Monday, August 31, 2020

Summer Winding Down

Spending the summer in the mountains is a good way to stay comfortable. The highs rarely exceed 90 and the humidity is quite low. On the other hand, the Rocky Mountain summer doesn't last long at roughly 6000 ft. elevation, it is basically July and August.

We are expecting our first fall frost early tomorrow morning, on September 1. We'll then get a week or two of Indian summer before the next one, but the growing season here is short. 

Our farmers plant mostly fodder for animals, lots of hay and alfalfa. They cut and bale 2-3 irrigated crops a year. The area was once heavily into milk production, a few dairies remain. Most of the cattle hereabouts now are for beef.

West of here lots of potatoes are grown in Eastern Idaho. It is about 1500 ft. lower, with a correspondingly longer growing season. For instance, corn is grown there, but not here.

The standing joke in our region of WY is that almost everybody has tried once to grow tomatoes, and hardly anyone has succeeded. Having heard too many rueful stories of failure, we’ve skipped that experience. A few folks have greenhouses, but most of those appear derelict, suggesting futility.


A week ago we wrote about rumors that North Korea's Kim Jong-un was in a coma. Apparently these were bogus, as we suspected at the time. Recent video shows him looking as healthy as he ever looks. 

This provides a good reminder that all rumors about his status should be viewed with suspicion. Kim seemingly is absolutely free to go where he pleases and do (or not do) what he wants, completely without regard for the opinions of others.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

A Niece Repudiated

President Trump's niece wrote a book lambasting her uncle, in which she claimed the President's sister, a retired Federal judge, agreed with her negative assessment. The niece has produced supposed tapes of phone calls with her aunt she claims proves it. 

There are now Tweets out in which that sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, accuses the niece of faking the tapes, says she supports and will vote for brother Donald, couldn't be prouder of him, and calls the niece a family outlier and sore loser in the inheritance sweepstakes. The judge promises to sue the niece. 

The Red State site has the sister's Tweets for your perusal. Hat tip to for the link.

Later ... Aren’t squabbles within families just grim, they often involve money. I’ve lived through two in my mother’s large family. Actually it’s not two, really the same one coming back to bite a second generation - me and my cousins.

Covid Kills Mostly the Chronically Ill

Writing at Townhall, Bronson Stocking draws some interesting conclusions about deaths from Covid-19, using Center for Disease Control statistics. 

Out of the 161,392 deaths in the CDC data, just six percent, about 9,700 deaths, were attributed to the coronavirus alone. According to the CDC, the other 94 percent had an average of 2.6 additional conditions or causes of deaths, such as heart disease, diabetes, and sepsis.
There, doesn't that make you feel better? Not, of course, if you've got several comorbidities. 

Basically, it says if you're healthy, or mostly so, the Chinese virus likely won't kill you. It has killed roughly 1 of every 33,000 healthy Americans. Those are excellent odds of survival, but no guarantee you won't get sick, unfortunately, which is ugly even when not fatal.

Later ... It is worth noting that the various strains of influenza are also more likely to kill those with comorbidities, as is pneumonia. Think of these contagions as resembling wolves chasing a herd of caribou, they tend to catch and kill those which are weakened by illness or injury. The healthy caribou mostly escape, just as otherwise healthy humans mostly survive respiratory infections.

Two Sides, One Coin

It is likely no coincidence these stories showed up on the same sunny Sunday. The first is the New York Post reporting this story:

Fleet of moving trucks mark exodus from Manhattan’s troubled Upper West Side

Helpfully, the article adds "It’s a progressive, liberal neighborhood" and reports Mayor De Blasio has housed homeless addicts and crazies in hotels there, about which the residents are not amused.

The second story is this report from the business publication Forbes:

Mayor Bill De Blasio Plans 22,000 Layoffs, As People Flee New York City In Droves

Jeepers, could these two items be related? As businesses closed due to the virus, tax revenue dropped. The number of layoffs cited would amount to roughly 7% of the city's 330,000 employees. 

And then there is this headline in the Daily Mail (U.K.):

NYC and San Francisco housing markets drop off the covid cliff: Property prices fall and rentals lie empty as pandemic restrictions wreck both cities and buyers head for the exits

With regard to which, CNBC adds that SF home prices dropped last month after rising for 83 straight months.

The virus may create affordable housing in New York City. Here's a title and plot synopsis for a sci fi author looking to write a dystopian novel or screenplay: "Squatters in the Ruins." 

I picture a commune eking out an existence and fighting off competing tribes while squatting in Black Rock, the abandoned former headquarters of CBS. Cinematically, think of aspects of the original Blade Runner moved to Gotham.

An Interesting Comparison

Steven Hayward at Power Line has a table from RealClearPolitics comparing Biden with Clinton 4 years ago, in the battleground states at this point before the election. Biden is polling significantly poorer than Clinton in the following: WI, MI, OH, and PA. He is polling better than Clinton in FL, NH, and NV. Trump leads in GA, NC, IA, and MO. Trump was ahead in AZ last time and Biden is this time. Clinton led in IA last time while Trump does this time.

None of the foregoing takes into account the possibility of "shy" Trump voters. Those are people who won't disclose their presidential preference for fear of damaging their social or job standing. They were likely responsible for Trump's upset victory in 2016.

Polls show substantial numbers who report supporting Biden but predict their neighbors will vote for Trump. This finding gives us reason to suspect a social science construct called "social desirability bias" is at work. Social science theory holds that most who report this disjuncture will, themselves, vote the way they claim their supposed "neighbors" will.

If you're curious, the rationale is that when you know the "right" answer and disagree with it, you will protect your reputation by giving the "right" answer when asked about yourself. Asked about your unnamed neighbors, you'll most often reveal what you really believe, ascribing it to them, as you've no investment in protecting their reputation.

The election is 65 days away, although many will vote earlier. Much can happen in that time, but the trend lines now look favorable for Trump. Whoever you favor, please be sure to vote.

Tectonic Plates, Shifting

Each of our two major parties have, in the last decade, been taken over by forces always present but never dominant until now. Along the way each lost support of former stalwarts. One wonders at the timing.

The Republicans were taken over by the nationalists and populists. Along the way they shed all of the globalists, at least some of the libertarians, and corporate leadership. 

The Democrats were taken over by the grievance groups and what passes for the hard left in this country. Along the way they shed the evangelicals and most of the labor movement (except government unions).

Wall Street mostly changed sides, Main Street didn't. Much of the upper middle class - a former GOP core group - has morphed into Kotkin's "clerisy" and switched to the D side.

Along the way, we sorted ourselves out so that Republicans mostly live in low-density places, and Democrats mostly live in high-density places. The battle lines are drawn between the inner and outer suburbs.

Bob Dylan was channeling Nostradamus when he sang, "The times, they are a-changin'."

It’s Getting Real

Police shootings have been triggers for much of the current violence. However, most of us have understood that - regretfully - an armed police force does occasionally kill someone under ambiguous circumstances.

Now we’re starting to see civilians shooting each other, in Kenosha and Portland. This doesn’t end well, it can escalate into the sort of bushwhacking Missouri was plagued by in the 1860s. 

Those who’ve viewed what’s going on as the precursor to a civil war begin to look less alarmist and at least somewhat prophetic. It grows clear there are significant numbers on each side who would celebrate the death of members of the other side.

While history is said not to repeat itself, it often rhymes. Grandma Pelosi, aka "Lady Botox," has already declared President Trump and the Congressional Republicans to be traitors. 

The reelection of Donald Trump could throw down a gauntlet the other side cannot shrug off; the sort of casus belli the election of Abraham Lincoln proved to be to the South.  There is certainly precedent aplenty in our history and others.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Trump a Result, Not a Cause

Salena Zito is the journalistic voice of fly-over America, though to be fair she mostly works the portion east of the Mississippi River. She has made the point repeatedly that the "bicoastals" of journalism don't "get" fly-over America and, if their writings are any indicator, have no interest in doing so.

Her column today, for The Washington Examiner, deals with blue collar areas in Ohio seemingly now lost to the Democrats. She writes something not entirely original but nevertheless profound about the tectonic shift that has marked politics since the millennium.

Ohio counties show America’s electoral trends that began incrementally in 2002, long before Trump floated down that escalator in August of 2015, and are a political trade created not by one man, but by years of the guardians of our culture in government, culture, entertainment, institutions, and the media isolating themselves in a cocoon of wealth, detachment, and disdain far from the people they serve, educate, entertain, and govern.

The national media missed this slow creep and mistakenly believed it was caused by Trump, missing that the middle of the country had been moving away from the Democrats and them for nearly a generation. He was not the cause but the result of the Democratic Party becoming more focused on issues such as transgender bathrooms and not on jobs and trade deals.

The Democrats have been taken over by a cluster of grievance groups whose shared sense of victimhood is almost all they have in common. 

Magical Thinking

Steven Hayward of Power Line reports an interview National Public Radio did with the author - Vicky Osterweil - of a new book In Defense of Looting. As you can imagine, much of what Osterweil says defending looting is total psychobabble, for instance her comment “... without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free ...." 

Who does she believe will produce or stock desirable things for which they are not paid? In the absence of security, why will manufacturers exist, why will the shopkeepers bother? Short answer: They won’t.

Magical thinking is fun in fiction, in Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings; in real-world economics, it is not helpful. The depth of magical thinking on the left is nearly impossible to exaggerate. It’s a willful refusal to understand how and why things get produced and people actually work.

Osterweil does say one thing with which I agree, “A part of it that doesn’t really get talked about—that riots and looting are experienced as sort of joyous and liberatory." 

Too bad she doesn’t call it what I believe it to be - revenge. Happily ripping off a society that holds them at arm’s length, briefly getting even. While to looters it feels justified by victimhood, our society cannot excuse or ignore someone appropriating (or destroying) anothers’ property. 

Friday, August 28, 2020

The Political Divide

Instapundit and USA Today columnist Glenn Reynolds goes on the record with his view of the political divide in our country.

The left wants it to be black vs. white, immigrant vs. native, etc. Trump’s making clear that it’s about people who are constructive, productive, and generally happy, vs. people who are destructive, parasitic, and generally miserable, and that that difference transcends things like race. This is a huge, underappreciated — and very traditionally American — message.

Reynolds apparently agrees with a view COTTonLINE readers have seen me write repeatedly - the GOP represents people for whom our system "works." The Dems stick up for those for whom - for a variety of mostly intrapersonal reasons - it does not. Oddly, the Dems also now represent those few for whom the system works too well, generating a sense either of guilt over unearned bounty or of noblesse oblige

About George Floyd's Death

John Hinderaker of Power Line links to a George Parry article at The American Spectator, Parry in turn has reproduced an official document from Hennepin County Attorney's Office. If reproduced accurately, it documents to the prosecution file of State v. Derek Chauvin the results of the findings of the County's Chief Medical Examiner, a Dr. Andrew Baker. 

Chauvin was the police officer who knelt on the neck of George Floyd, triggering the Minneapolis riots and secondary riots across the country. The report, dated June 1, says Floyd had a fatal level of fentanyl in his blood. But the report wasn't released until August 25. Here is the money quote:

AB (the medical examiner) said that if Mr. Floyd had been found dead in his home (or anywhere else) and there were no other contributing factors he would conclude that it was an overdose death.

Given this, negligent homicide is probably the most they'll be able to charge Chauvin with. If they play to the mob and go for murder one, Chauvin will walk. 

Whoever sat on this document for nearly 3 months is responsible for much misery and death.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

RINOs Turn Their Coats

Politico reports the following entirely unsurprising story:

Several dozen former staffers from Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-Utah) presidential campaign, the George W. Bush administration and the campaign and Senate staff of former Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have signed on to an effort to elect Joe Biden. For the Romney and McCain staffers, they're working to elect the same man they tried to defeat in 2012 and 2008, respectively.

Is it any wonder these ‘worthies’ were such a monumental disappointment, both in office and in the efforts to achieve office? They’re turncoat swamp-suckers, without exception. 

The whole Republican apparat from the years between Reagan and Trump is suspect, particularly losers like Paul Ryan and the Bush presidents.

Thursday Snark

The headline of an Andrew Klavan article at The Daily Wire, it is lovely satire:

Dems Brilliantly Counter-Program Inspiring Republican Convention With Riots And Looting

Golly, I believe “riots and looting” are unpopular with most Americans. Could that influence how they vote? The New York Times seems to think it might.

A Very Short SF Story

Reports abound of NBA players boycotting playoff games. I’m not hearing much gnashing of teeth or rending of garments over their announcement. Given everything else going on - hurricanes, riots, an epidemic, an election - it doesn’t seem important.

Imagine a near future in which the players decide they can’t play until social justice and anti-racism prevail. Then imagine that the players conclude it won’t happen.

The result: no play, no money. Now imagine the teams moving to various gigantic Chinese cities and playing there to appreciative audiences. It could be a win-win for everybody. Americans could go back to appreciating college basketball, with Chinese scouts and recruiters sitting on the sidelines waving fistfuls of dollars. Why not?

Sensing Decadence

A quick search of past references shows I’ve written about things Ross Douthat has dealt with about 20 times over the last 6 years. Clearly he and COTTonLINE have been working the same territory, if not often coming up with similar responses. Comes today, an overview of a new Douthat book by the always interesting Charles Murray, done for the Claremont Review of Books.

The book title: The Decadent Society, How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success. Douthat sees not just the U.S. but all first world societies as becoming decadent, by which he means demonstrating four things: stagnation, sterility, sclerosis, and repetition. 

Prior decadent societies have been overrun by one or another group of barbarians, Douthat admits that as a possibility but thinks more likely another outcome. Murray notes:

[Aldous Huxley's] Brave New World also appears to have been more prophetic than George Orwell’s 1984. Douthat describes the kindly despotism that is likely to oversee decadent societies as “the pink police state”—a state that merely nudges if possible, shoving only when necessary. The pink police state will protect civil liberties of pleasure and consumption and the freedom to be “safe.” The unprotected civil liberties will be freedoms of speech, religion, and privacy.

W.H. Auden was still more damning: “What fascinates and terrifies us about the Roman Empire is not that it finally went smash,” but that “it managed to last for four centuries without creativity, warmth, or hope.” To Ross Douthat, that sounds grimly like the predicament in which our decadent society finds itself. “[T]he only thing more frightening than the possibility of annihilation is the possibility that our society could coast on forever as it is—like a Rome without an Attila to sack its palaces, or a Nineveh without Yahweh to pass judgment on its crimes.”

Like Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, I’m hopeful tech billionaires with ambitions in space exploration - most notably Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos - will provide the “new frontiers” for our society that Magellan and Columbus provided for a somewhat stagnant Europe (NASA has largely given up).

Realignments Happening

Political realignments are no new thing in the U.S. A major one occurred during the Nixon-to-Reagan era, another is underway now. 

This recent realignment of various voting blocs between the two major parties, begun in 2016 with the Trump election, continues this cycle. This is no small trend.

We see for example in today’s RealClearPolitics morning list of articles, the following two titles: Why I Left the Democratic Party, and Why 70 Former U.S. Security Officials Support Biden. We see former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake supporting Biden, and former Democrats the McCloskeys of St. Louis supporting Trump. 

More dramatically, large blocks of blue collar voters, once stalwarts of the Democrat coalition, reliably having swung to the Republican camp. And substantial blocks of the wealthy, once the backbone of the GOP, now reliably vote Democrat. I even see hints that the monolithic vote of minorities for Democrats may be somewhat less so this cycle. 

Who would have believed in 1960 that the one and only enclave of wealthy folk in otherwise rural/blue collar Wyoming - namely Jackson Hole - would 60 years later also be the one and only county out of 23 to reliably vote Democrat? 

The DrsC have seen it in our own families. My father, a lifelong Southern Democrat who died in 1971, would have undoubtedly become a Republican had he lived long enough. The other DrC’s father, an FDR Democrat, did exactly that during the last great realignment in the Reagan era because he did live long enough.

If one were to characterize the current alignment, it would be the Democrats representing the top and bottom strata of society against the Republicans representing the middle classes of society. In a country that prides itself on being middle class, which would you rather represent?

Irony at Work

David P. Goldman, aka “Spengler,” writes at Law & Liberty about the rapprochement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Ironically, he notes both President Trump and would-be president Biden deserve credit for this event.

How so? Trump because he fostered the deal; Biden because both Israel and the UAE feared Biden would reinstitute Obama’s pro-Iran policies, if elected. 

Although Goldman never explicitly mentions the trope, it is the region’s ancient story, namely “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Israel and the UAE both fear Iran more than they dislike each other. The result - a small hopeful sign in a region normally devoid of such positive developments.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Another Data Point

An interesting set of statistics have surfaced. The Washington Free Beacon reports:

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the gun industry's trade group, estimates that 17.1 million guns have been sold between January and August with 4.84 million Americans purchasing their first guns. The sales—especially to new owners—represent a significant shift in American attitudes on gun ownership.

So, nearly 5 million new gun owners, people who previously owned no guns. How many of those do you suppose will vote Democrat in November? Not zero, of course, but probably not many. 

The question becomes, how many new gun owners voted Democrat four years ago? How many Democrats have decided they feel threatened and need to arm themselves and, like the McCloskeys of St. Louis, become former Democrats who fear being "mugged by reality" in the guise of angry mobs or looters. Or just understand a defunded police force won't be much protection against burglars and vandals.

In a fifty-fifty nation, the default guess is that half of that 5 million voted Democrat last time and most of those won't this time, say 2 million new Trump voters. That number isn't trivial, particularly as everyone of those buyers is of voting age, no minors included.

GOP Wins Ratings Battle

The consensus of opinion (and ratings) is that the Republicans are doing a much better job of holding a convention viewers will actually watch. Considering most show biz people are Dems, you might have predicted just the opposite.

At a guess, I’d say what Donald Trump learned during his involvement with “reality” TV, and perhaps with the equally stage-managed professional wrestling, are substantially responsible for this outcome. Particularly with his TV show, he honed skills of building and sustaining an involving narrative, one that keeps viewers coming back. 

I’m tempted to explore the hypothesis that in most presidential elections the better showman wins. I suspect Dilbert creator Scott Adams would agree. Admittedly, some election cycles neither candidate had much pizzazz. 

In the absence of a pandemic, Trump the entertainer can fill arenas and single-handedly keep the crowds happy for over an hour. Is there any Democrat who can do this? Certainly none does it regularly or has people line up a day in advance to get in. That’s a real skill, and not at all common.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

CA on Their Minds

Power Line's Steven Hayward posts this editorial Tweet from the Los Angeles Times.

Hayward's response to this apparently editorial Tweet is the following:
The Times says this like it’s a bad thing . . . or untrue.

COTTonLINE's response - the politicians are described accurately; the "dangerous wasteland" parts are mostly urban.


Out of 5000 delegates to the Democrat's convention, roughly 1/4 (over 1000) voted "No" on their platform, which passed anyway. You might ask if they did so because it was too radical, too far left? 

No, they voted against it because it wasn't radical enough. It didn't include enough of Bernie Sanders' "free stuff," wasn't sufficiently anti-capitalist, pro-socialist.

These are bad people, who should be encouraged to emigrate to Cuba or Venezuela.

A Happy Omen

Political prognostication is an arcane art, with many practitioners ranging from Nate Silver to Sabato’s crew at U. of Virginia. So who is Helmut Norpoth of Stony Brook University? He’s the fellow who predicted Donald Trump’s win in 2016 eight months before the election. A win most others missed, badly.

Norpoth’s model is based on which major party nominee gets the most votes in the early primaries, and it ignores opinion polls. He argues polls no longer tap into what those who vote actually believe. See an article in The American Spectator for details. For 2020, what does he predict? 

Professor Norpoth just as confidently predicts that Trump will trounce Joe Biden in November. Specifically, he gives the president a 91 percent chance of winning the election with an unambiguous 362-176 Electoral College margin.

The outcome he predicts won’t hurt my feelings. Will Norpoth be right again? We’ll know in 3 months or less, assuming the courts don’t throw out the election returns as hopelessly compromised. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

Bringing Manufacturing Back Home

Gerald Seib writes for The Wall Street Journal. Most recently Seib has penned a long article (behind paywall) describing how Trump has changed the Republican Party in ways that will outlast his tenure in office. Much of Trump's approach has parted ways with the traditional Republican mantra, as for example preached by Ronald Reagan.

One thing Trump has emphasized is bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. from the various third world countries to which they's migrated in search of cheap labor. This makes a lots of sense. 

When we sent the jobs overseas we ignored the question of what those men and women who were formerly making and assembling things would do to earn the sort of living to which they'd been accustomed. Lots of high school grads earned enough working in manufacturing to buy a small house, 1-2 used cars, and maybe a modest fishing boat. 

After the jobs went abroad their sons and daughters could find no work of similar value and income. Saying they should "learn to code" was a fig leaf, it wasn't going to happen. Especially when the firms hiring coders imported them from India on H-3 visas, and then sent both the Indians and the jobs they'd learned home to India at the end of 2 years.

So the next generation of high school grads ended up in service jobs that paid a barely living wage, not enough to buy a small home, a car, and a few minor luxuries. They were downwardly mobile, aware of the fact, and unhappy that they no longer could access the rump version of the American Dream their parents enjoyed.

The tech moguls' answer to this group is to put them all on the dole, because it's easier, and then forget about them. Implicitly, the belief is that once so sidelined, these unneeded people will suicide or OD on opiates - basically disappear, die out. 

Trump offered them an answer they liked better, decent jobs and reduced competition from wage-lowering illegal aliens. Hence his 2016 victory. In spite of Covid-19, he's made real progress on their behalf. Who knows, maybe they'll reelect him.


It is rumored Kim Jong-un of North Korea is in a coma, and that his sister is in charge of that dynastic nation. The source for this claim is a former South Korean diplomat.

Nobody is taking much action until his status is confirmed. There have been prior announcements of his incapacitation or even death that, obviously, proved false. Apparently he is known to have delegated some responsibilities in recent weeks.

Two Biggish Predictions

My current favorite writer on foreign affairs is George Friedman, who writes at Geopolitical Futures. Today, after the usual caveats of admitted fallibility, he runs through a decent analysis and comes up with the following two tentative predictions.

The assumption of the world has been that Europe is obsessed with economics and indifferent to geopolitics. The assumption about China is that it has become a great power and challenger to the United States. My view is that Europe has been on vacation from history, and that it will end, and that China’s pretense to power is unsustainable.

Belarus is a battle waiting to be launched. (snip) China is nearing a shift in its behavior.

If you follow foreign affairs, as I try to, you should see the reasoning that leads Friedman to those rather startling conclusions. BTW, he rather pointedly doesn’t propose a timeline for either prediction.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Bring On the Vaccine

Long time readers know I'm not a young, or even a middle-aged person. I've been retired, except for teaching an online class each term, for 16 years. And I last taught that online class 9 years ago. 

So I am solidly in the group most at risk for Covid-19. I'm what I used to call "elderly" until I got here and discovered I was neither senile nor shot-down.

Reading an article about the impressive progress being made on Covid-19 vaccines, I reached a decision. When a vaccine is approved and available, after they get all the health care workers and first responders inoculated, us oldsters will be next. I'm going to go for it.

I hope they get several competing Covid-19 vaccines approved and available. If it's safe I'll probably get somewhere between "more than one" and all of them. The more the merrier unless doing so is medically contraindicated. 

Why? I want to get back to the darn full life I was leading before the virus hit. Time's a-wasting, time us seniors don't have an unlimited quantity of remaining.

There is a Mississippi River cruise we were scheduled to take this fall, which was cancelled. A cruise that completely circles South America, visiting along the way, sounds good too. I'd like to feel free to fly again, without fear of catching my death. And restaurants, we were patrons 2-3 times a week, but not now.  I want my life back!

Democrat Myopia

We live in a dangerous world. There is always at least one major power which does more than wish us ill, but actually acts to our detriment. At the moment that "enemy" group would include China and, to a lesser extent, Russia. I won't dignify Iran by calling it a "major power" but they regularly call for our death. So, in opposition one major power, one almost major power, and one regional power. And then there are the non-state actors like the various jihadi terrorist groups.

You wouldn't have known any of the above by watching the recent Democrat convention. The need to counter threats from abroad - a major federal responsibility - went almost entirely unmentioned. 

We also face threats at home from Antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters and looters. Their threats to residents and businesses the almost universally Democrat mayors of large cities seem unwilling to confront.

Again, you would have believed no urban problem existed if you based your opinion on watching the recent Democrat convention. The obvious need to preserve and insure domestic tranquility was on none of the participants' minds.

The only danger most Democrats could see on the horizon is President Trump. He is certainly a danger to the aspirations of Democrat politicians, but has he been a danger to you? I'd argue for most law-abiding citizens the answer is a clear "No."

To the extent to which fending off antagonistic foreign powers and jailing domestic law breakers are goals to which most Americans subscribe, to that extent the Democrats failed to respond to the electorate's felt needs, to your felt needs. Please allow their disinterest to inform your choice of representatives when your vote this fall for the House, the Senate, and the Presidency.

Wildlife Report

Our WY house has a screened back porch, and in warm weather we eat on the porch. The screen is a dark brown plastic mesh called “shade screen.” It is easy to look out of, and hard to look into, making it what hunters and birders call “a blind.” We can see the animals and they can’t see us.

It is the time of year when groups of male deer hang out together, their antlers still in velvet. Unusually, we had a group of five in the backyard yesterday. One young buck with a single fork on each side, and four with much more elaborate racks.

One of the group had an asymmetrical set of antlers which the other DrC assures me will make him a target for trophy hunters. I guess the locals hunt some deer but the critters you want to bag here for meat are elk, the truly most elegant (and tastiest) members of the deer family, if not the absolute largest. 

The “largest” label belongs to the moose, which are big, but ugly, combining the least attractive features of an ugly horse and a deer. We are here for late spring, summer, and early fall. During that time we rarely see moose and almost never see elk, the elk are up in the mountains and only come down this way when the snow gets too deep up there. 

Moose are relatively solitary critters, not often seen in groups. In twenty years we’ve seen one moose in our back yard and maybe five in our region. Elk do herd, especially when they come down to the winter feeding stations (not kidding) set up by the feds and the state. 

The best place to see small groups of elk in summer is hanging around the Yellowstone NP village called Mammoth Hot Springs. They lounge on the lawn, strike poses, and (mostly) ignore the swarms of tourists.

Summer in our part of WY belongs to the deer, they love to feed in our yard which is overgrown with aspens and an understory of berry shrubs and prairie tall grass. We’ve left it mostly natural so we don’t mind the deer eating their fill. It doesn’t hurt them, and they don’t hurt it - everybody’s happy.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Stamina Is Necessary

I can't say the presidency of our fair land is the hardest job in the world, there is no way to know. I can say it is a very hard job. 

I remember with some clarity all eleven presidents going back to Kennedy. I was aware of Truman and Eisenhower but, as a young person, didn't pay a whole lot of attention.

Every president in my memory has aged dramatically in office, especially the two term presidents. None of them came out looking as worn out as Biden will going in, if elected. The office takes a lot out of those who win it, and I'm not certain Joe Biden has much left to give.

Say what you will about Donald Trump, he gives every indication of surviving another 4 years of Democratic abuse and may even have a good time in the process. He'll get my vote.

Cancel Culture Spoof

A great spoof of "cancel culture" from, who else, The Babylon Bee. The title:

Famed Archaeology Professor Fired After Photos Surface Of Him Wearing Nazi Uniform

The accompanying photo explains the title. Poor Dr. Jones.


Plus, you inherit the kingdom when he goes totally round the twist, activating the 25th Amendment.

Posted by Tito Puraw in the Comments section
 of Steven Hayward's The Week in Pictures at Power Line.

Friday, August 21, 2020

The U-Haul Index

Stephen Green comes up with some odd stuff at his continuing Insanity Wrap series for PJ Media, noting the signs of these very strange times. In episode #33, he outlines an interesting strategy for understanding demographic trends, namely the flight from troubled big cities.

Go to the U-Haul website and request quotes for how much to rent a particular trailer or truck from A to B and B to A. If a preponderance of movers are going A to B, it will cost plenty to rent for that direction while renting from B to A will be cheap. This is because U-Haul has to pay their employees to deadhead the empties back to A from B, and buy the fuel too. He gives examples from a Byron York Tweet:

Renting a U-Haul truck from Brooklyn to Chapel Hill NC costs $2603. Chapel Hill to Brooklyn, $492. How about Portland OR to Boise? $1242. Boise to Portland, $91.

U-Haul’s cost accountants know exactly what it costs to get empties back to Portland or Brooklyn, and the price differences reflect that cost. They’ll let you do it for them for pennies on the dollar.

Later ... As regular readers know, we have homes in WY and CA. Just for fun, I checked what a 20' truck would cost to move us from CA to WY - $3000, and from WY to CA - $1100. Both values are approximate. CA Governor Gavin Newsom should worry about this indication of exodus. 

Friday Snark

Democrat headline in the satirical Babylon Bee:

Man Who Has Been In Government For Nearly 50 Years Promises To Fix Government

Of course he does, and why wouldn't you believe him? And then their evaluation of the Biden acceptance speech:

Biden Exceeds All Expectations By Speaking Coherently For Over 20 Minutes

That is, until he uttered the following gasper:

There’s never been anything we’ve been able to accomplish when we’ve done it together.

The written text of his speech said "unable" but he misread it without realizing he had just said exactly the opposite of what he intended to say. "Sleepwalking through the campaign" may be his political epitaph.

Teddy Bear Abuse

In this era of Covid-19 athletics, somebody thought it would be cute to fill otherwise empty ballpark seats with very large teddy bears. Sadly a foul ball off Ketel Marte’s bat hit one bear right in the face.

Poor abused teddy, he had no way to duck or, for that matter, catch it either. Our bears wish him a speedy recovery. See the video at

The Virtual D Convention, Finale

The various pundit opinions are in, the final imaginary gavel rung down, and DNC 2020 is over. The consensus is the Ds managed to get through the entire thing without telling you their intentions for the next four years, assuming they win the election.

As we noted yesterday, this was probably no oversight but tactically smart as their platform doesn’t poll well with voters. So they talked about improving the national mood, injecting more “light” into our lives.

Translation: Elect us and - because we’ll stop being total pains in your butt and our captive legacy media will say nice things - our country will sure look and sound happier. It is a safe prediction.

Why “safe?” Remember how little controversy the really hapless Obama years stirred up? Of course you do. Things were crap but the media smiled beatifically and said all was well. No national angst to be seen.

Except we knew, didn’t we, that things weren’t good. Knew that jobs had been sent overseas, knew that millions of poor campesinos were allowed in to hold wages down, knew that social norms were trashed daily. 

What we knew informed how we voted, so we elected Trump to kick over the apple cart and take names. To appoint judges who weren’t closet socialists. To defend U.S. interests from attacks by both friends and enemies. To close the borders and drain the fetid bureaucratic swamp. To openly love this country and its founders.

We didn’t want smooth, loser Obama was smooth, we wanted a brawler. As the other DrC says, “He’s a bully, but he’s our bully.” Let’s reelect him.

Reasons to Vote for Biden

Boston Herald’s Howie Carr summarizes the Democrat’s platform, with a wee touch of snark for flavor. 

These people want to raise my taxes, open the borders, take away my health insurance and give it to illegal aliens for free, make sure those rolling blackouts in California go nationwide, defund the police, wreck my neighborhood and let all the rapists and murderers out of prison.

Now be honest, is that what you want your government to do for the next 4-8 years? And Carr forgot to mention the persecution of anyone who doesn’t support this set of priorities. 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Covid-19 Update

Our Wyoming place is near the Idaho border, and we've bought our last three pickups at a small town dealership in eastern Idaho. Once a year I treat my truck to a dealer visit, the rest of the year an oil change place like Jiffy Lube does the trick. Yesterday was the expensive dealer visit day.

What I write about is that, in small town rural Idaho we saw exactly zero people wearing face masks. Not the dealer's employees, nor its customers, nor the people working at the fast food place we stopped at for soft serve cones afterwards. We wore our masks, but then we're in the high risk age group. Everybody else? Zip, zilch, nada. Not even the two other oldsters we saw. Maybe they've gotten tired and quit.

By contrast, the very Democrat town of Jackson, WY, has mandated mask wear for pedestrians on their crowded streets or in the shops. They've posted electronic signs to that effect at each of the town's three entrance roads - it's the law. We're there about once a week and the rule is widely followed. 

In our own small town, mask wear is mostly something older folks do, and a few younger tourists. Based on a really small sample, I'd guess the rural Mountain West is getting on with its post-Covid life. Whether the virus will cooperate is yet to be determined.

The Virtual D Convention, Day 3

It is widely reported that in three days of talking about the state of our union, the Democrats have yet to condemn the violence and looting happening in a number of large cities, most notably Portland, Seattle, Chicago, and New York, but in quite a few others as well.  John Kass has the story for RealClearPolitics.

Polls have made it clear most Americans condemn the urban violence and looting. Apparently Democrats do not, or at  the very least believe they cannot publicly admit doing so. Condoning violence should be disqualifying in a presidential candidate.

You can be certain Republicans will condemn these outrages next week when they convene. Will Americans notice Trump is on their side in this matter and vote for him? We can hope so.


On another note, have you seen the slide from corporate training at Goodyear? It says Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ Pride are great at work but MAGA, All Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter are “unacceptable.”

Brit Hume on Fox News criticized Trump for supporting a Goodyear boycott suggested by others. I think Hume is wrong this time. 

The only way to send a business a signal you don’t approve of their policies is to shift your patronage to competitors.  If I were in the market for tires now, I’d buy other than Goodyear. It will be awhile before I forgive. How about you?

Rethinking GWTW

Most Americans over age 50 have seen the film Gone With The Wind. And quite a few of us have read the Margaret Mitchell novel upon which it was based. 

I’ve read the book once and seen the film several times; if I’m not mistaken I own it on DVD. To be honest, I don’t love GWTW. The story contains too many white characters I simply experience as unlikable humans. 

I just read a reappraisal of the film and novel by Bruce Bawer at The New Criterion that put both into perspective for me. He strongly hints those characters I found unsympathetic were written and played as Mitchell intended. 

To a great extent, indeed, her book can fairly be described as a highly sophisticated (if amateur) work of social anthropology, providing readers with remarkably nuanced social taxonomies of the pre-war and post-war South.

This is assuredly not a soggy, sentimental drama of cavaliers and chivalry, but a candid, even cynical, study of two strong-minded survivors set against the backdrop of America’s greatest social upheaval. Nor is it, as Mitchell readily and repeatedly admitted, a beautifully written book or a masterpiece of plotting. (She could never grasp why it became a bestseller or won the Pulitzer Prize.)

Bawer describes southern whites as knowing black people they liked and were fond of, if mostly paternalistically. Whereas northern whites opposed slavery but knew no blacks and mostly had no reason to do so. 

From about age 7 till he left home, my father, his brother, and his widowed mother lived with her parents - a physician and his wife - whose household included an old black couple, as cook and houseman. They were addressed as “aunt” and “uncle.” Dad’s assessment agreed with Bawer’s.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Virtual D Convention

As an amateur pundit, I don’t get paid for what I do here. Thus it’s dang sure I don’t get paid enough to force myself to watch a Democrat convention. 

Those poor sods who have to watch to earn their living report the Democrats haven’t said what disastrous plans they intend to foist upon us should they win in November (or whenever the election is finally decided, or adjudicated). They report mostly Trump-bashing.

I understand Dems don’t like the Donald, sometimes I wonder about him myself. That isn’t enough of an excuse to vote against him, they need to be for things too. I’ve been for what Trump has done programmatically most of the time, except when he acted to free convicted drug and violent felons. His Twitter wars I could do without, but they may help him get his message out past a hostile media.

To the extent the D platform represents their intended program, it is a bunch of expensive leftist and virtue-signaling claptrap which will do me no good but will cost me plenty. Perhaps they understand it doesn’t have majority support and so they don’t talk about it, a sensible tactical move.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Old Car Pix

The other DrC does a photo blog called CruzTalking Two. This a.m. she posted four pix of a 1964 Mercury Comet convertible. It is some fellow’s pride and joy, obviously lovingly cared for and/or restored. Check it out. 

UNC Learns the Hard Way

We wondered what would happen if colleges and universities held normal on-campus classes this fall. University of North Carolina tried it out, and has had to shut it down. Defying campus warnings, students were partying in the dorms and several clusters of Covid-19 developed.

The local paper, the Raleigh News Observer, has the story and reprints the campus paper editorial entitled, “UNC Has a Clusterf**k on Its Hands.” This outcome makes those campuses which decided to run the fall term online, with no students on campus, appear prescient.

In truth, they either guessed correctly, or had a more jaundiced insight into the fecklessness of the late adolescents who constitute the bulk of their undergraduates. In any event, now we know.

I wonder if urban so-called “commuter” campuses could hold regular classes? Relatively few of their students live on or near campus, most live with their parents or a working spouse. I’m thinking of schools like Cal State East Bay, and Los Angeles State. These tend not to have a “party school” reputation.

Later ... Turns out Notre Dame had a similar experience, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The WY Primary

Wyoming holds its primary election today; just why it is so late in the political season is anybody’s guess. The Democrat’s virtual convention began yesterday. I suppose that means the WY Democrats (what few exist) don’t participate at the presidential level, but choose their delegates via caucus. 

Actually, there is only one WY county (out of 23) which routinely votes Democratic, and that is Teton County. As a cluster of resort communities, with sky-high property prices, it is home to relatively few people one would designate as middle class. 

The wealthy are property owners, and the relatively poor service workers who staff the restaurants, bars, and boutiques are renters. People holding career-type middle class jobs (teacher, nurse, first responder, manager, bureaucrat) tend to commute from adjacent counties (in WY, ID) where they can afford to buy a home. And of course one votes where one lives, not where one works.

The DrsC do not live in Teton County. Our scenery, while excellent, is not as spectacular as theirs but our neighbors are nicer and our property taxes are lower. We live in the reliably Republican part of WY, where it is often the case that no Democrats run for state legislative spots. We’ll be voting this afternoon.

Later ... It turns out neither party uses the WY primary to decide for whom their convention delegates will vote. It was interesting to see how they'd made casting paper ballots safe. They'd bought enough cheap ballpoints so that each was used by only one voter, everybody got a new one; we fed our own ballots into the counting machine so they didn't have to handle them. 

Monday, August 17, 2020

Trump Moving Up, Harris No Help

The Hill reports on a CNN poll that came out yesterday. In it, Trump has narrowed the margin by which voters say they prefer Biden, it is now just barely misses being within the margin of error.

Biden leads Trump by just 4 points, with Biden at 50 percent and Trump at 46 percent, according to a CNN poll released Sunday. That marks a significant shift since the poll was last conducted in June, when the Democrat led Trump by 14 points, with Biden at 55 percent and Trump at 41.

And where is the bounce Biden was supposed to get from announcing his VP pick? Answer: there was no bounce, if anything he got a dip.

Meanwhile, Steven Hayward of Power Line quotes National Review's Jim Geraghty as follows:

The CBS News survey asked, “if Joe Biden is elected President but cannot finish his term, do you think Kamala Harris would be qualified to serve as President, if necessary, or not?” Unsurprisingly, 91 percent of Democrats said yes, 85 percent of Republicans said no, but the numbers among independents might worry the Biden-Harris campaign – 45 percent of independents said “yes,” 55 percent said “no.”

Remember, when Harris dropped out of the race for the Democrat presidential nomination, her national poll numbers stood at 2%. It was likely the reason she withdrew. Charisma isn't her strong suit.

The Causality Question

RealClearPolitics’ political analyst Sean Trende looks at Midwest political trends for mega cities, large cities, small cities, large towns, small towns, and rural areas. It turns out that where you live tends to predict how you’ll vote. The more urban, the more Democrat; the more rural, the more Republican.

What if one’s political beliefs are, to some nontrivial degree, a response to one’s living conditions? Trende doesn’t ask this question, but somebody needs to, so I will. 

I don’t deny there is a tendency to choose to live where people see the world as you do, who value the opposing pluses of urban or rural life as you do. But what if the causality also works in the opposite direction?

What if high-density urban living causes one to value more an interventionist, regulatory governmental presence? What if low-density rural living causes one to see government regulation as unnecessary meddling in one’s personal choices? 

I can imagine moving urban people to the country and rural people to the city to see if their politics would change. Maybe they would. 

But what if they didn’t? 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

The Argentine Object Lesson

The lovely nation of Argentina is a failed state, it staggers from one crisis to the next, and from elected government to military junta rule. Is it the fault of deficient natural resources? Not at all, in that regard Argentina is blessed. Is it the fault of a people only a couple of generations removed from the Stone Age? Again, not a bit of it, the inhabitants are mostly the descendants of European immigrants, literate and civilized.

Okay, why does it fail, repeatedly? Bad politics - Peronism is largely to blame. Argentinians demand much more from their government than they're willing (or able) to pay for, so the nation repeatedly finds itself bankrupt with no credit and an electorate unwilling to tolerate government policies that would put the economy onto a solid foundation.

It would appear that some of the so-called "blue states" in this Union of ours are headed in this same direction as Argentina. Their policies favor government give-aways to illegal immigrants and subsidization of the homeless - the tax eaters - those who pay almost nothing in taxes and consume plenty of tax funded benefits. These same blue state policies are driving tax payers to emigrate to low-tax "red states" thus hollowing out the blue state tax base. 

Blue state policies, like those of Argentina, are addictive. Voters are unwilling to give them up, or to pay for them. How long before we begin calling NY, MA and CA failed states? Before they have to lay off government workers and cut benefits to the indigent? 

Review again what the previous post had to say about bad government in Los Angeles, and its effects. And check out this description of the drain down which New York City heads toward "failed city" status.

Angelenos Bailing Out

It's time for another episode reporting the death spiral of California, this time sharing a Daily Mail (U.K.) story about the "beautiful people" bailing out of greater LA - Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Brentwood. DM does a reasonable job of making today's la-la land sound darn grim. Seemingly only Malibu has the mental toughness to kick the homeless and the stoned out of their enclave.

Included in those leaving SoCal, according to DM, are Nicole Kidman and husband Keith Urban, Tom Hanks and wife, Lou Ferrigno and wife, podcaster Joe Rogan, and Elon Musk, plus other show biz types whose names aren't famous. 

Here is a near-perfect quote summing up the mess:

British-born Danny O'Brien runs Watford Moving & Storage. 'There is a mass exodus from Hollywood,' he says. 'And a lot of it is to do with politics.' His business is booming. 'August has already set records and we are only halfway through the month,' he tells me.

'People are getting out in droves. Last week I moved a prominent person in the music industry from a $6.5 million [£5 million] mansion above Sunset Boulevard to Nashville.' O'Brien, 58, who moved to LA from London 34 years ago, is also planning to move to Tennessee.

'Liberal politics has destroyed this city,' he says. 'The homeless encampments are legal and there's nothing the police can do. White, affluent middle-class folk are getting out. People don't feel safe any more.'

LA is beginning to resemble the future depicted for it in the Matt Damon, Jodie Foster film Elysium. In that depiction, for those who haven't seen it, LA resembles a squatter slum in Ensenada with open sewers, dirt streets, and tarpaper shacks.

Remind me, why don't we warehouse the mentally ill in asylums as we did when I was young? 

CA Is Burning ... Again

The news is reporting a couple of large "forest" fires in Southern California. I put forest in quotes because what grows wild in SoCal is hardly a forest as others know it. It is mostly a mix of wild grasses, chaparral and scrub oak except along normally dry creeks. At higher elevations on the north (non-sunny) side of mountains real oak and pine forests can occur, and of course they burn too.

Reading about the fires makes me nostalgic. Some of the most vivid memories of my adolescence were watching big fires burn across the coast range mountains of the Los Padres National Forest which border the Ojai Valley on the north. The view was spectacular at night.

I lived in the rural valley for about 13 years and the hills seemed  to burn off roughly every third year. Almost all fires were man-caused, usually accidents, as the region gets very little lightning and almost no thunder storms.

The news in LA and beyond always reported Ojai was burning, a gross exaggeration. Relatives would call to see if we were okay and we had to tell them the fire never came within 5 miles of our house. 

A couple or three houses in the foothills would burn. We lived in the middle of an irrigated orange orchard, good luck with trying to burn that. I don't remember my folks complaining about the fire insurance costs so apparently the underwriters knew our risk was low, even if the press for its own reasons hyped it.

Anyway, it is part of living in California. There will be wildfires, mostly in late summer and autumn since it only rains in winter and early spring. Like earthquakes, it is the bitter that comes with the sweet of no snow and little humidity.

N.B., This story is not a part of the "California Death Spiral" series. Wildfires in CA are neither new nor do they interfere with the lives of most residents. They are inconvenient, costly and sometimes, as with the Camp fire, very dangerous to the minority of people who choose to live in high risk areas.

A Reason to Support Cities

Regular readers of COTTonLINE know I’m not fond of urban living, of big, dirty cities. I favor country air, bucolic vistas, and low density. I like a rough parity between people and large, tasty meat animals, all viewed from the windows of a pickup truck. 

That said, I just had a thought about why maybe I don’t want the cities to die. If the big cities collapse, as much current unrest and bad government suggest they might, where will all those icky urban people go? 

Where else, they’ll end up in my uncrowded part of the world, and they’ll screw it up for sure. I won’t be happy if that happens.

Perhaps we need to keep cities going in order to warehouse their current occupants, lest they come live amongst us and bring their malaise and bad politics with them. It’s an aspect of urban decline I hadn’t considered, but upon reflection it seems quite real, if somewhat elitist.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

China on the Down Low

Long time readers know we've linked to David Goldman's work on many occasions; he sometimes uses the nom de plume Spengler. Today I've linked to a very long interview of Goldman which appears at the website Law & Liberty.

The interviewer, Richard M. Reinsch II, takes Goldman through a relatively thorough overview of Goldman's new book: You Will Be Assimilated: China's Plan to Sino-form the World. Without going into detail, let's just say his outlook is not optimistic.

I suppose what struck me most about Goldman's view as a long-time China watcher is his conclusion that China's ancient civilization is totally hierarchic, a place where everyone kisses up and kicks down. Hierarchy is everything, and a test-based meritocracy runs the place taking orders from their bosses like very smart little robots. Individuals are not valued and those who won't be assimilated are killed without remorse.

This interview is not for the faint of heart, the weak of stomach, or those with short attention spans. 

Something to Ponder

Much of who we end up being is formed during the years between elementary school and college. During these years we are influenced by our peers more intensely than at any other time in our lives, as we transition from child to almost-adult.

During this period of her life, California-born Sen. Kamala Harris lived in Canada - not English-speaking Canada but French-speaking Quebec. Meaning, like Barack Obama, she spent formative years as an expat. One wonders if her dismissive attitude toward truth-telling and other moral matters isn't more French than American.

Understanding Conservatism

At the risk of boring you with a long quotation, I submit the following excerpt from Sir Roger Scruton's book, How to Be a Conservative, courtesy of Steven Hayward at Power Line.

Conservatism starts from a sentiment that all mature people can readily share: the sentiment that good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created. This is especially true of the good things that come to us as collective assets: peace, freedom, law, civility, public spirit, the security of property and family life, in all of which we depend on the cooperation of others while having no means singlehandedly to obtain it.

In respect of such things, the work of destruction is quick, easy and exhilarating; the work of creation is slow, laborious and dull. That is one of the lessons of the twentieth century. It is also one reason why conservatives suffer such a disadvantage when it comes to public opinion. Their position is true but boring, that of their opponents exciting but false.

There isn't a single phrase of that statement with which I disagree. 

Friday, August 14, 2020

Watch the Harris Flip-Flop

On Tuesday I wrote about Kamala Harris laughing off her attack on Joe Biden during the first debate. I didn't remember who the interviewer was. 

It turns out it was Stephen Colbert asking how she made the giant mental leap from tough attack to BFF. John Hinderaker of Power Line has the video, if you'd like to watch her be proud of her insincerity. It is all there.

After which John adds this comment:

Are Joe Biden and Kamala Harris the most cynical, amoral, self-interested, pocket-lining duo ever placed on a national ticket? Yes. Yes, I think they are.

"Most" is a high bar to clear; I do believe they are contenders for finest flip-flops evah.

Deconstructing a Guilty Plea

It is widely reported that former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith will plead guilty to altering an email. He thereby falsified the Carter Page FISA warrant and helped the FBI spy on the Trump campaign. 

What you should understand is that guilty pleas like this are normally made to reduced charges. For instance, "If you'll plead guilty to this lesser charge which will carry a light sentence, and testify against your coworkers, we won't try you on a more serious one which, if convicted, could put you away for a decade or two." It's amazing how persuasive that offer can be.

Virus Vicissitudes

Writing at National Review, statistician Robert VerBruggen has the data to show four unfortunate U.S. effects of the corona virus pandemic. See his charts for details on the first two.

1) When the economy contracted, employment declined most for the working class and poor.
2) Kids’ math learning shows exactly the same pattern. 
3) The CDC reports that a quarter of 18-to-24-year-olds, when surveyed in late June, said they’d seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days.
4) Social distancing increased domestic-violence calls by about 6 percent.

Choosing Not to Look

We've written before of politicians committing a Kinsley gaffe, when a politician admits some truth he shouldn't have said. I have a classic for you, uttered by New Jersey's governor. After announcing that NJ will mail ballots to all registered voters in the state ahead of the November election, CNSNews reports he said:

You never can say you bat one thousand, but I'm pretty sure that we have a higher probability of being hit by lightning than we do uncovering voter fraud.

What Governor Phil Murphy (D) means (but shouldn't have admitted) is that they'll uncover no voter fraud in NJ because he's sure no one will look for it. 

Mail ballots are a Democrat scam. If it's safe to go to the grocery store, which we've all been doing, it's safe to vote in person. 

Friedman Praises Trump-Brokered Deal

The New York Times' Tom Friedman began his career reporting on the Middle East. He knows the region, follows its developments assiduously, and almost always makes sense when he writes about them. His insights about other matters, for instance domestic politics, are uniformly wrong. 

So ... at COTTonLINE we ignore Friedman's other material and attend to his Middle East opinion. Today he writes in praise of the agreement President Trump orchestrated between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. As is sometimes possible, I've cited a source - The Economic Times - outside the NYT paywall.

About the agreement, in which the two nations have agreed to formal diplomatic relations, Friedman agrees with Trump's assessment of it being "Huge" and adds: "It’s a geopolitical earthquake." Friedman praising anything with Trump's fingerprints on it is itself an earthquake. 

I particularly like Friedman's comparison of Netanyahu's actions here to Nixon's opening to China. In both cases a president under fire at home moved in a direction of which his base does not approve, perhaps as a distraction from his domestic difficulties. 

Which doesn't mean Friedman believes this agreement solves the region's problems. He concludes:

I have followed the Middle East for too long to ever write the sentence “the region will never be the same again.” The forces of sectarianism, tribalism, corruption and anti-pluralism run deep there.

When I think of the Middle East, I remember the parable of the scorpion and the frog. Self-destructive behavior is the region's "factory setting."

Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Halt and the Lame

I was rereading my prediction below and something struck me. Is it a coincidence that this is the second presidential election in a row where the Democrats have nominated someone about whose health clear questions exist? 

You'll recollect Ms. Clinton falling out of a van in NYC, being basically carried up steps in India, etc. Biden's issues are more mental, he appears to be losing it, getting forgetful, and mixing up his words.

You remember what Ian Fleming wrote about repeat occurrences: "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action." If not "enemy action," perhaps a shallow bench problem. Or maybe insufficient agreement among party factions, so that only someone as ambiguously bland as Biden can get a majority.

Bouquet or Bucket

There is controversy about the correct pronunciation of the first name of Sen. Harris, the Democrat's nominee for VP. We are instructed she prefers "COMMA-la." Many are saying "Ka-MAH-la." 

My choice is to say "CAMEL-uh" on those rare occasions when I find it necessary to speak her given name. If that causes you to think of humps, the unfortunate association is yours, not mine.

A Prediction of My Own

I’m going out on a limb with a prediction that turnout of Democrats for the November election will be lackluster. Why? We begin with the enthusiasm gap.

It is widely reported that the enthusiasm gap between Trump voters and Biden voters is large, Joe isn’t an exciting guy. With his VP pick Biden had a chance to amp up enthusiasm. 

So he selected Kamala Harris who stirred so little enthusiasm among Democrats that she dropped out of the race months before the Iowa caucuses, before a single vote was cast. Plus she’s no help with the Bernie bros, who aren’t won over. How was she a good choice?

What does that leave? Voting against Trump, which is admittedly a major motivator for some fraction of the electorate.. How big a fraction? Substantially less than half in my judgment.

Has Trump lost many of those who voted for him 4 years ago? I believe polls show the answer is “no.” Does Biden have fewer negatives than Clinton? The Joe Biden of 12 years ago certainly had fewer, now he too often appears markedly old and mentally confused.

Add in that most Americans disapprove of the urban unrest we’ve experienced recently, unrest that Democrats have refused to condemn or have even excused. And finally, as my late father - a Southern Democrat - would mutter after Stevenson lost to Eisenhower twice in a row, “The darned Republicans all vote.” Yes, Dad, we tend to do just that.

VDH Predicts a Counterrevolution

Historian Victor Davis Hanson writes of the current urban malaise for National Review.

We have not seen the full extent of the ongoing counterrevolution that will thin out the violent in the streets and in some ways fall more heavily on those who have empowered it. There will be a counterrevolution because without one there is not much of America left. And about 250 million people liked the America prior to March 1 and finally, in extremis, won’t so easily give it up.

Washington and Lincoln, after all, do not just belong to some unhinged Antifa thug mad at America because he is mostly mad at himself. To almost every Jacobin tactic, from defunding the police to violent attacks on federal property, the people are opposed. And they make no apologies for their past or present.

The first decisive battle in that counterrevolution occurs on November 3, with the reelection of President Trump. Momentum is important, do your part to ensure our side wins. 

A Gloomy Prognosis

Writing at The National Interest, Robert D. Blackwell looks down the road at future China-U.S. relations and finds the prognosis grim. He posts nine theses concerning what will likely happen between the two nations. I'll share the last two with you.
8. Regarding the United States and China, there will be no grand bargain on world order, no strategic modus vivendi, no accepted rules of the road, no staying in agreed lanes, because they are too far apart on their national interests and values.

9. Instead, the two nations will be on the edge of crisis for decades, and only quality diplomacy on both sides will rescue them from likely tragedy.

Betting on people acting in their own self-interest is nearly always a safe bet, and “tragedy” is mankind’s default setting. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Adventures in Wokeness

You've heard "wokesters" trying to get us to use the term Latinx because Latino and Latina are too gender-specific for the gender-fluid? Disrn reports the Pew polling organization decided to find out what Hispanics thought of the Latinx label; it turns out the answer is "not much."

A survey conducted in Spanish and English in the United States in December 2019 showed that only 23% of Hispanic or Latino adults surveyed know about the term. Only 3% said they describe themselves as "Latinx," while 76% said they had never heard the term.

Translation: Of the 23% who've ever heard the term, roughly 7 out of 8 don't use the term. I intend to continue using "Hispanic" which dodges the gender issue but some believe excludes Portuguese-speaking Brazilians.

A Unique Choice

This is too good to pass up, a Tweet by Robert Barnes reposted by Instapundit:

In order to appeal to disaffected black voters who might lean toward protest voting (Kanye) or not voting (2016), Democrats ingeniously picked the one black candidate whose parents are not from America, whose ancestors had slaves, and who spent her career locking up black men.

Finding someone with those unique qualifications can’t have been an easy task. Dems must have had top men (classical Indie reference) working on it.

Weird Pharmacological Science

A website called Disrn reports the findings of a study looking at autism. Hat tip to Stephen Green at Instapundit for the link.

A recent analysis of more than 500,000 Canadian mothers and their children revealed a 50% increase in the risk of autism in kids whose mothers had used marijuana while pregnant, according to a report published Monday in Nature Medicine.

Researchers found that the rate of autism diagnoses among children with in utero cannabis exposure was 2.2%. Of those whose mothers did not use the drug during pregnancy, only 1.4% were diagnosed with autism.

While it is tempting to speculate that cannabis exposure caused autism, it is equally possible that those mothers with a genetic predisposition to autism were more likely to use marijuana as a form of self-medication. Correlational studies, like this, point to the likelihood of a relationship between two things shown to correlate, but do not establish causality. 

On the other hand, if you contemplate pregnancy, avoiding marijuana wouldn’t do any harm, and could benefit your baby.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

About Political Debates

Not all debates are created equal. On TV this evening I saw a talking head interviewing Kamala Harris about her beating up on Joe Biden in the first Dem. debate. Her response, bubbly, laughing: "It was a debate, a debate." 

Her clear implication was the event was like a college debate event where you said whatever was necessary to win, regardless of whether you believed it. In fact in team debating, you might be asked to take either side of the issue and defend it, as a competitive sport.

Unfortunately, a candidates' debate is a different animal altogether. In it you are expected to state your actual beliefs and be willing to defend them forever more. It is supposed to be an event where voters learn your values, decide if you represent their views and might earn their votes. 

Untold ink has been devoted to dumping on candidates who state one belief and then later a different, conflicting belief. They are accused of the heinous offense of "flip-flopping." It's apparently one of the worst political offenses, ranking right up there with pandering.

Laughing off having made party nominee Biden look weak on civil rights, because she won debate points doing so, isn't going to work for Ms. Harris. She needs a better excuse.

Tuesday Snark

Headline at The Gateway Pundit.

Flashback: Kamala Harris Launched Her Political Career in Bedroom As Mistress of Married Mayor Willie Brown

Everybody has to start somewhere. In those years, Brown had the levers of CA power at his fingertips.

More Americans Renounce Citizenship

The Daily Wire reports nearly 6000 Americans renounced U.S. citizenship in favor of some other nationality in the first six months of 2020. That's roughly 0.00181% or 1 of every 55,000 citizens, not precisely an avalanche.

In the first six months of 2020, a whopping 5,816 Americans renounced their citizenship, more than twice the number who renounced in all of 2019. The first six months also showed a massive increase over the previous six months – a 1,210% increase from the 444 people who renounced during that time.

The article identifies complications of the IRS tax code for overseas residents as a major reason for changing citizenship. The author tries to ascribe some of the renunciations to Trump, but that doesn't explain the increase over the prior years, as he's been President since early 2017. 

I don't have a problem with people giving up citizenship, as long as they do it before the election. I'd rather grumpy souls didn't vote.

Biden Chooses Harris

Democrat presidential nominee-apparent Joe Biden has selected Kamala Harris as his vice presidential running mate. The Jamaican-Indian woman is CA's junior senator and its former state Attorney General. 

You will see her referred to as African-American, which is not accurate. Her ancestry is Jamaican (father) and Indian (mother), both her parents are immigrants to this country, where she was born. Her husband is white.

I have read she has a claim to Jamaican (dual) citizenship, should she choose to exercise it. I know of no evidence that she has done so.

Sen. Harris was a protégé of CA's Mr. Democrat, Willie Brown, retired after 15 years as Speaker of the Assembly and 8 years as Mayor of San Francisco. Ironically, Brown recently publicly advised her not to accept the VP nomination, advice she obviously choose to ignore.

It will be interesting to see to what extent her prosecutorial role in locking thousands of Black Americans in CA prisons will have on her popularity with that key Democrat constituency. 

When Trump was elected, I predicted the Democrats would never again nominate a white candidate for president. I was wrong, they weren't that smart. 

Recognizing the problem, they have nominated a non-white candidate for VP. If that fails, we'll see ... maybe the failure will convince them.

Watch Cities Decay

Multiple sources are reporting the retirement of Seattle's female, African-American police chief. Apparently the last straw was the decision to cut officers by 100 and the pay of the chief and others. 

Is anyone surprised? Certainly not I. Expect similar retirements and resignations of big city police chiefs across the country, much as you should expect similar actions by lower echelon cadre in these police organizations. 

Today the New York Times has an article (behind paywall) saying retail chains are abandoning Manhattan, finding the location "unsustainable" in the modern era. Can other large, badly-run cities be far behind?

This isn't a year for mayors to shine, weakness in the face of adversity appears to be a prerequisite for office. Bill de Blasio is bad, but so are Lori Lightfoot, Eric Garcetti and the unmemorable mayors of Seattle, Minneapolis, Portland, SF, etc. 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Truman Was Right

Over the last few days people have noted the anniversaries of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One supposes most note those to tut-tut at the immorality of so doing.

COTTonLINE takes this opportunity to restate our opinion President Harry S. Truman was 100% justified in making the decision to end the war quickly. The Empire of Japan richly deserved every bit of punishment they received, including our use of atomic bombs.

Weird Bio-Political Science

Steven Hayward of Power Line shares a research finding from the journal Politics and the Life Sciences. Quoting from the abstract of “Effects of Physical Attractiveness on Political Beliefs“:

Controlling for socioeconomic status, we find that more attractive individuals are more likely to report higher levels of political efficacy, identify as conservative, and identify as Republican.
As I’ve reminded you for years, the GOP is historically a party for those for whom this society “works,” produces a good life. The other guys get the rest, those for whom - for whatever reason(s) - it does not “work.”

Afterthought: Regular COTTonLINE readers must be a good looking group.

Where the Cruise Ships Hide

The other DrC and I have done a lot of cruising in the last 20 years, a majority of it on Princess ships where we have “status” meaning we’ve sailed enough (a) to get free WiFi, laundry and priority boarding and (b) to have favorite ships, entertainers and routes. Thus an article in Forbes concerning where the ships are now that cruising is on virus hiatus was interesting.

It turns out most “hotel side” crew - waiters, housekeeping, bartenders, busboys, shopkeepers and entertainment staff - have been sent home, in a process that took a couple of months. The ships are moored where they don’t pay dockage fees in a condition known as “warm layup” where they run the AC, plumbing, power generation, etc. to keep them working.

According to Carnival, the ships in warm layup are staffed with crew members at what is called “safe-manning” levels, which for larger ships is an average of about 100 crew members – including deck officers navigating the ship, engineers in charge of propulsion and power, a security team, and hotel and kitchen staff, along with medical professionals for any crew needs.

Unlike during normal cruising operations, these few crew each have a private room - one of the empty guest rooms - to hold down contagion. They basically keep the ship in good condition, safe and ready to deploy when the epidemic eases. 

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Fox News Wins June, July

The following is from The New York Times, of all places, and you have to know it galled them to report it. Hat tip to for the link.

In June and July, Fox News was the highest-rated television channel in the prime-time hours of 8 to 11 p.m. Not just on cable. Not just among news networks. All of television.

The rest of the Times article is a failed attempt to lessen the impact of the above 4 sentences. If you assume the Fox News viewership is composed almost entirely of Trump voters, what does that tell you about the election in early November? I find it an optimistic omen. 

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Police Retiring ASAP

Blogging at Instapundit, Ed Driscoll links to a series of articles reporting large numbers of sworn police leaving the Portland, Seattle, and Minneapolis PDs. Most are going via retirements, some are just bailing.

I can't imagine anyone who reads this blog being even slightly surprised at this outcome. One supposes similar stories exist with respect to police exits in NYC, LA, Chicago, St. Louis, and Atlanta. These are all places tending to diss their LEOs. 

For its own good, our society needs to get over this police-bashing phase. Maybe things will calm down after the election.

President Acts on Covid Relief

The business publication Forbes reports four executive actions President Trump is taking to provide relief to those suffering from the Covid-19 shutdown. He does this in reaction to the inability of Congress to agree on a relief package. The four are these:

Extending enhanced unemployment benefits
A payroll tax holiday
Federal eviction moratorium
Federal student loan suspension

He indicates the first two will last to the end of the year, the duration of the second two remains to be determined. Budget hawks won't love these. It is possible he does this to goad the Congress into reaching an agreement. Trump's willingness to act when Congress cannot or will not won't be lost on voters.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Weird Cohort Research

United Press International reports research findings showing aging baby boomers are not as sharp as their parents were at the same age. The author speculates some reasons for this, but is honestly unconvincing.

I suspect it is more likely that usage of street drugs may be the culprit. When teased for his sluggish response to some snarky repartee directed his way, a touchy boomer colleague of mine replied, "You probably don't realize the drugs take a toll." 

As I recollect, my response was an ironic snort. However, I found the interaction memorable as it occurred over two decades ago, 

A Great Scattering?

We’ve written repeatedly about things causing people to abandon cities, about the move to outer suburbs and exurbs, about working from home. As we noted yesterday, three factors push this: Covid-19, BLM/Antifa, and high taxes. The impact of these things possibly could be as large as was the industrial revolution.

Writing for The Atlantic, Derek Thompson does a good job of looking at the pros and cons of this happening. He makes the point that arrival of a good Covid vaccine and subsidence of urban unrest might lure people back to their offices and urban life.

His three main “might happen” things are these. First, “The ‘Telepresence’ Revolution Will Reshape the U.S. Workforce.” Second, “Remote Work Will Increase Free-Agent Entrepreneurship.” And third, “A Superstar-City Exodus Will Reshape American Politics.”

The third references the supermajority of Democrats in large cities moving out into less urban areas, thus improving Democrat electoral prospects. I think Thompson overlooks the impact of Mile’s Law here.

Move city Democrats to the country and, since where they sit has changed, where they stand on issues is likely to change as well. People with green space around them don’t need as much “nanny state” control of neighbors who are now at arm’s length or greater rather than packed together elbow to elbow.

I’ve lived on a city lot (for 9 years) and in the country (for decades), if my neighbor in the city belched in his back yard, I heard it. If he burned leaves I smelled it. If he threw a BBQ party, I heard that chatter. Where I live in the country none of those things impact me. My neighbors have much more latitude, as do I, before either of us bothers the other. It is much easier to be libertarian or laissez faire when density is lower.

Regardless, Thompson’s discussion is a good one, worth your time and interest.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Using the Purse Strings

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR, no known relation) has introduced legislation entitled the Campus Free Speech Restoration Act (CAFSRA). It's intent is to force higher education campuses to protect free speech rights of faculty and students, something they don't now do. As Power Line notes:
It provides that colleges and universities that promulgate restrictive speech codes, so-called free-speech zones, and other unconstitutional speech policies will lose their eligibility to receive federal student loans and grants through the Higher Education Act. Private universities will also lose eligibility unless they both fully disclose their policies on free expression and accept contractual responsibility for enforcing those policies.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signed on so it is likely the bill will be voted on, perhaps pass the Senate. The House will not bother, and the issue will be used as campaign fodder in the run-up to Nov. 3. For what it's worth, COTTonLINE endorses this modest effort to counteract the leftward bias in higher ed.

The New Mobility

Various sources report both Mayor Bill De Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, leaders of New York City and State respectively, are desperately trying to lure 'home' the wealthy who left the state during the corona virus epidemic. Good luck with that, their tax base must be hurting big time.

If the wealthy have found they can manage their lives and fortunes from where they are now, why go back? Some will of course, (many?) others won't. They can count on lower taxes where they are now, perhaps better living conditions as well. Shopping online works (even in rural WY) plus who wants to go to a crowded theater and sit elbow to elbow when the "Chinese flu" is killing people.

Add together the contagion factor of public transportation and crowded living, plus the unrest and property destruction of the Black Lives Matter movement egged on by Antifa, and the high taxes cities impose. Urban life doesn't look even as good as it did before, and at its best that was a mixed blessing.

California has gotten away with blue state craziness because it offers so much in lifestyle options - ideal weather and virtually any terrain you fancy (mountains, seashore, desert, farmland). You can literally go skiing one weekend, surfing the next, and dune buggy riding a third - CA people do this and much more. 

Californians put up with the high taxes and eco-nuttiness, or have so far. That may be changing, the outmigration of middle class tax payers is substantial. They are being replaced with "tax eaters," poor immigrants whose taxes don't pay for the government services they consume. 

As long as wealthy techies stay in CA, their taxes may cover the tab. When they wise up and go where taxes are low, CA will be in the same hurt NY and NJ are in now. If government breaks up the tech monopolies, tech fortunes will be fewer, smaller, harder won, and that outmigration may occur.

As an old Chinese curse had it, "May you live in interesting times." 
We do.

Crazies Corralled by Cops

Body cam videos of George Floyd’s behavior leading up to his death are on the Web, perhaps you’ve viewed them. They portray a badly disturbed individual flailing about, disconnected from reality. It’s likely he is very high on something, perhaps slowly dying from an overdose. 

This footage is a good impetus to talk about whether it was a good idea to turn over to police dealing with the mentally disturbed. The “guys in white coats” who were humorously pictured with butterfly nets haven’t existed for 50 years. 

In our society, police get to deal with those out of touch with reality, those hallucinating because they are disturbed or “on” some drug. I believe you can be certain it isn’t popular duty. 

I’m sure the cops would be the first to tell you they aren’t especially good at it. To be good they’d need a paramedic in every second or third police cruiser, and that isn’t going to happen. 

With the advent of psychoactive meds for psychosis, our society opted to turn its back on the mentally disturbed and the ‘chemically’ disturbed. Our behavior, if not our words, sent the message “If we ignore it, it will go away.” Needless to say, it didn’t, it won’t. 

Perhaps some city or state will come up with a more rational approach?

What Do You Believe?

A consequential presidential election happens in just under three months. Much is at stake. What you do then, how you vote and why you do it is important.

If you like riots and urban mess, see the police as the bad guys, think government does things better, want every campesino from Latin America as a neighbor, and believe you are the reason some Black Americans’ lives are bleak, by all means vote for Joe Biden. He agrees that our country is a bad place and will try to deliver the life you seek.

If, on the other hand, you believe people should behave, cops are mostly good guys (and gals) doing a tough job, know the private sector does most stuff better, want immigration limited to those who add to our stock of skills and productivity, and believe that most of our poor are that because of bad choices they made, vote for Donald Trump. He agrees our country is basically good and will help us make American normal again.

I’ve described two very different visions of our nation. I know which works for me, which works for you?