty didn’t like ol’ cranky Don.

I enjoyed her comparing Mike Pence to an ungay version of Anderson Cooper, and her shot at CNN, saying they love breaking news so much they broke the TV news business. The “Trump needs money” stuff didn’t work so well because everyone in the room would love to have the money Trump has.

Wolf’s best put-down was maybe her saying she wasn’t going to criticize print journalists because their medium was already on life-support. It is too true to be especially funny.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Comey Keeps Digging

The First Law of Holes is this: When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. A surprising number of people in prominent positions understand this principle but cannot apply it in their own lives.

John Hinderaker of Power Line links to a Rasmussen Reports survey looking at public attitudes toward malfeasance of the FBI leadership during the Obama administration.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 54% of Likely U.S. Voters believe a special prosecutor should be named to investigate whether senior FBI officials handled the investigation of Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump in a legal and unbiased fashion, up from 49% who said the same in January. Thirty percent (30%) disagree, but a sizable 16% are not sure.
Among those with an opinion, nine favor an investigation of the FBI for every five who are opposed. That's very nearly 2/3 in favor. People have described James Comey's book promotion tour as slow-motion public suicide, apparently it is so perceived.

Good News From Korea

The Korean War ended with an armistice some 65 years ago. Now with a historic first meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea, perhaps that long-ago war can finally be over.

Their meeting is a good first step, there's nothing final about it. But first steps can lead to good things in a way their absence seldom does. It's fingers crossed time, for Korea and the world.

If the tensions on the Korean Peninsula can be reduced, perhaps the two Korean nations can find a way to live alongside each other in something less than fear and loathing.

If that happens, President Trump will have a full-blown diplomatic triumph to his credit. He might even win acclaim from his detractors, at least from those few not completely mired in Trump Derangement Syndrome.

A Good First Step

The Kanye West comment about President Obama doing nothing to improve the plight of blacks in Chicago is making serious waves. Maybe it will prove to be a nine days wonder or maybe the start of something real, we'll see.

African-American votes are currently taken for granted by the Democrats and written off as a lost cause by the Republicans. The result is neither party really serving their needs. If African-American votes were truly up for grabs by both major parties, both parties would take their interests more seriously.

Perhaps Mr. West's Tweet will prove to be a step in the direction of more political independence for the African-American community.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Internal Economic Migrants

I freely admit COTTonLINE harps on taxes as a motivator for relocation within the U.S. Now comes a Wall Street Journal article co-authored by economist Art Laffer, of Laffer Curve fame, adding fuel to the fire.
Since 2007 Texas and Florida (with no income tax) have gained 1.4 million and 850,000 residents, respectively, from other states. California and New York have jointly lost more than 2.2 million residents. Our analysis of IRS data on tax returns shows that in the past three years alone, Texas and Florida have gained a net $50 billion in income and purchasing power from other states, while California and New York have surrendered a net $23 billion.

Now that the SALT subsidy is gone, how bad will it get for high-tax blue states? Very bad. We estimate, based on the historical relationship between tax rates and migration patterns, that both California and New York will lose on net about 800,000 residents over the next three years—roughly twice the number that left from 2014-16. Our calculations suggest that Connecticut, New Jersey and Minnesota combined will hemorrhage another roughly 500,000 people in the same period.
Imagine how many high income individuals in the five high tax states mentioned read the WSJ daily, how many of those are wondering if they should relocate as they read this article. More than a few, we can be certain.
----------

I remember being headhunted by a Texas university as a professor. They offered me what I was making in CA, which I found unimpressive until they revealed I'd pay no state income tax.

A quick mental calculation translated that into a 10% raise, which wasn't big enough to tempt me. Add in the lower housing costs and they have a recruiting edge that often works, if not on me, on others.

The Killing Zone

As long-time readers have noticed, COTTonLINE pays attention to Latin America. It is our "backyard" or hemisphere, the U.S. sphere of influence, and I've visited most of the countries, several repeatedly.

The Daily Mail (U.K.) has a story we'd rather not see, about Latin America setting records for murders. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.
Latin America has suffered a 'breathtaking' wave of homicidal violence with more than 2.5 million murders since 2000, a report has revealed.

The region accounts for a third of the world's murders - despite being home to only eight per cent of the global population, according to the Brazilian think-tank, the Igarapé Institute.

About 25 per cent of all global homicides take place in four of the region's countries - Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil.
A careful look at the figures suggest several Caribbean countries also have relative high rates of homicide, if relatively small numbers, because their populations are also small. Examples would include Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.

Similar Guiding Philosophies

A number of different sources report Donald Trump and President Macron of France like each other but hold differing views on the Iran nuclear agreement and certain other matters. How, these sources ask, could they find common ground?

I suspect the answer is that each is working to further the interests of the country which elected him, and that inevitably those interests are not identical. France might like to maintain some kind of relations with Iran, whereas the U.S. has essentially no such interest.

Another obvious example: Europe has benefitted enormously by ‘allowing’ the U.S. to pay for its defense. Perhaps the U.S. would rather Europe paid its own way? I know Trump agrees.

So I judge what Trump and Macron have in common is a belief in furthering the interests of the country each heads. This means working together when those interest coincide, and opposing each other when they don’t.

With a weakened Angela Merkel in Germany, Macron has become the de facto leader of Europe. Zut alors

Good Fences, Good Neighbors

On the international front, we begin to see a spate of stories on the issues posed for Brexit by the norder between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The Irish on both sides of that border like it “as is” which is to say “open.”

The cold truth is that Brexit happened because the English want to get control of immigration, something they didn’t have as an EU member. This means there absolutely has to be a hard border somewhere between Ireland and the U.K.

Logically, there are only two places that hard border can exist: (a) between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, or (b) between Northern Ireland and the island that is the rest of the U.K. If the choice is (b), it becomes hard to justify why Northern Ireland remains separate from the Republic of Ireland.

The Protestants of Northern Ireland find themselves in the awkward position of wanting to have it both ways. The Tory government of the U.K. only has a majority because of a coalition with Northern Ireland Protestants.

This latter group insists Theresa May find a way to “square the circle,” to do Brexit and leave them with an open border. It cannot be done.

A Bold Move at Ford

The Detroit News has a story about Ford Motor Co.’s plans going forward. By 2020 the only U.S. made Ford car will be the Mustang.

Ford intends to concentrate on trucks and SUVs, virtually to the exclusion of everything else. I suspect many Ford dealers already do this unofficially. It means emphasizing the profitable parts of the business.

I wonder what Ford does if the next President is an environmentalist who insists on fleet-wide increased fuel mileage, where “fleet” includes pickups and SUVs? I suppose they could bring in a bunch of little Ford cars from Europe or Asia.

It seems like Ford is betting on 8 years of Trump, doesn’t it?

A Modest Suggestion

Admiral Ronny Jackson - by all accounts a heck of a good physician - has withdrawn his name as Veterans Affairs Secretary-designate. It’s time to think about a replacement.

The VA is said to be the second largest government agency, with roughly a third of a million employees. It needs an experienced administrator of gigantic medical systems.

Who better than someone who has had a successful career in the upper reaches of the huge Kaiser Permanente system of hospitals and clinics? It is likely the private side’s closest relative of the VA, with quite analogous problems to solve.

Sky Not Falling

Investor’s Business Daily reports an overview of research originally appearing in the American Meteorological Society’s peer-reviewed Journal of Climate. You’ll like the findings.
In the study, authors Nic Lewis and Judith Curry looked at actual temperature records and compared them with climate change computer models. What they found is that the planet has shown itself to be far less sensitive to increases in CO2 than the climate models say. As a result, they say, the planet will warm less than the models predict, even if we continue pumping CO2 into the atmosphere.

How much lower? Lewis and Curry say that their findings show temperature increases will be 30%-45% lower than the climate models say. If they are right, then there's little to worry about, even if we don't drastically reduce CO2 emissions.
Which helps us understand why, in spite of frantic predictions, nothing very dramatic has occurred. Gaia is less fragile than the climate Chicken Littles believe.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

An Earthquake, Maybe?

Twitchy links to celebrity rapper, media mogul, and Kardashian husband Kanye West Tweeting the following:
@kanyewest
Obama was in office for eight years and nothing in Chicago changed.
3:38 PM - Apr 25, 2018
108K           47.1K people are talking about this
Analysis: true.
I wish I could honestly say I predicted this - but I didn't, not even close.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Joke or No Joke?

RealClearScience links to a Gizmodo article arguing that the planet Uranus smells like farts because of hydrogen sulfide in the atmosphere. The article seems straight but there is an Onion-like quality to its title:
Confirmed: Uranus Smells like Farts
And if you can't see why I suspect satire, say the title aloud to yourself in private - NSFW. It's not dated 1 April....

A Whiff of Weimar

Robin Wright who writes for The New Yorker, does this whole thing on Trump, Madeleine Albright's criticism of Trump, and Fascism. Mostly, it's nonsense, but there is a way of looking at trends in today's America that could end up with us in something like Fascism.

The process in Italy I'm not so familiar with, let's set it aside. Germany got Fascism when during the Weimar Republic the two main political groups became very polarized, they went beyond politics to street fighting. Germany's Communists and Fascists both had gangs of bully boys as "enforcers" and "guards." Windows (and heads) were broken, marching, fist-shaking and chanting were the order of the day, and demonizing the opposition was very much de rigueur.

In the end Germany's fascists won the election held in this fevered environment. The process in Spain had a similar outcome at the end of a very bloody civil war between the factions.

In the U.S. we aren't there yet, we may never get there. OTOH we've clearly taken tentative steps on the radicalizing/demonizing path that eventually leads to violence and, possibly, either radical socialism (Communism in everything but name) or radical nationalism (Fascism in everything but name).

Those who say they smell a faint whiff of Weimar in the political air of today's America aren't wrong. It is my hope Trump will rescue us from a drift toward absolutism in the same way FDR did 80+ years ago. So far my hopes seem justified.

If Trump does so, it will be in spite of the Democrats much as FDR had to do it in spite of the Republicans of his day. So be it; if it were easy, one of Trump's clueless predecessors might have done it.

It's Not Aliens

Fox News carries a NASA story about their folks spotting odd-looking features on the surface ice 50 miles north of the Mackenzie River delta in the Beaufort Sea. Go check out their video of the site.

I have my own theory of what caused them, a Russian sub lurking on the bottom, dumping excess reactor heat via a heat exchanger. Minor plumes of warm water rising through a cold, ice-covered sea could cause the features pictured. And yes, seals would certainly take advantage of the breathing holes thereby created.

Later ... see a much better photo at the National Geographic website. The boffins want to blame sea critters, if so why is this something "never seen before"? There are no new sea animals. I say it's a sub with cooling issues, likely Russian or Chinese.

Guaranteed Failure

The idea of the Federal government becoming the employer of last resort, essentially guaranteeing everyone a job, is being floated. A quick web search finds articles about it in The New York Times, The Nation, and elsewhere.

The Soviet Union guaranteed everyone a job, although not their choice of job. The Soviet attitude was essentially this: we have to feed, house, and clothe everyone, why not put them to work? Little babushkas swept the sidewalks near their apartments, instead of mechanized street sweepers. Gangs of men with shovels and wheel barrows replaced construction equipment, badly.

Why this idea would surface here in an era of prosperity, when unemployment is at record lows, is unclear. And taking the failed Soviet Union as your model for anything seems counterintuitive, even for old lefties like Bernie Sanders.

FDR did some of this during the Great Depression, with his CCC and WPA. Facing 25% unemployment with no safety net, maybe it was okay, as a 'bridge' to better times. Today it makes no sense whatsoever. Times are good, unemployment is low, and real productive private sector jobs exist.

Resentment, Not Ideological Terrorism

A quick follow-up on the story out of Toronto about a fellow mowing down 25 people with a rental van, 10 of them fatally. It was naturally suspected as Islamic terrorism but, according to the CBC, the perp appears to have been just an angry loner showing his fellow Canadians how strongly he resented their lack of attention.

Canada has the same "let loony people wander" policy as the U.S. And thinking of our recent Waffle House shooter, both countries suffer grievously for doing so.
----------

I would draw your attention to the Canadian killer's inability to access firearms. It was no particular hindrance to committing mass murder.

How often do we need to say it? The issue is allowing crazy people to run free, not one particular type of weapon.

Almost anything can be a weapon, and most things have been used at some point. Tim McVey used sacks of chemical fertilizer and diesel fuel. Killers in London are using battery acid or butcher knives.

I defy you to control access to all possible weapons. We can warehouse the mentally ill, it isn't even a new idea but is very expensive.

Taxes, An Incentive To Move

Do tax rates influence where people choose to live? Almost certainly they do. See a column on this subject at RealClearPolitics. Here’s my favorite paragraph.
As Milton Friedman famously observed, the only thing more mobile than the wealthy is their money. Between 2000 and 2017, net migration between states was roughly 13.6 million people, and has been accelerating. Over 80 percent of the net migration between states, some 12 million people, moved out of high-tax states and into low-tax states. As a result, the zero-tax states collectively saw their population grow by 32 percent, while the 10 highest-tax states saw only 10 percent population growth.
The authors note recent changes in Federal income tax law making state and local taxes no longer deductions from Federally taxable income. These make the gradient between low-or-no income tax states and high tax states like NY and CA much steeper, the incentives to move and penalties for staying greater.

In an online world, where you physically live becomes less and less critical as telecommuting becomes more widespread. For example, I seamlessly write this blog from three different residence locations each year. It is less easy to keep it going while traveling or cruising, but I manage.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Attempted Suicide by Cop

The Globe and Mail (Canada) has fascinating video of the confrontation between Toronto police and the guy who intentionally ran down and killed 10 people and injured another 15 with a rented van.

The driver's behavior is unmistakable. He has something that looks like a gun. He gets out of the van, points the gun-looking thing at the policeman, and effectively dares him to shoot. The policeman does not, they guy mimes drawing his weapon several times w/o shooting and the policeman holds fire until the driver puts it down and lies on the ground.

If you want to see reality TV of someone attempting "suicide by cop," there it is. I presume the driver had no actual gun or no ammunition but was trying to bait the cop into shooting him. That has to be the coolest cop I've ever imagined. I'd have shot that sucker in a New York minute - center body mass, probably twice.

It was an ethnic neighborhood, most of the people on the street are reported to be immigrants. Canada is going to wish they had a death penalty.

Quote of the Day

Instapundit links to a Tweet by someone with the nom-de-beak of Wretchardthecat.
The elites lost their mojo by becoming
absurd. It happened on the road between
cultural appropriation and transgender
bathrooms.
Left to their own devices, they instinctively wandered farther left than the electorate was willing to follow. Several have actually noticed they lead a parade with insufficient followers.

Obama's DOJ, FBI: Dirty

If you are trying to stay up-to-date on the revelations concerning the weaponizing of the FBI and DOJ under Obama, you need to read a RealClearPolitics article by Charles Lipson, a retired U. of Chicago political scientist. His column is the real deal, see his conclusion.
Unfortunately, it looks as though a lot of top officials at the FBI and DOJ were shaving the law, violating our basic constitutional promise that the rules must be applied fairly to everyone. That must include the powerful.

There is spreading evidence that, in the final year of the Obama administration, our country’s top law-enforcement and intelligence officials failed in that most basic responsibility. We need to know if they did, and we need to know who put them up to it.
Analysis: true.

An Abdication

Conrad Black has a column in Canada’s National Post in which he is critical of the U.S. (and Canadian) legacy media’s leftwing bias. Here’s my reaction to the situation he describes.

Newspapers are laying off reporters and editors, others are shrinking in size, page length, some are closing. News magazines are on the wane too, Newsweek has almost disappeared entirely. Decline in circulation, ad revenues, and column inch footprints are all well-documented and widely reported (or bewailed).

At the same time, the pervasive leftward bias of most of the legacy media is well-documented and unrebutted. It is real. Are these two things related? In fact we have cause and effect.

The nation is politically divided, as the results of the last presidential election amply demonstrate. The U.S. is close to being a fifty-fifty nation, politically. Yet the overwhelming bulk of the mainstream or legacy media overtly cheers for one side and, by so doing, has lost the readership and viewership of half the country.

The main beneficiaries of ceding of half the nation’s eyeballs have been various outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch: Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Fox News, all of which cater to the underserved half of our polity. There are also independents like the Orange County Register and the Investor’s Business Daily.

With little competition for conservative viewers and readers, these are doing very well. New media sites online have likewise blossomed in this underserved marketplace.

Later ... large blocs of the left's electorate are non-consumers of print media. Many are also less-than-comfortable with the spoken English of broadcast media or too busy to watch.

Marketing their product to a subset of a subset of the populace is what the legacy media perforce have chosen to do. It isn't working.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Romney Forced to GOP Primary

The Salt Lake Tribune reports something unexpected:
After 11 hours of political elbowing and shoving at the Utah Republican Convention — held appropriately at a hockey arena — delegates forced Mitt Romney into a primary election against state Rep. Mike Kennedy in the U.S. Senate race.

In fact, Kennedy — a doctor and lawyer — finished in first place at the convention with 51 percent of the vote to Romney’s 49 percent. The former GOP presidential nominee fell far short of the 60 percent needed to clinch the nomination outright.
This is excellent news, and suggests Utah isn't anxious to send an anti-Trump champion to the Senate. Rightly or wrongly, Romney is viewed as such.

BTW, most of that "11 hours of political elbowing and shoving" was fighting over proposed party rules changes, only tangentially involving the Romney-Kennedy contest.

Self-Censorship

Ya gotta love it when a prominent minority person says things which clearly reveaal he or she experiences racial and other prejudices. It helps prove COTTonLINE’s contention that racial prejudice is a normal part of the human experience, absolutely not limited to persons of European ancestry (aka “whites”).

POLITICO reports California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia has made anti-Asian comments.
California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, the prominent #MeToo activist now under investigation for groping and sexual harassment of former legislative staffers, was reprimanded by former Assembly Speaker John Perez in 2014 for making racially insensitive comments against Asians.

Perez confirmed to POLITICO Saturday that he had to “strongly admonish” Garcia after she made comments against Asians in a closed-door Assembly Democratic Caucus meeting in 2014 — the same year in which she also acknowledged using homophobic slurs aimed at Perez, the first openly gay Speaker of the California State Assembly.
Homophobia and anti-Asian bias? Garcia is a “poster child” for the ubiquity of prejudice. Of course she is less fond of it when the prejudice is directed at Hispanics or women (i.e., who she is).

All of which doesn’t make Garcia a monster. She’s an out-of-the-closet normal human being who, unlike most politicians, isn’t especially skilled at self-censorship.

As a conservative who survived 30 years in the ultra-liberal university environment, I did a lot of self-censorship. It is, obviously, no longer required of me.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday Night Fun

Have some fun. Go to YouTube and locate a homemade video called "The wreck called Hillary Clinton." Al Doane has written parody lyrics and sings 'em to the music of a karaoke track of Gordon Lightfoot's "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

He even suggests Webb Hubbell was the father of Chelsea and backs it up with side-by-side photos showing a degree of similarity. Once you've heard it, check out some of the other song parodies on the rich subject of Ms Clinton.

The “Plantation” Democrats

Now and again Thomas B. Edsall, columnist for The New York Times, writes something worth a conservative reader’s time. Today’s column is one such, dealing with the split within the ranks of the Democrats.

Edsall writes that the Democrat’s voters have become an hourglass shape of very well-off meritocratic knowledge workers and poor, often immigrant service workers. The middle clsss meanwhile is over voting for the GOP.

Reading the column you get the sense Edsall isn’t particularly worried about the income distribution aspects but is concerned about the former bidding up housing prices to the point where it drives the latter out of town. This has happened in San Francisco and other hyper-expensive locales. Edsall quotes Harvard economist Dani Rodrik:
In principle, greater inequality produces a demand for more redistribution. Democratic politicians should respond by imposing higher taxes on the wealthy and spending the proceeds on the less well off.

(In practice) democracies have moved in the opposite direction. The progressivity of income taxes has decreased, reliance on regressive consumption taxes has increased, and the taxation of capital has followed a global race to the bottom. Instead of boosting infrastructure investment, governments have pursued austerity policies that are particularly harmful to low-skill workers.

(The Brahmin Left) is not friendly to redistribution, because it believes in meritocracy — a world in which effort gets rewarded and low incomes are more likely to be the result of insufficient effort than poor luck.
And quotes Michael Lind of University of Texas, observing:
(Democrats, in this scheme, have become the party of) the downtown and edge city elites and their supporting staff of disproportionately foreign-born, low-wage service workers.
Exactly the plantation economy to which much of CA is moving.  Or you could think of it as the Latin American model, ricos at the top, pobres at the bottom, not many in between.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Wintry Spring

Drudge Report links tonight to headlines from the Chicago Tribune and the Detroit News. The former says Chicago has had the coldest April in 130 years, the latter says Detroit is having the coldest April in 143 years.

I can see an argument for this being climate change, it is much harder to argue it is caused by global warming. Maybe it is global cooling? Sunspot activity continues to be nearly nonexistent.

Our sun is a continuous thermonuclear explosion kept from splattering its matter across the galaxy by its enormous gravitational pull. Our small share of the radiant energy escaping the solar gravity well is so vast as to make the collective activities of all humans pale into something approaching insignificance.

Quite small variations in solar radiation can have large effects here on Sol III. They are the likely culprits for climate change, when it occurs.

Appearances Are Deceiving

The Friedman who, these days, is writing most knowledgeably about foreign affairs is named George, not Tom. The latest George Friedman opus is at RealClearWorld, and it concerns how and why large, militarily sophisticated nations often appear to lose to smaller, local uprisings.

He begins with the world-bestriding British losing to George Washington's colonials, and mentions our less-than-victories in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The issue, he believes, is "asymmetry of interests," by which he means the extent to which a war is a "win it or die trying" proposition for one side but not the other. Here is the nub of his argument:
Great powers have multiple interests, and not all interests are the same. That means a global power is prepared to initiate and withdraw from wars without victory, for tactical and political advantage. Over time, paying the cost of the war becomes irrational. Great powers can “lose” wars in this sense and still see their power surge. Fighting in a war in which your country’s interest is not absolute, and therefore the lives of soldiers are not absolute, is difficult for a democracy to do.

In most of the world, the great power will encounter an asymmetry of interest. Those who live there care far more about the outcome of the war than the great power does. And so, the great power withdraws from Syria when the price becomes higher than the prize. Given the string of defeats, it is expected that the great power is in decline. Like Britain after its defeat in North America, it is not in decline. It has simply moved on to more pressing interests.
This is an interesting interpretation our our post-World War II foreign 'adventures.'

Exactitude

Fired FBI Director James Comey has penned an opinion piece for NBC News with this intriguing subheading:
Trump is a liar and morally unfit for office.
What makes this statement worth commentary is the exactitude with which the statement, directed at President Trump, in fact describes its author: James Comey.

Who can forget Comey absolving felonious Hillary Clinton of wrongdoing? His describing her mishandling of classified material as "extremely careless" instead of the legally culpable "grossly negligent" which it clearly was.

In what fanciful world are these two descriptions not synonyms? It is high time Comey was targeted for criminal investigation, for which a referral has been sent (see below).

Criminal Referral of Obama DOJ Personnel

Fox News reports eleven Republican members of Congress have sent a letter to the Department of Justice making a criminal referral for activities associated with the Clinton campaign in the 2016 election. Those named for criminal investigation include Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Loretta Lynch, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Sally Yates, Dana Boente, and possibly Rod Rosenstein.

I don’t believe AG Sessions’ recusal will apply to this investigation as no Russian involvement is inferred. Interestingly, it asks Rosenstein be recused considering his involvement with aspects of the allegedly criminal matter.

You’ve heard of dueling banjos? This shapes up to being dueling criminal investigations - Democrats vs. Republicans. Mueller’s merry band vs. a yet-to-be-named team looking at the active support for the Clinton campaign given by DOJ and FBI persons who are required by law to be non-partisan in all of their official actions, if not in their personal beliefs or voting.

Looking back at the list of referred suspects, wouldn’t they constitute a perp walk for the ages?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A Full Moon...beam

California's former and present Governor Jerry Brown was in the nation's capital yesterday pontificating left and left. I started to write "left and right" but of course there was no balance to what he said.

Back in 1975 when he first ran for governor, it was reported Jerry was a former Catholic seminarian. Hindsight shows it is a shame he didn't persist in that vocation, as he clearly is unfit for his current role.

Actually, 'Father' Brown's beliefs would fit in with the newest Catholic leadership. He and Pope Francis would discover much overlap in their - not theology exactly - more like ideology. Both are lifelong lefties.

What is even scarier, Jerry Brown is what passes for a grown-up voice in Sacramento. The legislative leaders - all very progressive Democrats - want to turn CA into Venezuela Norte. What's more, the next governor (Brown is term-limited) may well go along with it.

One wonders how long it will take to declare CA officially "bilingual" in the same way the national government of Canada is? Imagine all state business being conducted in both English and Spanish, simultaneous translation in the legislature, all documents printed in both, roadsigns, etc. Probably not in my lifetime - I'm not young - but who knows?

N.B., bilingualism isn't popular with Canadians. They put up with it as the penance they must pay for Quebec not declaring independence. Oddly, Quebecers don't like it either, who needs all that stupid English. But Quebecers insist because it pisses off the hated Anglophones. Ironic....

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bye-Ku for Barbara Bush

With the customary hat tip to WSJ’s James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku - a haiku of farewell - to former First Lady Barbara Bush, who died today at age 92. She was widely admired.

Bye Barbara Bush:
Wife and mum of presidents,
Dynastic doyen.

San Diego County Joins Anti-CA Suit

It turns out California's state laws friendly to illegal immigrants are not universally popular in the Golden State. The latest jurisdiction to vote to join the lawsuit against the CA laws is the County of San Diego. ABC San Diego reports it.

The Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 in favor of joining the lawsuit. This is large. Of course, San Diego County is on the border with Mexico so they get a concentrated dose of immigrant-caused problems, both residents and those passing through headed north.

Has Anyone Changed Sides?

A title in the RealClearPolitics list this morning - Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post "Only you and I can stop Trump" - got me thinking about a question which I share with you. My question is this: Exactly how many who voted for Trump have, at this point in his presidency, decided not to vote for his reelection?

You know the number is larger than zero, but do you suppose many of his 2016 supporters have deserted him? In the absence of hard data, I'd judge not more than the equally small number who voted for someone else but have actually liked what has been accomplished since January, 2017.

As we say in the trade, net-net it is likely a wash. A few never-Trumpets have given in and a few who just couldn't stand Hillary will vote for a less toxic Democrat.

To win in 2020 Democrats will have to turn out voters who stayed home in 2016, while not losing those who showed up. And they'll have to turn out people in purple-to-red states, swinging several back the their side.

A superficially logical way to do this is to nominate someone of color, trying to replicate the Obama electoral 'magic.' If, however, this drives away any significant number of white Democrats, it may prove counterproductive. An interesting dilemma, is it not?

Bush II was not a consequential president. Like him or hate him, Trump is consequential, things are happening, progressive heads are exploding.

It's possible Democrats learn the wrong lesson from Obama's success. Perhaps Obama won because he was clearly not hapless George W. Bush, as well as because he was black.

Most presidents who seek to do so win a second term. The only two elected presidents, within my memory, who failed to win reelection were Carter and Bush I.

Serious Democrats will set their sights on 2024, not 2020. Probably the smartest thing an ambitious Democrat can do in 2020 is to be a strong runner-up who falls short of the nomination but gets plenty of visibility.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Sweden Suffers

Politico EU describes the increasing incidence and violence of (Islamic) immigrant crime in Sweden. Clueless about solutions and terrified to admit accepting refugees was a mistake, official Sweden denies immigrant crime happens.

Other Scandinavian countries make fun of what they snidely name "Swedish conditions." These include nightly shootings, bombings, attacks on police, and no-go zones.

Hand grenades appear to be a favorite weapon of the Arab diaspora in cities like Malmo. I hope we're clear the U.S. doesn't need to import these delightful folk to live among us.

Israel-Iran Staredown

New York Times columnist Tom Friedman writes today about the escalating risk of a no-proxy shooting war between Israelis and Iranians in Syria. As his subject is the troubled Middle East, a place about which Friedman has actual expertise, his views here are worth your time.

The Comey TV Interview

You won't see commentary here at COTTonLINE about the James Comey book-plug ABC-TV interview. I didn't watch it.

There are only 3 words I want to hear from political hack Comey, they will be spoken to a judge who has asked how he pleads to felony charges. The 3 words: "Guilty, your Honor." If Comey won't say them, I'll settle for hearing them spoken by the foreman of his jury.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Balz: GOP Has Ways to Win

Dan Balz of the Washington Post actually does try to report political news with balance, and often succeeds. Today’ column looks at a variety of scenarios in the presidential elections of the next several cycles.

What is interesting is that he believes there are several scenarios in which the Democrats win the popular vote - as they did in 2016 - while losing the electoral college and thus the presidency. What is going on is the Dems running up supermajorities in a few big city jurisdictions.

All a party technically needs to do to win the electoral votes of a state is win 50% plus one vote in that state. Practically speaking, winning say 52% is excellent. Winning 70% runs up the popular vote total but results in no additional electoral college votes.

Democrats tend to be highly concentrated in a few places, Republicans are less-densely concentrated in many more places. Advantage: GOP.

The demographic group seemingly most up for grabs is white college-educated voters. They’ve tended to vote Dem to some degree but may be trending more GOP as the parties sort themselves out by race. They’re a group to watch going forward.

Saturday Snark

Time to describe a few favorites from Steven Hayward's weekly collection of cartoons, captioned photos, posters, and general snark, which graces Power Line on Saturdays.

Side by side photos of Mark Zuckerberg testifying and the Star Trek android Data, in identical poses, looking like identical twins. No caption required.

Cartoon of a guy at a bar holding a newspaper with headline "Trump's Lawyer Office Raided." The dialog is as follows:
Patron:       Trump is out of control.
Bartender:  What'd he do now?
Patron:        He killed attorney-client privilege!!!
Photo of an AK-47 with associated ammo lying about on a tarp, captioned:
The only thing that socialism produced
that actually works & leftists hate it.
Photo of Don Adams from Get Smart holding the famous shoe phone to his ear, captioned:
The Original Smart Phone

Friday, April 13, 2018

About the Libby Pardon

Power Line regular Paul Mirengoff writes about the pardon of Cheney chief of staff Scooter Libby.
Trump made no serious attempt to address Libby’s case. He said, in essence, that he doesn’t know Libby, but heard he got a raw deal. Normally, this isn’t the stuff of pardons.

There’s a case for pardoning Libby, but Trump wasn’t interested in making it. The pardon wasn’t about Libby, and it was in Trump’s interest not to disguise this reality.
Trump is telling special counsel Mueller to do his worst, after which Trump will give those convicted a "Get Out of Jail Free" card. It is a more nuanced version of what Rush Limbaugh suggested he do a couple of days ago.

Syrian Strike Announced

Various media sources report President Trump has announced air strikes against the forces of Syrian President Assad. There were done in cooperation with the forces of the United Kingdom and France as a reaction to (and punishment for) the use of poison gas on Syrian civilians.

The Pentagon is scheduled to hold a briefing in approximately ten minutes, perhaps we'll learn more at that time. Observers in Damascus report explosions in the sky over the city. Developing....

Later ... I heard the Pentagon news conference and we don't know much more than we did except that what was targeted was three facilities associates with the regime's chemical and biological weapons program - a research lab, a storage facility and perhaps a place where they were made.

We learned sort of in passing this strike involved roughly twice as many missiles as the one last year. And that for sure chlorine gas was used by Assad's troops as well as possibly sarin.

Nothing To See Here, Move Along

During lunch today (ca. 12:15 PDT) Fox News host Shep Smith interviewed Chris Wallace, the Fox 'utility infielder' and Sunday show host. Wallace is the son of long-time CBS 60 Minutes personality Mike Wallace.

Their topic was the new James Comey autobiography, currently being promoted on tour by its subject/author. Wallace said while Comey wrote many unflattering "characterizations" of Trump and his associates, there were essentially no new revelations of prosecutable wrong-doing by Trump or his people.

Translation: Mad at the boss who fired him, a fired worker seeks revenge. How is this anything new? It's as old as time, a classics scholar (which I'm not) could cite examples of cranky former subordinates in Ancient Greece or Imperial Rome.

Pardoning the Scooter

Add to the list of good things done by President Trump his pardon today of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff,. Fox News reports the story.

Libby was wrongly accused of outing a CIA agent, and convicted of related offenses.
Plame’s identity, it turned out, was leaked to journalist Robert Novak not by the White House, but by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.
It should be noted Armitage suffered nothing at all for the leak, was never even charged. Involved in the Libby prosecution were "Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald and then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey.”

That's the James Comey fired by Trump, and the sore loser who is now doing a book tour smearing the President at every stop. It is devoutly to be hoped the IG report previewed below results in a Comey felony prosecution.

IG: McCabe Lied Repeatedly

The New York Times reports DOJ Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz's conclusion that FBI Deputy Director Andrew G. McCabe was guilty of "repeatedly misleading investigators."
The inspector general said that when investigators asked whether he had instructed aides to provide information in October 2016 to a reporter with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. McCabe said he did not authorize the disclosure and did not know who did.

But Mr. McCabe did approve the F.B.I.’s contact with the reporter, according to the review.
McCabe lied about his leaks to the press intended to influence the 2016 election in Clinton's favor. A more comprehensive report by the DOJ IG is expected soon, it should be a huge bombshell. Fingers crossed....

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Gross Finding

Talk about headlines you didn't ever want to read. Today's Drudge Report links to a CBS Pittsburgh story with this little ray of sunshine.
Bathroom Hand Dryers Spray Feces Particles On Your Hands, Study Says

The report, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, found that air blasted out from the hand drying nozzles contains far more bacteria than normal bathroom air. As many as 60 different bacterial colonies can be blown out of the machines in just one 30-second drying.
You're better off wiping your hands on your pants and avoiding the dryers.

Another Speaker Steps Down

Much has been written about Speaker Paul Ryan’s announcement that he will not seek reelection and thus will end his term as Speaker and his House membership next January. The impulse of most writers has been a generous one, remembering the things at which he excelled.

If I were to write in praise of Ryan, it would amount to damning with faint praise, so I won’t bother. What I will take away from the Ryan speakership is memory of my frequent frustration with his performance, or lack thereof.

We needed a lion, we got a lamb. Ryan had, I fear, more than a touch of the “Kasich disease,” a RINO-like affliction which has its sufferers acting like Democrats in drag. Ryan’s diffidence with respect to supporting the President’s agenda has been galling.

And so, with the customary hat tip to WSJ’s James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku - a haiku of farewell - to lame-duck Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who has announced his retirement effective in January, 2019.
Bye Mister Speaker,
Your reluctance was real and
Amply justified.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Is It Splitsville?

Writing at The Federalist, ironically enough, former Marine Jesse Kelly argues that these supposedly United States have reached the point in their relationship divorce attorneys call “irreconcilable differences.”  In his view the red and blue parts of the nation can no longer coexist in one polity.

He makes a strong argument, albeit one I’m not ready to accept ... yet. Let’s just say I can see the justice in his arguments but haven’t overcome, as apparently he has, my affection for a truly United States.

Kelly has drawn a map of the lower 48 showing how he’d view the split as happening. On his map my home state of Wyoming becomes a border state and my region’s major shopping center would fall in another country as it’s in eastern Idaho. I’ll bet just about everyone would find things on that map about which to disagree. See what your reaction to it is.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Whimsical Thought

Cultural appropriation is a big thing on the left, not so much over here on the right where I hang my hat. Something I saw at Instapundit about Asian women bleaching their dark hair blond got me started thinking about cultural appropriation.

What about African-American women straightening their hair, as for example Michelle Obama does. Isn't that cultural appropriation, taking something from others to which one has no historic claim?

It doesn't offend me, I enjoy appropriating fun aspects of other cultures. I'm an Anglo who likes Italian, Chinese, and Mexican food, and who loves Carnival in Rio, Latin music and cruising on the Rhine.

But on the left, they worry about cultural appropriation, thinking it's a bad thing. And the left is where 9 out of 10 African-Americans vote.

Just saying....

A Must Read

I am no expert on the whole Mueller special counsel operation, or the FBI raid on Trump's personal attorney. Nor on what, if anything, justifies confiscating privileged attorney-client communications.

That said, there is substantial reason to believe Andrew C. McCarthy who writes for National Review is an expert on all of those matters. He spent 20 years working as a prosecutor for the very Southern District of New York branch of the Justice Department which ordered the FBI raid.

See McCarthy's take on what serious stuff had to be alleged to get judicial permission to raid Cohen's office and quarters. Given the collective clout attorneys have, it's likely the level of proof is substantially higher than that for a FISA warrant, which has been demonstrated to be susceptible to flimflammery.

Having read McCarthy's entire column, I take a less sanguine view of the FBI raid on Cohen. It could get ugly for Trump.

Quote of the Week

Dr. Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr., a Harvard political scientist, speaking at U.C., Berkeley, as quoted by Steven Hayward in a column for Power Line.
The Democratic Party is a coalition of PhDs and morons.
Those PhDs are impractical and the morons are unable to provide a counterweight. Hence, we get government programs costing billions and accomplishing little except the employment of PhDs and morons. And I write this as a sadly rare Republican PhD.

Cooling Streets

Lucianne.com links to a Daily Mail (U.K.) article which reports the City of Los Angeles is painting its streets white to lower summertime high temperatures. It is amost shocking when LA does something smart, for a change.

Painting streets white isn’t as dumb as it sounds; it is easy to demonstrate that standing in the sun a white car gets less hot inside than a dark colored car. Understanding this, the roofs of most CA police cars are white, even when the car itself is mostly black. I have to wonder, however, the extent to which the road ‘paint’ stays white over time with the hard use LA dishes out to its pavement.

Basically white reflects a lot of the sun’s light energy instead of absorbing much of it. Has anyone asked what the unintended consequences will be, where thar reflected light goes and what it does when it gets there? Skin cancer? Snow blindness?

The sales of extra dark sunglasses will go up in LA, maybe sunscreen and limo tint on car windows as well.

Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves....

How about some Tuesday morning snark from a middle of the night post by science fiction author Sarah Hoyt, guest blogging at Instapundit? I gotta say she speaks for me here.
The musings of actors and the philosophical opinions of goldfish are startlingly similar.
It’s almost as though something about the acting profession attracts the empty-headed. Perhaps it’s the childlike fascination with make-believe or the importance of believably delivering other people’s words as though they were one’s own thoughts?

Classical reference in title, hat tip to Cher hit from 1971.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Attorney Humor

The post below reminds me of an old story concerning two young women who meet at their kids' school on parents' night. One mentions her husband is an attorney. The other replies "What a coincidence, so is mine."

The first explains, "My husband is a criminal attorney." At which revelation the second wryly asks, "Aren't they all?"

Straight-Out Harassment

Various sources are reporting the FBI has raided the office, home and hotel room of President Trump's personal lawyer, one Michael Cohen. It is further reported this was done in coordination with special prosecutor Robert Mueller, of the so-far-fruitless Russian collusion investigation.

Cohen indicates thousands of privileged communications between him and his clients were taken. The  attorneys at Power Line indicate there can be a legal fig leaf for this relatively obvious breach of attorney-client privilege. It looks like straight-out harassment, in the absence of an awfully strong excuse which is so far not forthcoming.

We may yet see this President fire special counsel Mueller, even though he's said repeatedly he won't. Most cooler heads have said Mueller shouldn't be fired and even they are starting to change their minds. And here's a great conspiracy theory, courtesy of Power Line's Paul Mirengoff:
Mueller’s actions regarding Cohen are sufficiently provocative to make me wonder whether he would like to be fired. Maybe he and his gang have concluded that they don’t have much on Trump — not enough to bring him down, anyway — but that Mueller’s firing might bring the president down.

This seems far-fetched. But it’s clear that, at a minimum, Mueller is willing to be fired. Perhaps he views this as a win-win situation. Either way he makes a run at taking Trump down through hyper-aggressive investigatory tactics or he makes that run by being fired and becoming a martyr.
I've seen guesses that seemed more far-fetched, how about you?

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Climate Science Is Unsettled

The Independent (U.K.) reports new research done at U.C., Davis and elsewhere showing that, contrary to previous belief, not all plant-utilized nitrogen comes from the atmosphere.

Perhaps as much as a quarter comes from the natural decomposition of nitrogen-bearing rock. This, it turns out, has important unanticipated implications for supposedly "settled" climate science.
“We think that this nitrogen may allow forests and grasslands to sequester more fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions than previously thought,” said Professor Houlton.

As this previously unrecognised source could be fuelling the growth of many more plants, ecosystems around the world may be sucking more emissions from the atmosphere than past climate models have predicted.
That's the funny thing about serious science, it is never "settled," new stuff keeps showing up. Maybe we aren't going to burn up from global warming after all.

Given the currently quiet sun, we might have a little ice age. instead. The only thing we can say for certain is that we don't know enough to make predictions in which anyone should have great confidence.

Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link. The original research appears in the serious journal Science.

The “Second Civil War” Controversy

There is much controversy around an article appearing at a website called Medium, written by Peter Leyden and Ruy Teixeira. That article is entitled:
The Great Lesson of California in America’s New Civil War
You may want to read it for yourself. Famously, the CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, has recommended this article and many say that is all the proof needed Twitter has an anti-conservative bias.

I’ve read the article and what strikes me is the authors’ advocacy of one party rule, basically for the whole country. For a quick primer on how that works out, see the decades when Mexico “enjoyed” one party rule under the PRI or Japan under their version in the post-war years or even China under the Communists.

As they point out, in one party states decisions are made within the power corridors of the ruling party, and merely ratified in the rubber-stamp legislature. What they don’t mention: corruption and cronyism tend to be rife and pervasive, That certainly describes the state of play in, for example, one-party New York, where the next stop after Albany is often prison.

Perhaps I should write a rebuttal entitled:
The Great Lesson of Texas in America’s New Civil War
Texas seems to be the place getting much of the internal migration and many of the jobs. TX does well because of its policy choices, CA does well because it is pretty and has a marvelous climate.

Which of those can other states usefully imitate? Right in one, it’s TX. You're stuck with the geography and climate you've got; OTOH policies can change to be more welcoming to people and business.

Later ... CA may get away with crap policies because it is clement and pretty. In the same way a beautiful woman can get away with being a bitch, many will tolerate rudeness and greed from her.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Saturday Snarkfest

As usual, Steven Hayward posts his weekly accumulation of cartoons, posters, captioned photos, and general snark at the Power Line website. Herewith a few favorites described:

A photo of a sign with movable letters local merchants and churches use to send a message, this one standing in a snowy parking lot, showing this message:
In only two years Trump fixed global warming
A Sabo poster combining photos of a shirtless Anthony Weiner holding his smart phone, a grinning Mark Zuckerberg, and the usually lugubrious Chuck Schumer, captioned:
You can't watch your kids 24/7,
BUT WE CAN
A photo of a Dunkin' Donuts truck pulled over by a police car, with the officer talking to the driver, captioned:
Do you have any idea
Why I pulled you over? 
Photo of a chainlink cage covering green plants, with this sign scrawled on a plywood sheet at the top:
This is the awning
of the cage
of asparagus 

Panda-monium

Something fun for your weekend reading pleasure, a Wall Street Journal article (behind the paywall but readable here)  about giant pandas. It turns out much of what we've been taught about pandas is wrong! First the myth:
The panda is often considered a joke of a bear. “Pandas are bad at sex and picky about food,” jeered the Economist in 2014. “These genetic misfits might have died out long ago, had they not been so adorable.” Without our help, so the narrative goes, pandas surely would have joined the dinosaurs and the dodo on evolution’s scrap heap.
Then the reality:
The panda is, in fact, a splendid survivor. It has been around for some 18 million years (three times longer than we hominins) and is perfectly adapted to its admittedly eccentric lifestyle.

The real panda is a secret stud, with a taste for flesh and a fearsome bite, at least in its natural habitat. But that habitat is withering thanks to human encroachment.

We like to think of pandas as the hippie vegetarians of the ursine kingdom. But like most bears, they are opportunistic omnivores. The panda dines almost exclusively on bamboo, but it hasn’t lost its taste for flesh. (snip) I’ve seen footage of a wild panda chowing down on a dead deer.
And about their supposed weak-to-nonexistent sex drive:
In the days before genetic testing, sexing pandas proved to be a notoriously difficult art, since the panda penis is virtually indistinguishable from female genitalia.
Many supposed "mating pairs" in zoos have inadvertently been same-sex with of course no results. The article's description of panda sex in the wild is a hoot.

Double Standards

Heather Mac Donald writes some of the hardest-hitting un-PC commentary around. Today, in City Journal she takes on the issue of rates of pupil misbehavior in schools vs. race.
According to federal data, black male teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at nearly 10 times the rate of white male teenagers of the same age. (snip) That higher black homicide rate indicates a failure of socialization; teen murderers of any race lack impulse control and anger-management skills. Lesser types of juvenile crime also show large racial disparities. It is fanciful to think that the lack of socialization that produces such elevated rates of criminal violence would not also affect classroom behavior.
As Mac Donald notes, whites are disciplined more than Asians and boys more than girls, but the Feds have not alleged discrimination against whites or boys. A blogger at Instapundit is fond of snarking, if liberals didn't have double standards, they'd have no standards at all.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos needs to get busy repealing the Obama-era DOE rule that schools have to discipline black students at or below the per capita rate for white students. She's been slow to act.

Friday, April 6, 2018

A Theory

Writing at The Wall Street Journal, columnist Kimberley A. Strassel asks the question, "What Is The FBI Hiding?" That's behind the WSJ paywall so I'm reacting to regular Scott Johnson's gloss at Power Line. Like Strassel, Johnson takes the Bureau to task for dragging its heels in complying with entirely legal document requests from Congress.

I have a theory about what the Bureau is concealing, based on nothing more concrete than possession of a suspicious mind. I'm wondering if the Bureau had a mole inside the Trump campaign, someone on whom they had dirt and used it to turn that person into a CI.

It is possible the documents the Bureau keeps redacting or withholding would reveal information only available to an insider. Perhaps that insider is still "inside" and providing info, and they're trying to do two things: (1) keep the info flowing, and (2) conceal their probably illegal infiltration of a domestic political campaign. Or, perhaps only (2) is still operational if the mole has since left the Trump team.

Caveat: I am essentially the polar opposite of someone "in the know." I only suggest this possibility because it appears to explain the observed recalcitrance to share documents.

Bumper Snicker



I saw this bumper sticker on the tailgate of a pickup truck here in rural northern CA within the last week. As the photo is cropped, you can't tell the approximate size was 9"x11" - much larger than is usual. Hat tip to the other DrC for the photo.

Seeing this made my day; I also spotted an NRA decal on the truck. CA is a huge state, politics here is less monolithic than it appears from outside. The local Congressman is Republican, one of 14 out of 53.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A Really Negative You Tube™ Review

The woman who shot up You Tube™ yesterday was a 39 year old Persian vegan nutcase. She was furious at the website for supposedly "filtering" her posted videos, reducing her online audience.

Talk about someone really putting her all into a negative review. She wounded three employees and then killed herself at the You Tube facility in San Bruno.

Instead of getting a life, she gave up her one and only. The Donald would call this "Sad."

Zuck Sucks

People are unhappy with Facebook and are blaming founder Mark Zuckerberg for its shortcomings. These widely shared feelings have led to a variety of attacks on him and his company by underground poster artists and the like.

Here is a link to several photos of these satirical efforts, at the Zero Hedge website. They're certainly funny but some are necessarily NSFW. Enjoy.

Later ... I can suggest a couple of people who aren't unhappy at Facebook's problems and Zuckerberg's mea culpas: the Winklevoss twins. Before they were born, their dad Howard and I were B-school doctoral students at U of Oregon. Wink was a good guy, back in the day, much more quant-oriented than I ever was.

The Mueller Interview - Pro and Con

President Trump has indicated a willingness to be interviewed "on the record" by the Mueller special prosecutorial team. Many have counseled him this is a bad idea, that he should instead refuse.

Power Line regular Paul Mirengoff marshals the legal arguments against Trump testifying. If the issue interests you at all, the Mirengoff column is worth your time.

On the other hand, as Dilbert creator Scott Adams has noted, Trump is perhaps the most accomplished communicator of this era. If Trump believes he absolutely must speak with Mueller's people to retain his own public credibility, he is very likely correct in that assessment.

It's Aliens

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports astronomers are seeing brief, bright flashes of light from far distant galaxies. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.
Astronomers have spotted 72 extremely bright and quick events flashing in the sky - and they have no idea what they are. The mysterious explosions are similar in brightness to supernovae, which are the gigantic explosions of dying stars.

But supernovae can be seen lighting up the sky for months at a time. However, the latest 72 mysterious explosions 4 billion light years away can only be seen from a week to a month.
What's causing these brief, bright lights? My guess: somebody out there has developed a Death Star™ (i.e., planet killer) and is using it in an interstellar, perhaps interspecies, war of annihilation. Each of those 72 flashes is a planet being consumed in thermonuclear fire, and perhaps the simultaneous death of an intelligent species.

Kids' Future Looking Good

Check out the results of a recent Gallup survey which finds Americans are more optimistic than they've been in ten years.
About six in 10 Americans say it is very or somewhat likely that today's young people will have a better life than their parents did. The latest reading marks continued improvement since the low of 44% in 2011 but is still not back to the level of 66% measured in February 2008.

Optimism fell during the 2007-2009 recession and ensuing periods of high unemployment, hitting a low in 2011.

The latest rise in overall optimism about children's chances to surpass their parents' success is largely attributable to a 29-percentage-point surge in positivity among Republicans and Republican leaners (to 70%) as Barack Obama's term ended and Donald Trump took office.
Manufacturing employment is up, unemployment and food stamps are down, and it took just under a year to destroy ISIS as a quasi-nation, if not as a movement. You'd have to be a Scrooge (or a Democrat) not to see those as indicators of America being made great again, and doggone quickly too.

Drudge's Yellowstone Obsession

Has anyone else noticed that Matt Drudge, of the Drudge Report, is obsessed with an eruption of the long-quiet Yellowstone volcano/caldera? I've made no formal study but subjectively it seems he mentions it at least once a month, on average. He mentions it today.

So, month after month Drudge warns us "the big one" is coming at Yellowstone and month after month nothing out of the ordinary happens. Lots of little quakes occur essentially daily, which is absolutely normal for a geologically unsettled area like the 'Stone.

Will Yellowstone eventually erupt again? Probably, some time in the next 10,000 years. Geologically, that is practically nothing. In human terms, it is 100 very long lifetimes or 500 generations, way more than all of recorded human history to date..

Chances are you have ignored his frequent sky-is-falling posts on Yellowstone. I notice them since my place of residence is within a couple of hundred miles thereof, definitely within the blast zone.

I'm not worried, you shouldn't be either. The odds of "the big one at Yellowstone" happening in your lifetime, or mine, are greater than zero but vanishingly small.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Happy Ending Predicted

Do you like stories and films with happy endings? Retired newspaper mogul and British peer Conrad Black writes his predictions for our November elections. The New York Sun carries his column.

Black's predictions are very positive for Republicans. Is he correct? We'll know in just over seven months.

Trump Popularity Up

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds links to a column by CNN's Chris Cillizza who is, as you might guess, no friend of President Trump. Cillizza reluctantly reports recent CNN polling which shows four voter groups which have become more positive toward Trump.
  1. Men. Trump was at 50% approval in March as compared to 42% approval in February.
  2. Young voters. In February, just 1 in 5 voters aged 18-34 approved of how Trump was handling the job. In March, that number increased to 30%.
  3. Middle-aged voters. Trump's gains among the young(ish) were one-upped by his showing among those between 35 and 49 years old, where he gained 9 points in approval in a month.
  4. College graduates: A group that has long been resistant to Trump had the biggest change of heart toward him between February and March: A 10-point swing.
COTTonLINE readers who don't find numbers inherently frightening will recognize each of those four increases as non-trivial. All four are in the 8-10% range, if given to hyperbole one might call that yuuge.

Reading between the lines, I believe we can assume the poll did not show Trump's approval level dropping dramatically with any recognizable group. CNN certainly would have reported any drop found.

Cillizza attributes the increases to the recent tax cut; I believe credit can also be given to record low unemployment. Democrats should especially worry about nos. 2 and 4.

Meanwhile, writing at Hot Air with tongue firmly in cheek, Andrew Malcolm can't imagine what outrĂ© concatenation of factors has caused this bounce in optimism since late 2016.

Voting with Their Feet

Demographers Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox bring us up to date on Census Bureau population migration trends in a column for City Journal. Some key findings:
Among metros with more than 500,000 people, Seattle is the only one in the Top 25 located on either the West Coast or the Northeast—and it comes in at number 25.

Perhaps even more surprising has been the resurgence of some, though certainly not all, Midwestern metros. It may be hard for big-city elites to believe, but Des Moines, Columbus, and Indianapolis, and others are now growing much faster than New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago.

Along with the shift to medium-size metros, the Census estimate confirms a trend that, in some circles, is hard to accept: people are moving “back to the suburbs.”

Entering their retirement years, the baby boomers are also having an effect. Among areas with more than 500,000 people, Florida accounted for six of the top ten metros for domestic migration last year. Metros like Las Vegas and Boise—hotspots for retirees from California—also make the short list.
Away from the coasts, and toward the interior? Who would have ‘thunk’ it? As Hillary noted recently in a well-reported speech in India, she carried the regions getting less of the migration.

Trump tended to carry those regions which are gaining people, how could that be? Something to do with the governing models prevalent in each, I’d judge.

Spengler Does China

David P. Goldman, often cited by COTTonLINE, is a long-time columnist for Asia Times as well as an investment banker. Today he writes an evaluation of modern China for Imprimis, it is entirely worth your time to read.

Perhaps the key take-away is his insight that much of what guides Chinese thinking is driven by a fear of the nation’s disaggregation, which has happened repeatedly over its multi-thousand year history. When it has occurred, chaos has brought the deaths of millions in war and famine, making it something to be avoided at all costs.
China’s Communist Party government is a merciless meritocracy, which is one reason the Chinese have difficulty understanding American politics. If you’re in the Chinese leadership, you made it there by scoring high on a long series of exams, starting at age twelve—which means you haven’t met a stupid person since you were in junior high school. (snip) So while the Chinese Communist Party is not a particularly efficient organization, and is certainly not a moral one, it has a lot of incredibly smart people in it.
We’ve wondered if the Chinese economy would go the same way as the Japanese, being dragged down by cronyism. Goldman’s response:
China’s economy is nothing like Japan’s, because Japan wanted to maintain its social structure. The Japanese protected agriculture, small retail, and small business. So in Japan we see a few great companies with global capacity sitting on top of a protected, inefficient economy. In China, which moved the mass of people from the villages to the cities, their equivalent of Amazon—Alibaba—will manage labor back in the villages. The Chinese have broadband everywhere, so as entrepreneurs figure out what villages can make, the villages will work for them.
If I have a criticism of Goldman’s appreciation of China, it is his failure to mention the birthrate crash that goes on apace. Imagine trying to send the People’s Liberation Army to war when it is made up almost entirely of only sons, only children. Every soldier’s death brings a family line to a crashing halt, this in a culture where family is many times more central than here.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Have a Happy Easter

Whether Easter is, for you personally, a day of religious solemnity or merely an excuse for a family gathering and dinner, COTTonLINE hopes you find today rewarding. When the older among us were kids, it was a day when you wore new clothes and celebrated the arrival of Spring.

In those long-ago years, schools took the week leading to Easter as their spring vacation. Few public institutions do so today as obviously favoring one religion over another is not politically correct.

As we've noted elsewhere, many universities and colleges now take the week that includes St. Patrick's Day as their spring vacation. They adopted this schedule so students who use March 17 as an excuse for binge drinking are misbehaving on their own time; the institution is not "in session" and shares no responsibility for alcohol poisoning deaths.