Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Relevant History

Thinking of defunding the police?  Instapundit weighs in with a history lesson about how people dealt with crime before there were police.
Remember, in the end the police aren’t there to protect the public from criminals, they’re there to protect criminals from the public. Communities dealt with crime long before police were invented, usually in rather harsh and low-due-process ways. The bargain was, let the police handle it instead. No police, no bargain.
Back in the day, a fair number of guilty-appearing innocents were lynched (or shot) by neighbors in a hurry for revenge. They called it "frontier justice."

More Realism

Headline of an article at Newsweek, which still exists online, if not in print. Hat tip to Ed Driscoll at Instapundit for the link.
Houston Protesters Begin to Fall Ill With Coronavirus After Marching for George Floyd
The article quotes protestors as having no regrets in spite of testing positive for Covid-19.

A Realistic Mayor

Finally, an elected official - Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez - says what we've all been thinking concerning the recent uptick in cases of Covid-19. United Press Intl. has the story (scroll down).
It's not coincidental that two weeks after demonstrations happen here in Miami-Dade County, a lot by young people, that we've had this spike.
 The man is a master of understatement, no coincidence indeed.

Police Job Attitudes

A trade publication for police, Calibre Press, surveyed 10,000 working LEOs about their job satisfaction and whether they would recommend their children follow them into the profession. Their answers were as bleak as you might expect.

For example, roughly 80% would not recommend their children work in law enforcement. Asked if they would go into police work if they could start over, 38.3% said they would, 35.6% said they would not, and 26.1% were unsure. And roughly 24% planned to leave the field soon, either retiring (16%) or quitting before retirement eligibility (8%).

On the other hand, some 50% were pleased with their job but less so than formerly. Roughly 40% said it was so-so or worse. If you were a career counselor, could you now in good conscience recommend a police career to a young person?

Humor at National Review

We don't normally think of the National Review as a source of humor. They made an exception in mid-June with an article entitled:
Communique from NYTAZ
This is satire based on the hyper-progressive backflips the New York Times has recently engaged in: firing editors, apologizing for OpEds already published, hiring known racists, and waxing nostalgic for communism.

Of course, by the time you read this, they may have already turned intended hyperbole into ghastly reality. Ed Driscoll, the Instapundit regular who provided the link, reminds us of Muggeridge's Law:
We live in an age in which it is no longer possible to be funny. There is nothing you can imagine, no matter how ludicrous, that will not promptly be enacted before your very eyes, probably by someone well known.
The NYT is reasonably well known, and apparently knows no limits on the left.

Sauce for the Gander, Too

Some media outlets put forward the idea, leaked by one of our intelligence agencies, that Russians are rewarding Afghan Taliban for killing American and allied troops in Afghanistan. The President and Vice President claim they were never briefed on intel to that effect. In effect, it’s another “he said, she said” moment.

What nobody mentions is that we were doing the same thing in reverse when the folks who became the Taliban - the Mujahadeen - were fighting the Soviets. Our CIA provided arms and support, including almost inevitably money to the Mujahadeen who were bushwhacking Soviets. The film Charlie Wilson’s War was based on this effort.

It is what is done in the shadow world of asymmetric warfare if you back the weaker side. If the Soviets’ successor - the Russians - are funding the Taliban, who can blame them? We backed the same group of warlord marauders before the tables were turned. This whole thing is a nothingburger.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Missing the Point

Paul Mirengoff, a Power Line regular, does a column critical of the statements of Princeton University President Eisgruber who announced dropping the name of President Woodrow Wilson from the university's school of public policy. Mirengoff concludes the action is merely symbolic:
Unfortunately for Eisgruber, the decision to purge Wilson’s name isn’t making a difference for angry Blacks. Nor should it.
Mirengoff misses the whole point. Eisengruber dropped the Wilson name to placate white progressives, not "angry Blacks" with whom he does not regularly interact. So it's virtue signaled, problem solved, and now moving on.

An Optimistic View of Trump's Chances

For the sake of balance, and because there really are points to ponder on both sides, here is a link also courtesy of Stephen Green of Instapundit to the June 29 issue of Bidenwatch.  Author Lawrence Person's summary gives you a flavor:
Black voters have about the same enthusiasm for Biden as they do for leftover tuna casserole, his non-profit did more to line staffer’s pockets than fight cancer, and Biden agrees to three debates with Trump.

A Gloomy View of Trump's November Outcome

Stephen Green, one of the regular posters at Instapundit, links to a column by Arthur Chrenkoff, an right-wing Australian of Polish extraction, who takes a pessimist's view of Trump's chances in November. I'll admit to having had some of the same thoughts Chrenk describes.

On the other hand, I'll do this November what I almost always do. Vote Republican, as the lesser of two evils, cross my fingers, and hope for a happy surprise when the ballots are counted. I still remember how pleased I was four years ago.

Our elections are binary choices, if you vote for someone other than the R or the D, you might as well stay home. I've had few occasions to regret Trump's win, and while Trump is problematic at times, I know Biden is the doofus he always has been. And age has made him less coherent and easier to manipulate.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Whole Foods Radicals

Ed Driscoll, a regular at Instapundit, links to a website called The Right Scoop. They've an article headlined:
If you wonder about "Defund the Police" and Antifa, don't think Harlem, think Whole Foods
Umm, yes. The article isn't much but I do like the title. These are the Toy Radicals we wrote about the other day. Snowflakes with attitude and thrown bricks.

Yale ... On the Skids?

Conservatives have long since developed a very sour attitude toward Ivy League schools, seeing them as bastions of the enemy - leftist Democrats and worse. Quite a few are taking the current BLM protests as an opportunity to beat up on Yale.

Yale is named for a slave owner and trader, Elihu Yale. Folks are demanding Yale University change its name and, in doing so, forego an immensely valuable brand.

Yale can't even choose to become the University of New Haven, where it is sited. A lesser crosstown school has used the UNH name for the last century.

The irony of requiring progressives to live up to their own rules is so fine. Mental image of a torpedo circling around and sinking the ship that launched it.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Covid-19 Hits the Young

Instapundit links to a Reason magazine article about the sharp uptick in coronavirus cases among the young. This has been mostly in southern states.

The author speculates about causal factors - bars, rafting and restaurants - and never once mentions the BLM protests as a source. Maybe they should be considered, investigated even?

Commercial Real Estate Imperiled?

An article at Zero Hedge argues that the hoped-for V-shaped economic recovery isn't happening. We'll see. Maybe the most important thing it predicts for the longer term is that commercial real estate will be hurt, perhaps badly, by the work-at-home trend triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

We have observed the possible impact of this; firms will conclude they can save money by having people work from home. Let the employee provide the workspace, instead of the company paying for it.

I can imagine the office space of the future having a much reduced footprint, with emphasis on conference rooms where groups will perhaps hold a weekly meeting lasting perhaps half a day or less. Perhaps a small nucleus or cadre will actually be present in a face-to-face setting, perhaps not.

What will become of the hundreds of acres of office space now in place? Much will be converted to ... what? Apartments? For whom? To storage? Maybe. To homeless housing? Maybe, if the value drops far enough.

If people work from home, city apartments will be less attractive too. If a "worker bee" only goes into the office every week or two, why live in a high-rise? If the downtown population drops, many restaurants and shops will fold.

It's likely fortunes will be lost, perhaps including Trump's - based on urban real estate holdings. I don't believe we're able to predict where this will end up, maybe with derelict cities of which Detroit is a leading indicator.

The current speculative move could well be property in distant green suburbs and exurbs. There's always money to be made, if you guess correctly the future direction. Obviously, all of the above is guesswork, no guarantees.

A Caveat

People on both sides are trying to make mask wearing, in this time of coronavirus, a political statement. Supposedly if you lean left you wear a mask, if you lean right you don't. Maybe so for the young, that's up to them.

People made a thing of a photo of former Vice President Dick Cheney - in many ways Mr. Conservative - wearing a mask. Give me a break, the man will be 80 in January. He's entitled to wear a mask, he'd like to live a bit longer and has a long history of heart trouble - what's called a "comorbidity."

Do any of you regular readers doubt my bonafides as a conservative? I'm in roughly the same age bracket as Cheney and I promise you I wear a mask when out shopping or around random people. I too hope to see a few more summers and have no desire to spend this one, as the Brits say, in hospital.

So if you see us seniors wearing a mask when out and about, don't put a political spin on it. We're just trying to stay away from a virus that - worse luck - is a proven senior-killer.

Complaints Arise from Self-Interest

The Campus Reform website quotes a range of university talking heads bemoaning President Trump's freeze on visas. Claims made include Michigan State alleging that "the proclamation would hinder the university’s ability to recruit international students." Others claimed they'd not be able to recruit faculty from overseas.

What's really going on here is foreign students are a gigantic cash cow that universities have learned to lean on. They provide funding for all the "diversity" administrators and victim group studies programs schools waste money on. And foreign scholars can often be hired more cheaply than Americans with the same training. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Who Were the Protesters?

Pew Research Center looked at the ethnicity of those attending Black Lives Matter demonstrations. It turns out Blacks were a mere 17% of those demonstrating.
Black Americans account for 17% of those who say they attended a protest focused on race or racial equality in the last month, compared with their 11% share of all adults in the survey. Hispanic Americans account for 22% of recent protest attendees, versus 15% of all adults. The difference is less pronounced but still statistically significant when it comes to the share of protesters who are Asian (8% vs. 5% of the adults surveyed). While 64% of U.S. adults are white, just 46% of those who said they attended a protest focused on race in the last month are white.
African-Americans - the group whose mistreatment the demonstrations were about -  didn't turn out in overwhelming numbers. The largest ethnic group represented (Whites) was the group supposedly doing the oppressing.

What do you conclude from the above data? Beaucoup white guilt? Young whites blowing off steam, getting the virus lockdown out of their systems? Virtue signaling on steroids? How about a way to punish the parents' generation for the basement-dwelling offsprings' lack of opportunity? Some combination of those, I suspect.

Biden, the Racist

Here is a Joe Biden quote from 1977, as verified by Snopes and posted by Instapundit.
In early March 2020, readers asked Snopes to verify a quote in 1977 in which Biden, then a U.S. senator representing Delaware, allegedly expressed fear that desegregation, if not done in an “orderly” way, could result in his children growing up in “a racial jungle with tensions having built so high that it is going to explode at some point.”

The quote is accurate as reported.

As The New York Times reported in a detailed delineation of Biden’s history with busing, Biden at the time had emerged as the Democratic party’s crusader against busing, taking the same side as segregationists. Biden “joined up with Jesse Helms, the segregationist senator from North Carolina, to offer his own anti-busing amendment to that year’s education spending bill.” Biden’s “advocacy made it safe for other Democrats to oppose busing,” The Times reported.

The Times further reported that Biden sided with Helms in 1975 when the latter proposed to strip the federal government’s power to withhold funding from school districts that refused to comply with racial-equality measures.
This Biden history does need to be publicized. At the time he claimed his home state - Delaware - had sympathized with, but did not join, the Confederacy.

The War on Happy

Power Line posts an Ammo Grrrll column in which Susan Vass bewails all the joyful things the wokescolds have tried to ruin. She concludes it thus:
RESIST! Commit an act of rebellion equivalent to the Boston Tea Party: BE HAPPY! But just in case that isn’t enough, arm yourself, buy ammo, and NEVER vote Democrat again!
Not bad advice, I’m already taking most of it. How about you?

Toy Radicals

National Review’s Kevin Williamson writes something about current Antifa troubles you might not see elsewhere:
The scene in militia-occupied Seattle is entirely familiar, the same kind of theatrical filth that has been a part of American counterculture from Woodstock through Occupy Wall Street. These are the idiot children of the American ruling class, toy radicals and Champagne Bolsheviks playing Jacobin for a while until they go back to graduate school.
We are currently bedeviled by this generation’s versions of Bernadette Dohrn, Tom Hayden and Bill Ayers. One could wish our society didn’t upchuck these pains-in-the-backside with such regularity.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Cause and Effect

Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit, posts something written by an anonymous friend who lives in Austin, TX, where he's analyzed the Covid-19 numbers over time. That friend has shown that the surge in hospitalizations happened exactly when it would be expected if the George Floyd demonstrations were when and where many additional people were exposed.

The chart by Reynolds' friend shows the data graphically, in some detail. Don't expect the legacy media to do this analysis or report this finding. It doesn't fit their PC narrative.

I suspect many of us expected this outcome. Carefully hushed up of course, and reported months or years later when it will be shrugged off as hindsight.

An Unfriendly Assessment of China Today

Austin Bay guest blogs at Instapundit, often on military issues. Today, he looks at the mostly non-military problems facing China today. He concludes they are darn big and tough, probably insoluble by the CCP.
The CCP cannot answer this question: How long can the prosperous tyranny continue to survive trading smartphones and quality American pork for political subservience by the roughly 400 million people in China's quasi-middle class? Don't get hung up on an exact figure. It's huge. But so are the 200 to 300 million in the murky stratum of workers who left home in central and western China to work in coastal China's factories. Many lack basic legal protections.

In 2019, the CCP accepted President Donald Trump's administration's demands for trade adjustments and planned for economic retrenchments. However, the Wuhan virus accelerated economic "decoupling" with the U.S. and the rest of North America.

Recent economic news suggests China is teetering. A China-EU investment and trade deal has snagged. Bloomberg reported defaults "in all sectors" of China's offshore bond market have exceeded $4 billion, double that during the same period of 2019. First-quarter 2020 percentage profits, capital expenditures and retail sales may be the lowest since the 1990s.

Big Picture: The goodie-producing economic engine that braces the CCP's domestic political strategy needs international markets. China's domestic economy can't sustain it. CCP international aggression magnifies the vulnerabilities.
Magnifies vulnerabilities because it irritates countries whose good will they need.

People Want More Policing, Not Less

Power Line links to a Rasmussen Poll looking at attitudes toward police and policing.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 63% of American Adults still regard being a police officer as one of the most important jobs in our country today, down only slightly from 68% three years ago. Twenty-six percent (26%) disagree, up from 19% in the earlier survey. Eleven percent (11%) are not sure.

Sixty-four percent (64%) are concerned that the growing criticism of America’s police will lead to a shortage of police officers and reduce public safety in the community where they live. That includes 39% who are Very Concerned. But 33% don’t share that concern, with 14% who are Not At All Concerned about the risk to public safety.

Blacks (67%) are the most concerned about public safety where they live, compared to 63% of whites and 65% of other minority Americans.
Q: Who is more pro-police, Biden or Trump?
A: Trump, hands down.

Q: Will this issue be important in the campaign?
A: BLM and Antifa have almost guaranteed it.

See the Video

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line has a very powerful one minute video prepared by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR, no known relation) taking Joe Biden to task for not condemning the rioters and looters. You should watch it.

Good News

Reuters reports a Supreme Court decision announced today, a win for the Trump administration.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday enhanced the ability of President Donald Trump’s administration to quickly deport illegal immigrants including asylum seekers with limited judicial review, handing him a victory in a case involving one of his signature issues in an election year.
Stand by for more SCOTUS news as June winds down over the next five days. Fingers crossed.

Church Goers Favor Trump

Two profs from the same sort of second tier university I worked for surveyed white Protestant church-goers and found many of them view Donald Trump as “anointed by God.” The Daily Wire has the story based on a finding posted at Religion in Public.
In 2019, among white Protestants who attended church weekly or more often, 29.6 percent believed Trump was anointed by God to be president. But by March 2020, that figure had climbed to 49 percent. It was up across the board, though none so dramatically as among the regular attenders.
Oddly enough, “other” regular church-goers views were almost the same as the white Protestants - a finding I did not expect. From which I conclude regular church attendance is more critical than race or particular sect in holding this view.

Trump was asked about this finding and replied, modestly for him:
“I almost don’t even want to think about it,” Trump said in an interview on Monday, Fox News reported. “Because you know what, all I’m gonna do is, I hope it’s true. All I’m going to do is, I’m going to do my best.”
Hat tip to Lucinanne.com for the link.

House Plant Time?

Sarah Hoyt, a regular guest blogger at Instapundit, labels Democrat presidential challenger Joe Biden a “house plant.” Harsh maybe, but sorta fair, too.

My concern, which I’ve not seen elsewhere, is that there may be a significant number of voters (not including yours truly) who are tired of the sturm und drang of the Trump years -  the “resistance” in Congress and the never-ending carping and Twitter storms on all sides. People who’d like to see lead news stories that don’t headline “Trump and Those Who Hate Him.”

Might they vote for House Plant Biden just to get some peace, figuring he will be the non-controversial, go-along-to-get-along guy he’s been most of his life? Obama proved we didn’t need a president; I worry there is nostalgia for those sleepy, boring years, a desire to return.

Trump has been a good president, but tends to make everything about himself. This has been politically valuable as he’s sucked up all the oxygen leaving little bandwidth for others. I am concerned his kind of over-exposure can wear out the audience. Hopefully, not before the end of the year.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

What They Knew, When They Knew It

Writing at The Federalist, Sean Davis and Mollie Hemingway report concerning newly released notes relevant to the activities of President Obama and Vice President Biden in directing the FBI investigation of the designated future National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
Newly released notes confirm President Barack Obama’s key role in surveillance and leak operation against Michael Flynn, the incoming Trump administration national security adviser. The handwritten notes, which were first disclosed in a federal court filing made by the Department of Justice on Tuesday, show President Obama himself personally directed former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates to investigate Flynn for having routine phone calls with a Russian counterpart. He also suggests they withhold information from President Trump and his key national security figures.

The handwritten notes from fired former FBI agent Peter Strzok appear to describe a Jan. 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting between Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Comey, Yates, and then-national security adviser Susan Rice.
I’ll remind you that Joe Biden has claimed on-camera that he knew an investigation of Flynn was happening but knew no details. On the other hand:
According to Strzok’s notes, Biden explicitly referenced the Logan Act, an 18th-century law that forbids certain political speech from private citizens. The law, even if it were constitutional, would not apply to a national security adviser for the newly elected president of the United States.
The proverbial “top men” in the Obama administration have their fingerprints all over this bogus-from-the-get-go ‘investigation.’ (Note classic snide Indiana Jones reference). Both Lucianne.com and RealClearPolitics provided links to this article.

Were Extreme Measures Necessary?

Instapundit quotes the following from The Wall Street Journal (behind paywall) concerning the (non)efficacy of state-mandated lock-downs.
A new analysis by The Sentinel, a Kansas nonprofit, compares the 42 states that shut down most of their economies with the eight that did not. The latter group includes mostly rural states with some small metropolitan areas: North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Utah. Private employment on average fell by 7.8% between May 2019 and May 2020 in these states while plunging 13.2% in the others.

Per-capita Covid fatalities in states that stayed open were on average about 75% lower than those that locked down. One reason is that deaths in most states, regardless of whether they locked down, have been concentrated in nursing home facilities and minority communities that have higher rates of underlying health conditions and multigenerational housing.
Understanding that different circumstances require different responses, the President gave states great leeway to do what fit their needs. We have already observed the natural social distancing which is inherent in rural living. Maybe those 8 states didn’t shut down because their experience with the virus wasn’t extreme.

Comes the Bolo 2.0

In 1960, science fiction author Keith Laumer began to write about armored vehicles (tanks) called “Bolos,” operated by self-aware artificial intelligence. It has taken 60 years but we begin to see tech evolve in that direction, something we first noted in 2014.

RealClearDefense links to a Popular Mechanics article (with photos) about an Estonian robot light tank which, while not self-aware, is a further move toward autonomous fighting vehicles.
Milrem, an Estonian robotics company, introduced the Type X combat vehicle earlier this month. The Type X builds upon Milrem’s experience with robotic combat vehicles, including the THeMIS multipurpose vehicle. (snip) Type X resembles a scaled down main battle tank.

The Type X isn’t the only remote combat vehicle out there. In 2019 Textron Systems revealed the M5 Ripsaw, a similar vehicle with the same 30-millimeter autocannon used on the Stryker Dragoon infantry carrier. (snip) Over in Russia, the Uran-9 RCV has so far been a disappointment. Uran-9 bristles with more firepower than its Western equivalents but has proven difficult to control under combat conditions in Syria.
So far all such efforts have required remote human operators. Someone somewhere (DARPA?) is imagining the parameters and problems of autonomous battle robots. That day is getting closer.

At this point, Instapundit usually inserts a reference to a smiling Skynet from the Terminator films. I’m more likely to wonder what will trigger the anti-AI Butlerian Jihad from Dune.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Jussie Smollett Comes to NASCAR

Autoweek reports the FBI has concluded that the "noose" black driver Bubba Wallace found in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway was in fact a pull rope to close a roll-up door. Sometime last year someone had tied the rope's end into a grab loop, long before Wallace was assigned that space.

Verdict: no hate crime, in fact no crime at all. It must be really frightening for a black guy in NASCAR, around all those blue-collar southern whites. Or is the real fear that being accepted by those redneck dudes puts his racial bonafides in question? Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

A Rebuttal to Safetyism

With all the reading I do you'd think I'd have run across this quote from Ben Shapiro which has been around for awhile. The version I like best is very slightly modified from his original, and is this:
My facts don't care about your feelings.
When I was young we said you have to be responsible for your own feelings, neither I nor anyone else "makes you" feel anything. You choose to feel one way or another.

Your feelings are not my problem, and I won't thank you for trying to make them mine. If you don't like the way you feel, choose to feel otherwise. If you can't manage that, change the circumstances which trigger feelings you don't like.

The Mountain West version of this is "Cowboy up." Fox’s Laura Ingraham likes the “Suck it up, Buttercup” formulation. The B-School version I shared with executives for whom I consulted, "My advice to whiners is 'Cope, dammit, the rest of us have to.'"

Monday, June 22, 2020

Movin' ... Movin' ... Movin'

Ed Driscoll at Instapundit links to two stories about people now leaving cities, or trying to. One at Zero Hedge notes that it is mostly the wealthy who can go right away as lenders have gotten tight about financing mortgages. As always, those who don't need money are who can most easily borrow.

The other is a story by KTAR News, a Phoenix station, concerning a billion dollar investment firm bailing out of troubled Seattle. They are moving to the greater Phoenix area.

I believe they'd be well-advised to pick a city smaller than Phoenix, maybe an outer suburb like Surprise. A lot of this kind of voting-with-feet will be happening in the coming months.

Update on Libya

Not that our news pays much attention, but there is a civil war ongoing in Libya. Making a delightful change, the U.S. is taking no part.

Major players are Turkey and Russia; lesser players include the U.A.E., Egypt, Italy, France, and several groups of Islamic extremists. The Council on Foreign Relations has the story.

Libya has extensive oil and gas reserves, which several players would like to exploit. The division between western Libya - Tripoli - and eastern Libya - Benghazi - is at least partially tribal.

Factions in the Middle East are mostly what Tahseen Bashir memorably called "tribes with flags." He made Egypt his sole exception. Tribe being defined as "A unit of sociopolitical organization consisting of a number of families, clans, or other groups who share a common ancestry and culture."

The last time the U.S. paid much attention to Libya was in 2012 when U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was besieged in Benghazi. SecState Hillary Clinton and President Obama failed to send a military rescue mission, and Stevens and his 3 bodyguards were mutilated and murdered by Islamic extremists.

Libya is one of Trump's sh**holes where you'd enjoy seeing both sides lose. All the players are evil.

Chicago News

From the Chicago Tribune:
At least 106 people were shot in Chicago, 13 of them fatally, from midafternoon Friday to early Monday, according to city officials and Tribune data.

It is the most people shot in one weekend since at least 2012, but not the deadliest this year, after more than 20 were killed over the last weekend in May, according to data compiled by the Tribune.
The Tribune has details, if you want them. Chicago sounds like a free fire zone. Apparently, that is a notoriety most large cities aspire to this year.

Monday Midday Snark

Lawrence Person’s BattleSwarm Blog gives an overview of today’s contents of BidenWatch*, and along the way sideswipes the guest of honor.
Exploring the enthusiasm gap between Trump and Biden (plus the equally huge campaign technology gap), some fundraising analysis, more Veepstakes, and a majority of Americans think Biden is a few tacos shy of a combo plate.
*A snarky homage to J.K.Rowling’s “PotterWatch” - a pirate radio program of sightings and news of the Chosen One (Harry) hiding out - which Biden certainly has been doing. Hat tip to Stephen Green blogging at Instapundit for the link.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Minneapolis Weekend ‘Festivities’

Power Line links to a Minneapolis Star Tribune article about fatal (and otherwise) shooting in that troubled city, where the George Floyd killing occurred.
Gunmen unleashed a torrent of bullets in a crowded block early Sunday in Minneapolis' Uptown area, killing one person and wounding 11 others in one of the city's most violent shootings in recent memory.

Police said the 11 survivors were scattered at area hospitals with "various severity levels of injuries." The victim who died was a man, they said. All of the victims were adults.

The shooting was one of several across the city since Saturday afternoon — in all, 19 people have been struck by gunfire in that span, police say.
Minneapolis sounds a lot like Chicago and Baltimore, doesn’t it? And its City Council wants to abolish the police. That isn’t exactly pure, undiluted genius.

Toppling Fr. Serra

Power Line regular Scott Johnson writes about communications PL has received from the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Christopher Landau. Landau is concerned about the toppling in San Francisco of a statue of Fr. Junipero Serra, generally credited as founder of a chain of Spanish missions in what is now California. Landau observes this disrespect is poorly received in both Mexico and Spain.

Father Serra, missions, and missionaries are all controversial in today’s America. Those who bewail the fate of the poor Native Americans, the people we once called “Indians,” despise missionaries as cultural imperialists. I am unclear about what the actual native people involved think, let me explain.

For the last decade or more the other DrC and I have spent several weeks every winter in the Santa Ynez valley. The valley is geographically near Santa Barbara, though inland a long day’s hike.

In that valley is a Chumash reservation and, essentially next door, a still-functioning mission church, Mission Santa Inez, adjacent to the town of Solvang. The valley and mission spell the saint’s name - Inez/Ynez - differently, both are Spanish for Agnes.

In the years-in-total we’ve spent there I’ve seen zero animosity between Chumash and church, I sense it is still the Chumash church though all are welcome. The grounds are serene and the site has perhaps the valley’s most beautiful view, to the east.

The Santa Ynez valley contains two missions, the other a day’s hike to the west near Lompoc is Mission La Purisima Concepcion. The chain of missions existed a long day’s hike apart up coastal CA as far north as Sonoma.

Whatever activists think, the missions still honor Fr. Serra, and their parishioners do as well. Not that BLM and Antifa are sensitive to their views.

For more about California’s missions and the “south coast” region, do a blog search for “CA missions” and four more posts pop up, going back to 2013.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

MN Can't Pass Police Reform

Republicans control the U.S. Senate, Democrats control the House of Representatives. At the national level, we somewhat take this sort of divided government for granted. Some even prefer it.

Fox News reports only one state has this sort of legislative divide, Minnesota. That is where the George Floyd death in police custody occurred.

Early this morning, a special session of the MN legislature adjourned without passing police reform. Partisan differences of opinion concerning what was needed obviously played a very large part. I guess this outcome isn't too surprising.

I conclude that MN Democrats, who wanted more radical reforms, decided to await the November election results rather than accept the compromise MN Republicans offered.


What interests me is that we Americans have sorted ourselves out geographically to the extent that this sort of divided government is quite rare below the national level. I conclude that the great sort of our nation, as some have called it, has gone further than we think with people having migrated to states where their 'brand' of politics is the norm. 

It is worth noting that Nebraska has a unicameral legislature wherein partisan gridlock isn't possible. It too is one of a kind within the U.S. group of 50 states, what Justice Brandeis called our "laboratories of democracy."

Happy Fathers' Day Tomorrow

COTTonLINE sends greetings and appreciation to all fathers who read this. In spite of all the anti-family horsepucky, the importance of fathers in the lives of children is well-documented.

Children of intact families, in general, thrive much better, accomplish more, and live less troubled lives. Partly it is fathers' direct input to the children and partly it is that by sharing the load, fathers free up mothers do their job better too.

Dads of the world, you are important and we owe you.

Welcome to Summer

Several days ago I wrote about the summer solstice, it happens about two hours from now. I've got to say we haven't had a warm spring here in the Rockies. Meals on the screened porch have been rare.

The other DrC, who is blessed with a phenomenal memory, says the wild flowers are not appearing in their usual sequence, some have been early, others blooming late. Likely this is a reaction to the less-than-common weather pattern.

Our mountain valley is very lush and green right now. If summer follows its normal course here, the valley will be much less so come autumn.

Whatever its exact nature turns out to be, summer is always a welcome arrival in the high country.

Reacting to Nihilists

In San Francisco rioters have pulled down a statue of General and President Ulysses S. Grant who, working with and following Lincoln, did the most to root out slavery in the nation. These stupid nihilists are latter-day Red Guards, again erasing the “four olds.”

Reacting to this, and much more, Power Line’s John Hinderaker concludes:
Every four years it is said that the current election is the most important one in our lifetimes. This time, it is actually true. Not a single Democratic Party official, to my knowledge, has condemned the anti-American madness that is sweeping across the nation. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are fully on board with the extremist elements in their party–I am starting to wonder whether there is any Democratic Party apart from the extremist elements–and the Democrats’ presidential nominee is a senile nonentity who, in office, would be controlled by the radicals. It is absolutely essential to our country’s future that Donald Trump be re-elected.
Analysis: Children’s crusades are the worst. Especially when their elders, who should know better, sign on. Talk about “the madness of crowds.”

Friday, June 19, 2020

Poll: Biden Losing It

The Daily Wire reports the results of a Zogby International poll which asked if people believed Joe Biden was experiencing dementia. Some 55% think so.
Overall, subgroups who normally approve of Trump’s job as president, were the most likely to believe Biden could be suffering from dementia. Thus, majorities of Republicans (77% more likely/23% less likely) and Independents (56% more likely/44% less likely) thought Joe Biden had early-onset dementia; while nearly a third of Democrats (32% more likely/68% less likely) thought this was the case.
I can't square these findings with the polls which show Biden is ahead. Would you vote for someone you believed that of? It would be bizarre if our nation elected someone who was viewed by a majority as losing it.

My hypothesis of Biden as a potential latter-day Woodrow Wilson fronting for a Jill Biden de facto presidency is looking a tad more likely. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

A Hypothetical

Considering "what if" scenarios can shed light on what is happening. Right now we're going through a spate of tearing down monuments which honor men and a few women who lived during our revolution from Britain or during the Civil War. They were slave owners or didn't fight it hard enough or acted to disadvantage Native Americans. Today's values are not the values of those earlier times.

Imagine if a hundred years from now our nation considers abortions to be murder. Imagine that all those who spoke for "choice" are then dishonored or cancelled. Abortion rights marchers considered like a lynch mob. Roe v. Wade seen as worse than the Dred Scott decision. Nancy Pelosi's portrait removed from the capitol, names of schools honoring Obama and Clinton changed, History books rewritten to describe this as a vastly immoral time, because in their pro-life era, it is.

My point is that judging one era by the values of a later era is essentially unfair. FDR fought World War II with segregated regiments and air units. Should we now cancel him? Dwight Eisenhower, JFK and Harry Truman served in our segregated military without obvious resistance, should we now cancel them?


I used to ask my students if they thought theirs was the most stressful time to be alive, most thought exactly that. Then I'd tell them of my wife's great grandmother who had something like 9 children, lost four of them in one week to diphtheria, and couldn't just lie down and quit because she still had several who needed her. Did that make her callous? I'm sure she remembered the departed's dear little faces for the rest of her life.

My question to my students was, "Do you think you'll ever experience anything that awful in your life?" None thought so. My point was and is, the past is a different time, with different values and expectations, different challenges. 

They lived their lives by their values, with their trials and hurdles. Judge them by what they accomplished and the barriers they overcame, not be today's values. And remember, tomorrow's values may cause our descendants to view us with something far less than approval. Shall they cancel us for our by-their-lights shortcomings?

A Happy Warrior

The U.S. presidency is an interesting gig: you’re hired for four years, then get a “performance appraisal” which, if you pass, you get another four years. At the end of which, even if you’ve been brilliant (as the Brits say) you’re out of a job, history, a senior statesman.

President Trump appears to have a firm grasp of the above odd arrangement. As his mustashioed-detractor-on-the-right and fired former National Security Advisor John Bolton has written in a soon-to-be-available piece of revenge porn, all Trump seems to care about is reelection.

Translation: He likes his job, imagine that. He wants to pass his performance review so he can do the last four years of this peculiarly structured gig. He accomplishes this passing grade by meeting the public’s expectations and earning their votes.

Trump appears to believe he earns a passing grade by delivering on his campaign promises. What a novel idea! Tres strange, very unswamplike.

Our President craves public approval, good ratings, what we once called “good Nielsens.” And he does love the roar of a live crowd, hence Tulsa. I don't begrudge him either one.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

DACA Debacle

The DACA exception was initiated by President Obama via executive order, Congress would pass no law establishing it. The next president, Trump, issued another executive order cancelling the Obama order.

Folks complained and the case eventually went to the Supreme Court, which ruled 5-4 that president B could not cancel something ordered by president A without justifying it very thoroughly. The only way I could understand this decision is to accept that presidential executive orders have the force of law, which is nonsense.

Only legislatures can enact laws in this nation. President Obama ordered something because he could, President Trump cancelled it and was informed by the Supremes he could not. This is not equal treatment under the law.

Chief Justice John Roberts is off the reservation on this issue, voting with the liberals whose notion is to approve whatever makes people's lives nice, regardless of enacted law and constitutional strictures.

Roberts is a serious disappointment, having been seduced by the DC swamp. It appears he craves the approval of his peers in the law, most of whom vote D, worse luck. Bush appointees have proved iffy.

Societal Disintegration

The Washington Free Beacon reports NY Governor Andrew Cuomo said the following to NPR interviewers.
What the community is now saying, all across this nation, ‘We don’t want this type of police force.’ And if they don’t want it, they shouldn’t have it.
And the article continues:
Cuomo also signed an executive order requiring local governments to redesign their police departments "based on community input."

Cuomo told NPR he believes more must be done to address police brutality, and that the country is undergoing a "fundamental redefinition" of what Americans want from their police forces.
If each community has the police it chooses, the next step is the failure to enforce state and Federal laws with which "the community" doesn't agree. And perhaps enforcing local laws (e.g., sharia, talmudic) which could not withstand constitutional scrutiny.

We have already taken steps in this direction with the declaration of cities as sanctuaries. Their local police may not enforce or even cooperate with immigration enforcement.

The French have confronted a similar dilemma in their Muslim suburbs or banlieues. These have become police "no go" zones where there is almost no police presence and French law is basically inoperative.

What Cuomo is demanding, whether or not he realizes it, is some variant of banlieue weirdness. Most laws of any consequence are state-wide, if not Federal. Uniform enforcement of these across the entire jurisdiction is the minimum condition for equality before the law.

Speaking of Density

Axios has an interactive map of states' recent experience with Covid-19. The state with the greatest growth in cases over the past week is my state of Wyoming.

Oddly, the article doesn't mention this at all, describing what has happened in other states with a smaller rate of growth. Or maybe not so oddly, if you consider the seven day average of cases in WY jumped from 8.3 to 17.0.

The tourist season is upon us. I suppose infected folks will bring us some cases, either as they head for our two National Parks or pass though on I-80 and I-25.

A couple of quick web searches reveal that Wyoming is the 10th largest state by area, and has both the lowest population density of the lower 48 states, at 6 people per square mile, and the least population of any state, at roughly 580,000. Six per mile translates to over 100 acres per person.

The biggest city in WY, the capital Cheyenne, has about 65,000 people. My former smallish rural home town in CA now has just under 100,000, my current home town in WY has just over 1500.

We do social distancing just by living here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Weird Gerontological Science

Instapundit posts a link to a research report in the UCBerkeley newsletter Berkeley News.  The research concerns efforts to reverse the effects of aging in mice.
In the study, the team found that replacing half of the blood plasma of old mice with a mixture of saline and albumin — where the albumin simply replaces protein that was lost when the original blood plasma was removed — has the same or stronger rejuvenation effects on the brain, liver and muscle than pairing with young mice or young blood exchange. Performing the same procedure on young mice had no detrimental effects on their health.

This discovery shifts the dominant model of rejuvenation away from young blood and toward the benefits of removing age-elevated, and potentially harmful, factors in old blood.
I imagine centers like dialysis centers where us older citizens would go and have the crud filtered out of our blood, walking out the door with a spring in our step. At my age, it can't happen too soon, faster please.

Cities in Trouble

COTTonLINE has taken a jaundiced view of urban life since its founding nearly 14 years ago. Recent events have opened the eyes of many who still clung to the urban ideal.

Historian Paul A. Rahe writes for Ricochet about the Detroit experience and the way recent events have echoed that experience in cities across the land. Warning: his article and the excerpts which follow are not an upbeat prognosis.
By the time that I moved to Michigan in 2007, it (Detroit) was a wasteland resembling a bombed-out city or a town rendered virtually uninhabitable long before by the plague.

In Detroit, you weren’t safe, and your property wasn’t either. Law and order are the key to prosperity. Law and order are necessary to civilized life, and civilized life is not what one had come to associate with Detroit.

A few years ago, a similar riot took place in Baltimore, and the mayor acted as (Detroit mayor) Jerome Kavanaugh had, restraining the police and allowing the rioters free rein. In the aftermath, the police force was cut, and much of Baltimore descended into anarchy. No one in his right mind would go to live there now.

In the last three weeks, cities all across the country have experienced similar riots – replete with property damage, looting, arson, and murder. In virtually all of our cities – including Minneapolis, Washington, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Denver, and Atlanta – mayors have followed the Kavanaugh playbook and governors have stood aside.

What has been done by the authorities in the last three weeks is going to lead to a withdrawal from our cities. No one is going to want to live in an urban area where person and property are unsafe, and what I am saying applies to our fellow citizens of color at least as emphatically, if not more so.
There were other things involved in the implosion of Detroit, things named Toyota, Nissan, and VW. Still, Rahe's basic point is correct, if perhaps a bit overstated. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Daily Dose of Snark

Power Line's Steven Hayward posts a copy of a Tweet which is funny because it is both true and massively ironic.

For those who slept through U.S. History, the election of abolitionist Abraham Lincoln - the first Republican president - triggered the Civil War. His opponents who wanted to ignore slavery were ... you guessed it ... Democrats.

American Exceptionalism

I'm getting tired of reading about America's "systemic racism." A very strong argument can be made that ours is one of the least racist countries on the planet.

Can you name another first world country which has had a freely elected leader whose visible racial identity was not that of the country's majority population. I cannot think of even one.

Third world countries sometimes elect a high status citizen who is of European stock, when most of the locals are not. This happens in Latin America and, rarely, in the Caribbean; almost never in developed, first world countries.

So tell me again, how is it that the U.S. is more racist than other countries? I don't see it. Racism is not an American peculiarity, it is a human characteristic found around the globe.

There is no harm in wishing humans didn't exhibit racism, or in asking them to suppress it, but it isn't going away. Can you force it out of existence? I doubt that very much. As noted the other day, it is a "default setting" in humans, probably 'hardwired' in our DNA.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Hot Spot

Several sources report some 20 Indian troops were killed in fighting along its border with China. The high altitude area in the Himalayas in the northeast of Kashmir is a frequent site of border skirmishes, this seems bigger than most.

Americans always imagine if a nuclear war breaks out it will involve us directly. Suppose it involved China and India, both nuclear powers, both with large armies, and nothing much but mountains making attack complicated.

We might end up bystanders as the world’s two most populous nations decimate each other. Each has huge cities which would be largely impossible to defend from missile-borne nukes. Neither needs ICBMs for delivery, they occupy parts of the same continent (that’s the C in ICBM).

Of course the fallout would circle the globe, we’d all get a dose of it. Wouldn’t be a bad idea to lay in a modest supply of iodine tablets, I’ll bet they stay good for several years.

Political Incorrectness on Stilts

I have found a candidate for the most politically incorrect article of the year, at Taki’s Magazine online. It is so very politically incorrect I won’t characterize it here for fear of being tarred with that brush.

Think of this link as the classical “plain brown wrapper” pornography once came in. Eyebrow lift to Lucianne.com for the link.

Canada and the U.S. - A Slightly Odd Couple

A Canadian who, with his Canadian wife, lives much of the time in the U.S. writes a breezy column for the National Post (Can.) about the differences in the two neighboring countries. He does a nice, and I believe fair, job of looking at these unjudgmentally. Key observations:
These differences mostly come in the form of trade-offs situated at the nexus between politics and culture. They’re a matter of degree rather than fundamental principle. American society is tilted slightly more towards freedom than order. Canadian society tilts slightly in the other direction.

One society is more dynamic and richer but less equal and a bit more chaotic. The other is fairer and more equal but less vital and a bit poorer. How do we judge which one is better? Answering this is difficult because you don’t get an option to retain the parts you like and eschew the ones you don’t. They’re essentially two sides of the same coin.

There may even be a case that the United States’ eccentric mix of dynamism and inequality enables Canada and other countries to place a greater emphasis on stability and equality within their own jurisdictions. We get to ride on their capitalistic coattails so to speak.
The COTTonLINE view: The two countries are quite similar. The differences that do exist are cherished by Canadians and largely ignored by most Americans. I have fun finding them when I’m there every 2-3 years.

Canadians spend lots of time thinking about (and traveling to) the U.S. and the average American is barely aware of Canada. It’s a shame because Canada is a very nice, low-key neighbor and a great place to visit, when there’s no coronavirus lockdown.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Summer Solstice Soon

Five days from now we will experience the summer solstice, on June 20 at 3:44 p.m. MDT. On that day the northern hemisphere will experience the longest continuous period of daylight of the entire year, and the shortest period of darkness.

It is also the official beginning of summer which will last for the following 3 months. Summer in the Rockies is much like spring at sea level - warm but rarely hot, occasional rain that rarely lasts long, almost no humidity, really pleasant shirtsleeves weather constant through July and August, intermittent but mostly nice in June and September, occasionally nice in May and October.

We leave the rest of the year to the year-rounders. Winter here isn't so much hard as it is long, or so the envious locals tell us when in the fall we say we're headed out. I can't tell you how many have told us the moment they retire they'll do what we're doing, get a winter place where you don't have to shovel snow or slip on the ice.

The Information Imbalance

Wonder why progressive/liberal folks don’t “get” how many of us deplorables are abroad in the land? Perhaps it is because they read and believe the legacy media which, as conservatives know, caters to progressives, reports from their point of view and about their activities.

On the other hand, in spite of our best efforts we cannot escape the legacy media so we always know what they're thinking. I suspect most of them have no idea what we're thinking, as they've no routine way to be exposed to it.

They tune out our talking heads in Congress the way we tune out theirs ... that's a wash. We can't stand Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, they don't like Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy.

We've sought out the few outlets for conservative thought, if we're interested. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts they have not made that effort.

So imagine their surprise in November of 2016 when Trump won the presidency. You can hear them asking, "From what caves did all those troglodytes emerge? Half the country deplorable? Scary."

Their media tells them we're all klansmen, white nationalists, gun nuts and haters of everyone not white and straight. That is no more true than that all progressives are communists, abortionists, pacifists and race-baiting America-haters.

Each party inevitably attracts the votes of extremists on its wing of the political spectrum. In a de facto two party system, it happens. The naughty secret: each bemoans the radicalism of the other's bedfellows, while secretly welcoming the help of their own extremists.

Progressives tend to underestimate us because we don't get much positive media coverage. We tend to overestimate them because we can't avoid seeing so much positive coverage of their activities.

This information imbalance actually works to our advantage, so long as we're aware of it. The Republican advantage, which was old news when my Southern Democrat father ruefully shared it with me many decades ago: those darned Republicans all vote.

Calm Analysis

A lot has been written about police brutality and reactive mob violence in recent weeks. The single best article I’ve seen is by Coleman Hughes at City Journal, I recommend it to you. Hughes is African-American and relatively young, he is also extremely realistic about police violence.

The most unusual point he makes is that plenty of police shootings of unarmed whites occur every year. Nobody much notices or appears to care, it isn’t part of an on-going race narrative.

He identifies three factors which exacerbate the situation. First, that the U.S. is a huge country population-wise, the third most populous in the world. Therefore lots of everything happens here because there are so many people doing - good and bad - what people do.

Second, he writes “America is a gun country” which makes the life of police here different from that almost anywhere else. Most places police do not expect to encounter armed citizens, “That’s not true in America, where a cop gets shot almost every day.” With police looking for guns every time they stop someone, mistaking other things - a wallet or phone - for a handgun will be more frequent.

Third, these days everyone has a cell phone, which means everyone has a movie camera in their pocket. Whatever goes down now can be on the evening news tonight. See Hughes’ conclusion:
Combine all three of these observations and one arrives at a grim conclusion: as long as we have a non-zero rate of deadly shootings (a virtual certainty), and as long as some shootings are filmed and go viral (also a virtual certainty), then we may live in perpetual fear of urban unrest for the foreseeable future.
Another good reason to live, work, and shop in non-urban places, not that another reason is in any way needed.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Weird Immunological Science

The Wall Street Journal reports (behind paywall) some of us have immune systems that are primed to fight corona virus even before we're exposed to it.
The emerging theory: Exposure to other coronaviruses earlier in life helps some individuals fight the new intruder.

That T-cells can recognize similar viruses years after infection suggests long-lasting immunity might be possible.
This thinking, if accurate, makes a future immunization more valuable than flu shots which are needed yearly and often miss the mark. If long-lasting, perhaps one shot will be good for decades? FYI, some versions of the common cold are corona viruses.

Suburb Bound

It is reported nearly 20% of the Minneapolis real estate listings of properties for sale have occurred in the last week! If it is true, I sincerely hope no one reading this is naive enough to view that as an odd coincidence.

Riots followed by disbanding the police department? I'm surprised the listings haven't doubled. Minneapolis looks to be another Detroit in the making.

A Different Strategy

Sundance at the Conservative TreeHouse offers an insight I've not seen elsewhere concerning the current crankiness of the generals with the President, and attributes it to author Diana West.
President Trump’s preferred use of economic warfare makes the Pentagon’s role diminished. Instead of punching North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, President Trump hits the checkbook of Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping. The primary has become the contingency. The value of James Mattis replaced by the effectiveness of Robert Lighthizer. JC Milley isn’t in the planning room; Milley’s been replaced by Wilbur Ross (until he’s needed).

In the Trump era the President is telling the Pentagon where and when to position; and asks them for ‘contingency’ preparation. Decades of Pentagon-centric foreign policy is lessened by an entirely new geopolitical approach based on economic strategy.
This may not be the whole story, but I have to think it is a factor. From the generals' perspective, probably the worst part is that economic warfare seems to work better than the "forever wars" in Afghanistan and Iraq. Although to be fair, it hasn't worked yet with Iran. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Chinese Espionage

The AAAS journal Science reports that 54 scientists have lost jobs as a result of an National Institutes of Health/FBI investigation which revealed their undisclosed ties to a foreign government.
In 93% of those cases, the hidden funding came from a Chinese institution. Some three-quarters of those under investigation had active NIH grants, and nearly half had at least two grants. The 285 active grants totaled $164 million.

The fact that 82% of those being investigated are Asian “is not surprising” because “that’s who the Chinese target” in their foreign talent recruitment programs. Some 82% are men, and their median age is 56, with the youngest being 48 and the oldest 59.
The British, German, and Swiss pharma companies should look at this issue, too. I'd be interested to know how many of those caught were coerced, how many were PRC patriots, and how many were simply greedy. The bottom line: import fewer Chinese scientists. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

More Nutty Oregon

The local Eugene CBS station reports that two statues of pioneers on the University of Oregon campus have been torn down. Of course they have, sod-busting pioneers are obvious evil cultural imperialists.

Eugene is sort of Berkeley with bad weather. I spent three years in that benighted city, on that campus many years ago, and nothing that happens there surprises me. Think of Eugene in those years as being the city where the bizarre denizens of Twin Peaks did their major shopping.

While I was there the freaks burned down the ROTC building, drove an acting university president to suicide, majored in “nonnegotiable demands,” and were far enough off the reservation that the Oregon National Guard marched through the campus with fixed bayonets.

Along the way, I managed to claw a decent Ph.D. experience out of the morass, but it was like trying to walk unscathed through a sh*tstorm, the distractions were intense. In the Business School, supposedly a notorious bastion of conservatism, a few grad students I knew were doing hard drugs - acid and ‘shrooms. One put out several issues of a freak newsletter called “Up Against the Wall Street Journal.” And two B-School faculty traded wives while another was drinking himself to death.

Eugene was (and apparently still is) too much crazy; these days Portland is too. I don’t miss it. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Viewpoint Diversity Lacking

Power Line's Paul Mirengoff writes about Wichita State Tech disinviting Ivanka Trump to speak at their commencement, after first inviting her. Perhaps, like me, you'll agree with his conclusion.
At this point in the descent of nearly all American colleges and universities, I wonder why any conservative would donate a penny to almost any of these institutions. Such donations subsidize the indoctrination of students by those who dislike conservatives and despise our values.

We conservatives should do our best to “defund” the nation’s colleges and universities until such time as they demonstrate a true commitment to free speech and viewpoint diversity, and cease the systematic leftist indoctrination of students.
Higher Ed has evolved in ways that are antithetical to our values. Most have little commitment to the acquisition and transmission of actual knowledge.

Dealing with Division

Matt Walsh writes at The Daily Wire, his admittedly bleak assessment is that the U.S. is so divided there is no way for us to come together. Absent a violent attack by a recognizable foreign power which would unite us in the short run, he may be correct. Read his assessment only if you are resistant to depression.

As people who hold different opinions sort themselves into states where most agree with them, the proverbial blue and red states, we get closer to a point at which someone with a big audience (no danger of it being me) will ask whether we might have a "Velvet Revolution" like Czechoslovakia had, a non-violent parting of the ways?

At one point in our history, some 150+ years ago, the answer was "No." A sorting had happened - free and slave states - and letting each side go their own way was a non-starter. Bloody civil war was the result. Maybe we're more grown up now?

A stay-together alternative would be some form of extreme federalism where states could largely do their own thing with minimum federal intervention. We're doing some of this now, with different concealed carry laws and liquor and pot laws.

These of course make interstate travel and trade complicated and, sometimes, fraught. On the other hand, travel to another state for an abortion or to get high might be an okay alternative between the two halves, much as Californians traveled to Nevada for decades to gamble, drink at all hours, and buy sex.

Lacking either of these, we are in for a rough patch, with the losing side in each presidential election becoming the "resistance" and doing its level best to stymie the other side which is trying to govern. This is not, I think, a recipe for national excellence.

Somber Thoughts

If you’re a regular reader of COTTonLINE you are probably looking at what is going on with BLM, CHAZ, rioting, and looting and you’re wondering how this is happening and why now? I’m no expert but I’ll take a stab at trying to figure it out.

Racism is a subset of a universal human characteristic, the characteristic by which we determine who our allies are, who is on our side. Like it or hate it, this characteristic is embedded in behaviors like having a sports team to root for, being a nationalist, being a local, being a strong political partisan, or having a serious religious belief.

The more you identify with a group and see it as better than other groups (because it’s yours), the more you are likely to view others as inferior, misguided, perhaps evil or repulsive. This tendency is hard-wired in humans, think of it as our “default or ‘factory’ setting,” the thing we revert to when we’re not paying attention or actively working to repress it.

You can find examples of this human tendency essentially everywhere humans live in any quantity. Anthropologically, it is tribalism, or the things which fill the role of tribalism in multicultural environments. And tribalism is an extension of ‘familyism,’ our bonds to those of our blood.

We can suppress this characteristic, hide it, deny it, camouflage it, disparage it ... it is still there, it doesn’t go away. What’s happening now is a flare up of this by one group, and guilt felt by those of another who know they’ve harbored it too.

Will the troubles burn out and go quiet for a spell? Probably, if past history is any indication. Will it leave unattractive scars on the national culture? Very likely, much as the troubles of the late 1960s did. Who, or what, will the major casualties be? I’d guess the universities, the media, the tech companies, and mainstream religious groups - none will be unscathed.

Will the nation stumble on beyond this trying period? Yes, but not without being weakened, unfortunately. Societies which accumulate enough such scars fail, but I judge (or perhaps “hope”) we aren’t there yet.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Clever Polling

A new poll by Zogby Analytics finds a majority of those polled believe Trump will win the election in November. The data: Trump, 51%, Biden, 43%, Someone else, 6%.

You might well ask why this question is important, why asking people with no particular expertise to predict something is relevant? Here is the wording of the question: “Regardless of who you support politically, who do you think will win the 2020 presidential election?”

This is a canny attempt to get beyond the “social desirability bias” issue. The theory is that a fair number of people are uncomfortable admitting they’ll vote for Trump.

The question’s wording is designed to bypass that discomfort. The idea is that people are willing to malign unspecified others but not themselves.

If it “worked,” then a majority of voters plan to vote for Trump while some number won’t admit that reality to a stranger. Given the “ cancel culture” abroad in the land, those who won’t admit favoring Trump may be the realists, or at least the only mildly paranoid.

I’m not certain how 6% can imagine someone else winning. Perhaps they are the real paranoids, perhaps they hope the Dems will nominate someone else as Biden stumbles into senility, or maybe it is their version of “no comment.”

Thursday, June 11, 2020


The people we pay to be experts about contagious disease have been wrong fairly often about Covid-19.  A number of pundits have beat up on them for this, questioning their expertise, their morals, and independence.

If you'd been asking about an Ebola outbreak, or perhaps yellow fever, you'd have gotten better answers. Those diseases are known quantities, they have a track record.

Covid-19 is brand new - freshly created or mutated or newly jumped from an animal vector - we aren't positive which, though we have suspicions. No track record exists, the experts were guessing, based on somewhat similar diseases like the various influenzas.

To some extent, Covid-19 is dissimilar to the flu, and to that extent the experts have been wrong. I'm pretty sure a check of the transcripts would show they've indicated they are giving their best guesses and that this disease could take a different track.

We've chosen not to hear, or to discount those denials of certainty. That's on us, it's our screw-up, our insistence on certainty where none exists.

Don't blame the experts. They really don't know if non-symptomatic cases can transmit the disease to others. If so, is it easily or with difficulty? They don't know to what extent a prior bout of the disease grants immunity, and if so, for how long.

They've observed that cigarette smokers seem to be less susceptible to Covid-19 but have no idea why. Also that those with a vitamin D deficiency may be more susceptible, as are those with type A blood. Why? Nobody knows yet.

So we ask for their best estimate, and get mad at them when it turns out to be wrong. At this stage most of what they say are estimates, of which a fair proportion will be wrong. If you can't handle the ambiguity, don't listen to them, tell yourself nobody knows and try not to do something stupid as a result.

Lipson: Police and Race

Charles Lipson writes for RealClearPolitics about the problems of policing minority communities. It is a remarkably balanced presentation, favoring neither police nor those who find them problematic. His underlying point is that there probably is no single answer, no "magic potion" that will make everyone happy.
The larger and more peaceful the demonstrations, the better for Democrats, who benefit from popular mobilization on this issue. The more violent the demonstrations, the more they reinforce the Republicans’ call for law and order. Each party faces dangers from going too far.
And he concludes:
For the country as a whole, the dangers go beyond those that worry party politicians. Americans fear a long, hot, deadly summer, like that of 1968. After months of suffering through a pandemic and economic shutdown, they want to recover, restore, and rebuild, without trampling anyone’s rights to do it. They will vote for a leader who offers that vision of a better future.
Or comes closest to doing so in their eyes. You should read the whole thing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Nutty Northwest

Long time readers know COTTonLINE takes a dim view of Oregon, and I'll add Washington state to that category. Specifically, the portions of both states west of the Cascade Range are liberal looney tunes country. East of the Cascades, things get a tad more sane, less nutso, and much less populated.

You might as well think of Portland as home of Antifa USA, though it exists elsewhere too. Now the freaks have taken over a section of downtown Seattle in the style of the Paris Commune. The northwest being what it is, instead of rousting the trouble-makers, or arresting them, they try to reason with them or find them charming.

And don't get me started on the weather west of the Cascades, eight months of more or less continuous leaden gray skies depresses people so much suicide becomes an option. If you watched Twin Peaks back in the day, you'll have noticed the absence of blue skies and the continuous jacket wearing outdoors. Both are realistic, neither is desirable.

Public Favors Force Against Violence, Looting

Writing his column at Townhall, Guy Benson summarizes the most interesting finding from an extremely biased Washington Post poll. That poll features a whole series of “when did you stop beating your wife” -type questions about the role of the police in the George Floyd death and subsequent demonstrations. Respondents were okay with protest, if they were nonviolent and avoided looting.

In spite of this, when asked about violent protests and looting, only 16% said the police used too much force. 47% said the police used too little force, and the balance said it was the right amount. That plurality favoring more force doesn’t suggest much support for doing away with the police.

It turns out folks who didn’t kneel on George Floyd’s neck and don’t believe it should have happened also don’t think their persons and property should be attacked as a result. Collective guilt isn’t an American tradition.


Both Instapundit and Power Line have posted the same Tweet by a black ER surgeon talking about the young black men with gunshot wounds he’s treated. He writes in 8 years he’s treated 67 and none of them were shot by whites or cops. Not one.

Perhaps his experience is unusual? The Federal statistics suggest otherwise. Presuming this isn’t a false-flag hoax, and we’ll hear if it was, he provides an interesting counterpoint to the Black Lives Matter storyline.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Grumpy Germans

The Legal Insurrection website has a good article on the negative German reactions to President Trump's announced plan to relocate elsewhere 9500 of the 35,000 U.S. troops stationed there. It isn't as if Trump, and ambassador Grenell, disguised that we were unhappy Germany refused to meet their NATO commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defense.

The article doesn't say so, but it's likely we will further reduce U.S. troop strength there. Some will relocate to Poland or the Baltic republics where they can continue to be a tripwire against Russian invasion, some will come home.

It is long since time Germany stopped free-riding on the U.S. taxpayer, relying on us to pay for their defense while they spend lavishly on social welfare programs. They are the economic powerhouse of Europe.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Fox News: Fair, Balanced, ... and Afraid

Definition: A "Kinsley gaffe." The term comes from journalist Michael Kinsley, who said, "A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn't supposed to say." The Fox News Special Report with Bret Baier recently did one of these, although the people involved are not precisely politicians.

A couple of days ago, after covering the riots, Bret Baier as he often does turned to a Fox Business talking head and asked how the markets were doing. She answered that despite the riots and looting, the markets were up. Then she segued to a graphic which showed the market up after each of four events, the deaths of George Floyd, of MLK, of Michael Brown, and the acquittal of Rodney King's assailants. See a screen capture of the offending graphic.

Nobody argues the graphic was inaccurate, but it would clearly inflame those already upset about the brutal treatment of George Floyd. It was, in other words, truth that should have remained unspoken.

Tonight Baier did a full-on, no-holds-barred groveling mea culpa apology, taking full responsibility for the graphic being shown and the whole screw-up. I judge he was told to give it a try and, if the bosses believe it worked, he may be able to keep his job.

Historically, Baier concludes his program with "Fair, balanced, and still unafraid." He was afraid tonight and it showed. He needs a new sign-off line, because every time I hear him say "still unafraid" I am going to snarl "you mean 'and formerly unafraid.'" Tonight we watched him turn tail and run.

The giant irony was that coincidentally tonight Baier reported the ouster of editors at The New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer for similar offenses. Both of them apologized too, for all the good it did them.

Weird Political Science

Writing the Intelligencer column at New York magazine, Jonathan Chait reports the findings of a study using historical data to show that rioting and looting moves swing voters to vote Republican. Omar Wasow, a prof at Princeton, finds:
Nonviolent civil-rights protests did not trigger a national backlash, but that violent protests and looting did. The physical damage inflicted upon poor urban neighborhoods by rioting does not have the compensating virtue of easing the way for more progressive policies; instead, it compounds the damage by promoting a regressive backlash.
One thing’s sure, President Trump is gonna hope Wasow did his sums correctly. Historical precedents are great as long as they are predictive, terribly misleading when they aren’t. We’ll see how the current “troubles” have influenced voting in less than 5 months.

Ironically, the article is dated May 21 - four days before George Floyd was killed on May 25 - and therefore before the current riots and looting took place. Would you guess NYmag is wishing they hadn’t run it? They haven’t yet taken it down.

Hat tip to Instapundit for the link. The link to Wasow’s work in Chait’s article is no longer functional, I bet Wasow took down his end, concerned he‘ll get slammed by his left wing colleagues and students.

Talk about monumental bad timing. I predict Wasow will not get tenure at Princeton.

Dystopian Musings

Let’s think about the “defunding the police” meme that has taken hold in many large cities. The models for where this takes us are out there, in third world countries.

Probably most U.S. cities, unlike Minneapolis, will not disband the police force but merely divert some of the funds committed to police in prior years to social and youth programs. This is what the mayor of Los Angeles proposes to do.

With less funds, city police will reduce staffing and do less patrolling. With fewer police and less on-street presence, crime will rise. Stretched thin, police will do triage and devote scarce resources to the most severe and violent crimes: murder, arson, rape.

Parking enforcement will continue as it more than pays for itself. Burglaries and shoplifting will be ignored, car thefts ditto, much of this already happens. Baltimore is very likely an approximation of the first stages of defunding.

The wealthy will hire private armed security. If these prove too tempting a lawsuit target for the anti-police forces, they will hire thugs to protect their property and persons. The middle class will leave for safer locations, and the poor will huddle in the ruins, even more victimized by their neighbors than is now the case.

Employers will leave, and what remains will resemble the favelas of Rio or São Paulo, drug-saturated slums run by gangs. Very little of the funds diverted from the police will reach the poor, most will be siphoned off into graft and payoffs.

Eventually whole sections of the city become no-go zones, off limits to uniformed police with any interest in living another day, which is most of them.  Somewhere along the line the police will go rogue, hit squads of off-duty cops will begin assassinating drug lords and opposition politicians and, viola, you’ve got a Third World city in what was formerly a first world country.

When people become sufficiently terrified and/or angry, they elect someone like the Philippines’ Maduro who declares open season on anyone involved with drugs, followed by an orgy of murder.

The scenario I’ve laid out isn’t a future I anticipate with any pleasure, and doesn’t have to happen, but it definitely is possible. If it happens, I will observe it long-distance from an undisclosed rural bastion.

Seeking Answers

Shaun King (below) is hardly the only source complaining that the large cities claimed to have ‘police violence’ and ‘systemic racism’ problems have all been governed by Democrats for 50 years or more. Many are asking how is it that with city council majorities and mayors, and quite often with black police chiefs too, Democrat-run cities haven’t been able to solve those problems?

Surely they must have tried, but the verdict of the streets is that they have not succeeded. Can you argue that levels of government above them wouldn’t permit solutions? Even in cobalt blue states like MN and NY? No, no you can’t.

The Hoover Institution’s Shelby Steele has answers to the above questions, but his ideas aren’t going to be popular with those looking for solutions based on victimhood. His solutions tend to feature bootstrap-pulling and getting-our-house-in-order. People prefer to believe their problems are caused by others, it is so much easier.

Fun in the Rockies

Last night as we were preparing supper it was snowing, on the 7th of June. What fell last night is already gone, but there was no mistaking the big, fluffy flakes for rain.

It is supposed to snow some more tomorrow and maybe “stick” for a few hours. We’ve summered in this ‘alpine’ valley since the early 1990s and heard the claim that it can snow in any month. We’ve never seen it where we live in July and August, but June and September are another story.

On the other hand, we’ve built two new homes here and never installed air conditioning. A couple of evenings each summer it would be nice to have, but isn’t worth the cost for 2-3 hot nights, the ceiling fans can handle it.

The secret of the clement summer climate? An elevation of 6300 feet. And coming from near sea level, it takes us a couple of weeks to adjust to the thin air. No altitude sickness but stairs can leave us panting, ditto exercise.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Placing Blame

The Daily Wire reproduces a Tweet by Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King. Here is the text of that Tweet.
STOP generically telling us to VOTE in response to all of the police brutality we have right now.

Yes we should vote. But we have to be VERY specific.

Democrats, from top to bottom, are running the cities with the worst police brutality in America right now.

We voted for them.
King is of course correct. I'm not certain for whom he's suggesting his people vote instead. He probably doesn't mean Republicans.

The Questionable Future of Higher Ed

The Daily Wire notes a prediction that perhaps a quarter to a half of colleges and universities may go out of business in the next several years. This was already beginning before the corona virus arrived and accelerated the trend.

Students studying at home via the Internet, finishing up the spring term, may decide to stay there and not have to borrow the humongous money going away to school entails. Others will decide the limited offering on-campus doesn't look attractive and take a "gap year."

A question not addressed is of what value degrees from defunct schools will have in the future. One suspects at minimum the value will decline, perhaps dramatically.

How long before people who never finished will start claiming to have a degree from a school whose records are now gone or inaccessible You know that will further devalue such degrees.

We could be witnessing the very first toppling dominoes in a serious cascade. I am very glad I got in, and out, of higher education when I did. It looks like those were its glory years, perhaps never to return.

I'd hope that schools, or those parts of schools, that teach usable job skills would survive. We'll still need engineers, accountants, IT people, physicians, veterinarians, teachers and the like.

We've never needed people with degrees in women's studies, sociology, Russian literature, communications, and anthropology. Those are things people can read on their own time and meet in on-line groups to discuss, if they're so motivated.

RINOs on Parade

Newsammo.com links to a Red State article which notes that former president Bush, Sen. Romney, and former JCS Chief Powell, all supposed Republicans, won't vote to reelect Trump. And the author asks, basically, "Who cares?"

I am in agreement. Do any of these individuals have a coterie of stalwart supporters, outside their immediate families, who follow their lead on anything at all? If so, I am unaware of it, their 'legions' have kept doggone quiet.

I expect you could assemble all the committed #NeverTrump Republicans nationwide in a single medium sized movie theater. Collectively they have roughly the same influence as poor Dan Quayle, effectively nada.

Later ... Sen. Tom Cotton (no known relation) says Colin Powell hasn't voted for a Republican in the past 16 years. That was my impression too, but I wasn't certain enough to allege it here. I'd be sort of surprised if any of the three voted for Trump in 2016.

Later still ... A spokesperson denies former president Bush has made a decision about for whom he will vote this November. The article reminds us the Bush brothers said in 2016 they would not vote for Trump. A betting person would guess he's not changed his mind since.

The History of Antifa

With all the talk about Antifa and its involvement with the urban riots, it is useful to understand what it is and from whence it comes. Instapundit's Ed Driscoll links to an article at The American Mind, a publication of the Claremont Institute.

The original Antifaschisitsche Aktion was the name of the Communist bullyboys who fought the Nazi bullyboys. They flourished in the weak Weimar Republic after World War I before the Nazis eventually won and Hitler took over.

In the States Antifa has antecedents in the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army. It is an intentionally loosely coupled "affinity group" because experience has shown it makes them less vulnerable to law enforcement takedowns.
Antifa members are likely to have ties to political organizations with Antifa support committees such as the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), The International Workers of the World (Wobblies), the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), or any number of other local and regional radical Left organizations or collectives. Antifa draws resources and recruits from them all.

And now, with the successful promulgation of the radical message of America as bastion of white supremacy by presidential candidates, cable news anchors, and generations of tenured professors, Antifa is unlikely to lack for recruits and support—rhetorical or otherwise—any time in the near future.

In all turbulent periods of revolutionary politics, whether the 1930s, 1970s, or today, the ability to project force on the streets to punish enemies is a valuable asset. For the Left today, Antifa is that force.
The President is absolutely correct that Antifa is a domestic terror group and should be so designated.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Outside the Box

My initial thought about "defunding the police" was to see it as ridiculous, preposterous even. As the idea percolated through my day's experiences, I begin seeing the possible emergence of one of those weird left-right coalitions that so often leads to extremely bad public policy.

We know the left thinks the police are racists and killers and would like them to "go away." What happens if all the shop owners and small business people whose establishments and merchandise were destroyed by looters decide to join them? They'd be thinking that since the police stood aside and allowed the looters to loot, paying good money to keep police employed is pointless.

It was just this sort of left-right coalition that "defunded" our former system of mental hospitals, why not the police? Shop owners gotta think the Mafia or local MS-13 chapter can do a better job of protecting their shops than police who get told to stand down by left-wing mayors who side with rioters.

After all, if you pay armed hoodlums under the table to protect your shop and they fail, you stop paying them because you've nothing left to lose. They'll kill rioters to protect their income source, which the police cannot be permitted to do.

I don't see this sort of left-right coalition as a high-probability outcome, but it isn't impossible.