Thursday, February 28, 2019

Essay Question

Writing at Townhall, acid-penned columnist Kurt Schlichter confects the following opening line for a column trashing reparations.
Senator Willy Brown Side Piece and Senator Panders With Wolves have decided to so something even Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit never dared – they’ve come out in favor of reparations.
In the quote, Schlichter makes reference to three prominent Democrat women all of whom have a more-than-passing interest in the 2020 presidential nomination. Your basic task is to identify each of the three; extra credit will be given for illustrating your reasoning via corroborating salacious examples.

Driving the Affluent Away

RealClearPolitics has an excellent article by Stephen Moore describing the unintended consequences of the high tax rates in five states: California, Connecticut, Illinois, New York and New Jersey. See what he writes:
The wealthy are fleeing these five states. The new United Van Lines data were just released that are a good proxy for where Americans are moving to and from. Guess what four states had the highest percentage of leavers in 2018: 1) New Jersey, 2) Illinois, 3) Connecticut and 4) New York. Even California had more Americans pack up and leave than enter.
Remember those using a moving service like United are, on the whole, the more affluent movers. The poor pack stuff in their car or maybe a U-Haul trailer. The middle class likely rent a truck like the one I drove cross country in 1976 as an impecunious young academic.
If the four states of the Apocalypse -- Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey and New York -- do not reverse their taxing ways and choose to keep making things worse, these once very rich and prosperous states will see thousands more rich taxpayers leave. The politicians in these four states just don't seem to understand math. A soak-the-rich tax rate of 8 percent, 10 percent or even 13 percent on income of zero yields zero income when the wealthy leave the state.
It doesn’t hurt that two of the states with no state income taxes - FL and TX - are also in the sun belt which has to look attractive during this extra-chilly winter. Meanwhile the ZeroHedge site reports people are leaving Los Angeles and moving to Henderson, near Las Vegas, in another no tax state - NV.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Brexit Common Sense

Much has been written about Brexit, the process by which the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, both pro and con. I’ve been reading widely and mostly not agreeing with what I read, finding it either “sky is falling” panic or “political gridlock” fear-mongering.

RealClearPolitics has an article by two private sector economists who write what I’ve been thinking, that just leaving - so-called ‘hard Brexit” - is not a recipe for disaster. Among other points, they write:
It's not like there would be no trade between the U.K. and the EU after a Hard Brexit. Trade rules would simply shift to the ones that apply between the EU and other countries under the World Trade Organization, like those that apply to EU-U.S. trade or between the EU and China or Japan.

But the EU would be under enormous pressure to lower tariffs and cut a new deal with the U.K. In 2017, the rest of the European Union ran a roughly $90 billion trade surplus with the U.K. So if a Hard Brexit makes it tougher for the rest of the EU to export to the U.K., every national capital in the EU would be flooded with lobbyists asking to cut a deal.
Their point - the EU has more to lose than the U.K. if trade between the two goes south, so that won’t happen. “$90 billion trade surplus” isn’t chump change, I find the authors’ reasoning persuasive. Sadly, that doesn’t mean the British public will agree.

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Crazy Aunt in Our National Attic

COTTonLINE does a sporadic series on the (mostly self-inflicted) troubles of Oregon, where I misspent 3 years of my youth. As noted before, it is an odd place dominated by gnomish ultra-liberals who find their American citizenship very nearly intolerable.

A current City Journal article looks at the Portland city government effectively declaring - without evidence - their police force to be a greater problem than those breaking its laws. It’s gotten this bad:
Portland’s attitude toward law enforcement has become so negative, in fact, that neighboring Washington County will no longer offer coordination or support to the Portland Police Bureau. “The makeup of the Portland jury pool and the anti-police attitudes of many residents appears to have a large impact upon the DA’s ability to successfully bring charges against suspects that are injured in police use of force cases,” noted Senior Assistant Washington County Counsel Elmer Dickens.

Local officers will also no longer be able to take part in federal counterterrorism efforts, thanks to the city council, which has nixed Portland’s partnership efforts with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Read the first paragraph as “You got a riot? You deal with it. Our officers won’t be treated as the enemy.” The second says Portland sides with terrorists.

Oregon ... you could be forgiven for concluding it is our nation’s modern-day equivalent of a mental hospital. That view is nothing new, Lewis and Clark’s guys didn’t like OR when they wintered over in the early 1800s.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

You Can’t Invent This ...

It is widely reported the 2020 Democrat primary for president is a race to the socialist left, with most candidates wanting to make sure nobody takes positions to their left. Meanwhile nobody is reporting that the electorate has suddenly become hugely more ‘progressive’ or liberal.

At the same time, the avowedly socialist government of Venezuela is providentially undergoing a dramatic and gut-wrenching meltdown. Starving millions are fleeing once-rich Venezuela, overwhelming its neighbors. An endorsement of socialism it definitely is not.

Doesn’t this sound like what a Republican fabulist - imagining a scenario in which the Democrats cede the political center to a not-terribly-popular president whose actions, as opposed to his tweets, have been centerist - would come up with? That’s my reading.

I conclude modest optimism is warranted.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Daddy Spank

Instapundit links to a Daniel Greenfield article at Front Page magazine. Greenfield links to a statement issued by the father of Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA).

An economics professor at Stanford, Professor Donald Harris is not at all amused by his daughter associating herself with the Bob Marley/ Rastafarian/ganja-besotted image of Jamaicans, see what he posted.
My dear departed grandmothers(whose extraordinary legacy I described in a recent essay on this website), as well as my deceased parents , must be turning in their grave right now to see their family’s name, reputation and proud Jamaican identity being connected, in any way, jokingly or not with the fraudulent stereotype of a pot-smoking joy seeker and in the pursuit of identity politics. Speaking for myself and my immediate Jamaican family, we wish to categorically dissociate ourselves from this travesty.
My favorite part of this is when Professor Harris denigrates “identity politics,” the central platform issue of today’s Democrat Party.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

W.E.B. Griffin Dead at 89

Instapundit links to a Publishers’ Weekly article reporting the death at 89 of W.E.B. Griffin, vastly prolific author of military, espionage, and police fiction. In recent years Griffin has coauthored with his son, William E. Butterworth IV. I have read many of his books and enjoyed them immoderately.

W.E.B. Griffin, né William E. Butterworth III, Rest In Peace. My thanks for hundreds of hours of recreational reading pleasure.

Another Hate Crime Con

It is reported in various outlets that actor Jussie Smollett hired two ‘actors’ from Nigeria to stage the ‘attack’ on him, an effort they perhaps even ‘rehearsed.’ Known for his role in the Empire TV series, his is the most recent in a long string of ‘hate crime’ hoaxes going back at least to the Tawana Brawley hoax midwived by Al Sharpton.

This is so common an occurrence that smart people treat all hate crime claims with deep skepticism. Don’t include legacy media in the “smart people” category, they’ll keep pouncing on each new claim with undisguised glee.

Charlie Brown keeps believing this time, unlike every time in the past, Lucy will finally let him kick that ball. The media haven’t learned to be extra careful about believing things they desperately want to be true. It is a human weakness con artists have taken advantage of ...
since forever.

Later ... see a Gail Heriot post at Instapundit for a list of hoax ‘hate crimes.’

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Sears on Life Support

The Wall Street Journal is reporting (via Apple News) that CEO Edward Lampert is planning to have the remaining Sears stores be smaller and deemphasize clothing sales. This as they come out of bankruptcy.
The restructured company, which doesn’t yet have a new corporate name, will be composed of 223 Sears stores and 202 Kmart locations, as well as the Kenmore and DieHard brands. Sears sold its Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker in 2017 but retains a license to sell products under the name.
Is Lampert slow, or what? Let me show you what I wrote about Sears in October of 2014, some 52 months ago.
The strong brands at Sears are Craftsman tools, Die-Hard batteries, Kenmore appliances, and perhaps housewares. Does anybody buy clothes at Sears any more? One sees few customers in the clothing sections of Sears stores.
Let’s be candid, I’m no famous business prognosticator. I’m just a Management prof retired from a second (third?) tier university. Its sole claim to national fame was being named Playboy’s #1 party school in 1987.

Marketing wasn’t my specialty; if I could figure this out then, how has it taken the people running Sears/Kmart so long? Sadly, it may now be too late, people have lost the “Sears habit.”

Capitalism Worth Fighting For

For all its inequalities, capitalism has created more wealth by far than any other known system, and shared it more widely too. This is because it works with normal human proclivities, instead of against them as socialism does.

Peggy Noonan has a column in the Feb. 15 Wall Street Journal (behind WSJ paywall but posted at Apple News app) in which she implores Republicans to save capitalism. Capitalism, Noonan correctly predicts, will be under full-scale assault by Democrats who are headed left at a gallop. It is the job of Republicans to save capitalism, she believes, in much the same way Roosevelt did in the 1930s.

Given the economy today has seldom been better, when then it had never been worse, I’m not certain her FDR comparison is an apt one. I’d say the angst Trump voters experience is more social than economic, a cry of “I want my country back, you’re destroying it.”

They see schools that indoctrinate but don’t teach, marriage becoming the exception rather than the rule, the insane living rough on the streets, illegal immigrants flooding in, and manufacturing jobs shipped overseas with no thought about the fate of those whose work has gone. It’s not a pretty picture.

Sadly, Noonan can’t quite bring herself to admit “reality TV star” Trump has made things less bad. I recommend her column to you. If I can find an URL for it I’ll add it later. 

No Obvious Allies

Instapundit quotes a Megan McArdle opinion piece in the Washington Post (behind paywall) on Amazon’s decision to drop plans for a subsidiary headquarters in Long Island. What she writes is worth reading.
Big Tech should be worried about the company’s experience. Once viewed by the left as the Good Big Business, Big Tech has now been reclassified to the ranks of the rapacious monopolists. Meanwhile, the right is also getting less tech-friendly as it perceives Big Tech taking the other side in the culture wars. At the moment, tech has no obvious political allies.
“No obvious political allies” is a dangerous place to be. Big Tech has become the 21st century version of the 19th century’s railroads. That is, monopolists both left and right love to hate.

The railroads ended up hyper-regulated and shackled. Does their trajectory predict where Big Tech ends up ... as a virtual public utility? A far-sighted investor might consider moving his/her portfolio out of the tech sector.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Emergency Declaration Imminent?

The Daily News (U.K.) reports the White House will sign the compromise bill giving President Trump much less than he asked for to build his border wall, while keeping the government open. They report he will - at the same time - declare an emergency and redirect other funds to build a lot more wall. If true, this is excellent news.

Attempting to dissuade Trump, Speaker Pelosi indicates a future Democrat president might declare an emergency to confiscate all the privately owned guns. She might want to rethink that threat.

Molon labe - would you want to be tasked with forcibly collecting Americans’ guns? It could get you killed and/or trigger a civil war. Guess which side has most of the weaponry? Yep, the NRA’s side.

Build the wall, Mr. President. Do whatever it takes, your reelection depends on it.


It isn’t too late to wish that special someone a
❤️ Happy St. Valentine’s Day ❤️
Make a joyous time of it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Newsom’s Vision

Joe Garofoli, senior political writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, describes the various things newly elected governor Gavin Newsom wants to do for California because:
Trump’s portrait of America is “fundamentally at odds with California values,” the governor said Tuesday in his first State of the State speech.
Newsom continues the work of his predecessor - ex-Gov. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown - transforming CA into the proverbial “nice place to visit which you wouldn’t want to call home.” This is so sad, CA was amazing when I grew up there too many years ago.

CB Comes to CA

For a decade or two the DrsC have enjoyed eating at Cracker Barrel restaurants across the country, but there were none in California or Wyoming. Yesterday a Cracker Barrel opened in Santa Maria, up the road a half hour from where our RV is parked and we were among its first-day patrons.

No surprises, it has the same good food and old country store decor. And like many of their restaurants, it was plenty busy. We’ll be back. We learned there is another store open in Sacramento on Howe Ave.

It was once said you’d never find a Cracker Barrel restaurant and a Whole Foods market in the same town as they appeal to quite different demographics. I’m relatively certain the either/or thing is no longer true, if it ever was.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Newsom Gets It Half Right

Generally I’m inclined to view CA Governor Gavin Newsom as a doofus, but when he does something right I should recognize it. In his state of the state address Newsom indicated he plans to stop pushing Governor Moonbeam’s high speed rail boondoggle. That’s good.

On the other hand, he wants to build out the portion between Merced and Bakersfield. One suspects he chose this because flat farmland is cheaper to condemn than residential property and cheaper to build on than mountainous terrain.

The fact that most Central Valley passenger traffic originates north or west of Merced and terminates south of Bakersfield seems to have eluded Newsom. His rump rail project is a route from nowhere to nowhere, with apologies to the unpretentious cities of Merced and Bakersfield which truly are places in CA’s version of “flyover country.”

A Democrat CPA should explain the finance concept of “sunk cost” to Newsom. While he’s figured out he is in a hole, he doesn’t yet understand the “stop digging” part of the adage.

The human temptation to throw good money after bad is so strong and so very wrong.

Institutional Self-Interest

After all the really uneducated things Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said publicly, her alma mater - Boston University - must be ashamed of her cum laude graduation in 2011. Honoring her dishonored that institution.

One suspects BU felt the need to add Hispanic names to its honors list that year. And perhaps AOC was some Marxist professor’s protege.

Venezuela ‘Tea Leaves’

Andres Oppenheimer is COTTonLINE’s go-to guy for analysis of Latin America. RealClearWorld links to an Oppenheimer article in the Miami Herald which explores three possible futures for troubled Venezuela. His headlines, and his estimated likelihood of each:
  1. Maduro is forced to allow internationally supervised free elections. (snip) I’d put the probability of this scenario at 50 percent.

  2. Maduro stays in power indefinitely. (snip) I’d put the probability of this scenario at 30 percent.

  3. A U.S. or multinational military intervention topples Maduro. (snip) I’d give this scenario a 20 percent probability.
His view of why each outcome is or isn’t likely is even more interesting, read the whole article. Bottom line ... a 70% chance Maduro goes.

Monday, February 11, 2019


Thinking about how Donald Trump got to where he now sits ... the Oval Office. He began as a preppy kid with some of dad’s money and, bringing more than his fair share of IQ points to the task, became a successful New York City developer.

As such he palled around with show biz folk and observed they were charismatic but none too smart. So he got involved in figuring out what kinds of stories sell, first with the faux-athletic professional wrestling circuit and beauty pageants, then with ‘reality’ TV, all of which utilize soap opera-style invented story lines.

Along the way interviewers reported his peculiar insistence on watching a replay of his just-concluded interview performance with the sound turned off. He appears to have been studying his presentation of self, with the aim of improving it.

I suspect that, contrary to popular opinion, Trump does very little that isn’t part of his carefully created and curated narrative line and persona. He imagined himself as president and created a story arc that took him there. Now he imagines himself reelected and we should see his current behavior as being in service of that goal.

Scott Adams’ master persuader ... at work.

A Happy Note

This morning’s headline at Drudge Report:
Trump 52% Approval Jolts
Best in Years
The headline links to a Daily Mail (U.K.) story reporting a finding by the Rasmussen Reports polling organization. It is from Rasmussen’s Daily Presidential Tracking Poll. Not bad for a president the legacy media savages on a daily basis.

I’d guess the media’s unwillingness to address the concerns of everyday Americans has something to do with the dire financial straits many outlets find themselves in today. They’ve become niche market players instead of mass market outlets.

When your enemy is busy shooting himself in the foot, offer to hold his coat. Maybe even steady his aim.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

SOTU Afterthought

I just reread my SOTU post below. Doing so, I was struck by something I overlooked when first reacting to both the speech and its poll numbers.

Some 64% of Democrats had negative reactions to Trump’s speech - this one would totally expect. On the other hand, 36% of Democrats who watched had no negative reaction!

Evoking a neutral-to-positive reaction in 36% of one’s opponents is a stunning achievement by any president. The legacy media tell you President Trump is the most hated president since Herbert Hoover. That isn’t reportage or analysis ... it’s self-disclosure.

At this moment, Trump’s odds of reelection in 2020 look good. Much can change in 21 months, stay tuned.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Turkish ‘Delight’

RealClearWorld links to an article in War on the Rocks which describes the reasons why U.S.-Turkey relations have gotten so rocky. This statement in particular caught my eye.
Turkey does not think in terms of national interests because it has almost completed its transformation into a Russian-style kleptocratic “guided democracy.” In such a system, the political survival of a power elite becomes the sole strategic objective and the institutional means of safeguarding national interests are delegated to mere tactical tools.
It is worth remembering that Turkish President Recep Erdogan famously said, as a young politician:
Democracy is like a train: when you reach your destination, you get off.
Clearly Erdogan has reached his destination - the undisputed leadership of Turkey. He has disembarked, shedding democracy like a worn-out pair of shoes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019


Tonight the other DrC and I watched on TV as President Trump delivered his second official State of the Union address in the House chamber of the Capitol. In our view he did a good job.

Trump did a particularly effective job of choosing guests that even Democrats had to applaud, like WW II vets from the Normandy invasion and a Dachau survivor one of those vets rescued. And a girl who has survived (so far) brain cancer.

I don’t agree with everything Trump views as accomplishments. His support for lowering sentences for drug dealers was a mistake, in my view.

Later ... Both CNN and CBS ran polls looking at approval ratings for the SOTU speech and both found around 76% of those watching approved. CNN wrote:
The glowing reviews came largely from the Republicans (87% very positive) and independents (57% very positive) who tuned in. Democratic speech-watchers largely had negative responses (64% very or somewhat negative).
The important finding is the 57% of independents who liked it, Trump needs them to get reelected. The mean girls in white did themselves no favor by acting petulant. It was a bad look for them.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi shuffling papers behind Trump as he spoke was especially rude and illmannered. She earns her unpopularity anew at almost every public appearance.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Phony Baloney

That document should put paid to Senator Warren’s presidential aspirations. She is a phony and a cultural appropriator. Hat tip to David Bernstein, guest blogging at Instapundit, for the link.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

13 to 3

Brady and Belichick win another Super Bowl, much to the dismay of the many who wanted to see them humbled. With scores so low, it had to be less fun to watch unless you’re a real student of defensive play.

When one team wins several consecutive or near-consecutive championships, as the Patriots have, there’s a real tendency for folks to resent it. The Yankees had this same problem.

Those who (unlike me) follow sports closely can almost certainly think of other examples of winners being disliked for dominating their sport. It’s a peculiarity of human nature, one supposes.

A Personal Note

California, for those who don’t know, gets most of its rain in the three months Dec. - Feb. That is the period that each year finds us in SoCal where even in those months rain is the exception rather than the rule.

There are plenty of nice shirtsleeve days between storms, in spite of which I haven’t written much lately. Our RV is parked by a reservoir in a valley north of Santa Barbara and there’s been a lot of rain recently. The reservoir was 30% full when we arrived in late Dec., is now at 40% and the locals hope for more.

The road to SB is blocked by a mudslide resulting from an 8 foot culvert being plugged by fire-killed brush and trees washed downslope by the rain. From where we are ‘camped’ we mostly drive out in other directions to shop or dine so the blockage hasn’t been a big deal.

We’ve also had a storm-caused electric power outage lasting maybe 36 hours, which isn’t as crippling in an RV as it is in a house. Our heat and hot water are propane-fired, and our refrigerator runs on it too. No TV without shore power, though.

Lack of power was gradually running down our RV batteries, so we were happy when the electricity came back on around 5 p.m. today. The battery on the IPad I write this on was running very low until we took an afternoon drive and charged up our phones and pads using the truck’s alternator power.

That’s us, roughing it gently by a lake in a wine-growing valley along the south coast. The hills are green, the world looks freshly washed, and there is still plenty of open country hereabouts. Life is good.

The dystopian California historian Victor Davis Hanson describes is real. Hanson splits his time between a city and a rural slum, both are ugly. The trick we have learned is to spend your CA time where life is good, we avoid big cities and rural slums.