Sunday, May 30, 2021

They Really Hated Him

Instapundit links to a statement by Jon Karl of ABC News, which largely echoes a Tom Friedman comment in the New York Times. First Karl's comment:

Look, some things may be true even if Donald Trump said them. 
Friedman said it first in the NYT:
One of the hardest things to accept for all of us who want Donald Trump to be a one-term president is the fact that some things are true even if Donald Trump believes them!

Talk about your grudging admissions. I've heard a stopped clock is right twice a day, too.

Memorial Day

Tomorrow we observe Memorial Day, the day our nation sets aside to honor those brave men and women who have gone to war on our behalf, and lost their lives doing so. By implication, we also honor all those who willingly risk their lives on our behalf, which includes service members, and first responders here at home. 

My father and his West Point grad brother served in World War I, two of my mother's brothers, her sister, and the sister's husband all served in World War II. Thankfully, all came home safely. 

We owe those who served much more than it is possible to say. And to the memory of those who died keeping us safe we owe even more.

Spinning the Numbers

The Hill reports the findings of a Hill-HarrisX poll asking people if relations between the police and people of color have gotten better, worse, or stayed the same during the past year. Basically, in the year since the negligent-death-during-arrest of George Floyd.

The overall findings: 45% say "worse," 43% say "same," and 12% say "better." I suppose I can't blame The Hill for reaching for the more shocking interpretation, "click-bait" is the name of today's publication game.

A plurality of voters said relations between the police and people of color have gotten worse in the past year.

An equally valid, but less 'newsworthy' interpretation is that a majority (43 + 12 = 55%) say such relations are either the same or better than before. Disaggregated by group, majorities of Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites all said police-POC relations were no worse than before.

My preferred 'shock headline' would have been "Few see improvement in police-POC relations since George Floyd Died," which is another valid way to spin these same findings.

This Won’t End Well

Instapundit links to a John Podhoretz tweet; it’s from five years ago but still relevant and worth revisiting.

Liberals spent 40 years disaggregating U.S. untl finally the largest cohort in the country chose to vote as though it were an ethnic group.

BTW, five years later the disaggregation efforts continue. 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Vaccines vs. the Darwin Award

COTTonLINE is a conservative voice, but I want to take issue with those on my side of the aisle who oppose the Covid-19 vaccine. Yes, it was created in a hurry and a vanishingly small number have had bad reactions to it. 

Most, including the DrsC, who have had the shots suffered little more than a slightly sore arm lasting about a day. Plus the shots are free, how great is that? The pandemic is winding down, and I give the vaccines much of the credit. By now we have plenty of data that they are as safe as vaccines ever are, which is to say, “mostly.”

Now various jurisdictions are going to extreme lengths to get the remaining people to take the vaccine. I oppose these efforts. If people don’t want to take free vaccine, they shouldn’t be bribed to do so.

If those who refuse then catch the disease and die, well … they won the Darwin Award, didn’t they? Evolutionarily, they took themselves out of the gene pool. I’m okay with that, we end up a smarter species as a result.

And while I agree that government shouldn’t make people be vaccinated, I oppose laws which prevent private entities from doing so. For example, cruise lines and airlines should be able to require crew and passengers to have been vaccinated. I have no problem showing my ID to vote, or my vaccine card to fly.

Feeding the Fire

The fringe conspiracy group QAnon is known, among other things, for its belief that the government is run by a bipartisan cabal of pedophiles. Now come reports that yesterday President Biden made inappropriate sexualizing comments about a pre-pubescent girl present with her family at a meeting at a military base (video here).

You would hope our President would avoid doing things which clearly add fuel to this salacious conspiracy theory, but you’d be wrong. The New York Post reminds us:

Biden has a long history of awkward encounters with girls and young women. In February, he told an Arizona nurse during a video conference that she looked “like a freshman” in college.

During his time as vice president, Biden became notorious for getting too close to women for comfort. During Ash Carter’s swearing-in ceremony as defense secretary in 2015, Biden stood behind Carter’s wife Stephanie, held her by her shoulders and occasionally whispered in her ear. Earlier that year, Biden whispered to the then-13-year-old daughter of Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and gave her a kiss on the head after swearing in his fellow First Stater.

If you voted for Biden  you share the responsibility for this, and things like it, happening. Biden’s predilection for making inappropriate approaches to women and girls were well-known before the election. 

Friday, May 28, 2021


Numbers guru Nate Silver, of FiveThirtyEight fame, tweets some wisdom those of us who follow current events need to remember. He writes in the context of how dramatically opinion has changed about the origin of Covid-19 snd his advice sounds like a defense of the First Amendment.

Maybe a lazy heuristic. But TBH, when the evidence is murky and there are plenty of experts lining up on both sides, but one side is excessively concerned with policing the discourse, I tend to think that side is more likely than not to be wrong.

Now apply his heuristic to the woke and their "excessive concern" with not saying certain words. "I tend to think that side is more likely than not to be wrong" pretty well defines my view of the woke and their impassioned "policing" of "the discourse."

He identifies yet another reason the First Amendment is important: "discourse" doesn't need "policing." Hat tip to Ed Driscoll posting at Instapundit for the link.

Investigation Quashed

On a procedural vote today, the U.S. Senate could not get 60 votes to override a filibuster of the proposed "Investigate Jan. 6 Capitol Riot" commission. The vote was 54 to 35. Thus no such commission will be formed. As yet, Democrat threats to ban the filibuster have remained just that.

Minority Leader McConnell opposed the measure and 34 other Republican senators voted with him. Six Republican senators - Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Rob Portman of Ohio - voted with all but one of the Democrats in favor of the commission.

I expect at least three senators who voted for the measure to face primary opponents if they run for reelection. The newly reelected Cassidy, Collins, and Sasse don't face reelection until 2026, by which time this vote will seem ancient political history, unless of course Trump wins reelection in 2024 - not an impossibility.

Later ... It turns out 10 Republicans and one Democrat chose not to vote. The Democrat no-show is someone else's problem. I suppose McConnell gave the 10 Republicans a pass as he didn't need them to block the motion, perhaps he had to work hard to get them to abstain instead of voting "yes."

I'd judge those 6+10=16 Republican Senators were uncomfortable with at least some of Trump's post-election actions. Only 6 of the 16 were willing to go on the record as feeling that way. 

The party will decide how to view the 10 "abstains" going forward. My view of them is they want to have it both ways, to remain politically viable whether or not the party eventually repudiates Trump as the Bush/Cheney/Romney wing wishes.

Paul Who?

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke last night at the Reagan Library in Simi, CA. The main thrust of his remarks apparently was criticism of President Trump, or maybe that was the part CBS News chose to report.

Exactly why Ryan was invited is anybody‘s guess. He was Romney’s failed vice presidential candidate and then became without doubt the least consequential GOP Speaker in modern memory. 

Ryan took the Speaker position reluctantly when seemingly nobody wanted it, and did essentially nothing with it. Now we are asked to treasure his Romneyesque insights about a President who, despite his rough edges, got things done.

I have not missed Paul Ryan for the past two years. I see no good Republican purpose served by his untimely and unwarranted ‘resurrection’ by the Reagan Library. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

A Tangential Thought

Thinking about the post below, concerning the prevalence of meat consumption worldwide, I had a tangential thought I’ll share with you. The DrsC enjoy watching a pair of PBS-TV cooking shows - America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country.

Since both have identical formats and largely identical on-air talent, it is unclear why there are two, and what I write applies to both. From time to time they will feature vegetarian main dishes, often prepared by a tall, chirpy chef named Becky Hays.

What strikes me is the lengths to which vegetarian cooks go to try to achieve a ‘meaty’ flavor without meat. You hear that soy products like soy sauce and miso have it. Also aged cheeses, tomatoes, and mushrooms have this characteristic, called “umami.” The site reports:

Scientifically speaking, umami refers to the taste of glutamate, inosinate, or guanylate. Glutamate — or glutamic acid — is a common amino acid in vegetable and animal proteins. Inosinate is mainly found in meats, while guanylate is more abundant in plants

What does working hard to achieve a meaty flavor without using meat tell you? Why bother? Because humans crave what is most easily found in meat. Vegetarian cooks go to somewhat extreme lengths to satisfy this craving. 

My conclusion: the primates we call “humans” evolved from herbivore to omnivore and became the “killer ape.” In our natural state, we remain just that. Most of us are comfortable with our meat-eating legacy, some are not. 

As human population growth is leveling off, I see no particular reason we need to change our diet. The world can support us as we are now, and those who choose not to eat meat are free to follow that path.

Carnivorous Musings

A couple of days ago we wrote about the intensification of meat production in our part of WY. Today comes linkage to a report by German data firm Statista concerning the prevalence of meat consumption in a variety of countries. The news isn’t good for PETA and the greenies.

On average, 86 percent of people surveyed for the Statista Global Consumer Survey in 39 countries said that their diet contained meat – highlighting that despite the trend around meat substitutes and plant-based products, eating meat remains the norm almost everywhere in the world.

In only five out of the 39 countries - Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, China and India - fewer than 80 percent of respondents said that they ate meat. The latter country had the lowest score at 43 percent meat eaters. China, which had the second-lowest result in the survey, still counted 75 percent of respondents saying they ate meat.

The article reports the following percentages of meat eaters in these countries: Japan (95%), Russia (94%), U.S. (90%), Germany (86%), China (75%), and India (43%). Translating the second paragraph quoted above, 75-79% of those in Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and China include meat in their diets. That’s three people out of four.

India is the definite outlier of the group, Statista explains why.

India’s penchant for vegetarian fare is connected to Brahmanism or Vedic religion, a belief system connected to the caste of Brahmans, which are highly regarded in the Indian caste system, making vegetarianism equally desirable.

In other words, being vegetarian is a marker of high status in India, much like being “woke” currently has that upscale cachet in the U.S. Many insecure humans crave high status, no big surprise.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The Mayoral Dilemma

Many sites, like this one, are reporting that cities which experimented with "defund the police" in the wake of the George Floyd death are having buyer's remorse. Their police have been less active and in the newly permissive environment their criminals have been much more active.

Violent crime and especially homicide is up substantially, year over year, in many of our largest cities. This is exactly what would be expected when the police have tighter budgets and a very real fear that, should they be involved in a violent confrontation, their leadership will throw them under the bus and side with the criminals.

We know what will turn the situation around. Mayor Giuliani did it in New York City, it goes by various names including "broken windows policing" or proactive policing. It concentrates police in high crime areas and energetically enforces laws concerning property damage and carrying unlicensed weapons.

Such policing is unpopular with the people living in high crime areas as it results in many of their young men, and a fair few of their young women getting a criminal record. Proactive policing feels like harassment and, to some degree, it is exactly that. It does, however, reduce violent crime and homicide and ironically the same people who resent the police are the ones mostly victimized by violent criminals who are their neighbors. 

Big city mayors face an insoluble dilemma. They are damned if they suppress crime, and damned if they don't, often by exactly the same vocal minority community critics. 

Monday, May 24, 2021

About the Palestinians

One of the best minds in international affairs writing today - George Friedman - weighs in on the interminable Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is a useful overview; his conclusions won't please many but seem reasonable. He writes at Geopolitical Futures:

The weakness of the Palestinians is that no great power saw them as a conventional military force, particularly because Arab countries didn’t want such a major military force in their countries. They were forced into a posture that trained them in hijackings and bombings but not in conventional warfare. What you see in Gaza today is a modern conventional military facing “soldiers” inspired by a very different culture. The aid Palestine receives from Iran today doesn’t fundamentally change this. The Palestinians can’t win, but they can inflict damage on Israel.

The Palestinians are seen by many as victims. That’s not a useful term here, but if we use it, then they were victims not only of Israel but also of Egypt, Syria and the Soviets, all of which saw use for them as small groups of covert operatives but had no desire for them to create a modern Palestinian army in a neighboring country. Additionally, there was no neighboring country that would welcome such an army. An intifada with some suicide bombers will not bring down Israel, nor will it force it to the negotiating table. And the Palestinians have no allies that will help them become such a power.

Like the Kurds, the Palestinians are a people without a country. Both groups are used by various great and would-be-great powers when their mutual aims align but ultimately both are left without a seat when the 'music' stops. Geopolitics is a tough, cynical business, especially in blood-soaked arenas like the Middle East.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Airborne Petri Dishes

Power Line's John Hinderaker writes about his impatience with vaccinated people still wearing masks, I know a lot of folks agree with him. Mostly I do too.

The one place where I might wear a mask going forward is on an airliner. Those seats are close together, left to right and back to front. What's circulating in the pressurized cabin at 30,000 feet isn't exactly fresh air. And shared restrooms aren't sanitized after every use, more like after every flight.

The other DrC and I have been to something like 120 countries, so we've done a lot of flying including the interminable trans-Pacific flights to and from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Singapore. In the best of times, it has been our experience that flying carries an increased risk of catching a communicable illness, normally respiratory or gastrointestinal.

There have been times, coming home from a cruise that ended in Sydney or Rome where we got sick on the ship and were literally a disease vector flying home, putting other passengers at risk. And if we've done it, I know others do too. If you don't feel great you want to get home.

I have a funny story about that. Coming back from Australia with a painful cough, I needed DM cough medicine in quantity. I feared security wouldn't let me bring the big bottle on board. So I grabbed the little bottles in the stateroom minibar, poured out the booze, filled them with cough syrup, and because they were small, got enough on board to get me home without coughing my head off. Feel free to borrow the idea if you find yourself in that predicament.

Bottom line: I will wear a mask whenever I fly, and I might fly with a pocketful of surgical gloves too. I think of commercial passenger planes as airborne petri dishes.

Grok the Hypocrisy

Carnivorous Thoughts

While greenies say we should eat less meat, in my little corner of Wyoming's cattle country the trend is definitely in the other direction. Our area was once heavily into dairy farming, literally hundreds of Holstein cows were milked twice a day within 20 miles of where I sit writing this. 

Over the last decade, at least, the trend has been away from dairy cattle and into so-called "cow-calf" operations, featuring breeds like Angus which are raised for beef. We've noted it is particularly true this year.  

I believe few dairy farms exist in our valley today, the old cheese factory has been gone maybe a decade. A more current indicator is that the local veal operations, which relied on "freshened" dairy cattle to produce the calves, are largely gone.

Certainly, one reason for the change is the unrelenting nature of running a dairy. Milk cows must be milked twice a day, seven days a week, come rain or shine, heat wave or deep freeze. 

There is plenty of work in a beef cattle operation too, but it is more episodic, with breaks during which the cattle can more-or-less take care of themselves. With fewer farm kids coming home to run the family dairy, farming beef is less labor intensive and easier for those who do return to manage.

Twilight Time

For better or worse, Joe Biden has spent 40+ years working in government; it has been his career. It logically follows that his presidency offers fewer surprises than the Trump presidency did. For old Washington hands, this must be reassuring.

Used to the freedom of action a private entrepreneur experiences, Trump no doubt found the formal systems of government restricting. He pushed boundaries that, it turned out, were more custom than actual requirements. His public loved it, old Washington hands found their norms violated and did not.

Joe Biden is delivering basically the same presidency George W. Bush delivered, leaning a bit more to the left as would be expected. The “uniparty” is back in charge, it’s boring by design and we can all go back to sleep and ignore government. 

For the Washington establishment, this curated boredom is a feature, not a bug. It means we leave it to them to run, while we get on with our lives. 

Imagine the life of a country being like a human life with a beginning, middle and end. Donald Trump was our national mid-life crisis, our last grasp for relevance (greatness?) before sinking back into the comfortable rut leading to retirement and stagnation. Trump turned out to be a bridge too far, too disruptive, too garish.

Like most humans do, our nation settled for boring, comfortable aging. Our retirement-ready POTUS turns out to be a near-perfect metaphor for where we are as a nation ... over the hill, all our big achievements behind us, nothing much looking forward. 

Now we're on track to join Britain, France, Spain, Russia and Italy as places that were once important geopolitically. Alternatively, maybe it is not too late to opt for greatness, that will be up to the voters.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Green Talk, Not-Green Reality

The Zero Hedge website reports that, contrary to President Biden's expressed wishes, America's utilities are building new gas fired generation plants at a good clip.

While President Biden has decided to re-enter the Paris Climate Accords and vowed to take steps to place the US electric grid on the path to net zero emissions by 2030, American utilities are continuing to pursue new gas projects that would far outlast Biden's administration. Expansions have even been authorized for coal and oil plants. It's just the latest evidence that Biden's green rheortic doesn't square up with reality.

And then Zero Hedge quotes a Bloomberg article:

At least eight large utilities in the U.S. are building new gas plants right now, and another five are thinking about doing the same. That lays bare an uncomfortable truth about the sector’s commitment to fighting climate change: All those carbon-neutral pledges don’t necessarily mean quitting fossil fuels.

China and India (a) produce most of the world's human-generated atmospheric carbon dioxide, and (b) both are entirely unwilling to reduce their actual use of coal to generate electricity. Thus U.S. utilities expect to be able to keep using these new plants beyond the working lives of the executives making the decisions, if only as essential backup for unreliable renewables which depend on intermittent sun and wind. 

Pipeline Held for Ransom

I've been meaning to write about the ransomware hack of the Colonial petroleum pipeline on the East Coast. It is unclear why massive infrastructure systems like this are controlled over the eminently hackable Internet. Doing so feels like executive malfeasance to a guy who taught management for 30 years.

I understand it is initially cheaper to use a system everybody is tied into already, until some crafty nerd locks you down and demands millions or billions. Plus firms have to accept that disgruntled present and former employees are a regrettable reality of corporate life. 

There have got to be better ways to provide security for complex, interconnected systems - for example checks and balances, retinal scans, dedicated lines, an "intranet," two person interlocks, single use code pads, this stuff isn't exactly rocket science. Spend a few million up front and deal with the tedium and hassle of being careful.

Pipelines aren't the only targets, how about the electrical grid? The air traffic control system? Rail line controls? City traffic light systems? Wastewater management systems? Refineries? Big city fresh water systems? My list isn't exhaustive.

What if somebody figures out how to lock up the Internet itself, hold it hostage? I have no idea if it is designed so sabotage isn't possible, it certainly needs to be. 

Anything operating in interstate commerce can experience Federal oversight. President Biden should sic the Department of Homeland Security on this threat; it is a genuinely useful thing he could do.

As system security isn't obviously related to either climate change or racism - their apparent obsessions - I doubt the Biden claque will find it of much interest.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Comparing NY and FL

Karol Markowicz is a columnist for the New York Post, and a resident of NYC. She writes at City Journal that during the Covid-19 troubles she, her husband and 3 kids escaped to Florida for 4 months. There the kids went to school everyday, played sports, and had a normal life.

Now they're all back in NYC but you get the feeling they might decamp to FL permanently. Her column comparing the experiences they had in FL and NY is a good read. FL comes out looking very much like a winner.

I'd have one caution for Ms. Markowicz. If your family chooses to move to Florida, become Floridians; embrace the difference. That difference is the reason you left NY. Leave your NYC abrasiveness behind alongside the stuff you choose not to ship south. Relax and smile at folks, don't turn FL into a new NYC with palm trees and water bugs.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Culture Is Hegemonic

Thirty years ago a young sociologist - James Davison Hunter - wrote a book about what he called Culture Wars. An interviewer for Politico contacted Hunter and takes him through how his notions have played out over the ensuing three decades. It is excellent stuff, I recommend it. A key quote:

The very idea of treating your opponents with civility is a betrayal. How can you be civil to people who threaten your very existence? It highlights the point that culture is hegemonic: You can compromise with politics and policy, but if politics and policy are a proxy for culture, there’s just no way.

Those unwilling to compromise find democratic institutions too painful to tolerate long-term. That fact suggests a gloomy prognosis for our model of elected government, if not necessarily for our nation state. 

Understanding the difficulty, Ben Franklin mused that our founders had created "A republic, if you can keep it." It is worth noting that Rome eventually lost its republic but continued as a world power for centuries. One wonders if backstage, an American caesar awaits his cue.

Eastern OR Seeks 'Divorce'

 Power Line's Paul Mirengoff writes of the news from eastern Oregon.

Voters in five rural Oregon counties — Baker, Grant, Lake, Malheur and Sherman — approved ballot measures to advance efforts to have these jurisdictions leave Oregon and become part of Idaho. The five counties join two others — Jefferson and Union — that already had approved such measures.

The seven counties are sparsely populated. However, they make up three-quarters of the state in terms of area, according to this report. The counties in question are all conservative. The residents’ desire to leave Oregon stems from disgust with the left-wing policies the state’s liberals want to impose on them. 

The fact that residents of seven counties want out of Oregon has significance. It signifies that, increasingly, conservatives don’t want to co-exist with liberals — not in the same political entity, anyway. And I believe the feeling is mutual.

If conservatives and liberals don’t want to co-exist in the same states, it’s fair to ask whether they will want to co-exist in the same country.
Maybe what's happening in the U.K. with Scotland isn't such an outlier after all. Mirengoff suggests it could happen here; I agree the idea isn't entirely far-fetched.

Tired of the Scots?

The Scotsman reports polling which shows that more of the English support a second referendum on Scots independence, rather than oppose it. Let me offer a politically incorrect hypothesis to explain this.

I wouldn't be surprised if the English are tired of subsidizing the Scots. The U.K. government sends more money north in government spending than it collects from Scotland in taxes. In other words, the Scots are "tax eaters" instead of tax payers. 

Following independence, that would no longer be the case. The English may look forward to have the Scots 'off their payroll.' And to no longer need consider Scots interests in making government policy.

The EU, which an independent Scotland would expect to join, tends to take a dim view of breakaway polities. Member states like Spain and Italy have their own restive regions whose independence ambitions they wish to suppress. 

Imagine Hadrian's Wall becoming a real border, with customs posts and passport checks. These interesting difficulties the Scots seem to believe insignificant, and I'm not sure they're correct.

Thursday Snark

Writing at PJ Media, Stephen Kruiser cracks wise about Democrats' refusal to "accept the science" announced by the CDC - that masks are no longer needed if vaccinated.

People who wander through life unburdened by morals, convictions, or the cognitive ability to process logic aren’t exactly known for their consistency, after all.

Analysis: Cruel but accurate. 

A Backward Step in Chile

COTTonLINE tries to keep a weather eye on major developments in Latin America - which along with Canada and the Caribbean constitutes our hemispheric “neighborhood.” Today, courtesy of RealClearWorld, comes a link to an Americas Quarterly article on Chile’s efforts toward writing a new constitution.

The profile of the selected Constitutional Convention delegates makes relatively clear that Chile is about to democratically give up the economic advantages it gained from the prior Pinochet-era constitution. That document, influenced by University of Chicago economists, helped Chile make major economic gains at the cost of increased economic inequality.

It seems likely that the same Latin America cultural anti-growth forces alluded to in our recent discussion of Peru are about to snatch defeat from the jaws of a partial economic victory in Chile. It is both sad and entirely predictable that wealth which was creating jobs and growth in Chile will migrate elsewhere in search of the less confiscatory environment which Chile is poised to voluntarily renounce.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Mr. Netanyahu Would Rather Not

It is widely reported that President Biden has asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to start winding down the attacks on Hamas in Gaza. Now Fox News reports that the PM’s latest communique indicates he will continue kinetically dismantling Hamas.

Here is a heretical thought: Maybe the U.S. should use a policy like Israeli's against places inhabited by bad actors (e.g., Afghanistan). Instead of invading and trying without success to do nation-building, bomb and sabotage the bleeping malefactors without putting boots on the ground more than temporarily.

Comes to mind a leadership principle espoused by Machiavelli. It is good to be loved and good to be feared, but if you can't be both, it is better to be feared.

Double Hypocrisy

Hearing President Biden’s decision not to oppose Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany, my first thought was to write a column. My subject? How Biden believes it’s okay for Europeans to have petrochemical pipelines, but not okay for Americans as he cancelled the Keystone pipeline. Monica Showalter at American Thinker beat me to it. Here it is for all you hypocrisy fans. 

Democrats, including Biden, spent the last four years beating up on President Trump for allegedly being pro-Russia. Trump never did anything as pro-Russian as this current Biden move. 

You’ve heard of double jeopardy? I accuse Biden of double hypocrisy, once for phony environmentalism and a second time for following a foreign policy he supposedly hates. Apparently Biden doesn’t see how deeply unserious this action makes him appear. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

About Gaza

What was once called the Gaza Strip and is now called Gaza is a small, densely populated Arab de facto nation. It is governed by an organization called Hamas which appears to have sufficiently wide support among the inhabitants.

Articles like this one argue that Hamas are terrorists, which is to say non-state actors. That is false, properly understood Gaza is a nation which is at war with its neighbor Israel, and has been at war with Israel the whole time Hamas has been in power.

Much poorer and more corrupt than Israel, Hamas-run Gaza has no chance of defeating Israel in open warfare. So it periodically attacks Israel when it has, with Iran’s help, amassed sufficient rockets and other arms to do some damage. Israel responds with similar tactics and greater damage. 

Israel could defeat Hamas-run Gaza if it chose, but would then have to run the place and become responsible for it. This Israel wisely chooses not to do, understanding Gaza to be like Uncle Remus’ “tar-baby” (no racial connotation implied or intended). 

After getting beat up once again, Gaza subsides into “frozen war” and licks its wounds, while trying to curry underdog favor with other nations. And the cycle repeats, and will continue to do so until the people of Gaza tire of it, if they ever do.


The situation between Israel and Gaza has elements in common with the U.K. and German-occupied Europe before the U.S. entered World War II. Suppose the Japanese had not attacked U.S. owned Pacific islands. With strong isolationist sentiments in the U.S. keeping us neutral, a similar stalemate might have developed across the Channel. 

The analogy is far from exact, but prior to U.S. entry in the war the U.K. was like Gaza, with the U.S. filling the indirect support role Iran plays. German-occupied Europe played the stronger Israel. 

Had the situation gone on longer, I imagine German Europe wanting to get on with life and with subduing Russia, so the Luftwaffe blitzes the U.K. only when the RAF sends planes or commandos to pester them, with pauses in between while the U.K. repairs the damage. Who knows how long that stalemate might have lasted? Perhaps the post-war fate of Taiwan is a model to consider, except they and the PRC don’t do much shooting at each other. 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Poll: Cheney Ouster Okay with GOP

CBS News polled Republicans to see how they feel about the House Republican caucus voting Rep. Liz Cheney out of her leadership position. This is what they learned:

Eighty percent of Republicans who'd heard about the vote agree with Cheney's removal — they feel she was off-message, unsupportive of Mr. Trump, and that she's wrong about the 2020 presidential election.

Those Republicans opposed to her removal — just a fifth of the party right now — say it's mainly because there's room for different views in the party, not all need support Mr. Trump and this was a distraction. But when we look down the line to any potential electoral impact, theirs might be even more limited: this group is also less likely to report voting in Republican primaries.

Around 80% agree with Trump's positions on immigration, economic issues, leadership and how to treat the media. Somewhat fewer, 66% believe loyalty to Trump is important. As we've argued before, Trump's positions on issues are more important to voters than the man himself. 

The loyalty Trump engenders arises from him being the first Republican in modern memory to vigorously espouse that particular constellation of issues which focus on the needs and well-being of workaday American citizens. He is a populist, and I argue that is the basis of loyalty to him.

Afterthought: Politics is basically systematized self-interest, with a few safeguards.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Mr. High Maintenance

Power Line's Steven Hayward summarizes a New York Times article (behind paywall) which reveals the inner workings of the Biden White House. It turns out propping up a frail old man who wasn't the sharpest tack in the box when young requires a lot of White House staff time, patience and effort.

The term that comes to mind is "high maintenance." And he is cranky, he yells at subordinates. Because so much behind-the-scenes effort is required for each public appearance, we don't see him often and in his case that's probably a good thing.

More Inflation Watch

MSN echoes a Business Insider article reporting the content of a CNBC interview with Wharton economist Jeremy Siegel. 

"I'm predicting here that over the next two, three years, we could easily have 20% inflation with this increase in the money supply."

Siegel noted that the total money supply in the US has gone up almost 30% since the start of the year alone.

"That money is not going to disappear. That money is going to find its way into spending and higher prices," Siegel said.

This will be a good time to own appreciating things easily resold, and a bad time to hold shrinking dollars. 

A United GOP

Jeff Greenfield has covered U.S. politics for most of his long life. He has an article at Politico I believe COTTonLINE readers will want to see. A caveat - he isn't fond of Donald Trump.

Greenfield argues, persuasively I believe, that the supposed "civil war" within the GOP which the New York Times, Washington Post, etc. have been touting is baloney, basically wishful thinking. He writes the Republican Party is almost entirely unified behind Trump. 

The exception is a small, noisy handful of Washington old-timers, who mostly date back to the Reagan and Bush eras. The legacy media seeks them out to air their grievances, but it is clear they are preaching to the Democrat choir. Rank and file Republicans do not find them persuasive.

What we’re seeing isn’t a civil war. It’s a purge, and there’s every reason to believe it will work.

The small, noisy handful is the target of said purge, people like Cheney, Flake, and Romney. Greenfield concludes:

This is Trump’s Republican Party, and it’s perfectly united in that conviction. To pretend otherwise—and to pretend that there’s an argument about what it stands for, or some kind of damaging fracture still ahead—is an act of delusion.

Analysis: True. 

FBI Admits Scalise Shooting “Domestic Terrorism”

Three weeks ago we wrote about the FBI classing the shooting at the House Republicans baseball team practice which wounded several and resulted in the death of the shooter as “suicide by cop.” Today the Washington Examiner reports the FBI have reclassified it as “domestic terrorism” done by “a domestic violent extremist.” However:

The revelation appears in the middle of an appendix on page 35 of a 40-page FBI-DHS report released on Friday titled “Security Strategic Intelligence Assessment and Data on Domestic Terrorism.”

The obvious subtext: the FBI hates admitting they got something wrong, and buried the admission. Nevertheless, some diligent soul dug it out. The once esteemed, squeaky clean bureau has become politicized which squandered its reputation in recent years.

Peruvian Politics

Bad things have befallen Peru, which was one of the bright spots in Latin America a few years ago. David Frum, not a favorite author, writes about the current state of politics in that Andean nation for The Atlantic.

Even before COVID-19 struck, Peru faced a dissolution of familiar political structures. The country has rotated through five presidents or acting presidents since 2016. Then came the terrible shock of the pandemic.

Parties of the left and center collapsed. The round of voting on April 11 was topped by a union leader so obscure that nobody even bothered to poll for him until November 2020—and who did not rise above 3 percent in the polls until early March 2021 - Pedro Castillo.

In shocked reaction, Peru’s non-left has rallied since April 11 to Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the president-dictator who crushed the Shining Path insurgency in the 1990s. (snip) The release from prison of the now-82-year-old former dictator is a central issue of his daughter’s 2021 presidential campaign.

Of the five presidents mentioned above, three have been within the last year. I am sad for Peru, which I rather liked when the DrsC visited there. I am also sad for nearby Chile which was another bright spot before falling back into Latin America’s familiar malaise. 

Perhaps unfairly, I view that malaise as the lingering curse of long-gone Iberian colonialism, a cultural legacy which plagues almost everywhere south of the Rio Grande. One can also fault “liberation theology” which has played a large role in the region’s semi-dominant Catholicism.

Friday, May 14, 2021


Apostasy isn’t common among the great houses, but we have an example of it in House Bush, which has generally opposed the upstart House Trump. Breitbart reports George P. Bush favors removing Rep. Liz Cheney as Minority Conference Chairwoman.

George P. Bush, son of former presidential candidate and Republican Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, expressed support for the Republican party on Thursday after they voted to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her conference chair responsibilities Wednesday.

Bush is also the nephew of former President George W. Bush, who worked alongside Cheney’s father, former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Plus, his mother is Mexican-American, giving him roots in a key Texas constituency. George P. Bush is the elected Texas Land Commissioner, an important job in that very large state. From their website, here is the General Land Office’s self-description.

Today the General Land Office manages state lands, operates the Alamo, helps Texans recovering from natural disasters, helps fund Texas public education through the Permanent School Fund, provides benefits to Texas Veterans, and manages the vast Texas coast. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

A Thought Experiment

If Donald Trump strove to Make America Great Again, and Joe Biden's program is to reverse everything Trump did or advocated, would it not be fair to characterize Biden's program as striving to insure America is never great again?

If you believe my conclusion is harsh, or unfair, please explain what additional steps Biden would need to take in order to "insure America is never great again." I can't identify many he has overlooked.

Inflation ⇨ Recession

Daniel P. Goldman, who blogs as "Spengler," writes for PJ Media about the inflation we currently experience. 

The Federal Reserve continues to pump trillions of dollars of liquidity into the US economy by purchasing US Treasury securities, financing most of the US budget deficit, now running at a peacetime record of 15% of gross domestic product (GDP).

That leaves the Fed painted into a corner. If it raises interest rates to suppress inflation, the cost of financing the deficit will rise drastically. If it does nothing, eventually the market will force interest rates up, with the same effect.

Federal payments now make up 34% of all personal spending in the US, an all-time record. Ultimately the Treasury will have to cut back, leading to a sharp reduction in spending and an economic recession.

Goldman is no little ray of sunshine. Nevertheless, we concur that the laws of economics have not been repealed.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Satire Overtaken by Reality

Headline in The Babylon Bee, a satire site.

Biden Continues Rollback Of Trump Policies Like Peace In The Middle East

Terrorists can sense weakness and ambivalence, the way a predator smells fear. 

Status Follow Up

Various media outlets are reporting that, as expected, the House GOP caucus voted Liz Cheney out of her position in leadership, on a voice vote. Individuals’ votes wisely were not recorded. 

Following the vote, Cheney remains unrepentant. Her statement:

I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again never gets anywhere near the Oval Office. We have seen the danger that he continues to provoke with his language. We have seen his lack of commitment and dedication to the Constitution. And I think it's very important that we make sure whomever we elect is somebody that will be faithful to the Constitution.

In defeat, minor House Cheney announces its implacable opposition to upstart House Trump. Apparently they continue to ally with former great House Bush. 

Our version of the Landsraad or Game of Thrones continues. Hat tip to both Frank Herbert and George R.R. Martin for envisioning the arena and protagonists.

A False Equivalence

Writing for RealClearPolitics, Charles Lipson observes the somewhat unusual behavior of the two political parties and, in doing so, manages to offend almost everyone. As a conservative, I have no problem with his critique of the Democrats.

I do think his critique of the Republicans is ever-so-slightly off the mark. I read his view of the GOP as a veiled defense of Liz Cheney, whose name isn’t mentioned. See if you don’t think so too.

Lipson says Trump over-reacted to his 2020 election loss and I agree. I disagree with Lipson’s judgment of most Republicans not piping up publicly to criticize Trump.

The Trump policy agenda was a winner down ballot, and defending that agenda while criticizing its author and vociferous defender is simply too difficult to accomplish in the zero-sum game that is politics. The two are inextricably bound together in the minds of most of his voters.

To use the old baby-and-bathwater cliche, the Trump policy agenda is the baby, Trump the man is the bathwater. Liz Cheney’s fatal error was misunderstanding that, with the election loss the “bathwater” was already thrown out and her job was to be sure the policy “baby” was supported.

Cheney kept beating up on Trump, when all that was left of him politically was his popular-with-the-base policies. Doing so, she has forfeited her leadership role and very possibly her seat come 2022. Hers was an unforced error.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Hill ....

Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) has decided opposing the Trump legacy is the hill she's willing to die on, metaphorically speaking. I respect her having the courage of her convictions.

Mind you, I believe she has "chosen poorly," to borrow an Indy III line, but she is certainly within her rights to do so. Similarly, Wyoming voters are within their rights to select someone else to represent our state in the House of Representatives come November, 2022.

The key vote on her future in House GOP leadership is scheduled for tomorrow. The clear expectation is that the caucus will vote her out of the leadership, be surprised if they do not. With apologies to Leslie Gore:

It's his party, she can cry if she wants to,

Cry if she wants to, cry if she wants to. 

You might cry too if it happened to you.

Incentives and Disincentives

The White House denies the higher-than-normal $300/week Covid unemployment checks are a disincentive to looking for work, Forbes reports. Assuming workers clear little more than $60/day, why wouldn't they stay home? Few low paying jobs are intrinsically enjoyable.

Reacting to this headline, Instapundit regular Stephen Green snarks:

To be fair, if Democrats understood incentives, they wouldn’t be Democrats.

Funny? Sure. True? Very. 

Biden ... Out of Gas, and Ideas

Pictorial commentary regarding the Colonial pipeline hack & shutdown, the resulting gasoline shortages and the lame White House reaction thereto:

Source:  Instapundit post by Glenn Reynolds.

Gas Lines Redux

Yahoo News runs a Bloomberg story about gas stations running dry after the east coast petroleum pipeline is hacked, and lines of cars trying to fill up. The last time this happened Jimmy Carter was president. 

Lines of cars at gas stations is a hallmark of loser presidencies. Joe Biden would like to be FDR 3.0 (LBJ was briefly 2.0) but is on a trajectory to achieve Carter 2.0 status. 

I am forced to conclude the American electorate whimsically chooses to do without a robust president every few decades, electing ciphers like Carter or Biden. Maybe it’s more often than that, Obama and Bush II were also “men without chests” to use the C.S. Lewis label.

Monday, May 10, 2021


We had a brief snowfall here this early evening, it melted on contact so no accumulation. Not a warm day hereabouts, I can tell you. 

This is late spring in the Rockies, over a mile above sea level. Our earliest arrival in 30 years, it is a mixed blessing being here before the weather is reliably warm.

Later this evening ... The temperature dropped, the snow restarted, and we had maybe an inch of the white stuff dusting the porch when I went to bed. Snow in mid-May, don’t you love the omnipresent global warming?

Monday Snark

Steven Hayward of Power Line, commenting on Democrats' notably 'flexible' principles, concludes:

For the left, it is only “democracy” when Democrats win. And of course pointing this out is racist.

Analysis: Both funny and true. 

A Data Point

The Gateway Pundit site, which hasn’t always been accurate, claims voting data reported by the Census Bureau suggests fewer votes cast than were reported at the time. The discrepancy is roughly four million fewer votes claimed by census respondents than the total official vote count last November. 

Obviously a discrepancy if it exists can occur for more than one reason. For example, the observed difference could be the result of fraudulently ‘manufactured’ ballots as GP implies, or evidence of a census undercount, or some combination of the two. In truth it may be both, some fraud and some pandemic-induced undercount.

GP cites evidence that the Census, if it misses, normally overestimates the number of votes cast. It will be interesting to see if media outlets with a more cautious approach pick up this discrepancy story and run with it.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

A Mothers' Day Excursion

In celebration of Mothers' Day, the DrsC took a day trip from our WY home up to Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park. We hoped to see the currently famous grizzly bear, named "399" and her four cubs who are now over a year old. In that hope we were disappointed, the ursine 'Jackson Five' didn't put in an appearance.

The mountains are snowy this early in the season, and the park wasn't crowded. A number of the facilities were not yet in operation. Upon entering we were warned the road north to Yellowstone NP was still closed - no surprise. We were told it will open on the 14th, which is Friday.

There's a good bakery in Jackson - Persephone - named for the Greek goddess of the underworld. They make a bread that's almost as good as that any local bakery in Europe turns out routinely without fanfare. We bought a couple of baguettes and ate one for lunch.

Last year Teton County and Jackson were gonzo about mask wearing, this year it is relaxed in practice though I believe the ordinance is still in force. We had supper at our favorite burger place in Jackson, Liberty Burgers on Cache Street. A burger, fries, and a soda there are tasty and will fill you up. Their onion rings look spectacular but the flavor isn't exceptional, compared to Outback's bloomin' onion.

Driving home along the Snake River canyon, we mused that, without consciously planning to do so, when our NV place is complete we will own homes near two of our favorite national parks - the Tetons and Zion.

About Election Fraud

There is much sniping going on between (and within) the political parties concerning the fairness of the 2020 election and the state legislative efforts since to plug the loopholes revealed thereby. An article at American Greatness looks at this back-and-forth.

I've concluded that COTTonLINE should go on the record about what we do and don't believe about this issue. Let me say straight out that President Trump's assertion that the election was stolen is extreme. He has presented no proof this is so.

On the other hand, Democrat efforts to prevent a forensic examination of the results makes one suspect they have something to hide. The various changes done for the first time in that election as reactions to the Covid-19 pandemic are reason enough to suspect opportunities for mischief were created and in some, perhaps many, instances exploited.

Therefore, our position is that we don't know whether or not the 2020 election was roughly as honest as, say, the prior 8-10 were. There is reason to believe it may not have been, and a variety of local officials and Democrat operatives are stonewalling efforts to examine the results.

It appears we will never know to what extent the 2020 results as reported reflect what actually occurred. And unfortunately that means we will argue about the outcome ad nauseam

COTTonLINE supports efforts by state legislatures to make future election fraud more difficult and risky.

Happy Mothers’ Day

COTTonLINE wishes our readers a happy Mothers’ Day. Moms are important in the lives of almost all of us. 

That importance is inherent in a species like ours which experiences a long maturation process. We require a lot of post-natal shaping to configure our infant selves into functioning adults, and mothers take the lead in this process. 

Once a year we stop and pay homage to our mothers’ centrality in our development and lives. In truth, in a long life it’s a rare week when we don’t think of them.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Weird Pharmacological Science

Instapundit links to a study done in Britain, reported in Medical Express, which finds that use of NSAIDs does not make Covid-19 more deadly. This is good news since many of the older people who are at most risk from the coronavirus take NSAIDs for arthritis or other conditions.

NSAID is the acronym for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium. These are over-the-counter, nonprescription medicines taken for headaches, joint pain, etc.

He’s Correct

Posted to The Week In Pictures commentary by ‘Edisto Blackwater.’

Time for a Rethink

CNN reports cruise lines are considering moving their departures to places other than Florida.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order last month banning the use of Covid-19 passports in the state. (snip) Senate Bill 2006 was signed into law Monday making that executive order official.

Florida's new law prohibiting businesses from asking whether employees or customers have been vaccinated against Covid-19 may take a toll on its cruise business. The CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. said Thursday it could cause the company to suspend Florida departures and move its ships elsewhere.

Norwegian Cruise Line had previously hoped to resume cruises on July 4, and said it was willing to require all passengers and staff to be vaccinated in order to gain CDC approval. That's no longer possible, [CEO] Del Rio said Thursday.

While I mostly like what Gov. DeSantis has done in FL, in this case I side with the cruise ship operators. Here is why.

The DrsC have done scores of cruises, including several on Norwegian. In retirement, we were both cruise ship lecturers for several years. And we have continued to cruise as paying passengers. We have much first hand experience.

We love cruising but I’m sure the other DrC would agree that we’ve been more likely to contract respiratory or gastrointestinal illnesses at sea. A cruise ship is a semi-closed environment where it is easier to catch communicable diseases.  

Rocking of the ship means holding onto hand rails and bannisters, steadying yourself against the roll of the deck. Plus much of the dining is done at tables seating the occupants of more than one cabin. The buffet is another place where you touch things others have touched. Seating in the entertainment venues is often theater-like in density too.

For these reasons cruise lines need to be (and are) extra careful that their (mostly older) passengers don’t share communicable diseases. Requiring Covid-19 vaccination of all passengers and crew seems a very prudent step, one FL has banned. 

Pre-Covid-19, Florida likely saw more cruise ship departures than the rest of the world combined. Florida makes many millions from ship passengers boarding and disembarking there. They might want to consider an exception to the new rule for ship passengers and crew. 

Friday, May 7, 2021

Leaves and Bears

On Wednesday I wrote the leaves hadn’t appeared on the aspens. Since then we’ve had a couple of days of warmth and sunshine so this morning they popped out. I don’t remember seeing the leave pop out overnight before. 

Our arrival in early May this year is the earliest we’ve migrated here. I fear this current warm spell is the springtime equivalent of Indian Summer, a brief respite in an otherwise cool-and-damp season.

In a couple of days we’ll take a run up to Grand Teton NP for an afternoon’s sightseeing. We hope to catch sight of the famous mama grizzly known as 399, she has quadruplet cubs born a year ago which are now nearly as big as she is. 

399 is something of a legend among Yellowstone/Tetons oldtimers. She’s older than most, crafty, successful and thought to hang around semi-close to people to keep male grizzlies from killing her cubs.

As apex predators, grizzlies fear nothing but other grizzlies, and people if they’re wise, Not all are wise, they kill a couple of people in MT and WY every year and normally are then killed for doing so if they can be tracked down.

CA Population Down in 2020

ABC Los Angeles posts an Associated Press article which reveals that last year, for the first time ever, California lost population.

California's population fell by more than 182,000 people in 2020, marking the first year-over-year loss ever recorded for the nation's most populous state.

State officials announced Friday that California's population dipped 0.46% to just under 39.5 million people from January 2020 to January 2021.

State officials say California has seen more people leave than move in from other states for much of the last three decades. However, that had been offset by international immigration and births so that California continued to grow.

That changed in 2020. State officials say a declining birth rate, plus reductions in international immigration and an increase in deaths because of the coronavirus, led to the state's first ever year-over-year population loss.

Legal residents keep leaving and, under Trump, CA couldn’t backfill the vacancy with illegal aliens. Under Biden this inability will be ‘corrected.’ 


Bruce, I mean “Caitlyn,” Jenner is absolutely correct about how far CA has fallen.  It was very nearly a paradise when I was young, even when she arrived.

My parents and I would read about Easterners trying to save the money for their kids’ college fees and wonder why it was a problem, CA public universities were almost free to instate residents and the two-year community colleges were free. 

My state university baccalaureate degree cost my parents maybe $6k, which would be roughly $50k in 2021 dollars. That would be a real bargain today. Inflation has been the rule in higher education, even when absent elsewhere in the economy.

Inflation Watch

Daily Caller reports various sources including the Bank of America predicting “at the very least, ‘transitory’ hyper-inflation ahead” for the U.S. economy.

The inflation and price increase of input goods is already being carried over to consumers. Gas prices are up 22%, and Americans are feeling the pressure at the grocery store too. Citrus fruit prices are up almost 10%, bacon is up 8.1% and beef is up 7.1%.

People soon draw the age-old conclusion to which inflation inevitably leads: “Buy it today, it will cost more tomorrow.” Meanwhile, corporations are experiencing what’s happening as “increased pricing power.”  

Translation: your dollar will be worth less, will buy less tomorrow than it buys today. Expect interest rates to rise.

Weird Genetic Science

Oops, somebody noticed a correlation I wish wasn’t the case. Turns out men with male pattern baldness, aka “androgenic alopecia” are 2.5 times more likely than men with full heads of hair to be hospitalized with severe Covid-19. The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports the research finding.

Male pattern baldness is controlled by variations in the androgen receptor (AR) gene, which regulates how sensitive the body is to androgens — the so-called 'male hormones' that include testosterone and androstenedione.

Androgen responses have also been linked to an enzyme known as TMPRSS2 which is thought to play a role in coronavirus infections.

Specifically, the team reported that some 79 per cent of men with severe COVID-19 had the condition, compared to the 31–53 per cent that would be expected for men of a similar age group.

Translation: Four out of five men hospitalized for Covid-19 are bald, where something like 2 out of 5 would be expected. Therefore, it is somewhat more important for us baldies to get our two vaccinations for Covid-19. 

Many women also experience thinning hair as they age. I wonder if they also are more likely to get really sick with the corona virus than their same-age sisters whose hair isn’t thin? 

Join me in ritualistically chanting the mantra “more research is needed.”

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Public Health Policy Considered

Power Line’s John Hinderaker has been watching the CDC-compiled weekly number of deaths statistic for the U.S. After spiking during the Covid pandemic, the number has dropped below normal. Hinderaker posts the chart and opines the following:

I think the mortality statistics over the next couple of years will confirm that in most cases, people who died with “covid” on their death certificates would have died, in any event, in a matter of months or perhaps a year or two. This is why we are now seeing mortality dip below demographic norms: people who otherwise would have died in April 2021 died in, say, October 2020 instead.

If Hinderaker is correct, then his conclusion that our federal and state governments seriously overreacted is probably justified. The risk for most healthy people was probably roughly equivalent to that of influenza, which is to say real but not a risk for which we shut down schools, restaurants and churches. 

His argument detracts not at all from the importance of producing vaccines on an accelerated schedule. For this President Trump deserves much thanks. After all, those of us who care get a flu shot annually.

I’m not quite ready to accept Hinderaker’s interesting thesis. In a year or two we’ll have a better notion of whether he is correct. I predict he’ll keep us apprised of the data on this.

Migration Completed

In the mountains of western Wyoming, at an elevation of roughly 6000 ft., it is still early spring. Most of the valley snow has melted, if not that on the hillsides, and the ground is muddy. The skies aren’t yet reliably blue and the deciduous trees haven’t leafed out.

A bit over 500 miles to the south, where NV, UT, and AZ come together, we had already seen our first 100℉ day. Here we’re promised mostly highs in the 50s and 60s for the next couple of weeks. A month from now the local weather should be mostly nice, now it is semi-dodgy - damp and cool but not frigid.

The weather may not be totally cooperating but it is good to be home, back in a real dwelling that doesn’t have wheels under it. A nearby sign explains a lot about why we love it here:

Wyoming, the way America used to be.

With the welcome addition of modern plumbing and wifi. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Weird Psychopharmacological Science

Researchers in Portugal have determined that a drug which reduces fear memories in male mice actually increases fear memories in female mice. The aim is to find drug therapies for fear-related mental disorders like PTSD and phobias. And it turns out that most such research has been done on males when psychiatrists see more female patients with these disorders.

This can present an interesting dilemma for progressives and for psychiatrists. Presuming the findings in mice hold up in humans, do you follow the science or go with the “gender is a personal decision” model when prescribing?

Not telling trans patients you are treating them according to their birth sex - when information about drug therapies is available for the asking on the Internet - isn’t going to work. Telling them openly what you intend to Rx (and why) is likely to evoke a “I won’t take that, it doesn’t match what I feel” reaction.

Rasmussen Poll: Biden Rated Low

The Rasmussen Reports polling organization asked likely voters to rate Joe Biden’s first 100 days as president. Respondents were asked: “Have President Biden's first 100 days been a success, a failure or somewhere in between?”

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that just 36% of Likely U.S. Voters say Biden’s first 100 days first 100 days in office have been a success. Forty-four percent (44%) say Biden’s first 100 days have been a failure, and 18% say it’s been somewhere in between.

Statistically speaking, the modal (i.e., largest) respondent group views Biden’s first 100 days as a failure. Another way of thinking about it is slightly over a third are really satisfied with the Biden presidency. 

The first midterm election following a presidential election is normally viewed as a referendum on POTUS performance. Looking forward to the 2022 midterms, the GOP has to be heartened by these numbers.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Buffett: Inflation Is Here

Last Thursday I wrote warning of the danger of inflation, wisecracking that I was no Warren Buffett. If that name is unfamiliar to you, he is perhaps the nation’s most famous highly successful investor.

In a pleasant coincidence, I today saw this CNBC report of Buffett’s CEO comments to shareholders attending a Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. Inflation was on his mind as his words show.

We are seeing very substantial inflation. It’s very interesting. We are raising prices. People are raising prices to us and it’s being accepted.

We’ve got nine homebuilders in addition to our manufacture housing and operation, which is the largest in the country. So we really do a lot of housing. The costs are just up, up, up. Steel costs, you know, just every day they’re going up.

Not to mention that the cost of a 4x8 sheet of plywood has more than tripled in the past year. It is time to hedge your financial position against inflation.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Romney Booed

Fox News reports Sen. Mitt Romney was booed by the delegates to the Utah state Republican convention. By a narrow margin the delegates voted against censuring Romney, 798 to711. I am in no way surprised, the Utah residents I know are Trump supporters. 

Romney’s vote for impeachment won him few friends but he doesn’t have to face reelection until 2024. He’ll be 77 and may choose not to run.

As a former governor of bright blue Massachusetts, he is a latter-day anachronism. That is, a liberal Republican in the Nelson Rockefeller/John Kasich mold; for such chimeras little constituency exists.


Our F-350 pickup has an outside temperature readout on the dash display. Yesterday, driving around our little winter town in Nevada it read 102℉. April 30 was a mite early for 100+ temps, but otherwise not unusually hot for a place on the eastern fringe of the Mojave Desert.

It was however a reminder of why we today began a leisurely drive north toward our summer residence in Wyoming. In 200 miles we’ve climbed from 1600 ft. to 5100 ft. and the temp dropped maybe 20 degrees.

We’ll arrive home on Monday. It is mostly an easy drive north on I-15, carefully planned so we cross the only major urban area - Salt Lake City - on a Sunday morning when the traffic shouldn’t be terrible.

After living in an RV since mid-December, it will be nice to spread out in our house in the aspens. Having summered in rural WY since the early 1990s, it feels like home.