Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Benign Apathy ➡ Extraordinary Cruelty

RealClearPolitics links to a Quillette article which at some length describes how we ended up with an out-of-control homelessness problem. It is a decent historical narrative which I will not recapitulate for you here. Instead I share the author's conclusion,

At this point, the only way to assist the homeless population is by protecting them from themselves. It may not be agreeable to them initially, but once they learn to manage their symptoms and their associated behaviors, they can regain their autonomy. The paradox of abundant choice is what creates a substantial burden for them, and they need to be cared for in an environment where they can gradually earn their freedom by demonstrating to medical and mental health professionals an ability to be competent custodians of themselves, thereby unburdening their fellow community members.

I’ll leave you with this question: Which is worse—giving people absolute freedom if they are a danger to themselves and others or temporarily revoking some of that freedom in order to provide them with services that will help them reintegrate and thrive in their respective environments? To me, the answer is clear. Respecting absolute autonomy enables the problem of homelessness without providing the incentives needed to begin the process of recovery. Benign apathy can result in the most extraordinary acts of cruelty.

These are thoughts with which I am in agreement, as long time readers know too well. 

Making War on the Poor

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports California has passed a bill requiring any restaurant with 100 or more outlets nationwide to pay their workers $22 per hour. This is substantially higher than the $15.50 per hour minimum other business contend with. 

According to DM the bill awaits Gov. Newsom's signature. The head of McDonald's US has criticized the bill, as well he might.

Let an old business prof explain how this will play out, if signed. The restaurants will pay the required salary, and their cost accountants will compute by how much the prices of the food will have to rise for the business to continue to be profitable.

Prices for food will rise and sales volume - number of items sold - will drop by varying degrees, depending on the store's location and the income level of its clientele. 

Less sales means fewer workers will be needed. When some locations cannot operate profitably at the higher price point, no workers will be needed as the stores will close. Stores which have remained open late at night will reduce hours. All of this will happen rather quickly, within a few months to a year.

In the longer run, the increased salaries will increase the incentives for fast food chains to find mechanical and robotic replacements for human hands, further reducing employment opportunities for people who are far from affluent now.

The net result will be a substantially smaller number of workers earning roughly 40% more per hour, while those no longer needed will earn nothing. Poor areas will have fewer job opportunities and far fewer fast food outlets from which to choose, as their customers are price-sensitive.

This legislation appears to be an attack on one of the few institutions which heretofore more or less "worked" for poor Californians - fed them, hired them and got them work experience.

Afterthought: I wrote the above thinking about McDonalds, Taco Bell, Burger King, etc. However, it appears to also apply to chains like Outback, Applebee's, IHOP, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, etc. The mechanisms described above will apply here too, with allowances for somewhat different delivery models and menus. Fewer of both types will be able to prosper under the new regime.

The Electric Dilemma links to an article in The Drive which reports the story of a man who brought a Chevrolet Volt to a dealer for a new battery. The dealer quoted him $30,000 parts and labor. Blue book quotes the sale price of a 2012 Volt as $12,000 and the article says $10,000, but with a dead battery its value is $0.

You can buy a new Chevy Bolt, also electric, for about $32,000. Why buy a battery for a ten year old car when you can buy a new one for a couple of thou more? 

Interesting dilemma, keep your older electric till the battery needs replacing or dump it while it still has some resale value. Nobody will buy one with a dead battery. My guess is nobody will buy one that is several years old, even if the battery is still holding a charge. Batteries deteriorate with time, as well as with miles.

Sounds like electric cars, when the battery dies, are basically junk. You throw them away and buy a new one, like you'd do with an electric razor.

I've got a 2003 gasoline car that is still going strong, it lives at my winter place, gets driven to market. Do we really want cars that we treat like disposable tissues, to be used and discarded after a few years?

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

This Will End Badly

Bloomberg reports Bank of America is trying out no down payment mortgages for minority borrowers.

Bank of America Corp. started a trial program aimed at helping first-time homebuyers in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods by offering mortgages that don’t require down payments, closing costs or minimum credit scores, all considered longtime obstacles to narrowing the gap between White and minority ownership.

Customers using the program will be evaluated for a home loan not by credit scores, but rather factors such as their history of making rent, utility, phone and auto-insurance payments on time, BofA said in a statement Tuesday. The program will be tried out in certain predominately Black and Hispanic areas of Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami and Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Limiting the program to "predominately Black and Hispanic areas" will sound like perpetuating housing segregation to those with a racial chip on their shoulders. No good deed goes unpunished.

The last time this sort of thing was tried we got the Great Recession of 2008, and many, many minority home purchasers lost their homes. Lots of other people were harmed as well, and it took the economy years to climb back out of the hole that giving mortgages to unqualified borrowers caused.

Taking a Side

The New York Post, which generally supports Republicans, writes an editorial in support of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. What occasions the editorial is renewed criticism of McConnell by former President Trump.

The Post correctly notes that McConnell has been on the Republican side of most arguments. He is, however, known for his refusal to wholeheartedly endorse Trump's repeated claims the 2020 election was stolen.

COTTonLINE believes the election was rigged in a variety of ways, and conceivably even stolen. As our system is structured, there is no effective way to challenge an election after the votes are counted. Which means there is no point in "I wuz robbed" rhetoric, other than venting, which is always a bad look. 

It is okay for Trump to feel he was robbed, but not politically expedient to continue to make the claim, as he has done. Put another way, since Dems spent four years doing their darnedest by fair means and foul to sabotage him, he should have anticipated their rigging efforts and made strenuous counter-rigging efforts in the year before the election. 

Trump didn't, and now he's blaming others for what was his lack of foresight or political naïveté. If Trump wants to have a political future that includes elective office, he needs to stop whining and, as he did in 2016, talk about problems that need fixing and his plans to do so. That will require self-discipline to a degree I'm not convinced he can muster.

Bottom line: McConnell's support group is the other 49 senators who elected him Leader, Like the NYP, I trust their judgment that, warts and all, he is the person for the job.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Poll: Loan Forgiveness a Bad Idea

MSN is running a poll on their home page asking the question, "Do you support the President's student loan forgiveness plan?" With over a quarter of a million responses so far, the current numbers are "Yes" 29%, "No" 62%, "I don't know" 9%.

Hat tip to Instapundit for the link. This looks like a political loser for Slow Joe.

Summer's Over

David Shribman has been writing worthwhile columns for decades. At COTTonLINE we've been citing his work for the past 13 years. 

Today he writes what could be an elegy for this country we love. He compares the post-World War II period in the U.S. to the decades preceding World War I in Europe, as a halcyon period we will wistfully recall as we mourn its passing.

He quotes Canadian author Stephen Marche's 2022 book The Next Civil War which takes this gloomy view.

If the American experiment fails, and it is failing, the world will be poorer, more brutal, lesser. The world needs America, the American faith, even if that idea was only ever a half-truth. The rest of the world needs to imagine a place where you can become yourself, where you can shed your past, where contractions that lead to genocide elsewhere flourish into prosperity.

Shribman follows this with his own sad conclusion concerning our present state and trajectory.

Whatever your view of the causes of the current domestic dystopia, the past several decades in American life — despite the ups and downs of the economy, the crimes and misdemeanors of various politicians, the comings and goings of crises — have been, as Fromkin wrote of pre-World War I Europe, a kind of Eden. 

The United States was admired around the world, its culture embraced across the globe, its people generally pleased with their circumstances, its rough edges becoming smoothed, its rights being expanded, its blind spots on race and class being subject to the liberating light. Sadly, in this August, it is clear that summer’s over.

Here in the high country Shribman's column feels very timely. The sunlight has begun to take on that slightly amber cast that says autumn approaches. 

Bug Out in Baghdad

Fairly serious unrest is occurring in Iraq, involving an important political leader - Muqtada al-Sade - announcing his withdrawal from politics and an influential religious leader - Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri - suggesting Iraqi Shiites give their religious adherence to the religious leader of Iran - Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. These actions have led to rioting, perhaps the fall of the government, and the claim of a helicopter evacuation of the U.S. embassy when the Green Zone was breached by rioters.

I’ve only found one mention in U.S. media, here. Most U.S. media seem to be ignoring the friskiness in Baghdad, but Al Jazeera has coverage, as does al-Monitor here. For a country we once found important enough to invade, unrest in Iraq sure doesn’t stir much interest now. I guess “yesterday’s news” just about describes it. 

This is the third embassy we’ve evacuated in the last couple of years. It’s getting to be routine. Perhaps bug out rehearsals should be standard training for the striped pants crowd.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

A Camp Fire Retrospective

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article, unfortunately behind their paywall, which describes the way in which it was determined that Pacific Gas & Electric Co., aka PG&E, had criminal liability in the 2018 Camp Fire in CA which burned down the town of Paradise and killed 84 people. Sadly, the article is featured on a news service to which I can't give you a link.

It turned out that the parts of the High Voltage line running up the Feather River canyon past Pulga, where the fire started, had hung there since the 1930s with essentially no replacement. The part that broke, dropping a hot wire where it started the blaze, had worn through from swaying in the windy canyon, metal on metal, for 70 years. 

After the fire they inspected the rest of that line and found many things in nearly similar states of decrepitude. Then they inspected all of their 5500 miles of lines and found 250,000 things needing repair. Apparently the theory had been, when something breaks, we'll fix it. 

PG&E entered a guilty plea of involuntary manslaughter for the 84 deaths, and went through bankruptcy. As far as I can determine, no one served jail time for the negligent failure to perform preventive maintenance. In addition to the persons injured or harmed financially by the fire, people who held PG&E stock found its worth had become zero.

A mitigating factor is that PG&E has for years been pressured by the CA legislature to pursue renewable sources of power. It is likely funds that PG&E would have spent on maintenance were diverted to chasing the chimeras of solar and wind power. 


The home we sold in CA in 2020 was located perhaps 20 miles southwest of the ignition point. The town that burned down - Paradise - was 10 miles up the hill from our place, and the fire eventually burned to within 10 feet of our house. We lost some landscaping but - thanks to our firebreaks - neither our house nor outbuildings burned. 

At the time it happened we were on a cruise ship two days sailing west of Hawaii, headed home from a trip that included visiting friends on Guam. We spent those two days thinking our house was gone, until our phones went "live" in Hawaii and we could call a neighbor who said it was safe.

Maybe Not a Cure

Writing at The Federalist, Jason Rantz reports that after making claims that surgical and hormonal "gender affirming care" caused teenaged depression and thoughts of suicide to "plummet," the University of Washington Medical School has withdrawn those claims.

The article which has the actual numbers, shows that declines in depression and suicidal thoughts were quite small, and given sample sizes, probably not significant and perhaps attributable to the placebo effect. Meanwhile examples of people who had the treatments and now regret them keep surfacing. 

There is enough question surrounding these invasive practices to conclude they should be limited by law to adults. Such individuals can take responsibility for their own decision to undergo intentional mutilation. 

One suspects that depressed, suicidal children are being asked if they feel gender confused and in their discomfort are being encouraged to hope "gender affirming" treatments could help them feel okay. The evidence seems to suggest it doesn't do so often enough to risk irreversible outcomes.

Direct treatment of depression and feelings of self-loathing would seem to be the preferred treatment modality.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Causal Arrow, Revisited

RealClearScience has an article which summarizes the many studies which have consistently found political conservatives are happier and better adjusted than liberals. They go on at some length trying to explain why being conservative might make one happier.

Let’s remember our definitions, conservatives like things as they are now or were at some earlier time. Progressives believe things as now structured are wrong and need changing.

Perhaps it is the other way around? What if happiness causes conservatism instead of conservatism causing happiness? Perhaps unhappiness causes liberalism/progressivism - the desire for change?

Maybe being happier is more likely to make you conservative? After all, if you are happy your life is good, this goodness changed circumstances might well threaten.

For unhappy people, life and its circumstances are an uneasy fit and outcomes leave much to be desired. Instead of taking blame for their own unhappiness, they blame it on external factors which from their point of view need to change.

For most people in our society their life outcomes are roughly proportional to their accomplishments, more and better inputs lead to more and better results. Those who make good choices have better outcomes than those who make poor choices.

And then there is a small but highly visible group whom fortune has favored far beyond their reasonable expectations. Who ended up rich beyond the dreams of avarice, and who feel guilty about their undeserved gains. 

Having experienced the capriciousness of fate, they fear maybe the poor and downtrodden are its victims. To atone they end up favoring change too.

Saturday Snark

Kris has my vote, for sure.

But...but...aren't these guaranteed features of the life of a 
college grad?

Images courtesy of The Week in Pictures at Power Line and its associated Comments section.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Biden a Semi-Communist?

Speaking to a Democratic fundraiser, President Biden called the Republican MAGA philosophy "semi-fascism." Asked about it later, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre whole-heartedly defended that characterization.. 

I know how name-calling works, and if they want to play, I'll play. Joe Biden and the entire Democrat leadership are "semi-communists." That allegation is exactly as defensible as Biden's slur. 

Is all of the above hyperbole? In spite of Ms. Jean-Pierre's denial, of course it is. Except for the following: the squad, plus Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who really are crypto-communists. 

Poll: 2020 Was Rigged

TIPP is a serious polling firm, we've cited their findings many times. Two days ago they posted the results of a poll that asked voters a series of questions about the Hunter Biden laptop computer. First they asked if people were following the story somewhat or very closely? Roughly a third (32%) answered they were.

Of those who said they were following the story, TIPP then asked Do You Believe the Laptop Is Real or Created by Russia? Over three quarters (78%) said they believed it was real.

Of this "following" group TIPP asked Did The FBI And IC Deliberately Mislead The Public When They Claimed The Laptop Was "Disinformation"? Roughly three quarters (74%) answered "Yes." ("IC" = Intelligence Committee of the House)

Then TIPP asked the "following" group Would Knowing the Laptop Contents Were Real and Not "Disinformation" Have Changed Your Vote? Nearly a third (31%) answered "Yes." Almost half the Democrats in this group (46%) answered "Yes."

The "following" group was asked How Likely Would a Truthful Interpretation of the Laptop Have Changed the Election's Outcome. Roughly half (52%) believed it was "very likely."

The data points to a conclusion that, had the truth been told about the Hunter Biden laptop, Donald Trump would today be serving his second term as President. This has nothing to do with vote counting, but rather for whom people would have voted. 

It supports my contention that the election, while obviously hinkey, is more clearly described as "rigged" rather than as "stolen." I believe the distinction is an important one, even if the inappropriate outcome is the same. 

It was rigged by senior officials at the FBI who knew the laptop was real but said it appeared to be Russian disinformation because they desired a Biden presidency. Legacy media were complicit in this rigging. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Not Taking Calls

Israel wants to talk to the Biden administration about their serious opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, currently being finalized with Russian (!) help. The Biden administration is stalling talking to Israelis, presumably until it is too late to matter. The Times of Israel reports:

Amid major progress towards a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the White House recently rejected an Israeli request for an emergency phone call between Prime Minister Yair Lapid and US President Joe Biden.

Channel 13 news said that the president’s office claimed Biden was unavailable for a conversation with the premier because he was on vacation.

The network also reported that Defense Minister Benny Gantz will not meet with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin when he flies to Washington on Thursday, since Austin too had apparently left the city.

I read this in at least two ways. First, that Joe Biden, who was a member of the Obama administration, is anxious to complete the JCPOA Obama tried to institute, and doesn't want to acknowledge Israeli objections. 

Two, that Israel has decided to destroy the Iranian nuclear program militarily. The U.S. wants to be able to deny prior knowledge of the intended strikes which will probably end with Iran and Israel fully at war. There are other scenarios that also fit the observed facts.

Perps Unknown

We’ve written a couple of times about the Moscow car bomb assassination of Daria Dugina (sometimes spelled “Darya”) and who might be responsible - Ukraine or someone in Russia. Now comes a Moscow Times article which presents a near-panoply of possible responsible parties. 

At this juncture I conclude there is consensus on neither the intended target nor the perpetrator. Those who are talking don’t know, and those who know aren’t talking.

N.B., Moscow Times is published online about Russia from outside Russia by people not especially pro-Putin. Based now in Amsterdam, it tentatively may be considered “independent” as it doesn’t follow a Kremlin line. 

Wikipedia has the publication’s history, which is interesting. It began as an English language advertiser for expats and tourists in Moscow, added editorial content and grew into an actual newspaper, which later added a Russian language edition and eventually had to leave Russia. Some staff now work from Latvia.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Cancelling Student Debt Is Bad Policy

It is widely reported that President Biden has forgiven a bunch of student loans, and postponed until after the November election the repayment of the rest. This is bad public policy, especially when our best economic minds are concerned about inflation followed by recession.

It is also bad public policy because it creates a moral hazard. That is, it encourages students to borrow money with the now-realistic hope that no repayment will be necessary. 

Forgiven student debt doesn't go away, the lenders aren't going to "eat" the loses, the government assumes the forgiven debt. "Assuming the debt" means either the deficit grows or your taxes rise. Instead of the people upon whom the money was spent repaying it, you get to pay for it or to pay interest on the money borrowed to pay for it.


A Personal Note - the student debt I incurred was to fund my doctorate, and I paid it off over several years. I'm going to resent paying other people's education loans. 

Believe it or not, when the other DrC and I were undergraduates in California, the public higher ed fees were so low my far-from-affluent parents could afford them. I remember reading about parents back East worrying about saving for their kids' college costs and being puzzled.

As I recollect, my parents would write a check for $1500 each semester and that would pay my fees, buy my books, and pay for my lodging and food. So it cost my parents about $3000 per year to fund my baccalaureate. I worked summers to fund my car.

Given inflation their $3000 would equal $30,000 today. They only paid for 2 years as I did my lower division studies at a public community college and lived at home. Its fees were trivial and books weren't too pricy either.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Argentine Update

Among other sources, the Los Angeles Times reports the Argentine government prosecutors have asked the courts to impose a 10 year prison sentence and a lifetime ban on holding political office in sentencing Cristina Fernandez. Fernandez is the widow of a former president, a former president herself, and the sitting Vice President of Argentina. The Times writes:

Although Cristina Fernández has faced numerous accusations of corruption for events that took place while she was in office, this marks the first time a trial against her has gone far enough to include a prosecutor formally requesting a sentence.

Fernández, 69, is accused of leading a conspiracy that involved awarding 51 public works contracts for roadworks to Lázaro Báez in southern Santa Cruz province. Many of those public works were never finished.

The alleged fraud against the state cost the country’s coffers around $1 billion.

An additional 12 people are also indicted in the case, including Báez and Julio De Vido, the minister who was in charge of public works during Fernández’s administration. A sentence is expected by the end of the year and could be appealed.

As we've often noted, the political culture in Argentina has been the country's Achilles' heel. The alleged misdeeds happened while Fernandez was herself President. If the evidence supports the charges, she should get prison time, pour encourager les autres. 

Good News

We don't do a lot of good news posts, but I have one for you now. COTTonLINE's favorite writer on foreign affairs, George Friedman, looks at the likelihood of a world war happening, and concludes it is unlikely.

He is reacting to a colleague's contention that such a war is either immanent or quite likely. You will enjoy his categorization of both the fighting in Ukraine and the tensions in the South China Sea as not rising to the level at which nuclear war becomes likely.

Friedman's analysis makes sense, I hope he is correct. However, hope is a lousy basis upon which to plan. 

I side with Roman general Vegetius who wrote, Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum which translates as "Therefore let him who desires peace prepare for war." or the modern version which is "If you want peace, prepare for war." Make the effort to be ready for war, while enjoying the ensuing peace.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Iron Lady 2.0?

Speaking of Brits, as we did in the previous post, you may know their PM Boris Johnson is stepping down and the Conservatives, who have a majority in Commons, have selected Liz Truss as their new leader and therefore as the next PM. has a somewhat balanced description of Truss and how she is viewed by various governments. She seems unpopular with Russia and China, and with the EU. And the Democrats currently in power in Washington don't seem impressed. She is popular with Eastern Europe, and probably with Republicans in this country. 

Reading between the lines I get the feeling she envisions herself as another Margaret Thatcher which means making friends won't always be her overriding priority. I feel she has made the right enemies as she went along. 

I expect her to do what she believes is in Britain's interest, and to equate that mostly with what is in England's interest as England is where Tory strength lies. As an overt Anglophile, I wish her well.

Review: Bodyguard

The other DrC and I just finished watching the six episodes of the British miniseries Bodyguard, which is on Netflix. The short answer is we enjoyed it. In case you might watch it, I'll try to avoid spoilers.

Imagine a young British cop, ex-military, who through a series of circumstances ends up becoming the PPO (personal protection officer) for a Cabinet Minister, in this case she heads the Home Office. The intrigue is interesting, the characters are believable, and in places the tension is quite high. Parts of the plot were reminiscent of the British House of Cards

When it came to an end, we found we wished they'd made another season but apparently that was never envisioned. If you like Brit dramas - we do - you'll probably enjoy it.

Later ... It appears there will be a season 2, but not until 2023 at the earliest, and maybe 2024. I don't believe production has begun, nevertheless good news.

Follow Up

Two days ago I wrote about a car bomb killing Darya Dugina, She was the daughter of a prominent Putin supporter who is also head of the Wagner mercenary group. I made the reasonable assumption that Ukraine did the deed.

Writing at Power Line John Hinderaker notes that a Russian dissident group which opposes Putin and his Ukraine invasion has claimed credit for the bombing. The National Republican Army as the group styles itself isn't widely known.

Regardless of who actually did the deed, Putin would prefer to blame Ukraine and use the attack to whip up nationalistic anti-Ukraine fervor at home. Meanwhile Ukraine has claimed they are not responsible.

In war there is a lot of "he said, she said" and both sides lie.

Poll: Nation on "Wrong Track"

Instapundit links to a Tweet showing the results of a recent NBC News poll. It found 74% of Americans think the country is "headed on the wrong track." And 58% believe America's "best days are behind us." 

How would you interpret those numbers vis-a-vis the November election? Pro-GOP you say? I'd agree.

Editorial note: When COTTonLINE makes reference to "Instapundit" as we did here, we indicate posts by Glenn Reynolds, whose site it is. When the post is by one of the other half dozen regulars Glenn has invited to post there, we typically identify the poster.

Sunday, August 21, 2022


Here's a Tweet that's over five years old and still has a lot of zing in its stinger. The author is Richard Fernandez, Tweeting as wretchardthecat. Hat tip to Ed Driscoll, blogging at Instapundit, for the link.

The elites lost their mojo by becoming absurd. It happened on the road between cultural appropriation and transgender bathrooms.

My rhyming response to woke elites is this:

Everybody's talking about absurd,
Surd, surd, surd ... absurd is the word.

Hat tip to The Trashmen for their 1963 surf song about "the bird."

Phonics Makes a Comeback

Yahoo News echoes a longish Time magazine piece with this longish title:

Inside the Massive Effort to Change the Way Kids Are Taught to Read

The Cliff Notes© version: phonics works, other stuff not so much. English is semi-phonetic, enough to make phonics worthwhile. 

This isn't particularly news to me, the other DrC was a teacher of teachers with a particular interest in how reading is taught. She maintained her commitment to phonics during periods when it was totally out of fashion, to her professional detriment. We both learned phonics as kids, we both "sound out" words and look for root words. 

One thing is clear, reading is the foundational skill in developed countries. If you don't learn it, you will basically exist on the fringes of society, be miserable and likely die younger than your age cohort with opioids in your bloodstream, no money in your pocket and few teeth in your head. 

Governor as Entrepreneur

I get the feeling Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wakes up every morning asking himself "What can I do today to make the opposition act crazy and look stupid." It isn't much of an exaggeration to say DeSantis brings a sense of entrepreneurship to politics. I like it.

Nine days ago I wrote of Ron DeSantis the following admiring evaluation:

DeSantis isn't just reactive; in the culture wars he appears to be on offense.

Today comes a Politico article which grudgingly admires his involvement in school board elections across the state. He has been endorsing candidates whose policies he admires, and sending each a $1000 campaign donation. 

The money seems less important than the endorsement. Those endorsed have been using that fact in their ads and appearances as a fast way to signal the similarity of their values to those of DeSantis, and it is working.

Electrics Don't RV

Nineteen days ago I linked to a MotorTrend article about RV towing with an electric pickup. It looked at the Ford F-150 Lightning and the news wasn't good.

Now comes a more comprehensive test by Car and Driver magazine which tried RV towing with three vehicles, the same Ford F-150, the Rivian R1T, and the Hummer EV. Bottom line, the news still isn't good. Plenty of power but really lousy range. 

For now, at least, RVing and electrics are not compatible, period. At some point a hybrid may exist which makes the combination somewhat feasible. We aren't there yet, breath-holding is not recommended.

Happy Trees

An article in Ars Technica looks at the ecological benefits of using human urine to fertilize cropland. It turns out to be a really good source of nitrogen and phosphorus. Apparently the Swedes use it.

If stored for six months at room temperature, urine self-sterilizes. The urea breaking down into ammonia naturally raises the pH too high for microorganisms to survive.

Even if we only diverted deposits in men's room urinals - relatively simple to do from a plumbing standpoint - a fair amount could be harvested.

I have to wonder if male dogs and humans peeing on trees hasn't been a boon to arboreal health and welfare. Sadly, fireplugs are unable to take advantage of the nutrients on offer.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Car Bomb in Moscow

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports the daughter of a major Putin supporter and ally was killed in a car bomb blast in Moscow. It was generally thought to have been aimed at her father who was supposed to be riding in the car with her. The DM has photos.

Apparently no one has taken credit for the bomb blast. Various prominent Russians have concluded it was done by Ukraine commandos. 

Inasmuch as Russians feel entitled to try to destroy anything or anyone they choose in Ukraine, it appears logical that Ukrainians would believe reciprocity entitles them to do likewise in Russia. That is how war is waged. Hat tip to Ed Driscoll posting at Instapundit for the link.

A thing we tend to forget: it is probably relatively easy for Ukrainians who are native Russian speakers to pass as Russians. Their ethnic similarity makes infiltration into Russia not too tough to accomplish. Sort of like an English speaking Canadian passing for an American.

Depopulation in Our Future

Many science fiction writers have examined the implications of a post-apocalyptic future. The imagined dystopias they posit normally being the result of nuclear war, ice age, plague or invasion by ETs. Such stories constitute a sub-genre.

The nonfictional demography/futurism team of Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox, writing at Quillette, direct our attention in another direction - depopulation due to failure to breed. We've noted the declining birthrates in developed countries. Now birthrates below replacement are being seen in places as not-developed as Bangladesh and India.

Has a species ever shown so little interest in reproduction that it died out from lack of interest? Perhaps. Even giant pandas which are notoriously lackadaisical breeders still manage to keep the species going. And yet, humans, who at least some of the time act out of considered judgment instead of instinct, may go the way of the dodo and the wooly mammoth. 

I suspect what will take some of the sting out of a plummeting birthrate are developments in longevity treatments, meaning the fewer people will live substantially longer. These wonder drugs will arrive too late to do me any good but some of our younger readers may benefit.

Downstream, perhaps we humans will incubate genetically perfect humans in artificial uteri and raise them in creches staffed by patient, genial robots. Why couldn't Mary Poppins be played by a droid? 

Friday, August 19, 2022

An Afghanistan Retrospective

It is roughly the one year anniversary of our ignominious retreat from Afghanistan, and a number of pundits have written a retrospective. Today I make reference to the retrospective done by the Washington Post's David Ignatius. He writes:

What's still agonizing, though, is the decision-making process, in which different parts of the administration pursued what amounted to contradictory policies. The Pentagon wanted to get out as fast as possible once President Biden decided in April, 2021 to withdraw. But the State Department sought to maintain its embassy and diplomatic presence in Kabul.

No one ever forced a reconciliation. As a result, State pressed ahead with a mission for which it didn't have adequate time or resources. The military, which had opposed Biden's withdrawal decision, opted to protect its troops. "Speed is safety" was the Pentagon mantra, while at State it was more like "stay the course."

In other words, President Biden, to whom both Pentagon and State report, should have forced them to be on the same page. He failed to do so. Hence the withdrawal became a Biden disaster. 

If we've learned any lesson from the messes that were the Vietnam and Afghan wars, it is that we Americans are hopeless when it comes to nation-building. It probably stems from our desire to transform third world people into copies of us, instead of working with whatever ugly-by-our-standards systems the region tends to favor. 

We don't like warlords, don't like military regimes or theocrats, and want to install democracy in places where it has no history and little cultural support. Have we failed often enough to learn our lesson? I'm not convinced we have.

What I believe  If we must go into a trouble spot to punish locals who've attacked us or harbored those who did, our military can execute that plan. Kill the openly defiant, demolish the facilities used in our harm, and make clear to the locals that, should they make it necessary for us to return, we will come back heavy. When that message has been made clear, leave and let the locals sort out the mess we've left and govern themselves however they choose.

We have to stop following the Pottery Barn rule that if we break it we are responsible. If we find this approach morally unacceptable, then we'd better get accustomed to turning the other cheek when a 9/11 occurs. Because it is clear what we've been doing doesn't work.

The alternative is maintaining permanent garrisons in places we've more or less pacified, as we do in Germany, Japan, and South Korea. There are obvious economic limits to that approach.

Beach Boys Spoof, at YouTube

Posting at Instapundit, Ed Driscoll offers a link to a Babylon Bee spoof of The Beach Boys' California Girls hit, found on YouTube. The title of the spoof, and refrain line is "I Wish We All Could Leave California Now." 

It actually contains real music in addition to funny lyrics, and decent video. The BB crowd pack references to a lot of CA's problems into 2 minutes of music and video.

Bye-Ku for Cheney

As is our normal practice at COTTonLINE, we offer Liz Cheney a bye-ku, a haiku of farewell, as she moves off the public stage and out of government.

Adieu, Liz Cheney.
Wyoming isn’t sharing
Your Trump vendetta.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Weird Marine Biological Science

Science Alert reports about free swimming bottlenose dolphins which work with the U.S. Navy while wearing cameras to record their behavior. What was fascinating to me is that the dolphins are essentially "volunteers."

As for the navy-trained dolphins, they "work in open water almost every day," NMMF explains on their website. "They can swim away if they choose, and over the years a few have. But almost all stay."

The article makes clear the dolphins are not captives in any real sense. I hypothesize the dolphins don't leave because they find humans entertaining and fun, at least much of the time. A cynic would hypothesize some sort of Stockholm syndrome, but I prefer to think being treated as occasionally mischievous pets isn't, as they say in the Navy, "bad duty." 

Another factor to consider is that dolphins are herd animals, they belong to a clan, extended family, or social group. Those which swim away abandon their social group. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Note the Lukewarm Responses

I don't routinely have access to Washington Post copy which lives behind a paywall. Today I happened to pick up an issue of the Jackson Hole Daily, a free-for-the-taking advertiser with delusions of grandeur.

JHD reprints WaPo oped material in addition to local happenings. Hence I came across a WaPo opinion piece by Gary Abernathy which said some remarkably insightful things while reflecting on Cheney's loss on Tuesday.  

The jilted lovers of the GOP operate under the delusion that Republicans have just temporarily lost their way, and, once they realize their folly will find their way home. But while the GOP fell hard for Trump in 2016, its lukewarm response to John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 demonstrated that when it came to traditional suitors, the bloom was already off the rose.

Instead of constantly reproaching Republicans for their choices, everyone should stipulate the following: The Republican Party has some lingering conservative leanings, but it is now the populist, Make America Great Again party of its modern leader, Donald Trump.

Even if someone else is its standard-bearer in 2024 - which would be a wise move, considering Trump's self-inflicted wounds after his election defeat - the GOP will not revert to the party of the past. Establishment Republicans who care to remain even modestly influential can pick up an oar and help row. Or, they can jump ship. Lectures and recriminations are futile.

Meaning whatever Cheney does will be futile, a view I share. Abernathy finishes up the column by strongly inferring that Trump is no sleazier than the other leading figures of both major parties. Mark Twain called them our "distinctly native criminal class."

Giorgia Meloni and Italy

Politicians usually say what they believe people want to hear, and Giorgia Meloni is a politician. She is also likely to be the next prime minister of Italy. And those who don't like and/or fear her say she is a fascist.

On the other hand, if you believe Meloni is sincere in what she tells British interviewer Nicholas Farrell, she could become an important European leader as well as a single mother with a 5 year old daughter. Farrell wrote a Mussolini biography, an experience which gives him more understanding of fascism than of single motherhood.

If I assume Meloni told Farrell what she truly believes, I think her head is in a good place. If I assume she is disguising her intentions, then I think her head is in the right place, where "right" is defined as crypto-fascist.

Wishing Italy well, I choose to believe she is honest in her protestations of non-fascistic nationalism and anti-communism. If a Brit, she says she'd be a Tory; I'd guess if she were American she would be MAGA. It will be interesting to follow her career arc.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

A Political Eulogy

Writing for New York Magazine as echoed by, Ed Kilgore unhappily pens some accurate observations about the Republican Party revealed by Cheney's loss yesterday, along with much that is just Democrat horsefeathers. Minus the feathers, some real truth:

It’s reasonably clear that anti-Trump Republicanism died its final noisy death with her defenestration from the House GOP leadership and then her ignominious defeat back home.(snip) Her abject defeat back home is a pretty clear sign that anti-Trump Republicanism has no future.

The ancien régime of conservative Republicanism as we knew it not so very long ago expired with Liz Cheney’s congressional career on August 16. Perhaps as Barack Obama once hoped, the “fever will break” after a couple of adverse general elections for the GOP. But for now, the Republican elephant is wearing a red hat and none dare question its stampeding direction and ear-shattering Trump-eting.

As I wrote on Monday,  the pre-populist GOP is no more. And honestly, it is not mourned by many.

The Spoiler Option

Rep. Liz Cheney yesterday lost the Republican nomination to run for reelection to WY's at-large House seat. This was not unexpected, perhaps not even unwelcome. 

In her concession speech she announced she will continue to work to keep Trump from ever regaining the presidency. I've asked myself how she might do this, given she didn't spend even half of her campaign war chest and has plenty left for the next step.

One path would be to put attorneys to work now determining what she would have to do in each state to get on the 2024 presidential ballot as an independent or third party candidate. Then run for the 2024 Republican nomination which would give her a platform though she almost certainly would not win.

Following which, if Trump (or another she dislikes) is the GOP nominee, she runs as a third party candidate with the intention of syphoning off enough conservative votes to cause the nominee to lose to the Democrat rival, whoever that might be. 

Cheney was able to get 20% of the Republican votes in Wyoming, perhaps she could do nearly as well elsewhere which would keep the Republican nominee from winning. This is how Ross Perot handed the presidency to Bill Clinton by winning many votes that would otherwise have gone to reelect incumbent George H. W. Bush.

I conclude Liz Cheney has no realistic path to the presidency. She does have the possibility of doing a kamikaze and causing a Republican to lose to a Democrat. Last night she sounded like she could do exactly that. At best it would make her a historical footnote, much as Perot is. 

I hope with time she'll decide not to become a political suicide bomber. It's a harsh thing to do to a country that more often than not has treated her well.

Later ... Rich Lowry writes for Politico that he believes it possible her running would split the anti-Trump vote. I don't buy it. Do you believe Democrats with their own anti-Trump candidate would vote for Cheney running as an independent or third party candidate? 

Who might vote for her is anti-Trump conservatives who can't stomach voting for whatever leftie the Ds nominate but might hold their noses and vote R, especially if that R isn't Trump.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

WY Repudiates Liz Cheney

Wyoming's brief moment in the sun is over. RealClearPolitics reports Harriet Hageman has defeated Liz Cheney for the GOP nomination for our at-large House seat. Barring unforeseen revelations, Hageman should be a shoo-in winner in November.

With 99% of the vote counted, Hageman got 105,846 votes to Cheney's 45,493. Hageman got 65.7% of the votes cast, Cheney got 29.5%, and miscellaneous candidates split the remaining 5%.

This outcome was totally expected. Following the thorough repudiation by WY, if Cheney runs for something else she will do so as a resident of the northern Virginia suburbs where she actually lives. 

At some point I hope to read whether, as I expect, the turnout for a WY midterm primary broke records. One hundred fifty thousand GOP votes cast in a state with a total cradle-to-grave population of just over half a million is darn good.

Image courtesy of the Daily Mail (U.K.)

Dangerous Wisdom

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds writes something about VP Kamala Harris most would be afraid to write in today's environment. You decide if, in addition to being correct, Reynolds is brave, stupid, or perhaps both.

As with Obama, her blackness caused people to overlook her terribleness until it was too late.

Might it have been seen by Team Biden as a feature instead of a flaw? 

Friedman: Strategic Depth

COTTonLINE's favorite foreign affairs analyst is George Friedman. He writes at Geopolitical Futures about our Cold War-ish struggles over who has "strategic depth," these now ongoing with both Russia and China. 

Friedman compares and contrasts the two and looks at likely outcomes. His reasoning is too complex and multifaceted to summarize here. If these issues interest you, his column will repay your time to read it.

National Implications

Hello, fellow conservatives.  I can't tell you the results of the Wyoming primary election yet, the polls don't close until early this evening. 

What I can tell you is that, if my polling place was any indication, we could be on track to have a record primary voter turnout. The other DrC and I stood in line for a half hour to get our ballots and vote. The parking lot was almost full.

We've cast midterm primary ballots in person here for several cycles and never have we seen anything like the crowd we saw today. Having a primary race with national implications - as we do this year - likely is making the difference.

I am even more certain than I was yesterday that Liz Cheney will fail to win the GOP nomination for our one-and-only at-large House seat.

Getting What Was Asked For

It is widely reported that, one year after the U.S. left Afghanistan, things are hard there. Poverty is widespread and women’s rights are effectively nonexistent. 

We are asked to feel sorry for the Afghans. What I have not heard is why we should feel anything beyond schadenfreude. 

They didn’t want what we offered enough to help us keep it there. Instead they wanted their independence. Well, they’ve got it. I wish them the enjoyment thereof, as they figure out how to do what we call “pull up their socks.” 

I’m reminded of an interaction I had with a group of executives in an organization for which I was consulting, decades ago. They asked me to define my expertise and I replied “organizational psychologist.” 

Their background was biological sciences and, hearing the word “psychologist,” presumed incorrectly I was a therapist. So they asked how I’d respond if an organizational member should report feeling anxious or troubled. 

Organizational psychologists don’t do therapy so I replied “Cope, dammit, the rest of us have to.” My response became semi-legendary in the organization. And that’s what I tell the Afghans, it’s your country to run, make it work, cope.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Ancien Régime's Last Gasp links to a Houston Chronicle article about Texas donors contributing to the primary campaign of Wyoming's one and only House member - Liz Cheney. In deep red Wyoming only the GOP primary counts for much and RINO Cheney is in deep trouble; she will probably lose to Trump-endorsed Harriet Hageman. 
As U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney fights for her congressional career in Wyoming on Tuesday, Texas donors including George W. Bush and Karl Rove are trying to come to her aid. The two-term congresswoman and one of former President Donald Trump’s biggest critics within the GOP has raised nearly $1 million from Texas donors—far more than she’s raised from Wyoming residents or from any other state except California, where she has raised $1.4 million.

Rove and Bush along with the Cheneys are avatars of the pre-populist GOP. At this late date, it only exists in the minds of its former practitioners. 

The rest of us have moved on to a set of priorities exemplified by Trump's 2016 platform. Whether we'd like to vote for Trump again or would prefer a younger candidate with less baggage, most of the party regards the Bush-Rove-Cheney group and their corporatist policies as "passé."

Drop the T?

Today the Instapundit blog has links to two different articles questioning whether those described by LGB really have to support the T or transexual group. I get the sense both were written by people attracted to same sex partners.

At PJ Media Matt Margolis writes that T is giving LGB an undeserved bad name, Stephen Green provides the link. Then Ed Driscoll links to a similar story in Not the Bee by Peter Heck. Both articles express the sense that supporting and defending groomers is the proverbial "bridge too far" or as one commenter noted, T looks like the slippery slope we promised you we didn't represent.

It will be interesting to see if this counter-movement "has legs" or dies out. It is identified as "LGBdroptheT." 

Arctic Sea Ice at 12 Year High links to a Watts Up With That article reporting that in the high Arctic, near the end of the region's all-too-brief summer, the remaining sea ice is at a 12 year high. The article's title: "Doomsday Climate Predictions Meltdown." 

Extreme weather happens, it always has. The Dust Bowl was ugly weather that lasted a few years. 

Climate, on the other hand, does change but quite slowly and for reasons only partially understood. The various Ice Ages which lasted centuries were climate changes. To investigate climate change, begin with minor variations in the output of the sun and major volcanic activity on earth.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Signs of Presidential Ambition

Did somebody give CA Gov. Newsom a reality injection? Earlier today I noted he now favors nuclear power for CA. A few hours later, CBS News reports he also favors increasing the state's water supply. 

After starting out as a clone of Jerry Brown, he could conceivably end up as a clone of Jerry's father - the last great CA governor, Edmund G. "Pat" Brown. The senior Brown was a "macher" who, during his two terms from 1959 to 1967, built infrastructure on which CA still relies.

Enough history, it appears Newsom wants to do four things to increase the Golden State's water supply, at least three of which make great sense.
The four main goals outlined are to create storage for four million acre-feet of storm water, recycle and reuse 800,000 acre-feet of wastewater per year by 2030, employ more efficient water conservation techniques to free up 500,000 acre-feet of water, and desalinate more sea water.

In my opinion, the main thing CA desperately needs to do is to stop letting large amounts of rainfall and snowmelt run off into the Pacific Ocean. Yes, it will interfere with the lifecycle of certain fish and leave the Bay semi stagnant. While he's building storage, he should install hydroelectric generation and get double use out of each new reservoir.

As noted this morning, his backers in the environmental movement are not happy. They prioritize fish, fowl, and furry things over people and ideally would want Californians to live like Ishi, scrounging for acorns in a loincloth. 

CA has already held its primary, so it is too late for the Sierra Club to run a tree-hugger against Newsom. He's as good as reelected. 

It appears Newsom has decided on a 2024 presidential run and needs to get CA on a sound footing to have a record on which to run for president. That could work out very well indeed for the state which exists normally in a semi-drought and was getting somewhat low on electricity.

I may no longer live there, but as a native son I still support realistic policies for California. These two moves by Newsom represent steps in the right direction.

A Matter of Probabilities

Two of the three principals at Power Line live in the Twin Cities ares of Minnesota. They report data from the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension concerning the most recent figures for violent crime in their state. 

In particular, given the recent unrest there over the George Floyd death in police custody, they focus on racial disparities in murders in that state.

The racial characteristic of murder in Minnesota is very similar to 2020. Of known victims, 123 were African American, or 65 percent of the total. Of known perpetrators (a single murder could have more than one), 209 (76 percent) were African American. Compare these figures to the share of African Americans in Minnesota’s population, which is less than 10 percent.

These figures are far from atypical. How is it unreasonable for law enforcement officers to pay more attention to African Americans, who are 6-7 times more likely to be murderers or murder victims, than to similarly situated white persons? Or to concentrate enforcement personnel in areas where many African Americans congregate? 


As a white teenager police paid more attention to me than to older people. Then I aged out of adolescence and I became invisible to police. I understood it happened because teen boys are more likely to break the law but that didn't mean I was okay with it.

In the same way you find doctors and nurses in close proximity to sick people, you are likely to find LEOs in close proximity to African Americans. It is the job of law enforcement to be where crime happens and, like it or not, the police have hard data about where crime occurs. 

Sadly, law-abiding African Americans will feel picked on by police. In truth they will unavoidably receive more LEO attention than a similarly law-abiding white or Asian person. Sen. Tim Scott has written feelingly about this experience.

The Regime

Writing at American Greatness, Roger Kimball muses about the Mar-A-Lago raid and how it has boosted Trump’s chances of reelection. He first quotes at some length from the New York Times’ David Brooks:

There is an interlocking network of highly educated Americans who make up what the Trumpians have come to call the Regime: Washington power players, liberal media, big foundations, elite universities, woke corporations. These people are corrupt, condescending and immoral and are looking out only for themselves. They are out to get Trump because Trump is the person who stands up to them. They are not only out to get Trump; they are out to get you.

Of course Brooks doesn’t accept that narrative but Kimball, who does, comments sarcastically:

I know that story. I tell it often myself. And I appreciate its formulation by David Brooks. I wouldn’t change a syllable.

Brooks does a fair job of describing the enemy as perceived by Trump supporters. As someone who lived among and labored for a branch of the Regime - I know what Brooks calls the “Trumpian” view has some considerable accuracy.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Giving Nukes a Second Look

Reuters has a story which, for both personal and perverse reasons, I enjoy. If we aren't going to burn carbon-based fuels to generate electric power, the only non-intermittent alternatives are nuclear and hydroelectric.

California has long relied in part on a large nuclear plant on the coast south of San Luis Obispo at Diablo Canyon, built and run by Pacific Gas and Electric. In addition, PG&E also has substantial hydroelectric generation, the effectiveness of which the current CA drought tends to reduce.

California's Democrats, long in thrall to Sierra Club tree huggers, have wanted to shut down all the nukes, which produce no atmospheric pollutants but are still anathema to greens. Diablo Canyon has been scheduled to close in 2025. One of our junior faculty left academia to be a training officer for the Diablo Canyon plant, he'd be retired by now.

Running out of electricity for air conditioning in sunny CA is very unpopular with voters. So Gov. "Gruesome" Newsom has proposed a special state grant to keep the Diablo Canyon nuke running for another 10 years. The Sierra Club and WWF lobbies must be livid.

Motive Crystal Clear

Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, has had a fatwa or Islamic religious decree calling for his death hanging over his head for perhaps 30 years. This morning in upstate NY he was repeatedly stabbed onstage and remains in hospital in serious condition.

His attacker was apprehended and is in custody, a young man named Hadi Matar from New Jersey. Unbelievably the mainstream media have been silent about Matar, and claim no motive has been determined. 

On the other hand, Steve Hayward of Power Line posts a Tweet by Andy Ngo of BLM reporting fame, which makes the following claim.

Suspect Hadi Matar had multiple posts in support of Iran and Shia Islam on Facebook.

In addition to which the Daily Mail (U.K.) reports the leadership of Iran is celebrating the attack and the attacker.

Friday, August 12, 2022


Funnier if it was an exaggeration.
Image courtesy of Aug. 13, 2022

Last Minute Data

The Wyoming Survey & Analysis Center at the U. of Wyoming just released a survey of WY residents and those who self-identify as Likely Voters. WY is my state-of-residence and the primary is Tuesday, August 16, so I'm interested. 

A couple of findings that may be of interest beyond our state's capacious boundaries. Our Representative at large, Liz Cheney, trails Trump-endorsed Harriet Hageman among likely voters in the GOP primary by 27.8% to 57.4%. The final outcome shouldn't be in any doubt.

The other finding tends to contradict the stereotypical view of Republicans as non-college grads. This poll found that, among Wyoming's likely GOP primary voters, 46.4% have either a baccalaureate degree (24.8%) or a graduate or professional degree (21.6%). 

According to Forbes, 32.1% of the U.S. population has at least a baccalaureate degree. Thus, GOP primary voters in WY are more educated than the average American. This finding doesn't surprise me but it might surprise the national punditry. 

DeSantis Reads Heinlein?

Breitbart reports Ron DeSantis is putting forward a program to help veterans of the armed forces become public school teachers in Florida.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Thursday announced a program to help U.S. veterans to become teachers in the Sunshine State, explaining that it is fitting to have those “who took an oath and put his or her life on the line to preserve, protect, and defend our flag and the freedom it represents” to teach the next generation.

This may be a way to recruit the non-woke into teaching. I wonder if DeSantis has read Robert Heinlein's science fiction novel Starship Troopers. Heinlein explored similar ideas nearly 70 years ago. The 1997 Hollywood film made from the book omits Heinlein's conservative ideas - no surprise.

Afterthought: DeSantis isn't just reactive; in the culture wars he appears to be on offense.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

A Huge Risk Taken

Ed Driscoll posts at Instapundit the following by Matt Taibbi writing at Substack. The subject is the Mar-A-Lago raid, and how big a risk it represents.

We’ve reached the stage of American history where everything we see on the news must first be understood as political theater. In other words, the messaging layer of news now almost always dominates the factual narrative, with the latter often reported so unreliably as to be meaningless anyway. [Monday’s] sensational tale of the FBI raiding the Mar-a-Lago home of former president Donald Trump is no different.

As of now, it’s impossible to say if Trump’s alleged offense was great, small, or in between. But this for sure is a huge story, and its hugeness extends in multiple directions, including the extraordinary political risk inherent in the decision to execute the raid. If it backfires, if underlying this action there isn’t a very substantial there there, the Biden administration just took the world’s most reputable police force and turned it into the American version of the Tonton Macoute on national television. We may be looking at simultaneously the dumbest and most inadvertently destructive political gambit in the recent history of this country.

Can they have been thinking they had nothing left to lose? So far Trump has been Teflon Don - nothing sticks.

Hispanics Shift Right

I've been meaning to write about the political leanings of our Hispanic fellow citizens. Most such are immigrants or the children or grandchildren of immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Let's talk about why they or their parents came here. They came despite knowing they'd be viewed as "foreigners" by the gringo majority. With few exceptions, the places they left were poorer, more dangerous, and less free than here. 

Their motives were largely economic, they came to have a decent chance to escape poverty, to have opportunity. The key thing is that, overwhelmingly, they want to be here and consider here to be better than where they or their folks came from. Generally, that perception is accurate.

In other words, their motives for coming here were nearly identical to those of our earlier European and more recent Asian immigrants. We shouldn't be too surprised that their outcomes are beginning to look similar. 

Few Hispanics view themselves as victims, and it shows in data like that Ruy Teixeira cites in his article about Hispanic voting patterns. The recently populist GOP is attractive to substantial numbers of these upwardly mobile strivers.

Afterthought: If they've come here for economic betterment, and experienced that under Trump, but not so much under Biden, the shift rightward among Hispanics is likely to continue.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Trump Speaks

If you've been wondering if Donald Trump will run in 2024, or if he should, go check out a 3 minute made-for-TV ad for Trump which Steve Hayward has posted at Power Line. It's powerful, professionally produced, and says absolutely nothing about the 2020 election while enumerating Joe Biden's many subsequent failures. 

Trump avoids talk about running for renomination and reelection. He talks about how people like you and me will take back the nation and put it on the right path. If I were running for Congress this November, I would show this mini-speech at my rallies.

I hesitate to make a prediction, but it certainly sounds to me like Trump has been taking advice from smart political mavens.

Mar-A-Lago Raid Rumors

With nobody in a position of power talking on the record about the FBI raid on Trump's Mar-A-Lago estate, lots of leaks are surfacing. This afternoon has links to three such. 

Are they on the level? Who knows? I pass them along, in no particular order, for what they're worth in scandal points, if nothing else.


The most ominous of the three for MAGA world is from Newsweek. William A. Arkin writes that two unnamed "senior government officials" leaked that the raid was based on information from a whistleblower.
The raid on Mar-a-Lago was based largely on information from an FBI confidential human source, one who was able to identify what classified documents former President Trump was still hiding and even the location of those documents.

The officials, who have direct knowledge of the FBI's deliberations and were granted anonymity in order to discuss sensitive matters, said the raid of Donald Trump's Florida residence was deliberately timed to occur when the former president was away.


The second concerns Twitter suspending the account of investigative journalist Paul Sperry, this is reported by the site Meaning in History at Substack. Author Mark Wauck writes:

Here, via Zerohedge, is a screen grab of the tweet that I suspect was the real reason for the suspension:

The "PERSONAL stake" that is suggested refers to FBI missteps with respect to the bogus Trump/Russia dossier (aka "Spygate") long since debunked. It reflects a Congressional ("on Hill") suspicion that Trump had acquired documents which named names and incriminated high FBI officials and perhaps policy level execs at the DOJ.


The third "maybe" comes from Conservative Treehouse by the pseudonymous Sundance. I generally view CTH as being a bit "out there" and willing to report conspiracy theories. It takes a deep dive into the history of the low-level judge who issued the search warrant, and is frankly speculative

Judge Bruce Reinhart was the former U.S. attorney in West Palm Beach who spent 12 years as a federal prosecutor, before leaving his position in order to defend a network of employees who operated the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking operation.

Considering the FBI predicate for the raid on Trump’s home, as currently identified, is exceptionally weak; and considering the profile of the raid would have landed upon an ordinarily reluctant judicial desk; what if the FBI had leverage over Bruce Reinhart as an outcome of the case against Epstein’s enabler, Ghislane Maxwell.

The client files of Epstein and Maxwell would be currently in the hands of the FBI. If Bruce Reinhart was a client of Epstein it would explain: (a) his original motives to take up a defensive position on behalf of Epstein; and (b) current leverage for the FBI to use in order to get Judge Reinhart to sign a sketchy and dubious search warrant.

Translation: CTH knows a little and is willing to infer a lot. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Why Gas Prices Drop Now, Not Earlier

Read a non-technical discussion of why gasoline prices are falling now, some months after they went up. The author attributes the price drop to a demand drop which couldn't occur immediately, as it then would have incurred unrealistically high alternative costs. 

However, given time, people can find workarounds which involve the purchase of fewer gallons. They can vacation at the nearby lake instead of driving cross country, they can get smart about combining shopping stops and errands to save fuel. I've seen a fair few on electric bikes and scooters. 

Modern War Between 2nd Level Powers

I just read an interview with a Russian who takes a not-optimistic view of their performance in Ukraine, what they've called the SMO or "special military operation." He is actually rather complimentary about the Ukraine military and not so high on Russian equipment or troop strength.

Yes, it could be propaganda, an attempt to get the West to relax. It doesn't feel like that, I follow military affairs enough to know his views are not happy talk, he gets into tech details. The interview appears at a website called and originally appeared in Russian. Hat tip to Stephen Green posting at Instapundit for the link.

This interview is primarily for readers with a more-than-casual interest in modern military issues.

Influencing the Great Self-Sort

Axios has recent polling asking Americans about their interests in moving to another state and what would influence their choice of destination. All nine issues are important to at least some members of both major political parties. Some interesting findings.

For both Republicans and Democrats, cost of living is the most motivating factor, though more so for Rs than for Ds. Family and personal reasons are second in importance for Ds, third for Rs. Taxation issues rank second for Rs, and only fifth for Ds.

Another way of describing differences in preference profiles for Democrats and Republicans is the following showing which party places greater emphasis on that issue.

More important to Republicans:
Cost of living
Taxation issues
Education issues

More important to Democrats:
Personal reasons, family ties
Abortion issues
Gun issues
Racial issues
LGBTQ+ issues

Equally important to both:
Jobs, employment

If I were to characterize each group of preferences I would see Republicans emphasizing mostly economic issues while Democrats are emphasizing much more the social factors.

Conflict of Interest Much?

Stephen Green posts this Tweet at Instapundit. 

Talk about a major conflict of interest. Wouldn't recusal have been the appropriate ethical choice?

In Uncharted Territory

There is much furor over the FBI raid on Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago estate; such Third World shenanigans are unprecedented here. Let’s review how we arrived at this nasty place.

In 2016 Trump got elected and, while new to government, had some good years. Along came the Covid epidemic - unprecedented in the last century. Like any disaster, natural or otherwise, the government tried to respond. 

In the normal course of events during the epidemic the next presidential election occurred and was not postponed. Local officials in the states took a variety of actions in the name of making voting safer and easier in the face of widespread curbs of people’s mobility. 

Many of these novel actions were honest, others were partisan in motive but alleged to be honest. In some cases state laws and regulations were violated under conditions where motives were at best murky. Hundreds of millions of "Zuck bucks" were spent in asymmetric get-out-the-vote efforts.

Trump campaigned to large, enthusiastic crowds in spite of the epidemic, Biden campaigned very little and then to handfuls of supporters. Trump won more votes than any prior Republican candidate but Biden appeared to have won even more, a much larger turnout than previously recorded. 

It is easy to see how Trump could conclude “he wuz robbed.” I presume we’ll never know whether he was correct in that conclusion. The conditions were at least somewhat unprecedented and our system is not set up to deal with challenges to the honesty of our elections. Perhaps it should be.

In any event, Trump reacted to the situation as one would expect - with bluster and bravado - and Jan. 6 occurred. It was no insurrection but it was a riot and I believe some elected officials were frightened. The Capitol Police were unprepared and they both under and overreacted. National Guard troops - offered ahead of time - were refused as “bad optics.”

Trump affects those who dislike him like an earworm. TDS lives rent-free in their heads and won’t go away. Like any compulsion, TDS pushes its sufferers to do irrational things. 

Pelosi’s Jan. 6 committee, composed entirely of sworn Trump enemies, is one irrational response. The FBI raid on his post-Presidential home is another. 

It may eventually result in criminal charges against Trump, with AG Merrick Garland plotting revenge for the Supreme Court seat he didn’t win.

It has been a long and convoluted path to our present, unpleasant state of affairs.

About Ukraine

We’ve been here before, but for some reason we don’t recognize the pattern. First, some history. When the Soviets were occupying Afghanistan the U.S. supplied weapons to the locals who wanted the Russians to leave. Eventually they did leave. 

Next, following 9/11 the U.S. occupied Afghanistan. Outsiders provided weapons to the locals who wanted us to leave. Eventually - twenty years later - we left.

Now Russians (no longer Soviets) have occupied a fair bit of Ukraine. We are providing weapons to locals who want the Russians to leave. History suggests if we keep supplying weapons, eventually the Russians will leave Ukraine. 

Two ways Ukraine turns out differently. If we tire of supplying weapons. Or if the locals tire of fighting for their own country. 

Meanwhile, Russians are spending and dying while we are just spending. I know which side of that equation I prefer to be on. Daily Mail (U.K.) reports 100 Russian colonels have been killed in Ukraine.

Ronald Reagan outspent the Soviets and they eventually collapsed. It is to be hoped current U.S. leaders share his foresight.

Monday, August 8, 2022

In the Aspens

As you may know, an aspen forest is a single organism, what appear to be various trees are all parts of one living plant. A large aspen forest in Utah is reputed to be the biggest living thing on our planet. 

My WY home sits in a somewhat smaller aspen forest, we and it coexist more or less peaceably. The tree trunks are white and the leaves, which "quake" in a breeze, are a light green. It isn't gloomy.

Deer and aspens coexist naturally, and have, to all appearances, done so essentially forever. The deer nibble the aspen leaves, without damaging the trees much, while the deer droppings and later corpses fertilize the aspen forest. Plus the trees give the deer cover, full grown deer gracefully vanish into the forest with little effort. See photos and more description at the other DrC's blog.

Our screened back porch looks into the forest and the furthest you can see is maybe 50 feet, at least while the leaves are on the trees. In daytime, the deer cannot see us on the porch, while we can see out easily, making it what hunters call "a blind." We sit there resting or eating and watch the deer live their lives, unmolested by us. 

We've seen as many as 6 deer there at a time, adults and spotted fawns. Other times they are elsewhere, we don't own the whole forest, worse luck. 

Last week we saw a fawn which several times jumped straight up nearly a foot, though most don't do it. I was reminded of a young girl doing cartwheels out of pure, giddy high spirits.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Our Nonnegotiable Differences

Writing for The Hill, political reporter Bill Schneider muses about our nation's ideological divisions. I found this paragraph particularly insightful.

Differences based on religion, race and education are not simply differences of interest, like business versus labor. They are differences of values and identity. Differences of interest can be negotiated and compromised. Differences of values and identity cannot.

On the other hand, Schneider stereotypes Republicans as church-attending people without college degrees. I personally know a bunch of college-educated conservatives, some of whom go to church while many do not. I conclude his brush is far too broad. 


Both Washington DC and New York City are proud “sanctuary cities.” Translation: they won’t cooperate with Homeland Security officials who might want to round up and deport aliens who are here without benefit of visa.

Recently the governors of Texas and Arizona have been offering undocumented aliens free bus rides to DC and NYC, and unsurprisingly have found plenty of takers. The mayors of those proud sanctuary cities have been whining about having these unemployed, needy individuals dumped on their doorstep.

How do they think mayors in TX and AZ have felt? How have those border state worthies been dealing? 

There are plenty of other “blue cities” to which the undocumented could be shipped, Minnesota’s Twin Cities and Boston for a couple of examples. Philadelphia, Chicago and St. Louis maybe? If we do enough of this, urban Democrats might press national Democrats to get serious about border enforcement and deportation.

Making Democrats walk their talk can have a moderating effect on policy. Not to mention the joy we experience in hoisting those woke jerks with their own petards.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Fed Up

Gateway Pundit has the most recent Harriet Hageman TV commercial for the GOP House nomination in Wyoming. In it she itemizes all the ongoing things and people that conservatives are "fed up with," interspersed with video clips of this country's domestic (and a few foreign) enemies. 

Hageman finishes with a clip of Liz Cheney whose face morphs into that of George W. Bush. Listed with no digressions, it is clear we conservatives have many serious grievances. 

It is political red meat and Hageman takes no prisoners. Have some bitter fun, go watch it for yourself.

Friday, August 5, 2022

About Corporate Taxes

The so-called "reconciliation bill" which Sen. Manchin negotiated with Majority Leader Schumer and now agreed to by holdout Sen. Sinema will close tax loopholes on corporations and supposedly does not raise the taxes on those individuals making less than $400,000 per year. 

It proudly raises corporate taxes, everyone agrees. So friends, do you suppose the corporations simply dig deep into their pockets and pay up like good little boys and girls? Take it from the old business prof, they do nothing of the sort.

Corporations view taxes they are unable to avoid as part of their cost structure, much as they view raw materials, salaries, R&D, advertising, etc. All of these costs get rolled into the price of the goods and/or services they sell. 

Who pays those prices? You do. When corporations' costs go up, their prices go up. Who pays the taxes is you, but they are concealed in the increased prices. "Increased prices" is a prime driver of inflation, to which the new bill will contribute.

The only place I know where you get told what percentage of the price you're paying is taxes is at some gasoline pumps. On some, a sticker tells you this price per gallon includes the following percentage of state and federal taxes. 

Make no mistake, whether you are or, much more frequently, are not told how much of the price of what you buy is taxes, they are still there and you are paying them. Count on it.

You may wonder what happens when taxes become so high that passing them on means people no longer buy much of the product? The answer is that production levels drop to what the market will buy at the new higher prices. Under these circumstances, those producers unable to cover costs go out of business. When enough of this happens, you get a recession and unemployment increases.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Kansas Leads

In addition to yesterday's primary elections, Kansas had on its primary ballots a law that would have empowered its legislature to severely restrict or abolish abortion in Kansas. That law failed to pass, and the vote wasn't even close, roughly 60% voted against the measure.

Inasmuch as polls have consistently shown that a majority of Americans want abortion to remain legal, this outcome shouldn't be as surprising as many seem to feel it is. Kansas isn't a progressive state so it may well turn out that Dodds doesn't end up curtailing abortion very much. 

Be aware, the Supreme Court didn't find abortion to be unlawful, merely that the Constitution had nothing to say about it one way or the other. If most states end up with legal abortion laws on the books, actual civil liberties will not have much changed.

Instead of hyperventilating, I suggest watching the various states make their own rules on this issue, as the Court has suggested. If a national consensus ever emerges, Congress could eventually enact nationwide regulations.

Newsom Is Gruesome

Joe Concha writes opinion for The Hill. Today he reports that Democrats fearful of Biden losing a reelection bid, are turning to California's Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

Compared to Biden, Newsom is younger, more sure-footed, and has better hair, if you don't mind a lot of gel. And he has been attacking Florida and its Gov. DeSantis, asking people to come to CA.

But here are the numbers: 
California unemployment: 4.3 percent. 
Florida unemployment: 2.8 percent. 

California income tax rate: 13.3 percent. 
Florida income tax rate: 0.0 percent.

And according to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness website,  California has 27.89% of the nation's homeless. With one-eighth of the U.S. population, CA has more than one quarter of all homeless, twice their proportional share. No wonder the employed are leaving. As Concha writes: 

What exactly does the bumper sticker look like? VOTE NEWSOM: He’ll do for America what he did for California!

Yeah, no. Making a paradise repulsive, that's Newsom. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Electrics Not RV-Compatible

If you've been thinking about buying an electric powered vehicle, and also have dreams of RVing, please read this MotorTrend road test of the Ford F-150 Platinum model top-of-the-line electric pickup pulling various sized RV trailers. At no time soon will electric vehicles be RV-compatible, a key quote.

With only a driver aboard and no trailer in tow, the Platinum achieved a MotorTrend Road-Trip Range of 255 miles. We had been warned to expect the range to be cut in half when towing, but the effect of towing these travel trailers proved even more significant. With the smallest and lightest trailer, we measured a range of just 115 miles. That figure fell to 100 miles with the middleweight camper and sank to a mere 90 miles with the 7,218-pound Grand Design trailer.

To drive back and forth to work and charge it up in your garage every night, an electric may be just fine. To do around-town errands ditto. 

To get out and see our beautiful, huge country, forget it. For that you need at minimum a hybrid, and if RVing, a solely-petroleum-powered vehicle of considerable heft. 

My personal choice is a Ford F-350 diesel pickup truck, which admittedly isn't convenient in city traffic and tight parking spots. The other DrC and I have driven it, and its predecessors all over North America. 

We've RVed wheels-on-the-ground in Fairbanks AK, San Diego CA, Nogales AZ, Corpus Christie TX, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Key West, FL, and everywhere in-between. That's 49 mainland states, and all 9 of Canada's mainland provinces (it is technically possible to drive to the tenth - Labrador - but we've not done it).