Friday, November 30, 2018

A Big Nothing

Buzzfeed News reports rumors President Trump planned to give the penthouse in a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow to President V. Putin. My reaction: Ho-effing-hum.

What do we learn? That Trump knows how to do business in a famously corrupt environment such as Moscow? How is this news?

As a developer, Trump cut his eyeteeth in the corrupt environments of New York City and Atlantic City. It’s likely he equates Putin with Cuomo and de Blasio, as merely another crooked boss.

Of course Trump knows how to do business with crooks ... you buy them off. It’s a cost of doing business, reflected in the pricing.

Only the terminally naive would be surprised that a NYC developer feels comfortable working in an ethically dubious environment, with deeply corrupt customers and collaborators. He isn’t pure as the driven snow.

We knew this of Trump and elected him anyway. Get over it.

Disappointment Looms

There comes a time in most poker games when the bluffing and trash talking is done, the high roller is called, and people show their cards to determine who won. Special council Robert Mueller appears to be nearing that point in his investigation of supposed Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.

Trump supporters aren’t going to fold. Soon Mueller is going to have to reveal what, if anything he and his small pack of highly paid Democrat lawyers have found. Those who wish the President ill are hoping for a smoking gun, something that will bring an end to the two-year nightmare that Trump’s presidency has represented in their lives.

While not sharing those feelings I understand them. I felt much the same despair about the failed Obama presidency. It is likely, however, those hoping for Trump’s demise will be disappointed.

Political Washington DC is as leaky as a colander. If there were evidence of Trump colluding with Russians to do something more consequential than build a Trump Tower in Moscow, it would have long since leaked to the eagerly receptive legacy media. The fact that it has not leaked is near prima facie evidence of its imaginary nature.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Why Elites Oppose Border Control

After a couple of posts about how elites are out of step with voters’ views (see below), it seems time to take a moment to remember why elites are out of step on immigration. Democrats want the future-voters-favoring-free-stuff that immigrants are thought to be. Their motive is clear enough ... self-interest.

So why do Republican elites drag their feet on immigration when nearly all Republican voters support border security? Unlike uber-wealthy Trump, most Republican politicians though far from poor, are not able (or willing) to self-finance their high dollar election campaigns.

This makes many Republican candidates reliant on big GOP donors who, for selfish reasons, favor the low labor costs that come with a nearly unlimited immigrant workforce. Pro-immigrant plutocrats pay the piper and call the political tune.

Elites Out of Step ... Again

On the subect of lost trust (see below), Scott Rasmussen suggests at RealClearPolitics another reason why America’s voters no longer trust elites. Based on recent polling, he writes:
Just 25 percent of voters believe Border Patrol's actions are too harsh on illegal immigrants. A plurality (43 percent) believe that Border Patrol is too lenient.

Americans overwhelmingly support legal immigration. (snip) Eighty-one percent say it's good for the nation.

Seven out of 10 Americans also support comprehensive federal immigration reform to secure our borders and resolve the status of illegal immigrants already living in the country. Fifty-five percent believe the top priority in any such reform should be ensuring that border security measures are implemented and effective.

American voters (snip) are prepared to support a reasonable plan that would secure the border, legalize the vast majority of those who are currently living in the U.S. illegally and set reasonable rules for future immigration policy.

Unfortunately, America's political and media elites have made it clear that they simply will not support any form of border security. As long as that remains true, the prospects for immigration reform are nonexistent.
As Davies writes below, when elites are seen to hold views that most do not support, they lose trust and populists thrive.

Evidence→Low Trust→Rise of Populism

A weekend is coming soon, when many have time for reading a long column on an important subject. Writing for The Guardian (U.K.), economist William Davies pens such an article on how the elites in modern society lost the trust in which their pronouncements were once held. A key point Davies makes:
To understand the crisis liberal democracy faces today – whether we identify this primarily in terms of “populism” or “post-truth” – it’s not enough to simply bemoan the rising cynicism of the public. We need also to consider some of the reasons why trust has been withdrawn. The infrastructure of fact has been undermined in part by a combination of technology and market forces – but we must seriously reckon with the underlying truth of the populists’ charge against the establishment today. Too often, the rise of insurgent political parties and demagogues is viewed as the source of liberalism’s problems, rather than as a symptom. But by focusing on trust, and the failure of liberal institutions to sustain it, we get a clearer sense of why this is happening now.

The problem today is that, across a number of crucial areas of public life, the basic intuitions of populists have been repeatedly verified. One of the main contributors to this has been the spread of digital technology, creating vast data trails with the latent potential to contradict public statements, and even undermine entire public institutions. Whereas it is impossible to conclusively prove that a politician is morally innocent or that a news report is undistorted, it is far easier to demonstrate the opposite. Scandals, leaks, whistleblowing and revelations of fraud all serve to confirm our worst suspicions. While trust relies on a leap of faith, distrust is supported by ever-mounting piles of evidence.
His analysis goes a long way toward explaining the renewed relevance of populists in today’s political arena.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Putrid Portland

It's time for another episode in our occasional series you could label "a jaundiced view of Oregon." Writing at Spectator USA, self-described gay Vietnamese-American journalist Andy Ngo riffs on the mess that Portland, Oregon, has become. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.
With its impeccably progressive monoculture, Portland is fertile ground for leftist ideologies such as intersectionality and Marxism. Most Portlanders have little to no experience of talking to real conservatives. The ‘#Resistance’ has become a powerful rallying cry for residents who think they are in a cosmic battle. In reality, they are often just targeting their neighbors.

For the foreseeable future, Portland will continue to grapple with political violence as its taxpayers foot the bill. The city has gained a comic reputation as a bastion of wokeness due to the comedy sketch show Portlandia. That’s way off the mark. Real life Portland is much, much worse, and it’s no joke.
Analysis: true.

The Roots of Identity Group Politics

Writing at Power Line, Steven Hayward quotes Harvard historian Jill Lepore on the antecedents of identity-group politics.
The whole Lincoln-Douglas debate in 1858 comes down to Douglas saying, Our forefathers founded this country for white men and their posterity forever. And Lincoln, following on the writings of black abolitionists like Frederick Douglass and David Walker and Maria Stewart, says, No, that’s just not true! (snip) Anyone who makes an identity-based claim for a political position has to reckon with the unfortunate fact that Stephen Douglas is their forebear, not Abraham Lincoln or Frederick Douglass.
Martin Luther King, Jr. understood this truth, and often said as much with vigor and force.

A Trump Flip-Flop

Power Line's Paul Mirengoff writes a short column in which he demonstrates President Trump has flip-flopped on tough sentencing for drug dealers - breaking a campaign promise to be tough-as-nails. Trump's support for the FIRST STEP legislation is unfortunate.

I understand President Trump's interest in courting black voters, as African-Americans are incarcerated in disproportionally high numbers. Research has shown, however, that these numbers result from excessive criminal behavior much more than from discrimination in law enforcement and sentencing.

COTTonLINE joins Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR, no relation) in opposing this legislation, as we have written here and here. Our nation does not have an over-incarceration problem. What we have too much of is repeat-offender crime.

Our Secular Era

The Atlantic reports on the declining role of churches in American life, hat tip to Drudge Report for the link. Trends noted first in Europe are repeating here.
Many of our nation’s churches can no longer afford to maintain their structures—6,000 to 10,000 churches die each year in America—and that number will likely grow. Though more than 70 percent of our citizens still claim to be Christian, congregational participation is less central to many Americans’ faith than it once was. Most denominations are declining as a share of the overall population, and donations to congregations have been falling for decades. Meanwhile, religiously unaffiliated Americans, nicknamed the “nones,” are growing as a share of the U.S. population.
These numbers translate to roughly 120-200 churches closing per week, an amazing figure. The article goes on to describe efforts to help declining churches recapture their former role as community gathering places, producing as a by-product increased church attendance.

GOP Holds MS Senate Seat

Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith tonight won reelection in Mississippi, handily defeating Democrat Mike Espy in a run-off. This gives Mitch McConnell a 53 seat majority in the U.S. Senate for the next two years.

The victory enables President Trump to nominate very conservative judges who might not have passed muster with GOP women senators Collins and Murkowski. Their votes cannot be counted on in support of appointees suspected of pro-life sentiments.

With Jeff Flake (R-AZ) out of the Senate in January, RINO senators no longer have veto power. In one four year term President Trump will fill many federal judge vacancies and change the character of the courts going forward for a decade or more. The importance of this change can hardly be overstated.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Anti-American Americans

Stephen Green, guest blogging at Instapundit, links to a Michael Ledeen essay for PJ Media on the subject of Americans who don’t like their country. Ledeen writes:
So here we are, at Thanksgiving, surrounded by a crowd of arrogant, ignorant, self-proclaimed superior people who proclaim, as was once declared about Vietnam, that the only way to save the country is to destroy it. That the European welfare state is the proper model for us, and that our electoral choices are mostly wrong. And evil. The first anti-American president put it bluntly in an interview with with one of his cronies, saying Americans are "confused, blind, shrouded with hate, anger, racism, mommy issues."
Barack Obama has never understood Americans because, by upbringing if not by birth, he isn’t one. It’s no fun being an outsider all your life. Speaking of mommy issues, Barack‘s anthropologist mom dumped him on her parents in HI and took off.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Impolite Truths

Writing at the American Greatness website, historian Victor Davis Hanson observes that President Trump often speaks the truth but does so in blunt, undiplomatic terms to which the media objects. Hanson gives several recent examples.
In terms of Trump’s political liabilities—winning the independent and NeverTrump suburban voter—certainly it might be smarter for Trump to withhold comment or, for the interests of the presidency, to editorialize more delicately, through the group efforts of speechwriters and aides.

But an argument cannot be made in these instances that Trump’s commentaries are lies, or that he is less truthful than his critics. And that raises the question of how Trump became president in the first place: by employing the usual presidential euphemisms and “on the one hand/on the other hand” temporizing, or believing that candor—crass and crude that it can be—was what the people were thirsting for.
I’m thinking DJT appealed to a lot of “red meat” voters with his plain talk and failure to tiptoe around issues. I’m sure he thinks so too. Most of the time I find his bluntness refreshing.

Portland ‘Plug’

Power Line’s Steven Hayward links to a Youtube faux promotional video for Portland, OR. It is seriously funny, even though the narrator mispronounces Willamette, which is properly said Wi-LAM-it.

It begins to give you a sense of why I take a dim view of the Emerald Empire, having splashed through three gloomy years there. At less than 2 minutes in lenght, the video is a hoot.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Real Data

John Hinderaker of Power Line links to a Chicago Tribune article by John Lott, Jr. Think tank president Lott debunks the claim by Obama and other Democrats that the U.S. is uniquely plagued with mass shootings.
Over the course of 18 years, from 1998 to 2015, our list contains 2,354 attacks and at least 4,880 shooters outside the United States and 53 attacks and 57 shooters within this country. By our count, the U.S. makes up 1.49 percent of the murders worldwide, 2.20 percent of the attacks, and less than 1.15 percent of the mass public shooters. All these are much less than America’s 4.6 percent share of the world population.

Of the 97 countries where we identified mass public shootings, the U.S. ranks 64th per capita in its rate of attacks and 65th in fatalities. Major European countries, such as Norway, Finland, France, Switzerland and Russia, all have at least 25 percent higher per capita murder rates from mass public shootings.
Democrats try to tell us we are alone in suffering these attacks, claiming it for their own selfish reasons. The claim simply isn’t true.

Friday, November 23, 2018


Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff debunks the criticism aimed at President Trump over refusing to punish Saudi Arabia for its murder of Jamal Khashoggi. As Mirengoff points out, since World War II ended we’ve made common cause with a variety of autocratic regimes with spotty (or worse) human rights records.

As human rights outrages, none of them come close to FDR allying with the murderous Soviet Union against the equally murderous Hitler. Mirengoff’s analysis is supported by my recollection of post-war foreign policy. I recommend it to you.

Rethinking Pakistan

The U.S. alliance with Pakistan has been one of the most puzzling links imaginable, and it may be about to rupture completely, if not necessarily irretrievably. Writing in The National Interest, Mohammed Ayoob, an emiritus professor of international relations at Michigan State University, describes the relationship’s history, strains, and current condition.

Ayoob’s prognosis for the fraught alliance is gloomy and it’s clear he wonders why it ever happened. During a brief period when the U.S. wanted to make trouble for Russians occupying Afghanistan, we and the Pakistanis had shared interests. Ever since, our interests and theirs have diverged, becoming essentially opposites.

A historical parallel would be the alliance of the U.S. and Soviet Union during World War II. We were not friends before or after the war but had a shared interest in defeating the Axis during it.

Given the post-Soviet reality, cooperation with Pakistan against a shared enemy seems unimaginable in the current era. Maintaining the facade of alliance in the absence of shared interests seems neither useful nor realistic.

Black Friday

I’ll bet less than half of the people mobbing retail establishments today have a clue how today became known as “black Friday.” Time to dust off the old Business prof’s mortarboard and do a minilecture on the subject.

Many decades ago before the advent of machine accounting and computers, bookkeepers and accountants kept business records in ledgers on paper using pen and ink. When the DrsC ran a small business for several years I did it this way and, mirabile dictu, it works!

A convention among those keeping pen and ink account books was that when a business was losing money they expressed being in negative territory with red ink, while being ahead of the game or making a profit was written in black ink. That’s where the terms “being in the red” or “being in the black” arose.

Zoom back to the present. Retail establishments do as much as half of their business in the year’s fourth quarter. Shopping for Christmas and Hanukkah tends to ramp up in October and early November but begins in true earnest the day after Thanksgiving.

Retail establishments need to be big enough to deal with year-end shopping crowds, which makes them overly large for much of the year. Thus for the first three quarters their costs exceed their income and they run in the red, or lose money.

Fourth quarter rolls around and business picks up. When the holiday spending really hits its stride on the Friday after Thanksgiving conventional wisdom says big box stores start to show a profit, income begins to exceed costs, the books start to show black ink instead of red. Most of their profit occurs between black Friday and Dec.24.

Thus, the Friday after Thanksgiving became Black Friday, the day when retailers break even and start to show a profit.

Total (Culture) War

Writing at The Week, Michael Grunwald takes as his thesis the notion that we drag just about everything into the Red vs. Blue culture war. Sure, he’s on the other (blue) side but the article is even-handed enough for us on the red side to find useful. A sample quote that caught my eye:
Trump didn't create the so-called Big Sort of Americans into two ideologically polarized, geographically and racially segregated, mutually suspicious partisan camps. The rift between the mostly white camp of gun-owning, evangelical-church-going Fox News watchers who live relatively spread out and the more diverse camp of Whole Foods-shopping, funky-café-going NPR listeners who live closer together has been widening for decades.
 I think you might enjoy this article.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Segregated Bosnia

The New York Times has a good article on ethnic divisions in Bosnia, pitting Bosniaks (Muslims) vs. Croats with Bosnian Serbs sniping from the sidelines. There isn’t much current violence but also little mixing or cooperation.

The two groups coexist side-by-side like the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland or the French and English speakers in Canada. Anyplace that is taking in large numbers of ethnically different immigrants faces this sort of future.

It’s no fun, ask a Canadian or anybody else who has lived in those conditions. A future it would be well to avoid, if possible. See H. Clinton’s comments below.

Hillary: Trump Right About Something

A broken analog clock is momentarily correct twice a day. Speaking in Europe, Hillary Clinton actually said something with which I agree, at least in part. The Guardian (U.S. edition) has the story.

While mouthing the usual PC pieties about poor refugees, she warned European center-left politicians that welcoming waves of refugees creates an opening for populist opponents ... as for instance Trump here and the AfD in Germany. Her point: political survival requires politicians to back “control the borders” policies in order to achieve electoral success.

Implicit in her message was that she learned this the hard way, by losing to someone with such a message. Her pieties are bleeding heart nonsense, but her political advice is spot on. People don’t want to be overrun by odd foreigners and will vote for candidates who understand and share that view.

I wonder if she will have the same message for Democrat colleagues in the States? It could be a hard sell here, where importing future Democrat voters while frantically virtue signalling feels like a winning combination to those my late father called “parlor pinks” and we now call “progressives.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Giving Thanks

Once again we come to Thanksgiving Day, time to take stock of the extent to which things have gone well in one’s life. We’ll be joining relatives for tomorrow’s celebratory “harvest feast.”

The DrsC certainly have things to be thankful for, including that our house, barn, new RV, and two vehicles didn’t burn even a little, although the oddly named Camp Fire incinerated our pasture-style acreage. And we just came back from a nice month-long cruise, no small wonder in itself.

Global Cooling?

From time to time we’ve given you links to sites which discuss the climate impact of the solar minimum we are now experiencing. Instapundit links to a site called Electroverse which reports the theorizing of a Professor Valentina Zharkova of Northumbria University in the U.K.

She presented at the Global Warming Policy Foundation in October, 2018. A web search suggests her work is controversial among those scientists convinced humans are wrecking the planet. Those who give more credence to solar influences on climate are more accepting of her work.

Biased Judges

A federal judge appointed by President Obama ruled against a Trump initiative. The President called it a bad ruling by “an Obama judge.” Chief Justice Roberts did something he rarely does, he publicly criticized the President’s choice of words.

Riffing on Roberts‘ criticism, Paul Mirengoff, an attorney who posts at Power Line, looks at the evidence and basically agrees with the President. He notes POTUS should have said “an Obama-appointed judge” and observes this is likely what Trump meant.

If the U.S. ever faces a secessionist movement in the current era, the intractably liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will be a major precipitating factor. BTW, I hope no such movement arises.

Relative Military Strength

Business Insider publishes a list of the 25 strongest militaries worldwide. Hat tip to RealClearDefense for the link.

The U.S. is ranked no. 1, no surprise. The top 5 also include Russia, China, India, and France, in that order.

The remainder, also in order, are the following nations: United Kingdom, South Korea, Japan, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Egypt, Iran, Brazil, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, Spain, Vietnam, Australia, Poland, Algeria, Taiwan, and Canada.

For each of the 25, the article lists total population, total military headcount, total aircraft, fighter aircraft, combat tanks, naval vessels, and defense budget in dollars. It makes interesting reading if defense preparedness is your thing.

I’m not surprised New Zealand didn’t make the list. When we last visited there, I was told the island nation’s navy consisted of one minor warship, perhaps a frigate. A web search suggests two frigates and 6 patrol boats. These days Enzed relies on being too distant to be in harm’s way. So far, it’s working.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

More Evidence

Investor's Business Daily reports findings from a study done by researchers at Arizona State University and Texas A&M. It examined the political opinions of financial journalists, surveying 462 and follow-up interviewing an additional 18. Key findings:
Of the 462 people surveyed, 17.63% called themselves "very liberal," while 40.84% described themselves as "somewhat liberal."

When you add it up, 58.47% admit to being left of center. Along with that, another 37.12% claim to be "moderate."

What about the mythic "conservative" financial journalist? In fact, a mere 0.46% of financial journalists called themselves "very conservative," while just 3.94% said they were "somewhat conservative." That's a whopping 4.4% of the total that lean right-of-center.
Okay, IBD is being a little alarmist, but even lumping the moderates together with those who admit conservatism, you get less than 42%. It's amazing these are financial journalists, the one group of news writers you'd think might lean right.

Nearly sixty percent admit leaning left. I have to wonder if their responses reflect them reporting what they believed university-based researchers or their journalistic peers wanted to hear?

Full disclosure: The abstract doesn't emphasize political leanings as a major finding, someone at IBD apparently dug that info out of the complete study, which is behind a paywall.

Papal Scorn

The Federalist has a good article about Catholic clerical sexual abuse and Papal failure to deal with it, written by two Catholics - an attorney and a law prof. Hat tip to for the link.

The authors take a dim view of Pope Francis, particularly his protection of known abusers and those who enabled them and of his anti-Americanism. My favorite quote:
Francis’ attitude to the American church is by now unmistakable: He scorns it. Possibly this scorn stems from his hostility to things American generally — including our capitalist system, our belief in openness and transparency, our attitudes to sexual misconduct, our views on Mass, illegal immigration, or our current president. Or he may think that we are simply too nosy and noisy. In any case, he has regularly humiliated the American bishops and ignored the American laity.
They conclude the papacy has become an absolute monarchy, with all the drawbacks that entails, and yet has not always been so.

Sunday, November 18, 2018


We saw our burned-over and smoke blackened CA property today and, as predicted, the firebreaks and its generally incombustible construction had saved the day. The house sustained exactly zero fire damage, the barn and shed ditto. The firefighters even saved our rick of firewood ... amazing work.

What burned off was the pasturage which comprised most of our nearly 12 acres, it is black and sooty. Our landscaping got some damage, we’ll know more about that in a few months. We will have to replace much of our drip irrigation system, not a big deal costwise but doing so will keep our gardener busy for a couple of winter months when there is little else to do.

The house is smoky and abating that smell could be both difficult and expensive. We may end up with 2000 sq. ft. of new flooring, if the carpet is smoky. Ditto the upholstered furniture and drapes. And we may have to have the interior painted as a cover-up.

We heard of a family who had to replace the ductwork on their HVAC system to get rid of smoky smell, when all else failed. What we can’t do at the moment is open the place up to air it out because the outside air is worse, soot and combustion byproducts are very much in evidence outdoors. This smell abatement process will take time, ask us about it in 6 months.

We thought we might have to take the RV and “get out of Dodge.” However, we found the conditions are such we shall try to spend the next month there, starting tomorrow.

Some rain is supposed to be in the offing, perhaps later in the week. That will help put our the fire and clear the air but make the evacuated and dispossessed in temporary quarters miserable. Comments about the ambivalent nature of ill winds are apropos here.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Welcome Late Results

Various sources are reporting the governor’s race in GA has ended with Democrat Abrams losing to Kemp. Likewise, in FL it appears that Democrat Gillam has lost the governor’s race there to Ron DeSantis. Both Democrats are African-Americans.

It is possible states of the old Confederacy are not yet ready to vote for a black governor, or perhaps the fact that both Democrats were also very progressive, quasi-socialists was the issue and race was irrelevant. Anyone who tells you they’re sure they know why either of these normally red states didn’t choose to vote blue is exaggerating, lying, or deluded.

The true answer is probably some mix of all of the above. Asking conservative red state voters to vote for a Democrat is hard enough, when that D is also black and, by American standards, relatively far left, it is going to be a tough sell. This time, too tough.

If you’re keeping track, the only major race remaining to be settled is the FL senate contest between Nelson (D) and Scott (R). Chances are, if the D lost in FL at governor-level, the same probably happened for senate. Leastwise, if you were a wagering person you’d bet on Scott.

Later ... Scott has been declared the victor, Nelson conceded.

Culture War - Class War in Disguise

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds writes something semi-profound in considering how we have arrived at the present fraught situation in our society.
Bourgeois culture is bad because it limits the flexibility of the elites. When the middle class was ascendant, it had the power to force bourgeois norms on elites, and even many of the poor. This led to social goods that people miss now, but it was also experienced as confining by those so constrained. In America, remember, class war is disguised as culture war.
At the moment we suffer the ascendancy of the ‘values’ of the poor which can be summarized as do whatever feels good now, and damn the eventual consequences. I certainly miss the “social goods” that flowed from our former bourgeois culture.

On the cruise we conclude tomorrow, we’ve talked to a number of older couples whose unmarried grown children are living with the other parent of the grandchildren. Studies have shown it’s unlikely this ends well for the grandkids.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Metro news, a U.K. site, reports a NASA scientist has observed the unusual lack of sunspot activity and predicted a very cold winter. Martin Mlynczak of NASA’s Langley Research Center told Space Weather:
We see a cooling trend. High above Earth’s surface, near the edge of space, our atmosphere is losing heat energy. If current trends continue, it could soon set a Space Age record for cold. It could happen in a matter of months.
South Texas has already had snow, something they rarely get. Instapundit, who provided the link, has a two word Rx: Wool socks.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Travel Blogging XIV

At sea 2 days out of Los Angeles: The month-long cruise is almost over, which could be sad but isn’t. Yesterday the at-sea Internet died which made us aware of the extent to which we’d come to rely on it for ... call it “entertainment” although at least in my case much of what I do is factual, not foolishness.

I’m ready to get ashore and get on with the process of reclaiming our smoky home. We finally managed to get our hands on a document which shows where we live in CA. We will likely need it to get to our house which is still in an evacuation area, protected we’re told by national guard troops and roadblocks against looters.

Cruising eastward across the Pacific has meant setting the clocks ahead an hour just about every other day. It turns out so many 23 hour days in quick succession generates something not unlike jet lag. I find, in the absence of a reason to get up earlier, I’m getting asleep later and waking up later than I normally would. Arrival morning on Sunday in LA will put an end to that, we have an early disembarkation time as our flight takes off just before noon.

Later ... They got the Internet fixed, even though it is slow it’s better than nothing.

Thursday, November 15, 2018


Imagine someone who normally writes about politics and economics crafting a science fiction short story about  U.S. future history. A possible future is what this New York Magazine Intelligencer article describes.

The author sketches a path forward for a seriously divided nation, written as a policy retrospective. It reads like “how we got to where we are” from the perspective of perhaps 2070.

As a science fiction enthusiast and follower of political and economic trends and policy, I found it very interesting speculative fiction. It doesn’t particularly lean left or right politically.

The article is a reality-based projection of what could (not necessarily will) happen. I highly recommend it to you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

FIRST STEP = Wrong Step

Writing at Power Line, Paul Mirengoff reports most police organizations oppose the leniency movement’s FIRST STEP legislation that would take it easy on drug sellers and child pornographers. I don’t find their opposition either surprising or wrong-headed.

COTTonLINE believes our society doesn’t have an over-incarceration problem, if anything we have an under-incarceration problem. Too many criminals reoffend more or less immediately after release.

If we knew how to rehabilitate criminals that would be different, our efforts in that regard fall far short of success. Recidivism is the norm, not the exception.

FIRST STEP could easily become for prisons, like the earlier effort for mental hospitals, one of those unfortunate issues where liberals want to let everyone out and conservatives want to spend less money housing habitual misbehavers.

When this collusion happens, you and I are the ones who suffer the downside of living with violent, greedy people in our midst. In their gated communities, the glitterati are semi-immune.

Brexit Update

Against the deadline in March, the Theresa May government in the U.K. is trying to negotiate a deal with the EU that (a) they’ll accept and (b) can pass in Parliament. This article in New Statesman indicates she has accomplished (a) but the deal she provisionally struck won’t do (b). Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

If you are interested in why the author believes the PM’s ‘deal’ can’t get a majority in Commons, he explains that rather complicated analysis. I enjoyed it, you may experience it as TMI.

The short answer is that her ‘deal’ will lose the support of the small Northern Ireland party without which she has no majority. Most of Labor (the opposition) wants a new election to see if they can’t win and form the government.

Right now, if I had to bet, I’d bet on a “no deal” Brexit where the U.K. goes it alone and much chaos ensues. That is what the Leavers voted for, and what they should get - chaos be damned.

Americans should look long and hard at the sort of paralysis that can afflict parliamentary systems like the U.K.’s. May is a lame duck, has been since she called a snap election and lost the majority.

Divisions in her party meant nobody had more support than May so she stayed P.M. with the help of a hard-line Unionist party in N. Ireland. If the Unionists leave, May can’t pull a majority on key votes so the Unionists have an effective veto on what she does. Their prioities are not those of May’s voters. It’s a mess.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Definitional Wisdom

Writing at the obviously pro-Trump site American Greatness, Christopher Roach comes up witn a relatively succinct description of the two major political parties as they exist today.
The Republicans are now a party of the middle class and the middle of the country, and the Democrats are a party of the extremes, the rich and the poor, whose bases are chiefly on the East and West Coasts. Both parties and their voters have become more partisan and farther apart from each other in the process.
Does anybody want to argue that the middle class is NOT our nation’s backbone, largely what we are about as a people? If you do make that argument, I won’t be singing along  ...  just sayin’.

An Outrage

Steve Hayward of Power Line summarizes peer-reviewed research reported in Electoral Studies (behind paywall) which looks at unlawful voting in U.S. elections by non-citizens. The abstract says in part:
We find that some non-citizens participate in U.S. elections, and that this participation has been large enough to change meaningful election outcomes including Electoral College votes, and Congressional elections. Non-citizen votes likely gave Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress.
The study was done by Jesse T. Richman and colleagues at Old Dominion University. The survey size was 32,000 in 2008 and 55,000 in 2010, very large samples.

What can be done to stop the outrage that is non-citizen voting?

A Slow Learner

Ira Stoll writes at the New York Sun website an article with this underwhelming title:
Democrats Are Emerging As Party of the Rich
I hope he’s experiencing it as one of those “Wow, I finally caught on.” moments, for he certainly should be. This is no new insight, not even close.

A quick search of COTTonLINE shows the first time I wrote about the wealthy voting Democrat was eight years ago in 2010! Here’s the link.

Future Cops

The future of policing? Think Chips meets Blade Runner meets Judge Dredd as the police in Dubai take to the air in flying motorcycles, see the write-up at Gulf News. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Now imagine your neighborhood biker gang mounted on these ... airborne rolling thunder. Anyone for a “hover-in” at Sturgis?

A Rx of Tough Love

Writing for RealClearWorld, John Dale Grover argues that Venezuela needs humanitarian aid, not an invasion aimed at toppling the Maduro “socialist dictatorship.” He’s certainly correct that the U.S. has shown no particular skill in standing up replacement governments with any staying power.

Grover’s Rx of sending humanitarian aid is likely, however, to end up propping up the corrupt and counterproductive Maduro regime. It has unquestionably been popular with Venezuela’s poor, who have been the main beneficiaries of its redistributionist policies.

I’d argue that what individual Venezuelans need and what their country needs are not only different but essentially opposite things. Individual Venezuelans need food, medicine, clean water, and hope. Venezuela the country needs to confront the essentially unworkable nature of socialism, and it isn’t clear enough of its people yet accept that bitter truth.

Giving Venezuela aid now is like giving heroin addicts methadone, it keeps them going but doesn’t diminish their dependency. Venezuela’s Chavistas need to confront the failure of socialism to improve their lives. To understand that it fails because it is based on a wildly optimistic assessment of human altruism that is unsubstantiated in real life.

Until the poor of Venezuela give up on socialism’s handouts and get on with earning a living by the sweat of their brow, the successors of Chavez will continue to have a hold on them and their country. Helping that happen shouldn’t be U.S. policy.

Cautious Optimism Justified

Political analyst Henry Olsen has written a somewhat fine-grained, look at the 2018 midterm election results for the U.S. edition of The Guardian. His look suggests Trump has less to fear in 2020 than some pundits have predicted.

Olsen finds the small city/town/rural GOP bias got stronger while the big city/suburb Dem bias was about the same. From this he concludes:
Trump will again be competitive in the Midwestern purple states of Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin, and perhaps even Pennsylvania where two weak candidates this cycle depressed GOP vote share. Should Trump be able to improve only a small amount on his party’s 2018 results in these states, he will again prevail in the Electoral College even as he again loses the popular vote.
An incumbent president can normally improve that small amount on his party’s midterm results. Not the landslide we’d prefer, one supposes, but a win is a win. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Travel Blogging XIII

Nawiliwili Harbor, Island of Kauai, Hawaii:  Honolulu on Oahu is a big metropolitan city with warm, humid weather. Kauai’s main town Lihui is a small city or big village, by comparison.

Kauai has the same warm weather as Oahu and is even wetter, but has no high rises and much less population and development ... a slower pace, too. Many prefer it for that reason. I find it a tad too rainy for my taste.

My favorite part of Hawaii is the Kona coast of the big island of Hawaii. It is substantially dryer than either Kauai or Oahu, or even Hawaii’s wet side by Hilo.

We went in town today, took the free “crew bus” to Walmart to do some shopping. When there is a ship in port Walmart pays for the bus which brings them 25 new customers every half hour. Because of where the store is located the customers don’t wander off.

Passengers are welcome on the bus too, of course. It isn’t altruism, just good business on Walmart’s part.

A follow-up on the fire in our NorCal region. Not only is the power off, the utility company - PG&E - is saying it may take up to 3 months to get it restored. If that is the case our property on a well pumped by electricity isn’t going to be functional. We’ll have to take our RV and go live where things are less chaotic.

WSJ: Blame McCain

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Jason Lewis argues that Sen. John McCain’s vote against replacing Obamacare with a GOP alternative was the cause of the GOP losing the House majority in the recent election. The House passed an Obamacare replacement, but the Republican-controlled Senate couldn’t quite pass it.

Most pundits concluded McCain voted “No” because he was pissed at President Trump and wished to frustrate Trump’s promise to dump Obamacare. At the margin, I suppose that could have made a difference.

On the other hand, it is a rare midyear election when the president’s party doesn’t lose House seats - mostly it happens. Who is to say the loss wasn’t inevitable?

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Travel Blogging XII

Honolulu Harbor: I have an update on the status of our CA place. We reached a neighbor who has been evacuated but allowed back in to check on stuff.

Our neighbor says our house and RV barn came through okay, although the grassland around the house burned. Actually, that is quite good news for two reasons. First, the major buildings are apparently unscathed, including our vehicles parked therein. Second, now that the grass has burned off there is no further wildfire danger as the burned area is a giant firebreak.

PG&E has the power off, and our neighbor says there are poles actually down out on the highway, so the stuff in our refrigerator will spoil. We’ve had a frig go bad once before and managed to eradicate the rancid smell with much effort. E says maybe this time we’ll just buy a new one.

I guess we won’t have to winter over in Wyoming after all. It is wonderful in summer, decent in late spring and early fall, but there’s already snow on the ground.

Winter in WY wasn’t particularly a prospect I relished, I have a Southern California native’s attitude toward snow: it something to visit, not to live in.

A Treat, Not a Treatment

President Trump is in Paris for the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the end of World War One. It is a sort of rump summit with allied leaders there together for the commemoration.

The Daily Wire reports (with unretouched photos) a couple of women protestors in Paris ran out to President Trump’s motorcade topless. This was maybe supposed to prove something or get Trump to feel ashamed of something?

Good luck with that. If he saw it I’m sure he thought it was fun, remember his history of marrying supermodels and ‘dating’ other attractive women, including porn stars and nude models.

The ploy might have worked with choir boy Mike Pence, it clearly didn’t with Alpha Male Donald. It won’t surprise me if he wisecracks about it in a Tweet, something like it was “very French” meaning “sexy.”

Travel Blogging XI

At sea approaching Hawaii: Tomorrow morning we’ll be alongside in Honolulu ... we’re there all day and into the evening. Then we cruise overnight to Nawiliwili Bay on Kauai for another port day, after which it is five more sea days to Los Angeles.

Wildfire is a rural California thing, I grew up watching forest fires burn across the mountains of the Los Padres National Forest that rim the Ojai valley. It happened every 3-4 years then, probably still does.

Our CA home is in the large region in NorCal evacuated because of the so-called Camp fire, so named because it started near the intersection of Camp Creek Road and Highway 70. We didn’t evacuate, of course, because we were already long gone on this month-long cruise.

We may or may not have a CA home to return to when we land a week from tomorrow. Because our neighbors are evacuated too, we have no way to learn the state of our property. I suppose we’ll drive north in our rental car and see what we see when we get there. We might spend a winter in Wyoming after all, that’d be very weird.

Our NorCal place has been threatened by fire 3-4 times since we built it 31 years ago. So far we’ve dodged the bullet, I’m guessing we will this time too, but could easily be wrong. I’ll let y’all know in a week.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Travel Blogging X

At sea west of Hawaii: About a day after we left Guam we ran into rough seas and have ‘enjoyed’ same for several days. It has varied between somewhat and quite a bit of ship motion in response to the swells we’re cruising across.

When the motion is substantial a lot of people stay in their cabins. This crowd of veteran cruisers probably aren’t really seasick, just cautious. Cruisers are not young and a fall could result in breaking old, brittle bones, especially if osteoporosis lurks.

I’ve been thinking of a line from Gordon Lightfoot’s ballad about the MS Edmund Fitzgerald.  It goes something like:
Lake Superior it’s said
Never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early.
I’ll take Gordon’s word about conditions on Lake Superior, he’s Canadian. I grew up a half hour’s drive from the Pacific Ocean. Based on familiarity, I’m thinking the “gales of November” came a little early in the middle of the planet’s biggest ocean. Unfortunately. I’m tired of them.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Further Afterthoughts

If Democrats are less than ecstatic with the election results, they’ve a reason. The party out of power is supposed to pick up more House seats and at least a few Senate seats in the first midterm election after a president is elected. Democrats underperformed the norm on House seats and actually lost 3 Senate seats - not a rousing success.

If forced to characterize their outcome, I’d probably call it “disappointingly mediocre.” Dems of course want to see the glass half full, but the truth is they haven’t figured out how to deal with Donald Trump.

Perhaps Dems’ current identity group politics and their former class-based politics are substantially incompatible. I suspect you can do one or the other but not both.

Blue collar whites pay attention when Dems pander to the more extreme nonwhite elements in their coalition of victims. Joe and Jill Sixpac are not amused. Trump “gets” this conflict, and clearly points out how Dem policies hurt his folks.


Several articles are “out there” which take white women to task for not hangin’ with the sisterhood when they vote. And why should they? Housing patterns tell the story.

With whom do white women live? Mostly with white men in white neighborhoods. They don’t live in women’s collectives with women of all races. I’m tempted to call it Cotton’s Law: In our culture, tribe largely trumps gender.

There are tribes, mostly in the rainforest, where people live with others of their gender, in the men’s house or the house for women and children. We aren’t one of those.

Bye-Ku for Jeff Sessions

Multiple media outlets report Attorney General Jeff Sessions has resigned, likely because the President activated his preexisting pro forma letter of resignation. As everyone who has been paying attention knows, President Trump has been very unhappy with his choice of AG.

With the customary hat tip to its popularizer, James Taranto of the WSJ, we offer a bye-ku or haiku of farewell for Mr. Sessions.

So long, Jeff Sessions.
Not revealing a need to
Recuse ruined you

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Election (and Other) Afterthoughts

Democrats are happy they won a House majority and not very sad they didn’t get the Senate majority too. Why do you suppose that is? Perhaps it’s because if they had majorities in both chambers they’d have to legislate and oops, they have no legislative agenda except pie in the sky stuff (free nearly everything) for which there is no money.

Their main program is “we hate Trump.” Dems can’t legislate Trump out of office but with House subpoena power they can ‘investigate’ to their angry hearts’ content.

Democrats define “investigate” as hauling some poor SOB in front of a subcommittee, putting him or her under oath, asking the SOB “when did you stop beating your wife” questions, and making long badgering speeching at said SOB while playing to the TV cameras. As a way of dealing with Dem anger, it at least feels good. The bureaucrats on the receiving end won’t like it much.


Binge watching a TV show more or less “works,” binge reading books about the same set of characters may not work as well. On the trip we’re on now I’ve binge read the RCN: Lt. Leary and Lady Mundy series by David Drake. 

They’re good stories written to “work” as stand-alone books. Thus Drake explains a lot of the same basic scene-setting stuff in each book. That gets old after the fifth book, or maybe sooner. I can’t blame Drake, but I’d probably have enjoyed the books more if read with elapsed time between them. 

Gridlock, Redux

Okay, ladies and germs, we’ve survived the midterm election and won’t have to put up with campaign folderol for another year and a bit. The election results had something for everyone, meaning nobody’s exactly happy at the moment.

Democrats won the majority in the House. It wasn’t exactly a “wave,” more like an oversized ripple that was nevertheless big enough to do the job. Just about what the pollsters expected, in fact. And they got closer to having half of the governors.

The House majority will suffice to enable Dems to make unending trouble for Trump and his minions for the next two years. Looking at the results, I’ll bet those cabinet secretaries who had planned to stay are reexamining their options, maybe honing their vitas.

The appointees who already have plans to leave are glad to be headed out the door. They’ll be harder to replace as quality people will take a dim view of volunteering to be a punching bag for House Dems.

The Republicans won additional seats in the Senate, perhaps enough to confirm a pro-life Supreme Court justice like Amy Coney Barrett, bypassing the objections of prochoice Sens. Collins and Murkowski. They will be able to confirm judges and presidential appointees, as these require no House action.

The Democrat-controlled House conceivably could impeach the President or Justice Kavanaugh. The Republican-controlled Senate will never convict so it would be a purely symbolic act.

It is within the realm of reason that executive branch personnel could refuse to testify before House committees, precipitating a Constitutional crisis of sorts. I presume the goal will be to bankrupt executive branch personnel via unending legal fees. Perhaps Trump can appoint an Attorney General who would defend them on the government’s nickel, or they could take the Fifth.

One thing you can count on, your Federal government will solve no problems during the next two years. Expect each chamber to pass things the other won’t even bother to consider.

Symbolic behavior - basically posturing - will be the order of the day. Anything Congress can’t get done before the new people take office next January won’t happen.

Monday, November 5, 2018

News You Can Use

Pollster Rasmussen Reports has a last-minute look at the generic ballot, which asks: “For your Representative do you plan to vote for a Republican or a Democrat?” They write:
The final Rasmussen Reports Generic Congressional Ballot before Election Day shows Republicans edging ahead by one point, but in essence, the two parties are tied. The survey has a +/-2 percentage point margin of error.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey of Likely U.S. Voters finds that 46% would choose the Republican candidate if the elections for Congress were held today. Forty-five percent (45%) would vote for the Democrat. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, and six percent (6%) remain undecided.
Loving it, maybe we’ve got a shot at a win after all. That would be so sweet....

Guess Who’s Mainstream

Marc Heatherington and Jonathan Weiler, political scientists at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, have a new book about left and right with the spritely title of Prius or Pickup. I echo a quote from it out of a review done by the New York Times’ Thomas Edsall.
Members of Trump’s base are much more like the average American than are his staunchest opponents. A lot of Americans are susceptible to the kinds of rhetoric that won Trump the presidency: especially his appeals to people’s innate xenophobia and fears of threats both internal and external. The liberals, people of color, and traditional conservatives who are outraged by Trump’s comportment and who have avowed to oppose his every move — these are the real outliers.
Heatherington and Weiler also write that some voters found Trump’s rhetoric rough but:
neither were they completely turned off by his comments. Indeed, they probably found them more palatable than the tendency of liberals to bend over backwards seemingly at every turn to defend groups of people who aren’t exactly angels in the eyes of many Americans.
Several reactions: first of all, pickups are the biggest selling vehicles most years. I do love their book title, and I’m a pickup guy all the way. Love my Ford F-350 diesel long bed, it’s my favorite vehicle. Over the last 35 years I’ve owned 5 pickups and enjoyed every one ... a lot.

Second, if Heatherington and Weiler are right, maybe the vote tomorrow will be less painful than expected. It’s an outcome devoutly to be hoped.

Third, Kurt Schlichter’s frequent jibe that we are the “normals” and they are the weirdos may be more than partisanship, it may have a real basis in fact. Liberals do go overboard defending every group of lowlife losers while pissing on us solid citizens.

Hispanic Votes Not a ‘Lock’ for Dems

Selena Zito specalizes in talking with actual voters, she writes now for the New York Post. In this column she observes that we shouldn’t be surprised if, contrary to conventional wisdom, Republicans win a substantial percentage of the Hispanic votes cast tomorrow.

Zito doesn’t speculate much about reasons but I believe a strong economy with lots of jobs and rising wages has a lot to do with the trend she forecasts. Unlike African-Americans, most Hispanics are volunteers, here willingly trying (and often suceeding) to “make it” in Gringoland.

I expect most Hispanics to assimilate very well indeed. The exceptions are the Central American gang members who’ll spend most of their short, tattooed lives in U.S. prisons.

The Banned Anti-Caravan TV Ad

Perhaps you didn’t get a chance to view the Trump anti-caravan TV ad that several networks have refused to show. Though factual, is considered by them to nevertheless be “racist.”

If you didn’t see it and think it might be something you would like to view, here is a link to a Breitbart site where it can be seen. Enjoy.
Hat tip to for the link.

Humor Is Dead

Here’s a great story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which demonstrates so clearly how weird our society has become. It is, to use the word of a great American, “sad.”

Several members of a marching band for an area high school whose mascot is the Broncos pulled a prank. Using the sousaphone covers which spell out B.R.O.N.C.O.S they rearranged it to spell out “coon,” a derogatory term for black people.

The NAACP got upset, others were outraged too. Ugly racism on display, right? Except, for the following:
The students — two black, one Asian, and one Hispanic — told administrators that they thought what they did would be funny.
Segregation academies are alive and well in the South, including Texas. It’s possible few white students attend that GA public high school.

This appears to be a slightly altered version of African-Americans referring to each other using the forbidden and supposedly highly toxic N word. It happens, buy the band plain horn covers and forget it.

Imagining the Future

It is early Tuesday morning where I’m writing this, but still Monday in the U.S. as I’m west across the International Date Line. Sailing east toward Hawaii we will apparently get two Wednesdays, one before the date line crossing, one after it.

I’m thinking about what is at stake in the midterm election. Most experts consider the Senate to be safe to continue with a Republican majority. Some governorships will shift to D, but the real prize is the majority in the House of Representatives.

There are two outcomes to consider; Republicans keep control of the House, or they don’t. If they keep it, things will be much as they’ve been for the past two years. If not, another set of conditions will pertain, let us consider what those might be.

With a Democrat majority in the House but not in the Senate, neither party can pass legislation. Expect little or no new legislation for two years, absent some black swan event like a war or other cataclysm. Congress will pass continuing resolutions to keep the government funded, and probably raise the debt limit as needed. Otherwise, nothing important passes.

A Republican-controlled Senate will continue to approve judicial and other appointments made by the President, and treaties if any are negotiated. These require no action by the House.

Bottom line: if the election turns out as the experts have predicted, with a GOP-run Senate and a Dem-run House, expect two years of gridlock. The House will refuse to fund things the President wants and campaigned on, like the wall and the new Jerusalem embassy.

Expect Trump to get as frisky with executive orders as his predecessor was. Then liberals will challenge these orders in court, lower courts will issue injunctions, and just possibly the conservative Supreme Court majority will uphold the orders’ legality.

Alternatively, what earlier presidents have done in similar circumstances is focus on international relations as treaties only require Senatorial approval. He may do both, or spend most of his time campaigning for reelection, running against the gridlock-causing Democrats.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Slogans to Live By

Jobs Not Mobs
It’s Okay to Be White
Build the Wall
Lock Her Up
Fair, not Free, Trade
America First
End Birthright Citizenship
Honor Our Veterans
Support Ideological Diversity
All Lives Matter
Vote GOP Tuesday (or Before)

The order of listing means nothing. They’re all important.

NYT: The Wrong Perps

Breitbart links to a New York Times article about anti-Semitic hate crimes in the city. Some choice quotes from NYT:
To put that figure in context, there have been four times as many crimes motivated by bias against Jews — 142 in all — as there have against blacks. Hate crimes against Jews have outnumbered hate crimes targeted at transgender people by a factor of 20.

In fact, anti-Semitism was already quietly on the rise. For several years now, expressions of anti-Jewish sentiment have made up the preponderance of hate crime complaints in the city.

If anti-Semitism bypasses consideration as a serious problem in New York, it is to some extent because it refuses to conform to an easy narrative with a single ideological enemy. During the past 22 months, not one person caught or identified as the aggressor in an anti-Semitic hate crime has been associated with a far right-wing group, Mark Molinari, commanding officer of the police department’s Hate Crimes Task Force, told me.

In fact, it is the varied backgrounds of people who commit hate crimes in the city that make combating and talking about anti-Semitism in New York much harder.
What the Times refuses to say is that the assailants are almost all either black or Muslim. Both are groups Democrats rely on for votes. The Times wouldn’t want to contaminate the party’s narrative or offend its core constituencies, would they?

Philippines: Another View

For another view of the role of Duterte in the Philippines, see this column by Christopher Caldwell in the Weekly Standard. He writes about some 4000 people dying in the war on drugs there, as though it were genocide.

Think how little impact that has in a country of 100 million people, or a city of 16 million. Most people don’t personally know anyone killed, and Caldwell is careful to point out that Duterte and his war on drugs are widely popular.

For all of his talk of Chinese influence growing, as though that were recent, it is anything but recent. Chinese have been wealthy merchants in the islands for centuries. If Duterte doesn’t uncritically love the U.S. - which works its own agenda in the region, not his - my brief observation suggests the U.S. definitely has more influence in the Philippines than any other country.

Meanwhile, the Philippine corruption Duterte dodges and Singapore’s Lee complained about is likely a result of values learned from nearly 300 years of Spanish colonial rule. Corruption is a near-constant in former Spanish colonies like Puerto Rico and Mexico, Argentina and Ecuador.

Echoes of Hymietown

Everyone remembers Rev. Jesse Jackson calling New York City “Hymietown.” He was making a crude anti-Semitic reference to the prevalence and political power of Jews in the city. 

A recent hate crime in NYC contains echoes of that infamous libel. See a John Hinderaker write-up at Power Line for the ironic details which embarrass Mayor de Blasio and the New York Times

Thinking About Renewable Energy

Among conservative writers it is popular to denigrate wind and solar energy, as John Hinderaker of Power Line does here. The ususal rap is that both sources are intermittant and require fuel or nuclear-based backups, which is certainly true today.

The key issue is how to store power generated when the wind is blowing or the sun shining. Battery technology is improving but shows no signs of reaching true large-scale feasibility, perhaps ever. Other alternatives do exist.

In areas with mountains, one answer is hydropower, the power of water flowing downhill. We have examples in CA where water behind dams is released to generate power, and where - when excess solar power is generated - water is pumped back up into the dam, raising the lake level, so it can be used again to generate hydropower when solar generation stops.

Another way to ‘store’ solar and wind power is to use the electricity so generated to separate water (H₂O) into H and O - hydrogen and oxygen - via electrolysis. Stored H and O can later be recombined or “burned” to create heat with water vapor as the only residue or ‘ash.’ The steam so produced can create electricity via turbines.

I’m guessing technologically sophisticated folk can think of other ways to store solar/wind generated electrical energy until needed at times when the wind stops and the sun doesn’t shine. For example, ‘green’ energy could be used to create vast amounts of heat in a large insulated container of molten salt which could subsequently be tapped as a power source.

My personal favorite ‘clean’ energy source is hydropower, the power of falling water, stored in mountains by dams creating lakes for recreational use. We have them on the South Fork of the Feather River in CA and they have produced trouble-free clean power for generations.

Balz: It Could Go Either Way

It’s hard to imagine even-handed political commentary in the Washington Post. This column by Dan Balz comes very close.

Balz tries hard to understand how our country looks to both sides in a badly divided nation. He does a creditable job of it.

I come away from his column believing the best minds in American politics don’t know with any degree of certainty what the results will be when the votes are counted on Tuesday night; it could go either way.

I have my fingers crossed, how about you?

Merkel’s Duck Lame

Writing in the Spectator|USA, Douglas Murray chronicles the downfall of Angela Merkel, who has announced her retirement in 2021. He writes properly salty jibes at the French and Italians, and concludes the EU will become something quite different going forward.

He implies, without clearly predicting, an exit of the Euro zone by Greece and Italy and a possible exit of the EU by Italy and Poland. I recommend his article to you.

Poster Perfect

I’d like to echo here the contents of a poster that appeared north of Fort Worth, Texas, and was quickly copied elsewhere around the country. The message is simple.
COTTonLINE concurs. Other colors are okay too, of course. What matters is the content of a person’s character, as Rev. Martin Luther King wisely observed.

Capitalism a Sin? links to a Daily Mail article in which leftist film maker Michael Moore alleges that, in an interview, Pope Francis agreed with the proposition that capitalism is a sin. Ya gotta love how old lefties like these two snuggle up with Karl Marx, and give the sign of the horns to Adam Smith.

The problem is that all redistributionist regimes or schemes are based on a misreading of human nature. Perhaps they work with honey bees or ants, I’m not enough of an entomologist to be certain.

Redistributionist schemes do not work with people in groups much larger than an extended family. Motivation drops off to dangerously low levels and the result is Venezuela-like conditions.

An old Soviet era bitter joke makes the point: “We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.” You cannot successfully run a country that way for any protracted period.

I wish someone would tell Francis that, for the continued health of the Church, the sin upon which he needs to focus is priests misusing their spiritual guidance role to sexually abuse children and young men. Unfortunately, it appears priestly abusers are his strongest supporters within the Church of Rome clergy.  

Travel Blogging IX

Apia Harbor, Guam: We spent the day in Guam with friends. It was our third visit to the island and we had an excellent time.

The day started with getting approved by customs and passport control, which went well for us. It went not so well for others who didn’t go early.

We had no trouble linking up with our hostess, and she took us to see the new museum of the Chamorro people in what we think of as Agana. It was a knockout, really well done, any city could be proud of such an edifice.

There we learned they are now calling themselves the CHamoru and calling their capital Hagatna instead of Agana. You read that right, they’re capitalizing the first TWO letters for reasons unknown.

They have also named the governor’s palace for former governor Ricardo Bordallo. He is a convicted felon who committed suicide rather than go to federal prison for election law violations. Honoring him is an OOG ... “only on Guam.”

Later we saw the public space art in the new hospital, done by Judy Flores. She’s a local artist noted for her batik creations. And we drove by the mall which features one of the larger Macy’s complexes around.

We dined on Shirley’s renown Spam fried rice and finished it off with cinnamon rolls from a local baker. It was more fried rice than I could eat at one sitting, I had leftovers for supper.

The balance of the afternoon was spent gabbing; catching up on old times, swapping ‘war’ stories. We got back to the ship at 6 pm and All Aboard was at 6:30, a long day but a good one.

The weather was warm but not too hot, the humidity was high but not unbearable, and it didn’t rain although this is the rainy season. Our hostess who’d been semi-crippled was just off her crutches and drove us around.

It was a good day for two people who lived here for a year back in the mid-1980s, when we were visiting faculty at the University of Guam. The lady we visited had taught here then, her son married a local and her grandkids were born here so she stayed, happily. While she gets off-island every year, Guam is her home and she’ll die here.

Next stop ... Honolulu ... a week from now. Between here and there, seven sea days and a midterm election back in “the world.”

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Shy Voters

Suspecting Republicans are less likely to tell others how they’ll vote on Tuesday, Rasmussen Reports polling organization asked likely voters whether they were likely to tell others how they vote. More Democrats than Republicans said they would talk about how they voted.

This causes Rasmussen to say there is at least some reason to expect greater-than-predicted GOP voting, representing so-called “shy voters.” I think of these as “Bradley effect” voters, people who know what the PC answer is and give that when asked, even though it doesn’t accurately reflect their actions.

It is a slender reed - about all Republicans have to cling to - with everyone predicting the Dems take over the House majority and produce gridlock and chaos. Friends, if you haven’t already voted,