Tuesday, May 31, 2022

A Rank Odor

It is widely reported today that in the Sussmann trial in Washington, DC, the jury has found him innocent of lying to the FBI. Writing for Spectator World, scholar/pundit Charles Lipson's conclusion summarizes what this tells him about the current state of our system.

Despite Sussmann’s not-guilty verdict, his trial revealed the rank odor of Washington politics. It suffuses our courts, our law enforcement bureaucracy, and the mainstream media. It reeks of insider dealing and extreme partisan bias. That stench should alarm anyone concerned about America’s ability to govern itself democratically. That governance requires trust in our institutions, including confidence our courts can resolve legal issues with fairness and integrity. Who could look at the Sussmann Affair and retain that confidence?

Leftists do love their show trials with pre-ordained outcomes, don't they? Pray you are never involved in one.

Some have called the verdict "jury nullification." As a non-attorney I'm unwilling to go that far. Finding a jury willing to convict a Democrat in a politics-drenched trial in DC - which overwhelmingly supported Clinton - may not have been possible, and the judge reportedly didn't try hard.

Spengler Misfires

On numerous occasions I've referred approvingly to the written opinions of David P. Goldman, who also writes as "Spengler." It is only fair to write today to indicate my disagreement with his view of Ukraine and the Russian incursion there.

My sense is that Goldman began thinking about Ukraine nearly 10 years ago and his opinions haven't changed as the facts on the ground have changed. His view of current Ukraine doesn't seem to account for the current situation as has been reported. Perhaps he feels the need to defend his past positions.

I have read elsewhere the Russian invasion of the Donbas region has, if reports are to be believed, managed to turn Russian-speaking Ukrainians into anti-Russian Ukraine patriots. If the various parts of Ukraine were not culturally united prior to the invasion, it appears they are united now when confronted by a famously brutal external enemy bombing and shelling their homes. 

Being attacked can pull a divided people together. Americans experienced this process during two World Wars.

If conditions were as Goldman believes, the Ukraine military should be faced with very substantial desertions. I have read no reports of any such in Ukraine, but plenty of it in Russia - search "Russians refuse orders" for many examples. 

So long as the people of Ukraine want to fight to reclaim their independence, I believe as the injured party they deserve our support.

Caveat: I have no inside information about Ukraine. My sources are all public and widely disseminated. And I have no magic wand to separate reported fact from pro-Ukraine propaganda.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Slo-Mo 'Train Wreck'

Kurt Schlichter who blogs at Townhall has a small tendency to overstate, for "effect" you might say. So the following - his indictment of the status quo - is a tiny bit extreme but much truer than any normal (his term) person would like. He begins with Uvalde: 
The failure is not limited to being unable to stop murderers. It’s not even the only failure involving schools. The schools are churning out a generation of quasi-literates and have been turned into a Grindr for perverted weirdos to use for grooming their prey. We got a good view of the failure during another epic failure, the COVID response.

This is systemic.

Everything is failing.

Go try to get baby formula.

See if you can afford gas. Hell, roll up to a Mickey D’s drive-thru and try to roll away with lunch for four under $30.

The courts don’t work, the Congress doesn’t work, and our alleged president is a borderline clinical moron who is lying when he’s not merely stupid.

Our military is trying to cope with transexual troops, while China plans moon colonies.  And most large cities have DAs who don't believe in jailing criminals. 

It's a great time to be old. Institutional inertia will probably hold things together long enough for seniors to die before the national collapse happens. That's my view on good days; you don't want to know my pessimistic scenario.

Memorial Day

Today we honor those who gave their lives to protect our country’s freedom and independence. Freedom isn’t free, our nation pays for it with the lives of its brave soldiers, sailors, marines, and aircrew. We owe them our eternal gratitude.

Uvalde Afterthoughts

If mass shooters are nearly always suicidal, which appears to be the case, then the approach to dealing with them must logically follow our proven approach to suicide bombers. If the perp is prepared and ready to die, deterrence doesn’t work.

That leaves prevention. Keeping them away from large, congested groups of people. The widely disliked TSA has kept bombers off planes, and is therefore an unpopular success story. Similar screening can work for schools, churches, theaters, athletic events and concerts - places where masses gather. Expect these screens to be even more unpopular than TSA.

The alternative is warehousing large numbers of mentally disturbed individuals, most of whom would never become mass murderers. Doing so has both economic and human liberty implications which would offend many of us. 

My conclusion: there are no easy answers.

Birds of a Feather

For Politico, journalist Michael Kruse interviews journalist/author Bill Bishop. In 2008, Bishop authored The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded Americans Is Tearing Us Apart

The interview’s aim - to determine what additional insights have occurred to Bishop in the intervening 14 years. Some key insights:

In 1976, 26.8 percent of voters lived in “landslide” counties — counties, that is, in which the winner in the presidential election won by more than 20 percent. In 1996, it was 42.1, and by 2004, it was nearing half.

But that was 18 years ago, what about now?

By 2016 it was 60 percent. Rhodes Cook looked at super-sorted counties — that gave 80 percent or more of its two-party presidential vote (to one candidate) — and found that 20 percent of the nation’s counties gave 80 percent.

We’re sorting in all kinds of ways, so it’s not primarily political — we see it in politics because we can measure it that way. (snip) The underlying engine of all this is identity and expression. It’s who I am.

People just know when they get to the place where they’re around people who are like themselves. (snip) All this is about lifestyle and about identity — and, oh, every four years, it’s about politics.

A bunch of European sociologists describe this breakdown of community and how the individual has become the artist of his own or her own life and is given this daily task of creating a self. And so politics now plays that role. People use politics to create identity.

Bishop concludes in 2016 Trump didn’t invent or cause “sorted identity,” he merely recognized its existence and took full advantage of it. In 2020, Biden may have benefitted from it even more.

The interesting thing about the guy who looked at the 80-percent counties: Most of the counties were Trump counties. But Biden got more votes out of 80-percent counties than Trump got out of 80-percent counties.

That makes sense, high-population-density counties are more apt to vote Democrat, low-density or rural counties tend to vote Republican, but have far fewer voters. It is a good interview, worth your time to read.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Memorial Day Weekend

Pix taken today - spring snow in the Rocky Mountains.
Three days ago we were in short sleeves.
Only 2 months we've not seen snow here - July, August.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Getting Serious

Katie Pavlich is Editor at Townhall, a columnist in her own right, and a frequent panelist on Bret Baier's Special Report for Fox News. Today she reports the comments of former Attorney General Bill Barr who expressed an firm opinion concerning the prevention of school shootings. Barr told Fox News radio host Jimmy Failla:

I think we’re at the stage where the only thing that’s actually going to potentially prevent and intentionally have an effect are measures around the schools, especially elementary schools, to harden them, to make it much more difficult for someone to break in with a gun and keep shooting. And that will require better perimeter measures, not having the doors open where people can come in, but also police officers on site. And that’s unfortunate.
It wasn’t too long ago where we didn’t have airport security. Anyone could walk up to the gate. And now, 20-25 years later, we have intense security at airports and in office buildings we never had. And now we do.

Not bad advice. Many schools already have a single monitored entry point and serious fencing. Some also have TSA-style metal detectors. 

Why We Migrate

At her blog CruzTalking Two, the other DrC has photos taken from our high country screened-in back deck. The deer and the aspen forest are on full display. 

If you wonder why the deck is screened, the reason is twofold. First, forests have bugs we’d rather not encounter, and second, the heavy screen acts as what hunters call a “blind.” 

We can see out but the deer (and other critters) can’t see us and be frightened. We like to watch them and have planted nothing they will damage with their grazing. There have been several evenings we ate dinner at that table with a deer lying 6’ away chewing her cud, seemingly oblivious.

If you’ve wondered why we old crocks make the considerable effort to spend the warm half of the year here, these pix give you a sizable hint.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Mass Shootings

I haven't written about the Uvalde school shooting as I haven't had anything positive to contribute to this sad story. The other DrC, who supervised student teachers in TX public schools, was amazed the school wasn't better protected. Apparently, the ones she visited in the Dallas suburbs and exurbs were much more controlled.

Politico has interviewed two professors who've studied mass shooters. A book - The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic - about their findings came out in 2021. 

The interview takes them through their conclusions. I agree with only some of these. Others seem like nods to "woke" conventional wisdom. They do make one important point I believe is rarely stressed.

I don’t think most people realize that these are suicides, in addition to homicides. Mass shooters design these to be their final acts. When you realize this, it completely flips the idea that someone with a gun on the scene is going to deter this. If anything, that’s an incentive for these individuals. They are going in to be killed.

It’s hard to focus on the suicide because these are horrific homicides. But it’s a critical piece because we know so much from the suicide prevention world that can translate here.

I agree with the notion "it's suicide." And suicide prevention could help. However taking a shot at a cop will get you dead, if death is what you seek. Mass shooters want more than just death, they want revenge on society for treating them as nobodies. 

"Someone with a gun" can be a local deterrent if their presence makes shooting many people difficult to carry out. The armed citizen can cut short the mass killing that makes the suicide and its attendant publicity attractive to the revenge-seeker. In a sense, "hardening the target."

I don't have many answers. If we literally round up every gun in society what's to keep revenge-seeking suicides from driving a car at high speed into a crowd at a concert or game? Or becoming a suicide bomber?

Identifying perps before they act could mean paying close attention to the mental health of every post-pubescent male in the society. We would have time for nothing else and would likely lock up many thousands who would never pull the trigger. Prima facie, it is not feasible.

Still, most of these revenge-seekers post their anger online. Using AI, could we identify the sets of key words peculiar to mass shooters and concentrate our suicide-prevention efforts on those who show the "earmarks?" It seems worth a try.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

About China

As long-time readers know, George (not Tom) Friedman is a favorite international affairs author. Writing at his Geopolitical Futures website, he predicts a less-than-stellar future for China. Some key insights:

The United States recently said that it would defend Taiwan in the event China invades it. More interesting is that Japan, a country that hasn’t undertaken military action since 1945, said the same.

The Chinese economic miracle depended on exports to generate domestic capital. But for a variety of reasons, demand for its exports is shrinking, which has conspired with other issues to destabilize China’s financial system.

The military coalition arrayed against China is unlikely to start a war, while Beijing would be facing a dangerous coalition if it started one itself.

China is also increasingly isolated. Months ago, it had formed an alliance of sorts with Russia. It was never clear how that alliance would benefit either nation, but now we’ll never know, thanks to Russia’s so far unsuccessful invasion of Ukraine.

China can no longer afford to help Russia politically or economically, and Russia cannot afford to help China militarily. The sum of all this is that the U.S. has reemerged as a global hegemon, even though it really never disappeared.

Media in the U.S. didn’t report that Japan would also defend Taiwan against China, though I’m relatively certain Friedman has it right. That’s a big deal, probably much noted in Asia.


The transition to the high country of western Wyoming is complete; we are now involved in the labor of starting up a winterized house. We left 100 degree days in NV and arrived here to a snow flurry that was inconvenient but did not “stick.” 

After all the tans, reds, and yellows of a desert environment, the new greens of the mountains are a balm to the eyes. The other DrC has posted photos of the new leaves on our aspens and me towing a downed tree out of the driveway. 

Our semiannual migrations are a lot of work but we’ll keep doing them as long as we’re able. Having reasonable weather all year is a blessing worth working to obtain.

I write “reasonable” instead of “nice” because “not nice” days can happen anywhere. We’ve opted to maximize what we think of as “late spring” weather for most of the year. 

The summer mountains can get out-of-season snowfalls and rain while we’re here. The winter desert gets persistent winds, dust/sandstorms and an occasional frost.

A Coup in Russia?

Professor Alexander Motyl writes for 19fortyfive.com about the possibility of a coup deposing Putin in Russia. Motyl references Edward Luttwak’s 1968 book, Coup d’Etat. A Practical Handbook, which analyzed prior successful and unsuccessful coup attempts. Luttwak believes the following conditions are necessary for a coup to succeed.

First, the social and economic conditions of the target country must be such as to confine political participation to a small fraction of the population. Second, the target state must be substantially independent, and the influence of foreign powers in its internal political life must be relatively limited. Finally, the target state must have a political center.

Motyl continues: 

When these conditions are present, as they are in Russia, coups are possible. For a coup to happen, however, its plotters must also control or neutralize the state bureaucracy and its security forces, “while at the same time using [the machinery of state] to impose … control on the country at large.” (emphasis added)

The column is worth your time. 

Monday, May 23, 2022

No Country for Old* Democrats

Regular readers will remember I’ve noted that our home state of Wyoming is one of the most Republican states. Now and then I get a reminder of just how true that claim to fame is actually.

Cheyenne news-talk radio station KGAB posts an interesting story on their website. It deals with the absolute dearth of Democrats running for office in Wyoming. The state’s primary election is in August.

While candidates still have through Friday to file to run for state office in the Cowboy State, a check of the candidates who have formally filed so far is decidedly lopsided in terms of partisan affiliation.

Of the five statewide elected offices, all of which are on the ballot this year, only one Democrat has formally filed. Sergio Maldonado of Lander has filed to run as a Democrat for state Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The other statewide offices--governor, treasurer, secretary of state, and state auditor--all officially have at least one GOP candidate, and three Republicans have filed for State Superintendent.

A quick scan of the party registration figures for Wyoming shows the uphill battle that Democrats face in getting elected in the Cowboy State. Republicans hold an overall registration advantage of 196,888 to 45,095. (emphasis added)
Teton County is the only county with more Democrats registered to vote than Republicans, and that margin is less than 300 voters.

Of course the state’s one-and-only House member is also statewide, and that GOP primary is being contested by several Republicans including the incumbent Liz Cheney and Trump-endorsed Harriet Hageman. It won’t surprise me if no Democrat runs to oppose whoever wins that primary.

*Or young ones.

Friday, May 20, 2022

The Swiss Next?

We wrote about long-neutral Sweden and Finland applying for NATO membership, and that being a near-tidalwave diplomatically. It hasn’t taken long for something to be rumored that, if it happened, would almost make their applications pale into insignificance.

There is a rumor on the wind that Switzerland, the quintessential nonaligned nation, is considering doing something similar. If not joining, doing the sort of NATO-coordinated military training that has for several years typified Sweden and Finland. At this point it is only a rumor, but it wasn’t long ago the actions of Sweden and Finland were rumors so … who knows?

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Weird Bio-Political Science

Scientists, it seems, will study nearly anything. Paul Zak, Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, studied whether the administration of testosterone to male subjects would affect their political attitudes. Spoiler alert: it did.

“Our results demonstrate that testosterone induces a “red shift” among weakly-affiliated Democrats,” summarized the paper.

Researchers administered synthetic testosterone or placebo to participants who previously disclosed their political affiliations, allowing researchers to track how the hormone affected participants’ politics.

“When weakly affiliated Democrats received additional testosterone, the strength of their party fell by 12 percent and they reported 45 percent warmer feelings towards Republican candidates for president,” explained the study.

"Before the testosterone treatment, we found that weakly affiliated Democrats had 19 percent higher basal testosterone than those who identified strongly with the party,” the study continues, reiterating the correlation between individuals with lower testoreone having left-wing political beliefs.

Almost any comment I could make at this point seems superfluous as well as highly offensive to low-T individuals.

Editorial Note

Postings on COTTonLINE will be somewhat scarce for the rest of the week plus the weekend. The DrsC will be in travel mode en route to our summer place. 

Our fuel bills will be historic, alas. Thanks a whole bunch, President Biden. You must stay up nights thinking of ways to make our lives miserable. 

We will remember to reciprocate come 2024, and give you a foretaste this November. No reason you shouldn’t be miserable if we have to be.

Review: World on Fire

When the DrsC finished watching the first season of World on Fire, I promised to post a review. We finished this evening and this is the promised review.

The miniseries follows a Polish family, a German family, two British families, and an abbreviated American family. The first year’s seven episodes cover the period from just before Hitler invades Poland until the Battle of Britain.

Like all recent productions, the series scripts are more “woke” than strict historic accuracy would have suggested. Nazi elimination of racial and LGBTQ minorities and the handicapped did occur, but affected far fewer of those in occupied territories than the 2 families out of five ratio in WoF scripts. Plus what we now call PTSD afflicts a larger percentage of those portrayed than likely was the actual case. It’s a reflection of the bent times we live in.

It is good to see established actors like Sean Bean and Helen Hunt in roles that lie outside their normal range of portrayals. Bean plays a WW I vet still suffering lingering effects of “shell shock’ as they called PTSD. Hunt’s American journalist is a tough but brittle survivor of her own checkered past. Watching British actress Lesley Manville play a upper class woman trying to negotiate the class-scrambled aspects of wartime Britain is a treat.

The special effects are fantastic. The warplanes portrayed actually resemble the real planes of the period. It may be CG but it is superb work. In my experience this degree of realism is unusual in the extreme.

The other DrC and I concluded that we liked the series and will definitely watch next year’s episodes when they become available. World War II is a fantastic backdrop against which to portray damaged human lives.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

NYT: Public School Enrollments Down

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air quotes at length from a New York Times article (behind paywall) about falling enrollments in public schools. You'll remember we wrote about this issue over two weeks ago.

All together, America’s public schools have lost at least 1.2 million students since 2020, according to a recently published national survey. State enrollment figures show no sign of a rebound to the previous national levels any time soon.

Experts point to two potential causes: Some parents became so fed up with remote instruction or mask mandates that they started home-schooling their children or sending them to private or parochial schools that largely remained open during the pandemic. And other families were thrown into such turmoil by pandemic-related job losses, homelessness and school closures that their children simply dropped out.

As Morrissey points out, a third potential cause is that parents looked at the material their students were being taught on-line and were turned off by the public school curriculum's progressive social and political agenda. Reason enough to not want one's children indoctrinated with repulsive stuff.

The actions of the public school systems during the pandemic made clear to parents that they are being run for the benefit of the teachers and administrators. Welfare of the students seems to matter very little. 

Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. As enrollments drop, budgets shrink, meaning fewer teachers, fewer schools, fewer career advancement opportunities.

Membership Applied For

It is official. As threatened, long-neutral Finland and Sweden have applied for membership in NATO

Talk about unintended consequences, this wasn't what V. Putin had in mind when he invaded Ukraine. He has to be livid.

As noted earlier, Turkey has some reservations about their "fitness" for membership. It will be interesting to see what President Erdogan does now.

Trump Endorsement Matters

I haven't run the numbers myself but Gateway Pundit's Joe Hoft has. Here is his take on whether having the endorsement of former President Trump matters for GOP primary candidates.

President Trump's Endorsements Matter - Last Night 23-2-1 (TBD-Oz) - Overall 81 Wins, 3 Losses, 1 TBD (Oz)

"TBD Oz)" means that the very close race for the senate nomination in Pennsylvania is still undecided between Mehmet Oz (Trump endorsee) and David McCormick. Presuming Hoft has done the numbers correctly, and I'm sure he is close, Trump endorsements do in fact matter to Republican voters.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Ukraine - Current Status

Charles Lipson writing for Spectator World takes a careful look at the current status of warfare in Ukraine. He concludes the news there is mostly bad for the Russians, only a couple of small bright spots in an otherwise dismal-for-them sitrep. 

I won't try to summarize Lipson's complex report. If you've recently been distracted by other news, and want an update on Ukraine, this is it.  You won't be disappointed.


We've already had a couple of 100℉ days here in southeastern Nevada. It was 87℉ at 9:30 this morning. By the time we return in early October days this hot should be rare, though perhaps still possible.

It's time for the DrsC to saddle up and head for the high country. At 6000 ft. in western Wyoming, truly hot days are very unusual. 

We're getting the RV ready for the trip. A fair amount of stuff has to be transported when you literally move your base of operations 500+ miles away for a period of several months, and do it twice a year. Mostly, that "stuff" is things which cannot easily be duplicated - financial records, medications, electronics and the like.

Another Primary Day

Some interesting primary elections occur today, much attention is being paid to the senate primaries in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. A handful of house races are being contested today as well, in places like OR. PA, NC and ID

By this time tomorrow we should have a better idea of the shape of the midterm election this November. RealClearPolitics will have the returns posted as they come in throughout the evening. 

Mass Murder Episodes

About the recent shootings in Buffalo and Laguna Woods, I'd like to point out where the blame lies. We no longer institutionalize the mentally ill and, having left them free to roam about and acquire weapons, we get mass shooting events like these.

It was known the young man who did the shooting in Buffalo was a sicko, and yet he was left free to perpetrate mass murder. I believe the same was true of the Laguna Woods shooter. 

Actually, most of the so-called "lone wolf" killers are in fact "known wolves," people whose dysfunction has previously come to the attention of law enforcement. As they've not yet done something obviously felonious, law enforcement can't hold them and so they stew until they explode into homicidal rage.

Where guns are not available, a stolen vehicle is often the weapon of choice, or a selection of butcher knives or a baseball bat, or perhaps a golf club.  An inventive Japanese used poison gas in a crowded subway.

Individuals like this occur in all societies, unfortunately, and our society has decided to allow them their freedom until they do something awful. Perhaps it is time to revisit this decision? I'd argue that time has come and past.

Sunday, May 15, 2022


National Review has circulated a statement of patriotism and principles to which roughly 40 prominent conservatives of various stripes have appended their names. I won't post the entire statement here, a couple of excerpts will give you the flavor.

The American project, as such, is under assault. Our history is the subject of a revisionist critique that is all-encompassing, unsparing, and very often flatly inaccurate. Our traditional heroes are under threat of being run out of the national pantheon. Our institutions, from elections to the job market to law enforcement, stand accused of perpetuating a systemic racism that is impossible to eradicate.

No matter the fashion of the moment, we believe that America is a fundamentally fair society with bountiful opportunity; that its Founding was a world-historical event of the utmost importance and established governing institutions of enduring value; that its original sins have been honorably, if belatedly, repudiated; that it came to be wealthy and powerful primarily through its own internal strengths, not via expropriation and conquest.

I make no claim to prominence but I certainly would gladly append my name to the statement. Perhaps you would too. 

Polling Reconsidered

Regular readers of COTTonLINE know we like and share polling data as it gives an insight into the public mood. It is obviously to our (and your) advantage for polls to accurately reflect the various facets of that mood, and they’ve had accuracy difficulties over the last decade or two.

Politico reports polling industry wide efforts to improve accuracy and thereby ability-to-predict.

Both the internal polling that drives campaigns’ decisions and the media surveys that help shape coverage of the races are already changing: Pollsters are trying new ways to collect data, like contacting potential respondents by text message instead of phone calls, and seeking new ways of adjusting the data after to make it more accurately reflect the whole electorate.

The innovations are not limited to sampling and data collection. But devising new weighting parameters — ways to adjust the results to better reflect the electorate — is more difficult. That’s because one of the main culprits of the 2020 election miss appears to be people who don’t respond to polls — so-called “nonresponse bias.” Voters in that group were more likely to support Trump, which made it harder for polls to reflect the true measure of his support.

In our household we tend to ignore calls from those we don’t know, who aren’t already in our contact list. Spam calling is the culprit, 2-3 decades ago we always answered incoming calls. Spam callers have convinced us to do otherwise, and I’m certain we are not outliers in that regard.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Saturday Snark

Don’t you wish this was merely funny and not also true?
Image courtesy of Steve Hayward's The Week in Pictures
at Power Line.

Another World War II Miniseries

The DrsC just started watching another "beginning of World War II" drama on PBS, this one entitled World on Fire. It appears to follow the lives of various Brits, Poles, French and Americans living in Europe as Germany moves into Poland, kicking off the actual declared war.

I presume it will show how their lives eventually intertwine in interesting and potentially tragic ways. The original season has seven episodes, and the Internet claims another season has been funded. The war dragged on for six years and a lot of episodes can be written, supposing an audience is available and interest is maintained.

The series is available for streaming (if you subscribe) at the PBS archive. When we finish season one I'll write a review. 

One of these days we'll go back and rewatch the granddaddies of all WW II miniseries: Winds of War and War and Remembrance. These were based on novels by Herman Wouk and starred Robert Mitchum and Polly Bergen as USN Captain Pug Henry and Mrs. Rhoda Henry, plus Ralph Bellamy as FDR and Robert Hardy (aka Minister of Magic Fudge) as Churchill in the second series.

Friday, May 13, 2022

NATO 2.0?

Turkey's less-than-democratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced opposition to NATO membership for Sweden and Finland. Since NATO solely acts by unanimous consent, his opposition is likely to force conflict within the alliance.

“We are following developments concerning Sweden and Finland, but we are not of a favorable opinion,” Erdogan told reporters.

The Turkish leader explained his opposition by citing Sweden and other Scandinavian countries’ alleged support for Kurdish militants and others whom Turkey considers to be terrorists.

Both Sweden and Finland refuse to view Kurdish independence advocates and followers of Fethullah Gulen as terrorists. Most NATO members agree, for instance Fethullah Gulen resides in the U.S. 

Erdogan views these two movements as enemies of his government. He can't do anything about nations already NATO members but he can, if he chooses, bar new members who disagree with his views.

There have been serious questions about whether Turkey should be allowed to continue to be a NATO member. These have arisen as Erdogan has eroded representative government in Turkey. He famously said of democracy:

Democracy is like a streetcar. When you come to your stop, you get off.

I read that as "when you get to where you want to be, you don't need it any longer." Erdogan isn't the first quasi-autocrat to have that idea.

Given the desire of most members to add Sweden and Finland to NATO, the geographic logic of their joining, and the skepticism with which Erdogan's regime in Turkey is viewed, there may be upheaval in NATO. 

I imagine an unlikely scenario in which all NATO members except Turkey resign and form a new alliance that includes Finland and Sweden while excluding Turkey. Maybe call it NATO 2.0. Under those circumstances I suppose Turkey would become a Russian ally.

Not Credible

Image courtesy of Politico.

Take Care

Today is Friday, 13 May, and at least some people view Friday the thirteenth as unlucky. Where the folk tale began is unclear, several theories exist. I don't propose to itemize them.

In any event, being a tad more careful probably won't do you any great harm and might just do some good. On the plus side, TGIF. Enjoy the weekend.

A Hopeful Sign

One robin doesn’t mean spring has arrived. Similarly, one tech company squelching upstart lefty employees isn’t necessarily a sign the whole industry is going politically neutral but … one can hope. 

Writing at The Daily Wire, Ryan Saavedra reports online content provider Netflix has made a positive move in that direction. Apparently the trigger was a disturbance caused by a group of its employees outraged by a Dave Chappelle routine making, among other things, transgender jokes.

The updated Netflix Culture memo includes a new section called “Artistic Expression” that states that it will not “censor specific artists or voices” even if employees consider the content “harmful.”

“If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you,” the memo states, later adding that employees may be required to work on projects that they “perceive to be harmful” and that if they have a hard time accepting their work assignment, they might want to consider working somewhere else.

“Entertaining the world is an amazing opportunity and also a challenge because viewers have very different tastes and points of view. So we offer a wide variety of TV shows and movies, some of which can be provocative,” the new section reads, later adding, “we support the artistic expression of the creators we choose to work with” and that “we let viewers decide what’s appropriate for them, versus having Netflix censor specific artists or voices.”

Netflix reportedly fired the leader of a trans organization within the company last October who allegedly organized a walkout to protest the company backing Chappelle over his special “The Closer.”

Netflix takes a common sense point of view; it is hard to understand why it isn’t universal in the industry. Perhaps it will become so. When taking sides alienates half your potential customers, regardless of which side you take, doing so is impossible to justify on economic grounds.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Winning and Losing

Last week former President Trump did very well with his endorsees all winning their primaries. This week it's a mixed bag. His pick for Gov. in Nebraska didn't get the nod, but the person he endorsed in a West Virginia House race primary did win. 

I think we knew in very active multi-candidate primary fields, Trump was unlikely to bat 100%. Still, if I were running in a Republican primary in a state where Republicans have a decent chance, I'd prefer to have his blessing. 

If the price of winning his blessing was swearing publicly that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, I'm not sure I'd pay that price. I honestly don't know for sure that it was stolen, although there was plenty of weird stuff happening - Zuckbucks and harvested mail-in ballots.

Over the primary season that runs from now till mid-August, he'll win some and lose some. A betting person would bet Trump wins more than he loses.

Go Green, Go Hungry

The original Green Revolution consisted of various agricultural technologies that have largely made starvation a thing of the past. Hybrid grains and rice, various chemical fertilizers, and pest control have all played a part. More recently of course, “green” has a different, less benign meaning.

Recently resigned prime minister Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka was convinced by environmentalists to ban synthetic fertilizers after which agricultural outputs in that pastoral island dropped by substantial amounts. Power Line provides this longish quote from the Times (U.K., behind paywall):

[T]hat strategy backfired in spectacular fashion. Domestic rice production fell by 14 per cent from 2021 to 2022, forcing the nation, long self-sufficient in rice production, to import hundreds of millions of dollars of rice and more than eroding all of the savings from ceasing fertiliser imports. On top of that, the ban decimated tea production, leading to a $425 million economic loss to the industry in its first six months of implementation. Tea, one of the nation’s primary crops, is a key source of its total export income, making a bad foreign exchange situation far worse.

The government ignored its own agricultural experts, instead convening representatives of the nation’s small organic sector to guide the nation’s agricultural policies. The result turned a bad situation into a disaster. 

Completely man-made, that disaster was the result of bad policy undertaken with the best of intentions. Learn the lessons: go woke, go broke; go green, go hungry.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Review: PBS Atlantic Crossing

The DrsC finished watching the PBS miniseries Atlantic Crossing and we enjoyed it. It is the story of the Norwegian Crown Princess Martha, and her interactions with the FDR White House beginning after Norway was invaded by the Germans but the U.S. had not yet gone to war. It is a coproduction of the U.S. and Norway public broadcasters.

Martha, her husband the Crown Prince, and her husband's father the King, are all played by competent Norwegian actors. FDR is played by Kyle MacLachlan, best known for roles in Twin Peaks and the original Dune film. Mrs. Roosevelt and the various White House personalities are played by American actors.

When the Scandinavian characters are speaking to each other, they speak Norwegian or sometimes Swedish or Danish and you get English subtitles. The Americans speak English and, in its Norwegian version, are subtitled in Norwegian. In either version, if you hate subtitles, you won't like Atlantic Crossing.

The paralyzed-from-the-waist-down FDR is portrayed - history suggests accurately - as a married womanizer who "came on" to various women he encountered, particularly the married Martha. That FDR was a charmer appears to be historically accurate. Whether he was physically able to have sex with these women is deliberately left unclear and may be unknown. 

Martha leverages FDR's affection for her to influence him to support the war effort and in particular Norway's part therein. He did this at some political risk as there was a strong U.S. isolationist movement in 1940 which wanted no part of another damned European war. FDR died during the last year of the war at age 63, and Martha died in 1954 at the age of 53. Photos of the real Martha suggest she was no great beauty, but perhaps she was also a charmer.

Atlantic Crossing is not history in the strictest sense, but much history is woven through it. The dialog isn't what the actual persons said, but the historical events are almost all true, except for some minor changes to improve the drama flow.

Muted Victory Day Speech

Russia celebrates today, May 9, as Victory Day, when the defeat of Nazi Germany is commemorated. Many wondered if Vladimir Putin would make some grandiose announcement today, claim victory in Ukraine or the like.

Hot Air shares part of a New York Times story (behind paywall) of what Putin did say, and here is some of that copy:

It was, as expected, a call to battle using rhetoric slandering Ukraine’s defenders as “Nazis” while evoking Russia’s victorious World War II past — perhaps the most unifying element of the country’s diverse identity. The speech was also conspicuous for what it did not include.

Mr. Putin did not try to frame any part of the Ukraine war as a “victory,” offering no signal of an imminent end to the conflict. His army’s efforts have fallen well short of expectations: They have been vanquished around Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital; pushed back in the northeast; and are making only sporadic gains in the Donbas, the eastern region Russia now says it is focused on.

The Russian leader did not renew his implicit threats of nuclear war, after warning late last month that countries that “create a strategic threat to Russia” during the war in Ukraine could expect “retaliatory strikes” that would be “lightning fast.”

Mr. Putin did lash out at the United States, as he has in the past, depicting America as the true aggressor and Russia as a stronghold of patriotism and “traditional values.”

You have to wonder if he feels beleaguered, having learned that his army is less tough than he evidently believed it to be.  

More Remains

Last week I wrote about human remains being revealed as the level of Lake Mead, near Las Vegas, has dropped due to drought. At the time a LVPD lieutenant said it was likely more remains would surface.

Today USA Today reports via Yahoo News that has in fact happened. Some additional bones have turned up, as water levels continue to drop. 

There will likely be more such over the summer, how many is anyone’s guess. I propose to note their appearance when they are reported, as echoes of the mob-flavored “rat pack” days of LV.

Later ... Here is a decent CBS News story on Las Vegas, the mob, and bodies in barrels. Apparently there are plenty of possibles who, as the saying goes, vanished without a trace.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Happy Mothers' Day

I wish a happy day to all the moms out there, and fond memories for all those whose mom has passed. My own mom was a truly remarkable woman, smart and relatively fearless.

She and a girlfriend drove a newish Model A Ford coupe roundtrip cross-country from OK to VA one summer probably in the late 1920s or early 1930s. Some of the roads weren't paved and they often camped on school grounds (school not in session) so they could use the outhouse. What an adventure.

She married a man 19 years her senior and I am their son. She played the stock market successfully, canned dozens of quarts of apricots and pints of jams and preserves each summer, painted landscapes, sewed, crocheted and knew shorthand. And she put up with dad and me, which in retrospect must not have always been easy.

She lived into her early 90s and has been gone for 25 years. In addition to loving her, I admired her.

Summers: Recession Prediction

Amy Walters knows politics, having worked her way up to head of The Cook Political Report. Looking forward to the 2024 presidential race, she quotes economist Larry Summers saying something worth pondering.

The painful fact, though, is that historically when we've had inflation above 4 percent and we've had unemployment below 4 percent, essentially always, since World War II, that's been followed by a recession within the next two years.

The economic conditions Summers describes fit our present circumstances exactly. Unemployment currently runs 3.6% and inflation is above 5%. A betting person would consider a recession an odds-on bet. And Walters believes Democrats have no one better to run than ancient, fumbling Joe Biden.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Saturday Snark

Don't I wish. 

Because like pretty girls being mean, princes get away with it.

Images courtesy of Steve Hayward's The Week in Pictures at 
Power Line.

The Skynet Factor

Writing for RealClearDefense, Army Major George Fust looks at the lessons to be learned from the not-terribly-effective invasion of Ukraine. Getting the right mix of old and new technology is critical to military success, and the Russians failed this test.

Russians went into Ukraine with lots of old tech and the local forces cut them up with new tech. Fust fails to make the point but the same thing happened in a recent mini-war between Azerbaijan and Armenia when Armenia’s armor was defeated by relatively cheap drones and anti-armor missiles the Azeris bought from the Turks and used to devastating effect.

The U.S. Marine Corps is getting rid of its tanks which must be a reaction, at least in part, to these two object lessons. Armored vehicles are excellent targets for the new “smart” weapons, and at this point the weapons seem to be able to defeat the armor. 

The modern battlefield may end up with largely unprotected humans - cowering in whatever cover they can find - directing smart weapons at each other. The new unarmored Infantry Squad Vehicle is a response to the changed environment.

I’m guessing DARPA is already investigating how to enable smart weapons to seek, find and destroy individual unarmored humans. It’s likely infrared detection will be involved except in hot desert environs. 

I imagine future soldiers setting fires to distract anti-personnel heat-seekers. Eventually the heat-seekers will need to be smart enough to ignore too-hot targets. And yes, all of this does remind me of the Terminator films and Skynet.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Right to Work

Posting at Instapundit, Mark Tapscott cites economic data which shows the following:

Latest data compiled by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows the 27 states with Right- to-Work laws (RTW) actually added jobs during the Covid Pandemic, while the other 23 states lost nearly 1.5 million jobs. 

The presence of such laws was not the only factor involved, to be sure, but the data is strongly suggestive of a correlation of some significance, especially considering that seven of the 10 biggest gainers are RTW states, while seven of the bottom 10 are not.

With the caveat that the data in the second paragraph may be "cherrypicked," it is still interesting stuff. Basically, the existence of a right-to-work law in a state is emblematic of a constellation of business-friendly attitudes, in shorthand terms, a "red" state.

Later … I’ve been writing about “right to work” laws for a long time, a quick search reveals this post back in 2011.

The GOP’s New Voices

For The Federalist, Christopher Bedford writes about a stylistic split in Republican ranks. He favorably contrasts the new voices like J.D. Vance, T. Carlson, R. DeSantis and D.J. Trump with old line establishment Congressional GOP leaders who don't much like the new voices’ brash, counter-revolutionary zeal.

Of those establishment figures’ (McConnell, McCarthy) sour views, one “senior Republican aide told The Hill 70 percent of Senate Republicans share that sentiment.” Yet it was cranky, independent Mitch McConnell who got the Supreme Court its current conservative supermajority, and made possible the “Roe was wrong” draft currently scandalizing progressives and pleasing conservatives.

It is an interesting line of reasoning and worth reading, if somewhat one-sided. Hat tip to Stephen Green posting at Instapundit for the link.

Thursday, May 5, 2022


For a decent description of some of the implications of returning the legalization and/or regulation and banning of abortion to the various state legislatures, see this Politico column by a law school dean who follows the issue in her research. She identifies four key questions:

  • Can a state’s anti-abortion laws apply beyond its borders?
  • Can liberal states provide abortion care for people from out of state?
  • What about abortion by mail?
  • What role can the federal government play post-Roe?

The possible ramifications are complex and far-reaching. 

The Job Description

A critical distinction is identified in an article in The Atlantic echoed at msn.com, hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

It’s important to understand the question before the Supreme Court. It is not “Should American women possess a right to abortion?” but “Does the American Constitution protect abortion rights?” The distinction is of paramount importance. The Court’s job is not to determine which rights we should possess but rather the rights we do possess.

I believe Alito argues that the Constitution says nothing about abortion and thus Roe was decided wrongly. That whether or not abortion should be legal is a legislative question, not inherently judicial in nature.

This view means a variety of things which the Warren and subsequent courts found “implied” by Constitutional language may be open to similar question and perhaps overturn. It is what happens when the court has an “originalist” majority not enamored with implications and “penumbras.”

The court and the country may be in for a rocky few years. Earlier courts found a variety of supposed “rights” implied but unmentioned in the Constitution, and those in whose lives these have been important have gotten accustomed to viewing these as “federally guaranteed.”

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Whither the GOP

Two states (OH, IN) held primaries yesterday and candidates endorsed by former President Trump did quite well. Candidates who pushed the populist/nationalist agenda Trump initiated but spoke less glowingly about him did less well, and those who spoke more or less against him did least well. What very preliminary conclusions should we draw from this first peek at voter attitudes?

Most Republican voters have signed onto the Trump agenda of nationalism including semi-autarky, populism, border control, and social conservatism. And they remember with gratitude it was Donald J. Trump who pushed these issues when most establishment Republicans did not. So his endorsement is the GOP version of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval ©, it means a lot.

Long time Republicans who now push the Trump program, without much mentioning Trump, are suspect because it is a near-certainty they once held other, conflicting views which they are suspected of privately holding still. Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are thus categorized by many Trump supporters, perhaps to some degree unfairly.

Interestingly, more recent arrivals on the national GOP scene like Gov. DeSantis seem to get away with treating the current Republican agenda as a "given" or starting point as though it was always what it is now. Their lack of "history" may actually be an advantage.

Then there is the third group, the unregenerate old guard establishment Republicans typified by George W. Bush and his supporters and hangers-on like Romney and the Cheneys - father and daughter. They are the internationalist, free market, big business types who would have felt comfortable at Davos, even if they never attended. Absent very unusual local circumstances, these individuals aren't going to win many primaries in today's GOP.

Pure Politics

The most interesting, if not necessarily most probable theory of motivation for the release of the SCOTUS draft decision reversing Roe v.. Wade is pure politics. It goes something like this.

Having concluded the Court has the votes to overturn Roe in their decision on Mississippi’s new abortion law (Dobbs v. Jackson), and realizing the formal announcement is likely to come out in July only 4 months before the midterm election, someone conservative was concerned it would rile up pro-choice voters who would vote in record numbers. Better to get the outrage out of the way earlier, like ASAP.  

Outrage is hard to maintain at a fever pitch, it lasts briefly and then burns out as, over time, the realities of life intrude. Getting the outrage over sooner, rather than later, is the reasoning behind this theory. It could be the motive for the leak.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

A Reappearance

The CBS station in Las Vegas reports that, as the water level in Lake Mead has dropped, long submerged items begins to surface. The latest, a barrel containing human remains. I especially like the understatement in the following remark by an LVPD lieutenant quoted in the story.

It’s going to be a very difficult case. I would say there is a very good chance as the water level drops that we are going to find additional human remains.

Who would have guessed the water level would ever drop scores of feet? So CSI begins, making lists of guys who disappeared back in the '60s and '70s and rounding up their dental records. Maybe they can identify mob hits from the "rat pack" days when the organized crime families were major LV players. 

One arm of Lake Mead is less than 60 miles from our winter place on the eastern edge of the Mojave. It's in a town colonized in the late 1800s by polygamist farmers sent here by Brigham Young.

One View

As noted last night, the media today is full of stories about the leaked document showing an apparent majority on the Supreme Court favors overturning Roe v. Wade. One of the smarter analyses I saw said the impact on the midterm elections might be minimal.

The reasoning went as follows. Abortion is mostly an A-list motivating factor for white women, a group who already vote for Democrats. The groups whose motivation and direction are under close scrutiny in this election - Hispanics and to a lesser degree Blacks - seem primarily interested in other issues, often of an economic nature. 

Over the next couple of weeks, polling will clarify whether this insight is likely to be accurate. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Roe on the Ropes?

The latest 9 days wonder is that someone on the inside at the Supreme Court has leaked a preliminary draft of their upcoming abortion decision. The draft tosses out Roe v. Wade and disavows a 'constitutionally protected' right of abortion. Court watchers claim this kind of decision leak has never before happened. 

Should the court turn the regulation of abortion over to our elected representatives, presumably the states would authorize, regulate, or ban abortion. Many "red" states would severely restrict or ban it. "Blue" states would likely make it freely available. CA and CO have already indicated they would become destinations for out-of-state abortion travel.

It is widely believed this leak was done by someone, either Justice or clerk, who strongly opposed overturning Roe and hoped to create enough uproar to kill it. I presume the Court will conduct a witch-hunt to find and punish the miscreant. That person, if identified, will lose their law career and have a new career as a progressive martyr. 

Steve Hayward at Power Line writes “the mole hunt” for the leaker is already underway. I’m hearing echoes of John le Carre’ in that label.

A Heads Up

Last night the other DrC and I began watching a PBS miniseries called Atlantic Crossing focusing on members of the royal family in Norway during World War II. Much of the dialog is in a mix of Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish, with English subtitles. 

The miniseries was a joint project of the public broadcasting nets of Norway and the U.S., featuring a mostly Norwegian cast. All eight episodes are available, we'll binge watch them over the next 3 days. Then I'll write a review. In the first two episodes, the portrayal of Sweden's king doesn't flatter him even a little.

Some interesting dramas have been made featuring the early days of WW II. So far my favorite of this genre is the not-recent Winds of War, based on the Herman Wouk book of that name. 

World War II history is a lifelong hobby of mine. When other kids were reading Batman comics, I was reading Eisenhower's Crusade in Europe and Guadalcanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis. Bill Mauldin's GI cartoons were favorites, too.

Pew: Democrats, Minorities Oppose AA

Power Line's Steven Hayward summarizes a new Pew Research Center survey of public belief about what factors should be included/excluded in deciding college admissions. Only three factors have majority support as either a major or minor factor, they are: high school grades, standardized test scores, and community service involvement.

A majority believe the following factors should not be used: race or ethnicity, gender, athletic ability, having a relative who graduated there, and being first in the family to go to college.

Perhaps the most interesting findings are that a majority of Hispanic and Black respondents opposed affirmative action - the use of race/ethnicity in admissions - as did a majority of Democrats. So ... who doesn't oppose their use? College admission officers and their bosses don't.

Another Crack in the Blue Wall

Dario Morrow, CEO of FCB Radio Network and an African American, writes something relatively counterintuitive for Newsweek. The key thought:

As the Democratic Party started to cater more and more to white coastal elites, it revealed a deep tension between the needs of a mostly moderate Black community anxious for a fair shot at achieving the American Dream and a party catering to a college-educated professional class that doesn't think much of America.

It's something Hispanics began discovering two or three elections ago; they mostly came here for economic opportunity. It hasn't escaped their attention that Biden's inauguration coincided with a major drop-off in opportunity, plus problematic inflation for the first time in recent memory.

Who benefits? The GOP.

Problem, Meet Solution

Last night I posted the story before this one, about declining public school enrollments. This morning what shows up?  A piece in leftwing-on-steroids The New Republic about teacher burnout citing the mini-case studies of a half dozen or more women elementary teachers who were overwhelmed by the stress of school resuming with kids behind in their studies and parents on the warpath about CRT. 

Think of these stories as bookends, on the one hand dropping enrollments, on the other teachers too stressed to continue in the profession. We have the problem and its solution joining hands at your local school district. Which is which? You decide, for it honestly doesn’t matter. Lower enrollments require fewer teachers and teachers are resigning anyway.

I think what is clear is that, for whatever reason, we’ve been attracting many unstable individuals into the teaching profession. The ladies and a few gents who were the other DrC’s colleagues - when she taught elementary school pre-doctorate - were a hardier and smarter bunch, none obviously getting the vapors or running sobbing for the exits. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

School Enrollment Not Returning

The Washington Times runs an Associated Press story about school districts across much of the country reporting enrollment that "went away" during the Covid epidemic mostly has not returned. Home schooling and private schools are the main beneficiaries of this shift.

Since school revenues are tied to enrollment/attendance their budgets have to shrink. The result is fewer teachers, fewer classroom aides, school closures, and other cost containment measures. You'll know it is serious when they actually cut administrators.

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds claims sending your children to today's public schools is tantamount to child abuse. I've wondered if perhaps he is correct in that view. 

The AP article pointedly does not mention parent dissatisfaction with the teaching of racist CRT and groomer-inspired sex ed, as reasons students are not being sent to the public schools. At least some of the enrollment decline is Rod Dreher's Benedict Option in action, a defense against a sick society. Stories of trans kids using your daughter's school toilets don't help either.

The First of May

Today is the first of May, aka May Day, a day which, in countries with a Communist-tinged labor movement, is celebrated as Labor Day. Needless to say, that isn’t its history in the U.S.

What I mostly remember about this day is about some friends in grad school who came from the upper Midwest. Their response to this milestone was a bit of undergrad doggerel which went something like the following:

Hey, hey, the first of May -
Outdoor screwing starts today.

I was from California, they were from Minnesota by way of Montana, and we met in Oregon. I suppose their happy, sing-song rhyme stuck in my head because I was struck by the extent to which weather meant different things to us. They’d lived in a deep freeze for several months each year, I never have done so.


Ironically, while we were all in OR getting grad degrees, Eugene experienced a freak snowstorm which dropped 3 feet over a weekend. Locals could never remember anything of the sort happening; the MN guys took it in stride.

Eugene had no snow removal equipment and probably still doesn’t. So everything ground to a halt for nearly a week in late January of 1969. It was a mess because there were no SOPs to deal with it; most years it snows 2-3 inches a couple of times and it’s gone the next day. Eugene is known for its rain, I never carried an umbrella as much anywhere else I lived.