Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Incremental Outrageousness

Bruce Abramson has written a column for RealClearPolitics you really should read, his subject is Incremental Outrageousness. That is his shorthand term for the method the left has used over the past 60+ years to undermine and very nearly destroy our culture and society. 

I don't often call something a "must read" but this is one such. No, I don't think you'll enjoy it, you aren't supposed to enjoy it. I found it particularly bitter as I was a willing participant in the institution - higher education - which got the slomo avalanche started. 

Mea culpa.

Masking While Flying links us to a Trending Politics article reporting a conversation on the Fox News Faulkner Focus show. The point of the piece is to make fun of designated liberal Marie Harf's comment about face masks on airplanes.

Look, I’m going to wear mask on a plane for the rest of my life, even if I don’t have to. Planes are gross, I think, just to begin with. But I think they will. You are in close quarters. I’m going to, I’m just going to do it. I’m just going to own it. But I think I will.

Does anybody rational think COTTonLINE is "liberal"? Not even close, amirite? And yet, I largely agree with the Harf view that planes are gross, flying Petri dishes. Especially everywhere aft of business class on long flights and everywhere on short flights where the upgrade doesn't buy you much space and "distancing."

The other DrC and I have done a lot of flying, including long hops like LAX to Aukland, SFO to Narita or Singapore or Shanghai, Denver to Frankfurt, JFK to Cairo. I've caught respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases on planes too, it's no fun. 

Masking on flights isn't a bad idea at all, it's a shame if it becomes stereotypical liberal shtick as that's not me. We got our second Covid shot in February, but we'd still wear masks on flights w/o complaint. There are plenty of other uglies to catch.

The Swamp Ignores Us links to a Washington Times report of interesting Trafalgar Group poll results. Respondents were asked if they agreed with this statement: “the will of the people is no longer a consideration to leaders in D.C. when making policy or legislative decisions.”

The exact numbers were 62.4% of likely voters in the 2022 midterm elections, including 76.4% of Republicans, 50.4% of Democrats and 59% of “no party / other” voters believed that Washington ignores the popular will.

The survey also found out that Americans see their personal freedom as having declined during the COVID-19 epidemic and are at the point where they don’t want the government to take specific action to combat a new, more-communicable strain of the virus, the so-called “delta” variant.

While the group sponsoring the poll has a definite point of view, Trafalgar Group is a reputable firm which is unlikely to fudge the results they report.

The "wow" in these numbers is that a slender majority of Democrats agree with Republicans that the Washington swamp isn't much listening to us folks. It is clear, for example, that there is no popular groundswell of support for critical race theory in either party. So why is the U.S. military trying to sell it to the troops?

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Two Minutes Hate links to this report of a dramatic ratings drop for Jake Tapper's CNN The Lead program since January. Let's think, what happened in January? I know ... it was the end of the Trump administration. 

Why should our national leadership change have caused this drop? Because Tapper and people like him were filling the "two minutes hate" role described by George Orwell in his dystopian novel, 1984

In my scenario, Donald Trump plays arch enemy Emmanuel Goldstein, progressive Democrats are the Outer Party members, and Tapper & Co. are the cheerleaders for each day's cathartic hate session. With Trump out, the whole Tapper enterprise makes no sense, its raison d'etre is gone.

Theoretically you'd imagine the Tapper show would transform into a "two minutes love" session for Joe Biden. Emotionally that's not the same thing. Foggy Joe is not especially lovable and, in this country, love for a leader tends to be fairly weak tea, lacking the high of good, strong hate.

In the Biden era, Tucker Carlson is the "two minutes hate" cheerleader, and Fox has the viewers. They aren't the same people, but an analogous group of Republicans who love to hate Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, AOC and Ilhan Omar. Plus, doesn't Bernie Sanders remind you of the movie version of Emmanuel Goldstein? 

Once again we see what was intended as a cautionary tale turned into an instruction manual: life imitating art imitating life. 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

UFO Report a Letdown

The military recently released its report on UFOs and, as several sources in the media have indicated, it was disappointing. I share that disappointment but I am anything but surprised.

It seems reasonable that if evidence of alien visitation or instrumentality in UFOs was believed to exist, that information would be too sensational to keep quiet. Scully and Mulder notwithstanding, it's a secret too amazing to keep bottled up. It would have leaked, and it has not.

The report's conclusion: there are sightings we can't explain using current science and we've go no idea what they are or how they work. Could it be ETs? Sure it could. If so, they've been very careful and clever in keeping hard evidence of their presence out of our hands.

You could argue that ET's version of "don't give high tech to low tech creatures (us) as it ruins them" requires them to be elusive so as not to upset our cultural 'applecart.' You could believe that ... I would hope you are correct. 

UFOs could also simply be physical phenomena which occur under peculiar conditions not well understood by us. Phenomena governed by physical laws which we've not yet decoded or misunderstood. 

My question: does the principle of Occam's razor suggest ETs as a cause, or mysterious physical phenomena? Or maybe it is God messing with us? I have no clue.

Midsomer's Cliche

The other DrC and I watch the PBS long-form British import Midsomer Murders, now in its 20-something TV season. It's slow pace often puts the other DrC to sleep, although she insists she likes it. I'd not call it my "favorite" but in TV's wasteland, it is well-crafted and not boring.

Midsomer Murders caters to the British nostalgia for village life, the setting is semi-rural and it largely avoids the "weekend party in the great house" beloved by British mystery authors. Lords and Ladies are mostly off-camera, the characters range from working class to upper middle class. 

There is one theme that recurs time and again. It deals with the various secrets of parentage; illegitimacy, unfaithfulness, adoption, inheritance, etc. It must be an obsession of the British, of the people writing the series screenplays, or both. 

In this program the plot device has reached the status of cliche. We find ourselves wondering which version of the old chestnut they'll drag out this week, and we're seldom disappointed.

Changing Climates

Every now and then, it needs restating: "Climates change." They always have, probably always will. They've done it over and over without human intervention, and that is provable. 

There are fossilized trees in the Antarctic and the Arctic, where no trees now grow - climate change. The conditions that caused the Dust Bowl just happened, and then stopped - climate change. The Ice Age happened, and then ended - climate change. The Little Ice Age happened during the Middle Ages, and then ended - climate change. 

The likelihood that humans can affect the climate in measurable ways is unlikely, unproven, and maybe unprovable, although not impossible. My opinion: those who claim we endanger the climate substantially overstate our ability to impact the world's climate. That is, however, my guess which I'm willing to label as such.

To the extent we can organize to deal with something not yet proven, our efforts should focus on how we will deal with whatever climate changes may come our way. That would include, but not be limited to, crops that thrive with less water and more (or less) heat than exists currently, plus more efficient ways to heat and cool our homes and offices.

Poll: Immigration a Problem, CRT Too

The Washington Examiner reports the results of a Harvard/Harris Poll which looked at public attitudes toward the border crisis and toward the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) in the public schools.

An overwhelming 80% said that illegal immigration is a serious issue and one that needs more attention than what President Joe Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris are giving. What’s more, 68% said that signals from Biden’s White House are encouraging illegal immigration, and 55% believe that former President Donald Trump’s border closing policies should have been left in place.

On schooling and education, another sleeper issue, 61% do not believe students should be taught that America is structurally racist and is dominated by white supremacy.

I begin to wonder if Whispering Joe might be a one-term disaster like Carter. He could do so poorly that Trump might get reelected, stranger things have happened. Hat tip to for the link.

For a more in-depth look at this poll's findings, including some issues the article above didn't include, see John Hinderaker's column at Power Line.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Weird Oregon

A minor theme we follow at COTTonLINE is the bloody-minded insanity that characterizes Oregon west of the Cascades, where most Oregonians live. I have another example for your collection. 

The state's newspaper of record, The Oregonian, tweets that "Amazon delivery contractors have quit Portland routes, citing 'unsafe' conditions." Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Decades ago I lived in the state for 3 years doing grad school at U. of O. That was more than enough of western Oregon's strange Twin Peaks vibe for me. 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

It Can’t Be Both

The pseudonymous “Bonchie,” who writes at Red State, pens a snarky paragraph which contains a barrel of truth phrased in wisecrack fashion. Hat tip to Ed Driscoll at Instapundit for the link.

If Biden and his party truly believe the government is so all-powerful that any possible rebellion would be put down with ease, then how does that square with their claims that our “democracy” was on the brink of destruction on January 6th because some unarmed people took selfies in Pelosi’s office? Either our system of government is so fragile that a dude in horns and facepaint can threaten its existence, or it’s so untouchable that the government would just nuke anyone who got within a mile of doing any harm to it. Which is it? Because it can’t be both.

We still don’t know which terrified Capitol cop shot Ashli Babbitt - the only person killed on Jan. 6 - who was unarmed. 


Our poor old, foggy-minded President free-associating about gun control. “If you wanted or if you think you need to have weapons to take on the government, you need F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons."

He really hasn’t been paying attention, has he? With basically the same weapons now in the hands of Americans, and facing the US military, the Taliban made Afghanistan ungovernable. 

He thinks it couldn’t happen here? He’s maybe daring people to try? I really don’t want our nation to go down that road. To be fair, I don’t think he does either. 

Last November with our help Biden attained his Peter Principle level of incompetence. Now we pay the price for his shortcomings.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Media Bias

The Washington Examiner reports the findings of an international study of news outlets done by Reuters and Oxford University. Some of the findings are quite interesting.
Of 29 free nations surveyed in the Digital News Report 2021, U.S. “trust” in the media ranked 46th of 46.

Cable news channels Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC have some of the highest levels of distrust.

Also reported via a chart, people whose politics lean right, who are conservative, report the press covering the news unfairly in the following countries: the U.S., Germany, Brazil, Japan, and Spain. Only in the U.K. do conservatives (Tories) see the press as not bad. Oddly, liberals agree the press is unfair in all of the above nations except the U.S. and Germany. 

The survey found that now that Trump is out of office, conservatives in the U.S. show little interest in the news. Gosh, I wonder why? he asked ironically.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Photo ID to Vote? 80% Agree

Writing for the Washington Examiner, Byron York reports the findings of a Monmouth University poll which looked at Americans' attitudes toward a requirement to show a photo ID to vote. The results are excellent.

The headline is that 80 percent of those surveyed -- a huge majority -- favored photo ID. Just 18 percent said they opposed.

Among Republicans, 91 percent supported photo ID. Among independents, 87 percent. And among Democrats, 62 percent.

Looking at the results along racial lines, 77 percent of white voters supported photo ID -- and 84 percent of non-white voters supported it, too. Along educational lines, 69 percent of Americans with a four-year college degree favored ID, and 85 percent of those with no degree favored it. When divided by age, 78 percent of Americans age 18 to 34 supported it, 82 percent of those 35 to 54 supported it, and 79 percent of people 55 and older supported it. And on the income scale, 81 percent of people who make less than $50,000 a year supported ID, while 82 percent of people who make between $50,000 and $100,000 supported it, and 76 percent of people who make more than $100,000 supported it.

Summary: Young and old, rich and poor, white and not-white, people of both parties plus independents - a majority of every demographic is fine with showing their photo ID to vote. It is time to make it a requirement in every jurisdiction across this nation we share and, I hope, treasure.

A Reasoned Guess

George Friedman of Geopolitical Futures posits an interesting theory to explain why the U.S. is pulling defensive ground-to-air missile batteries out of various allied countries in the Middle East. See his reasoning.

Iran wants nuclear weapons to deter Iraq or another Arab country from launching a repeat of the war in the 1980s. It will be claiming in these meetings with the U.S. that it needs nuclear weapons to deter Arab states that the U.S. armed, particularly with air defenses, making it impossible for Iran to deter them.

If this is the argument that is being made (and I think it is a good one), then the U.S. must minimize Arab air defenses to set the argument for Iran to commit to a nuclear treaty with significant inspections and teeth.

There is no obvious explanation for this decision. It is both sudden and sweeping. (snip) When something is not obvious beyond being clearly important, we come to an interesting point. Normally such moves are slow, limited and designed to calm allies. This one is none of those. Therefore, something important is going on – unless it is simply a clumsy move.

Presented for your consideration. It makes sense as a hypothesis, but I have no idea if Friedman is correct in his supposition. Or, for that matter, if the leadership in Iran is rational enough to understand and respond to the signal Friedman believes is being sent.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Vonnegut Still Relevant

A quick search for author Kurt Vonnegut shows that I've referenced his "Harrison Bergeron" short story some eight times over the past 7-8 years. Here comes reference number nine, Wikipedia has a plot summary.

The online magazine Reason reports that the public schools in Vancouver, B.C. are eliminating high school honors courses. The school board explains their actions as follows:

By phasing out these courses, all students will have access to an inclusive model of education, and all students will be able to participate in the curriculum fulsomely.

Translation: Few minority students qualify to take advanced courses, and the resulting segregation is politically intolerable.  Solution: Stop offering accelerated courses. Likely outcome: Migration of many bright students to private schools, followed by a further degradation of public schools, and increased segregation.

Somewhere the spirit of Kurt Vonnegut rages, "I wrote a cautionary tale, you dolts. It's not an effing instruction manual."

The Evil Persists

Writing in The Atlantic, Karim Sadjadpour looks at the non-event that was the recent ‘Presidential’ election in Iran. He makes much of the regime’s unpopularity, but then grimly concludes:

Raisi’s election is a reminder that Iranians’ aspirations for a better life are at odds with a regime that currently appears unreformable and unbreakable. As long as Iran’s security forces remain united and willing to kill en masse, and Iran’s society remains disunited and unwilling to die en masse, the tipping points will continue to tip in the regime’s favor.

Inevitably, the Iranian people deserve the government they’ve created and now ‘enjoy.’ It is a projection of their national character, they can blame no other. 

Like the one in Iran, most revolutions turn out badly. Although our progressives don’t believe it, we were among the few lucky (and/or skillful) winners.

Filibuster … Who Benefits?

The felicitously named Sean Trende writes political analysis for RealClearPolitics. Today he analyzes the benefit of the Senate filibuster to each major party. 

Not particularly surprisingly, Trende finds it benefits Democrats more often than Republicans. Yet, at the moment, it is mostly Democrats who want to eliminate it. He concludes ironically:

There really is a benefit to the stability brought about by the filibuster, even if it often prevents enacting big things that one party or the other would prefer.

If one holds the principled position that the filibuster should be eliminated, and held it even during Trump’s presidency, then yes, Manchin deserves the condemnation he is receiving. If, however, one supports eliminating the filibuster mostly because one favors progressive priorities, Manchin (and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema) are probably doing you a favor.

Trende’s finding may seem far-fetched. Read his whole column to understand how he arrives at that seemingly contradictory position. 

Snarky side observation: Democrats are known for their demand for instant gratification, their unwillingness (or inability) to think long-term.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Aboard the Gravy Train

Power Line's Paul Mirengoff reproduces a Washington Post list (behind paywall) of nepotistic appointments of Biden cronies and their newly graduated children to plum paid jobs in the administration. N.B., The work Ivanka and Jared did for Trump was unpaid. Here is the WP list:

The Treasury Department has hired J.J. Ricchetti, son of Biden counselor Steve Ricchetti, as a special assistant in the Office of Legislative Affairs. J.J. is a 2020 college graduate.

Steve Ricchetti’s daughter Shannon Ricchetti, who graduated from college in 2016, is deputy associate director of the office of the White House social secretary.

Steve Ricchetti’s son Daniel Ricchetti is a senior adviser in the office of the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.

Julia Reed, the daughter of a deputy White House chief of staff and longtime Biden confidant Bruce Reed, is Joe Biden’s day scheduler.

Sarah Donilon, daughter of Cathy Russell the director of presidential personnel in the White House, works on the White House National Security Council. Ms. Donilon is also the niece of senior adviser to Biden Mike Donilon. She graduated from college in 2019.

Stephanie Psaki, sister of White House press secretary Jen, was appointed senior adviser at the Health and Human Services Department in March.

Ron Klain’s wife, Monica Medina, has been nominated for an assistant secretary of state job.

Jake Sullivan’s wife, Maggie Goodlander, is counsel to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Sullivan’s brother, Tom Sullivan, is a State Department official and Tom Sullivan’s wife, Rose Sullivan, is an official at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Mirengoff adds: 

Evan Ryan, the wife of Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, is White House Cabinet secretary.

Incestuous hires are unseemly. The youngsters won't have trouble repaying their college loans.

The Longest Day

Not Normandy, nor the movie about the D-Day invasion; today is literally the longest day (and perforce shortest night) of the year 2021. With the arrival today of the summer solstice, the season called "spring" ends. Beginning tomorrow, days will begin getting shorter, a process that will end on or about December 21.

The three months from now until September 21 are what is technically called "summer." This is true even though plenty of places in the west have already experienced high temperatures over 100℉. This year promises to treat us to a hotter than usual summer.

The DrsC are very happy to be in the WY high country where 90s are considered hot. Our local reservoir on the Snake River is almost full, unlike those in California and on the Colorado River. These benign conditions are why we're here summer after summer.

Local color ... we saw a snowshoe rabbit in our back forest today. Deer are common but the little rabbit is new. Its transition from winter to summer coloration was partial, the body brown but the feet still white. Since we plant basically nothing and let the forest understory do what comes naturally, it is welcome to eat whatever it likes, all natural and no additives.

Plus ... COTTonLINE has existed for 14.5 years, we'll hit the 15 year milestone on the winter solstice. My counter today shows we are 2/3 of the way to a million page views, another milestone.

Happy Fathers' Day

Today we recognize, and express our appreciation to our fathers, and to all the men who hang in there and perform that vital role. If we're honest, and fortunate enough to have had a stable father-figure in our lives, we understand their contribution to who we became.

When social scientists compare people raised in stable, two-parent households with others who were not, the first group are much more likely to live successful, happy lives. Thank you, Dads everywhere. You were more important to us than you probably knew or realized. 

Woke Tide Ebbing

There is some evidence the "woke" wave has crested and a backlash against it and "critical race theory" has begun. Don't take my word for it, search "woke is over" or "challenging critical race theory" on the web. At the New York Post columnist Glenn Reynolds tackles this same issue, and cites several very public examples. 

Some of the far-left district attorneys elected with Soros money - who won't prosecute criminals - have come under fire. Try searching "district attorneys under attack" for examples in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Philadelphia.

As is usual, Democrats have taken a minor 'molehill' of genuine societal abuses and created a 'mountain' of overreaction thereto. It is both their standard operating procedure and their Achilles' heel. 

Democrat excesses aggravate the very voters Republicans count on in the ongoing culture war between the parties. "Tough on crime" is a theme that works for the GOP. The trend lines seem to be bending in our populist direction.

Saturday, June 19, 2021



The plywood has been installed on the roof and some of the walls of our new winter place being built in NV. As you can imagine, we are excited to see this progress.

One of these days we'll drive down there for an in-person walk-thru. It is about 550 miles each way, two full days of windshield time, plus a day onsite. 

The roundtrip isn't something we'll want to do very often, maybe once a month. Ideally we'd monitor the progress (or lack thereof) daily, we did just that the two months we lived nearby in our RV.

Pick of the Litter

The DrsC have visited over 100 countries, including every region except sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia. We still think ours is the best, and we've seen many others. 

The United States isn't perfect, no nation is. That said, it is better than most as the people crossing our southern border clearly believe. So why do some Americans feel the need to bad-mouth this nation? To teach our children that it is evil and basically irredeemable? 

That is crazy talk, and it ought to stop. It won't, of course. Much of the bad-mouthing happens because people who don't much like themselves project their shortcomings and insecurities on our nation. 

Can the U.S. be improved? Of course. Will it be? That is much less clear. Certainly not if those who seek equal outcomes for the provident and the feckless - the productive and the destructive - have their way.

Down that road, as the former Soviets discovered, lies a nation in which almost nobody bothers to be productive or provident. Needless to say, the resulting experience wasn't wonderful.

A Problem for Democrats

Writing for the Cook Political Report, Amy Walter - an occasional member of Bret Baier's Fox News panel - looks at Democrats' problems with what she calls "voters of color." Over the past three presidential elections the voting-for-Democrats trend lines are down for all segments of this group of voters.

Democrats rely heavily on non-White voters, and they've been losing ground with this group gradually but consistently over the twelve years. It appears the cultural issues that motivate many GOP voters also have salience with "voters of color," albeit to a lesser degree.

Walter explains Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians were lumped together in this analysis because of difficulties in getting sufficient minority survey respondents to enable the desired analysis. I consider this a reason to be cautious in interpreting the findings reported here. The experiences and therefore attitudes of Blacks and Hispanics are far from identical.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Science Not Trustworthy

Gateway Pundit reports a group of 18 virologists recently published in Science a call for further investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 virus. GP adds one of the eighteen has fessed up to Trump phobia causing the delay in making the call.

Post-doc Alina Chan of Harvard is the source for the following:

Chan says liberal scientists lied to the American public for months about their beliefs on the origination of the virus. They did this because they didn’t want to be associated with President Trump — who was right about the virus all along.

Chan said there had been trepidation among some scientists about publicly discussing the lab leak hypothesis for fear that their words could be misconstrued or used to support racist rhetoric about how the coronavirus emerged. Trump fueled accusations that the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a research lab in the city where the first Covid-19 cases were reported, was connected to the outbreak, and on numerous occasions he called the pathogen the “Wuhan virus” or “kung flu.”

So much for "Trust the Science." It appears scientists were not trustworthy, something we already believed true and now have confirmed. 

Holding Trustworthy Elections

Many people I know and like believe the 2020 presidential election was rigged, stolen; I am less certain. Because of untested changes in voting procedures, mostly imposed in reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, their fears are hard to disprove. 

Such beliefs are destructive of our electoral process, and ultimately of governmental legitimacy. Glenn Reynolds concludes for RealClearPolitics that our voting needs greater transparency and believability.

Reforming our political culture, which I regard as deeply dysfunctional, may be asking too much. All the more reason to support paper ballots, voter ID, and open counting on-site. Adopting these methods would do much to promote political trust, and political legitimacy, in a nation sorely in need of both.

Reynolds makes really good arguments for these reforms. Particularly worth reading is his critique of computerized “black box” voting systems.

Online Education

RealClearPolitics links to a New York Times article that also appears in the Mormon Media Review (no paywall) entitled "I Taught Online School This year: It Was a Disgrace." You probably were aware many learning experiences were online because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The other DrC taught elementary school for seven years before completing her doctorate. After which she taught people to be teachers for the balance of her career. As a consequence of which she communicates with many active and retired teachers. 

She and I have heard virtually all of the active teachers we've talked to say essentially the same thing - online didn't work for a lot of kids. It particularly didn't work for those kids who, for a variety of reasons, faced the greatest hurdles to educational success. 

If a heads-up parent wasn't continuously looking over a kid's shoulder, keeping them on-task while the online learning was delivered, the kid's attention tended to wander or be non-existent. Many parents were unable or unwilling to provide this supervision. A fair number of kids just drifted away and stopped logging in, basically were truant for much of the year.


A decade or more ago, I taught one of two courses online each term for several years, at the MBA level. I felt online students got an inferior experience. Mostly I ended up grading student written projects, those who wrote well got good grades. 

Earlier, when I taught the same courses in the classroom, I lectured, graded written projects and gave closed-book exams that required internalization and application of knowledge. I believe the classical approach both required and evaluated a broader spectrum of student abilities and performance.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Sauce for the Goose

When Charles Murray writes, he is always worth reading, even if you disagree violently with his observations and conclusions. Here in The Spectator World Murray writes that identity politics will wreck America. A choice quote from his conclusion:

Events since the summer of 2020 make me think it is too late to talk about if whites adopt identity politics. Many already have. That’s the parsimonious way to interpret the red-blue divisions over wearing masks, the widespread belief in red states that the 2020 election was stolen, and the rage that resulted in the invasion of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

This is all evidence that the federal government has lost its legitimacy in the eyes of many whites. If that reaction spreads, the continued ability of the federal government to enforce its edicts in the reddest portions of the nation will be thrown into question. The prospect of legal secession may be remote, but the prospect of reduced governability from Washington is not.

States have already begun to pass laws saying they won't enforce selected federal edicts. Extreme federalism, anyone? You may also find Murray's red vs. blue voter and racial distribution maps interesting. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

An Example

Twelve days ago I wrote about the futility of trying to tax the rich, indicating that they will go to relatively extreme lengths to avoid being taxed. More recently I encountered an example of this tax avoidance behavior you might find interesting.

A person we knew in CA, who has a lot of self-made wealth, is arranging to move out-of-state when he retires in a couple of years. He has bought a winter home and a summer home in two states which levy no state income tax. 

Both of these homes are classed as “income” property, to meet the minimum requirement for which each has to be rented for at least 15 days a year. This he does through a vacation rental agency. Apparently his places in CA are treated the same.

By doing this he avoids a variety of income and capital gains taxes. And he can write off as “business expenses” the cost of maintaining these valuable “business” properties. These are costs you can’t write-off on your residence.

So when you hear President Doofus talk about taxing the rich, shrug it off. They (and their CPAs) are way ahead of him.


We have learned that our new winter home being built in NV now has trusses atop its framing. You can see photos at the other DrC’s blog. 

There is a report plywood to cover said trusses has been delivered, but not yet installed. A tentatively promised “close of escrow” date in mid September begins to look possible, if not a slam dunk. 

This will be our sixth brand new, never occupied house. We got our first in 1978 and have owned two-at-a-time since the mid 1990s. For a year we owned a third in the early 2000s, in a Dallas exurb. Three was too many.

Believe it or not, we’ve liked all five, have warm memories of each one. We truly never had a stinker, but are glad we’ve shed the four we no longer own. Knowing when to leave a house may be as important as knowing when to buy one. Hanging on too long is a mistake.

The foregoing sounds like we’ve moved often, which is misleading. The CA house we sold four months ago we built in 1987 and owned for 33 years and we built our current WY place 21 years ago. We will cop to liking new houses.


I haven’t posted anything for a few days, my only excuse is that I am uninspired by the events of the day. Our doddering President is abroad, embarrassing himself (and us) more or less continuously on the world stage. Inasmuch as this was both expected and predicted, his gaffes and lapses do not truly constitute “news.”

We’re awaiting a series of expected term-end decisions by the Supreme Court. The only thing of interest done recently was to kick the can down the road on the Harvard “discrimination against Asians and Whites” case. 

SCOTUS asked the Dept. of Justice for their view of the university’s systemic bias against Asians, when the view of the Biden DOJ is known in advance (this DOJ thinks it justified). Court watchers believe the intent is to delay the eventual decision beyond the 2022 election.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Red Guards Here?

The New York Post has a story about a woman who grew up in Mao's China. She likens our "critical race theory/action civics" movement to Mao's Red Guard upheaval. The Post quotes Xi Van Fleet as saying:

Critical race theory has its roots in cultural Marxism — it should have no place in our schools. You are now teaching, training our children, to be social justice warriors and to loathe our country and our history. Growing up in Mao’s China, all of this seems very familiar.

Historians and foreign affairs experts agree the Red Guard movement set China back a generation and destroyed much of their vast cultural patrimony. We don't need its like here. 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Bad News

An Associated Press story, running in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, reports inflation is truly happening.

American consumers absorbed another surge in prices in May — a 0.6% increase over April and 5% over the past year, the biggest 12-month inflation spike since 2008.

The Fed, led by Chair Jerome Powell, has repeatedly expressed its belief that inflation will prove temporary as supply bottlenecks are unclogged and parts and goods flow normally again. But some economists have expressed concern that as the economic recovery accelerates, fueled by rising demand from consumers spending freely again, so will inflation.

As you read those words, remember the AP has been a reliable supporter of the Democrats' policies.

Later … Deutsche Bank calls inflation the “global time bomb.” Weimar Germany had some of the worst inflation ever experienced by a developed country; they are really leery of it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Curse of a Too-Nice Climate

Posting at Instapundit, Ed Driscoll links to a Santa Barbara News-Press opinion piece by local radio host Andy Caldwell. Caldwell who is not best pleased by the homelessness overwhelming Santa Barbara County, writes:

People are homeless because they burned every friend and relative they had. Now they are fixing to burn the town down. In places like Kansas, at least in days of old, they had mercy and compassion on the downtrodden, but they also had reasonable expectations of sentient human beings. That is, they would help the poor but not the shiftless.

And if the shiftless posed a danger to society or themselves, they went to jail or an institution. Pure and simple. But we don’t do that here anymore because “being homeless is not a crime.” Of course, we won’t arrest or institutionalize these people. We are too woke. We are too tolerant. We are too progressive.

Reading between the lines, Caldwell implies: the county's elected officials are too stupid and fearful. I've spent most Januarys and Februarys in Santa Barbara County for the past decade plus. I know the situation he describes is both long-standing and troubling. 

Complicating the problem, the weather is too nice. It never gets cold enough to die from hypothermia, nor hot enough to trigger heat stroke - perfect conditions for living outdoors. If you're going to live rough, coastal Santa Barbara County is the place you'd prefer.

Everything Old Is New Again

Question: How is an enemy drone like a pesky house fly? 
Answer:   Because you might use similar technology to trap both.

Blogging at Instapundit, Stephen Green links to a report that DARPA is developing flying interceptor drones that use long, sticky, flypaper-like streamers to entangle enemy drones. 

That idea is not entirely unlike World War II barrage balloons, the purpose of which was to hold up in the air the long tether cables which would entangle attacking enemy aircraft. Combined, maybe, with a frog’s long sticky tongue snapping out to snag a tasty bug.

N.B., The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan late last year showed ignoring the threat of enemy drones is a losing strategy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Daycare for Snowflakes

HBO host Bill Maher riffing on higher education as prostituted today in the U.S.

Colleges have turned into giant luxury daycare centers with overpaid babysitters anxious to indulge every student whim.

God forbid those we mislabel as "students" ever hear "a discouraging word" on or off campus. 

Four Americas

If you have time - you’ll need an hour or more - there is a George Packer long article in The Atlantic that is thought-provoking. He surveys the American social and political landscape for the past century or so and distinguishes four separate “movements” which have occurred. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

The Cliffs Notes version of Packer’s narrative:

In Free America, the winners are the makers, and the losers are the takers who want to drag the rest down in perpetual dependency on a smothering government. In Smart America, the winners are the credentialed meritocrats, and the losers are the poorly educated who want to resist inevitable progress. In Real America, the winners are the hardworking folk of the white Christian heartland, and the losers are treacherous elites and contaminating others who want to destroy the country. In Just America, the winners are the marginalized groups, and the losers are the dominant groups that want to go on dominating.

And his conclusion:
Meanwhile, we remain trapped in two countries. Each one is split by two narratives—Smart and Just on one side, Free and Real on the other. Neither separation nor conquest is a tenable future. The tensions within each country will persist even as the cold civil war between them rages on.

In case you’ve been overwhelmed by Packer’s verbiage, his two ‘countries’ are the Democrats currently repping Smart and Just, the Republicans repping Free and Real.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Biden Owns the Border

Townhall's Editor Katie Pavlich, who also appears on Bret Baier's Special Report panel, writes that Vice President Kamala Harris is being rudely received in Guatemala, by locals at all levels. Various sources have reported her being met by demonstrators with rude signs.

Pavlich reports Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei told Harris the border problem was caused by her boss, Joe Biden. Pavlich quotes President Giammattei about Biden:

The message changed to "We're going to reunite families and we're going to reunite children." The very next day the coyotes were here organizing groups of children to take them to the United States.

The Democrats' unique combination of stupidity and good intentions has caused much that is awful, including the mess that is "Biden's Border." The Trump policy of tough love worked very well for everyone except criminals, China, and those (including many Democrats) who abet the enemies of our society.

Later ... The New York Post also has the Harris story, and they add this Giammattei quote:

We asked the United States government to send more of a clear message to prevent more people from leaving.

A Gross Learning

I’m seeing articles like this from the New York Post which question whether mask-wearing did any good during the pandemic currently winding down. While I am certainly willing to view the science findings, should such ever appear, I have reached a tentative conclusion - based on an atypical personal experience - that face coverings helped.

The other DrC and I were finding masks uncomfortable and tough to breathe through. My smart lady ordered up some transparent plastic face shields mounted on eyeglass frames which we wore in lieu of cloth masks. Except in doctors’ offices, we got away with wearing the shields although I think 49 out of 50 people we encountered wore masks. 

What we learned from our shields is that humans expel way more tiny droplets of saliva while talking and perhaps breathing than you’d ever believe. We found them dried on the inside of our transparent shields which consequently needed cleaning with some frequency. The shields caught our droplets and others’ masks caught theirs. You wouldn't learn this wearing a cloth mask.

From this experience I conclude that mask wearing is mostly helpful to keep your own saliva (and germs) corralled and out of circulation. If everybody wears one or the other, there is much less germy spit flying about and we are all safer. 

I doubt any face coverings do much real filtration of inhaled air, the key is intercepting the exhaled spray. That they do accomplish. I bet the increased hand washing was helpful, too.

Unusually Good News

It’s the time of year when Supreme Court decisions come thick and fast. Writing at PJ Media, Tyler O’Neal reports a unanimous Supreme Court decision that an illegal alien having achieved Temporary Protected Status (TPS) due to horrific conditions extant in his (or her or its) homeland, does not thereby automatically qualify for Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status. Such automatic qualification has been argued by immigration advocates.

Writing for the entire court, Associate Justice Elena Kagan concluded in the case of Sanchez vs. Mayorkas that:

U.S. law “generally requires a lawful admission before a person can obtain LPR status. Sanchez was not lawfully admitted, and his TPS does not alter that fact. He therefore cannot become a permanent resident of this country.”

Translation: for illegal entrants to become permanent residents requires the U.S. Congress to pass a law making that possible. Given the current composition of the House and Senate, no such law has much chance of passing. Absent an overthrow of the filibuster rule, passage is unlikely in the foreseeable future.

Don’t be surprised if the legacy media mostly ignore this decision. Hat tip to Stephen Green, posting at Instapundit, for the link.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Divergence 2.0

We wrote a couple of days ago about the legal structures of red and blue states diverging. And we noted that people living in a state with values unlike their own often move to a place the laws of which better suit their mindset. 

Regular readers are not surprised the DrsC are a part of this diaspora, having left their native California for residence in Wyoming. Granted, it's too cold here in winter, and the winters are too long. OTOH, the summers are wonderful, and both late spring and early autumn are fine. 

If one has the freedom to do so, spending late fall through early spring somewhere south on the edge of a desert solves the "long winter" problem. Many WY retirees do exactly that, becoming what are known as "snow birds." When the snow arrives, we 'fly' south, normally by motor vehicle.

It isn't just Wyoming folk, lots of retired snow country people head south for the winter. The greater Palm Springs/Palm Desert area gets so many Canadians Ottawa should locate a consulate there. Family friends from the Denver area and the Chicago area both winter in greater Phoenix. 

There are desert residents who summer up our way, too. Actually, that's how the DrsC decided to call WY home. Our part of CA, while not desert, got very hot in summer. Most years it would be over 100℉ at least 30 days per summer, with another 60+ days in the 90s. 

As a couple of teachers with summers off, we came to WY for the cool weather and stayed for the culture and values. A sign in our community says it: "Wyoming, the way America used to be." How old-fashioned are we here? Our very large, modern full-service grocery store doesn't open on Sundays.

D Day Anniversary

The Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Normandy happened on this date in 1944. American, Canadian, and British troops stormed ashore on beaches code named Gold, Omaha, Sword, Juno, and Utah. It was, and is to this day, the largest amphibious landing on a defended shore ever undertaken.

Less than a year later - May 8, 1945 - Germany had surrendered, Hitler was dead, and the war in Europe which began in 1939 was over.  The D-Day landing was an amazing success. Caveat: credit for at least half of the defeat of Germany must go to the Soviets attacking from the east.

The DrsC have seen the beaches where these landings occurred. The remnants of the artificial harbor created to bring supplies and equipment ashore and of the German fortifications still exist and can be viewed. The French have created an excellent museum nearby to celebrate this great achievement.

Saturday, June 5, 2021


The Miami Herald reports Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has decided to not require proof of Covid-19 vaccination prior to sailing. Essentially, they gave in to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed off on a state law which fines any organization for each time it demands such proof. Atypically, I believe DeSantis wrong in this case.

The DrsC like to cruise, and in normal years do so once or twice. I am certain we would be more likely to resume cruising if we understood both passengers and crew were vaccinated. 

It may turn out that passengers who do not voluntarily provide such proof will be treated as second class citizens while aboard. I can imagine that they may be seated with other such persons at dinner, or be banned from the buffet, confined to one showing of the evening's entertainment, etc. 

I can also imagine such individuals suing the company if such disparate treatment is the case, even though the RCCL announcement makes it clear it may do so "for health reasons." Honestly, this FL law is a can of worms for the cruise industry.

I understand DeSantis' reasoning that we should not force people to be vaccinated. However, there is no Constitutionally-protected right to cruise, nor would being unable to do so in any way impede someone's chance to live an otherwise decent and productive life. 

Cruising is voluntary recreation, nothing more. On a cruise to Antartica we were required to get a signed approval from our physician before being accepted for the trip. True, it didn't depart from Florida and apparently Argentina didn't care, or more likely thought it a good precaution.

People abstain from all sorts of things that logic suggests are okay. The Amish choose not to drive cars, Christian Scientists abstain from modern medicine, and some people are anti-vaccinations. 

As is likely to soon happen, when our Covid vaccines move from "experimental" status to fully approved, the "don't make me" argument becomes even more far-fetched and idiosyncratic. Such choices should have consequences, as for example, the inability to cruise.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Diverging Rules

Long-time political analyst Ron Brownstein writes in The Atlantic about a set of socially conservative policies being enacted by legislatures in the so-called "red" Republican states. These include election security, limitations on abortion, enhanced gun rights, banning biological males from competing in girls' sports, banning critical race theory teaching in public schools, and limiting governors' powers to impose restrictions on civil rights in the name of controlling epidemics.

The motive, in addition to believing those are good policies? His reporting finds state legislators fear being challenged by a more conservative Republican in the next primary election. I believe this fear is realistic, I'm certain our WY congressperson - Liz Cheney - will face a primary challenge, which I hope she will lose.

Check out Brownstein's conclusions:

In this flurry of red-state action, two patterns are clarifying. One is that even with Trump removed from the White House, his style of belligerent, culturally and racially confrontational politics is affirming its dominance in the GOP.

The other pattern evident in the surge of conservative legislation is the continuing separation of red and blue America. As Biden and the Democrats controlling Congress are advancing an ambitious progressive agenda at the national level, almost all of the red states are responding with what amounts to a collective cry of defiance. On a lengthening list of issues, the rules that govern daily life in red and blue states are diverging—and at an accelerating pace.

When the divergence becomes great enough, we will learn whether "federalism" can continue to accommodate states with diametrically opposed policies. Brownstein thinks it might not. What happens then, perhaps something like Brexit?

Before that happens, expect additional demographic "sorting" as conservatives move to red states and progressives move to blue states. This "voting with one's feet" was once relatively rare and has become common.

A New Concorde?

Have you realized that scheduled passenger jet airliner service today travels little or no faster than it did when the Boeing 707 was the state-of-the-art plane in 1958? We briefly had the Concorde and its Russian counterpart but they proved uneconomical niche products and were grounded nearly 20 years ago.

Now comes the announcement that United Airlines has contracted for a small fleet (15) of jets, made by a start-up Boom Supersonic. Their speed, twice as fast as current subsonic commercial airliners. The cost: $3 billion. They’ll burn fuel produced from plant material, making them carbon-neutral if you care. The earliest you’ll be able to buy a ticket will be 2029. 

I’d not advise breath-holding waiting on this plane; if it happens, wonderful. I am unclear how it differs importantly from the Concorde, in other than minor details. Like the Concorde, the ticket cost will remain super-premium as the planes are designed for 88 passengers max. 

For a more skeptical view of the Boom Supersonic proposal, see this Gizmodo article.

Post-Brexit Arrangements

Tory policy maven Stephen Booth writes about the breakdown of Swiss-EU negotiations toward a comprehensive treaty of cooperation. His obvious aim is to see in these a vision of what the UK may be able to achieve in similar negotiations. My two word summary of what he concludes is possible: not much.

The EU has demonstrated via its actions that the political bar for substantially closer UK-EU economic cooperation is likely to be a high one for any future UK government to pass. Now that Brexit is fact, few in the UK appear confident to make the political argument that the UK should submit to UK-EU arbitration arrangements involving the ECJ to remove some of the new trade barriers that have arisen.

Therefore, greater divergence with the EU is likely in the future, whether we like it or not. EU law will continue to change without the UK. The UK can seek to coordinate with Brussels but its agreement cannot be guaranteed. The UK should focus on exploiting the levers it can now control, be it using its own subsidy regime to encourage inward investment or to ensure the City is a leading non-EU financial centre.

He concludes the UK can achieve more with entities that lie outside the EU - Australia, New Zealand, India, and though he doesn’t mention it, the US. 

Thursday, June 3, 2021


I saw this AP story with an Oroville dateline and had to comment. The California winter home we sold this past February was roughly 5 miles from one arm of poor, sad empty Lake Oroville. 

It is looking like we got out at the right time. The drought they are experiencing appears worse than those we’d experience every 3-4 years there. 

CA gets enough rainfall, if they’d catch all the runoff and store it. However, doing so would damage the salmon runs on the Sacramento River and the ecosystems of the Delta and SF Bay. And the new reservoirs would flood a series of currently pristine Sierra valleys, which drives the Sierra Club nuts  

So … CA will have water rationing and laws banning lawns, maybe private swimming pools will be banned too. I wonder if golf courses will be watered?  Could be the rice fields west of Oroville will go fallow this year, although that will rob migratory waterfowl of a place to rest and feed on their way south. And again there will be wildfires burning across the tinder-dry hills, pretty much a yearly occurrence.

Tax the Rich?

COTTonLINE has repeatedly pooh-poohed the idea of "taxing the rich." It is our belief such efforts normally fail, while resulting in avoidance behavior that defies economic logic. The wealthy get that way by being smart about how to hang onto money.

Vox does a nice article about how "wealth advisers" are busily figuring out how to beat Biden's "tax the rich" proposals. One of my favorite bits.

What wealth managers and pro-tax activists share is a belief that the Biden proposal poses more of a threat to millionaires than it does to billionaires — because billionaires often can be more patient when it comes to dealing with taxes, choosing the exact moment that they want to pay them. Millionaires will have to work harder to find clever workarounds.

Mere millionaires won't be able to afford the very best "wealth advisers," who earn millions themselves. 

The Shared Aim Is Power

Instapundit links to an Angelo Codevilla article for The American Mind. Codevilla makes some serious accusations, check out his conclusion.

At its core, the ruling class politics of Covid-19 is now no more about public health than environmentalism is about the environment, or Feminism is about doing good to women, or BLM is about saving black lives, or the education establishment is about cognition, or the national security establishment is about public safety. None of these causes are about their purported objective (any more) than communism was about equality or the proletariat.

Lenin made clear in “What Is To Be Done?” (1902) that the revolution is all about power for “the vanguard of the proletariat,” the Party. Like communism, each of today’s revolutionary movements is based on its own lie, and all are scams—the purpose of which is to transfer ever more power to the ruling class —specifically to its “vanguard,” the Democratic Party.

Codevilla claims public health, environmentalism, feminism, BLM, the education establishment, and the national security establishment are all basically power-grab scams. I believe we call this "painting with a broad brush," but we can't ignore its underlying factual basis.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021


Tomorrow on "the third of June" we remember Bobbie Gentry singing about the "sleepy, dusty Delta day" when "Billy Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge." Go listen to her sing it and read her never-satisfactorily-explained lyrics. 

As I've noted before, Ode to Billy Joe is Faulkner set to music. If any musician ever did a better job of evoking the life, faith and speech rhythms of the rural South, I haven't heard it. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Winston Nailed It

Describing the progressive wokesters and socialists who today bedevil our great land as well as their brethren who beset Britain during the Great Depression, the Claremont Review of Books quotes Winston Churchill:

They come from a peculiar type of brainy people always found in our country, who, if they add something to its culture, take much from its strength. But what have they to offer but a vague internationalism, a squalid materialism, and the promise of impossible utopias? 

There are downsides to any profession. I spent a career voluntarily working alongside such folk, calling them "colleague." It wasn't an easy label to pronounce with my tongue firmly in cheek. 

Blacks vs. Police

Writing for RealClearPolicy, Mark T. Mitchell pens the most even-handed, sensible analysis I’ve seen of the tension that exists between black Americans and the police. It is really worth your time to read. 

In essence, he concludes that each group’s perception of the other is based in reality. That cops’ paying attention to black young men is justified by their much-greater-than-normal involvement in violent crime. That black Americans’ nervousness about police is justified by the increased vigilance police demonstrate toward them. 

Each party in this tense relationship, he believes, is behaving rationally given the behavior of the other group.

Fear tends to short-circuit good judgement. We all know from observation and personal experience that frightened people don’t always act rationally. When a person is suddenly confronted with what he perceives to be a life-or-death situation, the fight or flight mechanism kicks in. If this is not quickly suppressed, the situation will escalate. The officer will escalate in response and in the process may make fatal mistakes. The competing narratives nourish one another. The likelihood of violence increases, and when violence breaks out, the narratives of each side are reinforced. The game is set for the next round in another neighborhood, another city, or another state where everyone is amped up on social media and self-righteous anger.

There is no easy way out of this tense stand-off, which Mitchell describes very well indeed.