Monday, December 30, 2019

An Elegy for the Teens

It seems everybody feels the need to write a decade-ending “thumb-sucker” taking a shot at the question “What did it all mean?” One thing is certain, as a nation we’re in better shape financially than we were ten years ago.

Socially, we’re in worse shape and the beat goes on. We’ve defined deviancy down, insanity as sanity, and are in process of defining crime as not-crime. There is no way such decadence ends well.

I won’t be surprised if carrying a weapon (concealed or otherwise) becomes relatively normal behavior as the SJWs minimize the effectiveness of the police, courts, and penal system.

I wish I could tell you I am optimistic about the coming decade ... but it wouldn’t be the truth. We share this nation with far too many nut cases.

On a personal note, it appears over the past 10 years I have posted to COTTonLINE around 9500 items. We live in times I find interesting, I hope you feel the same. Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Second Amendment in Action

Earlier today a fellow walks into a church in Texas during a service, pulls out a shotgun, and shoots a couple of people. At least six parishioners pull out their CCWs, two are said to have fired, and the gunman went down for the count. Identity of the shooter not yet released, motive unknown as I write this, recidivism deemed unlikely.

Power Line has video taken by the church security camera; you can watch the whole event unfold in real time. Let’s hear it for the Second Amendment and the deterrent effect of an armed citizenry.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Six Myths Debunked

Steven Hayward at Power Line links to a Mother Jones article by Kevin Drum that, typically for him, is not in the usual MJ rut. For liberal media, this article is remarkably nuanced. Drum writes about six things liberals believe that they shouldn’t:
  • Head Start (and similar pre-K programs) raise student achievement.
  • American health care is expensive because of private insurance.
  • We have a retirement crisis.
  • The black/white test score difference is all about test prep, biased tests, etc.
  • The 1994 crime act was responsible for mass incarceration.
  • Charter schools don’t work.
  • A couple of COTTonLINE observations:
    A major impediment to black achievement in school and on tests is the widespread cultural belief that doing well is “acting white” which equates with being a collaborator or quisling.

    Obeying the law is similarly viewed, resulting in mass incarceration. Understanding these cause-effect relationships does not equal blaming the victim - culture matters.

    Friday, December 27, 2019

    Weird Demographic Science

    Posting at Instapundit, Stephen Green links to a publication of the American Enterprise Institute concerning how well men and women are doing in the U.S., with some emphasis on the young. On most positive indicators, men do worse than women. On most negative indicators, men outnumber women. Yet we worry about how women are faring when in fact men are the ones suffering and doing poorly.

    Some examples, for every 100 women who experience what the item specifies, the number of men doing so is given:
    74 men earn a bachelor’s degree
    74 men earn a master’s degree
    89 men take the SAT test
    90 men earn a doctor’s degree
    180 men abuse drugs and alcohol
    240 men are suspended from school
    1000 men are in adult correctional facilities
    The article give 3-4 times this many quite similar examples. Just possibly our society should focus on the problems faced by men; as a group women appear to be doing fine.

    Polarization on Stilts

    RealClearPolitics links to a Ron Brownstein article in The Atlantic about the growing polarization of the American electorate. Here are three quotes from this excellent article.
    Hillary Clinton won 87 of the nation’s 100 largest counties by a combined margin of nearly 15 million votes, according to calculations by the Pew Research Center, but Trump won over 2,400 of the remaining 3,000 counties and a higher total number of counties than any other nominee in either party had captured since Ronald Reagan’s blowout in 1984. The 2018 midterm elections further deepened that chasm.

    Election outcomes now produce whiplash-inducing reversals in policy outcomes, since the two sides represent coalitions with such divergent priorities and preferences.

    Nationally, Clinton beat Trump in the 2016 popular vote by a little over two percentage points, but 60 percent of Americans lived in counties that were decided by 20 points or more, according to calculations by Bill Bishop, the author of The Big Sort. (That was up from just one-fourth of Americans living in such landslide counties in 1976 and half as recently as 2012.) It’s possible, maybe even likely, that this divide will widen in 2020, with diverse major metropolitan areas rejecting Trump by even larger margins than in 2016, while predominantly white, rural areas rally behind him more firmly.
    Two different embryonic nations exist here, more or less side by side, each hating the other and both enjoying their hate entirely too much. Comparisons with the 1850s may not be far-fetched.

    It’s the plot for a science fiction novel. Imagine a civil war with bushwhacking along the margins between inner and outer suburbs. Picture Mad Max-style homemade ‘armor’ and gang-bangers vs. hunters with no prisoners taken.

    Thursday, December 26, 2019

    Bountiful Boxing Day

    The Brits and those across its former empire call today, the weekday after Christmas, “Boxing Day.” Wikipedia cites the Oxford English Dictionary definition:
    The first weekday after Christmas day, observed as a holiday on which postmen, errand boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas box.
    As you can see, Boxing Day has nothing whatsoever to do with pugilism or fisticuffs. It denotes a definite sense of noblesse oblige and it’s appearance here reflects COTTonLINE’s Anglophile bias.

    Wednesday, December 25, 2019

    Merry Christmas



    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Think positive thoughts, stay well, and be thankful for the good things in your life.

    The year ahead promises to be an interesting one, filled with both good and bad trends about which to ponder. Let's do it together. Hat tip to Steven Hayward at Power Line for the image.

    Tuesday, December 24, 2019

    Winning Economic Warfare

    Instapundit links to a New York Sun article by Ira Stoll, concerning the interplay between Trump foreign policy and trade policy. Stoll writes:
    The President doesn’t see the current national security landscape as particularly threatening to America, at least in comparison to the Cold War. The countries that others see as threats — Iran, North Korea — Mr. Trump kind of shrugs off, figuring that if he wants to, he could nuke them. One may disagree with that assessment, but that is how Mr. Trump sees it.

    Mr. Trump does see the world, and the current challenges and opportunities for America, more in economic terms. Perhaps it’s the result of a career that Mr. Trump spent trying to accumulate wealth and work his way up the Forbes magazine rich list, but Mr. Trump sees the world in terms of which country gets the most money. That explains all the time spent on negotiating trade agreements with Canada, Mexico, China, and Europe. Economic warfare, the President understands. He doesn’t just understand it, he cares about winning at it.
    We aren’t yet tired of all the winning, Mr. President.

    Ban Proposed on Single Family Home Zoning

    Green Nude Eel loving Democrats now want to ban single family home zoning. See a story at The Daily Caller website. This effort will be somewhat less popular than free stuff.
    Democrats in Virginia may override local zoning to bring high-density housing, including public housing, to every neighborhood statewide — whether residents want it or not.

    The measure could quickly transform the suburban lifestyle enjoyed by millions, permitting duplexes to be built on suburban lots in neighborhoods previously consisting of quiet streets and open green spaces. Proponents of “upzoning” say the changes are necessary because suburbs are bastions of segregation and elitism, as well as bad for the environment.
    Imagine how horrified wealthy Washington insiders will be to have low income housing constructed in their multi-million-dollar Northern Virginia neighborhoods. Could it get them to consider voting R?

    New “-exits” Considered

    Maybe the U.K. was a leading indicator of the EU’s future, or lack thereof. Others are taking note of Brexit and envying the freedom of independent action it provides. See this quote from the Express (U.K.) paper:
    Spain has joined Poland in becoming the second country this week to claim it could ditch the EU, amid growing fury at the power that Brussels holds over member-states.
     Centrifugal forces seem to be building within the EU membership.

    Romney’s Impotence

    My favorite Christmas Eve quotation (so far) comes from a FiveThirtyEight piece arguing 2019 was the year Donald Trump consolidated his hold on the GOP. It notes the impotence of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT).
    Romney seems to want to lead an insurgency among Republicans on Capitol Hill, but he can’t lead anything if he doesn’t have any followers.
    Mitt Romney is the Republican version of Pete Buttigieg, or maybe Pete is a Romney clone. They’re shiny whiz-kid management consultants - swamp-serving technocrats.

    Open Border Means Weakened Union for N. Ireland

    RealClearWorld links to a Foreign Policy article about the fate of Northern Ireland in light of the Brexit deal approved by Parliament. That deal in practice establishes a U.K. border in the Irish Sea, leaving NI operating under EU rules while the rest of the U.K. does not.

    As we noted months ago, that was the inevitable price of maintaining an open NI border with the Republic of Ireland. The bottom line:
    In the end, the cost of keeping the politically sensitive border in Ireland frictionless is a weakened union between Britain and Northern Ireland.
    The author concludes polling suggests long term trends appear to favor an eventual merger of NI into the Republic, although current public opinion doesn’t yet favor it. As the Republic becomes less Roman Catholic in its laws and customs, and NI becomes more accustomed to free movement of people and goods across their border, merger may attain majority support.

    What I haven’t seen described is how they plan to keep people from entering the U.K. from the EU after they’ve drifted across the border into NI. How, in short, to allow NI residents with U.K. citizenship free access to the U.K. while keeping others at arm’s length. Document control for all entrants - citizen and otherwise - seems inevitable.

    Monday, December 23, 2019

    A Slow News Day

    Normally there is no news on Christmas Eve day, the 24th. This year with Christmas on Wednesday, it's like people took both days before Christmas off and so the 23rd was a dead news day too. I don't expect much happening before Jan. 2.

    Once again, the DrsC wish all COTTonLINE and CruzTalking Two readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2020.  Echoing the words of Science Officer Spock, we hope you "Live long and prosper."

    Keep smiling, it drives 'em nuts wondering how you managed to get the good stuff.

    Travel Blogging Coda

    Home at last: The trip has ended, successfully on the whole. We cruised Venice to Ft. Lauderdale with no lost luggage, no damage, and no seriously debilitating illnesses. We flew NorCal to Venice and Ft. Lauderdale back to NorCal.

    The other DrC saw the village in Sicily where her father was born, and the street on which his family likely lived. We imagined her 5 year old father playing there barefoot in the hot summer.

    Considering we sailed the last week of November and the first three weeks of December, we experienced remarkably little cold weather. Even Newark and Denver weren't especially frigid in latish Dec. We had about 3 days of rough water, one in the Med. and two in the Atlantic east of Florida - but no seasickness.

    Speaking of seasickness, we take a meclizine HCL tablet everyday we are at sea, mostly as a precaution. Two per day on rough water days. It's over-the-counter, a relatively inexpensive generic at Costco where you ask the pharmacy for it, and it works. We get no side effects.

    We arrived at home somewhat jet-lagged, but that's normal after flying all day. For a change, we actually got some sleep on the flights.

    Sunday, December 22, 2019

    Musings

    I was rereading my Milestones post below and was struck by an idea. Think of the difference between winter and summer, that is the impact the sun, our star, has on life on Earth, our planet.

    Nothing we humans do has anything like that impact, not even close. I don’t find it hard to imagine that the absence of sunspots has a large influence on climate. I do find it hard to imagine that the creators of climate models have correctly gauged the impact of increased levels of CO2.

    Climate does change, it has done so forever. There were once lakes and trees where the Sahara now spreads. Whatever is changing climate is preexisting and not under our control. At best, we can utilize technology to cope with the climatic “hand” we’re dealt.

    Parliament Passes Brexit

    We’ve followed the progress of Brexit since before the referendum. Various sources report Boris Johnson’s new Tory parliamentary majority has handily passed his Brexit bill.

    The U.K. will leave the EU on January 31 just over a month from now. Going forward, the story will be what kind of trade deal Johnson will be able to work out with the EU.

    We know what he’d like, frictionless free trade. He’s unlikely to get that. What the EU wants is more complicated.

    On the one hand, the EU does a lot of business with the U.K. and would like to continue to do so. On the other hand, they’d also like to “punish” the U.K. for leaving by making trade more difficult and less free.

    The question is how much economic pain the EU is willing to endure in order to punish the U.K. BoJo is betting the EU aren’t masochists, Britain hopes he’s right. The real battle will occur within the EU, and we’ll be watching.

    Saturday, December 21, 2019

    Travel Blogging XIV

    12-13 hours sailing out of Port Everglades/Ft. Lauderdale: Tomorrow we fly home, on three different planes. First stop is New Jersey, second is Denver, third is Northern California. It will be a long day, chasing the sun across the continental U.S.

    That will take three hours more than our arrival time would suggest. Then we drive for two hours so we’ll get home late to a cold house, tired, sick and jet lagged.

    At which point we have exactly 4 days to get our RV ready to go south, it will be a grind and the NorCal weather has been muddy. Meanwhile I’m trying not to go into bronchitis, something tomorrow’s flights won’t help one bit.

    Avoiding Error

    Scott Johnson at Power Line does a column on the need, mostly unfulfilled as yet, for the Legacy Media to do their mea culpas on all the times they alleged as true things the Mueller and Horowitz reports later showed to be false. His subtext: don’t hold your breath waiting for these to happen.

    This reminds me to return to a theme I’ve harped on before, namely the need to be extra skeptical of alleged things you wish were true. We could almost write this as a Law: The more you want something to be true or false, the more you should question if it is fact.

    The bottom line is to wait for.facts or label what you say/write as supposition or speculation.

    Thursday, December 19, 2019

    Milestones

    On Sunday, the 22nd of December, COTTonLINE will celebrate the thirteenth anniversary of its founding in 2006. Inasmuch as I’ll be flying to the coast on Sunday, I’m noting the milestone today while I have the leisure (and WiFi signal) with which to do so.

    If you’ve been reading us for some years now, our thanks for your kind attention. If you are new to COTTonLINE, welcome aboard. The other DrC and I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    It is also time to note the Winter Solstice occurring on Saturday, the shortest day of the year. It marks the official end of autumn and start of winter in the northern hemisphere.

    On Sunday, days will start getting longer, nights getting shorter, a process which will continue until the Summer Solstice on June 21. Think of the two solstices as “bookends” anchoring the seasons.

    Weird Sex Difference Science

    It is controversial to observe that there are differences in the personalities of men, taken as a group, as compared to women, similarly grouped. Nevertheless, as a recent Scientific American article reports, studies show these exist across cultures.

    Furthermore, our experience of fellow humans suggests those studies are correct, recognizing that we speak of men and women as groups, exhibiting differences on average. Individuals may vary widely from group averages.
    There is a truly striking difference between the typical male and female personality profiles. (emphasis in original) Just how striking? Well, actually, really striking. In one recent study, Tim Kaiser, Marco Del Giudice, and Tom Booth analyzed personality data from 31,637 people across a number of English-speaking countries. The size of global sex differences was D = 2.10 (it was D = 2.06 for just the United States).

    To put this number in context, a D= 2.10 means a classification accuracy of 85%. In other words, their data suggests that the probability that a randomly picked individual will be correctly classified as male or female based on knowledge of their global personality profile is 85% (after correcting for the unreliability of the personality tests).

    We’re Their Target

    Last night the House voted, along straight party lines, to impeach President Trump. He responded with a near-perfect riposte as reported by The Daily Wire. To his supporters he wrote:
    In reality, they’re not after me, they’re after you. I’m just in the way.
    Yep, they were shooting at us “deplorables.” We’re the “bitter clingers” who voted for DJT instead of HRC.

    Like the Parliament which stonewalled Brexit, House Democrats reject the results of an election (2016) the outcome of which they don’t like. And as British voters just did, we need to show them how out of step they are when we vote in November.

    Wednesday, December 18, 2019

    Travel Blogging XIII

    At sea, perhaps just beyond mid-Atlantic: Earlier we mentioned the term “bunkering.” The term “bunkering” dates to the days when steam ships burned coal to heat water to make steam.

    Coal was stored in compartments called “bunkers” and moved by a crew wielding shovels called “the black gang” for all the coal dust on them. Loading coal was called “bunkering” and today the term is applied to loading fuel oil.

    It is peculiar how conservative nautical persons are with terminology. Taking a ship from here to there is still called “sailing” although sails have not been used (except for sport) for over a century. Sometimes the term “steamer” is used and sailing called “steaming” although steam ships are long gone too. “Bunkering” is of this ilk, a term from an earlier era.

    Using true sailing ships as training vessels for future naval officers is emblematic of this conscious conservatism. Running trainees up the mast to set and bring in sails is as pointless as teaching fencing or jousting would be at West Point.

    Tuesday, December 17, 2019

    An Academy of Dunces

    The university at which I spent most of my faculty career, and from which I retired as a tenured Full Professor, is shamefully in the news. Lucianne.com links to a Breitbart article about the faculty union and individual faculty there regarding President Trump as “poison” and the speech of those who advocate his reelection to be “intensely hurtful” to students of color.

    As you might understand, I am more pleased than I can say to no longer be an active member of that community of scholars. Their views are not mine, nor was I ever a member of the CFA faculty union.

    The group targeted is the College Republicans (they do exist). CFA urges faculty to support and protect ‘snowflakes’ who feel threatened by the CR’s exercise of First Amendment rights of free speech advocacy for Trump’s reelection.

    One wonders who will protect these delicate children from their fellow citizens upon graduation? How will they handle another Trump win in 2020? It is something he’s likely to achieve.

    FISA Court Dings FBI

    Lucianne.com links to a National Review article reporting the FISA court has blasted the FBI.
    In a rare public order issued Tuesday, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court condemned the FBI for the errors and omissions in its application to surveil Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page and gave the bureau until January 10th to propose reforms to prevent future abuses.

    The order follows the release of Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report, which detailed 17 “significant errors and omissions” in the warrant application to surveil Page.
    Let’s hear former FBI Director James Comey laugh this off, the abuses happened on his watch. The noted “significant errors and omissions” appear to have been intentional, not oversights or laziness.

    Every Dem. Contender Trumped

    Lucianne.com links to a USA Today article echoed on msn.com, authored by Susan Page and others. They report the results of a USA Today/Suffolk University Poll which looked at head-to-head matchups between leading Democrat contenders and President Trump.
    The national survey, taken as the House of Representatives planned an impeachment vote and the Senate a trial, showed Trump defeating former vice president Joe Biden by three percentage points, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by five points, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren by eight points.

    In hypothetical head-to-head contests, Trump also led South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg by 10 points and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg by nine.
    The other Democrats fared worse. I find these numbers realistic today, with the caveat that much can change in the next 10 months. It seems a good era for extroverted nationalists like The Donald and BoJo.

    Monday, December 16, 2019

    Travel Blogging XII

    In the Eastern Atlantic, sailing westward, as I write on Saturday night: We’ve been in a WiFi dead spot all day. nobody is getting online, not even the future cruises fellow who would like to be able to check cabin availability for interested customers. Thus, this will be posted later when WiFi returns.

    It’s time to dig out the second thick novel I brought along for just such conditions and bury my nose in it. I hope to finish it before the trip ends.

    The weather is warm, as predicted. The sea looks flat, but isn’t as there are swells that make the old Pacific Princess roll a bit. I’m not hearing a lot about seasickness, all of our usual dinner partners were at the table this evening.

    I had an entree for supper I’ve never eaten before, pork belly. Think uncured, unsmoked, unsliced bacon cooked like a roast. Not bad, but it will never be a favorite. Tomorrow night it’s lobster tails for the DrsC.

    Monday Night, we’re finally back online, so here goes.

    Friday, December 13, 2019

    Travel Blogging XI

    At Sea west of Tenerife:  This afternoon at roughly five p.m. we set sail on what is I believe the longest uninterrupted set of sea days we’ve ever done - 8 consecutive days with no port calls. I believe our previous record was 6 days between Guam and Hawaii.

    On other Atlantic crossings we’ve put in at the Azores a couple of days out from Portugal. Tenerife is close to the coast of Africa so we’re basically crossing the whole mid-Atlantic in one straight shot, very nearly due west as noted earlier.

    Earlier this afternoon in port we were”bunkering” which is what ships call filling their fuel tanks with oil. Given 8 days of nonstop sailing, starting with full tanks seems wise.

    Cruise ships are all diesels these days, though some may be diesel-electrics like locomotives where the Diesel engine spins a generator which creates electricity to drive electric motors. Barring mishap, I don’t expect much to travel blog about between here and Florida.

    Travel Blogging X

    Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain: On a ship map, Tenerife is almost exactly the same distance from the equator as Ft. Lauderdale. Our route from here to there is basically due west.

    As you might conclude, the weather here is pleasant in December as it is in Florida. It is probably hot and muggy in summer, FL sure is.

    The other DrC tells me the island is home to nearly a million people, a quarter of them here in this port city. The sizable harbor is ringed with 12 story apartment buildings, essentially wall-to-wall. More of.them march up the hillside behind the port.

    We guess this is “Snowbird City” for Europeans who can afford to winter here. As it is part of the EU no visas are needed and the euro is the monetary unit. One of the volcanic mountains of this island is the third highest in Europe, at over 12,000 ft.

    Trivia factoid: the Canary Islands are not named for the small yellow songbird, but rather for the dog, canis domesticus, the root word for “canine.” Apparently early European visitors found wild dogs here.

    Also peculiar, early inhabitants built a step pyramid here roughly halfway between Egypt and the Yucat√°n, in both of which they are also found. Coincidence? Nobody knows.

    BoJo Wins Big

    Happy Friday, the 13th. Various sources are reporting Boris Johnson has won a clear majority in Commons. He needed 326 and got like 364. Brexit is a done deal now, no question about it.

    I don’t suppose I’m the only one who wonders if this is an omen predicting a clear win for Donald Trump. It might just be that.

    Labour was led by Jeremy Corbyn who is the British anti-Semitic version of an old lefty. A bunch of people who aren’t fond of Johnson probably voted for Boris to keep Jeremy out of No. 10. The Brits call this “strategic voting.”

    Now if the Democrats will nominate someone dear to their hearts, representing their extreme left - Sanders or Warren - perhaps we’ll get that kind of blowout here in the States. Call it McGovern, Revisited.

    Watching the maneuvers around Britain’s relations with the EU will be interesting to follow. I’m guessing they’ll discover they need Britain more than Britain needs them.

    Thursday, December 12, 2019

    Travel Blogging IX

    At sea, en route to Tenerife: We had an unusual piece of action today. A passenger reported to ship personnel they saw something unusual in the water. The captain turned the ship around and sailed back to the estimated location of the sighting.

    We circled in that vicinity for perhaps a quarter of an hour and, finding nothing, resumed our course for the Canary Islands. The captain announced that we are obligated by both custom and law to provide assistance if someone in difficulty is encountered or suspected.

    What we did not do is count noses on board to see if anyone was missing. This suggests that what was seen (or imagined) was wreckage or a life raft, not someone going over the rail.

    Both as ship lecturers and as paying passengers we’ve cruised more than most people who aren’t crew. We’ve never before experienced a search for people in trouble.

    A thing I found interesting was how the direction the ship is pointing affects its reactions to rough seas, which we are experiencing. In the process of searching for someone in trouble we probably were at least briefly pointed in every conceivable direction. A couple of times we were almost calm for 2-3 minutes.

    For sure on our course south-west to Tenerife the sea is not calm. These are the roughest seas we’ve experienced since departing Venice.

    If the ship’s map is to be believed, Tenerife is almost due east of Ft. Lauderdale. I hope we don’t have rough water all the way to Florida.

    The Atlantic in December is no millpond although it’s the North Atlantic that has the bad reputation. This far south ... one can hope.

    Wednesday, December 11, 2019

    Travel Blogging VIII

    Cadiz, Spain: This is our last mainland Europe port, then we stop in the Canary Is. and head west to Ft. Lauderdale. We’ve been alongside all day, and should be setting sail soon.

    This a.m we did a taxi tour of the city, with a driver who had workable-if-limited English. He drove us around for an hour, we made some stops for photos which will likely show up at the other DrC’s blog. Afterwards we sat in the terminal for an hour or so using the free WiFi to do some surfing.

    Cadiz is a clean, attractive city right on the water, looking across the strait to North Africa. It was a major departure/arrival point for colonial galleons and is very old, a Roman theater is here and before them the Phoenicians were here, as well as the Carthaginians somewhat later.

    Ships once sailed up the river to Seville but it silted up and then Cadiz (pronounced CAD iz) came into its own. This echoes the way Ostia was followed by Civitavecchia as the port of Rome. I guess the ancients couldn’t dredge out the silt without engines to provide power.

    Yesterday in Gibraltar we stayed onboard as we’d “done” the Rock before and had no need to do it again.

    The IG Report

    Believe it or not Fox News comes thru on the ship TV system just fine. I watched a preliminary analysis of the IG Horowitz report on the DOJ.

    It appears to be an exercise in departmental butt-covering, another nothingburger. This time Republicans are disappointed, last time with the Mueller report, Democrats were let down.

    I guess it was too much to expect that a departmental loyalist would admit the existence of departmental wrongdoing which in fact clearly occurred. Horowitz couldn’t find evidence of bias in departmental decision-making.

    My understanding is Horowitz took as his mandate investigating whether departmental procedures were followed to the letter. Apparently he specifically rules out a look at whether there was bias in judgment calls and begins with “Assuming the judgment was made without bias, did what ensued follow DOJ procedural guidelines.” No surprise, he concludes those policies were mostly followed.

    Apparently Horowitz chose to believe assessing the fairness of judgment calls is beyond his pay grade. Given departmental guidelines, perhaps he is even correct concerning his charge.

    The deep state won this round. Given the fecklessness of Congress which has ceded much of its decision-making to the bureaucracy, the deep state may win the whole game or at least fight to a draw.

    Deeply Split Democrats

    The Atlantic looks at the generational split in the Democrat party. Author Derek Thompson makes the point that the young have experienced a raw economic deal and have reacted politically by veering leftward. Check out this quote:
    Age ‬doesn’t just divide Republicans and Democrats from each other, in other words; age divides young leftists from both Republicans and Democrats. Democrats under 30 have almost no measurable interest in the party’s front-runner (Biden). Democrats over 65 have almost no measurable interest in the favored candidate of the younger generation (Sanders).

    This is not a picture of Democrats smoothly transforming into the “party of the young.” It’s evidence that age—perhaps even more than class or race—is now the most important fault line within the Democratic Party.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ It might be most useful to think about ‬young progressives as a third party trapped in a two-party system.
    And yet:
    In 2016, voters older than 40 accounted for nearly three-fifths of all primary voters. It is impossible to win a national election by running a campaign of generational warfare that runs counter to, or directly indicts, a majority of the electorate.
    Therefore, as in 2016, the young are likely to be disappointed with the 2020 result. I wonder how many such loses will it take to cause political burnout in young Americans?

    Monday, December 9, 2019

    Travel Blogging VII

    At Sea, between Athens and Sicily (written yesterday): Our month-long cruise is actually two shorter cruises linked together. The first was Venice to Rome, basically an eastern Mediterranean cruise. The second is Rome to Ft. Lauderdale, and is properly thought by insiders as a “repo” or repositioning cruise.

    Repositioning cruises tend to happen in spring and fall - as this one - when a ship is moving from one climate zone to another. A classic example is ships moving to and from the Alaska cruise route, which is only active when it’s not freezing. Or moving to and from the Caribbean which tends to be less active in summer (too hot, muggy). Repo cruises tend to be priced more competitively (cheaply) on a per-day basis.

    Our first ‘leg’ was jam-packed with port visits, there were only two “sea days” or days with no port visit. The other DrC refers to it as a “beginners’ cruise” because new cruisers can’t imagine how to pass the days between ports.

    The second leg has a few port visits and a number of sea days crossing the Atlantic. People who have cruised a lot tend to like sea days and sometimes find port visits tedious, in part because the ports are places they’ve visited before.

    So what do we do on sea days? Read, crochet, surf the web, eat, sleep in, catch a show, lounge in the pool/hot tub. In short, live for a few days the idle life of the idle rich who have everything done for them by smiling minions.

    Speaking of minions, the other DrC chatted up a bartender from India who just joined the ship and is on his first contract as an employee. Learning this, she asked how he was liking it so far. His reply, “It is a dream come true.” I’ll bet he was smiling when he said it.

    Like the idle rich, the cruise passenger doesn’t have to make constant decisions about whether something is affordable, it is mostly prepaid and thus “baked in the cake.” Mostly, so long as one stays aboard and doesn’t go crazy in the shops, casino or bar.

    Travel Blogging VI

    At Sea, en route to Gibraltar: We’ve been sailing west, out of sight of land for a day and a half, on a course from Palermo to Gibraltar. I’ve never looked out and seen an empty horizon.

    I conclude the Mediterranean Sea is a busy place. There have always been other ships at a distance. This doesn’t happen in the three big oceans - Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific - where the appearance of being alone on the waters is often a reality.

    After a bunch of ports with Italian and Greek names and ethnicities, Gibraltar is defiantly British, having voted overwhelmingly to remain so in the face of demands from Spain to “give it back.” It’s a sore spot with the Spanish who believe with some geographic justice it should be theirs.

    Unfortunately for Spain, the Brits are known for good government, a reputation Spain cannot match. This is true in spite of the craziness surrounding Brexit, which has surfaced an English (as opposed to British) nationalism which normally remains submerged in party politics.

    ————— 

     On another topic, the Inspector General’s report on the U.S. Department of Justice is supposed to be made public later today. Given the 6 hour time difference between here and Washington DC, I won’t start to get informed commentary until quite late, possibly tomorrow in fact.

    Preliminary leaks suggest Republicans are likely to be disappointed with its conclusions. One can, however, wistfully hope for an honest outcome.

    Saturday, December 7, 2019

    This Day Lives in Infamy

    On this date in 1941 the Empire of Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on Oahu, in the Hawaiian Islands. Thousands were killed and wounded, a dozen or more warships sunk, and many airplanes destroyed.

    The Japanese followed this with absolutely brutal treatment of prisoners of war and civilian internees. Their treatment of Asian populations occupied by Japan was little better.

    Needless to say, Japan made few friends with their actions and Japanese rearmament is viewed with extreme skepticism by peoples all over Asia. It behooves Americans to remember what evil was done at Pearl Harbor, the Bataan Peninsula, and elsewhere, and by whom.

    The nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the fire bombing of Tokyo have always seemed karmic.

    Travel Blogging V

    Palermo, Sicily: What follows are my impressions of Palermo and environs. The terrain hereabouts resembles nothing so much as the Southern California coastline. The buildings are mostly stucco or stone if very old, the colors are tans and ivories, and the roofs tend to be tile.

    Sicily has a reputation for being poor. Could be, but there are sure a lot of little cars for a truly poor place. It runs to market days, Palermo has one on Saturday morning - what today was - as we drove through it. Our driver said it moves from place to place on various days of the week.

    We took a cab from Palermo to Termini Imaresi Alto, where the other DrC’s dad’s people came from. It is 20+ miles east of Palermo on the coast. We saw the building where one of her relatives lived, or if not the actual building, one that replaced the one on that same spot.

    The drive there was interesting, the driver fancied himself a fast driver and was in fact skilled. I rode in front beside him and it was like being Nuvolari’s navigator on the Mille Millia. Quite a thrill ride, considering our ‘race car’ was a small van-turned-taxi.

    The weather was cool but I was comfortable in shirt sleeves. Oddly, the Sicilians were all wearing ski parkas as though it were cold. I suppose Dec. is maybe as cold as it gets here, and that was decidedly “not very.”

    An odd thing was the number of plumes of smoke I saw at various locations. I saw no fire trucks so I presume all were intentional and more or less under control. The result was a good amount of smoke in the air which was visible, if not olfactorally perceptible. Island people tend to ignore air pollution as sea breezes blow smoke away.

    Wednesday, December 4, 2019

    Travel Blogging IV

    Salerno, Italy:  This is a beautiful seaside town on the west coast of Italy. Both the terrain and weather remind me of coastal California. It's December and just a tad cool for shirtsleeves, a light jacket is what is wanted.

    You can easily see why northern Europeans come here to warm up. The coastal promenade is lined with palm trees, which tells you clearly there is little to no snow here. An occasional frost, to be sure, but no hard winter.

    The first leg of the cruise ends tomorrow in the port of Rome, Civitavecchia. The old port Ostia at the mouth of the Tiber silted up so they moved up the coast to Civitavecchia. As the other DrC observed, Greece and Italy are ancient lands, 'civilized' for thousands of years.

    Tuesday, December 3, 2019

    Bye-ku for Kamala Harris

    It is widely reported that Kamala Harris is dropping out of the race for the Democrat nomination for president. With the usual hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku - a haiku of farewell - to Ms. Harris.
    Ta-ta Kamala,
    A law enforcement background
    Turns off black voters.