Saturday, November 30, 2019

Travel Blogging III

Santorini, Greece: As predicted, we are moored in the caldera of an extinct (we hope) volcano looking up at the partially remaining rim. That rim is encrusted with white, looking like birdlime on a wharf piling, or snow atop a very tall mountain.

The white ‘encrustation’ is buildings, all plastered and painted white. The rim edge is where the villages are located, looking down into the now-bay.

When this super volcano blew up eons ago it emptied itself below sea level and blew out one section of the crater wall. The sea rushed in and over time cooled it down and created the bay in which we moor.

Somewhere along the line Greeks colonized the island and built along the rim. This was chosen maybe for the view but more likely so as not to waste arable land on the outer slopes.

This is always a “tender port” where “tender” doesn’t mean the opposite of tough, but rather means a motorized small boat carried by the ship. There is no deep water dock at which our ship can tie up.

The Santorini reality is that local small boats/ships are used to ferry pax from the ship to shore and back. It provides employment for locals and saves wear and tear on our lifeboats.

Santorini is striking to look at but difficult as anything to enjoy unless one is part mountain goat. It is worth seeing once but this is maybe my fourth visit so ... meh, I’ll stay onboard.

Friday, November 29, 2019

A Belated Happy Thanksgiving

Just a quick note to hope you had a great Thanksgiving. We are thankful for the ability to wander the globe when we choose, and live in three climates which approximate late Spring the rest of the year.

Posting has been light lately as I’ve had compatibility problems between Princess’s WiFi system and my Norton security software. To use the WiFi I’ve had to turn off the Norton, a less than optimal solution.

We continue to cruise the Aegean Sea, having left the Adriatic Sea sometime in the last day or so. Today we are alongside in Rhodes, a Greek island off the coast of Turkey. There are some spectacular crusader fortifications here. Someday soon, possibly tomorrow, we’ll be in Santorini, anchored in the caldera of an extinct volcano.

A Plymouth Lemon

Historian Paul Rahe reminds us that the Plymouth Colony was an early experiment in socialism which flopped, as is typical, and it was discarded in favor of private property. This in a column written several years ago for Power Line, and republished yesterday for its relevance. See Rahe’s conclusion.
The moral is perfectly clear. Self-interest cannot be expunged. Where there is private property and its possession and acquisition are protected and treated with respect, self-interest and jealousy can be deployed against laziness and the desire for that which is not one’s own, and there tends to be plenty as a consequence.

But where one takes from those who join talent with industry to provide for those lacking either or both, where the fruits of one man’s labor are appropriated to benefit another who is less productive, self-interest reinforces laziness, jealousy engenders covetousness, and these combine in a bitter stew to produce both conflict and dearth.
I didn’t remember this history lesson concerning our founders, and was happy for the reminder.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Travel Blogging II

Kotor, Montenegro (written 2 days ago): We spent the day tied up alongside in this very quaint near-medieval walled port city at the head of a fjord off the Adriatic Sea. Very steep but not-quite-sheer granite cliffs surround the town and there are fortifications running up the scarp behind the city.

Kotor was an outpost of the Venetian empire back in the day, fortified against the Turks no doubt. Venice was a mighty sea power for several hundred years during the renaissance, a part of the west that traded with, and fought off, the east. Basically the Adriatic coast was all controlled by Venice.

The other DrC and I spent the midday sitting at a sidewalk cafe in a plaza eating smoky thin-sliced Montenegrin ham - a local delicacy comparable to prosciutto - plus cheese and bread. A very local lunch and delicious.

The weather started warm and cooled as some clouds rolled in, it’s that season where you’re too warm in a coat and too cool without one. I kept putting mine on, getting hot and taking it off. Then cooling off and putting it back on.

Last time we were here, which the other DrC informed me was 8 years ago, the women were all wearing expensive-looking spike heels on these cobblestone streets. Today I saw not a single pair, and I was looking. Then it was June, now it’s late November, perhaps the shoes are a spring/summer thing. Or maybe the local taste has changed.

If you get the chance, come to Kotor and be charmed. The natural setting is amazing as are the old buildings.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Travel Blogging I

Denver (written yesterday):  The wandering DrsC are at it again, this time flying to Venice where we’ll board the Pacific Princess and sail westward to Sicily, Naples, Barcelona, the Canary Is., etc., until we reach Ft. Lauderdale about a month later, a couple of days before Christmas. Expect reports along the way, as the mood strikes.

We should have reasonable WiFi so I can continue to kibitz on matters political, social, international, and occasionally, scientific.

Venice (written today): We’ve been reading that Venice was experiencing high tides and rain. I can’t testify to the tides (ships rise with the water level) but it was raining lightly as we arrived and transitioned by bus to the ship.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Bias on Bolivia

RealClearWorld links to a World Politics Review article on post-Morales unrest in Bolivia. The author is covertly opposed to the new government and sides with the protesting indigenes.

She reports Morales supporters blocking roads and generally trying to bring the country to a halt. She demonstrates no awareness that such acts are violence against the good functioning and continued health of the nation.

She reports police/military efforts to dislodge them as horrendous oppression. And she notes, with obvious disapproval, the ejection of obvious Cuban and Venezuelan trouble-makers from the country.

Let’s try another point of view. Is there any evidence the military is rooting Morales supporters out of their homes, fields and workplaces? None that she reports. It might eventually come to that, but there is no sense it has happened yet, or in fact ever will.

So ... what group is instigating trouble and which is reacting? Indigenes are instigating and the authorities are reacting. In playground language, the indigenes are “asking for it.”

What the authorities are doing is dealing, at times harshly, with people gathered in mobs who refuse to allow the nation to function in the absence of Evo Morales. And of course there are racial slurs, the battle lines are in fact largely racial.

Morales was an indigene, an Aymara Indian. The protestors are indigenous. The new acting leader is from the nation’s other ethnic population, Latin America’s, and Bolivia’s, mestizo majority. Here is the country’s ethnic mix, as reported in the CIA’s World Factbook:
Mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian ancestry) 68%, indigenous 20%, white 5%, cholo/chola 2%, black 1%, other 1%, unspecified 3% ; 44% of respondents indicated feeling part of some indigenous group, predominantly Quechua or Aymara (2009 est.)
Relatively clearly, many Bolivians want the country to continue to function, with or without Morales. A sizable group of indigenous don’t. Hence, conflict and violence.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Uncaring Crickets

The best argument I have come across for the fairly widespread existence of Islamophobia is this. Americans simply refuse to care that China is mistreating and brainwashing its Uighur Muslim minority.

Lots of supposed 'opinion leaders' have argued that Americans should care, the response ... cue the crickets. I speculate many view this as one disliked population abusing another disliked population, 9/11 made an impression.

It's an example of "Why don't you and him fight? I'll hold your coat." One of those situations where people wish both sides could lose.

Happy Birthday, Joe

Today is Joe Biden's 77th birthday and he is, among other things, a new grandpa. The Washington Times has the story.
Hunter Biden is the father of an Arkansas woman’s baby, according to a paternity test detailed in court papers filed Wednesday. “DNA testing has established with scientific certainty defendant is the father of the plaintiff’s child,” said the lawsuit filed by Lunden Alexis Roberts, 28.

Ms. Roberts in May filed a petition for paternity support against Mr. Biden, son of 2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden. The younger Biden is “not expected to challenge the results of the DNA test or the testing process,” the filing said.
Hunter is an embarrassment to the Biden campaign, and to his father, in a variety of uniquely unpleasant ways.

The Plot Thickens

Instapundit links to a chain of stories which end up with a Reuters story out of Kiev. Reuters reports:
Ukraine has widened its investigation into the founder of energy company Burisma to include suspicion of embezzling state funds, Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka said on Wednesday.

After he took office in late August, Ryaboshapka launched a wide-ranging audit of criminal cases to see whether they had been conducted properly. Thirteen of them relate to Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky, Ryaboshapka told reporters at a briefing on Wednesday.
Hunter Biden was swimming in very unclean waters at Burisma. Here and here are links to two different articles at Gateway Pundit which allege Hunter received payoff money from Burisma that was raised through corruption and money laundering. Hat tip to for the links.

Primary Voting/Caucusing Begins in 3 Months

On the eve of the next candidate debate, National Journal's Josh Kraushaar does an overview of the top 4 candidates for the Democrat nomination. I like his conclusion.
Each of the leading candidates commands support from a different demographic faction. Biden is dominant with African-Americans, over-performs with working-class voters and is the clear favorite with seniors. He badly lags with younger voters.

Sanders boasts the opposite coalition: He continues to be a hit with progressive millennials and is a turnoff to older voters. He’s showing signs of strength with Hispanic voters—at least in Nevada. Unlike Buttigieg and Warren, he boasts disproportionate support from the working-class wing of the party.

Buttigieg is the favorite among college-educated moderate white suburbanites, while Warren’s base is with college-educated white liberal women.

The biggest question of all is whether momentum matters in a primary field that’s deeply divided along demographic lines.
Anybody want to wager against a brokered convention, or one in which no candidate arrives with a working majority of delegates? Kraushaar would be tempted to take that bet. The Democrats' 'tent' is so big it includes groups with divergent mind sets, something once a Republican problem.

A Modest Proposal

I have a notion so commonsensical it is radical. Interest rates for student loans should be tied to the student’s major.

I can also envision conditioning willingness to loan upon choice of career path. As a lender I would be more willing to loan to people whose career path is likely to lead to (a) employment and (b) substantial earnings.

Those who major in STEM fields will have, on average, more job offers, a greater ability to repay and a reduced likelihood of default. Their loans, taken as a group, should embody less risk to the lender, and therefore come in with a reduced risk premium built into the interest rate.

Those who major in “_____ studies,” which I think of collectively as “victim group studies,”  will have poorer employment opportunities than other graduates, will therefore be at higher risk of default on repayment and should pay a higher risk premium, if they can even get loans.

These two examples probably anchor the ends of the continuum but there should be a fair number of points along the way where meaningful differences in outcomes make differences in costs-to-borrow and willingness-to-loan defensible.

Furthermore, students change majors while in college. Prudent lenders would dole out dollops of loan as the students pass milestones toward lucrative careers, and dry up the funds should the student switch to a major with little or no employment future.

I can hear idealists whining “But students should follow their hearts in choosing what to study.” To which my response is “Sure, but only if they can figure out how to pay for it.” A realistic world would subsidize studies leading to employment and only those.

If philanthropists want to fund studies in playing the bassoon or art appreciation or women’s studies, they’re welcome to do so. Perhaps it will warm their hearts.

Lenders are another matter altogether, making loans is a business decision - is this borrower an acceptable risk or not. Obviously there’s no way to know for an individual but plenty of ways to know for groups with common characteristics like major field of study.

I’ll illustrate with examples from the lives of the DrsC. I taught business majors, she taught those who would be public school teachers and a few eventually school administrators.

Both sets of our graduates got jobs, my business grads probably earned somewhat higher salaries than her education grads. Neither was at one of the extreme continuum ends. An economically rational lender would have charged my grads a somewhat lower interest rate than her grads, but the difference wouldn’t have been large.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Good News

While the flashy impeachment action takes place in the House, the Senate quietly goes on confirming conservative judges. See what the Washington Examiner reports:
The Tuesday confirmation of Judge Robert J. Luck created a majority for Republican-appointed judges on the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals, the third such party flip in a federal court of appeals during the Trump presidency.

President Trump has also created GOP majority courts in the Third Circuit, which flipped in March, and the Second Circuit, which flipped last week with the confirmation of Steven Menashi. Since Trump assumed office in 2017, 163 title III judges have been confirmed to the bench, including Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
This is good news and there is more of it to come. Elected officials come and go, judges serve for decades. Hold a kind thought for Mitch McConnell when you're depressed about the day's alarmist headlines.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Bloomberg's Mea Culpa

Mike Bloomberg was a law-and-order mayor of New York City. He supported the then-in-vogue policy of stop-and-frisk policing promoted by James Q. Wilson and sometimes referred to as "broken windows" or proactive policing. His pro-police track record was one reason some Republicans might have been willing to vote for him in the November election.

Quite recently, Bloomberg apologized for his former policies. City Journal describes what happened:
Yesterday, addressing a predominantly black crowd at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, Bloomberg apologized for the NYPD’s policing practices during his three-term mayoral tenure. “I was wrong,” Bloomberg said, “And I am sorry.”
And then author Rafael A. Mangual characterizes what this means:
Bloomberg’s act of contrition further confirms that the Democratic Party no longer can accommodate, at least at the presidential level, candidates who support fundamental aspects of the American criminal-justice system—a system now viewed on the left as wholly corrupt and irredeemably racist.
The thin blue LEO line is all that stands between you and Hobbesian anarchy. Sicko Democrats hate it, and you for supporting it.

CA Gas Car Ban Reconsidered

About CA's gas-car ban, I've had some second thoughts concerning questions the Bee's article didn't answer. It used the word "sedans," does that mean gas-powered SUVs are okay? How about vans?

Assuming SUVs are exempt, what's to keep state agencies from switching all vehicle purchases to SUVs? Many private citizens have already made that switch. Even the Highway Patrol buys a mixed fleet of sedans and SUVs.

Another issue, how about compressed natural gas powered vehicles? CNG pollutes less, are they okay? Or does it truly mean the only non-LEO sedans the state can purchase are electric vehicles?

We need to learn more about what really has transpired. Newsom's announcement, while great high-status virtue-signaling, may amount to very little in practice.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

CA Bans Gas-Powered State Cars

The Sacramento Bee, paper of record for the CA state government, reports as follows:
California state government on Friday stopped buying gas-powered sedans as part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The directive by the state’s Department of General Services, which oversees purchasing and contracts for California state government, exempts public safety vehicles.
The crazies of La-La Land caper down the road to hell, paving each step with especially good intentions. Elysium, here we come. Meanwhile, sane people shake their heads in disbelief.

Note: Check out a Quillette article on why people act this way - it's excellent, if a bit wordy.

A Saucy Goose

People say mean, sometimes untrue, critical things about President Trump every day ... crickets. President Trump says mean, critical things about Ambassador Yovanovich and she claims to be “intimidated.” Where is the fairness?

If you would function in the public eye, as both presidents and ambassadors do, people will say mean things about you. Our libel and slander laws make it nearly impossible to be found guilty of besmirching the name of a public figure, this is intentional.

Our free speech laws, to function properly, require public figures to tolerate abusive language directed at them. It is a (sometimes high) cost of doing business.

There is, however, no requirement for anyone to be a public figure, it is a choice. In President Truman’s pithy formulation, “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.”

Former ambassador Yovanovich needs to cowboy up.

The Dilemma, Revisited

Last Sunday we wrote about the Democrats’ dilemma. Today Glenn Beaton, often quoted Aspen Times columnist, says much the same thing I did about the Democrats, while reflecting on the Bloomberg candidacy. He’s distilled it down to far fewer words.
Maybe no electable Democrat is nominable, and no nominable Democrat is electable.
What an entirely cheerful thought. Hat tip to for the link.

Later ... Democrats' quite real fear that the situation truly is as described by Beaton fuels the impeachment frenzy. Not cheerful for those trapped in it.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Barr, On the Record

Attorney General William Barr, speaking to The Federalist Society, gave a lecture that contains many potent ideas. Barr is a mensch, no question. The Conservative Treehouse has the transcript, and I quote two choice extracts.
Immediately after President Trump won election, opponents inaugurated what they called “The Resistance,” and they rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver available to sabotage the functioning of his Administration. Now, “resistance” is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power. It obviously connotes that the government is not legitimate. This is a very dangerous – indeed incendiary – notion to import into the politics of a democratic republic. What it means is that, instead of viewing themselves as the “loyal opposition,” as opposing parties have done in the past, they essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple, by any means necessary, a duly elected government.

In any age, the so-called progressives treat politics as their religion. Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the State to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection. Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursing a deific end. They are willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage in achieving their end, regardless of collateral consequences and the systemic implications. They never ask whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct, equally applicable to all sides.
Barr’s overarching point is that both Judiciary and Legislative have encroached on Executive powers of the presidency. He documents both doing so. Their actions have hamstrung our government, have made it substantially less effective in dealing with the exigencies that naturally arise.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Early Replicants

A woman reporter visits a sex doll factory, takes the tour, chats with the craftspeople and techs, and talks AI with those working to create 'personalities' for future dolls. Her article is at Spectator USA, and Ed Driscoll of Instapundit provides the link. I found her conclusion somewhat eerie and the photos moreso.
It’s the fact that human affection, passion and emotions are being reduced to code and algorithms. The human experience of love, companionship and unconditional acceptance we often expect from our pets is being hacked, replicated and ultimately replaced by dolls who live in the cloud during the day and function as your robot wife/sex slave/ couch buddy at night.

She can be anything you want her to be and demands nothing (unless you want her to). Soon she’ll be able to make sandwiches. I can’t help but wonder if a large majority of men won’t opt for the conflict-free humanoid over the real thing, with all of our baggage and hormones and mothers-in-law.
The creators of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer wrote an episode (season 5, episode 15) about this, their answer was men won't opt for humanoids. Were those writers Latter Day Luddites?


The former journalists at Politico don't much like President Trump. That doesn't make them completely unable to write something useful on occasion.

I link you to a column about the President's negotiating style - where it has succeeded and where it hasn't. It turns out The Art of the Deal isn't a bad primer on how he functions, he's all about quid pro quo.

Lippman describes him as "a transactional leader." He's straight about what he wants from you, and wants to know what he'll have to give you to get it.

Expect him to keep trying for a deal he perceives to be advantageous to him; if you like it too, so much the better. If you don't like it, but have to do it anyway, he's also okay with that.

There are those who don't want to do business with him at all, and I suspect he's okay with that, as well. As a developer his style is mostly one-man-band - the sole decision-maker - others get to carry out his decisions.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

A Clever Disguise

I was watching Bret Baier on Fox News last evening and one of his panelists made an interesting observation. The Republican-controlled Senate, which had been talking about a quick vote on an impeachment, is now planning to take their time - a couple of months - with a full trial.

Old fox McConnell has figured out that about half of the Democrats seeking the party's nomination are Senators. They would have to stop campaigning and be present for a fair amount of the 'trial' even though its outcome is foreordained. A long trial is campaign mischief cleverly disguised as due process.

Deval Patrick Runs

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has decided to enter the race for the Democrat Party nomination for president. Patrick resigned from the Bain Capital consultancy the day before his late announcement. Bain is the same "vulture capital" firm Mitt Romney was criticized for working at.

Patrick is thought to be close to Obama, in ways Biden never was, and has known Obama for perhaps 20 years. The conventional wisdom about Patrick's entry is that former President Obama doesn't believe any of the current field represent his values and also have a good chance of beating Trump. Patrick is thought to have Obama's implicit endorsement.

When Patrick comes forth with what he proposes to accomplish as president, it will be interesting to see how far left he takes his platform. The center hasn't been attracting a lot of primary voter interest.

Re: Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself

I read a lot of stuff, much of it sadly ho-hum. Every now and then something stands out, for one reason or another, and I share it with you. This insight is from National Review and its author is Michael Brendan Dougherty.
Jest can have a serious point. Sharing “Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself” memes because you believe paranoia stands to reason, or because you think they are funny, is a kind of practice for saying, “I think our leadership class and our institutions are capable of every corruption and depravity.”

It signals to the world that you are willing to be caught saying this, which is now and in all times one of the more subversive things that can be thought or said.
At least in my case it means I believe some members of our leadership class and our institutions are capable of many kinds of corruption and depravity. This can't be news to anyone paying attention.

For example Horndawg Bill Clinton - the poster boy for sexual corruption and depravity - had frequent flyer miles on Epstein's Lolita Express aircraft.

Acting Asian?

Power Line's Paul Mirengoff writes about admissions to advanced placement courses in STEM in a Virginia county. Asians are over-represented, African-Americans are under-represented ... I know you are shocked, shocked ... and the NAACP is claiming bias.

It's a longish column looking at possible reasons for the disparity. I wish to comment on one.
There is some evidence that the performance of black students is harmed by peer pressure from other black students not to excel. I don’t know whether this dynamic operates in Loudoun County (or anywhere else). However, it’s a more plausible explanation for failure to excel than bullying by members of other races is.
Excelling in school is derogatorily called "acting white" and the insult really happens. Ironically, the putdown is a misnomer since a majority of white students don't excel.

It would more accurately be called "acting Asian." However let's be clear, doing well in school (or any other lawful endeavor*) shouldn't be criticized by anybody.

*Playing the accordion is a possible exception.

A Cacophony of Hearsay

As I write this, the first day of formal, out-in-public impeachment hearings has happened. What did we learn, if anything? Namely, that several sober, serious bureaucrats heard others claim they’d heard something which concerned them.

Had the witnesses actually met the President? No. Had they spoken with the President? No. Were they listeners to the phone calls in question? No. Did they know anything of their own, as opposed to others, knowledge? No.

What did they know? They knew that they’d learned from others of things which they believed to be inappropriate, if in fact they’d been accurately informed by those others. This is pretty darn weak tea, what an Italian grandmother would call quasi acqua (almost water).

Under the theory that Schiff would lead with his best witnesses, it appears we may have the makings of another Mueller report nothingburger. Time will tell, eh?

Some wag recently wrote “Joe Biden actually admitted on camera doing, as Vice President, what President Trump is accused of doing.” Biden coerced Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor who was investigating the firm of which Joe’s son Hunter was a director.

Biden did so by threatening to withhold U.S. aid. Trump wished to see the cancelled-at-Biden’s-insistence investigation restarted. If you don’t begin with the assumption “orange man bad,” who was more culpable?

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Little and Big

Two things are going on more-or-less simultaneously - the impeachment hearings and the DACA case at the Supreme Court. Comparing the press coverage of each, you'd conclude the first is much more important than the second. And of course you'd be wrong.

The impeachment shadow play has very little importance. The House will impeach, the Senate will kill it, and at the end of the day, all that will have happened is a Democrat temper tantrum, acted out in public.

On the other hand, if the Supreme Court finds the DACA program to have been unlawful when created by President Obama, that will prove to be a big deal. Future presidents ideologically aligned with Obama cannot reinstate it if it is found to have had no legal standing.

It is no accident people on both sides of the aisle view the ideological leanings of appointees to federal judge positions as seriously important. The team of Trump and McConnell has appointed and confirmed many young, conservative judges to the federal bench. These will be influential for the next 30 years.

Dems: America Unfair, Discriminatory

America, who loves you? Power Line links to a Rasmusssen Reports survey which looked at Democrats’ and Republicans’ attitudes toward our country. The results are entirely unsurprising.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that just 38% of Likely Democratic Voters believe American society is generally fair and decent. Fifty-one percent (51%) say it’s unfair and discriminatory.

By comparison, 74% of Republicans and unaffiliated voters by a 49% to 36% margin view American society as fair and decent.
No wonder Democrats are such sour, angry, perpetually glass-is-half-empty folk. And why studies repeatedly show Republicans are happier than Democrats, even where Democrats have been electorally successful.

No country can be all things to all people. As we’ve written in years past, the Republican Party represents those for whom America “works” and the Democrat Party represents those who feel it doesn’t.

Social Media Critiqued

RealClearPolitics links to an article in The Atlantic which blames much of the current political craziness on social media. Authors Haidt and Rose-Stockwell build a reasonable case for Facebook and Twitter being accelerants for extremism and animosity, acting in the same way gasoline will cause a fire to burn hotter and faster. They write:
Many Americans may think that the chaos of our time has been caused by the current occupant of the White House, and that things will return to normal whenever he leaves. But if our analysis is correct, this will not happen. Too many fundamental parameters of social life have changed. The effects of these changes were apparent by 2014, and these changes themselves facilitated the election of Donald Trump.
I’m inclined to think the Resistance to Trump is more a product of social media than Trump himself. If there is a group in our society which has lagged behind in social media usage, it is Trump’s much maligned ‘deplorables.’ Who has been at the social media forefront? The resisters, and especially the press, egging on each other.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Blame the Culture

Those who watch Latin America are reflecting on how the departure of Bolivia's Evo Morales is a part of some "pink wave" ebbing. I believe they make too much of the 'leftness' of Morales and certain others.

What I see is the people of Latin America alternating between leftists and rightists in their search for decent government. Interestingly, both extremes claim to be the solution to their nations' problems but neither delivers what the voters seek.

What nobody in Latin America wants to face is that the Iberian colonial culture is the root cause of their problems. Leftist or rightist politicians aren't the solution because they aren't the cause of the problem.

When their leaders inevitably misbehave, it is because their culture commands they favor family over country and most - left or right - obey. Doing so they end up serving their family, at the expense of the state.

We in the U.S. are not immune from these pressures, but we resist them better than most places and at least sometimes punish people who act selfishly. Recent examples of punishees include college-entrance scammers Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Veterans Day

On Veterans Day COTTonLINE gives a shout out to everyone who has honorably served, or is now serving, in our armed forces.

Freedom isn't free; we have freedom because you defended it against those who would enslave us. We thank you all.

The Supremes and DACA

An article at Vox looks at the Supreme Court's options in deciding on legality of the Trump Administration's attempted termination of the DACA program for undocumented minors. It concludes the court could uphold lower court challenges and give the Dreamers a narrow victory.

A second alternative would be a narrow defeat of the lower courts, allowing the administration to proceed with termination. This would put Dreamers at risk of deportation.

Finally, the third option is for the Court to find the DACA action of the Obama administration unlawful, a violation of existing law. In which case, no future president could reinstate the DACA program.

It is a good article, relatively balanced and not excessively biased. If the issue interests you, I recommend it.

Quote of the Day

Holman Jenkins, long-time columnist for The Wall Street Journal, considers our present political difficulties and pronounces sentence on Hillary Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton, whatever she may have achieved in life, deserves to be remembered finally as the coward who put the country second because she couldn’t accept the legitimacy of her defeat.
Dealing with Bill's womanizing, she got so good at lying (to herself and others) it has become reflexive, her standard coping mechanism. Some (more forgiving than I) might pity her.

Bloomberg Reconsidered

I’ve been having second thoughts about the Bloomberg candidacy-in-embryo. It is hard to see who his natural constituency is among Democrat primary voters.

A New York Post article reports an over-the-weekend poll that found Bloomberg with 4% choosing him as their favorite, leaving him in 6th place. OTOH, most non-New Yorkers know relatively little about his governing style while mayor, and might want to learn more before choosing.

Bloomberg was a law-and-order mayor, I doubt he is popular with black voters. The tax-the-billionaires crew now following Sanders and Warren aren’t going to love billionaire Bloomberg.

Bloomberg wanted to tell people not to drink soft drinks, and generally acted like their nanny, libertarians will hate him. His slighting comments about #MeToo won’t play well with feminists and I don’t see the LGBTQ crowd switching from Buttigieg.

I conclude he appeals to white moderates, a group that has benefited from the Trump economy and probably rarely votes in primaries anyway. He may have a pretty good electability pitch, and executive experience running our biggest city.

His brag that “Trump can’t outspend me” might be Bloomberg‘s strongest campaign slogan. A Trump-Bloomberg contest could be the most expensive presidential race ever.

The very fact that Bloomberg is someone for whom a few Republicans could consider voting is enough to disqualify him as the Democrat nominee.

A Big Middle Finger Salute

At Instapundit, regular guest blogger Stephen Green observes wisely about the “Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself” meme popping up across the web.
What started five weeks ago as a gag on a nonpartisan gaming forum is now something of a national cause célèbre across the left, right, and great middle of this country. It’s a big middle finger salute to the Powers That Be, but more importantly it’s a sign that Americans in some small way are ‘as mad as hell and we’re not going to take this anymore!'
How effing gullible do “the Powers That Be“ think we are, anyway? I’m insulted, how about you?

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Bolivian Prez, VP Step Down

United Press International reports Bolivian President Evo Morales, one of Latin America's small group of hard leftists, has resigned in the face of widespread demonstrations against apparent reelection irregularities on his behalf. This is good news.
Morales said on national television he was stepping down "for the good of the country." Morales, 60, has been Bolivia's president for nearly 14 years and is the longest-serving leader in Latin America.
Morales made much of being indigenous (Aymara), unusual ancestry for a Latin American politician. When the military at long last turned against him, he knew it was time to bug out. The Miami Herald, the unofficial "paper of record" for Latin America, writes of Morales:
Morales, a charismatic indigenous leader, rose to power last decade along with the likes of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and Rafael Correa in Ecuador and was considered one of the leading proponents of South America’s unique brand of populism and socialism.

But he was also accused of adopting increasingly authoritarian tactics and trampling the constitution in order to dismantle term limits and stay in power.
Fudging term limits to stay in power indefinitely is a mainstay of nearly every leftist autocrat in Latin America. They are known for it, think Castro, Chavez, Correa, and Ortega. It will be interesting to see if leftist AMLO in Mexico goes quietly when his term is done.

In Anticipation of Foot-Shooting ...

Democrats face an interesting dilemma. Those who bother to turn out for their primaries largely decide the identity of the party's nominee. Their primary voters are hot to trot for progressive, socialist ideas.

Hence, there is a serious likelihood they'll nominate this generation's version of George McGovern, someone whose "Uncle Sam will be your daddy" rhetoric warms the cockles of their hearts. Such individuals can be very popular with a sizable, but far from majority, segment of voters, as Bernie Sanders was four years ago.

As Republicans found with Barry Goldwater, and Democrats found with George McGovern, nominees who are "out there" normally flop in the general election. This is something party stalwarts like Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama have been trying to communicate to Democrat candidates.

If the behavior of those running is any indication, none of the leading candidates is paying attention. Perhaps their polling suggests caution is primary poison this time around.

The New York Times runs an article, here echoed on MSN, which makes the point that putting down working class voters - clingers to guns and god - isn't good politics. Calling them "deplorable" isn't helpful either. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Notice that D. J. Trump never puts working class voters down, but rather honors their views, patriotism and citizenship. Many vote for him in consequence. This isn't rocket science, it's smart politics.

The Joys of Small Town Life

Business Insider has a good article by a fellow who moved from Los Angeles to a tiny town in eastern Idaho, named Victor. If you're trying to place where Victor is, think basically due west of Jackson, WY, across Teton Pass and the state line on WY 22.

He writes about the things in Victor that caused him and his wife culture shock. the DrsC have had many of these same "wow, that's different" experiences in western WY. Seeing empty cars with keys in the ignition at the grocery, for example, maybe even with the engine running and no dog guarding.

Our builder built himself a big place backed up to the national forest. When we visited there, we noticed he'd not gotten around to installing a deadbolt on the otherwise unlocked front door. We commented on it and were certain they laughed about our naiveté after we left.

And yes, hunting is one of the major preoccupations of darned near everyone who lives there year-round. We know couples who shoot, butcher and freeze two big elk a year and eat very little store-bought meat.

Our politics at least are congruent with locals' views. There are jurisdictions in WY where no Democrat bothers to run, and the race is decided in the primary among the Republicans running.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Bloomberg Keeps Options Open

On various posts I've shared with you my notion that the field of Democrats seeking the party's nomination is, being kind, lackluster. I may have even called them "charisma-deficient" as I believe that true as well.

The entry of NY billionaire "Little Michael" Bloomberg at this late date indicates he shares that perception and, unlike myself, is disconcerted by his evaluation. His entry, if it actually becomes more than talk, will be bad news for Biden, Klobuchar, and perhaps Buttigieg.

Bloomberg can afford the sort of self-funding Trump used effectively in 2016, flying around in his own full-sized plane with campaign staff aboard, renting helicopters as needed. He can buy all the TV ads he chooses.

On the one hand, it isn't easy to enter the primary season late. On the other hand, as a non-radical he is better positioned to take moderate voters away from Trump than, say, Warren or Sanders. Plus as a very wealthy individual his self-interest in preventing election of a socialist wealth-taxer is obvious and unambiguous.

I conclude by noting that Bloomberg's entry, if it materializes, will make the race more interesting than it would be in his absence.

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Ripple Effects of U.S. Sanctions

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line links to a Caroline Glick article at her eponymous website; the article likely originally appeared in Israel in Hebrew. Glick argues Trump's economic sanctions on Iran are indirectly causing the rioting and unrest in Iraq and Lebanon.

The troubles in Iraq are directed at Shiite militias and those in Lebanon are directed at Iran's proxy, Hezbollah. She attributes the causal chain as Iran being unable to continue subsidies to its proxies in the two countries, and their consequent (unpopular) need to rip off locals to fund their activities. She writes:
To date, the Trump administration’s maximum pressure strategy has not managed to bring the regime down. And it is unlikely that on their own, US economic sanctions will suffice to ever bring it down.

Yet as the mass demonstrations against Iran and its proxies in Lebanon and Iraq make clear, the American strategy can and is undermining Iranian domestic and regional power and stability.
And that, dear reader, is no bad thing. Mucking up Iran's desired role as regional hegemon is an entirely useful aim. Another triumph for the Trump foreign policy.

VDH: Why Socialism Is Popular

The often-cited Victor Davis Hanson weighs in at Fox News with an answer to the question, "why do Millennials favor socialism?" He cites four factors which he believes share the blame.

They are these: (1) runaway immigration of people with little English and few skills who frankly need government services to survive, (2) tech sector Uber-wealthy who feel guilt about their (at least somewhat) unearned riches, (3) expensive universities causing crushing student loan debt keeping graduates from achieving independence - a state normally associated with moving right politically, and (4) doctrinaire Republican free traders who saw nothing wrong with shipping most manufacturing overseas, destroying huge swathes of employment.

Hanson's four factors, appear valid to me. I'd add a fifth: the fairly steep expansion of prolonged adolescence extending now into the early 30s.

When I graduated from college, the expectation was most people married more or less immediately in their early 20s. Shortly thereafter they purchased a home and then raised children.

The idea one would be living in the parents' basement into early middle age seemed ridiculous. Prolonged dependency and delayed adulthood make the idea of parent care leading to government care seem natural. Perhaps Millennials will never become adults, seeking someone or something to lean on forever.

Where did our people lose their self-respect, their need to be autonomous? Hanson blames student loans, maybe he's right.

When the law was changed to permit children to remain on their parents' health insurance to age 26, I saw that as a milepost on the road to ruin. Maybe not a cause, but an effect of a seeming refusal to grow up and get on with life.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Catching Up

A friend and former colleague plus his wife, both retired, stopped by this afternoon. He and I discussed the political situation, about which we disagree more-or-less totally, in a friendly and low key fashion.

I made the point that the President has a great economy, a winding down of foreign wars, and the confirmation of many, many conservative Federal judges. I called these three a trifecta and said they made his reelection possible, maybe even probable.

My Democrat friend replied that if the economy tanked, Trump doesn't have a shot. I agreed that was likely the case.

We were both B-School faculty so we agreed taxing the wealthy doesn't work well because they're too clever about avoiding tax legally. That's how they got wealthy to begin with, we joked, because they were smart about money. So expensive new Federal programs must raise middle class taxes.

He was of the opinion single payer medicine was on the horizon eventually, though how soon isn't clear. I guessed we'd not live to see it, unless we became centenarians.

It was his feeling that the B-school we'd worked at has let its standards slip somewhat since we cleaned our our offices there. I replied I had no idea, being totally out of touch.

One thing's for certain, they don't miss us. Professors are very much interchangeable parts, one leaves, they hire another with similar quals. and keep on truckin'.

After our guests left, the other DrC commented that Millennials are favoring socialism. They're too young to remember when Communists had to build walls to keep people from escaping from socialism to capitalism. And they fail to understand the symbolism of our need to build walls to keep the world's poor from overrunning our capitalist paradise.

No Single Nation

I don't often link to left-wing sites. However, RealClearPolitics drew my attention to a Slate article which makes the point that everyone running for president is disliked by more than half of respondents. Its title:
Any Democratic Nominee Will Be Despised by Half the Country
Here's part of its summation:
If you look at RealClearPolitics aggregates ... the three leading Democrats, despite being about equally underwater, are less underwater than Trump. So it’s not that they can’t win, but they probably can’t win by a lot, in part because Trump put the finishing touch on the post-1960s realignment of the two major parties into coherent halves of the ideological spectrum by making anti-immigrant sentiment a more salient part of political identity and winning white-working-class onetime Democrats to the GOP. Functionally, this means there is no single nation available to be unified.
And author Ben Mathis-Lilley concludes:
Democrats can win the presidential election. Then the Democratic president will probably settle at a low approval rating that will either rise above 50 when he or she is reluctantly reelected in 2024, or never rise above 50 at all, in which case there will be a Donald Trump Jr. administration. And most people will hate him too.
The bottom line is that today running for high office isn't a route to widespread approbation, you're more apt to end up being disliked. Trump seems to thrive in this hostile environment, I speculate it's part of his Noo Yawk legacy.

A Caveat

The press keeps referring to the six children and three women murdered by cartel gunmen in northern Mexico as “Mormons.” I object to this imprecision as I would if the press referred to Pentecostals as Catholics.

Whether those colonies of dual-citizenship Anglos in northern Mexico are “Mormon” or Latter Day Saints is, at the very least, questionable. They split off from the mainline LDS church based in Salt Lake City around 130 years ago, and moved to Mexico to continue to practice polygamy. I gather they no longer do that.

Some, like Mitt Romney and his dad George rejoined the mainline church and moved back to the States, others perhaps remain a schismatic separate sect. Probably the fairest description is that these families constitute a faith enclave whose ancestors moved to Mexico to set up intentional communities.

Whatever label you choose doesn’t justify this cold-blooded murder of obvious non-combatants. Mexico is trying hard to become the murder capital of the world, on our border.


Rereading what I wrote about “Medicare for All,” I realized I left out something the DrsC experienced with single payer Canadian medicine three summers ago. We were camped at Lake Louise and the other DrC fell and hurt her shoulder while hiking with our niece.

We went to the small clinic there and, after examination, the local physician concluded (w/o X-ray) nothing was broken. After we got home to WY maybe 10 days later, it still hurt a lot so she got the shoulder MRIed. The tip of the bone was crushed and there was a hole in the rotator cuff.

Some months later following physical therapy it healed and she now has complete mobility and no discomfort. I’m not angry at the Canadian doc, she did what she could with what she had and, as non-Canadians, we paid plenty for the privilege, also fair in my judgment.

In “government medicine” too much “best judgment” diagnosis is practiced by overworked, under-capitalized clinics and some patients, like the other DrC, fall through the cracks. I’m glad we sought a second opinion in the States and got her treatment.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Rumination on California

I’m a native of California. Though I no longer call it “home,” I still spend a few months there every year. And for sure I take a backseat to nobody in bashing what passes for a state government in Sacramento, it is a very bad joke.

All of that said, CA is still in so many ways the nicest year-round physical environment in these 50 states and several territories. Much of it is warm, but not humid, and gets lots of sunshine. Take your pick of the seashore or the mountains, or farm the great Central Valley and coastal flood plains, ski the Sierras while never slipping on ice and snow in your driveway.

People are claiming wildfires are something new, and disasters just a recent thing. Nope. Not the case at all. Paradise burning in the Camp fire was very bad, San Francisco burning after the earthquake over 100 years ago was worse.

Forest fires? Nothing new. I’m old and, too many decades ago as a kid in SoCal, I would watch forest fires burn off the national forest mountainsides above Ojai every second or third autumn. People persist in building out into the CA foothills close to nature, and “nature” turns around and bites them occasionally.

Our distant friends would call and ask, “Is your house in danger? We hear Ojai is burning.” We’d answer, “No, we’re fine, it never gets within miles of our house. The valley is fine.”

Tell me the Midwest and south don’t get awful killer tornadoes - basically unknown in CA. Or the southeast and its giant hurricanes, none in CA. Or blizzards, only up in the Sierras around Lake Tahoe, not tying up our cities like much of the country. And mind-sapping humidity, common every summer nearly everywhere east of the Rockies, not in CA.

What’s wrong with CA is bad politics, the same problem blessed-by-nature Argentina has. CA has the “blue state blues,” which seems an incurable malady. Once contracted, the ‘patient’s’ prognosis is poor.

In Venezuela, which has a terminal case, the only solution available to the individual resident is to leave. Ironically, those with the gumption to leave make the situation worse for those who remain.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Medicare for All?

This political season, in the run up to the election which happens roughly a year from now, several Democrat nominee-wannabes are advocating what they call Medicare-for-All. What they mean is single payer health insurance. All private insurance goes away and the government pays for the health care you get.

I started to write "the government pays for everything" and stopped. The history of such plans in places like the U.K. and Canada is that a government simply cannot afford to pay for all the health care people want.

The result is a form of rationing, to make the available dollars cover the expressed need. Triage becomes the name of the government health care game.

Immediately life-threatening conditions are treated immediately, unless you are very old or very sick and likely to die soon regardless. Conditions which threaten your life in the medium run are treated within a few months, again if you aren't too old, too fat, or a smoker.

Conditions which merely give you a lot of pain, but are not life-threatening, get treated in a much more leisurely fashion. A hip or knee replacement may wait 1-3 years. If you're old, obese or a smoker it won't be done at all.

If your prognosis is unfavorable, if you don't have good odds of recovery (many cancers), you may receive palliative care while you linger and die. If you are old, ditto.

The demand for some tests like the MRI or CAT scan tend to exceed capacity, so you may be treated based on your physician's best judgment without benefit of MRI, as the wait time for the test is too long.

If you are homeless, uninsured, or getting by on Medicaid, the above may be an improvement over your present situation. If you are reading this, government health care almost certainly will be less satisfactory than your present coverage.

It is no accident Canadians who can afford it come to the U.S. for surgical procedures they'd have to wait years for back home. Yet they love going to the clinic 'for free' if they have a cold or a skinned knee.

Second Thoughts

Just over a week ago, in the context of the al-Baghdadi assassination, I wrote:
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.
Today comes a Politico story about President Trump reacting to the murder of U.S. citizens in a northern Mexico drug cartel crossfire.
This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!
Flattering people he wants to influence is classic Trump, and he's not at all subtle either. I find I have second thoughts about the wisdom of an intervention like that Trump advocates.

The U.S. getting involved could make the cartels sympathetic figures to el hombre en la calle. We don't want to transform feared drug criminals into admired freedom fighters, as happened with the Taliban.

Mexicans are leery of U.S. troops on their soil, for historically valid reasons. "Halls of Montezuma" was no joke. I'm sure AMLO shares these feelings and is hesitant to risk involvement. I'd guess he'll decline the offer, with thanks.

Later ... I read somewhere that AMLO did decline exactly as predicted above, sorry I can't find the source.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Baby Shark, Then and Now

I'm reading about the series-winning Washington Nationals MLB team visiting the White House. The story mentions the Marine band playing their adopted theme song, "Baby Shark."

Because now - November, 2019 - is the time portrayed, this immediately reminds me of a throwaway line in the original Blade Runner where Deckard (Harrison Ford) stops by a pet shop. The owner tries to sell him a baby shark, which she describes in an Asian accent as "Very cute."

The Sort-Out Continues

For those keeping track, here is a Los Angeles Times article about conservatives leaving California to move to places more congruent with their values and beliefs. Texas and Idaho are featured as frequent destinations, and Kansas gets an honorable mention.

I am personally acquainted with people who’ve moved from CA to Nevada, Idaho, and Wyoming for the very economic and cultural compatibility reasons the article notes. I, of course, tend to know retirees as I am one.

Texas is an especially good destination for those who are still actively employed. It has been a jobs magnet for at least a decade. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.


When the great sort-out is mostly complete the nation will consist of blocs of states with largely homogeneous ideological and world view perspectives. These blocs will find each other mutually incomprehensible, and frankly repellant.

This bifurcated nation could break up peacefully like Czechoslovakia in a Velvet Divorce. Or fall apart like Yugoslavia in bloody warfare and localized genocide.

Alternatively, it might remain together via extreme federalism. Federalism in these polarized circumstances would be as hard to manage as is joint child custody following a bitter divorce.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

One Year and Counting ...

The next presidential election happens exactly one year from today, on November 3, 2020. That will of course be a Tuesday, are you curious why?

The website Mental Floss suggests how Tuesday was chosen by our then mostly rural, farm-based nation.
Monday was out, because it would require people to travel to the polls by buggy on the Sunday Sabbath. Wednesday was also not an option, because it was market day, and farmers wouldn’t be able to make it to the polls. So it was decided that Tuesday would be the day that Americans would vote in elections, and in 1845, Congress passed a law that presidential elections would be held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
I suppose farmers would leave home on Monday, a day early, vote on Tuesday, stay in town for market on Wednesday and head home Thursday. What a slow-moving age, imagine having that sort of schedule. We complain about TSA and taking a whole day to get to the other coast.

Many countries selecting their Election Day more recently, in a less religious time and with more urban populations, vote on Sunday. Presumably the idea is not to interfere with work.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Trash Talk

Power Line's Paul Mirengoff writes that President Trump's abrasiveness isn't responsible for his accomplishments and, as Mirengoff spells them out, he's correct. However, that isn't the whole story, as I'm guessing Scott Adams would argue.

Trump's combativeness is what helped him get elected. His pose of being "on offense" most of the time motivates his voting base.

He's a fighter even when, strictly speaking, he doesn't need to be. He doesn't need the abrasiveness to do individual accomplishments, but he needs it to win the office (and reelection) without which he can't do the accomplishments.

His base is sick to death of Pelosi, Schumer, the squad, the tame socialists, Maxine Waters, Adam Schiff, and the legacy media. He trolls them effectively so they become deranged and act silly. In athletics we'd call what he does "trash talk."

Mission Unaccomplished

For decades Willie Brown was Mr. Democrat in California, now in retirement he writes a column for the SF Chronicle. Check out his evaluation of the impeachment effort now underway in DC.
If the goal was to damage President Trump by formalizing the impeachment inquiry, it’s Mission Unaccomplished for House Democrats.

If anything, the vote solidified Trump’s hold on power. There were zero GOP defections, meaning we have zero drama heading into the public phase of impeachment.

Remember health care, the issue that won so many elections for Democrats in 2018? You might, but they don’t seem to.

Come next year, Trump will have an impeachment victory and quite possibly a solid economy. The Democrats will have — what?
Mr. Speaker, I believe the word you're searching for is "bupkis." Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Pre-Columbian Ritual Murder of Children

Ed Driscoll, posting at Instapundit, links to a New York Post article about the discovery of the world's largest child sacrifice site, It contains the bodies of 250 children between the ages of 4 and 14.

The Chimu culture was esponsible for this mass murder, it was a predecessor of the Incas. The massacre happened between 1200 and 1400 ce, before the first Europeans arrived.

As Driscoll writes, sites such as these don't fit the narrative of the peaceful, noble native and the evil European invader. There was plenty of really ugly behavior by all sides, not just the Europeans.

Tyler O'Neil writes at PJ Media documenting examples of human sacrifice in many cultures:
Human sacrifice is tragically common in ancient cultures. Its eradication is one more reason why the Western heritage should be celebrated, not demonized.

Early Man in South America

I find articles about the first inhabitants of the Americas, North and South, intriguing. See a Discover Magazine piece on pre-Clovis settlements in South America. The site discussed is a bit southwest of Puerto Montt in Chile and not so very far from San Carlos de Bariloche, the Argentine hill station.

Early inhabitants were eating animals - called megafauna - which no longer exist, having gone extinct with the help of those hungry early humans. Their artifacts survive because they were covered by a peat bog which prevented decay.

Carbon dating indicates they lived there perhaps as early as 19,000 years ago. Call these people an early Stone Age culture, their stone tools were not sophisticated or elegant like Clovis points. Hat tip to RealClearScience for the link.

Smiles and Guffaws

Don't forget to look at Steven Hayward's The Week in Pictures feature which appears every Saturday at Power Line. It's a compilation of humorous cartoons, captioned photos, and snarky headlines mostly related to the past week's news.

Check out the comments section as well, where readers contribute their own funny stuff. The DrsC read TWIP every Saturday morning, rain or shine.

Change Your Clocks Tonight

Daylight savings time ends at 2 a.m. tomorrow morning. Dang, I'll be barbecuing the supper rib eye in the dark, alas.

Best practice: set clocks back one hour tonight before bed. Use your extra hour well.

ISIS Maybe Gone, Jihad Goes On

ISIS leader al-Baghdadi is killed and various sources are writing that we need to keep up our guard as ISIS will go on. Those sources are almost correct, their underlying idea is good.

When ben Laden was killed al Qaida went into an eclipse, though it still exists. The same may happen to ISIS or - because it emphasized holding territory, something no longer true - it may die.

What isn't going away is militant Islam. Too many millions of young Muslim men have no future and nothing to lose. Firebrands will create messages that motivate them, very likely sooner rather than later.

Given that, was it worth the effort to kill ben Laden and al-Baghdadi? Of course it was. Killing leaders decapitates organizations and creates chaos.

An organization disrupted takes time and money to rebuild, and fosters internal conflict between members with ambition. During this process much less mischief gets done.

Angry young men are a problem anywhere, but a much bigger problem when organized, led and wielded as a weapon. Plus killing terrorist leaders feels like justice to those who've been harmed or terrorized, and reduces the individual recidivism rate to zero.

Snark on Stilts

Ed Driscoll, blogging at Instapundit, quotes an anonymous Tweet about Beto O’Rourke dropping out of the presidential race.
How fitting is it that Beto appropriates Latino culture one more time by killing his presidential campaign on The Day of the Dead?
Dia de los muertos. Let us remember the late, albeit unlamented, faux-Hispanic candidate-for-all-seasons, briefly hyped by a media which quickly lost interest.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Original Blade Runner Set Now

The Express (U.K.) memorializes today as the beginning of the month and year in which the original film Blade Runner was set: November, 2019. Several media outlets have looked at what the film did/did not predict accurately.

No flying cars, sadly, even if in Blade Runner it seemed only the police had them. LA smog is not as bad as feared, and many fewer people smoke cigarettes than the film showed.

We don't have replicants, very human-looking robots have yet to appear. And of course, we don't have off-planet colonies yet, though they seem closer than just a few years ago.

One article made the point the original film is no longer set in the future, but in an alternate present, much like The Man in the High Castle. Personally, I believe this argument is bogus. It was set 37 years in the future when released in 1982, and a bit more than that when actually conceived, written and filmed.

IOW, it was our 1982 selves looking forward nearly 4 decades. In my book, that means it will always be set in the future of the people who made it, many no longer with us. It is one of my favorite films.

Among recent looks forward, the future Los Angeles imagined in the Matt Damon/Jodie Foster 2013 film Elysium is believable, given how California is now governed. Projecting a future LA looking like an Ensenada barrio seems no great stretch. The homeless infestation on city streets is taking us in that direction.

Wrong Job Description links to a Breitbart article quoting former First Lady Michelle Obama as follows:
Barack’s presidential library could have been anywhere in the world, because there are so many people who feel like he is their president.
She puts her finger on precisely what many of us did not like about Barry's presidency, he acted like he was responsible to mankind. We elected him to be responsible to us, to the citizens of the U.S. He was entirely too willing to sacrifice our interests to benefit people in other countries or continents.

I believe Obama would like nothing better than to be Secretary General of the United Nations. It would have the benefit of making his responsibilities congruent with who he seems to believe his constituency is.

Historical Comparison

The Financial Times has a very interesting comparison of the state of the U.S. today and the state of the Roman Catholic Church in the decades leading up to Martin Luther and the Reformation. In fact author Edward Luce compares President Trump to Rodrigo de Borja (Borgia), aka Pope Alexander VI.

It isn't a flattering comparison, obviously, but it is (quoting Arte Johnson) "verrrry intereshtink" and thought-provoking. Those were unrestful times, these are too.

I believe the comparison is semi-valid, but the so-called "deep state" is today's equivalent of a corrupt church hierarchy. Trump is a reformer trying to dial back its self-serving corruption and facing massive resistance from those whose rice bowls are threatened.

Our times have an "overripe" feeling, do they not? I'm no renaissance scholar, so the times remind me of the vision of late Weimar, Germany, portrayed in the film Cabaret.

Bye-Ku for Beto

Former congressman Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke announced this afternoon that he is withdrawing from the race for the Democrat presidential nomination. With the customary hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer Mr. O'Rourke a bye-ku, a haiku of farewell.

Adios, Beto
You won't be taking our guns
Anytime soon, dude.

Tax Havens

Various sources report President and Mrs. Trump have switched their legal residence from New York to Florida, from Trump Tower in Manhattan to his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. It is fun to think of the huge sum this will cost New York State and City in income taxes. And the Trumps are not alone.

We have written of people - rich and not-so-rich - moving to states like Florida which have no state income tax, there are seven of these: AK, FL, NV, SD, TX, WA, WY. Two more (TN, NH) tax interest and dividend income but not earned income.

An important caveat: what matters is not state income tax alone, but the total burden of income, sales, vehicle license and property taxes. A bit of investigation located estimates of the collective tax burden for each state, found here.

As an example, OR has no sales tax but its other taxes are substantial, so it isn't thought of as a low tax haven. I know people who live in far northern CA near the OR border who cross over to make major purchases (other than cars), having it a bit of both ways. I suppose those in southern WA do the same.

A House Divided

Stephen Kruiser writes some wise words at his PJ Media blog Morning Briefing, words which segue quickly into snark.
If, as the great Abraham Lincoln once said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand," then the American experiment may well and truly be hosed.

Face it, we don't like each other much anymore, the Right and Left in America. We've been heading toward this for a while.
And he characterizes a major cause as “Granny Maojackets” Hillary and her “flying monkeys in the media.” Good imagery.

Media Truth for Conservatives

Somebody named Moe Lane wrote and posted to his blog Ten Media Truths for Conservative Republican Legislators way back in 2011. It is still solid stuff, hat tip to Ed Driscoll at Instapundit for dredging it up and reminding us.
The Media hates you, and wants you to die in a fire.
The Media will only reliably compliment you when you do things to help liberals and Democrats.
The Media loves it when you attack other conservatives/ Republicans.
You will never, ever, ever be able to reliably buy off the Media by being a ‘good’ (i.e., self-hating) conservative/Republican.
Every flaw that you have – real or perceived – will be magnified by the Media. You will get no slack at all.
Every flaw that your opponent has – real or perceived – will be downplayed by the Media.
If you get an endorsement from a major Media source, it’s probably because your opponent was caught in a horrific scandal. So don’t count on getting that endorsement the next time.
The Media has no shame, no sense of guilt, and no institutional memory of its own faults, flaws, and prejudices. Do not appeal to its better nature: the Media could care less about your opinion of it.
Do not whine about any of this: the truth is, this unrelenting hostility from the Media will (if properly handled) simply make you an unstoppable political machine.
Most importantly: THE MEDIA DID NOT ELECT YOU. The voters did. Keep that in mind when you’re working out your legislative priorities.
Bottom Line: Expect media unfairness, use it to your advantage, and hang it around their collective neck like a dead albatross. Make common cause with your voters exploiting their sense of how unfair the media is.