Monday, January 31, 2022

On the Tiger’s Back

At Instapundit, Stephen Green posts a lengthy excerpt from a Foreign Policy article (behind paywall) by former diplomat Craig Singleton. Singleton makes some interesting points about Xi Jinping.

Hunkering down in Beijing for more than 700 days, Xi was a no-show at last year’s United Nations General Assembly, the G-20 summit in Rome, and the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. Xi’s disappearing act is occurring at the same time he and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) face serious domestic headwinds, including rampant energy shortages, rising unemployment, and a real estate market teetering on the edge of collapse.

The pandemic alone cannot explain Xi’s refusal to leave his seat of power—or to shelve, however temporarily, his grand international ambitions. Instead, if Xi’s latest pronouncements are any indication, there is something else keeping him awake at night: growing fears about resistance to his rule from factions inside the CCP.

The simple explanation for Xi’s refusal to leave China and his recent, over-the-top loyalty push is that Xi recognizes he is increasingly vulnerable.

To which, Green adds this sage postscript.

"One-man rule” also means there’s only one man to blame when things go wrong — something every would-be one-man ruler seems to forget along their quest for total power.

His observed behavior suggests Xi finally remembered. Being an autocrat is like riding a tiger — exciting, but the dismount is often fatal.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Rigged, Not Stolen

Power Line links to a John Kass column at his eponymous website. Kass interviews Mollie Hemingway who is now Editor-in-Chief of The Federalist and a frequent panelist on Bret Baier's Special Report for Fox News. She is author of a new book entitled "Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech and the Democrats Seized Our Elections."

Hemingway makes an important point about the 2020 presidential election. Kass summarizes her view:

The 2020 elections weren’t stolen. That talk undermines elections just as much as do the Democrats shrieking that America is racist if voters are asked to show a photo ID to cast a ballot. 

But rigged? That is another matter entirely. You might call this a semantic issue. But I’m from Chicago where rigging elections is an art form.

Bragging about being from Chicago feels like claiming to suffer the world's worst migraines. His column includes quotes from the Hemingway book about how Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg basically "bought" the election outcome he preferred, while carefully maintaining a fig leaf of legality.

Zuckerberg spent more than $400 million on that.

Hat tip to the Bond films' "shaken, not stirred" mantra for the title phrasing. Either mixes a martini, just as either rigged or stolen ends up with Biden being an "asterisk" president.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Ukraine Update

Per a story in the Daily Mail (U.K.), Russia will meet with Germany, France, and Ukraine in two weeks to discuss the situation in Ukraine, with emphasis on Russia's perceived "security needs." The U.S. and NATO will be pointedly left out of the discussion. 

I guess we now know the answer to my Thursday question whether Germany was/is on board with Joe Biden's plan for action in support of Ukraine. It seems Germany is not, perhaps neither is France. 

If France, Germany or both agree to oppose Ukraine's hoped-for membership in NATO, Ukraine can forget becoming a member. NATO decisions require unanimous consent of the existing members. 

If that is all it will take to keep Putin happy, it could solve the stand-off and prevent a bloodbath. Germany and France must be relatively certain that, unlike Trump, Biden won't go ballistic over their independent diplomatic efforts. Imagine how negatively their action will be viewed in the Baltics, Finland, Poland, and Romania.

It begins to look like Putin's bluff will work. Expect to see the pundit class writing comparisons with Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Munich in the not-too-distant future. 

Our times continue to be "interesting."

Friday, January 28, 2022

Baier Has the Goods

Within the week past on his nightly Special Report for Fox News, Bret Baier has laid out evidence that shows government "scientists" privately believed the Covid virus came from the Wuhan lab, while publicly attributing it to natural causes.

Baier has furthermore inferred, without exactly saying as much, that these individuals found it in their personal interests to lie to the public which pays their salaries. For some the reason was multi-million dollar grants which, from some perspectives, can be viewed as bribes. For others it was their responsibility for funding gain of function research at the Wuhan virology lab - research viewed as so dangerous that U.S. law prohibits it.

I wrote a couple of days ago that I trust science as a system of understanding reality, but do not automatically trust individual scientists or science administrators. Some government agencies are headed by crap weasels.

It was to this body of evidence cited by Baier that I was alluding. If you can access that couple of recent reports Baier did on the virus' origin story, it is a damning indictment and well worth your time to watch. Or read a write-up of the evidence here.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

More on Ukraine

Multiple sources are reporting the Ukraine government is telling its people not to worry, that a Russian invasion is not immanent. Everybody who is thought knowledgable here in the U.S. is saying it looks like Russia will invade, sooner rather than later. One of the two is wrong, I certainly don't know which. 

Meanwhile our President has said that if an invasion occurs, we will somehow arrange for the Russia-to-Germany NordStream 2 pipeline not to function. Have the Germans agreed to this threatened sanction?

If they have agreed to a Nord Stream cutoff, it would be like Putin to retaliate by cutting off the gas flow through Ukraine to let Europe shiver in the winter cold. China is said to have agreed to buy all of Russia's gas output, spending money they earned from selling us stuff. If Biden merely thinks Germany will agree and they say "no," then what?

The pipeline runs along the Baltic Sea bed and could easily enough be sabotaged. If this happened and the U.S. was suspected to have done it, I can imagine Germany pulling out of NATO which would basically kill the alliance. Serious stuff, this.

As noted earlier, we live in "interesting" times.

Pre-K Shown to Be Harmful

One feature of the so-called "Build Back Better" bill Biden has been unable to get through Congress is funding for universal pre-K early childhood education. We ask is this even a good idea?

Steven Hayward who posts at Power Line summarizes two studies which find that children who are enrolled in pre-K government child care have worse life outcomes than their age/race/economic level peers who are not so enrolled.

One study, done in Quebec, found the following:

We find that the negative effects on noncognitive outcomes persisted to school ages, and also that cohorts with increased child care access had worse health, lower life satisfaction, and higher crime rates later in life.

The other study, published in an APA journal and done in a state (TN?) that went into pre-K but had insufficient slots for the eligible kids, and so used a lottery to choose those who were admitted, compared later outcomes of those admitted with their otherwise similar peers who were not.

Data through sixth grade from state education records showed that the children randomly assigned to attend pre-K had lower state achievement test scores in third through sixth grades than control children, with the strongest negative effects in sixth grade. A negative effect was also found for disciplinary infractions, attendance, and receipt of special education services.

And the study's authors conclude:

Our results are robust and contrary to the claims made by many advocates for the universally positive effects of pre-K participation. Children from poor families who attended a state pre-K program did not, for the most part, become proficient readers in third grade. On the contrary, their performance on all measures of achievement through sixth grade was significantly below that of comparable children who did not attend.

Life outcomes are better for very young children who stay home with their mothers or grandmothers. This outcome is unsurprising ... mothers matter (a lot).

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Poll: Biden Bites

I thought we might take a quick look in at Rasmussen Reports' daily presidential tracking poll. The findings show 39% approve of Joe Biden, which includes 17% who strongly approve, and another 22% who somewhat approve.

Meanwhile, 60% disapprove of Biden, which includes 50% who strongly disapprove and another 10% who somewhat disapprove.

With 50% strongly disapproving and only 17% strongly approving, Joe B. will be a millstone around the neck of Democrat candidates in November. It is tough to run away from the bad news people get every time they fill their gas tank or buy groceries. 

Even folks who never watch TV news get their noses rubbed in the inflation multiple times a week. For those whose stomachs are strong enough for TV news, it has been near-uniformly bad. So bad, in fact, the mainstream media are admitting their disappointment with Biden, after doing their level best to elect him.

Historic note: I remember when, in a similar fashion, the media finally turned on hapless Jimmy Carter.

Confidence in Science, and Scientists links to an Associated Press article found in The Washington Times. It reports the findings of polling research done by NORC at the U. of Chicago, which looks at the extent to which Democrats and Republicans trust the findings of science. Not terribly surprisingly, Republicans are less trusting (34%) of science than are Democrats (64%).

I don't find these results particularly unusual or out of the ordinary, it turns out that the "scientists" who work for FedGov have been all over the block in their pronouncements and recommendations, and have unfairly accused those who haven't followed their policy line slavishly of being anti-science.

Let me be clear, I do trust science. I don't necessarily trust individual scientists whose views can be swayed by politics or by who is funding their research. 

Real science moves human knowledge forward by empirical means and welcomes critiques and opposing views, when these are data-based. Science filtered through government bureaus becomes politicized and 'massaged' to fit the preferred narrative. 

Bottom line: trust science, distrust those who claim to speak for it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022


Yesterday I wrote that 100,000 Russian troops are camped at the border with Ukraine. Today I read that only about half that many troops are there, the 50,000 normally stationed in that part of Russia, and those likely in barracks, not in chilly tents.

So why the confusion? Because the military hardware, the trucks, tanks, cannons, and APCs of another 50,000 troops have been “prepositioned” near the border awaiting the arrival of soldiers. “Prepositioning” is a standard military tactic.

In order for an invasion to occur, the missing 45-50,000 troops have to arrive by train from their normal winter quarters and, it is alleged, they have not yet made an appearance. Once they arrive, assuming they ever do, the countdown to an invasion can be assumed to have started in earnest.

Meanwhile our embassy in Ukraine is sending dependents home, but those of the EU countries have not done so. This suggests we and they have assessed the risks differently. 

I speculate Russian intent is to create enough “invasion jitters” in Ukraine for the inhabitants to cave and install the pro-Russian government Moscow desires, to forestall an actual invasion. It could work.

We live in “interesting” times.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Ukraine Watch

Perennial bad actor Russia appears to be on the brink of invading neighboring Ukraine, a former part of the empire called the USSR. Some 100,000 Russian troops are bivouacked just across the border in the snow, waiting for the "go" code. 

If they're going to invade, they need to do it before the spring thaw, when everything becomes bogged in mud. Ukraine claims it will fight, nobody much expects Ukraine to win.

People who claim to know say the Russians want to install a puppet regime in Kiev. One which will be aligned with Russian aims and less enamored of the EU. 

What to watch for in the coming days? Diplomatic blunders which add up to a broader war in Europe. Let's hope they do not occur. 

That the US has a geriatric President - widely perceived to be weak - only makes the situation more fraught. 

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Understanding Teacher Reluctance

Many conservatives have criticized teachers' unions for being reluctant to return to the classroom, quoting the experts who say almost no children experience Covid as worse than a cold. For now, let's assume the experts are correct.

For the first 5+ years of our marriage my wife, who subsequently became "the other DrC," was an elementary school teacher. After earning her PhD, she taught people to become elementary school teachers which, in part, involved coaching student teachers. 

In the early years she got sick a lot, because the children would bring bacteria and viruses to school and inadvertently share them. Later she would note that student teachers got sick a lot, with something medical folks call the "pediatric crud," generic slang for the many respiratory diseases which circulate in a child population. 

If adult school personnel are concerned about catching things the children bring to school, it is only because they've experienced it repeatedly. Eventually they build up immunity to the usual cold viruses, and are ill no more often than anyone else. 

My experience suggests school personnel view the various strains of Covid-19 as "new" viruses to which they've no hard-won immunity. They are loath to go through the get-sick process once more, especially since a fair number of adults are having a hard time with the corona virus, even dying from it. 

In addition, some percentage of them are in the so-called "sandwich generation" who are also taking care of elderly at-risk parents to whom they don't want to bring the virus.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Weird Archeological Science

Writing for Popular Science, Philip Kiefer describes what archeological evidence shows from some of the earliest known prehistoric settlements in Turkey. These date from the period when hunter-gatherer humans were first experimenting with agriculture.

That evidence suggests hunters captured young wild sheep and goats, likely while killing their mothers, and kept them penned to eat later. Apparently they weren't very successful at this, but over time discovered basic animal husbandry by trial and error.

Eventually, the animals came to rely on the humans and domestication occurred, more or less by accident the archeologists surmise. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Path to Perdition

With the Covid mess and pandemic fears as excuses, the 2020 election was run in somewhat peculiar ways. The outcome wasn’t to the Republican loser’s liking, and he cried “foul.” 

Now it begins to look like Democrats, having screwed up big, will lose big in 2022. They are already crying “foul,” blaming election manipulation and cheating.

All of this begins to have very much the feeling of third world politics, where losers never accept defeat. How many election cycles before we have tanks in the streets as the votes are counted? 

It feels like we have embarked on the trajectory followed by Argentina and Venezuela, among others? These once wealthy countries ended up with poverty, squalor, human rights abuses and thuggish politics.

I suggest we do not follow their well-worn “path to perdition.”

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Mind-Boggling links to an editorial at the Issues & Insights website that says something that is passing strange, but according to a recent Gallup poll, true nevertheless.

For the past year, Democrats up and down the leadership ladder have been on an endless campaign to portray Republicans as delusional out-of-touch anti-science hate-mongering conspiracy-peddling vote-suppressing anti-vaxxer insurrectionist racists. The result has been a huge shift in party preference: away from Democrats and toward Republicans.

While many D voices have been involved in the smear “campaign,” the troika of Schumer, Pelosi, and Biden have been at the forefront, the "leads" as it were. Meanwhile a Greek chorus of the Squad plus Bernie, Elizabeth, Stacey and Maxine sings backup. I&I quotes Gallup as follows:

Both the 9-point Democratic advantage in the first quarter and the 5-point Republican edge in the fourth quarter are among the largest Gallup has measured for each party in any quarter since it began regularly measuring party identification and leaning in 1991.

Napoleon Bonaparte famously said, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." With majorities in both houses of Congress and the Presidency, Democrats have no excuses; they’ve shot themselves in the foot. Imagine what further self-carnage another year of this arrangement will enable them to achieve.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Good News

Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff cites at length a David Leonhardt article for the New York Times (behind paywall) concerning hopeful developments in the Covid-19 pandemic. All of it is interesting but I found particularly relevant the following excerpt:

A typical 65-year-old American woman — to take one example — is five foot three inches tall and weighs 166 pounds. If she had been vaccinated and did not have a major Covid risk factor, like an organ transplant, her chance of dying after contracting Covid would be 1 in 872, according to the calculator. For a typical 65-year-old man, the risk would be 1 in 434.

Among 75-year-olds, the risk would be 1 in 264 for a typical woman and 1 in 133 for a typical man.

Those are meaningful risks. But they are not larger than many other risks older people face. In the 2019-20 flu season, about 1 out of every 138 Americans 65 and older who had flu symptoms died from them, according to the C.D.C. (emphasis added)

Translation: Flu is dangerous to seniors, so is Covid. The vaccines for both are (a) helpful and improve your odds, but (b) no guarantee of absolutely dodging the disease. 

The no-longer-young DrsC get the flu vaccine every year, and I won’t be upset if we end up getting a Covid vaccine every year too. Doing so beats getting sick and Medicare wisely picks up the tab.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022


A current issue about which many are outraged is a statement by Chamath Palihapitiya, tech venture capitalist and part owner of the Golden State Warriors of the NBA. He claims disinterest in the plight of the Uyghur people of western China, who are abused by the China's Han majority. 

Palihapitiya is a Sinhalese immigrant from Sri Lanka. Perhaps relevant is that the Sinhalese majority in Sri Lanka won a bitter civil war with the Tamil minority. It could be that as a member of a nation's majority which had a tough time dealing with a belligerent minority, he empathizes with China's Han majority.

Or, as I wrote two years ago,

At various times we’ve noted efforts to get Americans interested in the Chinese Han majority abusing the Uighur minority in western China. Also efforts to get Americans interested in the Burmese abuse of their Rohingya minority in western Myanmar.

None of these efforts have experienced much success. Which raises the question of why not? What the two minorities have in common - the Muslim faith.

Does this make them less sympathetic figures to Americans in this post 9-11 era? While you’d have a hard time getting educated people to admit it, I suspect the actual answer is “yes.”

Palihapitiya has a reputation for being outspoken. He may be saying what many are thinking but not saying, fearing reprisals. 

The Enemy of An Enemy

Conservative pundits have often taken exception to the rulings of SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts. And, as you know, I've often cited the political analysis of liberal pundit Ron Brownstein. 

For his normal venue at The Atlantic, Brownstein writes that Roberts has been an absolute stalwart in defending the GOP preference for minimizing FedGov interference with state control of elections. Naturally, he does not approve of Roberts' decisions but I believe Brownstein has his facts straight.

Based on Brownstein's research, perhaps conservatives should reconsider their negative views of Chief Justice Roberts. If liberal Brownstein dislikes him this much, Roberts must be doing a lot of which the GOP approves, at least when it comes to voting rights.

Monday, January 17, 2022

There's Something Happening Here

Image for this Gallup result courtesy of John Hinderaker at Power Line. Title courtesy of a Buffalo Springfield hit from 1967.

A seven percent shift in party identifications is extremely large, and very unusual. Joe Biden gets the 'credit' for this political earthquake. Buyer's remorse is already evident among some Ds and many independents.

Battery-Powered Vehicles

Ed Driscoll, posting at Instapundit, links to an article in Torque News about issues with using a battery-powered electric vehicle (BEV) for long road trips. Author John Goreham describes himself as a "recovering engineer."

His advice: Don't. The range is less than the EPA says it is, charging them takes longer than you've got, cold weather makes the range even less, and so do highway speeds. In the mountain west where I live, interstates are often posted at 75-80 mph with most driving 5-10 mph faster.

Goreham specifically deals with the impracticality of heavily loading or towing anything behind a BEV, as for example depicted at the other DrC's blog here. Neither of us could believe what you'll see there, and we've been RVing since 1972.

BEVs work okay for people who commute/drive 50-60 miles a day, or less. They are quiet, reliable, and give you green bragging rights with people too stupid to realize most electricity is generated by burning fossil fuel. 

If you live, as I do, where 500-1000 mile road trips are a several-times-a-year experience, you're better off with a plug-in hybrid electric or petroleum-fueled vehicle. Leave the 'super golf cart' BEVs for those who stay within an hour of home.

Echoes of the Culture War

On-line publication Issues & Insights sponsored a TIPP poll which asked this question:
Do you agree or disagree with the statement “religion is under attack in the U.S.?

Fifty-two percent agreed with the statement, 40% disagreed, and the balance were unsure/had no idea. As a picture of what people believe about a public policy question, I have no quarrel with the findings. 

The real source of the “attack,” if you want to call it that, is today’s relatively widespread disinterest in religion and church-attendance. This disinterest is not unique to the U.S., it is relatively common throughout the developed world and became obvious in Europe before it spread to the U.S.

A century ago there was a relatively widespread consensus of religious belief here. That consensus underpinned a variety of government policies which codified various aspects of that belief into governmental structures and laws. 

That consensus faded starting 50-60 years ago. Those who found those structures and laws confining have had much luck in getting them repealed. So we have same-sex marriage where we once imprisoned people for such behavior, we have legal recreational use of drugs in many jurisdictions where we once imprisoned people for this. You can think of other examples, like ignoring homelessness where once we had vagrancy laws.

And that process isn’t over, there are people trying to normalize pedophilia as this is being written. I can imagine people 30 years from now thinking Jeffrey Epstein was a martyr. 

As society becomes more libertarian, more accepting of alternative lifestyles and deviant behavior, it isn’t surprising that people perceive this as an “attack” on religion. The faithful in our country are losing the culture war and that loss feels like an attack on religion. Ironically, the attack is often led by the clergy of  once-mainstream churches, whose attendance has correspondingly cratered.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

The Amistad Project

Perhaps you have questions about the 2020 presidential election that have not been, and likely will never be, answered to your satisfaction. I have a link for you to a RealClearPolitics discussion of the findings of the Amistad Project which has reached seven conclusions about the manner it was run. Here is a Cliff Notes version for those in a hurry.

  1. Many key government election offices received more private money than taxpayer money to manage the election.
  2. A majority of that money was spent in a sophisticated effort to turn out the vote of a specific profile of voter in order to benefit one candidate.
  3. These expenditures greatly exceeded campaign finance limits and violated laws and systems designed to keep government neutral in managing elections.
  4. These private interests dictated the manner in which the election would be managed.
  5. Amistad litigation and investigation have revealed that a handful of partisan billionaires funneled funds through a collection of left-leaning nonprofits directly into the counting centers of the urban core of swing states.
  6. Ballots and voters were treated differently based on access to these funds.
  7. A series of lawsuits by the left — and executive branch use of “emergency police powers” due to COVID-19 — radically changed the management of the 2020 election, resulting in different treatment of ballots and voters within several states.

It is elsewhere alleged Mark Zuckerberg spent many millions purchasing the election outcome he preferred. If true, it makes claims democracy is now endangered both too little and far too late.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Weird Virological Science

Instapundit links to a Scientific American article reporting research which finds that the Epstein-Barr virus is likely the cause for Multiple Sclerosis. This is true although most humans have been exposed to the virus and very few of those get MS. 
Epidemiologist Alberto Ascherio, senior author of the new study, says, “The bottom line is almost: if you’re not infected with EBV, you don’t get MS. It’s rare to get such black-and-white results.”

Obviously, some as-yet-unknown and relatively rare factor combines with EBV to cause MS, perhaps a gene or lifestyle factors or both. 

Missionaries of Entropy

Sci Fi author Sarah Hoyt posts at Instapundit, her views there are often a little strident for my taste. However, today she writes something about the "woke" left and their Gramscian march through the institutions with which I absolutely agree.

Everything they take over stops working. Everything. From the arts, to the culture, to news, to now industry. They’re perplexed and scared by this. And starting to panic.

Universities are corrupted, the mainstream media is losing readers/viewers, films aren't attracting audiences, people aren't marrying and having kids, and woke companies are turning off customers. People are dropping out of the workforce and we may be in for a series of one-term presidents.

Recently, entropy is winning. 

The Twitter Bubble

Yair Rosenberg, writing for The Atlantic (behind paywall) and quoted at length by John Sexton at the HotAir site, observes how misleading conclusions made from a bunch of Tweets can be.

According to the Pew Research Center, only 23 percent of U.S. adults use Twitter, and of those users, “the most active 25% … produced 97% of all tweets.” In other words, nearly all tweets come from less than 6 percent of American adults. This is not a remotely good representation of public opinion, let alone newsworthiness, and treating it as such will inevitably result in wrong conclusions.

Plus Instapundit Glenn Reynolds opines about Twitter.

The best thing to do with Twitter is to ignore it, and certainly not to treat it as anything connected with how most people think or feel. Think of it rather as a window into the ugly souls and scanty intellects of our chattering class.

In other words, Twitter is an echo chamber bubble and the “woke” inside the bubble are nonstop talking to themselves while the rest of us - somewhere between 77-94% - go on about our business largely oblivious to the “Twitterverse” and those who infest it. 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Woke Craziness

Ed Driscoll, posting at Instapundit, provides a link to this bit of  “woke” craziness. Website ProPublica self-describes as follows:

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power

It reports their research shows traffic cameras in Chicago “disproportionately ticket Black and Latino motorists." 

My question: Exactly how do robotic cameras know who is Black or Latino? Answer: They don’t. A human traffic cop might discriminate against drivers of color, a robotic camera cannot.

The inescapable conclusion, Black and Latino drivers disproportionately engage in scofflaw driving behaviors which earn them traffic cam tickets. Paraphrasing an old adage, “Drive the crime, pay the dime.”

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Poll: Biden Hits a New Low

The New York Post reports findings of a Quinnipiac University poll looking at public attitudes toward President Biden and toward the two major parties. Respondents were contacted over the last weekend.

President Biden’s job approval rating has tumbled to 33 percent in the latest Quinnipiac University poll, a whopping 17 percentage-point drop​ from February.

More than half of American adults (53 percent) disapprove of the job the president is doing.

When asked which party they would want to control the House of Representatives if the midterm elections were held today, Republicans edged out Democrats 43 percent to 42 percent. 

When asked which party they’d want to be a majority in the Senate, 45 percent chose Republicans, while 41 percent said Democrats.
Roughly one year in, the hapless Biden Presidency continues to circle the drain.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Poll: Trump Would Win a Rematch

New Rasmussen Reports poll results don't look promising for Democrats.
A new Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that, if the election were held today, just 40% of Likely U.S. Voters would vote to reelect Biden, while 46% would vote for Trump. Another 10% would choose some other candidate in a Biden-Trump rematch.

Trump would get 81% support from GOP voters and Biden would get 75% of Democrats if the election were held today. Among voters not affiliated with either major party, however, Trump would win by a 16-point margin, with 45% to Biden’s 29% of the vote.

It seems like American voters are experiencing a classic case of voter’s remorse.

It would appear Independents truly are exactly that.

The Need for Plausible Deniability

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) poses an excellent question, as reported by RealClearPolitics.
Sen. Ted Cruz failed to get a comment Tuesday from Jill Sanborn, an assistant director of the National Security branch of the FBI, about Ray Epps, a man seen acting suspiciously before and during the January 6, 2021 riot whose name disappeared from the FBI's suspect list after he appeared in New York Times reporting.

"Ms. Sanborn, was Ray Epps a fed?" Cruz asked. "How many FBI agents or confidential informants actively participated in the events of January 6th?"

"Sir, I can't answer that," Sanborn said, repeating that the FBI does not go into "sources and methods" in settings like this.

"A lot of Americans are concerned that the federal government deliberately encouraged illegal and violent conduct on January 6. This is not an ordinary law enforcement question, this is about public accountability. Did federal agents or those in service of federal agents actively encourage violent and criminal conduct on January 6?" Cruz asked.

"Not to my knowledge, sir," Sanborn replied.

BTW, "not to my knowledge" is different than "no." It also includes "I may have to testify in Congress so don't tell me, or put in writing, any questionable things you're doing in furtherance of our shared goals." 

This government's demand for unlawful behavior by conservatives far exceeds the natural occurring supply. Hence, agitation by feds and those in their employ. 

Given the FBI's track record, do you believe Ms. Sanborn? I'm not certain I do. Power Line’s John Hinderaker writes the following opinion about the FBI, which I share.

The Bureau has engaged in so much political conduct in recent years that there is no longer any presumption in its favor.

Choosing Practicality

The College Fix reports results of a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, looking at the extent to which new college grads from the class of 2020 have found appropriate post-graduation employment. Roughly half have not. 

Long-time readers know I’ve harped on “choice of major” as a key factor in getting a job after graduation. The article concludes with this paragraph.

The report also notes that graduates in engineering, engineering technology, health sciences, business, and computer science fared best in securing a full-time job within six months of graduation, which is consistent with previous years.

Yep, STEM, computers and business are solid, and health care is particularly timely in a plague year. It was a big part of what I liked about being a business prof. My students got jobs, made a living, and paid the taxes that paid my salary, I was part of a “virtuous circle.” Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Cut ‘em Out, Ride ‘em In

On Saturday I wrote about the United Van Lines survey of states gaining and losing population as our internal population shifts happen. At that time I noted that moving companies are expensive and we should also hear what U-Haul has to say about internal migration to see what younger, less affluent migrants were doing.

This morning comes exactly that U-Haul data, courtesy of the Issues & Insights website.

Yet another measure of the Blue State exodus is the U-Haul Growth Index, a yearly report that gauges the net number of U-Haul trucks leaving and entering a state. It’s a measure of that state’s raw emigration rate.  

This year, no surprise here, the top 5 were all Red States — Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and Arizona. The bottom 5 included California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Alabama.

U-Haul also noted that the data would have looked even worse, but they literally ran out of equipment in California, so large was the demand to leave.

I can’t resist the relentless lyrics of Rawhide for titling reports about moving.

Weird Transplantation Science

Roughly a month ago I posted a link to a story about the experimental transplantation of a genetically modified pig kidney to a human recipient. Now a heart from a similarly modified pig has been transplanted into a human volunteer whose heart was failing and who was ineligible for a human transplant. The New York Post has the Associated Press story.

All such work is highly experimental at present, but if it can be perfected transplantation surgery will boom and lifespans will be extended, no small accomplishment. And, as noted earlier, bacon may be a tasty byproduct of raising organs for people. That assumes the genetic modification which makes pig organs no longer produce a particular sugar which causes organ rejection won’t also make the meat unsafe or unpalatable for consumption.

Anthropologists have reported cannibal tribes have referred to human flesh with terms that translate as “long pig.” Coincidence or insight, who knows?

Monday, January 10, 2022


When I wrote Saturday’s post about Asian voters leaving the Democrats, there was a major factor in that I forgot to include. I write today to remedy that omission.

Affirmative action admission protocols at elite schools of higher education notoriously discriminate against Asian applicants. Without them, perhaps a third of the students at these institutions would be hard-working Asian kids.

To vote for Democrats, Asians have to be willing to overlook Democrats’ support for overtly discriminatory policies that harm Asian young people. It appears increasing numbers can’t (or won't) attempt that mental gymnastic.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Asians ... Slip Sliding Away

As we wrote five days ago, Democrats are having problems hanging onto the Hispanic vote. A major chronicler of that problem has been political scientist Ruy Teixeira.

Now Teixeira finds that Democrats are having the same problem with Asian-American voters, and for at least some of the same reasons. He writes:

1. According to Pew, Biden has lost support twice as fast among Asian voters as among whites since July.
2. In the November mayoral election in New York, once again Asian voters performed poorly for the Democrat.
3. In the November Virginia gubernatorial election, results from the AP-NORC VoteCast survey (snip) indicated that Virginia’s heavily Asian “other race” category, which gave Biden a strong 19 point advantage in 2020, slipped to a mere 6 point advantage for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in 2021. Republican Glenn Youngkin carried 46 percent of these voters in his upset victory.

Why are these voters slipping away from the Democrats? One problem is that Asians are worried about public safety and leery of a Democratic party that has become associated with “defund the police” and a soft approach to containing crime. Another is that Asians, like Hispanics, are a constituency that does not harbor particularly radical views on the nature of American society and how it must be remade to cleanse it of intrinsic racism and white supremacy, a viewpoint increasingly identified with Democrats.

Of course the prevalence of Black-on-Asian violence in urban settings and the Democrats' obsession with excusing Black crime must be considered as relevant.

Teixeira once argued that Hispanic and Asian immigration guaranteed Democratic majorities going forward. To his credit, when events proved him wrong, he changed his tune and has reported that Hispanics and now also Asians tend to identify more with Whites than with Blacks.

I hypothesize the fact Asians and Hispanics are here voluntarily, often having made major sacrifices to come, is a key factor in their lack of civil rights militancy.

Keep Those Dogies Movin’

One of the continuing stories COTTonLINE follows is the migration of Americans from high tax blue states to low tax red states. A story in today’s New York Post takes the narrative another step forward.

United Van Lines’ 45th Annual National Movers Study shows that New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were among the five states with the steepest losses. Jersey led the way with 70% of customers leaving the state compared to 30% moving in; for the Empire State (third worst, behind Illinois in second) , it was 63% out, just 37% in. The whole Northeast lost ground, as did California.

From the Post we learn the identity of the top three states losing population: NJ, IL, NY. A check of the study shows CT was number 4 and CA number 5.

In the last couple of decades has any of those states had other than a Democrat-dominated legislature? If so, it was an outlier. All 5 are high tax, high regulation states. 

Moving companies aren’t cheap, which means the UVL data is biased toward older, more affluent customers and those whose moves are paid for by their employer. Combining their data with that of trailer and truck rental firms U-Haul, Ryder and Penske would give a more nuanced view of the year’s moves by including young families and the less affluent.

Personal note: in the area of NV where we have a new winter home, many of the new residents are relocating from CA, including the owners of the houses on either side of ours.

Afterthought: Can you read the title of this post without at least subvocalizing the word "Rawhide"?

Friday, January 7, 2022

World Class Snark

World class snark at Lawrence Person’s Battleswarm Blog, hat tip to Stephen Green posting at Instapundit for the link.

The Democratic Governor of New York declaring that she’s going to make New York “the most business-friendly State in the nation” is like Danny DeVito declaring that he’s going to become an offensive lineman for the New York Jets; nothing in the rules actually forbids it, but everyone involved knows it’s not going to happen.

The legislature won't allow it, should she actually want to do more than make a ridiculous claim.

Poll: Trump in Rear-View Mirror

The Washington Examiner reports Rasmussen Reports polling showing opinions of Donald Trump are more positive today than when he left office. A year of President Biden can have that effect, many things are worse today than when Trump left office.

Meanwhile Rasmussen Reports also find few people believe Biden will be reelected in 2024.

About Yesterday

Glenn Reynolds responds approvingly to a Robert Shibley post at the Instapundit site, observing:

The worst thing a Democrat can imagine is a threat to Democrats’ political power. Islamists aren’t seen as such a threat. Meanwhile their biggest fear is that the Normal-American community will rise up and take back control of the country and its institutions. All the media censorship, charges of “white supremacy,” etc. is just designed to prevent that.

Yep, it happened in 2016 and Democrats have been absolutely foaming-at-the-mouth berserk ever since, never more so than yesterday. Hence, imbecilic comments like “the greatest threat to America is rightwing extremism.” Actually, the real “greatest threat” is the current occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, him and his caregivers.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

A Wrong Target

People upset with Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling over her "biological gender matters" stance are now claiming she is anti-Semitic, based on the stories' treatment of the Gringotts goblins. Perhaps there is an argument to be made, but I believe they have the wrong target in blaming Rowling.

A close reading of her books doesn't reveal much about goblins that could be read as anti-Semitic. Her goblins have some common elements with the dwarves in J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. She makes clear that while wizards use their banking skills and buy their fine metalwork, historically wizards have treated goblins badly, along with elves, centaurs, etc.

It is the filmic treatment of the Harry Potter novels that could give people the notion Rowling's goblins were an anti-Semitic dig. If someone is going to find anti-Semitism in the Potter goblins, blame the films' depiction/visualization much more than the book descriptions for giving that impression.

Full disclosure: The DrsC are longtime Potter fans. We own well-used sets of the books, the DVDs, and the audio books.

What Masks Do For Sure

Today, Power Line's Scott Johnson writes at some length citing evidence wearing a face mask does no good vis-a-vis avoiding Covid-19. Johnson's colleague Paul Mirengoff adds links which, he claims, show the opposite. I will share with you what I know from my personal experience.

The other DrC doesn't like wearing masks, though she has become somewhat accustomed to them. When masking was first a thing, roughly a year ago, she bought clear plastic face shields for both of us and we wore those for several months when shopping although not in medical offices. Most non-medical places would accept the shields in lieu of the masks.

What the DrsC learned from wearing clear plastic shields is that a human sprays a considerable quantity of tiny saliva droplets when talking, mouth breathing, etc. The droplets end up on the inside of the plastic shield, dry there, and end up looking unsightly and vaguely dirty. We'd Windex the shields when we returned home.

I believe face masks mostly protect the other people you are around, not yourself. Like the plastic shields, masks catch the micro-droplets of saliva we all shed without being aware of doing so. It is, however, true that if everyone around you also wears a mask, their masks protect you from their saliva spray.

In other words, I have no faith in masks' ability to filter inhaled air, but considerable faith in their ability to intercept the wearer's sprayed saliva droplets. I know describing this is gross, but if you believe I'm wrong, get a plastic face shield, wear it for 2-3 hours, and see for yourself how much viral-laden saliva we all shed. You'll be amazed and probably grossed-out as well.

Who Moves?

A web search finds recent reports from Florida and Texas that indicate most of the new arrivals, who’ve moved there and registered to vote, are registering Republican. This is worth considering.

There are two theories about why people are moving to Florida and Texas, two red states with big population gains. One theory holds that people move there because the jobs are there and cost of living (mostly housing) is cheaper. The other holds that they move because they are dissatisfied with the way the blue state where they formerly lived was being run.

Let’s begin by recognizing that likely there are those who move for each of those reasons. There are liberals whose companies move their headquarters to TX or FL and who, to maintain their seniority, position, etc. tag along. There are probably scores, maybe even hundreds of these reluctant transplants. 

Much more common, I imagine, are those who are unhappy with the way NY or CA is being run (seemingly “into the ground”). They have moved to a place where they will no longer be part of a disgruntled and politically impotent minority. 

I understand the concerns which prompted Instapundit Glenn Reynolds to advocate something like “Welcome Wagon” for new red state arrivals, reminding them not to vote for those who advocate the policies they didn’t like back home. I understand but wonder if perhaps it is unnecessary. A fair amount of anecdotal+ evidence suggests it may be unneeded for the second group, and ineffective for the first, reluctant group.

A Restatement

Today is an anniversary, of sorts, and the Democrats will not let us move on without commemorating it. I don’t obsess about it here at COTTonLINE, but it is perhaps worth restating the conclusions I have drawn about the Capitol riot.

In a nation where privately owned firearms are so prevalent that they may outnumber our population, a serious insurrection would have featured lots of gunfire. As far as I am able to determine, the only shots one year ago at the Capitol were fired by the defending Capitol police, killing unarmed Ashli Babbitt.

Therefore what occurred was not a serious attempt to overthrow the government. It was a group of angry, rowdy people misbehaving, making their anger known in unlawful ways. It is something that occurs from time to time in this country, and we have laws and penalties to deal with it. 

The Capitol Police were unaccustomed to this level of kinetic discontent - psychologically unprepared - and it showed in their actions. Unlike big city/urban law enforcement, most of their activities most of the time are not unlike those of building security rent-a-cops, more for display than for action.

It suits Democrats’ motives to make a big deal out of remembering the Jan. 6 riot, so take their “big deal” for what it’s worth - a political act by largely corrupt people. It likewise suits Democrats’ motives not to make a big deal out of BLM/Antifa riots which were far more violent and destructive. Gotta love Democrat hypocrisy.

Afterthought: Making sure an election held in unusual times runs clean is something you do before and while the ballots are cast, not afterwards. Much of President Trump’s post-November, 2020, behavior hasn’t been classy.  

Trump bears some indirect responsibility for the Jan. 6 riot.  He took a successful presidency and besmirched it while a lame duck. If he’s the party nominee in 2024 I’ll support him; however I’d prefer someone with the same program but without the “I wuz robbed” baggage, someone like FL Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Our Thomas Paine

Michael Anton is the Thomas Paine of our times. He is an impassioned neo-pamphleteer on behalf of what conservatives believe is the essential America. His style is very much “take no prisoners” and “damn the redcoats,” although the enemy’s color this time around happens to be blue.

Writing for The American Mind from the Claremont Institute, he points out that blue America cannot permit red America to continue to exist. The “blue view” Anton describes is very much in the flavor of the repudiated-in-1965 Roman Catholic doctrine Error non habet ius, “error has no rights.”  He observes:

Part of the practical point seems to be to distinguish what John Derbyshire calls goodwhites from badwhites. Only the latter are infected with “whiteness,” or at least refuse to repudiate it. The former, though still white, feel sufficiently guilty about that and are eager to be good “allies” by making amends.

But none of this matters for present purposes. The point under consideration is: what do badwhites hear? What’s the message of “Critical Race Theory”—which, as we know, (a) doesn’t exist, (b) is only the routine teaching of accurate history, and (c) is absolutely crucial to fairness and justice in contemporary education?

Here’s what they hear: you (and your children) are evil because of your race, because of what your ancestors did or are alleged to have done—and for what you have done and continue to do. Even if you think you’re innocent, at the very least you benefit from a system designed to help you unfairly at the expense of others. And, let’s face it, you’re not innocent. You may not be able to name your specific sins—the guilty always insist they’re innocent—but just ask us; we’ll tell you. There’s no way for you or your progeny to escape this guilt or discharge your debt. You earned none of what you have. Everything you believe you or your ancestors built, you didn’t. Either that, or your “accomplishments” are merely cogs in an oppressive system and must be entirely remade. Your heroes were in fact villains. Their statues must come down and anything memorializing them renamed. There is nothing in your past of which to be proud, only ashamed. Your proper place in the new order is one of permanent penance and subservience. And your refusal to confess is further evidence of your guilt.

Somewhere the ghosts of Torquemada and his fellow inquisitors nod approvingly. They’ve heard this blues song before, they know the lyrics: error has no rights, it must be extirpated.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Religious Exemptions?

Writing in The Federalist, Jay Richards criticizes the military for denying service members religious exemption from the Covid vaccine. He argues that doing so interferes with the First Amendment rights of Roman Catholics and others opposed on religious grounds to any and all abortions, since the vaccines were tested on aborted fetal tissue. 

On the other hand, service in the military is not an inalienable right. For example, we do not permit pacifists to serve, those who refuse to use force to defend themselves and the nation. 

Military service makes demands on, and requires obedience from, its members. These demands sometimes contravene the dogma of this or that religious belief and interfere with constitutionally protected rights. It demands sacrifices members of the all-volunteer military choose to make willingly, or they find another line of work. 

The military observes most of its members who are Catholic have been vaccinated, as required. Thus it finds the refusal of the relatively small number claiming religious exemption to be disingenuous and likely based on something other than demands of faith. In this case I side with the military, which needs healthy troops.

The Hispanic Vote

A. B. Stoddard is no particular friend of Republicans, although an associate editor at RealClearPolitics. Today she writes that Democrats have real trouble with the Hispanic part of their coalition. Some key quotes:
Biden won 750,000 fewer Hispanic voters in 2020 than Hillary Clinton did in 2016.

Biden’s approval ratings are awful across the board, but his support has eroded more among Hispanic voters than with any other racial group. A poll from December showed his approve/disapprove numbers with Hispanic voters were 33/65, a net -32, while they were 40/56 with whites, a net of -16.

Ruy Teixeira, a political scientist who has studied emerging trends in the Hispanic electorate, wrote in “The Liberal Patriot” that these voters do “not harbor particularly radical views on the nature of American society and its supposed intrinsic racism and white supremacy. They are instead a patriotic, upwardly mobile, working class group with quite practical and down to earth concerns.”

Hispanic Americans are not woke, and many do not consider themselves non-white.

Overwhelmingly, Hispanics made a choice to come to the U.S., and another to stay here once they arrived.  Most are not angry people, not resentful, and not bitter about their adopted country. They are (dare I say it?) assimilating. I wouldn’t be surprised if they hear Democrats’ talk about “racism” as pandering to Blacks, at the expense of Hispanics.

As I’ve written before, where I grew up in rural SoCal the family across the street were Mexican-Americans. Their house was as nice as ours, their cars were newer than ours, and they were thoroughly middle-class.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

A Bad Report Card

Writing at The Hill, Joe Concha does a report card on the Biden administration's 2021. Concha grades its performance on four key factors, I've omitted the justifications he gives for each.

2021 grade on the economy/inflation: D
2021 grade on crime: D
2021 grade on COVID-19: C
2021 grade on the border/immigration: F

Personally, I believe Concha was overly generous. In my eyes, Biden has actively made the economy worse, done nothing about the crime spree, and engaged in massive blame-shifting on Covid, before eventually throwing up his hands.

Biden is on track to make the meh Obama years look not so bad by comparison. He might even surpass the grim Carter years.

Transformational Trump

Writing for Politico, Derek Robertson gets his mea culpa out of the way in the title of his article.

I Predicted the Culture Wars Would End in 2021. Oops.

What follows is his “process” observation.

Although probably not for the reasons he intended, history will deem Trump a transformational president. In breaking a taboo which other politicians had mutually agreed to leave alone, he gave Republicans a powerful political tool — and by doing so, ensured the caustic, divisive cultural politics that defined his presidency would long outlive it.

And you’ll like his punchline-style conclusion.

Trumpian cultural politics are … just the way we live.

Trump understood Republicans were tired of being “nice” Romney-style losers pushing “cool” technical issues, and intuited “hot” cultural issues were how to win.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Politics 101

You see articles like this one raining on Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and, in this particular case, claiming he has "no shame" for opposing passage of the Build Back Better monstrosity. I beg to differ.

Joe Manchin finds himself, nominally a Democrat, representing a state which votes Republican most of the time. In 2020 they cast twice as many votes for Trump as for Biden. 

The first (some would say "only") law of politics is "Get Reelected." Is it any wonder Manchin acts like a Republican most of the time? He represents his state and hopes WV voters will overlook his party label come Election Day.

The Rose Parade

The existence of DVRs allows recording on-air TV for later viewing. The system we have at our new winter place can record two different programs simultaneously. 

This morning's 133rd Rose Parade in Pasadena was shown on two networks locally, ABC and NBC. We recorded both for later watching and have now watched both, first ABC and then NBC. It is rare to see two networks record the exact same event, and it makes possible something semi-rare - a directly comparison of how each treats the subject.

We watched both with the sound off, having heard over the years entirely too much blather about the poppy seeds and other botanicals used alongside flowers to decorate floats. Muted you miss the marching band music but the band audio is poor anyway. 

NBC simply did a much better job than ABC of parade coverage. They showed us more floats, more equestrian units, as many marching bands, and the same musical numbers which began and ended the parade. And NBC had better camera angles of the things they both covered. BTW, was it important for Leann Rimes to look in pain throughout her entire number, it seems odd staging?

ABC spent too much time with the commentators' faces on-camera, NBC kept the parade front and center. Both showed plenty of commercials but with the DVR's fast forward function you don't have to watch them. 

The Rose Parade isn't something I'd want to watch every day or every week. Once a year I like it a lot, we saw it in person in 1980. It is better on TV, watched in our PJs under a cozy blanket.