Thursday, December 31, 2020

Adios, 2020

Farewell to 2020, truly an annus horribilis. Hat tip to HRH Elizabeth II for the felicitous descriptive phrase. 

One is tempted to label it an “anus horribilis,” but that is likely overkill. Things not only could have been worse, they very likely will be worse in the not-too-distant future. I do wish I could summon up some “start of a new year optimism” but so far, no such luck.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A Trend in Two Headlines

Instapundit posts two headlines which, taken together, tell #nevertrump Republicans they’ve become people without a party. The first, from the Washington Examiner, relates Rasmussen Reports poll findings;

It’s Trump’s party: 72% say he is GOP’s ‘role model’

The second, from The Floridian, reports Gallup polling which finds: 

Gallup Poll: Trump Is 2020 Most Admired Man, Ending Obama’s 12-Year Run

In many ways this may represent as large a shift in party identity as was the rebranding of Southern Democrats as Republicans during the Reagan years. Democrats no longer represent working class Whites, but they’re gaining a foothold among country club Whites, meanwhile surprising numbers of non-Whites are voting GOP.

The fate of #nevertrump Republicans resembles that of northern liberal Republicans during the Reagan years. Mitt Romney, former governor of notoriously blue Massachusetts, is the poster boy of these die-hards. My friends in Utah swear he’ll not be re-elected senator.

Monday, December 28, 2020

The Proof

Gail Herriot who posts at Instapundit links to Journal of Personality and Social Psychology research which finds this entirely sensible relationship.

Individuals with Dark Triad traits—Machiavellianism, Narcissism, Psychopathy—more frequently signal virtuous victimhood, controlling for demographic and socioeconomic variables that are commonly associated with victimization in Western societies.  

Interpreting this for the lay reader, Psychology Today writes

People who signal virtue and victimhood are more likely to have dark triad personality traits. The dark triad comprises narcissism (entitled self-importance), Machiavellianism (strategic exploitation and duplicity) and psychopathy (callousness and cynicism).

In case you are unsure, these 3 traits do not signal mental health, quite the reverse. This finding relates to the Reynolds quote below. It seems he was prophetic. 

The Allegation

I was just reminded of a favorite Glenn Reynolds quote, from nearly 2 years ago.

So much of lefty activism is just mental illness acting out.


A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line writes there is a “national movement to mandate standards for the teaching of Civics and History." On the surface, this sounds good as many schools have basically abdicated this responsibility.

However, as Mirengoff points out, the movement proposes to leave the selection of content in the hands of people whose beliefs are somewhere to the left of Chairman Mao. Thus what will be taught is socialist/communist wrongthink and what will be held as the ideal is social activism of the hate-in-your-face variety.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Why Not Be Trump?

Instapundit quotes something from the comments section, concerning liberals’ view of “moderate” Republicans.

When a moderate conservative like Mitt Romney comes along, they turn him into an evil, money-grubbing, cancer-giving Hitler youth. Just one example out of many that comes down to the same thing: all Republicans, of any stripe, are Hitler in the end. So why not be Trump?

Why not, indeed. Live large.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

A Tradition Violated

Once Christmas is safely in the rear view mirror, it is traditional for the pundit class to write year-end summaries. As an especially insignificant member of said class, I believe I will resist that temptation.

I have well and thoroughly dumped on 2020 as it went along, and made my negative opinion of it abundantly clear. More would be excessive ... and redundant. 

As a person over 75, I should be an early recipient of one of the Covid vaccines. I shall get it, never fear, and the second shot 3 weeks later, if what I’ve heard is accurate. Here’s hoping 2021 will be less grim.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas, One and All

Whatever your beliefs, Christmas is, or should be, an exceptionally fine holiday. The music, the food, the decorations, the fellowship are fantastic for all. For those for whom it is a holy day, it is even better.

In this unfortunate plague year, with masks obscuring smiles and muffling voices, and abjurations to avoid travel for socializing, it will be tougher to enjoy. Still, give it a try. 

Just forego the hugs and kisses, maybe next year for those. Meanwhile, let’s all try to live long enough to be vaccinated and hope that this time next year the worst will be behind us. 

Most of us will survive the Wu flu, it appears. If you’re tastes parallel mine, you would really like restaurants and cruise lines and mostly safe flying to be available once more. 

With old ears, I apparently did more lip reading than I was aware of. Wouldn’t it be fine to see faces again? I miss the smiles.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Brexit Deal Reached

Christmas has come a day early in cross-channel relations. reports the European Union and the United Kingdom have reached a “Brexit deal” a few days before the end of the transition period.

The trade deal must now be approved by each of the 27 EU member countries, the European Parliament and the U.K. parliament. Given time is so tight, the EU is expected to let the agreement come into force provisionally on January 1, with the European Parliament then giving its approval retroactively early next year.

It was relatively clear neither side totally loved the agreement, which suggests it may represent a decent compromise. It is a long document with many appendices, a succinct statement of its actual implications - what will change - is not available at this time. 

I suppose it is possible one of the EU members may not approve it, the U.K. is almost certain to do so. We will revisit the historic agreement when considered opinion of its true implications settles out into quotable form.

One thing is certain. If the post-Brexit U.K. is considered a success, leaving the EU becomes in the minds of disgruntled Europeans a doable thing. For nations like Poland and Hungary, leaving will then be at least a consideration, and/or a credible threat in intra-EU negotiations.

Merry Christmas Eve

Things associated with Christmas tend to escalate, today is an example. We refer to the entire day as “Christmas Eve” when the term originally applied, obviously, only to tonight - the “evening.” 

A lot of places treat the entire day as another ad hoc holiday, and why not? It isn’t as though anybody hates another day of paid vacation, it facilitates family travel which, in this plague year, isn’t supposed to happen. To that supposition I say “Bah, humbug.”

Please stay safe, warm and positive, choose to be happy, and to love one another. The message of this season can be distilled down to “Hope for a better tomorrow.” Commit to doing what you can to make it so, for those about whom you care.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

A Dragon Lurks

RealClearDefense has an article by Francis P. Sempa which - synthesizing three other articles - indicates the existence of a second Cold War, this time with China. This conclusion, while neither new nor particularly shocking, is one many have been reluctant to draw. 

Their reluctance isn’t surprising. The original Cold War was not a fun time. Its end was widely celebrated, if not precisely by mobs dancing in the street. 

My immediate concern is whether the incoming administration understands Cold War 2.0 is underway. Given the Biden family’s economic involvement with China, I fear the president-elect and other top Democrats may not be willing to accept the constricting policy consequences of another Cold War. Particularly since their predecessor - Trump - obviously did so and thereby tainted the conclusion for them.

In recognizing the existence of the first Cold War with the predatory Soviets we said “there really is a bear in those woods.” A similar tag line for Cold War 2 with a hostile China might be “there really is a dragon in the woods.”

Monday, December 21, 2020

The “Business” Proceeds

We had heard the stock of properties on the local real estate market was low, but assumed that wouldn’t apply to our 11.75 acre place. In that assumption, we were wrong.

Our place went on the market at 9 a.m. yesterday and at 3 p.m. yesterday we had an above-asking-price, all-cash offer for it. If nothing goes wrong, we will accept the offer. 

Later ... We asked for a closing date in early February and the buyers accepted. We have a sale. 

That being the case, we will be down to one house for six months or more, and that one sitting in a deep freeze in the Rockies. Until WY thaws out in May we’ll live in the RV in places that are warm and allow events to unfold.

War as Incubator

Author Graeme Wood interviewed ecological biologist-turned-historian Peter Turchin of the University of Connecticut and writes about his views for The Atlantic. Turchin applies mathematics to history - something he calls clioanalytics - and has reached controversial conclusions which you’ll find interesting, if not necessarily convincing. For example:

One of Turchin’s most unwelcome conclusions is that complex societies arise through war. The effect of war is to reward communities that organize themselves to fight and survive, and it tends to wipe out ones that are simple and small-scale. (snip) Darwinian processes select for complex societies because they kill off simpler ones.

The notion that democracy finds its strength in its essential goodness and moral improvement over its rival systems is likewise fanciful. Instead, democratic societies flourish because they have a memory of being nearly obliterated by an external enemy. They avoided extinction only through collective action, and the memory of that collective action makes democratic politics easier to conduct in the present, Turchin said. “There is a very close correlation between adopting democratic institutions and having to fight a war for survival.”

Turchin finds a 50 year cycle predicting upsurges of violence in the United States, with spikes in 1870, 1920, and 1970. If he is correct we are due for another and, he says, they last several years.

Turchin also believes we’ve overproduced people with credentials to join our elite, without similarly amping up the number of elite jobs for these individuals to fill.

Elite overproduction creates counter-elites, and counter-elites look for allies among the commoners. If commoners’ living standards slip—not relative to the elites, but relative to what they had before—they accept the overtures of the counter-elites and start oiling the axles of their tumbrels.

Shut-out elites become counter-elites, two examples he identifies are Donald Trump and Steve Bannon. The obvious allusion to the French Revolution suggests he believes civil war is one possible outcome . 

Today Is the Winter Solstice

As we noted two days ago, today is the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere. It’s one of two days per year when the tilted axis of the earth’s rotation is at its most extreme tilt with respect to the sun, Three months from now that axis will be at right angles to a solar ray, the north and south poles equidistant from the sun.

If that rotational axis were perpendicular to the plane of the earth’s orbit around the sun, there would be no seasons, no alternating periods of warm and cold weather on our globe. The poles would always be cold, the equator always hot, and the mid-latitudes always in-between.

Having concluded the astronomy lesson, welcome to winter.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Winter Begins

Monday, December 21, will be the 2020 Winter Solstice, aka the shortest day of the year and the official end of autumn and beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere. Many places already feel like winter and have for a few weeks.

Apparently this date was very important to our early ancestors in Northern Europe. It symbolized the end of days getting shorter and darker - the sun going away - and the beginning of days getting longer and lighter - the sun coming back. BTW, worshiping the sun isn’t irrational in a cold climate.

It is no accident that more than one international religion has major celebrations at this general time of year. They sort of got grafted onto, or perhaps overwritten upon, the pre-existing sun worship.

Beginning Tuesday, each short day will be slightly longer, each long night slightly shorter. In three months  they will be of equal length, and we will welcome spring.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Movin’, Movin’, Movin’, ‘Cause We’re Disapprovin’

The “business” I’ve hinted at over the last several weeks is now out in the open. The DrsC - both CA natives - have decided it is no longer prudent to have our winter place in California. 

The state is badly governed, overrun with homeless, and increasingly unsafe. CA chooses to be on the “woke” frontier, that’s a place we have no wish to be. It is a sad outcome for a place with fantastic natural assets.

Our house and barn are empty, our belongings in storage and, as the other DrC pictures on her blog, the house is staged to display well to potential buyers. We have decamped to our RV, parked some 30-40 yards from the house, where we have a “three point hookup” (RVer slang for water, power, and sewer). 

There we’ll live in splendid Covid-safe isolation, while the house stays pristine for its ‘closeup.’ When it sells and escrow closes, we’ll move the RV to another site, and head to our WY home after the thaw happens there.

Meanwhile a new house is a-building for us in Nevada, at a Del Webb Sun City some 40+ miles south of St. George, UT. It will be our new winter place located on the northeastern edge of the Mojave at about 1600 ft. elevation. Like our CA place, the new place has a fantastic hilltop panoramic view.

Getting this far along has been a lot of work for a couple of senior citizens. Imagine all the “stuff” that has accumulated at the place we built 33 years ago and have owned and occupied most of the year until retirement and nearly half the year since then. 

We haven’t been “packrats” but we’re throwing or giving away thousands of pounds of things mostly worth having but not worth moving. In an odd way the process is liberating. Hat tip to the theme from Rawhide for my title, this time we are the “dogies.”


I haven’t posted anything for several days, mostly because I’ve been too busy doing stuff on a project that will be revealed early in the new year. That plus the blahs that follow an election that turns out the way I hoped it wouldn’t.

One thing I’ve noticed in following, if not reacting to, the political news is that president-elect Biden is naming relatively non-controversial-for-Democrats long-time swamp dwellers to various cabinet posts. So far there have been few firebrands or bomb-throwing leftists. They’ve mostly been Obama-era retreads.

It is not too much to hope that perhaps Biden wasn’t kidding when he said “you know me” in refuting claims of him being socialist. Taking his appointees as some signal of where he proposes to take the government, it looks a bit like the same old, tired stuff from an old, tired Democrat. Meaning: not good, but not world-ending disastrous either, 

Assuming my tea-leaf reading is correct, you have to wonder how long the Bernie Sanders/AOC wing of the D party will stay in the “big tent” that, like Peanuts’ Lucy holding the football, keeps promising to enact their program and never actually does so.

We’ll know more after Georgia votes in early January, Mitch McConnell vs. Chuck Schumer as Senate Majority Leader will make a difference.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Rumors of a Revival

The year 2020 has been a nearly unbroken string of bad news, sad news, and worse news. Just for contrast, some good news would be fine for a change, and I may have some.

As I have implied before, I am a fan of the 14 episode TV series Firefly, and the film sequel Serenity. As you may be aware, it is a cult favorite and for years afterwards the cast showed up at comicons to do Firefly panels for the would-be “browncoats.” 

Today comes news - sort of - that Disney which purchased the entertainment part of Fox owns the property. It is said to be planning a revival, per this story at Disney itself has made no announcement. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Much remains unclear about where, or indeed whither, their treatment will take the story, including if series originator Joss Whedon - of Buffy fame - will be involved. In the almost 20 years since the original was made, the cast have aged too much to reprise their roles, sadly. 

A sort of space Western, the original series echoed the experiences of defeated Confederate veterans heading west to start over on the frontier. It was set in a future time where the frontier is lightly-settled planets on the edge of human-inhabited space. 

The author speculates Disney will do a remake from the beginning when Mal acquires his ship and crew at the end of a civil war his side lost. He further imagines Disney will eliminate the less wholesome aspects of the Whedon original: defending a brothel and traveling with a geisha/courtesan. 

It is worth noting Australian sea captain/author A. Bertram Chandler worked a similar vein of material in his Rim-Runner series of novels, written in the 1960s and 70s about a tramp starship captain working a similarly undeveloped “frontier.”

Sunday, December 13, 2020

What’s in a Name?

There is a minor controversy brewing over whether Joe Biden’s wife Jill should use the title “Dr.” It is an issue that confused my college students as well. And it is a problem, for the word has multiple meanings.

If a person has earned the highest degree in their field of study, they are entitled to use the term “Dr.” in place of “Mr.” or “Ms.” with their name. But not without their name, unless their field of study is medicine.

When we say “Doctor, what do you think?” we are addressing a physician or other health professional. When students addressed me, the appropriate form was and is “Professor, what do you think?” or "Dr. Cotton, what do you think?" Used without the name the title specifies ones field of endeavor, not that one has the so-called “terminal degree.”

Journalists frequently get this wrong. I remember reporters asking Dr. Henry Kissinger questions like “Doctor, what do you believe the North Vietnamese seek in these negotiations?” 

Doing so, they revealed their ignorance. When he was SecState the appropriate usage would have been “Mr. Secretary” or alternatively, “Dr. Kissinger.” 

Used without the name it becomes a job title and only fits those in medicine, and perhaps optometry and dentistry which are also health care. Used with the name it indicates a person of high educational achievement in any field in which the doctorate is given. Historically some fields like Art and Music have not offered a doctorate, the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is normally their highest degree.

The quick-and-dirty way to know when you can call someone “doctor” without adding their family name is if the answer to the question “What does he or she do for a living?” is “He or she is a physician.” If the answer is “He or she is something other than a medical professional with doctorate." the answer is no.

Summary: Addressing Joe Biden’s wife as “Dr. Biden” is appropriate. Without the family name, one should say “professor” or "instructor," whatever faculty are called at the community college where she teaches.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

More on the Challenge

Friday we wrote that the Supreme Court had refused to consider the Texas challenge to the election. Now we're reading that the suit will be refiled in each of the four states whose election procedures the original suit challenged.

At the very least, I hope these eventually force the courts to confront the actual constitutional issues in this case, which they did not do in turning down the TX effort. I won't be surprised, however, if they waffle once again and find another procedural basis upon which to dodge taking the cases. Since these filings do not represent one state suing another, the Supreme Court is not the place where they will first be heard, but rather the last place if they get that far.

I understand the Supremes don't want their nice shiny court to get down in the mud of local electoral politics where it can hardly escape an ugly outcome. In this case there is no way to offer each side "half of the baby," our de facto two-party elections are truly a zero-sum game, the stakes are enormous. 

Friday, December 11, 2020

A Quick Answer

Three days ago we wrote there were two current theories about what the Supreme Court might do in the lawsuit brought by TX and joined by 18-19 other states. We indicated the result would be known in weeks.

It took days, not weeks. Theory one wins, the Supremes today decided 7 to 2 not to get involved in vetting the election. 

The Supremes refused on procedural grounds. It was the majority's opinion TX didn't have "standing" to complain about what was done improperly in other states because TX couldn't show they'd been hurt thereby.

It will be interesting to see what columnists who are attorneys have to say about this decision. My non-attorney's "take" is that they made a self-interested decision to protect the court (and thus themselves) by keeping hands off this explosive issue. 

If I'm correct, their decision was understandable enough, but cowardly. It is clear to me a constitutionally conforming state can be injured when other states, with which it is joined in federation, violate the constitution and thereby change the outcome of an election and the direction of the country.

Cruz Nails It

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) Tweeted the following concerning Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) falling for a Chinese honey trap known as Christine Fang, as reported by Power Line.

More than once, I’ve said “screw the Chinese communists.”

Little did I know how closely Swalwell was listening.

Cruz wins the day, but honorable mention goes to Lloyd Billingsley for titling his American Greatness article on the same subject as follows:

The PoonFang Dossier

Makes you wonder if Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) Chinese spy/chauffeur was driving more than her limo, doesn't it? 

Now They Tell Us

I hope you realize the extent to which most of the mainstream media intentionally withheld from Democrat voters information about Biden family corruption until after the election. Now they begin to report it, here and here

We learn Hunter Biden and James Biden - the supposed president-elect’s son and brother respectively - are under IRS and FBI investigation. Investigation for things it was widely known they had done improperly in monetizing Joe’s Obama connection, and, they claim, sharing with him the resultant ill-gotten gains.

Is it overly paranoid to imagine this was the DNC’s plan all along? Elect bland, blithering Biden, begin to report the Biden family misdeeds, get Joe inaugurated, find the family corrupt, force his resignation, and Kamala Harris becomes president. 

It is probably the only way to slide Willy Brown’s side piece into the Oval Office. Harris had so little electoral appeal to Democrats she dropped out of the race for their nomination before the Iowa caucuses and the first primary vote was cast.

Many have posted examples of the mainstream propaganda feed insisting - before the election - the claimed Biden family corruption was a myth, merely a political smear. It wasn’t, it isn’t, and half of us knew it. The other half were played, big time, by the “Democrats with by-lines” in the print and broadcast media. 

Instapundit renders the following judgment on this disgrace:

Many voters will — with basis — regard a Biden presidency as tainted by this concerted effort on the part of both Big Media and social media companies to keep voters uninformed pre-election.

Stephen Green, in his PJ Media column Insanity Wrap, designates our president-elect "Joe Asterisk" using the sports label for someone whose title is less-than-fully-earned.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The Rest of the Story

You will be seeing reports from the U.K. that a couple of people in the first group to get the Pfizer Covid-19 shot there had a bad reaction. Because the press likes bad news, you may not be given what broadcaster Paul Harvey called "the rest of the story." Here it is from The Wall Street Journal.

The two people are NHS workers, part of the first tranche to receive the vaccine in line with front-line staff having initial access. Each of them carried an adrenaline auto-injector to deal with their allergies.

The agency said that the vaccination had triggered an anaphylactoid reaction in the two people shortly after they received the vaccine. Such reactions are triggered sometimes by drugs such as aspirin, certain anti-inflammatory drugs and opiates.

Translation: the two who had a bad reaction are people with a history of extreme, life-threatening allergic reactions. Such people carry adrenaline pens and in almost all cases know they have to be careful. It is likely that if you've gotten flu shots yearly with few problems, you'll have few problems with the Covid jab. 

Some have been critical of our government because Britons are getting the vaccinations first. Actually, letting them take a slight lead is giving our health system preliminary data about the frequency and type of "issues" with the new vaccine. It's the proverbial blessing in disguise.

About Zion NP

I wrote the other day about a visit the DrsC made to Zion NP, with two friends from UT. The other DrC - the photographer in our household - has posted photos at her CruzTalking Two website.

The unique part of Zion is that, unlike many other red rock parks (e.g., Bryce, Grand Canyon), you enter and view Zion from the bottom of the canyon. To get that same view at Grand Canyon, you must ride a mule for several hours to reach the bottom.

At Zion, instead of looking down into a hole - however spectacular that may be - you are in the bottom, along the Virgin River, looking up sheer walls several hundred feet to where a ribbon of blue sky can be seen. There are points along the canyon where the walls are several times taller than the distance they are apart, it is very dramatic.

I was there in the 1960s as as young adult, I was also there in the 1950s with my parents. The other DrC and I have visited every few years since. Zion’s ability to awe the viewer remains unchanged. 

Part of the magic of our national parks is that they change very little over time, they were essentially perfect when they were made parks and are kept mostly unchanged. The Yellowstone I see as a retiree is the same Yellowstone I saw as a 10 year old, minus the pan-handling bears of my youth which the Park Service now discourage.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Court Update

Today the case claiming irregularities in Pennsylvania vote counting was sent to the Supreme Court. Forty (40) minutes later they unanimously refused to issue immediate injunctive relief. The case itself remains pending. There are two theories about this refusal.

Theory one: the Supremes have decided they aren't getting involved in vetting the presidential election.

Theory two: the Supremes believe the case filed by the state of Texas against four other states includes the issues posed by the PA case, and would rather weigh in on that broader case.

We'll know which of these is more accurate within weeks.

Monday, December 7, 2020

A Rare Sighting

We saw herds of wild horses today, wandering in an area where no rancher would leave them. There were three groups, the largest group maybe 6-8 horses. 

They sported shaggy winter coats and apparently are common where we saw them, as there were official road signs warning of riderless horses crossing the highway. It seems the Truckee River is their water source.

Where was this? We saw them in the area just south of I-80 between Reno and Fernley from a road variously called "USA Parkway" and Nevada 439. Mind you, we've traveled the road four times in the last month and saw the wild horses exactly once - today. So ... no guarantees you will see them there.

There is something special about wild horses going about their equine lives without reference to humans. The sight is semi-magical.

Later ... I just reread this post and realized that the widely used term “wild horses” is technically incorrect in the Americas. Those here are descendants of domesticated horses transported by Europeans, which makes those in the wild “feral” rather than wild. Whatever the correct descriptor, seeing them was fine.

Remember Pearl Harbor

I can't let December 7 go by without reminding you that today is the anniversary of the Empire of Japan's 1941 sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. We need to not forget that shameful episode, or our eventually overwhelming response thereto. 

My belief: President Harry Truman was entirely justified in ordering the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the fire bomb raids on Tokyo. These attacks forced surrender on Japanese leaders who were otherwise prepared to die gloriously while killing GI invaders.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

The Dismal State of Electoral Affairs

Power Line’s John Hinderaker sums up where the widespread doubts about the presidential election’s legitimacy currently stand, and I believe he is largely correct in this summary. For what it’s worth, here is his conclusion:

I don’t know whether civil disobedience to the Biden regime will be widespread, but I doubt it. Nor will we #Resist by illegal or dishonest means, as the Democrats have done for the last four years through the insane Russia collusion fraud and many other means. But within those parameters, conservatives shouldn’t give an inch. For the sake of what is left of our country, we should #Resist the Biden administration and the Democrats every step of the way for the next four years.

COTTonLINE will be there, how about you? The best we can hope for is gridlock, but the flawed status quo is better than letting the Ds make things much worse.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Update, Updated

Zion NP was gorgeous today, bluebird blue skies, warm sunshine, sorta crowded when we first got there, 90 minutes later quite uncrowded. Why or even how it changed so abruptly I have no clue. 

Deer were quietly grazing the meadows alongside the Virgin River, the other DrC got an excellent photo of a buck with a very picturesque rack of antlers. He was resting after the rut, basking in the afternoon sun. I noted the Indian-built stone and mud cache up on a shelf is still there all these many years later.

The drive to and from Zion in our friends’ newish Mercedes SUV was pleasant. That’s a very civilized car for four people on a day’s road trip. 

Tomorrow we have more “business” to transact locally, and then on Monday it’s 12 hours of F-350 windshield time back to CA. These are busy weeks.


I’m writing from southeastern Nevada, a border town near both AZ and UT. We had business near here yesterday and drove all day Thursday to get here from NorCal. Parts of that drive are amazingly empty; hour after hour of barren treeless not-quite-desert zoom past at 70-75 mph.

What do I mean by “not-quite-desert?” Treeless, empty landscapes with knee-high sage brush but no cactus or sand. If you see a few trees they are along a creek bed or at some residence where they’re irrigated. Plenty of mountains of mostly bare rock with some minor scrubby low-growing plants, ringing big flattish valleys. Actually much of Nevada looks this way, both southeast across its middle diagonally as we just did it, and across I-80 which crosses northern NV on an east-west trajectory.

The trip included NV 375 - a state highway officially designated as the “Extraterrestrial Highway” which runs past the fabled Area 51, celebrated by Mulder, Scully and Indiana Jones. We saw no exotic flying machines of any sort unfortunately, although official signs warn of “Low Flying Planes.” It is so remote the grazing cattle are free to amble on the road, no fences. 

There are plenty of places where the only sign of humans ever having been there is the laser-straight two lane road that disappears into the distance in one point perspective. It is easy driving, little traffic, good roads, fast, vast empty vistas to contemplate, but not interesting after an hour or two.

Today’s agenda includes a visit to Zion National Park, which in December shouldn’t be crowded. We’ve loved Zion since our first visit in the 1970s, but unfortunately over the years it has been “discovered.” Now it is too well loved and if you go during the summer, as we did a couple of years ago, it is wall-to-wall people. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020


Posts have been somewhat sparse lately, I can't get excited about the claims of election finagling I've seen so far. Someone will have to come up with something actionable to get me to care. I'm not holding my breath. 

I view the next administration with at least as much dread as Clinton supporters must have felt about the advent of Trump. Much depends on what happens in Georgia, and that won't be known for weeks.

Posts may be even more uncommon over the next several days, the DrsC have a road trip laid on. We have business in another state. More about this at a later date, in early 2021. 

In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, and in the words of the Moody Blues, "breathe deep the gathering gloom." Gathering gloom is what we'll have as we approach the shortest day of the year, coming up in less than 3 weeks.

Gatherings are O.U.T. with virus on the rampage, but Christmas music is still some of our most beautiful. I'll be at Youtube listening to Mannheim Steamroller, among others. I also recommend A la nanita na na by the Cheetah Girls, a Spanish lullaby of considerable charm.

Quite a few people are decorating their homes with colored lights this year, always pleasant to look at. The tree lots have sprung up, and the smell of a fresh conifer is a treat. 

With a bit of ingenuity you can still have a merry Christmas season. Go for it.

A House Divided

The good people at Claremont Institute both include and support some of the best conservative thinkers working today. Their publication The American Mind comes forward with a pseudonymous  well-reasoned argument for extreme federalism as the answer to our national ideological division. It could be the next “Flight 93” call to action. 

As long-time readers know, as a person with history in both red and blue states I’ve written about this option repeatedly. Some COTTonLINE thoughts on extreme federalism can be found here, herehere, and most recently here

I remain skeptical but more than willing to explore what is possible along these lines. “Skeptical” because I don’t see the left willing to allow us to go our own way, to follow our own path. My sense is that, like frenzied jihadis, they insist we believe what they believe, live by their rules, or die for our supposed sins.

I can hear them arguing that Lincoln wouldn’t let the South continue with slavery to keep the Union together. How can they care less than he about the rights of red state women who wish abortions or LBGTQ people who wish to marry or use the restroom of their choice?

Monday, November 30, 2020

Weird Sociological Research

John Tierney, who posts occasionally at the Instapundit blog, weighs in with the following sad tale from academia.

Which values matter most to professors? Researchers at the State University of New York at New Paltz surveyed nearly 200 academics around the country and found variations according to the professors’ gender, political ideology, and department. Females, liberals, and professors of education prioritized prioritized social justice and students’ emotional well-being; males, conservatives and business professors prioritized academic rigor and knowledge advancement.

The lead author, Glenn Geher, is a tenured psychology professor who has published more than 100 academic papers, but he couldn’t find any journal to publish this one. So he published it himself along with an account of his saga.

As a retired "business professor" who is also male and conservative, I'm very happy he found those still active in my field coming down on the side of "academic rigor and knowledge advancement." I am of the opinion "student emotional well-being" is seriously over-rated.

Justifying Snobbishness

Writing at The American Conservative, Rod Dreher reacts to the book-and-film Hillbilly Elegy and summarizes his lived experience in a powerful quote.

Educated middle class liberals talk a lot about “privilege,” but I believe their discourse — at least among white people — is mostly in bad faith. They keep it to matters of race as a way of avoiding class. (snip) Put more bluntly, I think the “privilege” discourse among middle class educated white liberals is mostly about rearranging prejudices to make lower class white people deserving of the scorn of the uppers.

Social class snobbery has much explanatory power. Brits obsess about it, Americans pretend it doesn’t exist. Both are unrealistic, extreme views. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

My Position

I’m guessing some COTTonLINE readers believe I’m not placing enough emphasis on the court challenges being mounted to various presidential vote counts which look hinky. Would I like a series of decisions giving the election to Trump? Certainly. Do I believe it likely? Sadly, no.

In this country, we don’t have a history of overturning locally determined election outcomes. The rules of how votes are cast, counted, and reported are local ones, not national. Thus the decisions of local courts are largely final, and many of those urban courts are staffed by judges picked by local Democratic political machines.

In metaphorical ‘uncharted waters,’ which these widespread challenges represent, the wise ship captain falls back on experience. Experience suggests that the election will go forward much as currently reported. It may be fraudulent, as John F. Kennedy’s was when Chicago’s Mayor Daley ‘found’ extra ballots to beat Richard Nixon but it will likely stand.

The most reasonable rejoinder to my argument is that Donald Trump is a path-breaker, his career arc follows few rules. I admit as much. If anybody can pull off a challenge, “the Donald” has a better chance than most because he has done similar improbable things already.

And so ... I sit back and watch what comes.

Blame a Catholic Childhood

Instapundit takes a dim view of poor old Joe Biden’s apparent lack of knowledge about Psalms and what those might be, as documented in a Tweet. It shows nominally Catholic Biden had a non-Catholic speech writer and hadn’t pre-studied what he read off the Teleprompter.

As the other DrC, who was raised Roman Catholic, is fond of telling me, “Catholics didn’t know the Bible, they weren’t encouraged to read it.” Translation: priests read the Bible and interpreted it for those attending mass or teaching CCD to children. 

Apparently learning what a psalm might be wasn’t considered a priority in Biden’s childhood PA diocese, maybe in most. On the other hand, Palm Sunday is a medium-to-big deal for RCs. 

Confusing the two is easily understood and excused. What is inexcusable is Joe not having made sure he either (a) understood what he was to read in public or (b) deleted the unclear reference. 

It’s evidence of laziness. Perhaps we’re in for another laid-back Eisenhower-style presidency. Coincidentally or not, Ike was also known to garble his public statements.

Friday, November 27, 2020

My Turkey Story

The DrsC cooked a turkey yesterday, more specifically the other DrC cooked it and I carved it. Carving a turkey always reminds me of living next to a turkey farm for three years while growing up. 

My uncle had Lake's Turkey Farm at the corner of CA 33 and Tico Rd. in an Ojai Valley neighborhood called Mira Monte. He raised hundreds of turkeys each year for sale.  We lived around the corner with maybe 150 yards of orange orchard between us and often ate turkey.

Raising turkeys was a business he got into during WW II when beef and pork were rationed. Turkey was not rationed and meat-hungry people consequently ate a lot of it.

By the time I have a vivid memory, as the war ended and through the rest of the 1940s, it was a moderately large operation. During the fall and early winter, wearing a long rubber apron, uncle killed the birds and removed their feathers. By days end he was splattered head to toe in blood and feathers.

He employed several neighbor ladies to prep the birds for sale. This involved gutting, pulling the pin feathers, and getting the organ meat and neck ready to accompany the bird. One rainy Christmas season my mother helped out, taking phone orders for pickup.

The end of rationing was like losing a subsidy, turkeys became less profitable to raise as demand dropped. Peacetime Americans eat beef every week and turkey perhaps twice a year. 

Uncle continued for five years and then decided he'd do better ranching beef cattle in northwestern Colorado where his wife's family farmed. He stopped raising turkeys in CA, bought acreage in CO with a log home and moved away.

Another Loose End Tidied

The New York Times, and other media, are reporting the assassination in Iran of another key player in the anti-American opposition.

Iran’s top nuclear scientist, who American and Israeli intelligence have long charged was behind secret programs to design an atomic warhead, was shot and killed in an ambush on Friday as he was traveling in a vehicle in northern Iran, Iranian state media reported.

The scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, believed to be 59, has been considered the driving force behind Iran’s nuclear weapons program for two decades.

No one has claimed credit for the hit, but the Mossad is widely suspected of another successful kill. It was pointedly done before a new U.S. president is inaugurated, as was this one.

Rethinking the Corona Virus

I have wondered about the relative effect of Covid-19 on deaths in the U.S. A quick search finds where I wrote about it previously, over two months ago.

A scholar at Johns Hopkins University has done the research. links to a PJ Media column reporting exactly what I suspected. 

It turns out the level of deaths before and after the epidemic hit are essentially the same. Lots of normal deaths are being ascribed to the coronavirus, I believe at least in part because hospitals get more federal money for such patients.

The scholar was forced to withdraw the study, because it was feared it would undercut efforts to get people to be careful about the Wuflu. But never fear:

Luckily, a back-up copy remains on The Wayback Machine, and we can still read the study.

You should read the PJ Media column and check out the graph. My conclusion as a non-expert is that people who would have died from influenza, heart disease or pneumonia are dying from Covid-19 instead.

They mostly would have died anyway if it hadn't come along. The remainder of the effect likely comes from people being more careful about their health such that fewer are getting flu or pneumonia than in a normal year. 

You should no more be indifferent to, or dismissive of Covid-19 than of influenza or pneumonia. All three diseases are stone-cold serial killers, to be avoided if possible, and carefully treated if contracted. 

However, it appears your odds of dying aren't much different than they were last year when nobody wore masks or avoided restaurants. One of the less attractive aspects of human life is that, sooner or preferably later, everyone dies from something. This study shows us not a lot of folks are experiencing “sooner” mortality as a result of Covid-19.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Give Thanks for Private Property

Power Line has published a rumination on Thanksgiving and the lessons of the Plymouth Colony by historian Paul A. Rahe every year since 2009. It turns out the colony began in a socialist/collectivist format and gave it up when it didn’t keep them adequately fed. Rahe writes, quoting the words of the colony’s leader:

William Bradford, Governor of the Plymouth Colony, reports that, at that time, he and his advisers considered “how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery.” And “after much debate of things,” he then adds, they chose to abandon communal property, deciding that “they should set corn every man for his own particular” and assign “to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end.”

The results, he tells us, were gratifying in the extreme, “for it made all hands very industrious” and “much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.” Even “the women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.”

When “the squad” and old crazy Bernie urge socialism, remember it has failed to produce abundance everywhere it has been tried, even a bunch of religious zealots couldn’t make it work. As we have written repeatedly, socialism is not - as claimed - a way to share wealth, in practice it is a way to share poverty.

Informing on Your Parents

The Washington Times reports a “Republican” governor in Vermont made this Covid-19 announcement. Am I the only one who hears an echo of the Soviets asking children to inform on their parents? 

[The Vermont Agency of Education] will direct schools to ask students or parents if they were part of multi-family gatherings and if the answer is yes, they’ll need to go remote for 14 days or 7 days and a test.

How long will it take for wily kids to figure out saying T-Day was a big gathering lets them ditch school for 2 wintry weeks? With the Christmas hols, they could basically miss all of December. That would have sounded great to me as a kid, much less so to my parents.

Symmetric Negative Partisanship

We begin to get analyses of the recent election which strike a chord, to contain some measure of the truth of it. Two Senior Fellows at the Hoover Institution write the following for Project Syndicate:

Voters turned out in record numbers on both sides because they emphatically did not want the opposing party to win. Moreover, this “negative partisanship” is symmetric. Democrats and a few moderate Republicans and independents did not want another four years of Trump, and most Republican voters appear not to have wanted to pass the baton back to the mistrusted “coastal” elites, globalists, “biased” liberal media, and Washington insiders.

Much of the time, knowing what one opposes is a stronger motivation than knowing what one favors. For sure there won’t be a lot of “kumbaya coming together” when “hating on them” is the zeitgeist. It would take something of the magnitude of Pearl Harbor or 9-11 to unite us, and then only briefly as 9-11 showed.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Biden's Foreign Policy Team

Joe Biden, widely reported to be president-elect, has named his foreign policy team. Paul Mirengoff of Power Line quotes two Republican senators characterizing the Biden team.

Sen. Josh Hawley calls the three “a group of corporatists and war enthusiasts — and #BigTech sellouts.”

Sen. Marco Rubio gets the prize. He describes them “polite and orderly caretakers of America’s decline.”

Rubio perfectly describes the Obama apology-based foreign policy. I fear we will be 'treated' to a third stomach-turning helping thereof. 

Expat Obama genuinely believed the U.S. has been a force for much evil in the world. His policy at least made sense to him, if not to the rest of us. 

For all his short-comings, home-grown Biden is unlikely to believe the U.S. is bad. Thus his continuing the Obama policy makes little sense. Perhaps he won’t.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Weird Psychological Science

A website called Big League Politics reports findings from a Pew survey that are not terribly surprising.

Survey data from a March Pew poll indicates that white liberals disproportionately suffer from mental illness. Nearly half of self-identifying white liberals between the ages of 18 and 29 reported telling a doctor or a healthcare provider that they have a mental health condition. Only 20.9% of white conservatives in the same category reported as such.

The finding was not true for non-white respondents. There was little variation among political categories in self-report of mental issues for non-whites. Do you suppose non-whites are unlikely to get treated for mental issues, or less likely to raise such issues with a medical person? I'd guess the latter.

Monday, November 23, 2020

The Trophy Wife Hypothesis

You can imagine Kurt Schlichter writing with a pen dipped in acid and cocaine. Snark flows from his word processor like sewage flows from Chuck Schumer's mouth. Check out his hypothesis of why big business backed Biden.

Our principles need to stop being a blind commitment to what Milton Freidman thought back before business started adopting the politics of the CEOs’ much younger and dumber second wives.

You know, I believe he's onto something there. Schlichter's superpower is that his snark is always based in reality.

The politics of business was more straight-forward when the wealthy had mistresses and continued to live with their original wives who then cuddled with the footman or tennis instructor. Mistresses understood the transactional nature of the relationship and didn't need to defend a fellow's business ethics to their social set.

Weird Dietary Science

The New York Post reports results of a study, done in the United Kingdom, looking at dietary restrictions and bone breaks. The study, published recently in BMC Medicine, found serious drawbacks to a vegan diet.

This is the first comprehensive study and the largest study to date to look at the risks of both total fractures (fractures occurring anywhere in the body) and fractures at different sites in people of different habitual dietary habits.

On average, vegans with lower calcium and protein intakes saw a 43 percent higher risk of fractures anywhere on their bodies, and specifically in the hips, legs and vertebrae.

Vegetarians and pescatarians had a higher risk of hip fractures than meat eaters — but when researchers factored in body mass index and adequate consumption of calcium and protein, that risk was lessened.

But the heightened risk still existed for vegans, even with those factors taken into account.

Unmentioned, because it is unflattering to non-meat eaters, is that vegetarian or vegan diets are often adopted by those attempting self-treatment for psychological or physical issues for which modern medicine has few comprehensive answers. 

In other words, people who are somehow uncomfortable in their own skin. It doesn't require a gigantic leap of logic to imagine such discomfort can be associated with self-destructive acts, inattention or poor coordination contributing to fractures. 

In spite of these findings, avoiding meat and animal products is less harmful than self-medication with street drugs, another route those with "issues" sometimes take.

Celebrate the Harvest

We celebrate our autumn harvest festival - Thanksgiving - later this week, under strange circumstances in the midst of a Covid-19 resurgence. Do what harvest festivals are known for, over-indulgence in the abundance of the harvest. Have a good day and stay safe. 

The Trump-fostered vaccines will soon arrive, giving us something for which to be thankful. I plan to get mine as soon as offered. I’m a believer in vaccines, I’ve had those for pneumonia, shingles, influenza, etc., as well as some exotics for travel to the Amazon. 

This year - 2020 - has been less-than-marvelous. Partisanship has been on steroids ever since 2016 and the two sides get farther apart month by month. 

Each side appears to feel an unwillingness to share the country with the other. Where does this take us? I can imagine it takes us to a separation, a velvet divorce if we’re lucky, a civil war if we’re not.

Like our last civil war, this political/ideological divide is tearing families apart. In the other DrC’s family there are strong feelings on both sides. Brothers and sisters disagreeing, parents and children holding opposite views.

My family is so spread out geographically, it’s hard to know what people are feeling. We seldom see each other and, honestly, aren’t particularly close emotionally. 

I’m concerned that 2021 won’t be an improvement, except perhaps if we can get enough people vaccinated to stop the coronavirus epidemic. That and the consequent reopening of restaurants and resumption of travel - flying and cruising - will certainly be welcome as will hanging up the masks. Our political divide, however, shows no signs of healing.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Weird Gerontological Science

The New York Post reports results of research done in Israel where scientists reversed the aging process in seniors by having them spend 90 minutes a day, five days a week, for three months, in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. Senescent cells declined and telomeres lengthened, both good signs.

I do hope they get this technology perfected in time for me to take advantage of it. It sounds excellent and entirely painless - it doesn't involve a weird diet of roughage and sprouts.

Good News for Seniors

The website Just The News reports as follows with regard to Covid-19:

According to the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths have come down for every age group, especially for those over age 70.

We seniors need more good news like this. Let's get those highly effective vaccines into distribution.

Granny Killer Wins Emmy

Governor Andrew Cuomo, (D-NY) has won an Emmy which they claim is for:

His leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world.

As he ordered NY nursing homes to admit people diagnosed with Covid-19, Cuomo was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of seniors who were resident therein. 

Giving him an Emmy is a bigger travesty than Obama's Nobel Peace Prize. Effectively, it is rewarding manslaughter or negligent homicide.

She's Not Lovin' It

Ammo Grrrl, aka Susan Vass, writes a Friday column for Power Line. It's normally a pleasant blend of good humor, social commentary, common sense, and "life in these days." I read her every week, and enjoy it. 

Mostly she isn't political, but today her topic is the election, its aftermath, and her response to same. Her negative reactions to the election process and to pleas for us to "unite" resonate with me. Give it a look.

Not Coming Together

Joe Biden, widely reported to be president-elect, has been urging those of us who voted for Donald Trump to be reconciled with a Biden administration, to "come together" with his voters as Americans. It isn't likely.

When he asks that, those of us who saw the Paul Newman film Cool Hand Luke hear echoes of "Captain" Strother Martin saying "You need to git yore mind right." We can't interpret either Biden's or Martin's comment as anything except "Go along with the program, or suffer extremely unpleasant consequences." 

Since this isn't a prison camp, and Biden isn't a warden, our response is along the lines of: "Not happening, Joe." Our divided nation will remain divided.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Political Basics

Let's begin with three facts: First, in the recent election, Republicans posted non-trivial gains in the House, a net gain of nine seats so far. Second, in spite of having many more of their Senators running for reelection in 2020, Republicans only have lost one as yet. Both of these per RealClearPolitics. And third, the modern polarized U.S. is not a ticket-splitting nation, most people vote a straight party ticket. 

This raises the question, how did Joe Biden, Democrat, gain more votes than Donald Trump, Republican incumbent. when most Republican incumbents won reelection and several newcomers flipped Democrat House seats? Most of this happened in a few large cities. This outcome seems unlikely unless the fix was in.

Democrats will tell you to ascribe this anomaly to Trump's uniquely obnoxious manner. How does that explain him getting more votes this time than in 2016? Answer: it doesn't. Pollsters found few who voted for Trump in 2016 who planned to vote for Biden in 2020.

Byron York of the Washington Examiner makes some of these same points. This election smells of overripe fish. 

Rain ... in CA!

The DrsC are currently in California, there being snow on the ground in WY. And yesterday we had rain off and on all day and into the evening. Not hard rain, what Hillerman claims the Navaho call “female rain” which is gentle. And it is very welcome.

“So what?” I imagine you asking, “So it rained? How is that news?” Because, as the other DrC noted, more-than-incidental rain hasn’t happened here for the past six months. 

Furthermore, this isn’t anything unusual for California. Au contraire, it is normal here in a savannah climate. And therefore forest fires are normal here because, between winter rainy seasons, the sunshine makes things gosh-awful dry and combustible. Add a windy day to move it along and it’ll be a big fire.

People will tell you it’s climate change, reach for a grain of salt. CA has been suffering forest fires since I was a kid too many decades ago. 

Some of my most vivid memories of adolescence are of hot autumn nights watching the line of flames burn across the mountains of the Los Padres National Forest which form the northern backdrop of the Ojai Valley, some 50+ miles northwest of Los Angeles. 

In the 13 years I lived there growing up it probably happened three separate times. Each time distant relatives would call to ask if we were okay. Each time we told them both we and all the normally settled parts of the valley were fine and in no danger. A few houses on the edge of the wild land burned and the alarmist news played it up to fan interest.

Twas ever thus.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

A Loose End Tidied

Power Line's Paul Mirengoff writes about motorcycle riding Israeli agents in a Tehran suburb killing both al Qaeda's number two - al Masri - and Masri's daughter, the widow of Osama Bin Laden’s son Hamza. 

Mossad can strike anywhere it seems. Hamza was killed earlier in the Trump administration. 

The hit was done allegedly at the behest of the U.S. Don't expect a Biden administration to sanction such actions. One hopes Israelis will continue eliminating threats without White House urging ... or permission.

Tuesday Snark

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds posts a comment he found on Facebook that he liked, and with which I agree. Here it is.

I promise to treat Biden with the same respect the Democrats have shown Trump.

Quantifying, one concludes our respect for Biden will be entirely nonexistent. He is a withered cipher who played second fiddle in a failed presidency, and his supporters are actively evil. 

In another post, Reynolds observes sagely:

For a guy who supposedly lost, Trump had coattails; for a guy who supposedly won, Biden sure didn’t.

To which thought, Ed Driscoll who also posts at Instapundit adds a link to a story with this headline:

‘Experts’ Listed 27 House Races As Toss-Ups. Republicans Won All 27

Saturday, November 14, 2020

From the Heartland

I don’t always, or even most of the time, agree with the published opinions of Kevin D. Williamson. That said, he has a column for the New York Post that really hits the mark. His introductory paragraph gives you an idea of where he’s going.

If people living in Trump country seem like they live in a different world from that inhabited by Silicon Valley executives and the editors of The New York Times, there is a reason for that: They do.

In many ways, Red America understands Blue America better than Blue America understands Red America. It doesn’t have much choice: The news media, the entertainment business, technology and social media, and the commanding heights of big business live in Blue America and largely share Blue America’s biases, assumptions and points of view.

Writing from Texas for readers in New York City, and beyond, Williamson makes the point that coastal elites have no idea of most of the country and around half its people. For those of us who live in the great fly-over by choice, it’s a truth known all too well.

The DrsC have driven all over these United States, literally “wheels on the ground” in every one of the fifty states, most of them repeatedly. We have resided, not just traveled, in all four continental U.S. time zones for at least a year each, have owned property in three of the four zones, and currently own property in two. 

We know this country as few Americans do; we are retired and can live wherever we choose. We choose to live in fly-over country. In our experience, the people there are nicer, the yoke of government is lighter, population density is lower, and life feels better. That is the conclusion of two native Californians.

Friday, November 13, 2020

More on Fox News

Fox News is doubling down on their move to the left. Their news, as opposed to commentary or opinion, programs are referring to Joe Biden as President-elect. I’d be okay with them calling him the “apparent winner,” but “President-elect” is a bridge too far for me. 

At this point the only authority Fox has for that title is other news outlets. No state has certified its choice, as far as I’m aware. And there are court challenges pending.

Somehow they haven’t figured out that, at best, they’ll share the fate of the #NeverTrump folks. How Megyn Kelly fared post-Fox should have been an object lesson. 

Fox had a “golden ticket” and gave it away, apparently voluntarily. About this, I’m sad for us disappointed viewers and, as a career B-school prof, puzzled at the really dumb business decision.

Popular people they have on contract, like Hannity and Carlson, are probably stuck there. As long as they keep delivering their usual content and don’t sell out, they should be safe. The rest are probably at risk as ratings fall.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Fox Admits an Error

Writing at 10 p.m. today in, I believe, the eastern time zone, Instapundit posts the following claim, echoed from The Other McCain's website without comment or criticism. Robert Stacy McCain posted this at 9:18 p.m. today, wherever he's located, about Fox's very wrong call of the House races.

This projection was false. It was either an incredibly stupid error or it was a deliberate lie, and it really doesn’t matter which it was, because Fox News has never even admitted it was wrong, much less have they explained why they misled their audience on Election Night.

On the right, we are in a "beating up on Fox News" mood, but contrary to claims, they have admitted their House projection was wrong. Fair is fair. 

I watched Bret Baier's Special Report, recorded beginning at 3 p.m. pacific time (6 p.m. eastern time) today. Doing so, I saw and heard Bret state that while their call of AZ for Biden was correct, their claim that the Democrats would pick up 5 House seats was clearly wrong. No explanation was given.

He later quizzed his panel about why they believed recent polling was so off-kilter. So Fox News has admitted at least one of their calls missed the mark by at least 10 House seats, and likely more. 

Go view tonight's program and watch it for yourself. I'll admit he slipped into the middle of a paragraph and didn't emphasize it, but it was there if you paid attention.

Honoring Veterans

Freedom isn't free. Sadly it often is purchased with the blood and lives of the patriots who serve in our military. 

Today, on the anniversary of the ending of what we now call World War One and was then called the Great War, we salute our veterans. Your nation honors you.

My father, four of my uncles and one aunt all served. I honor them and everyone else who wore the uniform honorably. Bless you, one and all.

Public School Exodus

With all the political activity currently, other news tends to get crowded out of the public eye. One such story that can be viewed as positive, from certain perspectives, is the movement of parents taking their children out of the public schools. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

The Foundation for Economic Education website has the story. Among other developments, they note:

NPR recently reported that public school districts in at least 20 states have seen shrinking numbers of students this fall, with Orange County and Miami-Dade County in Florida down 8,000 and 16,000 public school students, respectively. Los Angeles public school enrollment has dropped by nearly 11,000 students.

According to a recent Gallup poll, the rate of homeschooling has doubled since last year to nearly 10 percent, while the rate of children enrolled in a district school declined seven percent to 76 percent of the overall US K-12 student population.

The article also notes the development of neighborhood learning pods and low-cost private schools in response to the public schools' refusal to conduct in-person classes. Faith-based schools' enrollments have risen too, no surprise. 

Accelerating these trends is parents seeing via online learning what is and isn't being taught in today's public education. I suspect many have been shocked or dismayed by its "blame racist America" content and nearly non-existent performance standards.

Fox Follows Drudge

The Murdochs control a media empire which, in the U.S., includes Fox News, Fox Business, the New York Post, and the Wall Street Journal. Fox News has been the primary TV outlet for news that didn't overtly reflect hate of the President. 

As such, it has been a favorite with half the populace which likes Trump, and voted for him. As we've noted before, this netted them a very large cable viewership, far outstripping the competition.

This November, for whatever reason, Fox News hired an election analyst who made early calls favoring Democrats. They generally moved closer to other news outlets in the anti-Trump bias of their coverage. Conservatives, feeling betrayed, are mightily upset with Fox as a consequence.

Rupert's son, who heads the network, is either less business savvy or more liberal than his papa - actually both are likely. Giving up Fox's effective monopoly market position was a lousy business decision, soon to be reflected in lower ratings and a consequent drop in what they can charge for ads. 

While bad for business, it may improve the younger Murdoch's social position among the glitterati with whom wealthy folks like him tend to hang. He may have enough dough banked to prefer social approbation to fantastic earnings. 

From a business point of view, what Fox has done is create an opportunity for another provider to pick up its pro-Trump viewers, as other news aggregators have picked up much of the former readership of the Drudge Report, which made a similar leftward move. 

At this point I believe possible contenders OANN and Newsmax are not providing a quality viewing experience. Perhaps they can improve or maybe other providers will come forward.

The Map

Do something interesting, go see this RealClearPolitics map of congressional districts colored red and blue for which party controls which House districts. What I’m finding particularly interesting is how the Democrat votes in the coastal states of CA, OR, and WA are clustered along the coast.

Go inland in any of those and see a sea of red. Of course where the blue is, that is also where most of the population is. The key to this is district size, the smaller the district, the higher the population density. The blue districts are mostly small in geography, while the red districts are mostly large in acreage, at least in the west. This is less true in the east.

The parts of the U.S. where Democrats are majorities actually make up quite a small percentage of the total country. Most of this great land is bright, gleaming red. You could almost generalize that the Democrats control the west coast, the northeast, the Indian reservations, Hispanic-majority areas and whatever big cities are scattered elsewhere. 

Republicans represent the rest, blessed with lower population density and greater personal freedoms. Across the northern tier of states, from eastern OR and WA to western IA there are no Democrat-held House seats at all - zero, zip, nada. Hat tip to Brandie Malay for that flip turn of phrase.

The Mechanics of Vote Rigging

Instapundit posts a question he found on Facebook, one about which you may have wondered:

If the Democrats rigged the election against Trump, why didn’t they rig the down ballot races?

That is, how have the House races favored the GOP while Biden leads in presidential votes? Instapundit answers it with good information for those interested in the “inside baseball” of politics.

Because that’s apples and oranges. Voter fraud in a few Dem-machine-dominated big cities can tilt several states and swing a presidential election. Congressional elections are far more dispersed, and often turn on votes in places where Democrats don’t control the vote counting apparatus.

To which I’d add: fully marking fake ballots it too labor intensive while marking only the president choice section is quick. A comparison of the total votes for president in a district versus the total for the House in that same precinct is a quick indicator of vote irregularity and potential fraud, if the observed difference is large.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Twitter Edits the NY Times

Power Line's Steven Hayward reacts to a long piece in New York magazine about the dysfunction in the New York Times newsroom. There is much sneering at the NYT for hiring a bunch of punk kids, maybe half minorities, with little commitment to journalism, a total commitment to advocacy, and chips on their shoulders. You can guess how that worked out, can't you?

My favorite part is the account of an established NYT columnist getting tough with the editor - Sulzberger - who promised the Times hadn't lost its nerve. The columnist is quoted at telling him this.

You don’t know what you’ll be able to do, because you are not in charge of this publication — Twitter is. As long as Twitter is editing this bitch, you cannot promise me anything.

Analysis: Harsh, but fair. Get woke, go broke, something Fox News appears to have forgotten. Chris Wallace needs to go.

An Eye for an Eye ....

Democrats, who allege they've won the presidency, are asking Republicans to cooperate with them in a smooth transition. Exactly how short do they believe our memories can be?

They spent the last four years claiming the last election was stolen, and refusing to cooperate with Republicans. In what bizarre world would we treat them any differently?

The obvious corollary of the Golden Rule is to treat others as they have treated you. Return good for good and bad for bad. Democrats are owed a boatload of bad.

I seem to recall Hammurabi had something to say about this principle. Comments about sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind also come to mind.

Assume the various lawsuits, recounts, etc. aimed at vote-counting irregularities do not pan out - the outcome you'd bet on if you had serious money at stake. Given that sad outcome, we should spend the next four years making life as miserable for the Democrats as the law allows. I'll do my part, please join me.

Baier Beards a DINO

Fox News’ Bret Baier interviewed Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) who said he would not vote for Supreme Court packing or to kill the filibuster. I guess this makes Manchin a Democrat in name only, or DINO. 

Scott Johnson of Power Line reports:

Baier asked, “And you wouldn’t become a Republican?” Manchin responded, “I’m a proud moderate conservative Democrat. Maybe there’s not many of us left.” Indeed, I think that makes him a party of one in the Senate. Unlike his Democratic colleagues, including Schumer, “I’m not for all the crazy stuff.”

Manchin represents a Red state, and apparently hopes to keep his job. Reminds me of RINO Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) hanging on in a Blue state. Hat tip to Dr. Seuss for the title, an obvious homage to his Horton Hears a Who.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Good News ... Maybe

Various news sources are reporting an announcement by Pfizer that their Covid-19 vaccine is 90% effective in preventing the corona virus infection. This is excellent news, and in record time, too. 

Much of the credit for the speed with which it was developed must go to President Trump. The credit for its efficacy goes to the scientists and technologists who developed it.

I anticipate the first recipients should be health professionals - doctors, RNs, hospital orderlies, EMTs, etc. The second should be the at-risk residents and staff of long-term care facilities. The third, probably after the first of the year, should be the non-institutionalized elderly. 

However, one of Biden’s health advisers has written that keeping the Covid vaccine for Americans before others get it is basically unfair and wrong. It would serve us right if Biden decides his adviser is correct and ships our vaccine to third world sh*tholes before Mr. and Mrs. America get theirs. It would be an appropriate way for Biden to ‘thank’ his supporters.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Further Musings

George W. Bush was my President but I certainly was unenthused about his RINO ways. Barack Obama was the President but he wasn't "my President." Donald Trump was both the President and "my President." Joe Biden, presuming he is in fact the winner will once again be the President but not "my President." 

Life is like that, you win some and lose some. Somehow I take the winning for granted, and feel the losing more keenly. Perhaps that's Murphy's Law at work, and that Murphy puts in long hours on the job. 

It looks like COTTonLINE will spend the next four years chronicling the Biden missteps and malapropisms. That is, we will if they don't ease him out of office using the 25th Amendment. Damn, I really don't want to listen to Kamala's inane laugh from the Oval Office.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Comes the Bolo 3.0

Much of my misspent youth was devoted to reading science fiction novels and short stories. When I donated my library to the special collection at East New Mexico State University it comprised 800+ volumes. Favorites of mine were Keith Laumer’s stories about self-aware robot tanks called Bolos. 

Technology is beginning to catch up with sci fi, see Kyle Mizokami’s piece for Popular Mechanics about the successor to the M1 Abrams tank. According to him, a crew will be optional for the new design.

So ... how close are we to artificial intelligence (AI) with self-awareness? Ask your search engine as I just did and get pages of hits. How long till they are combined - the robot tank and self-awareness? Ask DARPA, but don’t expect an answer.

No Coattails

While we examine the implications of this election, it is worthwhile noting that the Biden-Harris ticket had, as they say, no coattails. It appears they have won, or maybe stolen, the presidential election while adding only one to their representation in the Senate and losing 10 or more seats in the House of Representatives. 

In an era of little ticket-splitting this is highly unusual. I’m certain some will interpret it as a targeted repudiation of Trump rather than a rejection of Republicans. There is no question Trump is a highly polarizing figure.

As we noted some weeks ago, it’s likely some voters were tired of Trump’s histrionics, his tendency to make every story about himself. Am I the only one to notice he shares this trait with Barack Obama? 

For the Politics-Obsessed

An outcome of this election, which a few of the more insightful observers have noted, happened at the state government level. Democrats managed to flip exactly zero state legislatures into their control, in fact they lost control of two to the GOP. 

Why is this important? Because as a result of the 2020 census, seats in the House of Representatives will be reapportioned to the states based on new population figures. There will be winner states that have gained population and loser states that have lost people. Republican FL and TX are big winners.

More states have Republican legislatures than have Democrat-controlled ones. In most cases the House districts are carved up by the legislatures in ways that are advantageous to the dominant party. 

This normally means designing as many districts as possible with modest dominant party majorities, and stuffing supermajorities of not-dominant party voters into a few districts designed to be sacrificed to the opponents. This is a process called, for obscure historical reasons, the “gerrymander.” The goal is to maximize opportunities to elect House members from the dominant party.

The CA House district in which I worked is one of those sacrificial districts. It normally sends a Republican to Congress, while most of CA’s Representatives are Democrats.

The Democrats’ inability to extend their control down-ballot means more states will be reapportioned in ways that disadvantage Democrats, and reward Republicans. This is part of the ‘inside baseball’ of politics in our great land. If you’ve been wondering about the angst among House Democrats, this explains a part of it. 

Everybody Loses

Project Syndicate runs an election retrospective that does a decent job of summing up where it appears this particular election leaves our nation. I won’t try to summarize it beyond quoting their conclusion.

Democrats were hoping for a stinging repudiation of Trump and everything he embodies. They didn’t get it. Republicans sought an election that validated Trump. That, too, didn’t happen. Instead, what the election revealed is one country and two nations. They will have to coexist; whether they can work together remains to be seen.

If you were a betting person, you’d answer the final question “can they work together” with one word: “Minimally.” 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Movin’ On

On several occasions we’ve linked to Instapundit Glenn Reynolds’ weekly opinion columns for USA Today. That relationship has ended, he has shifted his weekly column to the New York Post. 

Why? USAT refused to run his pre-election column on Biden family corruption. John Hinderaker at Power Line has the details of the move. 


In a 50-50 nation it was likely that whichever side lost would claim voter fraud, and whichever side claimed it was likely to be correct. Vote counting is done by local authorities and some of our most obvious crooks are at the local level. 

So be it, it’s the way we roll. It’s likely our only national elections which truly reflect voter preferences are those where the margin of victory is clear-cut and too strong to be overcome by local vote fiddling.

It appears each party will win some and lose some in 2020. Attempts in CA to use the ballot to push the left’s agenda supporting racial preferences and banning gig work both went down to defeat. 

This as Joe Biden won the CA vote handily. CA is big on mixed messages - Gov. Newsom wants to ban cars, of which nearly every Californian owns two or more.

Nancy Pelosi lost a substantial chunk of her majority in the House, I’m reading somewhere in the 10-13 seat range. It seems likely Mitch McConnell will retain his majority, slightly weakened, in the Senate. Both of these are pluses for the GOP.

We don’t have final numbers but it appears one way or another Biden will end up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, by the skinniest of margins, and that thin margin possibly fraudulent. If things settle out as noted above, he’ll be a lame duck on Inauguration Day. 

Ex-president Trump, if that’s the way it turns out, will likely become the successor to Rush Limbaugh who sadly seems to be losing a battle with cancer. Trump hasn’t been a conventional president and I’m betting he won’t be a conventional ex-president. 

My mild optimism vis-a-vis the presidential election outcome proved unwarranted, indicating all those hopeful indicators were as wrong as were the polls showing a Biden sweep. It happens ... too often.

As I never tire of observing, we are cursed to live in interesting times.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Dog Whistle Called

A very pleasant bit of snark (scroll down) from the Washington Free Beacon, reflecting Trump's better showing with minorities than any Republican in the last 50 years.

Trump's growing support among minority voters ought to raise serious questions about whether the Democratic Party's race-obsessed "woke" rhetoric is little more than a masturbatory dog whistle for educated white liberals.

They do love to wallow in guilt about their racist feelings. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.

Exit Poll Insights

The Washington Examiner's Byron York looks at exit poll data which gives us some idea what was on in-person voters' minds when they voted for president and who voted for whom.

Trump, for example, won narrowly, 50 percent to 48 percent, among Americans who work full-time for pay, according to exit polls. But that group was just 59 percent of the electorate. Among the Americans who do not work full-time for pay -- retired, unemployed, underemployed, disabled, etc. -- Biden won big, 58 to 41. Trump also won, 52 to 45, among Americans who have served or are serving in the U.S. military. But that was just 15 percent of all voters. Among the other 85 percent, Biden won, 52 to 46.

The economy was the most important concern for the greatest number of voters; 35 percent said it mattered most in their decision on which candidate support. Among them, Trump won an overwhelming victory, 82 to 17. The top concern of the next-largest group of voters, 20 percent, was racial inequality. Among them, Biden won big, 91 to 8. The third-biggest concern was the coronavirus pandemic, cited by 17 percent of voters. Among them, Biden won big again, 82 to 14. Then came the issue of crime and safety, cited by 11 percent of voters. Trump won big, 71 to 28.

Do with those data points what you will. There is more at York's column.

The AZ Call

It is important to remember that when this or that news source “calls” a particular state for one candidate, that prediction has no legal weight and is merely a prediction in advance of final data. Newsweek quotes numbers guy Nate Silver as saying the Arizona call for Biden was premature. Many have held this view as there are still large numbers of votes yet to count.

"I don't know, I guess I'd say that Biden will win Arizona if you forced me to pick, but I sure as heck don't think the state should have been called by anyone, and I think the calls that were previously made should be retracted now," Silver wrote in his website's blog.

Like most prognosticators, Silver hasn’t covered himself with glory in 2020 but he’s still one of the better numbers people on the national scene. It appears Fox News got out ahead of itself on the AZ call, RealClearPolitics hasn’t yet called the state.

I’d like to believe Trump still has a chance, but candidly it doesn’t look highly positive. Whoever wins the presidency will govern a very divided nation, and I’d rather that individual was Trump. That said, I’ll keep my powder dry and await developments. I hope we have a better idea of the final outcome by the weekend.

Class Conflict

The election just held, with oddly mixed results still pending, has led me to ponder a shortcoming of our national political structure compared to, say, that of the British. There, as is typical in parliamentary systems, the head of state (think “figurehead”) and actual executive leader of government are two different people. In our system the elected President fulfills both roles.

The U.K.’s Queen symbolizes in her person and behavior, the Brits’ idealized vision of their nation. This frees up the leader of the parliamentary majority, currently Boris Johnson, to wheel and deal and be a bit of a buffoon at times without besmirching the nation’s self-image, which the monarch embodies. 

Our President is both our national icon and the executive head of government at the same time. Heading into the election Donald Trump had done a good job of being national executive. At least one view of the outcome is that, for many people, he did not embody their view of who we should aspire to be. He didn’t fulfill the figurehead role for those hung up on social class markers of ‘breeding’ and ‘superiority.’

For maybe half the nation, he either was “their kind of guy” or they didn’t care about appearances, about his show-off, boasting nature. For some serious fraction of the other half, the Karens and their beta males, these were issues, insurmountable ones it appears. 

Class issues have been a problem for populists in our nation before, Andrew Jackson stirred them too. Social class is the seriously divisive issue which Americans falsely claim doesn’t exist, while Brits obsess over it. For some portion of us, a flamboyant egotist who chases women and brags about his wealth just “isn’t our sort.” JFK did the same self-indulgent rich boy things, albeit quietly, and was loved.

The mantra we heard so often the last two years, till we were sick of it, was Trump’s appeal to those who had not finished college. If you don’t recognize this as the American way of describing a major marker of social class, without ever using the “C” word, you haven’t been paying attention.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020


The polls closed roughly 24 hours ago, and counting still continues. The year 2020 has been nasty for most of its length, the corona virus has made our election a bigger mess than usual. Hanging chads are remembered as positively quaint by comparison.

RealClear Politics is now claiming the Democrats will have lost a net of 10 House seats to the GOP. Pelosi and Co. really screwed the pooch; they predicted big wins, not the embarrassing losses that occurred.

It continues to appear the Senate will remain in Republican hands. If Machiavellian Mitch is on his game, the Dems may learn just how unfun a "resistance" can be - agencies with 'acting' heads, programmatic gridlock, and unfilled judge and ambassador positions. It would clearly be karmic justice to give the Ds a healthy dose of their own mischief.

We don't yet know how the presidency will turn out. Biden is ahead in terms of electors but lawsuits are being bruited and allegations of large-scale intentional cheating in Wisconsin are already on the wires. It may be decided in the courts.

I remember when our elections were staid affairs where the losers took it stoically like gentlemen, and the winners were at least superficially magnanimous. Will we ever see that degree of civility again? Probably not in what's left of my lifetime.

The Morning After

We have preliminary election results and an outcome literally nobody predicted appears likely. Barring successful challenges in the courts and odd distributions of votes not yet counted, the President doesn’t have a clear path to reelection. 

As I write this, and subject to change, the final outcome in the Electoral College could be Biden 270, Trump 268. It couldn’t get closer than that without being a tie. 

On the other hand, it seems likely Republicans will retain control of the Senate. And something nobody predicted, the GOP so far has gained 3 seats in the House of Representatives. 

In a long life I’ve experienced my share of political disappointments, this looks like another in that column of downers. If all we’ve got to look forward to for the next two years is a deadlocked Congress and a largely impotent president, I’ll take it and be glad it wasn’t worse. 

If Senate control remains with Mitch McConnell’s Republicans, there will be no Supreme Court packing or statehood for Puerto Rico and DC. You take your good news where you find it. 

The likely bad news is bad enough, open borders and open prison gates are no picnic. To the extent to which executive orders can accomplish it, expect the return of the worst of Obama-ism, perhaps minus Barry’s odd S&M affair with Iran. You remember, they chanted "Death to America,"  he was orgasmic, and sent them plane-loads of cash as a reward.

One of our favorite columnists, David P. Goldman aka “Spengler,” writes about what a wag once called “the upside of the downside.” There are worse things than a weak Biden presidency, although in the long-run weak presidencies aren’t great for the nation. Nevertheless they can be survived in the short-to-medium run, and “survive” is what I propose to attempt, maybe even “thrive.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Weird Pharmacological Science

CBS Baltimore reports the results of a U. of Maryland med school study which found the following.

COVID-19 patients taking a daily, low-dose aspirin to protect against cardiovascular disease significantly lowered the risk of death and complications from COVID-19.

The study found that COVID-19 patients taking aspirin were nearly 50% less likely to die in the hospital and much less likely to be admitted to the ICU and put on a ventilator.

Doctors said because the virus increases the risk of blood clots, it makes sense that aspirin would help infected patients.

Vitamin D and baby aspirin - talk about cheap, over-the-counter preventive therapy, this costs pennies a day. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Election Day

The day we’ve been waiting for has arrived. If you haven’t voted by mail or early in person, do so today. If you are a regular COTTonLINE reader, you do care about politics and therefore you must choose and vote.

In our de facto binary system, your choice is - depending on your view of the candidates - either the best of two or the least bad of two. When incumbents are running for reelection it is also a referendum on their performance for four years. The comparison becomes four more years of what we’ve just experienced or four years of this other person at whose performance we have to guess.

I have voted for Trump. My comparison of his substantial accomplishments since early 2017 compared with Biden’s meager accomplishments in over 40 years in national politics made the choice clear. If I sometimes have had stylistic differences with Trump, as who has not, his track record of promises kept and judges appointed cannot be ignored or belittled. And I have more than a few “stylistic differences” with the sad shell of a man into which Joe Biden has deteriorated. 

I am reminded of a quote often mis-attributed without citation to George Orwell, “People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." The other DrC says of Trump, “He’s a bully, but he’s my bully.” I agree, he is the “rough man” who stands ready to do (cultural and political) violence on our behalf.