Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Aerial Combat on Syria-Turkey Border

The Turks shot down a Russian jet somewhere along the Turkey-Syria border. One pilot was reported killed after ejecting, likely by ground fire, the other was rescued. Now Russia and Turkey are arguing about whether the jet was or was not in Turkish airspace.

It becomes ever more clear that Erdogan's Turkey is abetting an ISIS victory in Syria. They see ISIS crushing both the Assad government and the Kurdish rebels.

Largely Sunni Turkey roots for Sunni ISIS, against Assad's Alawites and his Shia allies - the Iranians and their local Hezbollah proxy from Lebanon. Plus it has been clear for over a decade that Turkey would go to war to prevent the establishment of a Kurdish state anywhere near their borders.

Turkey is a NATO member, if attacked by Russia they could demand NATO support them in fighting off Putin. Defending a Turkey that supports ISIS would be extremely unpalatable to other NATO nation members.

There is every chance NATO would not comply, if it appears Turkey instigated the fight. At that point, the whole NATO schemata is called into question, something Putin would flatly love. It gives him a motive to attack Turkey, perhaps shoot down a couple of their planes, trying to goad them into jumping in with both feet. Watch this space.

Fact Checking Failure

Donald Trump famously says there were NJ Muslims celebrating the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. The Washington Post's so-called "fact checker" Glenn Kessler reported finding no support for this assertion and awarded Trump four Pinocchios, denoting a maximum lie.

Meanwhile John Hinderaker at Power Line did a quick search and found Kessler's own WaPo had published a report sourced to the Jersey police concerning such celebration. Now Mark Steyn has found the story was covered by The New York Times and a couple of Jersey TV stations too.

Chances are Trump exaggerated some when he said "thousands" were involved, so what? Trump always exaggerates, it is his stock in trade, so sue him.

It seems clear there were some number of radicalized Muslim Arabs in New Jersey who publically expressed joy about the World Trade Center attack. Deal with it!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Boxer, Feinstein on Different Tracks

Blogging at Huffington Post, California's 75 year old junior Senator, Barbara Boxer (D-CA) opines that Republican candidates are being too harsh concerning refugees and jihadis. Oddly, her senior colleague Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) thinks Obama isn't being harsh enough.

Normally they're on the same page. In this case I believe Feinstein has access to intelligence Boxer doesn't see and that intel makes a difference.

Also Boxer has announced she will not run for reelection, while Feinstein has not spoken of her future plans. DiFi can certainly read the polls that say Americans are fed up with Obama's inaction on ISIS. Lame-duck Boxer - disregarding public opinion - agrees with our lame-duck President that the Syrians are fluffy little bunny rabbits we must cherish.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Affirmative Action Damages Talented Minority Kids

Stuart Taylor Jr. writes, for The American Spectator, about the damage racial admissions preferences of elite universities do to minority students. Black and Hispanic students are recruited to help campuses meet affirmative action quotas, not because it is what is best for the students.
Only 1 to 2 percent of black college applicants emerge from high school well-qualified academically for (say) the top Ivy League colleges. Therefore, those schools can meet their racial admissions targets only by using large preferences. They bring in black students who are well qualified for moderately elite schools like (say) the University of North Carolina, but not for the Ivies that recruit them. This leaves schools like UNC able to meet their own racial targets only by giving large preferences to black students who are well qualified for less selective schools like (say) the University of Missouri but not for UNC. And so on down the selectivity scale.

As a result, experts agree, most black students at even moderately selective schools — with high school preparation and test scores far below those of their classmates — rank well below the middle of their college and grad school classes, with between 25% and 50% ranking in the bottom tenth. That’s a very bad place to be at any school.

This, in turn, increases these students’ isolation and self-segregation from the higher-achieving Asians and whites who flourish in more challenging courses.

It is critical to understand that these are not bad students. They did well in high school and could excel at somewhat less selective universities where they would arrive roughly as well prepared as their classmates.

But due to racial preferences, they find themselves for the first time in their lives competing against classmates who have a huge head start in terms of previous education, academic ability, or both.
Could we ever be realistic enough to say that the most highly competitive universities would be meeting their quotas if they managed to attract the "1 to 2 percent of black college applicants (who) emerge from high school well-qualified academically for (say) the top Ivy League colleges"? That's what should happen, but sadly the SJWs won't stand for it.

Reasons to Say "No" to Refugees

The AEIdeas website links to a poll by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies which finds that 13% of Syrian refugees have "positive" or "somewhat positive" attitudes toward ISIS. Hat tip to for the link.

Syrian refugees are what our President is asking us to accept in our communities. This study suggests roughly one of every eight Syrian refugees feels okay toward ISIS. The only group in the MENA region with more positive attitudes is the Palestinians.

Obama proposes admitting 10,000 refugees. One-eighth of 10,000 equals 1250 potential terrorists. Even 10% of that number could cause one blazing lot of chaos, mayhem, and death.

Imagine the FBI headcount required to keep an eye on 1250 ISIS sympathizers. I estimate 5-7 agents to watch each suspect 24/7. The FBI would need an additional headcount of roughly 9,000 agents and supervisors. Direct salary and benefit costs alone would run roughly $1 billion, not including autos, clerical support, office space, per diem, training. etc., figure another billion.

Even if you watch people for five years and they do nothing wrong, they can still turn sour in the sixth year and do a berserker, meaning you have to keep watching at least until they are old, meaning costs like these effectively in perpetuity.

Ten thousand people who speak little or no English will require welfare plus Medicaid, so you have another half billion or so, year after year. Accepting these refugees is not a good idea.

Obama Midwifed ISIS

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is quoted by The Hill as blaming the U.S. for the rise of ISIS, and he is probably correct. A more accurate attribution would be to blame President Obama.

The Obama administration dickered with the Iraqi government about a continuation of the Status of Forces agreement that permitted U.S. troops to stay in country without falling under Iraqi law. Claiming the Iraqis wouldn't make the deal we needed, Obama pulled all U.S. troops out of Iraq.

Who believes the world's only superpower could not coerce the terms it needed from a client government we created? Very clearly, Obama got the outcome he wanted; a refusal that gave him an excuse to pull our troops out.

Had we coerced the needed agreement and left our troops there, we could have kept the Iraqi Shia government from beating up on the Sunnis, driving them into the arms of what became ISIS. If we can justify leaving 30,000 troops in Korea for 60+ years to prevent a resumption of the Korean War, we could have certainly left 10,000 in Iraq for a decade or two.

Obama violated his own rule not to do stupid stuff. Removing our troops from Iraq was Obama's dumb "mission accomplished" moment. He stupidly walked away from victory in order to win a highly temporary political advantage.

ISIS is the result. The fault is Obama's.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The EU a Sham?

Janet Daley writes for The Telegraph (U.K.) from a vantage point on the right, here about Europe and what a sham the EU has turned out to be. See a few key thoughts:
The institutions of the EU are not fit for purpose and its conception of democracy is a sham. There is a good reason why member states cannot simply put aside their own interests and the concerns of their own populations for the sake of a Europe-wide policy: because their internal democracy is the real thing.

The governments of France, Sweden, Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria – all caught up in this chaotic, and now terrifying situation – are responsible in the most direct and incontrovertible sense, to their own electorates.

It isn’t the future of the UK’s membership that needs to be re-thought: it’s the whole European project.
The dreams some had of a "United States of Europe" are on hold for now, maybe for the foreseeable future. Perhaps they always were unrealistic.

I've Made a Little List

There has been much gnashing of teeth about some candidates' consideration of establishing a list of Muslims in the U.S. Before you get entirely wee-wee'd up about this invasion of privacy, take a look at The Washington Post's Philip Bump article appearing in The Boston Globe.

According to Bump, this info is already in existence, compiled by the private sector. A competent data miner can purchase and cross-reference together a list that would be, if not perfect, darn close to it.

My guess: the FBI has already has built this list, perhaps with the aid of the NSA, and is quietly laughing up their sleeve at all the fuss. Given the ease and relevance, if they haven't done so somebody should be fired or, failing that, sent to monitor government fraud in Hagatna, Guam.

In the 1950s and 1960s we had lists of Communists in the U.S., as that ideology had set itself against us. Today, certain aspects of Islam have set themselves against us, lists of possible adherents once again are useful.

A Happy Thought

The Washington Examiner's Michael Barone writes about the challenges facing both major political parties. I believe COTTonLINE readers will enjoy his conclusion.
Republicans have a chance of emerging from their gathering storm with an attractive nominee and plausible policies. Democrats seem likely to emerge from theirs with Hillary Clinton and policies dictated by an incumbent contemptuous of public opinion on issues like Syrian refugees and gun control - and a world that seems to be spinning out of control.
If Barone doesn't leave a grin on your face with that summary, you are an unusual COTTonLINE reader.

SUV, Pickup Sales Up

The Financial Times reports sales of SUVs and pickup trucks are up. Author Edward Luce, a climate Chicken Little who believes we're to blame for the sky falling, writes that lower gasoline prices are a factor encouraging purchase of these less-fuel-efficient vehicles.

At least the U.S. is no longer the #1 polluter, he reports. China has that dubious distinction, while India is #3. Luce basically concludes nations with representative governments won't do much about greenhouse gases because people don't want to curtail their lifestyles and won't voluntarily choose to do so.

Climate alarmists ignore that (a) North America has the worst weather, on average, of any inhabited continent on the planet (excluding Antarctica) and (b) outside a handful of large cities, we're a private vehicle-based culture. Vehicles with substantial ground clearance and four wheel drive (mostly SUVs and pickups) are a serious boon in places which get snow, ice, and/or torrential rains - in other words, most of the U.S. and all of Canada.

If Luce is correct, if the climate is going to warm, perhaps foundations should fund grants to investigate ways to take advantage of warming, or ameliorate its downsides. Examples: heat-tolerant GMO crops, developing vacation property in Canada's Northwest Territory, stay-cool architecture, more efficient AC.

Argentina Votes for Change

Reuters reports via CNBC exit polls in Argentina show outsider Mauricio Macri will win the presidential run-off election held today. A non-Peronist center-right mayor of Buenos Aires, Macri is viewed as pro-business and pro-growth.

Incumbent President Cristina Fernandez was term-limited out of office as her second consecutive term is ending soon. Her hand-picked Peronist successor Daniel Scioli appears to be losing.

Peronism has been the long-time curse of Argentine politics. It's policies consist of protectionism verging on autarky, elaborate social welfare programs including government as employer-of-last-resort and corruption.

If Macri can put Argentina on a path like that taken by Chile, market-oriented and private sector driven, both the country and the region will be better off. It remains to be seen whether Macri will have sufficient legislative support to enact what he's promised.

An Argentina for whom no one need cry would be a wonderful achievement for Macri. His is a country of enormous (as yet unfulfilled) promise.

The Poor Don't Vote

Writing in The New York Times, Alec MacGillis investigates the question of why persons of modest means end up voting for Republican candidates who do not support assistance programs like Obamacare and food stamps. He begins with the notion that they are voting against their own economic interests.

Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link. Digging deeper MacGillis finds:
The people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. Rather, they are not voting, period. They have, as voting data, surveys and my own reporting suggest, become profoundly disconnected from the political process.

The people in these communities who are voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder — the sheriff’s deputy, the teacher, the highway worker, the motel clerk, the gas station owner and the coal miner. And their growing allegiance to the Republicans is, in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns.

These voters are consciously opting against a Democratic economic agenda that they see as bad for them and good for other people — specifically, those undeserving benefit-recipients who live nearby.

Researchers such as Kathryn Edin, of Johns Hopkins University, found a tendency by many Americans in the second lowest quintile of the income ladder — the working or lower-middle class — to dissociate themselves from those at the bottom.

Meanwhile, many people who in fact most use and need social benefits are simply not voting at all. Voter participation is low among the poorest Americans, and in many parts of the country that have moved red, the rates have fallen off the charts.
Whether you view the poor not voting as a problem or as a feature has a lot to do with which party normally gets your vote. Democrats hate it; Republicans are likely to think individuals relying on various means tested programs (collectively called "welfare") shouldn't be eligible to vote.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Feral Parakeets of Texas

Not everything we do here at COTTonLINE is deadly serious, or alternatively snarky. Have some fun looking at a Texas Monthly article with photos about several sizable colonies of feral monk parakeets resident in that large, uncrowded state. Hat tip to for the link.

Natives of the pampas of Argentina, bright green monk parakeets were brought here as pretty pets but, as the article notes, wore out their welcome by being very LOUD. Disillusioned owners opened their cages and let them go, they found each other and multiplied and now there are likely thousands of these little beauties.

I haven't seen the monk parakeets of Texas but I remember seeing whole flocks of wild parrot-type birds with hot pink underwings in Australia. When a flock executes a sharp bank and turn in flight, there is an aerial flash of pink that is amazing.

Like parakeets, parrots tend to be seed eaters and spend quite a lot of time on the ground feeding, I remember looking out my motel window in Perth and seeing two on the ground under a nearby tree.

Long Thoughts on the Long War

There are plenty of shallow analyses of ISIS and Europe's travails therewith, Robert Kagan's article for The Wall Street Journal isn't one of them. It isn't short and it isn't upbeat, but it does take a dispassionate view of the mess and its many antecedents.

I believe if you read it you will learn, or at least be reminded of, some aspects of the situation you weren't considering. Kagan may be this generation's Henry Kissinger, high praise indeed at COTTonLINE.

The "Joys" of Socialism

Fox News posts an Associated Press story that 73% of families in Venezuela are in poverty. Give it another few years and maybe they can reach 100% poverty.

Isn't that socialism stuff wonderful? In Maggie Thatcher's words, the government in Venezuela has run out of other people's money to spend.

AP tries to blame the poor economic performance on low oil prices, admittedly a factor. However, the demotivating aspects of redistribution on otherwise highly productive people cannot be overlooked.

Knocking yourself out at work makes no sense if harder work doesn't equal more income and a better life. In the absence of an obvious quid pro quo, folks would rather have the leisure, particularly in Venezuela's hot, humid climate.

Price fixing demotivates manufacturers and suppliers who cannot make a decent return on investment; soon shelves in the shops are bare. Bottled water and toilet paper are said to be in short supply, no laughing matter in a third world country with nonpotable tap water and high levels of dysentery.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Long War Is Not Over

Writing in The Weekly Standard, authors Hayes and Joscelyn summarize the dreary details of Barack Obama's foreign policy failures. As COTTonLINE readers know, they are many and depressing. I would share with you their conclusion at the end of a long article:
Al Qaeda is not decimated. ISIS is not jayvee. Iran is not our friend. Terrorists sent by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are not isolated extremists. Attempted bombings by operatives dispatched by the Pakistani Taliban are not one-off attacks. Planned assaults on American facilities overseas are not protests. Groups blowing up airliners are not contained. September 11 was not an episode. Mass casualty attacks are not setbacks.

The long war is not over.
As Churchill famously said during WW II after winning the air Battle of Britain, we aren't at the beginning of the end, but it just might be the end of the beginning. Meanwhile President Powder Puff makes Neville Chamberlain look, by comparison, like a junk yard dog.

Dem Majority: U.S. at War with Radical Islam

An ABC News/Washington Post poll, conducted since the Paris attacks, looks at Americans' attitudes toward admitting refugees and U.S. military involvement in countering ISIS. Some key findings:
Perhaps most fundamentally, 59 percent of Americans in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, say the United States is at war with radical Islam, which is little changed from a poll earlier this year.

Seventy-three percent support increased U.S. air strikes against the Islamic State, or ISIS, and 60 percent back more ground forces, double the level of support for ground forces from summer 2014. One reason: Eighty-one percent see a major terrorist attack in the United States in the near future as likely.

There are differences among political groups on other issues, but many of those in degree, not direction. Just more than six in 10 Republicans and independents say the United States is at war with radical Islam; that declines to 53 percent of Democrats, fewer, but still a majority.

In the sharpest division, 69 percent of Democrats approve of Obama’s handling of terrorism. Sixty-four percent of independents, and 85 percent of Republicans, disapprove.
A majority of respondents were opposed to admitting Syrian refugees and unconvinced screening is either possible or effective.

This Generation's Reagan Democrats

Hat tip to Breitbart for the link to an Ipsos poll where the French market research firm looked at the Trump phenomenon. They asked a number of questions including whether respondents agreed with the following three statements:
1) I don't identify with what America has become.
2) These days I feel like a stranger in my own country.
3) America is [NOT] a place I can feel comfortable as myself.
Ipsos identifies those agreeing with all three as "strongly nativist." People agreeing with two are labeled "moderately nativist" and those agreeing with only one are called "slightly nativist." You have to disagree with all three to earn their approving label of "not nativist." They also asked respondents' politics.
Fully 64% of Republicans are moderately or strongly nativist, including over a quarter (26%) who agree with all three of the nativist statements (compared to only 31% moderately or strongly nativist among Democrats). Such trends clearly show Trump’s appeal among the Republican base.

So who are these nativist voters who might be kingmakers in 2016? They look something like the Republican party in general. They tend to be whiter than the rest of the population, older, less likely to have a 4-year college degree and live in the South.
Might the nearly 1/3 of Democrats who feel like "strangers in a strange land" be potential Trump voters? I believe you could make a strong argument for that outcome. They could become this generation's Reagan Democrats.

Hat tip to the late R. Heinlein for coining the phrase "strangers in a strange land" in a very different context.

Chipotle Overdoes It

The E. coli outbreak at Chipotle continues to spread; it's now found in six states. See a Reuters story via Yahoo News for details.

COTTonLINE understands a Mexican restaurant striving to achieve authenticity. However, including a side of Montezuma's Revenge takes authenticity to levels most people would rather not experience.

Trump Has a Shot

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza headlines his The Fix column as follows, and it isn't ironic, he's serious:
Yes, Donald Trump could absolutely be the Republican nominee in 2016
This he backs up with numbers, and a telling photo of a 'yuuge' Trump crowd in blue Massachusetts. I'd go one step farther and say Trump "could absolutely be" the next president. 

These are tough times in which President Obama, to whom Clinton is tightly tied, is utterly wimping out. Such times do not reward Obama's vaguely obscene and definitely metrosexual "leadership from behind."

Trump's tough talk could resonate with the electorate as did Teddy Roosevelt's. After a prolonged drought, voters may well crave a leadership testosterone fix, which Trump is best able to provide.