Thursday, February 27, 2020

Who Has Become Extreme

Much ink has been spilled arguing about which major political party has become extreme in recent years. Power Line’s Steven Hayward has a chart from a New York Times article which illustrates, pictorially, that the big move to the fringe was done by the Democrats.

Republicans, meanwhile, have kept on keeping on within a relatively narrow track. The two main changes in the GOP are an emphasis on controlling illegal immigration which was missing when big donors who liked cheap labor controlled party ideology and Trump’s recognition that practicing free trade with trading partners who won’t play fair is self-defeating.

Hayward’s point is that Sanders’ program isn’t that far from today’s Democrat mainstream. We and they are farther apart than has been true for decades, and most of the separation is movement leftward on their part. Thus more and more voters can say of themselves, as Ronald Reagan did, “I didn’t leave the Democrats, they left me.”

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

A Weak Field

Instapundit quotes with approval reactions his friends have posted on Facebook, about the SC debate last night. I particularly liked this bit:
I haven’t watched all the Dem debate tonight, but I’ve seen enough to see one thing clearly. The main reason Comrade Sanders is leading is that the rest of the field is absolutely terrible. Between Vice President Yells at Clouds, the Fake Indian, the Boy Mayor of a Town Smaller than Round Rock, the two Movie Supervillains and the Forgettable Senator, this is surely the weakest major party presidential field ever.
I suppose the two supervillains are the billionaires? Supervillains this ineffectual occur only in spoofs like the Austin Powers films

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Remaking a Flop

We’ve seen this movie before, the plot line is reused time and again. A political party nominates someone who embodies their wish list, who generates both excitement among the true believers and fear among the opponents, and, true believers always a minority, naturally loses spectacularly come November.

In a long life I’ve watched the GOP do this with Barry Goldwater, the Democrats with George McGovern, and Labour with Jeremy Corbyn. Do you suppose the Democrats are about to do it again with Sanders?

It’s seems to be the sort of lesson each generation has to learn anew; each believes that this time it will be different. This time Lucy will let Charlie Brown kick the football. We know how it ends ... with poor Charlie flat on his back looking stunned and Lucy looking smug.

The Democrat establishment knows this all too well, but their part of the party seems largely a spent force. The energy is all with the extremes, whose extremism tends to guarantee a large turnout for their opponent. I don’t envy their situation.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Would-be Copycats

When Donald Trump came from behind to win the Republican nomination, and then the Presidency, in 2016, it appears the billionaire class took notice. How else to explain two billionaires (Steyer and Bloomberg) running for the Democrat nomination this year?

The advantages of being able to self-finance a primary campaign were/are obvious. You spend your valuable time campaigning instead of fund-raising, and you end up beholden to fewer people who have a claim on your loyalties and your ear. Maybe as important, you don’t have your strings pulled by the party’s national committee.

What neither Steyer or Bloomberg chose to reflect upon is wealthy Trump’s other yuge advantage: a very successful second career in show business. Neither has the performance skills Trump spent over a decade honing.

I’m sure Bloomberg believed running for mayor in New York City was adequate prep for a presidential run; so far it seems not to have been much help. We’ll know more after Super Tuesday.

I hope Steyer has had fun running. He has spent lavishly but hasn’t managed to convince many voters he is “the one.”

The Times Are A-Changin’ ...

Paul Mirengoff of Power Line takes issue with Victor Davis Hanson’s comparison of Trump’s tough talk and crudity with that of Johnson, Clinton, and Kennedy. Mirengoff argues Trump is much more public with his coarseness, and he is correct.

What Mirengoff misses is that our entire society has become much more open with crude talk. I give as illustrative examples the quite open use on TV of “frickin’” as a too-obvious synonym for the F word, and the truly gutter language in the so-popular Game of Thrones, where almost no anatomical, sexual or excretory reference was barred, and no taboo left unviolated.

Decades ago his intimates reported Lyndon Johnson was easily the equal of Trump in nastiness, but he managed not to do it in public lest he be anathematized. I’d guess old soldier Ike could cuss with the best of them, but “kept it clean for the ladies.”

What has changed is our notions of what is tolerable in public. Those boundaries have expanded a lot in the last couple of decades, and not for the better in my personal view. Trump is very much a man of these times, deal with it, Paul.

Where They Stand Today

RealClearPolitics has a delegate count chart which looks at the number of delegates to the Democrat convention each candidate has so far won. After IA, NH, and NV, where do we stand? These are the numbers:
44   Sanders
25   Buttigieg
15   Biden
08   Warren
07   Klobuchar
00   Everyone else
1991 needed to win on the first ballot.
2382 needed on subsequent ballots when 771 superdelegates may vote.

55 pledged to someone other than Sanders on the first ballot; he’s ahead but doesn’t have a majority.

Questioning the Nuclear Family

David Brooks, columnist for The New York Times, has a long article in The Atlantic, here echoed on, entitled
The Nuclear Family Was A Mistake
Brooks argues for the extended family and for the non-biological extended ‘chosen family’ as better alternatives. They had and have their virtues, no question. They also tie people down geographically and don’t work with mobility-required career paths, like the military or the ministry or indeed corporate management.

We know kids from intact nuclear families do better, but it’s often argued that is because nuclear families have more economic resources than single-parent families..
On average, children of single parents or unmarried cohabiting parents tend to have worse health outcomes, worse mental-health outcomes, less academic success, more behavioral problems, and higher truancy rates than do children living with their two married biological parents.
Brooks quotes one study I find intriguing because it compares the nuclear family with the single parent family, while controlling for income level.
According to work by Richard V. Reeves, a co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution, if you are born into poverty and raised by your married parents, you have an 80 percent chance of climbing out of it. If you are born into poverty and raised by an unmarried mother, you have a 50 percent chance of remaining stuck.
Translation: For every 10 kids “born into poverty,” 8 of those from intact families grow up to make it out of poverty, while 5 of those from broken families do likewise. That difference isn’t trivial, it’s the difference between a coin flip and an almost sure thing.

For me, this tends to undermine the Brooks argument.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Why These D Candidates?

Several pundits have considered the question of how the Democrats came up with such an uninspiring field of candidates? I’ve read what they wrote and remain unconvinced they’ve got the right answers.

Somewhere in the Democratic Party there are attractive, charismatic individuals who could unify the party and inspire occasional voters too. I suspect they may be lurking in governors’ mansions or city halls, there might even be a senator or two who fit that set of requirements.

Why aren’t those good people running in 2020? In a word: Trump. He’s too lucky, too successful, too tough, and too likely to be reelected, regardless of the substantial number who wish he would drop dead, or failing that, just go away.

I believe the good Democrats are waiting for 2024 when Trump will be termed out. They reason in 2024 the electorate will be ready for some years of Democrat dominance, and that’s when the smart person will run.

So what we have running now are those who will be too old in 2024 or who are bored with their current assignment. They are the second-raters, those looking for revenge, or the superannuated. They aren’t the Democrats’ first team and everybody knows it.

Honey Trap Journalism

Honey trap journalism, it’s a thing. Monica Showalter at American Thinker writes of a second case of a reporter sleeping with a government bureaucrat and using that “connection” to access classified information to write stories.

Another poor sap will lose his job, and his freedom, because of pillow talk and shared #NeverTrump feelings. Another FBI agent will get kudos for tracking down a honey-trapped loser and nailing his tender parts to the wall. Another reporter will ... what? Take a brief vacation?

Showalter thinks maybe this practice is no accident.
Lovebird honeytrap journalism [is] becoming more and more the norm as none of these reporters ends up seriously punished. Apparently, the managers up at the top of these [news] organizations see nothing wrong with this news standard other than a little bit of egg on their faces, raising questions as to whether they are now hiring these comely women for just this purpose.
Seems to me the reporter actually living with the source makes the FBI agent’s job too easy. Showalter has photos of the two reporters involved; “comely” may be an exaggeration but they’re certainly pleasant-looking young women

I suggest we follow an old Ian Fleming maxim. Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence. If a third occurrence happens, it’s enemy action. So far, the women doing this are getting away with wrist slaps, and those only for being caught, not for their entrepreneurial spirit in getting a story.

Nevada, the Morning After

This morning, with some 60% of the precincts reporting, it appears Bernie Sanders is getting just under 40% of the second round caucus votes in Nevada. Yes, it is twice what his nearest competitors are receiving, but less than half of the total.

Translation: Roughly 60% of Nevada Democrats do not want Sanders as their nominee. Following the Democrat’s rule that anyone getting at least 15% of the vote wins delegates to the convention, it appears Biden and Buttigieg will also gain delegates in NV, Sanders more than they.

South Carolina votes Tuesday, after which I expect to see some folks drop out of the race. Who knows, maybe some realists will leave sooner.

Outliers Are “In”

Robert Shibley, guest blogging at Instapundit, asks a very pointed question, at least in part a reaction to last night’s NV caucus results.
So at what point does the political establishment realize that it’s not a coincidence that the most popular figures in each of the major parties are the ones the establishment most obviously can’t stand, and start making some adjustments?
Is he wrong?  Not by my reckoning.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Sanders Called Winner in NV

It appears Conrad Black underestimated Sanders’ appeal to Democrats. The Associated Press and NBC News have both projected him as the winner of the Nevada caucuses. Supposedly it is too early to call the second and third place finishers.

These decisions are made with 1 in 20 precincts actually reporting. Yes, Sanders has close to half the votes in the handful of precincts reported, but I believe it is too early to talk about what his final share of the vote will be.

Thus, Sanders has either won or tied in the first three states’ primary processes: IA, NH, and NV. It is a strong position from which to head into SC on Tuesday and lots of other places on Super Tuesday the following week..

Later ... More than a few pundits are calling Sanders the presumptive nominee following strong showings in three out of three primaries. Some are even saying he did sort of okay with black voters, a supposed weak area for him.

Others report Latinos calling him “Tio Bernie.” His pitch is somewhat reminiscent of AMLO who won Mexico’s presidency.

Black Views Vegas

The often-quotable Conrad Black writes about the recent Las Vegas Democrat ‘debate’ for American Greatness. See his summation.
Trump pulled between 5 million and 25 million viewers every week for 14 years and has commanded a huge following as president. None of these Democrats is a star — Bloomberg was supposed to be a star but didn’t look like one on Wednesday night. None of them excites anyone, except Sanders, who frightens twice as many people as he enlists.
Buried in that summation is Black’s implicit projection of what percentage of Nevada Democrats will choose Sanders - no more than 34%. By this time tomorrow we should know if Black guessed right or engaged in hyperbole.

The Putin Veto

The author is Richard Fernandez, whose Belmont Club column appears regularly at PJ Media and who Tweets as wretchardthecat. Both points he makes are correct. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

I believe Putin enjoys messing with our elections; it is mischief he can accomplish quite cheaply, so far with zero blowback. This cycle he has done things favoring both Sanders and Trump. He would find it advantageous to have the U.S. - his main opponent - headed by a weak someone who has little popular following.

Saturday Snark

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds weighs in with a snarky nickname for Bernie Sanders.
Breadline Bernie
It’s documented that Bernie once spoke in favor of the characteristic breadlines in the Soviet Union. I believe I may adopt this usage for Sanders.

Raising Unskilled Wages

Few things in micro-economics are better understood than the nearly ironclad inverse relationship between supply and demand and the consequent influence on price of goods sold. Hold demand constant and increase supply, price goes down; hold supply constant and increase demand, price goes up.

Applied to labor and its price (wages), if you hold demand constant or raise it, while lowering supply then wages should rise. This happens as employers bid up the wage for scarce workers.

Defending our borders, Trump has reduced the supply of illegal immigrants and, mirabile dictu, wages for low-skill workers have increased. Gardeners, nannies, and pool boys cost more to hire, these are exactly the people wealthy Democrats like to hire cheap.

See a snarky treatment of this relationship at Power Line, comparing it to the sarcastically named “Fox Butterfield” effect where a NYT writer was amazed that as incarceration went up, crime went down. As though locking away career criminals wouldn’t reduce instances of crime, which of course it does.

Much of what is wrong with socialism is its blithe ignorance of supply and demand. Rather than let market demand tell producers what and how much to produce, central planners make these decisions and, more often than not, make them incorrectly.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Bene Gesserit Means ...

I am a long-time fan of Frank Herbert’s Dune series, both as books and films. I’d always assumed the Bene Gesserit sisterhood’s name was merely a product of Herbert’s prodigious imagination. Today I learned I had guessed wrong.

The name “Bene Gessserit” comes from the law school Latin phrase “quamdiu se bene gesserit” meaning “as long as he shall behave himself well.” So the name of the order of women adepts means “good actions” or “good skills” and certainly describes the Reverent Mothers’ abilities.

Good News

The AP reports via the The Los Angeles Times that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested two illegal immigrants in a California courthouse. By doing so they intentionally violated state law.
U.S. immigration agents have arrested two people at a Northern California courthouse, including a man detained in a hallway on his way to a hearing, flouting a new state law requiring a judicial warrant to make immigration arrests inside such facilities.

ICE said in a statement that California’s law doesn’t supersede federal law and “will not govern the conduct of federal officers acting pursuant to duly enacted laws passed by Congress that provide the authority to make administrative arrests of removable aliens inside the United States.”

“Our officers will not have their hands tied by sanctuary rules when enforcing immigration laws to remove criminal aliens from our communities.
States cannot make laws which override Federal law; it is a basic tenet of our Constitution. The CA Legislature needed this wrist slap.

Brokered D Convention?

There is a lot being written recently about the possibility of Democrats having a “brokered convention.”  What that means is a convention in which the nominee is not selected on the first ballot.

Delegates are essentially required to vote for the candidate they were sent to support on the first ballot. Presuming no one wins a majority on the first ballot, horse trading then begins.

The scenario everyone is concerned about is one in which (a) Bernie Sanders has more delegates than anyone else but less than a majority, and (b) the total delegates for moderate candidates (everyone but Warren and Sanders) is a majority.

What then has to be determined is whether the anybody-but-Sanders delegates can agree on someone to vote for. It is believed some Warren delegates would vote for Sanders on a second ballot and some would not, further complicating the issue.

A cartoon I saw recently had the Democrat Party as Lucy from Peanuts, holding a football for Bernie Sanders dressed as Charlie Brown to kick. The obvious question, would the party take the nod away from Sanders again? The cartoonist obviously believed it would. And if they did, would Sanders’ supporters work and vote for the D nominee, vote minor party, stay home, or vote for Trump as some 12% did in 2016.

Those of us who write about politics would love a brokered convention because it is grist for our mill, a big, complicated process about which to speculate, opine, and write. There hasn’t been one recently, the deck is stacked against that outcome.

Weird Psychobiological Science

Various sources are reporting Steven Spielberg’s adopted daughter Mikaela has announced she will pursue a career in pornography. It is hard to imagine someone having more advantages than she had growing up, but there it is....

What nobody much is writing is that adopted children recreate the life arcs of their biological parents to a substantial degree. Progressive cant holds that environment is everything, biology is not much. Actually, the reverse is true.

Not all, but most adopted infants have biological parents who in various ways weren’t managing their lives well. That is how the infants come to be available for adoption.

An honest assessment would find adoptive children’s lives more closely resemble those of their biological parents than those of their adoptive parents. We’ve seen this with the adopted children of friends as well, and it often saddened those friends very much.

If you plant an acorn, no matter how you tend it, the tree that comes up is an oak. The nature of humans is more predetermined by biology than progressives want to believe. Dysfunctional parents are more likely to have dysfunctional children, no matter who raises those children.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Bloomberg’s Day in Court

Attorney Paul Mirengoff, a Power Line regular, writes that in a case where a woman complainant against the Bloomberg organization actually went to court rather than “settle” out of court, the plaintiff lost and the female judge found no evidence of the claimed pattern of discrimination against pregnant employees.
The EEOC’s case against Bloomberg was so weak that Judge Preska, without being asked to, invited Bloomberg to apply for attorney’s fees. The litigation ended when the EEOC agreed to drop its appeal.
Perhaps fairness indicates that we should expect an organization with nearly 20,000 employees to end up settling a few cases of lower level managers being unfair to women employees. The judge found no pattern of such discrimination as a company-wide phenomenon, or anything close to it, and wrote as much in her opinion.

Unless better proof than that currently before us is presented, I intend to lay off picking on little Mike about treatment of women. He certainly isn’t the only CEO who is crude in his speech. I’ll bet he wasn’t nearly as crude as the dialog in the popular TV drama Game of Thrones.

Bloomberg women employees who “settled” discrimination lawsuits which included non-disclosure agreements did so, in all likelihood because their attorneys advised them their cases were far less than slam dunks. They agreed, in essence, to be “bought off” rather than risk getting nothing - entirely their choice. NDAs are standard legal practice in settlements and attorneys know a firm settling a lawsuit doesn’t imply guilt.

Another Forlorn Hope

There have been things wrong with all of the Democrats who seek the party’s 2020 nomination for president - too old, too shrill, too commie, too boring. The party establishment was hoping Mike Bloomberg would be the white knight they needed to rescue their 2020 presidential hopes.

If last night‘s debate is any indication, the answer is no - Bloomberg isn’t their savior. Money he’s got, charisma he’s lacking. And he has too much baggage from a life of swaggering little-guy-compensating smart-mouth that, because of his wealth or position, got recorded for posterity.

Reasonably enough, comments that earned Bloomberg kudos when he was a Republican-of-sorts, now are an embarrassment when he runs as a latter-day-Democrat. As Dr. Spock would have said,
 “It is logical, Captain.”

Bad Gas in Vegas

Democrats debated tonight in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, what they did in Vegas isn’t going to stay in Vegas as the city’s slogan claims.

Everybody left and right agrees Bloomberg blew it, with lousy rebuttals for the stop-and-frisk and hostile environment for women employees attacks. Warren supposedly had a good night beating up on little Mike, Sanders made no serious gaffes to hurt his newfound front runner status.

Apparently Buttigieg and Klobuchar (where do they get these names?) beat up on each other pretty seriously. Meanwhile Biden confirmed his also-ran status, if any of his low-info voters were watching which I doubt.

Once again I gave myself permission to skip watching the two hours that everyone complained seemed longer. Reading the reports of the event were bad enough.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Mission Plus Tourist Trap

The other day we visited Mission Santa Inez, located in the town of Solvang. It is one of the chain of 21 missions built by the Spanish up the coast of California. The mission is pure Spanish colonial: big, old (1804), reasonably well restored, and a working Roman Catholic Church.

Interestingly, it is the site of the first post-secondary education institution - a seminary - in California. I suppose that existed to train promising mestizo and Chumash lads to be priests. You can see photos of the old mission at the other DrC’s website.

The mission fathers were no dopes, the site has a gorgeous view up-valley. Sitting on the porch I saw amazing coastal CA scenery: rolling hills and evergreen oaks, and even the grass was green, something not true most of the year.

Most missions had a small garrison of Spanish troops in residence, basically a mounted squad, with laminated leather armor and shields, metal helmets, armed with swords and lances, and maybe a crossbow or two. Coastal Indians didn’t have horses so the mission’s light cavalry were a reasonably effective defensive force.

The troopers didn’t fight often, but were both a deterrent against attack and extra labor around the mission in the long quiet periods. Unlike the padres, they’d taken no vow of chastity; they probably fathered a bunch of mestizo kids and saw them baptized.

Ironically, the small community of Solvang adjacent to the mission was colonized in 1911 by a bunch of Danes who built Danish-style half-timber architecture. It was probably just to feel “at home” at first until they saw it drew dollar-flush tourists, after which they made it their very conscious goal.

Solvang has a copy of the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen’s harbor on its main drag. Every third shop is a Danish bakery or restaurant. Many of the rest cater mostly to tourists too. The disconnect between the so-Spanish mission and the adjacent Danish-style town is fairly wild. Somehow it works.

Hillary Says No

Various sources report Hillary Clinton has rejected the notion she is willing to be Bloomberg’s VP pick. She says she’ll support whomever the D party nominates, no surprise.

I shouldn’t wonder she doesn’t give the Bloomberg campaign much chance. Then again, she didn’t give Trump much chance either, which calls her political judgment into question.

Bloomberg Bobbles

Stephen Kruiser does The Morning Briefing column for PJ Media, here he takes a well-documented swipe at Michael Bloomberg.
He is at least an equal-opportunity condescending moron, hating white Midwesterners as much as he does people of color.
Can we have a rim-shot, Mr. Percussion Man? Cute sayings made as a high visibility private citizen have a way of circling around and biting your backside as a candidate. You need the votes of those you’ve denigrated.

The Millennial Muddle

Here’s an interesting quote from a new book - How Not to Become a Millennial: Learning from America’s Largest Sociological Disaster. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.
The Millennials are hopelessly indebted, perennially underemployed, they suffer more mental illness than any generation before them, and they are hopelessly armed with completely worthless degrees. They have absolutely no hope of homeownership, retirement, or family, and most will live their entire lives financially crippled with debt. They are an unmitigated sociological disaster and a tragic chapter in human history.
It was the “woke” mindset that produced this generational disaster. Moving away therefrom is how to avoid making the same mistake going forward. Continuing in the same vein which produced Millennials while hoping for better outcomes is precisely enacting Einstein’s definition of insanity.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Imagining the Big Split

I thought Newsweek was defunct, but it appears to continue as a website. RealClearPolitics links to an article there which, though somewhat far-fetched, proposes a radical solution to our national division.

Imagine tossing all the U.S. states and Canadian provinces into a pile and sorting them out ideologically, that’s what author Mark Joseph imagines. Although it isn’t an analogy he makes, it resembles the relationship surrounding states had with Nevada until quite recently.

Historically, Nevada was a place you could go to gamble, get a quickie divorce, buy legal alcohol 24 hours a day, or patronize a legal brothel. Folks from CA, ID, UT, OR, AZ and beyond went there to “do what they damn pleased” without being told no or breaking the law.

Joseph proposes that sort of relationship between the United States of Canada and the United States of America. The former including the progressive states and provinces, the latter the conservative heartland of both former countries.

He imagines it would work like this.
The USA will quickly make most abortions illegal, the right to carry firearms absolute and marriage only available to a man and a woman, once again. Taxes will be drastically lowered and social services scaled back.

In the USC on the other hand, firearms will only be carried by police officers, government will stay out of all reproductive issues and all forms of marriage between consenting adults will be legalized. Tax policy will follow the vision laid out by Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders and the Green New Deal will become official national policy.

For those states who have second thoughts, an open door policy will allow any state to secede and join the USA or USC by a 2/3 majority vote of its legislature.

Citizens of both nations will be allowed to travel freely which means citizens of the USA will be able to travel to the USC to procure an abortion or take their favorite drug or engage in whatever activity they can't back home.
And people from USC would go hunting in and buy oil produced by the USA. It likely wouldn’t work, but it is fun to imagine. Those permeable borders would let too many illegal guns flow one direction, and too many illegal drugs the other.

Canadians do a bit of this now. We know of a RV campground in a state bordering Canada where they store handguns owned by Canadians who winter in the southern U.S. Said guns and ammo - verboten in Canada - get dropped off when headed home in spring, and picked up again when headed south in autumn. It’s a thing.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Reading Between the Lines

RealClearDefense has an article entitled
The New Zealand Defence Force’s Expanding Amphibious Capability
You might reasonably be confused as to why the notoriously pacifistic island nation might want to be able to put troops ashore and support them there w/o local assistance. Nowhere in the article is that explained.

What goes unsaid is that EnZed styles itself as the protector of South Pacific island peoples. “Protector” should be understood as “benevolent neo-colonial stand-in for British paternalism.”

New Zealand’s attitude toward the South Pacific is much like the U.S. attitude toward the Americas as reflected in the Monroe Doctrine - an “it’s our backyard and we need to be able to police it if need be” attitude.


If only New Zealanders spoke recognizable English ... the EnZed accent has become near-impenetrable, especially as spoken by women and young people. I remember a nice lady telling us her cute little dog’s name was (phonetically) “gee-see.” We asked her to spell it and learned it was how she said Jesse.

Reminds me of a time in England I asked the attendant at a gas station what product they were selling as “derv,” turned out it was diesel. So I asked her how diesel got called “derv” and she replied, “Dunno, it’s daft, innit?”

I later guessed it was a slang diminutive of “derivative” but I was wrong. It is an acronym of “diesel engine road vehicle” and is the taxed fuel for diesel cars and trucks. As we do in the States, they also sell an untaxed diesel dyed a different color for off-road uses.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Cancel Culture at Oracle

Time reports over a thousand employees of Oracle have signed a petition in opposition to reports founder and CTO Larry Ellison plans to organize a fund-raiser for President Trump. I have no fondness for Ellison or Oracle but, that said, he has every right to do as he chooses politically.

Both he and his employees have the right to do lawful things politically on their own time. I am not aware that he has interfered in their off-the-job politics and they should leave his alone.

To be sure, if they find him or his politics distasteful, they are free to work elsewhere and in today’s booming job market, that should be relatively easy to do. Tech firms run by Trump-haters are thick on the ground and easily identified.

It is unclear why Ellison or anyone else should have to tailor his politics to the whims of his employees, co-workers, or bosses. The booming Trump economy has been good for business and you can be sure Oracle has benefitted thereby. Ditto its employees.

Personal note: I spent my entire career working in organizations - universities and government agencies - where most people held political views with which I did not agree. Many times I heard colleagues express ‘progressive’ views I found repulsive, stated as though these were revealed truth.

I thought to myself “they’re idiots” and shrugged it off because I enjoyed my work, if not many of my coworkers. Fortunately, an academic’s work life is mostly accomplished individually.rather than in teams. Few of us relished faculty meetings or committee assignments.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Gallup: Financial Optimism High

John Hinderaker at Power Line has a chart reporting Gallup poll findings in response to a question of do you expect to be better off financially a year from now, basically a measure of optimism. Gallup cut the sample into various categories and computed the average optimism level for each.

While the booming economy means we’d expect quite a lot of financial optimism, there are a few surprises. The least optimistic group was Democrats, only 60% expect to be better off financially a year from now, 83% of Republicans were optimistic. Democrats have to be disheartened so many of their voters are optimistic.

The young are more optimistic than the old, non-whites more optimistic than whites, and non-college folk more optimistic than college grads. I experience those findings as somewhat counterintuitive.

Generally high levels of optimism have obvious political implications come November. One would expect incumbents to benefit from optimism.

Attack of the Little People

Drudge Report is going with the headline that Michael Bloomberg is considering Hillary Clinton as his running mate. Bloomberg needs to ask himself why two short losers are better than one.

Everyone knows Epstein didn’t kill himself. Wisecracks in various places across the Web note that, if elected, Bloomberg might not live long enough to be inaugurated. “Arkancide” gets mentioned and another opines Little Mike, as President, would need a food taster.

Why Not Whack-an-Iranian-Mole?

You can count on CNN to get almost everything wrong, it appears to be their contemporary business plan. For example, a recent headline:
America can’t have a whack-a-mole Iran strategy
COTTonLINE asks: Why not? We wait for an Iranian (or proxy) terror leader to gain a bit of prominence or visibility, and arrange for him to be violently dead. The mole pops up and we whack him.

Since the Soleimani hit there have been 2-3 more sudden deaths of Iranian/proxy force leaders. I’d say whack-a-mole is a reasonable metaphor for what has happened. See a hero, make a martyr.

As a policy it has much to recommend it. Deniability, for one thing. Maybe the Mossad did it, maybe the Saudis, maybe the Russians, maybe the Kurds or Assad’s minions. We aren’t the only anti-Iran user-of-force in the region.

The policy doesn’t involve masses of troops, billions in supplies and hardware. It avoids the implicit threat that if you invade a place, you have to then govern it.

To counter this policy it is possible for Iran to run a violent regime with anonymous leaders; possible but not very effective. Power is must less attractive and usable beyond face-to-face interactions if you cannot be widely seen to have it. An “anonymous hero” is a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Valentines Day Musing

COTTonLINE wishes our readers a happy St. Valentine’s Day. Occasions for happy, non-partisan thoughts like those today will be rare between now and November.

Before we get totally committed to hating those whose politics are different than our own, take a moment to celebrate romantic love. It has the potential to be one of the nicest things about human existence.

The other DrC and I will celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary in April. The decades have gone quickly, which means we’ve had a good time together.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

A Cop’s View of Bloomberg’s Gaffe

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is in trouble for favoring stop-and-frisk policing, which reduced crime and saved mostly black and Hispanic lives. As noted earlier, he committed a Kinsley gaffe by telling an unpopular truth. A SoCal police officer who writes under the pseudonym “Jack Dunphy” for PJMedia reports:
In 2018, blacks were 72.6 percent of the shooting suspects in New York City, and Hispanics were 24.1 percent (see page 12 of this NYPD report). Blacks and Hispanics were also 73.3 and 22.4 percent of the city’s shooting victims, respectively, so it should be beyond saying (but sadly isn’t) that curtailing shooting incidents will be a balm to those communities.
All true, but stop-and-frisk also dramatically increased the incarceration rate for minority young men when drugs, weapons, parole violations or stolen property were found as a result of the process. I’d guess there were minority neighborhoods in which few men got through their teens and early twenties without a criminal record.

Is it any wonder minorities felt picked on? Truly, they were exactly that and with good reason, according to Bloomberg before he wanted to be president. Concentrating police where the crime is still makes sense per Dunphy.

About Santa Barbara

The DrsC had business in Santa Barbara today so we drove our full size+ pickup into its narrow, charmingly named streets. Mid afternoon traffic wasn’t terrible and I wasn’t rushed so it was no great trauma, in spite of the network of one-way streets.

If you love the Mediterranean/Spanish Colonial look - white or ivory stucco walls, reddish-brown thigh tile roofs, wrought iron window bars and gates, arches everywhere, shaded courtyards, palm trees, flowers and the occasional turret - you will love Santa Barbara. I believe it to be the most beautiful city in California, hands down. Sadly, it is also a magnet for the homeless.

The County Courthouse is spectacular, it could pass for a palace in Seville. And the colonial era Mission Santa Barbara is known as the Queen of the California Missions. If Santa Barbara isn’t on your bucket list, it should be.

The coastal setting is wonderful, too. I love the many charming street names - Chapala and Canyon Perdito, Carrillo and Cabrillo, Arrellaga and La Cumbre.

I don’t like living in cities but could make an exception for SB, if it weren’t so impossibly expensive. It is that special.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Bye-Ku for Patrick

USA Today reports Mass. Governor Deval Patrick has dropped 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 Patrick.

Not your year, Deval.
Being close to Obama
Was no help at all.

Political Musings

As you can imagine I have been reading widely in the aftermath of Tuesdays Democratic follies in NH. Some gleanings from that process follow.

Sanders appears to have difficulty getting more than a quarter of the party’s vote. In a very divided field that might enable him to “win” a number of states.

Such wins won’t automatically get him the nomination as all states assign electors proportionally in the Democrat primaries. If you assume 3/4 of Democrats don’t want Sanders, there may be a majority of #neverSanders electors at the convention. An “open convention” is thus a possibility.

Let’s say Sanders has more delegates at the convention than anyone else, but no majority. Let’s further assume the #neverSanders people decide to back someone else. Will the twice-jilted Sanders supporters fall in line and support the party nominee, bolt to a third party or stay home?

Looking ahead, NV gives us a look at Hispanic voters, and SC at black voters, both are groups Democrats rely on. Their preferences remain unclear at this point. We forge ahead.

Gloom a Hard Sell in 2020

At The Hill, award-winning journalist Bernard Goldberg writes with insight about our divided nation.
I get the impression Democrats are worried, and wondering: How could this happen? How could a man they find so detestable fool so many Americans?

If Donald Trump wins a second term, they’ll blame the president’s lies and his supporters’ supposed bigotry for the victory — because it couldn’t possibly be their support for free medical care for everyone, including illegal immigrants … and free college for everyone … and a gazillion-dollar break-the-bank Green New Deal … or the gloomy picture they constantly paint of America in their debates, a picture that doesn’t conform to the lives most Americans are living everyday.
As we’ve written for over a decade, the GOP is a party for winners and the Dem is a party for losers. In the booming Trump economy, most people are winning, making 2020 a tough year for Dems.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Bye-Ku for Bennett

Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO) has announced he has dropped his pursuit of the 2020 Democrat nomination. With the customary hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer Bennett a bye-ku, a haiku of farewell.
Bye-bye Mike Bennett.
You ran last in New Hampshire
Among ten losers.

Bye-Ku for Yang

Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang has withdrawn from the race for the 2020 Democrat nomination. With the customary hat tip to James Taranto, its popularizer, we offer Yang a bye-ku, a haiku of farewell.

Fare-thee-well Andrew.
Guaranteed income won you
Little yen for Yang.

New Hampshire Has Spoken

New Hampshire has voted, the polls have closed, the votes are tabulated, and mostly reported. As expected, Sanders has won with 25.8%. Buttigieg is a close second with 24.4%, and Klobuchar has 19.7%. Everyone else is in single digits, including Warren and Biden in that order at 4th and 5th.

Yang and Bennett have formally dropped out, bye-kus will follow. It’s clear why Biden didn’t stick around to be humiliated, with a 5th place finish he must have seen coming.

I see no reason for any of the top three to stop, and Biden will stay in until he is defeated in one or more minority-rich states. Realistically, the remaining six should pack it in. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the numbers.

Tuesday Snark

Breitbart is out with a smart aleck headline announcing Joe Biden’s early departure from New Hampshire, headed to South Carolina where he has hopes for a win.
Electile Dysfunction: Joe Biden Pulls Out Early from New Hampshire
Just slightly naughty, isn’t it? Ageist, too.

The Truth Hurts

Just yesterday we wrote about former mayors having problems with black voters related to mayoral association with city police activity. We identified Bloomberg as facing this issue from his time as mayor of New York City.

Today a 2015 audio recording surfaces on Politico of former mayor Bloomberg talking at the Aspen Institute about urban murders. The quote:
Ninety-five percent of your murders — murderers and murder victims — fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops.

They are male minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York. That’s true in virtually every city. And that’s where the real crime is.
In politics, this is known as a Kinsley gaffe. A Kinsley gaffe is a politician speaking (or writing) a truth people find offensive. As a Democrat, Bloomberg isn’t supposed to admit minorities commit (as well as suffer) most of the urban murders. Oops.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Eyes on NH Tomorrow

New Hampshire votes tomorrow, not caucusing but real primary voting. Maybe this time tomorrow we will have a better idea of who will be the Democrat nominee in November.

If I had to guess I’d say the Biden and Warren efforts are staggering, the Buttigieg pace is accelerating, and Sanders is in the lead. Sanders is an old red, and Buttigieg was raised by a neoMarxist. If Biden falters big time look for his voters to move to either Klobuchar or Bloomberg.

Because of the tie between city mayors and policing of cities, mayors are at a disadvantage with black voters. Perhaps it isn’t fair but it is a real issue.

It is a rare urban police force that doesn’t manage to get crossways with its black community, while doing their job. Disadvantage Bloomberg and Buttigieg, and less directly, the no-longer-active Harris. It would have been a problem for Castro too, had he ever gotten traction.

Personal House-Cleaning

The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd doesn’t like President Trump, as you might expect. In spite of which I think you’ll find entertaining her “take” on the past week’s Democratic debacle, which ended with firings of several Obama holdovers.

Dowd knows a disaster when she sees one. Here sourced to the Irish Times and thus out from behind the NYT paywall, is a link to her Donald-Trump-as-Don Corleone column. She began thusly:
Democrats: the only thing you have to fear is Trump himself. You should be quaking. Our unhinged monarch had a very good week and your party had a very bad week – and that’s no BS.

A lot of you told me, with expletives, that while you were watching President Donald Trump’s carnival-barking this past week, you were thinking, “We’re going to freaking lose.” Trump hollowed out the hallowed, Apprenticing one of Washington’s most august traditions Tuesday night, showing in the State of the Union how he has figured out how to use the levers of the presidency to amplify his flair for the dramatic. 
And she concluded with this:
Democrats should be scared to death watching the president play to thuggish type, re-enacting the chilling final payback scenes of The Godfather, when Michael Corleone took out all his enemies. It’s not business. It’s strictly personal.
As Dowd demonstrates, the Democrats’ attacks on Trump have been personal, why wouldn’t his responses be?

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Political Snark

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone is turning into something of a phrase-maker. See the conclusion of the long column he wrote in response to the Democrat’s Iowa caucus debacle.
To paraphrase the Joker: What do you get when you cross a political party that’s sold out for decades, with an electorate that’s been abandoned and treated like trash?

Answer: What you f**king deserve!
And it couldn’t happen to a more deserving collection of bent misfits.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Sinking Below His Level

I don’t like Nancy Pelosi, which doesn’t mean I think she is stupid. It requires much more than low cunning to become Speaker.

So, I ask myself, why did this smart woman do dumb things at the SOTU, things she knew would offend all Republicans, most independents, and more than a few Democrats? Things that would damage her reputation and show her behaving as abnormally, as impetuously as the orange man she despises, and behind whom she sat?

The answer almost has to be “fear.” She’s afraid of losing her Speakership, afraid there are enough crazies in her caucus to vote for a ‘bomb-thrower’ as Speaker. She felt, I suppose, she had to pander to them to keep her job, to stay in the limelight.

So she pandered, she kept her job, and damaged her reputation and legacy. That is rather sad, isn’t it?

It is also a tangential commentary on our modern political culture. Echoing in the back of my mind are two lines from a Yeats poem.
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Expert: A Brilliant SOTU

Bless the Drudge Report for no-paywall access to a Peggy Noonan column at the Wall Street Journal. Back in the day Noonan was one of the best presidential speech-writers ever, and she remains an excellent judge of the art form.

This column gives you her reaction to the SOTU and Pelosi’s reaction thereto. Yes, she feels she has to say Trumps is “a bad man and half mad.” Don’t let that throw you.

The rest of the column is about what a good job it (and implicitly he) did, and how pathetic the Democrats looked sitting there acting pissed about all the good (true) things being said about the last three years. See her conclusion:
This was the president putting the Republican Party on the side of the nobodies of all colors as opposed to the somebodies. (Van Jones on CNN had it exactly right: Trump is going for black and Hispanic men, and the Democrats are foolish not to see it.) This is a realignment I have supported and a repositioning I have called for and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t please me to see it represented so effectively, and I very much regret that the president is a bad man and half mad because if he weren’t I’d be cheering.

Whatever happens with him, that is the party’s future. Whatever happens with the Democrats they cannot afford another week like this.
That “bad man” is who made it happen, Peggy, go ahead and cheer.

Iowa Results, Revised (again)

New Iowa delegate numbers from RealClearPolitics, supposedly based on 99% returns. Buttigieg gets 13 delegates, Sanders gets 12, Warren gets 8, Biden gets 6, and Klobuchar gets 1. Everyone else gets nada, zip, zilch, bupkis.

Are these final? Your guess is as good as mine. The DNC and the Iowa party chief are arguing over a “recanvass,” whatever that is. At least these numbers come close to equaling the 41 Iowa is supposed to assign via caucus.

On to New Hampshire on Tuesday. The nominee should be more or less clear in a month or two at the most.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

SOTU ‘Engineered’ by Trump

Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff reprints a portion of a column by David Von Drehle, who Mirengoff calls “The Washington Post’s most insightful liberal columnist.” The original is behind the WaPo paywall; I’ve reproduced here the portion Mirengoff quotes, with apologies to purists who insist on citation to original sources.
[Trump’s] State of the Union speech was a lethally effective exploitation of the presidential bully pulpit. Did he overstate his accomplishments? Yes. Did he understate the record of his predecessor? Yes. Is that unusual in a campaign-year State of the Union? No.

But no previous address so cunningly adapted the ancient ritual of a formal speech to the visceral medium of television. A former TV star himself, Trump understands that people don’t just listen to what the president says. They also watch the reactions of the people in the room. He engineered the speech to force his opponents to react in potentially self-defeating ways.

Some examples. Rather than give the usual conservative lip service to school choice, Trump illustrated the issue by introducing a young African American girl in the gallery and announcing that she was getting a scholarship to attend her preferred school. What would House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats do, applaud for the happy child and risk offending their public-school-teacher base or sit on their hands and look like a bunch of Scrooges?

Rather than deliver the Republican boilerplate on abortion, Trump introduced a pro-life mom and her 2-year-old daughter, who was born barely halfway to term. Advances in extreme neonatology kept her alive. How would Democrats react to this cute little darling whose existence blurs the distinction between life in and out of the womb?

Rather than poke the usual verbiage at the wing of the Democratic Party that embraces the label of “democratic socialism,” Trump introduced Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, whose quest to unseat his country’s socialist government had the entire Congress on its bipartisan feet. Now Democrats are left to explain why ousting socialists is good policy for Venezuela while electing them — the democratic variety, anyway — is right for the United States.

Viewers were left to wonder: Why wouldn’t Pelosi applaud money for historically black colleges and universities? What’s her beef with a serviceman who returns from deployment to hug his kids? Where’s her feeling for the brother of a man killed by an undocumented criminal? All of these visuals could be explained in policy terms, but as Ronald Reagan once confided to his diary, “If you’re explaining, you’re losing.”
Scott Adams calls Trump a “master persuader,” it appears Von Drehle has reached the same conclusion. My favorite anecdote concerning Trump-the-persuader is reports of him asking to review video of his TV interviews with the audio off, scoping the optics, ignoring the content.

Two Tantrums

Just over a week ago we wrote that Mitt Romney being the only Republican vote Trump lost in the Senate was likely too much to hope for. It turns out I was pessimistic, that’s exactly what happened.

Ol’ Pierre Delecto voted “guilty” on the abuse of power count. He was the only Republican in either House or Senate to vote for either count. He acted much like Pelosi did when she tore up a copy of the SOTU speech ... petulant, childish.

Echoing my earlier phrasing, is it too much to hope for that the good people of Utah will select a different Republican to fill the Senate seat now held by Mitt? A person, it is hoped, who doesn’t have to “get over” the hurt feelings of losing a presidential race he should have won?

Paul Mirengoff of Power Line makes a good point.
If Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski were able to see what is obvious — that Trump’s misconduct isn’t impeachable — I’m confident that Romney was capable of seeing it too. For personal reasons, he just didn’t want to.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Iowa Results Update

Based on 71% returns, RealClearPolitics estimates that Sanders and Buttigieg have so far each won 11 delegates coming out of Iowa. Warren has won 5 and everyone else 0.

That is a bad look for Biden and Klobuchar going on to New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. A ho-hum look for Warren, as well.

Iowa will send a total of 41 pledged-to-a-candidate delegates to the national convention. So far an estimated 27 of that 41 have been identified.

Not clear is what is needed to assign the remaining 14. Complete results, perhaps? Iowa has been a Democrat disaster, a real-time demonstration of their organizational incompetence.

New Hampshire votes (no caucuses) next Tuesday. After those results are in, I expect to crank up the bye-ku generator.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Incomplete Iowa Results

We have partial results from the Iowa caucuses. With something like 71% of precincts reporting, the percentage total for each of the major candidates are these, per Politico.
26.8%.  Pete Buttigieg
25.2%.  Bernie Sanders
18.4%.  Elizabeth Warren
15.4%.  Joe Biden
12.6%.  Amy Klobuchar
Buttigieg will claim victory, but the difference between him and Sanders is, for all practical purposes, irrelevant as a predictor of future results. Warren hasn’t fallen as far as the polls suggested, Biden did poorly as expected in nearly monochromatic Iowa.

Between them on the hard left, Sanders and Warren are getting roughly 43% of those who bothered to caucus, caucus turnout was generally less-than-robust. With that many precincts reporting, I would not expect the final percentages to differ greatly from those above.

Note: After posting this, I discover that RealClearPolitics is reporting slightly different numbers which put Sanders very slightly ahead of Buttigieg. I don’t know what to make of the discrepancy.

Further Evidence of Sorting

Steven Malanga reports via City Journal the findings of research by the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies. The research gives hope to states receiving large numbers of Californian refugees, hope these individuals will not “Californicate” their new home states.
In the Berkeley poll, 58 percent of those considering leaving California said that high taxes were one reason—second only to the 71 percent pointing to the state’s astronomical housing costs. Also high on the list of reasons to go was the state’s political culture, which nearly half of those thinking of getting out cited as a consideration.

Only 38 percent of Democrats said that they were considering leaving, compared with 55 percent of independents and 71 percent of Republicans. Similarly, those characterizing themselves as “somewhat liberal” were least likely to say that they want to go—fewer than four in ten are considering leaving. But 53 percent of moderates, 66 percent of the “somewhat conservative,” and 74 percent of the “very conservative” would like to migrate. Political affiliation, in fact, was more of a predictor of who wants to go or stay than other demographic information, such as race.
This good news falls within the range of what is expected, certainly reflecting the attitudes of emigres I know personally. It also agrees with TX research findings we reported 10 days ago. And there is reason to believe those Democrats who leave CA will head for places they view as welcoming, like Oregon and Colorado.

The following describing the “Curley effect” is not something I’ve seen elsewhere.
A political revolution that reverses the direction of California government is becoming increasingly difficult because it’s experiencing the state version of the Curley Effect. That phrase (snip) describes how big-city mayors like James Michael Curley in Boston (snip) managed to solidify their political dominance, even as their cities deteriorated because their policies drove out the people most likely to vote against them.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? Tempting to say California is doomed.

Democratic Despair

See what NewYork magazine writes about how Trump wins reelection, this in a left-leaning publication. Author Eric Levitz is beyond angry at the ineptitude his Democrats showed in the Iowa caucuses. His conclusion gives you the flavor.
We are 24 hours into the 2020 campaign, and Democrats have already humiliated their party on national television, alienated their least reliable progressive supporters, demoralized their most earnest activists, and handed Trump’s campaign a variety of potent lines of attack.

It’s early. There’s plenty of time for the party to get itself together. But for the moment, Donald Trump is winning the 2020 Democratic primary.

A Gallup poll released Tuesday morning put the president’s approval rating at 49 percent — the highest it has ever been. 
When your opponent is screwing up, it is tactically useful to conceal your glee. Alas I can’t manage it; the schadenfreude is overwhelming.

Incompetence Demonstrated

Concerning the Democratic Party’s caucus-reporting mess in Iowa, Damon Linker at The Week notes the real fallout.
Democrats are dying to do things with government. That's even truer this cycle than others, when candidates of a newly energized left are proposing litanies of stupefyingly complex and expensive policies. But voters are only going to endorse agendas like that if they feel they can trust America's institutions and elites to enact them with competence.

The sad fact is that Monday night was stunning display of rank incompetence. "You mean this is who you want to put in charge of taking over health-care delivery from sea to shining sea?" That isn't a thought you want running through the heads of voters as they contemplate which party to support in November 2020.
Linker adds that Trump thrives in this sort of chaos. Of course he does, what work environment is more chaotic than succeeding as a developer in the New York City swamp of organized crime, corrupt unions, militant interest groups, power-mad bureaucrats, shadowy wealth and political machines? It’s a Machiavellian graduate school from which Trump graduated cum laude.

Cult of the Contemporary Personality

Andrew Malcolm writes for the McClatchy papers, here from the Kansas City Star. His topic this morning isn’t the caucus-reporting mess in Iowa, but the nature of presidential politics in modern America. It’s an insight I find worthwhile.
The modern American political reality is that the Republican and Democratic parties today are basically just brand names. They’ve become hollow, fundraising fuselages of once vibrant organizations that get captured every four or eight years by someone new with a contemporary personality packaged for the times.

That personality slaps on a new poll-tested label that appeals to enough varied voters in just the right places to cobble together an Electoral College majority.
He shows how that description fits Bloomberg, Sanders, Trump, Obama, and Bill Clinton - Bush 43, not so much. Although Malcolm doesn’t, you could make the same argument for Reagan. Each of the men on this list have been idiosyncratic ideologically, either changing parties or holding views out of their party’s mainstream.

Monday, February 3, 2020

A Sad Note

The most successful radio personality ever, anywhere, Rush Limbaugh has announced he’s been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. If you’re a praying person, he could use whatever help you can petition God to give him.

Like Donald Trump, Rush’s stylistic flourishes haven’t always been my cup of tea. But also like Donald Trump, I recognize in Rush a media master craftsman and an autodidact of great intellect and insight.

There’s a hole in the ground waiting for each person. Most of us will be missed, if we’re lucky, by a handful of friends and relatives. Rush, when he goes, will be missed by millions. With his golden microphone, he has been the godfather of modern conservatism in these United States. Our hope is he can dodge this lethal ‘bullet.’

A Side Chosen

Some days ago we wrote that the Trump administration had no thought their Mideast peace plan would actually be accepted by both Israel and the Palestinians. Today the website Tablet carries a column by Tony Badran which argues that it is more consequential than I thought.

What, then, does Badran believe those consequences are?
The president has used a series of tools to dismantle Obama’s Middle East framework. Trump withdrew from the Iran deal in May 2018, collapsing the security partnership Obama had assiduously built with the Iranians and their regional militias commanded by the recently departed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani—who met his demise courtesy of a U.S. missile strike last month.

On the Israel front, Trump nullified the 1967 lines, the cornerstone of the Arab rejectionist position that Obama had attempted to enshrine in UNSCR 2334. He did this by moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and then by recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The latter move eliminated the 1967 framework altogether with regard to Syria and Lebanon. As far as the United States is concerned, there are no more disputed territories: The land is Israel’s. The current plan extends that same approach to the Jordan Valley, in addition to existing settlements.

Trump’s deal is designed to underscore Israel’s special relationship with the United States—and it slams shut the rusty gates of the peace processing factory for good. It doesn’t much matter how the Palestinians respond. The American position is not dependent on the outcome of future negotiations.
If Badran’s analysis is accurate, the Trump plan formalizes a dramatic change in U.S. policy toward the region.

The Bloomberg LBO

In an interview with Maria Bartiromo, Steve Brannon said something provocative about the Michael Bloomberg candidacy. Here’s some dialog about Bloomberg quoted in an American Thinker column.
BARTIROMO: You don't think he wants to be president?
BANNON: I think he — look, he knows he's not going to beat Donald Trump. He knows he's not going to win the nomination.
BARTIROMO: You said he wants to be something else, not...
BANNON: He's — he's basically doing a leveraged buyout of the Democratic Party, is what he's doing.
He's an LBO of the Democratic Party to control the Democratic Party to select who their candidate is going to be and use his capital, OK, and organization and technology to defeat Trump.
Later in the interview Bannon suggests Hillary may be who Bloomberg wants as the 2020 candidate, and that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the socialist future both Brannon and Bloomberg, for different reasons, hope to avoid.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

What’s On Voters’ Minds

NPR’s Mara Liasson is a frequent panelist on Bret Baier’s Fox News show, representing the liberal point of view. She’s written a column for the NPR website that is, remarkably for NPR, balanced and decent reporting.

Liasson correctly identifies Trump himself, the excellent economy, and the culture ‘war’ as major issues affecting the 2020 election. She notes the weaknesses of the Democrats who seek the nomination, as well as Trump’s well-known eccentricities.

She sees the economy as a plus for Trump, and believes the Democrat will have a tough time making income disparities work for him or her. What she calls the “ culture war” is an umbrella term covering immigration control, suppression of (mostly) Muslim terrorism, abortion limitation, freedom to be religious, appointing conservative judges, and defending gun owners.

If Liasson’s column has a weakness, it is identifying Trump supporters as being mostly “white working class.” Not so fast, our household - two widely traveled Ph.Ds - is solidly pro-Trump.

Why? We’ve visited at least 10 countries that spent multiple decades of the late 20th century under some form of socialism. They’re still trying to dig out from the mess it left them in and catch up with the market economies. Democrats refuse to understand how dangerous to us their policies are.

GoT: Brueghel Come to Life

The other DrC and I haven’t ‘invested’ in HBO, there aren’t enough films we want to watch to make it pay. Consequently, we didn’t watch Game of Thrones when it was being broadcast, although we could scarcely escape stories about GoT.

Once it was complete, it became available in other venues. I binge watched the entire first season on a long transoceanic flight - LA to Shanghai, maybe - and enjoyed it.

So recently we purchased the entire oeuvre on CD and have been watching two episodes per evening.  As I write we’re just finishing season 2. My reaction: Game of Thrones is pornography you can watch with your wife.

This series has something for nearly everyone. It has explicit nudity and gay, straight, and kinky sex, brutality, gore and violence, intrigue and double-dealing, family saga, foul language, magic, fantasy, mother love, and incest front and center.

Bizarros abound, weirdness is celebrated, women are no better than men. Heroes are killed. Good people do bad things, bad people occasionally do good things, dragons exist, as do things-only-partially-human.

GoT is a medieval head trip, a Brueghel grotesquerie come to life. The only reason the kitchen sink isn’t included is that, in Westeros, plumbing hasn’t been invented.

One suspects the author sat down, made a list of every taboo in the Anglosphere, and decided to violate each inventively, energetically and with relish. Humor seems to be the only thing largely missing so far.

Blue Is Blue, Red Is Ahead

The states, Justice Louis Brandeis famously wrote, are the laboratories of democracy. Different states try different policies and we can compare how well or poorly those work in practice.

See a New York Post article concerning four large and prominent states, two with high tax, high social spending policies and two with low. The high tax and spend states are NY and CA, the low tax and spend states are TX and FL.

The question the article addresses is the extent to which the policies pursued by NY and CA are doing a better job for their people. The answer is, of course, not at all.

Public school performance is equally dismal in all four, poverty is actually higher in the states spending more on it. If you subsidize something you normally get more of it.

Generally speaking, citizens of FL and TX are getting a much better return on their tax dollars, and guess what ... people and employers are moving from NY and CA to FL and TX. We’d be surprised if anything else happened.

The article has good charts comparing spending and results per pupil, spending per poor person, and infrastructure spending across the four states. Check it out. Hat tip to for the link.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Impeachment Epilogue

I haven’t written much about the impeachment, as its outcome always was a foregone conclusion. OTOH, I just read an Andrew McCarthy piece for Fox News that nicely sums up why it came out as it did.
The Democrats’ problem is not that they’ve been stopped from proving their case. They did prove their case … but their case is, at best, a petty crime, while impeachment is akin to capital punishment. It’s not that we approve of petty crime; it’s that petty crime is not a capital case. And even if Bolton testified, it wouldn’t become one.
I can’t say fairer than that. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.