Monday, July 31, 2023

Poll: Trump Lead Appears Insurmountable

The New York Times/Siena College poll is out and the Baltimore Sun website has the column (no paywall) describing what the poll found about the GOP primary race. A sarcastic summary of findings could well be "Trump and the six dwarfs."

Absent any tectonic shifts or cataclysmic upheavals in the electorate, it is difficult to see how anyone other than Trump gets the nomination for 2024.

Trump held decisive advantages across almost every demographic group and region and in every ideological wing of the party, the survey found, as Republican voters waved away concerns about his escalating legal jeopardy. He led by wide margins among men and women, younger and older voters, moderates and conservatives, those who went to college and those who didn’t, and in cities, suburbs and rural areas.

In interviews with poll respondents, a recurring theme emerged: They like DeSantis; they love Trump.

It strikes me Democrats will read the preceding sentence and be dumbfounded - truly at a loss to understand those feelings or the people who hold them.

Suppose Trump is convicted of one or more federal felonies, would that change minds? I'm not sure voters have mentally crossed that bridge.

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An interesting sidebar: American voters often elect presidents who turn out to be womanizers - in my lifetime FDR, JFK, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump. Some would add Ike to that list. 

Apparently these very alpha men share a special something that women are drawn to, as well as voters. Perhaps it is charisma? 

Why Not the Gander?

National Review reports Ukraine Present Zelensky says fighting in Russia is inevitable and attacks on Moscow are absolutely fair. Zelensky is of course correct. 

Russia has been bombing the crap out of Kyiv; why isn't Ukraine justified in doing the same to Moscow? Of course it is justified. 

Doing so won't be easy and probably won't happen often. Every couple of weeks should be often enough to make the war real to Muscovites.

Ukraine can shoot drones and cruise missiles at Moscow until the capital's air defenses become too formidable. Then switch off to other military and civilian targets within a few hundred miles of Ukraine. Russia is too huge to afford the same dense protection everywhere there are useful targets.

It is unlikely Ukraine can defeat much larger Russia on the battlefield in any mano a mano sense. If they are persistent, however, they can wear out Russian willingness to continue to expend lives and money with no end in sight. 

This happened in Afghanistan to the Soviets, as Russia was then called. More recently it happened to the US. The Afghans wouldn't give up and eventually occupiers went home. I believe it is the most likely end to the Ukraine war.

Cohn Segments the GOP

I don’t often express approval of something from the New York Times plus their material is normally behind a paywall. Today we have an exception by Nate Cohn which has been reprinted at the DNyuz site and is freely available.

Cohn writes that because of the segmentation of the Republican electorate, Trump is particularly hard to beat in the GOP primary. He finds some 37% are Trump loyalists, another 17% lean toward Trump but are persuadable, 20% more are persuadable generally, and perhaps 25% won’t vote for Trump, even if nominated, meaning they would, in that case, not vote, cast a protest vote, or vote for Biden.

The problem is that while 63% are theoretically persuadable by a non-Trump candidate, so far nobody has been able to unify enough of that group to threaten Trump’s lead. He writes:

There’s the group of voters who may not love Mr. Trump, but who remain open to him in the primary and in some cases support him over the alternatives.

There’s also a second group of voters who probably won’t support Mr. Trump. They represent about one-quarter of the primary electorate and they say they’re not considering him in the primary.

These two groups of voters don’t just differ on Mr. Trump; they disagree on the issues as well.

Yet to beat Mr. Trump, a candidate must somehow hold nearly all of these voters together.

Easier said than done. A betting person would bet on Trump, at this point, but much can happen in the next several months.

Review: Dark Winds

We’ve been watching the AMC TV series Dark Winds which just premiered its second season. It is loosely based on characters - Joe Leaphorn, Jim Chee, Bernadette Manuelito - created by Tony Hillerman in a well-known series of police procedural books set in the 1970s Navajo reservation. 

Navajo Police Lt. Joe Leaphorn is played by Zahn McClarnon who memorably played the tribal police chief in the Longmire series. We read the Hillerman books years ago and now are enjoying the series which uses a whole season of six episodes to tell a single story in much the same way as the Jack Ryan series does.

Younger viewers will probably be struck by the absence of cell phones, the old cars, and the police carrying revolvers instead of automatics. Sadly, these look quite normal to us seniors who remember the 70s clearly.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

DOJ Complicity

Meditating on the failed Hunter Biden plea agreement and the complicity of the DOJ in creating it, new Power Line contributor Elizabeth Stauffer observes this.

The DOJ’s credibility took an enormous hit last week. After getting away with so much for so long, the agency’s corruption has finally been called out in a very public way. And they will be made to answer for it. There’s no question that prosecutors were more interested in protecting the Bidens than in pursuing actual justice.

I'll believe the "answer for it" part when it happens; as yet there hasn't been much accountability for misdeeds. 

Homelessness

Writing at Hot Air, John Sexton looks at the downward spiral of a now-dead homeless man - Anthony - in Portland, OR. I believe it captures a lot of what causes homelessness, and why places like Portland have gone about solving it exactly the wrong way. Here are a couple of key paragraphs.

Saying this is an affordable housing crisis is an inaccurate trope. What price for a home would make it “affordable” and “fix” this situation? Ten dollars a month? Five? Rent could be five dollars a month, and most street homeless people would put the five dollars up their arm and not to their affordable housing landlord. (snip) We cannot fix what we are identifying incorrectly. We blame it on lack of affordable housing because saying we need personal accountability and tough personal choices to be made, isn’t “nice” or “sensitive”.

Anthony needed mental heath treatment he didn’t get. Giving him a tent wasn’t help it was enabling his downward spiral. So long as residents of Portland are willing to watch tortured souls try to end their pain with drugs on the street, the city can’t and won’t be saved. It will take the strength to tell people like Anthony no more and the resources to give them a viable alternative.

As we keep writing, what is needed is mandatory inpatient care for the insane and the addicted, who are mostly the same people. Anything else is slow-motion suicide, enacted in public, befouling the public square. 

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Dodging Responsibility

Somebody needs to say or write it straight out, without hedging, and so far I haven't seen it in print. With not much to lose, I will.

Anthony Fauci and the rest fought hard against the rather obvious notion that the Wuhan lab was the source of the Covid 19 virus, and in favor of the alternative transmission-from-animals story. Perhaps we will never know for sure but it seems to me the reason they did so was to cover their own backsides.

Fauci and colleagues repeatedly funded gain-of-function research in China through a third party cutout. The research, if it proved successful, would result in information they could use to do their jobs. It could also hand a biological weapon to our major geopolitical rival. 

I'd guess they feared if the truth were known they'd be blamed for thousands of deaths, tried for treason and murder, sued for untold damages, or worse. As it is, they managed to establish enough doubt to prevent retribution, at least so far. 

Doing so, they also managed to seriously degrade the perceived trustworthiness of the federal health care agencies of which they were part. It was a trade-off they seemed only too willing to make, but one we may truly regret when the next pandemic comes along.

An End Time Prediction

Outlaw journalist Bari Weiss interviews "end times" historian Peter Turchin for The Free Press. Turchin sees cycles in civilizational evolution and believes, with some reason, we are now in what he calls "end times." It should be noted that he uses that term in a non-religious sense, to mean the winding down of one major epoch and the gestation of the next.

A major indicator of the present being an "end time" is the current over-production of elites.

As more and more of them (wealthy people) become players in politics, they drive up the price of getting into office. And more importantly, the more people are vying for these positions, the more people are going to be frustrated. They’re going to be losers. But humans don’t have to follow rules. This is the dark side of competition: if it’s too extreme, it creates conditions for people to start to break rules.

Turchin identifies Donald Trump as one of these rule breakers, which he certainly has been. This is an interesting interview and both the audio and the transcript are available, your choice. 

Weiss points out that Turchin, writing in 2010, accurately predicted that 2020 would be a year with a lot of disturbing things going on. Candidly, they haven't gotten a lot calmer since. 

We appear headed into a presidential election in which a man under multiple indictments runs against an incumbent who almost certainly corruptly sold influence to foreigners, some of whom are from unfriendly nations, and laundered the proceeds. Both are chronic liars. Talk about crappy omens, how can this contest be good for our civilization?

Saturday Snark








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

Friday, July 28, 2023

Friday Snark




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

Speaking for the Victims

The Oakland, CA branch of the NAACP has written an open letter demanding hiring of more police, a DA who will jail and imprison felons, and safe streets. Power Line's Steven Hayward has posted a copy of the letter which I encourage you to read. Here are key quotes.

We also encourage Oakland’s White, Asian, and Latino communities to speak out against crime and stop allowing themselves to be shamed into silence.

There is nothing compassionate or progressive about allowing criminal behavior to fester and rob Oakland residents of their basic rights to public safety. It is not racist or unkind to want to be safe from crime.

Taking this stand obviously took great courage, and I applaud the organization's effort. 

Double Haters

Ruy Teixeira writes at The Liberal Patriot about the people who dislike both Biden and Trump. His focus today is the roughly one in five voters who will definitely be making a "lesser of two evils" choice in November, 2024. He calls these "double haters."

Teixeira looks at this group's views on a number of different issues. However, if I had to summarize what the studies show, it would be this. Their values are closer to those of the Republican Party, but Trump actively turns them off whereas their dislike for Biden is a more passive sense that he's too old as well as being too far left.

In earlier columns Teixeira has made clear he wants Democrats to be less radical on social issues and occupy more of a middle ground. Much of his writing is in pursuit of this aim. 

His obvious concern is that if somehow Republicans manage to nominate someone other than Trump, that person will get most of the votes of this "double hater" group (and win the election). And he claims surveys show this disaffected group prefer DeSantis to Biden, but Biden to Trump.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Japan Aiding Taiwan?

Instapundit links to a Substack column by Mark Simon concerning Japan's military providing assistance to Taiwan. Simon reports as follows.

With Japanese military advisors in Taiwan discussing how to beat a Chinese blockade of Taiwan, and there now being a couple of billion dollars of new long range weapons positioned in the southern Nansei islands, just north of Taiwan, it’s safe the say Japan’s strict neutrality is a policy of the past when it comes to Taiwan’s defense.

PLA commanders now see a significant military force located less than 130 miles north of Taiwan with an ability to cover the straits with ground based anti-ship missiles, submarines, and air power.

If Xi makes a go for Taiwan, his military commanders are going to take a serious look at taking out Japanese military assets in the area. That means Japan is all in, and so are we. (emphasis added)

I'll freely admit I didn't know Japan had moved this far in support of Taiwan, but I'm not entirely surprised. Let me tell you why, with a bit of history.

In the lead-up to World War II Japan invaded China and, after the war began, invaded much of the rest of East Asia. When they lost in 1945 they went home, leaving behind almost everywhere bitter hostility resulting from Japanese brutality to occupied peoples.

I write "almost everywhere" because in 2-3 visits to Taiwan I found people there atypically were not especially anti-Japanese. My guess is is that Japanese occupiers encouraged the locals to view themselves as Taiwanese, not as Chinese. 

That's a view that is somewhat widespread in Taiwan today, especially among those whose ancestors were already in Taiwan prior to the arrival of Chiang's Nationalists in 1948. Chiang retreated there after being defeated by Mao's CCP on the mainland.

Process note: I am somewhat concerned Simon doesn't cite his sources for the Japanese military activity he alleges has happened. He likewise doesn't establish his bonafides as an expert on the region and he has no Wikipedia bio.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Beaton Explains

Glenn K. Beaton, the sage of Aspen, explains how the Hunter Biden plea deal fell apart. It apparently was torpedoed by the prosecution's claim that an investigation of Hunter was not ended by the plea deal and was still ongoing. Beaton claims the prosecutors only said this to give them a pretext not to testify about the matter before Congress.

Meanwhile Biden's lawyers claimed that no, the plea agreement said that by pleading guilty to the agreed misdemeanors and gun law referral, he was thus immunized from further prosecution. Translation: the investigation had ended, and thus David Weiss, the U.S. Attorney for Delaware might have to testify before Congress.

The judge then refused to accept the plea deal, which she characterized as "odd" and took it under advisement for four weeks. She apparently indicated that she couldn't let the defendant sign something he believed protected him from further proceedings when the document guaranteed nothing of the sort.

Conflict of Interest

Last night Laura Ingraham on Fox News was describing the involvement of  attorney Alexander Mackler with many political aspects of the Biden family. For example, Mackler managed the successful campaign of the late Beau Biden when he ran for attorney general of Delaware. 

Mackler was later employed in the office of Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss while that office was investigating Hunter Biden and then deciding to give him a sweetheart deal with no jail time. Today we learn that deal appears to have fallen apart, as Hunter entered a plea of “not guilty” and presumably will go to trial.

This constitutes a very serious conflict of interest as one of the Biden family “retainers” was working for someone prosecuting a Biden family member. This constitutes a serious breach of ethics by Weiss who presumably was aware of Mackler’s ties to the Biden clan.

If you can watch the first few minutes of Ingrahan’s show last night, it would be worth your time.

Later ... Breitbart has a column that provides details of Mackler's cozy dealings with the Bidens.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

GOP Debates Relevant?

Writing at AMAC, Aaron Flanagan asks whether the Republican debates are relevant if Trump doesn't participate? He concludes they are not. I disagree, they may even work better in his absence.

The debates' substantial relevance in the absence of Trump is to winnow at too-large field down to one or two alternatives to Trump. If you sum up the percentages the other would-be candidates are polling, that number is far from trivial. It may even be a majority in some polls.

Once the winnowing is done, whoever remains will be in a head-to-head competition with Trump. Committed Republicans can decide which of the two they like better and who has the better chance of defeating Joe Biden. These would normally be the same person, but may not be in all cases.

If I had to decide now there are some I would choose over Trump and others I would not prefer. The debates will help me refine my choice.

Afterthought: Trump may not like FL Gov. DeSantis, but he hasn't moved his residence from FL to Bedminster NJ where he also has a golf resort. Imagine how much he saves in by being domiciled in no-state-income-tax FL.

High Earners on the Move

In his column for PJ Media, Stephen Green is pleased to share statistics gathered by the Florida Chamber of Commerce. These concern the residents of which states are moving to Florida and how much income they bring with them. Green writes:

Believe it or not, former residents of just five states make up more than half of the income that’s headed south — not for the winter, but practically forever. They are: 

New York with $9.8 billion in lost income 
Illinois worth $3.9 billion 
New Jersey, $3.8 billion 
California, $3.5 billion 
Pennsylvania, $1.9 billion

Here’s the shocker: Each one of those states is ruled completely by Democrats. The governor’s office and both sides of each state assembly are dominated by Dems.

That almost $23 billion in lost taxable income, now to be spent or invested in FL. is "more than half," the total must be about $40 billion. The moral of the story is straightforward: Elect Republicans or watch high income earners depart for red states. 

Later … For a more extensive look at where those with incomes over $200,000 are moving to and from, one that doesn’t focus specifically on Florida as a destination, see this article at Smart Asset. Hat tip to the other DrC for the link. 

The Swamp Conspires

Power Line’s Scott Johnson describes the Congressional testimony of Emma-Jo Morris. She was the New York Post’s deputy politics editor who reported the Hunter Biden laptop story when no other mainstream outlets would touch it. As she notes, her story was before the election when it could have, indeed should have negatively influenced the outcome for Joe Biden. Her words:

Over the last few years, my reporting has been confirmed by virtually every mainstream news outlet, from the Washington Post, to the New York Times, to Politico when the stakes were nothing, by the way, two years later. No one denies that the laptop is real, that the origin story is exactly what I told you it was in the first place. This elaborate censorship conspiracy wasn’t because the information being reported on was false. It was because the information was true, and a threat to the power centers in this country. (emphasis added)

Is it any wonder conspiracy theories are so widespread and easy to believe? We later learn many of them were suppressed fact.

If we no longer believe what the Swamp says because so often they’ve deceived us blatantly. When you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Weird Intergenerational Science

Instapundit links to a publication of AAAS called EurekaAlert! which reports intergenerational research with this title.

Hardship affects the gut microbiome across generations

Here is the summary.

Hardship experienced by mothers during their own childhood or during pregnancy is reflected in the composition of their 2-year-old children’s gut microbiome.

The changes to this community of microorganisms are likely among the ways that hardship affects a child’s socioemotional development.

Apparently the sins of the fathers (or at least the mothers) truly are visited on the next generation ... gastroenterically, if by no other means.

Our Delusional Elite

Writing for the New York Post, Instapundit Glenn Reynolds argues "Our society's 'top brains' have gone mad - and dysfunctional politics is the result." First, he defines the problem.

Our ruling class has become less diverse and more prone to groupthink. A century ago, the people running our government, our economy, our academy and our media were varied.

Now they’re all members of the same class, educated usually at the same elite institutions, incestuously intermarried and driven by class solidarity.

See his conclusion.

Agriculturalists know that in a monoculture, diseases spread rapidly because the entire crop is identical. In a social and intellectual monoculture, groupthink ensures that bad ideas spread the same way.

This is especially so because our ruling class has substituted reputation for achievement. One can be a successful CEO if the company does badly, so long as it pursues the right political goals.
Journalists, bureaucrats and political operatives routinely fail upward because they play to their peers. The result is that any crazy idea can flourish if it’s stylish. Dissent is instantly ostracized before it even has a chance to be considered.

Our elite bites. Reynolds advocates doing away with the Ivy League, a utopian idea that has merit.

Talking Turkey

When our media considers the actions and policies of Turkey, it's analysis is often simplistic, consisting of whether Turkey's current actions are supportive of, or in opposition to, US interests. I have found such treatments disappointing.

The Hoover Institution publication Strategika has come forth with a really comprehensive, and multifaceted look at the foreign policy of Turkey and its "semi-democratic" strongman/President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The very complexity of Turkey's relations with a dozen different players in their region and beyond makes a brief summary essentially impossible. I will make do with author Barry Strauss' conclusion.

In sum, Turkish foreign policy is an ambitious and at times aggressive mix of ideology and pragmatism, with economic woes and domestic politics playing a part. Turkey is constantly balancing, bargaining, and pushing. It is less than a solid member of NATO, but it takes the alliance seriously. At the same time, it doesn’t hesitate to strike its own deals with Russia, China, and Iran. 

For those with only passing interest in this subject, the Hoover treatment is probably TMI. 

Cold Is a Killer

Although there is little evidence of global warming, supposing it was real, how bad would a slightly warmer climate be? Here is a chart from Power Line which looks at deaths from heat and cold across 800+ European cities.


If you are concerned with preserving human life, cold is something like ten times more dangerous than heat. I expect some chilly places in the US wouldn't mind being a bit warmer too. I could use a few more weeks of summer here in the WY Rockies.

A Snarky Hypothesis

The New York Post runs a column by conservative essayist Rich Lowry with this provocative title: 

Trump's enemies pursue more and more indictments - to ensure his 2024 nomination.

Musing on that very possible idea, free association brought me to another interesting hypothesis and here it is. 

    H₁:  Perhaps both Biden and Trump are running for office in order to stay out of prison.

Explanation: Biden appears guilty of influence peddling, taking bribes, and being an unregistered agent of one or more foreign governments. At least one of which - China - is a hostile power. 

Trump's call to a government official in Georgia may meet the definition of conspiracy to fix an election and/or wire fraud. His pep talk to supporters who later became rioters though he urged them not to, is at least questionable and perhaps actionable. So is his supposed inaction when a capitol riot ensued. 

As long as Biden gets to appoint the Attorney General, he and son Hunter can stay out of jail. I presume whoever Trump picked to head DOJ would stop at least the federal attacks on him.

Be clear, I like Trump's policies and dislike many of Biden's actions in office. That doesn't mean I believe either man is a saint. Both are selfish narcissists who've definitely skirted the limits of the law and perhaps overstepped them on occasion. I wouldn't choose either to teach Sunday school or ethics.

Electoral Demographics 101

In the last election millions of Californians voted for Trump, though he got no benefit as they were outvoted by Democrats. Consider this:
If less than 100,000 conservatives/Christians living in California had moved to Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, or Wisconsin before the 2020 election, the whole world might look different. 6 million votes for Trump in California, and all we needed was 76,514 (less than 1 and a half percent).

That interesting observation is from a book by Pastor Joel Webbon entitled Fight by Flight, appearing in The Federalist. He cites a number of historical examples of times emigration paid off for the godly, including the Mayflower group, and Moses’ flight from Egypt.

In an electoral system like ours, modest numbers of conservatives leaving CA and going to purple states like AZ and NV (where many have settled) can make a real difference. Those who go to blue states like FL and TX have less impact.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

A Campaign Suggestion

I've been waiting for one or more of the challengers for the Republican nomination to say something like this on the stump.

Donald Trump was a good president, one whose achievements I intend to protect and push forward. Let's honor him for the good he did.

His presidency began to falter when he failed to notice that Democrats were moving heaven and earth to "rig" the election against him. His responses to this effort, once he finally became aware of it, were far too little and too late. TDS should have made clear the need to do his own finagling.

Our elections are such that complaining about the process after the votes are cast is futile. Our courts move too slowly for lawsuits to be useful (this tends not to be the case in business). Our government is a juggernaut that grinds forward willy-nilly.

Having lost a rigged election, Trump mistakenly thought he could stop the process before the inauguration. His failed effort made him look petty, a bad loser plus it got a lot of his supporters in trouble.

Since Biden took office Trump has continued to blame others for his own failures and talk about how badly he's been treated. Much of what he has complained about truly shouldn't have happened, but politics is a tough game where a loser's only choices are to get even or go home. 

The fact Trump now wants to get even does not mean we owe him that chance, there is much more at stake than Trump's hurt feelings. If another Republican has less baggage and a better chance of winning in November, 2024, the party should hand that younger person the baton. I believe I am that younger person.

Homelessness in the U.S. and Japan

The Borgen Magazine has an article comparing homelessness in Japan and the U.S. Hat tip to Ed Driscoll posting at Instapundit for the link.

In 2020, the Japanese government’s homeless count was 3,992, making up just .003% of Japan’s population. On the other hand, the United States has a homeless population of about .2%.

Translation: the US has roughly 2/3 of a million homeless. The reasons for this difference are several, including:

Drugs other than alcohol are strictly illegal and usually only accessible through gangsters. Around 50% of drug users in Japan have gang connections. However, many of Japan’s homeless suffer from alcoholism.

Drunks as homeless was the US 70 years ago. But perhaps more important:

In Japan, someone with a mental illness is typically placed into a mental health facility, sparing them from the streets. There are 269 psychiatric beds per 100,000 people in Japan, whereas, in the United States, the number is 25.

Japan counted just shy of 4000 homeless in the whole country! (Five years ago my nearest small city in CA - pop. ca. 100,000 - had nearly that many homeless.)

If those of our addicted and mentally ill who are too wasted to maintain a residence were required to accept inpatient treatment, our homeless problem would disappear as if by magic. This seems self-evident.

However our progressives, many of whom use drugs recreationally, believe mandatory inpatient care violates the human rights of the homeless. And our conservatives don't want to spend the possibly billions in tax revenue the inpatient care would cost. 

The Japanese have decided the cure is worth the cost. We have not. Thus, a compromise solution: As the demand for urban office space dries up and commercial real estate prices crash, older large buildings can be converted to bare bones shelters for the insane and addicted, off the streets and out of sight.

Another Least Bad Choice

It is likely the nominees in 2024 will be Biden and Trump. In an article for New York Magazine echoed on msn.com, Ed Kilgore observes the last time two individuals both formerly elected president faced each other was in 1892. About the 2024 ‘likely” match Kilgore writes a surprisingly balanced paragraph I’d share with you.

The horrific culmination of the first Biden-Trump election has frozen the vast majority of partisans in place as a rematch approaches, with most Democrats regarding Trump as a lawless rogue who had to be impeached twice, and most Republicans regarding Biden as a usurper who stole the White House from its rightful occupant. Conversely, most Republicans view the Trump administration as an era of peace and prosperity, while most Democrats view the Biden administration as a return to normalcy and constitutional governance. It’s unclear how many voters will engage in any judicious comparison of the records of the two presidents, and it’s entirely possible the result will be determined by voters who must decide which of them they dislike the least.

Between nominees Biden and Trump, many voters will make a “lesser of two evils” choice. For as Captain Jack Aubrey quipped in the film Master and Commander, “In the Royal Navy we are told to choose the lesser of two weevils.” 

Saturday, July 22, 2023

The Omens Are Not Propitious

Compact Magazine asked polemicist Michael Anton - he of "flight 93 election" fame - to write a "The Pessimistic Case for the Future." He calls what resulted a "pessimistic take on the present." 

The Anton essay is an everything-is-going-to-hell tour d'horizon of contemporary American life, featuring high octane pessimism. It's not recommended for those who suffer from depression.

Sadly, you won't find much to disagree with. We've passed too many of the mileposts Anton cites on our particular road to perdition. We've gone from a "can do" society to a "can't let ourselves do" kind of place.

As a senior citizen I merely hope we have another decade or so left in this fin de si├Ęcle-like phase of our society's time in the sun. Folks with children and grandchildren ought to be worried sick about the future their offspring will inhabit.

Saturday Snark













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

Friday, July 21, 2023

Ban Background Checks?

Instapundit links to an article by Matthew Yglesias with this title: "Banning background checks increases racial discrimination." The bans were instituted to prevent employers and landlords from discriminating against those with a criminal record. Most of the article is behind a paywall, but I believe the title tells us what they learned.

Glenn Reynolds comments thusly, "When people can’t treat individuals as individuals, they look for proxies. Race is an easily available proxy, and while it’s not a great one, it’s good enough to use in the absence of other data."

Apparently in this setting we either make the employer or landlord a victim, by withholding information, or we make the ex-con a victim by having that status known. I know on whose side I'm on.

As an employer or landlord I would want to know if a job applicant or prospective renter was an ex-con. I mostly would choose not to do business with an ex-con, recidivism is too common.

DEI on the Wane

The Wall Street Journal writes that corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion officers are losing clout and, in some cases being let go. WSJ calls what's happening "the rise and fall" of DEI.

In interviews, current and former chief diversity officers said company executives at times didn’t want to change hiring or promotion processes, despite initially telling CDOs they were hired to improve the talent pipeline. The quick about-face shows company enthusiasm for diversity initiatives hasn’t always proved durable, leaving some diversity officers now questioning their career path.

Most DEI officers were hired to demonstrate corporate commitment to a diverse workforce, in the wake of the George Floyd killing. Once hired, they often had little influence and came to understand they were "window dressing" to keep the firm out of trouble with BLM and other outside organizations.

Corporate officials in "line" departments tend to consider such "staff" or support functions as de facto second class corporate citizens, although the view is rarely stated bluntly. However, employees in-house know it to be true.

I wonder when, if ever, universities will trim their bloated DEI budgets?

Friday Snark







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

Not News

Politico has an article with this title: 

This is a Really Big Deal: How College Towns Are Decimating the GOP. 

No kidding? College towns are hotbeds of Democrat nastiness, and have been for decades. The eastern third of Massachusetts has been, effectively, one big college town for a century or more. That a reporter just discovered this truism reminds me of the Ben Rhodes quote that "reporters know literally nothing."

As professors the DrsC spent much of our adult lives domiciled in left coast college towns and they have always been progressive messes. You learn to regard it with bemused disdain. After two decades, we moved 16 miles out in the country to escape the craziness.

Our former college town was a bright blue island in a rural, red Congressional district. For most of our stay in the region we had a Republican congressman and state reps.

About three years ago, the non-college majority in the town we left behind got fed up with the homeless mess and elected a conservative city council who cleaned it up. As college enrollments are lately dropping, perhaps this sort of "normie revolt" will also happen elsewhere.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Naval Implications of Recent NATO Growth

If you are interested in the naval implications of Sweden and Finland joining NATO, I have an article for your enjoyment. From the CBC (Can.) comes a discussion of the difficulties the Russian navy will have in the event of hostilities with NATO. 

Russia has three warmish water ports, that likely don't freeze up in mid-winter. St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad are on the Baltic Sea, and Sevastopol in Crimea is on the Black Sea. 

Ingress and egress from both of those seas is now controlled by NATO countries. Between them Sweden and Denmark control the narrow waters giving access from the Baltic to the North Atlantic. And all by itself, Turkey controls the strait connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.

That leaves the Russian navy with Arctic Ocean ports like Murmansk and Archangel, plus Vladivostok on the Sea of Japan. While having unfettered access to the open oceans, none of these is ideal. The Arctic ports freeze up in winter and Vladivostok is something like 9-10 time zones away from most of Russia's population centers.

In wartime, geography matters ... a lot.

Run a Car on Water?

Just when you think nearly everything the government touches turns to merde, they do something right. My current favorite is corn on the cob which stays sweet long enough to reach my market, thanks USDA.

Now the DOE's Argonne, Sandia, and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories have made a breakthrough in developing a low cost catalyst which facilitates separating the hydrogen and oxygen components of water. They've managed it without using vastly expensive rare metals or high temperatures.

Hydrogen powered cars make much more sense than electrics, and their 'exhaust' is harmless water vapor. SciTechDaily has the story. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Smell Test ... Failed

A confidential source (paid snitch) for the FBI - proven reliable over several years - told them he had several conversations with the head of Burisma, Mykola Zlochesky. Burisma is the Ukraine natural gas company that employed Hunter Biden as a corporate director. The details of these conversations were reported to the FBI and recorded by them on a form FD-1023.

Today that form was released by Sen. Grassley and it shows the source claimed he was told Burisma paid $5 million each to Hunter and Joe Biden for their role in getting a Ukrainian prosecutor - Viktor Shokin - fired. He was investigating corruption at Burisma. Video of Joe Biden bragging about getting the prosecutor fired is available at YouTube and perhaps elsewhere.

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports the FD-1023 says Burisma's CEO claimed that although Hunter "'was stupid' and the CEO's dog was smarter, he was needed on the board 'so everything will be okay'" The CEO also told the source he had text messages and 17 recordings to substantiate his claims. For additional commentary and a copy of the actual document, see John Hinderaker's column at Power Line.

The FBI has had these allegations since before the election in 2020 and they also had the Hunter Biden laptop. If an investigation of the contents was undertaken, no evidence thereof has surfaced. 

FBI inaction in this matter doesn't pass the smell test.

The Odd Story Gets Odder

The Messenger has a detailed tick-tock of the Travis King story I wrote about yesterday. If you wish the details, this report has them. I did learn one new thing from this timeline.

A U.S. military official familiar with the investigation told The Messenger the U.S. military is looking into the possibility that the North Koreans had prior knowledge of his intention to cross the border.

Meaning perhaps a NK agent had turned him prior to his confinement. The clue is that King had booked an earlier trip to the DMZ for which he was a no-show because he was in the stockade.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Stanford President Screws Up, Quits

The President of Stanford University has resigned under fire as it turns out several research papers upon which he was principal author have been found to contain non-random, intentional errors. In other words, someone on the team faked or "improved" the data. 

"He should have supervised better. As a senior author in scientific papers, you're not the person standing in the lab, but you're ultimately responsible for the integrity of the work," reports NBC News.

"As a result of the review, Tessier-Lavigne said he was going to retract three papers and correct another two," reports Reuters.

It's a black eye for arguably the most prestigious university in California, often mentioned in the same breath with the Ivies. 

Tessier-Lavigne's ability to win grant funding for future projects, and thus his career as a researcher is probably over. He was doing medical research, where faked data can result in people dying.

I'm a retired academic with 20+ research papers to my credit. Believe me when I tell you what he did is a major no-no in the profession.

Nothing New

At Power Line, Steven Hayward posts a chart of US heat waves. It dates back over 120 years, and comes from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

As he notes, the real hot weather occurred in the 1930s when there weren't a lot of SUVs. Human influence on either weather or climate is minimal.

It's Bait and Switch

In a column about Joe Biden's manifold problems, RealClearPolitics' A.B.Stoddard drops a quote by former UN Ambassador and presidential aspirant Nikki Haley. It is one I endorse.

I think that we can all be very clear ... that if you vote for Joe Biden you are really counting on a President Harris, because the idea that he would make it until 86 years old is not something I think is likely.

In the wee hours of the morning, ponder a cheery thought. Picture a State of the Union address delivered with giggles by President Word Salad.

An Odd Story

CNN reportsTravis King, a young, black US enlisted soldier stationed in South Korea, got in trouble with the law a couple of times. He had just completed a 50 day hard labor sentence for drunken brawling. 

He was scheduled to return to the states where he would be separated from the Army. His discharge would probably be something other than honorable, perhaps a BCD or bad conduct discharge.

At the airport he eluded his escorts (MPs?) and didn't board the plane. Instead he changed into civilian clothes, and took a group tour to the DMZ.

At the DMZ he dashed across the border into North Korea and was there taken into custody. His apparent intent was to seek asylum in NK. 

From North Korea there has been no response to inquiries. I imagine NK is trying to figure out if he is a useful defector or merely a troubled young man who will be a problem wherever he is.

A Point of View

RealClearPolitics has an interview with Helen Joyce, an Irish journalist who is director of advocacy at Sex Matters. There is video and a transcript, I read the latter.

She makes a couple of assertions about the parents of transsexual children. Her main point is this.
Simply by saying we will never accept natal males in women's spaces, well it is their son that we're talking about. And they've told their son that he can get himself sterilized and destroy his own basic sexual function and women will accept him as a woman. And if we don't, there's no way back for them and that child.

They've sold their child a bill of goods that they can't deliver on. And I'm the one that has to be bullied to try to force me to deliver on it.

She also calls what they did to their children, “a human rights abuse level of awful thing to your own child that can not be fixed."

Polling on Defense Issues

RealClearPolitics asked a sample of Americans about matters relating to our defense. The findings are too many to effectively summarize here. The demographics identified included political party affiliation, age, gender, and race.

RCP polled what Americans believe about these questions. Which foreign nation poses the greatest threat to the US? Is NATO still important? Do foreign or domestic terrorists pose the greater threat? Should the US reinstitute the military draft? Should we defend Taiwan if attacked? Is DEI a good or bad thing in our military?

Go here to find which demographics favored which answers. There are a few surprises.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Disney to Dismember Itself

Bloomberg (scroll down) reports Disney CEO Bob Iger has put much of the company up for sale.

Iger put roughly a third of the company up for sale this week, declaring Disney’s linear TV assets noncore. That includes TV networks ABC, FX and Freeform. He also said Disney is looking for a strategic partner for ESPN — though he’s not willing to sell the whole thing — and the company is already looking to sell or restructure its TV and streaming business in India.

Before the pandemic, Disney’s media networks generated 35%, or $24.8 billion, of company revenue and more than 50%, or $7.5 billion, of its operating income.

Yet the accelerating decline of cable TV has limited Iger’s options. He thought he’d solved this problem with Disney+ and Hulu, his two mass-market streaming services. But his streaming business is expected to register a loss of about $800 million in the company’s just-ended third quarter.

How the mighty have fallen. Disney went woke and this looks a lot like scrambling not to go broke. Going woke is only one factor, the changing viewing habits of households (i.e., streaming) seems to be a bigger issue. Cable is said to be dying.

Reading the Tea Leaves

The Hill reports the results of a Granite State Poll looking at the percentage of New Hampshire voters who plan to cast a vote for each Republican who seeks the 2024 presidential nomination. I've summarized the results in tabular form.

37%  Trump
23%  DeSantis
8%    Scott
6%    Christie
6%    Burgum
5%    Ramaswamy
5%    Haley
1%    Pence
1%    Hurd

Trump's lead in NH is much less than reported elsewhere. A clear majority (55%) of New Hampshire Republican voters polled prefer someone other than Trump. As I've noted before, a key unknown is how many of those preferring a non-Trump candidate have Trump as their second choice?

Are these findings a statistical outlier? It's hard to tell at this point. By the time NH votes in early 2024 I fully expect several of these wannabes to have dropped out.

One of the analysts I read claimed that NH has a pretty good record of picking a candidate who then wins the general election. A better record than Iowa, for instance. 

You can be sure there are people in the other campaigns hoping Trump is convicted of something in one of the 3-4 indictments he faces. I doubt he would drop out but it would then be more uphill for him.

A Kind of "Secession"

I don't often cite articles at The New Criterion. That said, James Piereson writes there about factors causing Americans "to 'secede' from the national enterprise." See his summary.

Americans in large numbers do not trust their government and do not feel pride in their country. They are acting out these attitudes by renouncing their citizenship, withdrawing from the public schools, arming themselves because the authorities cannot or will not protect them, leaving the workforce, and disdaining military service.

And the questions he believes the trends summarized above raise.

Can a nation prosper when its citizens no longer feel an attachment to the national enterprise? Can it even survive? These are important questions that are likely to be answered one way or another in the next decade or two.

In my view, his list of indictors of this "secession" are both accurate and serious. It is also oddly parallel to the "lie flat" movement in China. I wonder if we humans have entered a developmental cul-de-sac?

Shrinking School Enrollments

Steven Malanga, senior editor at City Journal, writes about big cities' declining populations of school age children and their consequent declines in public school enrollment. For example:

Los Angeles’s district reached its enrollment peak more than 20 years ago, at 737,000 students, and has been on a steady downturn since then. It lost 57,000 students during Covid, and total enrollment is now down 58 percent since the peak. A recent study estimated that the district could lose another 125,000 students by 2030. (emphasis added)

Several factors are involved. All schools suffer because of declining birth rates. In addition, schools in states losing population are hit harder. And finally, big city schools are impacted by parents moving to less blighted suburban and exurban neighborhoods. 

The example cited above - Los Angeles - is one of several in CA, IL, and the Northeast which hit the 'trifecta' of all three negative impacts. Meanwhile state funds to education are normally based on enrollment, so these districts suffer shrinking resources. Look for local real estate taxes to go up, which will make urban living even more unattractive.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Wildlife Viewing

Our screened back porch looks into an aspen forest and serves as an unintended, but much appreciated "blind." We can see out but the wildlife can't see in.

Today I was standing on the porch when a mule deer doe and her twin spotted fawns walked out of the forest, across our back cleared area, and back into the aspen trees on the other side. I write "walked" as the doe's pace was dignified and leisurely.

The twin fawns - each slightly smaller than an adult greyhound - trotted or scampered in a playful, carefree way. They looked very healthy and were seriously cute. See photos at the other DrC's blog.

Our "landscaping" is natural aspen forest understory. There's plenty of natural food for deer to eat and when they do it does no damage.

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When we were building this place 23 years ago locals took a dim view of screening the porch, we insisted and have been glad ever since. Forests have bugs and, liking to dine on our porch, we chose not to be bitten. It also gives us a place from which to spy on animals, a definite plus.

Those same locals also warned us our idea of installing a porch ceiling fan was folly, as the weather would destroy it. A couple of decades later it still works perfectly.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Zinger

Instapundit reposts a bitter speculation by essayist Richard Fernandez who Tweets as wretchardthecat; and who notes:

The larger trend in politics ... both sides accuse each other of treason, sexual predation and low down, belly crawling behavior. The elite are painting each other in the blackest colors. The scary thing is it could all be true.

As though the glass is not only half empty, but its contents are poisonous. A bleak view for sure. 

Interviews Better Than Debates

At American Thinker, columnist Clarice Feldman gives us her reactions to the Tucker Carlson interviews of Scott, Hutchinson, Pence, Haley, Ramaswamy and DeSantis. She’s now the third pundit who picked DeSantis as the “winner.”

She calls Pence and Hutchinson clear losers and suggests they “go home.” She sees merit in Haley and Ramaswamy, and likes DeSantis a lot. 

Oddly, she writes nothing whatsoever about Tim Scott beyond noting he was present. Perhaps she was uncomfortable being critical of a black candidate. I get that.

Feldman admired Carlson’s interviewing skill and definitely finds the interview format preferable to the “debate” format.

This is a far better method of letting voters know about the candidates, than what is ridiculously called “debates” -- kick lines of large numbers of contenders, predictable questions from biased moderators, followed by short, often obviously scripted responses and one-line sound bites. No serious candidate should continue to participate in them and no intelligent voter should bother watching them.

Thinking About Ukraine

It is likely the only way we get a result we and the locals like in Ukraine is if the Russians tire of fighting there and go home, as they did from Afghanistan. Thus we need to answer this question. What set of circumstances is most likely to cause this change of heart in Russia?

The frankly unattractive answer is a war that seems to go on forever. Russia losing is not a necessity; Russia unable to break the will to fight of Ukraine is what will eventually produce the desired result, if anything will. 

David rarely beats Goliath unless the military technology available to David is much greater - not the case here. The population of Ukraine is roughly 30% of Russia’s population. It is unlikely Ukraine can in any meaningful sense “defeat” Russia. Ukraine may be able to convince Russia of the impossibility of winning, many people on both sides will die while this is happening.

Will this require regime change in Russia? That is up to the Russians collectively, and to Putin in particular. When they abandoned their occupation of Afghanistan, within two years the Soviet Union was history - a fact of which Putin is all too aware.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Tucker Interviews 6 GOP Wannabes

As we noted yesterday, Tucker Carlson was in Iowa interviewing several of the candidates for the GOP presidential nomination. Those present to be interviewed included Tim Scott, Asa Hutchinson, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Ron DeSantis. Donald Trump chose not to appear.

The Washington Examiner's Byron York, often a panelist for Bret Baier on Fox News, does a nice overview of the interviews. Here is my highly abbreviated summary of his evaluations.

TIM SCOTT. The interview with Carlson highlighted the South Carolina senator's least appealing side, which is his tendency to try to joke his way out of difficult situations.

ASA HUTCHINSON. A mess.

MIKE PENCE. Another mess.

NIKKI HALEY. Haley had ... a winning manner and a coherent case for her presidential candidacy.

VIVEK RAMASWAMY. Carlson went easy on him, allowing him to deliver a good performance.

RON DESANTIS. The governor's time onstage in Des Moines on Friday showed why he is, at the moment, the strongest candidate to take on Trump.

That's a second independent evaluation finding DeSantis did his campaign the most good whilst being interviewed by Carlson. 

Saturday Snark












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

Friday, July 14, 2023

Rumors

Ryan Saavedra writes at the Daily Wire that rumors Biden will decide not to run are circulating among Democratic Washington insiders. Apparently they've been sounding out possible replacements.

Whether they are acting on hope or on knowledge is unknown as yet. On the other hand, the Biden people just announced some fund raising records which argues for the rumors being wrong. We'll see....

Carlson Interviews DeSantis

People have been less-than-enthusiastic about FL Gov. Ron DeSantis' campaign performance to date in the run-up to the GOP primaries. His poll numbers have either remained steady or dropped, depending on which poll you followed.

Perhaps his interview by Tucker Carlson today in Iowa might start to turn things around. Bob Hoge, writing at Red State, reviews the interview, and quotes substantial excerpts of DeSantis dialogue. Hoge concludes DeSantis did a good job.

DeSantis seemed at ease, spoke knowledgeably about the issues, laughed frequently, and didn’t seem awkward at all. That is not an endorsement or an expression of any preference in the GOP presidential primaries, it’s just my opinion about his performance at this event.

Carlson is nobody's patsy. If you come out of an interview with him looking good, you have platform skills. Incidentally, Hoge has a link to video of the interview, scroll down. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Cause and Effect

A quote to think long and hard about, from the pen of post-apocalyptic novelist G. Michael Hopf.

Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.

If you view each of the above four short sentences as Phases I through IV, we appear to be in early stages of Phase IV. From Hopf's book Those Who Remain (2016). 

Friday Snark








We've had thermometers for what? Last 300 years?

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