Sunday, March 31, 2019

Painful Self-Examination

Writing for a source we seldom cite - Rolling Stone - Matt Taibbi tries to understand the political side of the Trump phenomenon. Begin by knowing Taibbi doesn't like Trump at all, but at some level respects his undoubted skills. First he sets the stage.
The more serious issue has to be the failure to face the reality of why he won last time, because we still haven’t done that.
 See what Taibbi wrote during the campaign.
The same way Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house, Donald on the stump can see his future. The pundits don’t want to admit it, but it’s sitting there in plain view, 12 moves ahead, like a chess game already won:

President Donald Trump…

We let our electoral process devolve into something so fake and dysfunctional that any half-bright con man with the stones to try it could walk right through the front door and tear it to shreds on the first go.

Trump is no half-bright con man, either. He’s way better than average.
Trump is Scott Adams' "master persuader," made flesh.
His general pitch ... claimed most Americans were struggling because both parties were feeding from the same campaign-finance teat, pimping themselves out to huge job-exporting corporate donors. Which, let’s face it, is more than a little true.
And after the election:
Russiagate became a convenient replacement explanation absolving an incompetent political establishment for its complicity in what happened in 2016, and not just the failure to see it coming. (snip) Neither Wolf Blitzer nor any politician ever had to look into the camera and say, “I guess people hated us so much they were even willing to vote for Donald Trump.”
Analysis: You're still hateful and we're still willing. It turns out Taibbi's "way better than average con man" is a better than average President.

Imagine the effrontery of a politician actually trying to keep campaign promises, it's outrageous.

Retroactive Abortion links to a College Reform article reporting students at Hofstra University want the statue of President Thomas Jefferson removed from campus. Their allegation, it represents "a legacy of racism and bigotry on college campuses."

No question, Jefferson was a slave-owner, so was Washington and very likely most of the rest of the so-called "founding fathers" of this nation. If you follow this chain of guilt-by-association reasoning to its ultimate conclusion, the very Constitution and in fact our federal republic would have to be jettisoned as well.

These men created it and they are, in some eyes, irredeemably stained by their association with 'the peculiar institution.' It logically follows that anything our founders created was also contaminated.

Except ... simple observation shows this is not true. Less-than-perfect individuals (as who is not) created a rather wonderful governmental structure that has evolved and grown as changing circumstances have demanded.

Honor Jefferson for the good he did, not for the wrongs with which he was associated. Ditto for all of the founders, and for the rest of us.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

An Old Argument, Revisited

Power Line links to a Quillette article which debunks a recently honored book claiming apparent sex differences in brain structure and function are illusory. It is a reasonable article and worth reading if the topic interests you.

It is not PC to admit there are likely to be differences in the male and female brains.  On the other hand, from an evolutionary point of view it is more reasonable to assume a priori that such exist in a complementary way which improves the survivability of our species.

Historically male and female humans have lived together, instead of separately as for example bears do. Having gender specialization has been pro-survival for our species.

None of this argues in any way that one sex should have different legal rights than the other, or be treated in any way as inferior or unserious. That question has long since been decided in our society, and it is certainly not my intent to reopen the discussion.

On the other hand, treating people equally doesn't require they be identical in all respects, and simple observation assures us they are not.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Prosecute the Perps

Writing for RealClearPolitics, Jenny Martin argues for a special prosecutor to bring to justice the members of the Obama administration who perpetrated the anti-Trump witch-hunt just ended. See who she would have investigated for indictment.
The current and former government officials – holders of a public trust – who deliberately abused that trust to lead their fellow citizens on what they knew from the beginning was a wild goose chase. They knew it was a wild goose chase because they were the ones who created it in the first place.

I’m talking specifically about former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, and Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr, among others.
COTTonLINE endorses this view, and this list. I'd also like to know more about what Obama himself knew and when he knew it.

Plus, Martin makes a key point in about the harm done to our national interests.
For more than two years now – in fact, for the entire duration of his presidency – President Trump has been handicapped in his conduct of foreign policy by the inevitable doubts among foreign leaders who couldn’t help but wonder about the value (and duration) of a deal struck with Trump, or a threat made by Trump.

That handicapping of our president doesn’t just hurt him, it hurts our entire nation. 

Fish Unaware of Water

Susan Glasser writes in New Yorker an article entitled "Our President of the Perpetual Grievance" which I can't be bothered to read. If anybody has ever been picked on, he has and most of his grievances are reactions to ceaseless nagging.

However, the title triggered something for me I'd like to share with you. Donald John Trump is a New York City kid who grew up and basically never left NYC until he won the presidency.

Be honest, doesn't "perpetual grievance" describe many, perhaps most, of the native New Yorkers you've known? That's been my experience, even with those I've had as coworkers and liked. It's the "chip on the shoulder to survive" attitude that really never goes away.

The Noo Yawk "Are you lookin' at me?" snarl is rarely heard in more polite parts of this great land. It could get a person shot in Wyoming or Tennessee, for example.

Isn't it ironic a publication named New Yorker is so lacking in self awareness that they'd not recognize how odd it is to pick on DJT for exhibiting a trait widely shared by residents of the great city of that name? Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

A History of Brexit, So Far

If you want to review the entire several year process by which Britain got to its present near-impasse vis-a-vis Brexit, has a long, thorough article which reviews the entire sequence of events more or less exhaustively. Warning, it gives the EU perhaps more credit than is absolutely deserved.

The Real Motive

The scientific journal Nature reports scientists are worried about President Trump’s demand that universities protect free speech as a condition of continued federal funding of various research grants and programs. I get it, even if the author doesn’t.

The concern, among scientists who rely on federal grant monies for continued employment, is that leftism is so entrenched in their institutions their employer will defy the order to permit despised center and right-wing opinion on campus and the grant monies will dry up. Horrors! Unemployment looms! Careers in peril!

Actually, it isn’t an entirely empty threat. Higher ed administrators are between the proverbial rock and hard place. The rock is federal demands for more minority enrollments and graduates, the hard place is requiring the toleration of conservative views some minority students find less-than-welcoming. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Comparative Cable News Ratings as Political Metric

See a Daily Caller article which looks at viewership across the cable news channels (Fox, MSNBC, CNN) recently. When the Mueller report summary came out of AG Barr’s office viewership went up at Fox and down at the other two. If you’ve been tracking, earlier in the year viewership at MSNBC was up.

Nobody seems to have connected these dots. When people like what the news is reporting they watch, and when they find it less self-affirming politically, they don’t.

Viewers of Fox lean right, tend to be Republican; those of MSNBC lean left, tend to be Democrats. In the anticiptation of the Mueller report, which MSNBC, CNN assured their Democrat viewers would eviscerate Trump and his people, Democrats spent a lot of time watching. Republicans ... not so much. There were periods when MSNBC actually led the cable news ratings.

When the reality of Mueller’s report became known, Democrats were disappointed in the findings and viewed less MSNBC and CNN. Republicans liked the news and viewed more Fox.

We have discovered a new political metric - comparative cable news ratings as an indicator for which party is winning the week. The mantra in local news is “bad news is good news, when it bleeds it leads.” In national news, the reverse seems true, viewers appear to reward good political news by watching, but avoid looking at bad political news.

I suppose this makes sense, winning sports teams fill their stadiums more than losing ones. Heads up, FiveThirtyEight, it’s a new metric to add to your predictive models, maybe even a prized leading indicator.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Nailing It

Instapundit posts the following Tweet from Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point. I believe you'll find his subject needs no explanation.
Democrats in 2015: Eveyone must accept results of the election

Democrats day after the election 2016: We do not accept the results of the election

Democrats 2017: Everyone must accept findings of the Mueller report

Democrats 2019: We do not accept findings of Mueller report
My question: Are Democrats experiencing cognitive dissonance? These should have been painful years for them. They can't all be sociopaths, or can they?

Spruce Goose II

We don't often link to an article in Popular Mechanics, but Instapundit does, and this one is fun stuff. It turns out Logistics Gliders Inc. under contract by DARPA has developed an unmanned plywood single use glider for Marines to use for field resupply.

The wooden glider is dropped from a cargo plane and can carry up to 700 pounds of supplies to a GPS-designated spot. This is a clever mix of high and low tech. It is a great way to deliver food, water, fuel and munitions to ground units in remote areas.

The article doesn't say so but it could also stealthily deliver 4-500 lbs. of explosive upon an unsuspecting enemy. That much propane as a fuel/air explosive delivers a world of hurt.

Brexit Common Sense

Writing for Bloomberg, Clive Crook gets real about what Parliament can actually decide about Brexit.
Most of the options they’re intending to address have nothing to do with the decision Britain actually has to make by April 12 — the new exit date, recently extended from March 29 by the EU. As things stand, that decision comes down to three choices: Leave with no deal, accept the May-EU deal, or revoke Article 50. Those are the only decisions that can be made in time, and that rest solely with the U.K. All the others would require the EU’s assent and weeks and months of further negotiation.
And the EU is thoroughly tired of the Brits’ will-she-or-won’t-she indecision. We should know something soon.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Brexit Update

Just a quick note to update most of you who are not obsessively reading everything they can find about Brexit. Prime Minister Theresa May has asked for a months-long extension of the March 29 deadline, three days from now.

May has been granted a 2-4 week extension by the EU. The smart money says that brief extension won't be sufficient to achieve the parliamentary majority she seeks.

At this point nobody knows what will happen. The Brits are in parliamentary terra incognita in so many different ways. I'm still hoping for a "no deal" exit, although strictly speaking it's none of my business.

Monday, March 25, 2019

A Blast from the Past

I just ran across video of the 1984 Olympics ice dancing performance of Torval and Dean on YouTube. My question was simple: does their gold-winning performance hold up. My answer is equally simple: their performance is the best ice dancing I have ever seen, it's as good today as it was 35 years ago.

For my money, no pair has ever done it so well, so gracefully. Their 1984 Bolero is the gold standard in ice dancing.

Running a Bluff

Writing for Politico, Blake Hounshell asks why President Trump admires Vladimir Putin, and for that matter Kim Jong Un. I have an insight why this might be true, one the author doesn't mention.

Both those autocratic leaders manage to play "above their pay grade." They cleverly exploit whatever advantages their relatively poor lands possess.

Kenny Rogers sang that "every hand's a winner and every hand's a loser." A good poker player can bluff with a poor hand and, at least sometimes, win.

I suspect Trump sees these men as clever players doing relatively well with what are basically poor hands. They lead poor countries with far more problems than answers, and manage to make them at least somewhat powerful. Like them or hate them, they show a real skill.

The Campus Free Speech Mandate

At COTTonLINE we write about college/university matters from time to time, since we spent a mostly happy career in that cloistered environment. And I've waited to comment on the President's order requiring higher ed institutions to protect free speech, including speech that's unpopular with some or most students and faculty.

The New York Times has an article showing how the presidential order can make life easier for higher ed administrators because it gives them cover when victim group activists protest some speaker (or professor) who states something they view as "insensitive." The president or provost will point to this requirement and say something like "I sympathize with your concerns but the Federals insist I not interfere; my hands are tied."

The article does a better-than-average job of describing how victim group activists have college administrators over a barrel, and enjoy pressuring them. The new free speech requirement will make meeting unwritten minority enrollment "quotas" marginally more difficult to accomplish.

So be it. The game is worth the candle.

A Trenchant Quote

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, in his weekly column for USA Today, writing about the sequelae of the Mueller report (scroll down).
We might someday need a press we can trust. But I hope not, because we certainly don’t have one.
If you delivered that comment doing stand-up comedy it would be followed by a rim-shot. Americans have been left with hobby journalists like Reynolds, the guys at Power Line, and our minor effort at COTTonLINE to carry the ball representing the views and values of middle America.

Mueller Report Musings

Attention must be paid. What will be the impact of the Mueller commission's findings? For starters, on the 2020 election outcome?

I'm willing to stipulate it will change no minds among the strong adherents of each party. I cannot imagine the findings strengthen the Democrats' standing with the independent part of the electorate.

Recent polling data finds fully half of Americans believe the Russian collusion probe was a witch hunt, doomed from the start to find nothing. Far fewer believed it fully justified.

Clinging to now-disproven assertions of traitorous activities makes Democrats look foolish. Looking foolish isn't how people get elected. Don't be surprised if Trump wins a larger percentage of the vote in 2020 than he did in 2016.

Among those who are big losers out of this fiasco, count the legacy media as losing more than most. They have demonstrated their utter bias and complete untrustworthiness. Who will believe them going forward?

Other big losers are the upper echelon swamp creatures of the Department of Justice and the FBI, whose Obama-era appointees appear to have committed indictable felonies. Less certain is whether these will ever be brought to justice.

Finally, the lesson for so many is the insanity of believing what you wish to be true is in fact true. Wishful thinking is a trap into which many have fallen.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Barr Summarizes Mueller

Attorney General William Barr's summary of the findings of the Mueller Special Counsel group vis-a-vis Russian collusion and obstruction of justice has been delivered to the Congress, and made public. Here it is posted on the Axios site, hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Per Barr, the report finds no collusion by any American with the Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. With respect to obstruction of justice, Barr writes:
The Special Counsel states: "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

The Special Counsel's decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime.

After reviewing the Special Counsel's final report on these issues; consulting with Department officials, including the Office of Legal Counsel; and applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.
Barr goes on to make a salient point. If there was no collusion, then the President had no motive to obstruct justice and his actions, taken within the purview of the President's normal powers, cannot be adjudged to obstruct anything since he had nothing to fear from "justice" being done.

Barr adds there are matters in the report which existing law prohibits him from disclosing, meaning he cannot simply hand over the intact Mueller report. I'm certain there are Democrats who will dispute these last two claims.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Take the Quiz

Not everything at COTTonLINE needs to be deadly serious. The Daily Mail (U.K.) has a column with this provocative title:
Grammar quiz from the 1980s is so difficult most people only answer HALF the questions correctly ... so do YOU think you can do better?
Have some fun, take the quiz and then check your answers at the bottom of the column to see how you did. I'm darn good and I missed three questions: numbers 3, 18, and 20. With unerring skill the quiz zeroed in on a couple of words I always look up to be certain I use them correctly.

Hat tip to for the link.

A Lesson

I was reading a ho-hum article in Foreign Policy about how International Relations theory doesn’t truly grasp the role of culture, which article I don’t recommend to you. It started me thinking about times when, working with grad students from other cultures, I’ve run into a “culture wall.”

Let me share one such with you. I was advising the thesis of an MBA student with a Math baccalaureate who was a member of the discriminated-against Chinese minority in Malaysia. Let’s call her Lee (not her actual name).

Lee had a combination of skills - math and business - which would have landed her a good job in a computer firm or as an insurance actuary. Her chances of getting a green card and staying in the U.S. looked hopeful in those less-immigration-burdened days perhaps 25 years ago.

Lee said, however, that she had to “go home.” I asked her what she’d do with her education there and she replied “perhaps teach high school mathematics.” It was a job that wouldn’t utilize her MBA.

I compared that future with her prospects in the States and asked why she felt she must go home? The answer was “my family wants me to come home.” I asked why they wouldn’t want her to stay here and perhaps follow her here at some later date. She said “no, I have to go home.”

It was a degree of filial piety you would essentially never see in an American, very Confucian. Lee was fully prepared, albeit unexcited, to go home because her father expected it, even though doing so fell far short of maximizing her potential, .

We looked at each other in mutual incomprehension and dropped the subject. I didn’t understand her commitment to family and she didn’t understand my American individualism. She graduated and went home.

Moral of the story: culture matters ... a lot.

Barone: Old Things New Again

Political analyst Michael Barone often writes things to which attention must be paid. In The Washington Examiner, he waxes historical about the legacy of our two major political parties.
The Republican Party, from its formation in 1854, has been built around a core of people considered to be ordinary Americans, but not by themselves a majority. The Democratic Party, from its formation in 1832, has been a coalition of those regarded as out-peoples, often at odds with each other, but together often a majority.
Barone sees today’s parties returning to their original roots, the GOP ins vs. the Dem. outs. It’s not a bad hypothesis, people who feel the country is “about” them vs. those who experience it as a bad fit.

Left unsaid is that there is a group of people who sometimes feel “in” and at other times feel “out,” depending on the economy and other issues. These constitute the independents or swing voters courted by both sides.

More Thoughts on the Mueller Opus

Literally no American was found to be knowingly colluding with Russia to influence the 2016 election. All of Mueller's indictments plus those of the New York federal prosecutor's office, aimed at U.S. citizens, have dealt with things other than collusion to influence the election.

Mueller indicted several Russians for interference in our elections. No one believes any of those will ever be tried as there is zero chance of extraditing them.

The only Americans who collaborated with Russians were employees of U.S. social media firms who accepted Russian political advertising buys or posted their opinion pieces. They claim to have done so unwittingly.

So ... from the get go the whole "Trump colluded with Russia" thing was pure bull crap or, if you prefer, a Democratic nocturnal emission. This is exactly what President Trump has claimed the whole time.

Trump wins. There are many sad Democrats tonight, and much Republican schadenfreude.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Another Friday Document Dump

Robert Mueller has delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr, and presumably his special counsel investigation has concluded. Why do these things always come out on Friday, is Mueller embarrassed at how little he found?

While many have called for the release of the entire, unredacted document, including I believe the President, it isn't clear that will happen. Power Line's Paul Mirengoff writes:
Fox News reports that Mueller has not recommended any new indictments. Thus, President Trump will not be indicted based on the Mueller report. What we don’t know is why.

I get the impression that Barr is going to play Mueller’s report “by the book,” disclosing only as much as Justice Department rules and protocol call for.
If Barr holds Mueller's report close to his chest and discloses little, conspiracy theories will continue to spin. That isn't useful for anybody.

We need a new special counsel to examine the Clinton server debacle, her campaign's financial support of the shady people who created the "fake news" dossier (Glenn Simpson and Fusion/GPS), and politically biased actions by the upper reaches of the Obama-era DOJ and FBI. Indictable offenses occurred.

Hurricanes in FL? Who knew?

I get cranky when I read an article whose author claims to have discovered something I've known for years, or even decades. Let me share one such from's Money section, it reports there are people leaving Florida and treats this as a man-bites-dog story.

It begins with what we all know - Florida is a major destination for retirees. FL has warm weather, no state income tax, two major cruise ship ports and lots of beaches. The supposedly counterintuitive part of the story is that people also move out of FL.

The author believes this is because of recent unpleasant weather events and the increased insurance premiums resulting therefrom. And he quotes anecdotal evidence from several people he talked to who are moving out because - no kidding - FL has hurricanes. 

Undoubtedly, a much greater cause of people moving out is continued aging. Having lived just down the hill from a CA retirement town for much of the last 40+ years, I'm familiar with the patterns of such places. 

People move from employment communities to retirement communities as youngish, relatively healthy and active retirees. They move away when the infirmities of age begin to creep up and they require more help. 

When no longer active, they go live near their children. It is the reason there are always plenty of "For Sale" signs in retirement communities. Many only live there for a few years, others last longer and some few die there; although less than formerly when heart attacks took many men in their 50s and early 60s. 

So yes, people do leave FL as well as move there. Most who do are, if we're honest, "waiting for God" although no one wants to say so. For today's somewhat affluent, it is part of the concluding trajectory of a long life.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Choosing Poorly, Again

Fox News has hired Democrat operative Donna Brazile as a panelist and Democrat-leaning commentator. I saw her on Bret Baier’s Special Report last night. If what she said there was a fair sample of her ‘contribution’ either (a) she is a bad hire, or (b) Fox News is headed in a different direction politically.

One bad choice (Ryan as board member) is simply a misstep, a second bad choice (Brazile as contributor) could signal a trend. If there is a third stumble, then there is no reason for Fox to exist since we already have a surfeit of left-wing news up and running.

Trump and McCain

President Trump disses the memory of Sen. John McCain and many disapprove, citing McCain’s war hero status. Let’s be clear, McCain was a Navy pilot, a prisoner of war, and by all accounts served honorably and with valor.

If we have trouble with McCain, it is his subsequent career as a politician that troubles us. He was a failed presidential candidate, and a cantankerous Senator who resented Trump succeeding where he had failed.

McCain did whatever he could to stymie Trump, the elected head of his own party. It is possible to take a good ‘brand’ and tarnish it. McCain is a textbook case of that self-destructive behavior.

Punishing Excellence links to a column by David Marcus in The Federalist. Marcus writes about NYC Mayor De Blasio and the omnipresent AOC vocally unhappy at the underrepresentation of black and Hispanic kids in NYC’s elite high schools. Admission to these schools is by test scores alone, and as Marcus points out, Asians are vastly over represented making up 74% of the student body at Stuyvesant High.

What is clear is that Asian kids benefit from a pro-education home culture and a preponderance of two-parent homes. Less well known is that major Asian societies have rewarded test taking ability for hundreds of years; it is how the emperor’s elite civil servants were selected in imperial China.

Somewhere, the shade of author Kurt Vonnegut laughs uproariously, and waves a copy of his short story “Harrison Bergeron.”

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

They Chose ... Poorly

It is reported former House Speaker Paul Ryan is joining the board of directors of the reorganized Fox. He is a very unimpressive choice. As speaker Ryan was both (a) reluctant and (b) ineffective.

For two years which ended this past January, we had the rare situation where Republicans controlled the House, the Senate and the presidency. Ryan had a golden opportunity to move forward the GOP agenda ... and did not.

In the Senate McConnell did what he could without Ryan's help, confirming a number of right-leaning judges and appointees. Ryan basically did nothing except keep the lights on.

It appears Fox wants a do-nothing board member. They've selected one I'd describe as either GOP-lite or RINO.

Spring Arrives

Depending on who you believe, today or tomorrow is the official first day of spring, 2019. It is that moment where the number of daylight and dark minutes are equal, called the spring or vernal equinox.

Another way of picturing it is that we are exactly half way between the shortest and longest days of the northern hemisphere. That is, halfway between the winter and summer solstices.

I can’t speak for where you are, but here in NorCal the gray skies of winter persist and, if weather guessers are correct, will do so for another week. Global warming has been hard to detect this year.

Normally drought-stricken CA has seen a lot of rain and, in the mountains, snow. Instead of building reservoirs to catch this scarce resource, we’ve let most run off into the ocean. For that stupidity, we thank the state’s human-hating environmentalists.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Apple Falls Far From Tree

Bill Kristol is the son of Irving Kristol, conservative essayist extraordinaire. Iriving was a giant, a mensch. Son Bill ... not so much. The Kristols, father and son, constitute a near-textbook example of intellectual regression toward the mean.

The monthly column Kristol pere wrote for The Wall Street Journal was a strong influence in my education in politics and economics. Trading on the family reputation, Bill has tried to walk in his father's footsteps, but his intellectual "legs" aren't up to the challenge.

With Fred Barnes, Bill founded a conservative magazine - The Weekly Standard - in 1995. It recently folded after taking a hardline #NeverTrump position during the 2016 election. The #NeverTrump wing of conservatism might be large enough to support a newsletter, it isn't large enough to prop up a magazine of opinion.

Saturday, March 16, 2019


Instapundit Glenn Reynolds cracks wise in characterizing the vegan lifestyle.

About the Mosque Shooting

Theodore Kupfer, writing at National Review, has the most sensible reaction I've seen so far to the mass mosque shooting in New Zealand. He seems to understand the world of the online troll and sh**poster, the dark web corridors of 4chan and 8chan, better than those of us who operate entirely outside those fever swamps.

He makes the point that the accused shooter apparently schemed at considerable length, and with some subtlety, to structure his online presence to amplify the goals he pursued in his attack. If Kupfer is correct, the shooter was trying to do much more than merely oppose Muslim immigration, and in places far beyond New Zealand - think Europe and North America as well. It appears to have been an effort some years in the making.

Deja Vu

With the caveat that I have absolutely zero qualifications as an expert on naval warfare, consider the following thoughts. What I do know is the history of warfare and technology.

Coming out of World War One, aka the Great War, the dreadnaught or battleship was the queen of the seas, the naval super weapon. During the next two decades many of these armored behemoths were built by at least the U.K., the U.S., Germany, Japan, Italy, France, and perhaps by others.

Technology, in the form of naval aviation it turned out, had made them obsolete. In the Second World War the Brits lost two off the shores of Southeast Asia, the U.S. lost several at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. sank several Japanese maxi-ships including the world’s largest off the Philippines, and the Brits sank the Bismarck. In short, relatively cheap aircraft sank them left and right and literally nobody builds battleships today.

The dominant naval weapon of World War Two was the aircraft carrier. These floating airfields carried their dive and torpedo bombers into battle and were decisive. In the asymmetrical conflicts that have characterized warfare in the decades since 1945, the carrier has continued to be a major force, as in their roles off the coasts of Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq.

Technology continues to evolve; we learn of hypersonic cruise missiles, satellite-targeted ballistic missiles and super-silent submarines. We have to ask, is the aircraft carrier - a heck of a huge, high-value target - about to go the way of the battleship? In the next great power conflict, will they prove overly vulnerable and of marginal utility?

Themes recur. As a quote attributed to Mark Twain would have it, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.” Perhaps we should view the iconic “Top Gun” as a filmic elegy.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Glass Half Full

Paul Brandus, who doesn’t like President Trump even a little, has written an opinion piece for USA Today suggesting Trump will be reelected next year. Some key excerpts:
If you were running for president, which dynamic would you rather have:

1. The power of the incumbency, a good economy, low unemployment, rising wages and rock-solid support and unity within your political party?


2. Division, infighting and an identity crisis within your party and the task of explaining to voters that, despite that good economy, they’re worse off than they were four years ago?

The first situation describes President Donald Trump as he gears up for 2020. The second describes what we’ve seen thus far of Democrats as they try to take him down.

Trump hasn’t expanded his base, but what he has is solidly behind him. Meanwhile, fractures within the Democratic Party are widening.
Analysis: True ... but don’t get cocky.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

UW Hangs Tough

University of Wyoming to the world: “The world needs more cowboys.” - it’s the UW slogan.
Professors to UW: The slogan is sexist, homophobic, racist, and nasty.
UW to professors: Go pound sand. We urge everybody to “cowboy up.”

It’s not limited to whites or males or straights. What UW means is be self-reliant, loyal, hard-working, and honest. And maybe a bit of a stoic risk-taker. Wyoming is serious about old-fashioned virtues.

Brexit Status Report

Word is out that Parliament has taken another vote on Theresa May's revised and improved Brexit plan, defeating the latest version. Apparently a couple more votes will occur tomorrow, one on whether a so-called "hard Brexit" with no plan will be permitted, the other perhaps on seeking an extension of the March 29 deadline from the EU. These two are expected to pass.

Pundits who know more about it than I seem to think this combination of events will lead to another plebiscite on remain/leave/something in-between. Honestly, I don't think anybody knows what will happen.

Hard Brexit is what Brits believed they were voting for last time. All the negotiations have been in service of trying to accomplish Brexit-lite, to salvage some of the EU perks remainers cherish.

In this sense, the remainers of Britain are much like the so-called "resistance" against Trump in this country. That is, people who didn't like what was voted for and are trying to overturn it. If it persists, refusal to accept the results of elections will destroy democracy.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Pelosi: Impeachment “Not Worth It”

The Axios website reports the key revelation from an interview Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave The Washington Post. She told them this:
Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.
The keyword in her statement is “bipartisan,” what’s been revealed so far will not convince the Republican senate majority to vote Trump out of office. They remember when Democrat senators wouldn’t vote to oust the perjuring Bill Clinton. What goes around comes around ....

A caveat to this announcement is in order. As we noted on Saturday, Pelosi hasn’t the iron control of her caucus she was once known for. The rank and file might just decide to go ahead regardless.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Attitude and Gratitude

I don't often run across what I call a "must read" article to share with you, one shows up this morning. Scott Jennings writes in the Los Angeles Times, echoed at, about President Trump's strengths.

The headline writer shorthands those strengths as "attitude and gratitude."  Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.
Enter Donald Trump, the only Republican candidate who understood the actual consumer demands of the Republican marketplace: Be strong enough, bold enough, crazy enough and ruthless enough to beat the elitist media and Hillary Clinton, who is slipperier and meaner than a wet panther.

It isn’t policy that drives Trump’s staying power. After all, doing basic Republican stuff is what he is supposed to do. No, the secret sauce is Trump’s continued deliverance of an attitude for which Republicans thirsted for years.
Trump beating up on the "fake news" legacy media and giving people demeaning nicknames is all part of the package. The other DrC describes him as "our bully" beating up on the smug establishment types, Jennings says much the same.
We didn’t hire a barbarian to sing soprano in the choir; we hired him to beat back the savages.
Do yourself a favor, go read the whole column.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Freak Flag Aflutter

People on the Fox News Special Report panel last night were noting that Nancy Pelosi is losing control of her Democrat caucus. The new, radical members - mostly minority women - are letting their freak flags fly, doing as they dang well please.

Pelosi seems unable to do much about it. Chaos couldn't happen to a more deserving person (or party). Aside: bet you can't repeat this post's title quickly five times, turns out it's a tongue-twister.

Poll: America Haters in Congress

As one of the contributors to Instapundit is fond of noting, all Democrats have to do to win is not act crazy. Luckily for Trump and the GOP, Dems can't (or won't) fake sanity. reports the findings of a Rasmussen Reports poll of American voters.
In its national survey of 1,000 likely voters, conducted March 5-6, Rasmussen asked:
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement – "Right now we have people in Congress that hate our country"?
While slightly more than half of likely voters agreed with the statement, only about a third disagreed that some members of Congress hate America:
Agree: 51%
Disagree: 34%
Undecided: 14%
Barack Obama let his dislike of America show every time he talked to foreigners. Trump voters were both listening and offended.

How many of those who agreed share the sentiment, in your opinion? Very few, in my judgment. That could be Trump's winning margin on display, 20 months before the election.

Governing 101

Congressman Ron DeSantis won the FL governorship by a narrow margin and got busy. National Review has a compilation of the many good things he's done for FL. Hat tip to for the link.

If you'd like to see what your governor could be getting done, but likely isn't, give this update a read. If DeSantis keeps on at this rate, he will be in the running for president in 2024.


The following message is relevant for all save the iconoclasts in Arizona.* Daylight Savings Time goes into effect in the early hours of tomorrow.

Remember the DST mnemonic: spring forward, fall back. It officially will be spring in 11 days - the vernal equinox - so set your clocks ahead one hour before going to bed this evening.
*Also not observing DST are our overseas territories in subtropical and tropical regions: Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The seasonal variation in daylight hours decreases as one nears the equator and is most dramatic in polar regions.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Another Unintended Consequence ...

Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, has an article about anti-male bias on higher education campuses, in the Jewish World Review. He notes many of the well- and lesser-known varieties of this bias, but fails to mention one counterintuitive reason why it has occurred.

Everyone knows campuses have been under enormous pressure to increase minority enrollments, pressure from the federal government, state governments, professional and accreditation societies, and even donors. What is almost never mentioned is that, for complicated cultural reasons, female POCs are substantially easier to recruit, retain, and graduate than their male counterparts.

Hardly anyone except higher ed insiders knows this, and none of these want to admit it or claim it as an important reason for proliferating pro-coed resources and aid. Their fear is that those pressuring them about minority enrollments will refine the pressure to demand they produce more male POC graduates, something hard experience has taught is a difficult, disappointing task.

Creating conditions which facilitate the recruitment, retention and graduation of female POC students has helped higher ed generate the POC "numbers" that keep Washington and state legislatures off their collective backs. You can bet they report lots of POC students (most women), without cross-tabbing the gender and race/ethnicity, which would reveal not much going on in the male POC quadrant.

Perhaps it is time to admit the failure of higher education to serve significant numbers of male POC students beyond the handful who are varsity athletes. Doing something about the problem won't be any kind of easy. Hat tip to for the link.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Today Is Fat Tuesday

Mardi Gras, aka "Fat Tuesday," is celebrated today. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the fasting season of Lent. Big time celebrations will occur in New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Mobile, Galveston, and elsewhere ... it's traditional.

We actually experienced the final day of Carnival as it's known in Rio, and a bigger party would be hard to imagine. Imagine a million happy drunks, bouncing in the humid summer dark to a samba beat, as they watch the winning samba clubs or "schools" strut their completely over-the-top stuff. Check out the Rio photos and video online, at Youtube, for instance.

In New Orleans the similar clubs are called "krewes" and the beat is more Dixieland than samba. In this hemisphere we do Lent in winter, south of the equator, it happens in summer - same date, opposite season.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Trans Athletics Considered

A number of articles have appeared reporting trans "women" winning athletic events for women, and the controversy as to whether or not they should be permitted to compete in these events. I'll share my view of this situation.

Trans individuals have a body with one set of 'plumbing' and a mind which says to them clearly that it's the wrong plumbing. If sport were entirely mental, perhaps it would be no problem, as for example in chess or bridge. Athletic sport is far from entirely mental, I hope we can agree.

The reason sports are divided by gender is that evolution has dealt the two sexes different physiological capabilities, particularly at the extremes where highly trained athletes operate. An athlete with a male body whose mind tells them they are female still operates with a male body. They do so unfairly, in my view, if they compete with biological women.

I've not read of any trans "men" winning athletic competitions against male athletes, have you? Do you expect to see many such? I don't. 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Exceptions to the Rule

Thinking about that last post below, I believe what Goodhart describes are decent generalities but far from exclusive categories. By his descriptions, the DrsC should be Anywheres.

The DrsC are clearly cosmopolitans in the sense that we are highly educated and have traveled across much of the world, well over 100 countries at last count. Nevertheless we haven't drunk the country-doesn't-matter Kool-Aid; we are still very much patriots and nationalists,

Making America Great Again sounds to us like a perfect presidential job description. Trying to optimize outcomes for humanity is the job of the U.N. Secretary General, or perhaps the Pope, not the U.S. President. The President is our advocate, a role Trump's predecessor seemed to find repugnant.

Somewhere, Anywhere

I just finished an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal, it’s in some senses a book review of “The Road to Somewhere” by British political analyst David Goodhart - an attempt to put the Trump movement here and various nationalist movements in Europe into a larger philosophical context. Some key quotes:
Trumpism has an essence, and that essence is nationalism. It is bigger than President Trump and certain to outlast his tenure in office.

His campaign and presidency have been strikingly similar to the nationalist movements in England and Europe.

In each case, the insurgents have claimed that their nation’s political and business leaders are part of an international elite that sacrifices national sovereignty in ways—from free trade and open immigration to murky treaties and remote bureaucracies—that harm many of their countrymen.

Goodhart describes those being hurt as the “somewheres” and those in opposition as “anywheres.”

The Anywheres are cosmopolitan, educated, mobile and networked. (snip) Their attachments to place are secondary.

The Somewheres are rooted in local communities. (snip) Whatever their partisan leanings, they tend to be socially conservative and patriotic and less disposed to vote with their feet.

An important cause of this turmoil is the decline of representative government, in which law is enacted by elected legislatures, and the rise of declarative government, in which law is dispensed by bureaucracies and courts.

The most educated, articulate, mobile and networked are well-positioned to influence the administrative state and the judiciary. (snip) They think that policy should be determined by reason, science and expertise rather than legislative horse-trading and nose-counting.
Like many who’ve considered the issues, both Goodhart and the article’s author are good at describing the problem. Somewhat less good at posing reasonable solutions.

As I read this it reminded me of an model  - cosmopolitans vs. locals - put forward by sociologist Alvin Gouldner when I was a grad student several decades ago. Some ideas aren’t new, but merely recycled.

Friday, March 1, 2019

A Golden Oldie

The Hill reports NASA has budget to resume work on so-called “nuclear thermal propulsion” for space travel. Not a new idea, NASA had Lockheed Missiles & Space working on this back in the 1960s at the Sunnyvale, CA plant.

Fresh out of college, I worked at the Lockheed facility but not on the NASA contract. At the time we built Agena second stages for the Air Force and Polaris missiles for the Navy. That LMSC had a NASA contract to develop a nuclear rocket motor was known, the rest was compartmentalized and secret.

If you wait long enough, changed circumstances sometimes give old ideas a second bite at life’s apple. This last is a classic usage from the fourth Potter novel of J.K.Rowling.

132 Year Record Broken

Here’s a news item from the Los Angeles Times that is relevant to me since I’ve spent the past two months in SoCal. The ‘money’ quote:
For the first time since forecasters began recording data — at least 132 years — the mercury did not reach 70 degrees in downtown Los Angeles for the entire month of February. The average high for the month was 61 degrees, significantly lower than the historical average of 68 for February.
The article goes on to say we shouldn’t view this as debunking global warming, I don’t buy it. We’re experiencing global cooling, the coastline north of LA has had Oregon weather this past month, while OR has had snow.


Last Saturday we wrote about Democrat presidential wannabes lurching leftward while, we alleged, the electorate was doing no such thing. At that time we wrote:
Meanwhile nobody is reporting that the electorate has suddenly become hugely more ‘progressive’ or liberal.
It has taken less than a week for poll results to surface demonstrating the truth of our allegation. The Washington Examiner reports results of a poll looking at voter attitudes toward socialism.
A new Zogby Analytics survey found that 29 percent have a favorable view of socialism while 49 percent don’t.
Some 22% are unsure, which probably means they have little grasp of the term “socialism” and don’t follow politics closely. On the other hand, Zogby finds:
While Democrats have a favorable view of socialism, by a 44 percent to 26 percent margin, they thoroughly reject renaming the party after the Karl Marx philosophy.
To this admittedly biased observer, that sounds like Democrats love the policies but quite rationally fear the label’s ugly reputation.