Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Zemmour Announces

In the last few days I’ve written twice about Eric Zemmour. Today comes the news he has formally announced his candidacy for President of France. 

Writing for Power Line, Steven Hayward has a translation of Zemmour’s announcement speech. I’ve read it and it is powerful stuff. I imagine it is what Donald Trump would have said in 2016 had he been a scholar/journalist instead of a developer/tycoon.

Zemmour attacks head on the globalist elites that have allowed France to become something its own people no longer recognize as home. He declares against the EU, and against “wokeism,” as well as his well-known opposition to multiculturalism.

News You Can Use

Paul Caron, Dean of the Law School at Pepperdine University, authors the TaxProfBlog which runs some interesting stuff. Today he has a chart by Dan Mitchell categorizing the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) into five categories, based on whether they tax personal income and, if so, how it is done. 

Mitchell’s five categories are No Income Tax, Flat Tax, Low-Rate Graduated Tax (<5%), Graduated Tax (5-8%), and Class Warfare Graduated Tax (>8%). The percentages represent the state’s top rate for the highest earners. The nine states in the No Tax group are AK, FL, NV, NH, SD, TN, TX, WA, and WY. 

NY is in the class warfare group, FL has no state income tax. Imagine how much money Trump saved when he moved from NY to FL. He likely saved more than all but a few earn before taxes.

They’re Mostly Patriots

COTTonLINE’s favorite analyst of foreign affairs - George Friedman - makes interesting points about the mental gymnastics intelligence analysts must accomplish in order to do their jobs. He uses Russia’s Putin as an example.

Whether Putin is good or evil is a nice conversation to have. But if you want a sense of what he might be thinking, start with the fact that he doesn’t think he is evil and grasp what he is afraid of and confident in. Empathize with him. He is a former KGB officer and a patriot who watched his country collapse and be treated with disdain. Feel the pain he feels and then grasp how intelligent he is. Then it is possible you might catch a glimpse of his next move.

Analysts must bury themselves in the countries and leaders they’re dealing with. It’s their job to know the leader’s mind, and to do that, passages like Matthew 5:44 are essential. Loving your enemy is the means to destroy him. Hating him blinds you to his fundamental strength: the fact that he believes deeply in his virtue. And if you don’t understand the pride and patriotism of someone like Putin, you will never contain him.

In the instance of Putin vs. Ukraine, know that he feels morally responsible for the defense of ethnic Russians who live there. He will support them as the Pakistanis supported the Taliban. 

Unfortunately, this doesn’t tell us if he will invade, as he surely wishes to. We must also understand his assessment of the risks to Russia inherent in that act, and how much those will negatively impact his other aims in Europe and beyond. 

Crime Rate Politics

Writing at statistical website FiveThirtyEight, Daniel Cox makes an interesting point about why the increased murder rate probably won’t be a significant factor in the 2022 midterm elections.

Recent trends in geographic polarization have shown that the places experiencing the greatest surge in crime today — cities and inner suburbs, according to the American Enterprise Institute’s Survey Center on American Life, where I serve as director — are largely Democratic strongholds. In other words, there are simply not that many swing voters living in the areas most affected by rising violence.

Translation: Most of the increase in murders is Blacks shooting Blacks, assaults which Black Americans inexplicably take in stride. Thus Cox is probably correct. OTOH, a spate of carjackings in upscale suburbs, as recently experienced near the Twin Cities, could have real political relevance.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Salvation Army Retreats

An item of concern recently among conservatives is that the Salvation Army, which has had a decent reputation, sent around a controversial “woke” memo. Just The News has part B of the story.

The Salvation Army has withdrawn its controversial "Let's Talk About ... Racism" guide following criticism and donor backlash over the text that asked white supporters of the charity group to deliver "sincere" apologies for their race and the past sins of the Church.

I’ll bet too many potential white donors were telling SA bell-ringers they were offended and would no longer support the church’s charitable works. There is much truth in this adage: “Get woke, go broke.” 

About the Baltic States

I’ve visited the 3 small Baltic nations which were parts of the Soviet Union: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. I like them quite a lot. This year, on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the USSR, Reason magazine looks at these three small nations and celebrates their unusual post-USSR success. 

These 3 members of the European Union and NATO (since 2004) are solidly European and western in orientation. The other now-independent former SSRs have done poorly, one way or another. 

If you get the chance, the Baltic states are worth a visit. So is Kaliningrad,  a small bit of Russia wedged between Poland and Lithuania which is as separate from the Russian landmass as Alaska is from the continental U.S.

More on Zemmour

We wrote yesterday about Eric Zemmour, the French historian-turned-politician who opposes the Islamic immigration that has flooded France. Today comes another, more comprehensive view of this man, in the Claremont Review of Books. Hat tip to Power Line for the link. It is a long read, as many CRB articles are, but perhaps worth your time.

Cheney a Swamp Creature

I may winter in sunny Nevada but the politics of Wyoming, where I legally reside and vote, are still very much on my mind. Thus I note the following.

Attorney Harriet Hageman is challenging Liz Cheney for the Republican nomination for Wyoming’s one and only House of Representatives seat. Just The News reports Hageman accuses Cheney of voluntarily leaving her post on the House Natural Resources Committee, the actions of which are of extreme importance to Wyoming. 

Hageman claims, with some justice, that Cheney is more attached to VA where she lives while Congress is in session than to WY which elected her. Rep. Cheney has become a #neverTrump crusader and co-chairs the House Jan. 6 investigation. These actions are not winners in conservative Wyoming, which as JTN observes, voted 70% for Trump. 

The “Greedy Jobs” Explanation

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports research into root causes for the men vs. women pay differential. A woman economics prof at Harvard claims it is the premium paid to what she calls “greedy jobs” that accounts for most of the difference. How does she describe such jobs?

Claudia Goldin, who taught Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, outlines her argument in her new book, Career & Family, which draws on research to show that highly-paid 'greedy jobs' in City law, banking and politics force women to choose between their careers and families once they become mothers.

The term 'greedy job' describes 'a certain type of "beck and call" job, which pays over the odds for extensive travel, unpredictable, inflexible hours and demanding client facetime.'

The capitalized word “City” above is a British term meaning the heart of London which is the economic equivalent of Manhattan in NYC. Goldin adds the following:

The prestige, selectivity and enormous pay checks make this type of job highly desirable for male and female graduates. However, once children come along, it becomes difficult for two parents to maintain their 'greedy' careers.

'Men and women have fairly equal pay trajectories until babies come along,' the article notes. 'Because women tend to marry men a little older, and so ahead of them on the pay scale, it is logical for the wife to step back.'

Another major factor in gender pay differentials is that far fewer women tend to self-select into physically dangerous jobs like construction, first responder (fire-fighting and law enforcement), mining, logging, and the like. Therefore, far fewer women than men are injured or killed at work. Dangerous, dirty jobs - which society needs done - tend to pay more than safer, cleaner occupations.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Zemmour Interviewed

Writing for Spectator World, Freddy Gray documents an interview he conducted with Eric Zemmour, the most interesting person on the political right in France. Zemmour is a likely candidate in the next French presidential election. 

Zemmour is a defender of French uniqueness and an opponent of Muslim immigration into France. As the child of Algerian emigrant parents, he has the well-known “convert’s zeal” for French culture.

His views make him anathema to some, and an unlikely winner of the presidential run-off that is a feature of French elections. He is also the only truly interesting personality in modern French politics. Perhaps you will find many of his views congenial.

Ancient Climate Change

As reported in EurekAlert of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, scientists have shown that climate change wiped out Liangzhu, an advanced Chinese city, some 5000 years ago. Oddly, no SUVs were available to blame for the exceptionally heavy rains that basically flooded it out.

More proof, if any is needed, that climate change is a constant, a feature of life on this planet quite independent of human agency. Fortunately, we humans have proven sufficiently inventive and flexible to cope with it. Hat tip to Ed Driscoll posting at Instapundit for the link.

Immigration: We Want Little, Get Much

Cato Institute poll, reported in April, found that 77% of Americans want either none (9%) or a low level (68%) of immigration. Only 23% want the high level of immigration we now experience, ‘courtesy’ of President Biden.

The poll also found that substantial majorities of Independents (61%) and Republicans (85%) believe immigration should prioritize “What benefits the United States and its current citizens.” Nearly half (45%) of Democrats share this view. If its current policies are any indication, the White House does not agree.

Do you find yourself wondering how (dare I ask “if”) we elected people as out-of-step with ourselves as the current crop at both ends of Pennsylvania Ave. appear to be? Poor President Sock Puppet blithely mumbles whatever his shadowy, unelected minders put on the prompter scroll, including “end quote.”

Canada’s Elizabeth Warren

The New York Post reports another case of a prominent woman claiming minority status to which she has no biological claim.

Carrie Bourassa, a public health expert who served as scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health, was suspended on Nov. 1, five days after the state-owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation published a lengthy expose on her background.

Far from being a member of the Métis nation, as she had long claimed, a laborious trace of Bourassa’s family tree revealed that her supposedly indigenous ancestors were in fact immigrant farmers who hailed from Russia, Poland, and Czechoslovakia.

One is reminded of Rachel Dolezal and Elizabeth Warren. There have been many other offenders, check Wikipedia’s List of Imposters.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Saturday Sensibility

Steven Hayward, opining at Power Line on the eternal verities of crime and punishment, and the relevance of basic economics thereto.

The root cause of crime is criminals. Increase the incentives for crime (the result of leniency) and you will get more of it. Like everything else in life, incentives matter.

If anything, our society has an under-incarceration problem. We lock up too few criminals, and those for too-short sentences.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Black Friday

Beginning today, on the shopping holiday labeled “Black Friday,” it is officially okay to have Christmas decorations on view. They showed up in some retailers nearly a month ago, right after Halloween, but that was considered jumping the gun.

The name - Black Friday - originates from long ago when bookkeepers would write in their ledgers the profits in black ink, and losses in red ink. This became known as Black Friday because it is the day that, enjoying booming pre-Christmas sales, dry goods retail establishments supposedly flip over from a net loss for the year to a net profit. 

It probably was never true for genuinely successful firms - think Walmart or predecessor Kmart. Still the idea of hanging in there until you make a raft of Christmas sales persists and has some validity.

My initial thought was that things might be different in this era of “etail” online sales, but further reflection suggests online sellers have to maintain large, underused warehouses to accommodate the Xmas rush much as Macy’s and Sears did with retail space in years past.

It’s not surprising college students thought the name somehow held racial connotations, doesn’t everything seem to these days? In this instance it doesn’t, and never did.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Lesson Learned

Each year the fellows at Power Line repost a 2009 Thanksgiving rumination by Hillsdale College historian Paul A. Rahe. It looks at the organization of the Plymouth Plantation, their failed experiment with biblically inspired socialism, and the lessons they drew therefrom.

Reading it is surely worth your time, but for those too busy or disinterested in colonial history, herewith a distillation. The colonists discovered seeing a direct (as opposed to indirect or collectivized) connection between one’s labors and one’s own economic well-being was the motivator they needed to move beyond penury and in the direction of plenty. 

Working for “the common good” proved much less productive than working for the good of one’s immediate family. Understanding, and more importantly accepting, this bedrock truth about human nature is what separates so-called “progressives” and the economic realists we currently label “conservatives.” 

Which brings to mind Winston Churchill’s updated version of George Santayana’s aphorism, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Celebrate the Harvest

Today we celebrate our nation’s harvest festival, which we call Thanksgiving Day. However much or little faith shapes our modern lives four hundred years later, it certainly was central in the lives of those religious refugees from Europe who celebrated the first harvest festival in New England. Hence the name.

My wish for you is a day of peace and plenty in the company of good friends and loved relatives. It is traditional, to engage in a bit of gustatory excess, in celebration of another successful harvest season. 

Note well, Christmas is exactly one month from today. Plus the shortest day of the year and the official start of winter are even sooner. Be safe, be well, be happy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Poll: Biden Underwater

The Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll released today finds the following:

41% 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 49% who Strongly Disapprove. This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -28.

Very clearly a lot of Democrats are lukewarm about Biden, as well they might be. In a nation where nearly everyone drives, each visit to the gas pump reminds people of how much worse things have become in the last 10 months. 

Survey: Whites Lie About Race

A survey of 1250 white college students found many lied about their race in applying to schools, the story comes from the website Intelligent.com. The obvious motive is improving their chances of acceptance and aid at their school-of-choice.

The survey found that 34% of white Americans who’ve applied to college falsely claimed on their applications they’re a racial minority.

The number one reason why applicants faked minority status is to improve their chances of getting accepted (81%). Fifty percent also lied to benefit from minority-focused financial aid.

Nearly half the male students claimed to have lied, while fewer than one-in-five women so claimed. The most common thing to falsely claim is Native American heritage, a la Elizabeth Warren. The story also reports colleges do not ask for proof of race, a good-to-know factoid.

This looks exactly like whites taking advantage of very real, intentional structural racism - “affirmative action” - which favors those who are non-white and non-Asian. Hat tip to The College Fix for the link. 

The data is self-report and some caution is wise in interpreting the findings. I can imagine undergraduate men thinking “I should have lied” and reporting that they did.

Monday, November 22, 2021

I Have a Question

I’ve been thinking about the previous post, and claims made by Tucker Carlson that the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol was, if not instigated, at least made worse by FBI infiltrator/agitators who egged on the protestors. That this happens is clear, apparently being at least somewhat responsible for a foiled plot to kidnap Michigan’s Democrat governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Will Rogers famously said of his commentary, “I only know what I read in the papers.” With a similar caveat that I’m reliant on the reporting of many others, I have a question about government law enforcement personnel urging people to do illegal acts.

Is this something we want our federal or state governments doing? Urging people to break the law and subsequently be arrested, tried, and imprisoned? Don’t we have enough people doing such things on their own, without taxpayer-funded encouragement? 

When undercover police work goes beyond information gathering and becomes agitation or outright instigation, it seems wrong to me. I believe it an inappropriate activity for our government, what we expect from a Stasi or KGB, not the FBI. 

Good Riddance

Another good-news story shows up this morning. Business Insider reports two #neverTrump voices - Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes - featured semi-regularly by Fox News have resigned in protest over the spin in Tucker Carlson’s Jan. 6 documentary Patriot Purge. I haven’t seen that documentary and take no position on its claims.

Hayes apparently was a college roommate of Bret Baier and both Hayes and Goldberg were principals at conservative publications that repudiated Trump. I denominate the report of their resignations “good news” because I haven’t found the Fox News commentary of Goldberg and Hayes insightful.

Most of us on the right have been able to appreciate the America First policies of Trump while shrugging off his flamboyant impresario’s personal style, which includes him being a sore loser. Obviously some - Hayes and Goldberg among them - cannot accomplish this mental gymnastic. I won’t miss them on Bret Baier’s panel.

Chile Votes

We don’t write about it every week, maybe not every month, but one of the issues COTTonLINE keeps an eye on is the state of our hemisphere. Today comes a good-news Associated Press report from Chile, which nation has mostly been a source of bad-news stories in recent years.

Two onetime outsiders hailing from opposite extremes of the political spectrum received the most votes Sunday in Chile’s presidential election but failed to garner enough support for an outright win, setting up a polarizing runoff in the region’s most advanced economy.

José Antonio Kast, a lawmaker who has a history of defending Chile’s military dictatorship, finished first with 28% of the vote compared to 26% for former student protest leader Gabriel Boric.

Kast, in a victory speech, doubled down on his far right rhetoric, framing the Dec. 19 runoff as a choice between “communism and liberty.” He blasted Boric as a puppet of Chile’s Communist Party — a member of the broad coalition supporting his candidacy — who would pardon “terrorists,” be soft on crime and promote instability in a country that has recently been wracked by protests laying bare deep social divisions.

AP didn’t consider this electoral outcome good news, that evaluation is mine. Interestingly, Chile faces some of the same problems we in the U.S. face.

Kast, 55, from the newly formed Republican Party, emerged from the far right fringe after having won less than 8% of the vote in 2017 as an independent. But he’s been steadily rising in the polls this time with a divisive discourse emphasizing conservative family values as well as attacking migrants — many from Haiti and Venezuela — he blames for crime.

Notice the AP’s bias, “far right fringe” and “divisive discourse” are loaded terms. Chile has intermittently demonstrated the ability to favor free markets and reject the far left, which Boric represents. When Chile has done so, its economy has boomed. 

As a result of which it has, as even AP admits, “the region’s most advanced economy.” We can hope this is one of those times. Also note many of the Haitians at our southern border are repeat-offender economic refugees coming here from Chile.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Sauce for the Gander Too

Instapundit - law prof Glenn Reynolds - approvingly shares an interesting Tweet regarding the Rittenhouse verdict.

Sunday Snark

SciFi author Sarah Hoyt, posting at Instapundit a question about President Biden’s recent colonoscopy.

Did they find his brain up there? Because it’s been missing for longer than I’ve been alive.

It would be funnier if it wasn’t sorta true. Off and on we elect some peculiar folk in this great land.

Same View, in Different Words

Apropos of what we wrote yesterday about the vigilante impulse, comes an Instapundit comment which reinforces my point.

If you want more “vigilantes” get rid of the police. Remember, the police aren’t there to protect the populace from criminals. They’re there to protect the criminals from the populace.

It is worth remembering, when the enforcement of decent behavior is left to the populace, the rights of suspected criminals don’t get a lot of respect. Police mostly follow rules which protect those rights; citizen enforcers, not so much. 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Placing Blame

A number of progressives who are angry at the Rittenhouse verdict have described the young man as an “armed vigilante.” They have declared that such behavior is always wrong. 

I don’t disagree that the impulse which drove Rittenhouse was probably that of a vigilante. Vigilantism mostly occurs in settings where effective law enforcement is missing in action. 

In the summer of 2020 following the death of George Floyd, Democrat mayors of many large cities instructed their police forces not to enforce the laws against mob violence, arson, property damage, and looting. The mayors’ apparent belief: the rioters were entitled to break the law because of their felt anger. Our law recognizes no such entitlement, no such holiday from lawful behavior.

With inner cities being burned and looted while police passively watched and did nothing, vigilantism was almost to be expected. Law-abiding people who don’t share the rioters sense of grievance are moved to interfere, to defend property as well as human safety. 

That appears to have been Rittenhouse‘s motive. The blame rightly accrues to Kenosha’s mayor and/or city council for their cowardice in refusing to enforce the laws.

Different Strokes, Indeed

Juan Williams’ job on Fox News is to represent, to the best of his ability, mainstream Democrat thought on issues of the day, along with Mara Liasson and a couple of others he upholds the “blue” end of the network’s “fair and balanced” claim. Recently he stated on-air the following, with regard to the Rittenhouse not-guilty verdict.
If this had been a black teenager who had done this, wow, I think the laws might have treated him a little differently.

Williams didn’t explain, but past experience suggests he meant the Black teen would have been convicted on the same evidence. I disagree.

Let’s take Williams’ hypothetical to its logical conclusion. Let us suppose a Black teen had shot three Black men, with whom he was in violent dispute. We need that extra clarification as all three men Rittenhouse shot were, like himself, white. Now our hypothetical is truly parallel.

And yes, the laws would have treated him differently, although not in the way Williams inferred. It is highly likely the shooter would never have been identified, much less arrested. Witnesses to the shooting, if any could be interviewed, would admit having seen nothing useful.

For sure the media would not have followed the trial. Fatal assaults like the above hypothetical happen every weekend in Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta, and a half dozen more large cities. They elicit little-to-no mainstream media interest and few prosecutions. Convictions are rare.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Kyle Rittenhouse Cleared

Every news outlet is reporting the jury clearing Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges. The prosecution was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the 17 year old acted in other than self-defense. 

Obviously video of the various attacks on and by him played a major part in the outcome. As I write this, there has been no major violence as a reaction to the verdict. Whether that will continue is anybody’s guess.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

A New Power Reactor

The Epoch Times reports a firm founded by Microsoft’s Bill Gates - TerraPower - will build a liquid sodium cooled NLWR nuclear reactor in the southwestern Wyoming town of Kemmerer. The reactor is described as a “demonstration” which suggests developmental and proof-of-concept work at the site. 

I am somewhat familiar with the Kemmerer area. The region isn’t scenic and it isn’t cultured. It is the county seat of Lincoln County and heretofore its main claim to fame has been as the place where J. C. Penney ran his first dry goods store.

The nearest collection of nuclear physicists reside in Idaho Falls ID and work at Idaho National Laboratory. Idaho Falls is just over 200 miles distant from Kemmerer. 

The nearest university is Utah State in Logan UT, roughly 100 miles away. I suppose for the plant’s blue collar workers, if recruited locally, it will be a good and steady paycheck. I doubt very much that most engineers and scientists will enjoy living in the rural area.

Weird Gerontological/Immunological Science

Researchers at the highly respected Harvard-related Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston are beginning a test of a nasal vaccine to counteract Aszheimer’s disease. The New York Post has the story.

The whole getting-old gig is bad enough without going gaga and ending up a babbling vegetable. If this preventive proves feasible it will be amazing.

Imagine everyone growing old while remaining however mentally sharp they were when young instead of increasingly forgetful and foggy. Some are this fortunate now, sadly many are not.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Rumor Mill

Stories are circulating this morning about possible White House scheming to dump Kamala Harris as Vice President. The obvious aim is to replace her with someone who has a better shot at being elected a Democrat president some day. 

Fox News’ Chad Pergram reports being given a heads-up to familiarize himself with the Congressional procedures for confirming a new VP if one is appointed. Gateway Pundit has the story, though it isn’t clear how much credence GP or Pergram gives the rumor.

Monica Showalter at American Thinker looks at the same Pergram blurb and theorizes an attempt to move Harris sideways into a Federal judgeship to free up the post for a new appointee. Again, it isn’t clear if Showalter believes this to be more than a rumor. 

Democrats have ample reason to wish to appoint a more plausible Veep, given Biden’s age and infirmity. Which doesn’t automatically make this more than a wish-fulfillment rumor. 

Between now and January of 2023 confirming Harris as a judge would be possible, if no slam dunk. One supposes most Republicans would reflexively vote “No” for both judicial and partisan reasons.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Covid Vax … How Good?

Power Line’s John Hinderaker cites data he believes shows how effective the Covid vaccinations are in preventing death and hospitalization. They come from a site called Healthy Skeptic which he has cited before. HS writes:

While the cumulative case rates of hospitalization and deaths don’t look very different, in older age groups the protective effect of vaccination is very clear and strong. The cumulative rates are unduly influenced by the very large number of cases and low number of hosps and deaths in younger age groups.

For age groups 50 and over, you are at least three times less likely to die if you get infected and you are vaxed than if you get infected and aren’t vaxed. While the hospitalization difference is not quite as great, it is still substantial.

In other words, for us old crocks the shots are a good deal. I’ve had all 3 Modernas, almost zero side effects, and keep crossed fingers as well. As I’ve written before, the Covid shots are like the flu vaccine, they improve your chances of bullet-dodging without any absolute guarantees.

Peace Is the Seeming Exception

Lest you think peace is the international norm, several regional brushfire wars and quasi-wars are simmering below the general level of awareness. Today’s RealClearWorld has two examples: low-level violence in the tensions between Algeria and Morocco over who controls Western Sahara, plus irregular ‘war’ along the borders between Belarus vs. Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan continue to squabble, and occasionally fight, over the fate of Kashmir. Russia and Turkey back opposites warring sides in Libya and Syria, and China continues to push other bordering countries (Vietnam, Philippines, Japan) out of the South China Sea. 

Yemen is still a shooting war, parts of Syria and Iraq ditto, several Central African countries experience Islamist insurrection and violence, Burma/Myanmar is never exactly peaceful, eastern Ukraine is threatened by a Russian military buildup just across the border, and the Balkans continue to hover just below the outbreak of genocidal violence. 

Plus Brexit seems to have turned up the heat under the tensions in Northern Ireland. One of these days Gaza will resume hostilities with Israel. And Azerbaijan and Armenia have unresolved issues.

The Western Hemisphere is, by comparison, a relatively peaceful place at the moment. Since the Colombian ceasefire, there hasn’t been much political group-on-group warfare, unless you count the gangs shooting at each other in our larger cities and the drug cartels ‘at play’ in Mexico.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Wyoming GOP Dumps Liz Cheney

The Cheyenne Post runs an AP story reporting that the state Republican Party Central Committee has voted to stop recognizing Rep. Liz Cheney as a Republican.

Cheney is now facing at least four Republican opponents in the 2022 primary including Cheyenne attorney Harriet Hageman, whom Trump has endorsed.

"Liz Cheney stopped recognizing what Wyomingites care about a long time ago. When she launched her war against President Trump, she completely broke with where we are as a state," Hageman said.

The best explanation of Cheney’s behavior is loyalty to her father, Dick Cheney. He was Bush II’s Vice President. 

Trump disses Bush II and, by implication, Dick Cheney. One can hardly expect daughter Liz to passively accept that negative evaluation of her dad, and she doesn’t. 

Regardless, hindsight suggests Trump’s negative assessment of the Bush II/Cheney regime is justified. As I’m a Wyoming voter, and our lightly populated state only gets one Rep., it matters.

Consumer Confidence Craters

Paul Mirengoff of Power Line reports the findings of the latest U. of Michigan consumer confidence index poll. You won’t be surprised to learn confidence is down.

As measured by this index, consumer confidence fell last month to 66.8, down from 71.7 the previous month. The latest number is the lowest in 10 years.

The following observations he quotes from the UM survey.

Half of American families anticipate bringing home smaller incomes after adjusting for inflation next year.

One in four consumers say inflation has led to a reduced standard of living.

Rising prices for homes, vehicles, and durables were reported more frequently than any other time in more than half a century.

What is the political impact of these findings? Paraphrasing the Ghostbusters theme

There's something weird
And it don't look good
Who you gonna blame?

Good News

One stream of recurrent polling is to ask registered voters whether, if the election was held today, they’d vote for a Democrat or Republican for Congress. This is called the “generic ballot” because the identity of the candidate isn’t specified beyond party affiliation. The ABC News/Washington Post Poll has the data.

In the forty years this question has been posed, today Republicans have the highest score they’ve ever attained, at 51%. They lead the Democrats who received only 41%. It is almost another year to the next congressional election, but these numbers have to be cheerful news for the GOP. 

Probably the best way to think about the generic ballot numbers is as a proxy for how the party-in-power is current seen. Registered voters’ view of Democrats - led by Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer - isn’t positive.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Kotkin: Shared Culture Is Key

Writing at Newsweek, Joel Kotkin writes much common sense in an article entitled:

America Is Built on a Great Culture. Progressives Want to Abandon It

A key point he makes is that one of our national political parties seems to have forgotten the common culture which enabled us to reach this point.

If the Democratic Party wants to avoid further electoral disasters like those in Virginia, Long Island and elsewhere, it would do well to relearn the obvious truth that a common culture that binds us is not only good and necessary, but popular.

Key to understanding how out-of-step the Ds have become is this fact.

Only a very small fraction of Americans, well under 10 percent, consider themselves progressive, and most reject the view of America as uniquely fallen.

Contrary to the the view of much of our academia and media, America is not a country based on racial commonality but a set of political notions.

It is passing strange that the media and academia, along with the Democratic party are jointly trying to “sell” a view congenial to so few actual Americans of any color. 

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Not Black and White

A quick note about the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial that supposedly has something to do with race. The three people that Rittenhouse shot, likely in self-defense and two of them fatally, were all white men.

The only racial connection is that the white men Rittenhouse shot were rioting in Kenosha WI about the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis MN. Rittenhouse is accused of shooting no black people.

Friday, November 12, 2021

A Setback

Probably as a result of the cumulative stresses of the last year - Covid, selling one house, having another built, moving, RV living - my dear wife of the last 50 years (aka “the other DrC”) developed a bleeding ulcer which put her in the local hospital last night. 

She’s still there tonight but may come home tomorrow. It is likely she will need a month or more to recover. Whatever it takes, we will do willingly.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Veterans’ Day

Today, on the anniversary of the ending of World War I, we celebrate America’s military veterans. We owe them our enduring appreciation for defending this great nation, often at much cost to themselves.

In addition to a father and four uncles who served, I had an aunt who was a WAC in WW II. Thank a veteran for his or her service today.

Thursday Snark

Stephen Green, posting at Instapundit, describes President Biden as:

An incontinent and gaffe-prone archetypal example of the Peter Principle.

Green packs an admirable amount of negativity in a short sentence.

The New Peasantry

It’s time for another installment in our series on the deterioration of our state-of-birth, California. Once again our chronicler is Victor Davis Hanson who lives there and continues to ‘sing’ its elegy, this time in Deseret News. His point is that, in CA and places like it, the middle class can hardly exist.
The result is the emergence of a new American peasantry, of millions of Americans who own little or no property. The new majority has scant, if any, savings. Fifty-eight percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in the bank. A missed paycheck renders them destitute, completely unable to service sizable debt. Most of what they buy, from cars to electronic appurtenances, they charge on credit cards. The credit card indebtedness is over $8,000 per household and over $2,000 per individual — paid through monthly installments at average annual interest rates of between 15% and 19%, at a time when most home mortgages are usually below 4%.

Such short-term debt is often roughly commensurate with the payments and share- cropping arrangements that premodern peasants once entered into with lords and made it impossible for the serf to exercise political independence or hope for upward mobility.

A fifth of America receives direct government public assistance. Well over half the country depends on some sort of state subsidy or government transfer money, explaining why about 60% of Americans collect more payments from the government than they pay out in federal income taxes.

What remains of a CA middle class is largely government employees, the latter-day equivalent of the overseer class in a plantation economy. They are teachers and prison guards, firefighters and tax collectors, game wardens and bureaucrats, welfare workers and utility technicians. Their jobs are secure, some can actually buy homes. It certainly isn’t the life our founders envisioned for us.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Selection Bias

Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff reports the results of CNN interviewing - as a group - four suburban VA moms who voted for Youngkin. Most had voted for Biden a year ago. Mirengoff makes much of their shared dislike for former president Trump.

The final takeaway from the parents’ comments is that Trump remains poison with moms in the Virginia suburbs. Although all four thought that Trump was irrelevant to the gubernatorial race, their ongoing contempt for the man was obvious. His irrelevance was due to the fact that he wasn’t on the ballot.

I don’t deny that the four moms interviewed were no fans of Trump. On the other hand, given CNN’s anti-Trump bias, I worry CNN preselected anti-Trump voters-for-Youngkin for their moms panel. Such clearly exist in VA but we have no idea whether they are a representative sample.

Pathological Social Media

Politico interviews social psychologist Jonathan Haidt about political extremism and what, if anything, we can do about lessening it. It is an interesting read, perhaps worth your time. One thing Haidt says I find particularly riveting.

We are in a fundamentally new era — since 2012 — which makes it difficult to use history as a guide. As I see it as there is a before time, which is before 2009, and there is an after time, which is after 2012. What changed in between those years is that Facebook added the like button and Twitter added the retweet button. Thereby social media became far more engaging. Millions of people flooded on. All journalists flooded on to Twitter.

Now any set of beliefs can be fostered in a community completely separate from any objective reality. This is especially happening to the extremes.

What has this led to? To empowering the extremes, Haidt believes.

A fundamental law of our times is that the average does not matter. So even if 80 percent of people are fed up, it does not matter since after 2012 the dynamics are different. In the old times 80 percent was bigger than the 20 percent — or at least as big as 20 percent. Now 80 percent is not nearly as big as the 20 percent. So, yes, most people are fed up but it does not mean things will change.

Poll: Biden Approval Below 38%

Writing for USA TODAY, Susan Page and Rick Rouan report the findings of a recent USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll which looked at voter approval, or lack thereof, of presidental performance and policy. 37.8% approve of Biden's performance, 59.0% disapprove.

Nearly half of those surveyed, 46%, say Biden has done a worse job as president than they expected, including 16% of those who voted for him. Independents, by 7-1 (44%-6%), say he's done worse, not better, than they expected.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans, 64%, say they don't want Biden to run for a second term in 2024. That includes 28% of Democrats. Opposition to Trump running for another term in 2024 stands at 58%, including 24% of Republican.

Americans overwhelmingly support the infrastructure bill Biden is about to sign, but they are split on the more expensive and further-reaching "Build Back Better" act being debated in Congress. Only 1 in 4 say the bill's provisions would help them and their families.

Sleepy Joe’s giving a truly Carter-like performance as President. And even fewer (28%) approve of cackling Kamala.  

Process Note

Barring some catastrophic (inter)national occurrence which absolutely demands comment, postings here will be sparse for the next several days. The whole move-the-old-stuff-into-the-new-house thing has to happen.

A 25% downsized house has different patterns. I’ll be otherwise occupied figuring out with the other DrC what goes where. If things go as planned, I should be back to this blog later in the week.

Wish us well.

Friday, November 5, 2021

We’re In

Yesterday we got the keys to our new house, and today the first furniture arrived, 11 new pieces we ordered back in March. On Monday, our stuff from the former winter home we sold in February will be delivered out of storage. 

We ate breakfast there this morning; if like us you count a cinnamon roll and coffee as breakfast. I’m not certain when we will spend a night in the new place, probably not for a few days as things there will be hectic. We have a perfectly serviceable RV hooked up to city utilities and livable a few miles away.

The house is looking nice, the ceilings are high and the doors are tall which increases the feel of space. The garage is so completely finished inside it even has baseboard molding, a first in my experience. It will be fun learning the patterns of a new house, something we haven’t done for 17 years.

Marching Orders for the Right

I don’t often declare something a “must read” but I believe I just read one, in The Federalist. Rachel Bovard, their Tech Editor, takes a stab at creating an agenda for the political right in America and I think she’s come dang close to nailing it. 

Along the way she relegates the never-Trump group of former Republicans to the ashcan of history without ever mentioning either them or Trump. Her agenda is something I’d sign onto, see if you don’t agree.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Zero Sum?

A Politico article discusses the difficulties inherent in trying to determine who Hispanics voted for and in what numbers in Virginia. Some polls show a real shift among Hispanics to voting for Republicans, others show the reverse. Nobody much disagrees that Trump got substantially more Hispanic votes than previous Republican presidential candidates.

A reason this could be happening - one nobody wants to talk or write about - is that Hispanics don’t have a lot in common with American Blacks. Hispanics often aren’t fond of and don’t want to be lumped with them. Democrats spent much time and energy taking pro-Black stances and those are probably off-putting to many Hispanics. 

Nobody likes that some political party choices are zero-sum games, where when one group wins, the other must lose. This may be one such “game.”

Wednesday, November 3, 2021


We visited the new house today and found all but one of our appliances had arrived and been installed. We have the new range top and our dishwasher. The range hood is still incomplete and we have a “loaner” refrigerator until the correct new one arrives. 

When we are handed the keys tomorrow at 1 p.m. the house will be a usable home. Honestly I’m a bit amazed they made their deadline. 

We will start storing things there tomorrow, and in the process uncluttering our RV which has had stuff stashed in corners and behind furniture. Actually, the back seat of our pickup is full nearly to bursting with a variety of “stuff” we’re anxious to unload.

Political Snark

Instapundit attributes the following to a friend who sent it along:

Q. Why did the Dems lose in Virginia? 
A. The fake ballots were printed in China and they’re all still stuck on a ship waiting in LA harbor!

It would be even funnier if it weren’t an actual possibility. 

Agro Terminator

Go see a Forbes article about a robotic machine that cruises through a truck garden field zapping weeds with lasers while protecting the desired plants from harm. The objective: reducing the need for expensive and health-hazardous herbicides. It sounds benign.

Imagine applying the same technology to people - picking the undesirables for zapping. The machine can tell an onion from a carrot, why not a red from a blue? Somewhere Skynet smiles, considering the possibilities; Sarah Connor, it’s time for you and young John to go off the grid.

Wednesday Whimsy

 Headline at Business Insider:

SpaceX's leaky Crew Dragon toilet means 4 astronauts returning to Earth will have to rely on 'undergarments' instead, a NASA official said

Elon, check with Howard Wolowitz. He is the widely recognized expert on space toilets. 

Learning the Lessons

Democrats took a shellacking last night, almost across the board. Now the question is what lessons they will learn from the voters’ repudiation of their candidates? 

Will they conclude they’ve drifted too far left, and got beaten in the culture wars? Or will they conclude their inability to agree on massive tax-and-spend programs was at fault because they didn’t “buy” enough votes with give-aways.

Did they lose because Joe Biden has been, in office, a slow-motion train wreck with one screw-up after another? Or because it is hard to get voter turnout in off-years? Actually, we know it wasn’t this last one, as VA had a relatively high turnout for a non-presidential election.

Jeff Greenfield reminds us of how Bill Clinton moved the D party to the center and won, and implies that would be a winning strategy today. I suspect he is correct but will have trouble selling that program to many of today’s lefty Ds.

Mini-progress Report

Work continues on our new house. We stopped by yesterday afternoon and found workmen doing some touch-up tile work. We also discovered our water softener had been installed earlier that day and our ovens had been installed. They look good, very shiny (photo at the other DrC’s blog).

We still need a range top and hood, dishwasher, and refrigerator as well as the “odd bits and bobs” mentioned on Monday. Until proven to the contrary, I choose to believe they’ll show up soon. The evidence so far suggests our builder is making the proverbial “good faith effort” in far-from-optimal circumstances. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Election Results

It appears that Republicans won all three statewide races in Virginia yesterday, electing a governor, a lieutenant governor, and an attorney general. All three offices were previously held by Democrats. A source I read claimed that no Republican had won a statewide VA race since 2009, until last night. This is big.

Conventional wisdom held that the large number of federal employees and hangers-on in the northern counties around DC could be counted on to vote D. It turns out many of those “federal folk” are also parents with kids in the public schools who don’t like their children being taught they are evil, if white, or victims if not. 

Public school teachers squandered most of their public goodwill during the recent pandemic. Public anger at teacher unions and their tame school boards is an under appreciated political force. Perhaps hindsight will conclude inviting union president Randi Weingarten to campaign for McAuliffe was a blunder.

While it is still too soon to call as I write this, the governor’s race in New Jersey is very close, but was expected to be an easy win for Democrat Murphy. November 2 has been a bad day for Democrats, and thus a good day for our United States. Going forward, the culture wars seem to be a winning issue for the GOP.

Another good outcome yesterday was the citizens of Minneapolis voting down a measure to disband the city’s police. That measure was a response to the death in police custody of George Floyd. I got the good political news I hoped for … for a change.

An Eventful Week Begins

Yesterday we basically accepted our new house, and the escrow closes on Thursday. It still lacks appliances, and a few relatively minor other bits and bobs, all of which are promised. We spent the afternoon getting the responsibility for the various utilities transferred over from the builder to ourselves. 

We don’t have a lot of responsibilities over the next couple of days, then things get busy-as-anything on Thursday and very likely stay busy for the following week. It is an exciting time, settling into our sixth new (never been lived in) house. 

In fifty years of marriage we’ve bought two existing new “spec” homes, built three custom homes, and this one is neither of those. It is a hybrid of sorts, a builder’s standard floor plan built to order on one of their lots we selected, with trim, flooring, etc. options chosen by us 11 months ago. Absent the pandemic it should have been finished in July.

On another topic entirely, later today we may learn how the off-year elections have turned out in VA and NJ. That in turn may give us some indication of how the midterm elections will turn out a year from now. I could stand some good political news, we’ll see what happens.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Bidin’ Time

In his column for PJ Media, Stephen Green reports two polling statistics making Democrats nervous. The first looks at whether Democrats want Biden to run for reelection in 2024. 
A new Marist poll conducted for NPR and PBS News Hour revealed that a plurality of Democrats nationwide think Biden hurts their chances of keeping the White House in 2024.

When asked, “Do you think Democrats have a better chance of winning the presidency in 2024 if Joe Biden is the party’s nominee, or if someone else is the party’s nominee?” 44% of Democrats and Dem-leaners thought the party would be better off with “someone else” on top of the ticket. Only 36% agreed that Biden would be the better choice and 20% weren’t sure.

Kamala Harris is just as unpopular as Biden, with 51% of voters having an unfavorable opinion of her.

Sleepy Joe is just bidin’ his time (in office); the WH beats a nursing home all to heck. I wonder if he realizes how he appears to others? Probably not.

No Longer Local

Now in his late 70s, Jeff Greenfield has been writing about politics for longer than I want to remember, maybe as long as Michael Barone. Today he writes that, if it was ever true, Tip O’Neill’s adage “all politics is local” is true no longer. As evidence he offers the following data points.

In 2020, only one Senate candidate, Maine Republican Susan Collins, won in a state carried by the other party’s presidential nominee. A decade ago, 23 senators came from states that had voted for the other party’s presidential candidate. Today, the number is six.

It is hard to argue with those numbers. Maybe the new hotness is that “all politics is national and ideological.”  

For sure, ticket splitting is less common than it was formerly. Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin who represents red West Virginia is acting very Republican-like as he hopes for reelection in 2024, we’ll see if it works.


Time was there were liberal Republicans in the northeast, of which Mitt Romney was one of the last as Massachusetts’s governor. And there were conservative Democrats across the south. Political “tents” were once larger, before the great ideological realignment. 

Recently, the parties have become something reminiscent of Dumb and Dumber: the Dems are Left and Lefter while the GOPs are Right and Righter. Attempted deviations from this new norm like Manchin and Sinema on one side and Collins and Romney on the other, catch a lot of ‘friendly fire’ from their own parties. 

When the ideological realignment happened, I applauded. Today I am less certain it was a winner for the country, although it still appears to be good for the parties.