Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Travel Blogging VIII

At sea off the Philippines, next stop Guam: What follows are some additional thoughts about the Philippines, and Manila in particular.

In the States we read a lot about Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is described as an activist source of chaos. I was on the lookout for signs of an incipient cult of personality or other signs he was really dominating Philippine life. I saw none, not one.

Elsewhere I’ve seen “police states” with uniformed people holding weapons standing around being a “presence.” I saw none of that yesterday. I also saw no posters or billboards with his picture or words, no propaganda.

It appears our legacy media are once again overstating the perceived shortcomings of an ally. Duterte has been dealing rough justice to the perpetrators of a drug problem and civil libertarians are horrified. Drugs are a serious social problem he’s trying to solve ... good.

China, and Chinese living in the Philippines, have a major stake in the country’s economic life. This isn’t recent, they’ve been here nearly forever. Wealthy Chinese families are building enormous condominium complexes, thousands of units.

The Philippines is yet another country, like India and Singapore, where the darker one’s skin, the lower one’s status. As in India, the models photographed for billboards are noticeably lighter skinned than the man or woman on the street.

Very clearly racism is not a uniquely American problem. It is easy to condemn racism but it is nearly global in scope, a basic part of the human condition. Another of the human proclivities which one can regret and resist, without imagining it can be eliminated.

Give It a Try

President Trump has told an Axios interviewer he plans to revoke “birthright citizenship.” An originalist reading of the 14th Amendment might support such an act.

Lame-duck Speaker Paul Ryan has spoken against so doing. Given the electoral trouble of the House Republicans is largely his fault, he should be too ashamed to voice an opinion.

COTTonLINE writes to support ending birthright citizenship. It makes no sense that the child of a mother here illegally, or on a tourist visa, should get U.S. citizenship.

Few countries do this, why should we? Let’s make the term “anchor baby” inoperable in our republic.

Travel Blogging VII

Manila, the Philippines: If you saw The Bourne Legacy film, the one which did not star Matt Damon, you know part of the story was set in Manila. You saw reeking squatter slums and huge manufacturing plants.

Industrial/slum Manila does exist, no lie. You should not conclude the entire city of 16 million is like the squatter shacks you saw in the film. We visited for the first time today, Halloween Day, and we saw maybe 100 high rise apartment buildings and skyscrapers.

Another thing I’d not have predicted, English is everywhere. Yes, there is another official language - Tagalog - but in a country with over 100 languages, what they have in common is the colonial language - English. This is likewise true in India.

An English-only speaker could live in Manila very comfortably without learning more than a handful of Tagalog words. The signs are all in English, including street signs.

You’d need to train your ear to filter the sometimes heavy accent. English appears to be near-universal, though perhaps not so much in rural areas.

I could imagine an American expat living very comfortably in Manila, someone who likes city living. Urban is not my cup of tea, as longtime readers know.

Rural here might be too rustic for my taste. I like reliable electricity and running water clean enough to brush teeth with.

BTW, we dodged the worst of that typhoon, it went north of Manila. I saw zero damage today from the heavy rains they got from the fringes of the storm. We actually had very nice weather today, warm and muggy but not unpleasantly hot. Maybe we’ll have calmer seas headed east about 1000 miles to Guam.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Travel Blogging VI

At sea en route to Manila: Our captain is trying to dodge the worst aspects of super typhoon Yutu, which will soon hit the Philippines. So far, we’re still planning a stop in Manila but that could change if Yutu damages the port too much. If we bypass Manila a lot of Filipino crew will be disappointed.

We’re about 17 hours out of Phu My, the port for Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon), and already the water is not smooth. I’d judge we’re in for rough water for the next 24-36 hours. We’ve doubled our dosage of generic Bonine, the anti-motion sickness drug of choice.

Sidebar lecturette: Hurricane=typhoon=cyclone, they are all the same gigantic hundreds-of-miles-across spiral storms which form over warm ocean waters. Their name depends on where they happen. Hurricanes occur in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Typhoons happen in the Pacific, and cyclones wreak havoc in the Indian Ocean. They’re no fun wherever they make landfall.

Today’s Outrage

A rabid anti-Semite in Pittsburgh shot and killed 11 at a synagogue. The alleged shooter is said to hate President Trump.

The legacy media will blame Trump for his actions, saying if Trump wasn’t so hateful, the guy wouldn’t have acted. What they’re really saying is they too hate Trump and wish somebody would shoot him.

Given what’s known so far, the Pittsburgh shooter is yet another crazy “known wolf.” He should have long since been institutionalized.

We pay an awful price for leaving these human ‘time bombs’ on the loose. The next one may destroy you, or someone you love.

We are not able to ‘repair’ broken human minds, although we can ameliorate the symptoms. Thus we may end up warehousing most such individuals indefinitely. Doing so is expensive, but arguably worth the cost.

Saturday, October 27, 2018


The FBI has apparently caught the Florida bomber, and what was reported yesterday (and repeated here) - that the bombs were duds - is being denied today. And it appears he was in truth a political radical, albeit a less-than-competent bomb maker.

Trump is no more responsible for the bomb-maker’s behavior than Bernie Sanders was responsible for his supporter who shot Rep. Steve Scalise and tried to murder several other Republican members of the congressional baseball team.

It turns out the bomb-maker is another “known wolf” trouble-maker, with a non-trivial criminal record and very clear extreme views. Lots of people who should be in mental hospitals are instead wandering around loose causing trouble.

Friday, October 26, 2018

The ‘Bomb’ Plot

The big story from the States at the moment is a series of ‘bombs’ mailed to prominent Democrats, apparently from somewhere in Florida. The devices analyzed so far could not explode, call them “fake bombs.”

Legacy media are blaming it on the President’s criticism of the press and Democrats ... as you knew they would. I have another idea for a source.

Roughly half of supposed “hate crimes” on campus are hoaxes perpetrated by a member of the group seemingly targeted. They are attempts to generate sympathy for an otherwise lost-in-the-crowd minority group.

That makes me wonder if the supposed bomb plot isn’t a hoax meant to influence the election in favor of Democrats, a sympathy ploy. Before rushing to condemn, let’s be sure what we’re condemning.

The sender of dummy bombs has motives other than injuring others. What those motives are is now unclear, but the obvious intent is clearly suspect.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Travel Blogging V

Cai Lan - Halong Bay: This is our harbor for Hanoi, which is inland. I believe it was called Haiphong during the Vietnam War. The terrain hereabouts looks like Guilin, in China. The same odd mountains popping up from the surrounding land or sea.

Let me draw you a word picture, in case the Guilin reference drew a blank. Imagine you’re in a kids’ sandbox, with somewhat deep sand, say 10 inches.

Imagine taking several U.S. style footballs and screwing a pointed end of each straight down into the sand until perhaps just over half the football is above ground. Finally, imagine the sand is the terrain or sea, and the footballs sticking up are craggy mountains several hundred feet high.

That is what both Guilin and this region of Vietnam look like to me. You’ve seen this scenery in James Bond films set in the Orient, maybe Man with a Golden Gun. it is very unusual and dramatic. I expect the last time I saw it in a film was in the recent Laura Croft, Tomb Raider remake.

I took a quick scan of the various news outlets I check yesterday, trying to get a handle on election trends. If you’ve tried it you know you get really mixed messages. Drudge was pessimistic about GOP chances, RCP seemed slightly optimistic.

My conclusion: nobody is sure and everybody is writing about what they hope will happen. Trump has truly upended conventional political wisdom in so many ways. The last time this happened was during the reign of Ronaldus Magnus, aka President Reagan.

Travel Blogging IV

At sea en route to Vietnam: The DrsC have done many cruises, literally sailed the “seven seas.” We’ve cruised the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Indian Oceans. Doing so we’ve visited every continent, including Antarctica, and sailed both above the Arctic Circle and below the Antarctic Circle.

 We’ve reached the point where there aren’t many places left we want to visit. Yet we keep cruising, inevitably going back to places we’ve been before.

More often than in the past, we stay on board and let the other pax do the shore excursions. So ... why keep cruising?

I have an answer, maybe even a good one. If we spend a week or a month or more on a cruise ship, it is like being a guest at Downton Abbey for that period of time.

While aboard, we don’t lift a finger. Instead we have ship’s staff who take care of all our needs. They bring our room service breakfast, serve our supper in multiple courses, clean and restock our room, wash our clothes, provide entertainment, and keep us safe.

All we do is get up, get cleaned up, get dressed, and then relax and enjoy a day of leisure. As the other DrC says, it is a chance to play at being “upstairs’ while others take care of the “downstairs” chores.

Back in our normal lives, we are our own ‘staff.’ We do the shopping, cooking, cleaning, clothes washing, take out the trash, and the like. While cruising, all that is done by others. Maybe that’s reason enough to keep cruising.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Travel Blogging III

Hong Kong: The miracles of modern technology ... sitting here in port on the Kowloon side, we just watched President Trump doing his “rally” thing in Texas for Senator Cruz, and plugging essentially every Republican who showed up, by name and with gusto. Yep, Fox News coming in off the satellite loud and clear.

The Trump rally may end up being as famous as the Roosevelt radio “fireside chat” was 80 years ago. Watching it reminds me of nothing so much as a high school pep rally.

Media and Democrats, but I repeat myself, criticize what he says there as “lies.” It is likely some of his statements do stretch the truth a tad.

They’re pep rally exaggerations of the sort partisans have always engaged in. What’s more, everyone recognizes them as such.

The pep rally is a milieu in which overstatement has always been not merely acceptable but expected. That makes it a natural medium for Trump.

Meanwhile HK is having a muggy, overcast day and not putting its best foot forward. We’ve been here many times, done all the tours, and will probably limit our sightseeing to what we can see from our upper decks.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Travel Blogging II

Docked in Naha, Okinawa: We’ve been here before, did the battlefield and local color tours then, and are staying aboard this time. Honestly, we’re still a little jet lagged.

We’re only here just over a half day, we leave around 2:30 pm for Taiwan, which we reach tomorrow. We’ve done Taiwan repeatedly too, so probably another stay-aboard day or maybe a stroll ashore in Keelung, the port for Taipei.

We’ve done so many cruises there aren’t a lot of new places to see. Some old sights are worth seeing again, most not so much.

The only new country we get this trip is the Philippines. You would think we’d have seen it while nearby on Guam in the mid-80s, and we did plan to do so. However the Philippines were experiencing unrest while we were on Guam so we didn’t go.

It was when Ferdinand Marcos was driven out. He and his entourage, plus Imelda, fled to the U.S. via Andersen AFB on Guam while we were there.

Spending the State Department’s money, they just about cleaned out the Andersen PX. The Marcos crowd acted like kids turned loose in a candy store. You should have heard the howls of outrage.

Travel Blogging I

At sea between Shanghai and Okinawa: The DrsC did one of those ‘forever’ flights yesterday - 13 hours from L.A. to Shanghai. We came to board the M.S. Coral Princess for a 32 day cruise back to Los Angeles.

We thought this was a so-called “repositioning cruise” where the ship line is moving the ship from one region to another to get ready for a cruising season there. We were wrong.

Instead, this cruise is part of a ‘circumnavigation’ of the Pacific. It left from LA and went north to Alaska, along the Aleutian Is. and down to Japan and Korea and ends in Shanghai. That was the first half.

Now we’re doing the second half. It visits Okinawa, Hong Kong, Vietnam, the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii, and back to LA.

Some random thoughts....
Did you ever notice how various smells evoke memories? It isn’t just folklore, BTW, it been shown to work. We got into an elevator in Shanghai, smelled mildew, and said to each other, “Yep, that smells like the Orient. It brings back memories of living, traveling here.”

People in this part of the world make interesting wardrobe decisions that you’d rarely see in the West. I noticed a young woman wearing a nice short dress, who had nice legs, and was wearing athletic shoes and sweat sox with the ensemble. OITO, only in the Orient.

This part of the ocean features oil drilling rigs, we’ve passed several today. Must be relatively shallow seas, what the Navy calls littoral waters. Shipping is somewhat common too, these are busy sea-lanes.

The movie selection didn’t impress much on our flight, so I binge-watched the entire 10 episode first season of Game of Thrones. An amazing amount of nudity and on-camera AC/DC sex happening ... and the airline didn’t delete it. Lots of gore, too.

Almost all cruise ships have the buffet as the top rear enclosed deck; “almost all” but not this one. Here the buffet is top enclosed deck forward. Why? Who knows? It’s an outlier.

There are things various cruise lines do well, or poorly. Now we’re noticing the contrasts between Princess and Holland America. Holland does better libraries, ice cream, and room service breakfast. Princess does better on entertainment and ship decor. We’ll notice other contrasts as the days go by.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Our Wealthy 'Blue Collar' President

Salena Zito has become one of the few reporters covering President Trump who appears to understand him. Writing now for the Washington Examiner, she describes an interview she had with him in Erie, PA, before a rally there. I find these two paragraphs particularly revealing.
Two years and a handful of days earlier, I interviewed then-candidate Trump in Pittsburgh ahead of a natural gas convention where he was the keynote speaker. It was at a time when most pollsters and pundits showed him unable to close the deal with voters to beat Hillary Clinton.

His demeanor that day isn’t much different than it was last Wednesday. He appears to be still more comfortable chatting or sharing jokes with the service workers and police officers backstage than he is with the elite he grew up with.
I understand this observation, through the lens of my own experience. Trump has built a number of huge projects. Doing so, he has walked the sites, talking to the building tradespeople there. On a smaller scale I've had that same experience, the DrsC have built three houses and a major barn. In every case I've spent days on-site, chatting up the workmen.

Construction workers - almost all are men - are real people. They deal with real things all day long, physical things going right or wrong, shortages, weather contingencies, you name it. Their skilled work is an amazingly grounding experience, there aren't many phonies among them.

Compared to people who "care how things seem to others," these are very solid citizens. We have literally made family friends of our electrician, our plumber, our gardener and our pest control guy.

I totally understand how Trump would rather talk to a cop, a driver, a rigger, or a plumber than to a politician, an economist, a professor or a reporter. So would I, you get a ton less b.s. and less virtue-signaling from real people who have real jobs.

The Concern

Ed Driscoll, who regularly guest-blogs at Instapundit, puts his finger exactly on Elizabeth Warren's concern about her supposed Native American ancestry.
It’s easy to imagine some future presidential debate stage, and Kamala Harris, or Cory Booker, or Deval Patrick turning to Warren and asking, "Did you really think you deserved to be called a ‘woman of color’ in American society?"
A Republican debater might say "I did it to make fun of affirmative action" and get a big laugh. It's an approach that won't wash among Democrats.

Spengler: A National Suicide

David P. Goldman, aka ‘Spengler,’ is a contrarian’s contrarian. His latest PJ Media column looks at recent state elections in Bavaria and concludes the results are a symptom of ... wait for it ... national suicide. He writes:
After staging a high-profile fight over immigration against Chancellor Merkel, the Bavarian Christian Social Union got crushed in Sunday's state elections. It got 37% of the vote, the lowest in his history. The biggest winner wasn't the Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), the right-wing populist party, but the ultra-left Greens, who won 17% of the vote vs. 10% for AfD. The Greens are now the second biggest party, surpassing the Social Democrats. The Greens are also the most pro-immigration party in Germany.

Just because we don't like national suicide, we assume that other people don't like it. The triumph of the Green Party in the Bavarian elections suggests that suicide is a popular option in Germany.

Civilizations choose to die when they realize that they have past their used-by dates. Our European cousins are resigned to their demise, like the Norse gods in Valhalla at the end of Wagner's Ring Cycle, waiting for the end. We can't change their minds about this. The best we can do is to manage the consequences of their decline in a way that harms us the least.
Maybe losing two world wars was enough disconfirmation of German nationalism to make national suicide thinkable. It doesn’t explain why the slomo process has taken nearly seventy years to become obvious.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Warren - No More Indian than Most

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a native of OK, claims she is some significant amount of Native American. Challenged to prove it, she had a DNA test run which shows she had a Native American ancestor some 6-10 generations back. Ho-effing-hum.

It turns out most Americans have roughly that much 'Indian' heritage, give or take. Which is fine except Warren claimed to have "significant" Native heritage, and she doesn't.

The Cherokees, which she claimed, say they don't recognize her claim. Translating their comments from the diplomatic language they obviously felt constrained to use, the subtext of their remarks was a strongly implied wish she'd stop talking about it and leave them alone.

Presumably, Warren is getting the story out of the way early, so when it is brought up during her run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, she can shrug it off as "old news." I don't think the fact that she dishonestly claimed 'minority status' can be disposed of as easily as that.

The Genetic Straw Man

As regular readers know, I tend to like the work of Andres Oppenheimer who writes about Latin America for the Miami Herald. Today's column is a partial exception to that generality.

In it he writes how countries which emphasize education are doing better than those which do not. As you might surmise, I have no quibble with that view.

Oppenheimer then takes it a step further, and that's where we part company. He writes:
It’s no coincidence that the countries with the highest education standards are becoming richer. And vice versa — those without quality education are losing economic ground.

The good news is that no nation is genetically doomed to be poor. As the new World Bank rankings show, there are no “shithole” countries.” Nations that are serious about improving their education standards, like Singapore, can turn from basket cases into star economies in amazingly little time.
He just couldn't resist taking an indirect swipe at Trump, could he? And that's where he goes wrong, for Trump was correct. The issue of genetics is an entirely phony straw man, Trump made no such claim.

Countries, like much of Latin America and Africa, which place relatively less emphasis on educational excellence are "shithole countries." It is the content of their cultures, not their gene pools, which dooms countries to be losers.

Some cultures simply "work better" than others given a particular payoff matrix - today's payoff matrix rewards obsessive educational achievement. The three Asian countries Oppenheimer identifies as winners share that obsession, Trump's "shithole countries" do not.

For reasons that are unclear, it is PC to view all cultures as equally "valid," when it is obvious they are not. Different cultural norms lead to different outcomes, some positive, some negative. Admitting this is true looks to the 'PC police' like blaming victims, a big no-no in their eyes.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

About Khashoggi

If you follow the news you have heard about the supposed abduction and murder of 'journalist' Jamal Khashoggi. Even President Trump has commented unfavorably on his disappearance.

New information coming out of Germany via Die Welt seems to indicate that while Khashoggi was currently writing for The Washington Post, his longer term career path involved both Saudi intelligence and the Muslim Brotherhood which opposes the Saudi royal family.

David Goldman, who channels Spengler for PJ Media, has an English translation of the German original, if you'd like to see it. Goldman's view is that Khashoggi was playing a dangerous game for and against people who play for keeps. This in a region where human life is mostly valuable only to the self, and perhaps to a few close relatives.

The Saudi royals very likely view the Iranians and the Muslim Brotherhood as equally dangerous to their continued rule. Iran being the external threat and the Muslim Brotherhood the internal one.

If Khashoggi was (a) once a Saudi spook as alleged, who (b) nevertheless came to favor the Brotherhood and was (c) ill-advised enough to share that favorable view, his death under mysterious circumstances should be taken as inevitable.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Trump Derangement Syndrome Strikes Again

In the process of lauding Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, President Trump praised Confederate General Robert E. Lee, saying Lincoln needed a Grant to beat him. Many have criticized this praise, and claimed it is racist.

Nonsense. A general who can win battles - many actually - with inferior forces is a very good general indeed, regardless of which side he works for. Robert E. Lee was demonstrably a good general, as was Hitler's Erwin Rommel, aka "the Desert Fox." Neither worked for a side that ultimately won, which doesn't matter, they were skilled tacticians.

The fact a skilled general works for the other side is something you can realistically be sorry about, can regret, but it takes nothing from his ability to direct battles. To use a sports analogy, you can admire the skill of a quarterback, or running back, even if he plays for the opponent's team.

Quote of the Day

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, cracking wise about claims of the U.S. being "in crisis."
America is not in crisis. Leftists are in meltdown because they're out of power, and they're calling that a crisis.
To be fair, it truly is a crisis for leftists. When they think of all those 'victims' whose causes they've sworn to advance at our expense, it must be heartbreaking.

Leftists' lack of power is, of course, no crisis for the country. "The country" means me, you, and the rest of the "normals." It also includes at least half of those leftists try to paint as victims but who are thriving in today's booming economy.

Saturday Snickers

It being Saturday, once again Steve Hayward of Power Line has brought forth his weekly collection of  cartoons, captioned photos, and generalized snarky nonsense for our enjoyment. Here are some favorites described:

A Photo-shopped™ photo of Sen. Grassley and Judge Kavanaugh showing up for the latter’s confirmation, Kavanaugh carrying a keg of Budweiser.

Photo of a grinning Sen. Lindsey Graham adjusting his tie, while in the background a bezerker women protestor screams, captioned in the words of Conan the Barbarian:
What is best in life?
To crush your enemies, see them driven before you,
and to hear the lamentations of their women.
Photo of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, being sworn in to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, captioned:
Do your swear to tell your truth, your whole truth,
and nothing but your truth?
A pie chart divided into different colored quarters, captioned:
How Republicans deny people the right to vote:
  • Require citizenship
  • Require I.D.
  • Must not vote more than once
  • Must be alive
Photo of the candidate, captioned:
Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she doesn’t like the Electoral College,
... and would never send her kids there.
Cartoon of kids trick-or-treating, two leaving with candy, a third costumed as Hillary continuing to face the householders. The householder speaks:
The girl dressed as Hillary is refusing to go away.
His wife responds:
Nice touch.
Photo of a sign for The Sextant Bar and Galley, with the movable letters arranged to say:
Disappointing people who think we’re a strip club for 45 years
Photo of venus fly traps, captioned:
Dear Vegans...
Even plants think you’re wrong.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Editorial Note

On Monday I passed along a heads up about something weighty that was supposed to happen this week at the DOJ, per Sean Hannity and Gateway Pundit. Here it is early Saturday morning in Washington, DC, and it hasn't happened yet.

I predict they won't bother to note the failure to launch, we will. As we wrote then, "a wait-and-see attitude is recommended to COTTonLINE readers." It turns out that was good advice.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Oh, (Poor) Canada

Writing at PJ Media, Canadian David Solway takes a jaundiced view of his homeland, and concludes there truly is no there there. Ya gotta love his title:
The Canadian Mind: A Culture So Open its 'Brains Fall Out'
He writes he would vote for a Trump-like candidate, except his bland, leftist country would never nominate, much less elect, a PM with that much pizzazz. If you have warm feelings for Canada while recognizing its milquetoast self-concept, you'll enjoy Solway's column.

The Kavanaugh Effect

The conventional wisdom about midterm elections is that the party whose candidate lost the last presidential election gains seats in the House of Representatives, and perhaps the Senate too. Seemingly, all Democrats had to do was behave themselves, point to places where the Republicans dropped the ball, and they'd win extra House seats for sure, maybe even a majority.

This, it turned out, they were unable to do. Democrats tripped over the "behave themselves" part of that Rx, and went nuts over Judge (now Justice) Kavanaugh. Some small fraction of 1% acted up, screamed, cried, got arrested, and clawed at the Supreme Court doors. Meanwhile their senators on the committee acted crude, rude and sneaky. Given the 24/7 news cycle, cameras were there and the country watched the melt-down.

Now from all sides we hear of the "Kavanaugh Effect" as polls show opinion trending toward the GOP. Who knew the rest of us wouldn't find the spectacle of feminist protest and senatorial melt-down edifying and encouraging? Some Democrats - who could have won - will lose because of their supporters’ on-camera, self-defeating behavior.

The temptation to look about for a hoisting petard is very nearly insurmountable.

The COTTonLINE Endorsement

Vote NO on coercive, angry mob rule politicians. Their policies are a shortcut to Venezuela-like poverty.

Vote YES for mainstream policies, and politicians. They have given us today our strongest economy in 50 years.

Wisdom from my decades as a Management prof:
Companies stick with leaders whose guidance produces growth and profit. They replace those under whose leadership things turn sour.

Countries, I believe, should do the same. The U.S. is doing well. Stick with our current group of winners.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Most Americans Reject Political Correctness

Writing in The Atlantic, Yascha Mounk reports survey research, using an unusually large sample of 8000, which found some 80% of respondents believe political correctness is a problem for this society.
Progressive activists are the only group that strongly backs political correctness: Only 30 percent see it as a problem. So what does this group look like? Compared with the rest of the (nationally representative) polling sample, progressive activists are much more likely to be rich, highly educated—and white. They are nearly twice as likely as the average to make more than $100,000 a year. They are nearly three times as likely to have a postgraduate degree.

While 12 percent of the overall sample in the study is African American, only 3 percent of progressive activists are. With the exception of the small tribe of devoted conservatives, progressive activists are the most racially homogeneous group in the country.
Author Mounk self-identifies as a member of the “progressive activist” group and was clearly surprised to learn to what extent that make him a minority. Hillary too seriously underestimated how many of us are "deplorable;" it turns out four people out of five reside in that category. Oops. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

A Dim View of Mob Rule

Hillary Clinton claims Democrats cannot be civil with Republicans until Democrats once again run everything in Washington, DC. Mad Maxine Waters urges Democrats to get in Republican's faces. Eric Holder advocates kicking Republicans when they're down. Other visible Democrats have voiced similar intemperate sentiments. And the crazies of Antifa barricade streets in Portland, harassing drivers and damaging property.

Democrats haven't done a lot of winning lately and it's making them irrational. Mob behavior and (at least the threat of) violence seem to be the order of the day for our former friends on the left. We saw quite a bit of that in the halls of Congress recently during the Kavanaugh hearings, with many arrested.

None of this is a reason to vote for Democrat candidates, whereas it can reasonably be viewed as a reason to vote against them. Do you recollect Republicans doing any of this during the Obama sweep of 2008? I sure don't, and I was paying attention, too.

American politics, properly pursued, is not a contact sport. Beating on people and screaming at them are prima facie reasons to oppose whoever is doing that hateful behavior, to vote against their chosen candidates.

#MeToo Also Has a Downside

David Bernstein, guest blogging at Instapundit, writes something I’ve been thinking - the #MeToo movement will set back women’s careers in business. Bernstein links to an article at the Society for Human Resources website, and adds:
Me too excesses make male executives less likely to invite female colleagues on trips, to evening networking events or into their inner circles. People respond to incentives. If Me Too means that a man’s career and reputation can be ruined by an unfounded allegation of sexual harassment this creates obvious incentives for male supervisors to never be alone with female subordinates.
The reality is executives have to make decisions which disappoint ambitious subordinates. Virtually every promotion leaves an unhappy someone thinking “It should have been me” and possibly seeing, or imagining, sex-based reasons for their disappointment.

As a faculty member for 30 years, my office door was never closed when a student of either gender was in my office. I know this openness made some students uncomfortable, but it was unavoidable.

Vice President Mike Pence starts to look like the smartest guy in town. If his “never alone with a woman other than my wife” policy becomes the standard way to go, women’s careers will unavoidably suffer.

However, let’s be clear. Nothing written above in any way excuses or makes light of sexual predators of any gender.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A Smoking Gun

The FBI and DOJ have alleged the redaction of materials in documents they've provided to Congressional committees relevant to the supposed Russian involvement in the 2016 election was done to protect the secrecy of counterintelligence "methods and sources." Republicans have long claimed much of this was done instead to protect out-of-line members of the FBI and DOJ from embarrassment, or criminal prosecution.

Power Line links to a story by John Solomon of The Hill, who reports there is now evidence to support the Republican contention of a dishonest coverup.
Consider Footnote 43 on Page 57 of Chapter 3 of the House Intelligence Committee’s report earlier this year on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Until this past week, the footnote really had garnered no public intrigue, in part because the U.S. intelligence community blacked out the vast majority of its verbiage in the name of national security before the report was made public.

From the heavy redactions, all one could tell is that FBI general counsel James Baker met with an unnamed person who provided some information in September 2016 about Russia, email hacking and a possible link to the Trump campaign.

Last Wednesday, I broke the story that Baker admitted to Congress in an unclassified setting — repeat, in an unclassified setting — that he had met with a top lawyer at the firm representing the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and received allegations from that lawyer about Russia, Trump and possible hacking.

The FBI and the DOJ would have Americans believe that a contact with a lawyer for a political party during the middle of the election is somehow a matter of national security that should be hidden from the public.

We can now say with some authority that the earlier redaction in Footnote 43 was done in the name of a national security concern that did not exist. (emphasis added)

The FBI allowed itself to take political opposition research created by one party to defeat another in an election, treated it like actionable intelligence, presented it to the court as substantiated, and then used it to justify spying on an adviser for the campaign of that party's duly chosen nominee for president in the final days of a presidential election.

When, nine months later, the FBI could not prove the allegation of collusion between Trump and Russia, unverified evidence was leaked to the media to try to sustain public support for a continued investigation.

That means the redaction of Footnote 43 had more to do with political embarrassment than with national security.
Neither FBI nor DOJ, as an organization, had a stake in the outcome of the 2016 election. Individual members of either may have had such a stake, but if so the stake was personal, not governmental.

Some number of government officials stand in need of prosecution for misusing government resources for personal ends, thus politicizing their agencies ... a felony.

Brazil Votes

We haven't written about Brazil's recent presidential election, where a legislator often dubbed "the Trump of the South" atypically came within a few points of an outright win on the first ballot. Jair Bolsonaro is a populist and a rightist, and he emphasizes the fight against crime.

The Miami Herald, our best source for Latin American news, quotes the following Bolsonaro Tweet:
Reduce the number of ministries, get rid of and privatize state companies, fight fraud in (a popular social welfare program for low-income families) ... decentralize power giving more economic force to the states and municipalities.
They characterize Bolsonaro's diagnosis of Brazil's problems in this fashion.
Bolsonaro often uses crime as a lens through which to sketch out a broad indictment of the left: What he calls its coddling policies toward the poor, marginalized and criminal and its push to protect the rights of minorities at what he says is the expense of the majority.
A voice for the silent majority, when have we heard that concept before? Just about any time the majority feels their interests are being slighted, is when. The Herald doesn't like Bolsonaro, but he sounds good to our ears, and apparently to Brazil's too.

Nikki Haley Resigns

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has announced she will resign that post effective at the end of the year, multiple sources report. This is sad, Haley has been the best U.N. spokesperson we’ve had in my memory, which very nearly spans the United Nations’ entire history.

President Trump needs to appoint another bomb-thrower to fill the post. Someone like Haley who will announce at regular intervals that the emperor is naked, that the U.N. is a corrupt mess, and will keep cutting our contributions thereto. It is decades past the point where the need for this corrective was obvious.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Heads Up

Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit reports a Fox News/Sean Hannity prediction there will be big-time breaking news about a top Department of Justice official this week. I'll wager that 'official' won't like it one bit.

Hoft keeps his ear to the ground, but does sometimes traffic in conspiracy theory. And Hannity isn't above hyping a story to build suspense. So a wait-and-see attitude is recommended to COTTonLINE readers. Hat tip to for the link.

White Liberalism's Problem

Ed Driscoll, guest blogging at Instapundit, cites an article by Daniel McCarthy appearing in Spectator USA (scroll down). Looking at the absence of Democrats of color at the Kavanaugh protests in Washington, DC, McCarthy opines.
Where were the black Democrats? Where were the non-yuppies? Hillary Clinton could have asked the same questions on November 9, 2016, after she failed to get them to show up for her the way they’d showed up for Barack Obama. That election, like the Kavanaugh protest, showed that white liberalism has a problem: it’s too liberal for a majority of whites, yet too distant from the concerns of most non-whites.
That sounds like a description of a furious out-of-touch elite. Democrats have become a party of those who perceive themselves marginalized, but the truly marginalized aren't buying the claimed kinship of white yuppies.

I predicted some years ago the Democrats will not again nominate a white individual for president. How else to replicate the Obama electoral magic? A Biden, Warren or Bloomberg can't reassemble the Obama coalition, Hillary proved this the hard way.

Columbus Day

The traditional Columbus Day, the anniversary of the date Columbus first set foot in the Western Hemisphere, is Oct. 12. It is now celebrated as a Federal holiday on the second Monday in October, which makes it today, Oct. 8, this year.

Those who hate western civilization and its effects no longer celebrate Columbus Day. They cite the horrible things which happened to the indigenous populations, aka “Indian tribes.”

Others who admire western civilization and its manifold accomplishments continue to recognize the contribution of that enterprising Genoese gentleman, and his royal Spanish employers. We nevertheless recognize it came at a substantial human cost to all involved, including to the indigenous peoples.

Needless to say, COTTonLINE falls in this latter category. We honor Columbus and the spread of what is now called “western” civilization, but might more rightly be called English colonial culture, to North America and parts of the Caribbean. The world is a better place because it happened.

The Spanish/Portuguese colonial legacy in Central and South America is a more mixed blessing. It is charming and graceful to be sure, but too often violent, corrupt and caudillo-spawning for our taste.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Kavanaugh's Impact on SCOTUS

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, in addition to being a noted blogger, is a law school prof who writes a weekly column for USA Today. Reynolds takes up the Kavanaugh impact in this week's column.

I believe you'll find his analysis interesting, and perhaps reassuring too. Or maybe not, if you've hoped for a tsunami of very conservative decisions.

For example, Reynolds doesn't foresee an overturn of Roe v. Wade, the abortion-is-a-right decision. Actually, if you compare what Reynolds writes with what I predicted back on Sept. 27, you'll not see many differences; here is my prediction:
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.
What probably has gone is the infrequent Kennedy do-si-do to the left, on which Democrats counted for an occasional win on social issues.

Quote of the Day

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, Tweeting on a Trump characteristic:
Trump’s greatest gift is getting various institutions to make clear in obvious ways that they’re as corrupt as he says they are.
Trump is the uber-troll: he’s gotten the press to self-destruct, the Democrats to go hard-left, feminists to throw a tantrum, and the NFL to melt down. I wonder who’s next? He truly is Scott Adams’ “master persuader.”

Dream Ticket

Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Grievance Studies, Exposed

Have you read about the three professors who wrote fake ‘research’ papers, including a paraphrase of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, and got them accepted in journals specializing in “grievance studies” of various sorts? See Power Line’s Scott Johnson writing to add to this heaping of scorn.

Some of the discussion has focused on the quiet disdain with which such bogus areas are viewed by real academics. We’re talking about fields like Black Studies, Chicano Studies, Women’s Studies, Indigenous Studies, LGBTQ Studies, for all I know, maybe Albino Studies or Pedophile Studies. Somewhere someone is contemplating the founding of a Journal of Self-Mutilation Studies.

These have been ways for universities to hire members of the designated victim groups to study, and give classes in omphaloskepsis, basically self study. The rationale has been the subcultures in question have supposedly been “beneath” the focus of standard academic disciplines.

Meanwhile, members of the ‘real’ disciplines view these upstarts as the academic equivalent of fig leaves. As ways for the institution to camoflage its lack of interest in victim groups.

No “real” academic expects grievance study ‘scholarship’ to be genuine, nobody is surprised they only pantomime academic rigor. These units are Potemkin Villages whose appearance, or even existence, is what counts.

The institutional cynicism is monumental, the grievance studies faculty are aware of how they’re viewed, and that awareness only makes them more radical, more angry.

Modern Aging in South Korea

I’ve seen the future, and it isn’t pretty. Check out an article in The Telegraph (U.K.) about the plight of elderly in South Korea. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

The birthrate in South Korea has crashed, the pension levels are barely enough to live on, and Confucian norms of taking care of the elderly have broken down. Suicides among the elderly are up, and many are living in hovels.

Actually, I’m not sure you couldn’t find similar pockets of elderly poor here, although probably not as well-organized as there where they’ve seemed to congregate in one run-down neighborhood.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Kavanaugh Temperament

The Senate has confirmed Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by a mostly party-line vote of 50-48. If you're wondering where the two missing Senators were, one who supported Judge K was at his daughter's wedding back home. One who opposed Judge K agreed to vote "present" so the bride's father wouldn't have to leave the reception and fly back to DC just to vote. Had both voted, the numbers would have been 51-49, the outcome exactly the same.

I'd like to comment on the Judge's emotional demeanor when he blew up at the Democrats who were harassing him. People, including a former Justice, claim to have found his demeanor disqualifying.

I beg to differ. The man who blew up at his patently unfair treatment - basically character assassination - was not there serving as a judge, he was the defendant for all intents and purposes.

Defendants are not expected to be calm, serene arbiters of right and wrong. Judges who find themselves somehow personally involved in a trial before them are duty-bound to recuse themselves.

It is entirely unreasonable to expect Kavanaugh, while personally under attack, to exhibit a judicial even temperament. It is something we never ask a judge to do.

Kavanaugh reacted exactly as Justice Thomas did when he was attacked during confirmation hearings, Thomas called it "a lynching." Kavanaugh's condemnation of the process was qualitatively similar, if different in detail.

Trump’s Taxes

People are writing about the President’s leaked tax returns, about the ‘creative’ methods used to avoid taxes. Is there a smoking gun there? Maybe, maybe not. Probably not.

For all that Lois Lerner and a politicized arm of the Internal Revenue Service discriminated against conservative organzations seeking tax-exempt status, most of the IRS is straight and does its job. They have people (including my uncle) who spend every working hour looking for tax cheats; they obviously focus on the big accounts, taxpayers who have large incomes.

The wealthy likewise have trained professionals looking for arguably legal ways to avoid paying taxes on what they earn. Once in awhile a tax court says one of these goes too far, but the more professional among them get caught out darned seldom.

So did the Trumps, father and son, utilize ‘creative’ tax dodges? I think you can be positive they did, and do. Are these likely to be legal, if convoluted? Equally, the answer is likely to be “yes.”

When you earn a lot of money, part of the fun is figuring out how to share as little of it as possible with the government ... legally. This pursuit is what keeps high-priced CPAs in business, what makes their boat payments, pays their country club dues. The CPAs make plenty and they earn every penny.

The foo-foraw about Trump’s taxes is likely to turn out to be much ado about very little. Are there dodges available only to the very wealthy? Certainly. The rich have spent hundreds of thousands lobbying to get these loopholes enacted, you haven’t.

Is it fair? Life isn’t fair. Get over it or get mobilized and change it ... if that is the hill you’ve chosen to die on. Most of us have a life to live, and shrug off the unevenness of good fortune, taking advantage of whatever lucky breaks come our way.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Golden Showers

Gizmodo has an article on animals feasting on human urine for its mineral value, largely salt. I don't find that particularly unusual, especially for herbivores which have difficulty in meeting salt needs.

What the article completely omits is animals taking advantage of the salt that is spread on icy roads and ends up soaking into the shoulders of many cold country highways. In WY I've seen mountain goats using the roadside as a salt lick, as recently as this past spring. It turns out our pee isn't the only way we salt down the countryside.

Unemployment Lowest in 49 Years

USA Today reports some very good news, courtesy of the U.S. Labor Department.
The unemployment rate fell from 3.9 to 3.7 percent, lowest since December 1969, the Labor Department said Friday.

Economists had estimated 185,000 new jobs were created last month, according to a Bloomberg survey.
Meanwhile, Rasmussen Reports' Daily Presidential Tracking Poll has President Trump at 51% approve, 48% disapprove.
This is Trump’s highest Presidential Approval Index rating since early March of last year, shortly after he first took office.By comparison, Barack Obama earned a presidential approval index rating of -11 on October 5, 2010, in the second year of his presidency.
The lowest unemployment in nearly a half century! Tell me that isn't a WOW!

Trump rightly gets much of the credit. Feckless Obama looks pathetic trying to claim it for himself.

One Hurdle Cleared

It appears the cloture vote to cut off debate on Judge Kavanaugh has passed. Tomorrow the entire Senate will vote the nomination up or down. Current readings of the “tea leaves” suggests it will then pass, narrowly.

What an absolute circus it has been. Committee Chair Grassley has been stalwart throughout, when all those around him were going bonkers and acting foolish. He deserves great credit, a man without charisma doing his job with a minimum of drama.

The election in just over a month will be almost an anticlimax.

Kavanaugh Update

As I understand it, a Senate procedural vote on cloture will take place later today - Friday; the key will be getting a majority to cut off debate on the Kavanaugh nomination. At least 30 hours later, a vote on the actual nomination will occur, supposedly on Saturday.

The right has a lot invested in the Kavanaugh candidacy. I hope Justice K doesn't turn out to be a squish, once he's confirmed. Historically, that has been a real danger for supposed conservative justices.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Kavanaugh Effect

Nobody sane has ever accused National Public Radio, aka NPR, of favoring Republicans. Or of the lesser charge of being even-handed for that matter. Their well-known progressive bias makes this story even more poignant.

The article reports results of a recent NPR, PBS News Hour/Marist poll, summarized as follows:
Just over a month away from critical elections across the country, the wide Democratic enthusiasm advantage that has defined the 2018 campaign up to this point has disappeared.

In July, there was a 10-point gap between the number of Democrats and Republicans saying the November elections were "very important." Now, that is down to 2 points, a statistical tie.

With Democrats already fired up for this election, the Kavanaugh confirmation fight has apparently had the effect of rousing a dormant GOP base.

"The result of hearings, at least in the short run, is the Republican base was awakened," noted Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll.
This is good news for, as my father - a lifelong Southern Democrat - said in frustration all those decades ago, "Those darn Republicans all go vote." I like to think he'd have become a Reagan Democrat had he lived that long. Most Southern Democrats became Republicans about then and never looked back.

Later ... people have written that the accusations against Kavanaugh will motivate women to vote Democratic. Don't you think most such women were already motivated to vote against Trump, before anyone had heard of Kavanaugh?

I believe you cannot further motivate someone already fully committed to voting a particular way. The real difference will be to motivate pro-Trump women, and men, to vote to frustrate Feinstein, Booker, Blumenthal, Harris and the super-sleaze twins Schumer and Pelosi.

Mitch, the Parliamentarian

It has been easy at times to be frustrated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. On the other hand, he does really know the rules of that rule-bound entity and his knowledge has helped shepherd over twenty new federal judges through confirmation in Trump's less than two years in office.

To understand the finesse with which he plays those rules to his (and our) advantage, check out this column by Fox News contributor Chad Pergram. Warning: this description is for those who love the "inside baseball" of politics; if that isn't you, your eyes will likely glaze over.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Kavanaugh Update

The supplemental FBI report on Brett Kavanaugh is supposed to become available for scrutiny only by Senators tonight or first thing tomorrow. Supposedly only one copy will exist, how many hours until the gist of it is leaked, do you think?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced he will call a cloture vote on Friday, which is a procedural vote to end debate on the Kavanaugh nomination. If that vote passes, the whole Senate will vote Kavanaugh up or down on Saturday or Sunday.

I hope McConnell has the votes to make it work. We need to get this thing done, and get Justice K sworn in. McConnell's track record for getting judges confirmed in the current term is unblemished, a reason for cautious optimism.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Time to Vote

The DrsC posted their absentee ballots today, exactly 5 weeks ahead of Election Day. As usual, many of the county positions had no Democrat listed as, in our part of WY, they'd have little chance and don't bother to run. The real decision in these positions happened back in August at the primary.

I believe there are Democrats running for all the statewide positions, but somewhere between few and none will be elected. A major advantage of a WY residence is that no one campaigns there in the run-up to November, a Republican sweep is a foregone conclusion. People send out campaign mailings for the Republican primary, then those who win coast to victory in November.

The greatest political irony is that the only WY county, out of 23, which reliably votes Democratic is Teton County, with Jackson as county seat. Former VP Cheney lives there, in a Jackson suburb.

Even the Jackson paper is liberal: runs Doonesbury and opinion columns syndicated from the NY Times. Most WY natives avoid Jackson, as though progressivism were contagious (spoiler: it's not). The DrsC think it's funny, but then we quietly laughed off the utopian leftism of our university colleagues for decades.

If you read COTTonLINE at all regularly, it's highly probably you're a reliable GOP voter. So be sure to vote, as they say in Chicago, "early and often," or at least early. We need to show the people picking on Brett Kavanaugh their actions are political poison.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Global Good News

In a world with more bad news than anybody but a journalist could want, good news shines like a beacon. links to a Daily News (U.K.) article about how the world is doing economically.

Fully half of the world's population can be considered middle class or above! This milestone has never before been reached, and it is a sign that globally things are improving economically, if not politically or socially.
As of September 2018, an estimated 3.8 billion people now live in households that qualify as middle class or rich, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institute.

Researchers say it's a significant tipping point for humanity, marking the first time ever the poor and those on the verge of poverty are no longer a global majority.

"This is the period of the most rapid expansion of the global middle class that we have ever seen and that we will ever see," said Homi Kharas, a co-author of the report for Brookings in an interview with

"We’re adding something like a billion people to the middle class every seven years or so, which is really quite remarkable," he added.
Something to celebrate, for sure.

VDH: Epitaph for a Dying Culture

I believe I must have a weakness for elegies, like the one at American Greatness Victor Davis Hanson writes for our dying culture. You should read the whole depressing thing, but here is a particularly choice excerpt:
Multibillionaire George Soros might be a wanted felon in France or have attempted to break the Bank of England and thereby ruin small depositors. But his wealth is welcomed because he invests a small percentage of it in progressive causes and thereby purchases his own progressive insurance and protection. As did the Catholic Church in the Dark Ages of yore, the Progressive Church now sells indulgences.
VDH echoes Martin Luther. Today's Catholic Church merely provides lifetime employment for pederasts and pedophiles, a non-offense in the eyes of progressives.

You have to hope we can generate a new 'protestantism' in reaction to the cultural evils VDH enumerates. He isn't optimistic, nor am I.