Friday, June 30, 2023

Friday Snark

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

'Pedestrian' Voting

We've often posted about Americans voting with their feet, moving to places with better conditions and politics. Less often we've talked about employers moving to states that are more welcoming. Power Line's Steven Hayward has FedGov charts, the first shows firms moving.

The second deals with the extent to which states have recovered the jobs lost during the Covid epidemic.

In this chart, note the prevalence of Republican states toward the top of the chart, and of Democrat states toward the bottom of the chart.

Gender and Race

Writing for the Claremont Institute publication The American Mind, Richard Samuelson makes an interesting point about how we’ve been treating sex, or its avatar gender, the same way we treat race. He argues we should not do so. 

His point is that the differences between biological males and females are real, physiological, XX vs. XY based. He argues that the differences between races are cultural or imagined - basically not real. 

He expects us to take his word for this lack of differences between races. It isn’t clear that everyone shares his belief, although it is clear that society demands we do so. For example, does anyone believe the reason most players in the NBA are African Americans is cultural?

A Dune Reference

Instapundit Reynolds posts a link to the following article.

'Godfather of AI' Issues New Warnings Over Potential Risks to Society

To which Reynolds adds this humorous insider comment.

I’m not worrying until somebody named Butler declares a jihad.

To those of you who haven't read Dune, the Butlerian jihad is a Luddite uprising that destroyed all "thinking machines." After which they were banned in the universe in which the novel is set. 

Sometimes he relates this sort of post to Skynet, the evil supercomputer enemy in the Terminator films.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

A Kipling Quote

 Sarah Hoyt, posting at Instapundit, quotes Rudyard Kipling.

When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,

As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,

The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Some verities truly are eternal. 

Schlichter: D's Good Strategy

Kurt Schlichter, he of the acid-dipped pen, writes his Town Hall column this time in support of Ron DeSantis. He plays down character assassination for a change, and points out that DeSantis has a time-tested and reasonable strategy

The reasoning goes like this. Maybe half of Republican voters today choose Trump, but half don't. All DeSantis has to do is hang in there, not be discouraged, and wait for all the no-hopers, egomaniacs and GOPe candidates to drop out. The presumption is the small percentages who are favoring them will switch to DeSantis, minus the GOPe who will vote for Biden.

If DeSantis can inherit all or most of the non-Trump vote, and stay the course, eventually a fair number of Trump people will figure out, according to Schlichter, that Trump is not electable in the general election. And wanting to win, will switch to DeSantis.

My judgment: it is a valid strategy, it's logical, but depends on variables we cannot now quantify. Will enough Republicans opt for electability to give Ron the nomination? We simply don't know. However, betting they will is probably DeSantis' only path to victory, unless Trump is imprisoned.

DeSantis: Eliminate Agencies

FL Gov. and presidential aspirant Ron DeSantis, in an interview with Fox's Marsha McCallum, showed us a bit more of his plans when elected, according to the Daily Wire. McCallum asked if there were Federal agencies he would attempt to eliminate?

We would do Education, we would do Commerce, we’d do Energy, and we would do IRS. If Congress will work with me on doing that, we’ll be able to reduce the size and scope of government. 

If Congress won’t go that far, I’m going to use those agencies to push back against woke ideology and against the leftism that we see creeping into all institutions of American life.

That looks like a good start, perhaps more to come in the second term? 

An Awkward Reality

Breitbart reports the following.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin has denied a correlation between homosexuality and clerical sex abuse, calling it a “serious and scientifically untenable association.”

Bill Donohue, a sociologist and president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, has noted that regardless of his intentions, Cardinal Parolin is factually mistaken. The most extensive study ever undertaken of clerical sex abuse, conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, found that a full 81 percent of victims of sexual abuse by priests were males.

And since all priests are biological males, 4 out of 5 victims of sexual abuse by priests were abused by homosexuals. Many of these were pedophiles. 

Which isn't particularly surprising when you ask yourself what subgroup of men will be most willing to forego marriage and heterosexual relations more generally? For whom is it no particular sacrifice? 

Historically, the answer was homosexuals. More recently, in an era of gay pride, the most likely group has narrowed to pedophile homosexuals. That is an awkward reality for the Church.

SCOTUS for the Win

We finally got another of those major Supreme Court decisions we’d been promised as a result of the three conservative justices nominated by Trump and confirmed by McConnell. Dodd was the first, overturning Roe v Wade. 

Now we have Students for Fair Admissions v Harvard which says race may not be used in admission decisions. The Court combined two cases, one against U. of North Carolina and the other against Harvard. The vote was 6-3 on UNC and 6-2 on Harvard as Ketanji Brown Jackson recused herself on the Harvard case as she’d served on its Board of Governors.

Universities will now have to use other measures like socioeconomic status to favor students of color over students of pallor. Most schools are on record as saying they intend to find legal ways to add BIPOC students to their freshman classes. 

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if some schools simply took the applicants with the best high school grades and highest SAT scores, and let the racial factor slide? I suspect their graduates would be in demand, unless firms continue to prize ESG above performance.

Ironically, a race-blind admissions policy benefits those BIPOC students who do attend as they are no longer suspected of being of lesser quality.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023


Michael Ramirez draws killer cartoons and writes a pretty good conservative Substack column too. The following is from that column.

The United States is the third most populous country in the world (not counting the European Union, because it is not a country) and the two knuckleheads running for President of the United States, who are leading their respective primaries, are the best America can do? Seriously…? 

That’s Pathetic.

I couldn't agree more.

Govt. Employee Union Membership ⬇

RealClearPolitics reports on the impact of the Supreme Court's 2018 decision in Janus vs. AFSCME. It permitted government workers to not join unions representing workers, effectively creating a "right to work" for government employees.

Author Jarrett Skorup works for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy which has been doing research on the impact of Janus.

We estimate that 22.2% of public sector workers covered by union contracts have opted out of membership since 2017. That’s much higher than the Current Population Survey indicates, and it means that nearly 1.2 million people have chosen not to be represented by government unions.

Every worker who opts out of a government union deprives it of revenue. Using a conservative estimate of $600 in annual dues per worker, government unions are losing at least $720 million in revenue per year. Much of this money would be going toward electoral politics.

The union decline is especially apparent in a few key states. In California, nearly 30% of public workers – almost 200,000 in total – have opted out of government unions. In Colorado, the number is over 50%, and in New Mexico, it’s over 60%.

This is particularly good news for those of us who believe government workers should not be represented by unions. Full disclosure: Pre-Janus, I was represented by a faculty union in CA but chose not to join it. I may have been required to pay in lieu fees for the questionable 'services' they provided. 

The Truth Is Out There

Cue the X Files, put out a casting call for Muller and Scully clones. Just the News reports Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) claims to have talked to "public figures" with "firsthand knowledge" of UFO secrets. Here are the quotes given to NewsNation.

Some are public figures. I am trying to be protective of these people. Some of these people still work in the government, and frankly, a lot of them are fearful – fearful of their jobs, fearful of their clearances, fearful of their careers, and some quite frankly are fearful of harm coming to them.

I will say, I find most of these people at some point or maybe even currently have held very high clearances and high positions within our government ... so you do ask yourself like, 'What incentive would so many people with that kind of qualification .... have to come forward and make something up?'

For that matter, why would Sen. Rubio make this up? The truth is out there. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Polarization More Acute

Power Line's Steven Hayward has been posting longitudinal data showing change over time in public attitudes. The source is Bill McInturff and NBC News. Today's first chart shows changing support for affirmative action, by party affiliation.

The second chart shows changing attitudes toward the Federal Bureau of Investigation, again by party affiliation.

Trans Danes Suicide 3.5 Times More

Power Line's Steven Hayward quotes the following from, of all places, the New York Times.

Transgender people in Denmark have a significantly higher risk of suicide than other groups, according to an exhaustive analysis of health and legal records from nearly seven million people over the last four decades. The study is the first in the world to analyze national suicide data for this group.

Transgender people in the country had 7.7 times the rate of suicide attempts and 3.5 times the rate of suicide deaths compared with the rest of the population. (snip) Transgender people in Denmark died — by suicide or other causes — at younger ages than others.

Further evidence that trans is a manifestation of mental illness. Meanwhile, Hayward adds:

The study this Times article is based on was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association today. 

Afterthought: JAMA is not flaky. Plus sampling error isn't an issue, a study with a sample size of millions is essentially impossible to refute. 

Monday, June 26, 2023

A Remarkable Non-Event

Prigozhin had his Wagner troops head toward Moscow, though they stopped before getting too close. They did enter the city of Rostov-on-Don and were welcomed by the locals. Something similar may have happened in Voronezh. Reports suggest nowhere along their march were they opposed in any significant way by the Russian citizenry. 

As Sherlock Holmes remarked in The Silver Blaze, it was remarkable the dog did not bark. Russian people who did not defend their capital against what appeared to be rebel troops are similarly remarkable, and noteworthy. This passivity has to worry Putin. 

It is the clearest indicator we've had of the mood of the Russian people, they appear amenable to regime change. If we noticed it half a world away, you can be sure certain ambitious Russian generals and oligarchs also noticed and understood the opportunity it represents.

Why Firms Choose to Offend Customers

I've been meaning to write a post about why big corporations are doing all this Pride, Trans, and green stuff. It has cost some firms a heckuva lot of market share - looking at you, Disney, Budweiser and Target.

Here comes an article from Breitbart that begins to shed some light on the subject. The underlying issue is something called ESG, which stands for environmental, social, and governance and means to some "conscientious capitalism."

Unpacking that, firms are assigned a score which reflects the extent to which they appear to be committed to action on issues of the environment, social issues including equity, diversity, and inclusivity, and a corporate governance that is open to the needs and welfare of those who are not shareholders or employees. Higher scores say the firm is trying to be a "good citizen" as defined by leftist progressives.

Why have CEOs cared about these ESG scores? Because firms like BlackRock and Vanguard, which manage billions in pension fund moneys, are choosing to mostly buy the stock of firms with high ESG scores. You and I may buy 100 shares, when these giants buy it is more like 100,000 shares per purchase. Such big buys tend to prop up share prices. 

Keeping share prices high is a major way boards of directors rate the performance of CEOs and the other denizens of the C suite. It's how boards decide who gets a bonus and who gets replaced.

On the other hand, if you turn off your customers, your market share takes a hit and that is reflected in falling share prices. So we begin to see people like Larry Fink of BlackRock backing away from at least the ESG label, if not the actual practices, as the above referenced article reports. And firms like Target are moving their Pride merchandise to the rear of the store.

As an economy, we need to get back to a place where CEOs once again brag about earnings instead of ESG scores. A firm is supposed to maximize shareholder value by making profits, gaining market share, and reducing operating costs, while obeying the law. Treating employees decently is also good practice because they are more likely to be retainable. 

Solving society's problems, unless paid to do so, isn't a corporate role. On the other hand, callously causing society's problems is unhealthy for firm, stockholders, and society.

The Tsar Is Old

Michael Kimmage is a professor of history and former head of the Russia desk at the State Department. Here from Politico is his conclusion concerning the recent unrest in Russia. It sounds ominous coming from a historian.

Prigozhin’s trial run was a burlesque version of what may become a regular feature of Russian politics: calculated plans for depriving the state of its monopoly on violence (not to destroy the state) and thus to take power at the barrel of a gun, continuing the regime while changing its leadership. The tsar is old; the state is weak; the future is open.

That last line feels like a valedictory.

Enemy, Kept Close

Al Monitor runs a substantial piece itemizing the ways in which member Turkey is interfering with the smooth functioning of NATO. Blocking Sweden's membership is only the most obvious of these. There are also issues between Turkey and another member - Greece. These focus on, but extend beyond, problems with Cyprus.

For several years I have wondered whether perhaps NATO, which decides everything by consensus, should reform as NATO 2.0 excluding Turkey. Turkey has been a 'problem child' in the alliance for over a decade. I'm sure similar thoughts have occurred to many of the other decision-makers.

So far, the consensus has been "no." Much as Turkey has been awkward, the conclusion has been like Lyndon Johnson's famous aphorism that "it's better having your enemies inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in."

No Exit

Writing at the website, professor Robert Kelly concludes that the most likely long-term scenario for Ukraine is that Russia will eventually get tired of expending resources and people fighting in Ukraine, and go home

What he should have added, but didn’t, is that this is unlikely to happen as long as V. Putin survives in office. It is difficult to see how Putin could withdraw Russian forces from Ukraine and either continue as leader of Russia or retire. Most scenarios for a Russian exit involve Putin’s death from natural or unnatural causes.

Furthermore, Putin understands this equation better than anyone. His continued survival depends on the war continuing or being won by his forces. 

Elected Lyndon Johnson could walk away from the Vietnam war and retire in disgrace. Joe Biden was disgraced by our exit from Afghanistan but continues in office. Autocrats tend not to be afforded this luxury; living by the sword, they often die the same way, if nature doesn’t take them sooner.

Wheels within Wheels

My favorite commenter on foreign affairs - George Friedman - weighs in with an admission that he doesn’t know what is going on in Russia. Is Putin weakened? Are Prigozhin and Wagner really out of the picture? Was it basically a spat between Prigozhin and the Russian Army leadership? Is there a leadership vacuum at the top?

Friedman admits he doesn’t know. Maybe the Russians don’t know either. I wonder what the CIA’s moles in Russia are reporting to Langley? We won’t know that anytime soon, unless it benefits Biden’s handlers to reveal it.

As is so often the case, in 1939 Winston Churchill said it best. Russia is “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Prior Trump Voters React

Salena Zito writes some of the best grassroots political analysis being done these days, often as here for the Washington Examiner. Today she talks to people who watched Trump being interviewed by Bret Baier, and concludes as follows.

There is a nuance that many reporters and strategists are missing. Namely, you can still have loved Trump for what he did as president, still think his policies were good for the country, still appreciate his willingness to go to the mattresses for the country, still think he is a victim of a political witch hunt — and yet and still not want to vote for him in 2024.

Zito has described my feelings almost exactly, certainly better than I would have and in fewer words, too. I will vote for Trump if nominated, but prefer a fresh Republican face with less baggage. 

I also liked her comparing Trump reciting his grievances to the Festivus segment on Seinfeld. However, he reminded me of the peevish Brando line from On the Waterfront, "I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum."


The Washington Times reports the findings of a Public Opinion Strategies poll which went to battleground states and tested voter responses to Biden vs. DeSantis and to Biden vs. Trump. In Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arizona DeSantis beat Biden while Biden beat Trump, according to this recent poll.

An interesting side note:

Half of the respondents in the Pennsylvania survey strongly agreed with the statement that “there’s no way I would ever vote to elect Donald Trump as president.”

We are sixteen months away from the 2024 election and obviously much can change in that time. Still, at this time DeSantis appears to be more electable in the general election than Trump.


Postscript: You will see claims in the rabid right wing press that DeSantis is the pawn of the Bush/Romney/Ryan group of never-Trump people, sometimes called GOPe. I disagree. 

Those people don't support DeSantis because he is one of them, but because he has the best chance of keeping the nomination out of Trump's hands, a goal they value highly. The evidence is clear that DeSantis is his own guy, not owned by anyone. 

Like anybody in politics who isn't wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice, he listens to his big money backers. "Listens" but show me a place where he has acted against his own best interests. Example: the big money guys tend to like unlimited immigration, while he is strongly against it.

Garland's Future in Doubt

On Friday we made a generalized derogatory comment about Attorney General Merrick Garland. Since then more details have emerged about him telling Congress the U.S. Attorney looking into Hunter Biden was "independent" and had all the authority he needed to do whatever was indicated. 

Whistleblowers have contradicted that claim in testimony before Congress, saying the prosecutor wanted to indict Hunter for various offenses and was repeatedly told (by AG?) he could not do so.

Another source reports Kevin McCarthy is considering impeachment of the AG if the whistleblower claims can be proven. Being caught out in a lie to Congress is a serious no-no, especially for a Cabinet-level official.

Stuff We Ate and Enjoyed

Instapundit links to a food article at a website called Food articles I almost never read but this one caught my fancy, and maybe it will catch yours. The title was what got my attention.

The Economics Behind Grandma’s Tuna Casseroles

Author Megan McArdle makes a couple of good points about the past. First, that much of what we take for granted simply did not exist then: fresh vegetables out of season, inexpensive spices, elaborate food prep appliances. Second, we rarely ate at restaurants as we couldn’t afford it and take out wasn’t widely available so bad cooks, of whom there were plenty, still had to put something on the table every night. 

I found this interesting, perhaps you will too, if like me you’ve lived a long time, experienced a few memorably bad cooks, and eaten a lot of thrown-together ‘cuisine.’ I’m remembering the two years in the 1960s I shared a house with two other grad student guys. 

We had 6 standard meals we’d make once a week, regardless of who was cooking, and Sundays we were left to fend for ourselves. I remember some of them: tacos, pizza, spaghetti, burger gravy on rice, everything contained some purchased processed stuff and was based on ground beef which was cheap and useful in many ways. Mostly they tasted good, filled our bellies, were quick to prepare, and easy to clean up.

See McArdle’s conclusion:

Explaining the food of yesteryear doesn’t require exotic theories about culture and politics. It mostly requires understanding the economics of food production and distribution, and the path dependence of culinary choices. The past is indeed another country, and like every country, it had its own cuisine that made the most of local resources.

Colleges in Decline

Writing at Quillette, Peter Wood describes what he calls “The coming cultural collapse of American higher education." And he adds that most students say they go to college "to get a good job."

Regardless of what they tell opinion surveys, most students who go to college seek “the experience.” That’s what they will tell you if you actually listen.

The experience of college is that careless whole of meeting new people, attending football games, drinking to excess, falling under the spell of a charismatic professor, protesting injustices, meeting still more new people, having deep and meaningful late-night conversations, more parties, feeling you are part of something bigger than your high-school class, discovering life beyond your hometown, meeting yet more new people and forming what will be lasting friendships, falling in love, breaking up, reading some books, pursuing some internships, taking a semester abroad, feeling depressed, getting angry at oppressive structures, feeling smarter than the folks you went to school with, and thinking seriously about what you will do next, and refusing to think seriously about what you will do next.

As I read through that description I found myself nodding as I checked off many (but as Wood notes “not all”) of those experiences. 

Wood believes it is likely, in the years ahead, fewer students will attend college as AI replaces many of the white collar jobs college grads prepared for. He may be correct, and if so, then I was lucky to enter college at the correct time, and subsequently benefit from an excellent market for budding business profs.

I doubt I was often viewed as “charismatic.” However, on an anonymous student evaluation, one Trekkie was kind enough to write of me “he has a mind like Spock.” This accolade I understood to be high praise.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Answers We Need

I was reading this story in USAToday about the large group of would-be Republican presidential nominees. What struck me is something not included in their column. 

Some pollster should be out there asking those who pick someone other than Trump as their choice for the nomination the following question.

You preferred someone other than Trump. If that candidate falls by the wayside before the primary in your state, is your second choice Trump or one of the non-Trump candidates remaining?

If Trump is often the second choice, he is likely going to win the nomination. If most of those say they'd choose another non-Trump candidate, then his campaign is in some trouble.

At the same time, ask those who prefer Trump if they would (a) vote for another Republican if Trump isn't nominated, (b) vote for the Democrat, (c) vote for a third party, or (d) not vote.

If most Trump voters don't pick choice (a), then the GOP had damn well better nominate Trump to have any shot at all. What's involved is simple arithmetic.

Saturday Snark

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

Friday, June 23, 2023

A Pithy Comment

Instapundit commenting on the unethical behavior of Attorney General Merrick Garland interfering with prosecution of the Biden family follies.

Whatever you think of Mitch McConnell, he justified his entire career by keeping this t*rd off the Supreme Court.

I endorse this view, but believe McConnell has much more than that of which to be proud. 

Hunter's Only Business

Power Line's John Hinderaker notes that Democrats appear to be deciding to deep six Joe Biden for 2024 and choose Gavin Newsom. John writes:

Pretty much everyone now understands that for years, Joe Biden has been taking bribes from foreign countries and interests. Whatever influence he had in the Senate and as vice president has been peddled around the globe, often by his son Hunter. Biden’s repeated claims that he knew nothing about his son’s business dealings is absurd, given that the only business Hunter was involved in was selling Joe’s influence. (emphasis added)

In keeping with the Democrats’ determination to force Biden off the 2024 ticket, the embargo on news about his corruption is lifting. 

It doesn’t look like they are trying to convince anyone anymore. They are just trying to hang on until Biden announces, early next year, that he won’t run for a second term, at which point attention will turn to his would-be successor, Gavin Newsom.

Trump and Biden ... talk about a couple of flawed candidates. Both parties can do better, and should.


Later ... Sociologist Thomas Lifson of the American Thinker chimes in with the following:

The New York Times, Washington Post and other pilot fish media that signal the news agenda to lesser outlets went with the story, including the message where Hunter Biden shook down a Chinese businessman by threatening vengeance from his father who was, he said, “in the room.”

The powers-that-be have decided that Joe’s corruption no longer can be successfully buried. 

Joe’s time is up. He is no longer useful to the people who really run things. The media got the message, and soon enough Dr. Jill will, too.

Public Attitudes re Firearms

Power Line has more of the longitudinal data Bill McInturff gleaned from years of polling for NBC News. This time the subject is guns, who has them and concerns about governmental control. In one chart the period covered is 15 years, in the other it is 24 years.

Gun ownership has grown among Republicans and Independents.

Friday Snark

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

Is That Gun Smoking?

I don’t normally expect the Washington Free Beacon to break news. That said, today they have a photo from Hunter Biden’s laptop, dated July 30, 2017, showing him at his father’s house in Joe’s Corvette. 

Coincidentally (?) that is the same date as the text message we imaged yesterday where he threatens a slow-pay business associate on behalf of his father who, Hunter claimed, was sitting in the same room.

The photo at least puts the two Bidens in the same location that day. It should be remembered that in 2017 Joe Biden was a former vice president, without all the attention that the presidency attracts. 

It also explains why the Bidens had to badger Zhou for money owed. Zhou probably believed they no longer had a lot of clout, being out of office.

Barone's Doom Loop

For as long as I’ve been following politics, Michael Barone has been one of the wise men to whose opinions attention must be paid. For the Washington Examiner, he looks at both of our two major parties showing every sign of nominating men most Americans would rather didn’t run. He calls this us being in a “doom loop.”

One explanation for Democratic voters’ stubborn and arguably irrational allegiance to Joe Biden is that they’re reacting to Republican voters’ stubborn and arguably irrational allegiance to Donald Trump. One explanation for Republican voters’ stubborn and arguably irrational allegiance to Donald Trump is that they’re reacting to the Democrats’ and most of the press’s grossly unfair treatment of him, from the Russia collusion hoax to the "Democracy Dies In Darkness" suppression of the Biden laptop story.

My gut says this process doesn’t end well. 

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Ominous Words

Writing about Ancient Rome for Social Science Files, Michael G. Heller makes a sage observation about human systems of governance. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Whole governance systems, which are rare, are always programmed as instructions to give preference to an impersonal rule over a discretionary choice. In practical terms, systems operate regardless of personal preferences and personal discretion. Rather, persons adapt to systems until such time as they choose not to, and then the systems fall apart.

Too much personal discretion is being exercised in DC and, as a consequence, we are inclined to resist adapting. Ergo, our system could fall apart sometime in the medium run. 

Influence Peddling

Power Line's Scott Johnson posts the following text from Hunter Biden to a Henry Zhao, an executive at a Chinese company. It was dated in August, 2020. It was part of a press release from Rep. Jason Smith, Chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee which is looking into the Bidens' businesses.


Influence peddling, or maybe selling what the mob would call "protection?"

Later … The above date is in error, it was the search warrant that uncovered this text that was issued in August, 2020.

Another View of China's Diplomacy

If you've had your doubts about the efficacy of diplomacy as currently practiced by first world countries, I have found an article you may enjoy. Writing in Foreign Affairs, Mark Leonard makes an argument that China has decided the world going forward will be one of discord and more than a little chaos.

He argues China believes third world countries will be seeking their own national interests and will not fit meekly into the "existing rules-based international order" beloved by western diplomats. For instance, concerning war in Ukraine:

In Washington, the dominant view is that Russia’s actions are a challenge to the rules-based order, which must be strengthened in response. In Beijing, the dominant opinion is that the conflict shows the world is entering a period of disorder, which countries will need to take steps to withstand.

The Chinese perspective is shared by many countries, especially in the global South, where Western claims to be upholding a rules-based order lack credibility. It is not simply that many governments had no say in creating these rules and therefore see them as illegitimate. The problem is deeper: these countries also believe that the West has applied its norms selectively.

Of course this could be an example of making lemonade when what you have is a lemon. China seemingly has few allies and, in that situation, a vision of the future being a bunch of nations all selfishly pursuing their own interests regardless of rules and allies might be very attractive. 

A Non-Option

For how long have we been hearing about a “two-state solution” to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians? Certainly for most of the years since Israel became a nation, say 70 years.

A Palestinian poll (done by Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research) earlier this month finds that a two-state solution isn’t at all popular with Palestinians, they want their country back and they honor those committing violence on their behalf. Basically, the only meeting Palestinians want with Israelis is to attend their funeral.

It turns out that the armed stand-off of Israelis against Palestinians - what exists today - is the only path forward which includes the continued existence of Israel. Those arguing otherwise are delusional. 

To make peace requires both sides to agree and one of the sides won’t, ergo there will be no peace. The best option currently available is periods of “pause” between violent episodes. 

On the other hand, several of the Arab nations in the region have accepted they will have to “live with” Israel in their midst, and have gotten over most of their pique. In time this could happen to the Palestinians but breath-holding isn’t recommended.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Pencil-Necked Geek Censured

The House of Representatives has voted to censure Rep. Adam Schiff-for-brains (D-CA). The charge: lying about possessing evidence Russia was aiding the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. 

Repeated investigations have found no such evidence exists. The House Ethics Committee has been instructed to investigate Schiff's behavior in office. 

You have to wonder how a pencil-neck geek like Schiff gets elected. Yet it appears he will run for Diane Feinstein's Senate seat. 

There is no accounting for taste.

Wrong Again

President Biden was fund raising in California and, talking to the assembled fat cats, is quoted by Fox News as saying.

You know, I love these guys who say the Second Amendment is — you know, the tree of liberty is water with the blood of patriots. Well, if [you] want to do that, you want to work against the government, you need an F-16. You need something else than just an AR-15.

Sorry, Mr. President, you are wrong. The Taliban had little more than rifles and homemade explosives. They won in Afghanistan, you left and they run the country. They didn't have a single plane, of any sort. 

It took them 20 years to do it but they weren't going anywhere. Americans - who "cling to their guns" like the Afghans - haven't got anywhere to go either.

Quote of the Day

 Humorist P. J. O’Rourke writing about liberalism.

At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child — miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats.

O’Rourke‘s characterization is particularly unkind because of its pinpoint accuracy. 

Hunter Cops a Plea

So Hunter Biden got a sweetheart deal from Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice, dodging jail time. Honestly, would you expect anything else? 

Of course the offenses to which he pled guilty were uniquely his own. He failed to file federal income tax returns for two years. He lied on the federal form he filled out to buy a handgun.

Totally ignored are those inappropriate things he did in concert with other members of the Biden family. Sale of influence, conspiracy to defraud by means of shell corporation money laundering, the proverbial “10% for the big guy.” Presumably those are still “under investigation,” at least by Congress, if not by the DOJ.

When asked, Hunter’s attorney said he “didn’t recall” any questions being raised about the salacious contents of his client’s infamous abandoned laptop. 

The Summer Solstice

The summer solstice occurs today at roughly 9 a.m. MDT. It is the longest day and hence shortest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. 

Here in the Rockies we aren't experiencing total dark until roughly 10 p.m. Beginning today the days begin getting shorter, a process that continues until Dec. 21. 

Three months from now on Sept. 21 the day and night will each equal 12 hours. On that day, summer will end, having begun today. 


The other DrC and I drove a small motorhome to Alaska and back in the early 1980s, quite an adventure. We were in Fairbanks on or near this date. I remember stepping outside at 1 a.m and was able to read a newspaper without artificial light. I didn't stay out long, the mosquitoes were thick.

We've also been in St. Petersburg, Russia, at roughly this time in June. Coming back to our hotel from the ballet, we've seen the locals out enjoying the bright, late evenings which they call "white nights."

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

European (or East Asian) Descent

Claremont Review of Books reviews The Culture Transplant by economist Garett Jones. Jones is a liberal who looked at the data, found answers he didn't like, and had the courage to report them anyway. For all the reasons he didn't like them, you will probably find them agreeable.

Economists interested in discovering the causes of successful economic development initially looked to factors such as free trade, exchange rate manipulation, distance from a coastline, or education levels.

But these approaches never panned out, so Jones relies on newer research that points to culture as determinative of economic growth—and culture is unmalleable. Immigrants and their descendants do not absorb the cultures into which they migrate. They instead retain the tendencies—at least those related to economic growth—of their homelands.

Jones concludes, “[I]f the only thing you knew about each nation on the planet was the fraction of that nation with ancestors of European descent, and you did the best job you could trying to predict average modern income per person using just that fact, you’d be able to predict two thirds of all global income differences.” 

People of certain cultural lineages just make better societies.

There are probably places where you could be arrested for making factual claims such as these. Jones will likely be cancelled in spite of his protestations that he isn't happy with his findings. It will be said he should have quashed them.

It has been clear for decades that not all cultures are created equal. Some produce more economic wealth than others and I don't find Jones' "better societies" a bridge too far. It is a good argument for closing our open borders and admitting only those likely to prosper here, as many recent immigrants now do.

More Polling History

Steve Hayward continues to post more Bill McInturff NBC News longitudinal data. We begin with the amount of polarization in our nation, indicated by attitudes toward the president, held by people of his own, and of the other party. As you can see, over time we have become more polarized.

First takeaway: Barack Obama’s presidency represents a clear break, with a step-increase in party polarization over previous presidents, but Biden is a more polarizing president than Obama. (emphasis in original)
The second chart shows disagreement over which issues are important to our nation. I note that the issues are different than formerly and the degree of disagreement has increased.

Increasing polarization over both leaders and issues doesn't bode well for our nation's future. I'll bet if we had data on the extent to which citizens have friends from the other party would show a decline, as well. 

The DrsC still do, but those friends live hundreds of miles away. We don't see each other often and, when we do, by tacit agreement we pointedly avoid the minefield of politics.

Murder: Who, How, and Where

A very interesting RealClearInvestigations article about murder rates and the wildly conflicting claims made about them by politicians. It turns out there are ways to slice the statistics and make an accurate argument for either Republicans or Democrats. Here are the reasons why.

Depending on the framing, accurate sets of numbers can be assembled to tell starkly different stories about mass shootings, school shootings, and the overall correlation between gun ownership and gun violence.

The murder rate for counties that Biden won is much higher than for the counties that Trump won – 5.97 versus 2.58 per 100,000 people – 131% higher.

African Americans commit half the murders in the United States, though they  comprise only 13.6% of the population. The counties that Biden won have almost four times the percentage of black voters. That gap is even larger in the counties in the states that Trump carried than the states that Biden carried.

CPRC (Crime Prevention Research Center) research shows that blue pockets scattered across the U.S. map are the zones where most violent crime is committed, and it underscores how the generalizations on one partisan side or the other can mislead.

The authors make two important additional points. That relatively few (<15%) mass murders are committed with rifles of any sort, including the much-maligned AR-15. And that actual enforcement of state laws is mostly local - done by city police and DAs - which in large cities are all Democrats who tend to be soft on crime (my characterization, not theirs).

Black on black murders, by far the most common, typically receive publicity only in the city where they occur, being viewed one supposes as "business as usual." Murders involving whites get wider publicity as they are relatively unusual. 

The underreporting of black-on-black murder is nothing new. I remember my father remarking on it in the context of 1920s Los Angeles where, as a younger man, he worked for the city prosecutor.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Decade-Long Polling Trends

Steven Hayward of Power Line posts a couple of charts pollster Bill McInturff gleaned from ten+ years of NBC News polling. The first looks at percentages of Democrats calling themselves either "very liberal" or "liberal."

The second chart looks at the percentage of persons in the three major political groups - Republicans, Independents, and Democrats - who are not affiliated with a church.

Your perception that Democrats have become both more very liberal and less religious over the last decade is indeed correct. Hayward promises more interesting insights to come from this longitudinal look at social trends.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Very Strange

Ed Driscoll, posting at Instapundit, links to a site named which posts this article.

Uranus takes a pounding more frequently than thought.

This article is especially timely during Pride month. 

A Class Mismatch

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has an impressive resume, great accomplishments as a reelected governor, a beautiful wife, three cute kids, plus he's a veteran, an Ivy grad, and bright as hell. Oh, yeah, and he is 30 years younger than Trump.

Trump meanwhile has lost a lawsuit to someone claiming sexual assault, is under indictment in two places and being considered for indictment in two more. Plus he lost the last presidential election, at least in part because he failed to understand ahead of time that the Dems had rigged it. And those he'd endorsed have mostly lost their election bids.

In spite of which Trump's approval ratings hover around 45-50% while those of DeSantis seem stuck around 20%. Whatever DeSantis is doing, it isn't working. There is no spinning or disguising the fact that his campaign is going nowhere.


Much of the reason is that DeSantis has a class profile which could appeal to suburban college grads. Except they've mostly become Democrats who don't buy into his Neo-Trump ideology. 

The Republican Party has become a working class party whose voters are largely not college grads. DeSantis is too slick, too clean and smart to appeal to Joe and Jill Sixpack. They can sense intuitively that Ron isn't one of them. It isn't a matter of ideology or program, it is a matter of social class. 

For all his money and glitz, Trump's values and feelings are much more in tune with working class Americans. They'd marry a series of super models, bed Playmates, and own a jet too, if they could afford it. They'd say the over-the-top stuff Trump writes and says, if in his shoes. They don't find his involvement with pro wrestling or a gold-plated elevator tacky. And they like his swagger, his braggadocio. 

I'll admit blue collar folk mostly don't share his love of golf. Notice Trump does not weave golf into his political persona, unlike newscaster Bret Baier who can't stop boring us with it.

Here's a wild guess. The twenty or so percent DeSantis is polling is the percentage of college grads in today's GOP, plus or minus say 5%.

Cat Among the Pigeons

The New York Post’s Michael Goodwin makes an interesting claim about the hold Donald Trump seems to have on roughly half the Republican electorate. See if you agree:

The driving force in Trump’s staying power is the conviction among his supporters that they are the ultimate target of both the radical left and the corrupt deep state, and that the prosecutions are tantamount to persecutions of him and them.

Trump has often enough made the assertion that his supporters are the true target of those subjecting him to lawfare. Goodwin appears to conclude the supporters have accepted the claim, I am less certain.

I prefer to think Trump is viewed as a ‘grenade’ supporters can lob into the nest of repulsive social justice warriors in Washington. His effectiveness in that role is validated by the Herculean efforts the SJW crew have made to torpedo him. 

Think of him as the outrageous anti-Pence. The more the establishment hates Trump, the more fun his supporters can have voting for him. Him being unfairly indicted makes him even more ‘explosive’ as a cat among Washington’s mutant pigeons.

Happy Fathers Day

Today we celebrate fathers. I limit my own celebrating to those who, if alive, stayed around to make sure their kids did okay. Both of the DrsC were fortunate in this respect. Our fathers hung in there, put up with our foibles and modeled masculinity, including going to work everyday and doting on our moms.

To the people who believe fathers are a “take ‘em or leave ‘em” proposition, I say the evidence shows that you are mostly incorrect. While it is possible to raise good kids in a fatherless home - I’ve known a few - it is much harder to do and the odds of success are much less good. Even good, intact homes produce some losers, single-parent homes produce a lot more.

Weird Temporal Science

Science Alert reports a study in Finland which finds that “night owls” die younger than those who go to bed earlier. This had me worried for a minute as I have been a night person nearly forever. 

I often watched TV with the other DrC until 10-11 and then sat in my office at the keyboard working until 2 a.m. on some scholarly paper. And in retirement it is still true I am often awake until 1 a.m.

It turns out that the “why” of that research finding is that those Finns who stayed up late consumed a lot more alcohol and tobacco than those who did not. As I quit cigarettes 50 years ago, almost to the day, and maybe have 5-6 drinks a year, the findings thankfully don’t scare me.

Trump a Debate No-Show?

RealClearPolitics’ Philip Wegmann writes a nice description of the introductory event IA Sen. Joni Ernst hosted during the first weekend in June. The event is called the Roast and Ride and involves roasting a pig, riding motorcycles, and introducing all those pursuing the GOP nomination to Iowans. 

Wegmann, who may know something of motorcycles, includes many cute references to the riding thereof. This year only one - Mike Pence - actually rode but all of the others showed up except former President Trump. He was of course invited by Ernst.

She called Trump, who sent word that he no longer does multi-candidate events.

To make his story about Iowa flow, Wegmann lets that comment go unremarked, but it seems to me there is something lurking there. The RNC’s upcoming candidate debates are “multi-candidate events” and, taken at face value, the “word” seems to mean Trump will not participate in them.

There have been rumors Trump believes he should have been gifted the nomination like Biden, without all the folderol of primaries. Perhaps he will choose to act as if the nomination is his by right. And perhaps he finds the RNC’s requirement to support whoever wins the GOP nomination a deal-breaker.

How much legitimacy will RNC debates have if the polling front-runner for the GOP nomination - Trump - doesn’t show up? Not much, I’ll warrant. This could be a weird primary season (he wrote hopefully).

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Saturday Snark

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

A Semi-Local Story

An interesting small article at the Gateway Pundit site concerning an IRS and ATF raid by armed agents on a Great Falls, MT gun store. What was seized was

All Form 4473s – documents that record buyer’s information during firearms transactions.

Gateway Pundit would have you believe this is the first stage of our government seizing all our guns ... maybe they are right. There could be a simpler, and less sinister explanation.

Driving south from the Alberta, Canadia, border, the first city of any substance you encounter on I-15 is Great Falls. Various establishments in GF have had a quiet, unadvertised relationship with Canadians who like guns but cannot obtain them in Canada.

It is nearly impossible for a Canadian to legally buy or possess a handgun - automatic or revolver - in Canada. Some GF entrepreneurs have stored handguns for Canadians who travel south for the winter and have bought handguns in the States but cannot lawfully take them home. The owners drop them off in the spring on their way north, and pick them up again on their way south in autumn.

It is possible that those agents were acting on behalf of the RCMP, who have no jurisdiction in the US. It may be that the store in question is suspected of selling handguns to Canadians who've used questionable documents showing them to be US residents and/or citizens. Perhaps several weapons bought there by seeming 'Americans' have been found smuggled into Canada.

If I were guessing, this is where I'd start.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Friday Snark

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