Sunday, April 26, 2015

Unharried Reid

We reported that John Hinderaker of Power Line had run an interview with a caller who claimed to know that former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had been injured in a fight with his drunk brother. Now Hinderaker reports that the caller has recanted, claiming a hoax.

Apparently, whatever happened to Reid wasn't losing a fight to his brother, or if it was Hinderaker's caller didn't see evidence thereof. It still appears that Reid has obfuscated the true cause of his injuries, how or for what reason is unknown.

Why Jihad?

Yesterday we wrote of British jihadis - the whys and wherefores thereof. Today Global Post has an article in which authors Timothy Phillips and Nir Eisikovits wrestle with the same question: why?
IS is attractive to young European Muslims not so much because it helps them forget about their poverty, but because it gives them an exciting, meaningful alternative to a life in pursuit of material comfort and economic security.

Young people often long for glorious, violent, absolutist causes to sweep them off their feet and rescue them from what they see as the petty, worthless striving of their parents and those around them. That longing is not limited to young radicalized Muslims. It is a common human impulse we see time and again. IS is not the first movement to tap into the impulse to both feel and be part of something bigger than oneself, which is not always about something positive.
They are latter-day Muslim Crusaders, fighting to reclaim some of the same blood-soaked, barren land their earlier, Christian avatars fought over. And for similar reasons.

Ancient Symbol, Modern Taint

National Review's Kevin D. Williamson writes about swastikas at George Washington University ... actually, the Hindu variety. Williamson also notes the symbol being used by Buddhists, Jains, and Zoroastrians.

Truly the swastika is both ancient and multicultural; I have a Navaho rug with the symbol woven into it. In their language, we were told, the symbol is called "the whirling log." The rug was collected by my uncle who, fresh out of West Point, did pre-statehood garrison duty in the Arizona territory long before Nazism was conceived.

A Ray of Sunshine, or Maybe Realism

When good news, however attenuated, arrives from the Middle East, it is worth celebrating. Commentary Magazine reports the results of an ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller (Public Relations Agency) Arab Youth Survey, conducted in each of the past seven years, surveyed 3500 young Arabs in face-to-face interviews held in 16 Arab countries.
This year, defying a long tradition of blaming all the Arab world’s problems on Israel, only 23 percent of respondents cited the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the region’s main obstacle. In fact, the conflict came in fourth, trailing ISIS (37 percent), terrorism (32 percent) and unemployment (29 percent). Given that respondents were evidently allowed to choose more than one of the 15 options (the total adds up to 235 percent rather than 100), it’s even more noteworthy that only 23 percent thought the conflict worth mentioning.

What the poll shows, in a nutshell, is that young Arabs have reached the same conclusion Arab leaders made glaringly evident at the last year’s inaugural session of the Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate: Israel simply isn’t one of the Arab world’s major problems anymore, if it ever was.
Israel needs this good news since all they've heard from the President and his minions has been bad news.

A Superabundance of Idiots

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, quoting author John Ringo from the latter's Facebook page:
Idiots abound to such an extent one has to pick and choose which ones to care about and which to ignore.
The idiotic superabundance Ringo deplores is one with which we grapple daily in selecting the content of COTTonLINE.

Free Sticker



Maybe where the sun doesn't shine?
Or the back wall of a urinal?

Hat tip to National Review Online's The Corner for the image.

A Graham Candidacy?

George Will, arguably dean of conservative columnists, writes for National Review about a possible presidential campaign by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Like the other present and potential contenders, I see Graham as a mixed bag.

His view of foreign policy is closer to mine than those of several possible candidates. I disagree with him when he alleges that Arabs would like "the American values set." I'm not convinced our values are compatible with their culture. On the other hand, his notion of putting radical Islam in a box and burying it six feet down works for me.

I am not comfortable with Graham's views on immigration, as reported by Will. Yes, we need people since we aren't reproducing our numbers. On the other hand, I prefer the Australian model which seeks high value immigrants who have English, and bring wealth, skills and education.

I will grant one of Will's assertions: Graham is fun to watch. Since we often watch our President, having one who is entertaining would be nice. Still, if that were our criterion, Newt Gingrich would have been elected four years ago.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

British Jihadis

The New York Times Magazine has an article about middle class Brit Muslims who have gone to Syria to join the ISIS jihad. It expresses some puzzlement over their motivation.

My guess it is the same motivation that took young Christian crusaders to the region 800 to 1000 years ago, an escape from humdrum boring lives and a chance for adventure and maybe riches as well as the approval of one's god. As Scandinavians would once say, they went a-viking, that is, raiding, adventuring.

COTTonLINE has a motto that is relevant to such individuals:
If someone seeks martyrdom, be helpful and facilitate his or her death.

Climate Data Anomalies

The Telegraph (U.K.) reports suspicions that climate data may have been "fiddled" or adjusted in systematic ways to demonstrate global warming not otherwise observable by alternate methods. Concern is strong enough that a panel of scientists has been established to investigate the issue.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has enlisted an international team of five distinguished scientists to carry out a full inquiry into just how far these manipulations of the data may have distorted our picture of what is really happening to global temperatures.
When commitment to a particular scientific theory or position becomes a secular religion, as AGW has become for some, its true believers bend reality to fit the model. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

About Language

"Which people speak what languages where" constitutes an interesting group of questions, if you find humankind fascinating as we do. See an intriguing series of maps published by The Washington Post which go a long way to providing answers.

It turns out most of the world's people speak one of just 12 languages, with Chinese having the most speakers. On the other hand, English is spoken in the most countries (n=101) as a heritage of the global British Empire we wrote of last week. Being born a native English speaker has been a blessing.
Whereas English lags behind in the number of native speakers, it is by far the world's most commonly studied language. Overall, more people learn English than French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, German and Chinese combined.
English has 1.5 billion learners. As we travel the world, the DrsC privately joke to one another that soon the whole world will communicate, albeit awkwardly, in heavily accented English. And that may turn out to be no bad thing, overcoming the apocryphal curse of the Tower of Babel.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Muslims Oppose American Sniper, Really?

As The Washington Times reports, Muslim students on several campuses have protested the showing on-campus of the film American Sniper. Golly, do you suppose they oppose seeing a GI wasting one Arab after another, as dispassionately as swatting flies?

The popularity of American Sniper stems from the same roots as the popularity among Brits of the 1964 film Zulu, in which a small group of Redcoats do volley rifle fire and massacre several hundred brave charging Zulus. Eastwood's Dirty Harry Callahan wasting scumbag lowlife criminals with an oversized magnum revolver was popular too. The pleasure is atavistic, maybe not for the tender sensibilities of university folk.

Clinton Bashing

Part of the fun of politics is watching someone with talent brutally slander the opposition. Scott Johnson, who blogs at Power Line, shows up today with some fine down-home Clinton bashing - yes, both of them. You might conclude he doesn't love them much.
Essence of Clinton gives us first and foremost the voracious and insatiable appetites of William Jefferson Clinton. Neither taste nor shame can limit them.

Madam Hillary serves as his co-dependent enabler. It is not a pretty sight.

They give us naked prevarication as they they follow their old scandal playbook and test new frontiers in scandal management.

They give us massive corruption under cover of philanthropy.

They give us politics as a criminal enterprise.

They show us the power of sociopathology in democratic politics. How empowering to operate freely without a conscience.
Johnson finishes by quoting Jonah Goldberg, "The Clintons are like the Tudors of the Ozarks." At this point Johnson adds:
Combined with Huckleberry Finn’s friends the duke and the dauphin.
I'll take his word on the Tudors, but Huck's two implausible con artists I know well.

Economics 101

Basic micro-economics tells you that if demand remains essentially stable and supply increases, prices drop. Applied to labor, price = wages. A flood of 32 million illegal immigrants has oversupplied the market with labor, holding wages down for American workers. Liberals have denied immigrant wage-suppression.

Now The Washington Examiner reports the wage-suppression effects of immigration appear real.
The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service report studied immigration and middle class income from 1945-2013 and found that as immigration slowed between 1945 and 1970, American incomes increased.

But when immigration expanded, the incomes of the bottom 90 percent of Americans went flat and then dropped beginning in 2000.

In the report to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the CRS reported that the foreign-born population of the United States surged 324.5 percent, from 9,740,000 to 41,348,066, from 1970 to 2013.
COTTonLINE understands other factors have also influenced wage levels, including the offshoring of manufacturing and technical jobs.

Wrong Name

Matt Drudge links to a My Way story about a swingers sex club in Nashville which seeks a permit by claiming to be a church. My sometimes runaway imagination has it called the Basilica of the Sublime Orgasm.

They unimaginatively choose to call it the United Fellowship Center. How boring is that?

Fraternity Members Harass Wounded Vets

For six years Panama City Beach, FL, has hosted the Warrior Beach Retreat for wounded veterans and their families. This year attendees were harassed by Zeta Beta Tau fraternity members from University of Florida who were attending a spring prom at the resort. See an Associated Press story on the ABC News site.

Various reports say the frat brothers spat on the vets, stole their flags, and urinated on those American flags. The UofF chapter was already on probation for hazing offenses and will likely be banned from campus.

Needless to say, the national fraternity has indicated extreme displeasure with the alleged behavior. Their website states the organization was:
Founded in 1898 as the world's first Jewish Fraternity.
Groups of drunken young men are capable of almost anything gross and revolting.

Bad Policy

Reuters reports via Yahoo News the CIA will conduct investigations into several drone strikes that killed hostages held where the strike occurred. Suppose President Wuss announces that we will only conduct drone strikes where we are certain there are no hostages.

If you and I will be aware of that policy, so will the ISIS and al Qaeda leaders. Were I one of them I would grab a couple of U.S. citizens and keep them tethered at my headquarters, making sure they got outside for some "fresh air" everyday. It's a perfect anti-drone system.

Which is exactly why such a policy is nonsense. As Ralph Peters notes below, collateral damage in war is SOP, sad but unavoidable. It should never keep us from attacking enemy command and control personnel.

Janes' on Russian Armor

The Janes organization chronicles armaments world-wide. Here they have a series of good photos and text of the new generation of Russian tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, self-propelled artillery, armored personnel carriers, and the like.

Some are partially covered with tarps but the running gear is on display. Most are track-layers but at least a couple are all-wheel-driven.

From a Russian Ministry of Defense photo, this is the new Armata heavy tank.

A Rare Thing

Middle Eastern correspondent Michael Totten writes for World Affairs Journal with something very rare: good news from this bad-news region. He writes of Kurdistan, and specifically of the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, Erbil.

The Kurds are fighting ISIS and face literal genocide if they lose. The front is just 30 miles away, and yet ...
The Kurds are no more enamored of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's legion of genocidaires than Americans are, and they're currently fighting much harder. Their intelligence networks are state of the art, and anyone who doesn't speak locally accented Hawleri Kurdish stands out at once.

The world's nastiest army is banging on the door, but these people are doing such a good job keeping the wolf away that the place is booming despite it all. Middle class and elite housing is going up everywhere, most famously in the area known as Dream City which includes a replica of the White House.

KFC is in Kurdistan now. So is TGI Fridays. Pizza Hut has been there for a while. Starbucks might even open a store in one of the brand-new malls.

Their autonomous region is alas still part of Iraq, but it's also part of the world. I wouldn't call it the Dubai of Iraq just yet, but every day it looks and feels more like Jordan and less like the howling wilderness of poisoned mass graves that it used to be.

One of these days, the Kurds will enjoy independence and join not only the rest of the world but also the United Nations as a member state and the roster of robust American allies.
Not under this President, they won't. He disdains allies and loves enemies like Iran and Turkey.

BTW, Totten's comparison of Kurdistan with Jordan is a real compliment. Jordan is quite nice for an Arab country. Kings Hussein and Abdullah have done a good job.

General Thoughts on POTUS Candidates

The Republicans have several first term senators running for President this cycle. Cruz, Rubio, and Paul are all interesting, articulate, and engaging fellows.

Unfortunately, they remind us of another youngish, interesting, articulate, and engaging fellow who ran and won the presidency seven years ago. He was a Democrat named Barack Hussein Obama.

How has that turned out? Not so well, you say? I agree. What should that quite immediate object lesson suggest to us? That all three of the above GOP worthies need more seasoning.

Sure, I may end up supporting one of them, if nominated, as being better than Ms. Hillary. However, I'd like to see our next president have some executive experience, say as a governor.

Four GOP governors are running or considering a run: Walker, Bush, Kasich, and Christie. Of those, my preference is for Walker or maybe Kasich. I don't like Bush on immigration and Common Core and I'd quickly tire of Christie's Jersey bluster. Kasich is a bit nerdy, but maybe okay in spite of it. Walker seems okay, but I want to see more.

People Change Ecosystems

Reliably green and liberal, The New Republic alleges conservatives blame the CA drought on failure to use available water for human uses, ignoring the lack of rainfall. The claim is specious.

All sensible conservative voices, discussing CA water problems, begin with the fact that we live in an arid region. That is one reason CA is so comfortable, because there is no sticky humidity. The air is dry because the countryside is dry.

Where we differ with greens is in our willingness to recognize that humans inevitably impact the environment. CA's great Central Valley once flooded miles wide every spring. It no longer does because of flood control ... oh, the dreaded ecosystem change, very harmful to cattails, reeds, and mosquitos too. Actually, nobody complains.

Yes, we do advocate catching, storing, and using more of the available rain and snowfall. Thus we would allow much less to run off into the Pacific Ocean which, when viewed recently, remains full. True, certain fish species would suffer ... so? They are not important food stocks.