Saturday, June 30, 2018

Doggy Snark

Is that, or is that not, the smuggest looking dog you've ever seen?
I couldn't resist this snarky photo.
This comes from the comment section of a column at PJ Media by John Hawkins. Hat tip to the commenter - LeMan - who appended it.

America Backs Trump Immigration Policy

Are you tired of being told by the legacy media that Americans favor open borders? Well, that was the total "fake news" crap you thought it was. Here is the real data. Instapundit Glenn Reynolds links to a CAPS/Harris poll from Harvard which finds:
A majority of voters want immigration reform (73%) and secure borders (76%). Voters also want stricter enforcement of immigration laws (70%). Voters support prosecuting immigrants who cross the border illegally (53%) and sending these immigrants home (64%). A majority (55%) also stand against so-called “catch and release” policies.
How do "Abolish ICE" Democrats think they can win elections in the face of such numbers? Short answer: they probably can't in many districts. Getting out too far ahead of public opinion isn't a winning strategy.

A Milestone, Of Sorts

As of today, 2018 is about half over, the first six months conclude tonight at midnight. The year's actual midpoint is sometime shortly before midnight on July 2, if each half is 182.75 days.

It certainly seems to me this half-year has gone quickly. I predict the next half will be even quicker - it's an election year, even if only midterms.

Come along for the ride, why don't you? Win or lose, it should be interesting right through to the holidays. There'll be lots to write about, keeping our minds active.

We might even see the country move in a positive direction for a change. Who knows what an originalist Supreme Court might decide?

Rodham and Gomorrah

Writing at Power Line, snarkmeister Steven Hayward describes Hillary Clinton:
The Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, AKA Hillary Rodham Clinton, AKA the person who did her best to transform Washington DC into Rodham and Gomorrah, is over in Britain at the moment, and yesterday compared herself to . . . Churchill.
From what Hillary said there, Hayward concludes she would like to run again in 2020. I’m okay with her being the next Adlai Stevenson, who famously was beaten like a drum by Dwight Eisenhower, both times.

It’s no accident parties rarely renominate someone. The second time around they have what Luna Lovegood called “loser’s lurgy.”

N. B., Making up unflattering nicknames for Hillary is a thing; Richard Fernandez who blogs at the Belmont Club on PJ Media, is among those who call her “Felonia von Pantsuit” or sometimes “Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit.”

McCarthy Sees It Differently

We wrote a couple of days ago about our view, and others’ views of the Rod Rosenstein testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Frankly, we all were scathing in our evaluation of his responses.

So I read with interest the view of Andrew C. McCarthy of National Review who has been one of the best sources on this whole mess. Needless to say, I was surprised when he took a more benign view of the Rosenstein responses. See what he wrote:
Call me crazy, but I sense that the deputy attorney general sees the Trump phase of the Mueller investigation — the probe of “collusion” and obstruction — drawing to a close without allegations of crime. Not with a ringing endorsement, mind you. Mueller will no doubt write a report, and it will probably hammer the president for bringing scoundrels like Paul Manafort and his disturbing Kremlin connections into the campaign, and for being all over the map in explaining why FBI director James Comey was fired. But I suspect Rod Rosenstein sees a way to wrap this debacle up without further damaging the president, the presidency, the Justice Department, and the FBI — if everyone would just be patient, if Trump would just stop tweeting, and if House Republicans would just stop . . . period.
It appears punishing FBI agents who are too-partisan Democrats isn’t included in Deputy AG Rosenstein’s agenda. He wants it all to “just go away.”

People in both parties want to see miscreants’ scalps nailed to the wall, and Rosenstein isn’t cooperating. However, McCarthy has earned having his contrarian view of Rosenstein included in the discussion.

Donald Does Pep Rally

A couple of nights ago I watched maybe a half hour of President Trump’s campaign rally in North Dakota on behalf of Rep. Kevin Cramer, the Republican senate nominee to defeat Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). Trump looked like he was having a good time. The overflow crowd certainly did.

There were teleprompters and perhaps he used them, but his speech gave the appearance of being stream-of-consciousness and off-the-cuff. Dilbert’s creator Scott Adams is correct, Trump is very good at what he does.

Trump played that crowd like a fiddle. And like most folks who excel at something, he enjoys demonstrating his mastery. I wonder if Democrats have figured out that, absent some unforeseen cataclysm, he will be very hard to defeat in 2020.

Saturday Snickers

This week Steven Hayward has some funny stuff in his Week in Pictures feature for Power Line. Much deals with the Justice Kennedy retirement. Some favorites described:

A still of Alec Guiness as Obi Wan, the Jedi master, from Star Wars, looking bemused. It is captioned:
I felt a great disturbance in the force
As if a million snowflakes all melted at once.

Photo of a bemused looking Justice Kennedy, captioned:
Hawaiian judge rules
Kennedy retiring unconstitutional
Photo of attorney Gloria Allred, holding a petition, captioned:
Breaking news:
Gloria Allred will be holding a press conference
detailing sexual assault allegations made
by her client, a Chicago woman, against President Trump’s
Supreme Court nominee, whoever that eventually is.
Publicity still of Batman and Robin in the Batmobile, with Photoshopped™ faces of Trump and Pence respectively. Pence speaks:
He can’t talk right now ...
He’s busy winning.
Photo of the G-7 summit with Merkel giving Macron an agitated look as Trump walks out of the frame, captioned:
The look you get when you realize
the person paying the tab is leaving the restaurant.
Photo of three uniformed Border Patrol agent women, all Hispanics, posing proudly beside a vehicle, captioned:
52% of Border Patrol agents are Hispanic
but by all means continue with your Nazi narrative.
Photo of a not-young Henry Fonda, posing with children Peter and Jane. His voice balloon says:
 America, I want to apologize for raising stupid kids.
A four photo cluster, in the first President Trumps says:
We are going to make a Space Corps!!
The second photo shows Patrick Stewart from Star Trek: the Next Generation and his crew, captioned:
What we hope it will be
The third shows Imperial Stormtroopers from Star Wars, captioned:
What we fear it will be
And the fourth shows Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet from Space Balls, captioned:
What it really will be

Friday, June 29, 2018

Color Snobbery

Mexico will soon hold a presidential election, something that happens there every six years. Three major parties have fielded candidates and this Reuters article has a photo of each.

The article speaks of campaign funding, I wish to consider something more fundamental. In a nation whose population is largely mestizo, more native American than European, these gentlemen certainly appear to be of European extraction.

If any of the three had a brown face, the photo editors certainly Photoshopped™ it out. More likely, they didn’t have to do a thing. It is common in much of Latin America for European-appearing persons to hold leadership and other visible positions, while most of the population looks otherwise.

When traveling in Latin America I am always amused by billboards showing blond models touting this or that product or service. A quick look around finds nobody on the street who looks like those billboards. There is, candidly, a great deal of skin-color snobbery south of the border. Like India, the paler the better.

Exceptions like Bolivia’s Evo Morales - a true native American - are as rare as Barack Obama was here. The difference being those who resemble Morales are a clear majority in Latin America while those who resemble Obama are a relatively small minority here. Just sayin’....

The Second Trump High Court Appointee

Writing for Bloomberg, Cass R. Sunstein takes a sober look at the likely impact of a second Trump Supreme Court appointment. The results won’t be apocalyptic; echoing back to Sen. Ted Kennedy’s jeremiad against Robert Bork, Sunstein writes:
It’s important to maintain a sense of perspective. No imaginable change in the composition of the Supreme Court would mean that “blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters” or that “schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution.”

But a great deal turns on Trump’s choice — and on how the Senate reacts to it. More than at any time in decades, it looks as if fundamental principles of constitutional law are in for a serious overhaul.
What Sunstein concludes is that many of the ‘progressive’ societal changes that have rubbed conservatives the wrong way could be reined in, circumscribed. ‘Progress’ toward strangeness like normalizing pedophilia and sharia law will likely slow or cease.

Some social ‘experiments’ may be rolled back. We might even conclude that affirmative action was unhelpful to its intended beneficiaries ... shock, shock.

As we wrote shortly after the 2016 election, even if all Trump accomplishes is appoint conservative judges, we will judge his presidency a success. And it turns out he’s done rather more than that.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Other Views of Rosenstein

The guys at Power Line have taken some shots at the Rosenstein performance described below. Senior blogger John Hinderaker writes:
Given the Department of Justice’s dogged refusal to provide information to the committees with oversight responsibility–and, even worse, its concealing of relevant information through obviously improper redactions–I infer that Rod Rosenstein, Andrew McCabe and others at the DOJ and FBI are covering up a major scandal, perhaps the worst in American history.
Meanwhile Scott Johnson writes:
Rep. Jim Jordan grilled Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about information improperly withheld or redacted from documents produced to the House in the Trump-Russia collusion investigations. Rosenstein smirked and explained that it’s not his fault. Rosenstein wanted it known that he just supervised the hired hands responsible for the work.

That might be a reasonable response if Rosenstein could say that he had done anything to prevent it, disciplined the perpetrators or felt any regret. There is serious wrongdoing involved here and Rosenstein is unrepentant. He all but sings Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe” and reprises Freddie Prinze’s comedic catchphrase, “It’s not my job.”
One thing is very clear to this lifelong management professor: Rob Rosenstein doesn't understand that as the boss, he is ultimately responsible for whatever his subordinates do or fail to do. The buck stops with him, and I expect Congress will eventually hand him his head.

Rosenstein must know that as soon as Mueller ends his investigation, he will be fired in the next 24 hours. Knowing this, Mueller will make it last as long as possible.

Rosenstein's Ridiculous Rudeness

I watched some of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on the Brett Baier Special Report on Fox News tonight. He was absolutely disrespectful, scornful, rude and sarcastic to the committee's members.

I understand the Committee were badgering Rosenstein for stonewalling and slow walking DOJ responses to requests for information. Nevertheless, while he was in the wrong, he let them know for all he cared they could take a flying f*** at a rolling donut. It was quite a temper outburst.

You get the very clear impression Rosenstein believes he is untouchable, basically he cannot be fired and can choose to largely ignore Congress' demands for information. His attitude demands some explanation.

Rosenstein works for Jeff Sessions, but in the matters under contention, Sessions cannot control him as Sessions has recused himself from the Russian influence investigation. Either Sessions or Trump could technically fire Rosenstein, he is a political appointee.

However, if either does fire him, it will be viewed by Mueller's group of Clinton-donor prosecutors as "obstruction of justice," a felony. At the minimum it would likely trigger a Constitutional crisis as the special prosecutor tries to indict the President who will claim the only control on a president is impeachment and subsequent conviction thereof.

Because of these complications, all the wise folk in DC have warned Trump not to fire Rosenstein, and so far he is taking their advice, odious though it must be to him. Today you could swear Rosenstein was daring someone to fire him and pull the trigger on that Constitutional crisis.

It would suit if the House would instead impeach Rosenstein. Unlike the President, they cannot engage in obstruction of justice while carrying out their constitutionally mandated duties. I daresay the Senate would never muster the votes to convict. Perhaps Rosenstein's legal fees would bankrupt him, a decent punishment for his insolence.

About Brexit

It is common to read commentary bemoaning Brexit, the U.K. leaving the European Union. If you’d like to read something which says it is just fine and will definitely work, you could do much worse than this from The Heritage Foundation.

COTTonLINE has taken a dim view of the EU’s anti-democratic, pro-bureaucratic excesses. We’ve generally cheered Brexit as a return to British values by that friendly island nation. We join author Ted Bromund in extending best wishes for the Brexit vote’s second birthday.

Yesterday’s Other News

One robin doesn’t make a spring. And one Democratic Socialist, or even two, don’t automatically mean one of our two large parties has turned hard left.

Much is being made of the defeat of a long-time white Democrat congressman in the primary by a young woman of color who is a “democratic socialist,” whatever that is. Basically, a Bernie Sanders wannabe one supposes.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won in a minority-majority district in a primary election with a very small turnout. The incumbent was busy in DC with his Democratic leadership role and didn’t do much until too late. Given all this, his loss, like that of Eric Cantor, is predictable in hindsight.

Asked about it, Nancy Pelosi downplayed its significance. I’d guess she’s correct. In primary elections only the highly motivated bother to vote, and they tend to hold the most extreme views.

Probably the most important aspect of her win is that her opponent, a man viewed by some as Pelosi’s logical successor, is quite suddenly a lame duck. The party will have to look elsewhere for its next House leader, as Republicans had to do when Cantor lost. It happens.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Thinking About Today

I spent a fair amount of time this evening thinking about the Janus decision described below, and the retirement of Justice Kennedy. The Kennedy retirement will generate more heat, more panic and anger on the left.

On the other hand, I conclude in the long run the decision that government workers may voluntarily choose to give money to unions, but cannot be required to do so, will have the greater overall impact.
This isn't a conclusion I reach lightly.

Today, unionized government workers with their pooled political contributions essentially select their top bosses in the legislature. Legislators become the lapdogs of public employee unions, dependent upon them for campaign contributions and votes.

This incestuous relationship means public employee salaries and benefits are generally greater than those in the private sector. Instead of acting in the public interest, legislatures act in the public employees' interest. The Janus decision can begin to unravel this cozy mutual admiration society.

With public employees less powerful, Democrats will have to rely even more on the various identity groups they claim to champion. This should further turn off straight white Americans who will continue to be the largest group in the society for years to come.

Bottom line: Kennedy retirement more of a blow-up; Janus decision the basis for more long-term societal change.

More Excellent News

The Associated Press reports Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring. President Donald Trump will have the opportunity to nominate a second appointee to the Court.

Kennedy has been the swing vote on an evenly balanced Court, voting sometimes with conservatives and sometimes with liberals. This has made him, in the opinion of many, the most powerful jurist in the nation, as he was often the fifth justice in a 5-4 decision, the other foursomes tending to vote reliably either "liberal" or "conservative." With him gone, liberals' hopes are dashed.

Presuming Trump selects a staunch conservative to appoint, I expect Democrats will do everything up to, and perhaps including, civil war to prevent that person being confirmed. This is likely to be the hill Democrats choose to die on.

A conservative court with a reliable 5 vote majority can roll back quite a lot of the so-called "social progress" Democrats have achieved. Expect to see the "resistance" increase by one or more orders of magnitude.

If someone reinvents another Weather Underground, by whatever name, I will not be surprised. Brace yourself, we live in interesting times.

Excellent News

Fox News is reporting the Supreme Court this morning announced a decision against forced payments to unions representing government workers. These are the so-called “fair share” fees demanded of workers who choose not to belong to the union representing them.

It’s a hat trick. Together with the decisions for the travel ban and against abortion advertising, conservatives get three wins in a row.

Some background: Janus, a government worker in Illinois, was required to pay fees to a union which represented him and all others who worked there even though he was opposed to the political views pushed by the union and chose not to be a member of the union. He sued, alleging his constitutional rights were violated thereby.

I know this position well, I lived it as a professor in the California State University system. We were represented by a union against which I had voted, and to which I chose not to belong. It was unremittingly Democratic, and I’m whatever the opposite of that is. I nevertheless had to pay “representation” fees to that union in lieu of dues. No choice.

The court ruled in favor of plaintiff Janus who didn’t want to subsidize the union’s political activities which were opposed to his own beliefs. Government workers will now have a choice and, I predict, many will choose not to belong to the union which represents their unit, thus saving them $$ and depriving public employee unions of power.

Although it came several years too late to help me, I nevertheless view this decision as a personal victory. I always felt the “fair share” fees I paid were a violation of my First Amendment rights, in effect coerced ‘speech’ with which I did not agree but was forced to subsidize.

This decision will weaken public employee union power and Democratic dominance in places like CA and NY. It would be hard to overstate its importance.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Something to Think About

Stephen Green guest blogs regularly at Instapundit, today he writes something semi-profound about the fecklessness of the Afghanistan military.
You can’t get people to fight for an imaginary country. And as I’ve been writing here and elsewhere for years, Afghanistan isn’t a country — it’s a hole in the map where neighboring countries aren’t.
I'm no expert but this feels right. Afghanistan seems what the U.S. Cavalry used to call "Indian country," basically a lawless Hobbesian state of nature. Plus its warlords are proud pedophiles.

A Quote to Ponder

At National Review, historian Victor Davis Hanson writes one of the better pithy quotes on our illegal immigration problems.
Why the U.S. government does not tax remittances and why it does not prohibit foreign nationals on public assistance from sending cash out of the country are some of the stranger phenomena of the entire strange illegal-immigration matrix. 

Wide Open vs. Slammed Closed

Writing for CNN Politics, Ron Brownstein opines that Republicans are shifting from opposing illegal immigration to opposing nearly all immigration. While Brownstein doesn’t say so, this is happening at a time when Democrats have already shifted from supporting only legal immigration to supporting all immigration.

The crazies who want to disband ICE are Democrats, an increasingly influential segment thereof. Both sides are becoming more extreme, but it asks too much to expect left-leaning CNN to report this mirror-image symmetry. Some of the statistics Brownstein reports are suspect, other surveys have found Americans support Trump-style immigration policy.

The middle ground politically is more and more an empty set, a place few occupy. As a society we are building up to something historic, I wish I knew what (and when) that cataclysm will be.

Supremes: Travel Ban OK

CNBC reports the Supreme Court has approved the third iteration of President Trump’s travel ban on several predominantly Muslim countries. The vote was 5-4 to uphold the ban, ruling it was “squarely” in his authority to do so.

This ruling is a blow to the “Resistance” and clear evidence of the importance of appointing conservative justices like Gorsuch. Now if we can get a ruling that illegal entrants into the U.S. can be deported immediately without trial....


In a second ruling, the Court found that pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in CA did not have to post notices that the State of CA would pay for an abortion, as required by state law. This was another 5-4 ruling. 

The majority argued the state could not require a private party to publicize its activities. This setback for pro-choice forces will drive feminists and others offended by evangelical beliefs frantic.

Weird Environmental Medical Science

A study published in Environmental Health and summarized in The Independent (U.K.) found that flight attendants had increased risk of several types of cancer plus the longer they flew the greater that risk became. Cited as factors were exposure to high-altitude radiation, poor air quality, and disturbed sleep patterns.

My question, not answered by the study, is whether pilots and copilots experience these same increased risks? If not, the issue may be gender related as pilots are predominantly male and flight attendants are mostly female. Also not mentioned is whether increased viral exposure could be a factor in recycled cabin air.

Mob Violence

In his weekly column for USA Today, Glenn Reynolds looks at the forces taking America toward a "soft civil war."
Will it get worse? Probably. To have a civil war, soft or otherwise, takes two sides. But as pseudonymous tweeter Thomas H. Crown notes, it’s childishly easy in these days to identify people in mobs, and then to dispatch similar mobs to their homes and workplaces. Eventually, he notes, it becomes “protesters all the way down, and if we haven't yet figured out that can lead to political violence, we're dumb.”
Political mob violence was one of the hallmarks of the Weimar era in 1920-30s German politics. Adolf Hitler's Nazi brownshirts battled with Rosa Luxemburg's Communist bullyboys, right fought left in the streets and beer halls. Eventually the Nazis won out. Do we really have to live through what our grandparents experienced? Have we learned nothing about the descent into madness?

Monday, June 25, 2018

Obama - Worst POTUS Since WW II

I do love it so. USA Today has a Quinnipiac poll which asked who was the worst president since World War Two. Barack Obama 'won,' with 33% voting him worst. George W. Bush came in second worst, with 28%, followed by Richard Nixon at 13%.

The article adds Ronald Reagan won best president since World War Two, with 35% choosing him. Bill Clinton came in second with 18%, followed by John Kennedy with 15%. Eight percent believed Obama best.

Looks like Americans agree with COTTonLINE that Barack Obama did a poor job in the White House. Reagan is viewed very positively because, prior to his election, it appeared the presidency had become a job which no one could do well. Ignoring the CW, Reagan proved the right person could make a difference. We honor him for “rescuing” the presidency.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Career 'Development'

Various sources write New York Times reporter Ali Watkins had multiple "relationships" with sources among Senate security staffers, not just with James Wolfe. Would you characterize this as "sleeping your way to a Pulitzer?"

This example explains a lot of "why women slut-shame" gals who use sex to further their careers. It doesn't excuse slut-shaming exactly, but does explain from whence it arises, why it infuriates those unwilling to trade loveless sex for success.

Anti-Trump Conservatism Explained

I've had trouble explaining to myself how Never-Trump conservatives happen. Now Paul Mirengoff of Power Line has a quite reasonable rationale for this odd phenomenon, which he relates to the example of syndicated columnist George Will. Briefly, this is his argument:
Conservatives who view conservatism as mainly a set of policy preferences will probably be quite pleased with Trump.

Conservatives who view conservatism as mainly an attitude, aesthetic, and approach to living are likely quite displeased with Trump.

It has always seemed to me that, for George Will, conservatism is predominantly an attitude. More than any other modern commentator I know of, he has the knack of making his aesthetic preferences seem like moral imperatives.
I suspect something similar motivated Charles Krauthammer, albeit to a lesser degree. He could approve of some things Trump accomplished, even as he recoiled from how the 'sausage' got made.

As Mirengoff puts it, I "view conservatism as mainly a set of policy preferences" and so I'm pleased with Trump. If I want personal elegance in a male celebrity, I'll view a Cary Grant film.

McCain, Flake Unpopular at Home in AZ

COTTonLINE has been voicing disapproval of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for several years. It is interesting that, among home state Arizona voters, McCain is only popular with Democrats. Neither Republicans nor Independents like him, according to a CBS News poll.

What do we call being popular with the enemy? The word "treason" comes to mind, but doesn't quite fit. "Disloyalty" fits.

Whats more, nobody in Arizona likes Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) who is retiring: not Republicans, not Democrats, not Independents. What's going on in AZ, something crazy-making in the water?

A replacement for Flake will be elected this November. McCain seems too ill to finish out his term and may be replaced by his wife via a governor's appointment.

Hindsight, always superior, suggests it was a good thing McCain didn't beat Obama in 2008, bad as the latter turned out to be. Obama at least had the saving grace of being mostly stymied by a Republican Congress, after the disastrous first two of his eight years in office.

Worse and Worse

The San Francisco Chronicle is nothing if not a booster for their city, and has been for many decades. So an article by Heather Knight which begins with the following subscriber email is pretty startling.
There is a suitcase full of human s— on the corner of Isis and 13th. Last night, I had to threaten violence to a man smoking crystal meth on my front porch. This morning, my 2-year-old son and I watched a rat rummage through the trash in our gutter. Things have been getting worse and worse on my block since 2010, and the city does NOTHING to fix it.
I read on and discovered the author of that email was Ernst Shoen-Rene, a former faculty member at the university from which I retired. He has moved to SF and gone to work in the private sector, apparently.

I wish him the 'joy' of that move. It sounds terrible to me and it seems he's finding it not to his liking. Our rural college town lacks most of the hellish 'amenities' he describes.

All San Francisco mayors since 1964 have been Democrats. The place has become, in President Trump's felicitous terminology, a sh**hole.

When I was a San Jose State undergrad it was still pretty nice (and it had a Republican mayor). SF today is a good place to avoid.

Sunday Snark

Snark-loving Instapundit Glenn Reynolds makes the following sage observation concerning food trends:
Nobody’s ever trying to chop up meat and treat it so it looks and tastes like broccoli. Why might that be?
Because we are carnivores, red in tooth and claw. Every time I see a whiteface or Angus standing out in a green field, I think there's rib eye or prime rib, on the hoof.

I admit ... I exaggerated. We're actually omnivores, eating almost anything that's not poisonous. But meat is almost the perfect food, head and shoulders above everything else nutritionally, and in taste.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Mueller Probe Tainted by Bias

Legal reasoning is interesting, careful, and mostly dispassionate. Today The Wall Street Journal runs a longish article in which a former White House counsel's office and Justice Department attorney and a law professor jointly examine the extent to which the Mueller probe into Russian election influence is so tainted by prior bias as to be hopelessly compromised.

Their use of "the fruit of the poisoned tree" argument appears persuasive, at least to those of us who believe passionate bias existed a priori, that is, before the investigation began. The recent DOJ inspector general's report established unequivocally that such prior bias did exist.

While the IG was unable to prove bias influenced investigative actions and decisions, he doesn't deny its existence or possible influence, merely that no one would admit to acting from bias and no documents he reviewed showed it beyond a reasonable doubt.

If you are serious about the illegality of the Mueller witch hunt, you should make time to read the entire article.

Doing It Backwards

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds just wrote, seemingly offhand, what could turn out to be the best quote of the first half of 2018. Writing about the Mueller "investigation" he opines:
It seems pretty clear that this is a case of investigating a man in the hopes of finding a crime, rather than investigating a crime and hoping to find the man behind it.
They did a lot of this in Stalin's Soviet Union. Here it tends to be characterized as a "witch hunt" or simple attempt to destroy someone disliked, and we abhor the practice.

Once in awhile, as in the tax evasion case against Al Capone, the practice seems marginally defensible. Given his near-magical political skills, rabid Democrats think Trump is worse than Capone. That doesn't mean we should let them drive a stake through his heart.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Who We Are

The RealClearPolitics list of articles this afternoon includes two which, taken together, constitute a question and its answer. The titles are:
  • A Reckoning: What Kind of Country Are We?
  • Trump's Immigration Policies Are Surprisingly Popular
The first, by Karl Vick for Time, bemoans Trump's tough approach to illegal immigration as "not who we are." The second, by The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway, reports Economist/YouGov polling which shows that Trump's immigration policies are popular with a clear majority of Americans. Her article is summarized below.

Vick asks "what kind of country are we?" which is related to Obama's tiresome "that's not who we are" and "we're better than that." Hemingway's polling clearly shows that the Trump immigration policies are exactly who we are, that we are not 'better' than those policies, even a little.

We need to rub the runny noses of 'progressives' into the reality of who we Americans really are, and do it good and hard. Afterwards, they can decide whether "who we are" is something of which they can bring themselves to be a part ... or not. Trump's wall won't keep in people who want out.

Giving Up

Writing for Bloomberg about Democratic rage, author Francis Wilkinson quotes apostate conservative David Frum actually saying something wise ... accidentally, no doubt.
When highly committed parties strongly believe things that they cannot achieve democratically, they don't give up on their beliefs — they give up on democracy.
Several of us in the commentariat have been trying to tell Democrats this for over a year.  Collectively, our message can be paraphrased thus: "If you manage to get rid of Trump and Pence, in hindsight they'll look like pussycats compared to what we'll send at you next. When you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind."

Who has most of the guns in private hands? NRA members. How do they vote? Republican. Angry Democrats go carefully, no sane person in either party wants a bloodbath.

Later ... The Washington Free Beacon reports a recent survey indicates civilians own nearly 400,000,000 guns in the U.S. By comparison:
American civilians own nearly 100 times as many firearms as the U.S. military and nearly 400 times as many as law enforcement.

Possible Breakthrough for Alzheimer's

The Boston Herald reports higher-than-normal levels of herpes virus are found in the brains of those who exhibited symptoms of Alzheimer's disease before dying. So far, this merely shows an "association" and says nothing definitive about "causation."

The finding has generated considerable excitement and interest in the research community which had hit several "walls" in their search for a helpful therapy. As the Instapundit likes to write in cases like this, "faster, please."

Hysteria in Southern Neighbor

The Daily Caller reports the leading candidate for president in Mexico - Andrés Manuel López Obrador - favors basically all Mexicans moving to the U.S., or so he says. The election is July 1, nine days from now. They write:
Mexican presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) called for mass immigration to the United States during a speech Tuesday declaring it a “human right” for all North Americans.

“And soon, very soon — after the victory of our movement — we will defend all the migrants in the American continent and all the migrants in the world,” Obrador said, adding that immigrants “must leave their towns and find a life in the United States.”
I'll bet I don't have a "right" to emigrate to Mexico if I so choose. It sounds like the U.S. might need to support regime change in Mexico, if AMLO is elected. "Loose deck gun" doesn't begin to describe his craziness.

We Are Not Fooled

Mollie Hemingway, who writes for The Federalist, reports the results of an Economist/YouGov poll. It turns out Americans basically agree with Trump about immigration. She writes:
Asked which policy they prefer for how to handle families that are stopped for crossing the border illegally, two-thirds of the 1,500 surveyed said they support detention for lawbreakers and less than 20 percent responded that they support previous presidential administrations’ policy of letting the lawbreakers enter the country with a promise to return for a later court date.

Given a choice for how to handle illegal border crossing arrests, some 44 percent of Americans chose “hold families together in family detention centers until an immigration hearing at a later date.” Another 20 percent of U.S. adults chose detention options that would separate families. Only 19 percent chose to return to the policy of allowing people who cross the border illegally to go without detention on the promise they’d return for a court hearing at a later date.

The poll also shows that only 8 percent of American voters think illegal immigration is not a serious problem.
Things to keep in mind when the media frightens you with tales of the government brutalizing poor defenseless economic migrants. Don't be stampeded, the people stand with you while the lying media carries Pelosi-inspired "open borders" propaganda.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Bye-Ku for Charles Krauthammer

With the customary hat tip to WSJ’s James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku - a haiku of farewell - to Fox News panelist Dr. Charles Krauthammer, whose death from cancer was announced today.
Shalom Charles K.
We will miss your insights on 
The news of the day.

Criminal Conspiracy?

Slate is a leftist virtue-signaling site where regrettable people expose their ignorance for all to see. That said, it isn't impossible for Slate to share something useful, if only to yell how terrible it is. One such arises today.

They reported a provision of the "Stop Soros" law passed recently in Hungary I hadn't seen described elsewhere. It is a control the U.S. might like to enact here. The Stop Soros law:
Effectively criminalizes organizations that work to help undocumented immigrants. As the New York Times summarizes, under the new law, “helping migrants legalize their status in Hungary by distributing information about the asylum process or providing them with financial assistance could result in a 12-month jail term.” 
In the U.S. it could be sold as a law prohibiting "conspiracy to aid and abet the crime of illegal entry." It would have the added bonus of driving 'progressives' absolutely hysterical.

Remembering Another Summer Solstice

Today we celebrate the Summer Solstice. It is the day with the longest daylight in the northern hemisphere, and the official first day of summer. Starting tomorrow, each day’s light will be very slightly shorter, a process which continues until roughly December 21, the first day of winter.

Back in 1979, I think it was, we were in Fairbanks, Alaska, on this date, having driven north from the “lower 48” on the then-unpaved Alaskan Highway. I went outside our small motorhome in Fairbanks at 1 a.m. and it was so light my young eyes could read a newspaper with ease using only ambient light.

In those days there were three seasons on the Alaskan highway: snow, mud, and dust. We went north, and a couple of weeks later back south, during the mud season of late spring and early summer. At some points you could hardly tell what color our RV was, for the mud coating.

The roads in Alaska were paved so it was worthwhile getting the mud off after arrival. I remember northbound going into a car wash in Tok, Alaska, and spending a fistful of quarters spraying off sheets of Canadian mud. Underneath, the hot exhaust had baked mud onto the muffler and tailpipe like ceramic and it was probably still there when we traded the RV four years later.

That trip was an adventure, no doubt about it. For about 3 days southbound we were trapped at Muncho Lake with the road ahead (and behind) washed out from spring rains. Tired of eating fried Spam and listening to rain on the roof, we were literally the first vehicle through headed south, having ‘skirted’ the barricade without permission.

When we drove south into Fort Nelson it was overrun with vehicles and people trying to get north. Shelves in the grocery store were literally bare, and folks were camping on the streets and parking lots. It looked like scenes from a disaster movie.

Good times, great memories.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Dodging the Flores Consent Decree

The President caved in and ordered illegal immigrant families held together. That action was unfortunate but politically unavoidable, one supposes. A problem is the length of time required to settle asylum applications (>20 days).

I think I have an answer for the Flores consent decree saying you can't hold minors for more than 20 days. The answer is to hold their illegal immigrant parents and invite those detained parents to keep their children with them if that is the parents' desire. The children are not being "held," but being permitted to accompany their parents who are being held. This permission is extended as a courtesy in the interest of keeping families together.

One presumes most parents will have them stay. Some late adolescents will go, but they aren't the small children over whom everybody anguishes.

Criminal Responsibility

Amidst all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the separation of criminal border-jumpers from their children, a few are speaking sense. In City Journal, Bob McManus has this analysis:
The federal government is treating no one inhumanely; the “families” involved are not so much immigrants as they are economic migrants with no inherent right of entry into the United States—and to the extent that there is an “ongoing human tragedy” on the border, responsibility for it resides with those attempting to enter the county illegally.

Americans have the right, if not the duty, to lock their doors to keep their persons and property safe. Why shouldn’t the nation, too?

Opponents of the administration’s border policy are arguing for blanket immunity from the democratically legislated consequences of blatantly illegal conduct.
Analysis: true.

POTUS Knows Deals

If you viewed the 30-years-ago Donald Trump being interviewed by Oprah, to which COTTonLINE provided a link, you know he’s been concerned about unfair foreign trade for most of his adult life. When he met the G-7 leaders in Quebec and said as much to their faces everyone was ... shocked, shocked (classical allusion).

Now The New York Times has an article by German journalist Jochen Bittner, editor of Die Zeit, who writes Trump has a point.
Mr. Trump’s anger at America’s allies embodies, however unpleasantly, a not unreasonable point of view, and one that the rest of the world ignores at its peril: The global world order is unbalanced and inequitable. And unless something is done to correct it soon, it will collapse.

The Europeans have basically been free riders on the voyage, spending almost nothing on defense, and instead building vast social welfare systems at home and robust, well-protected export industries abroad.

All those German politicians who oppose raising military spending from a meager 1.3 percent of gross domestic product should try to explain to American students why their European peers enjoy free universities and health care, while they leave it up to others to cover for the West’s military infrastructure.

There’s a good chance for success if Europe engages Mr. Trump by his New York tycoon soul — he needs to be convinced that he’s getting a good deal. And right now, it’s easy to see why he thinks otherwise.
Nobody, including Europeans, likes it when their gravy train derails. Being told to pull up their socks and stop being dependent is not fun. (mixed metaphor alert) Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Economy Up, Disability Claims Down

COTTonLINE has been telling you for seven years (I checked) that the number of people claiming disability to seek a government handout is directly related to the state of the economy. The worse the economy, the more who will try for disabled status.

If this suggests to you that many such claims are in part or entirely bogus, you are of course correct. Now we have proof of this "bogosity," to borrow a neologism from NPR's Magliozzi brothers. Station WRAL posts a story by a New York Times reporter who writes:
The number of Americans seeking Social Security disability benefits is plunging, a startling reversal of a decades-old trend that threatened the program’s solvency. It is the latest evidence of a stronger economy pulling people back into the job market or preventing workers from being sidelined in the first place.

Fewer than 1.5 million Americans applied to the Social Security Administration for disability coverage last year, the lowest since 2002. Applications are running at an even lower rate this year, government officials say.
Like the man says, much of Social Security disability was just open-ended unemployment insurance in disguise, wearing a medical fig leaf. Once Congress called the SSA on their non-enforcement of standards, the agency started to close the tap and the numbers have gone down.

Analysis: the economy is up, disability is down, as expected. It turns out many of the “disabled” weren’t too ill to work after all, although of course this isn’t the conclusion the NYT wants you to draw.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Happiness Up, Except for Democrats

Instapundit links to a Gallup poll which finds people are darned happy with what's happening. Gallup writes:
Thirty-eight percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the United States today, similar to last month's 37% satisfaction rate but marking the numerical high since a 39% reading in September 2005.

Democrats were the only major demographic group to show no increase in satisfaction.

Now, at the midpoint of 2018, as the United States continues to enjoy a nine-year-long economic expansion, the number of Americans finding satisfaction in the country's direction is on the rise. This reflects more than a growing comfort with Donald Trump as president; growth in satisfaction has outstripped growth in Trump's approval rating.
The difference makes sense if you remember people give Trump higher marks for his handling of the economy than they do for his non-traditional presidential style. People haven't been this pleased with life for almost 13 years. Meanwhile, unhappy Democrats are a source of happiness for the rest of us, purest schadenfreude.

Video of a Young Trump

Wow! Long-time friend Earl sends a link to a YouTube video of a young Donald Trump being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on her TV show in 1988. No Photoshopping™going on, this is The Donald 30 years ago. The screen-top chyron says "25 years ago" but it's out of date.

With no presidential aspirations but expressing considerable frustration with supposed allies' unfair trade practices toward the U.S., he really hasn't changed his tune much. He was impressive then, he's impressive now, and undiplomatically blunt both then and now.

As a COTTonLINE reader, you probably like Trump. You'll like him even more when you see him at an unbelievably young-looking 42 (or thereabouts).

Nastiness in Nicaragua

COTTonLINE tries to keep up with goings-on in Latin America, it’s our “neighborhood.” Today World Politics Review reports the anti-Ortega unrest in Nicaragua is building toward a civil war.

Sadly, this condition is no newcomer to Nicaragua. We remember the “contras” fighting Ortega’s Sandanistas in the Reagan era, the most recent conflict, and before that the battle to oust Somoza.

Unrest and civil war comes and goes in Central America, the lucky countries (e.g., Costa Rica) dodge it if they can. Conflicts happen between indigenous peoples and European “settlers,” between left and right, sometimes between rival criminal gangs. And rarely they are “visited” by the U.S. military, think Panama.

Ortega faces student unrest, which is catching on with other elements of Nicaraguan society, and has responded repressively with deadly force. Author Ghitis believes this will lead to civil war.

Polling suggests President Ortega, 72, and his wife - Vice President Murillo - have become unpopular. They need to buy a villa in simpatico Havana and retire.

A Balkan Primer

George Friedman, a go-to guy for foreign affairs, writes for RealClearWorld about the Balkans, those troubled and troublesome little countries between Austria and Greece, west of the Danube. Today he’s not breaking news especially, he’s written a compressed and streamlined history lesson describing how things got to their present cranky state.

Sidebar: I find it curious, but perhaps understandable, that Friedman entirely omits the northernmost - Slovenia - from his discussion. Slovenians have apparently managed to “pass” as real Europeans no longer tainted by their Balkan origins, perhaps they have the elegant Melania to thank. When the DrsC visited Slovenia it could have been mistaken for southern Austria, gemutlichkeit and Alpine-style charm were the order of the day.

A too-brief summary of Friedman’s thesis is that the Balkans is the cockpit in which the roosters of Turkish Islam, Russian Orthodoxy, and German Catholicism meet to fight. The locals all took sides centuries ago. Furthermore, as Friedman notes:
In the Balkans, nothing is forgotten, and nothing is forgiven. It is an essential and abysmal reality. Sometimes the fights between the villages draw in other villages, draw in capitals, draw in great powers. Sometimes the great powers competing with each other draw in the Balkan capitals and the villages. Either way, there are countless local feuds and endless powers seeking hegemony over a continent, and together they open the door to all the malice in the region. 
Tough neighborhood. World War I began there.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

An Embedded Reporter

New York Times reporter Ali Watkins was the paramour of James Wolfe, head of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee. She based stories on classified leaks he provided. The New York Post's Michael Goodwin quotes a reader who has a snarky take on this journalistic malfeasance:
By breaking the elephant rule of Times editor Abe Rosenthal, Watkins gives new meaning to ‘embedded’ reporter.
Heh. I'll never see that term again without thinking of its double meaning.

A Visit to the Real America

Salena Zito writes politics from the perspective of the great fly-over, where her roots lie. Here she reports, for The New York Post, taking a diverse group of Harvard students in a non-credit course sponsored by the Institute of Politics called the Main Street Project, on a trip visiting several sites in small town America.

To get the local flavor, the group stayed in B&Bs, ate in local non-chain restaurants, visited small companies,  and drove blue-line highways from one location to the next in vans. And they spent 2-4 days in each location. She even took them to mass at a Polish Catholic Church.

The kids discovered another America most had no idea existed, where people are both friendly and genuine. And she told them what she'd privately established, just about every person they had talked to voted for Trump.
My students looked stunned, at first. But then a recognition crossed their faces.
These were Obama's "bitter clingers to guns, religion and anti-immigrant sentiment" and the kids hadn't noticed because the folks were polite and friendly, the way Americans are supposed to be. By choice I live among such people, they're my small town neighbors.

Read the whole Zito article, it's good.

Happy Fathers Day

My own father has been dead for a long time, he was 52 when I was born, and lived to be 83. It surprises me how often some bit of wisdom he imparted pops up in my conversation over four decades later.

Among other things, he taught me how to build a fire, swing an axe, and aim a rifle or pistol, how to use a knife safely, how to trap a gopher and how to drive. And all of these are probably less important than his understanding of what constituted a good life.

For sure I inherited my father's love of words. A childhood memory is of my Dad getting a "far away" thoughtful look, rising and walking over to look up a word in our well-thumbed dictionary.

I still do that to this day. You'd be surprised how often, while writing posts for this blog, I use the "look up" utility to be sure I'm using some esoteric term or slang correctly. Mostly I'm right, but occasionally I instead pick a near-synonym that's a better fit.

I know I was a disappointment to my father, he'd have loved for me to be a multi-sport athlete, especially his favorite baseball. I'm sure he hoped he could go watch me play high school varsity sports.

Instead he got a bookish kid (several books a week) with late-blooming coordination and not much interest in being a spectator. Still, he was proud of my academic achievements and, I'm told, bragged about me to others but never sent much praise my way. Life is like that.

Probably my favorite quote from my father concerns living with women. He opined: "Ladies are nice, but their thermostats don't work very well." He meant women often experience the environment as too cold, occasionally as too warm, and rarely as just right.

Recently I read research which suggests there is a physiological basis for this reaction, that it isn't just women being hard to please. Dad was right.

Thanks for everything, Dad.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Selling as Diplomacy

Philip Rucker, one of the Washington Post's staff Trump-haters, claims the President is "embrac[ing] totalitarian leaders around the world." Paul Mirengoff goes to great lengths to refute this at Power Line, I'm not certain why.

The single insight which helps me understand Donald Trump is my conviction that he is, at heart, a salesman. His flattery of people he hopes to influence is just sales hype, and can vanish in a heartbeat.

Trump's insight - that people who experience you as liking and respecting them will find it easier to agree with you than those who feel you despise them - isn't rocket science. It's more like time-tested common sense.

Trump is trying to cajole three specific "totalitarian leaders" (Kim, Xi, and Putin) into making deals he finds favorable, using approaches that worked for him in the past. The same approaches he's used successfully on union (and mob?) bosses, planning boards, mayors, suppliers, and contractors to get hotel, condo, and casino projects approved, built and running.

There are dozens more "totalitarian leaders" around the world Trump hasn't so much as smiled at, much less praised. His way of dealing with foreign leaders is an interesting mix of bullying and cajolery. Michael Walsh does a nice job of describing this mix for the New York Post.

Saturday Snickers

It is Saturday and Steven Hayward has posted at Power Line his weekly collection of cartoons, captioned photos, posters, and general snark. Some favorites described:

Cartoon of a frantic, apparently rabid dog staccato barking his head off in the night, his water dish labeled “Press.” Each of his uncounted barks is the word “Trump.”

A poster with this simple news flash:
Breaking: 9th circuit orders
Kim Jong-un to continue
developing nuclear weapons
Two photos, uncaptioned. In the first Trump shakes hands with Kim Jong-un, in the second Hillary shakes the hand of a purchaser of her book at Costco.

Two side-by-side cartoons. In the first, a mainstream news anchor says:
The good news is, there’s a chance North Korea might give up their nukes.
In the second, the same anchor says:
The bad news is, it’s because of Donald Trump!
Photo of former SecState John Kerry looking tired, defeated, captioned:
When you realize
Dennis Rodman is a
better diplomat than you.
Cartoon of a wasted-looking Robert DeNiro wearing a Never Trump button, popping a pacifier out of his mouth while saying:
You talkin’ to me?! 
Uncaptioned photo of Robert DeNiro and Harvey Weinstein, both in tuxes on a sofa, deep in conversaton.

Photo of laughing Ted Kennedy apparently talking to a laughing Bill Clinton. Kennedy says “I drowned a girl.” Clinton says “I raped several.” Both say, “Thank God we didn’t talk dirty.”

Photo of Japan’s PM Abe looking askance at Germany’s Chancellor Merkel at the G-7, captioned:
The last time we listened to you we got nuked.
CNN Headline:
Trump wants GOP to court black voters — then slams voting rights for felons.
Followed by a Simpsons-style cartoon character who says:
So CNN is saying black people and felons are the same thing?

The Children of Criminals

Try a thought experiment. Imagine a burglar who, as she breaks and enters homes and steals valuables found there, takes her children along in the car because she can’t get a sitter. Now imagine she is caught in the act by police, and taken to jail.

Would she and her children be separated? Of course they would. Child Protective Services would take the kids into custody while she is jailed, and perhaps beyond if she’s found an unfit parent.

Now consider entering the U.S. illegally, with children. Persons who do so are just as much criminals as are burglars, and as we imprison them, they are separated from their children. How do they deserve less rigorous treatment?

The argument that they’re merely trying to improve their economic situation won’t cut it. After all, that’s also the burglar’s motivation.

In both cases they are attempting to possess something that doesn’t belong to them. In the first case the personal property of others to which she does not have legal title, in the second case American residency to which they are not entitled and which they have not earned.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Why the IG Report Is Lame

If Kim Strassel is one of the two indispensable voices on the FBI-weirdness story, the other is former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy of National Review. McCarthy writes to react to the DOJ IG's report on the handling of the Clinton email matter. See his conclusion.
How do you best evaluate the FBI’s approach to the Clinton case? Well, if I may invoke that term again, common sense says you look at how the same agents handled another case which bore on the same event that informed their every decision, the 2016 election. The question is not whether every Clinton-case decision was defensible considered in isolation; it is whether the quality of justice afforded to two sides of the same continuum by the same agents at the same time was . . . the same.

It wasn’t. One was kid gloves, the other was scorched earth. The candidate they hoped would win got the former; the candidate they needed to “stop” got the latter. The candidate they were almost certain would win got the case dropped; the candidate they needed an “insurance policy” against . . . well, whaddya know — the case against him is still going . . . and going . . . and going.

Did bias have anything to do with that? In 568 pages that leave out the Trump half of the story, we’re told the answer is, “Who really knows?”

I think we know.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz had a chance to flush out the Augean stables at DOJ. Instead he appears to have done his level best to downplay the wrong-doing his own report documents, scrupulously avoiding consideration of the disparate treatment afforded the Clinton and Trump organizations.

Graphic Reality

In the current reality, I'm thinking this image doesn't need commentary. Hat tips to John Hinderaker at Power Line for the link and to cartoonist A. F. Branco for the image.

Strassel Nails It

Business and Politics Review quotes several Tweets by The Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel, who has covered the FBI-weirdness story from the beginning. Four key ones summarize what the DOJ IG actually found and reported.
4) Meanwhile this same cast of characters who the IG has now found to have made a hash of the Clinton investigation and who demonstrate such bias, seamlessly moved to the Trump investigation. And we're supposed to think they got that one right? #IGReport

5) Also don't believe anyone who says this is just about Comey and his instances of insubordination. (Though they are bad enough.) This is an indictment broadly of an FBI culture that believes itself above the rules it imposes on others. #IGReport

6) People failing to adhere to their recusals (Kadzik/McCabe). Lynch hanging with Bill. Staff helping Comey conceal details of presser from DOJ bosses. Use of personal email and laptops. Leaks. Accepting gifts from media. Agent affairs/relationships.

7) It also contains stunning examples of incompetence. Comey explains that he wasn't aware the Weiner laptop was big deal because he didn't know Weiner was married to Abedin? Then they sit on it a month, either cuz it fell through cracks (wow) or were more obsessed w/Trump.
All of that supports a judgment the IG Report cannot be dismissed as a nothingburger. There needs to be serious butt-kicking at the Bureau and DOJ. Each must try to rebuild the smoking wreck of its honor.

A List And A Question

Writing in The Heritage Foundation's publication The Daily Signal, Virginia Allen lists 8 things which are associated with being raised in a father-absent home. Hat tip to Stephen Green, guest blogging at Instapundit, for the link.
  • At a higher risk of having behavioral problems.
  • Four times more likely to live in poverty.
  • More likely to be incarcerated in their lifetime.
  • Twice as likely to never graduate high school.
  • At a seven times higher risk of teen pregnancy.
  • More vulnerable to abuse and neglect.
  • More likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.
  • Twice as likely to be obese.
This list makes me wonder whether the same pathologies exist in military families where a father is gone for up to a year at a time, at sea or on deployment in a zone where families cannot follow. My social scientist training says if the answer is "yes," absence is truly the issue.

If the answer is "no," other factors associated with women raising children alone may be the underlying issues, things like trying to find enough hours in the day to both parent and earn a living. Or living in one-earner-family poverty and what that means in terms of where one lives, where one's kids go to school, who their friends are.

I can imagine a third alternative in which some, but not all, of the listed factors exist when a military father, though still a fond part of the family, is absent for long periods and thus has diminished impact as the male role model particularly sons need. Here the interest would be in determining which of the listed items are/are not salient for military families.

Clearly the development of video conferencing technologies like FaceTime™ has to some degree reduced the impact of military family separations.

Mexico to Vote Soon

Our neighbor to the south, Mexico, is a mess - violent and drug-corrupt. Their presidential politics over the last several cycles have shown that the electorate is flailing about, trying first one thing and then another in the hope of breaking through the malaise gripping the country.

After decades of one-party rule by the PRI (1934-2000), they zigged right with PAN for two terms, back to the PRI when PAN didn't pan out, and now it appears they'll zag left with AMLO's coalition. Honestly, you can't blame Mexicans for trying different things.

One recalls the statement of former dictator Porfirio Diaz who memorably said, "Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States." An outsider's perspective suggests he could have added, "And so cursed by a Spanish colonial heritage."

It is probably too much to hope for that AMLO may turn out to be a practical person with his country's best interests at heart. COTTonLINE extends best wishes to our southern neighbors, they could use a break.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Irony Alert

Hey, irony fans. Don't you love that then-FBI Director James Comey stands accused of using a gmail account for some of his FBI business at the same time he was investigating Hillary Clinton for using a non-governmental server for State Department business? Talk about hypocrisy, this is it on steroids.

He had the gall to stand in front of a TV camera and call what she did "extremely careless," while he was doing the same thing! Wouldn't doing that make your skin crawl, make you cringe? It's how I'd react.

Europeans Serious About Immigration ... Finally

Bloomberg writes that immigration from the Middle East and Africa has become the issue pushing European leaders apart. It is creating conflict within the EU. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

The article is full of details about Italy and Austria this and Spain that with France and Germany tut-tutting all the while. The conclusion is what counts, although it may be "rising" too late.
Anti-immigration sentiment is rising to become the public’s No. 1 concern in countries across the EU.
It is unfortunately true EU bureaucrats pay little attention to public concerns.

A Cult-Like Culture

The emeritus management professor - me - says organizational culture is an interesting phenomenon. If you believe all large organizations harbor the same or similar beliefs, norms and values, you haven't experienced many such - they vary quite substantially.

All of which makes attorney Paul Mirengoff's description for Power Line of the Department of Justice culture both timely and loaded with explanatory power. He writes:
More than any federal agency or department I’ve worked for, with, or against, the Justice Department resembles a cult. Its employees think they are special. They feel intense hostility towards the Department’s adversaries. They are fiercely loyal to the Department and compulsively committed to its ways of doing things. Outsiders are viewed with condescension and suspicion, if not contempt.

Obviously, many DOJ employees do not buy fully into the cult, but many do. Those who rise to the top tend to embrace it the most.
He sees this causing DOJ, in the person of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, to stonewall Congressional committees seeking to exercise oversight. It also has been a major frustration for the White House, mostly exhibited in irritation directed at Rosenstein's boss, Jeff Sessions, for recusing himself.

As a witness himself in the business of firing FBI Director James Comey, Rosenstein also should have recused himself, but has refused to do so. Mirengoff would call this "acting to protect the DOJ cult" against outside interference. That explains why it happened but makes it neither right nor proper.

Wait Until Winter

The New York Post reports Canadian TV claims people are boycotting U.S. goods and cancelling U.S. vacations. It's a reaction to the G-7 tiff between their PM Trudeau and our President Trump.

A boycott is easy for Canadians to do as their short-but-glorious summer begins; this fall when the snow flies it's likely to be another story altogether. It is estimated a half million Canadians own property in Florida alone.

As the mercury drops, Canadian snowbirds will consider staying home, remember the warm sunshine in Palm Desert, Fort Lauderdale, Corpus Christie or Tucson, and head south. Not many will opt instead for warm-but-murderous Mexico. Even fewer will choose to winter over up north.

Trump As Rorschach Test

Daily the folks at RealClearPolitics come up with a list of linked mostly political articles from various outlets, stuff one might want to read. The list is balanced, articles written from both ends of the political spectrum appear in roughly equal numbers.

Most days I check RCP at least twice, once for the "morning line" and again for the afternoon collection. Today while scanning the titles I was struck by a thought, based on a memory from my youth.

Psychologists then used fanciful ink blots, called collectively the Rorschach Test, as stimuli to get clients to free-associate about what the blots might resemble. Blots really didn't look like anything much but the client, clutching at straws for an answer, would dredge up whatever was simmering just below the surface of his/her conscious mind, thus giving the clinician a glimpse into the fetid pool of the client's subconscious. Wikipedia indicates the test is still in use.

What occurred to me this morning was the presidency of Donald Trump is a Rorschach Test. Those of us who comment on his actions reveal more about our own biases than we do about his accomplishments.

Often anti-Trump articles reveal the author to be a vengeful hater, an unattractive self-portrait. Pro-Trump authors reveal a lack of sensitivity to style, in the face of his demonstrated accomplishments.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Sports Dilemma

Over the last month or two I've repeatedly seen stories of transgender males-identifying-as-females winning sporting events for women. How much of this will it take to destroy all of the progress Title IX has brought to women's sports?

I foresee actual XX chromosome women will be discouraged from participating if they have to compete head-to-head against XY chromosome "women" in women's events. Is this where the society wants women's sports to go?

I'm reminded of the men who took women's roles in traditional Japanese theatrical performances. Japanese women apparently did not perform in dramas. Women's sports could become like that here.

Trump-Kim in Singapore: An Evaluation

I've read several analyses of the Trump-Kim talks in Singapore, some positive, some negative. The best of these, in my estimation, is by Paul Mirengoff of Power Line. He writes:
What did Trump get for the United States? The release of three American captives; the return of remains of missing Americans; the cessation, for now, of North Korean nuclear testing; and the destruction, complete or partial, of two (as I understand it) nuclear facilities. We should assume that the two facilities aren’t central to North Korea’s program.

What did Kim get from the United States? The cessation, for now, of war games. And the prestige associated with getting to meet the American president on equal terms.

Trump knows more than he did before about the man with the power to launch a nuclear strike. How rational is Kim (quite rational, I suspect)? To what extent does he share the traditional paranoia of his family (not much, I suspect)?

It’s also valuable to us that Kim now knows Trump better. Before he knew Trump at all, it was easy for Kim to fear he was dealing with a wild man — a warmonger. Thanks to the meeting, it’s likely that Kim no longer regards him that way.

Thus, the possibility of war due to miscalculation is probably reduced.
And Mirengoff concludes: "Trump did just fine." For this preliminary meeting, that's my conclusion as well.

Biggest Enemy Sweepstakes

The Associated Press reports President Trump has Tweeted:
Our Country's biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!
He's nearly correct, it's natural for a president to confuse the country with himself. He should have Tweeted:
My biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!
Much of the obviously fake news is about Trump, written by haters with press credentials. I certainly don't blame him for being frustrated and angry with it.

But no, Fake News is not America's biggest enemy. America's biggest enemy would be China, with Russia and Iran getting dishonorable mentions.

Penalties Down, Crime Up

The Los Angeles Times carries an Associated Press report with this intriguing title:
Thefts rise after California reduces criminal penalties 
It continues:
California voters' decision to reduce penalties for drug and property crimes in 2014 contributed to a jump in car burglaries, shoplifting and other theft, researchers reported.

Larcenies increased about 9% by 2016, or about 135 more thefts per 100,000 residents than if tougher penalties had remained, according to results of a study by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California released Tuesday.
I hope this doesn't surprise you, what else would a sensible person expect? Keep this demonstrated relationship in mind when advising your representative in Congress how you wish them to vote on "sentencing reform," which aims to reduce sentences for federal offenses.

The "incarceration problem" we have is one of insufficiency, not excess. The science is settled. Hat tip to for the link.

Presidents Are Egoists

The New York Times' Tom Friedman writes knowledgeably about the Middle East, with some insight into relations with other regions, and with no sense at all about domestic politics. Today he writes that President Trump is "Trying to Remake America in His Own Image." No kidding.

What recent president has done otherwise? Obama tried to turn us into a pack of globalists who couldn't quite remember their nationality. Bush wanted us to be kinder and gentler missionaries for Christian capitalism and democracy.

Clinton was too busy fending off bimbo eruptions to do much. Reagan succeeded in building a military that, in its day, intimidated the Soviets into history's dustbin. Nixon did the opening to China, probably at Kissinger's urging, but he made the move.

My point: every president takes the country in his own direction. He has the monumental ego necessary to win the office and believes that makes him right because the people chose him. Good ol' boy Lyndon Johnson sure did that with his Great Society.


Back to Friedman, he doesn't like Trump so he doesn't like where Don is taking the country. So? I didn't like where Obama took the country and said so repeatedly in this space. Many of us like America just as The Donald is remaking it, unabashedly pursuing its self-interest.

It is long past the time Europe had any rational excuse to ride on our gravy train. All need for the Marshall Plan ended by 1960-70; Europe has been leaching off us for the last fifty years. So has Canada. Trump says as much.

Like the millennial whose parents had to sue to evict him from their basement, the nations of Europe whine when the tap gets turned off. It is long past time for them to grow up and act like adults, responsible for their own affairs.

Splitting California into Three?

Several media outlets are reporting success of an effort to gather enough signatures to put a referendum splitting California into three states on its November ballot. If it wins, that is only the first (and perhaps the easiest) of many steps before an actual split can occur.

The proposed states make sense from a  SoCal perspective. The coastal area retaining the name "California" is in many ways a world apart - scenic, affluent, retiree-laden, a water-starved near-Eden.

The proposed "Southern California" is an odd amalgam of agricultural, alpine, desert, and south coast. It would vote in Congress with the farm states, and very possibly be Republican.

"Northern California," while geographically compact, contains the leftish Bay Area including Silicon Valley, and the rightish agricultural north valley which has wanted to split off into the state of "Jefferson." Most votes would be in the metro Sacramento-San Francisco-San Jose triangle, so it would be predicted to be Democrat.

Adding four members to the U.S. Senate won't be popular with small states which enjoy their outsize influence. I predict if passed by CA voters, the effort dies in the U.S. Congress or on one of the other hurdles it must cross.

It may never get that far; Cal and SoCal are dependent on water from NorCal which an independent NorCal might want to retain for its own use. And both Cal and SoCal would have to create capitals and associated infrastructure at their own expense, which their voters may choose not to do.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Mulling the Demise of Malls

Drudge Report links to a Bloomberg Business article about owners trying to sell malls as their occupants go bankrupt, one after another. On-line shopping combined with smart phones replacing face-to-face socializing have ruined the mall franchise.

In particular, I'm thinking about the two malls in the small California city I called home for the last three decades of the 20th century, and where we still have a vacation place. The story, I believe, is fairly typical. 

The older mall began to die years ago, when its anchor store - Penneys -moved to the newer mall as one of its three anchors. The former space was then occupied by Mervyns which died in 2008, sat vacant for awhile, and then reopened as a Goodwill used goods outlet. It is currently being renovated to be an outdoors activity store, I suppose camping, canoeing and like merchandise.

The newer mall is now on life support, two of the three anchors died - Sears and Gottschalks - and only Penneys hangs on, for how long is unclear. The Sears space stands vacant and a Forever 21 rattles around in the former Gottschalks space. I'd guess the mall owners have vacant shops in the interior and therefore have no incentive to renovate the Sears space into smaller stores meeting the needs of the incurably (irrationally?) entrepreneurial.

Meanwhile the parking lots at some big box free-standers like Walmart and Costco signal busy sales at both. Parking lot evidence suggests people still shop at grocery stores; online groceries with delivery hasn't made much of a dent yet. On the other hand the Kmart is probably at death's door, its lot an empty sea of asphalt. 

Somebody needs to come up with a model of how to repurpose mall space as apartments or community college branch campuses or medical offices or even assisted living units. It looks to be square footage that, at fire sale prices, could be used for many socially desirable things.

An alternative would be to level the malls and keep the parking lots, leasing pads to various restaurants which seem to attract diners who rarely enter the adjacent mall. The owner would then be a lot maintainer and rent collector. I could see this working out economically for franchise restaurants, the dining public, and the one-time mall owner who could perhaps provide private lot security.

Sessions Gets It Right

COTTonLINE hasn’t always been charitable to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. We’ve expressed frustration with Sessions’ failure to tell Trump a priori that he’d have to recuse himself on the issue of contacts with Russia. And perhaps with his inability therefore to get DOJ to pony up documents Congress needs to understand Spygate.

That said, when he does something of which we approve, it behooves us to note it specifically. CBS News reports Sessions has announced a less flexible approach to deciding which asylum seekers are eligible for entry. He said:
Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum.

The mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes — such as domestic violence or gang violence — or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim.
This is a good decision, it will bar most applicants from Central America. Failures at self-government are not an excuse to come here seeking succor. Whether from El Salvador, Guatamala, Nicaragua or Honduras, that is their country and they should stay there and make it work. Parenthetically, the same principle applies to Mexico.

Smiles in Singapore

President Trump and Chairman Kim have met and signed an agreement in principle, with details yet to follow. This is essentially what Trump suggested would happen, before going to Singapore.

So ... where are we? In Churchill’s memorable phrase, “Not at the beginning of the end, but at the end of the beginning.” They’ve done the easy part, the hard part is yet to come. Will it ever happen? I don’t know and today, neither does anyone else.

The hard work - hammering out the details of how to accomplish the ringing goals - has been left to SecState Mike Pompeo and his opposite number from North Korea. Doing so is sensible and appropriate.

If we can convert the at-dagger-points relationship with North Korea of today into the prickly-but-talking sort of relationship we have with China, it will be an improvement. Not all smiles and BFF, but clearly better.

If that happens, Trump will have pulled off what Nixon did with China, made a bad situation incrementally better. It’s likely that is a best-case scenario; we have to hope it doesn’t turn out as badly as Obama’s probably well-intentioned but certainly ill-conceived overtures to theocratic Iran.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Goal Clarity Needed

Various commenters have noted our talks with North Korea ignore the brutal treatment that government affords its people, this by Paul Mirengoff at Power Line is an example. I want to ask an apparently naive question: why should we care?

I am of the opinion a country's people get, over time, the government they deserve. It is really almost impossible to maintain a widely disliked police state. Generally, governments rule via the consent of a lot of the governed - more often than not, a majority either support the government or don't care enough to do anything about it.

It isn't our job to tell the Koreans north of the 38th parallel how they should be governed. The Kims, all three generations, have convinced their people to allow them to continue in office.

Enough people support the Kim's rule for it to continue. If and when that is no longer the case, the Norks will have a different government.

What is our business is when North Korea threatens us or our allies in the region - Japan and South Korea. I presume abating this nuisance is what Trump is about in Singapore.

I wish Trump well. Regime change for North Korea can become our goal if it is the only way to get them to stop threatening the destruction of other countries; what they do with their own is an internal matter, not our affair.

A Prediction 2+ Years In Advance

Writing at Townhall, Kevin McCullough lists five reasons he believes Trump will win 40 states in 2020, the 5 are these:
Foreign Policy Dominance
Stronger Might, Less War, Safer World
His Base Is Strongest of the Era
He Will Garner Record African-American Support
And then he concludes:
Should at minimum 3 of these 5 conditions hold I believe Donald Trump will be overwhelmingly re-elected almost irrespective of who the Democrats decide to run.

He campaigned on promises he could keep.

He’s now keeping the promises he made.

He will in all likelihood be given a chance to make and keep more promises to the people who gave him the chance the first time.

This ain’t rocket science!
I didn't know politicians were permitted to actually keep promises they campaigned on, Trump is breaking new ground here.

Cultural Elites Hate You

Ed Driscoll, a regular at the Instapundit site, laments Robert DeNiro's shout of "F*** Trump!" at the Tony awards, and quotes Rod Dreher as follows:
I can’t imagine that many Trump voters were watching the Tony Awards last night, so they wouldn’t have seen that virtue-signaling display. But it will enjoy a long life on social media, where it will do Donald Trump a lot of good with the masses, because it will solidify their entirely accurate belief that the cultural elites hate them. De Niro and the standing-ovation-giving audience are so vain that they don’t recognize this.
The "standing O" DeNiro got for dissing Trump will do more harm to progressive causes than his statement, which is sort of the norm from "Hollywood" pond scum. The hate will soon be completely mutual, if it isn't already.

A Fractured Fairytale

Investigative reporter extraordinaire Sheryl Attkisson, writing for The Hill, spins what she calls a "fractured fairytale." In it she describes the FBI's approach to possible Russian fiddling with the Trump campaign as though it had been the investigation of an impending bank robbery.

Looked at this way, what the Bureau did was so transparently absurd as to be laughable. See her conclusion, one with which I concur:
The moral of the story: It’s a weird way to prevent a bank robbery.

On the other hand, if the FBI’s real goal — in this fractured fairytale — was to frame the hated owner of the bank and his employees, it all makes sense.
You really ought to peruse Attkisson's column, one of 2018's few "must reads." Translation for those too busy to do so: The FBI didn't act to prevent or forestall Russian interference. It appears to have acted to frame Donald Trump and those who ran his campaign.

Part of the reason the FBI did so is their reward structure: FBI agents are rewarded for convictions obtained. They're not rewarded for spying prevented, which is speculative as it requires proving a negative. This structure makes them a less-than-ideal choice for our nation's counterintelligence organization.

Italy Says "No," Spain Caves In

The new Italian government, about which we wrote several days ago, has refused landing rights to a rescue ship which picked up 600+ African refugees somewhere in the Mediterranean. Spain finally agreed to let them land. See the Reuters and Associated Press stories on this new Italian policy.

What I'm not clear about is why the "rescuers" don't put the rescuees ashore back in North Africa, from whence they left? Spain won't continue to be the patsy indefinitely if more multi-hundred shiploads keep coming.

Italy will likely stonewall these (mostly economic) refugees. They ought to stay home and change what needs changing in their native land. Hat tip to for the links.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

CA Politics

Willie Brown, California's Mr. Democrat, has been both a SF mayor and a long-time speaker of the Assembly, Sacramento's lower house. I don't agree with him about much - politically - but I admire his political skills, his pragmatism and his snarky sense of humor. All three are reflected in his column for the SF Chronicle.

Today he writes that Gavin Newsom isn't going to find beating Republican John Cox a walk in the park. About Cox he notes:
Listen again to his victory speech Tuesday night, if you want to know how he’s going to hammer Newsom. It isn’t just that we need to build more housing — it’s that the price of housing is ridiculous. The schools are a mess and have been for years. And who’s responsible for that? Not the Republicans — they haven’t had a whiff of power in Sacramento for nearly a decade.

And then there’s the big one. You’ll be hearing a lot about rolling back the state’s 12-cents-a-gallon increase in the gas tax, which will pay for $52 billion in road and bridge improvements.

Cox will point to California’s problems and say Trump didn’t cause them. So it may all come down to whether Californians think their state is in pretty good shape or a steaming mess.

I still think Newsom is going to win. But it’s not going to be the glide that Democrats expect.
Analysis: Cox is a long shot, but so was candidate Trump.

California is trying to become "Argentina del Norte." Like Argentina, it's a physical paradise, being turned into "a steaming mess" by a wrong-headed political culture.

The present governor's father - Edmund G. "Pat" Brown - was an excellent governor, fifty plus years ago. Son Jerry's 'apple' fell much too far from the tree. I find this a sad irony.