Monday, April 30, 2012

Bloomberg: Wages Down

First we need a definition. The "median wage" is the wage that half the people make more than, and half the people make less than.

Bloomberg reports that:
Real median household income in March was down $4,300 since Obama took office in January 2009 and down $2,900 since the June 2009 start of the economic recovery. (snip) A president who attacked Bush’s policies for favoring the rich has overseen a recovery in which the wealthiest 1 percent captured 93 percent of per-capita real income gains in 2010.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Film Review

The other DrC and I watched the DVD of The Iron Lady last night. I wish I had not done so.

The film contains entirely too much of an elderly and bewildered Mrs. Thatcher wandering around her home talking to her dead husband Denis.

The parts of the film - flashbacks - which deal with the young Margaret Roberts and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher are good. Unfortunately, they end up being underemphasized.

Frankly, the film's title is ironic. Most of what you see will be the very rusty remnant of what was once an iron lady - damned sad and entirely unnecessary.

One suspects the people who made the film didn't like Prime Minister Thatcher. It appears they took this opportunity to exact revenge - an ugly business.

The Brits have had two great prime ministers in the last century: Churchill and Thatcher. They ended up kicking both out of office. Honestly, they don't deserve their great PMs.

BTW, the other DrC liked the film. De gustibus non est disputandum.

Weird Analytical Science

Will Gervais and Ara Norenzayan have a recent article in Science which reports studies that show analytical, rational thinking leads to reduced religious belief. They contrast analytical thinking with intuition.

Unfortunately, you must be a Science subscriber to access more than the article abstract. You can, however, read a comprehensive review of the Gervais and Norenzayan article here in Cosmos (do not confuse with Cosmopolitan).

Friedman on Syria

Tom Friedman, whose New York Times columns about U.S. domestic matters are purest dreck, often generates good thoughts when he switches to his actual field of expertise, the Middle East. Do yourself a favor: ignore the former, read the latter.

In a recent column Friedman looks at the interplay between matters in perennially conflicted Lebanon and the sectarian civil war in neighboring Syria. He writes:
What is happening in Syria, and across the Arab world today, is the first popular movement since the late 19th and early 20th century that has not been animated by foreign policy or anticolonialism or Israel or Britain. Instead, says Paul Salem, the director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, “it is about us and our jobs and accountable government. ... It is a profound reorientation to domestic priorities and pragmatism. It is a quest for dignity,” emerging from the bottom up. any case, I like his conclusion as it is thoroughly pessimistic and thus appropriate to the region:
So let’s help in an intelligent, humane way, but with no illusions that this transition will be easy or a happy ending assured.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fate of the Nation State in Question

Here at COTTonLINE we're Anglophiles; we like the Brits so we have at least some interest in U.K. politics. It appears that politics in the U.K. are becoming regionalized much like they have become so in the U.S. and in Canada. See The Telegraph article.

This raises an interesting question: is the nation state concept disintegrating around the world? I believe there is substantial evidence that this is so.

Examples of countries where region-based parties are strong enough to have found space in the international press would include: Italy, Germany, Ukraine, Moldava, the United States, the U.K., Spain, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Thailand, Nigeria, Somalia, Mexico, Kenya, and Russia.

Extreme examples would include: Sudan vs, South Sudan, North vs, South Korea. The Soviet Union breaking into 15 separate nations, Yugoslavia breaking into 6 countries, Czechoslovakia breaking into two, Pakistan spinning off Bangladesh.

Since 1990, thirty-four countries have been created, a process that is likely to continue.

Fun Truth

Not everything we do here at COTTonLINE is cold-eyed and serious. We stop to smell the roses now and then.

Take a look at a semi-tongue-in-cheek commencement address Charles Wheelan has written for The Wall Street Journal. It is both funny and serious, in the mode of Mark Steyn, P.J. O'Rourke, or Ann Coulter.

Wheelan lists ten things, I'll share with you my favorite three:
2. Some of your worst days lie ahead.
4. Marry someone smarter than you are.
9. It's all borrowed time.
His explanations of the ten things are cynical, cute, and mostly true, too. Enjoy.

Quote of the Day

Mark Steyn, writing for Investor's Business Daily, about the "Obama ate dog" controversy:
It's not just that Obama ate the dog, but that he's screwing the pooch. 
A colorful NASA metaphor meaning to make a serious and spectacular error.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Further Thought

On Wednesday we wrote that single women believe Obama is more favorable to women than Romney. I asked myself why this might be so.

A factor contributing to this view among single women is that roughly 70% of black women are not married (45% never marry) and 90% of blacks support Obama.

In other words, black women - who are more likely than others to support Obama - are overrepresented in the subpopulation called "single women." I am not aware of anyone noting this bias factor influencing poll findings for single women.

Deflation In Home Market

Who would have imagined very recent home buyers are still being pulled "under water" by the continuing home price drop? See this Reuters article for details of recent buyers owing more than their homes are worth.

It may be that dreaded deflation is part of what is hurting the housing market in the U.S. If I were in the market for a home, and read about further falling home prices, I'd consider waiting for those even lower prices, wouldn't you?

Deflation (falling prices) is among the things economists worry about most. When prices fall people hold off making purchases believing the price will be lower in a few days or months. Their refusal to buy drives prices even lower - a so-called "vicious circle."

Japan's Problems

Bloomberg has an article on what the future holds for Japan.  If current trends continue, the prognosis is not especially positive.

On the other hand, author Jared Diamond points out two previous occasions when Japan, faced with a set of major problems, managed to reinvent itself. That history suggests perhaps we shouldn't give up on Japan just yet.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Noonan: 2012 Looking Up

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, with a column on how the Obama administration is  "bush league." See her conclusion:
Maybe the 2012 election is simpler than we think.
It will be about Mr. Obama.
Did you like the past four years? Good, you can get four more.
Do the president and his people strike you as competent? If so, you can renew his contract, and he will renew theirs.
If you don't want to rehire him, you will look at the other guy. Does he strike you as credible, a possible president? Then you can hire him.
Republicans should cheer up.

Hymowitz: Why Women Earn Less

Kay Hymowitz, writing here for The Wall Street Journal, takes on answering the question of why women earn less than men. The superficial reason she puts forward is that women put in fewer hours per week on the job.

Drill down, and learn the reason that women put in fewer paid hours: children and taking care of them. Compare the earnings of young women without children to those of men with similar education and skills - the women earn more.

You can argue that fathers should provide more child care. This argument runs head-on into the fact that 40% of children are born to unmarried women. Hymowitz notes:
All over the developed world women make up the large majority of the part-time workforce, and surveys suggest they want it that way.
See her conclusion, which frankly isn't hopeful about the chances of a solution to wage disparity:
We don't know if there is a way to design workplaces so that women would work more or men would work less or both. What we do know is that no one, anywhere, has yet figured out how to do it.

SB 1070 Looks Good

Attorney John Hinderaker is lead author of the PowerLine blog. He takes a close look at the government's Supreme Court oral arguments against the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law (SB 1070) and finds them seriously wanting.

The Supreme Court justices really gave the Solicitor General a tough time. Even Justice Sotomayor, the self-described "wise Latina," was saying the government's arguments were lame.

To see these SCOTUS arguments in person would have been amazing.

Suspicious Timing

Much is being made of the new Pew Hispanic Center report that net illegal immigration from Mexico has essentially reached zero. See the article on their website.

Am I the only one who finds the timing of their report suspicious, coming as it does while the Supreme Court is hearing arguments about the constitutionality of the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law, SB 1070?

The Pew report findings sound like just what is needed to argue that Arizona no longer needs SB1070, if in fact it ever did. The timing coincidence seems entirely too convenient. That makes me wonder if the report is accurate or just anti-SB 1070 spin.

Even if the net illegal immigration actually has reached zero, that doesn't answer the question created by the presence of over ten million undocumented immigrants who are already here. Doing a better job of checking right to work status can cause many more to "self-deport" or go home.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

For Politics Junkies Only

Much is made, here in COTTonLINE and elsewhere, of the current "horse race" polls - who is ahead, who is behind, and by how much. I just read a wonky article looking at the extent to which polls taken this far before the November elections predict the outcomes, find it here on The New York Times website.

Looking at data that goes back to 1972, the author concludes:
The leader in national polls at the end of April in the past two elections has gone on to win. Before 2004, however, the April leader lost the popular vote more often than not.
Over those ten elections, exactly half the time the April leader won and half the time he lost the popular vote.* That suggests April polls are worthless as predictors, which may be incorrect. In fact, they may be accurate reflections of where the race stands in April. If as Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously said, "A week is a long time in politics," then twenty-seven weeks is a very long time indeed.

* In 2000 Albert Gore won the popular vote but George W. Bush won the electoral college and thus the election.

Odd Poll Data

The Hill, which writes about politics and Congress, has done a poll asking a pair of interesting reciprocal questions. It asked voters which candidate - Obama or Romney - more respected women who have careers. Then it asked voters which candidate more respected women who stay at home. The findings:
More voters think Mitt Romney and the Republican Party respect women who work outside the home than think President Obama and the Democrats respect women who stay at home.
Forty-nine percent of likely voters said the presumptive GOP presidential nominee respects women who have independent careers, while 27 percent said he doesn't and 24 percent weren't sure.
When asked if President Obama respects women who stay at home rather than pursue a career, 37 percent of likely voters said he doesn't and 35 percent of said he does. Twenty-nine percent were unsure.
However, single women believe Obama is more favorable to women.

Who Knew?

The Dalai Lama being interviewed by Piers Morgan on CNN and responding to the question "Which people that you've ever met have really impressed you?" The Dalai Lama replied:
As an individual person, I love President Bush.
Asked which one, he replied he meant the younger President Bush. The Piers Morgan segment is supposed to run today, and was being discussed on Fox & Friends. See the story on Mediaite. Hat tip to for the link.

Taking a Guess

Predicting Supreme Court outcomes is a mug's game, and at COTTonLINE we normally don't do it. However, it begins to look like SCOTUS will overturn Obamacare and uphold the tough Arizona illegal immigration law, SB 1070, this term. If things turn out that way, liberals are certainly going to be taking a sour view of the Supremes.

You'll hear that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) intends to introduce a bill overturning the AZ law if the Court upholds it. He won't get the Senate to pass it, and the House won't pass it if the Senate does. This is just political grandstanding, a perhaps successful play for the Hispanic vote.

Romney Speech

Mitt Romney gave a heck of a good speech last night after the winning results of the five northeastern primaries came in. I read it and I thought to myself, this is what I believe and what I want to vote for.

Here is the entire text (scroll down) of the speech from The Washington Post. Mitt will be our Republican nominee; read his speech and decide for yourself.

More Fish, Mammals in Arctic

An Agence France-Presse article found on the Sydney Morning Herald website is headlined "Mammals and fish in Arctic on the rise." Do you suppose climate change has anything to do with this?

Probably not. The cause is likely to be restraint in hunting and fishing activities; in other words, a reduced "harvest" of these creatures.

While COTTonLINE takes a skeptical view of human-caused climate change, we clearly recognize that humans can threaten species extinction with over-hunting and over-fishing. And these are behaviors which we can change without upsetting the economy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

More Primary Results

Mitt Romney won all five primaries held today in these northeastern states: DE, RI, CT, NY, and PA. His vote percentages ranged from a low of 56% in Delaware to a high of 67% in Connecticut.

Like Mitt or not, it is clear that most of the Republican electorate has decided he will be the nominee and that they'll support him. Go here to see the detailed Associated Press results reported on Google, including the vote percentages for the other three candidates.

Weird Headache Science

There is preliminary research evidence that migraine headaches and the ice cream headache we've all gotten from time to time are related. This finding may give insight into treatment modalities.

If only migraines went away as quickly as ice cream headaches. See the Live Science story on the Fox News website. Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Cheap Shot

It is so easy to be pessimistic about the Middle East. Too easy. And yet anyone who's lived through the post-World War II period and paid attention to that sad region knows it's entirely justified.

I've found you another pessimistic column about the Middle East, written by Beirut-based Robert Fisk for Britain's The Independent. Fisk argues that what's going on there now is counter-revolution, a reaction to the so-called Arab Spring.

Fisk writes a quite good column about the region and hardly mentions Israel. He writes about how screwed up the Arabs (and Persians and Kurds) are, how seemingly incapable of representative self-government. Oh, yes, and how equally confused western policies toward the region continue to be.

Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

Weird Forecasting Science

The Economist has an article about several different data-mining research teams trying to forecast riots, civil unrest, insurrection, and civil war. Apparently they're having success. No secret, much of their information comes off the Internet and the cell phone network.

Why people believe their online communications are private I have no idea. Assume everything you communicate on a phone or text or blog or social network is available to everyone, including those who don't share your views, perhaps wish you ill.

Argentina, Seen from Canada

Canadian Robert Fulford writes for their National Post about the mess in Argentina. He does a good job of summarizing Argentina's crypto-fascist Peronist history, correctly describes Evita worship, and relates it all to the current government's grab of oil company YPF and renewed claim of the Falklands Islands.

The whole article is good, here's my favorite section:
Public life in Argentina expresses itself through spasms of showmanship, braggadocio, paranoia and demagoguery. It’s the land of the eternal crisis, where a military coup is never unthinkable.
Argentina’s many economic failures, generation after generation, are self-created, politically induced. In all the world there’s no more obvious example of a nation that has squandered, through flawed governance, the riches provided by nature.
Through political malfeasance, Argentina continues to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Chinese Demography

The Economist has an intriguing article about China's demographic problems over the next roughly 40 years. Here is the most telling quote:
In the traditional Chinese family, children, especially sons, look after their parents. (snip) But rapid ageing also means China faces what is called the “4-2-1 phenomenon”: each only child is responsible for two parents and four grandparents. Even with high savings rates, it seems unlikely that the younger generation will be able or willing to afford such a burden.
See the chart comparing demographic features for China and the U.S. - amazing stuff.

The Bradley Effect

Polls predicted LA Mayor Tom Bradley, an African-American, would be elected California governor in 1982. His white opponent, George Deukmejian, won the election. This polling error gave rise to the term "Bradley Effect."

The "Bradley Effect" refers to voters telling pollsters they'll vote for a black candidate when they plan to vote for his white opponent. It is ascribed to what psychologists call social desirability bias, the desire to appear politically correct. In this case, it is the desire to avoid appearing racially biased.

Fast forward to the 2012 election. A variety of polls tell us Barack Obama is more likable than Mitt Romney. Perhaps they are accurate. On the other hand, perhaps the Bradley Effect is again at work. Maybe this is the political version of the old canard "some of my best friends are (fill in the blank)." Just saying....

Film Review

Last evening the other DrC and I saw the film Mirror, Mirror in a local theater. In a word, it is fun. Not serious, not especially well-acted, beautifully costumed, beautifully filmed, and fun. When it ends you wish it would go on longer so you could follow what happens to the young princess.

In a Snow White film the audience is supposed to fall in love with the title character. In this version it takes a while to happen. Lily Collins doesn't do this part quite as naturally as Anne Hathaway did in several films, but she eventually wins your heart. Maybe that's the point, maybe we're supposed to see a bland goody-two-shoes evolve into a heroine with both head and heart.

The evil queen played by Julia Roberts has been modernized, which is fun to watch. She makes the queen more believable by making her less over-the-top evil than some of her predecessors. The goings-on at her court make you expect to see Johnny Depp pop up in Mad Hatter garb (he doesn't).

This set of dwarves for sure isn't the Disney set; these are a pack of thieves and highwaymen, scruffy little outcasts from society. I like the difference. The prince, played by Armie Hammer, was not one of the strongest performances. He's pleasant looking but vanilla bland. Sean Bean's part as the king is so small you wonder why they brought him aboard; they could have gotten by with someone less well-known (and cheaper).

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Culture Clash

U.S. law makes the bribery of foreign officials by American firms or their subsidiaries illegal. This in spite of cultures in many countries, including Mexico, requiring such bribery to get anything done.

WalMart has gotten caught up in a scandal involving the bribery of Mexican government officials to get permission to build stores. The bribes have been paid, the stores built, but now some poor suckers will have to take the fall for being good company men. Throw 'em under the bus.

This is one of those laws the passing of which made Congress feel good about itself. It cost the government nothing much to demand that we behave as Americans wherever we go, regardless of local customs. American firms that want to succeed overseas almost have to violate it and hope not to get caught.

Yes, in every foreign country the laws forbid bribery. However, in many (but not all) of them the law is pure window-dressing. It simply does not conform to cultural norms and practices. See the article on Yahoo News.

Poor California

Demographer Joel Kotkin, interviewed about California by Allysia Finley, for The Wall Street Journal. Kotkin says California is experiencing middle class outmigration.

Two fascinating facts emerge. First, Californians making more than $48,000 a year pay a higher rate of state income tax (9.3%) than do millionaires in 47 other states. Second, ca. 40% of Californians pay no state income tax at all and ca. 25% are on Medicaid, indications of poverty.

The middle class are leaving California but the poor are staying. Thus, says Kotkin:
The state is run for the very rich, the very poor, and the public employees.
Obvious problem: you cannot tax the very rich enough to support both the public employees and the very poor. Aside: it takes many heavily armed public employees (police, deputy sheriffs, highway patrol, prison guards) to control a large, poor population. Result: California = Greece; it's likely to become bankrupt.

Life...Poor, Nasty, Brutish, and Short

Rereading what I wrote last Wednesday about the bush wars in Africa, about children soldiers with AK-47s terrorizing their own people, I was reminded of something written by the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes described what he called a "state of nature" - life in the absence of government.

This, he said, would lead to bellum omnium contra omnes. or "war of all against all." See his description from Ch. XIII of The Leviathan:
In such condition, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worse of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
That pretty well describes the situation in those African countries with bandit hordes ravaging their countrysides and people. Source of the quote is Wikipedia.

Political Humor

If I had a dog, it would look like the dog Obama ate.

From a captioned lead photo of a pooch wearing a hoodie, on, attributed to someone with the logo CMR.

Death Natural

The autopsy report is out and Andrew Breitbart died of natural causes, heart failure. He had hardened arteries and lived the life of an adrenalin junky. It caught up with him.

That diagnosis is a relief. I didn't want to think some leftwing mook put him down. See this post on his Big Government website for details.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mommy vs. Daddy

One metric pundits use for identifying what sort of government people seek is the "mommy" government vs. the "daddy" government. Democrats identify with the mommy state, Republicans more with the daddy state.

Political analyst Charlie Cook writes for National Journal that polling data says this difference is pulling women to vote Democratic. He reports that Obama runs ahead among those who identify the environment, education, health care, and birth control as key issues. On the other hand, he finds those who identify the economy and foreign policy/defense as important favor Romney.

Cook makes the quite tiny intuitive leap to identify the former as "women's issues" and the latter as "men's issues." He argues that Romney needs to develop some chops on the mommy issues if he hopes to be elected.

Is Cook right? In a crappy economy, with lots of people out of work and home values down, are all of these issues equally salient? Except for people who actually work in health care and education, I have to think again in 2012 "it's the economy, stupid," in the prophetic words of Bill Clinton's ragin' Cajun, James Carville.

For the 10 million or so people of both genders employed in the K-12 public schools, education is very important. For the 11.5 million employed in health care it is important, and most of those are women. The environment and birth control are not huge employment fields so they don't have the same enormous "where I sit is where I stand" constituencies. Which is not to say that each of these four issues doesn't have non-employee single-issue enthusiasts, for of course they do.

On the other hand, the economy is literally everybody's issue: every home or condo owner, everyone with an IRA, everybody worried about a pension plan, everyone with a job they could lose (or have lost), or a friend or relative out of work. All must worry about the economy, Romney's strength.

Political Humor Alert

In 2008, presidential candidate Barack Hussein Obama asked us to believe in Hope and Change.

After four years in office, reelection candidate President Obama asks us to Hope he will Change.

Youth Out of Love With O

In contrast to his experience in 2008, Barack Obama is not polling strongly among young voters. Molly Ball writes politics for The Atlantic, and she reports results based on recent polling:
Less than half of 18-to-24-year-old voters want Obama to win reelection. (snip) That single-digit lead represents a dramatic drop from 2008, when Obama won the votes of that age group by a 34-point margin over John McCain -- 66 percent to 32 percent.
It is one thing to imagine all the wonderful things an unknown new guy will do, and quite another to imagine that the very familiar guy we've had four years of will suddenly become wonderful. To paraphrase BHO's 2008 mantra, we're being asked to hope he'll change.

More on Argentina

On Tuesday past we wrote disapprovingly about Argentina nationalizing its Spanish-owned oil company YPF. Yesterday's Wall Street Journal has two excellent articles further describing the economic problems and general political and governmental craziness of that otherwise beautiful land.

The first article, by Pierpaolo Barbieri, deals with the poor economic choices made there over the past two decades. I've given you a link to it here on the webpage of the Belfer Center at Harvard University as the WSJ page requires subscription.

The second article (subscription required) by Matt Moffett and Ilan Brat deals particularly with the details of the YPF takeover. Much of the same content is available (without subscription) here on Reuters.

Quote of the Day

Ed Rogers who blogs politics for The Washington Post, on the November election:
A serious challenge for the Romney campaign will be how to stay out of the way while Obama loses.
I like the sound of needing to "stay out of the way while Obama loses." It may be accurate.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Remade World

For The Weekly Standard, Jonathan V. Last writes a book review of Population Decline and the Remaking of Great Power Politics, edited by Susan Yoshihara and Douglas A. Sylva. It is a compilation of essays about the birth rate crash most of the world is now experiencing.

Demography is amazing stuff. Here are four examples:
  • Only 3 percent of the world's population live in a country where the fertility rate is not dropping.
  • As populations shrink, economies will sputter. Western countries will struggle to support too many retirees without enough workers, and the rest of the world (particularly places such as China and Russia) will be challenged just to maintain order.
  • Most people will have neither brothers, sisters, aunts, nor uncles, and there will be no such thing as an extended family.
  • Over the next 40 years we will witness the most drastic demographic upheaval the world has seen since (at least) the Black Death. And one way, or another, the world will be remade.

Domestic Consequences

David Gelernter writes for The Weekly Standard that it is likely the U.S., not Israel, will attack Iran in the early autumn several weeks before the November election. He sees this as having domestic political consequences, take a look:
It would probably lead to Obama being reelected. Americans would rally behind the president; and the unpleasant after-effects of the attack would still lie mostly in the post-Election Day future.
See what you think of Gelernter's arguments.

U.C. Merced? U R Kidding

Charlotte Allen visited the newest University of California campus outside Merced, and writes a mostly sympathetic article for The Weekly Standard about the campus. Since I spent a lifetime teaching in the higher ed. systems of CA, I read it to see what was shaking at U.C. Merced. The answer: not much.

The campus exists in order to placate the political passions of the state's growing Hispanic electoral bloc. There was clearly no other need for it. I think a very good argument can be made for reassigning it to the California State University system which Ms. Allen correctly describes as:
A 23-campus network of workaday comprehensive universities such as Fresno State, which lack doctoral programs and elaborate research facilities and where admissions standards are considerably lower than they are for the University of California.
Allen's description of the CSU fits U.C. Merced, and U.C. Riverside, too. Both should be reassigned to that system.


Finally someone in the media says what I've been thinking about the uproar over the pictures of U.S. troops with Taliban bodies in Afghanistan. No surprise, it's Lt. Col. Ralph Peters talking on Fox News.

Peters is the military analyst/writer whose insights make the most sense to me; his work often appears in the New York Post. See what he says about all the abject apologies made by the military brass, SecDef, and the White House:
Our soldiers out on the front line, and our Marines, are under tremendous stresses. War is not a ladies auxiliary tea party, and it's all too easy for people comfortable in Los Angeles or New York or the White House to condemn the troops without context.
Don't blame the troops out doing the tough work. Blame the generals whose strategy has failed, the cowardly, cowardly White House just trying to kick the can down the road to November, and blame the establishment media that really loves, loves to trash our soldiers and Marines.
Amen, Col. Peters; I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Good Timing of Bad Behavior

The General Services Administration holds wild parties in Las Vegas and elsewhere, while the Secret Service parties with cocaine and prostitutes. Meanwhile the Justice Department looks the other way while black extremist organizations offer bounties and threaten voters at polling places.

Those who've wondered when the Obama administration would have scandals can relax, the scandals are have arrived, and the timing is perfect. You couldn't ask for better timing than in an election year, preferably a presidential election year. Those "Chicago genes" have a way of becoming known, don't they?

------ 0 ------

The other DrC and I met some Secret Service lads during the Bush/Cheney years in Jackson WY. Part of a Cheney protection detail and amazingly clean cut; of course Dick Cheney wouldn't put up with any nonsense. I expect the guys take their cues from the people they protect.

Their idea of being bad was eating a huge, greasy hamburger at Billy's. I remember one wisecracking they'd have to run 5 more miles to burn off the calories; no easy job in the thin air at 6000 ft. elevation.

Bloomberg Has Good News

Bloomberg's Gregory Giroux reports as follows:
With about 200 days until the Nov. 6 election, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are in a dead heat. That’s a major finding of a CBS News/New York Times poll released today that has Obama and Romney with 46 percent support each.
A month ago, the survey pegged Obama at 47 percent and Romney at 44 percent. (snip) Republican voters are beginning to coalesce behind Romney.
There's no way the Gray Lady liked publishing those poll findings. It invalidates the left's CW that Obama is a slam dunk. Hat tip to for the link.


Ask your dog's permission before pulling the lever for Barack Obama this fall. In his autobiographical Dreams from My Father, the adult Obama wrote of life with his Indonesian stepfather Lolo:
With Lolo, I learned how to eat small green chill peppers raw with dinner (plenty of rice), and, away from the dinner table, I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy).
Multiculturalism has its downside. Don't be surprised if Rover thinks the 10 year old president-to-be was some kind of cannibal. See the article on ABC News.

Africa's Wars

Jeffrey Gettleman, East Africa bureau chief for The New York Times, has a scary survey for Foreign Policy of the bush wars that are commonplace across the 53 countries of Africa. As he describes these "wars," they are little more than predations by armed gangs of child soldiers brutalizing their own country's people.

Gettleman's bottom line is that many of these countries are headed toward the ungovernability typified by Somalia. I won't try to summarize his discussion, you should read it. It isn't pretty.

2012 a Referendum on Obama

Team Obama has argued that the 2012 presidential election will be a choice between two candidates. Historically, this is not the case in incumbent reelection bids which tend to be referenda. See what Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics has to say on the matter:
Perhaps the undecided voters will ultimately break for Obama, and this will start to look more like a "choice" election. This seems unlikely, given that his job approval among undecided voters is around 20 percent, but it is possible. Regardless, incumbent elections have historically looked more like referenda than choices, and so far, this election is looking like one as well.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Non-Political Humor

Not everything COTTonLINE does has to be deadly serious. Here is the story of a prank pulled in the Pentagon that hurt nobody and gave several a good laugh. Read about it here courtesy of The Wall Street Journal.

Peronism Resurfaces

Since the era of Juan and Evita Peron, Argentina has suffered from what our liberal press chooses to call "populism." Argentine "populism" or Peronism is in fact creeping socialism by another name.

Peronism has crippled the economy of this otherwise well-situated nation. Now its President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, has announced Argentina will nationalize their oil company, YPF, which is largely owned by the Spanish firm Repsol. Spain is very ticked off. See the Reuters article at Yahoo News for details.

I am reminded of what Margaret Thatcher said of governments like that of Argentina:
Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them.
Fernandez de Kirchner, having run out of Argentine money, wants to spend Spanish money too. She is also whining about ownership of the Falkland Islands, something Argentine governments do when they need to divert public attention from their almost perpetual financial mess. See the Thatcher quote in context at Snopes.

Interesting Agreement

Gallup has begun their daily polling on Romney vs. Obama and they come up with 47% vs. 45% which looks almost identical to Rasmussen's current numbers of 47% vs. 44%.

Yes, I know the differences shown here are not large, but we'd rather have them running in favor of Romney than the other way around.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Requiem for a McDonalds

You read that McDonalds is the whup-ass king of fast food, and maybe it's true. Maybe. However, the McDonalds in the local WalMart just closed down.

We walked in to shop (not to eat) and the WalMart folks were busy redecorating the space to sell merchandise. We asked about it and got vague, nobody-tells-us-anything answers.

In my experience, businesses close when they aren't making enough money, period. So my conclusion is that this McDonalds outlet wasn't making enough money to cover the lease, pay the salaries and suppliers, and still make money for the franchise owner and McDonalds corporate.

Reality Bites in the South China Sea

Hosting substantial numbers of foreign troops at permanent bases in one's country for decades is never ideal. Young men far away from home get drunk and some act very badly.

In 1992 the Philippines asked the U.S. to terminate its large military bases there, which it had every right to do. The U.S. closed down the Navy base at Subic Bay and the Air Force facility at Clark Field and moved the facilities to Okinawa and/or Guam.

Unfortunately, successive governments in Manila didn't understand they needed to develop the ability to defend their islands as the U.S. would no longer do it for them. Had they understood, it is relatively clear the poor country didn't have the funds to develop a military equipped with sufficient numbers of up-to-date aircraft and warships.

Now the region's "playground bully" - China - is pushing the Philippines around and Filipinos begin to understand the implications of the choices they made 20 years ago when they sent the U.S. packing. See this Reuters article for details.

Eleven Key States

Do you live in OH, NC, NV, VA, FL, CO, PA, WI, NM, IA, or NH? If so, you'll see a lot of the two major party presidential candidates and their surrogates in the run-up to the November election.

You will be inundated with TV ads for both candidates, your newspapers will be full of ads, your highways will be lined with presidential billboards, and your mailbox will be stuffed with their mailers. Why? Because political analysts consider either party's candidate could win in your state, because it is a toss-up.

If your state is not among that list of eleven, your state is taken for granted by one or the other major party. Extreme examples of this: Hawaii and Utah. I cannot imagine what sort of gaffe President Obama would have to commit to lose Hawaii. Likewise, Utah will vote for Romney, regardless.

See this Los Angeles Times article for details.

Forbes: China Economy Weakens

Gordon Chang, who takes a gloomy view of China's economy, writes for Forbes that the official PRC 8.1% growth figure overstates the actual growth. See what he says:
Actually, a 5% pace is more realistic because other signs point toward flattening growth. Home and commercial property sales dropped 14.6% in Q1 from the same period last year, for example. Bellwether passenger car sales for the quarter were down 1.8% year-on-year, and sales of commercial vehicles were off a stunning 10.8%.
Now check out Chang's conclusion, which may or may not be alarmist:
China is not growing at 8.1%, and unless something big is done fast, in months it will not be growing at all.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Hot Sauce Repellant

Farmers in Africa are using a mixture of chili and motor oil on their fences to keep elephants out of their crops. You can read the article here in The Wall Street Journal.

I've got a hunch this remedy works. One year the deer were eating my landscaping in Wyoming. I doused it with a mixture of raw egg, water and cheap Louisiana hot sauce which worked like anything and didn't hurt the plants. I wouldn't use a motor oil mix on my plants but on stakes beside the plants it would be fine and less susceptible to washing off in the rain.

Employed Mothers

Last Wednesday I challenged pollsters to tell us what women want. Today I read an article in The Weekly Standard which cites polling by the Pew Research Center done five years ago which begins to answer this question.

The question, posed to mothers of minor children, was what would be ideal for you: working full time, part time, or not working. The 2007 data showed that among working mothers 60% would prefer part-time work, 20% each would prefer full-time work or not working. Among non-working mothers, the ideal preferences were 48% not working, 33% working part-time, and only 16% working full-time. Pew's headline is this: "Full-time work grows less attractive to moms."

These findings may begin to explain the salience of the "Ann Romney never worked a day in her life" comment. Lots of mothers view her life as the ideal, both for themselves and their children.

Pew also asked mothers how they rate themselves as mothers, those working full-time rated themselves lower. There are more findings having to do with women working, see the Pew article for these.

This is a beginning, but we need to know more, pollsters.

Good Economic News

It turns out the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over the plight of the U.S. middle class has been overdone. We aren't doing as bad as everybody says we are. I think we sorta knew that, didn't we?

See an excellent, short Wall Street Daily article by Matthew Weinschenk, which lays out why things are better than reported. A lot of it has to do with increases in actual income that aren't included in IRS statistics, for example health insurance and government transfer payments.

Much more has to do with changes in living patterns. Weinschenk argues that household income is a better measure of living standard than individual incomes.

Adult children living at home have the same standard of living as their parents, although their own income may be low or nothing. Unmarried couples cohabiting have a standard of living based, typically, on two incomes but each is counted as having only what they individually earn, etc.


Cohabitation before marriage may negatively influence the subsequent stability of the marriage. It appears to be particularly a problem if the cohabitation "just happens" without much discussion on the part of the couple about shared goals, values, etc. See the New York Times article for more details.

Winning Issues

The Weekly Standard's Jay Cost writes the following about the upcoming campaign for president:
The average swing voter does not want to talk about the “war on women,” the Buffett rule, or whatever else Team Obama is going to throw out there in the weeks and months to come. That voter wants to talk about jobs, the economy, the deficit, gas prices, the health care bill--in other words, all the issues where the president is vulnerable.
Obama is preaching to the choir. Romney will never win the votes of those for whom women's issues or class warfare are paramount. Obama should be able to take those votes for granted.

Cheney on Obama

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking about President Obama at the Wyoming Republican Party state convention in Cheyenne:
He has been an unmitigated disaster to the country.
Cheney's view is widely held in mostly Republican Wyoming. See this Associated Press article for additional detail.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ugly Weird Science

Global Post reports a study from the Journal of Family Psychology by researchers from the University of Tennessee. The study found evidence that marriages may work better when the wife is better looking than the husband, rather than the other way around.

You will enjoy their tongue-in-cheek conclusion:
Well, ladies, there is your recipe for a happy marriage. He needs to be tall, rich and — most importantly — ugly.
The only part of that conclusion supported by their research is the ugly part, the rest is urban legend that may also be true.

Faith Distributions by State

Do you want to know how many people of each religious faith there are in your state, or some other state? USA Today has put together an interactive map of the proportions of each religion in each state, based on survey data from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

There is some aggregation of the data; don't expect to see how many Methodists there are in your state. They are grouped with "Mainline Protestant." I think you'll be surprised at how many people are "unaffiliated," which may mean atheist, agnostic, or believe but don't go to church.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Minimum Wages

Go to this Political Calculations website to see Bureau of Labor Statistics data about which age groups earn minimum wages. Consistently over the past five years half of all minimum wage earners were 24 or younger.

This strikes me as exactly who we want earning minimum wages - students working part-time to earn pocket money. And it sends the right message to young people: without education you won't earn much, stay in school, get a degree.

Credible Threats

Have you wondered why North Korea gets away with all of the "bad boy" stuff they pull? I sort of knew the answers but this Foreign Affairs article does a good job of laying out the three threats North Korea poses to the region.

We all know they have nukes and might be crazy enough to use them. What is less obvious is that the country is a mess that none of its neighbors want to get stuck with cleaning up.

South Koreans have seen what a drag post-reunification East Germany was (and is) on West Germans. However East Germany was in much better shape than North Korea. Therefore South Koreans believe in reunification someday, but not anytime soon.

The other neighbors, mostly China but also Russia and perhaps even Japan, don't want an economic and humanitarian catastrophe in their backyards. A North Korea meltdown would send an unwanted wave of starving Koreans across the Chinese border, leaving the Chinese with two equally unpalatable alternatives, turning them back militarily - a public relations disaster - or taking them in as refugees - an economic disaster.

Rasmussen: Romney +4

Rasmussen Reports' Daily Presidential Tracking poll for Friday, April 13, 2012, shows Mitt Romney at 48% versus Barack Obama at 44%, Romney's best showing in over a month. People who note Rasmussen often will denigrate the findings as being right-leaning, too favorable to Republicans.

Why is this so? Along with Bloomberg, Rasmussen uses a "likely voter model" as opposed to a "registered voter model" in selecting the pool from which poll respondents will be chosen. It turns out Republicans are more likely to vote than Democrats so a likely voter model will contain more Republicans proportionally than will a registered voter model.

Bottom line, from a pool of registered voters the Republicans are more likely to vote than the Democrats and so, if you are trying to predict voting outcomes, you will weigh Republican responses slightly more heavily than Democrat responses.

Is Rasmussen correct or are the other pollsters who survey registered voters? Personally I like Rasmussen. Here's why: as a kid I remember my late father, a lifelong Southern Democrat, being mad that "those darned Republicans all vote." I suspect he was correct then, and now.

Republicans are rule-followers, it's how we were successful enough to become Republicans. We are supposed to vote so we vote. Democrats are more likely to question (or blow off) authority, including the authorities who tell them to vote.

An Empty Election?

Two Democratic pollsters, Patrick Caddell and Douglas Schoen, have written an article for Politico that is sad. They spend the requisite time beating up on Mitt Romney (5 paragraphs) but then spend several paragraphs (well, 3 anyway) demolishing President Obama as well.

See their rueful conclusion:
Addressing these concerns will require an explicit commitment from our political leaders to uphold core values that are not Democratic or Republican. They are American values.

Specifically, it will require candidates who have the passion, the commitment and the urgency of voice that can unite people of different views to achieve fundamental national goals – whether it is our broad sense of national purpose, economic expansion, fiscal discipline or, most of all, job creation. In short it requires a candidate who offers hope, optimism and most of all, leadership.

At this point, it seems unlikely that the country’s fervent hopes will be realized. And in an election without purpose, the ultimate loser won’t be the Democrats or Republicans — it will be the American people.

TNR: 2012 Not Like 2008

William Galston who writes politics for The New Republic lists, and explains, seven reasons why President Obama will have more difficulty in being reelected than he had getting elected. Here are Galston's seven reasons, without the explanations:
2012 will be a referendum, not a choice.
No more promises of bipartisanship.
No more "Yes, we can."
No more youth movement.
Blue-state big business has moved on.
Selecting a campaign message will be a zero-sum choice.
Obama is no longer the master of his fate.
All of those look defensible to me. Remember, this article is from someone who wishes Obama well and hopes he is reelected.

Newt"s Motivation

I just read a Daily Beast article about why Newt Gingrich won't leave the race for the GOP nomination for president. It's a decent discussion but, I believe, misses a couple of key points.

The article talks about how he should pull out of the race in order to not damage his future career. Newt is 68 years old. I expect he believes this is his last hurrah, his last shot at "being somebody." If he doesn't get the nomination now, his in office career is effectively over.

That being the case, why wouldn't he continue to play out the campaign? There are months during which Romney could shoot himself in the foot, commit the unforgivable gaffe. It isn't likely, but it isn't impossible, either.

On the campaign trail Newt has said that Romney is not the candidate to choose if Republicans want to win in November. Perhaps he actually believes Romney will cannot win that election.

Romney losing leaves Newt in an "I told you so" position going forward. Maybe he even believes this will position him for the 2016 nomination, a long shot at age 72. Hat tip to for the link.

Heads Will Roll

You wouldn't want to be a North Korean rocket scientist tonight. Their much-heralded launch of a long-range, multi-stage rocket was a failure. See the CNN article for details. The launch failure is an embarrassment for the new North Korean dynastic leader, Kim Jong-Un.

The U.S. knows how this failure-for-all-to-see feels. Shortly after the Soviets launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite to orbit the Earth, the U.S. Navy tried to put up a rocket. It failed dramatically and embarrassingly, on TV for all to see. As a result, the Navy lost its role in the U.S. space program.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Teens Not The Issue

It is paradox time. Unwed births are down among teens but up dramatically among young adults, see the reason:
Rather than a teen issue, the majority of unwed childbearing is a result of the breakdown of marriage relationships among young men and women in lower-income communities.
The majority of all births in the United States to women under age 30 are to single mothers, a 56 percent increase since 1990. The majority of these are to women with a high school diploma or less.
The increase in unwed births has occurred in all racial groups, where rates currently stand at 29 percent for whites, 53.3 percent for Hispanics, and 72.5 percent for African Americans.
The Foundry article notes children born out of wedlock are much more likely to be poor, to live on welfare, and to be involved in a variety of negative outcomes (violence, drugs, prison, etc.).

Most Academics Liberal

Larry Elder has an article for Townhall about leftist bias in the public universities of California. My guess: it's no worse in California than in most states across this great land.

I spent roughly 37 years in public institutions of higher education in California - as either a student or faculty member - and the allegation of leftist bias is absolutely correct. I spent another 5 years in the public institutions of higher education in other parts of the country and the leftist bias was there too, no surprise.

However, I don't think the beliefs of most students are much influenced by leftist professors. A few, yes; most, no. Unfortunately it is the few who are influenced who go on to become the next generation of professors. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised about this, either.

Remember the quote correctly attributed to French Premier Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929), but often attributed to Sir Winston Churchill:
Not to be a socialist at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head.

Barone on the Numbers

Analyst Michael Barone, writing for RealClearPolitics, takes a look at the various sources of polling data and concludes those who say Obama is a slam dunk are deluding themselves. We can hope he is correct. I like this Barone thought:
General elections involving sitting presidents usually turn out to be verdicts on the incumbent. Challengers who meet minimal standards tend to win if most voters want the incumbent out.
One thing we know for sure: it is too early to take the numbers very seriously. The only people paying close attention to politics now are folks like us, those who follow politics pretty much constantly, either as participants or as a spectator sport. And as noted yesterday, some of the numbers are more than a little suspect.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lying With Numbers

Recently the ABC News/Washington Post poll came out showing President Obama with a comfortable lead, particularly among women. What do you suppose would be the impact on the results if it turned out a healthy majority of those polled were Democrats?

You think the results would be biased? You'd be correct. Jay Cost of The Weekly Standard shows the sample was biased in Obama's favor:
The poll has an inexplicably large Democratic advantage – the party breakdown in the poll is 34 percent Democratic, 23 percent Republican, and 34 percent independent. As a point of historical comparison, the party spread in four of the last five elections since 2002 has basically been an even split between the two sides. In 2008, a “perfect storm” of bad news for the GOP, the party ID advantage was “only” +7. So, a Democratic advantage of +11 is an unjustifiable number, at least in terms of what the electorate is thinking.
As Mark Twain once said, "figures don't lie but liars figure." Take the WaPo numbers as more of an indication of what they'd like to be true than as showing what the electorate is feeling.

Political Gender Gap

Let's think about from whence the political gender gap comes. At its most basic, in America men and women want somewhat different things from their government.

The question I wish to pose to our dozens of polling organizations is "what are these different things?" Get to work, pollsters, get us some answers.

In the absence of hard data, we are free to speculate. I believe we can parse out some of the difference from examining romantic or "chick" films versus action or "guy" films, and the different books men and women read for pleasure.

Another possible source of insight could be the classic "mommy" government versus "daddy" government paradigm; that is, government providing nurture versus government encouraging self-reliance.

Anybody who claims there are no important differences between men and women is willfully ignoring clear evidence to the contrary. Left to their own devices, men and women often choose quite different recreational pastimes. They choose different politicians or parties, too. We need to know why.

Obamacare Popularity at New Low

Yahoo News echos an ABC News article which reports unpopularity of the health care "reform" law normally labeled Obamacare at a new low. Furthermore, large numbers believe the court will decide based on politics rather than on analysis of the law. See the article for details of the findings.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Even More Weird Science

Americans get wiser as they get older but Japanese don't, or so The Daily Mail reports from studies done by a Canadian researcher. Apparently the article attributes the differences to the well-known individualist orientation of the U.S. and group orientation of Japan.

That attribution seems like a stretch to me. I'd as soon ascribe the observed differences to the different diets each nation consumes.

How about this: maybe U.S. schools do a less good job than Japanese schools so Americans spend the next 50 years learning on their own what they should have learned in school. Hat tip to for the link.

Sayonara Santorum

Former Senator Rick Santorum has announced that he is "suspending" his presidential campaign, making the announcement in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. See the article at Yahoo News.

Santorum certainly gave it a serious effort, and spoke for a real segment of the Republican electorate. Oddly, Roman Catholic Santorum led the evangelical, social conservative segment of the party, an alignment nobody would have predicted in the Reagan era.

Add this Santorum suspension to the "I will support Romney if he's nominated" comments made by Gingrich over the weekend and the GOP primary race is essentially over. Now the main bout begins - Romney vs. Obama - for the title of President, decision in November.

Historians will judge whether the hard-fought multi-candidate GOP primary made candidate Romney stronger or weaker. COTTonLINE hopes the answer is "stronger."

The point of the November exercise is to replace Obama. It is unlikely Romney will be a worse president than Obama.

Monday, April 9, 2012

What Is An Entitlement?

Robert Samuelson, writing for RealClearPolitics, has an excellent article about how Social Security began as a sort of contributory program, and morphed into the welfare program it is today. If you are anywhere near retirement age, you should read this.

Samuelson shows how people believe they've "earned" their benefits. Actually, most people receive from the system more than they ever contributed plus the interest those contributions could have earned. Instead their contributions have been used to pay the already retired.

Now we near a point where there will be too many Baby Boomer retirees drawing benefits, too few workers contributing, and the Ponzi scheme begins to collapse. Some political leader will have to tell Americans the truth about Social Security - that it's a welfare plan which must be means-tested.

That leader will probably be handed his or her head by an angry electorate. When the public finally understands Social Security is a welfare scheme, their support for the system will plummet.

Quote of the Day

Sasha Isenberg, writing for New York Magazine, about the degree to which liberal vs. conservative may be genetically determined.
Would those who oppose discrimination against gays on the basis that sexuality is no choice still feel empowered to hate the right wing if they knew homophobes, too, were just born that way?
Fascinating question, this.

The Economy Is Bad

Wynton Hall, writing in Breitbart's Big Government, lists seven ugly facts about the U.S. economy during the Obama years. You needn't take his word for them, Hall links to sources for each nasty item. Here is a summary:
  • Every fifth man in America is out of a job.
  • Every seventh person is on food stamps.
  • Gas prices have more than doubled.
  • Fewer than 6 out of 10 college grads can find a job.
  • More than one in four homeowners owes more than their home is worth.
  • The national debt has increased more in Obama's 3 years than in Bush's 8 years.
  • Almost 88 million Americans have dropped out of the labor force.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Middle East War on Horizon?

Neil Snyder writes in American Thinker that war in the Middle East may be inevitable. His bottom line is that Israelis have given up on the idea of a "peace process" and don't believe Palestinians will accept the "two state solution" idea. I won't try to summarize why he believes this to be so, but the list of reasons he puts forward are formidable.

For another slant on this issue, did you know that Mitt Romney and Benjamin Netanyahu were (and are) friends, from the days when they both worked for Boston Consulting Group? Both have taken hawkish stands vis-a-vis Iran and Palestine. See this New York Times article for more.

Easter Greetings

COTTonLINE wishes all our readers a Happy Easter.

Hot Senate Races

The editorial staff of The Week has identified eight U.S. Senate races that are close enough to possibly go either way; that's where real politics mavens should keep their eyes focused during the run-up to November. See The Week article on Yahoo News.

The states to watch are Maine, Nebraska, Virginia, Massachusetts (no kidding), Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, and Hawaii (a long shot). A key thing to remember is this:
The GOP only needs a net gain of four seats to seize control of the chamber for the first time since 2006. (snip) Ominously for the Democrats, they are defending 23 seats to the GOP's 10, and several high-profile retirements are making things even harder.
Retirements are important because very often incumbents are reelected.

The Woman Vote

Depending on who you ask, Obama is more popular among women voters than among men, and particularly among single women voters. See this National Review Online article for details.

What do we think this is about? Why single women in particular? Republicans generally favor a set of national values and institutions that presume most individuals live in married households. Unfortunately, this is less and less true.

Democrats' view of government is in loco parentis, Latin for in place of parents; meaning the government will care for you. This Democratic view is particularly appealing to groups which, in one way or another, feel threatened or abused. Some (but not all) racial or ethnic minorities, non-typical gender orientations, the very poor, and single mothers all fit this profile.

Answer Is Obvious

Yahoo News runs a National Journal article asking the question "why do people keep turning out for Newt Gingrich rallies" when he has little or no chance of being the nominee? Talk about your pointless questions, I believe the answer to this one is obvious.

Newt Gingrich is simply the most interesting orator, most interesting speaker in the Republican party ranks today. Survey a thousand Republicans and ask them which speaker they'd most likely turn out to listen to - I'm convinced Gingrich would be the name most often mentioned.

That is not to say that Newt would be the best presidential candidate, clearly he is not. Gingrich is the most interesting Republican, not the most sound, and there is a difference. He's a dreamer, a thinker, a futurist, and a prolific author - bright as anything, but not disciplined or a particularly good manager.

So the answer is yes, I'd go hear him speak, but I probably wouldn't vote for him. I have that same reaction to Sarah Palin, another firecracker speaker, in a different way.

Friday, April 6, 2012

More Travel Blogging

Santa Barbara: We are anchored off-shore off Santa Barbara, sending passengers ashore via tenders (ship's boats). SB has no real harbor except for a man-made small boat marina.

We have beautiful weather, the Southern California Chamber of Commerce deluxe special weather that causes people to move here. San Francisco delivered the same, blue skies and sunshine.

I wonder if out-of-state people on shipboard have any idea how rare such weather is in San Francisco? It is more common here in Santa Barbara.

We expected rough water off the CA coast and actually had relatively little of it. We only talked to one woman who experienced sea sickness and that the first night out of LA/San Pedro. (N.B., "San Pedro" is pronounced "son pay-drow" in Spanish but Angelinos say "san pee-drow.")

California is filled with Spanish names pronounced all sorts of ways. For example, the town Vallejo should be pronounced "vie-yea-ho" but is pronounced "val-lay-ho." Port Hueneme should be pronounced "way-nay-ma" but is pronounced "why-nee-mee."

My favorite is La Jolla which should be pronounced "la hoi-ya" and for a change is pronounced correctly here. Out-of-state news readers normally come out with something like "la jaw-la," always good for a laugh.

I guess the mispronounced Spanish is no worse than the garbled Indian names you find in Washington state or in Massachusetts.

The cruise ends tomorrow and we'll be back to our normal blogging topics on Easter Sunday. Meanwhile, have a happy Good Friday.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs....

Bloomberg reports Labor Department data that shows that we created only 120,000 jobs last month, whereas the unemployment rate dropped from 8.3 to 8.2%. A dropping unemployment rate is good news, right?

Wrong. It is bad news because larger numbers are leaving the workforce - retiring or giving up the search for work. Labor also reports people worked less hours and earned less per hour, not good news at all.

Fewer people working or looking for work cannot be good news, especially for those who are retired. The retired rely on those working to generate their support via Social Security, Medicare and other programs which are tax-funded.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Polar Bears Plentiful

A Canadian paper with no reason to lie about it reports a new survey which shows there are more polar bears than formerly thought, and their numbers appear to be growing! How about that, global cooling fans?

Seriously, I've no idea whether the planet is warming, cooling, or engaging in the normal year to year variations that we call "weather." My point is that people like Al Gore who claim to be certain are employing faith, not fact, in reaching their conclusions. Faith is okay, as long as we recognize it as such.

In other words, we simply don't know with any scientific certainty what the climate is doing, or whether humans are having any significant influence thereupon. A healthy Canadian polar bear population suggests maybe things aren't so bad, eh? See The Globe and Mail article here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Travel Blogging

San Francisco: If you've noticed a lack of blog entries over the past week, it is because the DrsC are once again in travel mode. This time it is a one week cruise off the California coast: San Pedro-San Diego-Ensenada-San Francisco-Santa Barbara-San Pedro on the Sapphire Princess. SF is showing us a beautiful day; how strange is that?

We should take note of the primary results yesterday. Mitt Romney has to be pleased. Reasonable people would agree that for all practical purposes the primary is over. If only the also-rans could see the light.

Cheney on mend

Vice President Dick Cheney appears to be making a full and rapid recovery from heart replacement surgery. All at COTTonLINE wish him well.