Wednesday, February 29, 2012

ANC Expels Malema

The African National Congress (ANC) has expelled Julius Malema, a radical youth leader who has advocated anti-white policies. See an article on the BBC News Africa website.

Malema has pressed for policies that would nationalize the mines and drive white farmers off the land. These disastrous policies are like those of Mugabe in neighboring Zimbabwe.

What remains to be seen is what happens to Malema and his substantial following. Will Malema operate within the political system and establish a new political party in competition with the ANC? Or will he perhaps become a violent revolutionary and take up arms against the government? There are many precedents for each option in sub-Saharan Africa.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

AZ, MI Go for Romney

Mitt Romney won the primaries in Arizona and Michigan, both of which were held today. Perhaps those who were bemoaning his loss of "electability" will now take a more positive view of the Romney candidacy.

The win in Arizona was decisive: Romney 47%, Santorum 27%, Gingrich 16%, and Paul 8%. The win in Michigan was narrow: Romney 41%, Santorum 38%, Paul 12%, and Gingrich 7%. See this Yahoo News article for more detail.

China in Economic Peril

The World Bank concludes that China is in economic danger, having grown too fast and relied too much on state enterprises. See The Week article at Yahoo News.

China has been the economic star of the last three decades, but now is in real danger of the sort of mess Japan has experienced. Low wages will only take a country so far, then workers start to demand (and get) more money.

Unfortunately for this strategy, there is always a poorer country out there with hungry workers who will work for less. In Asia one thinks of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Survivalist State

Near my home in Wyoming is a sign with the following slogan: "Wyoming...the way America used to be." Given that mindset, it is relatively easy for people in Wyoming to wrap their heads around the idea of the country melting down.

Now the WY legislature is looking at what we should do if the rest of the U.S. becomes entirely dysfunctional. Imagine...when a whole state goes "survivalist." See the article from the Casper Star-Tribune.

Money Wasted

More often than you'd think necessary you read about someone doing a poll on a question you believed already answered, and again coming up with the already-known answer. It feels like someone redoing the mathematical proof that shows the sum of two and two is indeed four.

So Yahoo News headlines a new USA Today/Gallup poll that shows people don't like President Obama's health care mandate, mostly known as "Obamacare." Why was this poll taken? Hasn't this been abundantly clear for the last year? Did anyone expect (or hope for) different results?

More WH Political Tin Ear

When it comes to aligning with the public mood, the policy wonks in the White House have a tin ear. Glaring recent examples include making Catholic institutions provide morally objectionable (to them) birth control and abortion pills within their employee health insurance.

Now we have Pew Research polling data which indicates that public opinion does not agree with White House cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline which would have carried Canadian oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Pew says:
Among those who have heard at least a little about the Keystone XL pipeline, 66% say the government should approve the pipeline, while just 23% say it should not.
The White House is playing to a narrow, but wealthy, segment of its base with this supposedly "green" decision opposing the pipeline.

Opinions of the 50 States

See a Reuters report of a survey done by Public Policy Polling asking people's opinions of the fifty states. The survey segments respondents by gender and political affiliation.

On August 20, 2011, I noted Public Policy Polling is a Democratic polling firm, something the Reuters article doesn't mention. Which explains PPP's desire to segment the responses by gender and party, politically relevant categories.

Alas, California got the lowest ratings with 42% unfavorable and 27% favorable. Other states with negative views included Mississippi, Illinois, New Jersey, and Utah.

Hawaii got the highest positive rating, with 54% favorable and 10% unfavorable. Other states with high positives included Colorado, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Virginia.

Republicans like Texas and Alaska; Democrats like Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington. Women like New York, men like the cowboy states of Montana, Wyoming, and the two Dakotas.

Respondents must have used a political framework when judging states. In spite of its high taxes and dysfunctional politics, non-urban California remains the most pleasant place in North America to live year round.

The only thing better is the migratory snowbird life - south in winter and north in summer. This is usually available only to those who do not hold a normal job, mostly retirees.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pigs in Pakistan

Pakistan is perhaps the only nation in the world that exists solely to give Muslims an Islamic place to live. That and the abhorrence Islam has for unclean pigs makes this Associated Press article from the Seattle Post Intelligencer particularly droll.

It turns out the capital of Pakistan - Islamabad - is overrun with wild boars. Pakistan's pigs have no natural enemies because no one in the country eats pork.

During the colonial era the Brits would go "pig sticking" on horseback, using long lances. In a country with a very dominant military and many polo players, perhaps this sport could be revived? Just saying....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cause and Effect

A Yale scientist has found behavioral correlates of one's language having or not having a clear distinction between future and present. M. Keith Chen concludes that when the language has no clear distinction between the present and future, its speakers are more likely to save, exercise, avoid smoking, etc. That is, to engage in behaviors that are healthy and future-oriented.

He believes the language causes the behavior. We must at least consider the possibility that the behavior has influenced the development of the language or that his finding is coincidence. Especially since he puts German on one side of the behavioral divide and English on the other, when linguists tend to identify English as a Germanic language.

You can find the summary article here on Big Think and the entire pdf paper here.

Maybe Light Speed Is Absolute

On September 22, 2011, we reported the possibility that neutrinos go faster than the speed of light, violating rules posited by Einstein. It turns out those extraordinary findings may have been bogus, the fault of poor cabling connections. See the article in Wired Science. Albert E.'s theory is redeemed, for now.

Weird Science Again

It turns out U.S. parents talk to their male infants about numbers way more than they do to their female infants. Lots more "see the five raisins" or "bring the two toys" when the little one is a boy.

Could this be what causes our adult daughters to do less well in math than our sons? See the article in Miller-McCune, a summary of research originally reported in Journal of Language and Social Psychology.

The Last (?) Debate

The news is full of columns and reactions to the most recent GOP presidential primary debate, held in Arizona just before the primaries in AZ and Michigan. I've read several and, while opinions differ on who did what, I would direct you to a column by Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. It works for me.

Rove: No Brokered Convention

Like him or hate him, Karl Rove knows politics. See his Wall Street Journal column which argues the odds of either a brokered or contested GOP convention are very small.

Maybe like me you hope he is wrong, but his reasoning is as persuasive as it is technical. He knows all of the minutia: which states give delegates on a proportional basis, how committed to their candidate various delegates are, etc.

Romney on Taxes

If you want to know what Mitt Romney thinks the tax code should do, how he believes it should be structured, see this article by him in The Wall Street Journal. I'm no expert but the proposal looks good to me.

Understand that when Romney says "I will do..." he means "I will propose to the Congress...." The president has little unilateral power in domestic policy; foreign policy is another matter entirely.

Clancy Opposes Obama Policies

A former staffer for President George W. Bush is cited in the Chicago Tribune in an article criticizing the overuse of drone attacks on terrorists. Marc A. Thiessen says we should be capturing many of those terrorist leaders and sweating important information out of them.

I happen to be reading Tom Clancy's latest novel Locked On now. That very point is made therein, albeit in a thinly fictional context. The novel has a 2011 publication date which means the material was written in 2010 at the latest.

Interesting question: does Clancy have access to Bush staffers or do they read Clancy? It wouldn't surprise me if both were true. One thing is clear in the novel, Clancy is no fan of Obama administration policies.

New Rowling Book Due

British author J.K.Rowling, who penned the best selling Harry Potter novels, has announced she will be releasing a new novel. The BBC News article suggests the target audience is adults, not necessarily that the material will be "adult."

I will read it when it comes out, but don't necessarily expect I will automatically like it. The attractive part of the Potter novels is the story, I've never found Rowling's writing to be particularly wonderful. Still, if she comes up with another really good story, this time about adults, her writing deficiencies can be overlooked.

Improve E-Verify

A Yahoo News article criticizes the use of e-Verify as a way to reduce illegal immigration in Arizona. The criticism is that it doesn't check to see if multiple people are employed in various places with the same ID. That should be easy enough to fix, just a programming issue.

The second criticism is that it will "force" illegal immigrants into the underground economy. This is probably true. However, jobs in the underground economy are significantly less attractive to potential immigrants. Therefore e-Verify can have a substantial effect in reducing future illegal immigration.

Unlike Italy, the U.S. is willing to prosecute serious operators in the underground economy. Not the homeowner who hires a street corner guy to help with occasional yard work, but the garment factory or slaughterhouse with many off-the-books workers.

The article says self-deportation won't happen, which shows a serious misunderstanding of our illegal immigrant population. Most illegal immigrants are from Mexico and many of these go home to Mexico every year to visit family, start new families, etc.

In a situation where work in the U.S. becomes unattractive and poorly remunerated, the motivation to return to the U.S. is seriously reduced. Self-deportation can work, the question is to what extent. That remains to be demonstrated.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Sixth Reason

This article in Yahoo News lists five reasons why Romney is catching up to, or pulling ahead of Santorum in the polls, heading into the Michigan primary. I think The Week, whose editorial it is, missed the most important reason.

Becoming a front-runner put the press spotlight on Santorum. Once reporters took him seriously, they did the Nexis searches on his speeches and Senatorial votes. Voila, controversial stuff emerged. It turns out Santorum has said some ugly stuff, particularly about contraception and the role of women. He has also been an avid pursuer of earmark projects for Pennsylvania; something the Tea Party strongly opposes.

Media scrutiny enabled voters to move beyond the "altar boy in the sweater vest" image that carried Santorum through the previous primaries and caucuses. At least some of the not-Romney vote seems to have decided Romney is better than Santorum, Gingrich or Paul.

A Non-Story

An article in Yahoo News attempts to make a big deal out of the fact that most GOP primary voters are older and white. Is this news or somehow evil? No, it is the result of choices made.

Most young people and minorities vote Democratic if they vote. Historically, large numbers of both groups choose not to vote, particularly in primary elections or caucuses.

Therefore we should be surprised if large numbers of the young and minorities were voting in GOP primaries and caucuses. What the story reports is exactly what we would expect, a priori. Therefore it is not news.

As the LEOs say in cop shows, "Move along folks, nothing to see here."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Film Review: Rambo III

Watching the third film in the Rambo series is very strange. It was made during the period when the Soviets had occupied Afghanistan and the U.S. was allied with the mujaheddin, basically the same folks now known as the Taliban.

It is very odd to see people in U.S. uniforms saying positive things about the Afghan resistance, the same folks we've been fighting for the last 10 or so years. More to the point, today's enemy is portrayed as a bunch of good guys, patriots defending their country.

The film is a typical Rambo shoot-'em-up with lots of bombs, IEDs, and military hardware. It is no worse and no better than the other three Rambo films.

In Rambo III the Soviets play the role the U.S. (and allies) play today - very weird. Watch it for the odd feeling of seeing the hero fighting for, not against, today's enemy.

A Good Question

Astronaut Scott Carpenter, speaking to a gathering of Mercury veterans:
We stand here waiting to be outdone.
It has been a long wait. After reaching the Moon, you've got to wonder why we gave up? Source: this Associated Press Excite website.

I'm sure Ferdinand and Isabella had things at home in Spain they could have spent the money on, instead of funding Christopher Columbus. They, and Kennedy, had the "vision thing."

The Flawed Four

On Thursday last we wrote of an election of lesser evils. Here Joseph Curl writes for The Washington Times essentially putting down all the GOP candidates and even those who might pop up in a so-called "brokered convention."

Curl's basic question: how did we come up with such a weak choice of candidates to oppose a weak incumbent president? Where are the real leaders, the people with backbone, charisma, mainstream conservative values, and a clean record? Instead of the fab four they give us the flawed four.

VDH: Sitrep

Historian Victor Davis Hanson gives us a brief overview of what's going on in the world. My three word summary: it ain't good. The source is the National Review Online.

I'm reminded of that Sheldon Harnick song recorded several decades ago by Tom Lehrer and by the Kingston Trio. Some of the players have changed but things are just as bad as ever:

They’re rioting in Africa,
They’re starving in Spain,
There’s hurricanes in Florida,
And Texas needs rain

This whole world is festering with unhappy souls
The French hate the Germans, The Germans hate the Poles
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch
And I don’t like anybody very much

But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For Man’s been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud
And we can be certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off…and we will all be blown away

They’re rioting in Africa, There’s strife in Iran
What Nature doesn’t do to us will be done by our Fellow Man

Quote of the Day

Jennifer Rubin, writing for The Washington Post, in her Right Turn column:
Experienced senators and party operatives who know how to win races outside Republican strongholds aren’t putting their heads in the sand. Santorum’s views and persona have limited appeal in a general election, and they know it.
Santorum's views have a 1950s sound.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Balz: Santorum Extreme

The Washington Post's Dan Balz has a long column on Rick Santorum's chances in the general election, should he get the nomination. Honestly, they don't look good.

Balz quotes knowledgeable insiders as seeing him getting swamped like Barry Goldwater in 1964. One said he would be “a Martian to women in the suburbs.” Another said Santorum would be "eviscerated" by the Democrats.

However you feel about Santorum, this article covers his more controversial statements thoroughly. Rick has made a bunch of non-mainstream comments.

Film Review: Hugo

Hugo is a film mostly set in a large Paris railway station of the 1920s. The orphaned son of a watchmaker lives there, behind the scenes, and takes care of the many clocks. Plot details beyond those few would constitute spoilers.

The other DrC and I saw the film this afternoon and enjoyed it very much. The film is visually rich, well-acted, and believable.

We believe whoever wrote the screenplay may have intentionally chosen plot elements that have made the film attractive to the people who vote for Academy Awards. See what you think.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Latvia Votes No

Latvia recently held a referendum on whether or not Russian should become a second official language. Roughly three quarters of those voting voted "No."

During the long period when the Baltic nations (Estonia, Lativia, Lithuania) were unwilling parts of the Soviet Union, lots of Russian speakers moved there and settled in, without becoming acculturated. The Soviet Union has been gone for 21 years.

Two decades later the Russian speakers are still there as indigestible lumps in the Baltic populations, much like the French-speaking lump in Canada. The Associated Press/Yahoo News article says the Russophones are mostly located adjacent to the Russian and Belarus borders.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is singularly unpopular among members of the House who served with him back in the day, when he was Speaker. Now we see that candidate Rick Santorum is similarly unpopular among members of the Senate who served with him.

What gives? How is it that both of these guys are unpopular with their former colleagues?

The article about Santorum's unpopularity is on the ABC News website. Hat tip to for the link.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Young Are P***ed Off

A recent poll of young voters ages 18-29 finds they are an unhappy lot. See this article in The Washington Examiner for details. One item that particularly caught my eye: "Three quarters want federal spending cut." Also, only 31% approve of Obama's handling of youth unemployment, which remains high.

U.S. a Multicultural Test Market

I was watching The News Hour on PBS a couple of nights ago when a Chinese leader or official organ was quoted as being concerned about the degree of "western" (i.e., American) pollution of Chinese culture. The program noted that Kentucky Fried Chicken is the most popular fast food in China and that the clothing worn by young Chinese is largely indistinguishable from that worn by American teens. Plus they showed Chinese boys doing skateboard tricks learned from TV.

I was reminded of the extreme contagion factor of many products of American culture. For what its worth, here's my theory of why that is so. As an immigrant nation, we have been exposed to elements of cultures from all over the world. In our market economy, consumers with varied backgrounds "vote" with their dollars for the most popular of these.

Neapolitan pizza became American, so did tacos and a hundred other trends. And Hollywood helped us sell them to the world, lip-synced in the local language.

But the reason American fads catch on around the world faster than, say, French fads or Korean fads, is because our fads have to succeed in a multicultural market. Things that appeal to people of the many different backgrounds found here are likely to be well-received around the world.

Lesser of Evils, Again

In November a failed president may manage to get himself reelected. If he succeeds, it will be because the opposition Republicans could not field a credible candidate. Americans will have chosen four more years of a president in whom they have no faith because the alternative looked even worse.

See a brief article by Ed Kilgore in Washington Monthly for how this sad outcome could occur. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

California Demographics

Heather Mac Donald has done an article about demographic trends in California for City Journal. As you read it you'll subjectively feel that every third word is "Hispanic." If you read carefully, it turns out that most of these Hispanics are in fact Mexican immigrants and their children.

Mac Donald works hard to find some positive notes to strike, but the overall theme is not positive. Contributing to California's budgetary problems is the following:
U.S.-born Hispanic households in California already use welfare programs (such as cash welfare, food stamps, and housing assistance) at twice the rate of U.S.-born non-Hispanic households, according to an analysis of the March 2011 Current Population Survey by the Center for Immigration Studies.
Welfare use by immigrants is higher still. In 2008–09, the fraction of households using some form of welfare was 82 percent for households headed by an illegal immigrant and 61 percent for households headed by a legal immigrant.
This is an article for those interested in the future of California, although it is more bad news in one place than is comfortable.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Few 2012 Youth Voters

President Obama was elected with the votes of many young people, more than had bothered to vote in prior elections. An article in The New Republic details why it is unlikely that Obama will be able to mobilize the youth vote this time around. Since TNR normally leans left, this is good news.

Wrong Target

I hadn't heard about the supposed anti-China slur in a political ad run by Pete Hoekstra who runs against Senator Debbie Stabenow in Michigan. So I read the text of the ad in this Yahoo News write-up from The Week, which I repeat for you here:
Thank you, Michigan Senator Debbie Spend-it-now. Debbie spends so much American money. You borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie Spend-it-now.
I don't get how this ad is anti-China; instead I see it as anti-U.S. If the U.S. insists on being an irresponsible spendthrift like Greece, who can blame China (or anybody else) for taking advantage of our stupidity?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Egypt arrested employees of several NGOs, charging them with receiving foreign funds to influence elections. One response was that Congress might be unwilling to continue the $1+billion foreign aid Egypt gets.

If the U.S. cuts its foreign aid package to Egypt, the result could be Egypt dumping the peace treaty with Israel. In other words, pay the protection money or the neighborhood gets unsafe for your friends. That is the gist of an article from Cybercast News Service.

The technical name for this behavior is extortion.

Christie on Israel

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is quoted in The Weekly Standard, speaking about U.S. policy toward Israel. Let me give you three samples:
  • I admire Israel for the enemies it has made.
  • Both Americans and Israelis believe – we know deep in our bones – that if the Islamic Republic of Iran acquires a nuclear weapons capability, it will be an existential threat to Israel, to America, and to world civilization itself.
  • Any president, Republican or Democrat, who allows such a thing to occur on his watch, would be acting in a way that is profoundly against the national security interests of the United States and the security interests of our friends in Israel.

Monday, February 13, 2012

VDH: Europe and the U.S.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson, writing for Pajamas Media, takes a thorough look at today's Europe and its relationship to the U.S. As a Europhile, he finds much to be sad about. This is a good read

Ryan Agrees

On Friday COTTonLINE called Obama's 'revised' contraception rule "a distinction of interest only to accountants." We are pleased to see that yesterday budget guru Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), being interviewed on ABC's This Week, said:
This thing is a distinction without a difference. It's an accounting gimmick or a fig leaf. It's not a compromise.
It is sweet when someone you admire agrees with you. You'll find the video and transcript here on RealClearPolitics.

Barone: Mitt vs. Rick

Ignoring Ron Paul and writing off Newt Gingrich, Michael Barone does an interesting analysis of the voters to whom Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum each appeal. You'll find it at RealClearPolitics.

Barone's basic point is that whereas Santorum may give the GOP more appeal to the white working class, Romney may help them attract the votes of educated whites, especially women. Assuming Barone is correct, deciding which of these two groups you'd rather capture and which you can either take for granted or do without becomes the question.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Good News from Peru

Peru is one of the Latin American countries which has shown it can go either way. Parts of it work well, parts don't. As such, COTTonLINE treats news from Peru as a sort of "canary in the coal mine" for Latin America, an indicator of progress.

We have good news from Peru; the last leader of Sendero Luminosa, the Maoist Shining Path insurgency, has been wounded and captured in the deep jungle of eastern Peru. See the story on the BBC News Latin America & Caribbean site. This suggests Peru's new president has kept his eye on the ball.

Ultimate Outsourcing

Want to reduce U.S. military casualties? Simple enough. Outsource their jobs to U.S. civilians who, if killed or wounded, do not add to the official totals. The New York Times does some good reporting on the story.


Problems in the Middle East often turn out to be tribal, or "confessional." Almost everybody who matters in Syria is some variety of Muslim but an issue in the current uprising is which sect of Islam will be dominant.

The CIA World Fact Book describes Syria as being roughly three-quarters Sunni Muslim. A minority sect, Assad's Alawites, currently control Syria in much the same way as another minority sect, Sadam's Sunnis, once controlled mostly Shia Iraq. Letting go of power puts a minority at risk.

A Los Angeles Times article describes Alawite beliefs, how they are viewed by other Shia and by Sunnis. A Now Lebanon article suggests what the Alawites may plan for Syria - partition.

Maine Caucuses

Maine held their GOP caucuses during the last week and announced the results yesterday. Nearly final results are in - 84% of precincts reporting. Mitt Romney holds a narrow lead, with Ron Paul coming in second. Here are the results
39% Romney
36% Paul
18% Santorum
06% Gingrich
01% Other
Understand that turnout for the Maine caucuses was quite small: all of 5600 people showed up in the precincts reporting. That is a very small proportion of the 1.3 million residents, less than 0.5% of the populace.

Friday, February 10, 2012

No Free Lunch

Prior to prohibition there were saloons where for the price of a beer you could also graze the lunch buffet "free." As economists of the time pointed out, there is no free lunch. The cost of the lunch was simply included in the price of the beer.

Now President Obama has modified his requirement that faith based universities and hospitals provide birth control, sterilization, and abortifacient pills in their employee health care programs. His new stand: the employer doesn't have to pay for these services, instead the insurance company has to pay for them.

Who is he kidding? Does Obama ask us to believe the insurers will provide these services out of profits? Nonsense, insurers will build the cost of such services into the price they charge for the insurance.

The Catholic hospital or university will end up paying for things which they find morally repugnant but it won't be called out as a separate line item. This is a distinction of interest only to accountants, certainly not to God.

Mobile Homes Aren't Mobile....

English is a strange, illogical language. Mobile homes aren't, aren't mobile, that is. The truly mobile homes are called RVs or recreational vehicles. Authors who know little about these things often apply logic and get it wrong.

Recently I was reading J.A.Jance's otherwise excellent novel Damage Control and she had screwed it up, confusing mobile homes and RVs. The Wall Street Journal makes the same mistake every year or so.

Here follows a primer for understanding the differences. A so-called "mobile home" is assembled in a factory, trucked to a site, set up, and remains there for the balance of its useful life. A "modular home" is built, but not assembled, in a factory, trucked to a site, assembled on site, and remains there until demolished.

Once assembled, modular homes look like regular homes. On the other hand, mobile homes are recognizably rectangular boxes.

Many mobile homes are located in mobile home parks, communities of mobile homes, also confusingly known as "trailer parks." I say "confusingly" because none of the units there will ever be towed or trailed anywhere. Mobile homes are also sited on farms and ranches, as homes for the farmer's grown children or ranch hands.

Almost any living unit that is (or can be) regularly moved from place to place should be called an RV, the exception being mobile commercial living units used at remote work sites: mines, oil fields, etc.

RVs fall into two major categories: powered and towed or hauled. Powered RVs are motor homes, Towed or hauled RVs are trailers or truck campers. In use, these are normally parked at campgrounds or RV parks. When not in use RVs are often parked in backyards, driveways or RV storage lots.

For pictures of the various types, see which is the other DrC's blog.

More Weird Science

A Czech scientist has come up with the notion that a protozoan in cat feces is causing changes in human behavior. He isn't alone, other scientists have also found support for this idea. See the article in The Atlantic. This is bizarre stuff.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Natural Experiment

Agence France-Presse reports a cancer drug shows improvement in mice afflicted with an Alzheimer's-like disease. I would imagine there are some Alzheimer's patients being treated with this drug for cancer they also have. Why not track them down and see what their reaction to the drug has been?

Trende: Brokered Convention Possible

Sean Trende writes politics for RealClearPolitics. Here he looks at the remote possibility that the GOP could have a brokered convention.

What is a brokered convention? It is one in which no candidate arrives with a majority of the delegates pledged to him. I am actually old enough to remember when the voting at a convention mattered, when more than one round of ballots would occur.

If no candidate has a majority of the delegates, it is possible for a wild-card candidate to be proposed and nominated. People are talking about Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, Paul Ryan, yada, yada. I expect the odds of this happening are vanishingly small, though greater than zero.

Quote of the Day

Dan Balz, who writes politics for The Washington Post, commenting on the Republican primary race:
Republicans are fervent in their desire to defeat the president in November but can’t work up much enthusiasm for their candidates.

Page: 2012 An Odd Year

Susan Page writes politics for USA Today, and does a good job. Here she muses about what an odd political year 2012 is turning out to be.

Her examples include the revival of social issues, the violation of old guideposts, money being even between parties, and the drawn out process. This presidential election is turning out to be a different ballgame.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

MN, MO, and CO Go for Santorum

Caucus results are in for Colorado and Minnesota, plus "beauty contest" primary votes in Missouri. Rick Santorum won all three; he got 45% in Minnesota, 40% in Colorado, and 55% in Missouri where Gingrich wasn't on the ballot. See Google for results.

Supposed front-runner Romney had a bad night; he came in second in Colorado and Missouri and third in Minnesota. Oddly, no delegates were won today. Missouri was a popularity contest, while the other two chose delegates who will attend a state convention where delegates will be voted on. For an explanation of this, see the Yahoo News article.

Santorum has now won four states, Romney has won three, and Gingrich has won one. If you see momentum as an important factor in politics, at this point Santorum appears to have it. Who would have guessed?

For Republicans, this is the oddest political year in recent memory.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Afghan Mess

Have you been holding the suspicion that we are not being told how bad things really are in Afghanistan? Yeah, me too.

Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis has written for the Arm Forces Journal a very discouraging summary of his experiences across the various battlefields in Afghanistan. He says we're being lied to, systematically, and that things will fall apart in Afghanistan faster even than they have in Iraq.

I'm sure Davis has finished his 20 years of service because, if he hasn't retired, his army career is toast.

Ginsburg Disses Constitution?

In an interview on Egyptian TV, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has seemed critical of the U.S. Constitution, comparing it unfavorably with documents from South Africa and Canada.
I'm possibly overreacting but that feels like grounds for impeachment.

If, in fact, she suggested that other documents besides our Constitution would be relevant, I have no quibble. Certainly, Egypt should look at lots of sources.

If what she said was that the U.S. Constitution itself is no longer relevant, she should step down. Her job as one of the nine Supremes is to interpret the U.S. Constitution as it applies to modern (as well as timeless) issues. If she finds the document no longer relevant, she is ipso facto unqualified for that job.

You can find the story here on The Daily Caller website. Hat tip to for the link.

Irrational Iran

An article from the Tampa Bay Online argues that the leadership of Iran is, by our lights, delusional. That President Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei favor international chaos, violence and strife for reasons of faith.

The article further argues that negotiating with Iran is pointless. Iran sees no reason to do so inasmuch as they believe the world is months away from an Islamic version of "end times," out of which Iran will emerge the winner - because Allah wills it so. It's an interesting analysis. Hat tip to for the link.

Final Nevada Numbers

The remaining Clark County caucuses have reported and the final numbers are in. They are as follows:
50% Romney
21% Gingrich
19% Paul
10% Santorum
These percentages do not differ dramatically from those reported earlier. Roughly 32,000 Nevadans came to the caucuses, out of a population, as noted below, of 2.7 million. Again, the source is Google.


Maureen Dowd of The New York Times pens some nice snark at the expense of Newt and Callista:
There’s always a chance, of course, that Callista is not staring so intently at Newt to make him feel more Napoleonic. Maybe she just doesn’t want to let him out of her sight. As the maxim goes, “When a man marries his mistress, he creates a job opening.”
That sounds like something the nuns at Immaculata High School taught colleen Maureen.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

French Parenting

Go see an interesting Wall Street Journal article about French parenting. I wouldn't be surprised if it had much in common with Asian parenting.

Whatever...French parenting apparently works. It is hard to argue that American parenting is anything but a mess.

Evolution at Work

Putting lizard couples on tiny islands to examine how evolution works - its speed, and the founder effect. It turns out evolution (or a part of it) can happen relatively rapidly - interesting news. See the Washington Post article.

A New Political Barometer

Conservative source Investors' Business Daily has come up with a market-driven index that predicts whether or not an incumbent president will be reelected. The last time the Job Index Barometer (JIB) didn't work was 80 years ago, in 1932!

How does it work? When one of three indices (Dow, S&P 500, or Nasdaq) makes a big gain in January, roughly 6% or more, the incumbent loses. When the gain is less than that, or there's a loss, the incumbent wins. They conclude:
This January the Nasdaq rose 8%, signaling a loss for President Obama, according to the IBD JIB.

More Intern Hanky Panky

JFK may have had an extended affair with a 19 year old intern, at least Mimi Alford claims he did in a recently released book. See the story here in the New York Post. As Mel Brooks says in History of the World, Part I, "It's good to be king."

Nevada for Mitt

As expected, Nevada has given the largest bloc of its GOP primary support to Mitt Romney. With 71% of precincts reporting, Romney has almost half of the votes, Gingrich trails with not quite half of that, just ahead of Paul, Santorum ends up with about half of their votes. See caucus results here on Google.

Turnout for the Nevada caucuses was very light. The 71% of caucuses represented here have only reported 25,000 votes. Nevada has a population of 2.7 million, according to the U.S. Census.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Euro-War Unlikely

I just read an article from Eurozine about the possibility of another war breaking out in Europe if the euro and EU cannot be protected. The author, Ovidiu Nahoi, lists a variety of reasons that would be offered as opposing arguments and then knocks them down.

I believe the author omits the most compelling reason why war will not break out in Europe. The real reason there won't be war is that there are no armies of any consequence left in Europe.

European nations have devoted all of their revenues to supporting welfare state policies, with the result that little money is available for armaments. Basically, they have let the U.S. defend them for the last 60+ years. To go to war they would first have to divert resources to military build-up, at the expense of social welfare programs.

Dumb Politics

Roman Catholics are 23.9% of the U.S. population - one heck of a voting bloc. You have to wonder why the Obama administration took the recent election-year action which has so angered U.S. Roman Catholics.

The action requires Catholic hospitals and schools to offer employees health insurance covering drugs and procedures which the church finds sinful and abhorrent. It might be good health policy but it is really bad politics and could prevent Obama's reelection.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Question Answered

On Tuesday I wrote:
I'm not certain how Santorum justifies continuing in the race. He begins to look silly. Whose money is he spending?
Now we know, ABC News has given us the answer. Santorum's money man is a wealthy Wyoming resident named Foster Friess.

Quote of the Day

Benjamin Franklin, from On the Price of Corn and the Management of the Poor (29 November 1766):
The best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.
Ben Franklin is an inexhaustible fount of wisdom. Source is Wikiquote.

Lying With Numbers

The MSM are agog with the news that the unemployment rate has fallen to 8.3%, see this Reuters report. Less featured is the fact that a record number of people dropped out of the labor market entirely during the same month.

Participation fell to 63.7% which is the lowest level in at least 10 years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics while CNBC Business News reports the last time we had a labor force participation rate as low as 63.7% was in May, 1983.

The nonfarm economy created 243,000 jobs in January, but much of the drop in unemployment is the result of discouraged workers leaving the job market. That includes early retirements, people going on disability, or simply giving up the search. Rick Santelli of CNBC makes this point too.

If enough people decide not to look for work, the unemployment rate can drop even further. That doesn't mean the economy is improving, quite the opposite. As labor force participation shrinks, fewer workers are supporting more non-workers, one way or another. Hat tip to Drudge for the links.

The Italian Problem

Each country has its own unique way of being, its own culture. In the case of Italy, the fact that it works at all amazes outsiders.

The New York Review of Books has an article by Tim Parks that is a good, brief description of Italian government and economic systems. Here is a sample:
It is never easy to legislate against vested interests; in Italy it is well nigh impossible: there are simply so many groups whose existence depends on things remaining as they are. To a greater extent than in other countries, individual Italians feel diminished and despondent if those groups are put in jeopardy.
Parks' bottom line is that he doesn't see how Italy can change, absent a cataclysmic external threat which the EU is unwilling or unable to impose. If you are at all interested in Italy, this article is for you.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Rove: Mitt Needs Policy

Karl Rove is controversial, but very smart about politics. He has written an Rx for the Romney campaign's next couple of months, in his column for The Wall Street Journal which we connect with here on his website.

Rove believes Romney needs to become bolder about the policies he would favor as president, how he would take the nation forward. This sounds like good advice.

Who Cares?

Donald Trump has endorsed Mitt Romney. Yahoo News reports the press conference. This endorsement is a non-event in my opinion. Obviously some disagree.

Steyn Goofs

Generally I think Mark Steyn has a good take on what's happening. In this short article for National Review Online I believe Steyn misses the mark.

Steyn takes Romney to task over his "I'm not concerned about the very poor" comment. The comment was politically maladroit; it is conventional to express concern for the very poor. Steyn, however, seems to believe solving the problems of the very poor actually is important.

I agree that Mitt should have been less transparent about his values in this case. However, Mitt's point was that what is important is fixing the situation of those who are willing and able to work, who generally are not the "very poor." Because of disability or substance abuse. most of the very poor cannot hold a job even in good times.

Creating growth will generate jobs - jobs are what those willing and able to work need. What Mitt revealed was the correct value - put the unemployed back to work. His mistake was telling the truth.

Why Newt Won't Bitter-End

Newt Gingrich has claimed he will stay in the race all the way to the end. Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call that he doubts this, for purely political reasons. I have no quibble with his reasoning.

On the other hand, my evaluation of Prof. Newt's mercurial nature suggests he will drop out earlier because to hang in there to the bitter, losing end would devalue the Gingrich brand. It would diminish him, make him look foolish, thus inconsistent with his self-image as a "world historical" figure.

Robert Wright has an article in The Atlantic which makes the same points. Hat tip to for the links.

Good Numbers

Politico columnist Jim Vandehei "runs the numbers" on jobs, swing votes, and money. His conclusion: President Obama's reelection effort is in trouble, far from a sure thing.

Vandehei cites the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office prediction that unemployment rates will be almost 9% in the third quarter. The third quarter is the period leading up to the election.

He cites Gallup as finding Obama and Romney tied in the so-called "swing states." These are the 12 states that have a reasonable chance of tilting either way.

And Vandehei shows that the once-anticipated Obama lead in fund raising is probably gone. Super PAC money is going to the GOP.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wouldn't It Be Luv-er-ly?

An article in The Washington Examiner analyzes state-by-state Gallup poll numbers and concludes they may point to a anti-Obama landslide in November. Stories like this have Republicans singing the refrain from My Fair Lady: "Wouldn't it be luv-er-ly?" Caveat: the Examiner leans right and may be too optimistic.