Sunday, March 31, 2013

Identity Group Politics

John Hinderaker of Power Line weighs in with an explanation of the apparent dichotomy between the supposed "two Republican parties." In short, he concludes there aren't two different parties.

Hinderaker believes that in 2008 and 2012 the Republicans were the victims of 3-4 minority groups which - excited at having a non-white person as President - turned out in unprecedented numbers. If Dems conclude this is the case, they are likely to continue to nominate non-white candidates for President; Hillary wouldn't  generate the same turnout.

Hinderaker also infers that Obama had essentially zero coattails. This is why there are record numbers of GOP governors, a GOP-controlled House, and very many state legislatures GOP-controlled.

The 2014 midterm election results will give us insight into whether or not Hinderaker is correct. If 2014 results are like 2010 results, Hinderaker is probably correct. If 2014 results resemble the 2012 results, other things are at work. We'll know in 20 months.

A Girl's Best Friend

The ever-biting Mark Steyn, writing here for the Orange County Register, on the topic of the falling apart of modern marriage:
The most reliable constituency for Big Government is single women, for whom the state is a girl's best friend, the sugar daddy whose checks never bounce. A society in which a majority of births are out of wedlock cannot be other than a Big Government welfare society. 
Polls suggest Steyn is correct. Can you say "social disintegration?"

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Not everything at COTTonLINE has to be deadly serious. Check out this article in The Daily Mail about a wee door showing up at the base of a tree in Golden Gate Park.


It is rare you get to read the megalomaniacal ravings of the North Korean leadership. Reuters has the complete text of the North Korean "declaration of (almost) war."

Notice their "this time we really, really do mean it" content:
They (U.S. & S. Korea) should clearly know that in the era of Marshal Kim Jong Un, the greatest-ever commander, all things are different from what they used to be in the past. 
This stuff is more fevered than the comments sections of a left-wing blog. Unfortunately for North Korea, they've cried "Wolf!" too many times for anyone to take them very seriously.

Climate Change Revisited, Again

Steven Hayward of Power Line has a good column summarizing the longer article in The Economist upon which The Australian article cited yesterday was based. Since The Economist has been a real warming alarmist, it is interesting to see them backing down.

Possibly the most intriguing statement is this, quoted by Hayward from The Economist:
Over the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar.
Go figure ....

Friday, March 29, 2013

More on Climate Change

An article in The Australian summarizes several climate studies which suggest that we know less than we thought we did about the interaction between so-called "greenhouse gases" and climate change. What puzzles scientists is that for the past 20 years the temperatures haven't been rising as predicted. Alas, alack ....

Our argument here at COTTonLINE has consistently been that there are not simple linear relationships among the climate-causing variables. Also that people who want to believe man is bad for the earth find relationships where, perhaps, none exist.

I am willing to stipulate that too many people jammed together in too little space, as in many cities, will create localized ugly conditions - air, water and soil pollution and mountains of trash.

In my view population density - number of people per square mile/kilometer - is the variable to watch. Spread people out and the earth handles their presence nicely.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Quote of the Day

Karl Rove, writing for The Wall Street Journal, on the topic of the President's relevance to the process of governing:
No president is ever irrelevant, but less than 10 weeks into his second term Mr. Obama's power is waning. Even members of his own party view him as an obstacle to getting things done.
Admittedly, Mr. Rove is biased against the POTUS.

Voting With Feet

Art Laffer is an economist with an extraordinarily practical mindset; Stephen Moore is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. Get them together and the product should be a powerful article, in this case about the relationship between state policies and population growth (no subscription required).

As we've noted before, people are moving from high tax, pro-union blue states to low tax, right-to-work red states. Laffer and Moore write that across the south states are moving to eliminate state income taxes, state capital gains taxes, and state estate taxes. Some states in the midwest are doing likewise, and they are growing.

People vote with their feet.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why the Middle East?

Leon Hadar writes for The National Interest an article in which he questions why the U.S. should have any active role in the Middle East. Our efforts in the region have led to repeated failure, at great expense in both money and lives. And we're no more popular there today than we were twenty years ago. 

He is not alone in this view.
Most Americans (snip) are now telling pollsters that they want to see U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as possible, are opposed to new U.S.-led regime change and nation building in the Middle East, and are skeptical about the utility of Washington taking charge of the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process.”
In recent decades American foreign policy in the Middle East could be characterized as having followed Albert Einstein's definition of insanity:
Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Source: Brainy Quote.


A fun article in the New York Times about the Millennials' relationship to money. See what it says:
The millennials’ relationship with money seems quite simple. They do not have a lot of it, and what they do have, they seem reluctant to spend.
Well ... that sure as heck isn't going to stimulate the economy.

Universities As Liberal Utopias

Robert Tracinski has a good article for RealClearPolitics on the question of why college students tend to vote for liberals. I think you'll enjoy his analysis, it parallels what I saw in 4+ decades in the college/university environment as an undergraduate, graduate student, and professor.

Tracinski notes that students supposedly seek independence, while they are economically dependent. In fact the university environment takes care of students while allowing them almost unlimited freedom in their personal lives. This quote sums it up:
No one pokes into your personal life or asks too many questions about who you’re sleeping with, what you’re smoking, or what you do with your free time. Finally, this whole lifestyle is paid for with huge amounts of debt, and it is considered bad form to ask too many questions about how big the debt is or how you’re ever going to pay it all back.

Does any of this sound familiar? Put it all together, and college life is the contemporary left’s ideal. The universities are liberal utopias.
At least from the undergraduate student's perspective.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Thatcher Was Right

Margaret Thatcher took a dim view of German reunification, which happened as her role as Prime Minister was ending. Some Brits are thinking maybe she was correct after all; see this article for The Telegraph (U.K.) by Iain Martin.

I find particularly moving his conclusion:
Germany is becoming too powerful for its own good and ours, again.
If you understand the carnage of World Wars I and II, those words can send shivers up your spine.

Court Watching

Trying to guess the outcome of SCOTUS deliberations is an occupation which employs a fair number of lawyer-journalists. Right now some such are predicting that the Court will decide that the folks defending California's Proposition 8 don't have "standing" to bring the case before the Supremes.

I'm no attorney, but I think this means the people bringing suit cannot show that they were in any way damaged by the U.S. appellate court's decision finding the constitutional amendment unconstitutional.

See a New York Times article on the arguments. Perhaps this Washington Post article covers more ground.

Quote of the Day

Sir Winston Churchill, on the topic of finance:
In finance, everything that is agreeable is unsound and everything that is sound is disagreeable.
What a wordsmith that man was. My source is the Power Line blog.

Why So Many Disabled?

Chana Joffe-Walt writing for This American Life on National Public Radio about the explosive growth of the federal disability rolls:
Somewhere around 30 years ago, the economy started changing in some fundamental ways. There are now millions of Americans who do not have the skills or education to make it in this country. 
As we automated various production processes and outsourced others overseas,  I remember asking myself "What will the people who once did these tasks do now?" It appears many receive disability payments; whether they should is another question.

NPR is liberal, but this is a good article nevertheless. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Who Is Latino?

Apparently there is quite an argument about whether the Pope, who has Italian parents but was born and raised in Argentina, can claim to be Latino. I believe if he says he is Latino, that's the end of it. See an Associated Press article from the Fresno Bee for more.

The largely unspoken issue is whether one needs Indian or African ancestors in order to be Latino. By this measure only the many mestizos are Latino.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Weird Frankenstein Science

"It's alive, Igor, alive." What horror movie comic imitator hasn't said those words? Now science is getting closer to doing just that, creating life.

See a Wall Street Journal article about successfully growing human parts in a lab jar. They've already grown simple body parts and implanted them. Now they're trying to do more complex structures.

Somewhere a  multi-billionaire has read this and is thinking "I'll have them grow me a new body to replace this old one that's wearing out." If I were that billionaire I'd sure think about doing it.

If they could only figure out how to download the contents of your tired, old brain into a new, fresh one....

Friday, March 22, 2013

The True Architect

Karl Rove was once called "the architect" of the George W. Bush presidency, or at least his two campaigns. I believe the title was earned.

However, the title Architect really belongs to Lee Kuan Yew, the gentleman who designed the city-state of Singapore, beginning in 1965. He still contributes significantly to its policies and structure.

In a recent discussion of immigration issues, sponsored by the Standard Chartered Bank, Mr. Lee met with former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, among others. He emphasized that nations like Singapore and Japan with low total fertility rates need immigration.

Mr. Lee particularly made a point about the quality of immigrants his nation receives.
We have the advantage of quality control of the people who come in so we have bright Indians, bright Chinese, bright Caucasians so the increase in population means an increase in talent.
Here we see the advantage of an architect-designed state. Singapore is able to disregard many of the quotas other governments must follow in order to placate various aggrieved groups. See the article on the website of Channel News Asia (Singapore), hat tip to for the link.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Quote of the Day

Omar Encarnacion, writing about the current state of Catholicism in Latin America for the journal Foreign Affairs, says something fascinating about Argentina:
The new pope’s country of origin makes him an odd choice if the goal is to excite Latin American Catholics. Argentina is widely known as a European society in exile. 
"A European society in exile" is an eerie way to characterize Argentina.

American Exceptionalism Lives

Victor Davis Hanson writes an appreciation of the merit-driven society that we still possess. See what he writes for RealClearPolitics on the subject, it is uplifting.

The Aging U.S. Population

Rick Perlstein writes about why Republicans might not become a "permanent minority," for The Nation. His solution, co-opt upwardly mobile Hispanics. That's not bad, for starters.

A major demographic issue he leaves out: the aging of our population. You'll recollect a quote I've mentioned several times here at COTTonLINE, including this from last April:
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."
My point: (a) our electorate is aging, and (b) conservatism naturally accompanies aging for most people. That factor alone would seem to suggest an eventual Republican majority.

As Suspected ....

The Daily Caller reports Pew survey results which conservatives will naturally like a lot. Their surveys show that  Republicans have greater knowledge of politics than do Democrats. Here's their conclusion:
The Pew survey adds to a wave of surveys and studies showing that GOP-sympathizers are better informed, more intellectually consistent, more open-minded, more empathetic and more receptive to criticism than their fellow Americans who support the Democratic Party.
From whence do they believe this difference comes?
Pew’s data suggests that the Democrats’ low average rating likely is a consequence of its bipolar political coalition, which combines well-credentialed post-graduate progressives who score well in quizzes with a much larger number of poorly educated supporters, who score badly.
Many Dems are LIVs - low information voters - voting on gut-feelings rather than on knowledge. You can find the original Pew report here. Hat tip to for the link.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"We Really Are That Dumb"

David P. Goldman (aka Spengler) isn't much impressed by the foreign policy chops of our last two presidents and their tame diplomats. In a bitter column for PJ Media, he takes a particularly dim view of our policies vis-a-vis the Middle East.

Goldman believes the Russian geopolitical chess masters suspect a cunning plot:
Try to explain to them that George W. Bush was a decent and well-intentioned man without a clue as to the consequences of his actions, and they will dismiss it as disinformatsiya. Tell them that the New York Times and the Weekly Standard both believed in the Arab Spring as the herald of a new era of Islamic democracy, and they will see it as proof of a conspiracy embracing both the Democratic and Republican establishments.

How, the paranoids ask, could two administrations in succession make so many blunders in succession? It stretches credibility. I wish it were a conspiracy. The truth is that we really are that dumb.
Would you hazard a guess Spengler hasn't been in agreement with our Middle East policies? It's an interesting article, hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Hail the Vernal Equinox

COTTonLINE welcomes its northern hemisphere readers to spring. From now until late September the days will be longer than the nights for us who live north of the equator.

The farther from the equator, the more pronounced is the change. In mid-June up near the Arctic Circle it really never gets dark. The same would be true for mid-December in the far South.

In Fairbanks, Alaska, on June 21 some years ago, I stepped outside at 1 a.m. and could read a newspaper without artificial light. The mosquitoes were plentiful, so I didn't stay outside long.

More recently, the other DrC and I experienced the fabled "white nights" in St. Petersburg, Russia. The ballet ended quite late and, on the way back to our hotel, we saw lots of strollers and patrons of sidewalk cafes enjoying the near-midnight twilight.

Global Cooling?

Accuweather reports that on the first day of spring there will be snow storms in the middle and perhaps eastern parts of the U.S. And the the "good news" just keeps coming:
The latest indications are that the weather pattern will continue to favor colder storms that bring snow, in part, from the Central states to the East into early April. 
In spite of which, y'all keep on believing in global warming now, y'hear? When empiricism doesn't work, you must have faith.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The 2014 Morning Line

We are only 20 months away from the next national election, the 2014 midterms. If you are already thinking about 2014, as most politics mavens are, I have for you a good early look at the pluses and minuses seen from today's perspective.

Larry Sabato and his Center for Politics crew at the University of Virginia are some of the best around when it comes to political analysis. They have a column on 2014 for The Wall Street Journal that is worth your time. and it doesn't require a subscription.

Argentina and Its Pope

Ralph Peters writes for the New York Post. His normal subject is military matters, about which there is absolutely nothing in this column about the new Pope

Peters' focus is the conflict between Argentina's leftists and the Argentine cardinal who has become Pope Francis. Peters effectively debunks their smears, and produces evidence that Fr. Bergoglio was (and is) on the side of the angels. If this question interests you, read what Peters has to say.

Whimsical Obituary

My long-time university home has notified us of the death of a former president - Stanford Cazier. He was University President when I arrived as a newly minted Assistant Professor.

Stan was a serious Mormon serving as leader of a California campus where partying and drinking were taken seriously. I always loved the irony in that pairing. It is my hope he did too, but I doubt it. In any case, he did a good job of "separation of church and state" and kept his disapproval to himself.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Empathy Gap?

In the weeks and months to come you will see articles like this one by Jill Lawrence in National Journal (not to be confused with National Review) which suggest what the GOP needs to do to "close the empathy gap." Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Let me share with you the essence of Lawrence's conclusion:
Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, is talking up a plan this week to rebuild the GOP. (snip) But none of that will help if most Republicans keep talking and acting as if people with problems are not their problem.
To a substantial degree that is exactly who the Republican Party represents: people without problems. The Democratic Party represents people with problems. We are in a recession, hence there are more people with problems and thus Democrats have an advantage. 

One day we will be out of the recession. Then a majority of Americans will be people without serious problems and will vote Republican. Other than doing our level best to get America out of the recession, Republicans need to hang in there as the loyal opposition until the economy improves.

Some of what Lawrence suggests possibly could help. However, a party which did all of what she recommends would become largely indistinguishable from the Democratic Party, clearly Republicans don't want to become Democrats Lite.

I find her inclusion of "decision fatigue" interesting. It's a social science explanation for why the poor often make poor economic decisions, thus compounding their quite real problems.

A Smart Democrat

Ted Van Dyk served Democratic presidents and campaigns over a lifetime in politics and administration. Here he writes for The Wall Street Journal a sad apology for the current state of Democratic governance.

Van Dyk compares the governing styles of Kennedy, Johnson, and Clinton to that of Obama, and Obama comes up wanting. They did at least some bipartisan governing, Obama has not.  In Van Dyk's view, those earlier Democratic presidents experienced successes while Obama has not. It's an interesting column.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Much of the pressure for same sex marriage could be coming from divorce lawyers who need more work.


A week ago I wrote that the Brits were conducting a sovereignty referendum in the Falkland Islands. I write now to correct that statement.

Actually I believe the Islanders themselves decided to conduct the referendum, which showed that almost all Falklanders wished to remain associated with Britain. Of course the Argentinians were not swayed by the results, I suppose nobody expected them to be.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

COTTonLINE extends to its readers a wish for a pleasant and safe Saint Patrick's Day ... and a hang-over free tomorrow. The arrival of St. Paddy's Day brings me an interesting memory.

At the university where I spent my career, most students live on or near the campus during the school year; they do not commute daily from their parents' homes. When Spring Break occurs the dorms close and most go home (or to San Diego or Cabo San Lucas if they can afford it) for a week.

The small university town had serious problems with St. Patrick's Day student drunkenness when I taught there. The university solved the problem in an clever way: now St. Patrick's Day always occurs during Spring Break.

Students are elsewhere and their drunkenness, if it occurs, is someone else's responsibility. Nobody is unhappy except the owners of the bars around campus. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Unintended Consequences

India is one of two huge countries (China is the other) where people prefer sons for economic reasons. Ultra-sound has made it practical to identify and abort hundreds of thousands, even millions of female fetuses. The result has been many more male (than female) babies born and growing up to adulthood in both countries.

Now we see cases of gang-rape in India, this latest one a Swiss tourist bicycling with her husband. See an Associated Press article on Yahoo News for more detail.

I don't have data ready at hand but I anticipate the participants in such rapes are mostly, or entirely, men without wives. Life is full of unintended consequences. COTTonLINE has wondered what other ugly behaviors will result from this gender imbalance?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Panda Porn

Ya gotta love it! Showing pandas video of other pandas mating to get them "in the mood." See the article from The Telegraph (U.K.); hat tip to Drudge Report for the link.

Apparently mating is largely a learned behavior for pandas, as it is for humans. Maybe that's another reason we relate to pandas, whadda ya think?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Canadian Slang

I tease Canadian friends that I've probably seen more of their country than they have. It often turns out I'm right. With the other DrC I've visited all ten Canadian provinces and one of the three remote territories.

As the above suggests, we have a fondness for things Canadian. If you share this happy bias, take a look at an article from The Week, which gives you 25 "Canadianisms." Here is a favorite:
Hydro-electric power. Canadians still talk about dealing with their "hydro bill." 
RVing in Canada some years ago, a campground owner said to us "there is where you hookup to hydro." He was pointing to an electrical connection.

We thought he meant "water," since "hydro" is a prefix meaning water or water-related. As the faucet was elsewhere we were puzzled.

Odd English Spelling

Ever wonder how English got such odd spellings in many of its words? An article from The Week in Yahoo News has the lowdown for you that is relatively painless and fun.

The article leaves out one of the explanations I've heard from the other DrC. Namely, that typesetters and printers of the Ben Franklin era inserted letters with curlicues just to make words look fancier - letters like y, g, h, q, and f.

Go figure.

More Demography, Fewer People

Mike Seccombe writes for The Global Mail about the subject of falling population rates around the world. Already half of the world's nations have fertility rates of less than 2.1 children per woman - the so-called "replacement rate."

It's a relatively long article and I won't try to summarize it all for you. Generally, the only places with growing populations are in Africa and southern Asia. Every place else is either stable or shrinking. The nation with the most rapidly shrinking population is Singapore, Japan isn't far behind.

As we've noted before, once women get education their fertility drops like a stone. The tough part of this is that over time the nation ends up with an aging population and relatively few young workers to support all those seniors.

A world with half the present population might be very nice - less crowded and more able to support us all. The hard part is getting there from where we are now.

Quote of the Day

Bernard-Henri Levy, writing for The Daily Beast about the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez:
May Chávez the man rest in peace.

But to pretend that the overall record of Chavezism has been positive is an insult to the Venezuelan people.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Il Papa Nuovo

The Roman Catholic Church has a new CEO: Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina. He represents at least three firsts; he is the first Francis, the first Jesuit Pope and the first non-European Pope.

Scanning around several articles about the new Holy Father, it appears that he is a somewhat shy man of simple habits. He becomes Pope at an age, 76, when most men have long since retired.

During the Argentine military dictatorship of the late 1970s and early 1980s Bergoglio was not as openly opposed to the repressive government as some people wish he had been. The same has been said of Pius XII who was Pope during World War Two.

The Church generally "renders unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." Naturally enough, it takes flak from Caesar's enemies for doing so.

Single Parenthood Sucks

Ann Coulter cites two interesting statistics in her column for Yahoo News:
-- Controlling for socioeconomic status, race and place of residence, the strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison is that he was raised by a single mother.

-- At least 70 percent of juvenile murderers, pregnant teenagers, high school dropouts, teen suicides, runaways and juvenile delinquents were raised by single mothers.
Her point is that, as a society, we should re-stigmatize single motherhood.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The High Life

President Obama's elder daughter, Malia, age 13, recently spent perhaps a week in Oaxaca on what has been described as a school trip or a spring break. Along with her went several friends and 25 Secret Service agents.

The media suppressed the item, as noted in this Snopes report. This administration certainly has spent lavishly on recreation, and one suspects, laughs up its sleeve about it.

Do you want to bet this trip cost us taxpayers a ton of money? And didn't get sequestered, either.

Who sends 13 year olds on spring break? College students, maybe if they can afford it, but 13 year olds ... that's ridiculous. Hat tip to my friend Earl for the link.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Quote of the Day

Conn Carroll, writing in the Washington Examiner, about the Obama administration's claims of disaster caused by the sequester:
All of these claims turned out to be completely false. As people figured this out, Obama looked more like the little president who cried wolf.

Whence the Panda?

I'm a firm believer in evolution. That said, I can't imagine what combination of environmental factors would cause a creature to evolve into the black and white harlequin that is the giant panda. 

Pandas are maybe the best argument I know for "intelligent design." They are what a whimsical creator might doodle for amusement after a hard day at the celestial drawing board designing more sensible creatures.

Each day the Bing search engine runs a different interesting and/or beautiful photo as its backdrop. The photo today (March 11) is of five playful panda cubs - all piled together and looking at least twice as cute as any earthly creatures have a right to look.

A few days ago seeing a little white fluffy dog on a leash I thought "This is what we have done, starting with wolf puppies, over maybe 10,000 years. Intelligent design via selective breeding by humans." There is, however, no evidence humans had anything to do with the appearance of the giant panda....

Post-Chavez Latin America

Reuters has an excellent article for Yahoo News on the likely developments in post-Chavez Latin America. Generally, its author - Terry Wade - predicts less radicalism, less anti-Americanism, and more capitalism.

Wade believes that leftist feelings remain but there is no leader in the region with Chavez' charisma to give the movement fire. Probably the main beneficiary of the post-Chavez era will be Brazil, which tries to combine social welfare spending with capital investment and growth.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Political Humor Alert

Bill Miller, a Texas political consultant, appears to have been the first to say:
Politics is show business for ugly people.
Many others have used the line subsequently, including Jay Leno.

A Good Team

It's popular to beat up on Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Is there another argument to be made? Perhaps so.

John Feehery writing for The Hill makes the argument that these two have done very well indeed. I won't try to summarize all of his points, but certainly letting sequestration take place without caving on more taxes is a big part of it.

Troubles in Europe

Britain isn't the only place where doubts about the European Union are stirring. See a London Telegraph article about an anti-euro movement in Germany, called the German Alternative or Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD).

If Merkel has to pull back her support for the euro in order to be reelected, the euro zone will be in a world of hurt. We live in interesting times. Hat tip to the Drudge Report for the link.

Same Old, Same Old

Argentina is once again raising a ruckus over who owns the Falkland Islands, which they call the Malvinas. The Brits are conducting a sovereignty referendum this weekend among the islands' some 2500 residents, to see if they wish to remain a British Overseas Territory. See this Reuters article on Yahoo News for more.

The DrsC visited Stanley ten years ago and a more British place would be hard to find. I predict the islanders will vote "Yes" in overwhelming numbers. That is, if a large proportion of 2500 can be rightfully called "overwhelming."

The Obama administration has taken a more pro-Argentina stance on this issue than previous administrations. Foreign policy wonks believe the President automatically takes the side of third world nations in their conflicts with the former colonial powers.

Obama chooses to forget, I believe, that the U.S. is a current colonial power. I've visited several of our "colonies" - American Samoa, the U.S. Virgins, Puerto Rico - and lived for a year on Guam. It's an interesting experience.

Argentina stirs up the Malvinas pot whenever their domestic situation begins to reflect badly on the incumbent government, which is to say, with distressing frequency. A country with amazing natural resources, Argentina is badly served by its Peronista government, as we noted last Wednesday.

It's That Time Again

Do you remember "Spring forward and fall back?" Tonight we shift to Daylight Savings Time.

We all move our clocks ahead one hour, unless we live in the bulk of Arizona that's not on the Navaho reservation.  In Canada, the province of Saskatchewan does not observe DST.

Hawaii and our island territories - Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Samoa, Northern Marianas, and the U.S. Virgins - also do not observe DST. There is little day length variation near the equator.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Californian's Dilemma

Victor Davis Hanson eloquently describes California's current problems.  In this National Review column he reflects on what I call "the Californian's dilemma."
The governor and the legislature believe that higher taxes, higher prices, and more regulations are worth the pleasures of California’s weather, natural beauty, and chic culture. Who would leave all that for low-tax but scorching Texas or Nevada?

They may be right. I am still here, writing this column in 70-degree March weather, gazing out at the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas, amid blooming almond orchards on the small farm of my ancestors — while computing my soaring taxes and picking up the daily litter tossed by the roadside.
I'm a native Californian who has also lived in Texas, Wyoming and Maryland, and traveled widely throughout all 50 states and most territories. Hanson is right, California has the best combination of comfortable weather and scenic beauty, hands down. It's California's man-made environment that has gone badly wrong.

My only quibble with Hanson is about California's roads, which he believes are bad. We drive them and find CA roads aren't noticeably worse than those in other states. Because of its mostly benign weather CA has few of the killer potholes or frost heaves that states with lots of freezing weather get. Outside the Sierras, few CA roads get attacked by snow chains or plows.

O'Grady on Chavez

COTTonLINE tracks what happens in Latin America. A good place to do this is Mary Anastasia O'Grady's weekly column on The Americas in The Wall Street Journal.

This week O'Grady writes about the death of Hugo Chavez and the impact of that death in Venezuela and Cuba. She isn't optimistic, see her conclusion:
There may not be much the Free World can do to help Venezuela rid itself of the terrible scourge known as chavismo. At a minimum, it could refuse to go along with the charade that the country is still a democracy with free elections.
I don't foresee President Obama taking this bold step.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hanson on Medieval California

Victor Davis Hanson compares modern California to Medieval Europe and finds a number of interesting parallels. I particularly like his likening CA's many well-paid government employees to the fat priestly class of Medieval Europe.

Think of his column for PJ Media as being in the same vein as Ann Coulter's work - conveying serious truth while being more than a little bitchy, or as we call it in this decade, snarky. In other words, it's fun and, for a native Californian, sad too.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bare Branches

See a CNN International article about the gender imbalance in China. It's too many boys, too few girls, to be blunt. Here are the numbers:
Approximately 30 million more men than women will reach adulthood and enter China's mating market by 2020.
The Chinese call these young men "bare branches" as they are unlikely to bear fruit. The article concludes:
China needs creative large-scale solutions to the problems that unprecedented cohorts of bare branches will cause as they come of age over the next two decades.
It occurs to COTTonLINE that one solution would be sending many unmarried young men overseas in search of brides, perhaps as graduate students, or more ominously as soldiers. U.S. soldiers brought home lots of overseas brides.

How about polyandry, where a woman takes more than one husband at the same time? There are places where it has happened, admittedly not many.

Coulter on Prevention of Mass Murder

The always readable Ann Coulter has a good Townhall column on a topic we've dwelt upon here at COTTonLINE. She writes about the need to separate the dangerous mentally ill from society, for their own protection and for ours as well. Coulter writes:
Since the deinstitutionalization movement got under way in the 1970s, the mentally ill remain mentally ill, but now instead of living in warm, safe institutions, they live out on the streets, in homeless shelters and in soup kitchens, or drift back to their helpless families, occasionally showing up in "gun-free zones" to commit mass murder.
Later, in her normal tart fashion, Coulter makes fun of ACLU bleeding hearts who fear "stigmatizing" the mentally ill. Do we stigmatize someone with a communicable disease when we quarantine them? No, they are dangerous to those around them.

The mentally ill can be similarly dangerous. None should be permitted to purchase or possess weapons, and the delusional should be subject to involuntary commitment.

Economy Down, Market Up

I've another thought on why the Stock Market is up to record highs while the economy continues to linger in the doldrums. Perhaps it is as simple as people with money to invest finding it the only place where they can earn a return on their money.

Yes, stock prices are going up, but more fundamentally, some stocks continue to pay substantial dividends. For example, ConocoPhillips pays roughly 5% per annum.

Meanwhile bonds are paying interest so low that holding them is a money losing proposition, after you calculate inflation and taxes. CDs aren't paying anything, ditto money market accounts, ditto bank savings accounts.

Real property values have been shaky over the past few years. Not wanting to put money under the mattress, people buy stocks and cause the market to go up. This is likely to continue until people lose confidence, sell,  and cause the market to go down. Then their $$ goes back "under the mattress."

Peron, Chavez, Obama

There is a danger (for Venezuela) that Hugo Chavez will be seen by historians as the Juan Peron of that nation. To wit, a leader who took a relatively affluent nation and by means of popular redistributionist policies, put it on a path to continuing political disruption and economic chaos.

That is, of course, what happened to Argentina. There is every evidence that those are the same policies which Barack Obama would follow in the United States, if only Congress would let him.

Can COTTonLINE imagine Michelle Robinson Obama popularly deified as Evita Duarte Peron has been? Sorry, no.

Chavez Passes

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has died. COTTonLINE has from time to time commented on his negative view of the United States and its role in the hemisphere.

It is our policy at COTTonLINE to wish no man, or woman, ill. We never express the hope someone dies. And our condolences go out to President Chavez' family and supporters.

That said, new leadership in Venezuela may be a hopeful sign for the politics of Latin America. It may particularly help the small group of countries which followed the Chavez doctrine: Venezuela (of course), Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia and perhaps Argentina.

Throughout Latin America it is so much easier to blame the U.S. for problems instead of taking responsibility for one's own fate. Instead of looking in the mirror and asking "what could I be doing differently (and better)?"

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Question....

Drudge Report today has two headlines that seem contradictory: the Dow is at record high, while Obama and Kerry threaten war with Iran. Meanwhile other economic indicators are down.

The market is an indicator of what money managers think the economy will be doing in six months. What does the market know that the rest of us don't?

Maybe that war is what it will take to get out of the Great Recession? That is what it took to get us out of the Great Depression at the end of the 1930s. The New Deal sure didn't get us out, although FDR tried very hard.

The Failed Bluff

Thomas Sowell, writing for the Investors' Business Daily, explains the reverse psychology of government agencies facing budget cuts. Read what he wrote:
Imagine a government agency with only two tasks: (1) building statues of Benedict Arnold and (2) providing life-saving medications to children. If this agency's budget were cut, what would it do? The answer, of course, is that it would cut back on the medications for children. Why? Because that would be what was most likely to get the budget cuts restored.
That explains exactly the behavior of President Obama and his Cabinet in the days leading up to the March 1 sequestration. They predicted awful things would happen.

Except the ploy didn't work; the public shrugged and called Obama's bluff. Now the administration tells us maybe outcomes won't be as dire as they predicted.

You'd hope they would be at least a little embarrassed. If so, they're concealing it well.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Related Phenomena

Today there appeared a Wall Street Journal article describing the millions of people leaving California and a Los Angeles Times article describing the dire straits of the Republican Party in California. COTTonLINE believes these two phenomena are closely related.

The people leaving California are voting Republican with their feet. They are moving to states where their conservative values are respected, are enacted into law. Who is left behind in the rapidly tarnishing Golden State? Democrats, mostly.

One expects to see billboards alongside Interstate highways 40 and 80 with the following message: "Will the last Republican household moving out of California please turn out the lights."

The Truth Too Late

Dana Milbank is an opinion columnist for The Washington Post, who normally writes from the left. During the 2012 presidential campaign he was a stalwart supporter of President Obama - no surprise there.

In a recent column, Milbank really trashes the Obama White House. Here are some sample quotes:
There’s little argument that 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. has become a frat house for the thin-skinned and the foul-mouthed.
Speaking of the bad language and abusive behavior, there is this:
I’ve received the same communications — and so has everybody else I know who has dealt with this White House. If this administration launched drone strikes at the rate Sperling and his colleagues launch F-bombs, there would be nobody left in Yemen.
It is a symptom of a White House in perpetual combat — with the media, with Republicans in Congress, with everybody — and dedicated to incremental point-scoring, without a view of the real goal.
Milbank quotes Woodward as saying: "I don’t understand this White House. Do you?” To which question Milbank answers:
I do. And it’s a !&%@#$ shame.

What is truly a shame is that Milbank knew all of the above at least a year ago, probably longer. He knew it but didn't write it until Obama was reelected. What does this say about Milbank's journalistic ethics?

Had Milbank written the truth about the Obama White House, had he said a year ago "it's a !&%@#$ shame," maybe we'd now be talking about a Romney White House. You can be certain a Romney administration wouldn't have been foul-mouthed and abusive.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Would You Like Fries With That Burger?

Conn Carroll writes for the Washington Examiner, often about the troubles of California. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

In this article Carroll observes that California is becoming a feudal society, with an affluent few at the top, many poor at the bottom, and most of those in between working for the government. He writes:
To the extent that the California labor market is recovering, it is a McJobs recovery. (snip) If you do happen to have a job already among the highest fifth of California income earners, your weekly wages are up 1 percent since 2006. But every other income group has experienced sharp earnings losses.
These conditions have led to outmigration by the middle class, about which Carroll writes:
If any of the current Californians don't like what the new California has become, they are free to leave. The bad news is that millions of middle-class families already have, and the trend is likely to continue.
The DrsC were early members of that outmigration.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

WSJ: A Major Obama Walk-Back

A Wall Street Journal editorial, probably authored by Paul Gigot, takes a dim view of the Obama administration's sequestration stance. See what is written:
"Just to make the final point about the sequester," said President Obama at his press conference Friday, "we will get through this. This is not going to be an apocalypse, I think, as some people have said." That's a relief, but it is also a major walk-back, since the "some people" who have been predicting apocalypse are the President and senior members of his Administration.
Golly, Barack is going to have to man-up and make the cuts he originally proposed. I predict the world will not grind to a halt.