Monday, December 30, 2019

An Elegy for the Teens

It seems everybody feels the need to write a decade-ending “thumb-sucker” taking a shot at the question “What did it all mean?” One thing is certain, as a nation we’re in better shape financially than we were ten years ago.

Socially, we’re in worse shape and the beat goes on. We’ve defined deviancy down, insanity as sanity, and are in process of defining crime as not-crime. There is no way such decadence ends well.

I won’t be surprised if carrying a weapon (concealed or otherwise) becomes relatively normal behavior as the SJWs minimize the effectiveness of the police, courts, and penal system.

I wish I could tell you I am optimistic about the coming decade ... but it wouldn’t be the truth. We share this nation with far too many nut cases.

On a personal note, it appears over the past 10 years I have posted to COTTonLINE around 9500 items. We live in times I find interesting, I hope you feel the same. Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Second Amendment in Action

Earlier today a fellow walks into a church in Texas during a service, pulls out a shotgun, and shoots a couple of people. At least six parishioners pull out their CCWs, two are said to have fired, and the gunman went down for the count. Identity of the shooter not yet released, motive unknown as I write this, recidivism deemed unlikely.

Power Line has video taken by the church security camera; you can watch the whole event unfold in real time. Let’s hear it for the Second Amendment and the deterrent effect of an armed citizenry.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Six Myths Debunked

Steven Hayward at Power Line links to a Mother Jones article by Kevin Drum that, typically for him, is not in the usual MJ rut. For liberal media, this article is remarkably nuanced. Drum writes about six things liberals believe that they shouldn’t:
  • Head Start (and similar pre-K programs) raise student achievement.
  • American health care is expensive because of private insurance.
  • We have a retirement crisis.
  • The black/white test score difference is all about test prep, biased tests, etc.
  • The 1994 crime act was responsible for mass incarceration.
  • Charter schools don’t work.
  • A couple of COTTonLINE observations:
    A major impediment to black achievement in school and on tests is the widespread cultural belief that doing well is “acting white” which equates with being a collaborator or quisling.

    Obeying the law is similarly viewed, resulting in mass incarceration. Understanding these cause-effect relationships does not equal blaming the victim - culture matters.

    Friday, December 27, 2019

    Weird Demographic Science

    Posting at Instapundit, Stephen Green links to a publication of the American Enterprise Institute concerning how well men and women are doing in the U.S., with some emphasis on the young. On most positive indicators, men do worse than women. On most negative indicators, men outnumber women. Yet we worry about how women are faring when in fact men are the ones suffering and doing poorly.

    Some examples, for every 100 women who experience what the item specifies, the number of men doing so is given:
    74 men earn a bachelor’s degree
    74 men earn a master’s degree
    89 men take the SAT test
    90 men earn a doctor’s degree
    180 men abuse drugs and alcohol
    240 men are suspended from school
    1000 men are in adult correctional facilities
    The article give 3-4 times this many quite similar examples. Just possibly our society should focus on the problems faced by men; as a group women appear to be doing fine.

    Polarization on Stilts

    RealClearPolitics links to a Ron Brownstein article in The Atlantic about the growing polarization of the American electorate. Here are three quotes from this excellent article.
    Hillary Clinton won 87 of the nation’s 100 largest counties by a combined margin of nearly 15 million votes, according to calculations by the Pew Research Center, but Trump won over 2,400 of the remaining 3,000 counties and a higher total number of counties than any other nominee in either party had captured since Ronald Reagan’s blowout in 1984. The 2018 midterm elections further deepened that chasm.

    Election outcomes now produce whiplash-inducing reversals in policy outcomes, since the two sides represent coalitions with such divergent priorities and preferences.

    Nationally, Clinton beat Trump in the 2016 popular vote by a little over two percentage points, but 60 percent of Americans lived in counties that were decided by 20 points or more, according to calculations by Bill Bishop, the author of The Big Sort. (That was up from just one-fourth of Americans living in such landslide counties in 1976 and half as recently as 2012.) It’s possible, maybe even likely, that this divide will widen in 2020, with diverse major metropolitan areas rejecting Trump by even larger margins than in 2016, while predominantly white, rural areas rally behind him more firmly.
    Two different embryonic nations exist here, more or less side by side, each hating the other and both enjoying their hate entirely too much. Comparisons with the 1850s may not be far-fetched.

    It’s the plot for a science fiction novel. Imagine a civil war with bushwhacking along the margins between inner and outer suburbs. Picture Mad Max-style homemade ‘armor’ and gang-bangers vs. hunters with no prisoners taken.

    Thursday, December 26, 2019

    Bountiful Boxing Day

    The Brits and those across its former empire call today, the weekday after Christmas, “Boxing Day.” Wikipedia cites the Oxford English Dictionary definition:
    The first weekday after Christmas day, observed as a holiday on which postmen, errand boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas box.
    As you can see, Boxing Day has nothing whatsoever to do with pugilism or fisticuffs. It denotes a definite sense of noblesse oblige and it’s appearance here reflects COTTonLINE’s Anglophile bias.

    Wednesday, December 25, 2019

    Merry Christmas

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Think positive thoughts, stay well, and be thankful for the good things in your life.

    The year ahead promises to be an interesting one, filled with both good and bad trends about which to ponder. Let's do it together. Hat tip to Steven Hayward at Power Line for the image.

    Tuesday, December 24, 2019

    Winning Economic Warfare

    Instapundit links to a New York Sun article by Ira Stoll, concerning the interplay between Trump foreign policy and trade policy. Stoll writes:
    The President doesn’t see the current national security landscape as particularly threatening to America, at least in comparison to the Cold War. The countries that others see as threats — Iran, North Korea — Mr. Trump kind of shrugs off, figuring that if he wants to, he could nuke them. One may disagree with that assessment, but that is how Mr. Trump sees it.

    Mr. Trump does see the world, and the current challenges and opportunities for America, more in economic terms. Perhaps it’s the result of a career that Mr. Trump spent trying to accumulate wealth and work his way up the Forbes magazine rich list, but Mr. Trump sees the world in terms of which country gets the most money. That explains all the time spent on negotiating trade agreements with Canada, Mexico, China, and Europe. Economic warfare, the President understands. He doesn’t just understand it, he cares about winning at it.
    We aren’t yet tired of all the winning, Mr. President.

    Ban Proposed on Single Family Home Zoning

    Green Nude Eel loving Democrats now want to ban single family home zoning. See a story at The Daily Caller website. This effort will be somewhat less popular than free stuff.
    Democrats in Virginia may override local zoning to bring high-density housing, including public housing, to every neighborhood statewide — whether residents want it or not.

    The measure could quickly transform the suburban lifestyle enjoyed by millions, permitting duplexes to be built on suburban lots in neighborhoods previously consisting of quiet streets and open green spaces. Proponents of “upzoning” say the changes are necessary because suburbs are bastions of segregation and elitism, as well as bad for the environment.
    Imagine how horrified wealthy Washington insiders will be to have low income housing constructed in their multi-million-dollar Northern Virginia neighborhoods. Could it get them to consider voting R?

    New “-exits” Considered

    Maybe the U.K. was a leading indicator of the EU’s future, or lack thereof. Others are taking note of Brexit and envying the freedom of independent action it provides. See this quote from the Express (U.K.) paper:
    Spain has joined Poland in becoming the second country this week to claim it could ditch the EU, amid growing fury at the power that Brussels holds over member-states.
     Centrifugal forces seem to be building within the EU membership.

    Romney’s Impotence

    My favorite Christmas Eve quotation (so far) comes from a FiveThirtyEight piece arguing 2019 was the year Donald Trump consolidated his hold on the GOP. It notes the impotence of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT).
    Romney seems to want to lead an insurgency among Republicans on Capitol Hill, but he can’t lead anything if he doesn’t have any followers.
    Mitt Romney is the Republican version of Pete Buttigieg, or maybe Pete is a Romney clone. They’re shiny whiz-kid management consultants - swamp-serving technocrats.

    Open Border Means Weakened Union for N. Ireland

    RealClearWorld links to a Foreign Policy article about the fate of Northern Ireland in light of the Brexit deal approved by Parliament. That deal in practice establishes a U.K. border in the Irish Sea, leaving NI operating under EU rules while the rest of the U.K. does not.

    As we noted months ago, that was the inevitable price of maintaining an open NI border with the Republic of Ireland. The bottom line:
    In the end, the cost of keeping the politically sensitive border in Ireland frictionless is a weakened union between Britain and Northern Ireland.
    The author concludes polling suggests long term trends appear to favor an eventual merger of NI into the Republic, although current public opinion doesn’t yet favor it. As the Republic becomes less Roman Catholic in its laws and customs, and NI becomes more accustomed to free movement of people and goods across their border, merger may attain majority support.

    What I haven’t seen described is how they plan to keep people from entering the U.K. from the EU after they’ve drifted across the border into NI. How, in short, to allow NI residents with U.K. citizenship free access to the U.K. while keeping others at arm’s length. Document control for all entrants - citizen and otherwise - seems inevitable.

    Monday, December 23, 2019

    A Slow News Day

    Normally there is no news on Christmas Eve day, the 24th. This year with Christmas on Wednesday, it's like people took both days before Christmas off and so the 23rd was a dead news day too. I don't expect much happening before Jan. 2.

    Once again, the DrsC wish all COTTonLINE and CruzTalking Two readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2020.  Echoing the words of Science Officer Spock, we hope you "Live long and prosper."

    Keep smiling, it drives 'em nuts wondering how you managed to get the good stuff.

    Travel Blogging Coda

    Home at last: The trip has ended, successfully on the whole. We cruised Venice to Ft. Lauderdale with no lost luggage, no damage, and no seriously debilitating illnesses. We flew NorCal to Venice and Ft. Lauderdale back to NorCal.

    The other DrC saw the village in Sicily where her father was born, and the street on which his family likely lived. We imagined her 5 year old father playing there barefoot in the hot summer.

    Considering we sailed the last week of November and the first three weeks of December, we experienced remarkably little cold weather. Even Newark and Denver weren't especially frigid in latish Dec. We had about 3 days of rough water, one in the Med. and two in the Atlantic east of Florida - but no seasickness.

    Speaking of seasickness, we take a meclizine HCL tablet everyday we are at sea, mostly as a precaution. Two per day on rough water days. It's over-the-counter, a relatively inexpensive generic at Costco where you ask the pharmacy for it, and it works. We get no side effects.

    We arrived at home somewhat jet-lagged, but that's normal after flying all day. For a change, we actually got some sleep on the flights.

    Sunday, December 22, 2019


    I was rereading my Milestones post below and was struck by an idea. Think of the difference between winter and summer, that is the impact the sun, our star, has on life on Earth, our planet.

    Nothing we humans do has anything like that impact, not even close. I don’t find it hard to imagine that the absence of sunspots has a large influence on climate. I do find it hard to imagine that the creators of climate models have correctly gauged the impact of increased levels of CO2.

    Climate does change, it has done so forever. There were once lakes and trees where the Sahara now spreads. Whatever is changing climate is preexisting and not under our control. At best, we can utilize technology to cope with the climatic “hand” we’re dealt.

    Parliament Passes Brexit

    We’ve followed the progress of Brexit since before the referendum. Various sources report Boris Johnson’s new Tory parliamentary majority has handily passed his Brexit bill.

    The U.K. will leave the EU on January 31 just over a month from now. Going forward, the story will be what kind of trade deal Johnson will be able to work out with the EU.

    We know what he’d like, frictionless free trade. He’s unlikely to get that. What the EU wants is more complicated.

    On the one hand, the EU does a lot of business with the U.K. and would like to continue to do so. On the other hand, they’d also like to “punish” the U.K. for leaving by making trade more difficult and less free.

    The question is how much economic pain the EU is willing to endure in order to punish the U.K. BoJo is betting the EU aren’t masochists, Britain hopes he’s right. The real battle will occur within the EU, and we’ll be watching.

    Saturday, December 21, 2019

    Travel Blogging XIV

    12-13 hours sailing out of Port Everglades/Ft. Lauderdale: Tomorrow we fly home, on three different planes. First stop is New Jersey, second is Denver, third is Northern California. It will be a long day, chasing the sun across the continental U.S.

    That will take three hours more than our arrival time would suggest. Then we drive for two hours so we’ll get home late to a cold house, tired, sick and jet lagged.

    At which point we have exactly 4 days to get our RV ready to go south, it will be a grind and the NorCal weather has been muddy. Meanwhile I’m trying not to go into bronchitis, something tomorrow’s flights won’t help one bit.

    Avoiding Error

    Scott Johnson at Power Line does a column on the need, mostly unfulfilled as yet, for the Legacy Media to do their mea culpas on all the times they alleged as true things the Mueller and Horowitz reports later showed to be false. His subtext: don’t hold your breath waiting for these to happen.

    This reminds me to return to a theme I’ve harped on before, namely the need to be extra skeptical of alleged things you wish were true. We could almost write this as a Law: The more you want something to be true or false, the more you should question if it is fact.

    The bottom line is to wait for.facts or label what you say/write as supposition or speculation.

    Thursday, December 19, 2019


    On Sunday, the 22nd of December, COTTonLINE will celebrate the thirteenth anniversary of its founding in 2006. Inasmuch as I’ll be flying to the coast on Sunday, I’m noting the milestone today while I have the leisure (and WiFi signal) with which to do so.

    If you’ve been reading us for some years now, our thanks for your kind attention. If you are new to COTTonLINE, welcome aboard. The other DrC and I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    It is also time to note the Winter Solstice occurring on Saturday, the shortest day of the year. It marks the official end of autumn and start of winter in the northern hemisphere.

    On Sunday, days will start getting longer, nights getting shorter, a process which will continue until the Summer Solstice on June 21. Think of the two solstices as “bookends” anchoring the seasons.

    Weird Sex Difference Science

    It is controversial to observe that there are differences in the personalities of men, taken as a group, as compared to women, similarly grouped. Nevertheless, as a recent Scientific American article reports, studies show these exist across cultures.

    Furthermore, our experience of fellow humans suggests those studies are correct, recognizing that we speak of men and women as groups, exhibiting differences on average. Individuals may vary widely from group averages.
    There is a truly striking difference between the typical male and female personality profiles. (emphasis in original) Just how striking? Well, actually, really striking. In one recent study, Tim Kaiser, Marco Del Giudice, and Tom Booth analyzed personality data from 31,637 people across a number of English-speaking countries. The size of global sex differences was D = 2.10 (it was D = 2.06 for just the United States).

    To put this number in context, a D= 2.10 means a classification accuracy of 85%. In other words, their data suggests that the probability that a randomly picked individual will be correctly classified as male or female based on knowledge of their global personality profile is 85% (after correcting for the unreliability of the personality tests).

    We’re Their Target

    Last night the House voted, along straight party lines, to impeach President Trump. He responded with a near-perfect riposte as reported by The Daily Wire. To his supporters he wrote:
    In reality, they’re not after me, they’re after you. I’m just in the way.
    Yep, they were shooting at us “deplorables.” We’re the “bitter clingers” who voted for DJT instead of HRC.

    Like the Parliament which stonewalled Brexit, House Democrats reject the results of an election (2016) the outcome of which they don’t like. And as British voters just did, we need to show them how out of step they are when we vote in November.

    Wednesday, December 18, 2019

    Travel Blogging XIII

    At sea, perhaps just beyond mid-Atlantic: Earlier we mentioned the term “bunkering.” The term “bunkering” dates to the days when steam ships burned coal to heat water to make steam.

    Coal was stored in compartments called “bunkers” and moved by a crew wielding shovels called “the black gang” for all the coal dust on them. Loading coal was called “bunkering” and today the term is applied to loading fuel oil.

    It is peculiar how conservative nautical persons are with terminology. Taking a ship from here to there is still called “sailing” although sails have not been used (except for sport) for over a century. Sometimes the term “steamer” is used and sailing called “steaming” although steam ships are long gone too. “Bunkering” is of this ilk, a term from an earlier era.

    Using true sailing ships as training vessels for future naval officers is emblematic of this conscious conservatism. Running trainees up the mast to set and bring in sails is as pointless as teaching fencing or jousting would be at West Point.

    Tuesday, December 17, 2019

    An Academy of Dunces

    The university at which I spent most of my faculty career, and from which I retired as a tenured Full Professor, is shamefully in the news. links to a Breitbart article about the faculty union and individual faculty there regarding President Trump as “poison” and the speech of those who advocate his reelection to be “intensely hurtful” to students of color.

    As you might understand, I am more pleased than I can say to no longer be an active member of that community of scholars. Their views are not mine, nor was I ever a member of the CFA faculty union.

    The group targeted is the College Republicans (they do exist). CFA urges faculty to support and protect ‘snowflakes’ who feel threatened by the CR’s exercise of First Amendment rights of free speech advocacy for Trump’s reelection.

    One wonders who will protect these delicate children from their fellow citizens upon graduation? How will they handle another Trump win in 2020? It is something he’s likely to achieve.

    FISA Court Dings FBI links to a National Review article reporting the FISA court has blasted the FBI.
    In a rare public order issued Tuesday, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court condemned the FBI for the errors and omissions in its application to surveil Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page and gave the bureau until January 10th to propose reforms to prevent future abuses.

    The order follows the release of Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report, which detailed 17 “significant errors and omissions” in the warrant application to surveil Page.
    Let’s hear former FBI Director James Comey laugh this off, the abuses happened on his watch. The noted “significant errors and omissions” appear to have been intentional, not oversights or laziness.

    Every Dem. Contender Trumped links to a USA Today article echoed on, authored by Susan Page and others. They report the results of a USA Today/Suffolk University Poll which looked at head-to-head matchups between leading Democrat contenders and President Trump.
    The national survey, taken as the House of Representatives planned an impeachment vote and the Senate a trial, showed Trump defeating former vice president Joe Biden by three percentage points, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by five points, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren by eight points.

    In hypothetical head-to-head contests, Trump also led South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg by 10 points and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg by nine.
    The other Democrats fared worse. I find these numbers realistic today, with the caveat that much can change in the next 10 months. It seems a good era for extroverted nationalists like The Donald and BoJo.

    Monday, December 16, 2019

    Travel Blogging XII

    In the Eastern Atlantic, sailing westward, as I write on Saturday night: We’ve been in a WiFi dead spot all day. nobody is getting online, not even the future cruises fellow who would like to be able to check cabin availability for interested customers. Thus, this will be posted later when WiFi returns.

    It’s time to dig out the second thick novel I brought along for just such conditions and bury my nose in it. I hope to finish it before the trip ends.

    The weather is warm, as predicted. The sea looks flat, but isn’t as there are swells that make the old Pacific Princess roll a bit. I’m not hearing a lot about seasickness, all of our usual dinner partners were at the table this evening.

    I had an entree for supper I’ve never eaten before, pork belly. Think uncured, unsmoked, unsliced bacon cooked like a roast. Not bad, but it will never be a favorite. Tomorrow night it’s lobster tails for the DrsC.

    Monday Night, we’re finally back online, so here goes.

    Friday, December 13, 2019

    Travel Blogging XI

    At Sea west of Tenerife:  This afternoon at roughly five p.m. we set sail on what is I believe the longest uninterrupted set of sea days we’ve ever done - 8 consecutive days with no port calls. I believe our previous record was 6 days between Guam and Hawaii.

    On other Atlantic crossings we’ve put in at the Azores a couple of days out from Portugal. Tenerife is close to the coast of Africa so we’re basically crossing the whole mid-Atlantic in one straight shot, very nearly due west as noted earlier.

    Earlier this afternoon in port we were”bunkering” which is what ships call filling their fuel tanks with oil. Given 8 days of nonstop sailing, starting with full tanks seems wise.

    Cruise ships are all diesels these days, though some may be diesel-electrics like locomotives where the Diesel engine spins a generator which creates electricity to drive electric motors. Barring mishap, I don’t expect much to travel blog about between here and Florida.

    Travel Blogging X

    Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain: On a ship map, Tenerife is almost exactly the same distance from the equator as Ft. Lauderdale. Our route from here to there is basically due west.

    As you might conclude, the weather here is pleasant in December as it is in Florida. It is probably hot and muggy in summer, FL sure is.

    The other DrC tells me the island is home to nearly a million people, a quarter of them here in this port city. The sizable harbor is ringed with 12 story apartment buildings, essentially wall-to-wall. More of.them march up the hillside behind the port.

    We guess this is “Snowbird City” for Europeans who can afford to winter here. As it is part of the EU no visas are needed and the euro is the monetary unit. One of the volcanic mountains of this island is the third highest in Europe, at over 12,000 ft.

    Trivia factoid: the Canary Islands are not named for the small yellow songbird, but rather for the dog, canis domesticus, the root word for “canine.” Apparently early European visitors found wild dogs here.

    Also peculiar, early inhabitants built a step pyramid here roughly halfway between Egypt and the Yucatán, in both of which they are also found. Coincidence? Nobody knows.

    BoJo Wins Big

    Happy Friday, the 13th. Various sources are reporting Boris Johnson has won a clear majority in Commons. He needed 326 and got like 364. Brexit is a done deal now, no question about it.

    I don’t suppose I’m the only one who wonders if this is an omen predicting a clear win for Donald Trump. It might just be that.

    Labour was led by Jeremy Corbyn who is the British anti-Semitic version of an old lefty. A bunch of people who aren’t fond of Johnson probably voted for Boris to keep Jeremy out of No. 10. The Brits call this “strategic voting.”

    Now if the Democrats will nominate someone dear to their hearts, representing their extreme left - Sanders or Warren - perhaps we’ll get that kind of blowout here in the States. Call it McGovern, Revisited.

    Watching the maneuvers around Britain’s relations with the EU will be interesting to follow. I’m guessing they’ll discover they need Britain more than Britain needs them.

    Thursday, December 12, 2019

    Travel Blogging IX

    At sea, en route to Tenerife: We had an unusual piece of action today. A passenger reported to ship personnel they saw something unusual in the water. The captain turned the ship around and sailed back to the estimated location of the sighting.

    We circled in that vicinity for perhaps a quarter of an hour and, finding nothing, resumed our course for the Canary Islands. The captain announced that we are obligated by both custom and law to provide assistance if someone in difficulty is encountered or suspected.

    What we did not do is count noses on board to see if anyone was missing. This suggests that what was seen (or imagined) was wreckage or a life raft, not someone going over the rail.

    Both as ship lecturers and as paying passengers we’ve cruised more than most people who aren’t crew. We’ve never before experienced a search for people in trouble.

    A thing I found interesting was how the direction the ship is pointing affects its reactions to rough seas, which we are experiencing. In the process of searching for someone in trouble we probably were at least briefly pointed in every conceivable direction. A couple of times we were almost calm for 2-3 minutes.

    For sure on our course south-west to Tenerife the sea is not calm. These are the roughest seas we’ve experienced since departing Venice.

    If the ship’s map is to be believed, Tenerife is almost due east of Ft. Lauderdale. I hope we don’t have rough water all the way to Florida.

    The Atlantic in December is no millpond although it’s the North Atlantic that has the bad reputation. This far south ... one can hope.

    Wednesday, December 11, 2019

    Travel Blogging VIII

    Cadiz, Spain: This is our last mainland Europe port, then we stop in the Canary Is. and head west to Ft. Lauderdale. We’ve been alongside all day, and should be setting sail soon.

    This a.m we did a taxi tour of the city, with a driver who had workable-if-limited English. He drove us around for an hour, we made some stops for photos which will likely show up at the other DrC’s blog. Afterwards we sat in the terminal for an hour or so using the free WiFi to do some surfing.

    Cadiz is a clean, attractive city right on the water, looking across the strait to North Africa. It was a major departure/arrival point for colonial galleons and is very old, a Roman theater is here and before them the Phoenicians were here, as well as the Carthaginians somewhat later.

    Ships once sailed up the river to Seville but it silted up and then Cadiz (pronounced CAD iz) came into its own. This echoes the way Ostia was followed by Civitavecchia as the port of Rome. I guess the ancients couldn’t dredge out the silt without engines to provide power.

    Yesterday in Gibraltar we stayed onboard as we’d “done” the Rock before and had no need to do it again.

    The IG Report

    Believe it or not Fox News comes thru on the ship TV system just fine. I watched a preliminary analysis of the IG Horowitz report on the DOJ.

    It appears to be an exercise in departmental butt-covering, another nothingburger. This time Republicans are disappointed, last time with the Mueller report, Democrats were let down.

    I guess it was too much to expect that a departmental loyalist would admit the existence of departmental wrongdoing which in fact clearly occurred. Horowitz couldn’t find evidence of bias in departmental decision-making.

    My understanding is Horowitz took as his mandate investigating whether departmental procedures were followed to the letter. Apparently he specifically rules out a look at whether there was bias in judgment calls and begins with “Assuming the judgment was made without bias, did what ensued follow DOJ procedural guidelines.” No surprise, he concludes those policies were mostly followed.

    Apparently Horowitz chose to believe assessing the fairness of judgment calls is beyond his pay grade. Given departmental guidelines, perhaps he is even correct concerning his charge.

    The deep state won this round. Given the fecklessness of Congress which has ceded much of its decision-making to the bureaucracy, the deep state may win the whole game or at least fight to a draw.

    Deeply Split Democrats

    The Atlantic looks at the generational split in the Democrat party. Author Derek Thompson makes the point that the young have experienced a raw economic deal and have reacted politically by veering leftward. Check out this quote:
    Age ‬doesn’t just divide Republicans and Democrats from each other, in other words; age divides young leftists from both Republicans and Democrats. Democrats under 30 have almost no measurable interest in the party’s front-runner (Biden). Democrats over 65 have almost no measurable interest in the favored candidate of the younger generation (Sanders).

    This is not a picture of Democrats smoothly transforming into the “party of the young.” It’s evidence that age—perhaps even more than class or race—is now the most important fault line within the Democratic Party.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ It might be most useful to think about ‬young progressives as a third party trapped in a two-party system.
    And yet:
    In 2016, voters older than 40 accounted for nearly three-fifths of all primary voters. It is impossible to win a national election by running a campaign of generational warfare that runs counter to, or directly indicts, a majority of the electorate.
    Therefore, as in 2016, the young are likely to be disappointed with the 2020 result. I wonder how many such loses will it take to cause political burnout in young Americans?

    Monday, December 9, 2019

    Travel Blogging VII

    At Sea, between Athens and Sicily (written yesterday): Our month-long cruise is actually two shorter cruises linked together. The first was Venice to Rome, basically an eastern Mediterranean cruise. The second is Rome to Ft. Lauderdale, and is properly thought by insiders as a “repo” or repositioning cruise.

    Repositioning cruises tend to happen in spring and fall - as this one - when a ship is moving from one climate zone to another. A classic example is ships moving to and from the Alaska cruise route, which is only active when it’s not freezing. Or moving to and from the Caribbean which tends to be less active in summer (too hot, muggy). Repo cruises tend to be priced more competitively (cheaply) on a per-day basis.

    Our first ‘leg’ was jam-packed with port visits, there were only two “sea days” or days with no port visit. The other DrC refers to it as a “beginners’ cruise” because new cruisers can’t imagine how to pass the days between ports.

    The second leg has a few port visits and a number of sea days crossing the Atlantic. People who have cruised a lot tend to like sea days and sometimes find port visits tedious, in part because the ports are places they’ve visited before.

    So what do we do on sea days? Read, crochet, surf the web, eat, sleep in, catch a show, lounge in the pool/hot tub. In short, live for a few days the idle life of the idle rich who have everything done for them by smiling minions.

    Speaking of minions, the other DrC chatted up a bartender from India who just joined the ship and is on his first contract as an employee. Learning this, she asked how he was liking it so far. His reply, “It is a dream come true.” I’ll bet he was smiling when he said it.

    Like the idle rich, the cruise passenger doesn’t have to make constant decisions about whether something is affordable, it is mostly prepaid and thus “baked in the cake.” Mostly, so long as one stays aboard and doesn’t go crazy in the shops, casino or bar.

    Travel Blogging VI

    At Sea, en route to Gibraltar: We’ve been sailing west, out of sight of land for a day and a half, on a course from Palermo to Gibraltar. I’ve never looked out and seen an empty horizon.

    I conclude the Mediterranean Sea is a busy place. There have always been other ships at a distance. This doesn’t happen in the three big oceans - Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific - where the appearance of being alone on the waters is often a reality.

    After a bunch of ports with Italian and Greek names and ethnicities, Gibraltar is defiantly British, having voted overwhelmingly to remain so in the face of demands from Spain to “give it back.” It’s a sore spot with the Spanish who believe with some geographic justice it should be theirs.

    Unfortunately for Spain, the Brits are known for good government, a reputation Spain cannot match. This is true in spite of the craziness surrounding Brexit, which has surfaced an English (as opposed to British) nationalism which normally remains submerged in party politics.


     On another topic, the Inspector General’s report on the U.S. Department of Justice is supposed to be made public later today. Given the 6 hour time difference between here and Washington DC, I won’t start to get informed commentary until quite late, possibly tomorrow in fact.

    Preliminary leaks suggest Republicans are likely to be disappointed with its conclusions. One can, however, wistfully hope for an honest outcome.

    Saturday, December 7, 2019

    This Day Lives in Infamy

    On this date in 1941 the Empire of Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on Oahu, in the Hawaiian Islands. Thousands were killed and wounded, a dozen or more warships sunk, and many airplanes destroyed.

    The Japanese followed this with absolutely brutal treatment of prisoners of war and civilian internees. Their treatment of Asian populations occupied by Japan was little better.

    Needless to say, Japan made few friends with their actions and Japanese rearmament is viewed with extreme skepticism by peoples all over Asia. It behooves Americans to remember what evil was done at Pearl Harbor, the Bataan Peninsula, and elsewhere, and by whom.

    The nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the fire bombing of Tokyo have always seemed karmic.

    Travel Blogging V

    Palermo, Sicily: What follows are my impressions of Palermo and environs. The terrain hereabouts resembles nothing so much as the Southern California coastline. The buildings are mostly stucco or stone if very old, the colors are tans and ivories, and the roofs tend to be tile.

    Sicily has a reputation for being poor. Could be, but there are sure a lot of little cars for a truly poor place. It runs to market days, Palermo has one on Saturday morning - what today was - as we drove through it. Our driver said it moves from place to place on various days of the week.

    We took a cab from Palermo to Termini Imaresi Alto, where the other DrC’s dad’s people came from. It is 20+ miles east of Palermo on the coast. We saw the building where one of her relatives lived, or if not the actual building, one that replaced the one on that same spot.

    The drive there was interesting, the driver fancied himself a fast driver and was in fact skilled. I rode in front beside him and it was like being Nuvolari’s navigator on the Mille Millia. Quite a thrill ride, considering our ‘race car’ was a small van-turned-taxi.

    The weather was cool but I was comfortable in shirt sleeves. Oddly, the Sicilians were all wearing ski parkas as though it were cold. I suppose Dec. is maybe as cold as it gets here, and that was decidedly “not very.”

    An odd thing was the number of plumes of smoke I saw at various locations. I saw no fire trucks so I presume all were intentional and more or less under control. The result was a good amount of smoke in the air which was visible, if not olfactorally perceptible. Island people tend to ignore air pollution as sea breezes blow smoke away.

    Wednesday, December 4, 2019

    Travel Blogging IV

    Salerno, Italy:  This is a beautiful seaside town on the west coast of Italy. Both the terrain and weather remind me of coastal California. It's December and just a tad cool for shirtsleeves, a light jacket is what is wanted.

    You can easily see why northern Europeans come here to warm up. The coastal promenade is lined with palm trees, which tells you clearly there is little to no snow here. An occasional frost, to be sure, but no hard winter.

    The first leg of the cruise ends tomorrow in the port of Rome, Civitavecchia. The old port Ostia at the mouth of the Tiber silted up so they moved up the coast to Civitavecchia. As the other DrC observed, Greece and Italy are ancient lands, 'civilized' for thousands of years.

    Tuesday, December 3, 2019

    Bye-ku for Kamala Harris

    It is widely reported that Kamala Harris is dropping out of the race for the Democrat nomination for president. With the usual hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku - a haiku of farewell - to Ms. Harris.
    Ta-ta Kamala,
    A law enforcement background
    Turns off black voters.

    Saturday, November 30, 2019

    Travel Blogging III

    Santorini, Greece: As predicted, we are moored in the caldera of an extinct (we hope) volcano looking up at the partially remaining rim. That rim is encrusted with white, looking like birdlime on a wharf piling, or snow atop a very tall mountain.

    The white ‘encrustation’ is buildings, all plastered and painted white. The rim edge is where the villages are located, looking down into the now-bay.

    When this super volcano blew up eons ago it emptied itself below sea level and blew out one section of the crater wall. The sea rushed in and over time cooled it down and created the bay in which we moor.

    Somewhere along the line Greeks colonized the island and built along the rim. This was chosen maybe for the view but more likely so as not to waste arable land on the outer slopes.

    This is always a “tender port” where “tender” doesn’t mean the opposite of tough, but rather means a motorized small boat carried by the ship. There is no deep water dock at which our ship can tie up.

    The Santorini reality is that local small boats/ships are used to ferry pax from the ship to shore and back. It provides employment for locals and saves wear and tear on our lifeboats.

    Santorini is striking to look at but difficult as anything to enjoy unless one is part mountain goat. It is worth seeing once but this is maybe my fourth visit so ... meh, I’ll stay onboard.

    Friday, November 29, 2019

    A Belated Happy Thanksgiving

    Just a quick note to hope you had a great Thanksgiving. We are thankful for the ability to wander the globe when we choose, and live in three climates which approximate late Spring the rest of the year.

    Posting has been light lately as I’ve had compatibility problems between Princess’s WiFi system and my Norton security software. To use the WiFi I’ve had to turn off the Norton, a less than optimal solution.

    We continue to cruise the Aegean Sea, having left the Adriatic Sea sometime in the last day or so. Today we are alongside in Rhodes, a Greek island off the coast of Turkey. There are some spectacular crusader fortifications here. Someday soon, possibly tomorrow, we’ll be in Santorini, anchored in the caldera of an extinct volcano.

    A Plymouth Lemon

    Historian Paul Rahe reminds us that the Plymouth Colony was an early experiment in socialism which flopped, as is typical, and it was discarded in favor of private property. This in a column written several years ago for Power Line, and republished yesterday for its relevance. See Rahe’s conclusion.
    The moral is perfectly clear. Self-interest cannot be expunged. Where there is private property and its possession and acquisition are protected and treated with respect, self-interest and jealousy can be deployed against laziness and the desire for that which is not one’s own, and there tends to be plenty as a consequence.

    But where one takes from those who join talent with industry to provide for those lacking either or both, where the fruits of one man’s labor are appropriated to benefit another who is less productive, self-interest reinforces laziness, jealousy engenders covetousness, and these combine in a bitter stew to produce both conflict and dearth.
    I didn’t remember this history lesson concerning our founders, and was happy for the reminder.

    Thursday, November 28, 2019

    Travel Blogging II

    Kotor, Montenegro (written 2 days ago): We spent the day tied up alongside in this very quaint near-medieval walled port city at the head of a fjord off the Adriatic Sea. Very steep but not-quite-sheer granite cliffs surround the town and there are fortifications running up the scarp behind the city.

    Kotor was an outpost of the Venetian empire back in the day, fortified against the Turks no doubt. Venice was a mighty sea power for several hundred years during the renaissance, a part of the west that traded with, and fought off, the east. Basically the Adriatic coast was all controlled by Venice.

    The other DrC and I spent the midday sitting at a sidewalk cafe in a plaza eating smoky thin-sliced Montenegrin ham - a local delicacy comparable to prosciutto - plus cheese and bread. A very local lunch and delicious.

    The weather started warm and cooled as some clouds rolled in, it’s that season where you’re too warm in a coat and too cool without one. I kept putting mine on, getting hot and taking it off. Then cooling off and putting it back on.

    Last time we were here, which the other DrC informed me was 8 years ago, the women were all wearing expensive-looking spike heels on these cobblestone streets. Today I saw not a single pair, and I was looking. Then it was June, now it’s late November, perhaps the shoes are a spring/summer thing. Or maybe the local taste has changed.

    If you get the chance, come to Kotor and be charmed. The natural setting is amazing as are the old buildings.

    Saturday, November 23, 2019

    Travel Blogging I

    Denver (written yesterday):  The wandering DrsC are at it again, this time flying to Venice where we’ll board the Pacific Princess and sail westward to Sicily, Naples, Barcelona, the Canary Is., etc., until we reach Ft. Lauderdale about a month later, a couple of days before Christmas. Expect reports along the way, as the mood strikes.

    We should have reasonable WiFi so I can continue to kibitz on matters political, social, international, and occasionally, scientific.

    Venice (written today): We’ve been reading that Venice was experiencing high tides and rain. I can’t testify to the tides (ships rise with the water level) but it was raining lightly as we arrived and transitioned by bus to the ship.

    Thursday, November 21, 2019

    Bias on Bolivia

    RealClearWorld links to a World Politics Review article on post-Morales unrest in Bolivia. The author is covertly opposed to the new government and sides with the protesting indigenes.

    She reports Morales supporters blocking roads and generally trying to bring the country to a halt. She demonstrates no awareness that such acts are violence against the good functioning and continued health of the nation.

    She reports police/military efforts to dislodge them as horrendous oppression. And she notes, with obvious disapproval, the ejection of obvious Cuban and Venezuelan trouble-makers from the country.

    Let’s try another point of view. Is there any evidence the military is rooting Morales supporters out of their homes, fields and workplaces? None that she reports. It might eventually come to that, but there is no sense it has happened yet, or in fact ever will.

    So ... what group is instigating trouble and which is reacting? Indigenes are instigating and the authorities are reacting. In playground language, the indigenes are “asking for it.”

    What the authorities are doing is dealing, at times harshly, with people gathered in mobs who refuse to allow the nation to function in the absence of Evo Morales. And of course there are racial slurs, the battle lines are in fact largely racial.

    Morales was an indigene, an Aymara Indian. The protestors are indigenous. The new acting leader is from the nation’s other ethnic population, Latin America’s, and Bolivia’s, mestizo majority. Here is the country’s ethnic mix, as reported in the CIA’s World Factbook:
    Mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian ancestry) 68%, indigenous 20%, white 5%, cholo/chola 2%, black 1%, other 1%, unspecified 3% ; 44% of respondents indicated feeling part of some indigenous group, predominantly Quechua or Aymara (2009 est.)
    Relatively clearly, many Bolivians want the country to continue to function, with or without Morales. A sizable group of indigenous don’t. Hence, conflict and violence.

    Wednesday, November 20, 2019

    Uncaring Crickets

    The best argument I have come across for the fairly widespread existence of Islamophobia is this. Americans simply refuse to care that China is mistreating and brainwashing its Uighur Muslim minority.

    Lots of supposed 'opinion leaders' have argued that Americans should care, the response ... cue the crickets. I speculate many view this as one disliked population abusing another disliked population, 9/11 made an impression.

    It's an example of "Why don't you and him fight? I'll hold your coat." One of those situations where people wish both sides could lose.

    Happy Birthday, Joe

    Today is Joe Biden's 77th birthday and he is, among other things, a new grandpa. The Washington Times has the story.
    Hunter Biden is the father of an Arkansas woman’s baby, according to a paternity test detailed in court papers filed Wednesday. “DNA testing has established with scientific certainty defendant is the father of the plaintiff’s child,” said the lawsuit filed by Lunden Alexis Roberts, 28.

    Ms. Roberts in May filed a petition for paternity support against Mr. Biden, son of 2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden. The younger Biden is “not expected to challenge the results of the DNA test or the testing process,” the filing said.
    Hunter is an embarrassment to the Biden campaign, and to his father, in a variety of uniquely unpleasant ways.

    The Plot Thickens

    Instapundit links to a chain of stories which end up with a Reuters story out of Kiev. Reuters reports:
    Ukraine has widened its investigation into the founder of energy company Burisma to include suspicion of embezzling state funds, Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka said on Wednesday.

    After he took office in late August, Ryaboshapka launched a wide-ranging audit of criminal cases to see whether they had been conducted properly. Thirteen of them relate to Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky, Ryaboshapka told reporters at a briefing on Wednesday.
    Hunter Biden was swimming in very unclean waters at Burisma. Here and here are links to two different articles at Gateway Pundit which allege Hunter received payoff money from Burisma that was raised through corruption and money laundering. Hat tip to for the links.

    Primary Voting/Caucusing Begins in 3 Months

    On the eve of the next candidate debate, National Journal's Josh Kraushaar does an overview of the top 4 candidates for the Democrat nomination. I like his conclusion.
    Each of the leading candidates commands support from a different demographic faction. Biden is dominant with African-Americans, over-performs with working-class voters and is the clear favorite with seniors. He badly lags with younger voters.

    Sanders boasts the opposite coalition: He continues to be a hit with progressive millennials and is a turnoff to older voters. He’s showing signs of strength with Hispanic voters—at least in Nevada. Unlike Buttigieg and Warren, he boasts disproportionate support from the working-class wing of the party.

    Buttigieg is the favorite among college-educated moderate white suburbanites, while Warren’s base is with college-educated white liberal women.

    The biggest question of all is whether momentum matters in a primary field that’s deeply divided along demographic lines.
    Anybody want to wager against a brokered convention, or one in which no candidate arrives with a working majority of delegates? Kraushaar would be tempted to take that bet. The Democrats' 'tent' is so big it includes groups with divergent mind sets, something once a Republican problem.

    A Modest Proposal

    I have a notion so commonsensical it is radical. Interest rates for student loans should be tied to the student’s major.

    I can also envision conditioning willingness to loan upon choice of career path. As a lender I would be more willing to loan to people whose career path is likely to lead to (a) employment and (b) substantial earnings.

    Those who major in STEM fields will have, on average, more job offers, a greater ability to repay and a reduced likelihood of default. Their loans, taken as a group, should embody less risk to the lender, and therefore come in with a reduced risk premium built into the interest rate.

    Those who major in “_____ studies,” which I think of collectively as “victim group studies,”  will have poorer employment opportunities than other graduates, will therefore be at higher risk of default on repayment and should pay a higher risk premium, if they can even get loans.

    These two examples probably anchor the ends of the continuum but there should be a fair number of points along the way where meaningful differences in outcomes make differences in costs-to-borrow and willingness-to-loan defensible.

    Furthermore, students change majors while in college. Prudent lenders would dole out dollops of loan as the students pass milestones toward lucrative careers, and dry up the funds should the student switch to a major with little or no employment future.

    I can hear idealists whining “But students should follow their hearts in choosing what to study.” To which my response is “Sure, but only if they can figure out how to pay for it.” A realistic world would subsidize studies leading to employment and only those.

    If philanthropists want to fund studies in playing the bassoon or art appreciation or women’s studies, they’re welcome to do so. Perhaps it will warm their hearts.

    Lenders are another matter altogether, making loans is a business decision - is this borrower an acceptable risk or not. Obviously there’s no way to know for an individual but plenty of ways to know for groups with common characteristics like major field of study.

    I’ll illustrate with examples from the lives of the DrsC. I taught business majors, she taught those who would be public school teachers and a few eventually school administrators.

    Both sets of our graduates got jobs, my business grads probably earned somewhat higher salaries than her education grads. Neither was at one of the extreme continuum ends. An economically rational lender would have charged my grads a somewhat lower interest rate than her grads, but the difference wouldn’t have been large.

    Tuesday, November 19, 2019

    Good News

    While the flashy impeachment action takes place in the House, the Senate quietly goes on confirming conservative judges. See what the Washington Examiner reports:
    The Tuesday confirmation of Judge Robert J. Luck created a majority for Republican-appointed judges on the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals, the third such party flip in a federal court of appeals during the Trump presidency.

    President Trump has also created GOP majority courts in the Third Circuit, which flipped in March, and the Second Circuit, which flipped last week with the confirmation of Steven Menashi. Since Trump assumed office in 2017, 163 title III judges have been confirmed to the bench, including Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
    This is good news and there is more of it to come. Elected officials come and go, judges serve for decades. Hold a kind thought for Mitch McConnell when you're depressed about the day's alarmist headlines.

    Monday, November 18, 2019

    Bloomberg's Mea Culpa

    Mike Bloomberg was a law-and-order mayor of New York City. He supported the then-in-vogue policy of stop-and-frisk policing promoted by James Q. Wilson and sometimes referred to as "broken windows" or proactive policing. His pro-police track record was one reason some Republicans might have been willing to vote for him in the November election.

    Quite recently, Bloomberg apologized for his former policies. City Journal describes what happened:
    Yesterday, addressing a predominantly black crowd at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, Bloomberg apologized for the NYPD’s policing practices during his three-term mayoral tenure. “I was wrong,” Bloomberg said, “And I am sorry.”
    And then author Rafael A. Mangual characterizes what this means:
    Bloomberg’s act of contrition further confirms that the Democratic Party no longer can accommodate, at least at the presidential level, candidates who support fundamental aspects of the American criminal-justice system—a system now viewed on the left as wholly corrupt and irredeemably racist.
    The thin blue LEO line is all that stands between you and Hobbesian anarchy. Sicko Democrats hate it, and you for supporting it.

    CA Gas Car Ban Reconsidered

    About CA's gas-car ban, I've had some second thoughts concerning questions the Bee's article didn't answer. It used the word "sedans," does that mean gas-powered SUVs are okay? How about vans?

    Assuming SUVs are exempt, what's to keep state agencies from switching all vehicle purchases to SUVs? Many private citizens have already made that switch. Even the Highway Patrol buys a mixed fleet of sedans and SUVs.

    Another issue, how about compressed natural gas powered vehicles? CNG pollutes less, are they okay? Or does it truly mean the only non-LEO sedans the state can purchase are electric vehicles?

    We need to learn more about what really has transpired. Newsom's announcement, while great high-status virtue-signaling, may amount to very little in practice.

    Sunday, November 17, 2019

    CA Bans Gas-Powered State Cars

    The Sacramento Bee, paper of record for the CA state government, reports as follows:
    California state government on Friday stopped buying gas-powered sedans as part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    The directive by the state’s Department of General Services, which oversees purchasing and contracts for California state government, exempts public safety vehicles.
    The crazies of La-La Land caper down the road to hell, paving each step with especially good intentions. Elysium, here we come. Meanwhile, sane people shake their heads in disbelief.

    Note: Check out a Quillette article on why people act this way - it's excellent, if a bit wordy.

    A Saucy Goose

    People say mean, sometimes untrue, critical things about President Trump every day ... crickets. President Trump says mean, critical things about Ambassador Yovanovich and she claims to be “intimidated.” Where is the fairness?

    If you would function in the public eye, as both presidents and ambassadors do, people will say mean things about you. Our libel and slander laws make it nearly impossible to be found guilty of besmirching the name of a public figure, this is intentional.

    Our free speech laws, to function properly, require public figures to tolerate abusive language directed at them. It is a (sometimes high) cost of doing business.

    There is, however, no requirement for anyone to be a public figure, it is a choice. In President Truman’s pithy formulation, “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.”

    Former ambassador Yovanovich needs to cowboy up.

    The Dilemma, Revisited

    Last Sunday we wrote about the Democrats’ dilemma. Today Glenn Beaton, often quoted Aspen Times columnist, says much the same thing I did about the Democrats, while reflecting on the Bloomberg candidacy. He’s distilled it down to far fewer words.
    Maybe no electable Democrat is nominable, and no nominable Democrat is electable.
    What an entirely cheerful thought. Hat tip to for the link.

    Later ... Democrats' quite real fear that the situation truly is as described by Beaton fuels the impeachment frenzy. Not cheerful for those trapped in it.

    Saturday, November 16, 2019

    Barr, On the Record

    Attorney General William Barr, speaking to The Federalist Society, gave a lecture that contains many potent ideas. Barr is a mensch, no question. The Conservative Treehouse has the transcript, and I quote two choice extracts.
    Immediately after President Trump won election, opponents inaugurated what they called “The Resistance,” and they rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver available to sabotage the functioning of his Administration. Now, “resistance” is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power. It obviously connotes that the government is not legitimate. This is a very dangerous – indeed incendiary – notion to import into the politics of a democratic republic. What it means is that, instead of viewing themselves as the “loyal opposition,” as opposing parties have done in the past, they essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple, by any means necessary, a duly elected government.

    In any age, the so-called progressives treat politics as their religion. Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the State to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection. Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursing a deific end. They are willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage in achieving their end, regardless of collateral consequences and the systemic implications. They never ask whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct, equally applicable to all sides.
    Barr’s overarching point is that both Judiciary and Legislative have encroached on Executive powers of the presidency. He documents both doing so. Their actions have hamstrung our government, have made it substantially less effective in dealing with the exigencies that naturally arise.

    Friday, November 15, 2019

    Early Replicants

    A woman reporter visits a sex doll factory, takes the tour, chats with the craftspeople and techs, and talks AI with those working to create 'personalities' for future dolls. Her article is at Spectator USA, and Ed Driscoll of Instapundit provides the link. I found her conclusion somewhat eerie and the photos moreso.
    It’s the fact that human affection, passion and emotions are being reduced to code and algorithms. The human experience of love, companionship and unconditional acceptance we often expect from our pets is being hacked, replicated and ultimately replaced by dolls who live in the cloud during the day and function as your robot wife/sex slave/ couch buddy at night.

    She can be anything you want her to be and demands nothing (unless you want her to). Soon she’ll be able to make sandwiches. I can’t help but wonder if a large majority of men won’t opt for the conflict-free humanoid over the real thing, with all of our baggage and hormones and mothers-in-law.
    The creators of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer wrote an episode (season 5, episode 15) about this, their answer was men won't opt for humanoids. Were those writers Latter Day Luddites?


    The former journalists at Politico don't much like President Trump. That doesn't make them completely unable to write something useful on occasion.

    I link you to a column about the President's negotiating style - where it has succeeded and where it hasn't. It turns out The Art of the Deal isn't a bad primer on how he functions, he's all about quid pro quo.

    Lippman describes him as "a transactional leader." He's straight about what he wants from you, and wants to know what he'll have to give you to get it.

    Expect him to keep trying for a deal he perceives to be advantageous to him; if you like it too, so much the better. If you don't like it, but have to do it anyway, he's also okay with that.

    There are those who don't want to do business with him at all, and I suspect he's okay with that, as well. As a developer his style is mostly one-man-band - the sole decision-maker - others get to carry out his decisions.

    Thursday, November 14, 2019

    A Clever Disguise

    I was watching Bret Baier on Fox News last evening and one of his panelists made an interesting observation. The Republican-controlled Senate, which had been talking about a quick vote on an impeachment, is now planning to take their time - a couple of months - with a full trial.

    Old fox McConnell has figured out that about half of the Democrats seeking the party's nomination are Senators. They would have to stop campaigning and be present for a fair amount of the 'trial' even though its outcome is foreordained. A long trial is campaign mischief cleverly disguised as due process.

    Deval Patrick Runs

    Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has decided to enter the race for the Democrat Party nomination for president. Patrick resigned from the Bain Capital consultancy the day before his late announcement. Bain is the same "vulture capital" firm Mitt Romney was criticized for working at.

    Patrick is thought to be close to Obama, in ways Biden never was, and has known Obama for perhaps 20 years. The conventional wisdom about Patrick's entry is that former President Obama doesn't believe any of the current field represent his values and also have a good chance of beating Trump. Patrick is thought to have Obama's implicit endorsement.

    When Patrick comes forth with what he proposes to accomplish as president, it will be interesting to see how far left he takes his platform. The center hasn't been attracting a lot of primary voter interest.

    Re: Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself

    I read a lot of stuff, much of it sadly ho-hum. Every now and then something stands out, for one reason or another, and I share it with you. This insight is from National Review and its author is Michael Brendan Dougherty.
    Jest can have a serious point. Sharing “Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself” memes because you believe paranoia stands to reason, or because you think they are funny, is a kind of practice for saying, “I think our leadership class and our institutions are capable of every corruption and depravity.”

    It signals to the world that you are willing to be caught saying this, which is now and in all times one of the more subversive things that can be thought or said.
    At least in my case it means I believe some members of our leadership class and our institutions are capable of many kinds of corruption and depravity. This can't be news to anyone paying attention.

    For example Horndawg Bill Clinton - the poster boy for sexual corruption and depravity - had frequent flyer miles on Epstein's Lolita Express aircraft.

    Acting Asian?

    Power Line's Paul Mirengoff writes about admissions to advanced placement courses in STEM in a Virginia county. Asians are over-represented, African-Americans are under-represented ... I know you are shocked, shocked ... and the NAACP is claiming bias.

    It's a longish column looking at possible reasons for the disparity. I wish to comment on one.
    There is some evidence that the performance of black students is harmed by peer pressure from other black students not to excel. I don’t know whether this dynamic operates in Loudoun County (or anywhere else). However, it’s a more plausible explanation for failure to excel than bullying by members of other races is.
    Excelling in school is derogatorily called "acting white" and the insult really happens. Ironically, the putdown is a misnomer since a majority of white students don't excel.

    It would more accurately be called "acting Asian." However let's be clear, doing well in school (or any other lawful endeavor*) shouldn't be criticized by anybody.

    *Playing the accordion is a possible exception.

    A Cacophony of Hearsay

    As I write this, the first day of formal, out-in-public impeachment hearings has happened. What did we learn, if anything? Namely, that several sober, serious bureaucrats heard others claim they’d heard something which concerned them.

    Had the witnesses actually met the President? No. Had they spoken with the President? No. Were they listeners to the phone calls in question? No. Did they know anything of their own, as opposed to others, knowledge? No.

    What did they know? They knew that they’d learned from others of things which they believed to be inappropriate, if in fact they’d been accurately informed by those others. This is pretty darn weak tea, what an Italian grandmother would call quasi acqua (almost water).

    Under the theory that Schiff would lead with his best witnesses, it appears we may have the makings of another Mueller report nothingburger. Time will tell, eh?

    Some wag recently wrote “Joe Biden actually admitted on camera doing, as Vice President, what President Trump is accused of doing.” Biden coerced Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor who was investigating the firm of which Joe’s son Hunter was a director.

    Biden did so by threatening to withhold U.S. aid. Trump wished to see the cancelled-at-Biden’s-insistence investigation restarted. If you don’t begin with the assumption “orange man bad,” who was more culpable?

    Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    Little and Big

    Two things are going on more-or-less simultaneously - the impeachment hearings and the DACA case at the Supreme Court. Comparing the press coverage of each, you'd conclude the first is much more important than the second. And of course you'd be wrong.

    The impeachment shadow play has very little importance. The House will impeach, the Senate will kill it, and at the end of the day, all that will have happened is a Democrat temper tantrum, acted out in public.

    On the other hand, if the Supreme Court finds the DACA program to have been unlawful when created by President Obama, that will prove to be a big deal. Future presidents ideologically aligned with Obama cannot reinstate it if it is found to have had no legal standing.

    It is no accident people on both sides of the aisle view the ideological leanings of appointees to federal judge positions as seriously important. The team of Trump and McConnell has appointed and confirmed many young, conservative judges to the federal bench. These will be influential for the next 30 years.

    Dems: America Unfair, Discriminatory

    America, who loves you? Power Line links to a Rasmusssen Reports survey which looked at Democrats’ and Republicans’ attitudes toward our country. The results are entirely unsurprising.
    A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that just 38% of Likely Democratic Voters believe American society is generally fair and decent. Fifty-one percent (51%) say it’s unfair and discriminatory.

    By comparison, 74% of Republicans and unaffiliated voters by a 49% to 36% margin view American society as fair and decent.
    No wonder Democrats are such sour, angry, perpetually glass-is-half-empty folk. And why studies repeatedly show Republicans are happier than Democrats, even where Democrats have been electorally successful.

    No country can be all things to all people. As we’ve written in years past, the Republican Party represents those for whom America “works” and the Democrat Party represents those who feel it doesn’t.

    Social Media Critiqued

    RealClearPolitics links to an article in The Atlantic which blames much of the current political craziness on social media. Authors Haidt and Rose-Stockwell build a reasonable case for Facebook and Twitter being accelerants for extremism and animosity, acting in the same way gasoline will cause a fire to burn hotter and faster. They write:
    Many Americans may think that the chaos of our time has been caused by the current occupant of the White House, and that things will return to normal whenever he leaves. But if our analysis is correct, this will not happen. Too many fundamental parameters of social life have changed. The effects of these changes were apparent by 2014, and these changes themselves facilitated the election of Donald Trump.
    I’m inclined to think the Resistance to Trump is more a product of social media than Trump himself. If there is a group in our society which has lagged behind in social media usage, it is Trump’s much maligned ‘deplorables.’ Who has been at the social media forefront? The resisters, and especially the press, egging on each other.

    Tuesday, November 12, 2019

    Blame the Culture

    Those who watch Latin America are reflecting on how the departure of Bolivia's Evo Morales is a part of some "pink wave" ebbing. I believe they make too much of the 'leftness' of Morales and certain others.

    What I see is the people of Latin America alternating between leftists and rightists in their search for decent government. Interestingly, both extremes claim to be the solution to their nations' problems but neither delivers what the voters seek.

    What nobody in Latin America wants to face is that the Iberian colonial culture is the root cause of their problems. Leftist or rightist politicians aren't the solution because they aren't the cause of the problem.

    When their leaders inevitably misbehave, it is because their culture commands they favor family over country and most - left or right - obey. Doing so they end up serving their family, at the expense of the state.

    We in the U.S. are not immune from these pressures, but we resist them better than most places and at least sometimes punish people who act selfishly. Recent examples of punishees include college-entrance scammers Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

    Monday, November 11, 2019

    Veterans Day

    On Veterans Day COTTonLINE gives a shout out to everyone who has honorably served, or is now serving, in our armed forces.

    Freedom isn't free; we have freedom because you defended it against those who would enslave us. We thank you all.

    The Supremes and DACA

    An article at Vox looks at the Supreme Court's options in deciding on legality of the Trump Administration's attempted termination of the DACA program for undocumented minors. It concludes the court could uphold lower court challenges and give the Dreamers a narrow victory.

    A second alternative would be a narrow defeat of the lower courts, allowing the administration to proceed with termination. This would put Dreamers at risk of deportation.

    Finally, the third option is for the Court to find the DACA action of the Obama administration unlawful, a violation of existing law. In which case, no future president could reinstate the DACA program.

    It is a good article, relatively balanced and not excessively biased. If the issue interests you, I recommend it.

    Quote of the Day

    Holman Jenkins, long-time columnist for The Wall Street Journal, considers our present political difficulties and pronounces sentence on Hillary Clinton.
    Mrs. Clinton, whatever she may have achieved in life, deserves to be remembered finally as the coward who put the country second because she couldn’t accept the legitimacy of her defeat.
    Dealing with Bill's womanizing, she got so good at lying (to herself and others) it has become reflexive, her standard coping mechanism. Some (more forgiving than I) might pity her.

    Bloomberg Reconsidered

    I’ve been having second thoughts about the Bloomberg candidacy-in-embryo. It is hard to see who his natural constituency is among Democrat primary voters.

    A New York Post article reports an over-the-weekend poll that found Bloomberg with 4% choosing him as their favorite, leaving him in 6th place. OTOH, most non-New Yorkers know relatively little about his governing style while mayor, and might want to learn more before choosing.

    Bloomberg was a law-and-order mayor, I doubt he is popular with black voters. The tax-the-billionaires crew now following Sanders and Warren aren’t going to love billionaire Bloomberg.

    Bloomberg wanted to tell people not to drink soft drinks, and generally acted like their nanny, libertarians will hate him. His slighting comments about #MeToo won’t play well with feminists and I don’t see the LGBTQ crowd switching from Buttigieg.

    I conclude he appeals to white moderates, a group that has benefited from the Trump economy and probably rarely votes in primaries anyway. He may have a pretty good electability pitch, and executive experience running our biggest city.

    His brag that “Trump can’t outspend me” might be Bloomberg‘s strongest campaign slogan. A Trump-Bloomberg contest could be the most expensive presidential race ever.

    The very fact that Bloomberg is someone for whom a few Republicans could consider voting is enough to disqualify him as the Democrat nominee.

    A Big Middle Finger Salute

    At Instapundit, regular guest blogger Stephen Green observes wisely about the “Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself” meme popping up across the web.
    What started five weeks ago as a gag on a nonpartisan gaming forum is now something of a national cause célèbre across the left, right, and great middle of this country. It’s a big middle finger salute to the Powers That Be, but more importantly it’s a sign that Americans in some small way are ‘as mad as hell and we’re not going to take this anymore!'
    How effing gullible do “the Powers That Be“ think we are, anyway? I’m insulted, how about you?

    Sunday, November 10, 2019

    Bolivian Prez, VP Step Down

    United Press International reports Bolivian President Evo Morales, one of Latin America's small group of hard leftists, has resigned in the face of widespread demonstrations against apparent reelection irregularities on his behalf. This is good news.
    Morales said on national television he was stepping down "for the good of the country." Morales, 60, has been Bolivia's president for nearly 14 years and is the longest-serving leader in Latin America.
    Morales made much of being indigenous (Aymara), unusual ancestry for a Latin American politician. When the military at long last turned against him, he knew it was time to bug out. The Miami Herald, the unofficial "paper of record" for Latin America, writes of Morales:
    Morales, a charismatic indigenous leader, rose to power last decade along with the likes of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and Rafael Correa in Ecuador and was considered one of the leading proponents of South America’s unique brand of populism and socialism.

    But he was also accused of adopting increasingly authoritarian tactics and trampling the constitution in order to dismantle term limits and stay in power.
    Fudging term limits to stay in power indefinitely is a mainstay of nearly every leftist autocrat in Latin America. They are known for it, think Castro, Chavez, Correa, and Ortega. It will be interesting to see if leftist AMLO in Mexico goes quietly when his term is done.

    In Anticipation of Foot-Shooting ...

    Democrats face an interesting dilemma. Those who bother to turn out for their primaries largely decide the identity of the party's nominee. Their primary voters are hot to trot for progressive, socialist ideas.

    Hence, there is a serious likelihood they'll nominate this generation's version of George McGovern, someone whose "Uncle Sam will be your daddy" rhetoric warms the cockles of their hearts. Such individuals can be very popular with a sizable, but far from majority, segment of voters, as Bernie Sanders was four years ago.

    As Republicans found with Barry Goldwater, and Democrats found with George McGovern, nominees who are "out there" normally flop in the general election. This is something party stalwarts like Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama have been trying to communicate to Democrat candidates.

    If the behavior of those running is any indication, none of the leading candidates is paying attention. Perhaps their polling suggests caution is primary poison this time around.

    The New York Times runs an article, here echoed on MSN, which makes the point that putting down working class voters - clingers to guns and god - isn't good politics. Calling them "deplorable" isn't helpful either. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

    Notice that D. J. Trump never puts working class voters down, but rather honors their views, patriotism and citizenship. Many vote for him in consequence. This isn't rocket science, it's smart politics.

    The Joys of Small Town Life

    Business Insider has a good article by a fellow who moved from Los Angeles to a tiny town in eastern Idaho, named Victor. If you're trying to place where Victor is, think basically due west of Jackson, WY, across Teton Pass and the state line on WY 22.

    He writes about the things in Victor that caused him and his wife culture shock. the DrsC have had many of these same "wow, that's different" experiences in western WY. Seeing empty cars with keys in the ignition at the grocery, for example, maybe even with the engine running and no dog guarding.

    Our builder built himself a big place backed up to the national forest. When we visited there, we noticed he'd not gotten around to installing a deadbolt on the otherwise unlocked front door. We commented on it and were certain they laughed about our naiveté after we left.

    And yes, hunting is one of the major preoccupations of darned near everyone who lives there year-round. We know couples who shoot, butcher and freeze two big elk a year and eat very little store-bought meat.

    Our politics at least are congruent with locals' views. There are jurisdictions in WY where no Democrat bothers to run, and the race is decided in the primary among the Republicans running.

    Saturday, November 9, 2019

    Bloomberg Keeps Options Open

    On various posts I've shared with you my notion that the field of Democrats seeking the party's nomination is, being kind, lackluster. I may have even called them "charisma-deficient" as I believe that true as well.

    The entry of NY billionaire "Little Michael" Bloomberg at this late date indicates he shares that perception and, unlike myself, is disconcerted by his evaluation. His entry, if it actually becomes more than talk, will be bad news for Biden, Klobuchar, and perhaps Buttigieg.

    Bloomberg can afford the sort of self-funding Trump used effectively in 2016, flying around in his own full-sized plane with campaign staff aboard, renting helicopters as needed. He can buy all the TV ads he chooses.

    On the one hand, it isn't easy to enter the primary season late. On the other hand, as a non-radical he is better positioned to take moderate voters away from Trump than, say, Warren or Sanders. Plus as a very wealthy individual his self-interest in preventing election of a socialist wealth-taxer is obvious and unambiguous.

    I conclude by noting that Bloomberg's entry, if it materializes, will make the race more interesting than it would be in his absence.

    Friday, November 8, 2019

    The Ripple Effects of U.S. Sanctions

    Paul Mirengoff at Power Line links to a Caroline Glick article at her eponymous website; the article likely originally appeared in Israel in Hebrew. Glick argues Trump's economic sanctions on Iran are indirectly causing the rioting and unrest in Iraq and Lebanon.

    The troubles in Iraq are directed at Shiite militias and those in Lebanon are directed at Iran's proxy, Hezbollah. She attributes the causal chain as Iran being unable to continue subsidies to its proxies in the two countries, and their consequent (unpopular) need to rip off locals to fund their activities. She writes:
    To date, the Trump administration’s maximum pressure strategy has not managed to bring the regime down. And it is unlikely that on their own, US economic sanctions will suffice to ever bring it down.

    Yet as the mass demonstrations against Iran and its proxies in Lebanon and Iraq make clear, the American strategy can and is undermining Iranian domestic and regional power and stability.
    And that, dear reader, is no bad thing. Mucking up Iran's desired role as regional hegemon is an entirely useful aim. Another triumph for the Trump foreign policy.

    VDH: Why Socialism Is Popular

    The often-cited Victor Davis Hanson weighs in at Fox News with an answer to the question, "why do Millennials favor socialism?" He cites four factors which he believes share the blame.

    They are these: (1) runaway immigration of people with little English and few skills who frankly need government services to survive, (2) tech sector Uber-wealthy who feel guilt about their (at least somewhat) unearned riches, (3) expensive universities causing crushing student loan debt keeping graduates from achieving independence - a state normally associated with moving right politically, and (4) doctrinaire Republican free traders who saw nothing wrong with shipping most manufacturing overseas, destroying huge swathes of employment.

    Hanson's four factors, appear valid to me. I'd add a fifth: the fairly steep expansion of prolonged adolescence extending now into the early 30s.

    When I graduated from college, the expectation was most people married more or less immediately in their early 20s. Shortly thereafter they purchased a home and then raised children.

    The idea one would be living in the parents' basement into early middle age seemed ridiculous. Prolonged dependency and delayed adulthood make the idea of parent care leading to government care seem natural. Perhaps Millennials will never become adults, seeking someone or something to lean on forever.

    Where did our people lose their self-respect, their need to be autonomous? Hanson blames student loans, maybe he's right.

    When the law was changed to permit children to remain on their parents' health insurance to age 26, I saw that as a milepost on the road to ruin. Maybe not a cause, but an effect of a seeming refusal to grow up and get on with life.

    Thursday, November 7, 2019

    Catching Up

    A friend and former colleague plus his wife, both retired, stopped by this afternoon. He and I discussed the political situation, about which we disagree more-or-less totally, in a friendly and low key fashion.

    I made the point that the President has a great economy, a winding down of foreign wars, and the confirmation of many, many conservative Federal judges. I called these three a trifecta and said they made his reelection possible, maybe even probable.

    My Democrat friend replied that if the economy tanked, Trump doesn't have a shot. I agreed that was likely the case.

    We were both B-School faculty so we agreed taxing the wealthy doesn't work well because they're too clever about avoiding tax legally. That's how they got wealthy to begin with, we joked, because they were smart about money. So expensive new Federal programs must raise middle class taxes.

    He was of the opinion single payer medicine was on the horizon eventually, though how soon isn't clear. I guessed we'd not live to see it, unless we became centenarians.

    It was his feeling that the B-school we'd worked at has let its standards slip somewhat since we cleaned our our offices there. I replied I had no idea, being totally out of touch.

    One thing's for certain, they don't miss us. Professors are very much interchangeable parts, one leaves, they hire another with similar quals. and keep on truckin'.

    After our guests left, the other DrC commented that Millennials are favoring socialism. They're too young to remember when Communists had to build walls to keep people from escaping from socialism to capitalism. And they fail to understand the symbolism of our need to build walls to keep the world's poor from overrunning our capitalist paradise.

    No Single Nation

    I don't often link to left-wing sites. However, RealClearPolitics drew my attention to a Slate article which makes the point that everyone running for president is disliked by more than half of respondents. Its title:
    Any Democratic Nominee Will Be Despised by Half the Country
    Here's part of its summation:
    If you look at RealClearPolitics aggregates ... the three leading Democrats, despite being about equally underwater, are less underwater than Trump. So it’s not that they can’t win, but they probably can’t win by a lot, in part because Trump put the finishing touch on the post-1960s realignment of the two major parties into coherent halves of the ideological spectrum by making anti-immigrant sentiment a more salient part of political identity and winning white-working-class onetime Democrats to the GOP. Functionally, this means there is no single nation available to be unified.
    And author Ben Mathis-Lilley concludes:
    Democrats can win the presidential election. Then the Democratic president will probably settle at a low approval rating that will either rise above 50 when he or she is reluctantly reelected in 2024, or never rise above 50 at all, in which case there will be a Donald Trump Jr. administration. And most people will hate him too.
    The bottom line is that today running for high office isn't a route to widespread approbation, you're more apt to end up being disliked. Trump seems to thrive in this hostile environment, I speculate it's part of his Noo Yawk legacy.

    A Caveat

    The press keeps referring to the six children and three women murdered by cartel gunmen in northern Mexico as “Mormons.” I object to this imprecision as I would if the press referred to Pentecostals as Catholics.

    Whether those colonies of dual-citizenship Anglos in northern Mexico are “Mormon” or Latter Day Saints is, at the very least, questionable. They split off from the mainline LDS church based in Salt Lake City around 130 years ago, and moved to Mexico to continue to practice polygamy. I gather they no longer do that.

    Some, like Mitt Romney and his dad George rejoined the mainline church and moved back to the States, others perhaps remain a schismatic separate sect. Probably the fairest description is that these families constitute a faith enclave whose ancestors moved to Mexico to set up intentional communities.

    Whatever label you choose doesn’t justify this cold-blooded murder of obvious non-combatants. Mexico is trying hard to become the murder capital of the world, on our border.


    Rereading what I wrote about “Medicare for All,” I realized I left out something the DrsC experienced with single payer Canadian medicine three summers ago. We were camped at Lake Louise and the other DrC fell and hurt her shoulder while hiking with our niece.

    We went to the small clinic there and, after examination, the local physician concluded (w/o X-ray) nothing was broken. After we got home to WY maybe 10 days later, it still hurt a lot so she got the shoulder MRIed. The tip of the bone was crushed and there was a hole in the rotator cuff.

    Some months later following physical therapy it healed and she now has complete mobility and no discomfort. I’m not angry at the Canadian doc, she did what she could with what she had and, as non-Canadians, we paid plenty for the privilege, also fair in my judgment.

    In “government medicine” too much “best judgment” diagnosis is practiced by overworked, under-capitalized clinics and some patients, like the other DrC, fall through the cracks. I’m glad we sought a second opinion in the States and got her treatment.

    Wednesday, November 6, 2019

    Rumination on California

    I’m a native of California. Though I no longer call it “home,” I still spend a few months there every year. And for sure I take a backseat to nobody in bashing what passes for a state government in Sacramento, it is a very bad joke.

    All of that said, CA is still in so many ways the nicest year-round physical environment in these 50 states and several territories. Much of it is warm, but not humid, and gets lots of sunshine. Take your pick of the seashore or the mountains, or farm the great Central Valley and coastal flood plains, ski the Sierras while never slipping on ice and snow in your driveway.

    People are claiming wildfires are something new, and disasters just a recent thing. Nope. Not the case at all. Paradise burning in the Camp fire was very bad, San Francisco burning after the earthquake over 100 years ago was worse.

    Forest fires? Nothing new. I’m old and, too many decades ago as a kid in SoCal, I would watch forest fires burn off the national forest mountainsides above Ojai every second or third autumn. People persist in building out into the CA foothills close to nature, and “nature” turns around and bites them occasionally.

    Our distant friends would call and ask, “Is your house in danger? We hear Ojai is burning.” We’d answer, “No, we’re fine, it never gets within miles of our house. The valley is fine.”

    Tell me the Midwest and south don’t get awful killer tornadoes - basically unknown in CA. Or the southeast and its giant hurricanes, none in CA. Or blizzards, only up in the Sierras around Lake Tahoe, not tying up our cities like much of the country. And mind-sapping humidity, common every summer nearly everywhere east of the Rockies, not in CA.

    What’s wrong with CA is bad politics, the same problem blessed-by-nature Argentina has. CA has the “blue state blues,” which seems an incurable malady. Once contracted, the ‘patient’s’ prognosis is poor.

    In Venezuela, which has a terminal case, the only solution available to the individual resident is to leave. Ironically, those with the gumption to leave make the situation worse for those who remain.

    Tuesday, November 5, 2019

    Medicare for All?

    This political season, in the run up to the election which happens roughly a year from now, several Democrat nominee-wannabes are advocating what they call Medicare-for-All. What they mean is single payer health insurance. All private insurance goes away and the government pays for the health care you get.

    I started to write "the government pays for everything" and stopped. The history of such plans in places like the U.K. and Canada is that a government simply cannot afford to pay for all the health care people want.

    The result is a form of rationing, to make the available dollars cover the expressed need. Triage becomes the name of the government health care game.

    Immediately life-threatening conditions are treated immediately, unless you are very old or very sick and likely to die soon regardless. Conditions which threaten your life in the medium run are treated within a few months, again if you aren't too old, too fat, or a smoker.

    Conditions which merely give you a lot of pain, but are not life-threatening, get treated in a much more leisurely fashion. A hip or knee replacement may wait 1-3 years. If you're old, obese or a smoker it won't be done at all.

    If your prognosis is unfavorable, if you don't have good odds of recovery (many cancers), you may receive palliative care while you linger and die. If you are old, ditto.

    The demand for some tests like the MRI or CAT scan tend to exceed capacity, so you may be treated based on your physician's best judgment without benefit of MRI, as the wait time for the test is too long.

    If you are homeless, uninsured, or getting by on Medicaid, the above may be an improvement over your present situation. If you are reading this, government health care almost certainly will be less satisfactory than your present coverage.

    It is no accident Canadians who can afford it come to the U.S. for surgical procedures they'd have to wait years for back home. Yet they love going to the clinic 'for free' if they have a cold or a skinned knee.