Friday, March 31, 2023

Ebb and Flow

The other DrC ran across this map from the Census Bureau that shows the percent change in county population during the period July 1, 2021 to July 1, 2022. She knew I'd enjoy it, and I do. We both like maps.

It almost appears that there are waves of change moving across the country. Areas of decline on the west coast, growth in the mountain west, decline in the plains just east of the Rockies, modest growth in the strip running north from TX, decline along the Mississippi River, gain running up the east coast with the exception of the Rust Belt and NY. 

If you enlarge the map on a computer screen, the patterns to some degree become less visible. The extreme bailouts along a strip running north from El Paso and along the Mississippi remain. States with mostly state-wide growth include FL, ID, UT, AZ, ME, and NH. 

We know TX is growing but in that very large state it is spotty, largely clustered around Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, and Austin. The same sort of clustering could be seen in TN, GA, and SC.

“We’re Doomed,” He Wrote

RealClearPolicy links to a Kevin Roche who consults in health care and blogs as Healthy Skeptic. His cri de coeur today is perhaps the most pessimistic view of our national future I have yet read. Here are the key points:

We are seeing the fruition of decades of intellectual and spiritual corruption. Now we are paying the price. Now it is too late. It is over for our society and country.

We are living the decline and eventual fall of the United States, which has been the single greatest creator of improved lives all around the globe, the defender of individual freedom and rights.

The Trump indictment is irrelevant. There is no rule of law for anyone. Everything is political. Right skin color, ethnic background, sex, sexual orientation, ideology–you can do no wrong; the government will protect even your most outrageous behavior. Wrong ones, you will be punished.

This current country, this current United States, is dead on its feet.

Roche sees the same slippery slope I see. He believes we’re farther down it than I am yet persuaded is the case. That said, his evaluation could be correct.

Finland’s NATO Membership Approved

Reuters reports the Turkish parliament has ratified Finland joining NATO, Turkey was the last of the current member nations to do so. Sweden still has not received Turkey’s blessing, and may not.

Nevertheless, of the two, Finland is the more important. Finland shares a 830 mile border with Russia. Containing Russia (in its Soviet incarnation) was why NATO was formed. 

Soon all of Russia’s border with what we think of as Western and Central Europe will be NATO members except Belarus and Ukraine from the Black Sea to the Arctic Ocean. And Ukraine is actively fighting off Russia. 

Ironically, the only reason Finland decided to abandon neutrality and join NATO is because Putin invaded Ukraine. That act made amicable coexistence with Russia seem improbable to the Finns and Swedes.

Thursday, March 30, 2023


Tomorrow is the last day of March, which means this time tomorrow 2023 will be one quarter “used up.” When old people tell you time moves faster as you age, believe them. The weeks seem to me to zip past.

I let the equinox slide by ten days ago without comment. The days are longer now, I grilled a steak for supper a couple of evenings ago without turning on the patio lights. Some flowering trees are blooming and we are well and truly into spring. We’ve had shirt-sleeve days alternating with jacket days, lots of breeze, and left-over rain from the CA storms.

Next week we leave for Europe, our first trip since Covid shut everything down. It will be a river cruise, Amsterdam to Budapest on the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers. We’ll be gone just over two weeks. 

Salt Lake area friends who hadn’t done this trip asked us to join them and we said “sure, it is a fun itinerary.” I will travel blog, something I haven’t done for several years. 

Breaking: Trump Indicted

Politico and other sources report the grand jury handed down an indictment of former President Donald Trump in New York City this afternoon. Trump called it "election interference." 

Media aren't talking about an arrest as yet. The White House has indicated it will not comment on the indictment.

I seem to remember that FBI Director James Comey refused to charge Hillary Clinton for misdeeds with classified documents because it would be "election interference." These appear to be analogous cases -  announced presidential candidates misbehaving somewhat.

Not All Mass Shootings Equally Heinous

Power Line's Steven Hayward says the quiet part out loud, when it comes to gun-related deaths. First he posts this chart. 

After which he quotes Steven Rather saying something true that hardly anyone is brave enough to put their name to.

As has been pointed out many times, if you remove gang violence, of the murders concentrated in just a handful of American urban areas (mostly gang driven), the U.S. place on this chart would fall right in line with the cluster here. But we don’t ever want to talk about gang violence, or why the media only report “mass shootings” when white people are the victims.

Or, rarely, the shooter. Because ... racism, of course.

Someone should ask the legacy media if their silence reflects organizational indifference to the mass murder of Blacks by Blacks.

Suicidal Mass Killers

I've been thinking about mass shooters, as the example in Nashville is much in the current news. Power Line's John Hinderaker makes a good point.

Our usual approach to crime is to try to deter it. Don’t rob a bank, or you likely will go to prison. But mass shooters, like Audrey Hale, typically expect to die. So it is more or less impossible to deter them.

Some percentage of suicidal people conclude they have a no-added-cost opportunity to get revenge on a subset of the society that, in their minds, is responsible for their suicidal state. Notice I didn't limit this to shooters, one could obtain similar results by driving a car at speed into a crowd of pedestrians, setting fire to a crowded night club or theater, or derailing a passenger train.

The problem isn't guns, or cars, or Molotov cocktails, it is mental illness. The society isn't to blame for suicidal thoughts, but we humans much prefer blaming others for our difficulties, when mostly the defects are in ourselves.

We suffer the mass shootings and other examples of lashing out because we do not aggressively treat mental illness. We do not isolate dangerous individuals from others they may wish to harm.

Involuntary inpatient care for mentally ill and addicted individuals would cost all of us many tax dollars. And it would be subject to abuse in locking up those the "swamp" find "inconvenient." Meanwhile at any given time most of us aren't exactly at much risk of bodily harm from the sufferers. 

We can have a safe society with no homeless and few mass shootings but the cost would be steep. Or we can live with homeless encampments and random crazies doing whatever, including large scale violence. 

At one time we chose the former. In recent decades we appear to have chosen the later. We should at least make that choice an overt, considered one via legislation. And if we do, then stop complaining about the occasional outbreak of violence.

Afterthought: If we choose to continue to tolerate free-range nutters, we need to harden the target - the schools - with fences, entrance control points, cameras, etc.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Second Thoughts

On Monday we cited a Wall Street Journal/NORC poll purporting to show recent steep declines in patriotism, faith, desire to have children, and community involvement. Today the original Power Line poster - Steven Hayward - writes that perhaps we should be cautious about interpreting those findings as there were NORC methodological changes between 2019 and 2023 which could account for much of the decline. 

Hayward then offers the Gallup organization's look at "pride in being an American" which is a decent avatar for patriotism. Gallup's methodology hasn't changed for 20 years, their figures also show a decline but not nearly so precipitous as those of NORC, take a look.

So it's likely our nation won't come to an end this week anyway, maybe not this decade or even this century. That said, the fortunes of nations rise and fall, and most eventually disappear. Vigilance is recommended.

About Age Segregation

Y’all know I make frequent references to Instapundit aka Glenn Reynolds who blogs, writes NY Post columns, and now has a Substack presence for long form musings. Today he writes about age segregation and its downsides. 

Dear reader, as you are aware, I normally agree with Reynolds about most things. Today, I write to take issue with some of his criticisms embodied in this recent column. 

The DrsC recently moved their winter residence into one of those 55 and older retirement communities, which Reynolds thinks are less-than-good. I’ve got to say, based on nearly 2 years residence, that there are some real upsides too. 

Residents here range from a few as young as 50 (55 for most) maybe up to 90s, whatever age you go to a nursing home. So we have what I call the “young old” who are physically vigorous, playing golf, tennis and pickle ball, trekking, gardening, and exploring the desert in ATVs. And the “truly old” who leave those pursuits to others.

What honestly surprised us was how much the neighbors have in common. That commonality is mostly social class and relatively successful lives.  Plus the shared medical downsides of aging. The prevalence of replaced hips and knees is amazing.

We’re not all one race, one political party, or even all straights, and there are a few singletons. We came from lots of different places and so far have gotten along darn well. We have local friends who are from CA of course, but also from CO, ID, OR, WA. That’s in addition to the literally dozens of couples who summer in western WY and winter here, not all in our development.

Some have kids and grandkids, many have dogs which they dutifully walk and pick up after, more than a few drive “midlife crisis” cars (Corvettes, Porsches, etc.), many play golf. More than half live here year round - not what I would have guessed - as summer temps sometimes go to 116℉. I can honestly say we’ve met very few who struck us as “stay away from that one.”

The HOA makes sure people don’t turn their house into a hot dog stand or paint it purple, That is part of the regimentation I noted relatively high density living requires, and its impersonality keeps us from getting mad at neighbor’s foibles, as such are minimized. My conclusion: it works. 

On the other hand, friends of ours bought a place in The Villages in FL, supposedly the biggest group of 55+ communities in the country. They hated it, sold out, and moved somewhere less “programmed.” 

De gustibus non disputandum. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Looking Back ... at Iraq

It is popular today to write that the Iraq war was a mistake. I believe those authors criticize not the expulsion of Iraqi invaders from Kuwait but the subsequent invasion of Iraq itself, done by the U.S. and the Brits. 

On the other hand, COTTonLINE's favorite interpreter of foreign relations George Friedman has written a defense of that war that I believe will add to your understanding of the context in which it occurred. He writes in part:

A major asset of al-Qaida was that it possessed a highly dispersed force that enabled it to group and regroup. It had demonstrated the ability to operate globally.

This was a force that could not be rapidly defeated. Nor could it be negotiated with or even located for negotiations. 

The United States could not accept the status quo. Al-Qaida had demonstrated its capabilities (on 9/11), and there was no reason it would not strike again. Lacking political solutions, Washington’s only option was a military strike – a broad and diffuse campaign designed to fragment al-Qaida.

Invading Afghanistan and Iraq was the only practical option if the goal was to cripple a very capable enemy. (snip) It was an unconventional counteroffensive, and this is what its critics dislike, but they offer no clear alternative. After 9/11, the threat was simply too great. The strategy was worldwide disruption. It was not pretty, but it worked. There were no other large-scale attacks on the U.S. homeland.

Friedman makes a good argument. I am willing to let history judge this invasion, having mixed feelings about it myself. 

The Big Sort ... On Campus

Inside Higher Ed posts a chart reflecting polling results concerning choice of colleges reflecting political leanings. It turns out such choice is a "thing."

A new study from the Art & Science Group, being released today, found that nearly one in four high school seniors “ruled out institutions solely due to the politics, policies, or legal situation in the state” where the college was located. Further, the study found that “this behavior was statistically true across liberals, moderates and conservatives.”

Liberals were more likely than conservatives to rule out a college because of its location, but only by a small margin (31 percent to 28 percent).

Other groups that were more likely to eliminate a college because of its location: LGBTQ students (32 percent versus 21 percent for straight students) and non-first-generation students (26 percent versus 19 percent for first-generation students).

The big sort continues, collegiate division. Caveat, "Most college students attend a college in their home state, and this has been the case for decades."

Awareness of WY is limited. If people actually knew about WY, it would be blue as well. By some measures WY is the most conservative state in the nation.

Maintaining Urban Order

Writing at the Claremont Institute’s publication The American Mind, Jason Curtis Anderson creates a word picture of how and why New York City went from high crime hellhole to well-ordered urban space under mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg. And then how and why it went back to being a high crime hellhole under de Blasio and continues there under Adams.

Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg transformed NYC into a well-oiled machine, then de Blasio and fellow progressives poured sugar into its gas tank via criminal justice reforms that made the city more dangerous.

Our elected officials decided to focus their attention on the well-being of New York’s criminal population, elevating them to the status of a new protected class. Progressives went on to pass criminal justice reforms that disincentivized police from doing their jobs and undermined the very systems that made New York City so safe and successful. Their policy choices eventually resulted in an unprecedented crime wave, sanctioned riots, and an overall sense of lawlessness that continues to plague NYC to this day.

It took only four years to go from the mayor deciding it was OK for people to urinate in public to instructing the police to stand down while angry mobs looted our stores and burned cop cars in Union Square. (snip) All it took to bring America’s greatest city to its knees was electing progressive activists and letting them tamper with the criminal justice system.

So how did NYC voters choose candidates who promised to go easy on criminals? I have a possible answer. 

The broken-windows, stop-and-frisk policing that produced the orderly NYC Anderson fondly remembers was most tough on poor people living in the city. It was their kids who ended up in Rikers, who were hassled for congregating on street corners, doing graffiti, drinking and carrying weapons. 

Who liked the Giuliani-style NYC? Tourists and commuters from CT and NJ (who had no vote) and middle class and above NYC dwellers. The latter weren’t numerous enough to win the day.  Especially when a fair number of those were, for ideological reasons, “woke progressives.” Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

I am tempted to propose Cotton’s Law which states “In an orderly, well-run city, the repressiveness of policing is proportional to population density.” Or even “ In an orderly, well-run city, the repressiveness of policing is proportional to population density squared.” Translation, the tighter people are packed together the more orderly and regimented they have to be to tolerate each other and the more policing is required. Singapore is an example of this working.

In the low density western WY valley I call home, I often go a week without seeing a deputy sheriff or highway patrol vehicle.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Patriotism, Faith Out of Favor

There is a Wall Street Journal/NORC poll it seems every publication I look at has described in some detail, probably because it is behind the WSJ paywall. The following I 'borrow' from a post by Power Line's Steven Hayward.

Democrats are unhappy, out-of-step people.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Saturday Snark

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

Buying a Bug Out Option

I seldom link to articles at Huffpost with approval, today is an exception. They have a quite interesting column about U.S. citizens purchasing passports, which is to say “citizenship,” in other countries without giving up their U.S. citizenship. Caveat: it takes a sh*tload of money.

Henley & Partners, the world’s premier passport brokering company, said that in 2022, more Americans inquired about citizenship by investment — programs that allow people to pay for citizenship instead of gaining it by demonstrating their ties to a country — than in any previous year. Americans were also the leading nationality for submitting applications.

The author quotes associate professor Kristin Surak of the London School of Economics and Political Science - who studies the sale of citizenship - who reports:

Very wealthy people, they’re very, very risk-averse. They’re kind of paranoid. They have a lot of money, and they’ll do a lot to keep it safe — a second citizenship, a third citizenship, a backup Plan B, a backup Plan C, a backup Plan D. … You’re getting more and more ‘Armageddon Americans’: Either [President Joe] Biden ‘the communist’ is going to take over America, or the fascists are going to take over.

People acquiring second passports often acquire property or otherwise invest in the issuing nation. In some jurisdictions, that is a requirement.

If you’re interested, the two major firms facilitating such transactions are described as Henley & Partners of New York and Latitudes, based in London with offices in California. Countries currently offering the sale of citizenship may include Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Malta, Montenegro, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and Vanuatu.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Friday Sark

Scale is everything.

Images courtesy of Politico's Cartoonists Week in Politics.

DeSantis' Culture Warrior

If you follow conservative politics you are likely to be seeing and hearing the name Chris Rufo in the years going forward. A quick check finds I've cited his articles in City Journal and The Federalist.

My purpose here is to give you a link to a Politico biography-in-progress of this young man who is, as the title indicates, one of DeSantis' go-to guys. Considering Rufo's political orientation, Politico's piece is remarkably balanced. I daresay we'll hear more from him soon. 

The Floyd Effect

Power Line's Steven Hayward posts two charts showing most recently the effect the death in police custody of George Floyd had on Black homicides and motor vehicle deaths. The charts are labeled CDC which I presume means they come from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The years for 9/11, Ferguson, and Floyd are 2001, 2014, and 2020 respectively.

I observe both types of black deaths became dramatically more prevalent as the reactions to Floyd's death happened.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

DeSantis Clarifies

We've written about DeSantis' position on the fighting in Ukraine. Now Breitbart reports DeSantis has "clarified" his position to include that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was, in his opinion, "wrong" and that Putin should be held responsible for "war crimes."

Clarification occurred in an interview with Piers Morgan set to air today on Fox Nation with clips likely to air on various Fox News programs later. I expect some on Bret Baier's Special Report this evening.

Breitbart doesn't approve of these amendments, COTTonLINE does. Our view is that the U.S. has a poor track record of making invasions work (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq). Our involvement in Ukraine more closely resembles our aid to the Afghans who successfully fought off the Soviets with our weapons.


It is worth noting that political conservatives are pretty seriously divided on aid to Ukraine. Many support aid to Ukraine. Those who oppose it do so for some combination of the following reasons. We have unmet needs here at home. It feels like Neo-con shtick. It takes our eyes off the China threat. And because Biden is for it.

I accept two of those reasons as valid. We do have unmet needs here at home, but with a Democrat controlled Senate and White House, they'll remain unmet. And yes, it does interfere with a laser-like focus on China, which can't be helped. 

The other two reasons? Even stopped clocks are right twice a day. Just because Biden likes ice cream, am I supposed to hate it? 

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Randy Regina

CBC reports the tourism board in Regina, Saskatchewan, got new leadership who selected some decidedly edgy new slogans for the city. Those were “Show us your Regina” and “the city that rhymes with fun.” 

Some residents concluded Experience Regina had gone too far. 

Really? No kidding?

Wyoming News

American Greatness reports the Wyoming legislature has passed a law banning biological males from participating in women’s athletics. AG says Wyoming is the 19th state with this law.  

I’m surprised about two things. First, that it took us so long to pass this bill. Second, that our governor Mark Gordon refused to sign the bill while also not vetoing it. It will become law without his signature.

He did recently sign a law banning chemical abortions in the state.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Reacting to DeSantis

I've been thinking about DeSantis' position on U.S. involvement with Ukraine. As noted, I agree with much and disagree with some. I decided to share those thoughts with you. 

Below you'll find my brief version of what DeSantis wrote in italics, followed by my view in plain text. DeSantis posted six paragraphs, so I've grouped the things below in six clusters

DeSantis lists four "vital national interests." I have no quarrel with these.
DeSantis doesn't support "further entanglement" in what he characterizes as a "border dispute." I support continued involvement at the present level, it is unclear if DeSantis does - “further” could mean either “enhanced” or “future.” I disagree that it is a "border dispute."
DeSantis takes issue with Biden's "blank check" and promise of aid "as long as it takes." I view these statements as straw men, bargaining positions and not statements of our final action.

DeSantis writes peace should be our objective. Of course, but not at the cost of Ukraine losing big chunks of territory. Remembering Czechoslovakia and Neville Chamberlain.
DeSantis argues that we should not provide troops or long range weapons. I agree about troops, less clear about long range weapons.
DeSantis sees risk of nuclear war. No kidding, but since we are unlikely to start it, and Putin does as he chooses, that's up to him. We have no idea where his actual red line is. Nuclear war is something people threaten, rarely do. It is an armageddon/suicide scenario. 

DeSantis writes regime change is bad, that Putin's successor could be worse. I agree, historically Russians make bad leadership choices, no reason to expect change. It shouldn't be our policy.

DeSantis writes we've driven Russia into China's arms. Nonsense, the apparent friendship among Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea is just "the enemy of my enemy is my (temporary) friend" played out on the world stage.

DeSantis writes Americans deserve to know how their aid to Ukraine is being used.  I agree..

DeSantis writes helping Ukraine is not more important than controlling our border. I agree, it's unfortunate Joe Biden doesn't.
DeSantis writes that we need to replace our weapons and ammo being sent to Ukraine ASAP. I couldn't agree more.

Religion, Computers and Arthur C. Clarke

Advanced AI and chatbots are raising a fuss currently. Posting at Instapundit, Ed Driscoll reminds us of an insight science fiction superstar Arthur C. Clarke had sixty years ago.

In a prescient 1963 article, Clarke mentions a future situation where a scientist creates the ultimate computer. He powers the machine up and asks it a question humans have been asking since the dawn of creation: "Is there a God?" The computer, after checking that its power source is independent of human controls, replies, "There is now."

My own favorite Clarke story involving religion and computers is "The Nine Billion Names of God." Briefly, western techs are hired by Tibetan lamas to install a computer and printer to complete a task the lamas believe is the only reason the universe exists. One on which they've been engaged manually for centuries.

That task is for humans to print out all of the nine digit names of God. The installation is complete and the techs are headed for the airfield. One notes that the printer should be about finished with the task, looks up and sees that "overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out."

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Arrest Trump?

It is Sunday mid-afternoon in the Pacific Time Zone. The first page of posts at are all about the threatened Trump arrest, about what it means and what he (and we) could or should do in response. 

My private hunch is that Donald Trump is delighted. Once again Trump dominates the news, not in an especially positive way, but dominates it nevertheless. He is highly skilled at, to use the current idiom, "sucking all the air out of" our current political discourse. Making it all about him.

Don't you think he is delighted at the prospect of hogging the headlines? I think he is. The "script" for what is now happening - if it existed - would read like a pro wrestling story line, full of heroes and villains, of sneak attacks and dirty tactics, of revenge plotted and achieved.

My response? Relax and see what materializes, what eventuates. I won't be surprised if the case against him is weak, mostly the result of Trump Derangement Syndrome in action. He has been canny enough to avoid jail this far in a highly eventful and very active life.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

DeSantis on Ukraine, in His Own Words

I have written critically about some of the wording of Gov. Ron DeSantis' comments concerning our involvement in supporting Ukraine's defense against Russian aggression. Specifically, I criticized his description of it as a "territorial dispute" and I stand by that criticism.

On the other hand, much of what he wrote in response to a questionnaire seeking his position on our involvement in Ukraine I find unobjectionable. Therefore, I will reprint his exact response and you can make up your own mind, my source is a post at Power Line. DeSantis wrote:

While the U.S. has many vital national interests – securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness within our military, achieving energy security and independence, and checking the economic, cultural, and military power of the Chinese Communist Party – becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them. The Biden administration’s virtual “blank check” funding of this conflict for “as long as it takes,” without any defined objectives or accountability, distracts from our country’s most pressing challenges.

Without question, peace should be the objective. The U.S. should not provide assistance that could require the deployment of American troops or enable Ukraine to engage in offensive operations beyond its borders. F-16s and long-range missiles should therefore be off the table. These moves would risk explicitly drawing the United States into the conflict and drawing us closer to a hot war between the world’s two largest nuclear powers. That risk is unacceptable.

A policy of “regime change” in Russia (no doubt popular among the DC foreign policy interventionists) would greatly increase the stakes of the conflict, making the use of nuclear weapons more likely. Such a policy would neither stop the death and destruction of the war, nor produce a pro-American, Madisonian constitutionalist in the Kremlin. History indicates that Putin’s successor, in this hypothetical, would likely be even more ruthless. The costs to achieve such a dubious outcome could become astronomical.

The Biden administration’s policies have driven Russia into a de facto alliance with China. Because China has not and will not abide by the embargo, Russia has increased its foreign revenues while China benefits from cheaper fuel. Coupled with his intentional depletion of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and support for the Left’s Green New Deal, Biden has further empowered Russia’s energy-dominated economy and Putin’s war machine at Americans’ expense.

Our citizens are also entitled to know how the billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are being utilized in Ukraine.

We cannot prioritize intervention in an escalating foreign war over the defense of our own homeland, especially as tens of thousands of Americans are dying every year from narcotics smuggled across our open border and our weapons arsenals critical for our own security are rapidly being depleted.

He covers a lot of ground in the above policy statement. I don't agree with all of what DeSantis wrote, but certainly agree with much of it. 

Saturday Snark

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

Friday, March 17, 2023

Friday Snark

I think that is DeSantis hugging the bear.

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

A Homecoming

Vladimir Putin is reputed to be semi-obsessed with the plight of Russian speakers left behind in various former SSRs that were part of the USSR. These now independent countries are trying to get their residents to speak the local language instead of Russian.

Ukraine is a prime example of this. There are many others including the Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, plus places like Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, and the various “‘stans.”

Putin appears to intend using these “left behind” populations as excuses to reconquer the places they now live and thereby “liberate” these poor, mistreated ethnic Russians. Ukraine isn’t even the first such, which happened in Georgia.

However, Russia is suffering a very low birth rate, and population decline. Wouldn’t it make much more sense for Putin to invite these “ethnic Russians” to “come home” to Russia? To facilitate their moves, help them find jobs and housing, and work to integrate them into the fabric of Russian life much as Israel has done with Jews? It could give the Russian economy a boost.

Voluntarily “importing” Russian speakers seems like the smart thing to do both for Russia and for the former SSRs. Those who choose to stay where they now live, which many will do, will have then made an actual choice to be Latvian or Moldovan and perhaps not so much resist learning the local language.

☘ St. Patrick’s Day ☘

Today is ☘ St. Patrick’s Day ☘ in celebration of which we send felicitations to all Irish readers. And we extend our sympathy to them for the embarrassment occasioned by the Irish dude currently disgracing the White House. 

It seems nearly every family has a crazy uncle who tells wild tales, Joey B is your clan’s Pinocchio. Sad that his imaginings get so much visibility.

Common Sense

Ruy Teixeira is a lonely voice preaching cultural sanity to Democrats. As such, he appears to be gaining listeners mostly among Republicans. 

Today he writes that Ds are too extreme on cultural issues, handing Rs a fat target upon which to attack them. See his six “common sense propositions” which lay out a cultural policy platform upon which he believes Ds can reliably win.

#1: Police misconduct and brutality against people of any race is wrong and we need to reform police conduct and recruitment. However, more and better policing is needed to get criminals off the streets and secure public safety. That cannot be provided by “defunding the police”.
#2: America benefits from the presence of immigrants and no immigrant, even if illegal, should be mistreated. But border security is hugely important, as is an enforceable system that fairly decides who can enter the country.
#3: Equality of opportunity is a fundamental American principle; equality of outcome is not.
#4: Racial achievement gaps are bad and we should seek to close them. However, they are not due just to racism and standards of high achievement should be maintained for people of all races.
#5: No one is completely without bias but calling all white people racists who benefit from white privilege and American society a white supremacist society is not right or fair.
#6: People who want to live as a gender different from their biological sex should have that right. However, biological sex is real and spaces limited to biological women in areas like sports and prisons should be preserved. Medical treatments like drugs and surgery are serious interventions that should not be available on demand, especially for children.

Teixeira understands he has next to no chance of convincing his party to adopt anything like these positions. He concludes:

It’s odd because you’d think Democrats would be eager to take advantage of [my] approach, given its obvious potential for electoral payoff. But that payoff would primarily be among working-class voters and the Democrats’ college-educated left wing just isn’t very interested in making the kind of compromises that would appeal to these voters.

The last time a Democrat ran on a platform containing this much common sense was Bill Clinton’s first presidential race. He won Republican votes by doing so. 

In fact these wouldn’t be bad cultural positions for Republican candidates to espouse. I would, however, add to #1 “or refusing to prosecute and imprison criminals.”

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Television "News"

Power Line's Scott Johnson interviews investigative journalist Edward Jay Epstein who makes the following accurate observation.

I can’t believe the naiveté of people criticizing Tucker Carlson for his selection of pictures from the January 6 riot. Don’t they realize that is the way all television news — left, right and center — works?

It is all choice. First of what to cover, then of the desired narrative, followed by selection of those pictures and words which support that narrative. Improbably, we call the result "news" as though it were something objective.

People in journalism sometimes refer to what they do as "writing the first draft of history." The more definitive later drafts still end up hanging on the conceptual framework prized by the historian authors.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Desert Rain

 As I write this at our winter home on the eastern edge of the Mojave Desert, we are experiencing a thunderstorm with wind, rain, the whole enchilada. And it is the second time today it has rained here.

I’ve noted some relatively elaborate flood control structures in the dry barrancas around town and beyond and wondered about them. Maybe today’s weather explains why they were built.

We’re catching the edge of the atmospheric “river” that is hosing down NorCal. It does rain here, not a lot and not often, but several times per winter.

Intellectually I know a thunderstorm can dump a lot of rain in a short time and cause flash flooding. Experiencing it in an arid place is something else entirely. Fortunately our house is up where any flooding will be “down there” and not threaten us with damage, unless we catch a lightning strike.

The Bully Ex-Husband

FL Gov. Ron DeSantis told Tucker Carlson's audience he views what is happening in Ukraine as a "border dispute." That has a lot in common with calling a rape a "sexual encounter." 

Russia and Ukraine are two products of the geopolitical divorce of the Soviet Union. Russia is acting like the bully ex-husband who says "If I can't have you, nobody can have you. You're with me or you're dead."

Russia wants to own much or all of Ukraine and those living there are fighting like anything to resist being swallowed up. If we let it happen, what awaits other former SSRs or Warsaw Pact members?

The U.S. has a national interest in the principle that nations cannot invade their neighbors and that we side with the invaded. Nobody has suggested we send troops. We view what's happening in Ukraine as the geopolitical equivalent of a violent rape, and the view DeSantis expressed is just plain wrong. 

Talking Poop

Instapundit Reynolds links to a Popular Science article, most of which is behind a paywall. The article asks the question, "Why does Americans' poop rot in landfills when it could be fertilizing farms and parks?" 

Posing that question exposes the ignorance of whoever wrote it. Some years ago Erma Bombeck wrote, "The Grass is Greenest Over the Septic Tank." 

Actually, fertilizer made from human waste has been commercially available in the U.S. for nearly a century. In the mid-1900s my parents would buy it and use it on our lawn. It sold then and now under the brand name Milorganite which is described as "a portmanteau of the term Milwaukee Organic Nitrogen" as it was and is made from Milwaukee sewage. 

There is literally no reason why human excreta cannot be used as fertilizer, places like Japan have done so more or less forever. The folks in Milwaukee pasturize it to kill pathogens, which is certainly a desirable refinement of the old "night soil" system. 

My uncle ran a commercial turkey farm during and immediately after World War II. He would dispose of turkey manure by spreading it untreated on our adjacent commercial orange orchard. Those were some happy orange trees and the juice oranges we grew went to Sunkist. It was a win-win-win proposition.

Rural houses in regions with heavy clay soils find percolation-based septic systems don't work. One replacement is a system that treats household sewage with swimming pool chlorine to kill bacteria, after which an automatic system pulverizes, liquifies, and sprays it on lawns. That sounds way worse than it is.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Whither Trump?

The Washington Examiner's Byron York is a reliable voice in political analysis. He looks at the barely underway Republican presidential primary campaign and writes the following.

There is an unstated longing in much analysis of the race coming from Republican and conservative observers. They want the Republican Party to move on from Trump, and they are looking for signs that the party is, in fact, moving on.

But the numbers are what they are. At the moment, Trump remains the dominant force in the presidential race. That might change once the race is fully underway. But for that to happen, a lot of Republican minds will have to change.

And York concludes: 

Trump sits at the head of the group of Republican presidential contenders. Observers might wish that were not so. But it is.

It seems likely that the only thing that might change the situation is a vigorous campaign in which Trump's challengers make the case for themselves, and against him, in a way that unites a majority of the Republican Party. Trump's decline shows that he is not invincible. It can be done. But it will not be easy, nor is it inevitable.

Those who doubt DeSantis' chances ask us to remember when GOP governors Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, and Scott Walker were viewed as probable nominees. All flamed out pre-convention.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

A Bank Dies

Several sources are reporting the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Federal Reserve will make good the depositors at Silicon Valley Bank. SVB was taken over following its failure earlier in the week. 

What is being reported is that deposits larger than those covered by FDIC will be made good, presumably to prevent a wave of runs and possible closures in other banks. It is also reported that there is underway a search for some other bank willing to purchase SVB's assets. 

I presume SVB shareholders are out of luck and their stock worthless. One supposes the troubles at SVB are related, at least indirectly, to the mass layoffs in the high tech industry which has done much of its banking with SVB. The Fed raising interest rates to stem inflation is also implicated in SVB's troubles.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Saturday Snark

As I remind you at least once a year, correlation does not equal causation.

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

Friday, March 10, 2023

Friday Snark

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

Nord Stream II ... Six Months Later

Charlie Cooper writing for Politico EU identifies four different possible perpetrators of the NordStream II pipeline explosions: Russians, British, Americans, and Ukrainians. He surveys the field and concludes that at this point we have no strong data pointing to any of them.

Presumably if it were any of the first three, the actors would be governmental agents acting at the direction of their government. No such allegation is made in the Ukraine case, where freelancers could be a possibility. 

Most sources appear to believe Seymour Hersh was taken in by a conspiracy theorist, who 'sold' him the "U.S. did it" theory. I think it is amazing that six months later we have no realistic idea of the perps' identity.

The Fever Breaks?

Otherwise rational human beings are subject to irrational dislikes. Columnist Peggy Noonan has a near-terminal case of Trump Derangement Syndrome, which is probably incurable for her as a native of NYC. 

While Trump dominated the GOP she was an Edvard Munch figure screaming “Nooooooo” and basically unreadable. In spite of which the Wall Street Journal stuck with her.

Pre-Trump she was one of the better columnists about politics. Now that the GOP is no longer “all Trump, all the time” I am tempted to celebrate that Peggy is back. Certainly her WSJ column today about Ron DeSantis shows her customary balance, nuance, and insight. Give it a look.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

A Hiring Pattern

Start with these two facts. First, as a former business school prof, I pay attention to hiring patterns. Second,  one of the less attractive aspects of getting older is one spends more time in medical and dental offices. 

As a result, I’ve been struck by the truly enormous number of young women such offices employ. Because the DrsC live in two places during the year, I see close to twice as many medical offices as would otherwise be the case. Some examples will illustrate what I’ve noted.

My winter dermatologist’s office contains three care deliverers, one doctor and two nurse practitioners. In addition to which there are at least three young women working phone/computer stations and perhaps as many as six I’d call “medical assistants.” My summer dermatologist has roughly the same staff.

The eye care office we patronized in CA had 3-4 office staff and something like 6-8 women doing eye tests and dilations in support of a couple of optometrists and one ophthalmologist. 

Other specialists we’ve seen have a covey of young and not-so-young women backing up the professional whose name is on the door. I calculate there are hundreds of thousands of such jobs nationwide. There are a few fellows doing this semi-skilled work, but mostly it is young women. 

As most of this workforce is young, I conclude it is not viewed as career employment that someone would do for 30-40 years. I suppose it is a pink collar ghetto of sorts, although those so employed seem in reasonable spirits and content with their lot.

Wednesday Snark

Image courtesy of, 3/9/23.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The Downward Spiral

The Washington Examiner reports the Walmart corporation has announced it will close its two stores located in Portland, OR. The doors close later this month. The corporate explanation:

This decision was not made lightly and was reached only after a thorough review process. We have nearly 5,000 stores across the U.S., and unfortunately, some do not meet our financial expectations. While our underlying business is strong, these specific stores haven’t performed as well as we hoped.

Bottom line: the Portland stores aren't profitable. Probable reason: shoplifting, or as the industry calls it, "shrinkage." Who will suffer? Low income city residents who don't find commuting to a suburban Walmart location easy or convenient.

I suspect chain retailers will continue withdrawing from urban locations. Especially those where the police are not encouraged to arrest those ripping off stores because Soros-funded DAs won't prosecute. 

Eventually all that remains are so-called "dollar stores," bodegas and convenience stores run by immigrant families who often defend their shops at gunpoint. When the fast food franchises leave, things have gotten really nasty.

Decades ago I read a sci fi story about areas in cities where the police could not go and thought at the time it was an interesting fantasy, one I was unlikely to see exist in the U.S. It seems a lot more plausible today than it did then, and there are immigrant suburbs in France where unpoliced conditions are said to exist today. 

A Musical Parody

Ed Driscoll posts at Instapundit a Babylon Bee parody of The Beach Boys' California Dreamin called "California Fleein'." It is relatively well done ... something to enjoy on your way into exile.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

DeSantis vs. Trump

Jack Shafer writes for Politico about the much-anticipated battle between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis and he compares the two. Shafer probably likes neither even a little, which oddly enough makes for a relatively balanced column. 

On policy there aren’t a lot of differences, and that is probably 100% intentional. Stylistically, Trump is “hot” whereas DeSantis is “cool.” Trump is the better showman, DeSantis is better at getting things done, at racking up accomplishments. 

I’ll vote for whoever wins the GOP nomination, but I’d rather it was DeSantis. I’m ready for a president who can move the conservative agenda at the federal level.

Forced Choice

The Washington Free Beacon reports on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ speech at the Reagan Center in Simi, CA. The title of their report is as follows.

In Los Angeles Speech, DeSantis Warns America Must Choose Between California and Florida

Implicit in that choice is the way both are being run. FL is a model, CA is a mess. FL is doing its level best to root out the “woke” nonsense that progressives have tried to foist on us. CA is doing its level best to scale new heights of ridiculous wokeness.

If both were run identically, it would be no choice at all. CA is the more desirable piece of real estate, FL is flat, swampy, buggy and humid. CA is none of those things.

But they are being run about as differently as is possible under the U.S. Constitution, and therefore DeSantis is correct in saying that, as currently governed, FL is a clear winner, CA is a loser.

Monday, March 6, 2023

GOP 2024 Primary Season

Rich Lowry, longtime conservative voice, writes in the Boston Herald about the hold Donald Trump still has on the Republican Party. As Lowry notes, since leaving office Trump hasn't covered himself with glory and yet commands the loyalty of roughly 30% of Republican voters. 

The trick for DeSantis, or anyone else who seeks the GOP nomination, is how to defeat Trump without alienating that big chunk of GOP voters. It is no easy task, it may not even be possible. 

The GOP's Trump problem is that he isn't a team player; he's on Team Trump. He genuinely loves our country and his kids. Beyond that, I'm not certain he has other loyalties. 

If someone other than Trump gets the 2024 nomination, can that person get the Trump loyalists' votes? Another nominee might be able to (a) win the votes of suburbanites who don't like Trump and (b) they might not so intensely motivate Democrats to bother to vote as did Trump. 

As it stands right now, those who may run against Trump are not being critical of him. He is being critical of them. At some point that will have to change and it will become interesting. Stay tuned.

VDH: Evil Portents

Writing at American Greatness, historian Victor Davis Hanson looks at our civilization and concludes that if present trends continue, we are well and truly screwed. Like civilizations of yore that became overripe and disintegrated, we appear headed down similar paths to destruction. 

Can we claw our nation back from the abysmal brink upon which it teeters? Honestly, the likelihood isn’t especially great. 

When the birth rate cratered, the handwriting was on the wall. There are barbarians at the gate to be sure, but nearly as many inside the gate. Hanson tempts me to echo King Louis XV, “Apres moi le deluge.” 

The Rest of the Story

Fox News reports a “top Democrat” is opposed to the “greater Idaho” movement without focusing on who or why. Permit me to remedy those deficits.

The top Democrat quoted is an Idaho Democrat who isn’t excited about adding a bunch of conservative Oregonians to the ID voter rolls. No surprise there, life is tough for Ds in ID now and adding a bunch more Rs would make it tougher.

On the other hand, highly placed Democrats in Oregon are receptive to the plan as it will give them even greater control in what remains of Oregon and eliminate the subsidy the blue part of OR now provides to the sparsely populated red parts that want to leave.

Politically, what OR Democrats feel about the move will be important as they control OR. What ID Democrats feel about the move won’t be important as they don’t control ID, Republicans do. 

Thus the opinion of the “top Democrat” cited isn’t particularly relevant unless they can move their party nationally to oppose a border relocation. That could be relevant if Congress has to buy off on the boundary change.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Hogan’s ‘Heroic’ Choice

Two days ago we noted that NH Gov. Sununu is pondering a run for the GOP presidential nomination and gave his candidacy essentially zero chances of success. Today we pass another ‘milestone’ in the primary process. 

Former MD Gov. Larry Hogan has been talked about as someone who could attract Democrat votes as he managed to be twice elected Republican governor in bright blue Maryland. Today he announced on CBS’ Face the Nation that he will not be a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. 

Hogan has shown a degree of realistic self-appraisal that is not so very common in governors.   Him getting elected in MD was akin to Mitt Romney being elected a Republican governor in bright blue Massachusetts, a relatively sure sign both were seriously out of step with the GOP mainstream. Gov. Sununu suffers this same problem, although NH is a bit more purple.

It occurs to me northeastern Republicans need an asterisk after their political affiliation, much as southern Democrats once needed it. Neither the southern Democrats of yore or today’s northeastern Republicans were or are mainstream in their parties. 

So be it, these things happen in a large, diverse country. We ignore the ambiguities, and go forward. 

Every now and then an out-of-step pol has an epiphany and changes party. Some decades ago the southern Democrats did so en masse and are now Republicans. Joe Manchin might be next.

A Parallel

Thinking about that quote below led me to ponder Speaker Pelosi refusing Trump’s offer of National Guard troops to provide Jan. 6 Capitol security, supposedly because of “bad optics.” Then when the riot occurred she called it an “insurrection,” something it clearly was not.

Free associating, those thoughts brought me to ponder Trump failing to take pre-election precautions to forestall the allegedly Covid-driven election irregularities. When these occurred, he claimed a “stolen election,” when it probably was not so much stolen as rigged.

I see both of these worthies screwing up, and then blaming others for problems occurring because of their own lack of foresight. That is common among our leadership class, common and unfortunate.

Quote of the Day

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, blogging about the Feds’ involvement in instigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

It’s going to turn out that they set this whole thing up, isn’t it?

I very much fear the answer will turn out to be, “Yes … yes, they did.” 

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Saturday Snark

Prey animals are almost always vegans.

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