Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Lifestyle Threat

I've been pondering from whence comes the hill-to-die-on intensity of Kavanaugh's opponents. Most say it boils down to Roe v. Wade, to abortion's continued legality. I suppose they must be correct.

If one's chosen lifestyle includes recreational sex with partners whose names may not stick in memory, the continued availability of abortion is absolutely essential. One may never need an abortion, but knowing it's there if needed converts certain otherwise difficult life choices into definite options that, in an earlier era, all but the reckless would have rejected as fraught with peril.

Travel Blogging Coda

The annual autumnal migration of the DrsC down from the high country has concluded. We arrived at our CA vacation home early this afternoon.

On the whole, the trip was without drama: traffic was light, weather was clement, equipment performed to specifications, and the restaurant meals both pleasant and digestible. It isn't the most exciting four days we could imagine, but it's not especially painful either, and we need to do it to live in pleasant weather most of the year.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Travel Blogging VIII

Reno, Nevada: This is the last stop on our westward migration before reaching our spring and fall quarters in NorCal. From here it is a winding and very scenic drive of less than 200 miles to our CA place.

The farther west we go, the warmer it becomes, as the altitude drops. We left cool days and freezing nights in WY, saw high 80s yesterday, and will see 90s in CA.

Reno is windy, most of the time. Today was no exception. Patios probably aren’t a big deal here. Much of the time it is either too hot or too cold and in either case too windy to enjoy the outdoors.

It is true, however, that Californians are moving here in non-trivial numbers. No state income tax is a major reason, jobs are another.


The Reno area once had several RV parks at which we could stay, now there is basically one left. All the rest still exist, but are filled with what we call “perms,” people who’ve parked an RV there, and are using it as their long-term dwelling.

The park owner collects rent year-round and the tenants have to maintain their own dwelling-on-wheels, with no landlord help. We know of several parks which never have a vacancy, or have a waiting list to get a spot on which to squat.

The one remaining park that doesn’t permit permanent residents or perms now charges an arm and leg for a night’s parking. They can do this because they have an effective monopoly, are part of a large casino property, and want as customers people who’ve come to gamble, drink and dine, not local wage slaves who go home tired, throw together a meal, and flop in front of the TV.

Creating a Nemesis

Concening Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, The Los Angeles Times writes the following really stupid, faux-naive remark.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s raw, combative defense against a sexual assault allegation from decades ago may have saved his embattled nomination, but his angry, partisan words this week also may have damaged his ability to be seen as a fair justice on the nation’s highest court.
What total nonsense this is. There is no “fair justice” on the Supreme Court now, nor is there likely to be one in the future. The political nature of their appointment and confirmation guarantees this.

We know the SCOTUS as presently constituted has four conservative justices and four liberal justices. We are rarely surprised by how any of the eight votes on matters on which the two major political parties disagree. Not never, but darned rarely.

If the Democrats sought a “fair justice” on the Court, why have they bullied Kavanaugh unmercifully? How is this likely to help him steer a middle course?

Haven’t Democrats very nearly guaranteed he will stick it to them anytime he can see a rationale in the law for doing so? In his shoes, wouldn’t you?

Can you blame him for being crystal clear about who his friends and enemies are? If he had any doubts when appointed, certainly none remain.

Hypocracy Alert

America, the Jesuit Review, has an editorial calling for the withdrawal of the Brett Kavanaugh SCOTUS nomination. Kavanaugh was educated at a Jesuit prep school.

Ya gotta love the hypocracy of these dudes. The Roman Catholic priesthood is rife with child molestation, pederasty, coercive homosexuality, and cover-ups going all the way to the Vatican. Yet they have the chutzpah to criticize someone else’s morals?

Guys, have you no shame? Clean your own Augean stables, before you venture to criticize others based solely on the 35 year old memories of a drunk 15 year old. Bluntly, you currently lack the moral standing to criticize others’ alleged shortcomings.

Hat tip to and to Monica Showalter at American Thinker for the link.

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Dance of the RINOs

Senator Jeff Flake (R?-AZ) has just rendered himself “persona non grata for life” anywhere two or more Republicans gather. After voting with his party to send the Kavanaugh nomination to the full Senate for an up-or-down vote, he announced he would vote against Kavanaugh on the Senate floor unless there was a brief FBI look at the charges against Kavanaugh.

That was all a few other weaklings needed to agree with him. So the feebs get a week to look at these decades-old charges, after six other background checks passed him. As one of the regular sources I read wrote, implicitly this tells the FBI you didn’t do a good job before, so go back and check your work.

If Republicans with a majority in the Senate cannot confirm a presidential SCOTUS appointee who has ten years of honorable service in the next lower level court, they don’t deserve to be a majority. And there is a better-than-even chance they may blow it. Sad, and unnecessary.

Activism Distroyed Media Credibility

Writing opinion, Politico’s media specialist Jack Shafer notes important reasons why the press is no longer respected.
The evolution of the press into an adversarial—sometimes activist—institution may have played a role in the declining trust in news media reflected in polls. It’s not just the perceived liberal slant in journalism that puts some readers off. The subject matter of the beats the press now swarms that they once ignored—race, sex, class, inequality, for example—distresses some readers. They blame the messenger for their anxiety by telling pollsters they no long trust the press. It also stands to reason that the press corps’ steady defiance of authority has produced disquiet in some corners.
My two quibbles with this analysis? First, the words “may have” in line two are entirely too tentative. I’d replace them with “has.”

Second, the press doesn’t defy authority, they defy Republican authority. For Obama they rolled over and waved their tiny paws in the air, trolling for a tummy tickle. And latecomer Politico is as guilty as the rest.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Kavanaugh Approval Foreseen

A variety of sources cited on are saying the Republicans have the votes in the Judiciary Committee to send the Kavanaugh nomination to the entire Senate. There, it is further alleged, they also have the votes to do what Mitch McConnell said they’d do: confirm him to a seat on the high court. We should know by early next week if it plays out as predicted.

Expect loud lamentations and much gnashing of teeth when it occurs, if it occurs. Hyperbole will fly thick and fast, many oaths to emigrate to get away from the dreadful conditions predicted to ensue as a result will be sworn, insincerely.

Essentially none of those so swearing will in fact act upon their sworn oaths. We’ve been down this rutted road before. If even ten percent of those who promised to leave when Trump became President had done so, this would be a better country than it is today.

In fact, I expect a conservative majority on SCOTUS to do little to reverse the damage already done. The best we can hope for is if they slow down the drift to the loony left which has been, in my lifetime, seemingly inexorable. Social conservatives will have to settle for that half measure, I fear.

Travel Blogging VII

Jackpot, Nevada: As promised, we’re headed west. After getting our furnace fixed (we hope) in Idaho, we drove across the southeastern part of ID into the teeth of a stiff headwind and are now a few hundred yards inside northern Nevada.

You might like the speed limits on ID interstates - 80 for cars, pickups, RVs and the like, 70 for big trucks. The elevation here is a good 1000 ft. lower than at our WY place, and it is correspondingly much warmer. Autumn which was well-advanced in WY has hardly begun here.

The tiny berg of Jackpot came about to provide the farmers of southern ID and eastern WY a place to enjoy what were once NV’s unique pleasures. The spread of Indian casinos has taken some of the shine off NV’s monopoly on sinful pastimes.

Farther south at Wells, on I-80, there are still two active houses of prostitution - quite legal, NV has county option - and it’s likely most towns along I-80 have one or more open, advertised brothels. Reno is the exception as its county has outlawed them. If there’s one in Jackpot I’ve not seen it, perhaps it has atypically chosen subtlety.

Bars in NV can stay open 24/7, and do so if they have enough wee hours custom to make it pay. There is a Jackpot-style cluster of casinos, motels, and ancillary businesses on every highway of any consequence leaving NV, just inside the stateline. It’s a fine old NV tradition.

Folks from WY and ID still come here to try their luck, eat a restaurant meal, maybe watch a live performance, and get away from the everyday humdrum. We come here because it is on the best route between our WY home and CA vacation property, it’s a reasonable distance from WY, and has both a nice RV park and a decent restaurant. We rarely gamble.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Travel Blogging VI

Western Wyoming: This is our last night in WY for, like as not, another 7+ months. The nights have started dropping below freezing - yes, in September - and we saw our first snow in Yellowstone yesterday. It was a dusting on the northern, shady side of road cuts above 8000 ft..

Time for us snowbirds to fly away to somewhere warm. The man who preceeded me in the barber’s chair this afternoon said to our barber, “I’ll see you in the spring.” I asked where he was headed and the answer was Florida, I said I go to CA, and our barber who lives in WY year-round probably was envious.

Absent mechanical or health issues, we’ll be at our vacation home in CA on Sunday afternoon. We make the journey in a leisurely fashion, averaging less than 250 miles a day. We could do it in 2 long days but why be miserable? As retirees, we’re in no particular hurry. Driving gets boring after about 4 hours. All three of our overnites are in NV, one on each edge and one in the middle.

Blog posts will probably be sparse until we arrive, it’s a trip we’ve made so many times we don’t often see much that provokes comment. Just a lot of land with nobody on it, mile after featureless mile.

Cannon Fodder

As the party that caters to the victimized, the Democrats have an inexhaustible supply of broken or bent women to aim at any Republican ambitious enough to allow his name to be put into nomination for high office. Stalkers, phobics, fantasists, the merely neurotic - they’ve got battalions of them.

Somebody must be sorting through them to find those with plausible propinquity at a time sufficiently in the past to be murky. Sounds like a job for Lanny Davis, eh?

Kavanaugh is the current target, who’ll be masochistic enough to be next? BTW, it wouldn’t surprise me if they have women (or maybe pajama boys) ready to accuse Republican women candidates of hitting on them too.

Travel Blogging V

Grand Teton National Park: Tuesday we took a day trip north to Yellowstone National Park. We were revisiting old haunts and enjoying the brilliant but chilly sunshine. We first visited “the Stone” as a couple 45 years ago, in our first RV - a Class C motorhome.

Yellowstone is huge, certainly the largest national park in the lower 48 states. Yellowstone Park roads describe a lopsided figure 8, with feeders exiting in all four directions: east to Cody, west to West Yellowstone, north to Gardner and Bozeman, south to the Tetons and Jackson.

The upper and lower loops of the 8 each make a nice day’s drive. Today we redid the lower loop for the nth time.

Since our first visit, few years have passed when we didn’t visit Yellowstone at least once. The same is true for Jackson Hole and the Tetons.

It’s no accident a couple of CA natives picked this region for a summer home that became 15 years ago our residence of record. It’s been a love affair with northwestern WY.

We saw Old Faithful geyser do its thing this afternoon, from the roof of the portico of Yellowstone Inn. The Inn is this amazing old wooden building made of logs, shingles, and lots and lots of whimsey, wrapped around a field stone fireplace plus chimney that towers through the lobby atrium perhaps 5 floors before reaching the roof.

This late in the season fully half the tourists we saw today were from China, spending their trade surplus to see our sights. Virtually all were traveling by tour bus, as most are as illiterate here as we’ve been in China. I wonder what they make of the U.S., what their guides tell them about the sights?

Travel Blogging IV

Jackson, Wyoming: Monday was a gray day in the Rockies, we drove the length of Grand Teton National Park. The fall colors had a watercolor quality in the mist.

On the way back we saw the most spectacular sunset over the Tetons range. I’ll bet the other DrC soon has a couple of great photos of Mt. Moran, backlit with fiery red clouds, on her blog.

We also saw a magnificent bull elk guarding his harem of several cows, he had a true trophy rack of antlers, but was safe as anything in the park which is a game refuge. No photo of him.

The elk were migrating down from their summer range in Yellowstone, to their winter range just north of Jackson townsite on the Flat Creek plain. They are fed there by federal folk who give them hay all winter.

The rationale is the elk once migrated to lower elevations perhaps in Idaho where winter wasn’t so cold and food easier to get under snow. The town of Jackson has completely filled their migratory route with streets and houses so they are fed just north of Jackson.

The other DrC likes to call this federal handout “welkfare.” It isn’t unique, the state of WY also winter feeds elk on a site just south of Alpine and perhaps elsewhere.

WY makes money from out-of-state elk hunters many of whom employ local “outfitters” as guides, caterers, and transporters. Local motels and restaurants also benefit. Hunting makes tourism here a three season affair, as it happens in fall.

Summer here is camping, fishing, and river rafting; fall is hunting; and winter is skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling. Our dead season for tourism is spring, which comes late and features mud. If you owned a motel here, spring is when you’d take a vacation.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Travel Blogging III

Grand Teton National Park: This is our first trip with the new RV and there are the normal “teething problems” associated with a new vehicle or house (a travel trailer is both, of course). We plan to get them looked at en route in ID where we bought it when we leave WY later in the week.

Here in the mile-high Rockies the onset of autumn means it could snow anytime, though not necessarily in the next week. Knowing that, it is time to head west to our spring and fall quarters in NorCal. As snowbirds, when the snow flies, so do we.

It’s common for WY year-rounders to say they wish they could go with us. In retirement many do just that - spend half year in WY and the cold half in AZ, NV, TX, or CA. A few end up in southern UT around Saint George, which wags call “Mormon Palm Springs.”

Our place in NorCal is in the foothills of the Sierras. We often observe there are beach people and mountain people, we’re the latter obviously. Flat country just isn’t scenic to our eyes. The year we spent in the greater Dallas area left us homesick for mountains.

School has been in session for a month and the Colter Bay RV Village is still full, even with nights going below freezing. The booming economy has people taking vacations and visiting the national parks.

Like it or not, it’s my opinion President Trump gets credit for the good times, not President Obama. I don’t remember Trump saying 2% growth is “the new normal,” Obama memorably did.

Travel Blogging II

Grand Teton National Park: Today we took a drive from the Moran Junction area east over Togwotee Pass to the little town of Dubois, and back. The fall colors were spectacular.

Let me share some local weirdness about how those two names are pronounced. The “w” in Togwotee is silent, so it’s said “TOG -uh-tee” with emphasis on the first syllable. No idea why.

Dubois is, of course, French, likely named by fur trappers who ranged these mountains for beaver pelts. Except WY locals pronounce it “DUE-boys” again with emphasis on the first syllable. You find examples of eccentric pronunciation all over the West.

Togwotee Pass is high for these parts, it goes up to nearly 10,000 feet. It is part of the continental divide that wanders across the region.

The pass doesn’t go above timberline however. There are conifers all the way to the top, but aspens stop perhaps a thousand feet below the summit.

When one crosses the pass going east the terrain changes dramatically. Suddenly there are red cliffs and hoodoos - oddly eroded rock chimneys. You could almost be in Arizona or Utah, I’m guessing the area is in rain shadow.

We looked at the Dubois region today and said, “This looks like Longmire’s Wyoming.” We were making reference to the TV series of that name which did most of its run on Netflix.

The DrsC are fans of Longmire, a modern western/police procedural featuring a small town WY sheriff, his 3 deputies, their reservation neighbors, and assorted ranchers and relatives. Consider this a review and go check it out, there were maybe 5 seasons best watched in sequence.

Travel Blogging I

Grand Teton National Park’s Colter Bay: The DrsC have a new RV, it is our sixth in an unbroken string of RV ownership going back 46 years to 1972. The new RV is another 5th wheel trailer, made by a firm called Grand Design which we understand was recently purchased by Winnebago.

The 2019 model is a Reflection, it’s exactly the same 35’ length as our last unit. If you’re not familiar with RVs, think of it as a small one-bedroom apartment on wheels.

We’re camped in a RV campground we first visited 45 years ago. We have visited it many times, and it’s still one of our all-time favorites.

It is, however, true that our cell-phone-based Internet doesn’t work here. These “Travel Blogging” entries will be posted when we get to a hotspot.

RV campgrounds with utility hookups within U.S. National Parks are quite rare, I’ve only ever seen three - this one, one in Yellowstone at Fishing Bridge, and one at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. And I’m not certain the third one still exists.

Most NPS campgrounds offer a fire pit, a picnic table, and a place to park plus a restroom within walking distance. On the other hand, Canadian national parks more often have some RV spots - those at Waterton, Banff, Jasper, and Cape Breton Highlands come to mind.

More typical in the U.S. are privately owned RV camps just outside national park boundaries. That’s what is available at Glacier, Zion and Bryce NPs, and they work fine too.

Friday, September 21, 2018

When Political Becomes Personal

Regarding the accusations aimed at Judge Kavanaugh, one thing is certain. His accuser is not seeking justice, the statute of limitations on the crime she claims happened elapsed decades ago. If she had absolute proof - which she clearly lacks - he couldn’t be tried for it.

Rather what we see is a Hail Mary attempt to thwart a shift in the political balance of the U.S. Supreme Court, done by a proven political activist. She is unlikely to succeed but will ‘enjoy’ the same sort of notoriety that follows Anita Hill, both tragic heroines among their preferred associates in the hate-besotted left.

One thing is becomming clear, these Democrat tactics will discourage future GOP aspirants to the high court. Who is masochistic enough to volunteer for this treatment and yet sane enough to do the job properly?

Brexit Update

Not obsessively, but more than occasionally, we’ve been following the progress of Brexit as the U.K. tries to negotiate its way out of the EU. EU leaders met in Austria recently at an “informal summit” at which PM May’s proposal was dumped upon, so Reuters reports.

This increases the odds that Britain simply leaves in March, without a “deal” of any sort. Reuters refers to this eventuality as “crashing out.”

Remaining in power only in coalition with a Northern Ireland Protestant party, May is playing a weak hand. This is something of which the other EU leaders are well aware and plan to take advantage of. The Ireland border issue is still a sticking point - no surprise.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

We're the 'Dregs of Society'

Creepy old Joe Biden has called Trump supporters the "dregs of society," it was in a speech he made to an LGBTQ group. It appears he felt he had to go beyond mere "deplorable."

Biden notoriously has #MeToo problems. See a compilation of photos of Biden with his hands on various uncomfortable-looking women, it's found at the ZeroHedge website, scroll down.

Then there's Biden as VP, making female Secret Service agents uncomfortable by swimming nude while they guarded him. He really is a low-life schlemiel.

Passing Out at Party Prep

Lucianne links to a Thomas Lifson article at American Thinker who links to a website with the rather rococo name of Cult of the 1st Amendment. The latter has excerpts from the yearbook of the private girls high school - Holton Arms - which Christine “Chrissy” Blasey Ford attended.

Interestingly, the yearbook has recently been taken down from online, although the owner of this website copied portions before that happened. An enterprising reporter should be able to track down hard copies somewhere.

What the yearbook materials show is that binge drinking, hard partying, and generalized debauchery were celebrated at this haven for “sweet young things.” It sounds like Holton Arms school needed a staff abortionist on call and a rehab annex. Its trustees should sue the yearbook advisor for allowing excessive candor in its pages.

No wonder Dr. Ford can’t remember where or when the supposed assault occurred. Likely she was falling-down drunk at the time, and has but the vaguest of memories except for her fright, which I’d guess was real enough.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Other Shoe Drops

Oh, darn. Roughly a week ago I wrote about the mysterious closure of the National Solar Observatory by the FBI, about which no one would comment. Its NM location not far from Roswell and White Sands triggered eerie speculation.

It turns out the truth was indeed "out there, " but Mulder and Scully can remain in retirement. Station KTSM El Paso reports the reason for the closure; it is alleged a night janitor there was using his laptop and the observatory's wifi signal to download child pornography.

Alas, no extraterrestrials involved, worse luck. Just a bent human.

As It Now Stands

Much can change between now and Monday. Christine Ford has clearly and publicly been invited to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on that day, tell her story under oath, and be questioned thereupon.

As it stands now, she refuses to do so. If her refusal stands, and she does not appear, the Committee should proceed to a vote, approve Judge Kavanaugh, and send his nomination the the floor for an up-or-down vote, which is likely to be to confirm.

Democrats will have created "cover" for their red state senators who wish to vote against Kavanaugh. They can-and-will claim they couldn't vote for him because no FBI investigation of the charge took place.

CA Democrats should vote for Kevin de León against Feinstein over this kerfuffle, which has made her look weak and conniving. He will be no improvement over her as a senator, will in fact probably be worse. However, acts like hers should be punished, and CA Dems can vote for one of their own - de León - and punish her at the same time.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Is Trump a Poet?

I was half-way listening to the evening news, which mentioned President Trump is getting ready to impose large tariffs on a huge swath of Chinese exports to the U.S., while China is getting ready to retaliate. And a lightbulb went on, metaphorically.

Remember when President Reagan bankrupted the Soviet Union by raising our armament spending, forcing them to do likewise? We could afford the spending, they couldn't. It caused the Soviet Union to disintegrate.

What if President Trump can pull the same trick on China with tariffs? The U.S. can live without Chinese goods, can China's government survive without a U.S. market for their manufactured products?

Just maybe the answer is no. I don't advise getting hopes up, but it could work, and make the world safer as a consequence. As Mark Twain is alleged to have said, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes," meaning common themes recur.

POTUS Declassifies FISA, Other Docs

Politico reports President Trump has acted to declassify documents related to the activities of Strzok/Page/McCabe/Comey vis-a-vis the Carter Page FISA application and the Bruce Ohr notes as well. Conservative voices have called for this move for months, while DOJ/FBI dragged their collective feet, stonewalled, and engaged in half-measures which they misrepresented.

I look forward to the analyses of these documents by Kim Strassel and Andrew McCarthy, the two best sources on this tale of woe and swampiness. Others may make insightful comments as well.

Assuming the documents reveal what we expect, I'd like to see the entire group of malefactors listed above wearing orange jumpsuits for the next decade or more. I'd settle for their being fired and losing their cushy pensions. It's important to make them an example pour encourager les autres swamp dwellers.

The Kavanaugh Kerfuffle

Jim Huff at Gateway Pundit, a conservative observer, has some interesting background on Judge Brett Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. Huff reports Kavanaugh's mother was the judge in proceedings where Christine Blasey's parents' home was foreclosed, and he links to the official documents on file.

Blasey has been a Trump protester and leftist agitator. It is alleged she recently deleted social media accounts which, we are told, documented her activism. This in the hope of appearing a sad figure, not an avenging harpy.

Something she couldn't delete, her "Rate My Professor" comments written by students. Some are quite negative.

This morning's gleanings on this story make relatively clear Professor Blasey is no disinterested victim, but rather a committed progressive activist. Being such does not automatically invalidate her claims of teenage victimization. It does establish she has a pair of compelling motives going beyond a search for "justice" 35 years delayed.

We live in interesting times.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Kavanaugh Accuser Goes Public

Poor Chuck Grassley, chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee and looking at 35 year-old he-said/she-said allegations against a teenaged Brett Kavanaugh. Like you, I have no idea what is true here, or whether perhaps both are lying or mistaken.

We know Kavanaugh's fine record as a Federal jurist, it is an open book. And many women have spoken and written to support his candidacy and vouch for his character, both as a person and as an employer.

What do we know of his accuser - Christine Blasey Ford? We know she has had a couple of months to scrub her social media and Facebook trail. We know some things about the school where she teaches - Palo Alto University, the former Pacific Graduate School of Psychology founded in 1975. As psychology faculty she is almost certainly a very liberal Democrat.

As a state university professor whose career in CA overlapped PGSP's first quarter century, I can say that its reputation was of a less-than-academically-serious trade school for working clinical psychologists who needed the supposed legitimacy of "Dr." before their name.

PGSP didn't sell degrees but I suspect few of its grads became faculty at real universities. My knowledge is admittedly somewhat old, not of the last decade or so, and things can change.

Identity, Not Ideology

Josh Kraushaar, writing at National Journal, detects a trend in recent Democrat primary wins and losses which he believes others have glossed over. He writes:
White progressive candidates performed dismally in Democratic gubernatorial primaries this year.

But African-American candidates, all running to the left, greatly exceeded expectations in statewide contests.

The demographic patterns in these races are clear. African-American candidates were able to build an energized Democratic coalition of black voters, white liberals and younger voters to swamp more-established candidates in primaries. But white liberal candidates struggled to expand their support beyond the most predictable precincts, unable to build racially-diverse coalitions for their progressive messages.

It’s no coincidence that the two Democratic congressmen who lost primaries this year were both veteran white politicians who grew disconnected from their diversifying constituencies in New York and Boston. Representing majority-minority districts, Reps. Joe Crowley and Michael Capuano were uniquely vulnerable to energetic challenges from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley. Both insurgents ran on progressive messages, but their victories wouldn’t have happened without the underlying demand for representatives that look more like the communities they represent.
Kraushaar concludes race will be a key factor in selecting a Democrat to run against Trump in 2020, giving Harris or Booker an edge over Warren. I believe I hear another tumbler fall into place in the continuing racialization of party politics in the U.S. This may not end well.

Seasonal Musings

We are within striking distance of the autumnal equinox, five days from now. In the official panoply of seasons, that’s when autumn begins, and summer ends. Living as we do between two quite different climate zones, we see the extent to which this is an approximation.

What feels like autumn arrived maybe three weeks ago here in the Rockies, and winter will also arrive well before its official start date of Dec. 21. That’s all part of having a too-long winter and a warm-but-pleasant summer that’s only about 2 months long.

By contrast, in our CA winter quarters it not only is still summer, warm, dry weather will continue until darn near Halloween. The other DrC, who spent her formative adult years as an elementary teacher, remembers how her pupils would plan their flimsy costumes based on heat, and often as not have to cover them with a coat when All Hallows Eve was the first cold evening of the year.

That contrast is the difference just over a mile of elevation makes in climate. In CA we’re 2-300 feet above sea level. Here in WY we’re maybe 5800 feet higher. WY has long winters, the Central Valley of CA has long summers, and fall there lasts until Christmas, whereas winter is largely done by mid-February when the almonds bloom.

Waxing Philosophical

I was scanning the RealClearPolitics reading list for this Sunday morning and the range of opinions concerning the Mueller investigation and its implications for the President is astounding. Several say he’s doomed, several say Mueller is toast.

What is clear is that, so far, the “fish” caught have been small time hustlers. Do political campaigns attract some less-than-honorable hangers-on? They do. Are we surprised? Of course we’re not.

Will the investigation end up bringing down an elected president? Unlikely, but not impossible. Does anybody really know what will happen? Nope, everybody is either guessing or writing up their hopes as predictions.

I suggest we allow the events to unfold in the proverbial “fullness of time.” All will eventually become clear, and will likely prove to be a smaller deal than some hoped, if history is any guide.

In the meantime, life goes on. We’re fond of reminding readers John Maynard Keynes famously said, “In the long run, we’re all dead.” Which leaves the short and medium runs. In the short run we’re confused, fog of battle and all that. Focus on the medium run, that’s the time frame within which the important stuff occurs.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Saturday Snark

Every Saturday Steven Hayward posts at Power Line a collection of cartoons, captioned photos, posters, headlines and other timely ephemera of a snidely humorous nature, much of it political. I don't always find myself moved to comment thereupon, here are a few favorites from this week's herd.

Cartoon of a Democrat donkey dressed as a little kid, throwing a tantrum, kicking and screaming, captioned:
Another carefully considered, well-crafted and sober argument by liberal Democrats against the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Photoshopped™shot of Barack Obama as a Janus-like figure with two faces pointed in opposite directions. One face says the following:
GDP growth of under 2% is the new norm. Trump doesn't have a magic wand.
The other face opines:
The great economy we have now is all thanks to me and my policies.
Cartoon of a distraught woman being comforted by a second female, dressed as a health professional, who speaks:
Calling a product or service a human right doesn't magically render it immune to scarcity.
Cartoon of a guy holding a giant fork labeled "socialism" aiming it at a giant wall electric socket labeled "the economy." His friend warns him:
Everyone else who tried this has gotten hurt.
Fork man replies:
Everyone else did it the wrong way. 
Photo of U.S. currency seemingly growing on a tree, captioned:
Only capitalism creates anywhere near enough wealth to fund socialism. 
Cartoon of Lucy (labeled "Democrats") holding the football, while Charley Brown (labeled "young voters") looks bemused. Lucy speaks:
I promise; this time socialism will work! 
Photo of a Kalashnikov assault rifle and ammunition, captioned:
The only thing that socialism produced that actually works & leftists hate it. 
Photo of a sign where people post snappy sayings using movable letters, this one proclaiming:
Turning vegan would be a big missed steak.

The Cleanest Man?

Power Line regular Scott Johnson shares two Andrew C. McCarthy quotes concerning the Carter Page surveillance and DOJ/FBI attempts to derail candidate (and President) Trump. First, this:
Let’s dispense with the tired claim that the Obama administration did not really spy on Trump and his campaign. Every one of the four FISA warrant applications, after describing Russia’s cyberespionage attack on the 2016 election, makes the following assertion (after two redacted lines):
the FBI believes that the Russian Government’s efforts to influence the 2016 election were being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with Candidate #1’s campaign.
“Candidate #1” is Trump.
Followed by this:
For Mueller, the Russia counterintelligence probe was cover to conduct a criminal investigation of Trump in the absence of grounds to believe a crime had occurred.
There's a quote about this kind of faux 'law enforcement,' by Stalin's NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria: "Show me the man and I'll find you the crime." Note: Soviets are crappy role models.

In spite of which, to date the FBI surveillance of Carter Page has produced exactly ZERO indictments or charges of any sort. About which lack Johnson wisecracks:
Given the year-long surveillance on him without any resulting charge, Page might not only not be a Russian agent, he might be the cleanest man in Washington.
While I don't admire Page's choice of foreign associates, he has dodged legal troubles in a way Manafort, Flynn, Cohen, and Papadopoulos must certainly envy. Something to remember, the Page wiretaps were Comey/McCabe activities, predating the Mueller investigation.

Friday, September 14, 2018

NYT With Egg on Face ... Again

Power Line has the story: The New York Times slams U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley as self-indulgent with taxpayer money, and when called on the unfairness of the story, runs this retraction:

Not much is finer than watching someone you despise eat a large and malodorous plate of crow, after admitting an egregious screwup. Enjoy.

Everything Old Is New Again

Popular Mechanics reports the U.S. Air Force has decided to treat having computer coding skill in the same way they treat possession of fluency in a foreign language. The link to this article provided by Instapundit, who seemed to think it peculiar.

More years ago than I want to remember, University of Oregon accepted my knowledge of Fortran, then-current and documented on my transcripts, as meeting their PhD second language requirement. Understanding the logic of organizing human reasoning so a computer can operationalize it at high speed is very useful, even if it was never in my job description.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Social Media Bias Scrutinized

We wrote yesterday about the liberal bias being enacted by social media giants Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc., and said it was time to regulate. Today John Hinderaker of Power Line indicates it appears the Department of Justice and a slew of state attorneys general are considering an antitrust approach to the problem.

As attorney Hinderaker notes, antitrust precedent has mostly focused on collusion to set prices higher than the market would otherwise permit. That isn't the issue here. The services are free to users.

The issue is hidden bias, bias that if open might cause many users to switch to alternate platforms. Antitrust law may not necessarily fit this abuse very well. We shall see. Perhaps we will need new law.

Bolivian Update

The Miami Herald is a go-to source for Latin America news, because Miami is the unofficial capital of the Spanish-speaking Western Hemisphere. Columnist Andres Oppenheimer follows the region closely, and today writes about an unfortunate development in land-locked Bolivia.
Bolivian President Evo Morales announced last week that he will submit to his country’s Congress - where he enjoys a comfortable majority - a “law against lies,” which would penalize news about his government that he doesn’t like.

In several statements in recent weeks, Morales said he will propose a law to “punish liars” in the media and to “moralize” independent news organizations. The Inter-American Press Association has denounced (sic) that the proposed law would impose an all-out censorship on the media.

Morales took office in January 2006, is now seeking a fourth five-year term next year, which would allow him to stay in power until January 2025.
Latin America must love their Presidents for Life, they produce so many of them. It's a cultural defect, seen from my vantage point. Hat tip to Stephen Green, guest blogging at Instapundit, for the link.

*** X-Files Alert ***

The FBI (not kidding) has closed the National Solar Observatory located in Sunspot, New Mexico. What is more confusing, they will not say why they flew in a helicopter and evacuated the place. The ZeroHedge website has the story.
The FBI did not tell Sheriff House the reason for the closure. Sheriff Benny House did tell ABC 7 that his local law enforcement did not have anything to do with the observatory closure.

For the conspiracy-minded, Sunspot is a mere 130 miles from Roswell, New Mexico, and about 90 miles from the White Sands Missile Range. Established in 1958, the observatory predates the unincorporated area in the Sacramento Mountains that was named for it.
I like Instapundit Glenn Reynolds' comment:
They discovered we’re heading for a Maunder Minimum or worse and don’t want people to know.
For those who haven't read closely, a Maunder Minimum is a period of years when the sun goes quiet, throwing few-to-no sunspots, while the earth experiences a mini-Ice Age of rapid cooling and weak, short summers.

An alternative theory: the observatory had been taken over by aliens, masquerading as humans, who wished to closely observe their experimentation on our sun. Somebody check where Mulder and Scully are currently posted (kidding) and where the evacuated staff has been sequestered (not kidding).

Spengler Hearts Orbán

Spengler, channeled by David P. Goldman, writes at PJ Media about the European Union 'parliament' voting to censure Hungarian President Viktor Orbán. In short, Goldman says Orbán is right and the EU is wrong. Of Orbán, Goldman writes:
He was elected for a third term last April 8 by a two-thirds majority, which makes him the most popular leader in Europe. In fact, he may be the only popular leader in Europe; I cannot think off-hand of another European head of government with a popularity rating of more than 40%.
Perhaps Orbán's Trumpian sensibility is what scares the bureaucrat weenies in Brussels.

No Handouts to Naysayers

On Bret Baier's Special Report on Fox News last night, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley was a guest. She said things to Bret that haven't been said before, but should have been said decades ago. Daily Wire has the quote:
We are no longer going to give money to people who are against the U.S., or say, “Death to America,” or do anything that would be anti-U.S. We are now going to strategically start to work with our friends, and there are no longer going to be handouts for those who go against us.
The diplomatic corps will hate that policy. While we're at it, reducing our U.N. contribution by 50% would send another good message.

Anybody besides me thinking Nikki Haley might be a good presidential candidate? She's photogenic, plain spoken, and tough-as-nails. Haley is everything Camel-uh Harris and Pocahontas Warren are not.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Autumn Leaves

Check out some great autumn leaves photos at the other DrC's website. She has a good eye for nature pix.

Summers in the high country are short, but wonderfully pleasant. The year-round residents say winters here are not so hard, mostly just way too long. We snowbirds take their word for that, and spend winter where it's warm.

Later ... rereading this I thought of a way to tell you how we know winters are long here. In a typical year we spend just over four months in WY. During that time we experience three seasons: spring, summer, and fall.

To be sure, spring starts before we arrive and fall continues after we leave, but true summer here is two months instead of three, as are spring and fall. That leaves a nearly six month winter, which is “way too long.”

It’s no coincidence many year-round residents, when they retire, start spending mid-winter in NV or AZ to get warm.

The Closing Frontier

John Hinderaker of Power Line has leaked video of the top brass at Google in the days after Trump won the presidency.
[It's] an “all hands” Google meeting that was held just after the 2016 election. The video features Google’s co-founder, Sergei Brin, its CEO, Sundar Pichai, and numerous other high-ranking “Googlers” speaking in turn about the election’s tragic outcome. It is stunning.

All of the speakers express grief over Donald Trump’s election. All of the speakers assume that every Google employee is a Democrat and is stunned and horrified that Hillary Clinton–the worst and most corrupt presidential candidate in modern history–lost. There is much discussion about what Google can do to reverse the benighted world-wide tide exemplified by Brexit and Trump’s election.
Okay, that makes it official. The Wild West era of 'Silly Con' Valley must end. It's time to regulate lefty social media firms as public utilities.

Social media firms need government oversight boards, required-by-law even-handedness, and the whole dreary nine yards. They've no more right to intervene sub rosa in our politics than do Russian hackers.

Worth Their Weight in Gold

Instapundit links to a article reporting the Senate has been busy when no one was looking.
As the fight over Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the US Supreme Court unfolded this summer, consuming most of the oxygen available for judge-related punditry and spurring millions of dollars in ad spending by outside groups, the Senate confirmed more than two dozen of President Donald Trump’s judicial picks to lifetime appointments with little fanfare.

Twenty-six federal appeals and district court judges secured seats on the federal bench in the two months since Trump announced Kavanaugh as his latest Supreme Court nominee. That’s more than the number of judges confirmed in the first half of the year, and more than the number of judges confirmed in all of 2017.
These judges are the good news from Trump that won't go away after he's out of office; most judges will serve for a decade or two. If y'all don't get busy and vote to keep the Senate majority in GOP hands for the next two years, this kind of good news story will end in January or sooner.

Life Imitates Art

The New York Daily News reports three months ago an Oregon chef was fatally shot. His wife, who 6 years ago wrote an essay entitled "How to Murder Your Husband" as well as several romance novels, was just arrested for ... wait for it ... killing him.

The thought, many have realized, becomes the parent of the deed. We know she imagined killing him in order to write about it and it appears the police believe she eventually saw it as a realistic act.

She didn't imagine the "deflecting suspicion" part nearly so well, it seems. Perhaps forensic science has progressed since she researched the essay. Or conceivably she had nothing to do with it.

If you made this story up, nobody would believe it.

PC View Questioned

The website reports a study from the October issue of Pediatrics which finds extremely high incidence of attempted suicide behavior among transgender teens. In some cases more than half have tried to kill themselves. Suicide behavior is normally associated with mental illness.

The PC view is that being transgender is merely one of a host of possible sexual orientations. All of these are seen as within the normal range of human behavior and essentially equally valid and healthy.

Perhaps the PC view is wrong. Suicide is not healthy. Perhaps feeling transgendered is a by-product of relatively serious mental ill health.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Trump's Middle East Policy Has a Fan

Writing at Middle East Forum, Seth Frantzman contrasts the emerging Trump doctrine with those of his predecessors and finds some new thinking and positive possibilities. His basic point: what the U.S. has done in the Levant for the last 50 years didn't work especially well, so trying new things makes sense.

It is interesting and, dare I say "fun," to read someone who has a positive view of Trump's approach to world affairs. I haven't been particularly displeased except for the post-Putin press conference in Helsinki which I found maladroit and worrisome.

Obama's actions and words were often anti-Israel and pro-Iran. The contrast with pro-Israel President Trump looks quite positive to author Frantzman, whose day job is as the Jerusalem Post's op-ed editor.

Sweden Voted

RealClearWorld links to an article in The Spectator (U.S. edition) concerning why the Sweden Democrats, a populist, anti-immigrant party, didn't make the big electoral splash predicted by polling.
The short answer: the mainstream parties coopted its anti-immigrant message.

If you prefer, the Sweden Democrats forced the major parties to change their preferred public policies. This is something third parties in the U.S. sometimes accomplish, popular platform planks are adopted by one of the main parties.

Now the Swedes will see if the parties they voted for do something about Sweden's immigrant problems, which are not trivial. If they don't, the SDs are still there to say "We told you they didn't mean it, and we were right."

You'll recollect UKIP filled this role in the U.K. They forced many Conservatives to become pro-Brexit, some of them half-heartedly.

Remembering 9/11

Today is the 17th anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, and the aborted White House or Capitol attack brought down by brave passengers in PA. It is time to pause, remember who was responsible, and rededicate ourselves to their slow and painful deaths.

While 9/11 was not the beginning of the Long War, it was the first time most Americans took it seriously. Historians can argue about its actual onset, was it the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, or one of the many planes highjacked? Most managed to shrug off the bombing of the USS Cole, the Kobar Towers bombing, and the first abortive attempt to truck bomb the World Trade Towers.

By contrast, September 11, 2001, both was and was not a Pearl Harbor moment. When Americans tried to focus on an enemy they found that, unlike the 1941 attack, 9/11 didn't make clear where or whom to punish.

The jihadis who were attacking us hid among millions of Muslims who were just getting on with their lives. A fair few of the latter has a sneaking admiration for the attackers, but weren't angry or brave enough to join them. A draconian response by us could make them "angry or brave enough."

And so the Long War continues, with no realistic prospect of achieving victory, and no realistic alternative to continuing the fight. It is Samuel P. Huntington's "war of civilizations," happening in asymmetric fashion and thus in painfully slow motion.


Later ... Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs has a Facebook post you'll want to read. He reprints the exact transcript of 4 calls between a passenger on United flight 93 over Pennsylvania - one Tom Burnett - and Tom's wife Deena at home. Reading them choked me up.

It appears Tom Burnett was a ringleader in crashing the flight to save either the White House or the Capitol and the lives of hundreds of people at whichever was targeted. Rowe suggests Nike should have picked Burnett instead of Kaepernick for their ads. It's damn clear Burnett believed in something and sacrificed his life to achieve it.

Monday, September 10, 2018

High Levels of Diversity & Welfare Don't Coexist

An article at the American Institute for Economic Research website summarizes the findings of:
A massive study published by Klaus Gründler and Sebastian Köllner of the economics department of the University of Würzburg, and published by the Munich Society for the Promotion of Economic Research: “Culture, Diversity, and the Welfare State.” It’s a 50-age global study using every bit of data available and every statistical technique for assessing cause and effect, featuring a blithering array of data and references.
Author Jeff Tucker restates their findings as follows:
People will tolerate large, invasive, redistributionist states so long as they think people more or less like themselves are benefiting; that is, provided that the public sector is perceived as an overlord of a large family.

However, when conditions change, and the population loses its collective demographic characteristics, people don’t like their tax dollars funneled to people too much unlike themselves. They will fight that one of two ways: dismantling the welfare state or kicking out those perceived to be interlopers.

In short, all data indicate that the mix of the two – high diversity and high welfare – is not politically sustainable.
That's a European generalization. In the U. S. setting it would be something like: "We love Social Security and Medicare, don't love welfare, Medicaid, and illegal immigrants."

Sounds vaguely familiar, doesn't it? Much like slogans heard at a Trump rally, I believe. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Economists: Trump Is The Reason

Liz Peek writes at The Hill about who gets to take credit for the booming U.S. economy, rising wages, and falling unemployment. Both parties have claimed it is their doing.

Peek reports a study of economists who should know who is responsible,  if anybody does.
The Wall Street Journal asked 68 business, financial and academic economists who was responsible for the strengthening of the economy, and most "suggested Mr. Trump's election deserves at least some credit" for the upturn.

A majority said the president had been "somewhat" or "strongly" positive for job creation, gross domestic product growth and the rising stock market.

The pros cite the White House's push for lighter regulation and the recent tax bill as critical to a pro-growth environment; more than 90 percent of the group thought the tax bill would boost GDP expansion over the next two years.
And what is even better, this particular economic "rising tide" is lifting the "boats" of everyone, not just 'Silly Con' Valley acid heads. Black and Hispanic employment are at record levels too.

It would almost be worth the pain for voters to ignore all the good news, elect a slew of Democrats, and watch the economy fall quickly into a deep recession. Do you think they would connect cause and effect? Nah, probably not.

Fears and Insecurities

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds has a snarky take on negative reactions to the Naomi Osaka tennis defeat of Serena Williams and subsequent meltdown by Williams.
A 37-year-old woman winning over a 20-year-old makes middle-aged women feel good about themselves, and that is the highest value in today’s media culture. A 37-year-old woman losing to a 20-year-old woman, well, that just plays to their deepest fears and insecurities. . . .
He’s a risk-taker. You’d almost think Glenn doesn’t understand there are truths no one is permitted to speak or write.

21st and 19th Century Naval Strategies Compared

Writing at The National Interest, military historian James Holmes examines the U.S. naval strategy of Alfred Thayer Mahan vis-a-vis Britain in the Caribbean in the fin de siècle 1890s. Holmes compares and contrasts the peaceful U.S. takeover from Britain with what China faces in trying to gain mastery of its near-home waters - the East and South China Seas - from the U.S. without warfare.

He concludes the two situations, while superficially similar, have important differences. These make the two situations distinct, and the 1890s turnover not particularly an indicator of how such efforts may turn out in the seas off China today.

Although Holmes doesn’t say so, for the two situations to become similar would require Russia to begin making moves like those Tom Clancy imagined in his novel Red Storm Rising. These would require the U.S. to pull much of its fleet back out of Asia and closer to home.

Holmes’ article is for those who like to think strategically, it won’t be to everyone’s taste. Hat tip to RealClearDefense for the link.

About Macedonia

RealClearWorld weighs in with a tour d’horizon of Macedonia that I find somewhat misleading. Entitled “Seven things you should know about Macedonia,” it reads like a tourist brochure, all sunshine and light.

One of the article’s seven “things” is, I believe, essentially incorrect. Number six says “It’s peaceful.” In the Balkans, that’s always a relative matter rather than an absolute.

Macedonia, or its new name Northern Macedonia, has a large and restive Albanian Muslim minority. Some 33% of their population is Muslim, most of those are Albanian. The other 2/3 is mostly Orthodox Christian Macedonians. This means the age-old conflict between Muslim Turks and Orthodox Greeks is replicated in miniature in Macedonia.

The history of the world, and especially of the Balkans, suggests a part-Muslim mix is volatile, and unlikely to be stable or “peaceful.” The CIA Factbook says this of Macedonia:
Ethnic Albanian grievances over perceived political and economic inequities escalated into a conflict in 2001 that eventually led to the internationally brokered Ohrid Framework Agreement, which ended the fighting and established guidelines for constitutional amendments and the creation of new laws that enhanced the rights of minorities. Relations between ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians remain complicated, however.
Southern parts of Thailand and the Philippines are also “complicated” (aka “violent”) and parts of Europe are becoming similarly problematic.

Irexit Too?

Irish professor Anthony Coughlan writes for the CapX website that if a real Brexit occurs, with the U.K. leaving the E.U., this greatly increases the likelihood of the Republic of Ireland later doing the same. This is a view not much heard in the discussions of Brexit’s nitty-gritty implementation.
A change of Irish attitudes to the EU is inevitable if a real Brexit happens because EU membership would no longer be of significant benefit to the Irish State without the UK beside it as a fellow EU member.

For one thing if Brexit were to be followed by an “Irexit” the Irish land border would no longer be an EU one too. Anglo-Irish relations would again be a matter exclusively for the British and Irish Governments, as was the case from 1923 until both States joined the EC/EU. The Irish Border would no longer be a cause of problems with the EU, either economically or politically.

Secondly, leaving the EU following the UK’s departure would save the Republic money as it has become a net contributor to the EU Budget since 2014.

Dublin is closer economically and culturally to Boston than Berlin. Ireland, North and South, is naturally part of the English-speaking world. A Britain that is half-in and half-out of the EU would not be Ireland’s interests. If the UK takes back control of its law-making and public policies, it would make every sense for the Republic to do the same.
I find his argument persuasive. I wonder if the Irish can get past their historically justified latent Anglophobia and do what makes sense in the 21st century?

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Obama Draws Embarrassingly Small Crowd

Barack Obama gave a campaign speech yesterday at the convention center in Anaheim, CA. According to Think Progress, a leftist site, a whole 750 people turned out to hear the former President. OTOH President Trump speaks to overflow crowds at every arena, and folks wait overnight to get in.

Make of this difference what you will. My view: Obama is yesterday's news, stale as two-week-old bread. Hat tip to Gateway Pundit for the link.

The CA Social Experiment

Demographer Joel Kotkin has been one of the foremost chroniclers of California’s march to a decidedly different drummer. Writing in The Orange County Register, he observes that those most affected by high housing costs are the young and those of family-forming age. That’s who is leaving.

What he doesn’t examine in detail is why older Californians are more satisfied. A major reason is Proposition 13, which keeps property taxes low for people who acquired their homes a couple of decades ago.

In an otherwise high tax environment, low property taxes on property bought cheaply but now valued at a million or two are a big help. This leg up is available mostly to seniors who bought 20-30 years ago.

As a CA native, I know firsthand coastal California has the nation’s best year-round climate. Other places warm in winter - FL, TX, AZ - can’t compare. Their summers either have high humidity or get too hot.

Perhaps eventually the pleasant parts of the Golden State will be residence mostly to affluent retirees often in gated communities. They won’t worry about terrible public schools or Sacramento’s reflexive virtue signaling. Plus the high taxes will "keep out the less affluent."

Imagine Matt Damon’s prophetic Elysium minus the zoomy space station. Along the coast between San Diego and San Francisco, this odd duality is evolving as we watch.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Weird Arboreal Science

If you listen to the Sierra Club, you'd think we're deforesting the planet. Actually, the reverse is true, as Nature reports in a study done by scientists at University of Maryland, State University of New York, and NASA.
Here we analyse 35 years’ worth of satellite data and provide a comprehensive record of global land-change dynamics during the period 1982–2016. We show that—contrary to the prevailing view that forest area has declined globally5—tree cover has increased by 2.24 million km2 (+7.1% relative to the 1982 level). This overall net gain is the result of a net loss in the tropics being outweighed by a net gain in the extratropics.
This doesn't surprise me. The other DrC and I have driven across North America several times in each direction and paid attention to what was happening along our routes. We observed that in the region east of the Mississippi River, any farm field that is allowed to stand fallow for a few years begins to revert to forest. We saw many examples of this.

Before Europeans began cutting trees to create farmland, virtually the entire area east of the Mississippi was one continuous forest. It was then joked that a squirrel could traverse the entire distance from the east coast to Memphis without once setting foot on the ground. Absent human intervention the natural state of this region is forest.

It is also true that most of the land along the Russian water route from St. Petersburg to Moscow is forested and that distance is at least 500 miles. And although I've not seen it myself, vast Siberia is said to be heavily forested as well. Most of Finland is treed too, all of this is boreal forest and it's thriving.

Arson in Basra

The Washington Post reports the people of Basra in southern Iraq torched the local Iranian consulate and the offices of several Shiite militias believed to be controlled by Iran. Sharing the Shia branch of Islam with Iran doesn't seem to make southern Iraqi Arabs necessarily love Persians.

It's worth remembering that Iraq fought a long and bloody war with Iran's Persians while Saddam was the Iraqi leader. Thinking of adages like "the enemy of my enemy is (at least temporarily) my friend," I'm inclined to view anti-Iran unrest in southern Iraq, or wherever it happens, as good news.

Unlike President Obama, I don't see Persians as significantly better folk than Arabs. Another adage comes to mind: "a pox on both their houses."

When Satire Becomes Truth

The Babylon Bee is supposed to be a satirical website for Christians. Their headline for this story strikes me as direct, non-satirical political commentary. The story concerns Obama's recent speeches.
Man Who Intentionally Divided Nation For Eight Years Calls For Unity
Where is the satire? How is that characterization anything but 100% true? Hat tip to Ed Driscoll, guest blogging at Instapundit, for the link.

And the Plague Bell Tolls ...

One of the stories COTTonLINE has been following is the accusation made by Archbishop Vigano of Vatican coverups of sexual misconduct by Roman Catholic officials. The Associated Press comes forward with a long story which recaps the various pieces of the scandal.

The new information it adds to our knowledge is that, in a 2006 letter a Vatican official - then-Archbishop Leonardo Sandri - confirms the receipt of a letter from an American priest - Rev. Boniface Ramsay - detailing pederasty complaints against the now-resigned Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

This happened before McCarrick was promoted to Cardinal. It implicates Popes John Paul II and Benedict as knowing of and ignoring for several years McCarrick's predatory homosexuality.

As a non-Catholic I've no problem with sex between consenting adults who are not in a boss-subordinate relationship. Catholics, on the other hand, are supposed to have a problem with any sexual activity by priests or their superiors.

An archbishop preying on seminarians and junior priests is like a corporate VP hitting on very junior employees. What makes it "repellant" is the power differential between them, and the consequent favoritism and/or coercive aspects of a relationship if one either develops, or is refused. Hat tip to for the link and to Eric Burden & the Animals for my headline.

Bullseye on Forehead

I have scanned several articles related to the anonymous “deep state” anti-Trump column published by The New York Times. Whether the source is truly a Trump appointee, an Obama holdover, a high-level civil servant or a hack employed by the NYT is neither clear nor, in the context of the insight I’ve had, particularly important.

The (perhaps) intended consequence of this article is to paint a bullseye target on the forehead of every official who has urged caution on President Trump, or suggested his first impulse wasn’t necessarily his wisest choice. These are things we want presidential counselors able and willing to do, and this article has made doing so tantamount to an admission of guilt.

If the malign intent is to free Trump from restraint in the hope that his impulses will basically derail his presidency, it may succeed in that goal. We need to hope President Trump can distinguish between those who offer counsel (appropriate) and those who obstruct or stymie (inappropriate).

Within the law, an elected president decides and appointees carry out those decisions. It is both desirable and appropriate for them to suggest alternative approaches. It is not appropriate for minions to block lawful presidential decisions, however unwise they appear. It is also appropriate for a president to replace an appointee who too frequently presses alternatives, if it becomes clear that person and the president have truly different visions for the country.

A presidential appointee who receives a lawful presidential directive he/she cannot in good conscience carry out, for whatever reason, has only one honorable choice: resign while announcing publically the reason for that resignation. If many appointees do this, the public may conclude the President should not be reelected.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Murder Central

Michael Ramirez draws some of the very best conservative cartoons of the current era. Today features one of his pieces as their lead-off art.

Imagine a dark stage, a spotlight illuminates a singer clutching a microphone with skeletal hands. The singer is the hooded Grim Reaper, complete with bloody scythe. His voice balloon contains these words:
My kind of town, Chicago is ....
Most weekends the Reaper dude does serious business in Chi-town.

U.K. Update, Postscript

It is being reported Boris Johnson, former foreign secretary and Theresa May's rival for leadership of the Conservative Party in the U.K. about whom we wrote yesterday, has left his wife of 25 years. The political implications of this are unclear.

According to the Daily Mail, Johnson has an absolutely Kennedyesque reputation for womanizing. So does Donald Trump, with whom he has often been compared. Here's an interesting political insight which I share without endorsing the efficacy thereof:
Their split was announced as it was claimed the Brexit cheerleader is poised to make a bid to replace Theresa May as PM with sources calling it a 'damage limitation exercise' rather than a 'stitch up'.

One Tory MP claimed today the news was all a case of 'shovelling the s*** out of the way for the leadership bid'.
The couple's joint announcement of the split was entirely civilized, correct and lawyerly. Political impact in the current era of serial monogamy may be minimal.

When Good News Is Bad News

The August jobs report is out and according to CNBC the results continue very strong. Presuming no big downturns between now and early November, we’ll get a good test of the hypothesis that a booming economy means incumbents are reelected.

With a President who does unconventional things, as this one does, we are learning new things and overturning conventional wisdom concerning what works for the economy. Democrats are worried about the robust job market and booming economy, they’d like it to suck for several pre-election months.

The Diversity Dilemma

The College Fix reports this faux-amazed headline:
Ohio State employs 88 diversity-related staffers at a cost of $7.3M annually
So ... how else is OSU going to add sufficient numbers of persons of color and other “diverse” members to their employment roster? Headcount matters when keeping federal quota-checkers at bay.

Actually, if OSU gets that many for only $7.3M, which includes benefits costs, they’re getting a bargain. They probably lowball diversity-related staff salaries.

The problem isn’t so much recruiting diverse students, although that’s hard enough. The real problem is retaining them once they arrive. Dropout levels are scary-high for diverse students.

So many are underprepared and unused to applying themselves to study hard. And universities are unable to completely protect diverse students from slights or lack of acceptance by faculty and fellow students, aka “microaggressions.”

As the numbers of traditionally successful young people reaching college age continue to decline, filling their seats with traditionally less-successful young people is the alternative to retrenching or closing campuses. All three of these responses will occur, lowered standards of performance will be utilized-but-denied.

Sabato: GOP Keeps Senate Majority

Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics is reckoned one of the better political prognosticators, admittedly a maligned group with an indifferent track record. The Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard notes Sabato believes polling data tells him the GOP keeps control of the Senate, and maybe picks up a couple of seats.
That could help the party hold the line on a more conservative agenda should moderates like Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine continue their role as holdouts on some issues.
In particular, Sabato believes Ted Cruz hangs on in TX to defeat a strong challenge by Beto O’Rourke, if not by a huge margin.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

It's a Gimme

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said yesterday there'd be no trade deal without protection for Canada's "cultural industries." Those seem to be mostly publishing and broadcast. Some in the U.S. are incorrectly viewing this as a deal-breaker, in reality it's no such thing.

Trump is hated by most of the U.S. media and Hollywood, they say so at every opportunity. He disses them right back every time he holds a rally.

How excited will President Trump be to help out Hollywood and the legacy media located mostly in dark blue NY and CA? That's who would suffer from continued Canadian ownership of media up north. Trudeau has asked for what should be a "gimme," an easy concession for President Trump.

Given an opportunity to go to bat for the media, or let it slide, which do you think he'll choose? IMHO he'll let Trudeau have that one, thinking all the while "Screw them, I'm doing the Trump-hating U.S. media no favors." I do think he'll want a quid pro quo, something with red state jobs attached to it.

Guessing Anonymous' Identity

Joe Herring, writing at American Thinker, does an analysis of the anonymous White House "senior staffer" tell-all that appeared in The New York Times. His aim, suss out who that person might be.

The reasoning isn't bad, if you assume (as I do not) the anonymous author didn't intentionally obfuscate. Herring's conclusion:
I am of the opinion that this is likely an Obama holdover (of which there are still more than a hundred in the employ of the White House alone) writing as if he were in fact a disaffected member of the Trump inner circle when he is in truth a bitter refusenik still stinging from the rejection of November last.

I think I know why the NYT kept it anonymous. "Disgruntled Obama holdover" doesn't carry the same cachet as "anonymous senior member of the administration."
For sure all such holdovers will come under extreme scrutiny since 'anonymous' broke into print. It's not clear why Trump hasn't dumped them all; even corporate CEOs normally clean house when brought in from the outside.

If all this analysis does is prompt a denial from the NYT, that denial will provide another data point. Hat tip to for the link.

U.K. Update

Barring some unforeseen gaffe or scandal, look for Boris Johnson to oust Theresa May as leader of the Tory party and, conceivably end up as PM. Exactly when it will happen isn't clear as this is written.

The Daily Mail has an update on the various tugging and shovings associated with a party leadership change in Britain. The sooner it happens the better if, like me, you care about the health of the U.K.

May's 'duck' has been 'lame' ever since she foolishly called a snap election, thinking to increase her majority. She instead ended up the head of a party that, while large, has less than a majority of seats in parliament.

To continue as PM, May was forced into coalition with a small Northern Ireland Protestant party. Its idiosyncratic needs have vastly complicated her half-hearted Brexit negotiations which have gone nowhere.

Johnson, a somewhat Trump-like fellow, is more popular with Tories than May and an unabashed Brexit fan. Until he steps up, the U.K. will be wasting time it frankly doesn't have.

Meanwhile the shoe drops on March 29 of next year - the U.K. leaves the E.U. This happens regardless of who is PM and what has or hasn't been agreed to beforehand.


The only way to solve the land border issue between the U.K. and the EU's Irish Republic which (a) keeps an open border and (b) controls entry to the U.K., is to establish the border along the Irish Sea. This would require developing identity documents which permit Northern Ireland residents who are U.K. citizens free access to the U.K. while controlling entry of others. 

It would give EU residents free access to Northern Ireland but not to the rest of the U.K., and presumably Northern Ireland residents free access to the EU while other U.K. residents' EU access would be controlled. It might meet the needs of the Irish, North and South, but may not be palatable to the balance of the E.U.'s members. 

My guess is this semi-sensible solution will founder on the rocks of the U.K. not being willing to provide welfare benefits and NHS care for EU citizens resident in Northern Ireland. If the Irish Republic could get over being a Catholic country, the north might be willing to merge with the south, or maybe not.

Thursday Snark

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, cracking wise about the roots of “American dysfuncton” (scroll down).
Trump is the symptom, not the cause. He’s a big, fat “you suck!” aimed at the establishment, which has responded by . . . sucking even harder.
Of course they have. Trump is the most successful troll of this era.

His ability to serenely drive others crazy is unparalleled. The only question is the extent to which he does it intentionally, with secret relish, or whether it is an unintended consequence of his enacted larger-than-life persona?

Get Woke, Go Broke

Website Morning Consult reports results of a poll they completed after Nike announced the Colin Kaepernick choice as spox for their ad campaign. The results can most succinctly be summarized with the rhyming couplet: “Get woke, go broke.”
Nike’s Favorability Drops by Double Digits: Before the announcement, Nike had a net +69 favorable impression among consumers, it has now declined 34 points to +35 favorable.

No Boost Among Key Demos: Among younger generations, Nike users, African Americans, and other key demographics, Nike’s favorability declined rather than improved.

Purchasing Consideration Also Down: Before the announcement, 49 percent of Americans said they were absolutely certain or very likely to buy Nike products. That figure is down to 39 percent now.

Before Kaepernick was revealed as the face of Nike’s campaign, only two percent of Americans reported hearing something negative about Nike. After the launch, that jumped to 33 percent. As the negative buzz set in, consumer sentiment followed, with favorability and purchasing consideration dropping.
The Old Management Prof believes Nike “chose poorly,” with hat tip to the aged grail-guarding Templar in Indiana Jones III.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Disgusting Democrats

After watching Democrat Senators, and their supporters in the audience, make complete asses of themselves in the Brett Kavanaugh hearing, I find myself being pushed into concluding something awful-sounding. Namely, I’m not sure I’m willing to continue sharing my country with disturbed people who act like that and refuse psychiatric care.

It’s like they observed Donald Trump’s occasionally flamboyant behavior and replied “That’s nothing, hold my beer.” I’ll give them this much: they’ve succeeded in making Trump look civil, cultured and circumspect by comparison. Let’s guess that wasn’t what their fevered minds intended.

When a Boycott Is Impossible

I was chatting with friends yesterday about Nike inexplicably choosing Colin Kaepernick as their spox for the current ad season. While doing so I discovered a previously unremarked downside to the fact that, as far as I can remember, I’ve never purchased a single Nike product.

The downside is this - I cannot boycott Nike. Refusing (for ideological reasons) to buy their products going forward will exactly mirror my entirely non-ideological lack of custom in the past. Net impact on Nike: zero.

A boycott only “works” if it reflects a reduction in patronage. There is no conceivable way to reduce patronage below none. If I became irritated with New Balance, them I could boycott. Nike, on the other hand, I cannot.

I will have to be satisfied with the fact I’ve never spent a dime with Nike. I’ll try to think of it as a preemptive boycott, if self-delusion can stretch that far.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Sane Democrats Conspicuously Absent

If you were exposed to any part of the Kavanaugh hearing today, I think you'll enjoy the conclusion John Hinderaker draws from it for Power Line readers, shared here with you.
Not long ago, some Democrats resisted the crazier fringes of their party. No longer. There is no daylight among the violent fascist group Antifa, the crazed Democratic activists bleating about impeachment, and the establishment Democratic Party. They are now one and the same. So, disgusting as today’s hearing was, it at least achieved some clarity. There is no longer any wing of the Democratic Party that can be described as sane.

Kyl, Subbing for McCain

Several sources report Arizona's Republican governor will announce the appointment of former Sen. John Kyl to replace the late Sen. McCain. Before retiring, Republican Kyl won three Senate terms in AZ and is popular there.

Given his age and prior retirement, Kyl is unlikely to run for a full term in 2020. He is an uncontroversial choice and already has the endorsement of Sen. McCain's widow.

In retirement, Kyl has handled various ad hoc jobs for the Trump White House and is on relatively good terms with the President. He will be sworn in soon, in time to vote for the Kavanaugh nomination.

Confusing Cause and Effect ... Yet Again

It is interesting how often cause and effect get confused, usually because two things are shown more or less unequivocally to be correlated - when one exists, the other often is present as well. Here is an example in the Daily Mail (U.K.) which describes a study finding that a person's memories of PE class - good or bad - predict their activity level later in life.

Those with good memories are active, those with bad memories are less so. The study, published in a sports medicine journal, interprets these findings as showing that bad memories impede activity, which is certainly possible.

On the other hand, isn't it more likely that lack of childhood coordination and athletic ability led to poor performance which resulted in bad memories, and that this lack of athleticism, not the memories, led to lower activity levels in adults? I think people engage in things at which they have good-to-superior ability, and tend to avoid those at which they are not talented.

Full disclosure: I was one of those kids who didn't excel at athletics. Did I regard PE as a drag? You bet. Do I now avoid activity-for-its-own-sake as opposed to activity-to-get-a-needed-task-accomplished? Certainly.

On the other hand, I excelled at intellectual skills and to this day voluntarily engage therein without recompense. Hence this blog. It is Human Nature 101, not rocket science. Presuming we have strengths, we play to them and, to the extent possible, avoid showcasing our weaknesses.

Mud Wrestling on Capitol Hill

Since when did a Supreme Court nominee Senate hearing become a fraternity pledge hazing ritual? The catcalls, the yelling, the faux outrage, the (phony) threats of disapproval of this morning’s hearing for nominee Brett Kavanaugh have been beyond disgraceful.

Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff has been live-blogging the hearing and a quick read is all you need to get the flavor. If you were there you’d want to bash several someones in the face, with a large, heavy object.

It reads like a revolting spectacle, I haven’t the masochism to watch it on TV. The ‘world’s greatest deliberative body’ today more closely resembles mud wrestling.

Monday, September 3, 2018

A Little Shrinking Can Be Good

Politico quotes Ohio Governor John Kasich, nominally a Republican, as follows:
Unfortunately, our party is shrinking
I think we Republicans can afford to shrink by one more. A RINO like Kasich we don't need.

Kasich should become a very slightly conservative Democrat. He'd be happier and so would we, it's a win for everyone.

A Burial to Celebrate

David P. Goldman, writing for Asia Times, concludes of President Trump.
The hatred he elicits from the Establishment has nothing to do with style, or indeed, with any of his shortcomings: Trump is hated because the American people elected him to bury the Establishment. Last weekend the Establishment obliged by conducting burial services for itself.
Coming up in early November, the midterm election gives us an opportunity, with our votes, to help the President dig that grave. Since we like voting at home, the DrsC have applied for our absentee ballots. Have you?

Virtue Signalling at Nike

Agence France-Presse reports notorious kneeler Colin Kaepernick will be the face of Nike's new ad campaign with the slogan "Just Do It." I completely don't blame Kaepernick for taking their money.

Nike's choice, on the other hand, is hard to justify. Nike has picked a formerly well-paid guy who "just did it" and consequently lost his job. How is this an image Nike wants to be associated with?

I'd suppose a firm would pick as their spox someone who "just did it" and succeeded, in spite of general expectations he'd fail. "Be daring and win" would be the subtext you'd hope to project.

A subtext of "it's great to go down in flames if your cause is just" is the credo of a suicide bomber. It's not a good look for a corporation.


John Podhoretz, columnist for the New York Post, Tweeting nearly 2 years ago about the meaning of the 2016 presidential election. A whole book could (and probably "will") be written about the wisdom embodied in these 24 words.
Liberals spent 40 years disaggregating U.S., until finally the largest cohort in the country chose to vote as though it were an ethnic group.
I do love it when unintended consequences like these bite the initiator in a tender place. It feels like justice delayed, and thus even more richly deserved.

It’s Still Trump’s Country

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds links to a Politico article, which is referenced below, for the following choice quote (scroll down):
There are, after all, disparate realities—one inside the holy halls of the National Cathedral, where powerful people mourn the death of civility; and another in the surrounding city, where many of those same powerful people drive nails ever deeper into its coffin. And there is a greater juxtaposition still—this one between the virtue-signaling, convention-worshipping insiders of Washington and the mad-as-hell, burn-it-down voters in the provinces. This might not be Donald Trump’s town, but it’s still his country.
You have to read nearly to the end of a long article of Trump bashing to see the frank admission “it’s still his [Trump’s] country.” Do you have any faint inkling of how painfully this truth curdles their collective souls? Damn, it’s nearly as fine as the (classical reference alert) smell of napalm in the morning.

Life Imitates Art

Writing at the Weekly Standard, Eric Felten pens what he calls The Romanian Ruse, about an imagined Romanian hacker who was alleged to be responsible for some of the mischief done by GRU hackers at the behest of Russian leader Putin. This rings a bell.

I am an occasional reader of the Tom Clancy-originated Jack Ryan series of door-stop-size big sprawling novels now being continued by coauthor Mark Greaney. In one of these a Romanian hacker with evil “social engineering” talent is featured, and eventually brought down by Jack Jr. and his Campus deep-cover colleagues.

No way to prove it but I suspect this was the source of the idea for an imagined “Romanian villain.” Perhaps there’ve been enough such to make them “a thing.” Either that, or the Clancy-inspired series has fanboys in Russian intelligence.

Labor Day Thoughts

At CBS News, Michael Graham observes President Trump’s improved popularity numbers from a year ago, then asks and answers the question of why this is so. His answer mostly has to do with the President’s actions to improve employment opportunities for blue collar Americans.

You’ll remember President Obama told us those jobs were gone forever, we had to accept the new reality. By contrast, Candidate Trump said his different policies could bring those jobs back. President Trump proved Candidate Trump’s claims were correct and people rightly give him credit for their new jobs.

Increased employment in energy production and manufacturing has repatriated many tens of thousands of jobs. The economic multiplier effect of all those folks getting off the dole and onto payrolls employs many more.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the return of blue collar employment helped put a dent in the opioid dependency problem. Busy people who have a job to go to, and money they earned to spend, have far less time or reason to sit around feeling sorry for themselves while popping pills and far more reason to feel like contributing members of society, getting on with their lives.

Graham concludes by writing that probably, in the long run, Obama was right. However, as economist John Maynard Keynes famously said in rebuttal, “In the long run, we’re all dead.”

In the short to medium run relevant to people’s lives, President Trump was right. People give him credit for policies that brought their jobs, and their consequent feelings of self-worth, back.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Students Picking Practical Majors

Writing in The Atlantic, Benjamin Schmidt chronicles the decline in Humanities majors at colleges and universities across the nation. Unsurprisingly, students are taking the advice we, and others have given repeatedly, and are selecting majors which offer them a better chance of remunerative employment.

STEM is doing well as are Business (my field), nursing and computer science. Philosophy, English, History and Languages are on a downward path at most campuses.

One thing not mentioned in the article is that Humanities majors were used as pre-law choices. Law school enrollments are down dramatically in recent years.

I wouldn't want to be a Journalism major, for example, in this age of dying papers and magazines. Some of the changes affecting public K-12 education have made teaching a far less attractive career choice, too.

Later ... anything labeled "________ studies" is likely to be a complete washout employment-wise, too. Examples include Women's Studies, LGBTQ Studies, Black Studies, Hispanic Studies, Native American Studies, etc.

Try to imagine an employer thinking of a victim group studies major, "Wow, I want to hire that person, they'll be a neat colleague, a great team player." Hard to imagine, right? Instead you imagine that person filing grievances, organizing protests, suing, and experiencing slights where none are intended.