Sunday, June 30, 2019

Review: Toy Story 4

The other DrC and I saw this film this afternoon, with our friend Ed. All three of us liked it a lot. It turns out you can get really involved in and care about the 'lives' of animated characters, if the story works, and the TS4 story does.

The animation is excellent, in some scenes almost photographic. The film is also unusual for a relatively accurate, if brief, portrayal of a little motorhome RV in use by a family.

When you view the cast crawl at the end, you'll be surprised at the famous people who contributed a cameo voice to one of the characters, for example Mel Brooks. I won't try to summarize the plot, I can't do it without spoilers.

Radical Claptrap links to an American Greatness article which alleges the following things are/are not radical:
A well-patrolled border is not a radical policy. An open border is a radical policy.

To believe in two genders is not radical. To insert gender identity into Title IX is.

To praise Western Civilization as a legacy of political freedom and artistic genius is not a radical opinion.To regard it as promotion of white supremacy is a radical opinion.
And the author adds the following to his list of radical notions: cancelling student debt, making college free, demanding reparations, and banning Chick-Fil-A.

I'm sorry to say I don't find much to quibble with in his list. All of this claptrap is being marketed to Americans right now by you-know-who.

An Omission Is Noted

RealClearPolitics links to an editorial in the Las Vegas Sun which argues that black unemployment rates aren’t as low as President Trump claims. It alleges unemployment is quite high in some black-majority cities. About the Brookings report upon which the editorial is based, they write:
The report doesn’t get into the reasons behind the gap. It notes, however, that the gap has existed for decades, suggesting that historical reasons apply. Among those are racial biases among employers, as well as institutionalized racist policies that have left blacks lagging in education, professional development and so forth.
Notice that no mention is made of the very high levels of former incarceration among members of the target population. A criminal record is a serious impediment to employment prospects; one that a booming job market will not erase.

Democrats Have Lost Touch

In New York Magazine, gay author Andrew Sullivan writes some very sensible things about the excesses embraced by this year’s bumper crop of Democrat ultra-progressives. He calls out their “open borders” folly, their uncritical embrace of LGBTQ extremism via critical gender theory, and the craziness that is social media “cancelling.”

As a legal immigrant (from Britain), Sullivan is an unusual conservative voice, appearing in an unusual venue for such voices. What he writes is worth your time reading.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Ms. Noonan’s Relatives

Y’all know I think The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan is one of the best writers of our generation. It’s true even when I don’t agree with what she’s writing, which is increasingly the case.

Lately she’s been a #NeverTrump person, which I can’t buy. However, in a recent column she writes about her sister and uncle who favor The Donald and her empathy almost lets her get what they’re feeling.
Our conversations convinced me that something that had long been a preoccupation—the idea that those who govern America do not really care about, or emotionally affiliate with, the people of their own country—was right, and would bring electoral shocks.
Peggy almost “gets it” but then the swamp, to which she is very much a voluntary recruit, sucks her back in. She hangs up on Trump’s crudity, his failure to observe “the norms.”

The whole column is worth reading. You will probably end up feeling her sister and uncle are the real people, who haven’t sold out to the swamp. From her insider perspective, she believes them good-hearted-but-misguided; you’ll probably conclude that judgment more appropriately fits Ms. Noonan.

Whatever you conclude, she is one hell of a wordsmith, enjoy her craftsmanship if nothing else.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Post-Soviet Kremlinology

Thinktanker Charles Grant writes for the New Statesman's America edition on the subject of how the Kremlin sees the rest of the world. Interestingly, Grant doesn't bother trying to decode Russian attitudes toward Africa, Latin America, or much of Asia.

Instead Grant deals exclusively with Russian views of Europe, the U.S., and China. You'd be pardoned for concluding he believes everywhere else is essentially irrelevant to great power calculations.
Donald Trump is seen to represent a long-term trend in the US rather than a short-term blip: Russian analysts reckon that the US will be less focused on intervening around the world to uphold a liberal, rules-based, US-led order, and that it will be more nationalist, mercantilist and interest-focused. So in the long run, the US and Russia should be able to accommodate each other. Russians think Europe is undergoing a similar transformation.
I should add that Grant doesn't appear to share their view, or at least hopes very much they're wrong.

Poor Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter, not the sharpest tack in the jar when president, has finally gone completely looney tunes. At age 95, he's claiming Russian interference elected Trump.

Sure, the Russians tried to make trouble, but clearly had no success. Was what they did wrong? Of course it was. Was it consequential? Not even a little.

Analysis: Dementia isn't pretty; most sufferers are granted a measure of privacy. Apparently that courtesy isn't extended to ex-presidents who say something the extreme left desperately wants to hear coming out of a once-famous mouth.

Outmigration from SoCal

COTTonLINE has a continuing series on the problems of our native state of California. CBS-LA News reports outmigration from the SoCal region.
A breakdown of last year’s census numbers shows Orange County had 20,104 more people leave than move in, marking the 10th worst net out-migration among big counties in the U.S. L.A. County had 98,608 people leave, marking the biggest net loss in the U.S.
I was born in greater LA and grew up in SoCal. Why do people leave some of the nicest natural environment on the planet? Wrong-headed governmental policies which cause sky-high taxes and home prices. Plus overcrowding, of course.

Thoughts on Night Two

The pundit consensus is that Biden was lame, Harris was strong, and Buttigieg gave a nuanced answer about police racism that probably worked with white progressives, but not with blacks.

Sanders was Sanders: old, cranky, and a Communist-in-all-but-name. Everybody else? Forget them, they’re going nowhere.

Harris helped her case, Biden hurt his. Unlike 2016, this time Sanders isn’t the only alternative to the party’s standard-bearer. Warren has the same free-everything message and seems younger, fresher, and less cranky.

I’ve argued the lesson Democrats should have learned from the 2008, 2012, and 2016 presidential elections is that nominating a non-white is the only way to reenergize the Obama coalition, selecting a white woman in 2016 didn’t work. Given the front-runner status of Biden, Sanders, and Warren, it appears the lesson hasn’t sunk in.

The alternative theory is that Obama was a one-time, first-time-only phenomenon and not repeatable. It appears this theory is what the party leadership believes, they may be correct. Black voters’ outcomes under Obama weren’t wonderful, they’ve lived better during Trump’s 3 years.

One could argue that Dems should select Harris, the most visible and articulate of its aspirants of color. However, Biden’s apparently accurate claim that he was (albeit briefly) a public defender while she was a career prosecutor could weigh heavily with black voters who view the criminal justice system as their implacable enemy.

I am forced to conclude that victimology is a tricky organizing principle for a political party.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Thoughts on Night One

Unlike President Trump and scores of professional pundits, I didn't have to watch 10 Democrat aspirants being served up softball questions by four Democrat 'newspersons.' So I didn't, choosing to let the pundit class do the heavy lifting for me.

Sitting here trying to synthesize what I've read about it, I conclude that what a spectator saw on that stage in Miami was seriously biased by their a priori beliefs and concerns. There seems to be consensus that Elizabeth Warren did herself no harm, and was basically untouched by the others. And there is consensus that Beto O'Rourke blew it.

Beyond that, I've read that Castro did great or did poorly, Gabbard was a winner but yet meh, Booker scored or bombed . Most of the also-rans on that stage did little to move the needle in either direction.

Lack of movement means they blew the only chance they had at achieving momentum. They'd be wise to put their campaigns on 'hiatus' meaning, in real-people speak, "to quit."

There are four individuals with a realistic chance on-stage at tonight's debate, perhaps it will be more consequential. We'll do this again tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


Power Line founding partner John Hinderaker writes about the controversy currently brewing over alleged efforts by social media to suppress conservative voices. Efforts by Project Veritas and others have surfaced these efforts, which name prominent conservative voices as “Nazis.”

What occurs to me is that vanishingly few of those so identified currently have anything like Nazi beliefs. However, persistent persecution and stifling could eventually turn some of them into malefactors not entirely unlike Nazis.

Perhaps that is the goal of those in the social media community, to bring about violent action via Antifa. Does anyone else detect a nostalgia for Weimar, with its Communist bully boys battling Nazi brown shirts in the streets? I, for one, hope to avoid a replay of that Brechtian era.

Perhaps it is too much to hope that privately owned and managed communication platforms, which act and are treated like public utilities, would voluntarily allow all voices to be heard, as the First Amendment requires.

Major Matters ... A Lot

We have written several times, over the years, about the importance of choice of college major in subsequent life outcomes. A recent article in Barrons, the Dow Jones magazine, about which college major graduates regret the most, suggests it is time to revisit the topic.

Barrons reports the findings of a huge survey of college graduates by the career and salary website PayScale. Unsurprisingly, the number one regret is student loans, which many believe aren’t worth the cost.

The second most regretted thing is college major, and the major most regretted is “humanities” which, the article notes, includes things like English and history. Why?
“This may have to do with the relatively low salaries seen by common professions of humanities majors,” the PayScale report revealed. Indeed, research from Georgetown University shows that people who study humanities and liberal arts tend to make significantly less than those who study other things like STEM or business.
The financial cost of studying humanities is the same as that for “STEM or business.” The rewards, however, are not equal. Thus, the cost-benefit analysis comes out in favor of majoring in something for which there is ongoing demand and consequent decent pay.

So sayeth the old Business prof, most of whose students were recruited into decent careers with competitive paychecks. If you’ve children or grandchildren headed for college, emphasize studying something with a good job waiting. Contact the university placement center to learn what majors are actively recruited.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Nordics Not Socialist

Writing at Power Line, regular contributor Paul Mirengoff summarizes a Washington Post article by Charles Lane. Lane is a frequent panelist on Bret Baier's Special Report on Fox News.

Lane debunks the claim, made by Bernie Sanders and other Dem progressives, that the Nordic nations and the Netherlands run socialist systems. Lane writes:
Drawing on data from the World Bank, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development and other reputable sources, the (JPMorgan, Chase) report shows that five nations — Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands — protect property rights somewhat more aggressively than the United States, on average; exercise less control over private enterprise; permit greater concentration in the banking sector; and distribute a smaller share of their total income to workers.
The JPMorgan, Chase report concludes:
Copy the Nordic model if you like, but understand that it entails a lot of capitalism and pro-business policies, a lot of taxation on middle class spending and wages, minimal reliance on corporate taxation and plenty of co-pays and deductibles in its healthcare system.
Socialism is mistakenly thought of as a way to share the wealth; in practice it is a way to share the poverty. The Nordics learned this the hard way, after stubbing their collective toe.

Can we learn it vicariously, without experiencing the pain? I hope we can.

Pandermonium Awaits

The first round of Democratic debates begins tomorrow night, with the second half the following night. Twenty aspirants will strut their stuff, say how much they despise our President, and promise you tons of ‘free’ stuff. It will be “pandermonium” ... on steroids.

I know I should watch it all, but I’m not convinced I’m that much of a masochist. I know the other DrC isn’t. Listening to Democrats pander to ‘victims’ affects me like fingernails on a blackboard.

I may wait and read the analysis instead. Call me a coward, if it makes you feel better.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Talking Turkey

The Associated Press reports President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party was defeated in a rerun mayoral election in Turkey’s largest city, and it wasn’t close. Almost in passing, the story documents the opposition also won the mayor election in Turkey’s capital, Ankara.

The AP notes it was as mayor of Istanbul that Erdogan got his start in politics. One fifth of the country’s population lives there.

This outcome is good news for Turkey and for the forces of democracy everywhere. Years ago Erdogan famously said democracy is like a streetcar, when you get where you want to be you get off. The memory of that comment has to be giving him heartburn at this juncture.

Turkey is that rare Islamic country which has more-than-flirted with elective government. It is to be hoped some Western values have taken hold there, frustrating Erdogan’s drive to become a latter-day Ottoman emperor.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Travel Blogging VII

Western Wyoming: We’ve returned home, the two-week RV adventure with relatives and friends is over. We had a good time, spent hours chatting up people we like, saw some special places again, and experienced climatic extremes - hot and cold.

We returned to cool, rainy weather, locals tell us it feels like the Pacific Northwest here this year so far. We passed the summer solstice two days ago but the local weather hasn’t yet gotten the memo.

Absent unforeseen events, we’re “in residence” here until autumn. I’m looking forward to that prospect, a favorite time of year in a favorite place.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

A New Class Warfare

Glenn Reynolds, of Instapundit fame, writes a weekly column for USA Today. Five months ago, Reynolds pointed out much of the acrimony in modern politics is a new kind of class warfare, of which the Donald Trump presidency is a symptom.
It’s not the kind of class struggle that Karl Marx wrote about, with workers and peasants facing off against rapacious capitalists, but it is a case of today’s ruling class facing disaffection from its working class.

If you look at the “yellow jacket” protests in France, the election of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and events in places like Italy and Hungary — or, for that matter, the Brexit movement in Britain — you find a similar unhappiness with institutional arrangements and the sleek and self-satisfied elites who benefit from them.

Trump is the symptom of a ruling class that many of the ruled no longer see as serving their interest, and the anti-Trump response is mostly the angry backlash of that class as it sees its position, its perquisites and — perhaps especially — its self-importance threatened.
I like his reasoning here, it feels right and explains much. Read the whole thing.

They Call It “Acting”

Emilia Clarke, portrayer of the redoubtable Daenerys Targaryen, is extremely striking and formidable until she smiles, after which she ends up looking pleasantly forgettable. It’s clear the Game of Thrones series’ creators were aware of this.

One wonders if Ms. Clarke understands this about herself. Interview evidence suggests she may not, or if she does, is at pains to convince us it was merely her acting prowess on display, a shallow girl portraying a formidable woman.

I’ve seen two other actresses do something similar - Gillian Anderson of X Files and Essie Davis of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries - and in all three cases found it extremely off-putting. If you can be someone of substance, why choose to be someone forgettable?

Later ... for an example of a lady who makes the opposite choice, think of Ivanka Trump. It would appear she has chosen to be a formidable person, an island of calm grace. Have we ever seen her silly side? Does it even exist? Not to my knowledge. Certainly not in public.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Preliminary Winnowing Complete

The last ballot of Conservative MPs has been taken and the finalists, whose names will be submitted to the party’s members in a mail ballot, are known. As expected, Boris Johnson will be one, the other will be Jeremy Hunt.

Michael Gove was narrowly eliminated in the final round. Now we await the result of the mail balloting, which is expected to name Johnson the new PM.


Time was, you could deduct your state income taxes from your federal taxable income, regardless of how high they were. As you may know, that time is so over.

The new tax law limits the amount you can deduct to $10,000 even if you pay two, three or ten times that much. The 2018 tax year was the first year this new limitation applied. Lots of high earners have recently discovered just how much that change cost them, short answer - plenty.

Fox Business reports many high income individuals who have a second residence in a low (or no) income tax state have moved their residence of record to that other location.
While Florida received more movers than any other state last year, New York's outflows to the Sunshine State were the highest – 63,772 people. New York had the third-largest outflows of any state, with 452,580 people moving out within the past year. California, another high-tax state, had the largest outflow of domestic residents – with the highest proportion of people headed to Texas, Arizona and Washington.
I personally know 13 people (4 families) who moved from CA to NV or ID in the past 2-3 years, at least in part to avoid CA’s highest in the nation income (and total local) taxes. This phenomenon is no joke.

Travel Blogging VI

Springdale, Utah: I’m sorry to write it but beautiful Zion National Park is being overloved. There are too many people here and it is hard to enjoy this special place with the crowds.

The formerly sleepy town of Springdale has metastasized too. It must be three times the size it was when we were last here.

I suppose the solution is to come very early or very late when the crowds have gone home. My problem - I don’t know what would constitute “very early” or “very late.” Are we talking April and November? It wouldn’t surprise me if winter is the only “off” season.

Tomorrow we strike camp and head home to western Wyoming, that trip taking two days with roughly 5 hours of driving each day. Those are longer drives than we prefer, but spending three days going home seems excessive. It is time to get back to one of our favorite things - “summer in Wyoming.”

It’s also time to notice that tomorrow will be the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year in this, the northern hemisphere. Summer begins tomorrow if you’re north of the equator, likewise winter begins tomorrow if you’re south in New Zealand, Oz or Buenos Aires.

Third, Fourth Tory Leadership Votes Held

In the third vote, Rory Stewart was eliminated. In the fourth Sajid Javid bit the dust. Who remains? The BBC reports Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and Jeremy Hunt remain in the candidate pool.

Johnson is so far in the lead that, for instance, even if all of Hunt’s and Javid’s votes went to Gove, Johnson would still be ahead, if not by much.

We should know the names of the two finalists by 5 p.m London time today, according to the BBC. When the party members’ votes are later counted, everyone will be very surprised if the new PM is not Boris Johnson.

Enthusiasm Gap

Somebody needs to write it, and so far I haven’t seen it. Between Democrats and Republicans there is an excitement or enthusiasm gap. Republicans have it, Dems don’t.

The evidence is the way President Trump packs arenas wherever he goes to deliver one of his ‘patented’ pep rallies. None of the Democrats’ clown car of would-be candidates is generating anything like the enthusiasm Trump routinely evokes.

Where are people showing up a day or more in advance to ensure a place in the arena? At the Trump rallies, and no place else. You cannot purchase that kind of commitment, and you cannot fake it either. Check out a quote from the Washington Examiner:
Airing President Trump's campaign kickoff rally proved to be a win for Fox News, giving them just under 5 million viewers, which was more than CNN and MSNBC combined.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Trump Kickoff Quotes

Blogging at Power Line, regular Scott Johnson has two excellent quotes from President Trump’s 2020 campaign kickoff in Orlando.
Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage. They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it. Not acceptable. It’s not going to happen.

They went after my family, my business, my finances, my employees, almost everyone that I have ever known or worked with, but they are really going after you. That’s what it is all about. It’s not about us. It’s about you. They tried to erase your vote, erase your legacy.
In spite of the campaign hyperbole, there isn’t much there I’d disagree with.

Second Tory Leadership Vote Held

The BBC reports the Conservative MPs in the U.K. have held a second leadership vote, as a result of which Dominic Raab was eliminated and threw his support to Boris Johnson. Votes in the second round: Boris Johnson, 126; Jeremy Hunt, 46; Michael Gove, 41; Rory Stewart, 37; and Sajid Javid, 33. Raab got 30 which eliminated him as the minimum to make the cut was 33.

Everyone presumes Johnson will be one of the two names the party will submit to the membership, and nearly everyone believes he will be chosen by the members. Another vote will be taken soon, and voting will continue until only two names remain.

If I were to guess, I’d predict the final two will be hard-Brexit Boris and a soft/negotiated-Brexit advocate.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Travel Blogging V

Springdale, Utah: This small resort town is just outside the gate to Zion National Park. Zion is my favorite of the four parks we’ve visited this trip, I’m happy to be here.

We are at a much lower elevation here than in the prior parks, several thousand feet lower in fact. As you might expect, it feels like summer here, where it felt like spring at the first three parks.

Before I forget, at north rim Grand Canyon, the dining room at the 90 year old lodge there has excellent food at quite reasonable prices. Honestly, I was surprised by both quality and price.

I ordered a Navajo taco on which was more of a quesadilla on frybread (a Navajo delicacy) and very good.  The other DrC enjoyed her fish and chips and both of us had more food than we truly needed, though I ate all of mine. Lunch for four came to $45, plus tip, very reasonable for a served meal in a beautiful old dining hall.

We drove here via Colorado City, which is in AZ, and the drive was more scenic than I remembered. Our campground in Springdale is as crowded as we remembered it to be, from when we last stayed here in 2011. Its convenience makes up for the crowding.

Today the other DrC took the two gals - our niece and her friend - for a drive through the mile-long tunnel-with-windows to the eastern boundary of the park. I will do the same tomorrow with the three fellows - a nephew and his two buddies. Make no mistake, these “friends” of theirs are also our friends. They’re no strangers, we’ve happily traveled together before and will again.

We’re using the truck-minus-trailer for these forays as it passes through the tunnel without occasioning comment or special restrictions. Thursday we’ll take the park shuttle up to the narrows and back, though the trail we love there is supposedly closed due to high water.

Bad Advice

RealClearMarkets links to a MarketWatch article which makes the radical claim that upon retirement you might want to move to a college town. Having lived in or near college towns for most of my long adult life, I’d suggest most (but not all) of this article is nonsense.

Author Sarah Von Bargen list 6 reasons, here they are.
1. Your retirement fund will (probably) go further
2. College towns have great events, museums and culture
3. College towns are diverse
4. Easy access to good health care
5. You’ll be surrounded by youthful energy
6. There are tons of opportunities to get involved
Actually, #2 is at least somewhat accurate. #1 is nonsense, if you want your money to go farther move to one of the 7 states with no state income tax.

College towns diverse (#3)? Not a bit, they are lousy with liberals and retired hippies. NRA members, religious persons and squared-away conservatives are conspicuously underrepresented.

#4 might be true in college towns with medical schools, most college towns don’t have them. If small town living appeals, small college towns rarely feature med schools. The youthful energy of #5 is mostly drunken revelry, which - trust me - gets old very quickly.

#6 opportunities to get involved are found everywhere. They may be marginally more available in college towns, especially if you luck into a campus with a OLLI chapter. Check it out.

Go find yourself a small non-college town in a low tax, red state. If you pick a resort town or retirement destination, it’s even better because there are plenty of newcomers and ‘breaking in’ is much easier.

Plastic Bags Better for Gaia

Instapundit links to a The Globe and Mail (Can.) article reporting research findings we need to heed.
A 2018 study by the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food looked not just at plastic waste, but also at climate-change damage, ozone depletion, human toxicity and other indicators. It found you must reuse an organic cotton shopping bag 20,000 times before it will have less environmental damage than a plastic bag.

If we use the same shopping bag every single time we go to the store, twice every week, it will still take 191 years before the overall environmental effect of using the cotton bag is less than if we had just used plastic.

Even a simple paper bag requires 43 reuses to be better for the environment – far beyond the point at which the bag will be fit for the purpose.

The study clearly shows that a simple plastic bag, reused as a trash bag, has the smallest environmental impact of any of the choices.
Not to mention being much more convenient and cleaner.

California: Enroute to Third World

Historian Victor Davis Hanson takes another shot at describing the descent of California into third-world madness. National Review is where his latest jeremiad appears.

Hanson’s indictment is perhaps slightly exaggerated for effect. However the ridiculous conditions he describes do exist in many CA places. For example:
The coastal corridor elite often put their kids in tony prep schools that have sprung up or vastly expanded, in the fashion of the 1960s white Southern academies that were designed to circumvent federal desegregation edicts. Elite progressives mimic old-style, 1960s segregationists but feel that their children’s green and multicultural curricula offer enough penance to assuage their guilt over abandoning the state’s much praised “diverse” schools.
Old CA hands, like the DrsC, know how to bypass most of the hellholes and still find the CA sweet spots, but it is getting harder to do every year. How soon will it no longer be worth the effort? I’m not sure.

Hanson concludes the sort of place CA is becoming, with a few wealthy lording it over a sea of peons, is the classic configuration of a third world sh*thole, to use our non-PC President’s pungent phrase.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Who Follows Theresa May?

John O’Sullivan, editor at large of National Review, takes a look at the field competing for leadership of the Tory (aka Conservative) Party in the U.K. in the wake of Theresa May’s resignation. He estimates that American-born Boris Johnson is the likely selectee.

O’Sullivan adds the result of that choice is likely to be a hard Brexit, one with no deal in place when the leaving happens. See his conclusion concerning the role Nigel Farage, leader of the new Brexit Party, can play:
Farage can offer Boris another five years in power in return for a hard Brexit. It’s unlikely that Stewart, May, and the three (of four) establishment candidates can match that prospect or anything like it, and they seemed determined to resist to the finish. That’s the kind of situation that leads to the breakup of existing parties and their realignment on different lines.
I hope O’Sullivan’s prediction is accurate. The EU is “the swamp” on steroids, a bureaucrat’s dream of ignoring the popular will. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.

Good Advice

RealClearMarkets links to a USA Today article by investment guru Ken Fisher who offers excellent (in my view) advice to retirees. The short version is don’t leave a job you like unless you have something else you really like to do afterwards.

A slightly longer version is to retire out of a job you don’t like, because it isn’t contributing to a longer life. What helps retirees live longer, Fisher opines, is having something they love to do that takes up a fair amount of time and gives their life meaning. People who don’t know what to do with their time end up bored and probably die sooner than necessary.

I have friends for whom playing contract bridge at a highly skilled level provides that structure. They accumulate points toward various levels of honor among bridge players, plan ahead to attend competitive events, and study the intricacies of the game.

Others do wood working or crochet or garden or, in my case, COTTonLINE. What you do isn’t the key, whether you can really get involved with it and let it structure your days is what’s important. He believes, and I agree, we humans need a reason to get up and get moving.

BTW, I’m guessing the low unemployment levels we’re currently experiencing will have beneficial effects on our health and longevity. In most cases, working is healthier than being unemployed, even if you don’t love your job.

Waste Bin? Not So Fast

The Politico headline quotes CA Governor Gavin Newsom as saying: “GOP destined for ‘waste bin of history’.” To be fair to them, if you read the article Newsom compares what he expects to happen to the GOP nationally to be what happened to it in CA.

The GOP in CA is pretty much toast. On the other hand, what happens in CA doesn’t always happen in the rest of the country.

As people sort themselves out red states are becoming redder, just as blue states become bluer. Note the new law in FL to ban sanctuary cities, for example. That doesn’t look like a GOP loss, does it? Neither do the new anti-abortion laws in GA, AL and elsewhere.

I conclude Newsom makes the mistake of assuming conditions and cultures elsewhere are like those at home. Quite often, they are anything but.

For example, I am personally acquainted with four families who have moved out of CA because they found its politics distasteful, and that within the last 2-3 years. If I know 4, how many do you suppose there are, thousands, tens of thousands, more?

Travel Blogging IV

Jacob’s Lake, AZ: Our RV is parked here, as are those of the two groups of friends and relatives traveling with us. Yesterday we drove the 40+ miles to the north rim of the Grand Canyon and did the whole “trying to grasp the immensity” thing a phenomenon so overwhelming triggers.

Looking at the night sky on a clear, moonless night and trying to wrap your mind around its vastness is a similar experience. Basically, you can’t do it, but the attempt is worthwhile.

While there we saw a group of FLDS people being tourists, they are faux-Mormons who practice polygamy and drive boys away in order to have multiple wives. The women wear ankle-length plain dresses and a most unusual set of hairstyles. They live in northern AZ, no longer welcome in UT.

The drive to the north rim is a very pretty one, something I’d remembered from the last time I was here some 20 years ago. There are meadows and lots of pines and aspens, looking a lot like our part of Wyoming. We saw deer but none of the bison signs warned us to be wary of.

The altitude here is high, maybe 8000 ft. and the air is thin. Climbing a few stairs is enough to get out of breath. I even got a touch of high-altitude headache, which I first experienced full-force in Cuzco at 11,500 feet some years back.


Tomorrow we leave for Zion NP in southern Utah; we’re taking the long way to avoid driving the RVs through the park’s one-way tunnel. It was dug nearly 100 years ago and has ‘windows’ cut in the side where light and air enter.

The tunnel is only tall enough for today’s tall RVs if they drive down the centerline. This necessitates blocking traffic and temporarily turning it into a one-way street, for which privilege they charge a fee.

The route we’ll use tomorrow takes us through ‘panhandle’ Arizona which is one of the places faux-Mormon polygamy cults have retreated to. Arizona doesn’t have a true panhandle in the sense OK or TX have, but the term is used because this land, north of the Grand Canyon, is cut off from the rest of AZ and there are few roads.

“Bitter-enders” like FLDS retreat to places like this, basically to hide from the rest of us. It’s their version of the Benedict Option.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Social Media as an Addictive Pastime

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds has a new book out arguing that the social media giants are monopolies which should be broken up. Spectator USA has an excerpt which Reynolds has crafted for the shorter-form audience which they serve. In it he concludes:
Rather than focusing on the content of what individuals post on social media, regulators might better focus on breaking up these behemoths, policing anticompetitive collusion among them, and in general ensuring that their powers are not abused. This approach, rooted in antitrust law, would raise no First Amendment or free speech problems, and would address many of the most significant complaints about social media.
COTTonLINE concludes this view is worth considering.

Editorial Note

I just checked the counter at the bottom of this blog and we’re nearing a milestone. Sometime in the next few months we’ll reach a half-million page views. Today the counter reads 491,626.

I don’t check the counter very often so we may miss the exact event. Thank you for joining me on this shared experience. I’ve had a great time, I hope you have too.

Happy Fathers Day

Today we celebrate the role of the father in our lives. The science is settled, intact families with a father present and involved produce better, healthier, more successful children, are more financially successful, and generally do better.

Does that mean every father is a paragon? Hardly, while some are losers and some are monsters, most are neither. The science is based on comparing intact families as a group to those without a father present. Comparing group A to group B, A wins. Nobody is saying every intact family in A does better than every single parent family in B, rather that if you were placing bets, that’s how you’d bet.

My own father taught me plenty, took me fishing, modeled responsible behavior, and was devoted to my mother. One of my favorite memories of him was him wisely saying “Ladies are nice, but their ‘thermostats’ don’t work very well so they’re often too cold or hot.” Nailed it in one.

I see lots of parallels to my parents’ relationship in how the other DrC and I get along after 48 years of marriage. Thanks for everything, Dad.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

A Possible Answer

Worldcrunch runs an article, originally in German, which asks the provocative question: “Why does the Left love Islam so much?” The author provides several good examples of such love but doesn’t answer his own question of why this is so.

Let me try for an answer. People tend to coalesce around shared beliefs. The left hates Western society and capitalism, as do many Muslims. Taken together, that give them a shared belief that Western society must be replaced with something quite unlike what now exists.

The enormous irony is that the two groups haven’t gotten around to agreeing on exactly with what they’d replace what we now have. Nor is it likely they ever will.

I expect darned few leftists wish to live in a theocracy, run by imams. Many adherents of political Islam wish exactly that.

At a guess, I’d imagine adherents of political Islam see the modern Left as the proverbial “useful idiots” or “fellow travelers.” That is, people whose anti-establishment aims are found to be at least temporarily compatible.

The modern Left is a minority ‘faith’ which desperately seeks allies in their quest for power, and they see Muslims as folks who dislike the status quo as much as they do. Likewise, Muslims in Western nations are a minority which seeks allies, however temporarily.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Travel Blogging III

Bryce Canyon National Park: This is our third night here, we leave tomorrow for the north rim of the Grand Canyon in that national park. We’ve had a nice time here, at nearly 8000 ft. elevation, although it’s easy to get out of breath.

Bryce is one of those parks which, like Yellowstone, features more of something in one location than exists anywhere else. Bryce features hoodoos: weirdly eroded columns, spires, walls, arches, and the like - in gigantic layers of red, yellow, and white sandstone and limestone.

Hoodoos exist throughout the west in modest numbers, here they exist in profusion. At Bryce you are up on top of the plateau looking down at the decorative erosion of its edge. We “did” Bryce yesterday.

Today we “did” Kodachrome Basin, a nearby Utah State Park. At Kodachrome you are at the base of various erosion features looking up, not down. This state park is particularly known for “pipes,” as they’re called locally.

A pipe is a column of harder rock which somehow formed within a matrix of softer sedimentary rock, likely as the result of a spring or other water-borne sediment. Over time the softer rock erodes away leaving this upthrust column of rock, looking in some cases like a stone totem pole, perhaps 30-40 feet tall.

If you’ve seen the Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford film Cowboys and Aliens, one of the pipes looked like the alien space ship in that film. Another pipe was a dead ringer for a complete set of male genitalia, occasioning much laughter from the mixed group.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Huckabee Sanders Leaving

Various sources are reporting Sarah Huckabee Sanders will step down as Presidential Press Secretary at the end of June. This is unfortunate, she has done a great job.

She will definitely be missed by those who support the President. Trump indicated he hopes she runs for Arkansas governor.

Rising, Good and Bad

RealClearWorld links to a Washington Times article which says something I believe both insightful and truthful about our President, Donald J. Trump. Author Clifford D. May concludes:
While Mr. Trump is often capable of rising to the occasion, he can seldom resist rising to the bait.
That’s New Yorkers for you, seemingly born with a chip on their shoulder.

Restoring Deterrence links to a Financial Times article by Gideon Rachman. His thesis is that President Trump is trying to make the United States “scary” again, unlike our two prior presidents. My favorite quote:
Mr. Trump’s goal to “make America great again” also involves making America scary again — or, in Washington-speak, “restoring deterrence”.
Outstanding ... why should we let all sorts of pipsqueak countries walk on us? Rachman actually does a relatively good job of describing how and why the U.S. can get away with muscling others. He does this even though as a Brit he isn’t at all fond of a U.S. that acts like a superpower.

Oberlin Bites

Excellent news, the Legal Insurrection website reports a jury awarded Gibson’s bakery the maximum of $22 million in punitive damages against defendant Oberlin College. Oberlin had supported radical students who claimed the bakery had engaged in racial discrimination for calling the cops on several shoplifting students of color. Those students later confessed to the shoplifting.

University administrators across the country need to pay attention to this outcome. It is likely Oberlin’s insurer won’t pay off without a fight, as they view Oberlin’s “woke” behavior as both imprudent and indefensible.

As Glenn Reynolds reminds us, “get woke, go broke.” Hat tip to for the link.

Movement Toward a New PM

The Sun (U.K.) reports the results of the first election among 313 Conservative MPs to see who will be on the “ballot of two choices” sent to the party’s membership, who get final say on the P.M. Boris Johnson came in first with 114, meaning he is almost certain to be one of the two names submitted to the party’s members.

Three candidates were eliminated when they didn’t achieve support beyond 5% of the MPs, or a minimum of 17 votes. Seven remain in the running.

Johnson is known to be perhaps the strongest proponent of Brexit among the candidates. One supposes anti-Brexit Tory MPs will try to coalesce around a like-minded candidate, if not on the next ballot, on one of the subsequent ones.

It would not be entirely shocking for the Conservative Party to split as a result of deeply felt disagreements over Brexit. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Ships Ablaze, Actor(s) Uncertain

Various sources are reporting two petroleum tankers have been attacked in the Gulf of Oman region. Both are said to be on fire and their crews evacuated. Obviously tens of millions of dollars will be lost by various investors.

Thinking about how such can play out going forward, expect the people who insure ships and cargo - usually identified as Lloyds of London - to either begin to refuse to insure such ships and cargo or to raise the price of such insurance markedly. The cascade of effects from this can be very large, higher oil prices, shortages of petrochemical and fuel, even military action,

On the other hand, if there are no more such attacks perhaps it will all amount to nothing much. Both shippers and insurers would prefer this latter course. Business as usual is very lucrative and tends to be preferred always.

One source, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, notes a certain tit-for-tat pattern of fires on Iranian ships almost immediately after the two tankers were attacked. It is possible a sort of Putin-esque hybrid war of indirection, below-the-radar, is going on between actors in the region.

War in the Middle East, however limited in scope, could be a “black swan” that can scramble political outcomes in Europe and the U.S. Let’s see what develops.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Travel Blogging II

Bryce Canyon National Park: We spent the last three days at Capitol Reef National Park, one of the lesser known parks in the NP system. “Lesser known” doesn’t mean unvisited, not even close. Since our last visit some 9 years ago, the nearby town of Torrey has probably tripled in size and in tourist amenities.

We stayed at an excellent RV park called “Wonderland,” which I have no reservations about recommending to you. There are also several newish motels, service stations, and restaurants. If you want a market larger than a convenience store you drive perhaps 16 miles west to the town of Loa which has a nice market.

The park itself has changed little. As the other DrC sagely observes, the nice thing about national parks is how little they change within a decade. I’d almost say “within a lifetime” though that is a slight exaggeration. The rock formations are very striking and scenic at Capitol Reef, and there are excellent petroglyphs too. If you come, buy the pie at the shop in Fruita, it’s tasty.

Today we broke camp and drove the 100+ miles on Utah 12 to Bryce Canyon National Park. We’ll be here 3 nights and do most of our touring tomorrow and the next day.

The drive this morning was spectacular, over a pass that goes to 9600 feet and through some amazing red rock canyons. There were still patches of snow over the pass and we’ve seen several deer, including a nice buck in velvet. It’s scenery you’ll not see in many places, that’s for sure.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Argentina - Return to Toilet?

Poor Argentina, current polls show they are likely to switch their government back to Peronist policies which, given time, will turn the country into another calamitous Venezuela. The Financial Times reports the government of incumbent Argentine President Mauricio Macri has yet to deliver on its promise of economic stability.
With annual inflation of around 55 per cent and a recession dragging on, the latest polls continue to show an advantage for former populist president Cristina Fern├índez de Kirchner and her lesser known, unrelated former cabinet chief Alberto Fern├índez, who are running for vice-president and president respectively. 
Like California, Argentina is a place blessed by Nature with untold riches, a decent climate, and lots of territory. All those advantages are unequal to the task of counteracting the poisonous politics with which both are afflicted. Foot-shooting by voters is de rigueur in each.

Monday, June 10, 2019


Stephen Green, guest blogging at Instapundit, writes something about colleges and universities kowtowing to their students with which, having spent a career in those institutions, I heartily agree.
If there’s a difference between “the inmates running the asylum” and “the students running the school,” it’s only in the wording.
Part of the confusion stems from the peculiar role of the student as both customer and product. Too much emphasis on the “customer” results in today’s defective “product.”

Sunday, June 9, 2019

We’re Fairly Tame

If you follow American politics you know it can be crazy-making, zero-sum and it attracts some strange people. Compared to Israeli politics, ours seems absolutely boring.

RealClearWorld links to a World Political Review article which describes the current state of Israeli electoral politics ... it’s a zoo, they’ve more parties than fraternity row at homecoming. Coalitions forming and breaking as you watch. Take a look at what our politics could be, if we were hyper enough.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

CA Tries to Do Right, for a Change

At COTTonLINE we pick on California’s government a lot, with more-than-ample justification. That said, when the Golden State tries to do something right (for a change) honor demands we recognize that too. links to a San Francisco Chronicle article about CA requiring criminals to reimburse victims for their losses.
Convicted criminals in California must repay their victims for financial losses even for the minor crimes classified as infractions, like a mauling that killed a disabled person’s service dog, an appellate court has ruled.
What the article doesn’t clarify is where they expect criminals to get the money to repay victims. Most have no income source beyond crime, and it isn’t easy for ex-cons to find lawful work. The concept is a good one, its execution is likely to be fraught.

For example, CA is a community property state, married people own jointly everything acquired during marriage. Can you take a family’s home to reimburse a victim if the husband criminally damages another by, for instance, drunk driving? How about their car, or chattel? Their retirement IRAs?

If the court-assigned debt is one that cannot be shed via bankruptcy, then the resulting ruinous credit rating will further prevent former criminals from gaining employment. A credit check is often part of the employment screening process.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Travel Blogging I

Torrey, Utah:  We spent the last two days doing a leisurely drive south from western Wyoming. Traffic south of SLC was a mess, due to construction. We’re here to meet relatives and friends who are flying in from the coast. They arrive tomorrow.

Our group of 7 will spend the next two weeks touring several of the great national parks of UT and northern AZ, driving around in our truck-pulled 5th wheel trailer (pix here) plus a couple of rented class C motor homes. For those who wouldn’t know a class C from a vasectomy, those are the smaller motor homes which have the front end of a van as their cab and the RV is built on behind that. You’ll see them rented by Cruise America and El Monte Rents, among others.

Torrey is the base camp for Capitol Reef National Park, one of the lesser known NPs. This part of UT is largely empty, with the occasional small Mormon farm town looking much as it did in the 1950s when I first toured this country with my parents in a ‘41 Chevrolet.

Most of Utah’s population lives along the I-15 corridor between Logan and Provo, I’d guess 85% of the total. That region is modern and densely populated, compared to most of the mountain west. Get beyond that area and population density drops off dramatically.

When you’re traveling by auto in the interior west and you see various sized irrigation canals in a region you can be pretty sure you’re in an area settled by Mormons. They were fantastic canal builders, maybe better than the Israelis as the Mormons did it all with the muscle power of men and animals. Their very hard work made this dry land bloom, not much grows here without irrigation.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

June Anniversaries

These first few days in June bring several consequential (and less so) anniversaries. The D-Day anniversary comes up on the 6th, and the lesser-known Battle of Midway is remembered.

I really recommend a visit to the Omaha Beach area of Normandy. You can’t appreciate the difficulty of that amphibious landing until you see the unwelcoming terrain for yourself.

The Tiananmen Square massacre - 30 years ago today - reminds us of China’s troubled reality, and we also remember Billie Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge on June 3, some 50+ years ago.

Entirely coincidentally, the other DrC and I were in Taipei visiting friends when the Tiananmen massacre was reported. We’d half-way planned to go on to Hong Kong and then up-country to Guangzhou by riverboat, returning to HK by rail.

Given the spike of tensions in the PRC, we scrapped those plans and stayed away. We’ve not regretted our choice.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Snark from Blighty

DC Whispers reports gossip from the Trump-goes-to-Britain story. As I’m an Anglophile, and I like this President, I find it fun. I hope you will too.
When Queen Elizabeth extended a state visit invitation to President Trump the anti-Trumpers were predictably outraged. The queen ignored that outrage and in her own steely-eyed way, swatted them aside with a public warm welcome to a president some have said she holds a great deal of respect and admiration for and who reminds her more than a little of the legendarily brash and outspoken Winston Churchill who the queen worked with many decades ago.

The Queen’s most notable rebuke came against London Mayor Sadiq Khan who she apparently detests. Khan, a radical anti-Trumper, was left off the guest list for the state dinner.
Mayor Khan is easy to dislike, as nasty as he is inept at keeping the city safe. Monty Python’s John Cleese was correct when he recently said London is no longer a British city ... darned shame, too.


Europe voted just over a week ago; it has taken this long for me to spot an article to recommend to you which makes sense of the outcome. One of the best current voices in understanding foreign affairs, George Friedman (George, not Tom), writes at Geopolitical Futures. See his conclusion:
The centrist parties weakened a little. The nationalist parties strengthened a little. And, depending on where you draw the line between left and right, left-of-center parties fared pretty well. But what is important is the fact that the elections showed that the center parties are losing control over the political system, however slowly. (Losing, but not yet having lost.) The decisions on this will not be made in the European Parliament but in the national parliaments, which are directly representative of their citizens. 
Increasingly, member states are choosing to go their own locally determined ways. Whether it is Brexit in the U.K. or the Hungarians, Poles, and Italians refusing immigrants, this is the trend to watch. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

Sunday, June 2, 2019


We made it to Wyoming, arrived this afternoon. We will leave in a few days to join relatives on a two-week RV odyssey around several of the best national parks in UT and northern AZ. Travel blogging will chronicle that jaunt.

Here in the Rockies, at 6000 ft. elevation, it is still springtime with blossoms on the trees and occasional rain. Snow should mostly be over although some years we’ve seen it as late as mid-June. Warm weather will likely wait for July, and truly hot weather is a once-in-ten-years oddity.

It is nice to return to a place that feels like home, run by good people whose heads are in roughly the same place ours are. Beautiful CA doesn’t fill that bill in recent decades, it’s being run by nutcase losers primarily for the benefit of illegal immigrants and the homeless. Ridiculous!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The Parameters of Modern Conservatism

Matthew Continetti, who edits the Washington Free Beacon and is a frequent panelist on Bret Baier’s Special Report on Fox News, has an excellent article on the parameters of modern conservatism. He sees it existing in four loosely defined categories, associating each with a young Senator whose actions seem to typify it.

The Jacksonians, named for Old Hickory, President Andrew Jackson, and associated with President Trump and Senator Tom Cotton (no known relation). His thumbnail characterization: the original American populists, not tied to foreign philosophers.

The Reformicons, typified by Senator Marco Rubio, express dissatisfaction with the directions of the more recent Bush administration. They’ve argued for the dignity of work and the primacy of the family as societal building blocks.

The Paleos, associated with Senator Mike Lee and opinion host Tucker Carlson, who are a bit isolationist and may favor an industrial policy that purists would scorn.

The Post-Liberals, associated with Senator Josh Hawley. These oppose the influence of John Locke, and believe “freedom has become a destructive end-in-itself.”

I have merely sampled out a tiny portion of what Continetti wrote, You should read the whole thing for yourself.

This and That

Well, the late spring migration to our main home in Wyoming is underway, while still trying to wear out the very tenacious remnants of bronchitis. Sorry I haven’t posted much recently.

Here is one thing I’d share with you. It is a quote from Children of Dune, a 1976 sequel novel to Frank Herbert’s massive original Dune. He speaks in the voice of Paul Atreides, aka Muad’Dib. Hat tip to Ben Domenech of The Federalist for the link.
When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles.
Written over 40 years ago, it is prescient. Do you notice the horde of illegal immigrants across our southern border taking this basic approach? Do you observe the SJWs doing the same? Persons taking this approach do not deserve the freedom we should extend only to upstanding citizens.