Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The GOP Dilemma

Lately on Bret Baier's Special Report (FoxNews) panelist Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist has been talking about the conflict within the GOP between the donor class of uber-wealthy and Trump's base. What is that conflict?

The wealthy donor class love free trade and lots of cheap illegal immigrant labor to nanny their kids, mow their lawns, and clean their pools and houses. Trump's base can't afford to hire illegals (or anybody else), perforce they do their own menial tasks, and hate seeing their jobs being shipped overseas or taken over by cheap illegal immigrant labor. Free trade and open borders hurt them.

Trump can ignore the donor class, he's got his own wealth and isn't reliant on their donations. Such is not the case for most GOP elected officials, they rely on political contributions and PAC-funded hit pieces on their opponents and plugs for issues they've espoused.

Most Trump voters have zero intention of making political donations, keeping a little slack in their credit cards is probably the best they can manage. It isn't clear if they realize the bind this puts GOP House members and the like in - the money guys want one thing, the voters want the opposite thing, and office seekers need to keep both happy. It explains why legislators get nothing done about immigration, whatever they might do will irritate one of their two key constituencies.

So Hemingway is correct, the conflict is real. If you thought I could pull a magic answer to this dilemma out of thin air, my apologies - I cannot.

Trump's Appeal

RealClearPolitics has a column by Alex Castellanos which argues we elected Donald Trump president to uproot the obnoxious status quo, and so far he has done exactly that. You'll enjoy reading it.
When Trump rends the fabric of the establishment’s universe, he is doing exactly what his supporters want him to do. Instead of being shocked, disappointed, or offended, his fans cling to him. They pray, “Please God, help him do it again.”

To understand that Trump is the solution, as his supporters do, Washington would have to concede that the establishment is the problem. If Donald Trump is right about anything, it means Washington has been wrong about everything: Higher taxes can’t grow the economy. We are not a few edicts away from regulatory Nirvana. Weakness won’t pass for strength in foreign policy. Our flag and our national identity are not embarrassments. The self-regarding elite doesn’t know best.
And we are not responsible for the well-being of the world. Trump is a dirty thumb, shoved hard into the establishment's eye. When you hear them squeal, remember to applaud.

I'm not sure anyone has said as much, so I'll risk it: Trump is a revolutionary, the establishment is the ancien régime and they don't fancy being "disestablished," ending up on history's ash heap.

So far he's winning, they're losing. How much longer? Who knows, maybe until it's done, till we get our country back from that bunch of whiny elitists.

Monday, July 30, 2018

World's Toilets to Increase

Somewhere the ghost of Sir Thomas Crapper is smiling. Bloomberg reports India, the world's most (or second-most) populous nation, is on a national toilet building spree. The government is making an effort to get its people to stop defecating in the fields and woods, which heretofore most rural (and some not-rural) people did. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

The column comes with a photo of one of the newly installed units. I'm sorry to report they appear to be installing Asian-style squat toilets at and below ground level, rather than first-world style units upon which one sits. Nevertheless, it's better than leaving feces on the ground everywhere.

When we cruised there several years ago, stopping at four ports up the west coast of India, we saw a largish sign proudly denoting a "Toilet Complex," identifying all the various porcelain facilities available therein. It was near the former Portuguese colony of Goa. We found that sign a unique touring experience, as I suppose you would have as well.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Your Sunday Snark

Writing snark for the Boston Herald, Howie Carr makes fun of all the Dems and NeverTrumpers who complain the world is ending. How they claim millions are dying every day and its all Trump's fault.

Carr's column is just plain fun, a "schadenfreudelicious" observation of the left's online pity party and snowflake meltdown. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Chinese View of Trump’s Foreign Policy

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds quotes at length from a Financial Times article (behind paywall) authored by European Council of Foreign Relations President Mark Leonard. Leonard went to China and asked their views of President Trump.
I have just spent a week in Beijing talking to officials and intellectuals, many of whom are awed by his skill as a strategist and tactician. . . .

They think Mr Trump feels he is presiding over the relative decline of his great nation.
Presumably reflected in his slogan “Make America Great Again.”
In Chinese eyes, Mr Trump’s response is a form of “creative destruction”. He is systematically destroying the existing institutions — from the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement to Nato and the Iran nuclear deal — as a first step towards renegotiating the world order on terms more favourable to Washington.

Once the order is destroyed, the Chinese elite believes, Mr Trump will move to stage two: renegotiating America’s relationship with other powers. Because the US is still the most powerful country in the world, it will be able to negotiate with other countries from a position of strength if it deals with them one at a time rather than through multilateral institutions that empower the weak at the expense of the strong.
That tells you the Chinese view of the United Nations and the WTO. About Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki:
Even Mr Trump’s sycophantic press conference with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, in Helsinki had a strategic purpose. They see it as Henry Kissinger in reverse. In 1972, the US nudged China off the Soviet axis in order to put pressure on its real rival, the Soviet Union. Today Mr Trump is reaching out to Russia in order to isolate China.
Because of course the Chinese style themselves our “real rival” in this century. I admit nostalgia for the good old days when we just had one real rival, I count three at the moment: China, Russia, and jihadi Islam.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Prediction: Trump Wins in 2020

A liberal Chicago Sun Times reporter - Neil Steinberg - reluctantly goes to watch President Trump meet with steel workers at a reopened plant. Read what he wrote (scroll down):
Before going, I felt squeamish at being in the crowd scene at a party for the man who kicked open the Pandora’s box of American fears. Almost afraid. But hearing him, I better understood his appeal. He has a vulnerable charm, at times a humanity. He pandered shamelessly to his audience.

“We need steel,” he said. “We need steel plants. And to see an old, big monster plant like this re-opening — that is an honor. I look at the faces of you people; I could be one of you. I like you guys. I could be one of you.”

That struck me as either sincere or an amazing facsimile. The workers, for their part, couldn’t give him a standing ovation because they never sat down.

I left the hall thinking: Donald Trump is going to be re-elected in 2020. The Democrats don’t have anyone who can touch him. Bank on it. Don’t hate me for being the one to tell you.
As a campaigner, Trump is a natural. Audiences eat out of his hand. Hat tip to Ed Driscoll, guest blogging at Instapundit, for the link.

Godfather Diplomacy

There are rumors out of Australia that Trump plans to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites next month, and that Oz will have a role, somehow. The rumors are attributed to high level defense officials there, speaking off the record. Meanwhile their PM denies it.

This, it seems to me, is classic Trump. He has figured out a way to get the ayatollahs in a sweat while doing basically nothing. They may decide they’d rather not go to war and prefer to negotiate instead. Would you be surprised if this was his intent? Not I.

Do I think he plans a war? Nope. Can they be sure? Nope. If he decided to do it could he make them look weak, and do they know it? Yep. If asked, he’ll respond that we don’t talk about what we might do before it happens.

Aside: It doesn’t hurt that we’ve become the world’s biggest oil and gas producer, not much dependent on Gulf oil. Obama’s “we can’t drill our way to energy independence” looks foolish in the rear view mirror, since we’ve done just that.

When we had the world’s biggest, most capable military and promised everyone no-first-use, was it a deterrent? Maybe. Did it give us international clout? Not much.

Now with a president who might send in the bombers, cruise missiles, and special forces, who has done so in Syria and elsewhere, is the threat of our military giving us leverage? Clearly.

Let’s call this “Godfather diplomacy,” demanding “respect” and making troublesome others offers “they can’t refuse.”

Later ... the other DrC says maybe call it a new “brinkmanship,” which fits. It’s a term from the Cold War John Foster Dulles era which she’s too young to remember clearly.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Polls in Turmoil

The senior blogger at Power Line, John Hinderaker, does a nice column trying to make sense of the conflicting polls ahead of the November midterm election. He points to a poll which finds Americans believe the Democrats are out of the mainstream of American politics. And a conflicting poll which finds a majority intend to vote for a Democrat to be their Representative. He concludes:
So how can we make sense of all of this? We can’t. Voters increasingly see the Democrats as extreme and out of the mainstream–no surprise there, since they are. Many Democrats want the U.S. to follow in Venezuela’s footsteps, but don’t want to admit it. Meanwhile most voters, while sensing this, also want the Democrats to control Congress.

My guess is that the polls are missing major currents that will become clear, as in 2016, only after the votes are counted. What those currents will turn out to be, no one really knows.
Perhaps voters prefer divided government so the gridlock that perpetually typifies Washington becomes easily understood, easily explained.

Another couple of years of Speaker Pelosi is revolting to contemplate. She was plenty bad when she was able to say what she meant. Now she's exhibit A (for Alzheimer's) of the mumbling gerontocracy.

NYT's Stephens Predicts Trump Reelection

The New York Times' Bret Stephens, no friend of President Trump, nevertheless has written an interesting prediction of the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Spoiler: Trump wins.

You can find his prediction, out from behind the NYT paywall, at outline.com. I think you'll enjoy it. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Rosenstein Articles of Impeachment Filed

A group of House Republicans - frustrated by DOJ foot-dragging and redactions - have filed articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein has been in control since AG Sessions recused himself from all matters having to do with the Mueller investigation. The Hill has the story.

We wrote this should happen on June 28, nearly a month ago. Now it looks like it might go forward. It isn't clear the bill's sponsors have the votes to make it happen, but getting Republicans on record via a floor vote would be a good idea. Republicans who vote "no" will have some 'splaining' to do in early November.

As we noted then, neither the President nor the AG can risk firing Rosenstein as doing so creates an appearance of obstruction of justice. Congress, on the other hand, faces no such considerations.

Remembering Rodney

Drudge Report has a link to a story it headlines thus:
HOLLYWOOD UNION: 64% of Female Writers Have Been Sexually Harassed On Job
My first thought upon reading this was of Rodney Dangerfield saying "Imagine how bad that makes the other 36% feel. They've gotta be all 'What am I? Chopped liver?'" I'm not sure he could have survived the #MeToo era.

Trump Wins EU Trade Concession

A standard Trump negotiating tactic: threaten something awful, something he could actually do, and then, when the other party becomes reasonable, withdraw the threat. He threatened trade war with the EU and, according to today's story from the Associated Press, the EU just "blinked," gave him at least some of what he wanted.

Instead of trading something valuable to us for something valuable to them, he threatens and then stops threatening. I guess a cynic could call it his version of the "protection racket" long practiced by the mob.

I'm sure he'd describe it as somebody being abusive toward us and us threatening to return the 'favor' with interest. Whatever you call it, it works reasonably well and I hope he keeps it up.

Polite Fiction Ends

Writing in The New York Times and provided here at the Free Media site, Sylvie Kauffmann writes that President Trump is bullying our NATO allies. We wrote about this on Sunday, saying he bullies those with no alternatives.

For decades after World War II ended, American presidents maintained the polite fiction that they, and their NATO allies were equals or peers. In his usual frank style, Trump sees this as ludicrous, which it always was, and refuses to keep up the pretense.

That’s a cold shower to leaders accustomed to a warm embrace, and they quite naturally hate it. Their predicament is their own fault, and at some level they understand this to be true.

Instead of standing on their own two feet they chose to let the U.S. defend them. They adopted a childlike posture instead of adult self-sufficiency. Now Trump treats them like naughty children and it is unpleasant ... but entirely warranted.

I’m reminded of the parents in New England who had to sue their 40ish son to get him to move out of their home. Baby birds need to leave the nest, European nations need to take responsibility for their own actions, their own safety. Whining isn’t going to work with this president, he demands they “Man Up” or be sent to bed without their supper.

MA - Mother of Presidential Losers

Howie Carr writes some good stuff for the Boston Herald, including this which I’m embarrassed to say never occurred to me till I read his column. He snarks:
Virginia used to be called the Mother of Presidents. Massachusetts is the Mother of Presidential Losers.

What is it with the national Democrats’ fascination with Massachusetts?

Look at the record: Ted Kennedy, Mike Dukakis, Paul Tsongas, John Kerry. Fool me once shame on you, fool me four times, five times … what’s up with that?
His point is that Democrat front-runner-for-2020 Elizabeth Warren is another potential loser resident in, you guessed it, MA. To which I’d add that GOP presidential loser Mitt Romney came off a stint as Governor of the Bay State.

MA is an outlier on the U.S. political spectrum, about two standard deviations to the left. I suspect it is because so many colleges and universities are domiciled there (>30).

My conclusion: Coming from Taxachusetts isn’t a good look for presidential candidates of either party.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Doing Something About the Weather

Summer in the WY Rockies is pleasant, highs in the high 80s, lows around 50, and dry too. At our CA place the predicted highs are over 100 all this week with one day supposed to hit 110 and others somewhat close.

Here we enjoy nature's air conditioning. In CA we'd be running the AC 24/7 and spending a fortune on electricity.

There is always perfect weather happening somewhere, the key is to be where that perfection occurs. Being retired sure helps, but people who have telecommuting jobs could do it younger.

Our CA place has great springs and falls, and they're longer than normal too. What is short there is winter, it lasts only a couple of months most years. So we go somewhere warm for those two months and it's all good.

Trump's Guy Wins GA Primary

In the last couple of primary contests in which President Trump endorsed a candidate for the Republican nomination, his candidate won. Today's example is the Georgia governor race, where Trump's favorite - Brian Kemp - beat his opponent and will face Democrat Stacey Abrams in November, according to CNN.

Through the campaign's smoke and dust, I begin to see the emergence of presidential coattails which will be further tested in the fall. Right now, I'd not like to be running against someone Trump endorsed in a state Trump carried in 2016. His mojo is apparent.

When Democrats Follow Their Heart

Reading the headlines on RealClearPolitics is often a revelation, as a very, very shorthand way of seeing what’s happening. For example these two from this morning’s collection:
Democrats Are Moving Left. Don’t Panic.
Michelle Goldberg, New York Times
Don’t Underestimate the Socialist Surge on the Left 
John Hart, RealClearPolitics
This puts me in mind of the last time the Democrats chose to cut loose and follow their hearts, with George McGovern in 1972. They loved that good man a lot, he was their heart’s desire ... he lost disasterously.

In fact McGovern carried only Massachusetts and DC, he failed to carry his home state of SD. Might we see a replay of 1972 in 2020, featuring whatever socialist Dems might fall in love with? The omens are looking favorable.

Start at the Top

Investor’s Business Daily runs a story which strongly suggests Obama was the force behind the “investigation” into Russian meddling (which was real) and its connections to the Trump campaign (which were not). They quote Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper speaking on CNN:
If it weren't for President Obama we might not have done the intelligence community assessment that we did that set up a whole sequence of event which are still unfolding today, including Special Counsel (Robert) Mueller's investigation. President Obama is responsible for that. It was he who tasked us to do that intelligence community assessment in the first place.
IBD concludes there are two possibilities:
One, that a gullible Obama was fed phony information from Brennan and the Hillary Clinton campaign. He then over-reacted by tasking the intelligence community to look into it.

Or, two, that Obama knew he was dealing with tainted information. Instead of halting a bogus investigation, he let Brennan carry it forward. Why? He thought it would help elect Hillary Clinton — and cement his own presidential legacy for posterity.
Posing the choices as either (a) gullible or (b) evil is tough stuff.

Blame the Economy

I’m starting to see stories, like this one in The Hill, which puzzle over why President Trump’s popularity doesn’t take a hit. Particularly when he stubs his toe as he did in Helsinki, or says something particularly outrageous.

Maybe it is time to remember the wisdom of James Carville, aka “the Ragin’ Cajun.” He famously said during Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Today most people could get another job if they chose, and the economy and markets are doing well. Don’t you think the voters notice and credit the party in power? Count on it, they do.

Contrast our happy economy with the misery people suffered since late 2007 saw the beginning of the Great Recession - the worst economic downturn since the 1930s. Ask yourself why people wouldn’t be pleased and relieved.

Maybe Trump’s luck is responsible, or maybe it’s his policies, whatever it is we like it. If Trump’s weirdness comes with the deal, voters will put up with a lot of it.

Monday, July 23, 2018

McCarthy Owns Up

Andrew C. McCarthy has been our go-to guy for the Mueller investigation of Russian interference in our 2016 election. Here in his usual outlet - National Review - he offers a mea culpa.

McCarthy documents in exhaustive detail how he was wrong in defending the FBI and DOJ. He shows how they screwed up, and how they conned a Federal FISA judge into approving something that judge shouldn't have approved.

McCarthy now believes the whole deal was politically motivated, based on a shared detestation of Donald J. Trump. People who knew better let their burning desire to believe Steele's salacious allegations - detailed in the so-called "pee dossier" - overwhelm their critical judgment.

COTTonLINE shares a piece of hard-won conservative wisdom concerning human nature: if a person overwhelmingly wants or needs to believe something is true, they must be doubly skeptical about its veracity. Sadly, too often, we humans don't follow this dictum.

A Trey Gowdy Quote

I really liked what Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said on Fox News Sunday about how we can know there is no classified conspiracy, as reported in The Daily Caller.
I have not seen one scintilla of evidence that this president colluded, conspired, confederated with Russia, and neither has anyone else, or you may rest assured Adam Schiff would have leaked it.
Gowdy of course refers to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a member of his committee who has seen everything Chairman Gowdy has seen, and who leaks like a sieve. Gowdy is fun to watch, I'm sorry he's not running for reelection.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

New Poll Numbers

Generally speaking, folks weren't all that pleased with Trump's comments following the Putin meeting in Helsinki. Given that, the results of a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll show his popularity rating has not taken the expected hit.

Eighty-eight percent of Republicans approve of his performance, either somewhat or strongly. Nearly 3/4 of those said "strongly." Eighty-nine percent of Democrats disapprove of his performance, 9/10 of those "strongly." Thirty-six percent of Independents approve and fifty-eight percent disapprove.

Rolling all three groups together, he gets approval from 45% and disapproval from 52%. These are some of the highest numbers he's gotten so far in this poll.

One thing is certain about Donald J. Trump - he is a polarizing figure, relatively few folks are ambivalent about him. Fully 3/4 of those polled say they feel strongly one way or the other, only 1/4 are in the "somewhat" categories.

Yeah, I guess we already had a sense of polarization, didn't we? Tech note: when percentages do not add to 100% it is because a few respondents had no opinion.

Sunday Snark

Nice snarky meme from a blog entitled The Lid (illustrated by a hat with a press card in the band):
Q: When did the Russians interfere in our election?
A: 2016

Q: Who was President?
A: Obama

Q: Who was head of the CIA?
A: John Brennan

Q: Who was National Intelligence Director?
A: Clapper

Q: Who was head of the FBI?
A: First Mueller, then Comey

It's 2018 and all of them are blaming Trump?!
What were they all doing when it was happening? Short answer: not their jobs, obviously. Hat tip to Ed Driscoll guest blogging at Instapundit for the link.

Understanding Trump

I don't often see examples of Matt Drudge "spinning" a story, but he's headlining one such on Drudge Report today. His scare headline reads:
LA Times Front Page: European govts rethinking their reliance on USA as ally...
So I read the story at the Los Angeles Times and what do I learn? Sure, those governments are rethinking NATO, but the story says they've concluded they really have no choice but to do what Trump wants.
Germany and other NATO members resent Trump’s public scolding for their failure to meet the alliance’s target of 2% percent of GDP on defense, (snip) but some alliance members privately admit that redoubling their effort to comply with his demands is their only viable option.
Trump obviously knows they have no alternative. It is why he didn't try to charm them as he did Putin, who does have alternatives.


My clue to understanding Trump: he's a salesman. Therefore, he bullies those with no alternatives, and charms those who could easily go either way. It's his time-tested modus operandi.

The secret to dealing with Trump is to have obvious viable alternatives, then he'll most likely be charming and flattering to you. Which you shouldn't mistake for actual liking, he's selling and he hopes you're buying.

The Russia Connection - the Left’s Birtherism

Writing for RealClearPolitics, Steve Cortes argues that much as birtherism represented the lunatic fringe on the right 10 years ago, Russia mania represents the lunatic fringe on the left today.  While Trump may not be as publicly anti-Russian as some would prefer, there’s no way he’s in the Russian pocket.

A reasonable person on either side of the aisle would be hard-pressed to argue Cortes is wrong. Of course, reasonable people don’t feed the felt frenzy, they aren’t what aggrieved people want to read, want to hear.

As an aside, Cortes implicitly admits there were aspects of the Obama public persona and biography which could be interpreted as lending support to the never-proven birther hypothesis.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Obama's FBI and DOJ Were Wrong, Dishonest

A heavily redacted version of the FISA application for wiretap of the phones of Carter Page has been released. Attorney John Hinderaker of Power Line has read through it and posted relevant sections on their web site with commentary. His commentary is worth repeating here:
First, the FISA application expresses confidence that Page was an agent of the Russian government, and engaged in criminal activity. But Page has never been charged with anything. Accordingly, the least we can say is that Obama’s FBI and DOJ were wrong.

Second, the application’s description of Christopher Steele and the provenance of his dossier was misleading at best. (snip) The FBI was perfectly well aware that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC hired Simpson through their lawyers, and the purpose of doing so was to attack candidate Donald Trump. References to “speculation” about “likely” motives are entirely dishonest.

Third, the application relies to an astonishing degree on anti-Trump news stories published in the Democratic Party press.

Fourth, we still don’t know who at the FBI assembled the FISA application, since that person’s signature is redacted. But we do know who approved it–hyper-partisans James Comey and Sally Yates.
Plus, the document was released on a summer Saturday afternoon, when serious readership is expected to be at the lowest possible levels. And note well, not only has Carter Page never been charged, he has not been given immunity nor is he scheduled for testimony.

FBI Agent as Peeping Tom

The Charlotte Observer runs a McClatchy news story of an FBI special agent who was arrested for taking photos of a young woman trying on clothes in a New Jersey store changing room. The agent, one Danuel S. Brown, 30, used his cell phone camera and slid it under the door.

I cannot think of a federal crime which would require such surveillance. The FBI doesn't ever need this sort of story. Particularly not now with several of its top agents resigning or being fired for letting political bias shape their inappropriate involvement in, and before, the 2016 presidential campaign.

The nation's "premier police agency" will have to work extra hard to redeem its once-stellar reputation. Missteps like this perv are definitely retrograde.

Note: two different sources report his given name "Danuel," which I've no reason to believe is a typo although my spell-checker doesn't much like it. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Friday, July 20, 2018

BLM HQ to Move West

Lucianne.com links to a Daily Caller article reporting the Department of the Interior plans to move the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management, aka BLM, from Washington, DC, out west to maybe Denver or Salt Lake City. This is good news, most of the land the BLM manages is west of the Rockies and a thousand miles or more from DC.
The BLM manages 248.3 million acres of public land, more than any other agency, according to a March 2017 report by the Congressional Research Service.
Among other things, this will save the BLM travel money. Regional managers won't have to go cross-country to reach "the flagpole" as HQ is sometimes called.

Aside #1, this is old military jargon, as the flagpole on a base or fort is in front of the commandant's office. Aside #2, BLM in the press in the last 3-4 years more often referred to Black Lives Matter. This sounds odd to long-time westerners who are accustomed to, if not always happy about, the Bureau of Land Management in their communities across the West.

Weird Behavioral Science

Writing at PJ Media, John Ellis identifies five myths people should stop believing. They are these:
The Mozart Effect
Kubler-Ross' Five Stages of Grief
After Eating, You Have to Wait to Go Swimming
Sugar Makes Children Hyperactive
I've known elementary teachers who'll find #5 hard to accept. Hat tip to Stephen Green, guest blogging at Instapundit, for the link.

What Is a Duck Boat?

Various news outlets are reporting a tour boat called a "duck boat" capsized in a storm on a lake in Missouri drowning 17. If you've been wondering what a duck boat is, it is a truck that is also a boat, of sorts.

These were originally military, used for amphibious landings, and knows as DUKW, pronounced "duck." Wikipedia explains the name thus:
The name DUKW comes from GMC model nomenclature:
D, Designed in 1942
U, Utility
K, All-wheel drive
W, Dual-Tandem rear axles
A DUKW can drive on land and sail on water, if the water isn't too rough.  They're probably more useful for river crossings than for choppy water, which Table Rock Lake became in a thunderstorm. I've seen them in use for harbor tours and other touristy things.

If you're offered a cruise in a "duck boat" you might want to decline with thanks, although thousands of folks have done so safely. Like most multi-use creations, it does none of its functions as well as a single-use machine can.

Later ... sources report the feature making the boat/truck dangerous was the add-on superstructure. The roof and plexiglass windows likely trapped people inside, unable to get out as the craft sank. Most DUKWs used as tourist craft have no roof and windows and should be safer.

The Brexit Irish Border Issue Revisited

I read something recently - last couple of days - which I can't now find but which said something smart about the Irish border issue in Brexit. It said the only way to have a meaningful border was to make it the Irish Sea between the islands of Britain and Ireland.

The notion is to allow Northern Ireland to exist outside the border of the U.K., to enforce border controls at ferry ports and airports where people arriving from the island of Ireland will be screened and goods and services controlled by customs. Unionists in Northern Ireland won't like it one bit, but they'll like a hard border with the Irish Republic even less.

When we spent a year on Guam in the mid-1980s, the U.S. treated the island this way. Goods came into Guam duty free from Asia, but could not be shipped duty-free from Guam to the rest of the U.S.

When we came back to the States we had to have a list of everything we'd bought on-island and were bringing home, along with what we'd paid. In spite of this peculiarity, Guam was then, and remains, very much U.S. territory, flies the U.S. flag, uses the U.S. dollar, is served by the U.S. Postal Service, its residents are U.S. citizens and have U.S. passports.

I think something similar could work for Northern Ireland. That is, as long as EU people who migrate to N.I. don't thereby achieve U.K. citizenship or the right to move to the rest of the U.K. at will.

Limiting immigration was a major motivation for those who voted for Brexit. I wonder how the Northern Irish - unionist and republican - will like it if they're outnumbered by immigrant Poles, Czechs, and Bulgarians?

Fashion Accessory ... a Second Passport

Drudge Report links to a Bloomberg story about places where one can "buy" a second, quite legal passport. Several Caribbean island nations will sell you citizenship for the investment of $100,000, if the article is to be believed. Plus a couple of them have no capital gains tax. Assume the local governments are corrupt, and ambivalent about white residents.

Apparently the "prestige" second passport is from Malta, which wants just over a million $ investment in return. You'll never learn the Maltese language which is Arabic-based, written in western characters, with some European loan words. However, English is widely spoken.

The DrsC have been to Malta more than once, it's an odd place - sort of a cross between North Africa and Italy, and recent events suggest it has a relatively high level of corruption. On the other hand, it is a place one could live a decent life and the expat community is sizable.

Vanuatu is on the list too, it is located in tropical, beautiful Melanesia. We were there for a day last year and saw a neighborhood of obviously wealthy first-world people.

However, it's clear most of Vanuatu's people are very poor. Within a mile or two of the posh neighborhood there were squatter lean-tos and trash piles. I'd worry about water quality and tropical disease.

Vanuatu is an 800 mile flight from Brisbane, Australia - the nearest first world city. Once you're in Oz you're still a long way from Europe and North America, and rather closer than you'd like to Indonesia, Malaysia and China.

The second passport one would wish would be Swiss, but it seems not to be for sale. Switzerland is a no-nonsense country that "works" and doesn't tolerate foolishness.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Memories of Montenegro

Apparently the tiny Balkan country of Montenegro has applied for NATO membership. Tucker Carlson, among others, has questioned why we should admit them and be willing to spill blood to defend them.

Given that Montenegro lives in a blood-drenched 'neighborhood' where everyone hates everyone else, this is a question that needs to be asked. For those of you who slept through modern history, World War I began 'next door' in Bosnia's Sarajevo, with a political assassination.

As it happens, the DrsC visited Montenegro a few years back. It is a charming graustarkian sort of vest pocket country, the walled port city of Kotor made us think of Diagon Alley, from the Harry Potter books. We took a bus trip inland to Cetinje, the old Royal Capital, and stopped along the way for some excellent local prosciutto and beer.

A fun fact about Kotor, if you want to open a woman's shoe store, this town would be a great choice. The local women all wore what appeared to be designer shoes with 4-5" spike heels and they were walking around on cobblestone streets in these elegant pumps. Go figure.

Poor little Montenegro shares borders with Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, and Albania. The Serbs and Croats hate each other, and both hate the indigenous (i.e., European) Muslims of Albania, Bosnia, and Kosovo. I perfectly understand why Montenegro wants NATO protection, I am less clear why NATO wants to make that commitment.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Weird Educational Science

Instapundit links to a study reported in the journal ScienceDirect which examined the short- and long-term effects of pre-kindergarten programs for disadvantaged children in Tennessee. Let's be charitable and call the findings counterintuitive, those who care about the wise expenditures of tax revenues might call them calamitous. The authors' summary includes this line:
Positive achievement effects at the end of pre-k reversed and began favoring the control children by 2nd and 3rd grade.
I'm thinking assignment to treatment and control groups was not as random as the authors ask us to believe. Well-meaning, kind-hearted individuals making the assignments very likely selected for pre-K the children from the most dysfunctional backgrounds believing "they needed and could benefit from it more."

In the short run the pre-K kids benefitted. In the longer run the treatment group kids' troubled backgrounds proved more influential than their experiences in pre-K.

Much evidence shows kids from screwed up families are highly likely to be screwed up themselves, regardless of what the schools try to do. Everyone of good will wishes this wasn't so, but our wishing has proven ineffectual in producing positive results or changing negative outcomes.

A Plague of "Persianists"

There was a time when some complained that our diplomatic corps was overrun by Arabists. That is, westerners who were "into" the Arab culture, perhaps language, etc.

Based on a limited number of data points, three of which I'll identify, I start to wonder if our government hasn't been infiltrated by "Persianists," if that is in fact a word. People who really like and identify with the culture and people of Iran.

Three examples, all present in the Obama administration, are Presidential Advisor Valerie Jarrett, who grew up in Iran, SecState John Kerry, whose daughter married an Iranian-American, and as recently reported, FBI Counterespionage Chief Peter Strzok who likewise spent some formative years in Iran and, it is said, speaks Persian.

Presuming those three are the visible part of a Persian-flavored "iceberg," there are likely quite a few more. It goes a long way toward explaining why the Obama administration was trying to help Iran become the Middle East hegemon, in spite of their "Death to America" chants which I personally find off-putting.

”Hard Brexit” Has the “Better Chance”

Okay, Anglophiles, I’m betting you have an appetite for Brexit “inside baseball” details. To feed that appetite, National Review has an article which lays out the various machinations that have roiled Brexit politics recently. It concludes:
The government defeated the Remainers’ amendment on the customs union by 307 to 301 votes. Twelve Tory Remainers voted against the government, but four Labour dissidents and one independent voted with it. This is a striking victory for the Tory Brexiteers rather than for ministers, however, because it demonstrates that a policy of clean or hard Brexit has a better chance of becoming law than either the misbegotten Chequers compromise or a more Remainer approach.
Good news. COTTonLINE has favored hard Brexit, the proverbial “clean break.” This mostly because the EU is an anti-democratic bureaucratic nightmare, a phalanx of faceless technocrats hiding behind the faux-legislative fig leaf of the European ‘Parliament.’ No word on a solution for the Irish border dilemma, though.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Post-Helsinki Thoughts

Lots of folks are upset that President Trump said some off-the-wall stuff following his Helsinki meeting with Russian President Putin. Honestly, Trump stepped on his d**k with some of that stream-of-consciousness blather.

Whether in the long run the summit will turn out to be a winner or a loser for the U.S. remains to be seen. Trump thinks it will be okay. Others disagree, but he, they and we are all "in the moment."

I think we can wait awhile to make those judgments. Hindsight is usually more accurate in such matters. Let's agree that Trump could have spoken with more circumspection, and move on to other matters.

Wednesday Snark

Stephen Green, guest blogging at Instapundit, describes an iconoclastic view of "diplomacy."
Diplomacy is the art of saying “Nice doggie” until you can find a rock.
That's probably the best way to understand the behaviors of both Trump and Putin in Helsinki, stalling for time while groping for a rock.

School Choice Popular

The College Fix reports what happened in North Carolina when the state legislature moved to seriously improve school choice options for parents. Usage of alternatives went outa sight.
Nearly 20 percent of students are attending something other than a traditional public school, where attendance is falling “rapidly,” according to The News & Observer.

The rush toward charter, private and even home schools is largely due to the Republican takeover of the Legislature in 2010.

Lawmakers have since removed the 100-school cap on charter schools (it’s up to 185 as of this fall), created a $4,200 voucher for low-income families and two programs for special-needs kids to get out of public schools (where they are often treated poorly), and even made it easier for non-parent adults to teach homeschoolers.
A career in the traditional public schools doesn't look advisable, under this new regime. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Mueller - Out of Bounds and Unrepentant

Power Line's Paul Mirengoff writes something sensible about the timing of the Mueller indictments of 12 more Russian GRU officials.
It is not the business of the special counsel to influence U.S. foreign policy and/or domestic politics — whether by creating added pressure on the president to raise topics with a foreign leader, by supplying him with ammunition to use in such talks, or by supplying the president’s political opponents with ammunition to use against the president for holding the talks.

Should we assume that Mueller’s timing was intended to achieve one or more of these objectives? Absent a persuasive alternative explanation, I believe we should. His team is full of partisan Democrats and, in all likelihood, Trump haters.

Mueller has failed to maintain the appearance of political neutrality and therefore is not entitled to the presumption of it.
And why the one-sided emphasis on Russian attacks on Democrats? It is not merely speculated but known that Republicans were also targeted, see a RealClearInvestigations article which makes this point. As has Chairman Devin Nunes.

Happiness Lurks in the Headlines

I was just looking over RealClearPolitics' afternoon list of "things to read." It reminded me of one of my favorite parts of the Trump presidency.

What is that part, you might reasonably ask? It's the fact that people I don't much like - Chuck Schumer,  Nancy Pelosi, Max Boot, Julia Ioffe, Rachel Maddow, and their pigsty mates - get to spend somewhere between 4 and 8 years being upset, angry and disgusted.

Psychologists, who give things German names, call my happiness at their sourness "schadenfreude." In this modern age, you have to take your happiness where you find it; their angst is a source of my satisfaction.

It's only fair, they enjoyed my discomfort with the Obama presidency. Now the proverbial worm has turned, the shoe is on the other foot. With a hat tip to the late Jackie Gleason, "How sweet it is."

Monday, July 16, 2018

Brexit Status Report

If you're following the ins and outs of Brexit, as the Theresa May government approaches the exit date next spring, politico.eu has an update on the Tory "hard" Brexiteers forcing May to back down on some of the less palatable aspects of her Brexit negotiation plan.

As the article makes clear, May's coalition consists of Tories who are for "hard" Brexit, others who seek a "soft" Brexit and yet others who hate the whole idea of Brexit and wish to kill it. Whatever pleases one group ticks off another, or maybe both "others."

Her task is like being a tight rope walker who is pelted with nerf balls from all sides. It would serve them right if she just quit, but chances are there's no one else in the Party who could get the bare majority she's got.

The impossible Ireland/Northern Ireland border issue is still tying everybody in knots. I'd guess the odds on a "no deal" exit are going up.

Stinky in Helsinki, or Not so Much?

The guys at Power Line are taking a dim view of Trump's meeting with Putin, see here and here. Seems to me Trump was too agreeable with Russia's latter-day tsar, too willing to admit our shortcomings and to overlook their intentional misdeeds.

Perhaps it will look better in hindsight. I certainly hope so; it looks darned lame now and I'm on Trump's side. Imagine how pathetic it looks to those disposed to dislike him.


On the other hand, David P. Goldman whose analyses I tend to like a lot, thinks President Trump got Helsinki just right, see his column for PJ Media. Goldman is for sure a contrarian, while often correct.  He is certainly correct that Russians are accustomed to brutal governments and, perhaps, prefer them.

Why Appoint Mueller?

National Review's Andrew C. McCarthy has been the go-to guy on the Mueller probe and the Russian involvement in our 2016 election. Russian hackery occurred - without meaningful American assistance - whether or not President Trump wants to admit those nefarious activities.

Now McCarthy sums up the bottom line for the whole investigation:
There is no conflict of interest. There never was. Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was never something that the Justice Department was unable to investigate in the normal course. In fact, for months, the Trump Justice Department was investigating it in the normal course, just as the Obama Justice Department had done.

Then, President Trump fired FBI director James Comey. It was this event that prompted Rosenstein to appoint Mueller. We got a special counsel not because of Russia’s espionage or any evidence indicating actual Trump-campaign complicity in it; we got a special counsel because Rosenstein was deeply involved in Comey’s ouster and wanted to fend off Democratic attacks on him over it.
According to McCarthy, Rosenstein appointed Mueller to preserve his own bonafides in the eyes of the Democrat-loving swamp. That makes the Mueller probe actually worse than a "witch hunt," it's a Potemkin village, camouflage, a smoke screen.

And the Numbers Are ...

We wrote immediately below about Democrats mistakenly thinking they can win with a straight, cisgender white nominee. Not 5 minutes later I came across the Washington Post’s quarterly ranking of the top 15 Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls, as reprinted in the Chicago Tribune.

What do I see? Fully 10 of the 15 are white and, mostly if not all, straight and cisgender. The remainder are non-white (with ranking): Kamala Harris (3), Cory Booker (5), Deval Patrick (7), Eric Holder (9), and Oprah (15).

No Hispanic makes the WaPo top 15, perhaps because Hispanics as a group neither (a) vote in huge numbers, nor (b) vote exclusively Democratic.

Numbers 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 all represent the triumph of hope over experience: Bernie Sanders (1), Elizabeth Warren (2), Joe Biden (4), Kirsten Gillibrand (6), Terry McAuliffe (8), etc., etc.

Having Really Stupid Enemies

Whenever you get depressed, feel the need for a pick-me-up, you can count on Kurt Schlichter over at Townhall to write something so laden with overwhelming sarcasm/snark as to evoke an involuntary giggle from even a confirmed sourpuss. Today he writes about Trump’s luck in opponents.
One of the secrets of Trump’s success is having really, really stupid enemies, enemies who are so tone-deaf and out-of-touch that they simply cannot adopt commonsense positions that resonate among normal Americans. The establishment instead insists on telling Americans that up is down, black is white, and girls can have penises. Nope.

No wonder the Normals have gotten militant, and no wonder a leader like Donald Trump came along with the vision to exploit the opening the establishment left for an outsider to rise and prevail by embracing the obvious.
How stupid? Democrats have yet to accept they cannot win, in the foreseeable future, with a white, straight presidential candidate of either cisgender.

The GOP has most of the white, straight cisgender vote locked up. Credit the Democrats who accidently converted them into a new identity group, one whose interests go zero-sum against the identity groups Democrats represent. That’s stupid-on-steroids.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Dissing DiFi

I haven't been a California resident for 15 years, but DiFi (Diane Feinstein) was my Senator for 10 years as she took office 26 years ago. Now POLITICO reports the CA Democratic Party executive committee has voted "no confidence" in her bid for reelection.

The vote was 65% for her Dem. opponent de Leon, 28% for "no endorsement," and 7% for Feinstein. My horseback estimate says roughly 2 party activists out of 3 want her to lose in November.

CA's odd "jungle primary" system means she faces another Democrat - Kevin de Leon - as they were the two leading vote getters in June. Polls suggest she will win anyway, being much more well-known than de Leon.

Good News for Snow Bird Destinations

The Associated Press reports Canadians are still visiting the U.S. in large numbers, even with a hint of trade war between Trudeau and Trump. I can't say I'm surprised.

It reminded me of something I wrote nearly 2 years ago. Back in 2016 I noted the following:
You see far more Canadian license plates in the U.S. than U.S. plates in Canada. An average Canadian visits the U.S. roughly every 18 months, the average American visits Canada every 24 years.
Many Americans never go north. The DrsC are average raisers in this regard, we've visited Canada in each of the last two years and perhaps a dozen times before that.

The Canadian Rockies is one of our favorite RV destinations. The Icefields Parkway connecting Banff and Jasper is one of North America's most beautiful drives, truly world-class.

Occupied France 2.0

A French scholar, Dr. Guy Millière, writing for the Gatestone Institute, pens something profoundly sad about jihadi violence in beautiful France.
"France is at war, and leaves the enemy in peace", wrote the journalist Ivan Rioufol recently in the daily Le Figaro. Macron and the French government, however, do not seem to think that France is at war. They speak and act as if the enemy has won and as if they want to gain some time and enjoy the moment before the final surrender.
Read the whole thing; Millière demonstrates clearly he is not exaggerating. When the tourists finally become fearful and stay away, that will be the wakeup call France heeds.

The "it's not safe to travel there" feeling is beggaring Egypt. France could soon be next followed by Germany, parts of Belgium are already unsafe in my opinion.

Nunes: Mueller's Bias Evident

Scott Johnson of Power Line posts this video: Fox Business News' Maria Bartiromo interviews House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) about the Strzok hearings and Mueller's indictment of 12 more Russians. Nunes drops a bombshell.

Mueller's indictment speaks only of Russian hacking of Democrat organizations and operatives. Nunes claims that his committee's April report, heavily redacted, shows they also attacked Republican operations during the election. Nunes asks why those were left out, and claims his committee has the proof but are not allowed for national security reasons to release it.

The clear implication is that Mueller wants to buttress the claim Russians favored Trump, when their mischief-makers were truly making trouble for both sides. If they made more trouble for Democrats it was because Hillary was expected to win by nearly everyone.

Nunes inferentially claims Mueller's actions are biased to slander the Trump administration, perhaps in support of an eventual claim of obstruction of justice. Trump should declassify the committee's unredacted April report immediately, and let the proverbial chips fall wherever they will.

Fake News

A choice example of Trump’s obsession - fake news - presents itself in a USA Today article about Putin subtitled “What does he have on Trump?” Taking the bait, I discovered that the author not only didn’t say what Putin might have on Trump, he didn’t mention such leverage in the article until the very end where he asks if it exists. Instead he concludes:
Putin is punching well above his weight. Why is Trump so enthralled with this man?
The answer is simplicity itself - because Putin really is “punching well above his weight.” I expect Trump admires Putin’s ability to play a weak hand skillfully, and to get wealthy in the process.

Trump appears to admire people who, like himself, have succeeded in tough, ugly competitions for leadership, requiring a combination of toughness, guile, luck and blarney. He admires successful “poker players.” How surprising is that?

How They Stand Today

The always interesting Conrad Black, he of British citizenship, Canadian residence and birth, and American exposure, aka Baron Black of Crossharbour, writes a tour d’horizon of the major elements of NATO, for the National Post of Canada, as they stand today, before he leaves for vacation.

He sees Trump, Macron and new Italian leader Conte secure, Merkel and May in trouble, and Trudeau somewhere in between. I see little to argue with in his assessments. It is, however, interesting nobody seems to care much about the leaders of largish places like Spain and Poland.

Black seems relatively sure things will not change markedly between now and early September. It’s an assessment with which I am not entirely comfortable. Murphy (of the famous Law) takes no vacations.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Punctilio of Power

There is a mini-tempest about whether the President "forgot" to bow to Queen Elizabeth II, and Melania to curtsy. The short answer is "no." As some noted, Americans as non-subjects of the queen would not bow but shake her hand, if she offers it.

More to the point, heads of state do not normally kowtow to one another, unless they're the clueless Barack Obama bowing to the Saudi king. Elizabeth II is the symbolic head of state of the U.K. and associated Commonwealth dominions, Donald Trump is the symbolic head of state of the U.S.


Many nations have a symbolic head of state 'president' or royal who is basically an apolitical figurehead, and another very political person (often a prime minister) who is the executive head of government.

In the U.S. we combine the symbolic and executive functions in our president which is why he both pardons a turkey every Thanksgiving and has legislative veto power, officiates at the Easter egg roll on the White House lawn, and appoints Supreme Court justices, and is the government CEO.

The busy two-track schedule is a big part of why most presidents age (in appearance) 20 years during 8 years in office. They are "on" nearly all the time, and it's wearing.

It will be interesting to see if the office ages Trump as it has most presidents. It is possible he has operated at this frenetic pace ever since he left school, and is accustomed to it whereas, for example, senators and governors often are not.

Saturday Snark

Power Line’s Steven Hayward has been collecting fun stuff all week and here it is, the weekly collection of cartoons, captioned photos, and snarky slogans. Some favorites described:

Photo of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in a crowd, Sanders speaks:
You know we may be the Democrats’ only hope.
Warren replies:
What do you mean “we,” pale face?
Photoshopped™ mashup of Elizabeth Warren wearing fringed buckskin standing in a restaurant seeking a table from head waiter Donald Trump. The dialog:
She: I’d like a table.
He: No.
She: Why not?
He: You don’t have a reservation.
Photo of the Statue of Liberty, with this caption:
So there I was minding my own business and a Democrat starts climbing all over me & touching me inappropriately
Wonderful photo of the leaders at NATO, Trump is grinning and Theresa May is looking down aghast and holding her hands maybe 10” apart. Captioned:
I understand now
They’re this big and made of brass.
Photo of London, with cartoon Baby Trump blimp floating. Underscored with a CNN-style chyron with this Breaking News headline:
UK: Non-Muslim Baby Spotted
Londoners in shock to see first baby not named Mohammad in 15 years
Photo of PM Theresa May on phone, voice balloon has her saying:
Hello, is that IKEA? I need a new cabinet.
Bizarro™ cartoon of man entering plea before judge:
He: Fox News made me do it.
Judge: So you’re pleading not guilty by reason of Sean Hannity?

No Will to Fight

One of COTTonLINE’s favorite sources - David P. Goldman - is a long-time columnist for the Asia Times, where he channels Spengler. Today he writes about the NATO foot-dragging President Trump criticized while meeting with them in Brussels.

Goldman points out that a recent poll shows relatively few Europeans say they would be willing to fight for their country “under any circumstances.”
At the bottom of the rankings were the Netherlands and Germany, at 16% and 18% respectively; at the top was Poland, with 48%. Outside of European NATO, 56% of Russians, 66% of Israelis, 44% of Americans and 74% of Finns said they were willing to fight.

If you don’t plan to fight, you don’t need weapons, and it is no surprise that Germany, with its budget surplus, can’t bring itself to vote for urgently-need funds for its military. Germany’s armed forces are in disrepair.

There is a reasonably close correspondence between the willingness of the Europeans to fight for their nations and their willingness to have children. If you care so little for your country that you will not defend it, you are likely to be too absorbed in hedonistic distraction to bother with children. Conversely, if there are to be no future generations, who will lay down his life to fight for them?
And that is what is wrong with the EU model, it downplays the idea of nationalism and puts up nothing in its place about which to care passionately. It has done too well its job of forestalling nationalist wars in Western Europe, basically by devaluing nationalism for most people.

Gemans fought and died in great numbers for Germany. Brits did the same for Britain. Fighting and dying for the amorphous gray, bureaucratic EU? It’s not happening, people don’t identify with it. It doesn’t feel like their “home team.”

Friday, July 13, 2018


The news this morning is that Mueller has indicted 12 Russian army officers for hacking the DNC. One supposes his intent is to force the President's hand in his upcoming talks with Russian President Putin. It's clear Mueller knows none of those Russians will ever stand trial, making it an empty gesture.

My reaction: if we don't have army officers (or the functional equivalent) doing the same thing to them, somebody should be courtmartialed. Outfits like NSA need to be both info-gatherers and disinformation promulgators, although the two functions must be separated operationally.

We should certainly employ people to mess with what Trump called "our competitors" in sub rosa ways like hacking, placing fake news on line, spreading rumors, stealing their technology, funding their rebels, etc. It's the modern deniable way of war, minus the mass deaths which is certainly an improvement.

When the NYT Thought Trump Amazing

Damn ... just damn.   Power Line’s Steven Hayward posts excerpts of a largely positive backgrounder the New York Times did on young real estate mogul Donald Trump in 1984.

They were amazed at his self-confidence, his energy, his charisma, his chutzpah, his over-the-top success, and his growing maturity. And yes, they saw some rough spots too.

You have to wonder how they square their positive words of “then” with their unrelenting condemnation “now”? Thirty-four years later, he is recognizably the same driven, high-energy, wins-more-than-loses guy today that he was in 1984. And he's still winning.

Trump’s Foreign “Doctrine”

My go-to Friedman for most foreign policy is George, not Tom. George Friedman writes for Geopolitical Futures and his work is often cited by RealClear World. Today he writes about the evolution of various presidential foreign policy “doctrines.”
A doctrine is how a president is forced to operate foreign policy in the reality in which he finds himself. (snip) Doctrines ought to be seen not as strokes of genius or decisions made at the will of the president but as actions imposed on him and dictated by reality.
After an interesting peregrination through the doctrines of Truman, Nixon, and Obama, Friedman concludes about presidents in general and Trump in particular:
They enter office with policies that are merely the things they would like to do. Then reality hits and they discard the policies and begin acting tactically. Since the world is coherent, the actions in due course take on a coherence as well.

It is from this reality that a doctrine emerges. In Trump’s case, that doctrine involves reducing military risks, using economics as a lever and ignoring the opinions of foreign governments and the global public.
While I can’t tell you I am certain Friedman is correct about doctrines; I find his logic compelling.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Clever Tactics

A very liberal Democrat - Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) has authored a bill to abolish ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Republicans mischievously insist a vote on the bill be taken, before the November election. Politico has the story.

The measure is popular with very motivated Democrats and basically no one else. Making Democrat colleagues vote on killing ICE forces them to go on-record in favor or against, either way alienating a part of the support Democrats need for reelection.

Essentially no Republicans (and few independents) favor the idea so all GOP Reps. will vote "no" with no penalty at the ballot box. It's clever tactics, the political equivalent of moneyball.

A Fashion Note

Have you seen the pale yellow gown Melania Trump wore to dinner with PM Theresa May at Blenheim Palace? It looks like something a queen would wear in Game of Thrones or a Disney film.

The Sun (U.K.) has photos here. The Daily Mail (U.K.) has even better photos. She is the finest looking, most stylish FLOTUS in my long lifetime, no question.

More on Trump at NATO

Let's be clear, if Trump was opposed to NATO, he'd leave it like he did the Paris Climate Accord and the Trans Pacific Partnership. Far from being opposed to NATO, he'd like it to actually be militarily significant, which it currently is not.

Today NATO is largely a multinational "fig leaf" existing to make U.S. military actions seem to represent a multinational consensus. Trump wants other far-from-poor nations to pull their own weight in the alliance, to contribute meaningful military muscle, to maintain real air power and armor, for example.

I suppose, if they flatly refuse to develop effective militaries, he could eventually become disillusioned and leave NATO. Right now he is busily trying to get them to live up to their treaty commitments, to spend a minimum of 2% of GDP on their military. I expect him to succeed, or failing that, eventually ask the nations which refuse to comply to forfeit their NATO memberships.

If the other nations of Europe want to create a "carve out" for Germany - given 20th century history many would prefer it never again have a meaningful military - then they need to make up the substantial difference with their own spending.

Cowboy Up

The Chronicle of Higher Education carries a story about the University of Wyoming’s proposed new slogan: “The world needs more cowboys.” Apparently a few pearl-clutchers on the UW faculty said it was insufficiently “inclusive.”

COTTonLINE’s reaction: Oh, bull crap! I had hoped the rot affecting most of academia hadn’t spread as far as Laramie ... guess I was too optimistic.

I promise you Wyoming women feel included in the umbrella term “cowboy.” Anybody who knows western history knows the real vaqueros on cattle drives weren’t all white.

Wyoming should leave this sort of virtue-signalling vigilantism on the two coasts where, if it doesn’t belong, it at least has lots of unpleasant company.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Winning Ugly Beats Losing Nobly

Ed Driscoll, who blogs at Instapundit, posts an insightful quote from historian Victor Davis Hanson about how President Trump is viewed.
Trump was a populist nemesis visited upon the hubris of the coastal culture. When he took on “fake news,” when he tweeted over the “crooked” media, when he railed about “globalists,” when he caricatured Washington politicians—and ranted non-stop, shrilly, and crudely—a third of the country felt that at last they had a world-beater who wished to win ugly rather than, as in the case of John McCain or Mitt Romney, lose nobly.
Trump reminds me of two well-known quotes by Coach Vince Lombardi:
  • Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.
  • Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. 
Style points take you only so far, winning takes you all the way to the Oval Office.

Another Darn Coincidence

We wrote the other day about Seth Rich, the Clinton campaign worker whose murder in DC has never been solved. We noted that folks who've died violently seem to pop up around the Clintons with some regularity.

I didn't expect another to occur so soon, today's news brings the story of a woman's body being found in the trash compactor of a condo building in NYC. Former Clinton confidant Huma Abedin is a resident of the building. Coincidence? If so, it joins a long line of such "coincidences."

Having seen a notice of the event on the web, I searched for legacy media stories about the find. You won't be surprised to learn ABC News failed to note the connection entirely, while NBC News mentioned it had been the home of her imprisoned husband Anthony Weiner. CBS News writes the two once lived there. Bias much?

NATO - the Case of Canada

In discussing NATO below, I failed to mention the special case of NATO member Canada. Like Europe, Canada pretty much lets the U.S. defend it.

Canada knows we cannot let a hostile power take Canada as that would give an enemy a 3000 mile border with us, one we've never prepared to defend. So Canada can be lackadaisical about defense and spend their tax dollars on "free" social programs, as the Europeans do.

I wonder if our northern neighbors have sussed out that if we ever are forced to defend Canada - move large military units north to confront an invader - their sovereignty will be endangered. Those military units may morph into an army of occupation.

Thinking about NATO

I've been musing about the varying attitudes Europeans and North Americans bring to the NATO meeting now happening in Brussels. Americans, in particular, view the European unwillingness to spend for their own defense as "free riding" on the U.S. taxpayer, a sort of "let Uncle Sam provide our defense, since he's rich and willing" view.

Europeans take the attitude that, had they not spent lavishly on social programs in the post-war years, their populaces very likely would have gone Communist. This with the result the Soviets would have won the Cold War.

In the immediate post-war years of the Marshall Plan, their view was likely true. Has it been true at any time since 1965? I think not. Meaning they've spent the last 50 years being dependent on our military to keep the Russian bear at bay, spending their resources instead on "free" this and that for their people.

Another argument you hear from Europeans, more formerly than currently, is that when they had real military strength they used it to kill each other wholesale, concluding with two world wars. By relying on the U.S. they've been too weak to do each other any harm and have therefore remained at peace. And because they've been at peace, we have been too at least in Europe, for over 70 years - maybe a record.

Still, for rich countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and perhaps France, there is little excuse for their failure to contribute robustly to NATO. The days when the unofficial motto of NATO was "keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down" are over. Today's German military is a laughingstock.

Trump has announced a new day for NATO and, described by someone as a "mercantilist," he's looking for a deal that feels fair to our side. If Germany doesn't want to stand up a meaningful defense force (which they don't currently have), they need to pay the full, amortized cost of our defending them, to include the eventual pensions for our career soldiers. I believe they'd find the bill staggering. I know we do.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What Blue Wave?

Reliably left-wing Salon reports the results of a poll I'm certain they don't much like:
A new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll shows that the Democratic Party is poised to lose three seats to Republicans in the midterm elections: Republican Mike Braun has a 2-point lead on Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Rick Scott has a 3-point lead on Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida and Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer has a 5-point lead on Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.
As a result of which, Axios concludes:
It's looking nearly impossible for Democrats to take back the Senate.
Maybe Trump can continue to staff the Supreme Court for another two years. That works for me.

Confirmation Watch

The Daily Wire reports  2 GOP women Sens. - Collins (R-ME) and Murkowski (R-AK) - seem less inclined to oppose the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh than they were that of Amy Coney Barrett, had she been nominated. I’m guessing they believe him less passionate about overturning Roe v. Wade, than Barrett with her seven (7) children.

Assuming they can be reassured he isn’t a bomb-thrower, his nomination seems likely and perhaps even in time for the Court’s new session in October. Everyone is saying Trump went with the “establishment” conservative choice who has close-to-overwhelming qualifications, it’s very likely the case.

Deathwatch Status Report

When a parliamentary government is trying to fall, as the May government in the U.K. seems to be doing, those of us who watch and await the end call what we do a “deathwatch.” It is a morbid term to be sure.

For those following this story, the Daily Mail (U.K.) reports several more resignations, which by their count now number seven. Meanwhile May tries to ride out this particular tempest, hanging on by her fingernails. What miracle she expects to save her I cannot fathom.

An earlier article reported the process by which her party leadership could be formally questioned requires 48 MPs to send a letter of non-support to the so-called “1922 Committee.” I have read elsewhere the number having already done so was up to 42 earlier today.

Trump is headed for the U.K. and NATO. It’s unclear with whom he’ll liaise in Britain, if May’s “duck” has gone lame in the interim. Maybe he’ll meet unofficially with the supporters of a so-called “hard Brexit,” perhaps the resigned Boris Johnson and David Davis?

That would be a diplomatic scandal, and thus very much something Trump might like to do. We’ll keep a weather eye on developments.


Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, writes something profound for USA Today about socialism in exactly two short sentences:
Under capitalism, the rich grow powerful. Under socialism, the powerful grow rich — and everyone else grows poor.
Or, as comic Mel Brooks famously observed while pawing a lady’s bosom, “It’s good to be king.”

The “Keep Working” Alibi

Blogging at PJ Media, the often-quoted Jim Treacher turns a couple of neat phrases concerning the women who worked with sexual predators Kevin Spacey and Matt Lauer and claimed to, in the words of Sgt. Shultz, “know nothink ... nothink!” Treacher writes:
Even if it didn't happen to them, even if they didn't witness it personally, they had to know what was going on. It's called an "open secret" for a reason. But they kept their mouths shut because they wanted to keep working. And now they're claiming they had no idea, because they want to keep working.
Don’t we call their silence “enabling?” Maybe “abetting” would be closer to the mark?

NATO: The Strong and the Weak

Note to my friendly neighborhood stone-carver: here’s your next project.
The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must.
                          — Thucydides
It was true 2400 years ago and it’s true today. President Trump is about to remind our NATO “allies” of that truth. Freeriding is so over.

Most NATO members have chosen to remain weak militarily and will suffer accordingly. Trump will coerce them into changing spending priorities by increasing their defense outlays.

Our Deal-Maker-in-Chief asks what’s in it for us, how are we getting a good deal carrying far more than our share of NATO? Is our being hegemon worth the price? Show us then some subservience, some obeisance.

Truthfully, the current NATO arrangement where we protect everybody else, is feudal. That makes us the lord and them the vassals. Except they expect to be treated as equals, and vassals don’t rate that respect, they’re supposed to tug the forelock or kowtow.

Prediction: Unhappy, resentful, possibly cringing ‘vassals.’

Women in Wyoming - Factoids

Guest blogging at Instapundit, Gail Heriot posts the following which I share in its entirety.
ON THIS DAY IN 1890, WYOMING BECAME A STATE: There’s an interesting backstory here: The Wyoming Territory’s constitution had been the first to guarantee women the right to vote. But when Wyoming initially applied for statehood, this created controversy. Fearing that women in long-established states would be emboldened by Wyoming’s example, some Members of Congress initially insisted that Wyoming withdraw women’s right to vote. But the Wyoming legislature stood its ground and cabled back to Congressional leaders, “We will remain out of the Union one hundred years rather than come in without the women.”

Congress eventually relented, and before the turn of the century, there were four women’s suffrage states–Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Idaho.
That list of women’s suffrage favoring states might seem vaguely “western,” whatever that means. I ask you to either visualize where they’re located or check a map. In fact they form a compact cluster with shared borders.

Wyoming’s town of Jackson is supposed to have been the first city in the nation to have an all-female city council. The state has, for 23 years, been represented in Congress by a series of 3 women Representatives (WY has so few people we get the constitutionally mandated minimum of one).

When the DrsC first visited here 45 years ago and such things were seldom seen, little Jackson had a then-well-established woman dentist. None of this is precisely what you’d expect from a state whose license plate features a cowboy on a bucking stallion and gun ownership is well-nigh universal.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Remembering Seth Rich

One of the odd violent deaths which seem to happen to people who've dealt with the Clintons could be on the way to solution, or maybe not. Do you remember a murdered Clinton campaign employee named Seth Rich? The Gateway Pundit website writes the following:
Rich, 27, was a DNC voter expansion data director for two years and had accepted a position with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. He was murdered in Washington, D.C., on July 10, 2016, near his apartment in an affluent neighborhood. Rich was shot twice in the back with a handgun, and his wallet, credit cards, watch and phone were left in his possession. The Metropolitan Police Department has described it as a “botched robbery.”

Private investigators have claimed there is evidence Rich was the source who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of bombshell emails that rocked the Democratic National Committee in the summer of 2016 just ahead of its convention and the 2016 election. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has also insinuated Rich was the source WikiLeaks used to obtain the emails.
Two years on the murder remains unsolved, but there are those who can't let it go. Gateway Pundit writes someone is claiming the assassins were two federal employees, an ATF agent and a DEA agent.

If you check Wikipedia on the Seth Rich murder you find the consensus is the conspiracy theories are hokum. Gateway Pundit can be somewhat sensational, so let's wait and see, shall we?

Boris Gets Tactical

The Daily Mail (U.K.) has a story which claims Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's resignation was just the latest step in his drive to become Prime Minister, replacing Theresa May. He clearly is taking pointers from Donald Trump, turning the signing of his resignation letter into a photo op.

One thing's for certain, Johnson would be an entertaining PM. He shares with Trump a showman's instincts for publicity, as well as more-or-less intentional "bad hair."

COTTonLINE hopes the Brits really make a clean break from the EU, what May has proposed is anything but that. A clean break is clearly what the majority who voted "leave" had in mind.

Trump Picks Kavanaugh for Supreme Court

Speaking to a crowd from the East Room of the White House, President Donald Trump announced his choice to replace retiring Justice Kennedy. That choice is Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the DC Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. In the audience were Justice Scalia's widow and Ronald Reagan's Attorney General, Ed Meese.

Kavanaugh has two young daughters, and looks fit enough to serve for 30 years, at least. He revealed he and his wife met working in the Bush 43 White House and their first date was on Sept. 10, 2001, the day before the 9/11 World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.

Democrats will hate him for the same characteristics that caused Trump to like and select him. He's an originalist who doesn't see the role of the courts as making law, as for example the Warren and Burger Courts sometimes did, but rather of interpreting laws passed by legislatures.

Unable to push their social agenda through Congress, Democrats have relied on the courts to, depending on your viewpoint, either invent rights or find ways to interpret what is already law to support rights for behavior which was once widely illegal. Their fear is that a Supreme Court with a clear originalist majority may find earlier social agenda rulings went beyond the intent of the framers, ruling that judges created law instead of interpreting enacted law. It is likely the Court will not overturn many prior findings, although it may permit the limitation of some by enacted law.

Brett Kavanaugh will take a lot of abuse between now and the eventual Senate vote on his nomination. I'm sure he knows the game is worth the candle, and I wish him well. If you didn't see the Trump announcement, you should know Trump did an entirely sober professional presentation with no wisecracks or ego trips.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

PM May in Trouble at Home

Matt Drudge links to articles in the Daily Mail and the Sun (both U.K.) which report Theresa May's cabinet minister for Brexit - David Davis - has resigned in protest at her refusal to do a clean exit from the EU. It is reported two junior ministers may have also quit.

This story bears close watching, May is trying to do an "exit" that is anything but complete. It is reported to leave the U.K. subject to EU rules without any say-so over what the EU decides. It isn't going to work for Britain, being something like what Norway puts up with.

If these resignations are followed by several more, May's tenure as Prime Minister will likely be at an end. Whether her Conservatives will retain power is anybody's guess.

The U.K. leaves the EU in less than nine months, on March 29 of next year. Like us, the Brits live in interesting times.

Later ... Reuters is reporting U.K. foreign minister Boris Johnson has resigned for the same reasons as Davis. Johnson is another straight-ahead supporter of Brexit. At this writing on Monday, no others have been announced.

Dems Dug the Hole They're In

Al Hunt has worked in DC journalism seemingly forever. He's currently with Bloomberg and an old liberal, but not stupid. Which makes his current article more interesting.

Hunt argues that much of the trouble Democrats are having with the Supreme Court successor to Justice Kennedy is self-inflicted. Then he itemizes all their missteps that have ended them in the current fix.

One he doesn't mention is that some of the Court's oldest justices - Breyer (79) and Ginsburg (85) - are Democrats who could have retired while Obama had a Democrat majority in the Senate, but didn't. Now they may leave involuntarily due to infirmity with Trump in office and Republicans controlling the Senate.

That was them thinking selfishly, not strategically. But of course everyone expected Ms. Clinton to win, which she failed to do. And now there is talk Hillary wants to lose again in 2020. I hope she gets that chance, she's damaged goods.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Factions Within the EU

COTTonLINE has been skeptical of the EU for several years. The nations within its boundaries have very different histories, traditions, and value structures, not to mention languages. Those differences begin to tear at the EU’s fabric, which is fraying.

Chatham House has a good article on three major views that represent differing visions of what the EU might, or should, become. The three individuals associated with these views are Merkel of Germany, Macron of France, and Orban of Hungary.

Make no mistake, however, there are those who hold each view in most EU member states. The new Italian government, for instance, shares anti-immigrant views with Orban, as do the Poles and the Austrians.

Merkel is no longer the undisputed “leader of Europe” and in fact recently had to back down on her open borders stance. Macron wants more wealth transfers to the poorer parts of Europe from the wealthier, which naturally enough are loath to engage in handouts to the less provident.

On top of all this, the Brits - voting to be “out” - are headed for the EU's door. And so it goes.

Saturday Snark, Hypocracy Edition

Saturday rolls around and Steven Hayward has posted another collection of cartoons, captioned photos, and snark, at the Power Line site. Several favorites feature glaring hypocracies, described:

A movie still of Tom Hanks in his Forrest Gump role, captioned:
And just like that they went from freaking out about babies being separated
to freaking out about the Supreme Court taking away their right to kill babies.
Photo captioned “Sotomayor Discovers Religious Bias” followed by descriptions of two of her opinions:
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor blasted the decision to uphold President Trump’s travel ban saying “it was motivated by hostility and animus toward the Muslim faith.”
But in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, where clearly anti-Christian comments were made by members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission against Christian baker Jack Phillips, she found no religious hostility whatsoever.
A woke girl in three photos, looking increasingly desperate, the voice balloon for each:
In the Trump economy more Millennials are finding jobs...
and moving out of their mom’s and dad’s basements.
Trump just won’t stop separating children from their parents!
Photoshopped™ mash-up photo of Peron’s Evita and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez together. Parallels obvious, no caption needed.

Photo of a reporter, wearing a sport coat made of the red-and-black plaid of ‘Pajama Boy’s’ onesie, asking the following question:
Wait, Greg, so the Left believes it’s okay for a female New York Times reporter to sleep with a U.S. government official in return for classified leaks for her stories, but it’s a criminal scandal should a Hollywood actress sleep with a producer to get a role in a movie?

Friday, July 6, 2018

Crossing Jordan

Several former OSU wrestlers are accusing Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) of ignoring accusations of sexual improprieties supposedly committed by the team physician. The doctor, now deceased, is alleged to have been an aggressive gay who came on to team members who were not receptive.

They allege assistant coach Jordan knew and did nothing, he says he did not know. There may have been wisecracks about the doctor's behavior which he believed no one took seriously. All this happened some 20+ years ago.

My question, why has no one said anything until now? When several years ago the assistant coach at Penn State got nailed for sexual misbehavior, it became clear there was an audience for such allegations.

How come it waited until Rep. Jordan is on the short list of those considered to succeed Paul Ryan as Speaker? The timing is, to say the least, highly suspicious, as is the accusers being represented by the same law firm which procured the Trump dossier for the Clinton campaign.

I say we don't know the truth and may never know, since what is being alleged is that Jordan knew, and proving he did won't be easy. Somebody needs to determine whether the accusers are being paid to speak up, and by whom.

Getting Turned Off

Fox News' Tucker Carlson, last night, said "Progressives despise Donald Trump so much they have begun to dislike the country that elected him." Context suggests he found that attitude preposterous. I'm not sure he's correct.

When our nation elected Barack Obama the first time I didn't vote for him but his victory made some sense, it was "let's give a polished black guy with no heavy baggage a chance." After experiencing how bad a president he was for four years, reelecting him made no sense at all, but it happened.

When your country's voters do something inexplicable to you, it isn't much of a stretch to get turned off by your fellow citizens. I experienced some of this in 2012, so I can understand if Democrats experience some of this now.

The tides of social change had been flowing in Democrats' direction since the 1960s, now they may flow in the opposite direction for some while. If you've grown up thinking progress is linear and always in one direction, a sea change like this can leave you flummoxed.

It turns out Obama's cherished "arc of history" is probably illusory. Societies can and do become both more and less libertine, depending on the public mood. We survived the crazy '60s, we'll survive this too. We may even be the better for it, not that I expect to convince many Democrats of that possibility.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Bye-Ku for Scott Pruitt

With the customary hat tip to James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku or haiku of farewell to Scott Pruitt. He today “resigned” from his cabinet-level post as Administrator of the Evironmental Protection Agency.
Thank you Scott Pruitt
Your EPA went well, but
Your optics were crap.
Later ... the pundit class cannot resist titling their write-ups of this event “Pruitt Blew It.” Alliteration is fun, particularly when truthful.

A Reverse Dustbowl

USA Today likes coming up with lists of this and that. Today they have a list of 50 cities suffering the greatest net outmigration - people leaving, seeking a better life elsewhere.
To find the 50 U.S. metropolitan areas that have had the largest net decline in population as a result of migration between 2010 and 2017, 24/7 Wall Street reviewed population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program.
What struck me immediately was the extent to which cities in California’s great Central Valley are featured on the list. These include the well-known Fresno and Bakersfield, as well as the lesser-known Visalia-Porterville and Hanford-Corcoran regions.

While not strictly speaking in the “Central Valley,” you could add El Centro to that list of inland CA agriculture-oriented cities. These were places to which the so-called "okies" of the Dustbowl came in their thousands.

The outmigration is likely a result of the malaise historian Victor Davis Hanson has documented in writing about the region. His ancestral farm is located in the southern Central Valley where four of these five are found.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

We're Patriots, They're Not

Paul Mirengoff of Power Line reacts to a new Gallup poll asking Americans whether they are proud to be Americans. Honestly, there are few surprises in the data. His summary says most of it.
You can make the case that the single most important difference between Republicans and Democrats/conservatives and liberals is that Republicans are extremely proud of America, period, while Democrats are somewhat proud when they’re in power and not very proud when they’re not.
Like most conservatives, I harbor a barely concealed wish those who find our country objectionable would go pursue their fortunes somewhere they'd like better. They'd be happier and so would we.

I know, I know ... it'll never happen. Much of liberals' perverse joy in life is intentionally being a pain in our collective backsides. Denigrating our country while enjoying its blessings.

Later ... rereading the above, that last paragraph reminds me of a woman from NYC the DrsC met on a cruise ship. She proudly viewed any day she hadn't pissed off someone as a wasted day. She was a face-to-face troll, as well as a hostile leftist, with essentially zero redeeming qualities.