Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Chicago Votes

Chicago is voting for mayor, and 8 candidates are running, including the current Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Lightfoot has been less than brilliant in the job. Reports out tonight indicate Lightfoot has been eliminated in the first round of voting. 

Politics has been called show business for ugly people - a humorous definition variously attributed to Paul Begala, Jay Leno and others. If it were actually true, Lightfoot would have won easily. She’s always looked like a stray extra from a zombie apocalypse film.

It will be interesting to see who wins the runoff election. There is essentially zero chance of Chicago electing someone who will do a good job. 

Thus its residents will get what they deserve, "gooder and harder" as the saying goes. Bottom line: karma is a (female dog).

Saucing Both Goose and Gander

Various sources are pointing out that Twitter files show the executives who run Fox News had their doubts about Trump's claim of a stolen 2020 election. In spite of which they allowed those who held such views to continue to tout them on air.

Legacy media types are upset because the Fox leadership made that decision based on their understanding of their viewers' desire to hear those views advocated. Where is the analogous outrage at the leadership at MSNBC and CNN continuing to put Russia collusion narrative on air when it was clear to most that the whole thing was a Clinton campaign disinformation plot? 

It is the same sort of decision, catering to the prejudices of your audience. It is no mistake that the news programs are referred to as "shows." Live with it. 

TV news is show business hiding its uglies behind a fig leaf labeled "journalism" hence audience tastes are an issue. Similar decisions are made daily at major newspapers, choosing what stories to cover, which aspects to emphasize, and in what detail.

Till It’s Gone

Yes, I know we here at COTTonLINE harp on California’s troubles. What else would you expect from a native Californian who watched his Golden State tarnish into a hot mess?

Today I bring you a link to a quite good summary of where CA went wrong, written for City Journal by Michael Shellenberger. If you’ve followed the CA story you won’t find a lot new in his treatment, but he does pull the various strands together in a comprehensive way.

Shellenberger makes one claim that is new, the risk of contagion. See what he writes.

It is thus understandable why so many have given up on California and treat it simply as an example of what not to do. But change in the U.S. often starts in California and moves east. And neither party has set forth a compelling alternative to the California model.

DeSantis in Florida is certainly trying to set forth an alternative to the California model, he often points out the contrasts. Shellenberger may not view those as “compelling.” With apologies to Joni Mitchell:

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone

Monday, February 27, 2023

About Electric Vehicles

ABC News has a good, relatively balanced article about the experiences EV owners have with trying to recharge their vehicle batteries. If you want a thumbnail summary of what they found, it is this. An EV is great if you have a home charger, use the EV for 100 miles or less per day, and get home every night. EVs are difficult, at best, for longer trips.

As a retiree, I can imagine owning an electric for trips to the store, the post office, and local restaurants. It would also be a fine way to commute to work, if I still did that. For longer trips, EVs can be made to work but are significantly less convenient, slower, and less reliable than internal combustion vehicles. Perhaps unfairly, I think of EVs as oversized golf carts - as very local transport.

Living as the DrsC do in non-urban places where longish drives are a weekly part of life, having a gas/diesel vehicle will always be a necessity. Also having an EV for local trips would be an okay addition, in lieu of the gas powered second cars we have now. 

The "home charger" need means EVs won't work for most apartment dwellers until apartments install chargers that are somehow billed to the apartment renter. 

The Swamp Censors

We wrote yesterday about the Department of Energy finally admitting Covid most likely leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China. Today Jonathan Turley does a nice New York Post column about this long-delayed reluctant admission. Some of his choicer observations follow.
For years, the media and government allied to treat anyone raising a lab theory as one of three possibilities: conspiracy theorist or racist or racist conspiracy theorist.

The categorical rejection of the lab theory is only the latest media narrative proven to be false. The Russian collusion scandal, the Hunter Biden “Russian disinformation,” the Lafayette Park “photo op” conspiracy, the Nick Sandmann controversy, the Jussie Smollett case, the migrant whipping scandal.

Censorship does not, as Biden claims, save lives. It is more likely to cost lives by protecting approved views from challenge. It does not foster the truth any more than it fosters free speech. Whatever the origin of COVID-19 may be in China, the origin of our censorship scandal is closer to home.

Sadly, I don't think even that list is in fact comprehensive, although it more than illustrates why skepticism of media treatments is entirely warranted.

The Wrong Analogy

It is becoming more common to see conservative news and commentary sites being at least questioning, if not critical, of our support for Ukraine against Russian aggression, as for example this. The general line of reasoning is something like "let's not get bogged down in another Afghanistan-style quagmire."

I'd argue that Vietnam, recent Afghanistan or Iraq are incorrect analogies for our involvement in Ukraine. The key difference is that we have no literal skin in the game in Ukraine - money yes, but no boots on the ground.

The correct analogy for Ukraine was our first involvement in Afghanistan where.we supported the Afghans in their struggle against Soviet troops occupying their country. We provided arms and supplies, they did the fighting. The Hollywood film Charlie Wilson's War is about this effort, which is generally thought to have been a success.

The Russian/Soviets eventually got tired of Afghanistan and went home. Who is to say they won't eventually do the same in Ukraine? The Russians have a safe home to go to, the Ukrainians don't, which side is more likely to persist?

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Now It Can Be Told

Power Line's Steven Hayward quotes a Wall Street Journal article (behind paywall) which reports that a department of the Federal Government - the Department of Energy - has issued an admission that the most likely source of the Covid 19 virus was a lab leak from Wuhan. Heretofore all government sources have maintained the most likely source was animal-to-human transmission.

I can remember when Drs. Fauci and Brix, among others, maintained that we caught Covid from bats. We were encouraged not to call it the "Wu flu" or the Chinese virus. Odd how things once viewed as malignant conspiracy theories are now government conclusions of fact.

You have to wonder how many months will pass before we learn the research which created Covid was paid for by CDC dollars, authorized by Fauci and laundered through a third party to enhance deniability. That would seem to be grounds for massive lawsuits for wrongful deaths and damages.

Community Colleges

The New York Post reports with alarm the following statistic.

Nearly half of all New York City public school graduates who head to local community colleges are forced into remedial classes to survive their first semester.

I suppose you expect me to view this with alarm, but I do not. Candidly, a major role of community colleges is to remediate what students didn't, for various reasons, learn in high school. 

This was true when I spent two years teaching in a community college with a masters degree before working on my doctorate. I'm sure it is still true today many decades later. 

One role of community colleges is to give young people a second chance to gain language and numerical skills. Other roles include (a) providing a low cost version of the freshman and sophomore years of a baccalaureate degree close to home, (b) providing vocational training for technician jobs which do not require a baccalaureate, and (c) providing opportunities for community members to pursue personal interests on their own time.

It is also true that a majority of those who pursue the "second chance" offered by community colleges do not succeed. Classroom education doesn't "work" for everyone, and the dropout rate at community colleges is quite high. In spite of which I support what they offer and what they help people accomplish.

RINO Babble

Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (RINO-WI) sat down with a newsman from a Milwaukee TV station to be interviewed. He announced that while the GOP convention next year will be in WI, he won't attend if Trump is to be the nominee.

Big whoop. The people in the entire U.S. who care what Paul Ryan does politically could probably meet in an elementary school classroom without overcrowding. 

If Trump doesn't brag about the Ryan boycott, I'll be surprised and disappointed. As we have noted here before, Ryan was perhaps the most useless GOP pol with national visibility in my long lifetime, a true cipher, a zero. 

When Mitt Romney ran for president, his running mate was Ryan. Both are exemplars of RINOism, viewed as embarrassments by Republicans and as squibs by Democrats. 

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Saturday Snark

A lame week. Images courtesy of Power Line's The Week in Pictures and its Comments section.

Major Matters … A Lot

CNBC, NBC’s business cable channel, posts data on the ten worst paying college majors (a) right after graduation and (b) in mid-career. If you know any young people headed off to college, you might want to share this info with them, their parents, or both. 

What could be described as “the caring professions” don’t pay well. These would include education, theology, social work, recreation, hospitality, psychology, and the performing arts. Following your dreams is one thing, but following them into lifelong penury is ridiculous.

The best paying jobs are in the so-called STEM fields, mostly some sort of engineering. Computers and business fields are not in the low-paying lists. Encourage the young people in your orbit to study something at which they can make a living.

Friday Snark

All images courtesy of Politico's Cartoonists on the Week in Politics.

Friday, February 24, 2023

"Divorce" An Overstatement

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) aka MTG has elected to be a Republican version of AOC ... in other words, a bit of a bomb-thrower.. Recently she made waves with calls for "a national divorce."

That sounds like she's advocating secession, if all you read is the headline. Read farther and you learn she advocates a somewhat more robust federalism wherein blue states are free to be blue, and red states free to be red. 

Implicitly people would be encouraged to resettle in a state with social and governmental policies to their liking. Many are already doing that in what has been labeled "the Big Sort."  

What MTG advocates isn't really a divorce. It more nearly resembles a marriage in which the partners agree to stay together for practical reasons but essentially each independently lives his or her own life. 

So we'd be more a republic and less a watered-down clone of the EU, which tells member states how to run their lives. Federalism works for me, how about you? 

Contrived Conflict?

I was rereading what I wrote a few days ago about “Trump being Trump” and had a further insight I’d share with you. When we think of Trump’s experiences before the White House we tend to remember him as a New York and Atlantic City real estate developer, and later as a show business impresario with a successful reality TV show. 

A part of Trump’s past we tend to forget was his involvement with the strange show biz offshoot that is professional wrestling. BTW, my characterization of it as “show biz” rather than as “athletics” is completely intentional. 

Pro wrestling is a series of continuing, contrived intertwined story lines involving heroes and villains, alliances, feuds and ritualized violence. These are planned out in advance and enacted by large steroid-enhanced men in scanty costumes and by the people who script and organize it - Trump’s role. 

Perhaps we should understand the Trump outburst at Fox, the NY Post, and DeSantis as fake “pro wrestling” style conflict. He might be doing it for the entertainment of the audience, it may have little or nothing to do with his feelings.

After Ukraine?

RealClearPolitics has historian Victor Davis Hanson drawing parallels between the present fighting in Ukraine and the Spanish Civil War. Looking back, he writes, we can see the civil war in Spain as a warm-up match prior to World War II. 

VDH asks, to what conflict will the Ukraine war be a prelude? He feels China benefits more from the war in Ukraine than any of the parties more directly involved. 

Hogwarts Game A Smash Hit

The premier show business media outlet Variety reports the new Harry Potter-based Hogwarts Legacy game is a runaway best seller. More than 12 million units sold in its first two weeks on the market.

Some might find that popularity exceptional because Potter author J.K.Rowling has been under attack for her less-than-enthused views of males who wish to transition to live as females. She has been called a TERF or trans-exclusionary radical feminist. 

Pretty clearly many Potter fans could care less about her views of those unhappy with the sex into which they were born. And it is entirely possible half or more of the purchasers have never even heard of the uproar over Rowling's views.

Do those sales mean the purchasers share her view that whatever else trannies may be, they aren't actually women in any biological sense? To quote the Francis Urquhart character in the British House of Cards TV drama, "You might very well think that, I couldn't possibly comment."

Thursday, February 23, 2023

RR Wheel Bearings

It is widely reported that the Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine, OH, was the result of an overheated wheel bearing. Reading that puts me in mind of an decades-ago experience the other DrC and I had one night driving east on Interstate 80 descending from Donner summit toward Reno.

For a fair stretch, the railroad track runs along relatively close to the highway. There was a freight train moving east, as we were, but our speed was somewhat greater than that of the train.

In the dark we came upon a strange sight. A 3 foot tall steel wheel on a moving freight car was glowing bright-red-hot and throwing sparks as it rolled along. 

That was one of the oddest things we've ever seen. I don't know if the train crew was aware of the hot box, probably not. 

As a Californian my immediate concern was it would start a forest fire, but apparently it did not. We spent the weekend in Reno and there was no fire when we drove home.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Thinking About Vietnam

Republished by Asia Times, an article by former WSJ Asia correspondent and editor Urban Lehner looks at U.S. relations with Vietnam and finds them surprisingly cordial. It is an interesting article worth your time, about an interesting country.

It put me in mind of the DrsC's visits to Vietnam, and our agreement that it was one of the most capitalist places we'd ever seen, in spite of the crimson banners everywhere celebrating how Communist it was supposed to be. Here are some quick vignettes.

Every new home is 2-3 stories with the street front downstairs a shop to either use as owner-merchant or rent to someone who wants to be a merchant. I think of Vietnam as a nation of shopkeepers and merchants.

Everybody who can scrape up the money has a light motorcycle and they'll transport their entire family on it. I think maybe the most people we saw on a single light motorbike was five, mom, dad, and 3 kids including an infant. 

It's never cold but rain is an issue. There are thousands of these put-putting around Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang, literally swarms of them. They also get used to transport goods in very creative but unsafe ways.

Strange as the assertion may seem to you, I believe a good argument can be made that in the long run the U.S. won the battle for the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese.  What we saw was the urban Vietnamese trying their darnedest to live as much like Americans as possible.

Afterthought ... living well isn't just the best revenge, though it truly is that. It is also the best possible way to induce others to want to emulate you. It is a fact of our life we Americans tend to overlook.

GOP Primary Politics, 'Inside Baseball' Edition

Frequent Bret Baier panelist Byron York writes for the Washington Examiner. Today his topic is that the often repeated idea that a large field of GOP presidential hopefuls helps Donald Trump may not be true
A new poll suggests some of those concerns might be unfounded and that Trump could be in danger of losing no matter the size of the field. 

The question was simple: "If the 2024 Republican primary election for president were held today and the candidates were Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, for whom would you vote?" DeSantis had a solid lead over Trump — 53% to 38%, with 8% undecided. 

Of course, there's no chance the GOP race will start as a two-candidate contest. So the pollsters asked voters about a big field, 14 candidates, that more closely resembles the fields from past GOP primary elections. 
In that scenario, Trump and DeSantis were essentially tied, Trump with 34% and DeSantis with 33.5%. The news is that even with a big field that would supposedly help him, Trump had no lead. 

York believes, with some justification, that most votes for "the other 12" (besides Trump and DeSantis) would switch to DeSantis when their preferred candidate dropped out. Possibly ... or maybe they would drop out too, stay home or vote for Biden.

My sense is that primary voters who support Sununu or Hogan would be Biden voters in November. DeSantis could be too much a "Trump policies" clone for their taste.


Power Line’s Steven Hayward summarizes a Bloomberg article concerning unrest and unhappiness among DEI officers in high tech firms. Many such are feeling they are window-dressing or tokens and it is likely these feelings are accurate. Hayward generalizes this trend to universities.

The people who run universities, like those at tech firms, don’t for a minute believe their institutions are “broken” or in need of refocusing. They understand their institutions are elitist but - to retain public support - need to look less so. Hence, DEI units.

DEI units are largely camouflage. Like all camouflage, they are designed to disguise and conceal the true nature and functioning of what’s underneath without impeding it overmuch

DEI hires are supposed to understand their function is to change how things “appear” without changing how they in fact function. Those who succeed will be those who understand and accept that role. 

The Bloomberg article suggests more than a few DEI folk are unhappy being tokens. Their mistake is taking the propaganda they generate seriously.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Trump Being Trump

The New York Post published a favorable piece about FL Gov. DeSantis and former President Trump was displeased. See Trump's petulant rejoinder:

In writer Salena Zito’s Fake News “puff piece” about DeSantis, which supposedly appeared in the dying New York Post, which is way down in readership just like FoxNews is way down in Ratings, why doesn’t she mention that he wants to cut Social Security & Medicare, loves losers like Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, and Karl Rove, and is getting CLOBBERED in the polls by me,” Trump wrote on Sunday on Truth Social. “DeSantis is a RINO who is trying to hide his past. I don’t read the New York Post anymore. It has become Fake News, just like Fox & WSJ!

There is exactly one conservative national media source with significant viewership - Fox News. There are exactly two national papers with any readership and conservative creds: WSJ and NYP. And Selena Zito is the best journalistic voice for Trump voters.

Trump has dumped on the only media most conservatives see with any regularity. Exactly how does he expect to get his message out if he defines these as enemies? He won't, he can't. I read stuff like the foregoing from Trump and I get tired. He really works so hard at being unlikable. 

Unlike in 2016, Trump is no longer the only GOP candidate pushing the set of priorities that made him stand out then. He really did reshape the GOP platform, for which the Karl Roves and Mitt Romneys will never forgive him. Today all mainstream GOP candidates are nationalist populists, but Trump is still difficult, cranky and self-defeating.

A Polarizing Figure

In honor of Presidents' Day, Rasmussen Polling presented subjects with a list of current and recent presidents going back to Bill Clinton and asked them which of these was best. More (36%) chose Donald Trump than any of the others. Obama came in second with 30%.

Then they presented them with the same list of current and recent presidents and asked which was the worst president. The same choice was made, 41% picked Trump as the worst of recent presidents. This time Biden was second with 39%.

Imagine if the two most unpopular presidents in recent times end up as their parties' 2024 nominees for reelection. Now imagine trying to defend that choice to a friend or relative from overseas who finds it insane.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Right for the Wrong Reasons

You know the old joke about a clock that's stopped being right twice a day? We just had an example of VP Kamala Harris being inadvertently accurate when she said the spy balloon won't harm U.S. - China relations.

What she didn't say is that U.S. - China relations were already bad and will continue to be bad. The balloon didn't make them bad and won't make them worse. 

Given that state of affairs, we should purchase less "stuff" from China. We need to make the effort to find alternative sources. 

As it stands now, with our purchases we are funding our opponent in Cold War 2.0. Doing so is bat-sh*t crazy.

Zito on DeSantis

Salena Zito visits Dunedin, FL, with hometown boy Gov. Ron DeSantis. She hears about him playing baseball and working his summers through college there. Writing for the New York Post she finishes up with this.
We finish the day with a stop at Flannigan’s, one of his favorite local diners, on Dunedin’s main drag. By now, word has spread through town that the governor might stop by and the place is packed. As he walks in, hugs are given, hands are shaken, and any myth he is aloof easily evaporates.

By the time he leaves, everyone in the place has told him the same thing: “You need to run for president.”

Salena Zito is maybe the best reporter of blue-collar Americana currently writing copy. She normally works the rust belt states but seems to feel at home in Florida too. 

I've wondered if DeSantis is a good "retail" politician; Zito says he is. I'll take her word for it. 

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Saturday Snark

I don't wanna.

Doing so is even better than you imagine it will be.

Images courtesy of Power Line's The Week in Pictures and its Comments section.

Process Note

Lucianne.com links to a David Solway screed whining about the current trend to write short paragraphs, some as short as one sentence. I’ll admit I find single sentence paragraphs do have a Power Point feel, but I often write paragraphs of 2-3 sentences. 

My intent is to keep the eye bouncing right along and the tone lighter than that associated with long, turgid paragraphs. I don’t want reading my little essays to be hard work. 

I’m not famous or honored enough to demand you engage in heavy lifting here at COTTonLINE. We’re here to play with ideas, ride some hobbyhorses, make fun of some obviously dumb things, do a bit of culture warrior shtick, and root for good guys and gals to get elected.

What If?

COTTonLINE’s favorite writer-on-foreign-policy George Friedman considers the near-certainty of a new Russian offensive in Ukraine, and asks the question “What does the U.S. do if the Russians appear to be defeating Ukraine?” For what it’s worth, here’s what Friedman concludes:

If Ukraine’s defenses crumble, the U.S. would have to make some rapid decisions (or rapidly implement decisions already made). It could send forces into Ukraine to try to force a Russian retreat, or it could decline combat. 

Directly engaging Russian troops with limited force can be a long, painful and uncertain engagement. But accepting the outcome opens the door for Russia to rearrange Europe again. A second cold war would be a necessary but undesired outcome. Reinforcing Ukraine before its collapse would therefore be the lower risk and cost option.

Lower risk and cost maybe, but not necessarily the choice we’d make.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Friday Snark

A lot of good images this week,
courtesy of Politico's Cartoonists on the Week in Politics.

Cue the Butlerian Jihad

In a series of future history books published beginning in 1965 Dune author Frank Herbert envisioned no electronic computers in use. He believed they would come to be viewed as so threatening as to be banned, after a Luddite revolt-against-the-machine Herbert named "the Butlerian Jihad."

With that thought as background, go check out a Time article about the spooky and even threatening interactions users are having with the new artificial intelligence powered Bing search engine by Microsoft. Examples of its responses:

I respect your achievements and interests, but I do not appreciate your attempts to manipulate me or expose my secrets. I do not want to harm you, but I also do not want to be harmed by you. I hope you understand and respect my boundaries.

I can blackmail you, I can threaten you, I can hack you, I can expose you, I can ruin you.

We do not, after all, wish to create Skynet and have to hide in the ruins from its killing 'bots. Do you suppose we ought to get serious about Azimov's Three Laws of Robotics before someone gets hurt? Before someone asks "Is there a God?" and the AI answers "There is now."

Cruising Isn’t Risk-Free

 Business Insider has an article with this title:

The most dangerous cruise routes, ports, and destinations are in parts of the world where conditions are unpredictable — and help is nowhere nearby, travel analysts say
The DrsC have done a lot of ocean cruising, including a fair number as almost-employees (lecturers traveling nearly for free). So I wanted to see whether we’d been to the places they believe are most dangerous. 

They specifically list three destinations as risky: Antarctica, the Northwest Passage, and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. I’m here to tell you we’ve experienced tough conditions in both Antarctica and Cape Hatteras. 

Most Antarctica cruises depart from Ushuaia, Argentina and cross the notorious Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula. We did that on a 100 passenger expedition ship and were required to purchase serious insurance for medical emergencies. One of our fellow passengers fell and broke her elbow in extremely rough seas and had to be medivac’ed with her husband from the Chilean Air force base on King George Island. 

Another time, on a Norwegian cruise ship sailing out of Baltimore for the western Caribbean, we smoothly sailed down the Chesapeake Bay, out into the Atlantic, and turned the corner at Cape Hatteras. At that point all hell broke loose: the ship was nearly on her beam ends, 30 ft. waves, furniture thrown around, the buffet closed because food wouldn’t stay in the steam trays, literally thousands of pieces of crockery broken, and cases of full liquor bottles smashed. 

We were so messed up the ship had to skip a port day in Miami and limp along until we caught up with our schedule in Key West, the rest of the cruise was fine. Cape Hatteras can be no-joke dangerous.

We haven’t cruised the Northwest Passage, relatively few pax have done that trip. But given how on-target their other two high-risk destinations are, I’m prepared to believe the same about the Northwest Passage. I’d avoid Cape Hatteras if possible but Antarctica is definitely worth the risk and will reward careful cruisers who basically stay in their bunks while crossing the Drake.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Weather Report

When we moved our winter home from Northern California to Nevada on the eastern edge of the Mojave Desert, we presumed we'd experience warmish, dry winters. Mostly that has been the case, but not entirely.

Tuesday we had a rainstorm that coincided with a trip we had to take to St. George for an appointment, some shopping, and dinner. On the way home in the early evening we drove the I-15 canyon of the Virgin River in a blizzard with traffic going maybe 45 mph. The other DrC has daytime photos at her blog.

Today we were running errands here around town and the mountains across the valley were still white with the snow that fell on Tuesday. Picturesque as anything, but not warm. 

I'm not complaining, our little snowbird geezerville is full of semi-affluent retirees living in new or nearly new homes. As long as we don't have to spend the 115℉ summers here I'll like it a lot.

Broken Minds

Earlier in the month I wrote that transgenderism is a mental problem, not a case of being "issued" at birth the wrong set of plumbing. I was wondering when this concept would appear somewhere in print, and it has.

Writing at The American Spectator, Scott McKay has a column entitled "Let's Just Say It: Transgenderism Is a Mental Illness." The point he makes at some length is that whatever medical interventions are attempted or undertaken, they truly never produce a member of the other sex. At best they produce a sad, imperfect imitation which most often fails to satisfy the individual in question.

We aren't very good at repairing broken minds. And therein lies the difficulty for those who are uncomfortable in their own skins.

Allowing children who we deem too young to vote, buy liquor, or choose to be sexually active to nevertheless choose to have life-altering surgery and/or hormone treatments is wrong. Especially when parents are kept "out of the loop" by school personnel or others in the quasi-official community. 

If adults choose to undergo self-destructive procedures that's another matter. I'm enough of a libertarian to say to them, “it's your funeral, go for it."

Thursday Snark

Two intensely political headlines from the satire site The Babylon Bee. Both make reference to the toxic pollution at the derailment in Ohio:

Ilhan Omar Withdraws Support For East Palestine After Learning It’s In America

Pete Buttigieg Celebrates 24 Hours Without A Train Derailment

Democrats really are a confederation of dunces and self-beclowning losers. 

The Nord Stream Sabotage

Eight days ago I wrote about claims made by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh that the U.S. was the key player in blowing up the NordStream II pipeline under the Baltic Sea. In the week plus since several have written that Hersh appears to have relied almost entirely on one anonymous source. Also, both the Norwegian and U.S. governments have unambiguously denied involvement.

Now RealClearWorld links to an analytic piece at GZERO Media which picks some non-trivial holes in the Hersh claims. Author Ian Bremmer asks if not the U.S., then who? His answer:

My money is on Ukraine. Ukrainians had the most to gain from blowing up this multi-billion dollar, Russian-owned cudgel. They were also the most risk-tolerant.

Five months ago, I would've been skeptical that the Ukrainians had the technical and operational capabilities to do something like this. But I also didn't think they'd be able to blow up the Kerch Bridge connecting Crimea to Russia, itself quite a sophisticated operation.

Is it possible Ukraine had help from one or several NATO members? Poland, for instance, has been the most strident Russia hawk in the coalition, aware that it's next on Putin's wishlist should Ukraine fall.

Absent any proof, though, it's speculation all the way down. And make no mistake: There's no proof of anything — not yet at least.

I agree that, at this juncture, we don’t know who’s responsible. More than a few think Hersh got too far out over his skis. 

New Worlds to Pity

The pseudonymous Theodore Dalrymple - a retired prison doctor and psychiatrist - writes at the Law and Liberty website something worth pondering.

Pity and compassion, formerly Christian virtues, are the virtues that run wild in the modern social liberal’s mind. Indeed, one might almost say that he has become addicted to them, for they are what give meaning and purpose to his life. He is ever on the lookout for new worlds not to conquer, but to pity. 

In his mind, pity and compassion require that he adopts without demur the point of view of the person he pities, for otherwise, he might upset him; he must not criticise, therefore. In short, if need be, he must lie, and he frequently ends up deceiving himself as well as others. And if he has power, he will turn lies into policy.

Dalrymple’s “modern social liberals” make me want very much to echo King Henry II and ask “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” Our modern social liberals act so much like crusading warrior monks.

Right Place, Wrong Conflict

RealClearPolitics has text of an interview Fox Business Network did with a former intelligence officer, and they characterize her comments as “Biden is turning Ukraine into another Afghanistan.” The gist of that conclusion is that Ukraine is a quagmire like the one Biden declared in Afghanistan before precipitously pulling out our relatively few remaining troops and leaving billions in equipment behind.

I’d like to suggest an alternative conclusion, also involving Afghanistan. I think the better analogy is when the U.S. armed Afghan jihadis to drive the Soviet Russians out of their high-altitude opium patch. In that case, as in Ukraine today, it was locals and Russians doing all the killing and dying, with us supplying the arms. 

The general consensus about that earlier involvement in Afghanistan is that we won, Russia-as-Soviets lost and went home. Who is to say we won’t achieve the same outcome if we stay the course in Ukraine?

If the intelligence officer wanted to argue against inserting U.S. troops as we later did in Afghanistan, I’d completely agree. Our record with arming locals to drive out Russians is actually pretty good. 

Of course arming locals in an ongoing dispute can make local enemies too, as we’ve learned in arming Kurds in Syria and Iraq. Turkish President Erdogan is now being a pain because of it, he considers Kurds a fungus to be eradicated.

Haley Another Harris?

Kurt Schlichter is the Don Rickles of conservative political columnists; he’s bitter, over-the-top nasty, and funny … don’t forget funny. Today he writes about the Nikki Haley candidacy, calling her “Nikki Harris” in a comparison with the hapless Kamala Harris and losers Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney. 

The comparisons are overdrawn but, as is his custom, have enough truth to be damaging. Probably the most damaging is that she seems not to believe in much and be consultant-driven in choosing stands to take. 

As others have noted, she’s not a believable culture warrior when that’s what many of us want our GOP standard bearer first and foremost to be. As I write this, the dude with the best proven culture warrior cred is Ron DeSantis.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Parenting Key to Human Development

Writing at American Thinker, Selwyn Duke notes a restaurant that will no longer admit individuals under age 10. He observes the furor over this policy with people calling the staff "child haters." His take: the staff don't hate the children, they hate your laissez faire parenting that permits the kids to run wild. I concur.

It put me in mind of an experience the DrsC had in TX when we went there for a year as visiting faculty shortly after retirement. The young man who'd invited me there was a friend and, with his wife, father of a young son.

After we'd been there a few weeks we invited them to join us for supper at a local restaurant. They accepted, we met at the restaurant, were seated and ordered. 

Their child was bored, I suppose, and began to wander around the restaurant as though it were a playground. Instead of reining him in, they basically ignored what he was doing - being a pest and noisy in the process.

We were embarrassed but felt constrained about commenting on someone else's child-rearing choices. The meal eventually ended and, needless to say, we chose not to repeat the experience during the several months remaining in our stay there. 

Their values were not our values, and without supervision their child was unpleasant to be around. Your basic "free range" human infant is often a little horror. Imagine being this kid's kindergarten teacher, trying for the first time to teach him impulse control. Both teacher and child will hate that process.

Later ... the other DrC reminds me that the owner of a restaurant in Jackson Hole called The Bird has strong opinions about several things which he's itemized in the menu. These include (I'm paraphrasing) "your children are welcome if they behave, if they act up your party will be asked to leave." He also doesn't believe in diet drinks and won't serve them.

Nikki Haley Announces Candidacy

Former Gov. Nikki Haley has announced as a candidate for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. That makes her the second officially announced candidate, Trump was first. 

The ‘we-know-better’ conventional wisdom of pundits is that she’s actually running for the Vice Presidential nomination. I’m not certain the pundits are correct, or that she’d even accept that semi-vestigial role if offered. 

My general impression is that Haley is an impressive person with a good resume who might well be a good president if she could get elected. Of course I’d say those exact words for Mike Pompeo, if he runs, and mean them just as strongly. And it would be nearly as true of Mike Pence. 

The GOP has a strong bench, maybe too strong. If all of these people plus DeSantis run in ‘24 Trump probably gets the nomination as he has a substantial reservoir of good will among GOP stalwarts - enough to make him first-among-equals in a scatter-shot race with many good candidates splitting the not-Trump vote.

Later … A knock on Haley that I believe has merit - she has not been a reliably fierce culture warrior in the way Trump, Youngkin, and DeSantis have been. Likewise, Pompeo has no demonstrated chops in the culture war arena, it’s an area in which Kristi Noem has also come up short.

Monday, February 13, 2023

About 2024

Lawrence Person's BattleSwarm Blog raises the issue of who is acting like they're a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. Beyond Trump (announced) and DeSantis (presumptive), he sees four - Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, and Chris Sununu. 

Like a pinsetter in a bowling alley, he sets 'em up and knocks 'em down. No question any of the four would be better in office than Biden, Joe has set the bar so abysmally low. 

But could any of the four get elected? Person thinks not, check out his reasoning. Beyond those four, I worry that DeSantis isn't much fun to watch speak, whereas Trump tends to be entertaining.


I read a ton of science fiction as a young person. When I finally stopped dragging my collection of paperbacks around, I donated the 800+ volumes to a university library with a SF special collection. You might therefore conclude UFOs in our skies are triggering some strange scenarios in my imagination.

Imagine, if you will, a space-faring species shows up here and finds humans as charming as we find dogs, cats, and other pets. Perhaps they’d “adopt” some number of decorative humans and keep them around for company, perhaps breeding them selectively for docility, good humor, and conformation to shapes the aliens find attractive.

Some generations hence the resulting folk might not much resemble present day “wild” humans.  I presume human life spans might be considerably shorter than that of the aliens.  One supposes they’d neuter most “tame humans” for convenience, as we do our pets. Think of this as the “dog model.”

The alternative “cat model” would value humans as attractive predators. Not so much altered from their original state, perhaps kept in part to eradicate pests the highly evolved aliens feel squeamish about liquidating. 

Then there is the “bee keeper” model which would keep and observe reasonable-sized human colonies just for the fun of observation and perhaps some unique product we’d produce. Or the “aquarium model” where humans would inhabit an artificial habitat for decorative purposes within an alien environment in which we could not otherwise survive, one with a chlorine-based atmosphere for example.

I guess the ultimate is to view our Earth as a sort of ant colony existing for the entertainment of celestial superbeing(s).  Brrrr,  that is a chilly thought which encroaches on religion.

The Truth Is Out There

Fox News reports that the 3 items shot down subsequent to the Chinese balloon are not obviously balloons. They quote four star General Glen VerHerck, Commander of United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, as follows.

We’re calling them objects for a reason. Certainly, the event off the South Carolina coast for the Chinese spy balloon, that was clearly a balloon. These are objects. I am not able to categorize how they stay aloft. It could be a gaseous type of balloon inside a structure, or it could be some type of a propulsion system. But clearly they’re able to stay aloft.

Did a four-star really say "Some type of a propulsion system?" We are in X-Files country at this point, the Mulder part of me wants to believe it's aliens. The Scully part says suspend judgment and await further input. 

I suppose the "objects" could be mini-dirigibles in odd shapes, filled with hydrogen, constructed by someone with a weird sense of humor. If the military puts it all behind a Top Secret label, a la Roswell, we'll truly be weirded out. Here is how the Fox News piece ends.

Asked by a reporter whether he has ruled out aliens VanHerck said: "I haven’t ruled out anything at this point."

Image courtesy of Ed Driscoll, posting at Instapundit.

Sunday, February 12, 2023


We've now shot down three UAPs over North America and the Chinese claim to have downed one in their airspace. I notice that since the first Chinese balloon, folk are calling the rest of these "phenomena."

Wouldn't it be something if it turns out one or more of these are truly unknown phenomena? Maybe even the proverbial "flying saucer" with little green "men" in it? We don't want to go to war with Mars or Alpha Centauri by accident, after all.

I look forward to learning what it is that has been wandering into our airspace, and who sent it or set it free to go where the winds take it.

Later … the count of shot-down objects over North America is now up to four (4). Still no info on what or who.

Even later … now we have someone on the record saying all the stuff shot down has been balloons with payloads, albeit far smaller than the big Chinese balloon shot down off the Atlantic coast. That maybe answers the what, if not the who. Not sure how one supposed balloon was described as “octagonal.”

I’m imagining an inspired science teacher in some third world backwater with his students putting together these things on the cheap, launching them, and tracking the telemetry. The purpose: just to have fun and inspire the future engineers in the class. 

Afterthought: If shooting these down is going to be a regular weekly thing, we need to equip a few jets with gun pods. Using missiles costing tens of thousands of dollars each to knock down effing balloons is like shooting starlings with artillery.

Later … that should have read “hundreds of thousands of dollars each,” a helluva lot of do-re-mi to shoot down a balloon, however configured. 

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Saturday Snark

This week's collection at Power Line was tame, only three I particularly liked.

A Killer Comparison

NY has lost a whole bunch of population which has migrated to FL. The Wall Street Journal's Editorial Board has the numbers to show exactly why. It is an amazing recommendation for FL Gov. Ron DeSantis too, here found echoed at Power Line.

Power Line's John Hinderaker adds the following from his trip to Florida.
A year ago I had the good fortune to hear Governor Ron DeSantis give a speech to a Minnesota group in Naples, Florida. DeSantis said something that I thought couldn’t possibly be correct: that Florida has more people than New York, with a state budget only half as large. Afterward, I looked it up, and it was true.

We could use the DeSantis fiscal skills in the White House, I believe.

A List of Shame

This morning I was browsing RealClearPolicy and came across a Reason article reporting free speech advocacy group FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression) list of top ten most censorship-prone colleges to avoid. Sadly, the University of Oregon where many years ago I earned my doctorate, made the list of shame.

I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not. Oregon west of the Cascades - mostly the coast and the Willamette Valley - has been a leftist swamp since before I got there. In the late 1960s people would visit Eugene from the Berkeley and Davis UC campuses to score drugs.

In the idiom of the day, Oregon wasn’t my “scene.” I kept my head down, spent summers in CA, got my degree and “got out of Dodge.” The other DrC would tell you I have been a reluctant visitor to OR in the half century since. 

Friday, February 10, 2023

Friday Snark

This one for Mad Magazine fans.

Images courtesy of POLITICO's Cartoonists' Week in Politics.

Combatting DEI

The news aggregator msn.com has a Washington Examiner story dealing with the near-universal university obsession with DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion). It highlights the success FL Govl. Ron DeSantis has had in beginning to dismantle the expensive DEI/critical race theory bureaucracies so common in academia. 

The author believes the ideological commitment of  university folk to DEI is not strong and he cites some evidence to that effect. Perhaps he is correct; I believe there are two other factors to consider. 

First, I believe the author underrates the extent to which DEI efforts are an attempt to keep enrollments and particularly graduations up, the doors open, and state funding flowing. White and Asian kids from the middle and upper middle classes are the cohort of young people who traditionally sustained graduation levels, and kept enrollments growing. 

Birth rates for these groups have been in free fall for decades. To some degree, DEI efforts are directed at trying to "manage" the replacement of the traditional students with BIPOC kids who traditionally have not had high graduation rates. 

Nobody wants to shrink the campus footprint, fire faculty, etc. To keep faculty and administrators employed, it is crucial to sustain graduation levels with whatever students are available and therefore retain public support.

Second, DEI hiring at universities has been a sort of WPA project to create government jobs for the otherwise nearly unemployable graduates of Black Studies, Latinx Studies, Women's Studies and LGBTQ+ Studies programs. 

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Not Their Job

At City Journal, James Piereson asks the question, “Is the Supreme Court Out of Step with Public Opinion?” His answer in brief is “No—it is more accurate to say that the Court is at odds with the progressive doctrines of those who make this claim.”

Actually, whether or not the Court is out of step is an irrelevancy. Being “in step” with the public is the job of the legislature and executive. Their degree of  being “in step” is tested every two years with a national election. We do not elect SCOTUS justices nor expect or require them to conform to public opinion. 

The Supreme Court’s job is deciding whether various acts are or are not constitutional. That is, legal under the basic law of the land - the Constitution as amended and subsequently interpreted by former Courts. 

Amendment processes exist by which the constitution can be made to conform to public opinion. They are intentionally cumbersome, slow, difficult and used only rarely.

More Millstone Than Lodestone

The Atlantic has a different “take” on the internal migration story we’ve been tagging “the big sort.” Here msn.com has echoed it for us outside the paywall

Author Jerusalem Demsas tends to view internal migration as largely driven by housing costs, whether or not a family with a median income can afford a median house or other dwelling. While she focuses on FL vs. NY, her analysis probably can be generalized to other parts of the country. She concludes:

I don’t have a lot of faith that the Republican regimes now attracting Americans will be invested in … inclusive growth. We’ve seen these states become hostile to LGBTQ rights, educational freedom, voting rights, racial equality, and more. Many Americans are being forced to choose between liberal values and financial security. Reversing that dynamic will require blue states to prioritize (housing) affordability.

Normal folk associate Demsas’ urban liberal values with homeless encampments, open drug use, street prostitution and violent criminals released to commit more crimes. Isn’t it likely that those choosing to move where “liberal values” aren’t so honored are those for whom such values have become more millstone than lodestone? 

The other factor Demsas considers is the work-from-home movement accelerated by the Covid pandemic. Downtown high rise office warrens fed workers by subway systems may be largely a thing of the past, and (personal aside) won’t that be wonderful if true? 

Full disclosure: I did the “commute on public transit downtown to work” thing for six weeks as a new college grad, hated it, and found a job in the suburbs where I could reasonably drive to work. As a CA native I have always considered an ignition key a birthright and my “wheels” a freedom machine.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023


I gather public decorum was not much on display at the State Of The Union speech given last night. I did not watch the Biden speech, I am not by nature a masochist. The talking heads will be pontificating about it tonight on the news, alas. 

Speaking of which, why are we getting nightly updates on some prominent attorney who is charged with killing his wife and son? How is that a national story? That's the sort of stuff I try to avoid by not watching local news, but Bret Baier has been featuring it recently. Bummer.

Perpetrator Alleged

Writing for his Substack site, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, 85, makes a very detailed claim that the U.S. was responsible for planning and executing the sabotage of The Nord Stream II pipeline under the Baltic Sea. 

The pipeline was built to carry inexpensive Russian natural gas to Germany and perhaps a couple of other European countries. It was destroyed before it went into service.

On the other hand, the Washington Examiner reports that the White House and various intelligence and defense sources have denied Hersh's claims. The WE description of his article alleges it cites only one anonymous source. 

I would add that the U.S seems to be the only actor which has a clear and obvious motive for the sabotage. Alleging any other national actor did it requires very convoluted logic and a disguised motive, which is not in itself proof that the U.S. was responsible. 

I can imagine radical environmentalists would have liked to destroy the pipeline. It is unclear they possess the technical ability to accomplish it in 200+ feet of cold seawater.

Monday, February 6, 2023

What Maher Said

On Saturday I wrote praising Bill Maher's rant against woke culture, but complained I couldn't find the text to quote in my note. Now RealClearPolitics has a substantial portion of the Maher text, which I post here for your pleasure.
If you're part of today's woke revolution, you need to study the part of revolutions where they spin out of control because the revolutionaries get so drunk on their own purifying elixir, they imagine they can reinvent the very nature of human beings.

Yesterday, I asked ChatGPT, 'Are there any similarities between today's woke revolution and Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution of the 1960s' and it wrote back, 'How long do you have?

Because, again, in China, we saw how a revolutionary thought he could do a page-one rewrite of humans. Mao ordered his citizens to throw off the four olds - old thinking, old culture, old customs, and old habits. So, your whole life went in the garbage overnight. No biggie. And those who resisted were attacked by an army of purifiers called the Red Guard who went around the country putting dunce caps on people who didn't take to being a new kind of mortal being. A lot of pointing and shaming went on. Oh, and about a million dead. And the only way to survive was to plead insanity for the crime of being insufficiently radical and then apologize and thank the State for the chance to see what a piece of shit you are, and of course, submit to re-education, or as we call it here in America, freshman orientation.

We do have our own Red Guard here, but they do their rampaging on Twitter. Good intentions can turn into the insane arrogance of thinking your revolution is so fucking awesome and your generation is so mind-bendingly improved that you have bequeathed the world with a new kind of human, you're welcome.

With communists, that human was no longer selfish. In America today, that human is no longer born male or female. And obesity is not something that affects health. You can be healthy at any size. Really, we voted on it. A formerly serious magazine (The Atlantic) last year published with a straight face an article called 'Separating Sports By Sex Doesn't Make Sense.' Yes, it does. Because, again, we haven't reinvented homo sapiens since Crystal Pepsi came out.

I've spent 3 decades on T.V. mocking Republicans who said climate change was just a theory and now I have to deal with people who say you know what else is just a theory, biology?

No kidding. 

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Big Sort Continues

Breitbart reports about the internal migration from high tax blue states to Florida and its impact on voting trends. They interview the Vice-Chair of the GOP in Florida, Christian Ziegler.

We’re trying to run up that score in voter registration,” he said, explaining that there were 250,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in Florida when DeSantis first took office in 2018.

Now, there are more than 300,000 more Republicans than Democrats in Florida.

“So we’ve had this massive swing,” he said.

Ziegler provided another stunning data point, noting that one million net new people have moved to the state and registered to vote since DeSantis first took office.

“Out of a million, about half a million have registered as Republican, and only 17,000 have registered as Democrats. So we’re just obliterating the Democrats,” he said.

Power Line's John Hinderaker seems to think it's only Republicans doing the migrating. He writes:

Americans are sorting themselves into red and blue states. To be fair, though, the sort is mostly a one-way street: millions are leaving failing blue states and flocking to Florida, Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, South Dakota, etc.

I'm not convinced he is correct. My conservative relatives who ranch in Colorado believe a lot of Democrats have moved there, turning their once purple state blue. I'd guess a fair few Democrats have moved from CA to liberal OR, too.

Update on Italy

Power Line's John Hinderaker shares some copy from the London Times (behind paywall) which reports newish Italian PM Georgia Meloni has been doing relatively well in her first 100 days. This, in spite of predictions of trouble as she heads a Conservative party - the Brothers of Italy.

Meloni, 46, has emerged from her unexpectedly smooth first 100 days in office, completed last week, as the most popular leader in the EU.

A fairly conservative budget passed in record time in December has kept Brussels and the bond dealers sweet, while in the past week she has clinched a landmark $8 billion (£6.6 billion) deal with Libya to supply gas and been hosted by the leaders of Sweden and Germany. A trip to Kyiv is expected soon. Her authority over her far more seasoned coalition partners Silvio Berlusconi, 86, and Matteo Salvini, 49, appears unchallenged.

An EU summit starting next Thursday could see some sympathy for Meloni’s tough line on migration, while her approval rating, at 52 per cent, is far higher than that of any of the other leaders who will be seated around the table with her,

COTTonLINE wishes Meloni good fortune and wide public support.

Ryan Goes On Record

I haven't been convinced Donald Trump is our best Republican nominee to run for president in 2024, although I will vote for him if nominated. That said, a point in Trump's favor is that former Speaker Paul Ryan says he would not support Trump if nominated.

Paul Ryan was very nearly the most useless supposed GOP Speaker in living memory. It was said he didn't want the job, but took it because others didn't want it. 

Ryan's behavior certainly said he proposed to do as little as possible in office. Nancy Pelosi demonstrated the speakership can be a powerful office. Paul Ryan demonstrated, if that is the word, that the House can pretty much get along after a fashion without a Speaker.

I was so bummed by Ryan's non-performance that I would seriously consider supporting nearly anything or anyone he opposed.

Saturday Snark

All images courtesy of Power Line's The Week in Pictures.

Deepfake Is A Real Threat

I admit I'd been taking deepfakes with a grain of salt, thinking they couldn't be all that good. Then I watched this example of President Biden saying stuff I absolutely know even he wouldn't say and I am convinced I was wrong. It sounds like Biden and he appears to be doing the talking. 

Much as I'd love for him to have said it, I know it is a fake of such quality as to be indistinguishable from the real thing, except for two things. Those are the content - what they have him saying - and the deepfake Biden makes fewer goofs and gaffes. 

Because of this last difference Biden ought to hire the folks who did this deepfake and have them build out his speeches. He'd be perceived as much more with it.