Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Empty Pews

The Gallup polling organization periodically surveys Americans about their church membership and attendance. Coincidentally, or otherwise, their latest results have been made public during Holy Week.

The headline is that, for the very first time ever, a majority of Americans report no affiliation with any church, synagogue, or mosque. Place-of-worship membership hovered around 70% for decades until 2000. Since then it has been falling: to around 60% in 2010, 55% in 2015, and now 47%.

As early as 2009 we were writing that Europe had become post-Christian, and we wondered whether the U.S. would follow the same path. Put bluntly, it has, and the trend here is likely to continue as the younger respondents to the poll are less religion-involved than the older cohorts.

Again coincidentally, or otherwise, the places where religion is declining in importance in people’s lives are experiencing below-replacement birth rates. This correlation has been observed by others and is added here speculatively, without a claim of causation.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Density Declines

A person who actually likes New York City writes about all the bad news highly dense urban places have experienced in the last 13 months. Writing for City Journal, Richard Schwartz concludes the future of urbanism isn’t especially rosy.

According to the Partnership for New York City, less than half of Manhattan’s 1 million office employees will return to work in-person by September 2021. Only 22 percent of the city’s top employers will require their employees to work on premises. Roughly 66 percent of the city’s largest companies will embrace the hybrid model that gives employees the option of working in the office or from home. Only 10 percent of Manhattan office employees have returned to the workplace as of early March 2021.

I’ve worked and lived in large cities, but I don’t like them much and try to avoid them when possible. It would appear my experience is far from unique. 

About Anti-Asian Hate Crimes

Ed Driscoll of Power Line links to a Splice Today article by Chris Beck which reports something I thought I’d been noticing in the various reports of anti-Asian hate crimes.

Consistent with the U.S. Bureau of Justice data* that was compiled until 2018—Asians are now lumped into the “other” category, a suspicious decision that merits investigation—black males are the main perpetrators of the pandemic’s anti-Asian hate crimes, and there’re videos supporting this claim that the media isn’t going to show you.

The media’s problem is that, under the current progressive definition of racism, blacks can’t be racists because, as a group, they have no power. Since reporting that black males are committing race-based violence against another minority group runs counter to this narrative, the media finesses it by not mentioning the race of the assailant if he’s black.
*Table 14, page 13, scroll down. However, checking Table 15 which the article doesn’t reference, shows that Asians are the only racial/ethnic group not mainly victimized by members of their own group.
Later ... here is another example, from the New York Daily News.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

What Happened to Truth

I’m starting to think Sean Illing of Vox is going to be a COTTonLINE favorite interviewer of people with important ideas. Today he talks with Martin Gurri, author of The Revolt of the Public. Some key Gurri quotes:

What we have is this collision between a public that is in repudiation mode and these elites who have lost control to the degree that they can’t hoist (sic) these utopian promises upon us anymore because no one believes it, but they’re still acting like zombie elites in zombie institutions. They still have power. They can still take us to war. They can still throw the police out there, and the police could shoot us, but they have no authority or legitimacy.

When you analyze the institutions that we have inherited from the 20th century, you find that they are very top-down, like pyramids. And the legitimacy of that model absolutely depends on having a semi-monopoly over information in every domain, which they had in the 20th century.

There was a shining moment when we all had truth. (snip) If truth is really a function of authority, and if in the 20th century these institutions really had authority, then we did have something like truth.

Then came the Internet and the elites lost control of the narrative. Like so many, Gurri is better at describing the problem than at prescribing a “cure” or fix for that problem. That said, his problem description is pretty good. We’ll likely have to muddle through to some sort of solution not yet visible from here.

Weird Physiological Science

Scientists in New Zealand have looked at the pace at which people age, UPI has the story. The study involved 1000 people followed from birth to age 45.

The pace of their biological aging was tracked starting at age 26, based on measures like body fat, heart fitness, lung capacity, markers of inflammation in the blood, and even cavities.

It turned out that, indeed, people varied widely in biological aging: The slowest ager gained only 0.4 "biological years" for each chronological year in age; in contrast, the fastest-aging participant gained nearly 2.5 biological years for every chronological year.

Some burn the candle at both ends, for sure. One wonders if there are social, occupational or personality correlates with various rates of physical aging? This study looks ready for follow-ons comparing slow and fast aging cohorts. 

For instance, I’d guess that my career - as an academic - is associated with slow aging. Most faculty obituaries from my former campus show retired faculty dying in their late 80s and beyond.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

A Not-Gloomy Prognosis

Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff, who keeps closer tabs on which senators support what legislation than I, writes a rather upbeat analysis of why he believes Joe Biden (and his handlers) are unlikely to get a truly radical agenda through the Senate in the 2021-22 biennium. 

His analysis mostly relies on a few named Democrat senators resisting demands to deep-six the filibuster. As others have noted, without the filibuster we would experience radical swings in national policy each time a new party held an (often narrow) majority in the Senate.

Will these senators hold out as Mirengoff predicts? Time will tell.

Friday, March 26, 2021

White House as Care Home

Reacting to the so-called ‘press conference’ Joe Biden just stumbled through, Dominic Green writes at Spectator U.S. this bit of cruelly accurate snark.

The White House is no longer the home of democracy. It’s a reality TV series in a care home.

And adds the occupant has had so much “work” he no longer looks like Joe Biden. So much so, Power Line’s Scott Johnson refers to him as “the gentleman from Madame Tussaud’s.”

Thursday, March 25, 2021

See the Potemkin Village

So ... President Biden held a ‘press conference’ and answered questions only from a preselected group of tame reporters who’d shared their questions in advance. His answers appear to have been prepared in advance and were read. Go here to see photos showing how it was done.

This event bore the same similarity to a press conference that a stage set does to a real place. “Potemkin Village” is the term that applies here. It was designed to look like a press conference and did, so long as you didn’t look closely, which of course some people did.

We have a President In Name Only, a PINO. I’d call elder abuse if it weren’t crystal clear he is complicit in the charade. 

I can’t blame Biden who’s spent almost his entire adult life in politics for wanting to hold the top job - president. And I can’t blame Jill Biden for wanting to be First Lady, it’s an amazing experience available to vanishingly few.

I blame the voters who had all the info they needed to predict this zombie president situation and voted for him anyway. It is enough to make one question the wisdom of elected government.

Narrative ... Debunked

Slate debunks the notion that mass shooters are predominantly white. The legacy media would ask you to believe they are, as part of their “whites are bad” narrative.

Judging by those newer numbers, and the most current census estimate that 76.9 percent of Americans are white, the whites-are-overrepresented-among-mass-shooters meme appears even less accurate. Perpetrators that Mother Jones classifies as Asian make up 7.4 percent of the data set, versus an estimated 5.7 percent of the population, while those MoJo identifies as black represent 17.0 percent of the mass shooters in the database versus an estimated 13.3 percent of the population. According to this data set, then, Asians and black Americans are overrepresented among mass shooters by about the same proportion (a bit more than one-fourth) that whites are underrepresented.

Whites aren’t more likely to be mass shooters, but white shooters do get more media attention. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link. 

A “Class” Act

Writing in his area of expertise - the law - Instapundit explains the often-disappointing outcomes we get from the judiciary.

The Supreme Court, like the rest of the judiciary, is fundamentally a Gentry Class institution no matter who appoints its members. That’s why non-textual rights, like abortion, that are important to the Gentry Class get more solicitude than textual rights, like the right to arms, that are not.

Reynolds goes a long way toward explaining why too many Justices appointed by Republicans tend to vote like those appointed by Democrats. It’s a class-solidarity thing.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Further Progress

The crew framing our new winter home finished their part of the job yesterday. We walked around the skeletal building this morning checking out the feel of the floor plan which we concluded we liked quite as much as when we had visited the model. See photos at CruzTalking Two.

The next step is roof trusses, which have yet to arrive. These are delivered pre-made to the site, and then “flown in” via crane and tied to the framing by a specialist crew who do just that. We hope to be able to watch some of that process. 

The DrsC have had four houses built for us, and it is a great show. We have lived in an RV for at least some of the process in each case, some of it onsite and some nearby, depending on what local zoning permitted. This time we are not onsite but maybe 3 miles away in a nice RV park. It is an adventure this time, just as it was when we did it in ‘87, ‘93, and ‘00.

A Defense of Populist Nationalism

Power Line links to a Vox interview of the editor of the Claremont Review of Books - Charles Kesler - by Sean Illing. My view is that it reads like a scholarly defender of populist nationalism being interviewed by a not-entirely-unreasonable progressive. Kesler is impressive, Illing isn’t repulsive, and their disagreements are civilized - I recommend it.

NB: Donald Trump was and is a populist nationalist.

The (De)Population Bomb

Writing at National Interest, Gordon Chang looks at China’s official vs. presumed actual population figures and reaches a startling conclusion.

China this century is on track to experience history’s most dramatic demographic collapse in the absence of war or disease. Today, the country has a population more than four times larger than America’s. By 2100, the U.S. will probably have more people than China.

It’s not that Chang expects our population to explode, but rather that China’s population will implode. It could explain why China’s leaders seem to be in a hurry to establish regional hegemony. While they can still staff a large military with young bodies.

Another View

A foreign affairs analyst whose work I respect - George Friedman - writes at Geopolitical Futures about the current state-of-play among China, Russia, and the United States. His view of where we are now and what is likely to happen among them is quite different than others I’ve seen - more sanguine, less apocalyptic. Check out his conclusion:

The more logical and less risky move is for China to reach a political and economic agreement with the United States, and for Russia to do the same, at least with Europe. But to do this, each must be convinced that the U.S. is not interested in a settlement. Showing a lack of interest is the foundation of any bargaining position. The best read is that the U.S. knows that bargaining is coming and is therefore posing as hostile to it. The Chinese have called the Americans’ bet. The Russians shortly will. At any rate now is the time for insults and threats, before we get down to business that may fail regardless of all this.

Each nation wishes to gain more than they give up, which outcome isn’t likely. I think Friedman is giving the Biden team more credit than they’re due, but I’ve been wrong on occasion.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Mass Shooting in Boulder

The shooter who murdered 10 people in a Boulder, CO supermarket has been identified as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21. Fox News has a photo of him.

Both his photo and name suggest Middle East ancestry. His residence is identified as Arvada, a Denver suburb some 20 miles away to the southeast.

No motive has been identified, his background suggests the possibility he could have jihadi motives. Boulder is maybe an hour’s drive from where the father of Salafi-Jihadism - Sayyid Qutb - had his anti-American epiphany in Greeley, CO. 

Other possibilities - a robbery gone bad, a busted romance, failure in school? Why it happened where it did is also unclear, there were many markets closer to home.

The assault rifle he used wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice in a robbery, it is too hard to conceal. The weapon suggests a presumption of intended multiple killings. If “suicide by cop” was the intent, it wasn’t successful.

Later ... Red State has some of the suspect’s social media posts which show (a) his anti-Trump bias and (b) his Muslim faith.

Even later ... the shooter was born in Syria.

Kotkin: “Battlefield ‘Burbs”

Joel Kotkin is one of the most prolific authors of modern American social and political opinion. It is rare a week goes by without one of his articles surfacing somewhere in the constellation of sources I scan. 

Mostly he attacks, from different perspectives, the urban planning orthodoxy of emphasis on public transport-oriented high density living. He a leading exponent of lower density suburban/exurban life, and the numbers are on his side.

Writing for Claremont Institute’s The American Mind, he concludes that given the polarization of urban and rural areas as respective bastions of Democrat and Republican politics, the ‘burbs are where the next generation’s elections will be decided.

Much of the media, as well as the planning and academic clerisy, has little appreciation for what drives suburban migration—factors like greater affordability, more space, better schools, or less crime. Even suburbanites who may be somewhat “woke” on issues of the environment, race, or gender, still have economic and family interests, and prefer to control their own communities. A recent Rasmussen poll found that close to 80 percent of adult Americans oppose the idea of letting Washington control local zoning.

A major opportunity for Republicans is the suburban emphasis on holding down crime, an issue favoring the GOP. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

A Developmental Theory of Sexual Delusion

I’ve been pondering why many male politicians are boorish mashers around women; the behavior isn’t uncommon. Perhaps it is related to the notion that politics is show business for ugly people.

I have an idea for you to consider, it seems reasonable but I’ve no idea if it is a major causal factor. Let’s begin with the idea that a few women find powerful men attractive and respond to them with friendliness, smiles and sometimes much more.

Monica Lewinsky was the 1970s poster child for this groupie phenomenon. In 1990s California Kamala Harris turned her Willie Brown affair into substantial career advancement.

My insight, if such it proves to be, is that repeated exposure to this behavior convinces some men that they are broad-spectrum (pun intended) “chick magnets” when they are not. Only a minority of women will perceive their prominence/power as sexually attractive. 

The politicians who understand that many women won’t find them irresistible, and who therefore wait to be approached by the ones who do, often avoid trouble. Others who choose to believe the alluring falsehood that somehow they have become irresistible get into #MeToo trouble.

Let me be clear, I’m not blaming the victims. Some collateral responsibility however may accrue to the victims’ susceptible sisters who helped foster politicians’ delusions of “studliness.” 

De Facto President

Rasmussen Reports polling finds that equal numbers of likely voters believe Joe Biden is, and is not, who is doing the job of President. 47% believe he is on the job, 47% believe others are pulling his strings, and apparently the remaining 6% find the question irrelevant to their lives

Biden’s performance is poor enough one could be excused for believing he is actually in charge, during moments of intermittent lucidity.

Spring Has Sprung

Welcome to Spring. Yesterday was the halfway mark between the shortest and the longest days of the year, aka the spring equinox. Soon the snow will melt in the high country and it will be time to go home to Wyoming.

Spring is popular with everyone who doesn’t have pollen allergies, and even with some of us who do. It is a time of possibilities, dare I say of optimism?

In his first two months PINO Biden bids fair to dethrone Jimmy Carter as the worst president in living memory. That gives Carter something about which to be optimistic in this season of renewal. The rest of us find old Joe less of a cause for grins.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Woke Are Monsters

Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, writes for the New York Post about the appropriate treatment we normals should mete out to the woke.

If you look at what they do, rather than what they say about themselves, it quickly becomes obvious that the woke are horrible, awful people, and they should be treated as such and reminded of this whenever they raise their head.

As someone with less to lose, I propose to do my share. Will you? 

Policy ... and Process

Stephen Moore writes about the rise and recent fall of Chile and how we need to learn from their self-administered misfortune. He sees the U.S. heading down the same ‘path to perdition’ and at the urging of the same sort of losers. COTTonLINE believes the comparison Moore draws is valid.


On another topic - how I got to this article - there is a lesson for all of us who read news and opinion online. Instapundit provided a link to the original source, the Washington Examiner, where I found it all-but-unavailable behind their paywall. Undaunted, I put the title into my search engine and found it had been syndicated to where it is not behind a paywall. 

Next time a paywall frustrates you, give it a try. It doesn’t always work, but works often enough to be worth trying.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Diplomatic Disaster

You may have heard U.S. diplomats met the Chinese in Anchorage, AK, and maybe heard the meeting didn’t go well for our side. Power Line’s John Hinderaker quotes the London Times view of it.

The Chinese side came to the talks in Alaska prepared to counter every US rebuke with one of their own. To the charge of Chinese cyberattacks, Yang said that “the US is the champion” while in response to the repression of Uighurs being labelled as genocide, he said that the US was guilty of the slaughter of black Americans.

 To which Hinderaker adds this pithy analysis:

The Chinese are not stupid. They know that the Democrats’ peddling BLM mythology disables them from defending the United States against such attacks, and they take full advantage of the Biden administration’s weakness.

So the Chinese ate our lunch while SecState Antony Blinken (and President Biden) looked foolish and weak. I wonder if the ChiComs were hungry again an hour later?

An Older Motive

Much is being written about a white guy killing several Asian women working in massage parlors in Atlanta. The preferred legacy media narrative is anti-Asian bias.

The perp makes no such claim. He alleges his motive was a sex obsession or compulsion.

Men killing prostitutes is a very old phenomenon, think of Jack, the Ripper. There is no need to drag racial bias into this sad - but hardly unique - story.

For examples of actual anti-Asian bias, check out leaked admission standards at Ivy League universities. Asians there are getting the hold-down-the-numbers treatment formerly reserved for ambitious Jews.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Progress Report

You remember three weeks ago our new house site had only a foundation poured and an electrical panel? Today they began framing, known in the trade as being “in sticks.” We’re excited and the fresh new lumber smells so good. 

I guess the materials backlog eased somewhat. This is the fourth new home we’ve had built and, although we’re old hands, the process is still fascinating to watch. There are photos of the framing at the other DrC’s blog and will likely be even more there soon.

The Old Left Pipes Up

Power Line’s Steven Hayward links to an analysis of tough sledding for leftist parties abroad by Ruy Teixeira and Brian Kaltis. They relate those troubles to issues facing the Democrats here at home. Two key paragraphs:
The net result is that gains from the rise of new constituencies have been more than counterbalanced by hemorrhaging votes from the traditional working class. In retrospect, this is the Great Lesson for the left in the early 21st century. It is simply not possible to build sustainable progressive majorities while continuing to bleed working class votes. The numbers just aren’t there. Just look at the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 presidential primary as just two recent examples of this flawed political strategy.

The further implication is that the rise of these new, culturally liberal constituencies is not free money. There is a cost for allowing these constituencies to hegemonize the left and define its values. Until and unless the left tacks back to the center on cultural issues and promulgates a unifying, patriotic, economically uplifting message that working class voters find serious and not condescending, it seems likely the working class will continue to keep its distance from the left. . .

 Do you suppose they are correct? 

The Pluses of Anti-Wokeness

New York Magazine leans left and proudly so. That said, one can still find interesting stuff there, including this article which argues that “anti-wokeness” is the new ideology of the Republican Party.

The author believes it holds advantages for the GOP, and it well may. Defending First and Second Amendment rights fits nicely along with giving Republicans a claim to “victim status” which everyone knows is today’s hot ticket. It feels like the Trump legacy. 

In spite of the author’s biases, it it a worthwhile read. 

Dotard in Chief

The New York Post has video of President Biden falling repeatedly while climbing the stairs to Air Force One. This looks like elder abuse, even if it is self-administered. 

Get the poor guy an elevator. Bad as Biden is, the ‘Camel’ would be worse. Was that why she was chosen?

Majorities Favor Voter ID

The Washington Examiner reports Rasmussen Reports polling which finds:

Eighty-nine percent (89%) of Republicans support voter ID requirements, as do 60% of Democrats and 77% of voters not affiliated with either major party.

Remind me, why does the Democratic Party oppose requiring voters to show a photo ID? When a majority of their own voters favor doing so? 

Because it makes vote harvesting and fraud - their demonstrated specialty - more difficult. Looking at you, Stacey Abrams.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Dutch Dysfunction

On several occasions we’ve noted the disadvantages of a truly multiparty political system where several parties earn more than 10% of the vote. We’ve held up Italy and Israel as examples sure to provoke head-shaking.

Today from Politico EU comes a discussion of similar dysfunction in the Netherlands. If the sensible, practical Dutch can’t get it together, who can?

Weird Ophthalmic Science

Medical Express reports research finding that vision problems among older Americans have become significantly less common during the past 12-13 years. The authors profess to be puzzled by this finding.

I’d like to propose an answer to the “why” question. Coverage of eye care by Medicare and the consequent routinization of cataract surgery probably explains most of the improvement. 

Essentially everyone in my age cohort has had their lenses surgically replaced. I don’t believe this was true 20 years ago. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

St. Patrick’s Day

COTTonLINE wishes our readers a happily abstemious St. Patrick’s Day. The centuries-ago conversion of Ireland to Roman Catholicism is no excuse for drinking oneself blind in the modern era. 

The university I retired from got so fed up with cases of student alcohol poisoning, it began scheduling spring break each year to include the 17th of March. The cynical thinking was that if our students were on vacation when they drank themselves to death it was the parents’ fault, not ours.

Ironically, the revised schedule actually reduced binge drinking somewhat.

What Constitutes “Woke?”

You may want to read a article entitled “The Ideas That Are Reshaping The Democratic Party And America.” The author likes these ideas and states them in a positive way. 

He is nevertheless realistic about the ideas’ unpopularity with a majority of Americans and even many Democrats. And pessimistic about their implementation any time soon. 

File this column in your Culture War: Knowing the Enemy folder.

Prize Winner

The prize for “most bitterly funny name for Covid-19” goes to for their formulation: Flu Manchu.

Trump: Get the Covid Shots

Plenty of people don’t want to get the Covid 19 vaccine, for a variety of reasons. Some news outlets have claimed those refusing are mostly conservative. 

Former President Trump has recommended that people get the vaccine, and acknowledged that both he and wife Melania have had the shots. Being interviewed by Maria Bartiromo for Fox News, he said:

I would recommend it and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don't want to get it and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly. It is a great vaccine. It is a safe vaccine and it is something that works.

To be fair, he added being vaccinated is still a matter of individual choice. I understand those who have reservations about the vaccine’s experimental nature; the two main ones offered in the U.S. feature a mechanism no vaccine has previously utilized.

The DrsC have had the shots; our experience is that they provide peace of mind for people old enough to remember Elvis’s first hit single. Like you, we look forward to a day when masks will once again be found mostly at masquerade balls, Halloween parties, and surgical wards.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Gallup: China Seen as Greatest Threat

Poll results reflecting which foreign powers are viewed as the biggest enemies of the U.S. are always interesting. Today the Gallup polling organization looks at that question, and finds, unsurprisingly, Americans believe China to be our biggest current threat. Forty-five percent believe our greatest threat is China, 26% believe the answer is Russia, and the rest are in single digits.

As might be expected in a polarized nation, respondents’ political orientations affect this judgment.

There are noticeable partisan differences in perceptions of the greatest enemy of the U.S, with Republicans naming China as the top country and Democrats citing Russia. While 76% of Republicans name China as the greatest enemy, 43% of independents and 22% of Democrats do so. Conversely, close to half of Democrats name Russia (47%) compared with one in four independents (24%) and just 6% of Republicans.

Actually, of course, both China and Russia plus others like North Korea and Iran see the U.S. as their biggest enemy, and act accordingly. Nevertheless, Americans should ask themselves which poses the greatest threat to our interests and national security. In my judgment, China has much greater ability to cause us grief, and a somewhat greater likelihood as well. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Playing the Long Game

Meme wisdom circulating on the web; a search turns up no agreed-upon author. For whatever reason, today it speaks to me, maybe to you too?

A vote is not a valentine, you aren’t confessing your love for the candidate. It’s a chess move for the world you want to live in.

I and most regular readers of COTTonLINE lost the last match. Let’s try for a better outcome in 2022. It is past time to retire Nancy P.

The Chinese (Eugenics) System

David P. Goldman is a long-time columnist for Asia Times and is also well-established at PJ Media. He writes a biting short column for PJM comparing China’s system with ours. Key thoughts:

Some of my conservative friends worry that China is trying to impose its political system on the rest of the world. Ask the Chinese about this, and they look at you as if you’re crazy: There’s no way you barbarians could reproduce our system, even if you wanted to, they explain. You can’t accept failure. The key to China’s system is the willingness of its people to accept failure.

China’s Communist Party has 93 million members. It co-opts the high achievers and gives them privileges. But because the system rests on pure, brutal, merciless meritocracy, the Chinese people accept that the top achievers will get the rewards.

We Americans are horrified by failure.

China thrives on failure.

Meritocracy will win, because it always does, and all the more so in a high-tech, winner-take-all world. (snip) Instead of a democratic meritocracy that rewards achievement while honoring the rights of the individual, we will have a merciless meritocracy that treats the losers like so much detritus.
This has been the Chinese system for centuries, perhaps millennia. In effect, an enormous, hundred generation eugenics experiment picking (and breeding for) winners. No surprise, it has worked.

N.B., Only 93 million CCP members in a population of roughly 1.5 trillion, something like 1 in 15.

Sunday, March 14, 2021


Instapundit links to a Conrad Black disquisition on aspects of HR 1, which he alleges includes the following:
The House has just passed a bill that would compel states to accept mailed-in votes for 15 days prior to and 10 days after Election Day; set up automatic and online voter registration; prohibit review of the eligibility of voters; compel acceptance of ballots cast in the wrong precincts; bar the removal of the ineligible voters from the rolls; permit ballot harvesting; ban any voter identification laws; consign to unelected officials the redrawing of congressional districts; infringe upon free speech by the imposition of “onerous legal and administrative burdens on candidates, civic groups, unions, and non-profit organizations”; and establish a disturbingly named “Commission to Protect Democratic Institutions” in order to end-run the courts.

If the Senate doesn’t strip this nonsense out of the bill, and it becomes law, the practical effect will be ‘elections’  in the results of which no one can have any faith. These are no small potatoes, this is a really big deal.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

I Wonder....

The empathy factor is underrated. Did you ever wonder how many people voted for Joe Biden because they too had a loser kid like Hunter who did drugs and screwed strippers, or some equally lowlife equivalent? And like Biden, discovered they could do nothing about it? 

I’m guessing there were tens of thousands of people with Biden-like stories, similar parental heartaches. How many people looked at Trump’s happy brood and were resentful? 

The Past Year

John Hinderaker, who blogs at Power Line, takes a look back at a year of Covid 19 and observes some interesting things. Not all, but certainly many of those who died from the Wu flu were people likely to die in the next 18 months anyway, those whose health was already compromised by age, disease or both. 

His second table seems to show that for the next few months deaths per 100,000 will be below normal, if the present trend continues. If the coronavirus caused many to die a few months earlier than otherwise, that is the statistic you’d expect to see.

Averaged out over 2-3 years, it may be that deaths will not be a lot more than normal. If that proves to be the case, it will be hard to justify the economic dislocation and educational deficit the lockdowns brought about. 

If your view is that we as yet have insufficient hindsight to understand the various ramifications of what was and wasn’t done vis-a-vis Covid 19, I sympathize. It may be too soon for an assessment, but Hinderaker has made a good first attempt.

One thing that has surfaced is an antagonism between public school teachers - as represented by their unions - and the rest of us. They come out of this plague year with a negative image that won’t soon go away. Forcing “critical race theory” on white parents hasn’t helped their cause, either

Friday, March 12, 2021

The President Speaks

I didn’t watch the President’s speech last night, I didn’t vote for him and I expect no good to flow from his presidency. In the current idiom, “he’s not my President.”

That said, I’ve found interesting comments thereabouts from observers with whom I often agree. For example, this analysis from Scott Johnson of Power Line.

I found President Biden’s speech last night (“on the anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdown”) profoundly dispiriting, mean-spirited, ungrateful, petty, and otherwise wanting in good qualities. The state of mind reflected in it as craven and deceitful.

And Johnson hotly concludes: 

Go to hell, you blithering phony. You can’t even fake sincerity.

Whereas Conrad Black reacted thus

Doubtless, the gas-lit, Democratic echo-chamber of the national political media will hail this as the greatest address of its kind since Franklin D. Roosevelt's fireside chat on the banking system in March 1933. But I suspect that the polls will reveal that the public was unimpressed by the president’s dreary recitation of the dark and hopeless night that he pretends to be lifting.

Nor is the president’s appearance reassuring. He has a sickly pallor, is underweight, and quavers at times. Everyone will wish him good health and long life, but his appearance and manner on Thursday night will not incite confidence that he is likely to enjoy them.

On his best day, some decades ago, Joe Biden wasn’t an impressive public personage, and these are not his best days. Conrad Black notes that by laying low and saying little Biden has brought a peacefulness to American politics that was missing during the Trump years. 

Clearly some will appreciate the reduced noise level. That “some” will not include the cable news networks, whose ratings are down.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Weird Pharmacological Science links to a Daily Mail (U.K.) article reporting Covid 19 research results from Israel.

Data from more than 10,000 people who were tested for Covid between February and June 2020 revealed one aspirin tablet (75mg) a day led to a 29 per cent lower risk of catching the virus.

The researchers also found that while people on aspirin are less likely to catch coronavirus, they also recover quicker if they do contract the virus.

And it is cheap. Aspirin sounds like a win-win proposition to this non-physician. 

The DrsC have taken it for the past year, along with vitamin D. So far, so good.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Worth 1000 Words

More than a little.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Trump, on Harry and Meghan

We don’t normally think of DJT as a master of understatement. From last September comes a President Trump comment which the recent Harry and Meghan interview makes very pertinent.

I’m not a fan of hers and I would say this, and she has probably heard this, I wish a lot of luck to Harry — because he’s going to need it.

One way to think about the current mess is to assume Harry blames the royals for his mother’s death (murder?). That would make Meghan his way of getting even; maybe at high personal cost, or maybe at no cost at all if he really hates them.

WY Joins TX, MS

The Associated Press reports Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon has announced the following with regard to the Covid pandemic.

Wyoming will join a handful of states that have lifted mask-wearing mandates to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Mark Gordon announced Monday.

The changes to the state public health orders take effect March 16. Also being lifted are requirements for bars, restaurants, theaters and gyms, where employees must wear masks while customers not seated in small groups keep at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart.

Sounds good. 

Joe’s Parrot

You probably get dozens of Internet chuckles forwarded to you every week, I do. Mostly I enjoy and delete them, a few I forward. Today one showed up that was good enough to share on COTTonLINE. As is typical, the authorship is unreported.

During a dull DNC dinner, Dr. Biden leaned over to chat with Chuck Schumer.

"I bought Joe a parrot for his birthday. That bird is so smart, Joe has already taught him to say over two hundred words!"

"Very impressive," said Chuck, "but, you do realize he just speaks the words. He doesn't really understand what the words mean.”

"Oh, I know," replied Dr. Biden, "but neither does the parrot."

Somewhere, the ghost of Edith Wilson nods in sympathy. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

Error Has Rights Too

When I was a young person, too many years ago, there were books Roman Catholics weren’t allowed to read. Catholic officialdom had decreed that “error has no rights,” which is to say those who disagreed with dogma had no right to be heard. 

Big Tech and the Progressive Left are taking a similar position in recent years. They are cancelling books, articles, and social media posts with which they disagree, labeling all such “disinformation.” Isn’t that merely another way of saying “error has no rights?”

My understanding of the First Amendment is that this position is unconstitutional. My concern is that the Supreme Court will not defend the First Amendment. Recently they’ve shown a distinct lack of backbone, of courage.

It takes no great bravery to defend speech with which you agree.  What is needful, to maintain a marketplace in which all ideas can be heard, is defending speech with which you disagree. Even if doing so means feelings get hurt, or snowflakes get fearful.

Gas-Powered Freedom Machines

Further thoughts about electric vehicles. I can see the value in battery-powered electric bicycles and scooters, which are understood to be short-range transport, a couple of miles or so. And yes, there are cars which are used the same way, much as people in retirement communities scoot around in electric golf carts.

Suppose you want to go exploring. The other DrC and I have driven all over North America in a series of RVs and enjoyed it immensely. There have been summers when we drove from NorCal via SoCal to Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia and back to NorCal. Others when our route went from NorCal to Key West, Florida and back. And one memorable summer we drove from NorCal to Fairbanks, Alaska and back.

We have been “wheels on the ground” in all 50 states and Guam, though in Hawaii it was a rental car and in Guam a car we bought locally, drove for a year, and resold. We have driven across Canada too.

Other automotive “grand tours” have included circling both islands of New Zealand (twice) and a drive from Melbourne to Sydney via Canberra. And one August we drove around England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland in a heat wave in a rental car with no A/C. All of this was on the “wrong” side of the road.

The sort of “seven league boots” touring I’ve described above isn’t doable with electric vehicles in any practical sense. Assuming you want to do more than run to the store and drive to the commuter train station or the airport, an electric vehicle just doesn’t cut it.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Sunday Snark

Instapundit links to a Michael Walsh column at The Pipeline site. Walsh finishes his discussion of magical thinking among progressives with a snarky-but-accurate observation.

Really, who would buy an electric car, except as a virtue-signalling status symbol?

Buyers must think we generate electricity with unicorn farts. Most actually comes from burning fossil fuel. 

Thinking About Inflation

The U.S. Senate just passed the $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus bill on a party line vote; it will likely be signed into law within the week. Needless to say, almost nobody seems to be worried about how the spending will be paid for.

Government spending without taxes to pay for it means borrowing or ‘printing’ money. This is quite often inflationary.

It has been roughly 15 years since there have been several years with inflation rates of 3% or higher. Almost half the people now alive do not remember experiencing inflation, the sense that you oughta buy it now because the price can only go up. Today’s wise person would begin to think about the possibility of inflation reappearing, and at least investigate options for hedging against it.

Classic inflation hedges are the ownership of real assets: real estate, precious metals, maybe art works, some stocks. These things have in common that their prices will rise with inflation. Whimsical observation - USPS “forever” stamps are such a hedge, albeit not practical for large sums. 

What gets hurt in inflation is cash savings, bonds, salaries and annuity payouts. Things whose value is pinned to the dollar and thus decline as prices rise and the dollar buys less. 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Birds of an Ugly GOPe Feather

The Washington Examiner reports former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who epitomized everything we disliked about establishment Republicans, will do an online fundraiser for Rep. Liz Cheney (RINO-WY). I call birds of an ugly feather flocking together.

I believe I’m correct in thinking we Wyoming voters will elect some other Republican to represent us in the House in 2022. Cheney can then join the never-Trumper crowd, in the fabled “elephant graveyard.” Ryan hangs his hat there already.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Party Realignment

We’ve written about the working class moving from the Democrats to the Republicans, something that is in their interest to do. Now Frontpage Magazine has a good article on the subject.

Much of the move is attributable to the policy positions taken by Donald Trump when he ran in 2016, and his subsequent actions in office. While no miracle worker, he definitely put the weight of the office behind moves aimed to improve the lives of blue-collar workers. And he succeeded more than he failed, as prosperity was booming before the Chinese flu hit a year ago.

Also big factors are the social justice policies espoused by the Democrats, which mostly take from the working class and give to various “victim” groups whose patron the Ds have become. 

Thursday Snark

 Prophetic headline from satire site The Babylon Bee.

Texas Removes Mask Mandate To Scare All The Californians Away

It might even work, who knows? Modern America is so bent it’s hard to do satire that isn’t eventually eclipsed by reality.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Policy Poll Results

Power Line’s Steven Hayward summarizes findings from a Harvard-Harris poll whose data was gathered last week. I’ll paraphrase what was found.

By a margin of 55% to 45% Americans believe the summer violence in the cities was more concerning than the riot at the Capitol. By a margin of 52% to 48% they believe the effort to identify and prosecute those summer rioters has been half-hearted. And 71% believe Antifa is a domestic terrorist group.

On the subject of immigration, 65% believe entering the country without documentation should continue to be a crime. 73% believe holes in the border wall and fencing should be patched, and 79% believe Trump’s wall should be left standing.

Finally 60% believe near-monopoly Amazon should not be able to refuse to sell books advocating ideas with which they disagree.

A 2020 Postmortem links to a New York Magazine interview of Democratic poll watcher David Shor who does a deep dive on the data from the 2020 election. Both interviewer and Shor favor Democrats, and yet what Shor concludes is of extreme interest to conservatives, too. Some samples:

When you look at self-reported ideology — just asking people, “Do you identify as liberal, moderate, or conservative” — you find that there aren’t very big racial divides. Roughly the same proportion of African American, Hispanic, and white voters identify as conservative. (snip) What happened in 2020 is that nonwhite conservatives voted for Republicans at higher rates; they started voting more like white conservatives.

Highly educated people tend to have more ideologically coherent and extreme views than working-class ones. We see this in issue polling and ideological self-identification. College-educated voters are way less likely to identify as moderate.

I think liberals really essentialize Hispanic voters and project views about immigration onto them that the data just doesn’t support.

The fact that education polarization declined significantly in 2018 — when Trump wasn’t on the ballot — and picked up again in 2020 suggests that Trump is personally responsible for a significant portion of America’s education polarization.

Donald Trump is unpopular. And he does pay a penalty for that relative to a generic Republican. But the voters he’s popular with happen to be extremely efficiently distributed in political-geography terms.

The Trump era has been very good for the Republican Party, even if they now, momentarily, have to accept this very, very, very thin Democratic trifecta. Because if these coalition changes are durable, the GOP has very rosy long-term prospects for dominating America’s federal institutions.

The whole interview is a worthwhile read if you can ignore that both interviewer and interviewee want Democrats to win. As you can see, Shor doesn’t paint a gloomy picture for our side.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The Phone-It-In Presidency

We don’t know for sure, but it appears that President Biden will not deliver the usual State of the Union address to Congress and the nation. One is inclined to suspect he and his advisors realize he will not be able to deliver the sort of speech of which he could be proud. Rather than embarrass himself, he chooses not to do it. 

Meanwhile “Dr.” Jill Biden has been giving a credible imitation of Edith Wilson, as she hovers at Joe’s shoulder and prompts him when he does do a stumbling public appearance. Meanwhile the 25th amendment lurks in the background, waiting for someone in authority to organize a removal. 

How did we get into this ridiculous situation? An evil combination of  a pandemic which excused a do-nothing candidacy, a badly divided Democratic Party which could only agree on a burned-out cypher, and Trump Derangement Syndrome activating otherwise indifferent voters. Plus all sorts of voting and vote counting shenanigans excused by the Covid scare.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Editorial Seppuku

In the city that the automobile made possible, and where it is absolutely essential to the sprawling megalopolis’ continued existence, imagine the dominant local newspaper editorializing with this title.

Editorial: To save the planet from climate change, gas guzzlers have to die

The Los Angeles Times published that, and yet people wonder why newspapers are dying. Think of it as basically suicide, they no longer try to relate to people’s lives. In a marketplace of information, it’s a recipe for irrelevancy. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

An Inventory of Idiocy

Written for RealClearPolitics, a summary of essentially insane views demanded by the left in today’s America. Think of them as 21 bullet points outlining a societal descent into madness, courtesy of Gad Saad’s The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense. You need to read the whole list, here is a sample:

Fourteen, it is now racist to publicly proclaim your support for "wrongthink" black individuals such as Thomas Sowell or Larry Elder.

Fifteen, it is now misogynist to note that women greatly outnumber men in universities.

Sixteen, it is now sexist to publish scientific research that yields sex differences that are contrary to accepted politically correct Orthodoxy.

The other 18 are just as relevant and just as crazy. I vote for common sense, in defiance of “right-think.”