Thursday, October 31, 2019

Quote of the Day

Foreign policy maven Michael Doran defines progressivism in a Tablet Magazine article, and you know he doesn't approve of it.
Progressivism is a modernist Protestant utopianism that believes in the perfectibility of mankind and believes the U.S. should be the vanguard bringing about the perfection of humanity.
Which explains why progressives find Marxism simpatico. It too is modern utopianism (without the religion), which seeks the perfectibility of human life via economic planning.

My view: both fail for the same reason ... humans are stubbornly imperfect and insist on remaining so. You might want to read the whole column.

Happy Halloween

Time to wish all you ghouls and goblins a Happy Halloween. The other DrC wore our Carnival-in-Rio costume headpiece today, it is a gaudy rascal, see photos at her blog.

It is sort of a football helmet with 16 inch horns, 'jewels,' gold braid, and glitter. We were given it by a member of one of the Rio samba schools, he'd worn it in that year's parade.

We brought it home in a cardboard box packed in dirty clothes and shipped as excess baggage. It sustained minor damage in transit.

A Year From Now

Tomorrow is the first of November, we are basically a year and two days from the next general election on 3 Nov. 2020.  The first primary votes will be cast early next year.

I suspect I will be writing more than a handful of bye-kus in the next three months. It is past time for those who haven't "caught fire" to exit with as much grace as they can muster, and go back to their day jobs.

Finally one of the gaggle of Dems will get the dubious honor of contesting the general election with Donald John Trump, Presidential incumbent. Six months from now we should have a reasonable idea who will next occupy the Hillary Clinton Chair of Graceless Losing.

Bizarro on Stilts

If you've been feeling the need to "feed your head," as the drugged-out sang in the 1960s, I have a Salon article for you. The author writes that Trump will be reelected easily because he is the embodiment of our deterioration and a man of his debauched times.

This column will be one of the strangest things you read in 2019, I promise. Author Anis Shivani really plays with the reader's mind, taking you down Alice's rabbit hole where he describes a mad tea party view of our current culture.

It's far out, dude. Shivani is either a genius or a raving schizophrenic, or just possibly both. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Easy Question, Tough Answer

Sarah Hoyt at Instapundit links to an article in The Federalist which asks the following:
Why haven’t we heard a peep from Islamic powers about China brutalizing 1 million Muslims?
The short answer is, or should be, because “Islamic powers“ treat religious minorities roughly the same as China, like toxic dirt. Stories of the disappearance of the Middle East’s indigenous Christians are a commonplace.

Islam today mostly takes the view, held by the Catholic Church some centuries ago but no longer, that error (having the wrong faith) has no rights. The results: Inquisition (then) and jihad/ISIS (now).

Seeking Consensus in Ethiopia

Speaking of ethnic or tribal conflict, as we did in the previous post, see a Financial Times article about inter-group unrest in Ethiopia. Its leader just won a Nobel Peace Prize for supposedly settling same.

Like the Nobel to President Obama, it appears the prize to PM Abiy Ahmed was premature. His multi-ethnic/multi-faith nation is very much “on the boil” and threatening to positively splinter. This in spite of doing relatively well economically.

Wish Abiy luck, he’ll need it. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

Language-based Conflict

We don’t see a lot of news out of sub-Saharan Africa, I just read that a low-level rebellion in Cameroon is between Anglophones and Francophones, the speakers of two colonial-era languages. See the African Arguments article, hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

What isn’t said, likely because interested readers are supposed to know, is whether language group is a proxy for tribal or ethnic identification in Cameroon. Cultural/ethnic group conflict is a common cause of unrest which is often tied to language group in places like Belgium, Canada, or Catalonia. Perhaps in Cameroon as well?

Impeachment? Meh

I haven't written much about the House effort to impeach (think "indict") President Trump. The legacy media is full of it; COTTonLINE ... not so much.

Musing about my lack of interest, I suppose it is because I don't take it very seriously. Given the lack of significant Republican defections in the Senate, an impeachment, if voted, will never pass (think "no conviction") in the upper chamber.

Furthermore, I don't believe it is supposed to pass the Senate. I believe it is designed to throw the maximum amount of mud at Trump in the hopes some will stick, especially with voters who find him stylistically gauche.

Given the ho-hum, low-charisma nature of those running for the Democrat nomination, I understand the motivation of House Democrats. They do what they can to help their colorless (in several senses of the word) nominee, whoever he or she turns out to be, win an uphill fight to defeat a successful, if sometimes too colorful, President.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Competing Views of PG&E's Shortfall

RealClearPolicy links to a City Lab article about power outages, fires, and irritation aimed at uber-utility P.G.&E. Their take is that the utility underspent on maintenance and should be turned into a customer-owned co-op.

I prefer analysis finding PG&E was forced to spend hugely on renewables - wind and solar - when the billions would have been better spent on upgrading its lines and clearing brush back from its rights-of-way. The New York Post makes this point in their look at the issue, RealClearPolitics provides the link.

The inherent unreliability of wind and solar means standby facilities have to exist to fill in the gaps when “the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow” (‘folk song’ grammar intentional). Meaning the savings in carbon impact are minimal while money which could "harden" the transmission system to prevent wildfires is diverted to unworkable world-saving schemes.

The U.K. Votes Dec. 12

Yesterday we wrote Parliament would probably agree to a U.K. election this fall, it has done so according to a Fox News story. The election will happen on Dec. 12, and thereafter perhaps we will get some Brexit clarity.

Frozen III?

A study of sea ice around Antarctica finds the amount of carbon dioxide sequestered in the ocean appears to fluctuate in response to factors only dimly understood. When oceanic CO2 rises, the amount in the atmosphere drops, this drop is thought to cause an ice age.

Fox News reports the research by University of Chicago scientists. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link. How weird would it be if the extra CO2 we’re producing is forestalling an ice age? It could truly be the case.

An ice age would be a bigger killer than global warming. Think how few people northern Canada supports, now imagine those conditions as far south as Oklahoma. Much of the northern U.S., Europe, and Asia could lie under a blanket of ice for most or all of the year.

Arkancide? Defense of the Royals?

Fox News reports a famous forensic pathologist doubts the Jeffrey Epstein suicide verdict. Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City medical examiner hired by Jeffrey’s brother to observe the autopsy, says it looks like Jeffrey was strangled by someone with powerful hands.

Will any reader who believes his death was suicide please raise their hand? Nobody? I agree. Too many powerful and important people wanted Epstein dead, before he described the sex kinks of the famous in hopes of a lighter sentence.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Opportunity, Not Outcome

Grazing the web I ran across an article with this title at The Catalyst, run by the Bush Center.
An Economy Where All Can Flourish
I wasn’t motivated to read it, since I believe we already have an economy - with historically low unemployment rates - where all can flourish. I make this important distinction: having an economy where all can flourish doesn’t mean all will flourish.

The primary reason people don’t flourish in a buoyant economy is they make bad decisions, something they choose to do. To the extent it is possible to encourage people to make good decisions, we should do so. All the while recognizing that many people are self-destructive, intentionally or otherwise, and cannot be rescued from their own malign impulses.

Capitalism tries to have opportunity for all, while guaranteeing outcomes for none. Socialism tries to guarantee outcome equality for all, resulting in the opposite of motivation. If outcomes are guaranteed, why bother to get out of bed, much less work hard?

Brexit Update

The EU extended the Brexit deadline until the end of the year, warning it may be the last. And opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has indicated Labour will support PM Johnson’s call for an election in December. See an AFP story on this at Yahoo News.

As it stands now, polls suggest Boris Johnson will win that election and finally get a Commons majority for Leave. On the other hand, if we’ve learned anything about the Brexit process, it is to take nothing for granted until it actually occurs.

Who knew the Brits were such experts at kicking the can down the road? I’m guessing we’ll hear little about Brexit for the next month.

A Stranger in a Strange Land

Instapundit regular Ed Driscoll brings back a five year old snippet of history written by the always-interesting Mark Steyn.
A few decades back, a young middle-class Egyptian spending some time in the US had the misfortune to be invited to a dance one weekend and was horrified at what he witnessed:

The room convulsed with the feverish music from the gramophone. Dancing naked legs filled the hall, arms draped around the waists, chests met chests, lips met lips . . .

Where was this den of debauchery? Studio 54 in the 1970s? Haight-Ashbury in the summer of love? No, the throbbing pulsating sewer of sin was Greeley, Colorado, in 1949. As it happens, Greeley, Colorado, in 1949 was a dry town. The dance was a church social. And the feverish music was “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” as introduced by Esther Williams in “Neptune’s Daughter.”

Revolted by the experience, Sayyid Qutb decided that America (and modernity in general) was an abomination, returned to Egypt, became the leading intellectual muscle in the Muslim Brotherhood, and set off a chain that led from Qutb to Zawahiri to bin Laden to the Hindu Kush to the Balkans to 9/11 to the brief Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt to the Islamic State marching across Syria and Iraq.

Indeed, Qutb’s view of the West is the merest extension of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” — America as the ultimate seducer, the Great Satan.
Church-going farm kids have healthy hormones, to be sure. What Qutb projected on what he saw there is epic over-reaction. Something like Ho Chi Minh in Paris.

Monday Nite Humor

Steven Hayward of Power Line, compiler of The Week in Pictures, has a conservative comedy column I want to call to your attention. Here are two choice gleanings.

Comic David Deeble, cracking wise on the culture wars:
Republicans don't want their sons marrying Democrats, Democrats don't want their sons marrying women.
Comic Dave Chappelle, winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, snarking about constitutional amendments:
The First Amendment is first for a reason. Second Amendment is just in case the first one doesn’t work out.
If you who don't have them memorized, the first amendment deals with free speech, the second with the right to keep and bear arms. Sort of "talk first, shoot later."

Monday, October 28, 2019

No Body and Blood for Joe

You sometimes have to look to foreign papers to publish unflattering things about Democrats. For example, the Daily Mail (U.K.) headlines a story as follows:
Catholic Joe Biden is DENIED Holy Communion during 9am mass at South Carolina church by priest who claimed former VP 'advocates for abortion'
No one can run for national office as a Democrat and be pro-life. Biden has chosen politics over religion, a very Democratic choice. Nancy Pelosi has this same conflict. They practice "cafeteria Catholicism." Hat tip to for the link.

Friedman Loses a Step or Two

The New York Times' Tom Friedman was once a keen observer of the Middle East. His latest here from MSN, has him sounding like a Neo-con, claiming Sunni Arabs seek honest representative governments and join violent outfits like ISIS when they can't get them.

If Arabs want honest, representative governments, how is it there are none in existence? There are probably a dozen or more Arab countries across the region and none of them have anything approaching true representation or honesty.

If anything the Middle East is known for the absence of these two characteristics. I am of the opinion that a rather special, not terribly common combination of cultural conditions have to be present for what we think of as multi-party representative government to exist.

Rejection of corruption is a key component. It's not absent in western nations, but we actually enforce laws which penalize it. The Madoffs and Skillings end up doing hard time.

Tom F. to the contrary, don't hold your breath waiting for fair dealing, true representative government and human rights to bloom in the Middle East. It's as likely there as in most notoriously corrupt Latin American or African countries. Key cultural components are not present.


The Financial Times reports the Peronist team of Fernandez and Fernandez won the presidential election in Argentina. They defeated incumbent President Mauricio Macri on the first ballot, albeit narrowly (48% to 41%).

This outcome is not good, but also not surprising. Peronism acts like a drug. Recidivism by addicts is commonplace.

Setting the Bar Too Low

An article in USA Today claims no crime need have been committed to impeach a president. Even if true, are we really sure we want to have this as our standard?

It basically means if a House majority don’t like a President, they can repeatedly indict the oaf-in-office. The Constitutional requirement for 2/3 of the senators to vote in favor of it means they won’t often succeed in an ouster.

I didn’t like Barack Obama and there was a time during his term when the GOP had a House majority. We could have impeached him for being “unprofessional” (i.e., not a Republican) or as an asset of Iran or for apologizing for America. The Senate wouldn’t have passed it but imagine the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments by Democrats.

Pelosi pawns take heed, what goes around comes around, it is karma. You reap what you sow.

Civilization’s Ebb

Written Last Night:  Our power is off. I write this in the dark on a battery-powered iPad. I spent the evening doing the kinds of entertain-oneself things popular 50-100 years ago - crossword puzzles and simple games. No TV, no music, every incentive to go to bed early.

As we sat huddled under blankets, in the semi-dark, we could hear the putt-putt of our little inverter-generator chugging faithfully away, keeping the one light on and the batteries of the RV and our portable electronics charged.

It has been an almost hot autumn up to this point in NorCal. Today the strong winds turned cool. Cooling off is no longer an issue, keeping warm is now the task.

This is our fourth power outage and another is tentatively predicted for Wednesday. They will likely continue until we get significant rainfall, and that could be a month or more away.


To every thing there is a season. I wonder if what I’m feeling is what a Roman felt as he watched the order and system of empire begin to fall away while barbarians gathered at the gates and across the passes.

It feels like the 20th century’s interconnected web of services and material goods production-and-delivery is beginning to unravel. If this is just a reminder of how reliant we are on electric power, it’s working. If it is the beginning of losing things to which we are accustomed, things which make our civilization possible, it is frightening.

I begin to suspect I have lived through the apex of the U.S. national trajectory. It appears I will see the beginning of its twilight years play out in my own twilight years.

To have experienced both American civilization and its university systems at the top of their curves was my very great fortune. Both appear now to be in decline. I am sad.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Good News

Last time it was Navy Seals who came for bin Laden, this time Army Delta Force and Rangers who came for al-Baghdadi. Both times the result was the same: a terrorist leader, violently dead. The Atlantic has an evaluation of the reduced circumstances of ISIS that you might find useful.

Isn’t it nice to have good news for a change? Very pleasant indeed. This accomplishment will not hurt President Trump’s reelection chances one bit.

Hunting down the leaders of violent non-state organizations is a good use of our special forces. Perhaps we should consider having them also decapitate drug cartels south of the border and elsewhere.

The Unfriendly Skies

The New York Post carries an article about the pressures on the airline industry to reduce carbon emissions. Along the way we may be learning why the Boeing 737 MAX is unstable and dangerous.
The 737 MAX was trumpeted as “Boeing’s game changer.” It reduced emissions by 14 percent and Boeing raced it into production to compete with a climate-friendly new offering from Airbus.

But in order to achieve its green goal, Boeing had to use much bigger engines that didn’t fit in the usual position under the wing of the repurposed, 53-year-old 737 design. The engines had to be moved forward and hoisted higher.

As a result, the aerodynamics changed, and the planes had a tendency to pitch up and potentially stall on takeoff. Boeing’s solution to this hardware defect was an imperfect software bandage that would automatically correct the pitch. In both crashes, preliminary investigations found this software kicked in even when the plane wasn’t stalling, with lethal consequences.
Boeing competitor Airbus had come out with a less-polluting plane - the A320 neo - and Boeing was scrambling to catch up. If design is the issue, the whole fleet may have to be scrapped and Boeing likely files for Ch. 11. If you hold Boeing stock, consider moving your $$ elsewhere before that happens.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

CA Losing High Earners

California has already put in place tax-the-rich rates on income earned by state residents, something called Prop. 30. These are the sort of increases Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are touting to pay for the giveaway programs they propose.

Two Stanford economists have studied the impact of those increases, suspecting they were having a real influence on top earners. The Wall Street Journal reports their findings, a story I can’t link you to as it is behind the WSJ paywall, I’m reading it on Apple News. Some quotes:
[Prop. 30] raised the top marginal rate on taxpayers with more than $1 million of income to 13.3% from 10.3%. The top rates on individuals earning more than $250,000 also rose between one and two percentage points.

The likelihood of a wealthy resident moving out of California increased by about 40% after Prop. 30.

The economists examined how incomes changed in response to the tax hike by comparing filings from in-state high earners to non-residents. They found that “California top-earners on average report $522,000 less in taxable income than their counterfactuals in 2012, $357,000 less in 2013, and $599,000 less in 2014.”

The study estimates that outward migration and taxpayer behavioral responses erased 45.2% of the expected revenue gains from the tax hike on top earners. This is especially relevant since liberal economists argue that the rich don’t care about marginal tax rates and raising the top income rate to 70% won’t affect revenue or incentives to work.
Two things to remember, most people who are wealthy are smart about money and try to minimize taxes. Also, they can (and do) afford the help of skilled CPAs and money managers who spend their lives studying how to hang onto income.

I remember various ruses high earners used when income tax rates were higher. These included money-losing businesses and farms called “tax dodges.”  Plus many high earners can choose where they will call home, often in a low-tax state.

Economist Arthur Laffer was correct, raising tax rates often results in less tax revenue as people choose leisure over labor or elect to receive income in other, perhaps deferred ways or in lower tax locales.

Balz on Polarization

Dan Balz writes politics for The Washington Post and is very likely liberal, but tries to maintain the even-handed approach we once expected from real journalists. Today he writes of political polarization which the Pew Report finds is at a recent-decades high - no surprise - but Balz makes an interesting point.
The polarization highlighted in the report did not start with Trump. It has been a long time in the making.

Trump is the most polarizing president in the country's history, measured by his approval rating among Republicans vs. Democrats. But the second most polarizing was Barack Obama and the third most was George W. Bush.
This looks like a secular trend that is headed for some bad place ... insurrection, secession, civil war, Hobbes’ state of nature? The latter defined as bellum omnium contra omnes (i.e., war of all upon all).

Outage 4 Looms

We are warned PG&E will be shutting down our electric power today, for the fourth time this fall. More hot, dry wind is the culprit. We are cautioned it could last longer than the last relatively brief hiatus.

I experience a kind of suspended reality as we shuttle back and forth from our house (power on) to our RV (power off). The RV is parked in our driveway. It’s no great distance but getting the garage door open when the power is off isn’t easy. Whenever we need some toiletry or foodstuff, it is always where we are not, having been left next door in “the other dwelling.”

The experience reprises in miniature the issues of having a second house and trying to remember at which a particular item is located. It’s harder than I think it should be. Remembering to schlep the stuff not easily duplicated doesn’t always happen.

Something similar happened recently. The other DrC and I have been married for nearly 50 years. This past summer, while in WY, we encountered a bureaucratic requirement for a copy of our signed off marriage license, which of course was in CA.

Luckily the requirement could wait until we got back to CA where we found a document we hadn’t looked at for almost a half century, filed under M. I wondered how people whose documents burned in the Camp fire that destroyed the town of Paradise coped with that requirement?

Blue on Blue Snark

At Instapundit, regular Ed Driscoll links to an Intelligencer column for New York Magazine where author Andrew Sullivan eviscerates Elizabeth Warren (scroll down).
Warren is surging, but she is, I fear — yes, I’ll say it — unelectable. I may be wrong, but by pledging to rip everyone off their current private health insurance, it certainly seems like she has thrown away the core advantage of her side — health security. By floating the notion in the CNN forum that her future Secretary of Education would have to be approved by a transgender 9-year-old boy, she’s placing herself firmly inside a cultural revolution most Americans are deeply uncomfortable with.

For what it’s worth, I suspect Warren will win the nomination and dutifully lose the election just like Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, and the second Clinton. She has that quintessential perfume of smug, well-meaning, mediocre doom that Democrats simply cannot resist.
As predictions go, I like it; especially the “mediocre doom” part. Not sure why Sullivan left McGovern off his list of D losers, maybe he isn’t old enough to remember that disaster.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Almost All GOP Senators Disapprove links to a Breitbart article which indicates all but three Republicans senators, for a total of 50, have cosponsored a bill condemning Nancy Pelosi's impeachment-lite process in the House. If that is an indication of how they'd vote on an impeachment, it would be defeated handily as passage requires a supermajority of 67 out of 100.

What isn't entirely clear is whether the 50 oppose the unusual process chosen or the fact an inquiry seems not warranted, perhaps there are some of each opinion. The three holdouts are reported to be:
Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Mitt Romney (R-UT)
The party loyalty of these 3 senators has been spotty for some years.

Argentine Elegy

Argentina is the poster child for the disastrous impact of bad politics on an otherwise blessed-by-nature place. As such, we have tracked its spiral down the drain as addictive Peronism demonstrates its apparently unbreakable hold on the voters of that benighted nation.

Now at Foreign Policy comes a sad elegy for the presidency of Mauricio Macri, expected to end with Sunday’s election. Macri is the first non-Peronist able to complete a four year term, since the end of military rule and return to elected civilian government in 1983.

Macri is not expected to win his reelection bid. Argentinians crave another “fix” of free stuff and demand their government magically produce it. The IMF and international lenders are unlikely to be cooperative in this endeavor.

It may be that, absent military rule, there is no solution for the addiction that is Peronism. Nevertheless, expect repeated efforts like Macri’s, a place with Argentina’s natural advantages is worth saving.

Afterthought: similarly endowed California appears to be in danger of emulating certain aspects of the Argentine experience. CA may be protected from the worst parts thereof by its inability to engage in currency manipulation.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Another View of Turkey

Just over a week ago I linked to an article by a respected analyst who defended our trying to patch up things with Turkey. Today I give you the opposite view as explained by military historian Victor Davis Hanson for National Review. He takes exception to the role of Turkey in NATO and as a U.S. ally.
Turkey opposes, if not detests, almost every American ally in the region, and befriends almost every U.S. enemy.

It despises Israel, aids its enemies and hopes for its dissolution. Turkey is currently attacking the U.S.-allied Kurds in Syria. It works against the pro-American Sisi regime in Egypt. Turkish violations of Greek airspace in the Aegean are a common occurrence, as are aggressive simulated attacks on Greek aircraft.

Turkey has frightened and alienated most NATO allies.
Hanson mentions the Europeans fear Turkish President Erdogan will open the floodgates and let millions of Arab migrants head their way. It is a realistic fear.

Third Power Outage Ends

The power was restored around 5 today, having been off for roughly 27 hours. We survived w/o resorting to a motel, having acquired a small, gasoline-powered inverter-generator which we ran for several hours last evening and another several this morning. All of that used maybe half a gallon of fuel, not bad.

There is talk of another shut-down this weekend, but as far as I know now, nothing definite. The weather report predicts wind on Sunday so that is when it will likely happen.

Moving back and forth between house and RV will quickly get old. Eventually, the rains will come and the fire danger will drop precipitously (pun intended). That happy change could easily be a month (and several shut-downs) away.

Snarky Wisdom

Apropos of the secretive way Rep. Schiff is conducting his ‘inquiry,’ Instapundit responds with wisdom:
If they’re not telling you things it’s because they don’t want you to know them. And if they don’t want you to know them, it’s because they know you’d be angry if you did.
Wisdom that doesn’t apply to military secrets, but clearly does apply to lynch-mob leader Schiff.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Power Outage Predicted

Northern California’s electrical provider, PG&E, has indicated they plan to turn off our power again today, for some as-yet-to-be-determined period. Once again some combination of predicted wind and low humidity is blamed.

When pressed, it’s rumored they’ve indicated such precautionary outages will be the norm for perhaps 10 years. Supposedly, they expect to have their system “hardened” by the end of that period, so wind-and-dryness conditions don’t threaten utility-caused wildfire.

We believe we’re better prepared this time than we were before. I’ll let you know if that belief was justified.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

About Gabbard and the Russians

Hillary says Tulsi Gabbard has Russian backing. That doesn't make Tulsi a Russian asset, only her collaboration with them would be evil.

Gabbard seems to advocate a non-interventionist foreign policy, so does Rand Paul; it is easy to see how that would appeal to every foreign nation which opposes the U.S.  That coincidentally is a list of our current enemies, and would include Russia, China, Iran, and perhaps less active players like Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, North Korea, Belarus, and Turkey.

While not my choice, isolationism is not treason; particularly for a nation situated like the U.S. or New Zealand where geographic isolation makes it a valid policy option. Let me repeat something I wrote during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Republicans are not to blame if those of the far right find them preferable to Democrats. Likewise, Democrats are not to blame if those of the far left find them preferable to Republicans. Nobody can control what or whom others find preferable.

In a system like ours that is practically (if not technically) two-party, extremists normally back the party whose platform is marginally nearer to their preferred policy. In doing so they vote for the lesser of two evils. Don't we all face this dilemma at least some of the time?

I voted for McCain (2008) and Romney (2012); 20-20 hindsight suggests they'd have been as bad in office as Obama turned out to be. When I voted I believed there was a chance that was not the case. (Full disclosure: If we have a loser as president, I prefer he or she is a Democrat.)

Quote of the Day

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, taking a dim view of our supposed “intellectual mainstream.”
To be plain, the “intellectual mainstream” of our political/media/academic class is currently batshit crazy.
Yep, with Nancy Pelosi cast as Nurse Ratched.

Brexit On Hold

If you're depending on COTTonLINE to keep you up-to-date on the status of Brexit, here's where we stand. Parliament refused to approve the deal the PM worked out with the EU. Their so-called Benn law requires him to ask the EU for an extension.

Johnson has presumable sent the legally mandated letter of request; one source I saw said he sent but did not sign it. Meanwhile, Parliament has indicated it won't pass the Boris Brexit until and unless the enabling legislation has been passed first. I interpret that to mean they believe the devil is in the details which they insist on approving instead of buying the proverbial poke-clad pig.

It is worth remembering that a majority of MPs dislike Brexit and would prefer it not to happen. This is so even though a majority of British voted for Brexit. Clearly the MPs believe they know best and their constituents can be damned.

So maybe all the current status means is that passing the enabling legislation is something they can stall on indefinitely, and never quite accomplish to the satisfaction of a Commons majority.

I wonder what happens if, on October 31, the EU bids them farewell with no deal agreed to? It would serve them right.

Now we await the EU response to the extension request. Somewhere along the line there is likely to be an election following a vote of no confidence in the existing group running things. Depending on who wins and by how much, different outcomes will occur. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Romney Steps On It

Anthony Weiner used the Facebook nom de web "Carlos Danger." Now we learn that Mitt Romney has been calling himself "Pierre Delecto" on the web.

Both were concealing their identities for a reason. You can be sure it wasn't because they wanted to avoid the praise associated with their actions.

Rough translation of Pierre Delecto is Peter Goodtasting, has this something to do with oral sex, with fellatio? As the grandson of lusty polygamists, Mitt sure could be a Clinton-style horndawg.

The Irish Issue ... Yet Again

In The Atlantic, a nice article on a possible reunification of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. As noted, this could come about as a result of Brexit, if it ever happens, or because Scotland has voted for independence making NI an inconveniently distant province, or because those who favor reunification are gaining population towards a majority in NI.

The article mentions that incomes in NI are much lower than in the Republic, and that it subsists on subsidies from London. It also notes that costs of living are higher in the Republic, so perhaps the difference is more apparent than real.

The article doesn't mention the parallels between Germany reabsorbing East Germany after the fall of the Wall, and the Republic absorbing NI should it vote to do so, with the Brits gone. Reunifying cost Germany billions, and continues to require subsidies to this day.

Is Dublin prepared to subsidize NI more or less forever, as London has done? Are the Irish prepared to listen to NI whining about how Irish health care is inferior to, or more costly than, the NHS? Have they considered the political ramifications of adding as citizens a group of unionist voters who have not wished the Republic well?

It would be a real zinger if NI votes to merge and the Republic replies, "No thanks, we wish you well, go your own way." Given Germany's experience, that would be the Republic's (at least economically) rational choice. Like Germany, however, it is not one I'd expect the Republic to make.

Red State Economics a Winner

Writing for The Hill, Kristin Tate makes a good case for your purchasing power being greater in red states than in blue states. Sure, pay is higher in blue states, but costs and taxes are not just higher, but much higher.

Net-net, as they say, you're money ahead in red states. What Tate substantiates with statistics and calculations, I have experienced by moving from a blue state to a red state. It's a winning strategy. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.


There have been conspiracy theories about the death of Princess Diana ever since it happened in a car crash. I've tended to ignore them, perhaps one of her sons does not.

Apropos of this, two headlines from Drudge Report. The first a Daily Mail headline,
Megan Markle is 'existing, not living' and Prince Harry 'wants to leave the UK entirely'
The second a Reuters headline:
Britain's Prince Harry: 'I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum'
Reuters infers he believes Diana died when her driver tried to elude or outrun paparazzi in chase cars. That's the official line, perhaps Harry suspects something much more sinister.

Mexico on the Brink?

Stephen Green who blogs at Instapundit posts a link to the blog of Claire Berlinski who in turn posts a guest comment by an anonymous (for obvious reasons) Mexican national. It concerns the recent Battle of Culiacán where cartel forces of the sons of El Chapo defeated the Mexican army in pitched battle! Some key quotes from that post:
Killing scores of innocents and brutalizing small towns is one thing: seizing regional capital cities and crushing the national armed forces in open fighting in broad daylight is something else.

“Drug War” is a misnomer for reasons the Culiacán battle lays bare. This is not a mafia-type problem, nor one comprehensible within the framework of law enforcement and crime. This is something very much like an insurgency now—think of the eruption of armed resistance in Culiacán in 2019 as something like that in Sadr City in 2004—and also something completely like state collapse

What happens now, barring an exceedingly unlikely discovery of spine and competence by the government in Mexico City, is more and worse. The country is on a trajectory toward warlordism reminiscent of, say, 1930s China or its own 1910s.

Some of those warlords will be the cartels. Some of them will be virtuous local forces genuinely on the side of order and justice—for example the autodefensa citizen militias of Michoacán. Some of them will be the official state, grasping for what it can. Some of them, given sufficient time, will be autonomous or even secessionist movements: look to Chiapas, Morelia, et al., for that.

The lines between all these groups will be hazy and easily crossed. None will be mutually exclusive from the others.
Wow, that is a heck of a scenario on our southern border. Green (and Berlinski) apparently think it likely enough to share. I’m not sure what to think, it sounds possible. The Federalist has two articles about this battle and its implications here and here.

The “China disintegrating into warlord fiefdoms” is historically valid, if not necessarily applicable. Mexico is a culture genuinely ambivalent about the ‘romance’ of armed men taking charge, dominating a situation.

The one thing we know for certain is that Mexicans don’t want us to interfere. We won’t unless they become a giant pain in our backside.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Angela Admits Error ... Sort of

The woman who threw open Germany's doors, inviting in literally millions of Muslim immigrants, has recanted. Reuters reports comments by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.
Speaking to a meeting of young members of her Christian Democrats (CDU), Merkel said allowing people of different cultural backgrounds to live side by side without integrating had not worked in a country that is home to some four million Muslims.

“This (multicultural) approach has failed, utterly failed,” Merkel told the meeting in Potsdam, south of Berlin.

Merkel faces pressure from within her CDU to take a tougher line on immigrants who don’t show a willingness to adapt to German society and her comments appeared intended to pacify her critics.
The unassimilable lump of Middle East immigrants causing German angst is precisely Angela Merkel's fault, it can be assigned to no other person. Those verdammt immigrants just won't behave like "good Germans." Something every intelligent observer predicted from the start.

Merkel's only possible act of atonement will be to go live the balance of her miserable life as an expat in a historically Muslim country like Syria or Iraq. Why don't I believe she will volunteer to do so?

Friday, October 18, 2019

Grading "inclusively"

Perhaps you've seen an article like this at The College Fix saying workshops are being held at universities trying to encourage professors not to grade on merit, that is, not purely on the quality of the individual student's work. These normally go under a title like "Inclusive Teaching Means Inclusive Grading, Too."

If you are outraged, you aren't alone, I share those feelings. On the other hand, I understand what motivates the workshops. The public university I taught at did a reasonable job of recruiting minority students, but it did a so-so job of retaining them.

Each fall there'd be a quite a few brown and black faces as the term began, half would be gone before the fall term ended. More wouldn't return for the spring term, and by May when that term ended, only a few would be left. This pattern went on for maybe 20 years before I retired, to some extent it probably continues.

As the number of Asian and white students declines, university administrators see too clearly that if they can't retain and graduate brown and black students, the university will shrink, campuses will be closed, and people will lose their jobs.

It is not my purpose here to parse all the reasons why non-Asian students of color tend not to complete degrees, I do not believe it to be caused by professorial racism. That hardly exists.

The workshops encourage professors to pass students who cannot, or will not, do college-level work. To employ different (lower) standards for students of color. The reasons given explain lowering standards with a variety of system-blaming excuses.

The unspoken subtext is this: do it to keep the seats filled, the doors open, and dollars flowing from the legislature. Do it to survive, to keep your job.

Sorry, but that strategy won't work. If we graduate students who have learned little, employers will not value our degrees and won't hire them. Seeing that, the students will stop coming, and the shrinkage the administrators thought to avoid will happen anyway.

Graduating smart, skilled graduates whom employers want to hire is higher education's only route to survival. It may be that doing so will result in fewer students than previously. Decreasing birth rates suggest that is so.

Close to a Miracle

We don’t yet know if Parliament will pass Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal with the EU. The Daily Mail (U.K.) summarizes what he has accomplished in getting the EU to make him a better deal.
The doubters said the EU would never re-open the Withdrawal Agreement. It has.

They said there could be no alternative to the backstop. There is.

They said a new deal couldn't be done in the time available. It was.

They said these negotiations were a sham; that, secretly, Boris wanted a No Deal outcome. They weren't and he doesn't.

In fact, keeping No Deal on the table and the insistence that we would leave by the October 31 deadline, 'do or die', have been absolutely crucial in concentrating minds in Brussels.
True, unionists in Northern Ireland don’t like it, they were never going to. They however are less than 2% of the U.K. population.

It was clear from the beginning the NI status had to change if Brexit were to happen. We first wrote this back in March of 2017 and have harped on the issue >15 times since.

Either NI would get a hard border and the probable return of “the troubles,” or a less-than-full status as Brits; they get the latter in the Boris Brexit. It may be that most will give up and become Irish, and a few die-hards will move to Blighty.

Later ... former Tory PM David Cameron says he backs the Boris Brexit, calling Johnson a “greased piglet” who slipped through where others (i.e., Cameron and successor Theresa May) got caught.

Even later ... Ed Morrissey at the Hot Air site reports on the vote on the Boris Brexit tomorrow. He quotes The Guardian (U.K.) to the effect that it might possibly squeak through with 1-2 votes to spare. We should know by noon tomorrow.

TGIF Snark

Regular readers know I have a weakness for well-done snark, with bite. Today I share with you a quote from Susan Vass who writes for Power Line as Ammo Grrrll. Her subject is the $50k a month ‘salary’ Hunter Biden got in Ukraine.
The idea that someone could get that for doing absolutely nothing and month after month for YEARS makes me want to puke. And with OUR tax dollars – a billion of them — as the humungous prize for the bribe. And he and his Daddy walk free. Sad. Not quite as evil as a PALLET of American greenbacks to the hostage-taking terrorists in Iran, but dang close. These are greedy, sleazy, evil people. Not one of whom will ever do a day of time. Convince me I’m wrong.
Yep, Susan, and close to half the country wants to pick one of these “sleazy, evil people” to be president. Our imagined ethical superiority to the Third World - where such deals are SOP - isn’t immediately obvious.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

No Coincidence

I started wondering what is up with failed Republican presidential nominees who become senators? The late John McCain became a RINO while in the Senate, now Mitt Romney is a RINO Senator.

Can this be coincidence? FDR famously said in politics nothing happens by accident, I'm inclined to believe him. Perhaps they don't get elected president because, at some gut level, GOP voters are uneasy about their ideological soundness.

Herding Bison

Not everything we write has to be deadly serious. I've got a fun read for you, courtesy of Inside Hook. A dude with aspirations to at least know some real cowboys writes about the annual buffalo roundup at Custer State Park in South Dakota.

No animals are harmed in this exercise, the purpose is to manage the size of the herd and give the animals shots to ward off various bovine diseases. Sounds like surplus animals are sold to people who want their own mini-herd, these are scattered across the wide-open parts of the mountain west.

In fact a small herd, a few animals, exists maybe 3 miles down the road from our WY place. Hobbyists keep bison (or long horn cattle) just for the fun of having them.

Lets be clear, the bison as the buffalo is correctly termed is North America's wild cow, adapted to survive our challenging climatic conditions. You'd have to be a veterinarian or a cattleman to tell a bison calf from a regular calf. Bison can in fact interbreed with domestic cattle, producing something called a "beefalo."

The author's narrative of the roundup is partly cowboy humor and partly Americana, it's a hoot. Hat tip to for the link.

Brexit Update

Various sources including Business Insider and The Sun (U.K.) are reporting Boris Johnson has reached a Brexit deal with the EU. Now he has to round up a majority to pass it in Parliament.

The main sticking point has been the so-called “backstop” to prevent the erection of a hard border between Northern Ireland (part of the U.K.) and the Republic of Ireland, a continuing member of the EU. Various rumors suggest they found a way to finesse this issue that meets customs needs and yet avoids conventional border checkpoints.

A major help in Johnson getting the deal through Parliament is that “European Commission boss” Jean Claude Juncker ruled out any extensions to the Oct. 31 deadline. This means MPs pass the new “deal” or leave with no deal.

A complicating factor is that the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, part of Johnson’s coalition government, does not support the new “deal” as it treats NI differently than the rest of the U.K. Their lack of support will have to be balanced by winning the votes of Labor or Social Democrat MPs who favor leaving the EU - not an easy "get."

Ceteris paribus, a “deal” exit would be preferable to a “no deal” leaving assuming the eventual deal doesn’t cost the Brits too much sought-for sovereignty. If Johnson can accomplish this feat after two PMs failed, he will be seen as part-magician, very lucky or both.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Not Nice, But True

Yesterday we wrote to share a column marked by extreme realpolitik - a totally unsentimental, self-interested, amoral approach to world affairs. Today we have another for your perusal and, perhaps, enjoyment. There is much about our drawdown in the Middle East which brings such as these to the fore.

See a column by Peter Zeihan at his eponymous website, Zeihan on Geopolitics. Let me share with you a favorite bit.
If not for the seemingly bottomless volume of TrumpDrama in America these days, most Americans would probably be sighing in relief right now. If the Americans really don’t have an interest in maintaining a global Order, then the Middle East is barren of American national interests and it can now firmly be someone else’s problem. It isn’t nice. It isn’t responsible. It won’t be pretty. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
Many Washington foreign policy wonks are personally invested in the U.S. role as world policeman. Trump is not. He will probably only send significant U.S. forces to non-NATO places that will "hire" them, pick up their tab. You might want to read Zeihan’s column.

Plea for Government Utility Providers Renewed

Last Friday we at COTTonLINE wrote as follows:
It wouldn’t entirely surprise me if the legislature in Sacramento used widespread unhappiness with the utility providers to nationalize them and run them as state functions. That bunch of lefty drones rarely sees a government takeover they can’t totally love.
It hasn't taken long for that proposal to surface, see this argument for a state-run utility in The Nation, a lefty publication. It showed up yesterday. Author Johanna Bozuwa proposes:
The call for public ownership of energy resources in California has built steadily since last year’s devastating wildfires, when activists disrupted a California Public Utilities Commission hearing with a call to stop bailing out PG&E (again) and transition to democratized power. Since then, activists have advanced a resolution for a state-run utility and San Francisco offered to buy out PG&E’s infrastructure.

Others are pursuing Community Choice energy programs, an already flourishing form of public energy provider in California serving 11 million customers, in which local governments pool customers and control procurement of electricity. Almost 40 long-standing publicly owned utilities already operate in California, such as the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.
The Sacramento city utility actually does an okay job, as does the one in Redding. I lived for two years in each many years ago and had no problems with power.

City-based systems like SMUD don't own long distance transmission lines and don't reach out into the surrounding countryside to provide power for rural dwellers. Basically, they skim the cream of high-density utility installations and leave the high cost spread-out stuff to PG&E, or "piggy" as its detractors call it.

Actually, you don't want your utility provider's employees to be civil servants who are essentially impossible to fire when nonperforming or unneeded. And I'm not sure its a good thing to have a government utility provider which you cannot sue if it screws up and damages you or your property.

Money Under False Pretenses? quotes Joe Biden at the debate saying the following.
My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong.
Not that we believe him for a minute, but just for the sake of discussion, let's assume Joe is telling the truth. Given that his son Hunter had no experience or skills relevant to the company, Burisma Gas, the
firm got nothing for their money other than the 'prestige' of hiring a drug-abusing, cashiered naval officer as a board member.

This was worth $50,000 a month how? I'd call that taking money under false pretenses, wouldn't you? Is that what he's admitted?

And ... Even More

The Washington Free Beacon reports Amy Klobuchar actually jumped on Warren’s shoes pretty hard last night. Apparently Klobuchar left her “Minnesota nice” at home and brought the Angry Amy who terrorizes her DC office staff. Some quotes:
I'm sorry, Elizabeth … I think we owe it to the American people to tell them where we're going to send the invoice. I believe the best and boldest idea here is to not trash Obamacare, but to do exactly what Barack Obama wanted to do from the beginning, and that's have a public option.
And the article’s perhaps optimistic conclusion:
It wasn't a fight, it was an execution. Angry Amy ate Pocahontas for lunch.
Somebody needed to do it.

Plus a couple of quotes from Politico that I find a good summary.
What was remarkable about Tuesday night’s debate was how unremarkable it was. No candidate said anything likely to shift a lot of undecided Democrats her or his way.

No Democrat who wants to be president has yet demonstrated the talent for thrilling people who expect little from politics that Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy and Barack Obama possessed. Of course, that quality does not ensure that one will be an effective president.
Obama proved ineffective, and Kennedy was a work in progress when assassinated. I would argue FDR was consequential, perhaps mostly effective. My parents certainly thought he was.

More From Last Night’s Debate

Here is one summary of last night’s Democrat debate that caught my eye this morning, it’s from Freddy Gray writing at Spectator US.
It was, as these debates usually are, a fairly limp spectacle. Lots of radical noise, not a lot of common sense. The only clarity of the night was on Donald Trump — the great Satan in the White House, the man all Democrats can agree to renounce. This obsessive anti-Trumpism may rally the party. But it makes the Democrats sound ever more unhinged.
Meanwhile Michael Goodwin at the New York Post observes new front-runner Warren seems to want to use the presidency for punishing various wrong-doers, as if she envies Harris’ former role as DA.
Warren’s finger-wagging demand that everyone “understand” what she knows about the evil nature of corporations, whether it’s Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Tech, Big Banks or Wall Street.

Her passion never seems to be about the benefits of her plans, only the virtue of singling out wrongdoers for “accountability.” And anybody who doesn’t agree with her is part of the problem. 
Jim Geraghty at National Review provides an exact quote from poor Joe Biden which depicts how messed up Biden has become. Check it out:
No, look, demonizing wealth — what I talked about is how you get things done. And the way to get things done is take a look at the tax code right now. The idea — we have to start rewarding work, not just wealth. I would eliminate the capital gains tax — I would raise the capital gains tax to the highest rate, of 39.5 percent. I would double it, because guess what? Why in God’s name should someone who’s clipping coupons in the stock market make — in fact, pay a lower tax rate than someone who, in fact, is — like I said — the — a schoolteacher and a firefighter? It’s ridiculous. And they pay a lower tax.
He’s even more tongue-tangled than Eisenhower was as President. You kind of know what Joe was trying to say, but he doesn’t pull it off. Imagine four years of this in the White House, getting progressively worse.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Debate Four

The fourth Democrat debate happened tonight at a school I never heard of in 40 years of university life, called Otterbein U. I suppose the attractiveness of the site was its location in Ohio, a battleground state. What follows is a distillation of several reaction columns written at the debate’s conclusion.

Some say Biden did okay, others say he bobbled much of what he said. He claims he and son Harper did nothing wrong in Ukraine or China, a view shared by some Democrats and no Republicans. Warren got the most speaking time as she was pressed to defend her many proposals for major societal change. She refuses to admit taxes will go up to pay for it all. I think she has both likability and truthfulness deficits.

Republicans watching liked Gabbard, which means Democrats didn’t. Billionaire Steyer impressed no one, Beto had a bad night, and there were comments that mayor Pete had a great radio announcer’s voice, and might have a decent post-politics career on-air.

Harris also has a likability problem, nobody takes goof Booker seriously, and Klobuchar gets no traction. People are bored with Yang, and a heart attack hasn’t dampened Sanders’ yelling. Whoever was #12 was unmemorable so I looked him up - Julian Castro - it’s not his year, maybe not his century.

There will be more commentary to digest tomorrow. Perhaps I’ll share gleanings from it with you.

Social Justice Loses Fight With Economics

Lots of folks are unhappy at the way the NBA has knuckled under to the Chicoms, basically apologizing for being alive. I agree it isn’t a good look for a supposedly “woke” group most of whom are minority guys.

What I find interesting is the extent to which the Chinese have learned from D. J. Trump’s playbook. Trump is successfully muscling China on trade because the U.S. is China’s biggest customer, the one they cannot do without.

The Chinese looked at the $$ they were spending on NBA licensed merchandise and game feeds and said to themselves, that will enable us to coerce the NBA the way the U.S. is muscling us. We Chinese are a customer the NBA can’t live without. It turns out they are right, and the NBA is eating crow.

Economists talk a lot about monopolies, meaning one or a few vendors having too much power over consumers, a problem for those customers. Less is said about a vendor having one or a few customers, that can be an equally big problem for the vendor, a condition called “monopsony.”

If you don’t believe it, ask a defense contractor or a firm that makes parts for new cars. China has the too-few-customers problem with respect to the U.S. on trade; the NBA has that same problem with respect to China when it comes to fan spending.

Feel free to mutter something about karma-in-action.

A Defense of Syrian Withdrawal

Lord Palmerston is noted for, among other things, his monumentally unsentimental statement of England’s foreign policy. He said:
Therefore I say that it is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.
Without ever mentioning Palmerston‘s famous statement of realpolitik, George Friedman of  Geopolitical Futures writes that the Kurds are not our “eternal ally” but in fact a case where, briefly with regard to ISIS, our interests and theirs coincided. Like the U.S. alliance with the Soviet Union during World War II, it was an ad hoc “marriage of convenience” between two actors which before and afterwards were near-enemies.

Friedman’s point, Turkey and the U.S. need each other, without particularly liking each other. Of the Long War Friedman writes:
After the 18 years of war, two things have become clear. The first is that the modest objective of disrupting terrorism has been achieved, and the second is that the ultimate goal of creating something approaching liberal democracies was never really possible.

The world has changed greatly since 2001. China has emerged as a major power, and Russia has become more active. Iran, not Sunni jihadists, has become the main challenge in the Middle East and the structure of alliances needed to deal with this has changed radically since Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.

There is (an) increasingly powerful faction in the United States that sees the Middle East as a secondary interest. In many instances, they include Iran in this. This faction sees China or Russia (or both) as the fundamental challenger to the U.S. Its members see the Middle East as a pointless diversion and a drain of American resources.

Given the shift in American strategy, three missions emerge. The first is the containment of China. The second is the containment of Russia. The third is the containment of Iran. (snip) In dealing with Russia, there are two interests. One is the North European Plain; the other is the Black Sea. Poland is the American ally in the north, Romania in the south. But the inclusion of Turkey in this framework would strengthen the anti-Russia framework. In addition, it would provide a significant counter to Iranian expansion.

At the moment, the issue is not al-Qaida but China and Russia, and Turkey is critical to the U.S. for Russia. (snip) So Trump’s actions on the Syrian border will result in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Washington and, in due course, a realignment in the region between the global power and the regional power.
In other words, the Kurds and the U.S. were each opposed to ISIS for their own reasons and found it useful to aid each other. Now, under changed circumstances, the U.S. and Turkey once again have shared opponents and may, for a time, aid each other.

Friedman is a better practitioner of realpolitik than I, and his defense of Trump’s disengagement with the Kurds is relatively elegant. Let’s reserve judgment and see how it plays out.

Monday, October 14, 2019

VDH Joins the Wake

Late last week I wrote that CA is “no longer the optimistic, can-do, inventing-the-future kind of place it was when we were growing up.” Now along comes California-based historian Victor Davis Hanson who generalizes my plaint to our entire country, and makes a good case for it, writing for PJ Media.
Our ancestors were builders and pioneers and mostly fearless. We are regulators, auditors, bureaucrats, adjudicators, censors, critics, plaintiffs, defendants, social media junkies and thin-skinned scolds. A distant generation created; we mostly delay, idle and gripe.

As we walk amid the refuse, needles and excrement of the sidewalks of our fetid cities; as we sit motionless on our jammed ancient freeways; and as we pout on Twitter and electronically whine in the porticos of our Ivy League campuses, will we ask: "Who were these people who left these strange monuments that we use but can neither emulate nor understand?"

In comparison to us, they now seem like gods.
Kurt Vonnegut predicted our current malaise in his then-satirical 1961 short story Harrison Bergeron. Vonnegut intended it to be a send-up, not a how-to manual.

Later ... I wonder if Romans who saw their empire stumbling and crumbling felt as I do now? I imagine they must have.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Power Outage IV

We went out to our place and discovered the power was on, finally. It may have come on last night around sunset. Everything except refrigerator and freezer contents survived intact, those perishables we simply put in trash.

Before the next outage, I’m guessing we’ll buy a little gasoline-fueled generator to power the RV and tide us over until we can get the whole-house propane-fueled generator installed and functional. A lot of RVers have had generators for years, we’ve just never felt the need till now. The technology is mature, fortunately.

Not being able to depend on our electrical provider is merely another of the many quality degradations which characterize modern life, alas. Conservative cartoonists are making fun of our power outage, calling it the Beta test for the Green New Deal. They’re not far wrong. It sure didn’t make Tesla ownership look more promising.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Causing The Very Thing You Fear

Instapundit links to an interesting column with a scary warning at its end. Reporter Matt Taibbi, best known for his work for Rolling Stone argues that the people trying to depose Donald Trump are more dangerous to our country than is Trump himself. He concludes:
I don’t believe most Americans have thought through what a successful campaign to oust Donald Trump would look like. Most casual news consumers can only think of it in terms of Mike Pence becoming president. The real problem would be the precedent of a de facto intelligence community veto over elections, using the lunatic spookworld brand of politics that has dominated the last three years of anti-Trump agitation.

CIA/FBI-backed impeachment could also be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If Donald Trump thinks he’s going to be jailed upon leaving office, he’ll sooner or later figure out that his only real move is to start acting like the “dictator” MSNBC and CNN keep insisting he is. Why give up the White House and wait to be arrested, when he still has theoretical authority to send Special Forces troops rappelling through the windows of every last Russiagate/Ukrainegate leaker? That would be the endgame in a third world country, and it’s where we’re headed, unless someone calls off this craziness. Welcome to the Permanent Power Struggle.
IOW, calling someone “Hitler” can eventually cause that someone to act like Hitler, or Mao, or Pol Pot, or Stalin or (insert your favorite murderous autocrat here).

Far fetched? This past summer I heard an otherwise levelheaded family man in WY talk about overhearing tentative plans to defend the state against outsiders. That is a Hunger Games “District Thirteen” plotline, for sure.

The Power Outage III

As far as we can tell, no date for the restoration of power has been announced for our region. We continue as comfortable refugees in a hotel, eating restaurant meals.

We realize there are plenty out there who can’t afford to do what we’re doing. I’ll bet those on wells are digging pit privies and doing sponge baths with bottled water. We’re back to Little House on the Prairie darn quick in rural areas.

We hope to return to a powered-up house on Sunday. However we started out thinking we’d have power late Thursday, so we’re no longer at all optimistic about this matter.

It wouldn’t entirely surprise me if the legislature in Sacramento used widespread unhappiness with the utility providers to nationalize them and run them as state functions. That bunch of lefty drones rarely sees a government takeover they can’t totally love.

That is about all it would take to create fond memories of PG&E. I’ve lived in places with civil servants running utilities and the service was terrible, imagine the least attractive aspects of the DMV and Post Office combined.

Tripwire Tales

John Hinderaker is one of the founders of Power Line and most of the time I agree with what he posts, often providing you a link thereto. Today he writes about Trump’s decision to remove a small number of U.S. troops from the Kurdish-controlled area of Syria. He supports the decision, I believe he (and the Prez) are wrong. He writes:
We have limited interest in Syria, we have limited capabilities, and we have limited influence. The question is how to use that best? These people that talk about a couple of hundred soldiers—which to be honest, are a speed bump to bad actors in that country—they’re not going to end the war in Syria. They’re not going to solve the problem. They’re not going to protect the Kurds.
Hinderaker either ignores or doesn’t understand the “tripwire” approach to stationing small numbers of troops in an area. The presence of U.S. troops means if a foe attacks the area they will put our troops at risk and run the further risk of a war with the U.S. Most of the time it works like magic.

We’ve maintained tripwire forces for years in Korea and Germany, we are now also doing it in the Baltic Republics and Poland. Generally, nobody gets hurt and the costs are modest. Costs are often subsidized by those being protected, although not I think by the Kurds who are far from wealthy.

The validity of the tripwire concept is proved by the Turks waiting until U.S. forces left to do their “modest” invasion of northern Syria. If our guys were still there, the Turks most probably would have been cranky but stayed home.

On the other hand, I sympathize with the Turks wanting to get a horde of ISIS and Arab refugees out of their country, Arabs are notoriously hard to live alongside, ask the Kurds, Israelis or Persians or even the Turks for that matter. Assad’s Syria doesn’t much love this bunch either. And Europe has made clear they aren’t wild about taking them in (or back).

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Power Outage II

Written Today: My assessment of battery life on our near-new RV under dry camping conditions proved optimistic. By late this afternoon the batteries were down to the point where we couldn’t move the RV easily, insufficient battery power to pull in the slides or raise the jacks.

I probably could have hooked up the truck to the RV electrical system (in the normal when-traveling fashion) and run the engine for about an hour charging up the RV batteries. Too much hassle, a hotel is easier and saves wear and tear on the truck.

So we’re checked into a hotel for a couple of nights. When the power comes back on it will recharge the deep-cycle RV batteries, no problem. Looks like we rural foothill dwellers will have to invest in a generator for backup power. 

I mentioned one theory of why we’re now getting on-purpose power outages, another is that the Sierra Club and Democrat greens in the legislature have prevented the sort of forest management that was once the norm. It almost requires a new law to cut down a tree on public land, even when fire danger conditions mandate doing so, as has been the case for a decade or more.

Extending our annual stay in Wyoming is looking better all the time, a choice that should be harder than it feels for two native Californians. California is no longer the optimistic, can-do, inventing-the-future kind of place it was when we were growing up.

The Power Outage I

Written Yesterday: The DrsC’s winter home is in the area of CA where the giant CA utility, PG&E, has turned off the electric power in the face of high fire danger conditions - low humidity and high winds. The power went off around midnight last night.

As I write this late Wednesday afternoon we’ve been living alongside our home which is basically unusable, in our RV which is usable as a “dry camping” unit, although not optimally so. The house is nearly all electric except for heating water and drying clothes. We’re on a well so no electric = no water.

The RV cooks and refrigerates with propane, and heats with it too. We have battery-powered lights and water pressure which will cover the couple of days this outage is scheduled to last, but our TV and microwave are not usable. We can live, but not be much entertained in a no-power RV.

Making the risky assumption plans don’t change, we should have power again about 24 hours from now. It will be welcome when it returns.

Fortunately we can charge our phones and iPads in either of our vehicles, both of which have a 110 volt AC outlet as well as USB DC outlets. Modern conveniences, or “mod cons” in Britslang, are nice extras.

We’ve lived in this area a good part of nearly each year for almost half a century, in that period the weather hasn’t changed appreciably. It stops raining here in May and doesn’t resume until November, plus the summers are hot, often over 100 F degrees. Therefore autumns here have always been tinder-dry with high fire danger.

Why we are only now having on-purpose power outages is unclear. A popular theory is that now-bankrupted PG&E has scrimped on maintenance to save $$ and the fires are a result.

It supposedly has been viewed as cheaper to pay off people injured by fire than to update their thousands of miles of mountain-area high voltage lines. Two or three mega-fires like those recently have proved that assessment badly wrong.

Perhaps they bet on only encountering white swans, and met a covey of black ones, eh?

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Warren's Dishonest Victimhood links to a Washington Free Beacon story which shows that Elizabeth Warren faked her "fired for being pregnant" story. School district records show they offered her a new contract identical that of the prior year, and the board accepted her resignation "with regret."

Here we have Warren once again claiming unearned victim status in pursuit of personal gain, as she did with now-debunked Native American status at Harvard. This pattern of falsely claiming victimhood, in search of sympathy, is a crap look for a presidential candidate.

Rioting in Ecuador

These are tough times in Ecuador, there is much political violence and the government has evacuated the capital, Quito, and moved to coastal Guayaquil to be safe. Apparently the troubles are leftist-organized and carried out. See an article in The Guardian (U.K.) for details, hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

The article hints at conflict between the “indigenous” or native peoples and others, likely mestizos whose culture is more European. Such conflict is also a major issue in Bolivia, and Peru to a lesser extent. It is even an issue in Venezuela, where Chavez, and then Maduro have posed as protectors of the indigenous poor.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Transactional Loyalty a Bad Look

Generally, I'm a Trump supporter. Still, when he does something I believe to be against U.S. interests, I will say so. One such act is in today's news.

Fox News reports the U.S., which has had troops with the Kurds in northern Iraq, will be pulling them out. We are basically green-lighting a Turkish invasion of the area. Gatestone Institute has an even more downbeat story on the same action.

The Kurds and Turks are age-old enemies. Unlike the Turks, the Kurds don't have a country, living scattered across eastern Turkey, plus northern Syria and Iraq.

Culturally, the Kurds along with the Israelis are just about the only semi-trustworthy people in the region. Turks and Arabs, not so much. And as stateless people, the Kurds need us as a friend.

The Kurds were our main effective ground force against ISIS. Now we leave them to the tender mercies of the much more heavily armed Turkish.

Next time we seek local allies in a third world conflict, we may have a tough time recruiting any. Particularly if people there remember the Kurdish example demonstrating our very transactional idea of loyalty. Basically, we're loyal if we need you, not if you need us.

Later ... there is some talk that the Senate, controlled by Republicans, may slap Trump's hands over abandoning our relationship with the Kurds. The thousand GIs we had there weren't costing us much $$ or losing many men to hostile fire; basically they served as a tripwire to keep the Turks from attacking. Certainly their presence angered Erdogan, a would-be sultan-hegemon.

Missing Vagrancy Laws, Mental Hospitals

Writing at City Journal, Heather Mac Donald takes a fine-grained look at homelessness in San Francisco. Apparently she has both a strong stomach and an insensitive nose.

Mac Donald discovered the old truth - if you subsidize something you get more of it - is alive and well in San Fran. It's likely no city spends more on the homeless, or has more of it.

What she learns is that virtually 100% of the unhoused are either on "one or more addictive substances" or insane, and in too many cases, both. The picture she paints is grotesque in the extreme, a classic case of good intentions leading to bad outcomes.

San Francisco's policies have made it a magnet for every shot-down no-hoper who wants to stay stoned and out of the clutches of the dreaded "helping people." Living there has to be the pits for normal folk who have housing.

We, who don't live in or choose to visit San Francisco, should be thankful they provide this vital service - luring human refuse off our streets and warehousing them on theirs. Very noble of them to do so, entitling them to unlimited virtue signaling at our expense.

Weird Entomological Science

RealClearScience runs a story of Japanese researchers who painted white zebra stripes on black cattle and discovered the cattle were significantly less bothered by biting flies. Their inspiration for this attempt was a study showing zebras apparently experience the same partial relief from biting flies naturally.

The researchers theorize the stripes confuse the insects’ targeting instincts in some fashion. I’d be concerned some chemical in the paint might have undiscovered fly-repelling properties. A way to check this would be to paint entire cows white and see if they also experienced less fly infestation.

I’m reminded of the “dazzle” camouflage painted on navy ships in World War I and somewhat in WW II. It had the supposed effect of breaking up the recognizable silhouette of the ship, and, I guess, would have worked better if people were insects. It’s no longer used, every navy paints warships a uniform light-to-medium “battleship gray.”

A Serious Downer

Are you experiencing an excess of cheeriness, too much elation, even giddiness? I have just the antidote for you, in a column by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Dreher is the author of The Benedict Option about religious believers withdrawing from an increasingly secular society into enclaves of like-minded souls. It is his view that, as a society, we are some distance past the tipping point of irredeemability (a search shows the word actually exists).

He concludes:
Politics, as the saying goes, really is downstream from culture. A culture that has ditched its Christian morality is one that will not be able to sustain liberal democratic norms in the long run.

Our de-Christianization will occasion a re-barbarization. My despair is such that voting these days has to do with whether we want to fast-track it, or slow it down. If that’s the choice, I’ll go for the slow route, and hope that something unforeseen happens to change history.

The question is: is Trump an accelerant, or will he slow things down? Or can he be both?
My answer to that question: “Make America Great Again” is profoundly conservative. It’s an attempt to slow down, perhaps even reverse, the slide into the toilet that history shows eventually awaits every great civilization.

We’re pretty far gone into decadence, the stench of Weimar Germany as depicted in Cabaret hangs in our air. I hope it’s not too late for us. (Full disclosure: I’m not religious.)

Sunday, October 6, 2019

China Pulls Back from Iran

Instapundit quotes at length from a Wall Street Journal (behind paywall) article concerning Chinese firms reducing involvement with Iran. Some key thoughts:
China National Petroleum Corp. has pulled out of a $5 billion natural-gas project in Iran as escalating tensions threaten to sever Beijing’s trade with Tehran, a key lifeline for the Islamic Republic.

The exit by Beijing—which had vowed to resist U.S. restrictions on Iran—is a blow to Tehran’s attempts to fight growing economic isolation and comes after Washington brought new sanctions on Chinese companies still trading with Iran.

Other Chinese companies—in sectors ranging from banking to autos to tech—have pulled back from Iran in recent months after the U.S. moved to squeeze the country’s oil exports and designated its paramilitary force a terrorist organization. Customs data show China—which is Iran’s last major oil buyer—imported on average 233,000 barrels a day from Iran in the May-July period, one-third of the 700,000 barrels a day it bought before the U.S. brought back sanctions.
This is a fascinating dilemma for China, which likes neither the U.S. government nor Islamic people. It would appear China is allowing its economic interests and dislike of Islam to overrule its dislike of the U.S. in this instance.

Probably mostly economics, but China is the only nation I'm aware of that has a massive official hiding-in-plain-sight suppression-of-Islam program underway. That has to part of their consideration.

Why Trump?

RealClearPolitics brings us a transcript of NYU professor emeritus Stephen Cohen - a specialist on the history of the Soviet Union in particular, and Russia in general - being interviewed by Tucker Carlson on Fox News. Here's his bombshell conclusion:
All of this Russia-gate stuff seems to have originated and that's what Steele tells us, with intelligence agencies, American and foreign.

What we don't know is why -- and we need to know this -- they set out to destroy Trump as a candidate in 2016, and then as a President. After all, other American Presidents had pursued cooperation with Russia. What was it about Trump that determined them to destroy him?
He'd like us to believe they knew something evil about Trump that hasn't been disclosed. My own answer to Cohen's question is this. Doing it was the agenda of subhuman leftists Obama installed to lead our intelligence community; knuckle-dragging sycophants like Brennan, Comey and Clapper.

Obama believes the United States is an evil colonialist power, and he appointed scum who agree with him. It is a real tribute to our ship of state's substantial momentum that Obama and his cadre of saboteurs weren't especially successful in crippling it.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

A Walk in Others’ Shoes

I once thought The New York Times’ David Brooks was insightful. Then he became #NeverTrump and we parted company.

However I saw a recent reference to a column that might reflect his old sense that the urban, coastal way of looking at politics isn’t the only possible viewpoint. It delivers on that promise.

Brooks casts the column as an imagined - not entirely friendly - conversation between “urban guy” and a person he labels “flyover man.” Basically, Brooks delivers the same message Selena Zito has been reporting so well from flyover country, that coastals don’t “get” our concerns, what matters to us, and we believe Trump does. See Brooks’ conclusion:
So please don’t ask us to sign up for our own obliteration or support your impeachment. This is about identity and pride.

Here’s a confession. I used to think Trump was a jerk. Now, after three years of battle, I see him as my captain. He deserves my loyalty, thick and thin.

See ya’ in hell, brother.
I think Brooks has nailed it, you should read his whole column.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Another Pelosi-Ukraine Connection? links to an article at a website called National File. I have no information about the seriousness of the site, it’s new to me. Maybe it’s legit, maybe not.

National File reports Nancy Pelosi's son Paul Pelosi, Jr., was a board member of gas company Viscoil, an executive with a related company named NRGLab which did business in Ukraine, and he visited there in 2017.

Furthermore, Speaker Pelosi supposedly appeared in a promotional video made by the company. If you read the material it certainly sounds like the enterprises described are mostly smoke and mirrors, either out-and-out cons or some dreamer’s no-hope, get-rich-quick schemes.

As noted above, this could be “fake news” or the real thing. A careful person will wait for second source confirmation before jumping aboard with both feet.

Here we appear to have another Pelosi-plus-Ukraine story. How it is that suddenly Democrats-in-Ukraine are all over the news?


The Washington Free Beacon reports a firm which attorney Paul Jr. co-founded has been charged with securities fraud and is being run by two convicted felons. He isn’t precisely squeaky clean.

Reminds me of a conversation between two lawyers’ wives who’ve just been introduced. The first explains, “My husband is a criminal lawyer.” Intentionally misunderstanding, the second replies, “Aren’t they all?”

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Moving Leftward Is Dangerous

The New York Times runs a report of research which looks at the effect of more or less extreme political positions on voter turnout likelihood and voting propensity. Hat tip to Steven Hayward of Power Line for the link.

Survey research done for the Election Lab at M.I.T. found the following:
The embrace of progressivism solidifies support among Democratic survey respondents when thinking about the 2020 general election. But it repels independents, with a negative effect that is stronger and clearer than the signs of enthusiasm generated among Democrats.

After reading about the Democrats’ leftward shift, independents in a survey were six percentage points less likely to say they would vote for a Democrat for president in 2020, compared with a control group.

When Democrats who read about the leftward shift were asked how strongly they would consider voting for the eventual nominee, their support increased modestly, by three points on a “strength of consideration” scale.

Reading about the leftward shift did not seem to motivate the survey respondents to vote/campaign for (or against) the eventual Democratic nominee.
I can't imagine the editors at NYT were happy to read these findings, but the RNC sure is.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Taking the Bad with the Good

At the website The New Neo, someone anonymously writes about the Trump presidency and his controversial personal style. They argue, and I'm inclined to agree, that Trump couldn't get done what he's accomplished with a smoother, less abrasive style. The author's conclusion:
The main reason Trump is hated is not his style. It is what he has done and what he promises to do. That the package “Donald Trump” also contains a style most people – including many of his supporters – find abrasive and harsh is a fact. But Trump’s style is inextricably linked, I believe, with his ability to be bold in his judicial appointments, his foreign policy, and his criticism of a press that had become a Pravda-like Democratic organ long before he came on the scene.

I can imagine a Republican candidate who might have done all of that and yet retained a smooth and relatively polite and erudite style, and yet would also have managed to defeat Hillary Clinton (that last bit is all-important, because without that it would be moot). And although such a combination of traits in one person isn’t literally impossible, it is so unlikely that I don’t think it’s realistic to have expected such a person to have come along at just the right juncture in 2016.

A gentleman (or gentlewoman) on the right probably would not survive this particular political climate, and that fact way predated Trump. In fact, at this point, a gentleman or gentlewoman on the left doesn’t seem to have much chance of surviving either.
Modern politics is no game for the genteel. What people don't like about Trump is what they don't like about New Yorkers generally, the short fuse, the chip on the shoulder and the in-your-face attitude. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Pelosi's Ukraine Connection

Conservative blogger Joe Hoft writes at the The Gateway Pundit website some interesting gossip. He reports Speaker Nancy Pelosi has as an aide one Ivanna Voronovych, a young, attractive Ukrainian woman. Hoft has photos of Nancy and Ivanna together. He writes:
Young Voronovych started her career working at the US Embassy in the Ukraine in Kiev. (snip) Voronovych’s parents are well connected. Her mom worked with the Ukrainian Army, and even received the Ukraine Order of Merit for military and political activity. Yoronovych’s father worked in the Ukrainian Foreign Service and he’s also connected to the Ukrainian government.
Hoft writes Voronovych was a "party girl" at home in Ukraine. Some of Hoft's photos of her would lend credence to that claim. A young emigre is an odd choice for a Speakers' aide. I wonder if she is as "bent" as Sen. Feinstein's Chinese driver-spy was?

Combined with the Bidens' Ukraine involvement, one has to ask what motivates Democrats' fascination with Ukraine? Perhaps it is the opportunities created by Ukraine's endemic corruption, which corruption they learned at the Soviet knee. Hat tip to for the link.