Friday, June 28, 2013

South China Sea Tinderbox

China and the Philippines are at loggerheads over which owns a variety of mostly unoccupied islands, reefs, and shoals in the South China Sea. It is the sort of place where a war could break out between China and the Philippines, a former colony and more-or-less client of the U.S. See a Reuters article on the Yahoo News site for more.

China takes the attitude that, because they are the only large, seriously militarized nation bordering the region, any small islands, etc., belong to them. This "I'm the bully in the neighborhood" posture has put China at odds not only with the Philippines, but also with Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, Brunei, India and Malaysia.

Several of these less militarized nations are U.S. "friends" or allies. If they get knocked about by China and ask for help, we either help them and maybe get drawn into a war with China or don't help them and look weak.

Both are bad options.

A Scary Combination

After you've read my last post about Big Brother Tracks Your Car just below, go read the first two posts on Peggy Noonan's blog, one about Where Was The Tea Party? and another called The Era of Metadata. I just did this and it left me with a chill.

Big Brother Tracks Your Car

Do you know some police cruisers are taking electronic pix of license plates as they drive around? That numbers are being automatically compared to "wants and warrants" data bases?

I wonder where else this data about your life goes? The privacy invasion implications are unpleasant.

See this article on the Center for Investigative Reporting website for details. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Understanding NSA Eavesdropping

Do you want to increase the amount you believe you understand about NSA's eavesdropping on your telephone and Internet communications? Read this PJMedia column by Charlie Martin who claims to be hellish informed on such matters. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

"Happy Endings"

China needs a logical response to the imbalance between men and women caused by the government's one child policy. There are simply too many young men who seek sex partners.

Massage parlors offering "happy endings" have become an outlet for this sexual energy. China isn't certain if this is licit or illicit, if it might, in fact, be prostitution. See an Associated Press story for details.

Immigration Not Required, Part 3

Here is Sean Trende's third RealClearPolitics column on "why the GOP doesn't need to support the immigration 'reform' bill." In this one his focus is on the nature of the Hispanic vote.

My quick summary: Trende finds Hispanics don't vote as a bloc, as blacks do. The second column is best, but you should read all three.

SCOTUS Small Ball

I've read several evaluations of the recent Supreme Court rulings on who can marry whom: the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8. The one that makes the most sense to this non-attorney is an article by David Davenport for Forbes, featured on the RealClearPolitics website.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Racism Is Everywhere

The Supreme Court has struck down portions of the Voting Rights Act, and much being written thereabout. A good deal of it deals with the question "Is racism dead in the U.S.?" The short answer is no ... not here, not anywhere.

I doubt whether there is any multi-racial or multi-ethnic society of any size anywhere in the world where racism is dead. Absent evidence to the contrary, I take as my working hypothesis that racism is an unattractive part of the basic human condition. As such it cannot be eradicated, only managed.

The nullified portions of the Voting Rights Act alleged that racism was a particular problem in one part of the U.S., an allegation that is almost certainly wrong today, if not when the law was enacted.

Political Humor Alert

Jay Leno, in his NBC Tonight Show monologue last night, as cited on News Busters:
Earlier today, President Obama gave a big speech on climate change. He believes global warming is getting worse because apparently he's sweating a lot more during his second term.
Mistaking a hot seat for a hot planet could be easy to do.

The Obesity Virus?

Instapundit gives us a link to an article by David Berreby for Aeon Magazine, with some fascinating data. Berreby reports that many creatures are gaining weight, not just people. He asks us to consider:
This troublesome fact, reported in 2010 by the biostatistician David B Allison and his co-authors at the University of Alabama in Birmingham: over the past 20 years or more, as the American people were getting fatter, so were America’s marmosets. As were laboratory macaques, chimpanzees, vervet monkeys and mice, as well as domestic dogs, domestic cats, and domestic and feral rats from both rural and urban areas.
Although it is tempting to blame people for some of these animal weight gains:
Such results don’t explain why the weight gain is also occurring in species that human beings don’t pamper, such as animals in labs, whose diets are strictly controlled. In fact, lab animals’ lives are so precisely watched and measured that the researchers can rule out accidental human influence: records show those creatures gained weight over decades without any significant change in their diet or activities. 
Berreby concludes:
The trend suggests some widely shared cause, beyond the control of individuals, which is contributing to obesity across many species. 
COTTonLINE finds these ideas to be new and exciting. Could the cause be some environmental chemical that we're generating, for instance BPA? How about the unseen, unfelt saturation of the environment with radio waves?

The article trots out many possible causes, including diseases. Most interesting is the general notion that we are being "caused" to become obese by some unknown factor or set of factors in the environment.

Wouldn't it be nice to blame something other than overeating? If we can determine what is causing the weight gain, perhaps we can find realistic ways to reverse it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Immigration Reform Not Required, Part 2

Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics has posted his second of three columns on the topic: why the GOP doesn't need to pass the immigration bill. You'll want to read it. The charts and maps that accompany this column are excellent.

Scanning the voting trends among blacks, Hispanics and whites, Trende finds that Republicans are likely to win more electoral votes than Democrats thru the year 2040, after which demographic trends favor Democrats. (PVI is an acronym for partisan voting index, how strongly a U.S. congressional district leans toward one party or the other.)

Here is a choice Trende quote:
It’s entirely possible that as our nation becomes more diverse, our political coalitions will increasingly fracture along racial/ethnic lines rather than ideological ones.
You think so?

Special Prosecutor Needed for IRS

National Journal's Ron Fournier says he personally trusts the Obama administration but agrees that we shouldn't be asked to do so. Therefore, he calls for a special prosecutor to get to the bottom of the alleged IRS targeting of tea party organizations. See the column which lays out his reasoning, it isn't bad.

An Affirmative Action President?

Matt Patterson, writing for the American Thinker, calls Barack Obama the affirmative action president. If this is a thought you've had, you may enjoy his column.

Some have misattributed this column to Newsweek, or the Washington Post. According to Snopes, it has appeared in neither.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Conflicting Views

Michael Tomasky has an interesting column in The Daily Beast (Newsweek's on-line avatar). He writes of the conflict between what is good for individual Republican members of the House and what is good for Republican chances of electing another president.

His subject is the immigration reform bill moving through the Senate. If the bill does not pass the House, Tomasky concludes the following about Republican presidential prospects:
Its only future path to the White House will lie in stoking white resentment to fever levels to produce the highest turnout possible, while dividing the country even further.
Last Thursday we noted analyst Sean Trende has a somewhat different view of this issue.

Quote of the Day

Peter Ferrara, writing for Forbes, about our vast spending on poverty and what it takes to remain out of poverty:
Poverty in America is negligible among those who do only three things – finish high school, upon graduation take whatever job is available and keep working, and get married before having children.
The "keep working" part is harder to accomplish than it once was. Willingness, even eagerness is insufficient today.

Being Young and Blue Collar

COTTonLINE has written about the plight of young people who would have been factory workers ... if the U.S. still had factories ... instead of outsourcing most manufacturing to low-wage places like Mexico and China.

See a New York Times article by Jennifer Silva about the plight of blue collar youngsters. Optimists have said the answer for these young people was to get a college degree. The reasoning: people with degrees have less unemployment and make more money. It isn't working.

Some of these young people do get college degrees and end up selling clothes, or working as bartenders. Except they have enormous student loan debts to pay off; debts bankruptcy cannot erase.

When the U.S. de-industrialized, we never faced the issue of what to do with the persons who were formerly employed in factories. Did we presume they would just vanish?

We cannot become a nation of baristas and manicurists, of valet parking attendants and dog walkers. Such jobs do not pay enough to support more than one person, if that.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Kaus on Immigration

Mickey Kaus writing in The Daily Caller jumps up and down on the Corker-Hoeven amendment to the Senate immigration reform act. His basic point: whatever it claims to demand, future Congresses will gut or fail to fund it when a search for budget cuts becomes the issue of the moment. In other words, don't believe any of it will really happen, any more than the original 700 miles of fence was ever built (it wasn't).

Particularly if you are hesitant about the immigration bill's amnesty provisions, what Kaus has to say will resonate. He wants the House to dump the whole thing.

Douthat Nails It

Ross Douthat writes politics for The New York Times. He has a column that really tears a strip off the entire political class, left and right, everybody in Washington. Here is the core argument:
The president decided to make gun control legislation a major second-term priority ... with firearm homicides at a 30-year low. Congress is pursuing a sharp increase in low-skilled immigration ... when the foreign-born share of the American population is already headed for historical highs. The administration is drawing up major new carbon regulations ... when actual existing global warming has been well below projections for 15 years and counting.

What’s more, on the issues that Americans actually prioritize — jobs, wages, the economy — it’s likely that both immigration reform and whatever the White House decides to do on greenhouse gases will make the short-term picture somewhat worse.
Douthat concludes that both parties are out of touch and acting helpless. Because it's the Times, he's a little harder on the GOP. It's still a good column.

British Can Be Proud of Raj

The other DrC and I visited India recently. Particularly in Bombay (some call it Mumbai) we saw much the Brits left behind of which they can be very proud.

It may not be "politically correct" to honor what Britain accomplished in India; however at COTTonLINE we do. To see an article which agrees with our view, see this by Adrian Lee in the Express (UK).

As Lee says, that which ties India together is what the British left behind: democracy, the common English language, the railroads, the courts, the civil service and the Indian Army. In short, all those things which tie together a group of peoples speaking many languages, worshiping many gods, following many customs - all of those "tie together" things India got from Britain.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Unrest in Brazil

There is lots of popular unrest in Brazil these days, the marchers in the streets are not unlike those in Turkey. The issues, however, are different. Turks are unhappy about their Prime Minister's autocratic behavior.

Brazilians are concerned about governmental corruption, and lack of public services: transport, health care, education. The protesters express concern about their government spending huge sums on public spectacles -  the World Cup, the Summer Olympics, even the visit of the Pope - while providing little in services for the citizenry.

Having seen the huge sums Brazilians voluntarily spend on Carnival - a public spectacle - instead of improving their infrastructure or lives otherwise, I cannot blame the Brazilian government for concluding that its people wish to place their emphasis on public spectacle. The evidence of their values is there for all to see, every late winter/early spring.

The DrsC attended the last night of Carnival in Rio. Impressed? I'm willing to accept as simple truth Cariocas' boastful claim that it is the largest party on earth.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Lumberjacks in the Front Yard

We had a very large aspen tree blow over in the front yard of our WY house. I guess "blow over" is a slight exaggeration, it ended up leaning toward the house at about a 45 degree angle, resting on two other trees.

We were obviously concerned it might fall on the house. We got some tree specialists to take it down. Darn, they sure did a nice job!

The lumberjacks  harnessed the tree to keep it off the house, dropped that big, old tree exactly where it would do no damage, cut it up in 16" lengths, stacked the cut wood, piled the brush, and were gone in 1.5 hours. Amazing what a combination of skill, young bodIes, and the right tools can accomplish.

I don't often do pix on this blog. You can see pix of this activity at, the other DrC's blog.

We don't have a fireplace in our summer house. Someone else will burn the firewood, not this winter but next as it is still too green. Aspen is very wet wood, when freshly cut as this is.

It is hard to imagine an aspen forest burning, the green wood is so wet. If it burns what keeps it going is the dead wood on the forest floor. Aspens "self-prune," they shed more than leaves, they also drop limbs and periodically a whole tree falls.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Immigration Reform Not Required

 Sean Trende, in addition to having an almost perfect surname for a political prognosticator, is Senior Elections Analyst for RealClearPolitics. In this column, the first of two, he looks at voter turnout in 2012 and concludes that a major reason for Romney's loss to Obama is that a group of six million "downscale, rural, Northern whites" stayed home, didn't vote.

Trende characterizes these non-voters as Ross Perot's backers, as populists. Toward the article's end he poses this dilemma for the GOP, it can pursue this group of whites who stayed home, or pursue Hispanics plus upscale whites with a more relaxed stance on social issues.  The tricky thing is to do both, which he believes several successful Republican candidates - Nixon, Reagan, and Bush 43 - have been able to accomplish.

We look forward to the second Trende column, explaining why it is not absolutely necessary for the GOP to sign on to immigration reform for it to succeed at the presidential level.

Celebrating the Summer Solstice

Tomorrow in the northern hemisphere we will experience the summer solstice. The southern hemisphere is, of course, experiencing the winter solstice.

For the bulk of humanity who live north of the equator, tomorrow is the longest day (and shortest night) of the year. Starting tomorrow the days begin getting shorter, a process that will continue until December 21.

Here in Wyoming twilight will disappear after 10 p.m. tonight. North of here in Jasper, Alberta, Canada, tonight it will disappear after 11 p.m.

I stepped outside my RV in Fairbanks, Alaska, at 1 a.m. on June 21 some 30 years ago. We were so close to the Arctic Circle I was able to read a newspaper without artificial light, albeit with much younger eyes.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Troubled Turkey

I hope you are following the troubles in Turkey. Opponents to the increasingly autocratic Erdogan government are massing in the parks and streets, being confronted by the police. A long article from Newsweek/the Daily Beast gives you a feel for this opposition.

The author quotes Erdogan as having said democracy is like a train: ride it until  you get where you want to be, and then get off. That sounds evil to those of us who value democracy as an end, not just an interim means.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Friedman from Turkey

Tom Friedman writes about the unrest in Turkey for The New York Times. He puts words to what we've been feeling about the trouble in Turkey's streets.

The demonstrators are Ataturk secularists who want the Turkish government to leave room for them in a nation that becomes more Islamist every day. It remains to be seen what Erdogan will do.

Jindal on the GOP Future

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has authored a rip-snorting call to arms for the Republican Party. I recommend the column to you; find it here on the Politico website.

In short, Jindal says it is time for Republicans to stop whining and go on offense. This man has a future in the GOP, perhaps he is our future.

VDH on Illegal Immigration

Victor Davis Hanson writes in National Review Online about illegal immigration from Latin America, mostly from Mexico. What he says is certainly not politically correct, but largely accurate.

Hanson's review of the situation is brutal, and unsparing. All I would add is the Wall Street Journal's persistent support of open borders. Of course it speaks to and for the elites Hanson describes; elites who benefit from open borders and cheap labor.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Exercise Care

People are making varying degrees of ruckus over the NSA revelations of Edward Snowden, now hiding out in Hong Kong. You may have noticed COTTonLINE has not particularly anguished over government snooping of our electronic communications.

During 30+ years spent lecturing in public colleges and universities, I was careful not to say in class things that could get me - a public employee - in trouble. I largely succeeded in what amounted to self-censorship.

I've always believed government can and does access Internet and telephone communications when it believes it has good reason, whether or not it is lawful. It turns out I was right.

Presuming someone may be eavesdropping, I put nothing on any electronic medium of which I am ashamed or which could get me in trouble. I recommend the same caution to you.

Happy Father's Day

COTTonLINE sends greetings to all fathers who have hung in there and stayed with their kids. Absentee fathers get less respect, maybe none.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

No-Regrets Strategy

Here at COTTonLINE we are anthropomorphic global warming skeptics. We've not been convinced humans have been proved to be causing whatever climate change may be occurring.

However, we would be among the first to assert climates do change, have been proven to do so over both human and pre-human history. And it is possible they are changing now.

An Associated Press article at the Yahoo News site describes efforts being made to adapt to climate change. These are efforts to protect people and property from storm, flood, and drought damage before it occurs. The article quotes a climate scientist calling this approach "a no-regrets strategy."

Interestingly, most of this action is happening at the local level. Look for more of this action, which COTTonLINE entirely supports.

Clarification re Iran

You may see that President-elect Rohani in Iran had a landslide and yet only won 50.7% of the votes. The explanation is that there were three other candidates.

Getting an absolute majority of the votes in an election with four serious candidates is truly a landslide. The nearest runner-up only achieved 16.5%, followed by a third at 11.3% and a fourth at 6%. See this Associated Press article on the Yahoo News site for details.

Experts were convinced a run-off election between the top two vote-getters was a foregone conclusion. As too often happens, the "experts" were wrong.

A Ray of Hope

The people of Iran just elected Hassan Rohani, the presidential candidate who least resembles current hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. See a Reuters article on the Yahoo News website for details.

As the article points out, this will not have any immediate effects on military and foreign affairs. These are controlled by "Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei" in Iran's "hybrid clerical-republican system."

COTTonLINE believes almost all governments exist with a substantial degree of public support, even those thought to be dictatorships. The people of Iran just sent a very unambiguous message to their government.

Their clear message is this: Ahmadinejad had it wrong, change course. Even Ayatollah Khamenei must pay some attention, however much he would rather not.

It is possible Iran will become a less belligerent member of the family of nations in the years going forward. At least if it happens, COTTonLINE will not be entirely surprised.

Quote of the Day

Columnist and TV personality Charles Krauthammer, speaking on the "O'Reilly Factor" show on Fox News, and quoted here from RealClearPolitics, speaking about President Obama's administration:
What I think is new is Obama's leadership style which in effect doesn't exist. The man is a bystander to his own presidency.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Syria - the Wrong Battle

As we noted yesterday, it appears the President is determined to provide military aid to the rebels in Syria. Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute observes this determination and writes the following for RealClearPolitics:
Policymakers are preparing to join a civil war in which America’s security is not involved, other nations have much more at stake, many of the “good” guys in fact are bad, and there would be no easy exit.
Bandow concludes:
Syria is a tragedy. There is no reason to make it America’s tragedy. President Barack Obama should ask: does he want his administration to be defined by involvement in an unnecessary and unpopular no win war, as was that of his predecessor?
Michael Hirsh, of Newsweek, writes for National Journal that the President is "slip-sliding toward Obama's third war." He continues:
Earlier this year, the CIA concluded that arming the rebels with small-scale weapons—what is likely now being considered—could not tip the balance of the conflict. U.S. and Israeli officials still fear that delivering anything larger or more lethal, such as antitank or surface-to-air missiles, could be used on U.S., Israeli, or commercial targets if they fell into terrorist hands.
Summing up, Hirsh concludes:
Obama is hamstrung not only by his own caution but also by the evident reluctance of the American people to get involved. According to a recent Gallup Poll, 68 percent of Americans say the United States should not use military force in Syria, even if diplomatic efforts to end the civil war fail.

Venezuela and Cuba

Jose Cardenas is former administrator for Latin America of the U.S. Agency for International Development. He writes for the Washington Times about the heavy-handed Cuban infiltration of Venezuela.

Cardenas describes Venezuela becoming a "Cuban satrapy." See his column for details.

The Trade-Offs

President Obama has spoken of the "trade-offs" that exist between security and privacy. Read a Wall Street Journal editorial about this issue, likely written by Paul Gigot who edits the editorial page. 

Very well-written, the editorial takes a "things are okay" view of existing government surveillance of electronic communications of all sorts. It is uncommon for the WSJ and the White House to be on the same side of a conflict, as they are here.

One important issue is raised, with which COTTonLINE agrees. Namely, IRS mistreatment of conservative groups causes anxiety over potential government misuse and abuse of our communications data. 

Rapid, decisive clean-up of this IRS misbehavior will go a long ways toward restoring public faith in government possession of individual communication statistics.

Syria, the Next Step

The wire services are carrying the news that the President has evidence the Assad government in Syria has used chemical weapons on multiple occasions. One of Obama's "red lines" has been crossed, triggering further U.S. involvement on the other, rebel side.

It may be first evidence of a more activist foreign policy represented by the Susan Rice and Samantha Power appointments. If this means whole-hearted support of the al Qaeda-linked rebels, the news is tragic.

On the other hand, if it means providing just enough support to keep the rebels "in the game" and fighting, without giving them enough aid to win, that's another, more positive story. Perhaps the Machiavellians in the foreign policy establishment are in ascendant, at least for now.

Pay little attention to what is said in this matter. Give much attention to what is actually done.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Samantha Power Nomination

Christopher Orlet writes for The American Spectator about how much he doesn't like President Obama's choice for U.N. Ambassador: Samantha Power. One thing is clear, when he dislikes someone he really dislikes her. See his one paragraph biography of Ms. Power:
The deracinated Ms. Power is a typical Washingtonian, born in Ireland, grade schooled in Pittsburgh, high schooled in Atlanta, educated at Ivy League schools in Connecticut and Massachusetts, employed as a journalist in Yugoslavia, but really from nowhere, as homeless as a hobo. She will fit right in at the United Nations.
Summarizing her Pulitzer Prize-winning book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, Orlet says she finds:
Since America has an excess of tanks, planes, and disposable young men it is our moral obligation to be the world’s cavalry. And since the Finns, Argentinians, Canadians, et al. do not have as many tank [sic] and helicopters and their young men are not nearly as disposable, they can stay home with a clear conscience.
Orlet calls Ms. Power "the pin up girl for Endless War." That doesn't sound like the Obama foreign policy of the past five years. Should we expect new activism?

Privacy vs. Anonymity

Ronald Brownstein tells his readers at National Journal that, as a result of the NSA scandal, they now know they've lost their privacy. He mentions them being "concerned" about this identity invasion ... and yet I wonder.

Isn't the whole notion of "social media" to put information about oneself "out there"  in a place where nearly anybody can access it? Facebook, Twitter, and the many others are places where we hang our dirty (and clean) linen out for all to see.

The overwhelming evidence suggests many of us fear we won't be known, won't have our lives on display, in short, will have unwanted privacy. Anonymity seems to be the greater fear than loss of privacy.

Yes, COTTonLINE is another example of this phenomenon. Here it is a lecturer missing the sometimes-captive audiences to which he opined on a variety of subjects for several decades.

Blog posts are mostly lecturettes, sometimes lectures. The wonderful thing about a blog is that whereas I get to pick the subject matter; you get to choose whether to read a particular entry. At least theoretically, everybody should end up happy.

Quote of the Day

Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News and Chairman of Fox Television, speaking at a ceremony at which he received a quarter million dollar award, which he donated to charity:
You know how I know this is a great country? Because everybody is trying to get in, and nobody is trying to get out.
It's a slight exaggeration, but darned close to true.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

CIA Deputy Director Resigns

Watch the steps happen. The Associated Press announces that CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell has resigned. We don't know more at this moment.

Later ... We know more. The Washington Post reports on Morell's replacement, an Obama loyalist, an attorney who has never before worked in the CIA.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

W Now More Popular than Obama

Gallup reports their polls show President George W. Bush is now more popular - 49% have a favorable view of him - than President Obama - 47% hold a favorable impression of Obama.

Second terms are often downers for presidents. Nevertheless, that contrast cannot make the current occupant of the Oval Office happy. Hat tip to Breitbart Big-Government for the links.

Patton on Liberals

Quote attributed to General George S. Patton. It may be urban legend as no source in his writings or press conferences is cited:
Politicians are the lowest form of life on earth. Liberal Democrats are the lowest form of politician.
Hyperbole was his forte. Nobody ever accused George P. of understatement. 

Quote of the Day

Jay Nordlinger, who writes for National Review Online, quoting Bob Novak's reaction to a particular basketball game:
I want them both to lose. For me, it’s like the Battle of Stalingrad.
That's my reaction to what is going on in Syria, and why I don't want the U.S. to get involved. I'd like to see both sides lose.

The NSA PRISM Program

One thing is clear: folks are really divided on the correctness of what NSA leaker Edward Snowden did. People one respects are defending him and his actions, others are saying he should be jailed forever, or worse. I saw someone wishing the death penalty could be brought back for what he did.

Most of this division has to do with how violated the speaker feels about having the government poking about in his/her electronic records. Some believe we must give up this information to catch domestic terrorists before they do us in. Others see it as another big step down a slippery slope toward George Orwell's dystopian future.

What if both are right? I worry about the IRS scandal showing the government cannot be trusted to treat us in an even-handed manner. It came along just before the news that the NSA is essentially pattern-mapping our communications.

As we wrote the other day, most civil servants tend for good, selfish reasons to vote liberal, to vote Democrat. Suppose (as I do) the NSA-niks have the same political biases the IRS-niks seem to have had.

Can any conservative feel easy about the government tracking his/her electronic communications? Will most civil servants view all conservatives as the enemy and act accordingly upon our electronic chatter?

Should conservatives start feeling as persecuted as Communists did (with good reason) in the depths of the Cold War? Deep and murky waters are aswirl here.

Is this stage in the Long War one of those times when, as in World Wars I & II, and the Cold War, certain civil liberties must be sacrificed in the short run? A reasonable argument can be made for that step here.

I am unwilling to become what our government views as an enemy, for I am not. I could however be viewed as an enemy by some civil service employees, whose functions I would prefer our government not do. Wishing for a smaller, less intrusive government does not make me anti-American, only anti-progressive.

If I cannot rely on the federal government to deal with all in an even-handed way, as the IRS scandal seems to show, then I have to worry about our government intruding in places in my life where it has not first obtained a warrant to poke about.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Is Iran Rational?

In an article for the Times of Israel, Saeed Ghasseminejad argues that the beliefs of important people in Iran are apocalyptic and hence, not rational. He strongly implies that they would be willing to use nuclear weapons, that they may be willing to die in a nuclear exchange with Israel or the U.S.

Ghasseminejad names names  and points to relationships which suggest this kind of willingness. He makes an argument for bombing the c**p out of Iran, though he is careful to never say it explicitly.

Quote of the Day

Patrick Smith, writing in The Fiscal Times, about the unrest in Turkey, the opposition to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's attempt to strengthen the presidency which he will accept next year, and Turkey's desire to join the EU:
Turkey’s problems—autocracy, Islamic democracy, modernization, westernization—are the Middle East’s problems. Its lessons are for the Middle East to learn. The distance from Europe has grown.
For Europeans watching the riots in Turkey, Turkey's distance from Europe grows every day. It becomes less "European" in the minds of the citizens of the EU.

Burger Madness

For maybe 15 years the other DrC and I ate burgers at Billy's on the square in Jackson every Sunday all summer long. It was a classic greasy spoon diner with only a counter and stools. The "entertainment" was watching the cook fry burgers by the dozen on a grill that had fried many tons of high-fat burger, and a few other choices.

I've written about Billy's here, and I've also written that it was closed when we arrived last summer - sad times. We've been searching Jackson for a replacement, with some success. A place called The Bird is pricy but the burgers aren't bad.

Last night we tried a place called The Lift which is near the bottom of Snow King ski resort. It is run by the people who formerly ran The Cadillac and Billy's, two restaurants which were joined at the hip both physically and financially.

If you want to see a photo of the Lift Burger, you can find it on the other DrC's blog at The Lift Burger was tasty and priced right. We may have found a replacement for the legendary Billy Burger.

Missing is watching the burgers being grilled, but we can live with that shortfall. The Lift has indoor booths and outdoor dining on decks at two levels.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Remember Your Father

A week from today is Fathers Day. If you're lucky enough to still have one, let him know you appreciate him. We are a society that undervalues fathers, and we are paying a price for that undervaluing.

Children raised in households without fathers (and/or mothers, too) do not thrive nearly as well as children raised in households with two parents. Yes, I know this is a generality and there are exceptions. But if you are a gambling person, you bet on the kids from homes with mothers and fathers. Their odds of success are much better.

I learned lots of good stuff from my father; I wish I had told him that before he died. One of my favorite bits of fatherly wisdom was this: "Son, women are wonderful, but their thermostats don't work very well. They are rarely comfortable, nearly always too hot or too cold, mostly too cold."

Syria Pros and Cons

If you haven't been keeping up with the reactions of western governments to the situation in Syria, and are feeling guilty about it, I've found an excellent article that lays out the dilemmas facing advocates of both action and inaction. Written by Toby Harnden and Mark Hookham of the London Sunday Times and carried here by RealClearPolitics, the article does a good job of describing the quite reasonable arguments for both sides.

The history of U.S. interventions in the region hasn't been a glorious one. Beyond supporting Israel with material and intelligence, which we've done for six decades, prudence suggests staying out. When it comes to Syria, we don't have a dog in that fight.

This saying, popularized by former Secretary of State James A. Baker, is not exactly the equivalent of "don't give a s***." It more describes being unable to pick between equally unattractive alternatives.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Democrats Midterm Malaise

What if voting patterns give Republicans the edge in midterm elections and Democrats the lead in years when a president will be elected? A win in 2014 might give the GOP a "false positive" outcome.

Ron Brownstein of National Journal believes that recent election outcomes trend in that direction. Young voters and minority voters have tended to turn out more strongly when the presidency is at stake, which benefits Democrats. During the midterm elections, the older, whiter voters tend to make up a larger proportion of the total votes, giving the GOP an edge.

Political Humor Alert

Jay Leno, on the NBC Tonight Show monologue, making reference to the NSA data mining scandal, according to
See, when I was growing up, we were always afraid of Big Brother watching us. And now with Obama, we actually have a brother watching us. See what I’m saying. We got a brother watching us.
It sounds like Leno's mostly white audience didn't get it on the first go-round.

Obama Resembles Bush?

The normally comfortably lefty Associated Press takes a dim view of the Obama national security operation.See what they write:
Five years into his presidency, Barack Obama presides over a national security apparatus that in many ways still resembles the one left behind by President George W. Bush.
It turns out the Bush policies were easier to criticize than to improve upon. Who knew? Actually, regular COTTonLINE readers knew this.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Joe Klein's Unwinding

Joe Klein is an old reporter and opinion column writer, most recently for Time. He's a smart lefty who every now and then writes something worthwhile. His current column is one of those, a downbeat blend of a book review and an elegy.

He starts off with a plug for the book The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer. The book is described by Klein as "a nonfiction account of the past 40 years told through the lives of average and not-so-average Americans."

Klein's column is not upbeat; my favorite quote from it is this:
Over the past 40 years, as the U.S. has unwound from its former rigor, facade has overtaken content, speculation has overtaken ­development—and in my profession, slapdash opinion has deluged dogged reporting.
That sounds like the confession of a reporter who long ago turned opinion-writer.

The column also emphasizes an issue we've mentioned repeatedly on COTTonLINE, namely, what employment do we find for the former factory workers who make up a large share of our populace? How do we put them back to work at jobs by which they can support a family? Failing that, our society continues to unwind.

D-Day Remembered

Today is the anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944. On that day thousands of U.S., British and Canadian troops landed on the beaches of Normandy. Many brave men died, some before they put foot on dry land. But they prevailed, they established a beachhead, and the rest is history. It is somehow ironic that the last GI of that era serving in the U.S. Senate died three days ago.

The other DrC and I visited Normandy and toured the landing beaches. They mostly aren't easy places to land and get inland, and where it was easy the Germans had fortified. There is a really good museum of the landings - very worth your time if you get to Normandy. Much of the so-called Mulberry Harbor the allies towed to these beaches, set up and used to get men and material ashore is still there and easy to see.

The famous Bayeux Tapestry is displayed nearby. If you've seen it you know it isn't what one normally thinks of as a tapestry, isn't particularly artistic at all. Rather it is a set of what could be called cartoons embroidered on a strip of linen cloth some 230 ft. long depicting the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England in 1066.


One of the curious things about Europe is that it seems small to Americans, things are so close together. When greens hassle us about not doing more with passenger rail transport, they overlook the great distances that Americans take for granted. I expect Australians feel the same way.

Flying is simply the practical way to get around our large countries, jets traveling at speeds in excess of 500 mph make the big distances manageable. Rail works for Europe's small distances, or those of Japan.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Millennials Want a Libertarian GOP?

Nick Gillespie, writing for The Daily Beast, suggests that the GOP might want to "Embrace It's Inner Libertarian" if it hopes to win substantial numbers of Millennial (young) votes. In other words, become more socially liberal while continuing to be fiscally conservative.

Gillespie's argument has some merit. Of course, the question is this: are the evangelical votes lost greater or fewer than the Millennial votes gained?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sense on Syria

Glenn Garvin, writing for the Miami Herald, says we should stay out of Syria. COTTonLINE believes Garvin is correct. Neither side in Syria deserves our support, nor will either side end up being a government with which we would want to ally.

A truly Machiavellian approach would be to determine the weaker side and aid them just enough to keep the war at fever pitch, but not enough to win. The British did a lot of this, and called it "a balance of power."

Quote of the Day

Former President Bill Clinton, speaking of current President Barack Obama, according to Washington Post columnist Ed Rogers:
Obama doesn't know how to be president.
With four years of evidence that Clinton was correct in front of them, those who voted to reelect Obama didn't care. "Knowing how" isn't the issue to them, simply Obama being POTUS is enough.

Really Weird Dietary Science

The Wall Street Journal reports the results of a study first published in the Journal of the American Medical Association-Internal Medicine. No subscription is required to see this WSJ article.

The study done by researchers at Loma Linda University (an SDA institution) finds that vegetarians and nearly-vegetarians live longer than those who eat meat. A group of some 73,000 members of the Seventh Day Adventist church were asked about their diets and categorized into meat-eating and vegetarian groups based on questionnaire responses. During the six year period of the study, vegetarian respondents were 12% less likely to die than meat-eaters.

Do you see the main problem with the study? The SDA church preaches vegetarianism, while "not all of its followers adhere to that teaching." A thought experiment: suppose you asked 73,000 Mormons about their drinking of alcohol practices (the church opposes drinking), would you suppose those who admitted drinking on a survey run by BYU were to some degree deviant in other realms of their behavior? We would. Similarly, SDAs who eat meat and admit it are likely to behave recklessly in other arenas of their life, smoking and drinking, for instance.

In order to have confidence in these findings, we would want the meat-eating subjects to come from parts of society where meat-eating is considered routine, normal behavior. From groups in which vegetarianism is the deviant behavior. We distrust the comparison of people following church teachings with those who do not and are who are willing to admit it to an arm of their church,

At COTTonLINE, we're carnivores who eat plant matter too. Our main-meal planning begins with the meat,

We don't know if vegetarians live longer but we're sure it's so boring it must feel longer. Perhaps that feeling is worthwhile.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

India Goes To Sea

James Hardy of Jane's Defense Weekly writes about the growth of India's blue water navy which, he notes, is little remarked in discussions of world armaments. His article appears in The Diplomat.

Hardy gives us an interesting and detailed discussion of INS's new platforms and capabilities. He also gives an assessment of the arena in which they will initially operate - the Indian Ocean. Hardy touches briefly on the serious problems INS has had with corruption in procurement.

Quote of the Day II

Joel Kotkin, writing about the hollowed-out economy for the Orange County Register:
Living on the creative edge cannot create sufficient employment, opportunities or an overall positive impact on day-to-day life. A generation hooked on Facebook – and working at Starbucks – is not likely to be terribly productive or successful.

Quote of the Day I

Mona Charen, writing for RealClearPolitics about breadwinner moms:
Liberal ideas are undermining marriage and condemning millions of children to unnecessary poverty, instability and unhappiness.

The Sad Truth

Most government employees are Democrats - for very selfish reasons. Civil service employees who vote Republican put the abstract well-being of the state ahead of their own concrete at-work well-being, a difficult, rare thing to do.

That being the case, it may not have required much direction from Washington to get IRS employees in Cincinnati to make life difficult for conservative organizations seeking non-profit status. It even could be argued they might do it independently, just because they believed they could get away with it.

For conspiracy fans, this is potentially bad news. They were hoping to trace the impetus of the attack to an Obama appointee, the higher in the 'apparat,' the better.

Travel Blogging V

I was rereading Travel Blogging II and it brought to mind a similar event maybe twenty years ago. We were driving west toward the Tetons across the middle of western Wyoming one summer, pulling our 5th wheel trailer.

Five miles west of Dubois our 1983 Chevy pickup blew its second transmission, leaving us with low as our only working forward gear. We turned around and crawled the five miles back to Dubois at maybe 10 mph, taking a tortuous half hour during which our preoccupation was with whether the tranny would die completely - it did not.

In that tiny town there was an RV camp next door to a repair shop which diagnosed the problem, ordered a transmission from Denver by phone, had it shipped in on the Greyhound Bus, installed it on a.Sunday, and had us on our way first thing Monday morning. And it cost less than it would have in a regular dealership, of course. That rebuilt transmission was still working when we traded the truck a couple of years later.

More recently we had another like experience in Paso Robles CA with an earlier seized turbocharger in this truck. We have RVed for forty years, albeit never full time, had some breakdowns on the road, and other times when we limped home with a sick engine or a less-than-fully-functional RV. As the Sinatra song says, "That's life...."

Later ... we have arrived in Wyoming which is in the full bloom of spring - it arrives late in the mountains. Everything here is green and beautiful, unlike our part of CA which in May had already turned the golden tan that is summer in CA. The other DrC gets to experience her spring allergies twice, once in CA, again in WY. Again, that's life ... some of the roses have thorns.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Travel Blogging IV

Declo, Idaho: Yes, a Declo exists and we're there. We are parked in a nice RV park beside the Snake River, which here is very wide for a western river.

We got the Ford back from the dealer quite early Friday morning so we "saddled up" and hit the road. The early start meant not staying in Jackpot. We lunched there instead and drove on to the tiny burg of Declo. We'll arrive at the summer place later today.