Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Downsides

RealClearPolitics has an article about the federal government getting involved in funding child care. The article basically is a warning to existing child care facilities and parents about the downsides of federal support. It focuses on mandates of various sorts that doctors and schools have faced.

One thing the article doesn't mention is who the government would hire if it opened its own child care centers or would demand centers which accepted government funds hire. Do you remember the Post Office employees caricatured in the second Men in Black film? I wish that were a total exaggeration, it isn't.

I'm sure Democrats have figured out that the logical day care hires are welfare mothers. They could bring their kids with them to work and thus be employed instead of staying home drawing ADC. The downside, strung-out addicts and other people of dubious character raising your children. Their children turn out badly now, and soon they'll be raising your kids too.

About Vaccination

A variety of pundits have made a point that goes something like the following:

If you are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 you are supposedly protected against catching it. As such, you shouldn’t care whether others choose to be vaccinated or not. They can’t give you the disease and if they get sick or die from it that’s their problem.

On the other hand, if they get sick and can give you the disease, then your vaccine doesn’t work. That means they are right to choose not to be vaccinated.

What is wrong with that reasoning? Answer, not all vaccines are created equal. Some vaccines, like that for polio, seem to be essentially bullet-proof. If you’re vaccinated, you simply don’t get the disease.

Other vaccines merely improve your chances of avoiding the disease, as the influenza or flu vaccine does. Sadly, the Covid-19 vaccines fall in this latter category.

Much evidence shows they greatly reduce your likelihood of getting the corona virus, but do not eliminate it entirely. So-called “breakthrough” cases of Covid will occur. And there are a few individuals who react negatively to almost any vaccine.

With either flu or Covid, existing vaccines are not a guarantee you won’t get the illness. They do dramatically improve your chances of avoiding or surviving it. 

I like my chances with the vaccine, as does the other DrC. We had our annual flu shot earlier in the month, and will get the Moderna booster when it’s authorized. 

You will decide to do whatever you choose, but I’d rather most folks got the shots so there will be less of both illnesses out there being unintentionally ‘shared.’ We vaccinated do have a vested interest in others being vaccinated.

Policing Smarter

Writing for City Journal, two authors identify 3 principles which can help police reduce violent crime. The article is relatively short and worth your time.
First, crime is heavily concentrated by place. As a general matter, 5 percent of the locations in a given city account for 50 percent of that city’s crime.

Second, violent crime is heavily concentrated in a relatively few individuals. In general, 5 percent of the criminal offenders (not 5 percent of the general population) in a given city commit about 50 percent of that city’s violent crime.

Third and finally, crime is concentrated in time. It is predictable by hours, days of the week, and season. (snip) The criminal activity in crime hot spots and among chronic offenders tends to occur at night, during the weekends (Thursday night through early Sunday morning), and in the summer.
If policing is concentrated in these places, times, and upon these perps, violent crime can be reduced without over-policing the general population. The places and times are relatively easy to determine, the people are less easy to identify. 

It should be possible to have policies which say “police will vacation during non-summer periods” and “schedule police days off on Sunday through Thursday.” Most police would be on deck, geared up and ready to roll on summer weekend evenings.

Bearing down on the violent criminals will require prosecutor cooperation in charging and sentencing. This not always easy to achieve in these Soros-corrupted times with soft-on-crime DAs.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Still More Progress

Our roof tiles have been installed, and workmen are preparing to pour our front entry concrete.

Next the concrete is downloaded from a mixer truck. Maybe they'll do the driveway next?

Our house is in the classic Spanish colonial style we favor. There is at least some chance the builder will meet his latest revised early November completion date. Hat tip to the neighbor who sent the photos. 

Generals and Senators, Part Two

Paul Mirengoff of Power Line has the generals directly contradicting the President, their boss, while under oath. He first quotes Politico's reporting:

Top generals told lawmakers under oath on Tuesday that they advised President Joe Biden early this year to keep several thousand troops in Afghanistan — directly contradicting the president’s comments in August that no one warned him not to withdraw troops from the country.

Then he quotes the following on-camera interaction between ABC's George Stephanopoulos and President Biden. Stephanopoulos speaks first:

So no one told — your military advisers did not tell you, “No, we should just keep 2,500 troops. It’s been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that”?

Joe Biden replies: 

No. No one said that to me that I can recall.

Mirengoff concludes:

By adding “that I can recall,” Biden is hedging. Either (1) he realizes that someone did give him, essentially, that advice and wants an out in case he’s contradicted or (2) he doesn’t trust that his memory is of a level sufficient competently to perform his job.

We all know politicians lie, especially when the rock and hard place are close together, as they are here. It is clear Biden was told and immediately discounted the advice as it didn't fit his preconceived notions. 

Once it all went south and looked terrible, Biden needed an out and blamed his subordinates. It is a dishonorable act, but hardly unprecedented. A casual disregard for the truth has marked Biden's 40 year public career.

Generals and Senators

Multiple sources are reporting the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the top commander in Afghanistan before the pull-out testified today before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The topic: the manner in which U.S. forces left Afghanistan, and whether that leaving was advisable.

Honestly, I am surprised they are being critical of the way it was done. As I wrote earlier, I presumed a deal had been cut between these worthies and Joe Biden that they'd agree with his statement that nobody said stay in Kabul and they'd keep their jobs. 

It appears they are arguing they recommended keeping a modest (2,500) force in-country to provide backbone (my term, not theirs) for the Afghan government and army. A very real factor was that our leaving probably meant the Afghan forces pay was terminated and effective air support disappeared when our techs who maintained 'their' aircraft went home.

As I noted earlier, theirs was a "sepoy" army, hired troops fighting for a paycheck that we supplied in a country with few good jobs. As an analogy, try to imagine what would happen to Britain's famous Gurkha troops if the London's paychecks ended, they'd go home to Nepal and be farmers maybe? That's what the Afghani troops did. 

I haven't heard if the generals also testified the pull-out was badly timed and managed. Perhaps they believe, as I read yesterday, that if Biden insisted the pull-out be immediate, the way they did it was optimal as far as safety of troops then in-country was concerned. Obviously, the safety of U.S. and allied civilians in-country was not much considered. 

A Prediction

For a Canadian who’s also a British peer, Conrad Black writes sensibly about American politics. His current article for American Greatness takes a very balanced view of Donald Trump, and concludes that, like him or loathe him, Trump is quite likely to be reelected in 2024 unless in the interim he does something monumentally stupid.

As Black notes, there were and are reasons to be dubious about the outcome of he 2020 election, without claiming as Trump did that he won big. Rules were changed at the last minute, the pandemic was blamed, and large numbers of ballots were either mailed or harvested in ways not previously considered legitimate.

Meanwhile, paradoxically Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer continue to do everything in their power to make certain Trump is reelected. The contrast between his four years and Biden’s couldn’t be more invidious.

Except that now there are no mean Tweets.

A Big Deal … Maybe

A three-judge Federal Appeals Court panel has ruled that the teachers and staff must comply with the ruling of the New York City School District that all must be vaccinated against Covid-19. See the CNBC story for details.

The teachers’ union, which was the losing plaintiff in the lawsuit, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision on an accelerated basis. I expect they will do so very soon, although they might choose to simply let the appeals panel’s judgment stand.

This is one of those awkward cases where there is right on both sides, if we are honest. The children have a right to be in school and safe at school. The district’s employees have a right, given adequate performance, to continue in their jobs without undue interference in their personal lives, including what prescription medicines or vaccines they choose to allow in their bodies. 

While two of the approved vaccines utilize the new mRNA technology which could be somewhat unproven, given there is no evidence of long-term (“10-20 years later”) safety, the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine while less effective, does not have that drawback and will meet the district’s mandate.

Large issues involving society’s interests vs. individual autonomy are at stake here. If we’ve seen anything about the current justices it is that they seem to be risk-averse, disinclined to push boundaries. It will be interesting to see what they decide. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

Taxing Companies? Hardly.

I understand Press Secretary Jen Psaki's job is to tell the press what the Administration wants them told, whether or not it is true and whether or not she believes what she must say. Today, however, she said something I would not have been able to say with a straight face.

The Daily Wire reports she was asked if it isn't true that corporations pass taxes levied on them along to consumers who purchase their products. Psaki's response:

Obviously, the President’s commitment remains not raising taxes for anyone making less than $400,000 a year. There are some — and I’m not sure if this is the case in this report — who argue that, in the past, companies have passed on these costs to consumers. I’m not sure if that’s the argument being made in this report. We feel that that’s unfair and absurd, and the American people would not stand for that.

Take it from a retired Business School prof, corporations view taxes as a business expense, one that all their competitors have to pay as well. So apply a tax on corporations, they roll the tax into their cost structure and raise prices. 

All firms are being taxed, all raise prices; "American people" who want what they're selling pay the higher prices or do without. The result is inflation, dollars buy less, purchasing power declines. 

Most of those affected make substantially less than $400,000, as our companies pass the taxes along in higher prices of everyday items. If the market for a particular product or service is so fragile that any price rise will cause a precipitous drop in sales, it is likely the tax will cause many firms in that industry to fail, resulting in increased unemployment.

As usual, it is the working poor who get hurt the most by corporate taxes. Their standard of living declines when prices rise faster than their wages. And for some, their jobs disappear.

Sauce for the Gander?

The New Yorker has a highly controversial article which asks whether environmentalists should commit sabotage in pursuit of environmental goals. Author Andreas Malm specifically mentions blowing up oil and gas pipelines and refineries, one supposes because fossil fuels are anathema to greens.

The New Yorker routinely advocates policies which many believe, if implemented, will do irreversible damage to this nation and its culture. Would that justify impassioned patriots blowing up the magazine? 

TNY would take a dim view of such action, and indeed of its advocacy. The magazine should take an equally dim view of advocating extra-judicial violence for any reason, lest they be hoist by their own 'petard.' 

When strong feelings become all that's required to justify felonious actions, it empowers those you don't like as well as those you do. Down that road lives anarchy and a Mad Max world we hope to avoid.

Afterthought: What if someone blows up a pipeline and its owners sue The New Yorker for inciting the act? Their argument that an editor's judgment selected the article for publication might convince the majority of a civil jury that a tort occurred at the magazine.

The Other Side of the Story

Rolling Stone has an article whose title and subtitle pretty well describe the content.

How Gabby Petito’s Death Exposed a Dark Side of #VanLife 
Domestic violence doesn’t necessarily start when a couple decides to live on the road — but for those in abusive relationships, the isolation can be a pressure cooker

The other DrC and I bought a little (19 ft.) Class C motorhome 49 years ago and a year later headed out on a 2.5 month cross-country trip. Both teachers with the summer off, we drove from CA to FL, all the way south to Key West, back up the East Coast to DC, before turning west and driving home to CA. We had never camped before, and there were a few hard times and yet we loved it.

The next two summers we did cross-country trips again, the first across the middle of the country, and the last up north and all the way out to Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The following year we drove to the greater DC area, lived there for two years, and drove home across the continent. 

I won't itemize all the trips we've taken since, including another to Nova Scotia. Suffice it to say we ended up driving to all 49 U.S. States on this continent, and all of Canada's continental provinces, plus one of their territories - the Yukon - on our way to Alaska.

After 11 years we traded the little motorhome for a 5th wheel trailer and a pickup truck to pull it. We currently own our fifth 5th wheel trailer and our 5th pickup. We spent nearly 5 months living in our current RV earlier this year after selling our house.

We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary this past April, without ever lifting a hand in anger toward each other that whole time. So-called "van-life" doesn't have to be an emotional storm. We've loved it and will be sad when we're too old to hitch up and "hit the road."

Poll: Biden Popularity Sinks Again

Power Line provides a link to the Rasmussen Reports daily presidential poll which finds the following:

That 40% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Biden’s job performance. Fifty-eight percent (58%) disapprove. The latest figures include 21% who Strongly Approve of the job Biden is doing and 50% who Strongly Disapprove.

And the trend line keeps heading down, down, down. Sometimes it takes a Carter-type loser to help us elect a Reagan-type successor. Fingers crossed, eh? 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Schlichter's Hard Truth


Other than the typo where Kurt writes "most" and means "more," I find myself in total agreement with his sentiment. If McConnell sometimes (mildly) badmouths Trump, who sometimes deserves it, he is very effective in helping the Republicans in the Senate maximize their power to frustrate Schumer and Pelosi. Hat tip to Instapundit for the image.

Abolish the FBI?

Whatever else you may say about The Wall Street Journal, you'd be hard pressed to argue it is extremist in any way. That means Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.'s opinion piece with the title "Abolish the FBI" has to be given serious consideration.

Jenkins lists a series of high profile cases in recent years where the FBI has screwed up big time, I remember most of them. However squeaky clean it may have once been, it is certainly not that anymore. Here is Jenkins' conclusion:

By now, after its performance in the 2016 election, the evidence might seem conclusive that the agency is a failed experiment, however able and dedicated many of its agents.

Its culture at the top seems incapable of using the powers entrusted to it with discretion and good judgment or at least without reliable expectation of embarrassment. The agency should be scrapped and something new built to replace it. One possibility is a national investigative corps that would be more directly answerable to the 93 U.S. attorneys who are charged with enforcing federal law in the 50 states.

And Jenkins doesn't even mention the shootouts at Waco or Ruby Ridge. 

Y Not?

Source: Power Line's The Week in Pictures, comment section.

What We Lost

We gave up all of that to get rid of "mean Tweets." 
A substantial minority consider it an acceptable trade. 
Source: Power Line's The Week in Pictures, comments section.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Fun with Photoshop

The face of President Bush with Liz Cheney's hair and glasses, somewhere between funny and scary. His presidency was a failure she feels constrained to defend.

Murder Central

Writing in The Atlantic, David A. Graham looks at the numbers for the murder rate in the U.S. and finds them troubling. See his reasoning.

There were some 21,500 murders in 2020—nearly 5,000 more than in 2019. That’s a 29 percent spike, far outpacing the previous record increase, 12.7 percent, set in 1968. Those numbers come from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.

And things have not yet calmed down. Other data collected by Asher suggest that the murder rate in 2021 is still rising, though it is doing so more slowly, with a 9.9 percent increase over the same period in 2020. (snip) Last year was not just a blip. The U.S. hasn’t figured out how to stop its homicide spike.

If anything, the Uniform Crime Report data suggest that public reaction to the increase has been muted compared with the scale of the problem.

Unlike the crime wave of the 1980s and ’90s, which affected many Americans of all walks of life, the current spike appears to be heavily concentrated. Many homicide victims are Black men, living in predominantly Black neighborhoods.

So, let's understand what Graham has told us. There has been a big boost in murders in the Black community, meaning Black Americans are who is impacted. Logically, those impacted would be the "public" doing the reacting.

However, the only proven solution to gun crime is more police doing more "stop and frisk" proactive policing. Such policing ends up with many Black young people having a police record. 

Police records interfere with subsequent schooling and employment. So the Black community is understandably ambivalent about asking for action to reduce the murders in their midst. Thus, their response is "muted."

Meanwhile, rap/hip hop culture continues to celebrate using guns to solve interpersonal difficulties.


Three months from today will be Christmas Eve, the other DrC is busy making presents. The autumn equinox occurred three days ago, and I completely failed to note it at the time. My bad … which I now remedy.

The only excuse I can offer is that here in the Rockies, at over 6000 feet elevation, it has felt like autumn since late August. We are getting a patch of “Indian summer” now, I was out doing some painting yesterday for close to an hour and got a bit of sunburn. 

One other news note, the completion date of our winter place in NV has slipped again. It was early October and is now early November. If it slips again the process will have taken a year. 

I don’t blame the builder, they get no $$ until escrow closure so they have every incentive to “git ‘er done.” Believe it or not, a paint shortage is one of the causes for delay. 

Supply chain fragility is a real thing, in this “just in time” world the cost accountants forced upon us. Supply can be disrupted by war, disease or major weather events. I believe the last two are relevant in our case.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Banning Homeless Encampments

I've been under the impression laws against homeless encampments were somehow unconstitutional. It begins to look like that was just a bunch of progressive wishful thinking. has a story from The Miami Herald which indicates that city intends to ban encampments on public properties and entryways. That would include streets, parks and sidewalks. 
City commissioners last week gave initial approval to an ordinance that prohibits encampments on public property and in entryways. It would give police officers the authority to arrest people experiencing homelessness, as long as they’d been offered a shelter bed.

"Offered and refused," that is. The homeless turn down shelter beds because shelters ban drug and alcohol use and require orderly behavior of their residents. 

If Miami can do this, why not other cities? Why not CA which has the worst homelessness problem in the nation?

Snark on Steroids

Columnist Kurt Schlichter slings insults with the best of them, see his latest appellation for Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Scat Francisco dominatrix

And for her district:

Her commie hellhole by the Bay

Columnist Herb Caen would have hated that label and hated even more the mess his beloved SF has become.

An Assessment

Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, is not pulling his punches with this assessment.

At this point staying in the public schools is practically child abuse.

Don't you wish he was wrong about this?

As the Twig Is Bent ....

I just had what may prove to be an insight into the behavior of two show-biz influenced Republican presidents: Reagan and Trump. They were involved in different kinds of show business and that may have been an important influence in their subsequent political demeanor.

Reagan was involved in drama of various sorts, in an earlier era. He was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild and was active in anti-communist activities vis-a-vis Hollywood. Then he became a motivational speaker for General Electric and a performer on their Death Valley Days TV show.

Trump was involved in professional wrestling - an exhibition (rather than sport) that is scenario-driven and uses feuds to hype viewer interests. Then he was a successful performer in a reality TV show The Apprentice. He was also a successful and wealthy developer of urban real estate projects.

To the extent to which each relied on his show business experiences as grounding in presenting his public persona, perhaps they learned different lessons. Reagan acted in an era when Hollywood performers kept their clothes on, and mostly enacted admirable characters. 

On the other hand, many view 'reality TV' being nearly as fake and scenario-driven as wrestling. Trump performed in faux-reality show biz endeavors in which exaggeration and picking fights are rewarded. It may not have been an ideal developmental path if ones goal is to appeal to college-educated folk.

Xi's China

Power Line's Paul Mirengoff does a very interesting column integrating observations from The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Washington Post. What triggers this spate of commentary is President Xi's crackdown on China's large firms in the private sector.

A common theme is that Xi seems to be veering in the direction of the policies of Chairman Mao. Examples: an emphasis on "self-criticism," a reassertion of CCP power over the economy and Xi's drive for a third term in office, something several predecessors avoided. This last move prompts the following observation by a national security official:
China had solved the major problem of a one-party state — succession. Now they are un-solving it.

Following the old adage that it's an ill wind that favors no one, the consensus is that what is good for Xi's power is bad for China's economy. And that, in turn, can be good for the U.S. economy. Here is Mirengoff's conclusion:

Xi’s mini-Maosim is terrible news for China. It may also be terrible news for Taiwan, and therefore a major threat to peace.

However, if the U.S. is able to avoid war, Xi may end up doing for America what America arguably is incapable of doing for itself — keeping us ahead of China in the economic pecking order.

I'd like to think we're entitled to a little luck here, but we sure haven't done much to earn it. 

Debasing the Language

A Daily Mail (U.K.) story quotes Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley calling the horseback Border Patrol “white supremacists.” In case the Congressperson hasn’t been paying attention, most of the BP in that region are Hispanics, including these vaqueros most likely. 

Seems like anybody whose policies or actions you don’t like can be a “white supremacist” these days. Even if they are Black like Larry Elder in CA.

The story also calls the riders’ long reins “whips.” Perhaps we can forgive a Brit for not knowing the difference, they don’t often work cattle on horseback in the U.K.

Liz Cheney vs. Wyoming

I don’t know if you’re interested in the political future of Wyoming’s one-and-only Congressperson, Liz Cheney. As a disappointed WY voter, I certainly am. I voted for her in the past and have come to regret that I did. 

Yahoo News has a USA Today article examining her chances of reelection just over a year from now. The authors interviewed a bunch of WY voters and local Republican Party luminaries concerning her future. As you might imagine, they sought and found people on both sides. 

The Cheneys have been Republican royalty in WY for decades. However, voting to impeach a Republican President whose America First policies are highly popular here was for many a bridge too far. Come the primary next August, I’ll be voting for someone else to carry WY’s Republican banner in Washington.

Our former senator and legendary iconoclast Al Simpson predicts WY’s largely impotent Democrat minority will cross-register on primary day and vote for Cheney as a way to vote “no” on Trump. That sort of “voting for the enemy of my enemy” sounds much more European than anything we do here. 

Whatever happens, next August’s outcome will have outsize impact nationally as a referendum on the future of Trump and his policies. Representative Cheney has made a risky bet that the national Republican Party will repudiate Trump because he is flamboyant, theatrical, and candidly a bad loser. There are no signs of repudiation so far, and I’d guess the odds are long against it happening.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Biden Unpopular in Iowa

We don't often have an occasion to quote the Des Moines Register, especially in a non-primary election year. That said, politics in Iowa does punch above its weight because their caucus is normally the first indication we get of how would-be presidential candidates are perceived by the public. See their new poll:

Thirty-one percent of Iowans approve of how Biden is handling his job, while 62% disapprove and 7% are not sure, according to the latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll.

That’s a 12 percentage point drop in approval from June, the last time the question was asked. Biden's disapproval numbers jumped by 10 points during the same period. In June, 43% approved and 52% disapproved.

Biden's job approval rating is lower than former President Donald Trump's worst showing in the Iowa Poll. The former Republican president's worst job approval was 35% in December 2017. Other recent presidents' worst Iowa Poll results: Barack Obama, 36%, in February 2014, and George W. Bush, 25%, in September 2008.

Those poll numbers are encouraging. However, overconfidence at this stage is imprudent.

The Age of Rage

Law school prof Jonathan Turley echoes a term nobody seems to know the originator of, namely calling the current era “the age of rage.” The alliteration appeals to me, as it characterizes the current polarization of society. 

A web search finds several usages including a game by that name, but identifies no source as original. I suppose that means it is in the public domain as far as writers are concerned.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Everyone's Mad

Normally kind to Democrats and mean to Republicans, Politico has an article today with the following title.

It’s not just Republicans. Everyone’s mad at Biden over migration.

And they report polling that's hard to ignore, especially when you consider Politico sponsored some of it.

A recent POLITICO/Morning Consult poll found that registered voters trusted Republicans in Congress more than Democrats, 45 percent to 40 percent, to handle immigration. Only 38 percent of U.S. adults approve of Biden’s handling of immigration, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Congressional Democrats who want to be reelected can't like those numbers much. Joe Biden seems to be doing everything possible to remind voters why they elected Trump in 2016.

Admittedly, some angry Democrats don't approve of the government herding illegal immigrants like cattle. But those Ds from border states tend to agree with Republicans, that the illegal tide needs to be turned back.

What puzzles me is why the Border Patrol isn't vaccinating everyone who shows up seeking asylum, and deporting those who refuse the shot. Even if the vaccinated are later deported, they will at least have some protection against the corona virus.

Monday, September 20, 2021

About the Homeless

I have written about the need for involuntary treatment for incapacitating mental illness and substance addiction more times than I can easily count. You've probably tired of my seeming obsession with the subject. Yet here it comes again.

Howard Husock, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, writes for the New York Post on this very subject. Key thoughts:
The Department of Housing and Urban Development found that at least 25 percent of the US homeless, or 140,000 people, were seriously mentally ill; 45 percent suffered from mental illness of some kind. Serious mental illness isn’t garden-variety anxiety or melancholy.

The National Coalition for the Homeless has found that 38 percent of homeless people are alcohol-dependent, while 26 percent are dependent on other harmful chemicals.

We don’t leave those suffering from most ailments to forage for food from garbage cans, as many homeless must. We provide treatment, including through Medicare and Medicaid. Yet we pretend that the mentally ill, addicted souls on our streets just need more government housing.

Yes, by all means, let’s help the homeless — and get them off the street, where they pose a public-health and public-safety hazard to themselves and others. But for God’s sake, let’s get them the treatment they need.

Adding those numbers, up to 89% of the homeless are "seriously mentally ill" or addicted. Allowing for a degree of overlap, that still qualifies as darned near all. The remaining few can use a hand up.

Anglosphere - a Trial Balloon

The National is a publication from the United Arab Emirates based in Abu Dhabi. Their interests appear to be world-wide. Today they have an article by a Brit about the U.K. searching for a post-Brexit role. It makes an interesting point. 

There is an intelligence-sharing consortium called "Five Eyes," which includes the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Its name probably stems from it including five Intelligence services, all of them on the lookout for knowledge others would rather wasn't known. Five organizations with the initial I or five sets of eyeballs looking under rocks and behind locked doors, either way it is a play on words.

Five Eyes is a linkage of five predominantly English-speaking nations which nearly always find themselves on the same side in conflict situations, even if not all send troops to a particular dust-up. The article hints it could be the beginning of something bigger, the often-mentioned but never openly pursued "Anglosphere." 

These are nations whose dominant cultures more-or-less directly evolved from that of England. Even if the U.S. didn't join, a combination of the other four would be a substantial world player. 


Aside:  The Five Eyes name and intelligence context reminds me of the Eye of Horus symbol utilized by the intelligence service of planet Barrayar, in the excellent Miles Vorkosigan novels by Lois McMaster Bujold. The falcon's eye is legendarily keen and farseeing.

Random Thought

President Joe Biden has screwed up thoroughly and exhibits senility. All he has left is that he obviously is not Donald Trump. 

My question: Is "no more mean Tweets" all we demand from a White House?

More Progress

Our new winter place has cabinets. Shown above is the kitchen, with its "island" on the right. Still to come the three quartz tops, sink, appliances and hood.

Poll: Biden, Country Direction Numbers Down

Fox News hired two polling firms, one D, the other R, to jointly conduct a poll looking at attitudes toward President Biden and to the nation's direction. Key findings for registered voters are summarized.

President Biden's job approval has dropped 6% since June of this year, it is now 50% vs. 56% then. The top three reasons registered voters disapprove of Joe Biden are incompetence (22%), Afghanistan withdrawal (19%), and general dislike (13%).

Candidate Biden repeatedly bragged he would unite our divided country. Some 54% believe the country is less unified now than it was when Biden was elected. Plus, 56% are dissatisfied with the direction of our country, as opposed to 42% who believe it is doing well. 


Thinking about the previous post, I’m remembering when a group of ‘Democrats’ had great influence within their supposed party. These were the Southern Democrats who were anti-union, pro-military and anti-civil rights when the national party was exactly the reverse.

Coming out of the near-one-party FDR era, Southern Democrats pulled their party’s policies rightward until roughly Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, when that became impossible. They often allied with Republicans to pass military budgets, support right-to-work, and hold down income-transfer spending. 

When Democrats became the party of desegregation and school busing, most Southern Democrats seamlessly became Republicans and have been so ever since. At this same time southern Blacks, who had been Republicans since the Civil War, became Democrats.

It is entirely possible to be a group which holds outlier views within a party.


Writing for the Las Vegas Sun, Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez gets the results of the California recall election exactly backwards. His view is that CA Republicans need to run RINOs to win elections. 

As RINO Schwarzenegger demonstrated, that is a lost cause, even if you win you lose. The Democrat-supermajority legislature coopted him completely.

The route to power in a one party state is to become a member of that powerful party and form common cause with others who believe as you do. You become a power bloc that horse trades for influence within the party, and achieve your goals that way.

That, as we noted yesterday, is the proven path for influence in one party states. Minority parties exist as protest vote venues and rarely get a real shot at power as they are the declared enemies of the party-in-power.

Republicans represent maybe 25% of CA voters. Running as Republicans they have little-to-no shot at influence. If they all became ‘Democrats’ and organized as a Democrat power bloc, the party would have to contend with them and at least sometimes they could make common cause with another bloc of Dems to achieve a policy aim they support. 

For example, state and local government employees in CA are a Democrat power bloc. They are one of the few major groups of middle class people remaining in a CA which is hollowing out in the middle. Quite a few Republican-style policies are popular with middle class people - home ownership, public safety. 

If CA’s Republicans became ‘Democrats’ who favored Republican-style policies and sided with public employee unions whose members favor the same general policies, might they not be able to shift the Overton Window in their direction? I believe they could. 

Conclusion: The only route to power and influence in an elected one party state is within that party.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

De Facto One Party Rule

Writing for RealClearPolitics, Debra Saunders argues that Republicans’ only chance in a blue state like California is to run someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Who knows, she may be correct.

The problem with her advice is that in office Schwarzenegger proved to be a total RINO. He was hardly any improvement over actual Democrat Gray Davis who he replaced. Yes, the CA governor was called a “Republican“ but the state continued to be run as a Democratic satrapy.

If a Schwarzenegger is the best CA can do, or a Romney the best MA can do, why bother? Why spend Republican time and money for an empty result when the legislature is supermajority Democrat?


Elected one party governments "work" after a fashion, where “work” means represent the interests of various groups within the state. Examples of this include Mexico under the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), and Japan under the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

What typically happens in elected one party governments is that factions develop within the ruling party, those represent various interest groups within the state. All important decisions are made within the ruling party caucus, as the factions vie for power and influence, log-roll and compromise. The legislature is a rubber-stamp for ruling party decisions. Minority parties exist but have little power and serve mostly as venues for protest votes.

For the foreseeable future, places like NY, MA, and CA are likely to be one-party Democrat states, with semi-representative governments. If the truth be told, the same could be said of WY, ID, and UT and some southern states under Republican rule.


In the long run, the main difficulty with elected one party rule is the gradual build-up of corruption. It naturally follows from Lord Acton's maxim: absolute power corrupts absolutely. 

For example, liberal NPR quotes with approval the following comment of a former New York State senator.
It's a culture of corruption, there's no question about it. It's very sad that you have at this point in New York state, the Empire State, more corrupt officials than any other state.

The last Republican governor of New York left office 15 years ago. 

Saturday, September 18, 2021


The new winter place has been painted, now we need the roof tiles installed and a garage door. We tentatively close escrow in mid-October. They have much to get done before then.

E-commerce and Geography

Earlier today we visited our small town post office and, while emptying our box, were notified to pick up 2 parcels. This has me thinking about the geographic implications of e-commerce. E-commerce may make cities less important going forward than they have been in decades past.

The DrsC have chosen to live summers in a rural area 90 miles from our nearest shopping city. Our local area has a great supermarket and pharmacy, a hardware store, and 2 gas stations. But for real shopping, we formerly made at least a trip per month to the city. That was an all-day affair: drive 90 miles, buzz around making various stops, have a restaurant supper and drive 90 miles home, total 200 miles - fun, but tiring.

The last few years we have made that trip much less often, because so much we might formerly have gone there to buy is available online from many vendors, the most iconic of which are Amazon and Ebay. We have time to make the trip but a 200 mile drive isn't cost-free. AAA estimates cost for our size vehicle and distance driven per year to be $0.86/mile, or $172 to drive 200 miles.

Even if products might be slightly less at the store than online, it is cheaper and easier to buy online. So we go less often, and don't particularly miss it. This is what stimulated the following thought.

Online shopping is making rural living much easier than formerly, much less of a hassle. Combine this with the work-from-home trend brought on by Covid-19 and we may find a back to the land movement gathering steam. 

Covid will probably subside and become another flu. Rural living may continue to grow, at the expense of cities, because it is easier and cheaper than it was before. If this happens, there are investment implications you might consider.

The Brutal Truth

Heaven forbid one should have to teach undergraduates, or more than 1 grad seminar per term. Image courtesy of Power Line's The Week in Pictures comments section, scroll down.

Snark in Rhyme


Image courtesy of Power Line's The Week in Pictures comments section, scroll down.

The 50-50 Problem

We seem to be in a place in our nation’s history where, for the at least the last 3-4 presidents, half the country thinks everything POTUS does is caca de toro - a steaming pile of dung. I’ve felt that way about Obama and Biden, I know my Democrat acquaintances felt that way about Bush most of the time and Trump all the time. If I’m honest, I sorta felt that way about Bush’s second term myself.

Most of us, I suspect, choose to try to forget about the “idiot in chief” and get on with our lives, when the ‘wrong’ guy is the incumbent. That is the emotionally healthy response to our ridiculous-but-unavoidable experience. 

I wish I knew of a system that would produce better results - competent presidents most people respect. I know of no better system and don’t expect to discover one in a 50-50 nation. 

We will muddle along with the present mess, until it eventually fails utterly. It is my hope that point will not be reached in my lifetime, and since I’m old I may get my wish. 

However, it feels like Joe Biden is on track to make the failure happen sooner rather than later. Perhaps after the midterm elections his worst instincts will be stymied? What irony it is to happily anticipate gridlock as the lesser of two evils.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Bias in the Supreme Court

The legacy media loves to call the Supreme Court "political" and its more conservative members "hacks." Here is an example. In a sense they are correct about it being political, even if each of the nine members believes he or she is even-handed.

This is true because justices are appointed by very political people - presidents and their legal advisors. Faced with a vacancy and a consequent opportunity to appoint a justice, a president or his designees look for a sitting appellate judge (usually) whose record and opinions reflect a mindset like that of the current president. 

Judges are human and their beliefs and biases "leak" through into their decisions. Democrats look for judges of whose writings they approve; Republicans do the same. 

Once appointed to the Court, new justices brings the same set of beliefs and biases to their new work that shaped their earlier decisions. In a sense, they are selected because it is hoped they are model Democrats or Republicans, because they've demonstrated those "earmarks." 

Ironically a truly-middle-of-the-road judge would rarely be selected for the high court as he or she would appeal to neither sort of White House occupant.

CNN Dumps on Biden

Arick Wierson and Bradley Honan, who write opinion for CNN, are still hating on Trump - no surprise. But they've also soured on poor old Joe Biden. Wonder of wonders, they even itemize his failures.

  • Unlike his predecessors Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and even Barack Obama, Biden failed to name a single person from across the aisle to his cabinet.
  • He took way too long to wield all the tools at his disposal to confront the pandemic, which allowed Covid-19 to become even more politicized than it was under Trump.
  • The chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, where Biden strangely declared an "extraordinary success," has made his administration look inept.
  • Instead of looking merely to get on first base, Biden swung for the fences with a transformative legislative agenda that has yet to make its way through Congress at a time when the country needs Washington to show it's capable of getting the country back on track.

When a Democrat has lost CNN, that pol - man, woman, or droid - is hurting bad. 

About Gen. Milley

Logically, President Biden would throw Gen. Milley under the bus, and hang the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan around the general's neck. I've been wondering if the reason he doesn't is because the price of Milley's silence is keeping his job? Here is a Daily Mail (U.K.) article which hints at this scenario. 

I suspect Milley told Biden pulling the troops out before getting the civilians out, and doing it during the summer "fighting season" wasn't wise. I further suspect that Biden told him to do it anyway, and Milley obeyed the Commander in Chief, as he is required to do.

If that scenario represents what actually happened, a fired Milley would immediately report what happened and hang the responsibility right back around Biden's neck where it belongs. So he keeps his silence, thus his job, and the responsibility remains diffuse and unclear. 

If that is what happened (I have zero insider knowledge of their actual interaction), an honorable man would have resigned and told the truth. An ambitious guy who spent his whole career playing organizational politics, aiming for the top and doing whatever it took to get there, would do what Milley has done.

Note: About the Afghan "fighting season," Kabul is at 5876 ft. elevation. That is within a couple hundred feet of the elevation of my part of Wyoming. I promise you winters at this elevation are long, cold, and snowy. 

Specially trained and equipped mountain troops can fight under these conditions, but it is brutally hard, in spite of what a couple of Bond movies showing fighting on skis have hinted. The Taliban wisely choose not to do it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Very Satisfied Americans = 3%

The Quinnipiac University Poll which came out yesterday asked Americans their views of President Biden's performance in office. His numbers are down across the board from a similar poll taken in August.

Americans' views have dimmed on the way President Joe Biden is handling his job as president, with 42 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving.

Biden is negative on handling the corona virus 48 vs. 49 percent, on handling foreign policy 34 vs. 59 percent, on the economy 42 vs. 52 percent, and on climate change 42 vs. 45 percent. 

While 7 out of 10 approve leaving Afghanistan, the manner in which it was done comes up a strongly negative 31 vs. 65 percent.

A majority of Americans (70 percent) say they are very dissatisfied (46 percent) or somewhat dissatisfied (24 percent) with the way things are going in the nation today. Almost 3 in 10 (29 percent) say that they are very satisfied (3 percent) or somewhat satisfied (26 percent).

Congress doesn't win any popularity awards either, if anything they are viewed as worse than Biden. We conclude the nation's overall mood is sour.

Afterthought: You know the proverb “It’s an ill wind that blows no one any good”? When our nation’s “wind” is only “very satisfying” to 3% of us, I’d call our current situation darned “ill.”

A Question

I've been thinking about the post below and my experience growing up in California. Peculiar geographic conditions in the greater Los Angeles basin facilitate the accumulation of airborne pollutants as smog.  Do you suppose smog is what caused the state to “go green” and switch politically from 1950’s “can-do” problem solving to 2020’s “can’t-do” living with problems? 

Texas vs. California, a Review

Writing for the Claremont Review of Books, the always interesting (and emphatic) Michael Anton reviews a new book Texas vs. California. His conclusion describes a dilemma.

If Texas and California could simply each go its own way—“drill, baby, drill” versus yet another solar panel—peaceful coexistence might be possible. That’s the way Texans see things. If those left-coast fruitcakes want to pay $5.00 per gallon and suffer rolling blackouts, fine with us and enjoy.

But Californians see Texas as a mortal threat not merely to their state’s business model and way of life but to humanity itself. Drilling is killing. Texas cannot be allowed to be Texas because if Texans get their way, the planet will superheat, destroying us all. You may think that’s ridiculous hyperbole, and maybe it is, but Californians believe it and will not be talked out of it. Hence peaceful coexistence is, for them, possible only on their terms.

The DrsC have resided in both states, and in retirement choose to reside in neither. We summer in ultra-conservative Wyoming and call it home. We winter in libertarian Nevada, where we are “winter people.”  

If forced to choose between TX and CA I might choose CA. The politics in TX is more congruent with mine, and the TX cost of living is much cheaper. But in TX I miss mountains and trustworthy weather. We lived outside Dallas and there were maybe two months a year one would voluntarily spend time outdoors, one each in spring and fall. 

CA earthquakes are easier to put up with than TX tornadoes and hailstorms. And we experienced as off-putting the pervasive religious flavor in TX public life which presupposes everyone is some variant of Southern Baptist.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

News We Can Use

UPI reports the results of conceptual work on weight gain, on what foods make you gain weight.

Overeating has traditionally been linked to obesity, but researchers say the real culprit is a diet high in processed sugars and carbohydrates, according to a commentary published Monday by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Consumption of food containing highly processed carbohydrates forces the body to produce more insulin, a substance used to digest sugar. This, in turn, signals fat cells to store more calories, leaving fewer available to provide energy to muscles.

In contrast to what they call the energy balance model, the carbohydrate-insulin model holds that excessive consumption of foods high in sugar, or glycemic content, such as highly processed, rapidly digestible carbohydrates, causes weight gain.

Darn, there goes the nightly dish of ice cream. The senior author is at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital so this is unlikely to be junk science. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Misleading Numbers

We've been using admissions to hospitals with a Covid-19 diagnosis as an indicator of how bad the disease is in a particular region at a point in time. The Atlantic reports a study that shows the metric may be misleading.

It turns out that everyone admitted to a hospital these days is tested for Covid-19, a sensible precaution. Regardless of the complaint which brought them to the hospital, they are listed as Covid patients if the test is positive. Looking at admissions of some 50,000 patients to Veterans' Administration hospitals:

The study suggests that roughly half of all the hospitalized patients showing up on COVID-data dashboards in 2021 may have been admitted for another reason entirely, or had only a mild presentation of disease.

Show up with a heart issue, a burn, or a broken leg, if you also have Covid you are counted among the sick with that disease, even though you present few or none of its symptoms. I believe we need to get data for "why people are admitted" rather than whether they subsequently show a positive test result.

Bush Reminds Us

George W. Bush was a sorry excuse for a Republican president. His neo-con decision to stay in Afghanistan to try to build a nation in that god-forsaken place indirectly led to the debacle Joe Biden perpetrated near the end of August.

Three days ago Bush gave a speech on the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 and further embarrassed himself while doing so. Byron York has the story, if you have the stomach for reading about it. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

W has been mostly silent since leaving office and that has suited 95% of Republicans to a T. He should stick to that policy, making speeches was never his forte. Hindsight fails to suggest what those might have been.

Schooling: Parent Survey Results

Another story drops about what has happened to public (and alternative) education since the Covid-19 pandemic struck. You'll recollect I said we needed "numbers" to get a handle on what had changed. This article, courtesy of RealClearEducation, has numbers.
Nearly 18 percent of parents changed their child’s school, a figure 75 percent higher than historical averages. Thirteen percent also enrolled their child in small learning pods, supplementing regular school. Overall, 2.6 million students exited district and private schools, enrolling in charter schools, homeschooling, micro-schools, and other options.
Author Bruno V. Manno believes three lessons have been learned.
First, many parents don’t want “the old normal.” 
Two of three parents (66 percent) would rethink “how we educate students, coming up with new ways to teach.” 

More than half (53 percent) support pods, with black and Hispanic parents (60 percent) more supportive than white parents (53 percent). 

Nearly eight in 10 (76 percent) want “education funding [to] follow the student to whichever school they or their parents choose.”

Second, parents want K-12 system transparency.
Parents are scrutinizing how K-12 federal pandemic dollars totaling nearly $190 billion will be used. Nine in 10 (91 percent) believe that it’s “extremely important” or “very important” for schools to be transparent on how funds are spent.

Eight in 10 (80 percent) say that it’s “extremely important” or “very important” to get regular updates on how funding affects student performance.

Third, online learning and technology innovation will continue.
The vast majority of parents prefer in-person learning: more than eight in 10 (84 percent) plan on sending at least one child to in-person school full time this fall.

Around 12 percent are unsure, with 5 percent not planning to return their child to in-person schooling. Black and Hispanic parents are nearly three times more likely than white parents to be unsure about returning their child, or resolved on not returning their child, to in-person schooling.

If some Republican politician pays attention to these numbers, and runs on a platform of "education funding to follow the student" to the school their parents choose, public schools could be in a world of hurt. Imagine them needing to be popular with parents as a condition of keeping the doors open, shocking stuff. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Homeschooling Movement

Last Wednesday I wrote that we need data about the number or percentage of elementary school students no longer attending public schools. Today comes a Bari Weiss article at Substack which has some numbers to talk about.

The number of kids going to school at home nationwide has doubled over the past two years. In 2019, there were about 2.5 million students learning at home. Today there are nearly 5 million. That means more than 11 percent of American households are educating their children outside of traditional schools.

The homeschooling trend cuts across geographic, political, and racial lines: Black, Latino and Asian families are even likelier than white ones to educate their children at home.

Weiss provides some of the needed data, but mostly about homeschooling. Private schooling will also absorb some of those leaving public schools, and I don’t have data about their enrollments yet. Still, my conclusion of last Wednesday looks more prescient today.

Do you suppose that, looking back, we will conclude the Covid pandemic marked the beginning of the end of broadly attended public schools? And the beginning of their evolution into being "educators of the remnant" of poor and difficult children as they've long been in the South.

Not Comparable

American Greatness runs an article comparing the Covid experiences of the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar and Hillsdale County in south-central Michigan. Gibraltar is highly vaccinated, near 100%, while Hillsdale Co. is maybe 30%. They have roughly equal populations and have had roughly equal Covid experiences. 

The author uses their different vaccination rates and similar Covid experiences to argue that maybe we should reconsider the importance of vaccination. The author teaches at Hillsdale College. It isn’t clear the author has ever visited Gibraltar, I have. 

Gibraltar is densely populated, most of the open ground is on the “rock” itself and that is too steep to build on. It is a European city-state, its airport runway exists on land created by dumping fill extended into the bay. And it gets visitors from everywhere.

I have not visited Hillsdale County in Michigan, but maps make clear it is rural, there are no large cities nearby. It is not a tourist destination nor is it “dense” in the sense Gibraltar is. People in Gibraltar live cheek-by-jowl, in Hillsdale County social distancing comes naturally. It is small town America. 

My conclusion: a comparison of Gibraltar with Hillsdale is apples and oranges. City living in Europe and semi-rural living in America have some points of similarity, but the differences are striking. 

Science tells us we should always be ready to reexamine our conclusions when new data arrives, but the standard comparison is apples to apples. The comparison attempted in this article feels like the proverbial bridge too far.

Trump Signs Still Up

Reporter Salena Zito has become the voice of flyover America, its small towns and back roads, mostly in the old rust belt but other places as well. She goes to places MSM reporters never see, and talks to local folks about their politics, which tend GOP.

In today’s New York Post, she writes about the thousands of Trump signs she sees still posted across this heartland, some of them quite new. And about what they mean.

Whether I was on a gravel road just outside of Hannibal, Miss., or a dirt track in West Yellowstone, Mont., or on a neatly paved tree-lined neighborhood in suburban St. Louis, there were an abundance of signs and flags supporting the ex-president.

When I asked people why they were still putting their pro-Trump feelings on display, they all echoed the Proctors’ sentiments: It wasn’t about him, it was about them. It wasn’t about being unable to let go of his loss or their refusal to accept Biden as their president. It wasn’t about being “left” or “right” either. Rather, it was about insiders versus outsiders — with Trump supporters most definitely feeling like the outsiders.

And, with the midterm elections coming up next year, the Democratic Party should be concerned. Because, even after Trump’s shocking win in 2016, the insiders on the coasts, who dominate the nation’s culture and media, still don’t understand the people who voted for him.

Zito is a keen observer. There’s a Trump flag flying three miles down my own country road here in western Wyoming. It’s the same road on which you’ll see “Wyoming, the Way America Used to Be” proudly displayed; both reflect the same MAGA sentiment.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Mumbling and Bumbling

Instapundit has video of the crowds at several different college football games today chanting "F**k Joe Biden." Reynolds' commentary concerning the vids:

This seems to be happening all over. It’s amusing to see Democrats respond by demanding respect for the office, and the separation of politics and sport. Too late guys. Enjoy the new rules you made.

Football fans spontaneously expressing their disgust. Biden has been a disaster in office, seven months of mumbling incoherence and bumbling incompetence.

Weird Geriatric Science

The New York Post reports the findings of a study which seems to show that hyperbaric oxygen could stop or reverse the effects of Alzheimer's disease.

A new, small-scale study by researchers at Tel Aviv University suggests that dementia patients may see those symptoms improve, and even reverse, through hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). Their work was published in the journal Aging on Thursday.

The treatment prescribed to the six trial participants included five, 90-minute sessions per week for three months, in which patients inhaled pure oxygen through an air mask while within a pressurized chamber.

With treatment, researchers saw increased blood flow by 16 to 23% in many parts of the brain, indicating a marked improvement in the functionality of participants’ blood vessels. They also scored an average of 16.5% higher on memory tests post-HBOT, showed a 6% better ability to focus and a 10.3% jump in processing new information.

As professor Tom Dening, an expert in dementia at the University of Nottingham, told the Telegraph, “To be useful, the treatment would have to be continued indefinitely, so any patients would have to be very highly motivated and have good transport links to the treatment facility.”

With some 6 million dementia sufferers in the US, “it is hard to see how hyperbaric oxygen could ever be available on this scale,” said Dening. “It’s an interesting idea but a long way off meeting the usual criteria to become a standard treatment.”

Dening is too pessimistic, the treatment is simpler than kidney dialysis and centers to provide that life-saving therapy are widely available. Plus, equipment that extracts oxygen from the air isn't vastly expensive and creating a pressure chamber isn't rocket science. 

I am certain people threatened by Alzheimer's would do what it takes to access such therapy. Persons with kidney failure do. If that required moving to a larger town I would do it, wouldn't you?

Today Is Also the LoToJa

We went out for a few groceries and a fill-up of gasoline this afternoon and encountered a locally held national event. It is the LoToJa bicycle race, the name an acronym for Logan To Jackson. 

The road race, run on the Saturday following Labor Day, begins in Logan, Utah, and ends in Jackson, Wyoming. Wikipedia explains:

At 200+ miles, LoToJa is the longest one-day USAC-sanctioned bicycle race in the country. Cyclists must conquer three mountain passes as they pedal through the scenic terrain of Utah, Idaho and Wyoming en route to a finish line below the rugged Tetons at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

After leaving Logan on local roads, the route picks up U.S. 89 near Montpelier, Idaho, and follows it north to Jackson, Wyoming. From Alpine, WY, north to Jackson it follows the south fork of the Snake River along a scenic canyon. 

The riders appear to be the largest collection of rawboned skinny people you'd find anywhere. Bicycling is not a sport we follow, but I understand serious bike racers come from all over the world to "run the LoToJa." 

With hundreds of bicyclists on the road, most being followed by a support car, this particular Saturday is not a great day to drive to Jackson from the south. I can affirm the route is very scenic but it's likely the head-down racers can't sightsee very much while racing. Perhaps in the car headed back south they can actually view the terrain they furiously pedaled through.

The Long War … an Aniversary

Today we remember the awful events of September 11, 2001, exactly 20 years ago. The Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the field in PA where Flight 93 crashed are in our thoughts. It was our generation’s Pearl Harbor.

We also remember that quite recently President Biden handed a victory to the perpetrators of 9/11. In so many ways Joe Biden is a collaborator with our enemies, an opponent to us and our friends. 

What we need to remember today is who the enemy in this fight is, specifically militant jihadi Islam. They haven’t gone away, so we don’t have the option of ignoring them. They predicted years ago that we would tire of fighting in Afghanistan and go home, and were obviously correct. 

The Long War enters its next phase, it has not ended.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Family Ties

Writing only yesterday, I predicted we would learn that the Americans left behind in Afghanistan were largely ethnic Afghans who had achieved American citizenship or a green card but had gone home to try to rescue relatives and loved ones. Facts concerning this are emerging much more quickly than I predicted, however.

Today comes a Washington Post story, repeated at the website, on this very subject. It is entitled:

Americans refuse to leave Afghanistan without their families as evacuation flights resume

The article is a basically human interest story telling of two former interpreters who went back to Kabul to extract extended family members and couldn't get out. The author does draw some generalities about those left behind.

“When the Americans say, ‘immediate family,’ that’s your spouse and your children. From an Afghan point of view, immediate family means spouse, children, sister, cousin, brothers; it’s a much larger definition,” said James Miervaldis, chairman of No One Left Behind, another group working to evacuate and resettle Afghan refugees. “This just shows you that 20 years later, we’re still talking past each other.”
When the Roman Empire "consolidated" by pulling out of Britain around 410 ce, you know legionaries and civil servants who'd developed local ties felt similarly tugged in two directions. Notoriously unsentimental, the evacuating Romans probably left locals who'd worked for them on the beach when the galleys sailed. 

Postscript: The U.S. has never been especially adept at playing "empire;" our success stories in this realm are few.

They Looked, They Liked

Robert Reich, the far left's mouthy "poison dwarf," Tweets something that makes him look ridiculous. Hat tip to Instapundit for the image.

Florida and Texas are the destinations most chosen by people moving from blue states. It appears many thousands have "looked" and decided they like what they see. Modern idiom calls his Tweet a self-own.

‘Switzerland’ With a Navy

Austin Bay, posting at Instapundit, links to a Strategy Page story about city-state Singapore’s military preparedness, clearly punching above their weight.

The Singapore Navy has only 7,000 personnel and 36 ships but the sailors and officers are well trained and the ships, four subs and 30 surface warships, are modern and regularly updated or replaced.

Despite having a population that is mostly Chinese, one of the four official languages is English and nearly all residents speak it. More people speak English at home than Chinese. From the beginning Singapore sought to position itself as a multi-ethnic trading nation and not another Hong Kong or Taiwan.

Singapore spends about five percent of GDP on its armed forces, which consists of 72,000 active-duty personnel. Conscription (22-24 months of service) is used to enable Singapore to maintain a reserve force of over a million men with military training and able to be mobilized and armed in the event of a national emergency. Sort of like Switzerland but with a navy.

Island Singapore sits alongside the busiest waterway in the world - the Straits of Malacca. It is clear they wish to have a major say in the policing of their region. 

The DrsC have sailed into and out of Singapore and seen the seaway there teeming with commercial vessels of all sorts and sizes, both moored and underway. Our impression from the sea was it looked like an enormous ‘truck stop’ on the maritime ‘interstate.’ Singapore’s navy - the Strait's ‘highway patrol’ - are heavily armed like a SWAT team.

Our Neville Chamberlain

The American Enterprise Institute has posted a jeremiad by WaPo columnist Marc Thiessen arguing President Biden has forfeited any ethical right to publicly commemorate the 9/11 this year. The column summarizes and documents Biden’s many malfeasances regarding the withdrawal from Afghanistan, which have handed militant Islamist jihadis another victory almost exactly 20 years later. 

Biden has gone a long way to earning the title of “America’s Neville Chamberlain,” our misreader-of-the-situation-in-chief. Thiessen - an occasional panelist on Bret Baier’s Fox News show - concludes:

By his dereliction of duty, Biden has abdicated his right to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11. The president who surrendered Afghanistan to our terrorist enemies has no business setting foot in Shanksville, where the heroes of Flight 93 launched the first American counterattack. The president who lost 13 American service members by putting their security in the hands of terrorists has no business laying a wreath at the spot where Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. The president who left our citizens and allies behind in Afghanistan and lied to the American people has no business at Ground Zero. His presence would insult the memory of those who died in that sacred place — and those who gave life and limb to deliver justice to the enemies who struck us that day.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The Elephant in the Afghan Room

Nobody is much talking or writing about who the Americans left in Afghanistan are, exactly. More particularly, are many or indeed all of them ethnic Afghans who were there visiting family, working for NGOs, or in one way or another transferring technology there?

It turns out that for different reasons, members of both parties don't want to talk about this issue. Republicans, of which I am considered one, don't wish to reduce the impact of American citizens left behind on President Biden's demonstrated fecklessness.

Democrats don't want to suggest that they care less about fellow Americans who happen to be ethnic Afghans and Islamic. And more to the point, Democrats want the whole subject to simply go away, to "turn the page."

After all it is one thing to feel sympathy for some left-behind blond woman or blue-eyed kid who speaks only English and wears a crucifix. Quite another to feel the same for a Pashtun man or woman who speaks a local language, has local relatives, and shares the nation's Islamic faith. Either could be in exactly the same danger, but with which would most Americans identify?

Looking back, don't be surprised if it turns out most of the left-behind were either an ethnic Afghan or married to one. Also don't be surprised if it takes years for that information to surface.

Data Needed

Now that virtually all public schools have restarted, with on-campus classes, it will be interesting to learn how many students who began home schooling or other non-public approaches to learning have returned to the public schools. Very many ended up in private schools, parent-organized learning pods, garage-based micro-schools or learning at the kitchen table, more than a few will stay there.

My guess is that public school enrollments are down by a non-trivial amount. I'll be surprised if they are down by more than 10%. Even that amount is huge because schools are funded on the basis of enrollments and will get less state money for fewer attending students. 

Do you suppose that, looking back, we will conclude the Covid pandemic marked the beginning of the end of broadly attended public schools? And the beginning of their evolution into being "educators of the remnant" of poor and difficult children as they've long been in the South.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Fauci At Risk

Several sources, including this from Fox News, report new documents show Dr. Fauci lied about his involvement in the Wuhan lab, perhaps provided government funding, and directed at a distance what they studied. This was done through a cut-out organization - EcoHealth Alliance - to provide a fig-leaf of deniability, as long as nobody dug further. 

I will not be at all surprised if it eventually becomes clear the U.S. taxpayer funded the Wuhan Institute of Virology to do bat virus work deemed too dangerous to be done in the U.S., and did so at Dr. Fauci's behest

In that sense China's claim that we're to blame may be partially true, although we did not force WIV to accept the contract or grant - greed isn't an alibi. It also doesn't excuse their sloppy contagion control protocols. And it is clear the work didn't happen at Fort Detrick, MD, as China has claimed.

Poll: Nearly 2/3 Say Afghan Exit Bungled

Breitbart links to a Golden/TIPP poll which finds that 63% agreed at least somewhat that the way Biden pulled U.S. forces out of Afghanistan was wrong. Some 28% disagreed with that assertion at least somewhat, and 9% reported having no opinion. 

One interesting finding was that single and married women disagreed equally with the bungled diagnosis (31% in each case), but married women were much more likely than single women to agree it was bungled (62% vs. 53%). 

Without overworking stereotypes, it appears single women pay less attention to the national news. We see this in the cross tabs for Whites, where 96% of men have an opinion, one way or the other, while only 89% of women express an opinion. In a poll of 1300 respondents, over half of whom are White, I conclude the difference found is significant.

BTW, if you are wondering who the "Golden" is, his full name is James Golden. For many years he worked for Rush Limbaugh using the stage name "Bo Snerdley." Golden now has his own radio talk show and the TIPP polls exist to provide him talking points.

Dawn of a New Dune

Frank Herbert’s massive 1965 novel Dune has been made into yet another version which is scheduled to come to theaters later this fall. I have read the book more than once, and seen both earlier film versions repeatedly. I will see this one as well.

Reviewers generally pan the first theatrical film by David Lynch, starring Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides. I disagree while admitting that if you’d not read the book first, as I had, you might miss more than a few of the nuances.

The 2000 TV miniseries for the SciFi channel starred Alec Newman as Paul, and was good in its own way. As was the follow-on Children of Dune, released in 2003, with some of the same cast.

Now, sixty years or so after it was written, another filmic version has been produced. I wonder if Herbert’s imagined future hasn’t passed it's sell-by date? 

Dune was written in the psychedelic 1960s, all these years later the future imagined by Herbert looks less and less credible. Herbert saw humans getting more involved with mind-expanding drugs and shunning computers and IT. 

In spite of a few creative types in Silicon Valley sampling hallucinogens, the reliance on drugs vs. on machines seems to have gone the opposite way - the machines are winning hands down while drugs are the often-terminal anesthesia of society’s losers and burnouts. 

Hearing once again a Guild Navigator intone “The Spice Must Flow” and Paul recite “Fear is the Mind-Killer” will be nostalgic for me but I have to wonder if it will mean much to a modern audience. 

It is an epic tale but most ‘Duniacs’ are old as dirt, like me. Does anyone still read the books?

Monday, September 6, 2021

Once Bitten ≠ Twice Shy

This and a hundred other sources are reveling in Rolling Stone's embarrassment for running a story based on the report of a local TV station in Oklahoma. The report - local hospitals supposedly filled to overflowing with Ivermectin overdoses. It turned out to be entirely false, some local physician either trolling or conning a typically low-talent local TV news reporter.

Certainly, the local reporter should have checked the story with the local hospitals, so should whoever at Rolling Stone wrote the much-maligned piece. They didn't, which speaks volumes about the current state of journalism, and the depths to which it has fallen. 

The local news guy or gal was lazy, or didn't know better. Considering what they're paid, you can't expect much more.

Rolling Stone, for all of its counterculture roots, has been around for 50+ years, is national media, and they do know better. Plus they screwed up by running the hoax UVA gang-rape story some 7 years ago, and you'd think they would be more careful.

Pretty clearly what happened was the story too neatly fit the narrative line RS was trying to sell. It agreed with what Dr. Fauci and the CDC were saying and appeared to point to the dangers of off-label approaches and ignorant views held by hicks in the sticks. 

Why bother to check something so obviously true? Except it wasn't true at all. Those supposedly full hospitals had seen no such cases, much less an overflow. 

Journalism schools should hammer home to their graduates that any story that totally confirms your biases needs to be checked and rechecked. Because you want to believe it, be extra certain you aren't being fooled or innocently misled. 

National Review's Kevin Williamson pens wisdom about this story:

A note to our progressive friends: This is your version of Q-Anon — falling for obvious, ridiculous lies because you want to believe the worst about people you hate.

A Partial Defense

I read the guys (plus gal Friday) at Power Line and mostly I agree or, in the case of columns on soccer or music, ignore them. Heck, everybody is entitled to his hobby horses, including Scott and Paul.

Today, Scott Johnson beats up on Peggy Noonan, opining:

I don’t understand why the Wall Street Journal continues to turn over valuable editorial page real estate to her on a weekly basis.

He demonstrates that she has been wrong on occasion, and has repeatedly changed her opinion 180° without acknowledging the flip-flop. All of this is true. And he doesn't even mention her dislike of one Donald J. Trump, which was visceral and over the top.

I'd remind Johnson of Emerson's famous quote:

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

Noonan writes what she is currently feeling, and that changes as the times, events and personalities change. And the reason the WSJ keeps giving her space, Scott, is that her writing about those feelings is better than that of almost anybody alive. 

It isn't that her opinions are always better or more insightful than yours or mine, although they sometimes are. Rather it is that she combines heart and brain in often beautiful prose that you or I wish we could write. 

The WSJ recognizes this rare talent and gives her a platform. If they didn't still believe they were lucky to have her op/ed input, she would be gone like an SR-71 on afterburner.

As noted below, I'll avoid her columns on Trump. She and I will have to disagree at least about his policy preferences, if not about his delivery style. I experienced Trump's policies as exactly what was needed, and the economy reacted accordingly. Whatever his gaucheries, the man spoke for a can-do America that once was and could (I hope) be again. 

What is “White”?

A recent CNN column by John Blake - a multi-racial individual - argues both ways about whiteness vs. blackness in people. It is clear he prefers what exists in his family which is White/Hispanic/Black but he senses (and honestly reports) the power of what he calls “whiteness” to adapt and win out.

He notes the increasing numbers of Hispanic peoples who list themselves as White. He fails to note that in many parts of our society Asians are counted (or treated) as “honorary” Whites, so that for example employing or enrolling them gets the firm or school no “minority” credit.

In other words, what constitutes White is flexible. Persons whose ancestors are clearly not of European ancestry are nevertheless treated as though they were that. 

Perhaps we need to consider that “White” is more a set of values, a set of cultural programming than actually a racial thing. If enough members of a group “act White,” that group ‘becomes’ White and is so considered. I suspect any honest observer would have to reach some similar conclusion.

If, for whatever reasons, a group chooses not to adopt the prevailing cultural and social values, its status remains that of “outsider” essentially forever. Consider the Roma people of Europe who have followed this path, and remained the “other” in perpetuity. Consider the different achievement levels of Black people whose ancestors have been in the U.S. since slavery vs. Black people whose ancestors recently came here from the Caribbean and have been successful.