Monday, September 29, 2014

Ancestors of the A-10

RealClearDefense has an article about the two World War II aircraft - one German, one Soviet - that inspired the designers of the A-10. The tank-buster variant of the German Stuka dive bomber, the Ju-87G, and the Soviet's Sturmovik Il-2 ground attack plane were legends on the WW II eastern front. Both embodied specialized characteristics that were copied and improved upon in the A-10.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Grown-Ups Wanted

Writing for his RedState blog, EricK Erickson senses a new mood in the country, a yearning for adults in government. He concludes:
The world has come undone. America needs grown-ups, not technocrats, to fix it.
As the name of his blog might suggest, Erickson believes this mood favors the GOP.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Some Gender Gaps Okay

An article in New Republic talks about certain gender gaps that don't need closing, including bike riding and pot smoking. What comes to my mind are the gender gaps in things like violent crime, and murder in particular.

Should we encourage young women to do their share of murders or bank robberies? To get busy dealing drugs?

Should we encourage more young men to sell sex, to close a reverse gap? Maybe we need to embrace realism concerning gender differences, which do exist even if some wish they did not.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Travel Blogging En Route

Jackpot, NV: We got this far west and were held up by a mechanical malfunction - one of the RV's popouts got stuck in the "out" position. We did "meatball surgery" on it, got it slid in, and are trying to get it repaired in Twin Falls, ID, before continuing west. Fortunately our schedule isn't ironclad. More later....

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Housekeeping Notice

COTTonLINE blog entries will be light over much of the next week. Like a circus, our household will be moving to winter quarters and taking our time in transit.

Political Humor Alert

Jennifer Rubin, who writes a column for The Washington Post, entitles her latest effort as follows:
Hillary Clinton, an empty (pant)suit?
The column quotes Ms. Clinton at length to demonstrate the vapidity of her commentary. It's boring because Hillary is boring; I really like the title best.

IS Beware: A-10s to the Middle East

Thirteen days ago COTTonLINE wrote, in a post titled "Wisdom," the following advice:
The IS area is an ideal place to deploy the A-10 Warthog ground attack plane the Air Forces says it wants to dump. It is very resistant to ground fire and probably to shoulder-fired missiles as well.

The A-10 is just the ticket for getting in close and shooting up relatively low-tech troops with its 30 mm Gatling cannon and rockets. Imagine a Warthog with 23 tiny Toyota Hilux pickup trucks painted below the canopy.
Today, to my pleasant surprise, comes an article from the Fort Wayne, IN, Journal Gazette reporting the deployment of an Air National Guard A-10 unit, the 122nd Fighter Wing, to the Middle East. The article is coy about where they will be based in-theater, as it should be. Hat tip to RealClearDefense for the link.

Multi-Purpose Design Compromises Excellence

An article in The National Interest takes a dim view of the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter which is three years late to become operational. The concept was to create one plane that could fulfill multiple roles - air superiority, ground attack, etc. It has been plagued with problems.

Let me make an analogy to explain why I believe this was a wrong-headed decision. The other DrC and I have owned a series of RVs continuously since 1972.

Working with limited floor space, RV designers are tempted to make a particular feature do several different jobs. Inevitably, such multi-functional items never do any of the jobs as well as a unit dedicated to a single purpose.

Our first RV, a small 20' class C mini-motorhome, had a sofa that unfolded to become the bed and was also where one sat to eat at a fold-down table. The bed was crowded, too close to the floor, and not comfortable. The sofa was okay for lounging but uncomfortable for eating.

Our current RV has a separate sofa, a dining table with chairs, and a bed. Each fulfills its single purpose better than any multipurpose item could.

Asking an item to do many things means it rarely does any of them well. I fear that will be the fate of the F-35: not enough of a hot rod to be a good air superiority fighter and not enough of a truck to be a good ground support plane/light bomber.

Obama's Fathomless Ignorance

Bret Stephens, writing in The Wall Street Journal, about the high frequency of Presidential misstatements and errors. See Stephens' conclusion:
Every administration tries to spin events its way; every president gets things wrong. Mr. Obama is not exceptional in those respects. Where he stands apart is in his combination of ideological rigidity and fathomless ignorance. What does the president know? The simple answer, and maybe the truest, is: not a lot.

A Davis Death-Spiral

Texas gubernatorial candidate Democrat Wendy Davis apparently really blew it at the sole debate last Friday, according to a story in PJ Media's PJ Tattler:
Wendy Davis violated the debate rules, which isn’t a huge deal, but she did so in pursuit of trying to goad her opponent into breaking a state law — which she voted for and which as a lawyer, Davis knows that the attorney general cannot do.

That is a huge deal. It’s a disqualifying deal.

It’s at this point that Texas writers usually deploy a finishing phrase — that dog won’t hunt, Davis is all hat and no cattle, she’s a gun with no ammo that still manages to misfire — that sort of thing.
Dang, I do love Texican put-downs. Hat tip to for the link.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Boycotting the Climate Summit

Global Post reports that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hosts a summit on global warming:
While some world leaders (including President Obama) will spend time at the UN summit discussing how to prevent the human species from hastening its own demise, the countries most responsible for climate change aren't bothering to show up. Of the five worst carbon emitting nations, China (1), India (3), Russia (4), and Japan (5) are all skipping. (Most nations are sending heads-of-state and/or foreign ministers, but China and India are sending low-level representatives.)
Which suggests Japan and Russia aren't attending at all. We are the (2) missing in the above list. If the other four worst polluters won't bother to show, why should the U.S. President?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Douthat: More Than a Whiff of Farce

Albert Einstein is supposed to have said that insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." That thought immediately sprang to mind while reading Ross Douthat's column for today's New York Times.

About the President's policy vis-a-vis the Islamic State, Douthat writes:
Across years of war and at an extraordinary cost, the United States built an army that was supposed to prevent jihadists from gaining a sanctuary in the heart of the Middle East.

That army was the Iraqi Army, and we know what happened next.

American-organized units were routed; American-trained soldiers fled; American-made weapons fell into the hands of the Islamic State.

Our official strategy for fighting the Islamic State involves basically trying the same thing again, this time on the cheap: inventing allies, funneling them money and weaponry, and telling ourselves that it will all work out.

If our failure to build an army capable of stabilizing Iraq after our departure looks like a pure tragedy, then the arm-the-rebels gambit in Syria has more than a whiff of farce. But really it’s a studied evasion.

The cold reality, though, is that defeating ISIS outright in Syria will take something more substantial than dropping a few bombs in support of a few U.S.-trained moderates.
Douthat says to succeed against the IS, we either put troops on the ground ourselves or we ally with Assad against the rebels. Obama is willing to do neither.

To borrow a sports metaphor, Obama is trying to "run out the clock," to appear to do enough militarily to mollify Americans for the next two years. It forces his successor to clean up the mess he leaves behind. Another wuss - Carter - left behind our hostages in Iran instead of manning up and doing something about it.

She Didn't Answer the Phone

Rand Paul isn't necessarily my favorite Republican luminary. However, he does often turn a wryly humorous phrase, get in an ironic dig. For example, the L.A.Times reports the following about one of his speeches:
Speaking about Clinton, he used her famous 2008 primary ad, which argued that she more than Obama would be the president capable of answering a phone call about a middle-of-the-night crisis:
"I think she had a 3 a.m. moment. She didn’t answer the phone and I think it absolutely should preclude her from being [president],”
Clinton had to let those four men be murdered in Benghazi in order to preserve Obama's totally false election claim that he had exterminated Islamic extremism. A life-saving military strike in Libya would have illustrated how his boasts often represent wishful thinking.

Goodbye to Summer

Today is the last official day of summer, 2014. Goodbye, sweet season, you flew by too quickly. It seems only yesterday we welcomed summer three weeks into June.

Monday is the first day of autumn, both a season of sadness and a time of new beginnings. For us "snowbirds," it means getting serious about moving toward somewhere warmer for the winter.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Definitive Climate Article

Dr. Steven E. Koonin has impeccable scientific and political credentials to write on the science of climatology which he has for The Wall Street Journal. See how the Journal  describes him:
Dr. Koonin was undersecretary for science in the Energy Department during President Barack Obama's first term and is currently director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University. His previous positions include professor of theoretical physics and provost at Caltech, as well as chief scientist of BP where his work focused on renewable and low-carbon energy technologies.
Koonin states baldly that climate science is far from settled, that scientific consensus is actually quite limited in scope, that all of the computer-based climate models disagree with each other, and that none is likely to be accurate except by chance. Some choice quotes:
The crucial scientific question for policy isn't whether the climate is changing. That is a settled matter: The climate has always changed and always will.

Nor is the crucial question whether humans are influencing the climate. That is no hoax: There is little doubt in the scientific community that continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate.

Rather, the crucial, unsettled scientific question for policy is, "How will the climate change over the next century under both natural and human influences?"

Even though human influences could have serious consequences for the climate, they are physically small in relation to the climate system as a whole. For example, human additions to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by the middle of the 21st century are expected to directly shift the atmosphere's natural greenhouse effect by only 1% to 2%. Since the climate system is highly variable on its own, that smallness sets a very high bar for confidently projecting the consequences of human influences.

As far as the computer models go, there isn't a useful consensus at the level of detail relevant to assessing human influences.

Rigidly promulgating the idea that climate science is "settled" (or is a "hoax") demeans and chills the scientific enterprise, retarding its progress in these important matters.
If you only read one climate change article this year, this should be the one. As an Obama appointee, Koonin can't be knocked as a conservative know-nothing. As he notes, there is still too much we don't know about climate, the oceans, and he never even mentions the issue of solar variability.

A Rotting, Empty Hulk

Politico has an elegiac article on the disastrous state of the Muslim world, written by Hisham Melhem, Washington bureau chief for Al Arabiya satellite news. Some choice quotes:
Arab civilization, such as we knew it, is all but gone. The Arab world today is more violent, unstable, fragmented and driven by extremism—the extremism of the rulers and those in opposition—than at any time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago.

With the dubious exception of the antiquated monarchies and emirates of the Gulf—which for the moment are holding out against the tide of chaos—and possibly Tunisia, there is no recognizable legitimacy left in the Arab world.

Along a front stretching from Basra at the mouth of the Persian Gulf to Beirut on the Mediterranean there exists an almost continuous bloodletting between Sunni and Shia—the public manifestation of an epic geopolitical battle for power and control pitting Iran, the Shia powerhouse, against Saudi Arabia, the Sunni powerhouse, and their proxies.

The jihadists of the Islamic State, in other words, did not emerge from nowhere. They climbed out of a rotting, empty hulk—what was left of a broken-down civilization.

Let’s face the grim truth: There is no evidence whatever that Islam in its various political forms is compatible with modern democracy.

It took the Arabs decades and generations to reach this nadir. It will take us a long time to recover—it certainly won’t happen in my lifetime.
In other words, David Goldman, aka Spengler, is correct that this will be a very long war, at least 30 years.

Another General Disapproves

Former commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Conway, on his evaluation of the President's plan to subdue ISIS, as reported in The Daily Caller:
I don’t think the president’s plan has a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding.
The article explains the basis for the general's negative evaluation:
Conway’s major concern was that the U.S. did not have a force on the ground in Syria it could rely on, like the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq.
Nobody thinks the Iraqi army is useful and everybody on the rebel side in Syria is a U.S.-hating Sunni extremist.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Federal System Promised for U.K.

As we wrote last night, it appears the United Kingdom will move in the direction of federalism. See this quote from U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron in a Reuters article for Yahoo News:
Just as Scotland will vote separately in the Scottish parliament on their issues of tax, spending and welfare, so too England, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland should be able to vote on these issues. All this must take place, in tandem with and at the same pace as the settlement for Scotland.
Scottish polls didn't accurately predict the substantial margin by which the unionists won. The other DrC suggests this may be a version of the "Bradley effect" in action.

Political mavens remember Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, an African-American, ran for governor of CA. Polls predicted he would win comfortably, while he lost by a small margin. The postmortem analysis concluded voters didn't want to tell pollsters they were going to vote for his white opponent, fearing to be thought racists.

In a similar fashion, the other DrC believes a number of Scots were uncomfortable reporting they planned to vote "no" because of the bullying tone taken by "yes" proponents. I am sure she is correct.

U.S. Most and Least Education Cities

Forbes reports the results of a study of the most (and least) educated large cities in the United States. See the criteria:
To determine the Most And Least Educated Cities In America, financial site WalletHub took a look at the 150 largest metros in the U.S. and ranked them according to nine weighted metrics, including percentage of adult residents with a high school diploma, associate’s degree, baccalaureate degree, graduate or professional degree, or above; number of doctors per capita; percentage of workers with jobs in “computer, engineering, and sciences fields;” quality of public schools and universities; and the number of students enrolled in the top 200 universities in the U.S., per capita.
Most of the top ten were ... no surprise ... university towns. Did we need a study to know this? The only strange member of the top ten was Baltimore, MD, which is nobody's idea of an educated or high tech mecca.

The bottom ten are a whole different story, five of the ten are in CA and 7 of 10 are in areas with a heavy influx of Hispanic migrants, either agricultural CA or border TX. Lakeland, FL, Beaumont, TX, and Rockford, IL, have other issues.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Scotland Votes "No"

This afternoon I wrote that Scotland votes today. Now, given the time difference of some 7 hours, we know that the Scots voted roughly 55% to 45% to remain in the United Kingdom. See the Associated Press story.

As I wrote this afternoon, that isn't the most exciting outcome, but it's the one that is best for both the U.K. and Scotland. Were I a resident of Scotland, I would have voted "no."

I expect England to want its own parliament and its own devo-max, ditto Wales and Northern Ireland.  In the long run the U.K. will likely end up as a federal system with considerable "state" autonomy, not unlike their unruly former colonies across the Atlantic. Perhaps the national parliament will only involve itself with issues of defense, foreign relations, and whatever regulations all four "states" can agree should be U.K.-wide.

The "no" vote means it will be harder for the U.K. to muster a majority in favor of leaving the EU. That's assuming (a) the Tories win a majority at the next election and (b) Cameron keeps his word to hold a referendum on continued EU membership.