Saturday, August 31, 2019

How Macri Blew It

Alvaro Vargas Llosa writes, for RealClearWorld, about the failure of President Mauricio Macri to turn around the mess in Argentina. He argues Macri took half-measures when a real shakeup was what was indicated.
When Macri took over in December 2015, people were much relieved. Here was a guy apparently willing to dismantle Fernández de Kirchner’s legacy and six decades of Peronismo, Argentina’s cultural and political disease. However, Macri feared that if he applied shock therapy and opted for a deep reform of the state, the Kirchner-aligned opposition would destroy his presidency.

He took some much-needed measures, coming to an arrangement with the foreign bondholders Fernández de Kirchner had warred with for years, reducing agricultural export taxes, lifting currency controls, and raising tariffs on government-subsidized services. But he left the essential problems intact by barely making a dent in public spending, the tax burden, and the dependency of half the country on the government purse.
Macri is certainly not the first or only politician to stub his toe on the addictive nature of the welfare state. Plus Argentina has a really severe addiction to government handouts, thanks to Evita and subsequent “pushers.”

Black on Johnson

Conrad Black writes for National Post (Can.) about Boris Johnson's dramatic move to suspend Parliament for a longer-than-usual period prior to the October 31 deadline for leaving the EU. His prediction is optimistic:
The Johnson move will either force a two-tier Europe: a common market for all but political integration only for those who want it, or it will advance some sort of quasi-Anglospheric co-operation, led by the United States, but not subordinating other countries to it. The United States will not concede any sovereignty to anyone, and will not demand any from other countries, as has been demonstrated in the Canada-U.S. free trade regime.
His view of "Anglospheric" includes:
The old Dominions, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as Singapore and to some extent India and South Africa, and more particularly, on a closer association with the United States.
My guess: India and South Africa are too preoccupied with their own internal issues - Hindu and African identity respectively plus anti-colonialism - to be much interested in an Anglo-American enterprise.

Black believes Singapore doesn't have this issue. Mr. Lee, its 1965 'designer', decided Singaporeans would become "Europeans with Asian faces." Channeling Switzerland has served them very well.

Variation in Solar Radiation links to a Natural News article which forcefully makes the point that minor predictable variations in the earth's orbit around the sun account for historically observable climate change. These changes have been going on throughout the earth's history, regardless of human activity.
In 1976, a study published in the journal Science confirmed that Milankovitch’s theory is, in fact, accurate, and that it does correspond to various periods of climate change that have occurred throughout history.

In 1982, six years after this study was published, the National Research Council of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences adopted Milankovitch’s theory as truth, declaring that: “… orbital variations remain the most thoroughly examined mechanism of climatic change on time scales of tens of thousands of years and are by far the clearest case of a direct effect of changing insolation on the lower atmosphere of Earth.”

The biggest factor influencing weather and climate patterns on earth is the sun, period. Depending on the earth’s position to the sun at any given time, climate conditions are going to vary dramatically, and even create drastic abnormalities that defy everything that humans thought they knew about how the earth worked.
Compared to the impact of the sun, the activities of all humans essentially amount to nothing significant on a global scale, though they may have local effect - smog, for instance. It isn't easy for our species - afflicted with hubris - to accept insignificance. See Wikipedia for an explanation of Milankovitch cycles.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Barr's Non-Prosecution Decision

The DOJ Inspector General's report on former FBI Director James Comey's retention and leaking of government documents is out. The IG made a criminal referral but Attorney General Bill Barr decided not to prosecute.

I believe AG Barr owes us an explanation of his decision since it generates spooky echoes of Comey's decision not to prosecute H. Clinton for similar offenses. That was an outrage, this is more so.

If there are good reasons why prosecution of Comey is inappropriate or ill-advised, AG Barr should be willing to share those with his employer, the American public. Perhaps the answer is a simple as "we feared a jury would believe his claim the memos were his personal property, not FBI property."

I'd like to believe the decision reflects a planned prosecution of Comey for something much more serious than leaking in a town infamous for leaks. Something like perjury or conspiracy. I fear it does not.

And while I believe Barr owes us an explanation, Comey owes us an apology for violating the Hatch Act which bans political activity by unelected federal employees.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Weird Hydrological Science

Do you remember Luke Skywalker’s youth, living with his aunt and uncle on their windstill farm? On desert planet Tatooine they harvest moisture from the air, and sell it. Similar imagined technology appears among the Fremen people of Frank Herbert’s Dune.

Inventors eventually produce the things dreamed up by science fiction authors, and Popular Mechanics has another example in the latest edition. The article title: “How This Harvester Literally Makes Water Out of Thin Air.”
The startup for this project, Water Harvester Inc., will soon begin marketing a device about the size of an oven that can churn out 7 to 10 liters of water per day, enough cooking water for two or three adults per day.

Plus, there's a second version that's more the size of a small refrigerator, which will produce 200 to 250 liters of water per day. That's enough for an entire household to fill up glasses with drinking water, cook dinner, and take a shower each day. 
I like the sound of this technology. It could make living in arid places more practical. It has to be cheaper than drilling a well.

Later ... I notice they didn’t claim the larger unit produces enough water to flush toilets. Having experienced pit toilets, that’s a serious disincentive unless shower water can be recycled for toilet flushing.

For those who don't think in "liters," the larger unit produces roughly 55 gallons of water per day. That's the volume of a standard steel oil drum.

The Ten

The list of participants for the mid-September debate among Democrats seeking their party’s presidential nomination has been finalized. Yesterday was the last day to qualify.

The 10 making the cut include Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke, Andrew Yang, Julian Castro, and Amy Klobuchar. Let’s unpack that group.

Buttigieg represents the LGBTQ faction, and maybe the few evangelical Democrats. Booker anchors the African-American faction. Harris does the Obama-style “presentable” mixed race thing. Warren and Sanders speak to the “free stuff” young living in parents’ basements. Yang fronts the techno-geeks.

Castro tries to represent Hispanics, while apparently speaking little Spanish. O’Rourke imperfectly echoes Kennedy nostalgia. And Biden and Klobuchar are boring left-centrists of no particular distinction. And of course Warren, Harris, and Klobuchar also rep, with varying success, the women’s coalition.

Basically nobody in this group has the support of very many Democrats, which illustrates the problem with identity group politics. Speak to the grievances of a number of groups, each with its own victimology and demands, and this set of candidates is what you get. Ho-effing-hum.

By contrast, Trump says let’s make the whole country more prosperous, everybody (who wants them) gets jobs, buys stuff, has choices and fun. People claim he speaks for whites, but in fact every citizen benefits from his policies which are of the classic “rising tide lifts all boats” sort.

Prosperity, after the Obama-era stagnation, is hard to argue with. And, in spite of “hill to die on” opposition, the border wall is getting built.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

No Climate Change Detected

RealClearEnergy runs a story about a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) program. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.
In January 2005, NOAA began recording temperatures at its newly built U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN). USCRN includes 114 pristinely maintained temperature stations spaced relatively uniformly across the lower 48 states. NOAA selected locations that were far away from urban and land-development impacts that might artificially taint temperature readings.

The USCRN has eliminated the need to rely on, and adjust the data from, outdated temperature stations. Strikingly, as shown in the graph (at the article, scroll down), USCRN temperature stations show no warming since 2005 (emphasis added) when the network went online. If anything, U.S. temperatures are now slightly cooler than they were 14 years ago.

The lack of warming in the United States during the past 14 years is not too different from satellite-measured global trends. Globally, satellite instruments report temperatures have risen merely 0.15 degrees Celsius since 2005, which is less than half the pace predicted by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate models.
In spite of which every Democrat running for president acts panicked over global climate change. Do they believe what they're saying or are they pandering to the climatically paranoid.

Bye-Ku for Gillibrand

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is reported by ABC News to be dropping out of the race for the Democrat presidential nomination. With the customary hat tip to its popularizer James Taranto, we offer Gillibrand a bye-ku, a haiku of farewell.

Gillibrand did not
Make the new debate cutoff.
Her ‘brand’ a loser.

Today was the deadline to qualify. I expect to be a regular bye-ku 'machine' over the next few days.

The Horserace, Revisited

On Monday we wrote "Warren and Sanders are in a dead heat with Biden in the latest poll." The poll referenced was a Monmouth poll with a small sample size (n=300).

Many questioned that finding, and subsequent polling shows the finding to be an outlier, probably invalid. Power Line's Paul Mirengoff has identified five later polls, all of which show Biden comfortably ahead of Warren and Sanders. Most show the latter two in a near tie for second. Two find Warren ahead of Sanders, three have her trailing him.

Mirengoff does a nice analysis of which of the two - Warren or Sanders - is most likely to pick up Biden supporters who become disillusioned with Joe. He concludes Warren has the better shot at them, also at the pro-woman vote which is likely a significant factor among Democrats.

Brexit Update

The Sun (U.K.) reports the Queen has acquiesced in PM Boris Johnson’s request to recess Parliament.
Her Majesty met with members of Privy Council today at Balmoral and an order to prorogue Parliament between September 9 to October 14 was given the green light this afternoon.
I don’t claim to understand the fine points of another country’s governmental machinations, here’s what The Sun claims is going on.
Boris' bold move to block MPs from sitting in Parliament for around five weeks over conference season will give rebels less time to launch new plots to stop us leaving on October 31.

MPs would come back for a Queen's Speech on October 14 under the plans, just two weeks before we're due to leave the EU.

That would leave just days for a possible vote of no confidence in Boris, or for rebel MPs to pass a law to push back the Brexit date.
Needless to say, those who oppose Brexit are outraged, apoplectic in fact. They sound like our Democrats bewailing the latest Trump ‘treason.’

No need to tell this PM to “grow a pair.” Perhaps Theresa May will prove to have been Neville Chamberlain to Boris Johnson’s Winston Churchill. That is, the sincere, well-meaning loser before the bulldog takes charge.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

‘Suicide’ Watch

CNBC reports Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyers take issue with the autopsy findings for their client.
The injuries suffered by Epstein are “far more consistent with assault” than suicide, the lawyer, Reid Weingarten, told Judge Richard Berman in U.S. District Court in Manhattan during a hearing.

Weingarten told the judge that when he and other defense attorneys spoke to Epstein shortly before his death “we did not see a despairing, despondent, suicidal person.”
I’m thinking his attorneys have lots of company when it comes to their view of how Epstein died.

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Field Narrows

NBC News lists the Democrat presidential aspirants who have qualified for the September debate.
The 10 candidates who have qualified already include: Biden; Warren; Sanders; New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana; former Housing Secretary Julián Castro; California Sen. Kamala Harris; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke; and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
Apparently the deadline for qualifying is two days from now, on Wednesday. If anyone else qualifies, something NBC thinks unlikely, the debates will be on two nights as the stage holds a maximum of 10.

If the list above is the final card, they'll all be on one stage on one night, head to head. This should be interesting as Warren and Sanders are in a dead heat with Biden in the latest poll.

I predict several more bye-kus to be composed soon.


I do hope Democrats follow their collective heart and nominate someone with whom they totally agree, with whose policy promises they completely resonate. That should make Trump's job much easier.

The employed realize it is they who will pay for all the "free stuff" being promised. They know who will be taxed to pay for health care for illegals and free college for everyone who'd rather not work.

It's always Joe and Jill Sixpack who can't dodge the tax man. It's not the uber-rich. They hire lobbyists to promote, and fancy CPAs and tax attorneys to find, esoteric loopholes and tax shelters.

Hanson Explains Trump

See a well-written column which unabashedly defends President Trump, and along the way bashes those who fantasize about his supposed monstrous shortcomings. Historian Victor Davis Hanson writes at American Greatness to. one by one, demolish the various anti-Trump tropes. His conclusion:
Trump was never hard to figure out. While his narcissism and ego may in part have driven him to run for president, far more important was his sense that the country was mired in stagnation and frequent self-inficted miseries, and that his own unorthodox theories about overregulated business, Chinese cheating, European free-riding and mercantile trade policies, and overregulation would allow American free-market capitalism to lift the country out of self-induced lethargy.
So far, “his own unorthodox theories” seem to be working very well. What say we give them another four-year trial?

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Digging the Dirt links to an Axios report of long-needed "oppo" research being done by supporters of the President. What they claim is happening is this.
A pro-Trump network of conservative operatives has been compiling dossiers of potentially damaging public comments and social media posts by journalists who have produced unfavorable coverage of the administration.

Sam Nunberg, who worked on the 2016 Trump campaign, told the (New York) Times: "Two can play at this game. The media has long targeted Republicans with deep dives into their social media, looking to caricature all conservatives and Trump voters as racists."
Will any politically aware person be surprised if most journalists are shown to be leftist Democrats actively involved in helping their party? Almost as shocked as Captain Renault is to 'discover' gambling happening at Rick's Cafe Americain in Casablanca, at a guess.

Poll: Patriotism, Religion, Child-Bearing on Wane

There's a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll out, with findings I find interesting, and perhaps disquieting. Younger people (18-38) believe patriotism, religion, and having children are significantly less important than do their elders (55-91). Beliefs of the group in between (39-54) are, as you might expect, "in between."

When the sample is segmented by political party, Democrats believe patriotism, religion, and having children are significantly less important than do Republicans. On the other hand, the views of Ds and Rs, and of the young and old, don't much differ on the importance of hard work, financial security, tolerance for others, and self-fulfillment.

Here's a revealing factoid:
Americans also express some ambivalence about “changes in American society and the country becoming more diverse and tolerant of different lifestyles, languages, cultures and races.”

Forty percent call those changes a step forward, while 14 percent call them a step backward. The remainder — 43 percent — say those changes are “some of both.”

Sixty-one percent of Republicans, 44 percent of independents, and 27 percent of Democrats expressed those mixed feelings.
People don't really know what is happening with race relations, the poll shows. On the one hand:
Six-in-ten describe either a lot or some tension between people of different races in their state. The same share — 60 percent — say that race relations in the United States are bad, although that’s down from 70 percent in 2017 and a high of 74 percent in summer 2016.
While on the other hand:
More than half — 56 percent — say that race relations have gotten worse since Trump became president. Another 33 percent say race relations have stayed about the same, while 10 percent say they have improved.
So ... the percentage saying race relations are bad has dropped since Trump ran for president from 74% to 60% yet a majority say "race relations have gotten worse since Trump became president." One of these two beliefs is erroneous.

Presumably, the 10% who say race relations improved have it right. The 89% who believe race relations are the same or worse are wrong.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Whither Williamson

Writing at the whimsically named Sultan Knish blog, Daniel Greenfield unloads some choice snark on Democrats in general, and Marianne Williamson in particular.
Williamson is a crackpot, but her crackpottery fills the broken china closets of the Democrats. She got this far because the upper echelons of the Dems don’t believe in God, but do believe in crazy.

Marianne Williamson, like Obama and Oprah, speak to their inner specialness, to their egos and their conviction that they were put on earth to change the world and feel good about themselves.

They are their own goddesses, their religion is narcissism, and the church is leftist politics.
It is claimed Williamson slept in the Lincoln Bedroom, invited by Hillary. A total fruitcake.

Weird Neurological Science

Instapundit links to a United Press International article reporting research on people with restless leg syndrome.
People with restless legs syndrome have nearly three times the risk of suicide or self-harm, even if they didn't have underlying conditions like depression, diabetes and insomnia.
Of course, as a correlational study, a causal relationship is not established. Suicidal feelings may cause restless leg, or restless leg may cause suicide, or some other factor, as yet undetermined, may cause both.

Some speculate that restless leg causes sleep disturbance which may be causative for suicide. As always, more research is needed.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Bye-Ku for Moulton

Politico reports Mass. Rep. Seth Moulton is dropping his campaign for the Democrat nomination for president. With our customary hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku, a haiku of farewell, to Rep. Moulton.
Ex-marine Moulton
Spoke out on PTSD
He got no traction.

Since he never got on a debate stage, probably most people had no idea he'd declared a run.

Gallup: GOP ↑, Dems ↓

Instapundit links to a Gallup survey of American voters' party identification. The trends look positive for Republican 2020 candidates, including the President.
Date                %Repubs        %Indeps         %Dems
2019 Jul 1-12      29                    38                 27
2018 Nov 1-11     28                    39                 31
2016 Nov 1-6       27                    36                 31
I've cited the data points for the last two elections and the current numbers. There are more Republicans and Independents today than there were during the last two elections. Independents split about evenly, half lean one way, half the other.

More important, there are fewer Democrats now. It could be a result of the lackluster group of would-be nominees they've mustered. Can you say "charisma deficit?"

If you add 29 + (38/2) the GOP gets 48% while 27 + (38/2) gives the Dems 46%. If the undecideds split evenly, stay home or vote Green, Trump is reelected.

Travel Blogging a Day Trip

At her blog, the other DrC has a knockout photo of Mount Moran. She shot it yesterday, looking across Jackson Lake from just north of Colter Bay Village, within Grand Teton National Park.

Mount Moran is not as famous as the Teton group, but it's our favorite "big guy" in the Teton Range. This in much the same way that Colter Bay is our favorite locale within the park while others may prefer Jenny Lake or Signal Mountain.

The other DrC had a dental appointment early yesterday, so afterwards we spent midday up in the park reconnecting with a place we first visited together in 1973. There have been almost no years since when we haven't at least visited briefly. I first came here in 1949 with my parents, we tented at Jenny Lake.

The fabulous thing about National Parks is that they change little over the years. What I experienced in 1949 and again yesterday were largely similar, although I am a very different person than the lad I was then.

GTNP was wonderful then, it is wonderful now. About how many things in life can you make that claim? Darned few, I'd wager. Maybe the beach, if you're a beach person (we aren't).


Instapundit quotes verbatim an email by one Amy Curtis, which is snarky, accurate, and insightful. Enjoy what she writes.
If I genuinely believed in 12 years coastal areas would be under water, I wouldn’t by (sic) a $15 million mansion on ... Martha’s Vineyard.
Call me crazy, but it doesn’t seem like Obama is taking climate change all that seriously.
Climate hysteria does wonders to stir up the tree huggers, make them crazy. That’s Practical Politics 101: pander to the easily triggered, wherever you find them, whatever kooky beliefs they hold.

Did you wonder how a couple of retired and disbarred minority attorneys got $15 million? Is this even possible, legally? Unlikely, I’d say. The presidency pays okay, but not that well.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Bye-Ku for Jay Inslee

NBC News reports Washington Governor Jay Inslee is dropping out of the Democrat presidential nomination race. With our customary hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku - a haiku of farewell - to Governor Inslee.
Ta ta, Jay Inslee.
Climate change won't sell so you're
Olympia bound.

And another of what Dame Agatha called "little Indians" gets spun by the wheel of life. He plans to run for a 3rd term as governor.

Cute Fawn Pix

The other DrC has three pix of twin fawns at her blog. With their mom, they've been visitors in our yard off and on this summer.

As noted before, our 'landscaping' is entirely natural aspen forest and understory. They're welcome to eat whatever they like, doing no harm to either themselves or our yard.

We resist the temptation to make pets of them, which would put them at greater risk. It's my F350 in the background of one photo.

WPA for Progressives

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, himself a law school prof, writes something insightful about today's higher education (scroll down).
The student loan program isn’t a subsidy for students. It’s a subsidy for a vital Democrat-supporting industry. Understand that and a lot of other things make sense.
Recent developments in the "business" in which I spent my career are very depressing. On the other hand, I was fortunate to participate in the university's "golden age," now a historical footnote.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

ISIS as Phoenix

Various sources are reporting ISIS is regaining strength in Syria, and probably in Sunni western Iraq too. Why wouldn't it? The forces that favored its growth originally are still very much in place.

Assad regained rule of Syria and doesn't favor Sunnis, while the Shia still govern non-Kurdish Iraq and favor their own.  The substantial numbers of Sunnis in both countries implicitly believe they should be favored or, put another way, should not be second-class citizens.

Thoroughly Sunni ISIS offers a mailed fist to be wielded on behalf of downtrodden Sunnis. Our helping various local actors bash ISIS when it was a 'caliphate' controlling territory didn't change any of that.

The human condition faces problems that can be cured, like TB or pneumonia, and others that can only be treated, like diabetes or body odor. ISIS and the like are a chronic condition that will continue to arise as long as the conditions which enable it to give hope to Sunnis continue to exist.

This side of the grave, there is no cure. As President Trump said of Afghanistan, "I could win this war but I don't choose to murder 10 million people. " The same is largely true of ISIS and Syria.

David Goldman, aka "Spengler," wrote something similar about unrest in the region in 2014, likening it to the Thirty Years War.
Three million men will have to die before the butchery comes to an end. That is roughly the number of men who have nothing to go back to, and will fight to the death rather than surrender.
Goldman is a little ray of sunshine, isn't he?

Dogwhistles Are Effective

Alt-left site Huff Post is seldom cited here, for obvious reasons. However, they have a report of sociological research that we find interesting.

The work summarized, published in Socius, of the American Sociological Association, looks at the impact of implicit racial appeals (so-called “dogwhistles”) on white liberals. The counterintuitive finding: they work.
“If the dog-whistle hypothesis is correct, we would expect implicit but not explicit racial appeals to increase the impact of racial resentment on whites’ policy evaluations,” Wetts and Willer wrote.

Their experiment confirmed the hypothesis ― but with an unexpected twist. After the participants read the political statements and were asked how they felt about welfare, the ones with the most negative attitude compared to the control group were self-identified white liberals who’d read the implicit racial appeal and who had scored highly on the racial resentment scale.

They found that “white, racially resentful liberals were particularly likely to switch their vote to Trump” after having previously voted for Obama.

Racially resentful liberals represent about 3 percent of the population, or some 10 million people. And it only took 100,000 votes in three states to seal the Electoral College for Trump in 2016.
Thus adding additional support to our hypothesis of the growth of tribal/identity group politics, first mentioned here in 2014. It’s nothing Trump started, he merely recognized and took advantage of a preexisting vein of “resentment.”

Monday, August 19, 2019

Weird Public Health Science

The Daily Beast reports the results of a study of 512 Canadian mothers drinking fluoridated water during pregnancy on the subsequent IQ of their offspring. Those consuming more fluoride had children whose IQs averaged some 3 points lower, which with a sample this size, was significant.

Normal persons would not be able to perceive a 3 point difference in IQ between two individuals. Those who drank more water and tea, and thus had higher fluoride concentrations in the urine were likely to have slightly less intelligent sons.
While medical organizations are not advising that pregnant women avoid fluoridated water—and the study has no implications for the use of fluoride after birth—Green believes the results are significant enough to warrant a change in behavior.

“What we recommend is lowering fluoride ingestion during pregnancy,” she said.
The subjects came from 6 cities which presumably all fluoridated their water. What needs examining is whether some exogenous factor, related to social class, economic status, ethnicity, personal health, or genetics causes some women to consume more water and tea (and presumably Crystal Light). That factor, rather than the fluoride, may be influencing offspring IQ.

I'd also want to compare city kids, exposed to fluoride, with country kids whose well water generally has none. The original study was published in JAMA Pediatrics. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Later ... Growing up without cavities might be worth sacrificing three IQ points.

The Trump Rally Experience

I don't like cities and crowds aren't a favorite of mine either, so I'll probably never attend one of President Trump's rallies. On the other hand, I have a good idea of why they're powerful from TV and from a New York Post article by Miranda Devine.

Devine went to the recent New Hampshire rally and writes an excellent, very positive account of the great skill with which the Donald does this event. He is a natural, he plays the audience like a concert master with a Stradivarius.

If, like me, you're unlikely to drag your backside to an arena to watch him perform, read her article and enjoy the experience vicariously.

Remembering Tom Bradley

The other DrC made a connection a couple of days ago I’m embarrassed I didn’t make myself. She was musing about polls consistently showing President Trump losing to the 3-4 Democrat front runners, in much the same way the polls didn’t predict his victory in 2016.

Her answer, “I think there is a Bradley effect going on here.” To which I replied that I believe she is correct.

For those who don’t know, Tom Bradley was a popular black mayor of Los Angeles who ran for CA governor. In an outcome like Hillary Clinton’s, the polls showed he would win, but he didn’t.

After the fact pundits concluded voters, when polled, felt they should answer they intended to vote for the nice black man so that’s what they said. Said it even though it wasn’t how they eventually voted.

Psychologists call this a “social desirability bias.” That is, giving the answer that you feel makes you “look good or virtuous” in the eyes of the person asking the question.

The other DrC suggests many middle class people answer they will vote for Trump’s opponent because that is the “socially approved” or “socially desired” answer in their circles. Subsequently, in the privacy of the voting booth, they vote their convictions.

How else explain the huge crowds that turn out for Trump rallies and the embarrassingly small crowds drawn by those seeking the Democrat nomination? What people say and what they do are sometimes quite different.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Echoes of Weimar

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds writes about the Antifa violence in Portland, and elsewhere. His invocation of Weimar is telling, see his conclusion.
You don’t get Hitler because of Hitler — there are always potential Hitlers hanging around. You get Hitler because of Weimar, and you get Weimar because the people in charge of maintaining liberal democracy are too weak and corrupt to do the job. And there are a lot of those now, not exclusively in the Democratic Party.
Exclusively? Certainly not. Would you accept "predominantly" or a folksy "mostly?"

Yon Reports from Hong Kong

Freelance war correspondent and former Special Forces operator Michael Yon emails reports from Hong Kong, about the conflict there between the Beijing government and the former colony's citizens.  Instapundit has posted it for all to see.
Yesterday’s protest was massive. I have not even slept yet. Estimated 1.7m people. Crowds are notoriously difficult to estimate, but I will confirm it was absolutely massive, stretching for miles in pouring rain. Massive.

Hong Kong is China’s brain tumor. Do nothing…tumor grows. Operate…the procedure could kill the communist party.

This is very serious.... Do not underestimate what is happening here.
As someone noted, Hong Kong protesters wave U.S. flags while Antifa burns them.

California Craziness links to a Daily Caller article about a new Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum proposed in California. It doesn't sound wonderful.
The Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, proposed by the California Department of Education, includes anti-Israel bias and aims to teach students about the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Palestinian-led anti-Israel initiative. The curriculum also has students study issues of police brutality and asks teachers to find incidents of bias by police in their own communities.

There are no teachings in the 300-page curriculum on anti-Semitism or Jewish Americans.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California demanded an inquiry into the curriculum and wondered how it “made its way through” the system. “This was not simply an oversight – the California Department of Education’s attempt to institutionalize anti-Semitism is not only discriminatory and intolerant, it’s dangerous,” McCarthy said.
Imagine how popular this curriculum won't be in progressive Hollywood.

A Positive Sign

I think you’ll find this interesting. Politico, which is no fan of the President, reports the foreign diplomatic corps in Washington, DC, operates under the assumption Trump will be reelected. Of the foreign diplomats they contacted:
None who talked to POLITICO were willing to say that Trump will lose. Instead, they pointed to three key advantages for Trump: He’s the incumbent, the U.S. economy is strong and the Democrats have no definitive front-runner to challenge him.
If that’s what they’re telling their governments, it will help the President in negotiations. Fearing the need to live with his rambunctious style for another 4 years will cause them to curry favor instead of dragging their feet until the election.

The “Social Justice” Disease

Instapundit links to a Campus Reform article about the wave of “social justice” majors and programs on campuses. Obviously none of us approve of this silliness, imagine wasting tuition dollars teaching people to be societal pains in the the ass.

I wish to speak to the utter fatuousness of “social justice” programs at universities. Going to university to become usefully employable is the only economically justifiable reason for the great bulk of students who are not idly rich.

Can you imagine employers willingly hiring graduates with major work in “social justice”? Doing so would be managerial malpractice, the self-destructive equivalent of knowingly sharing a sleeping bag with a cobra or marrying a heroin addict.

Public institutions have no business committing this sort of foolishness. At least in states where Republicans control legislatures, the power of the purse should be sufficient to prevent it.

If private higher ed campuses choose to do so, there’s probably no stopping them short of bankruptcy followed by closure. You’d hope their trustees would intervene, but such normally rubber stamp what administrators tell them is appropriate, until it’s too late.

Saturday, August 17, 2019


Jack Dunphy "is the pseudonym of a police officer in Southern California," his nom de plume if you like. Here, in a column for PJMedia, he notes Antifa complaining about the LAPD "infiltrating" their organization. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Friends, this kind of policing is nothing new. LAPD has been infiltrating subversive groups since the 1920s, that I know of.

Thirty years later my dad, who worked on the fringes of SoCal law enforcement for a decade or so before I was born, reminisced about the “red cells” they’d infiltrate, then bust, or just trash. He was deliberately vague about whether he was personally involved or repeating cop shop gossip.

Related: Where do you think the idea for the Marty Deeks character on the CBS NCIS Los Angeles show comes from? Executive producer Mark Harmon grew up and is connected in SoCal. It's likely he heard via the Hollywood grapevine of LAPD involvement in things not obviously within their purview.

No Sh*t

Power Line regular Scott Johnson notes articles advocating a return of the once-prevalent vagrancy laws. He quotes an editorial in the Claremont Review of Books by Charles Kesler which concludes:
We ought to consider what was lost when the courts discouraged Americans from thinking of “homelessness” in light of the old laws against vagrancy. Under that understanding, no one had a right to camp out indefinitely on public property, much less to defecate on it. Public property belonged to the public—to everyone—and couldn’t be privatized for the benefit of one or more vagrants, however poor or sick.
The Swiss understand this, as Americans once did. Why can’t we do so again? Mental hospitals and the poor farm managed most of the problem, kept it off our streets and parks and out of our neighborhoods. Police pushed the remaining hobo jungles into remote areas along rail right of way.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Black Squirrels

Smithsonian Magazine has an article about black squirrels, which it says are rare. They are caused by interbreeding between gray squirrels and fox squirrels.

The only time I have seen them was on the wooded grounds of a hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia. I was attending a conference there back in the 1980s or 90s.

For whatever reason they weren’t scarce at that location. I saw 2-3, perhaps someone had brought them there and turned them loose?

If you like squirrels and find their antics cute, the black ones are very easy to track. I wonder if they still exist in Vancouver?

Summer Slipping Away

Do you want an inside look at just how short summer is at higher altitudes? True summer lasts here maybe 6 weeks. In mid August it has already begun to cool at 6000+ ft above sea level.

Certainly it’s not cold yet, but the early mornings are no longer short-sleeve comfortable. And some evenings we have begun to close off our screened interface with the outside before 9 p.m., even though the house still warms up in late afternoon as the setting sun hits our windows.

Mormon Kids

Susan Vass writes a column under the pen name Ammo Grrrll for the guys at Power Line and, like Steven Hayward’s The Week in Pictures, it is a weekly highlight. Today she ruminates on the undeniable truth that those who have children will, a few generations downstream, inherit the earth.

Along the way she mentions the well-behaved, polite kids she ran into in a Chick-Fil-A in St. George, Utah, and speculates they were Mormon. She was very likely correct.

The other DrC and I are not members of the LDS faith, but we live in an region where it is dominant. Like all faiths it has its pluses and minuses, one of its huge pluses is the really fine large families of exceptionally nice children they raise. In my experience, to borrow a snippet of Carly Simon song lyric, “nobody does it better.”

You know the old joke, “Heaven is where the police are British, the cooks are French, the mechanics German, the lovers Italian and it's all organised by the Swiss?” It could be modified to add: “...and the children are raised by Mormons.”

An interesting indicator of their skill is this fact: in our region the only graffiti is on railcars, obviously done elsewhere. Don’t you wish that were true of where you live?

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Decoding the Message

In "restarting" his presidential campaign, Beto O'Rourke announces he won't be a candidate for the senate. His words, from Politico:
O'Rourke said of a Senate bid, “That would not be good enough for this community. That would not be good enough for El Paso. That would not be good enough for this country.”
Let me unpack that statement for you. O'Rourke ran against Texas' less popular Senator, Ted Cruz, and lost. His next opportunity would be to run against John Cornyn who is more popular and harder to beat.

Since everyone thinks of O'Rourke as a Texan from El Paso, he can't easily carpetbag to some state with a less challenging opponent. So no senate run for Beto, at least not in 2020.

Democrats Seek Your Pain

The Democrats would like the nation's economy to go in the toilet to facilitate winning the 2020 presidential election. That means you, your children, or people you know and care about will lose their jobs, quite possibly their homes, and whatever savings they've managed to accumulate. 401k and IRA accounts will tank, firms will go bankrupt, and standards of living will go backwards.

Do you like the sound of that? I sure as blazes don't. We need to keep the good times rolling.

Keeping the good times rolling is something socialism has never excelled at. A truth I don't tire of writing: socialism is not a way to share the wealth, it is a way to share poverty.

Trump Advocates Mental Hospitals

Long-time readers know we have harped on the ill-advised closure of our nation's mental hospitals. A quick search shows the first time COTTonLINE took up the subject was in 2007, over 12 years ago.

I am happy to see that President Trump has begun to advocate the reestablishment of places of refuge for the mentally ill. The Washington Times quotes him as saying:
We have to start building institutions again. So many of these institutions were closed [decades ago], and the people were just allowed to go onto the streets. And that was a terrible thing for our country. We have to open up institutions. We can’t let these people be on the streets.
Exactly right. It is the logical response to mass shootings and homeless encampments under overpasses.

Speculation, Anyone?

Drudge Report links to a Wall Street Journal article which reports rumors President Trump is considering purchasing Greenland from Denmark, which currently owns it. The U.S. already has an Air Force base at Thule, Greenland.

It is the world's largest island, if you consider Australia a continent. Home to perhaps 50,000 largely self-governing hardy souls, it also contains a sizable fraction of the world's ice.

The DrsC like the idea. By making the purchase Trump would guarantee himself a place in our history books.

At this point, the President himself has not mentioned the idea in public. Whether he is serious about the purchase is unknown. No Dane in any official capacity has commented on the idea.

It appears the last major land purchase by the U.S. was Alaska in 1867. Acquiring Greenland has to appeal to the real estate speculator aspect of Trump's personality.

Later ... links to a Daily Wire article about this story that's not behind a paywall.

Bye-Ku for Hickenlooper

Democrat John Hickenlooper has ended his bid for the Democrat nomination to run for president. With the customary hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku, a haiku of farewell, to John Hickenlooper.
John as president?
A centrist Democrat bombs
With the extreme left.

With apologies to Agatha Christie, a second "little Indian" is no more. As a colonial era Brit, Dame Agatha was probably thinking of natives of India, not North American indigenes.

Update on Italy

Spectator USA writes about Matteo Salvini's growing power in Italy. It appears he has a chance of forming a government with a more-or-less unified conservative/populist/nationalist platform. He is expected to call elections in late October, just before the Brexit decision comes down.

Another Spectator USA article quotes Salvini about trends in European politics, as he sees them.
Not only is Lega the first party in Italy, but also Marine Le Pen is the first party in France, Nigel Farage is the first party in the UK. Therefore, Italy, France, the UK — it is the sign of a Europe that is changing… a new Europe has been born.
While Salvini is technically correct, the coalition politics in which Europe excels (as we do not) mean the largest single party doesn't get to form the government. Rather it is formed by the coalition with the most votes in parliament.

Recently, Italy has made common cause with Orban's Hungary on matters of immigration and national sovereignty. Interesting winds are blowing through the halls of the EU.

Fewer CA Wildfires in 2019

SFGate runs an article claiming California is burning "26 times less" than it did last year at this time. For purposes of discussion, let's say that dubious figure is accurate.

The article attributes this drawdown in fires to the wet winter CA had following the fires. It also mentions the 2018 super fires finally convinced Sierra Club-whipped Democrats that public forests need "managing" to reduce fire danger.

A factor not mentioned is that areas which burned off haven't regrown to the extent that much "fuel" is there to burn. Also, having been driven into bankruptcy by 2018's fires, northern CA electric provider Pacific Gas & Electric, (PG&E) has become very cautious about leaving the power on when dry, windy conditions threaten to generate sparks.

Finally, it is still early in the fire "season." Many of the worst fires happen in September, October and until the rains finally return in late November, if rain ever shows up at all. It could still turn bad, if not so bad as last year.

I wish CA's goofy politicians would build additional reservoirs to capture the water of the occasional rainy winter (all CA summers and many winters are dry). Hey, guys, don't think of it as drowning pristine mountain valleys, think of it as creating beautiful mountain lakes.

I don't want to hear about "wild" rivers either. Millions of people live there, and it is the nature of people - like beavers - to modify their environment to make it serve us better. First, get over it ... then get on with it.

Good News

Frequent Bret Baier panelist Katie Pavlich, writing at Townhall, reports Israel has decided to bar entry to Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib of "the Squad." Both support the anti-Israel BDS movement, and are widely described as anti-Semitic.

Israel took the action after President Trump signaled the U.S. government would not find their ban offensive. Pavlich quotes a Deputy Foreign Minister concerning the reasons:
The planned visit they have prepared is entirely aimed at provocation and incitement against the State of Israel, and not to study the State of Israel's activities. A self-respecting state does not allow those who undermine its existence to enter its borders and continue incitement.
One could wish the U.S. showed as much self-respect. Hat tip to for the link.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Worth a Thousand Words?

The Daily Mail (U.K.) has a photo of a painting supposedly hanging in Jeffrey Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse. DM claims the person depicted in the painting is former president Bill Clinton. He is depicted as wearing Monica's blue dress and red pumps and he is portrayed seated in the Oval Office.

Anybody care to guess what, if anything, this means? It could be a complete fake, could be Epstein thought it funny, could be ol’ horndog Bill likes “dress up.” Given both men’s erotic proclivities, almost anything seems possible. Hat tip to for the link.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A Milestone Is Reached

The counter at the bottom of the site indicates COTTonLINE has passed the half million total page views milestone. It has taken us 12.75 years to reach that number.

Now we look forward to reaching the million views target. Thank you, friends, for coming along for the ride.

Hong Kong, a Brief History

The people of Hong Kong are in an uproar over attempts by the Beijing government to exert more control over the former British Crown Colony. Let's review the history.

Operating from a position of power, the British Empire received ownership of Hong Kong Island out of the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 and in 1898 leased the New Territories from a weakened China for a period of 99 years. In 1997, at the end of that lease, the Brits gave both back to the current government, the PRC.

During its rule, the Brits treated Hong Kong's residents as colonial (i.e., second-class) citizens, which was substantially better treatment than that received by their relatives in China. Over time this differential caused a number of persons to move to HK, legally and otherwise.

After the Communists took over in 1947, doing so was "defecting," going over to the "capitalist running-dogs." If anything, after 1947 more mainlanders tried to enter HK, and a fair number succeeded, leaving HK one of the most densely populated places on earth.

Coming out of World War II a once hegemonic British Empire was basically a shriveled remnant of its former glory, fading fast. No secret was made of the fact that, in 50 years when 1997 rolled around, HK was going under PRC rule.

Those mostly wealthy HK residents who could do so fled, many to Canada. Most non-Westerners were unable to get out.

After 1997 they became citizens of the PRC, albeit with a few additional 'rights' which were part of the fig leaf offered the Brits to ease their departure. The current unrest is the result of Beijing trying to claw back some of those rights. Understandably the locals don't like losing protections they've had for over five decades.

The world agrees HK is part of China. Unlike Taiwan, which much of the world sees similarly, HK has no military to defend itself against China and no implicit treaty with the U.S. to protect it.

Currently HK residents have more rights than citizens located elsewhere in China. It is easy to understand their favored status might be unpopular with non-HK Chinese who have every right to be jealous and resentful.

Beijing, like all governments, needs to keep most of its people on its side. Treating all Chinese equally is likely to be popular with non-HK residents, the bulk of China's population. Furthermore it is hard for outsiders to argue HK should continue to receive rights not extended to all Chinese and extremely unlikely Beijing will extend HK-style rights to all its citizens.

That is a brief history of how the current situation evolved. There is justice on both sides, and understandable rancor too. This won't end well for the people of HK, I fear.

Weird Genetic Science

IFLScience! describes research which utilized a sample of 2 million children to look at causes of autism. Here’s the bottom line:
Reporting in JAMA Psychiatry, the researchers found that autism spectrum disorder is 81 percent reliant on inherited genes, while environmental factors account for less than 20 percent of the risk. Maternal factors – such as the mother's weight, whether she has polycystic ovary syndrome, if the baby is born by caesarian section, etc. – were found to have a "nonexistent or minimal” impact on the development of ASD.
I’m acquainted with a family in which ASD symptoms are displayed across three generations of afflicted-to-varying-degrees individuals. They present a veritable panoply of dysfunction.

Note to anti-vaxxers: The study adds about possible ASD causal factors, “once again, it is categorically not vaccines.”

A Felicitous Phrase

As regular readers know, I have a weakness for an especially apt turn of phrase. Sci Fi author Sarah Hoyt, a regular guest blogger at Instapundit, crafts just such a comment on the subject of socialism.
“Capitalism” is the name Marx (that angry grifter) coined for free trade, which is what humans do if left alone. Ultimately Socialism’s problems aren’t with “capitalism.” They’re with humans.
Hoyt writes beautifully, conveying briefly something I’ve tried to express in much less elegant fashion. Namely, that socialism is based on a willful misunderstanding of human motivation; on insisting what its advocates wish were true of us is a description of our actuality.

What works in a family, at least some of the time, cannot be scaled up to a society where it works not at all.

Monday, August 12, 2019

”Public Charge” as Green Card Poison Pill

Politico has a story about President Trump moving to deny green cards to immigrants who utilize public benefits for the indigent. Various sources call this the resumption of enforcement of existing law. It is a good decision.
The benefits covered under the regulation include food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, and housing assistance. 
Somebody in the Trump White House is aware of the need to court the suburban women’s vote, because:
The regulation will not consider enrollment in the Children's Health Insurance Program toward a public charge determination.

In addition, the use of Medicaid by children and pregnant women will not lead to being labeled a public charge. The final rule also dropped a prescription drug subsidy program, known as Medicare Part D, from a list of restricted benefits.
This sort of thing is not new. The other DrC’s immigrant grandfather had to sign an affidavit promising his wife and children, still in the old country, would not become a burden on the U.S. if permitted to immigrate. It was in 1918, and grandfather kept that promise.

Argentina Fumbles ... Again

CNBC reports conservative President Macri of Argentina did much more poorly than the opposition Peronist Party of Fernandez in that country’s primary election just concluded. This is very bad economic news for that troubled nation. Macri is now expected to lose the final election held later this year.

The Argentine peso took a hit, as did government bonds, as markets reacted to the news that foreshadows a return to free-spending Peronism. No question Argentinians seem to be addicted to government handouts.

Macri’s austerity measures were and are unpopular. Peronism appears to be a “drug” from whose clutches there is no recovery, no “getting clean.”

Sadly, the people of that beleaguered nation deserve the misery for which they are almost certainly in store.  However unwittingly, they are choosing that fate at the ballot box.


Gleaned from a list of snarky wisdom sent along by a high school classmate:
Good health is merely the slowest possible route to death.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Epstein Death Snark

Seen on The Week in Pictures from Power Line (scroll down).
Dude ... everyone is so surprised that Epstein committed suicide ... just imagine how surprised he was.

Epstein Update

Some new data points have surfaced in the Epstein prison death narrative, gleaned from a variety of sources. First, it is reported there is no video of his 'suicide.' I haven't seen an explanation for this lapse.

Second, the two guards on duty are said to have been pulling serious overtime for the previous week and this, somehow, supposedly excuses their failure to check on Epstein, a known suicide and assassination risk.

Third, apparently Epstein was only on "suicide watch" for a week, and that watch had ended two weeks earlier.

Those of us who've watched various spy films know that arranging for surveillance video to malfunction is considered standard practice for sophisticated malefactors. Bribing a prison shrink to drop the suicide watch shouldn't cost an unreasonable amount, maybe a few hundred thou. Ditto for arranging for "creative" scheduling to give the guards a fig leaf excuse for their dereliction of duty.

The whole thing shouldn't cost more than, say, $3 or 4 million in bribes and another million to the organizer.  That amount is chump change to the horny heavy hitters who were threatened by what Epstein could reveal if he turned states witness.

Anti-Populist Language

John Hinderaker of Power Line quotes from a George Packer article in The Atlantic. Most of the article attacks President Trump for making populist appeals in language people can grasp, strictly non-news. Packer begins to make sense when he describes problems leftists have in communicating with the wider public. See what Packer wrote:
The crudeness of Trump’s rhetoric makes it both dangerous and politically potent. By contrast, the language of the contemporary left is anti-populist. Its vocabulary, much of it taken from academia, is the opposite of accessible—it has to be decoded and learned. Terms such as centered, marginalized, intersectional, non-binary, and Eurocentric gender discipline separate outsiders from insiders—that’s part of their intent, as is the insistence on declaring one’s personal pronouns and showing an ability to use them accordingly. Even common words like ally and privilege acquire a resonance that takes them out of the realm of ordinary usage, because the point of this discourse is to create a sense of special virtue.

The language of the left also demands continuous refreshing and can change literally overnight: A writer is told that the phrase born male is no longer okay to use and has to be replaced with assigned male at birth. Many of these changes happen by ambush—suddenly and irrevocably, with no visible trail of discussion and decision, and with quick condemnation of holdouts—which gives them a powerful mystique.

The language of the left creates a hierarchy of those who get it and those who don’t. Mastering the vocabulary is a way of signaling entry into a select world of the knowing and the just. The system is closed—there’s an internal logic that can be accepted or rejected but isn’t open to argument or question. In this sense, though much of the language of the left has academic origins, its use in the public square is almost religious. The abandonment of language that brings people in rather than shutting them out is one of the left’s many structural disadvantages in American politics today.
I believe he has a point.

534 Update

Headline in this morning’s Daily Mail (U.K.):
Royals rally round Prince Andrew as he is joined at church by The Queen, Charles and Beatrice a day after his past came back to haunt him with suicide of billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein
Yes, the DM does run long headlines. My question upon reading this: do you think this report adds or detracts credibility to Conspiracy Theory 534 below?

“Adds” you say? That’s my thought too. In spite of which it is still in the realm of wild speculation. Hat tip to for the link.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Conspiracy Theory No. 534

USA Today reports a friendship between Jeffrey Epstein and Prince Andrew of the U.K. royal house. It raises an interesting possibility.

Perhaps the SAS - Britain's elite commando unit - took out Epstein to protect the Royal family reputation. Rumors of SAS instrumentality in the crash that killed Princess Diana have never been completely quashed.

The Clintons aren't the only ones to materially benefit from 'convenient' coincidental deaths. Note: the number 534 has no significance beyond suggesting there will be maaaannnny conspiracy theories spun about this odd death.

Epstein Dead ... No Witnesses?

Various sources report convicted pedophile and Clinton pal Jeffrey Epstein, in prison awaiting trial on additional child sex charges, has “committed suicide” by hanging himself. He was supposed to be on “suicide watch” after what appeared to be a failed attempt in June.

Yet another example of inconvenient people associated with the Clintons dying in suspicious circumstances? What some call “Arkancide” and others “Clintoncide?” See a CBS Las Vegas post of a list of 34 who died in odd ways.

Former intelligence officer and Bond author Ian Fleming wrote, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.” The third suspicious death among Clinton associates happened more than 2 decades ago.

Suicide in Epstein’s situation is certainly plausible. If only Clinton (and a lot of other influential men) weren’t so darned relieved he's dead ....

Friday, August 9, 2019

Travel Blogging Coda

We've returned home to Western Wyoming, got in today in the early afternoon. We concluded Rock Springs, sadly typical with mining towns, is a fairly tough place. Our opinion of Green River was "not as grim" as Rock Springs, the setting has more charm.

The trip was definitely a good one, we really enjoyed looking at the gigantic old steam locomotive in action. It is so amazingly mechanical and analog, there is nothing electronic or digital about it.

On Big Boy everything is huge and made of steel, a lot of it is in eccentric motion when the train is moving. The last time I saw something mechanical in motion that was this fascinating was the steam powered paddle wheelers on Lake Lucerne, some of whose moving parts were even more massive, very shiny and purposely on display.

Wyoming, like much of the mountain west, is lightly populated. Plenty of square miles with nobody living or working there. You also see this kind of emptiness in Nevada, parts of Utah, and Montana too. Actually eastern CA and OR are lightly inhabited as well.

I experience the west's emptiness as an antidote to crowding and congestion. It evokes optimism about the future's possibilities, in me at least. I may well hold a minority view.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Travel Blogging IV

Rock Springs, Wyoming:  Big Boy steamed out of Sidney, Nebraska, a tad late this morning. We opted to drive west a short ways and watch it come steaming past our grade crossing. We repeated this activity about four times at successive points west. What a fine spectacle, history in motion.

The strategy was simple. The train travels 45-55 mph and doesn’t stop often. Travel on Interstate 80 has an 80 mph speed limit. So I would drive to a grade crossing, a mile or so from the freeway, we’d watch Big Boy steam past, blowing its whistle, then we’d hop up on the freeway and race west at nearly twice the speed of the locomotive, come to another grade crossing ahead of the train, wait a few minutes till it came past, and repeat as needed.

The last crossing we haunted was an overpass so we got an overhead view of the train coming straight at us and passing under the camera ... the resulting video was pure old Hollywood, like one of those 1940s films showing pretty people traveling by passenger train, maybe a Hitchcock.

I had forgotten that one constant of road trips is indifferent food, we’ve had more than our share of same. Nothing gruesome, more like meh. The best things I’ve eaten since leaving home were a Carl Jr. Western Bacon Cheeseburger for lunch today, and some of the other DrC’s excellent homemade brownies, brought along as “iron rations.” I miss our RV.

Earlier I put down I-80 scenery, I need to amend that description. The portion between Cheyenne and say 50 miles west of Laramie is attractive, if not beautiful. Once you get west of Rawlins it is big, empty, and featureless. We have a relatively short drive tomorrow, to home, and some of that is quite pretty. We haven’t seen a single pronghorn on the whole trip, very odd.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Travel Blogging III

Sidney, Nebraska:  Big Boy rolled into the railyard at Sidney right on time this afternoon, and it is massive. See video of the arrival at the other DrC’s blog. The sound of a steam whistle is so different, nostalgic for those of us old enough to remember. Local police wouldn’t let us get very close, so I can’t comment on the steamer’s characteristic smell, experienced elsewhere.

I’m certain I’ve never before seen a steam locomotive with eight tall drive wheels on either side, in two sets of four, for a total of 16. The tender holding oil and water is so heavy it has front-to-back wheels under it to distribute the weight, water is very heavy and fuel oil almost as heavy. It has eight wheels on each side, with minimal gaps between.

Big Boy tows a diesel engine which provides compressed air for the train’s brakes - steamers did this with surplus steam but today’s rail cars aren’t designed to deal with steam since diesels don’t generate steam. It also tows a couple more tenders, because water towers don’t dot modern rail lines like they did in the days of steam. The balance of the short train is made up of 3 vintage baggage cars, which probably carry spare parts and spare crew.

Old US 30 parallels much of the track between here and Cheyenne so that  will probably be the first 100 or so miles of our return trip which begins tomorrow morning. We fully expect to have a bunch of company on US 30 tomorrow a.m.

Travel Blogging II

Rawlins, WY:  This is an unusual road trip for the DrsC, we’re doing the suitcase-motel-restaurant thing that many take as normal. Our “normal” is pulling the 5th wheel RV behind the truck and staying in RV parks. While enroute with the RV we’ll often eat supper at restaurants but normally sleep, bathe, lunch and hang out in our own 1 bedroom apartment-on-wheels.

Which do I like better? The RV, we’ve had a series of them continually since 1972. But RVs have start-up labor “costs” in terms of loading before and unloading after. And truck fuel economy drops from maybe 18 mpg solo to 11 mpg when towing.

For a trip where we’re only away 3 nights, and traveling with a third person, it doesn’t make sense to use the RV. So we aren’t, but we do miss it.

Our next RV excursion will be the autumn relocate to CA, when the RV does double duty as lodging and ‘moving van.’ It might not seem like it, but when actually living (not just visiting) in two places there are essentials (paperwork, meds, tools) that are needed on both ends and can’t reasonably be duplicated.

The wealthy who live in multiple places have staff to take care of such things; the merely comfortable (us) schlep their own stuff back and forth twice a year. The RV is a big help with that effort.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Travel Blogging I

Rawlins, Wyoming: Hey, guys and gals, the DrsC are “on the road again,” this time with friend Ed. We’re headed for western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming to see something special.

Big Boy, the largest steam locomotive ever built, is owned by the Union Pacific and kept as a sort of mascot. It lives in Cheyenne, but is sent around the U.S. from time to time as a goodwill ambassador for the railroad.

It has been east this summer and is coming home. We intend to meet it as it pulls into Sidney, Nebraska, Wednesday night. If all goes to plan, Big Boy overnights there, and leaves for Cheyenne Thursday morning. We plan to see it leave Sidney and then follow it to Cheyenne, with any luck seeing it steaming along in between the two towns.

How big is Big Boy? I hear it weighs 1,250,000 pounds. Not every track can handle it. We hope to have photos, mostly on the other DrC’s blog, maybe one or two good ones here.


Enough about the train, what about the trip? It is fair to say Wyoming has it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly (hat tip to Sergio Leone).

If you’ve driven across southern WY on Interstate 80 you’ve seen the ugly. Very little of this route is attractive, maybe a short stretch between Cheyenne and Laramie.

Mostly it is high plains, some hoodoos, few trees, much sage and dry grass, plus lots of snow fencing which gives you a serious hint about how tough winter is here. You might see a herd of pronghorns grazing, they’re also known as antelopes. Pretty things, tan and white, and the fastest thing on four legs in North America.

The pretty parts of WY are concentrated along the western and northern borders. This region includes Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and a bunch of National Forests that truly are forested and scenic. There are isolated patches of pretty in the rest of the state, they’re the exception.

Our drive today took us south down the western border region and east across maybe half of the southern “high plains drifter” country. The first half was scenic, the last half not so much.

The upside of driving across I-80 is the speed limit - 80 mph. It is a kick sailing along hour after hour at that pace, speeds illegal in much of the country and both legal and safe here. You really eat up distance in a hurry. My F-350 diesel never broke a sweat, 80 was effortless and I was passed by people doing 90+.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Another Voice for Sanity

Power Line's John Hinderaker writes about our national failure to care for the mentally ill. As longtime readers know, COTTonLINE has been harping on this issue for years. See what he wrote:
The United States does not have a mental health care system. Decades ago, we emptied our mental hospitals in a fit of “liberation” driven by silly movies like One Few Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and King of Hearts.

Today, involuntary commitment borders on the impossible. (This is why “universal background checks” are useless. Hardly anyone has been involuntarily committed or adjudged mentally incompetent, so hardly anyone other than convicted felons, who don’t try to buy guns legally, is on the government’s prohibited list.) Crazy people are remitted to the care of their families, who can’t possibly cope with them.

From there, they often wind up on the streets, where our real mental health professionals–police officers–are stuck with dealing with them. If they commit enough felonies, they will finally be sentenced to prison, where, if they are lucky, they will be diverted to a prison-associated mental hospital.

“Red flag” laws may be a good idea, but it would be better if dangerously crazy people could be hospitalized and cared for, not just deprived, temporarily, of firearms. Who knows? Maybe liberals have gotten over their romantic infatuation with mental illness, and might be willing to collaborate on a rational mental health care system.
Does anyone have the courage to propose forced hospitalization for the mentally ill and the addicted?


Drudge Report links to a Yahoo News posting of an AFP story about "ungardening."
Well-manicured grass lawns have long been associated with the American Dream, but a growing "rewilding" movement now seeks to reclaim yard space for nature.
Heck, the DrsC have had an "ungarden" at our WY place for 20 years. The birds and deer love it, and we like it a lot too. See a photo at the other DrC's blogsite.

When we were getting started we had to water a bit in late summer, not any more. The only thing I try to keep out is thistles, and that is less a full-on battle than a off-and-on low-grade insurgency.

More on Shooters

With mass shooters there is an irresistible urge to tie their behavior to politics. Democrats pounced on the El Paso shooter, who seemed to lean right. Republicans pounced on the Dayton shooter who pretty clearly leaned left. All such pouncers are wrong, or maybe right for the wrong reasons.

Our politics truly are polarized, too many partisans really enjoy their hate. Mix in the sad, confused loners who are essentially suicidal but want their deaths to “mean something” and there will be massacres and politically tinged manifestos.

Unfortunately for those who would try to prevent massacres, there are undoubtedly hundreds, maybe thousands of such loners for every one who goes postal. We’re not talking “needle in haystack” difficulty, this is “needle in a bushel of needles” impossible.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

A Quibble

Power Line's John Hinderaker writes something with which I take exception, as I believe he overstates the case against solar energy. He writes:
One of the worst features of both wind and solar energy is that they are terrible for the environment. They use up an enormous amount of land that otherwise would be available for agriculture, development or recreation. They are eyesores. And they kill huge quantities of wildlife.
My quibble is with his sweeping description of the drawbacks of solar. He ignores that there are two very different types of solar.

Solar farms focus massive amounts of sunlight on a boiler to generate steam. They do kill birds that fly through the concentrated sunlight.

Photovoltaic panels do not kill wildlife. They can be an eyesore and take up land, unless they are rooftop as most are. They don't do any killing.

Placing Blame

Power Line's John Hinderaker writes some good stuff about Democrats casting blame on Republicans about the recent mass shootings. Here is the gist of it.
Most or all of the Democratic presidential contenders rushed to blame President Trump for the mass shooting in El Paso. This is deeply contemptible. There were mass murders during the Obama administration too, so was Obama responsible for them? Of course not. But the most egregious Democrat is Bernie Sanders.

Dayton, Ohio murderer Connor Betts was a leftist, a gun control advocate, a fan of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and also of the Squad. So, Bernie, is he your guy? Are you responsible for his murderous rampage? Was it your hate speech that drove him to become a mass murderer? If not ... sit down and shut up.
Our national decision to not warehouse crazy people was enabled by key members of both parties, as COTTonLINE has often noted. We now live with (and die from) the consequences of that failed choice. There is more than enough blame to go around.

Incumbents Get Stronger

RealClearPolitics links to an excellent article in The Hill which looks at the history of presidents seeking, and almost always winning, second terms. In the 87 years since Hoover, only two have lost: George H. W. Bush and Gerald Ford.

Bush lost because the economy wasn't healthy, Ford lost because (a) he was never elected President, and (b) he pardoned Richard Nixon's Watergate coverup. Trump enjoys an excellent economy, and nobody has been able to hang anything truly scandalous on him.
Presidents seeking re-election usually win. Over the last century, only four have lost. Additionally, they usually win by bigger margins — only Obama’s fell. On average, elected presidents who sought re-election increased their popular vote share by 2.1 percent. This last point is important: Incumbents do not just win — they get stronger.
I could definitely handle Trump getting stronger in 2020. Schadenfraude is wicked fun, I’m imagining progressive heads exploding.

More Unintended Consequences

Read what a student told Professor Miller, from an article at the American Thinker website.
I grew up in a rural community. There were no black people. They were not important to me. Then, as a resident advisor, I was told to go to a sensitivity session as part of my training. There I was told that my parents chose to live in such a community because they wanted to get away from black people. I said my ancestors came to the Ohio Valley after the Revolution, and my family has lived in the same community since the late 18th century. In response, I was told I was a racist. I wasn’t before, but I sure to hell am now.
It's ironic how often we accomplish the exact reverse of what we intend. I wouldn't be surprised if what happened to this student occurs with some frequency.

Suicidal Sickos With Grudges

There have been three mass shootings recently: Gilroy, El Paso, and now Dayton. It appears that the shooters all expected to die, though the one in El Paso was taken alive.

The Gilroy shooter shot himself in the mouth, forensics say. The Dayton shooter was shot by police, preliminary reports indicate. Did the El Paso guy just give up? We don’t know, maybe his gun jammed - it happens - and he didn’t have a back-up.

My point is that most mass shooters are suicidal; they expect to suicide-by-cop while doing terrible things they believe they must do. In this they resemble the people Islamic terrorists convince to be suicide bombers.

Is there a way to identify such people and get them into treatment or preventive detention before they become a public menace? Can this be done without a massive curtailing of civil rights and individual freedoms?

Corralling guns won’t solve the problem, such individuals have used speeding vehicles to ram into crowds or homemade firebombs. The problem is sicko, suicidal individuals with grudges. I don’t know the answer.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Illegal Immigrants As Violent Felons links to a Breitbart story based on work done for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The issue is the proportion of inmates in Nevada prisons who are illegal immigrants. Breitbart writes:
The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Arthur Kane obtained federal, state, and local records to reveal that about 1-in-14 inmates across Nevada’s prison population are illegal aliens — totaling to about 1,000 illegal aliens who have been convicted of crimes in the state.

Kane’s analysis finds that nearly half of Nevada’s illegal alien inmate population were convicted of violent crimes against Americans, including:

  • 150 illegal aliens convicted of murder, manslaughter, or attempted murder
  • 320 illegal aliens convicted of sexual assault, including 240 child sex offenders
People were 'shocked, shocked' when candidate Donald Trump said Latin America was sending us criminals. This is one time when we sort of wish he'd been wrong, sadly he was correct. The article adds these 1000 felons cost Nevada $21 million a year to incarcerate.

Nevada is a small state, with roughly 3 million people. Imagine what the numbers are for a state like California, with 13 times the population. If the 1:3000 ratio holds, CA would have 13,000 illegal alien convicts in the slammer. Actually, I'd bet its twice that.

Bill Maher Echoes Rahm Emanuel

Instapundit links to a Fox News story quoting Bill Maher’s HBO show’s closing monologue about the state of the 2020 election now getting started.
All the Democrats have to do to win is to come off less crazy than Trump -- and, of course, they’re blowing it! Coming across as unserious people who are going to take away all your money so migrants from Honduras can go to college for free and get a major in “America sucks.”
I guess he could have added “...while getting a sex change operation gratis.” His frustration with the 20 Dem. losers is palpable ... and fully justified.

As noted the other day, the Ds are preparing to shoot themselves in the foot. Let’s not distract them or disturb their aim.

France Enfeebled

The French appear to have “used up” their ability to resist attacks on their culture during the horrific trench battles of the Great War which ended in 1918. In what became known as World War II most basically rolled over and surrendered to German domination.

Now it appears they are doing so again. See a Gatestone Institute article by University of Paris scholar Guy Millière which lays out the extent to which French President Macron is surrendering the country to its Muslim immigrants, while suppressing ethnic French unrest. It is depressing, to say the least. Millière writes:
The main concern of Macron and the French government seems not to be the risk of riots, the public's discontent, the disappearance of Christianity, the disastrous economic situation, or Islamization and its consequences. Instead, it is climate change. Although the amount of France's carbon dioxide emissions is infinitesimal (less than 1% of the global total), combatting "human-induced climate change" appears Macron's absolute priority.
On a personal note, in 2015 the other DrC and I were dismayed by how Paris had been trashed, and left to persist in that condition. On a taxi ride between Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon, what we saw was depressing, much worse than it had been just a few years earlier. It’s a pathetic fate for a once-beautiful and proud city.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Biden Family Shenanigans

I doubt many COTTonLINE readers plan to vote for Joe Biden, but perhaps you know someone who might. I ran across some unflattering information about the Biden family from a source I know to be friendly toward Democrats. You might share it with those misguided souls.

The Politico story entitled "Biden Inc." is subtitled "Over his decades in office, 'Middle-Class Joe's' family fortunes have closely tracked his political career." It mostly documents how his sons have traded on their father's position and clout to make a ton of money, much of it from sleazy foreigners who seek influence with, or business from, our government. Warning, it's a long article, with much detail.

If you see similarities to the nefarious activities of the Clinton Foundation, you'd not be mistaken. In the Biden case, the primary organization was called Paradigm Global Advisors, but the "sell the prominent person's governmental clout" business model was similar throughout.

Bachelor Quarters

Living in an aspen forest, we normally have deer hanging around our backyard in Wyoming. Most years they are does and fawns. We've had a few of those this year, there's a photo of twin fawns on the other DrC's website.

Our screened back porch has a TV, table and chairs where we eat most meals, and easy chairs too. The screening is dark brown plastic sun screen which makes it what hunters call a "blind." We see out perfectly, the deer can't see us. They sometimes get spooked when we talk, other times seem to ignore us.

What is unusual this year is the number of bucks we've had, all with respectable racks of antlers currently in velvet. This morning there were four within 20' of each other, just hanging out and taking it easy. That is about twice as many as we've normally had this summer.

We leave the forest wild, we long since gave up planting landscaping, so they can eat all they want and it's not a problem for us or for them. It's their natural food source and they neither over-graze it nor do it any lasting harm.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Debate Viewership Down Again

Politico reports how many people watched the two nights of the Democrats' Detroit debates. As we noted earlier, it was likely the first night's viewership would be lower than the second because all the candidates there on view were white, whereas the most reliable Democrats are black.

Wednesday night drew 10.7 million TV viewers, Tuesday night only 8.7. Comparing online live streamers, it was 2.8 million Tuesday and 3.1 million Wednesday.

The addition of viewers of color on Wednesday no doubt accounts for some of the increase. The presence of frontrunner Joe Biden on Wednesday accounts for much of the balance.

Total Detroit viewership was down from the pair of debates a month earlier in late June. I suspect it is because these 20 men and women are fundamentally uninspiring individuals.

Meanwhile, President Trump continues to draw overflow crowds to his rallies. It's not magic really, Trump puts on a great show.

Why Argentina Is Broken

The Miami Herald's Latin America specialist, Andres Oppenheimer, writes about the upcoming election in Argentina. What this article explains is the underlying rationale for how the economy of Argentina does such a poor job.

Essentially Oppenheimer compares the Peronism of Argentina with the market capitalism of neighboring Chile. Argentina has too few workers in the private sector or self-employed for their taxes to be able to support the many government workers, retirees, and dependents. Hence, it spends more than it takes in and is effectively bankrupt.

President Macri, who seeks reelection, at least understands this problem, if he hasn't moved as quickly to solve it as many might desire. His chief opponent promises to bring back the hyper inflationary deficit spending of the Kirschner/Fernandez era ... basically latter-day Peronism.

If Macri isn't reelected, Oppenheimer believes it will be proof of magical thinking on the part of Argentinian voters. I agree.

The Dem Debates Summarized

I know I've had preliminary comments on nights 1 and 2 of the late July Democrat debates in Detroit. I've been waiting to find an overall summary which I was willing to recommend to you, and have found just that.

Sean Trende (felicitous name, eh?) analyzes politics for RealClearPolitics and, in my experience, does a good job of it. He summarizes what we learned from Detroit and combines it with what we learned from the first pair of debates in June. Here is a horseback summary for those who won't read his analysis:

Elizabeth Warren
Steve Bullock
Donald Trump
Andrew Yang

Kamala Harris
Beto O'Rourke
Amy Klobuchar
Julian Castro

Joe Biden
Cory Booker
Pete Buttigieg
Bernie Sanders

Tulsi Gabbard
Marianne Williamson

Everyone else is, in Trende's view, irrelevant.

Twig and Tree

Do you believe as the twig is bent, so grows the tree? If you do, Tulsi Gabbard is one weird puppy. Nice looking, but wow! Grew up in a bent cult. Still hangs with people from back then, not all of them family.

New York Magazine has her history, and it is très strange. How relevant it is to the adult Tulsi? I don't know, probably somewhat. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.

Unintended Consequences

President Trump is taking action to permit Americans to purchase prescription drugs at (lower) Canadian prices in the U.S., or so his HHS Secretary claims. Brace yourself for upcoming unintended consequences, especially if you are Canadian.

Canadian governmental health insurers negotiate lower prices with U.S. based pharmaceutical firms. Don't be surprised if those prices are not lower, going forward. The Pharma firms' best way to forestall Trump's initiative is to raise Canadian prices to equal those in the U.S. Expect them to do exactly this.

It isn't clear that Canadian governmental health providers have much recourse with regard to those Rx drugs whose patent protection has not lapsed. They can simply decide to do without the newest expensive drugs with no generics available, if Canadians are willing to face higher risks to life. Or they can decide to subsidize Rx drug purchases for Canadians only, not for free-riding foreigners.

Everybody, including here in the U.S., can buy off-brand generic drugs cheaply and they do so now. That is no solution.

I'll make a prediction. Trump's effort to get Rx drugs for Americans at the now-lower Canadian prices will result in Canadians paying the higher U.S. prices within a year or two. I bet they'll hate that, and him, not that he particularly cares.

Weird Cardio Science

Instapundit links to a UPI article reporting research on coronary heart disease. The JAMA Cardiology finding in brief:
Anti-inflammatory biologic medications that treat psoriasis may also help to reduce coronary inflammation, and prevent heart attacks in the long run.
What was done:
For the study, the researchers examined 134 people with moderate to severe psoriasis with minimal cardiovascular risk. None of the patients received biologic therapy three months leading up to the study, and all of them underwent CT scans at the beginning and end of the study.

The researchers noticed the biologic therapy substantially reduced coronary inflammation in patients, even those with coronary artery plaque buildup.
In February, another NHLBI study reported that psoriasis biologic drugs like Cimzia, Enbrel, Humira, Orencia and Remicade may reduce heart disease in patients by keeping arteries clear.
About which, Instapundit comments:
It's becoming increasingly clear that heart disease is an inflammatory disorder. 
Which suggests entirely new and promising avenues of treatment for this often fatal disease.