Friday, January 31, 2020

Got Another One

COTTonLINE has been keeping track of the assassination of high-level terrorist leaders, and Yahoo News has yet another example.
The leader of al-Qaida’s Yemen branch is believed to have been killed in a U.S. airstrike earlier this year.

The New York Times said three current or former U.S. officials “expressed confidence” that Qasim al-Raymi, the emir of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was killed in Yemen, although there was no official confirmation.

For more than five years, al-Raymi, a native of Yemen, had eluded U.S. forces as he led what experts sometimes refer to as al-Qaida’s “most dangerous franchise.” If confirmed, his death would be “very significant,” said Mick Mulroy, who was deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East until late last year.
Persistent decapitation of terror networks tends to sow confusion in their ranks. It may also encourage talented individuals to follow alternate career paths featuring more longevity.

No Witnesses, Vote Down Next Week

Various sources report the Senate voted 51-49 to call no witnesses and subpoena no documents. It will not however vote down the House impeachment until perhaps Wednesday.

The Iowa caucuses happen on Monday night and the State of the Union speech is on Tuesday. Delaying the vote until Wednesday is ... interesting.

A tweet echoed by Instapundit alleges this is so Sens. Warren, Sanders, and Klobuchar will have to stay in Washington until then, missing the Iowa caucuses on Monday. The tweet approvingly ascribes this delay to McConnell’s Machiavellian savagery. We’ll see ....

No Bye-Ku for Delaney

Someone named Rep. John Delaney, from MD, claims to have been running for the 2020 Democrat nomination for president. Now he alleges he has dropped out of the race.

My question: how can we tell Delaney has dropped out? Has anything changed? His has been the least consequential candidacy of the 20+ running.

Delaney could easily be the textbook example of a nonentity. He doesn’t merit a bye-ku.

Politico Attends a Trump Rally

Being an excrescence of the mainstream (legacy) media, Politico is reliably anti-Trump. Which makes Ryan Lizza’s article about Trump’s recent rally in Iowa particularly fun. Lizza had to watch on the big screen outside in freezing weather, with thousands of joyous Trump fans who couldn’t get in and were happy just to be near the event.

Lizza makes the requisite noises about Trump overreaching. I give him props for reporting that the crowd was genuinely fired up, happy, excited, and way bigger than anything Democrats have come up with in that early caucus state. And he reports the audience was a mix of blue and white collar Iowans, giving the lie to stereotypes about Trump supporters.

If you read what Lizza wrote, you see that he senses Trump has the big momentum while several would-be Democrat challengers sit nearly mute for two weeks in the Senate listening to Nadler and Schiff lie eloquently while their colleagues fight boredom. All this before the impeachment kabuki comes to its predetermined and pointless end perhaps tonight.

Trump is busy being President, signing treaties, proposing peace settlements, riffing at rallies while those who would oppose him whine about how terrible they believe things are. Is anyone listening?

Brexit Tonight

The first time COTTonLINE mentioned the U.K. leaving the EU apparently was in 2012. We have followed the U.K. polls that showed a narrow majority of Brits supported leaving the EU since perhaps 2014.

We covered the campaigning, the election, and the Brexit side winning. Then the hapless Theresa May trying with little success to have the form of Brexit without the substance. And the activities of Nigel Farage holding her feet to the fire. Eventually she resigned, Johnson was elected and then got a majority after ousting Remain Tories.

Not that it was any of our business, since we are external to the situation, but we’ve supported Brexit from the start. As Anglophiles, it has been our opinion that mainland Europe was following Angela Merkel in an unfortunate direction Brits didn’t need to take.

Tonight at 11 p.m. London time (midnight in Brussels), the United Kingdom will officially leave the European Union. Since the U.K. has remained outside both the euro zone and the Schengen zone, the break this evening will not be a dramatic one. Brits will continue to use the pound and control access to the country.

What remains to be learned over the next eleven months is the details of the “property settlement” coming out of this “divorce.” I don’t expect we will obsess over the minutia of the arrangements as we might if we carried a Brit or EU passport.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

As Predicted

Yesterday I wrote that RINO Romney should take a hike, but that Utah might not want him back. Today I’m scanning and spot a Fox News story from Utah that bears on this issue.
Republican Utah state Rep. Tim Quinn has introduced a bill in that state's legislature that would allow voters to recall U.S. senators -- a possible swipe at Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, despite Quinn saying the bill isn't targeted at anyone in particular.

First reported by Deseret News, the bill would create a process by which a recall vote could go on the ballot after a petition by voters.

The proposed bar for putting a recall vote on a ballot is quite high, requiring the signatures of 25 percent of "the number of active voters in the state." In addition, senators could not be recalled within the first year of their term, within a year of winning a recall election or within a year of the end of their term.
Quinn says Romney isn’t the target ... I gotta ask, why do politicians think they have to lie like this? Exactly nobody on either side believes them. Somebody at Fox thinks maybe it would fail the inevitable constitutional challenge.

Eat Meat for Brain Health links to a BBC article on the risks associated with a vegan diet. Their conclusion, following a longish summary of research findings, is that vegans need supplements as meat-free diets lack certain essentials for brain health.

I liked the info that vitamin B-12 is associated with better brain function in older folks. And sublingual B-12 tablets that dissolve under your tongue taste good too.

The main vegan drawback from my perspective is dietary boredom. I’m a happy omnivore who rarely eats a supper w/o meat. At other meals I consider meat a nice option, my favorite bacon cheeseburger is not an everyday item.

Descriptors for the New Insanity

Not everything has to be dead serious. George Orwell included a dictionary of Newspeak in his iconic novel 1984. That has inspired Lee Jussim to compile a similar list of neologisms for Quillette with thIs title.
An Orwelexicon for Bias and Dysfunction in Psychology and Academia
As you read down the list of absurd terms for absurd behaviors, you’ll recognize most of the ridiculous asininity which we on the right see in today’s debased academia. Making fun of willful stupidity is one of the best ways to combat it.

Enjoy some bitter laughter. The terms are preposterous because the behavior and attitudes they describe are preposterous-on-stilts. My former profession has gone off the rails. Hat tip to RealClearPolicy for the link.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Impeachment Deathwatch

Various sources are intimating that the Senate will vote Friday not to call witnesses; said witnesses having been a responsibility the House somewhat shirked in its hurry. It appears that McConnell has gotten Murkowski to agree to vote with the rest of his caucus.

Perhaps it is too much to hope for that Romney might be the lone holdout, but it would be a hoot if it happens. If he can’t play nice, he should go home, wherever they’ll accept him. I’d suggest bright blue Massachusetts might work, rosy Utah may have become somewhat cranky with him.

Apparently, once the no-witness vote is won, the Senate will vote the impeachment down and go home to happy constituents. Let’s see if it plays out as predicted.

Hillary’s Shame

Kyle Smith reviews for National Review a 4 hour documentary about Hillary Clinton. As you might imagine for that conservative publication, it doesn’t find much to like. My favorite bit is this.
If it hadn’t been for her proximity to William Jefferson Clinton, a man who genuinely did have a genius for connecting with people and lit up every room he was in for many years, the idea of trying to win elected office never would have infected her mind. There’s no shame in lacking political gifts. What is shameful is that she continues to blame her personal failings on the rest of us.
Ka-ching! She has a boatload of anti-charisma, whatever that might be called, “social awkwardness,“ maybe?

Wednesday Snark

Wry headline at the satirical Babylon Bee website:
Democrats Warn That American People May Tamper With Next Election
We certainly can’t allow that to happen, can we? Hat tip to Sarah Hoyt, guest blogging at Instapundit, for the link.

Trump’s Foreign Policy Emerges

Writing at Politico about recent U.S. foreign actions, with particular emphasis on the recently released peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians, authors Robert Malley and Aaron David Miller conclude a Trump foreign policy is emerging.
It is easy to condemn the Trump administration for lacking a strategy. Easy, but wrong. The Trump administration’s strategy is unfolding before our eyes, the sum total of every new step it takes.

It reflects the Trump team’s conviction that power unexercised is power wasted, that power ought to be used to break up the ways of the past, and that past presidents spent far too much time fretting about how America’s rivals would react to our actions when America’s rivals ought to worry about how America will react to theirs.
One supposes it will continue to be the Trump go-to dogma until it stops working. Meantime, expect much whining from friends (and enemies) who were comfortable with the US-as-big-patsy model followed by previous presidents of both parties.

Casting the EU Horoscope

George Friedman writes at Geopolitical Futures about the future of the EU in the aftermath of Brexit. I conclude he believes the EU will continue to devolve.

The centuries-old factors that make Germany German and Italy Italian haven’t gone away. If anything they’ve strengthened. He notes Poland, Hungary, and Italy as finding the EU “yoke” particularly uncomfortable today.
They begin to go their own way, with EU officials hurling threats and condemnation over frustration that the EU bureaucracy is not only no longer authoritative but also no longer frightening. The British economy grew in January, an indication that the catastrophe Brussels had wished for the U.K. may not visit London, or Italy, if it should decide to go its own way with its currency. And certainly, neither Poland nor Hungary, having survived Stalin and Hitler, is likely to be cowed into submission by increasingly small EU subsidies. The weakening of the EU has undercut its ability to pay for conformity.

Europe once had a magnificent idea, a free trade zone called the European Economic Community whose main focus was trade, not inventing identities. It was replaced by the European Union, but the EU can now look to another example, the North American trade zone, which has a slightly larger gross domestic product than the EU. The two are fundamentally different; the North American bloc does not claim to represent a North American identity, its members sometimes dislike each other intensely, and it does not have a secretariat to dictate how they should live.
All of which begs the question underlying the EU’s foundation. If a European identity cannot be forged via the EU, will Europeans once again war on each other as they did twice in the 20th century? It has been 170 years since the nations of North America warred on each other.

Things Are Looking Up

Power Line’s Steven Hayward posts (scroll down) more fine-grained results from a recent Gallup poll of Americans’ current satisfaction with a variety of issues. In each case these are compared to their answers on the same questions three years ago when Trump took office.

Let me share some with you; in each case we list the percentage points improvement, from 2017 to 2020.
+22  The state of the nation’s economy.
+18  The nation’s security from terrorism.
+15  The nation’s military strength and preparedness.
+14  The state of race relations.
In spite of which, it appears Bernie Sanders will do very well among Democrats in the March primary, he’s now leading in CA.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Striving Toward A to Achieve B

For my sins, I’m a fan of irony in its many forms. The example which just occurred to me is the quite unintended symmetry between the impeachment currently winding down in the Senate and Trump’s new peace plan for Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

You’ve seen more than you need of the impeachment. If you’d like to learn the outlines of the new peace plan Power Line’s John Hinderaker has a summary. I bet you’re wondering what these two things could possibly have in common.

The answer: both were undertaken by people who didn’t expect them to succeed. Democrats passed impeachment in the House knowing there was virtually no chance it would pass in the Senate. Trump and son-in-law Kushner launched this peace plan knowing there is virtually no chance the Palestinians will accept it.

In both cases the intent is to accomplish something else by going through the motions, appearing to be serious about whatever is put forward. We know the Democrats’ impeachment hope is to damage Trump’s chances of reelection in November.

What Trump & Co. hope to achieve with the Peace for Palestine plan is less clear. Perhaps it is to demonstrate to the world that the roadblock to a reasonable settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian grievances is Palestinian intransigence.

The trouble with this reasoning is that those willing to blame the Palestinians already do so. Demonstrating once again Arab unwillingness to settle is preaching to the choir.

Everybody else has their fingers in their ears and is loudly singing “la la la la.” They refuse to listen because, alas, they have accepted the Arabs’ belief they are the victims in this conflict.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Weird Educational Science

John Hinderaker of Power Line reports the very recent findings of a study done by Chris Stewart of the Brightbeam organization. Stewart, an African-American former member of the Minneapolis Public School board, is probably unhappy with what he found and I give him props for making it public. Hinderaker writes:
Stewart compared achievement by race in a number of cities that he classified as progressive or conservative. The results didn’t surprise me, but they shocked Stewart. Conservative cities (as ranked by political scientists used as a reference for the study) consistently did a better job of closing student achievement gaps–sometimes, to zero–than progressive cities.
In progressive cities, the gaps between blacks and Hispanics vs. whites ranged from 34 to 41 percent. In conservative cities, the same gaps ranged from 19 to 27 percent. See Stewart’s chart for more detail.

The Bacon’s Rebellion website takes a stab at explaining what may be causing the findings. It identifies three factors - (less) agency, (looser) discipline, and lower standards - which may be responsible for larger gaps in progressive cities. You will find Bacon’s explanations of each of these interesting.

Good News

National Review reports a Supreme Court decision which permits the Trump administration to further restrict immigration of needy people.
The Supreme Court ruled on Monday to approve the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule for new immigrants. The justices approved the rule by a vote of 5-4 along ideological lines.

“Public charge” has in recent years been defined as a person dependent on cash assistance programs. The Trump administration updated the definition in August 2019 to include people likely to require non-cash government benefits, and sought to implement a policy limiting the number of new immigrants who would require government assistance such as food stamps or Medicaid.
The article adds that new restrictions on “birth tourism” leading to “anchor babies” have recently been announced.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Texas Likely Remains a Red State

Writing at Fox News, Chuck DeVore looks at the data concerning whether Texas will turn blue and vote for Democrats in the near future. Suspected of enabling this is the movement of people from blue states to TX seeking jobs and affordable housing.

These migrants are thought to bring blue state voting habits with them. DeVore finds evidence this isn’t so.
Texas Public Policy Foundation contracted with WPA Intelligence, the same polling firm used by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and surveyed 800 registered voters across the state.

The poll found that compared to native Texans, people who moved to Texas were more likely to have voted for President Trump, with voters born in Texas favoring Trump over Clinton by 7 percent compared to transplants favoring Trump by 12 percent. Remember, Trump won Texas by 9 percent in 2016.

This result is similar to the findings of a CNN exit poll in the 2018 Senate race between Cruz and O’Rourke showing that native Texans favored O’Rourke by 3 percent compared to people who moved to Texas supporting Cruz by 15 percent. And an earlier poll by the Texas Tribune and UT Austin found that 57 percent of Californians who moved to Texas were self-described conservatives compared to 27 percent liberals.
A progressive leaving CA or NY for work reasons, would try to head somewhere he’d find like minds. Evidence suggests many such head to Colorado, which really bums my conservative relatives who call CO home.

It appears most TX immigrants from blue states truly are refugees from blue state politics, not merely the economics. Our national sorting continues.

A False Argument

The Atlantic has an article arguing that the mostly white electorates in Iowa and New Hampshire are the reason there are no non-whites in the small group of Democrats still considered serious contenders for the nomination. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

I’d argue this hypothesis is false. If Harris, Booker, or Castro had great national poll numbers their lackluster polls in IA and NH wouldn’t matter. Note for example that former VP Joe Biden - given little chance of a first place showing in either IA or NH - is still considered a front runner for the nomination.

The truth is none of these three - Harris, Booker, Castro - electrified the nation’s black and Hispanic communities, if polls are to be believed. Alternatively, maybe communities of color are less excited about electing another of their own following Obama’s less-than-brilliant performance in office.

Rearranged Deck Chairs in Lebanon

Middle East Forum reports a change in government in Lebanon, one which in their judgment now contains only Hezbollah supporters. Apparently this is a break with tradition there. This change follows a period where widespread demonstrations demanded change.

MEF is of the opinion that the new government brings the government’s form into agreement with the pre-existing reality. Normally speaking, that is a good thing. Whether it proves to be so in Lebanon is less clear.

Lebanese groups no longer represented in government, including Christian Arabs, Druze and Sunni Muslims, no longer have to share the blame for government failures. Sadly, government failure is more the rule than the exception in this benighted region.

The article quotes the Israeli Defense Minister reflecting on the policy implications of the change in Lebanon.
The State of Israel will not differentiate between the sovereign state of Lebanon and Hezbollah, and will view Lebanon as responsible for any action from within its territory.
To say this makes life simpler for the IDF is a serious understatement. I’d judge it will make life more problematic (and shorter) for many Lebanese.

Saturday, January 25, 2020


Law prof Frank Buckley writes for the New York Post about forces that might push parts of the U.S. toward secession. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.
Americans have never been more divided, and we’re ripe for secession. The bitterness, the gridlock, the growing tolerance of violence invite us to think that we’d be happier were we two different countries. In all the ways that matter, save for the naked force of law, we are already two nations.

And if that’s where we are today, where might we be in an easily imaginable future, where impeachment fizzles and Trump wins reelection and gets a couple more appointments to the Supreme Court? If secession were to happen, it would be the left-wing states that want out, places like California and Oregon. If they think the rest of the country is populated by deplorables, why would they want to be in the same country as the rest of us?
Buckley’s solution that avoids a breakup is this.
I recognize all the differences that divide us, but a better answer would be a greater tolerance for those differences, in the form of renewed federalism. Or federalism on steroids, which I call home rule.
Meaning, I suppose, really dramatic differences in the legal structures of various states. Such could seriously interfere with interstate commerce which is one of our biggest comparative advantages.

I imagine, for example, firms in social welfare-rich, high tax states not feeling able to compete with firms in low-tax laissez faire states whose costs are lower. What then? Progressives will call what occurs “a race to the bottom.”

Satisfaction Up

The Washington Examiner reports findings of a new Gallup poll looking at Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S.
Satisfaction “with the way things are going” in the United States has reached a 15-year high, about four times better than the low points registered under President Barack Obama.

In its latest survey, Gallup said that 41% are satisfied with the direction of the nation. The last time it hit that level was in 2005, during the administration of President George W. Bush.

Under Obama, it hit about 10% in his first and third year, but it rose to the mid-30s in his last year.
Good news for POTUS and Co.

Among Former Democrats

Beltway reporter Tim Alberta goes home to rural Michigan to live, hoping to reconnect with how real America thinks/feels. For Politico, he writes about attending a gun & knife show on a snowy day where he spent all day talking to attendees and exhibitors.

Like Diogenes, Alberta searches in vain for a Democrat, or even an independent, at the show. Many former Democrats echo Reagan, saying in essence what he said, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.”

Literally every person Alberta talks to plans to vote to reelect President Trump. Even those who had doubts in 2016 have none now. Many will do so while regretting some of the President’s more “colorful” antics or tweets.

Because it’s biased Politico, they had to include a photo of a booth selling Nazi memorabilia. Odd that Alberta didn’t meet a single would-be stormtrooper or skinhead in a day’s interviewing. Bad luck I guess, he should have tried harder.

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Verdict of History

Thinking about the post immediately below, and about the historical context of today’s politics got me musing about FDR. What almost nobody remembers today is that a substantial minority of (mostly Republican) contemporary Americans hated Franklin Roosevelt in office.

Today people on the left with no sense of proportion compare Trump to Hitler. Roosevelt running for a third, and then fourth term must have looked to his detractors like a Latin American-style “president-for-life.” His dying in office made it literally true.

I am just old enough to remember FDR’s successor, Harry Truman, being excoriated as a bumptious, unpolished machine politician from a hick state. He truly did have some rough edges.

Historians tend to forget the personal foibles and see accomplishments. Given the perspective of decades of hindsight, both FDR and HST are almost universally praised today. I am tempted to hazard a guess the same will happen to Trump.


Political analyst Sean Trende (great name in his racket) writes for RealClearPolitics that there are serious reasons to doubt the electability of all of the 6 Democrat front runners. No kidding.

Like bowling pins, Trende sets ‘em up one by one and knocks each down in turn. Barring a black swan event, one of them will be nominated to play the Washington Generals role against Trump’s Globetrotter-like trickster onslaught.

Think about it, Trump fills arenas wherever he chooses to go, with cheering people who spend hours in line to get in. Literally none of the Democrat aspirants has generated a tenth of this enthusiasm.

I wouldn’t bet much against Trump, but because of his impetuous nature, not much on him either. Plus betting on a favorite - Trump - to win doesn’t pay much.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Britain Looking Good

Instapundit links to an article in The Times of London with some very contrarian economic predictions.
Britain’s economy will grow faster than those of other major European countries this year as chief executives regard it as an increasingly attractive place to invest, two studies have found.

Amid growing optimism over Britain’s economic outlook, the International Monetary Fund said that it would outperform the eurozone this year and next.
The Remain folks swore Brexit would bring Britain’s economic downfall ... oops, guess not.

Organizational Decapitation

Reuters reports another close associate of the late IRGC General Soleimani has been assassinated, this one in south-western Iran.
IRNA said that Abdolhossein Mojaddami, a Basij commander in the city of Darkhovin in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, was shot on Tuesday in front of his home by two men riding a motorcycle. 
You could think of Mojaddami as the equivalent of a regional Gestapo boss. No one has claimed credit for the killing, maybe it was our Special Forces, maybe Mossad, maybe an Iranian rival, maybe a jealous husband or ambitious underling.

As we noted a few days ago when another Soleimani associate was killed in southern Iraq, shortening these folks life expectancy is good pour encourager les autres.

Ignoring Social Class - Dem’s Downfall

Don’t try to teach a pig to sing, the old adage says, you won’t succeed and you’ll irritate the pig. This bit of folk wisdom mostly distills a long article by labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan in The New Republic.

Geoghegan’s basic point, the nearly 70% of Americans who are not college graduates were once a reliable Democrat demographic. Except for people of color, Democrats have lost the whole non-college group to Trump and the Republicans. He claims the reason for this is Democrats ignoring social class, and he’s probably correct. Trump speaks to and for this marginalized group.

The author quotes Democrats Sanders, Warren, and Obama to the effect that the answer to the blue collar’s tough times is “more free higher education.” They want to teach “the pig” to sing.

How do you suppose their “fix” sounds to people who didn’t much like the school experience? A lot like telling the first President Bush the answer to his electoral problem was eating more of the broccoli he famously hated.

Cannily, Geoghegan notes that the value of much higher education has been its scarcity. Those with it ended up running civilian and military organizations, supervising those without it. If everybody has it, who is left to supervise?

I don’t recommend the author’s solutions. As a labor lawyer he believes the answer is stronger and more empowered unions. That is like a doctor believing the answer to poverty is better health care. Can you say “self serving”? On the other hand, he’s correct that the Democrats’ approach to working class people - telling them to just “man up” and learn to code or become college grads - isn’t working.

A Brexit Milestone

COTTonLINE has been following the Brexit story for four years. Today Breitbart reports an important milestone has been passed. Parliament has at long last nailed down the law that takes the U.K. out of the EU on the 31st of this month.
The UK will then move into an 11-month transition period, where the country will remain subject to the EU’s Customs Union and Single Market rules, as well as the free movement regime, while London and Brussels thrash out a future trade deal. There can be no extension of the transition period, as that provision was ruled out in a clause of the withdrawal agreement bill. If there is no deal agreed by December 31st, 2020, the UK will simply trade with the EU on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms.
Bravely, then, into the future.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

An Unpopular Move

Paul Mirengoff of Power Line shares a story from behind the Washington Post paywall.
Norway’s prime minister has lost her parliamentary majority because one of the parties in her coalition withdrew in protest over the repatriation of a suspected ISIS member from a Syrian camp. The Prime Minister, Erna Solberg of the Conservative Party, says she will try to govern with a minority coalition.

Norway, like other European nations, is under pressure from the Trump administration to repatriate ISIS fighters. President Trump has warned that captured fighters will be released unless European governments are willing to take them back.

Yet, European nations continue to resist. Only a few ISIS fighters have been repatriated. Repatriation of a given ISIS member doesn’t mean that the member goes free automatically. The home country can, and presumably will, try to convict the fighter and send him or her to prison.

The problem is that it may be difficult to convict ISIS fighters under the exacting standards that apply in criminal cases. Moreover, judges in countries like Norway may be sympathetic to the defendants.
I agree with those Europeans who don’t want trouble-makers allowed back into the countries they fled. Neither terrorist thugs nor their doxies deserve a mulligan.

Those who fled chose (“poorly” one wants to add) to go to Syria. Let ‘em rot there subject to the tender mercies of Assad’s enforcers and Hezbollah goons.

Trump at Davos

Power Line’s Scott Johnson quotes some of President Trump’s speech at the Davos gathering of billionaire machers. I believe you will like what he has to say to those gathered for the World Economic Forum.
[T]o embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune-tellers — and I have them and you have them, and we all have them, and they want to see us do badly, but we don’t let that happen.

They predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, mass starvation in the ’70s, and an end of oil in the 1990s. These alarmists always demand the same thing: absolute power to dominate, transform, and control every aspect of our lives.
Chicken Little was a hysteric, so is Greta Thunberg. If you’d like to read more of Trump’s optimistic speech at Davos, John Hinderaker of Power Line has a much longer excerpt. It is a powerful preview of the upbeat message upon which Trump will run for reelection. Enjoy.


In a recent interview, here reported by the Washington Examiner, Hillary Clinton is quoted as saying:
In the four-part series, which premieres in March on Hulu, the former secretary of state argued that “nobody likes” the Vermont senator.

"He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It's all just baloney, and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it,” she said.
My question: Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black? Hillary has her own likability problems, big time. And her record of ‘accomplishments’ is very nearly as empty.

Two Data Points

At various times we’ve noted efforts to get Americans interested in the Chinese Han majority abusing the Uighur minority in western China. Also efforts to get Americans interested in the Burmese abuse of their Rohingya minority in western Myanmar.

None of these efforts have experienced much success. Which raises the question of why not? What the two minorities have in common the Muslim faith.

Does this make them less sympathetic figures to Americans in this post 9-11 era? While you’d have a hard time getting educated people to admit it, I suspect the actual answer is “yes.”

“Onc Child” Law Gone, Birth Rate Still Low

China’s birthrate has dropped to a level only matched in 1961, a year of famine. 1BusinessWorld reports.
China’s total fertility rate — an estimate of the number of babies a woman would have over her lifetime — has fallen to 1.6 children per woman, and for years has generally remained below the “replacement” level of 2.1. That means China could soon see a shrinking population and a work force too small to support its pensioners.
Meanwhile, the rate in Japan has dropped to 1.4 children per woman. As COTTonLINE has long noted, it is likely China is following the same boom-and-bust cycle Japan followed, albeit 20+ years later.

As with the Soviets, our logical strategy is to wait out China’s deterioration. It makes you wonder which nation will be the next challenger, after China. Perhaps India or Brazil?

An Echo from the Past

I just had a funny experience I’d like to share. I mean “funny” as in strange, not “funny” as in humorous.

Some background, I was a B-school doctoral student in the late 1960s, studying organizational behavior (OB) and organization theory (OT) at the University of Oregon. An often-cited thinker in OT at the time was sociologist Amitai Etzioni. He was one of the heavy hitters whose work we read.

Fast forward to today, slightly in excess of 50 years later. I’m scanning and up pops a link to a new article by Amitai Etzioni in City Journal. I’m all “there can’t be two dudes with that strange name” so I check it out and it’s him, the one I studied in my late twenties.

Now I’m puzzled, how could an established leading scholar 50 years ago still be working? I check Wikipedia and it turns out he’s 91 and still writing. At 91 “still breathing” is an accomplishment.

His current topic, how it’s hard today for progressives to also be patriotic, something he wants very much to be. He isn’t certain he will be allowed to be both liberal and a patriot.

I wish him well, patriotism shouldn’t be limited to us on (in?) the right. The US. has much to admire whatever one’s politics.

Etzioni’s politics currently are communitarian ... a sort of idealized latter-day New England town meeting approach to governance, very face-to-face. Perhaps it’s ”essence of kibbutz“ OT. Once a sociologist, always a sociologist, eh?

Getting Real

Most of the pollution supposedly causing a climate problem is happening in poor countries of Asia, where nobody expects any significant improvement to occur. 2020 population estimates: China  - 1,398, India - 1,319, Indonesia - 267, Pakistan - 213, Bangladesh - 164 (all in millions), totaling 3.4 billion. The world population estimate is 7,6 billion.

Nearly half of the world’s population is in four poor Asian nations. Add in the other poor regions of Asia plus Africa and Central Asia and you’re well over half. These are places where exactly no one expects any progress on pollution reduction.

We have an example on our southern border with Mexico. The ocean south of San Diego along the border is polluted with raw sewage. The U.S. could afford to build, operate, and maintain a modern sewage treatment plant for Tijuana, but we haven’t done so, nor is it likely. It might not solve the problem since the sewer lines leak and aren’t always used.
Most of the plastic in the oceans, most of the smoke from cooking fires, most coal smoke from electrical generation comes from nations where cleaner living is simply beyond economic possibility. Since we give up on most of the world’s pollution before we begin, whatever efforts are made should focus on how to mitigate climate change if it occurs.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Your Monday Snark

The title of an article at the Daily Beast is worth sharing with you. It is this:
Oscars? White Guys. Democratic Candidates? White Guys. And These Are the Liberal Organizations.
Don’t bother with the article, it’s essentially a restatement of the title plus some feminist whining. In each case the reason is both women and men mostly vote for white men.

Weird Mating Science

A major function of this blog is to flag for your attention material I’ve read and in some manner found interesting. One such popped up recently on Quillette, a longish article on recent social research findings about sex ratios and dating/mating behavior.

Unmarried women want to date men with greater (or at least equal) education and/or income. More women than men are attending and graduating from college.

When men outnumber women, men tend to conform to women’s wishes which focus on commitment and long-term relationships. When women outnumber men, women tend to conform to men’s wishes which focus on casual sex and lack of commitment.

Where women outnumber men, women tend to be less happy and are more likely to engage in feminist activities. Why are fewer men than women becoming educated?
In their book, The Demise of Guys, psychologists Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan suggest that the answer is twofold: fake war and fake sex. They argue that many young men have a natural desire for conflict, struggle, and accomplishment. Video games satiate this desire. They are designed to induce a sense of gradual achievement in the face of obstacles adapted to be just above the player’s ability. Alongside this, young men also have a natural desire to seek sexual partnerships. Digital porn satiates this desire. Porn provides a virtual experience of sexual fulfillment with multiple different partners. Many young men may have simply decided to derive a sense of accomplishment from gaming, and a sense of sexual satisfaction from porn.
It’s an argument for a new Puritanism banning ”fake war and fake sex.” Of course many prefer “war” to be “fake” and “fake sex” is more varied and less risk and hassle. I’ve just hit some high points, the whole article is worth your time.

Cold War 2.0

At The National Interest, foreign policy guru Robert Kaplan writes about the new Cold War with China, it’s a thoughtful piece worth your consideration. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.
This second cold war, conducted on a teeming planet whose anxiety is intensified by the passions and rages of social media, is only in its beginning stages. The aim, like in the first Cold War, is negative victory: not defeating the Chinese, but waiting them out, just as we waited the Soviets out.
Kaplan makes much of the Chinese abuse of the Muslim Uighur minority in western China, and our failure to capitalize thereupon. He chooses not to notice that Americans couldn’t care less about their fate. The man in the street’s attitude echoes Henry Kissinger about the Iran-Iraq war, “It’s a pity both sides can’t lose.”

As COTTonLINE noted earlier, given time the Chinese economy is likely to implode much as the Japanese did in the 1990s, and for similar reasons.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

U.K. Police Admit Ignoring Child Abuse

The police in Rotherham, U.K., finally owned up to ignoring for years the organized sexual abuse of British children, mostly girls, by Pakistani immigrant “grooming gangs.” Apparently the fear of appearing racist was too strong for British police to prosecute what was obviously large-scale child abuse.

John Hinderaker of Power Line has the story. We wrote about this back in 2018. It has seemingly been going on for decades.

In Afghanistan, next door to Pakistan, men routinely (and openly) abuse young boys sexually with zero negative consequences. I’m ashamed to say American troops are ordered to ignore it lest our ‘allies’ go over to the Taliban.

It appears there isn’t much difference in the cultures of Pakistan and adjacent Afghanistan with respect to tolerance of sexual abuse of children. Let me repeat a favorite COTTonLINE aphorism: culture matters - not all cultures are equally wonderful or valid, some are malignant.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Trump’s Crossover Appeal

The website Red State, obviously conservative from its name, reports some interesting statistics from a source which obviously shares its biases. If these are accurate, they are optimistic omens.
Several days ago, Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale posted statistics from last week’s rally held in Toledo, OH, which showed that 43% of attendees identified as either Democratic or Independent.

The same statistic from Trump’s Tuesday night rally in Wisconsin can only be described as staggering. 57.8% of registrants identified as either Democratic or Independent.
Parscale has motive to exaggerate, and the data is self-report, we can’t be sure if attendees are telling the truth. To whatever extent those numbers are accurate, maybe they reflect Trump’s skill at standup shtick, he is a showman and his rallies appear to be great fun if you share his view of the world and our nation’s place in it.

The number of Democrats and Independents attending may not be dead accurate, but there is no arguing with the overflow crowds. If there were empty seats, the legacy media would make much of it. Since they haven’t done so, empty seats don’t exist at Trump rallies. That datum you can take to the bank.

The Bloomberg Gambit

Steven Hayward of Power Line floats an interesting theory about the Bloomberg candidacy. See what you think of it.
Bloomberg is setting himself up to run as an independent this year, especially if Sanders is the nominee. There’s this very interesting little detail in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article (behind WSJ paywall) about his campaign:
The campaign paid as much as double the going rate for staff and promised jobs to workers through November, whether or not Mr. Bloomberg stays in the race. The candidate, who is funding his run entirely by himself, now has 1,000 campaign staffers.
If you’ve seen any of Bloomberg’s ads, they are sustained attacks on Trump, which look like general election ads. He doesn’t mention he is a Democrat.

I am sure his thinking runs like this: Sanders (or Warren) would be a landslide loser to Trump, so it might well be possible for a well-funded independent to siphon up enough votes from disaffected Democrats, independents, and other reluctant Trump voters to win a close three-way race.
In 1992 Ross Perot is believed to have cost Bush I reelection. Perot siphoned off more votes from disappointed Republicans than from Democrats.

I expect almost-Democrat Bloomberg would weaken the opposition to Trump, clearly not his intent. I don’t see him cutting into the Trump base, or winning many black votes who, in the hypothesized three-way race, might stay home.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Not Walking the Talk

Instapundit links to a Washington Examiner article based on an Institute for Farmily Studies report. The title of the IFS study explains the finding.
State of Contradiction: Progressive Family Culture, Traditional Family Structure in California
The Washington Examiner extracts the ironic findings.
When it comes to their own families, California elites with kids overwhelmingly ‘live right’ in private, giving their children the benefit of growing up in a two-parent family.

Among Californians aged 18-50, the college-educated were far more likely than those with no college degree (85% to 69%) to agree that we should celebrate the diversity of family structures, including single parenthood, unmarried parents, and other alternative family structures.

That’s how they feel about others. How do the elites feel about their own lives? “It’s very important for me, personally to be married before having children,” 68% of the college-educated sample agreed. That number was only 59% for those who never went to college.

So the elites are more "tolerant" than the working class ideologically, but they are much more conservative about how they plan to live.
My reading of these findings: elites say they are okay with diverse lifestyles but their behavior belies those stated values. They learned in college how they are supposed to answer the question and so they give the socially approved answer, which they don’t really believe.

In addition, perhaps they are closet libertarians, holding that of course you are free to screw up your lives just as we are free to not do so with ours. Data from CA only sharpens the contrast.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Polar Opposites

Each elected U.S. president is in some fashion a reaction to his predecessor. Let’s consider how the nature of President Obama may have led to the nomination and election of President Trump.

Consider three facts: none of Barack Obama’s ancestors were slaves; his father’s people were colonial subjects. As a expat child Obama lived in Indonesia, a one-time Dutch colony. While there he had an Indonesian step-father whose family name Barack used for several years. He is said to have claimed “foreign student” status at Columbia U.

It shouldn’t surprise us that, as president, Obama proved more interested in fostering third-world anti-colonialism than improving the lives of African-Americans. Much of the time President Obama’s reactions were more those of a UN Secretary General than of a national leader. So much so that many Americans experienced him, though a citizen, as vaguely “foreign.”

The 2016 attractiveness of avowed patriot and nationalist Donald Trump may be explained, in part, as a reaction to Obama’s “otherness.” Trump’s “America first” attitude makes him Obama’s polar opposite. Like Trump or hate him, he’s unmistakably American.

How ironic that a reaction to President Obama’s “world citizen” persona helped Donald Trump win first the nomination and then the presidency.

Last Night’s Lame Debate

Last evening six Democrats debated which of them should be 2020’s version of Walter Mondale, or maybe George McGovern. By all accounts they put little energy into the debate. I suppose the reasoning was why knock yourself out when the prize is worth so little?

Meanwhile Trump continues to draw overflow crowds to his trademark pep rallies. It is clear where the energy is, where the motivated folks are, and who they are supporting ... it’s him.

Trump might come closer to “running the table” this November than four years ago. Meanwhile, he’s having the time of his life doing it.

As a performer Trump plays to sell-out crowds night after night - what’s not to like? The adrenaline rush has to be amazing.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Men Need Work

Writing in the Washington Examiner, Suzanne Venker looks at different ways men and women think about employment. Instapundit provided the link. See her conclusion:
Men need work in a way women do not. Thus, it makes more sense for men to have a leg up in the marketplace.

At the end of the day, nothing good will come from men being displaced by women in the workforce. This phenomenon has, and will continue to, create a sharp decline in marriage and family formation and will increase the likelihood of divorce and even death.

That's not progress. That's regress.
Eventually, it’s how nations die.

Grassroots Dems Reject Diversity

Beth Baumann at Townhall writes about the all-white panel of candidates for the Democrat debate tonight, the last before the Iowa caucuses.
According to Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez, voters are responsible for who lands on the stage. And it's voters' fault that the stage lacks any diversity.
I wasn’t certain Baumann had correctly characterized his remarks, I didn’t think Perez would say that in so many words. Sadly, I have been unable to find online a transcript of the MSNBC remarks to which she makes reference.

However, Perez was also interviewed by NPR and that transcript depicts him tying himself in knots trying not to say what he so clearly implies. Namely, that you can blame Democrat voters for the lack of diversity onstage.

Baumann was correct in her characterization of what Perez obliquely admitted. Namely, the DNC set debate participation rules beforehand based largely on preference polling of Democrats, and the candidates who cleared the increasingly higher hurdles were white, not Hispanic or black or even Asian.

Surveyed Democrats (including many of color) prefer the white candidates. For example, Biden is most favored by African-Americans.

Folk wisdom: When your enemy shoots himself in the foot, consider it an opportunity.

Monday Snark

Breitbart quotes Donald Trump Jr. on the whiny complaints of Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
If @ewarren can’t take the heat she should get out of the teepee!
Warren asked for that crack. Claiming to be part Indian was her choice, done without evidence for totally selfish reasons.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Madame President?

Drudge Report links to a CNN story concerning a private meeting between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren roughly 13 months ago. While they agreed about several things, there was some disagreement about who could win the presidency.
Sanders responded that he did not believe a woman could win.
Sanders disputes saying this, but what if he did? He wasn’t expressing his own feelings about a woman president, but rather his “read” of whether too many American voters felt that way.

As it stands, Sanders has been right so far. On the other hand, as comic Mort Sahl would portentously say with a wicked, sarcastic grin, “The future ... lies ahead.”

We’ll only be sure the situation has changed when the first woman wins not just the popular vote but the actual presidency. When that happens, hope for all our sakes she’s another Margaret Thatcher, not an Angela Merkel.

Bye-Ku for Booker

Various sources report Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is exiting the race for the Democrat presidential nomination. With the customary hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer Sen. Booker a bye-ku - a haiku of farewell.
Ciao Cory Booker,
A Spartacus from Jersey?
You were risible.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

A Life in Letters

Various sources are reporting Sir Roger Scruton has died, age 75. He was a latter-day renaissance man - a philosopher, composer, conservative activist, and man of letters. Steven Hayward of Power Line writes an appreciation of Scruton’s life and impact.

I’d share with you two Scruton quotes from Hayward’s obit, with a needed (I believe) explanation for the second.
A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ‘merely relative,’ is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.

Conservatism may rarely announce itself in maxims, formulae, or aims. Its essence is inarticulate, and its expression, when compelled, skeptical.
Hayward explains why conservatism can be “inarticulate.”
The conservative faces the tougher challenge of understanding and explaining the often subtle reasons why existing institutions, no matter how imperfect, work better than speculative alternatives.
Another way of saying this is that, despite liberal claims, there are few-to-no simple solutions to complex problems.

Wouk’s World War II

The death of author Herman Wouk a few months ago brought forth retrospectives of his life and work. One of these reminded me of his two great novels of World War II - Winds of War and War and Remembrance - made into TV miniseries which the other DrC and I enjoyed 30+ years ago.

I‘d never read the novels, which I ordered from Amazon and read on our recent month-long cruise. A dozen sea days provided plenty of time to finish the two mammoth tomes, which begin before the Hitler-Stalin pact, end as the war ends, and sweep much of the northern hemisphere.

Now, during our winter RV sojourn by a reservoir, the other DrC and I are rewatching the TV miniseries on DVDs. We’ve finished Winds of War and will begin War and Remembrance this coming week.

Wouk spins a heck of a tale, it’s as good as I remembered it. There’s a good chance both books and miniseries can be borrowed from your local library, If you share my interest in the World War II era, you will likely enjoy them very much.


Writing at American Greatness, Roger Kimball ruminates about the shoot-down of the Ukraine Air jet by Iran, followed by their denials, their eventual partial admission of guilt, and the resulting popular uprisings.
Fun facts: a Tomahawk cruise missile, with booster, is a bit over 20-feet-long, with a wingspan of less than nine feet. A Boeing 737-800 is a few inches shy of 130 feet long with a wingspan of nearly 113 feet. Students of interpreting radar cross-sections will find that interesting.

Frances Townsend, a former Homeland Security adviser to President George W. Bush, expressed a thought that will have occurred to many observers. “A country that cannot competently operate its air defense system aspires to possess #nuclear weapons! Really?! Just contemplate that for a moment.”
Mental image of letting small children play with loaded guns, a recipe for disaster. I don’t blame the airline for immediately ceasing service to Iran. Iran’s dreams of empire are as ungrounded in reality as a Pacific islander cargo cult.

Les Bons Temps Roule

The Washington Examiner reports excellent news for the campaign to reelect President Trump.
President Trump starts off 2020 having presided over a lower average unemployment rate than any president at a comparable point in office in recorded history.

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate held steady at a historically low 3.5% in December. Since February 2017, Trump's first full month in office, the monthly unemployment rate has averaged 3.9%

Modern unemployment statistics did not start being kept until 1948, after Harry Truman's first 35 months in office, so this analysis only starts with Eisenhower.
What would it take for Americans to vote against a continuation of what are, by any realistic standard, good times? As they say in New Orleans, “let ‘em roll.”

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Taiwan Persists

Taiwan recently held a presidential election and the candidate who opposes unification with China won big. She got 2.6 million votes more than the second place candidate who favors closer relations with the PRC, according to Reuters.

This past year’s unrest in Hong Kong - crowds opposing Beijing interference in HK governance - was certainly a big factor in the minds of many Taiwanese voters. The reelection of President Tsai Ing-wen was viewed as good news by the beleaguered residents of Hong Kong.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated Tsai, and added:
The United States thanks President Tsai for her leadership in developing a strong partnership with the United States and applauds her commitment to maintaining cross-Strait stability in the face of unrelenting pressure.
The “pressure” to which Pompeo refers is of course from Beijing. It is safe to conclude Tsai’s re-election was not viewed favorably there. Taiwan has been operationally independent of Beijing for over 70 years.

Another Reason

As the years go by, I keep finding new reasons to love Wyoming, my adopted home state. The latest is a paragraph from a Los Angeles Times article discussing how North Dakota is becoming less welcoming to immigrants. The paragraph:
Because of a federal policy announced in September, the 49 states and 600 counties that have welcomed refugees — only Wyoming has never taken part in federal resettlement efforts — each have the power to decide whether to continue doing so. (emphasis added)
OTOH Wyoming is welcoming to U.S. citizens who move there and try to fit in. My valley in western WY is home to a bunch of happy transplanted year-round residents and snowbird tax refugees.

The Blue Light Special

I’ve seen stuff written about problems supposedly caused by “blue light” but never paid attention. I assumed it was a nutty urban legend, like vaccines causing autism or vinegar causing weight loss.

Today a Time article caught my eye and I learned blue light is thought to interfere with sleep. And that the major source is our various screens like computers, iPads, and phones.

Time writes new research shows the supposed sleep interference is bunk, although earlier research appeared to support the anti-sleep hypothesis. With the caveat (my word for today?) that I rarely have trouble sleeping, I know blue light isn’t a sleep problem for me.

Most nights I fall asleep with my iPad on my belly and glasses on my nose and, waking briefly later, put them aside until morning. If anything, the glow of the iPad in the dark puts me to sleep. The one or two nights a year playing onscreen mah jongg isn’t better than a sleeping pill are really boring, but extremely uncommon.


Speaking of blue light, our local SoCal Walmart has a prime parking spot reserved for police vehicles denoted by a sign and winking blue light that reminds me of the old Kmart blue light special. I haven’t seen it at other Walmarts we visit, I wonder if the practice is common?

Another ‘Chessman’ Off the Board

The Daily Mail (U.K.) is reporting a high level pro-Iran militia leader in Karbala, Iraq, was shot by unknown gunmen. With the twin caveats that (a) Iraq is a dangerous place and (b) I know only what I read in established public news sources, bear with me as I speculate.

This appears to be the sort of decapitation plus object lesson for other would-be trouble-makers that might have happened at the direction of our (or another) government. Eventually one or more groups in opposition to pro-Iran militias will claim credit for the kill. Perhaps that “credit” will be deserved, perhaps not. Maybe he was shot by a jealous husband or a rival militia.

Regardless of who is responsible, being a pro-Iran leader in Iraq appears to be negatively correlated with longevity - no bad thing. Encouraging Iraqis with talent to choose other occupations is good, from our point of view.

A Reminder

The Week In Pictures by Steven Hayward at Power Line is always fun. It is particularly hilarious this week, many things to burlesque. And check out the comments too, some of those are fun.

Chasing the Dream

The year 2020 is a census year, U.S. population shifts will be revealed . As a result, seven states are projected to gain one or more congressional seats, while ten states will lose one. This has political implications The Hill reports:
The red-state leader is Texas, with a projected pickup of three congressional seats following the 2020 census — and that after gaining four congressional seats after the 2010 election. Florida will pick up two seats, and Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will each gain one, according to the analysis.

Of the seven states gaining seats, five voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Of the 10 states losing seats, five voted for Trump and five for Hillary Clinton.

But two of those five losing states that voted for Trump — Michigan and Pennsylvania — surprised most analysts since they have been blue-leaners for several years. And West Virginia is losing population in part because of a struggling state economy that has been so dependent on coal.

Texas will gain two or three congressional seats after 2020, while California will likely lose one. That’s a big deal for California, which has never lost a congressional seat. It is a tacit repudiation of California’s over-the-top taxes and policies. Some of the other blue states, such as New York and Illinois, have been bleeding people for years.
Americans are voting with their feet for lower taxes and home prices. They seek business-friendly policies and a polite indifference to snowflake obsessions with pronouns, etc. It’s important those who move leave blue state politics behind.

Friday, January 10, 2020

The State of Play

The Iowa caucuses happen in less than a month, and the New Hampshire primary a couple of weeks later. After maybe a year of ‘foreplay,’ we will finally have preliminary results to consider.

Unusually, there is today no clear front-runner. The latest polls show 3-4 would-be nominees clustered tightly together percentagewise in the high teens to low twenties.

Maybe three are within the poll’s margin of error - effectively tied. It is entirely possible - though unlikely - a different Democrat will win each of the first four states.

Come November we at COTTonLINE will vote to reelect Trump. Consider us bemused bystanders watching the Democrats’ mud wrestling.

If we had to pick the Democrat we’d fear least if elected, I suppose it would be Klobuchar. Though far from an endorsement, it practically guarantees her losing the nomination.

The whole Dem party has gone bizarro. They seem to be following the U.K. Labour Party down the primrose path into irrelevancy.

Bye-Ku for Williamson

Self-help author Marianne Williamson today announced her quixotic run for the Democratic presidential nomination is over ... yawn. Anyone who is surprised should schedule a mental health checkup, stat.

With our now-customary hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer Ms. Williamson a bye-ku, a haiku of farewell.

So long, Marianne.
Your message sells on Oprah
Go where they love you.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

An Offshore Neighbor’s View of China

RealClearWorld links to a Taipei Times article which says interesting things about the evolution of the PRC.
The 1990s was the decade when China went from poverty to development, and the 2020s are set to be the decade when it slips from development into decline.

Economically, the US’ trade and technology sanctions and the outflow of foreign businesses are likely to result in economic decline in China, just as Japan slipped into decline in the 1990s.

Socially, the turmoil in Hong Kong, China’s inability to respond to Hong Kongers’ demands for direct elections and the reliance on police violence against young protesters would also lead to domestic economic decline and increased unemployment.
Like Japan, China has a rapidly aging population, exacerbated by the decades-long one child policy. Also like Japan, the PRC hasn’t an entirely market-based economy; the resultant inefficiencies build up over time. Has the PRC’s tipping point been reached? Time will tell.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Noonan Takes a Long View

Time was this blog had a link to Peggy Noonan’s Wall Street Journal columns, then she went never-Trump and we cut her loose. Maybe we’ll have to consider putting her back in the Favorites list, her New Year/New Decade column is that good.

Peggy still finds Trump distasteful, but grudgingly allows he isn’t doing too bad. Some choice morsels:
On the impeachment of the American president, the story’s already been written, hasn’t it? It didn’t quite work. (snip) Even his supporters know he leaned on Ukraine for political gain. They judged this deserving of embarrassment but not removal.

The Democratic primary field is still flailing and doesn’t see it’s flailing. (snip) It isn’t true that America will never go socialist. Maybe it will, but not under current conditions—full employment, rising wages.

In the 2020s, the American position on China will harden—not the government’s but the country’s. (snip) Among the people, especially the business class, the perception will deepen that China is not our friend.

The belief that big tech needs to be corralled—to be broken up or declared public utilities—will grow on the left and right.

The past decade saw the rise of the woke progressives who dictate what words can be said and ideas held. (snip) Everyone with an honest mind hates them. Someone will finally move effectively against them.


Instapundit cites with approval the opinions of a friend from Facebook who opines on the crash of a Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737 at Tehran’s airport.
The Kyiv-bound aircraft crashed approximately three minutes after departure from Tehran yesterday, nearly concurrent with the conclusion of the Iranian ballistic-missile attacks on American forces in Iraq.

Iranian authorities, and apparently Ukrainian as well, are blaming mechanical issues. It’s a catch-all term in this case describing a series of events that are exceptionally unlikely, including most notably the aircraft transponder’s abrupt cessation of activity at about 8,000 feet following an entirely normal departure and ascent; and the aircraft’s recorded descent consumed in a fireball.

Neither of these outcomes are at all within range of ordinary possibility.

One more datum: UIA quickly terminated all service to and from Tehran, which is not done over mechanical issues.

What does it look like? Well. Juxtaposing events, it looks like an accidental shootdown by nervous Iranian anti-aircraft missileers watching for an American attack.
These things happen in a war zone, which Tehran has chosen to be.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

He Chose Poorly ....

Late-entering Democrat presidential aspirant Michael Bloomberg, speaking on a campaign swing through California, identified CA state government as a leader in progressive legislation and regulation. He said the nation could do well to follow its lead, as reported by CBS Sacramento.
The Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City mayor likes a lot of what he sees in the Golden State and thinks its efforts on climate change, gun control, and criminal justice reform set a benchmark for other states to emulate.
Okay, we know all we need to know about little Mike. Where he wants to lead us, we don’t want to go. I wonder how he feels about CA’s new law rationing water?

Profiling Is Imperative

The Los Angeles Times reports Iranian-American U.S. citizens were detained at the Canadian border and questioned for several hours before being readmitted. As you might imagine, they were incensed and the CBP claims they were not profiled.

OTOH, apparently Suleimani alleged the existence of Iranian sleeper cells of covert agents in the U.S. Such cells are made up of naturalized U.S. citizens of Lebanese Shia or Iranian birth. See an article in The Federalist about Iran’s sleepers in the U.S. and Latin America.

Caution by CBP seems entirely warranted. Don’t you suppose the FBI is taking a closer look at clusters of U.S. residents of Lebanese or Iranian birth? I certainly hope they are, failure to do so would constitute dereliction of duty.

A Travel Tip

On the trip recently concluded, I encountered a problem, solved it, and now a couple of weeks later, thought to share my solution with you. The problem was a cough requiring DM cough syrup while traveling cross-country by air to get home.

I was positive I’d have trouble getting the large opened bottle of cough syrup through TSA security. My solution was to empty three of the single serving liquor bottles in my cabin, fill them with cough syrup, and toss out the now-empty big bottle.

I kept one little bottle in my pocket and displayed it going through security inspection. I put another in my carry-on luggage, and gave a third to my wife for her carry-on bag. None of the bottles exceeded their maximum size constraint.

The cough syrup sailed through TSA with no questions raised. And using it, I was able to travel home without excessive coughing or grossing out my fellow passengers. BTW, I did manage to avoid bronchitis.

About Gray Squirrels

The New York Post carries a piece on British efforts to destroy the introduced population of gray squirrels. They make three allegations about the grays, two of which I wish to debunk.
They carry a virus which has almost wiped out native red squirrels, they attack songbird nests and stop trees growing by stripping bark.
I worked for most of my career in a college town covered with big, old (mostly) deciduous trees inhabited by a healthy crop of gray squirrels. The cute little rascals sure as blazes don’t stop trees growing, you’d be hard pressed to find a healthier stand of trees anywhere.

There is no shortage of songbirds in the town either. About a virus, I freely admit I have no direct knowledge. I’ve never seen a red squirrel there. The grays certainly appear healthy, the only dead ones I’ve seen were hit by cars.

I understand squirrels can be pests if they break into your attic, bury lots of acorns and nuts in your yard, empty your bird feeder or tease your cat. These, however, were not the reasons given for wanting them to stop reproducing in Britain.

Monday, January 6, 2020

The War with Iran ... Continues

Stephen Green, posting at Instapundit, about the killing of Qasem Suleimani.
By any measure, Trump’s daring call to eliminate Suleimani hasn’t brought us any closer to war with Iran, because we’ve been at war for a very long time. It hasn’t brought us any closer to World War III, because there’s no Iranian coalition, and far from being a global power, Iran is an overextended regional player.
Is Green correct? Much of what he observes is incontestable. Whether or not the killing will lead to large scale open warfare remains unclear.

Democrats Were Once Patriots

John Hinderaker of Power Line, concluding a lamentation over Democrats sympathizing with Iran.
Wouldn’t it be great if the Democrats were pro-America, rather than pro-Iran and pro-terrorist? That is a world that we once knew, but is now hard even to imagine. I don’t expect we will see it again in our lifetimes.
Democrats like Sam Nunn and Scoop Jackson never rooted for our enemies. It’s hard to imagine their like in today’s Democrat Party.

Speaking Truth to Hollywood

Ricky Gervais, hosting the Golden Globes awards show as reported by the Hollywood Reporter, cracking wise about the ridiculous political opinions of show biz folk.
If you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.
And you weren’t paying attention while there, either. It may be ‘roast’ humor, but it’s also self-evidently true.

A Poet Gets Real

RealClearPolicy links to a thumb-sucker in something called The Agonist, which contains a wry quote I like very much:
The only significant number of subscribers to the average poetry magazine are those persons who are published in it, or those who are angling to get published in it. For the rest of the reading public, poetry magazines might as well be on Mars. This is a brute fact of life that poets and wannabe poets have a hard time admitting, but which they know to be true. The poetry world is small, incestuous, and self-absorbed, and nobody outside of it is aware of its existence.
I wish this much self-awareness existed in the many other essentially irrelevant fields in which humans dabble.

Transactional Trump

At The Atlantic, staffer Peter Nicholas writes that there are two reasons Republican members of Congress don’t cross President Trump. In addition to the obvious - the Republican base very much likes what Trump’s gotten done, and tried to do - there is a second major reason that’s less often noted.
Trump has built personal ties with key members of Congress that have cemented their loyalty.

“Trump has been extremely good at taking care of the parochial interests of members of Congress, and they appreciate that,” former Republican Representative David Jolly of Florida told me, adding that he’s discussed the president with his former colleagues. “I talked to one member who said, I wish he wouldn’t do these things, but privately, he’s a really nice guy and he’s really good to me.”
As a builder in NYC, Trump buttered up aldermen and -women, building commission members, and union leaders. We see him doing it with people like Kim in North Korea too. It obviously works for him in deal-making.

For Trump it’s both the Golden Rule and its bitter obverse. Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you, certainly. But also do unto others as they’ve done unto you, as in the Soleimani execution. The Marine Corps uses a version of this as its unofficial motto: No better friend, no worse enemy.

A hundred years from now, historians will use the word “transactional” to describe the Trump presidency. It’s both his interpersonal style and his foreign relations mantra.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Petraeus Opines

Power Line’s John Hinderaker reports the analysis of General David Petraeus, asked by an interviewer for his opinion of the decision to kill Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani.
I suspect that the leaders in Washington were seeking to reestablish deterrence, which clearly had eroded to some degree.

This particular episode has been fairly impressively handled.

De gustibus non est disputandum

Power Line links to a Steven Malanga article in City Journal concerning the so-called “urban food deserts” about which SJWs have whined. He reaches a non-PC conclusion: food deserts exist because they reflect the tastes of the area’s residents.

If the residents of these poor areas liked fresh produce and would buy it in any quantity, someone  would already be selling it in their neighborhoods. SNAP (aka food stamps) gives the locals food purchasing power.

It turns out less-than-optimal food purchases reflect consumers’ choices of what to eat, with emphasis on sugar, grease, and starch. I’d guess kale, bean sprouts and arugula aren’t much on their radar.

I remember having a similar experience in small town rural Mississippi. The produce section of the local Piggly Wiggly consisted mostly of potatoes and onions.

It was unrealistic to expect that grocer to stock perishable items for which his customers expressed little interest. I’m certain almost nobody asked for leafy greens and fruit or they’d have been on sale.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Crazy California

Local CBS News in Sacramento reports the latest CA governmental insanity as follows:
California is now the first state in the nation to enact tough new water-efficiency standards. The controversial rules are targeted at water districts to cut per capita water usage, but in order to meet the goals, those cuts will trickle down to the customers they serve.

In 2022, the new indoor water standard will be 55 gallons per person, per day. by 2030, it will fall to 50 gallons.

An 8-minute shower uses about 17 gallons of water, a load of laundry up to 40, and a bathtub can hold 80 to 100 gallons of water.
Stand by for stinky Californians driving dirty cars - showering and washing clothes in the same day won’t be legal, and what about dirty dishes? It’s the grunge predicted in the Matt Damon film Elysium.

The law is so they don’t have to dam up a few more Sierra valleys to store rain/snow runoff.  It’s a travesty people won’t take lying down.

Pest Control

President Trump ordered the assassination-by-drone of Iranian General (and terrorism maven) Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad’s airport. This is the equivalent of FDR ordering the assassination-by-P-38 of Japan’s Admiral Yamamoto during World War II. North Korea’s Kim Jong-un should take note, perhaps it explains why Kim rarely flies.

Opportunities like this don’t occur as often as we’d like. Although former President Obama ordered the assassination of al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden, understanding Iran is an enemy is one of several things Obama couldn’t grasp.

Complicating factors: Obama had as primary advisors fellow expat red diaper baby Valerie Jarrett who grew up in Iran, and SecState John Kerry, a long-time admirer of Iran who has a Iranian-American son-in-law.

Thursday, January 2, 2020


Instapundit links to a Zero Hedge article reporting (with photos) the National Park Service has removed signage at Glacier National Park indicating the park’s glaciers will be gone by 2020. Reason: 2020 is here and the glaciers aren’t gone.

There is some evidence they might be growing. Are you even slightly surprised?

The Democrat Dilemma

Joe Biden is the favorite candidate of African-Americans. Bernie Sanders is the favorite candidate of the young snowflakes. Pete Buttigieg is the favorite candidate of white upper middle class adults. Only one of these can be the nominee, assuming Bloomberg doesn’t “buy” the nomination.

The question for Democrats is whether any of these can motivate all of the party faithful to turn out and vote for him. Each has weaknesses.

Biden isn’t much of a campaigner, and sometimes seems to be losing it. Sanders turns off people who understand that socialism is a recipe for economic disaster a la Venezuela. Buttigieg turns off the young and blacks, not certain why. As mayor Bloomberg favored the stop and frisk policing blacks hate, plus short candidates like him almost always lose.

A betting person would conclude that, ceteris paribus, Donald J. Trump is likely to win.

Where War Persists

The twenty-four hour news cycle tends to leave the impression that warfare is more widespread than ever - that impression is incorrect. It has actually been declining. Violence not classed as warfare is another matter, for example the cartel violence in Mexico or the many murders in Chicago and Baltimore.

The Strategy Page website does a long, comprehensive look at where warfare still occurs around the globe as 2019 ends. There are places where little progress is seen, including Somalia, Sudan (north and south), Yemen, Nigeria, and other areas where tribalism persists as the overriding local power structure.

This review is a useful resource for where we stand currently in defusing warfare. I recommend it with the caveat that it wasn’t proofread skillfully.

Bye-ku for Castro

Multiple sources report Julian Castro is dropping out of the race for the Democrat nomination for president. With the customary hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer a bye-ku - a haiku of farewell - to Mr. Castro.
Poor Senor Castro,
Hispanics didn’t view you
As their champion.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year

Y’all have a great 2020. Laugh whenever possible, eat lots of beef and bacon, stay healthy, do things that bring you joy, and remember to vote early and often (kidding about “often”).

Keep in mind that most things you fret about likely won’t look important a year or two from now. The adage “don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff” contains a lot of truth, although the second part is an exaggeration.

Buttigieg’s Red Roots

Democrat presidential nomination hopeful Pete Buttigieg’s father Joseph was a naturalized U.S. citizen, born and raised in Malta, a place that blends European and Arab culture. His politics are interesting, per the Washington Examiner.
Joseph Buttigieg, who died in January at the age of 71, immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s from Malta and in 1980 joined the University of Notre Dame faculty, where he taught modern European literature and literary theory. He supported an updated version of Marxism that jettisoned some of Marx and Engel's more doctrinaire theories, though he was undoubtedly Marxist.

He was an adviser to Rethinking Marxism, an academic journal that published articles “that seek to discuss, elaborate, and/or extend Marxian theory,” and a member of the editorial collective of Boundary 2, a journal of postmodern theory, literature, and culture. He spoke at many Rethinking Marxism conferences and other gatherings of prominent Marxists.

In a 2000 paper for Rethinking Marxism critical of the approach of Human Rights Watch, Buttigieg, along with two other authors, refers to "the Marxist project to which we subscribe." (emphasis added)
One wonders how far Pete’s apple has fallen from Joseph’s tree. Author Sarah Hoyt, who posts at Instapundit, calls Mayor Pete “another red diaper baby,” a term most notably applied to Barack Obama.