Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Weird Leadership Science

Bloomberg Businessweek reports the results of a Gallup survey of worker preferences:
Women were more likely than men to want a male boss: 39 percent of women wanted to be led by a man, compared with 26 percent of men. In the 60 years that Gallup has conducted this survey, women have never preferred a female boss.
Does this mean feminists are wrong, sisterhood isn't powerful after all? Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Quote of the Day

Power Line's John Hinderaker, gives a sardonic characterization of the Obama administration:
The Obama administration is in many respects a more sinister version of the Carter administration.
That works for me: equally clueless, but with evil intentions.

Poll: U.S. on Wrong Track

The Wall Street Journal reports the findings of a recent poll conducted jointly with NBC News asking whether the country is on the right or wrong track, headed in the right or wrong direction. Two-thirds of those surveyed said "wrong track" and a quarter said "right track," the balance were clueless or refused to respond.
The last time “right direction” beat out “wrong track” was in January 2004 — and the last election cycle where that was the case was 2002.
"Wrong track" pretty much describes my view of our country's current trajectory, as regular COTTonLINE readers know.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Appealing to Women Voters

Mona Charen writes a good column for The Washington Examiner on how the Republican Party can do a better job of appealing to women, and in particular single women. As she notes, the emphasis shouldn't be gynecological but on ways to make women and children safer and less impoverished.

Pitching self-reliance to a single mom who doesn't get child support regularly (or at all) is a hard sell, she could use some help and knows it. Charen admits single women voters have an element of wanting government to be a husband-substitute that will be hard for the GOP to buy into. She suggests we look for things to offer that are consonant with our values.

Looking Good

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza summarizes the findings of the three major election prediction statistical models - Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight model, the New York Times' LEO model, and the WaPo's Election Lab model. All three now predict the GOP will take control of the Senate in the next Congress. Continuing GOP control of the House is a foregone conclusion to all prognosticators.

In fact, the only Senate seat about which the models disagree is Kansas and even that one is explained away by Cillizza. Meanwhile, the election is only "two weeks and a get-up" away, as Vietnam era GIs described the upcoming end of their year in-country.

Can we relax? Not yet, but the omens are definitely favorable. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Walking Out on The One

Reuters reports President Obama spoke at a campaign rally yesterday in Upper Marlboro, the county seat of Prince George's County, MD. During his speech a number of people got up and walked out. Not a good omen, obviously.

What is even more striking - the PG County population is roughly 2/3 black. That's supposed to be Obama's core constituency, it's why he was invited to speak. In 2014 nobody invites him to speak to white voters. Reuters writes:
A steady stream of people walked out of the auditorium while he spoke, however, and a heckler interrupted his remarks.
They know how to hurt his feelings. How the mighty have fallen.

More on Sierra Pacific Lumber

Want to read more about DOJ misdeeds in the Sierra Pacific Lumber case in northern California? Paul Mirengoff of Power Line has an article about it. Two former federal prosecutors have gone on record saying the government broke the law and that they were pressured to go along. In addition,
In a related case, a California state judge found that the investigation and prosecution of this matter by the state involved “egregious,” “pervasive,” and “reprehensible” abuses that amount to “government corruption.” The state court case “betray[ed] the primary purpose of the judicial system—to reveal the truth,” the judge stated.
It is likely that various members of the Obama administration will spend significant time testifying under oath during the last two years of his misrule. We may even see a perp walk or two.

The Enemies of My Enemy ....

Leslie Gelb is a former New York Times correspondent and a fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations. Here he writes for The Daily Beast about what it will take to win against ISIS.

Gelb says there are only two outfits in the region which have the forces and the will to counter ISIS: Syria's Assad government and its ally, Iran. If we wish to win against ISIS without putting U.S. troops on the ground, we must work with these two less-than-desirable partners. Only they have the forces, and the track record of holding together in the face of attack.

Nobody here loves either Assad or the Ayatollahs of Iran, collectively they are a pack of scoundrels. That said, making common cause with ugly customers is nothing new, remember our anti-Hitler alliance with the monster Stalin in WW II.

I estimate Gelb is correct in his policy assessment.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Film Review: Fury

The other DrC and I saw the Brad Pitt World War II tank corps film Fury this afternoon. It concerns the crew of a Sherman heavy tank fighting its way across Europe in the late days of WW II. It was appropriately dirty, gloomy, bloody and realistic in technical details. We enjoyed it.

I won't engage in spoilers, for plot details you'll need to see the film. The film company had at their disposal at least four operational Shermans and one German Tiger. It was good to see and hear these brutal beasts in action.

Watching, you got the (accurate) impression that the German tanks were superior. But Germans didn't win the war as they lost control of the air and simply couldn't produce enough of their superior tanks.

For a discussion of the relative merits of German and U.S. WW II tanks, see a Richard Fernandez review of Steve Zalonga's book Panther vs. Sherman which deals with this subject. Zalonga makes the point that whichever tank was firing from concealment often won the engagement, meaning the tank out in the open attacking was at increased risk.

It didn't hurt to have the other fellow outnumbered, either, which advantage greater numbers of U.S. tanks often afforded. Zalonga also alleges U.S. tanks were more reliable and spent more time operational and less time in the shop than German tanks.

Don't Issue Visas

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan writes good sense about a travel ban on citizens of the three African nations where Ebola is present.
What will help keep people with Ebola from entering the U.S. is denying U.S. travel visas to those from the affected countries.

Some critics, finally, say that a ban won’t work 100%. Let’s posit that. But if it works 78%, or 32%, isn’t it worth it?

The burden is on those who oppose a ban to make a hard, factual, coherent and concrete case. It is telling that so far they have not been able to.
It is unlikely many West Africans will go to Mexico or Canada and sneak across the border.

Holder's DOJ Charged With Suppressing Evidence

Eric Holder's Justice Department stands accused of several kinds of felonious misbehavior in connection with the prosecution of Sierra Pacific Lumber over charges they were somehow complicit in the Moonlight Fire. Go here to see a Sacramento Bee article about the case.

The Chief Judge of the Eastern California District of the U.S. District Court has recused all judges in that district on the grounds that the courts there were lied to - defrauded - by Justice Department prosecutors. His concern was his fellow judges - knowing they'd been lied to by the government - would therefore have a conflict of interest in hearing the case.

Women Abandon Obama

Politico reports women are losing faith in President Obama. They were formerly a group that strongly supported him. Author Manu Raju writes:
With two weeks until Election Day, the president’s diminished standing with women is quickly becoming one of the biggest liabilities facing Democrats as they struggle to hang onto the Senate majority. In battleground states across the country, Obama is underwater with female voters — especially women unaffiliated with a political party — and it’s making it harder for Democrats to take advantage of the gender gap, according to public polling and Democratic strategists.
The article talks about the "problem with declining support from women" in the various states in which a Senate seat is at stake. What it doesn't do is say why women are less supportive.

COTTonLINE guesses women feel the Prez isn't doing a good job keeping them, and their kids, safe from Ebola. Of course they are correct in this feeling, worse luck for all of us.

Weird Immunological Science

Yahoo News Digest reports GlaxoSmithKline is developing an Ebola vaccine which shows promise and perhaps can start shipping in early 2015. According to the short article, this is the third vaccine to show up, one each from Canada, the U.S., and the U.K.

I much doubt they plan to vaccinate people in the States or Europe, probably widespread vaccination in Western Africa would be indicated. Perhaps hospital staff here might get the vaccine if there is a chance they'll be treating infected patients. Hat tip to the other DrC for the link.

Weird Neonatal Science

The Telegraph (U.K.) reports scientists in Budapest believe they have found that the season of the year in which you are born influences your personality lifelong.

The Hungarian researchers believe those born in summer are more prone to mood swings or disorders. Supposedly, those born in autumn are less likely to be depressive and those born in winter less likely to be irritable. One of the researchers is quoted as follows:
Biochemical studies have shown that the season in which you are born has an influence on certain monoamine neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, which is detectable even in adult life. This led us to believe that birth season may have a longer-lasting effect.
This feels a bit like astrology, the totally debunked "what is your sign?" nonsense. I'm uncertain these findings are valid; let's see if they can be replicated before getting serious about them.

If the findings prove to be true, it would certainly be an argument for planning time-of-birth to avoid summer, thus avoiding autumn conception.

Lawyers, Apparatchiks, and Hacks

Michael Walsh who blogs at PJ Media, writes about our political class, while echoing an ironic line from Raiders of the Lost Ark about the government having "top men" working on a project.
The Progressive myth is that we ought to have a government of experts — top men! — to handle the nation’s problems in a calm, deliberative manner. The reality is that we have a nation of unscrupulous lawyers, amoral apparatchiks and political hacks whose only area of expertise is manipulating the electoral and governmental systems and getting rich by doing so. 
Those are real skills, just not the ones we need right now. I believe Walsh is characterizing Ron Klain, Obama's new Ebola czar, who appears to know less than at the average person about Ebola or epidemiology.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

TX Housing Not Inflated

Scott Sumner writes in the Library of Economics and Liberty blog about why poverty rates are so low in Texas. I knew the answer before I read what he wrote, having spent a year living in TX in a rural Dallas exurb. Here is what Sumner writes, and I agree:
California has one of the most generous welfare states in the country, and Texas has one of the stingiest. And yet Texas has far less poverty.

Indeed if you adjusted for demographics, I'd guess Texas actually has less poverty than the US as a whole, and probably even less than heavily white Massachusetts.

So what explains the Texas success in race-adjusted poverty rates? There are probably many factors, but the housing market is almost certainly the biggest difference from California.
Houses are so cheap in Texas a Californian can hardly believe it. When we moved there in mid-2003 there were brand new houses for sale for less than $100k ... truly.

We bought an attractive new 3 bd rm. 2 bath home with brick facade on 1.25 acres for #150k, thinking we'd stay for several years. We decided to relocate to WY instead and sold it 15 months later, at a slight loss. It was a nice place and we enjoyed our year in it.

The same house on that much land in most parts of CA would have cost $350k-$500k or more, if you could find one on more than a city lot. People sell a home on the Coast or in the Northeast and bring their equity to TX where they can often pay cash for a good home and end up with a sizable nest egg left over.

No wonder poverty is lower in TX. Most other stuff basically costs the same, but housing is much, much cheaper which, as Sumner notes, makes a big difference in one's cost of living.

Ban People and Flights

Statistician Nate Silver, formerly of NYT and now associated with ESPN, writes the FiveThirtyEight blog and likes data-based answers to questions. For that matter, so do I. Here he attempts to support the idea of not banning flights from Africa.

Silver's main point is that there are few direct flights from Western Africa and many to Western Europe. Thus it is likely that anyone wanting to fly here will change planes in Paris, London, Frankfurt or somewhere similar.

Flights from West Africa aren't the main issue, people from its countries are. It would dramatically reduce our exposure to ban entry to persons carrying passports from any country in Africa with reported Ebola cases. It wouldn't hurt to start examining passports of others, including flight crews, seeking U.S. entry to see if they've recently been in the affected area.

I've seen articles which allege that at least 100 persons a week are coming to the U.S. from countries where Ebola is active. Simply put, such individuals shouldn't be admitted until Ebola is under control.

CDC Looks Lame

Joe Nocera writes for The New York Times about the Obama administration's fumbles and stumbles in regard to Ebola. He sees this as merely their most recent example of competency shortfall. See Nocera's brief summary of major screw-ups prior to Ebola:
Many of the Obama administration’s “scandals” have been failures of competence. The Secret Service let a man leap over the White House fence and get into the White House. The Veterans Health Administration covered up unconscionable delays in treating veterans. The error-ridden rollout of the Obamacare website was a nightmare for people trying to sign up for health insurance. The Republican right takes it as an article of faith that the national government can’t do anything right. Problems like these only help promote that idea.
Too right, they do. This is the biggest collection of own-foot-shooters in many a year, they make the Bushies look pretty good. Nocera summarizes:
The Ebola outbreak is not exactly enhancing the C.D.C.'s reputation for competence.
Dang, I do love ironic understatement. Then Nocera looks at why the problem exists and finds the agency blames the sequestration budget cuts. Let me tell you about government agencies and budget cuts, learned while spending two years consulting with the headquarters unit of a federal agency with 10,000 employees.

When a federal agency's budget is cut they don't look for non-essential functions to cut back, that would make their lives harder and less rewarding. They look for ways to deliver perceptibly less of whatever it is the public - taxpayers - expect them to accomplish.

The agency mantra is this: if you cut our budget, we will do our level best to make it hurt you more than it hurts us. You have to wonder how many of us need to die from Ebola before CDC thinks we've been punished enough for cutting their budget?

The Forgotten Demographic

The Daily Beast reports on a demographic group largely overlooked in discussions of electoral politics: seniors. The author claims seniors, not Hispanics, are the fastest growing group of voters. And it is a group that, in recent elections, has turned out in large numbers and voted for Republicans.

The Daily Beast, as an arm of the MSM, tries hard to find some good news for Dems in this. I'm not convinced they succeed, but you are welcome to draw your own conclusions on that question.

One thing is indisputable - we seniors vote in large numbers. No group turns out a greater percentage of its eligible voters.

Friday, October 17, 2014

HuffPo: GOP Favored to Take Senate

People who pay attention to politics know Huffington Post favors Democrats. That makes their evaluation today of the current state-of-play in Senate races particularly interesting. However reluctantly, HuffPollster sees Republicans likely to win enough seats to control the Senate.

The authors quote several analysts who argue it is near-impossible for Senate candidates to do well when the same-party President is unpopular. This was the case for Republicans in 2006 when Bush was on many voters' sh--lists. It should be the same situation for Democrats in 2014 when Obama is similarly unpopular.