Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cook Is Puzzled

Writing for National Journal, Charlie Cook wanders through the indicators that might give some hint as to the outcomes of the 2014 midterm elections. He finds indicators that favor the GOP, and others that favor the Dems.

Cook covers himself both ways and ends up saying, in effect, "It's anybody's guess" or "It's too soon to tell," maybe both. He is supposed to be one of the savvy national political analysts but my summary of his column is that he doesn't know what will happen; he believes the auguries are mixed.

Arctic Mosquitos

Here's a Yahoo News article about lots of mosquitos in the Arctic - treating 'em like they are a new phenomenon which they're not. I was there in the late 1980s and there were total swarms of the nasty little rats, flying in your ears, up your nose, and biting you everywhere.

The big ones have stripes around the body like hornets, but are slow and easy to hit; the little ones are quick and more likely to bite you. Different sizes come out at slightly different times.

The author's not exaggerating about the density of mosquitos, they are thick. What's really nasty is the loud whine they make in your ears, particularly in the dark when you're trying to sleep.

The worst I ever experienced were at Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, on Hudson Bay. We'd gotten off the train and were taking a tour to the mouth of the Churchill River which empties into the bay just west of the town. There was so much "flying protein" in the air one could have almost made a meal off the mosquitos, as martins and swifts do, just open your mouth and bite down.

In the bay were beluga whales, looking like over-sized albino porpoises. Once we slathered on some 100% DEET, courtesy of a nice Canadian lady, we could appreciate the whales. Being white they really showed up.

They Hate Your Cars

Have you traveled in Europe? Have you noted how European housing is clustered around public transportation lines, how suburbs as we know them are seldom seen?

The DrsC have seen it repeatedly. Europe is a nice place to visit occasionally but we wouldn't want to live there.

You have heard criticism of Obama's drive to make the U.S. more like Europe. Force yourself to read this rather dry National Review article by Stanley Kurtz about the Obama HUD department pushing zoning plans of "regions" in a clearly European direction.

This is what happens when you let urban planners design your life. Urban planners hate your cars. Their ideas are ugly stuff - very anti-American and pro-European.

Lone Star Wisdom

Bryan Preston, writing for PJ Media, about the impact of Texas on the U.S.:
Washington needs Texas a whole lot more than Texas needs Washington.
As the article says, east Texans are crazy for religion. They don't understand the "separation of church and state" concept at all.

My east Texas students, writing about their life goals, would very often indicate becoming more involved in church and more prayerful were among their major aims. I have to believe they were sincere.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

2014 - 30 = 1984

Do you remember reading George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 decades ago in your youth? I do and it still gives me the willies.

Victor Davis Hanson has written for PJ Media a column in which he describes modern American life in terms which make it recognizable as that horrifying book. Damn, it is a spooky endeavor, very well done, Vic. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Hanson says we go through our days forced to allege in public as true things we know to be false. We do this because to do otherwise is to be in danger of one or another kind of public banning, career disaster, or worse.

An example Hanson doesn't include in his column: we publicly say Islam is a "religion of peace" when we all know differently. It is today the major "ism" in whose name acts of terror are carried out on this planet - another truth we cannot speak.

I know Hanson is correct; I write here things I would not have dared write as a faculty member of a state university. I spent thirty years self-censoring my lectures, and luckily was good at doing it.

Still today I self-censor this blog so as not to seem too extreme, too radical, too "wing-nut." My stale joke to liberals: "I'm conservative, but no Nazi."

Monday, July 29, 2013

Political Imagery

Some talented folks can paint pictures with words, read a truly scary sentence:
The malignant cancer cells oozing from the petri dish of progressive policy known as the City of Detroit are soon to metastasize throughout the body politic.
That flat-out gives me the shivers. I wish I could write like that ... maybe in the next life. That is Jay Zawatsky, writing in The National Interest. Way to go, Jay.

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

The always readable Mark Steyn piquantly describes for the Orange County Register how what caused Detroit's problems isn't unique:
The same malign alliance between a corrupt political class, rapacious public sector unions and an ever more swollen army of welfare dependents has been adopted in the formerly Golden State of California.
I'm sad for the state of my birth. Unfortunately, "A corrupt political class, rapacious public sector unions, and an ever more swollen army of welfare dependents" is exactly the evil coalition we face at the national level, as well.

Not Our Argument

Every U.S. president of my memory, which unfortunately reaches back several decades, has tried to reconcile the Israelis and Palestinians. Has tried to get the two to agree upon a two-state solution.

Every president has tried to get the parties to share the otherwise unremarkable Holy Land which is prized by at least three major world religions. Three or more religions depending upon whether you recognize the various sects of each as separate faiths.

For the longest time I took this presidential behavior for granted. I assumed it was simply one of the duties of the office. No longer.

Now I actively resist the idea that the U.S. must mediate in this long-standing conflict. Other than supporting Israel against external and internal aggression, why must we be involved?

Recent fracking developments have made the U.S. substantially more independent with respect to petroleum supplies. What happens in the Middle East is of less immediate economic interest to the U.S. than was once the case.

Perhaps the parties might be more willing to compromise if they didn't believe we would be there to twist their enemy's arm.

Quote of the Day

Richard A. Baehr, writes for PJ Media. See his conclusion about the President's current public posture:
Obama has been a failure at his job (the foreign policy track record may be even worse than the domestic trifecta of high unemployment, huge debts, and the miserably designed Obamacare), but no one should underestimate the president’s skill at politics.
Baehr's analysis of Obama rousing his base of "victim" groups is also excellent.

Kissinger Wisdom

Dr. Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State, makes a comparison of presidents Nixon and Obama, on the occasion of the funeral of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. Kissinger was speaking to the deceased's widow:
Nixon liked to have big personalities around him. Obama does not.
My source for this quote is a salty review of the Mark Leibovich book This Town, written for The New York Times by Christopher Buckley.

Quote of the Day

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, answering a George Stephanopoulos ABC News' This Week question about the President's long speech on the economy:
Every president in the intense media environment we have now, certainly every two-term president, gets to a point where the American people stop listening, stop leaning forward hungrily for information. I think this president got there earlier than most presidents. And I think he's in that time now.
Oh, joy ... we get to ignore Obama speeches for the next 3+ years. My source for the quote is Noel Sheppard of NewsBusters.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Misleading ...

This Associated Press story is an example of misleading reporting. I'll bet most of what it says is technically accurate. That is, technically accurate but highly misleading.

I'm thinking of two middle aged guys I know, both in IT. Each has been laid off in recent years, drew unemployment, possibly applied for food stamps, the whole nine yards. Then each found his next job which, like his last job, paid in excess of $100K a year.

In the study on which AP was reporting, they would have been among the nearly 80% who had experienced "poverty" at some point in their lives. In other words, the study is conflating two different things to produce a misleading whole.

One of those things is that employment is less life-long than formerly. Firms have little loyalty to employees, and thus people are laid off when no longer needed.
They often take months, perhaps more than a year, to find their next job. By the same token, people have less loyalty to employers and will, in good times, leave one employer for another. Laid off individuals appear in the sample as people who have experienced poverty during their working lives, albeit briefly.

The sample also contains people who have difficulty finding work at all, and are paid less-than-living-wage when working. They also experience poverty during much, perhaps most, of their working lives.

These are two very different groups, one of which makes very good money when employed, and is employed most of their productive years. The other group is only intermittently employed and is poor during much of their lives. Lump them together and you get a spurious "80%" combining, as we say, apples and oranges, two things which should not be lumped together.

One group will arguably need government assistance during much of their lives, the other might conceivably do without it entirely and rely on their savings during their periods of unemployment.

Public View of Journalists Declines

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has just released poll results which show that of the groups surveyed, the public's estimation of journalists dropped more than any other occupation. In the last four years, the public's estimation of journalists' contribution to society's well-being dropped 10%, from 38% to 28%.

Do you suppose this drop in approval is related to mainstream media "coming out" as the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party? I think so. A Breitbart Big Journalism article based on this study indicates that even Democrats have dropped their evaluation of journalists:
The plummeting approval for journalists is bi-partisan; Republicans/leaning Republicans are down eight percent and Democrats/leaning Democrats are down 10 percent.
Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

In Defense of Public Community Colleges

Writing for RealClearPolitics, Michael Barone picks apart the President's "pivot to the economy" speech in Galesburg, Ill. Reading along, I agree with almost all of his points except one - a slur against community colleges - which I believe Barone has dramatically wrong.

Actually, public community colleges do well at training people for real jobs - that is their true focus. As a service, they also provide for transfer students the first two years of a baccalaureate program. All of this at dramatically lower tuition cost, and typically students live at home.

A public community college I live near when in CA has a police academy, a fire academy, trains heavy equipment operators, welders, farmers, wine makers, and many different medical specialties, up to the level of RN. That's only what I've seen and heard about without delving into their curriculum; I'm sure they do much more.

A third mission of so-called junior or community colleges is to enable adults who were teen screw-offs to have a second chance to learn basic skills. A fair number of public school dropouts discover - later in life - the motivation they lacked as teens. Learning to read or balance a checkbook in ones 20s or 30s is far better than never.

I expect I'm preaching to the choir, COTTonLINE readers probably know all of this. Nevertheless I had to get it off my chest.

House-trained Republicans

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) talking with radio host Sean Hannity, as quoted on Breitbart's Big Journalism website by Tony Lee:
There are a lot of Democrats and folks in the media who like their Republicans timid and house-trained to just sit quietly in the corner, to accept losing, and to stand for nothing. 
Hannity replied that Cruz was not one of those "house-trained" Republicans; I'd agree. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Widespread Agreement

There are darned few topics upon which it can reasonably be said that wide agreement exists. Agreement between young and old, liberals and conservatives, whites and non-whites, men and women.

A Marist poll for McClatchy (scroll down) - released yesterday - found one such topic: requiring identification to vote. At least two-thirds of every group favors an ID requirement, even liberals.

It is time for government and most media to catch up with public opinion on this subject, both are opposed. Also see this John Nolte article in Breitbart Big Journalism for an interpretation. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

McDonaldization

Two decades ago, I would lecture about the hiring trend I called "McDonaldization" of the workforce. That is, conversion of formerly full-time career jobs into part-time non-career jobs. I gave it that name because fast food restaurants were pioneers in part-time staffing.

Once sales clerks in our department stores worked forty or perhaps forty-eight hour weeks. They earned sick leave and vacation time, accrued pensions, and retired after forty years with Sears or Penneys, getting the proverbial gold watch.

That sounds preposterous today; now only management have full-time jobs in retail. The same is largely true among hospitality employers: restaurants, bars, hotels and motels, resorts.

I told my students that reducing other jobs to less-than-full-time - everything from bank teller to programmer - was only a matter of time. Few believed me; sadly, I've been proven correct, indeed prescient. See a RealClearPolitics article by the Washington Post's Robert Samuelson on the topic.

Much work we cannot ship overseas to be done in third world sweatshops is being done by part-timers, temporaries, and contract workers. People like the now-infamous Edward Snowden who worked for the U.S. National Security Agency via the subcontractor Booz Allen Hamilton, with catastrophic results.

The uncertainty facing employers from Obamacare requirements has further exacerbated the staffing trend, when it hasn't kept firms from hiring altogether.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

More on Japan

Yesterday we wrote about Prime Minister Abe's newly aggressive defense posture for Japan; here is a Reuters article which elaborates that discussion. The most attention-grabbing line in the article is the idea of Japan developing "a pre-emptive strike capability."

As the article points out, both nations at which such a capability might be aimed - China and North Korea - have nuclear weapons. Japan does not have nuclear weapons but could quickly develop them if the need arose.

It's Been a Deer Day

We often have deer in our yard in WY but they're mostly does, today was different. Today we had a spotted fawn and two multi-point bucks. One buck appeared to be caring for the fawn, unusual behavior for a buck. Fawns are normally with their mothers.

Go to the other DrC's blog to see photos thereof; you can find her blog at cruztalkingtwo.blogspot.com. And no, hunters, I won't tell you where our house is. We'd like to see those bucks again next summer.

Our local friends prefer to hunt elk. Elk tastes better, provides more meat per kill, and rarely frequents our place in summer. Winter could be another story.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wise Words

Ezra Klein, writing for the Washington Post about statistician/modeler Nate Silver who is leaving The New York Times and joining ESPN and its parent ABC News:
Lots of people can run the numbers. But Silver can use those numbers to tell readers an engaging, fast-paced and constantly changing story about subjects they care about. That’s a rare talent.
It is that.

A Look at Modern Japan

Read this CBC News article for an update on what's happening in Japan, politically and otherwise. It would appear that Japan may be about to renounce pacifism and develop a real military. This will not be popular with Japan's neighbors, particularly China and South Korea.

Countries which Japan occupied before and during World War II tend to have quite negative views of Japanese militarism. Japan left few friends behind in places like the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Guam, as well as China and Korea.

Oddly, one previously occupied place where Japan is somewhat well regarded today is Taiwan. Perhaps they treated the Taiwanese better than other members of their "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere."

A Look at Kabul Today

Jeffrey Stern has written an appreciation of today's Kabul, and to some extent Afghanistan, for The Atlantic. He does a good job of conveying the flavor of Kabul, of life in the capital. It is an enjoyable read.

Stern wonders if perhaps we've gotten the Afghanis beyond the point where the Taliban can overrun the country when we leave. We'll know in 2014, won't we?

Quote of the Day

David A. Lehrer and Joe R. Hicks, writing for the Los Angeles Times about the demagogic rhetoric flowing from the Zimmerman acquittal:
Between 2000 and 2010, 4,607 black murder victims 17 or younger were killed by other blacks (4,441 of the killers were 17 or younger), according to the Wall Street Journal. There were 340 black victims 17 or younger killed by (non-Latino) whites. That means black youths were 13 times more likely to be killed by a black person than by a white one.

"Black youths were 13 times more likely to be killed by a black person than by a white one." I wish I could say I'm surprised ... but I'm not.

And Even More on IRS Troubles

See this article by Attorney Jay Sekulow for Fox News describing what is known and what will be sought concerning the IRS's mistreatment of tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Echoing Watergate, we need to find out what the President knew and when he knew it. More to the point, did he instigate it or did someone instigate it on his behalf with his knowledge and approval?

Monday, July 22, 2013

More on the IRS Scandal

You remember we told you the IRS people hassling tea party and patriot groups seeking tax-exempt status are said to have reported to the agency's chief counsel, political appointee William Wilkins? And we wrote further that investigators would be looking for evidence he was in touch with the White House?

Here is that evidence. The Daily Caller reports that Wilkins met with the President two days before he issued the
“Additional comments on the draft guidance” for approving or denying tea party tax-exempt applications.
If that wasn't enough, the next day (the day after Wilkins met with Obama) Wilkins' boss at the time, former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The EOB is where many so-called White House employees actually have offices or hold meetings.

Taken together, do these constitute a smoking gun? Basic rule of thumb: If it quacks and waddles, it is likely a duck. Hat tip to the Drudge Report for the link.

Not Much Incentive ...

Politico reports Pew Research Center polling finds what we have suspected, that most Hispanics identify with the Democrats. Knowing this to be true, what incentive does the House Republican majority have to provide a path to citizenship for the millions of illegal Hispanic immigrants in the U.S.?

Answer - darn little incentive. "Approaching zero as a limit" as we used to say as an academic. I hope our Representatives are paying attention.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Fewer Women at the Top

Kay S. Hymowitz is a favorite demographer who often writes for City Journal where she is a contributing editor. Here she looks at the reasons for the scarcity of women at the top of corporations, government organizations, law firms, universities and medical schools. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Unsurprisingly, she finds the answer in one word: children. And oddly, to the extent to which firms have "family friendly" policies, in such firms women are even less likely to be found at the top.

She identifies the true issue. Top managers, whether called partner, president, chief financial officer, dean, or whatever, are obsessive workers, putting in 70 to 80 hours per week and traveling multiple times per month. Man or woman, one cannot put in such hours and be involved in one's children's lives.

I spent 30+ years training managers, teaching management. I would tell my students that those of you who become truly successful will "live" your job.

It will be the first thing you think about in the morning, the last thing you think about at night, and very nearly everything you'll think about in between. You might take off an afternoon sometime during the weekend for the family, and even then I'll bet you check your email, text messages, etc., while doing it.

You will be gone 1-2 weeks a month on business travel, and 1-2 evenings a week when home on business-related activities. You probably won't take all of your vacation time - too busy, unable to get away, unwilling to let the firm realize they can get along without you or to discover you can do without it.

As a result of being work-obsessed, you will be an indifferent spouse and a poor parent. Relatively few mothers are willing to make these sacrifices. As Hymowitz notes, many very successful women have no children.

A New Acronym

I just learned a new acronym: WEIRD. It is used as a descriptor of certain societies, and stands for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic.

Here is a link to the place I found it, on the RealClearScience Newton's Blog. Cute, eh?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Quote of the Day

Doug Saunders, writing a column for The Globe and Mail (Toronto), about the urban unrest we see happening around the world. He reaches an unexpected conclusion:
Most of the stories of regime change for the rest of this century will begin with municipal politics.
Read his column to see the reasons Saunders believes this is so. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Another Analyst Agrees

Harry J. Enten writes politics and polling for The Guardian papers of the U.K. In this column he does his own analysis of why the GOP has a very good chance of retaking the U.S. Senate in 2014.

Enten emphasizes a different set of variables in his analysis, variables less susceptible to short-term fluctuation. In particular, that the Senate consists of two senators per state, regardless of population.

Conservative low population rural states have the same senate representation as liberal high population urban states. In Wyoming, we are particularly pleased with this arrangement.

Lots of analysts see 2014 as a good year for GOP Senate candidates, for the reasons identified here and others as well. All that remains is for the GOP to nominate candidates who can avoid saying stupid things.

Political Humor Alert

Mark Steyn, writing for the Orange County Register, about the dire straits of Detroit:
As one droll Tweeter put it, "If Obama had a city, it would look like Detroit."
That is funny but harsh. Chicago isn't as far gone as Detroit ... yet.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Quote of the Day

William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, writing about attitudes toward House Republicans:
Establishment types think the backbenchers are Neanderthals, grassroots activists denounce the leadership as a bunch of squishes, and the media can’t find enough bad things to say about all of them.
In spite of all this, Kristol thinks they aren't doing badly.

Making Mary Poppins Into a Movie

Disney Studios are doing a film about Walt Disney convincing author P. L. Travers to let him make her beloved book Mary Poppins into a film. Apparently selling her on the project was no small accomplishment.

The new movie is titled Saving Mr. Banks. Starring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P. L. Travers, it is promised for release at Christmas this year.

If you didn't guess, I like the Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke film. See the article at PJ Media Lifestyle for more details and a trailer. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Maybe Watergate 2.0

Most federal employees are career civil servants who continue to work for their agency no matter who is in the White House. Then there are the elite political appointees, who serve at the pleasure of the President and can be replaced at will.

Which category of employees do you suppose are more responsive to White House wishes? If you chose "political appointees" you chose wisely.

Testimony before the House committee investigating politically motivated misdeeds at the Cincinnati IRS office, aimed at withholding tax-free status from tea party organizations, has become interesting.

Peggy Noonan reports in The Wall Street Journal that IRS career employees have testified their harassment of tea party groups was directed from the office of the IRS chief counsel in D.C. And Noonan further reports that the IRS chief counsel is one of only two persons in the entire agency who is a political appointee, the other being the director.

You remember the rule we learned in Watergate: the cover-up is always more evil than the deed itself. If the committee can get the IRS chief counsel to pin responsibility for the political harassment on someone in the White House or the Committee to Reelect, this may yet turn into another Watergate. There a cascade of cover-up eventually caused the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.

One can hope for a replay.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Syria Part of a Pattern

David Ignatius is a Washington Post foreign affairs columnist who has favored U.S. involvement in Syria on the side of the anti-Assad rebels. Unlike many analysts, he professes to see a substantial anti-jihadist, anti-al Qaeda rebel faction we should aid.

Ignatius alleges that the U.S. has a long history of encouraging rebellions with words but not with actual help. He writes:
The story that's playing out now in Syria is so familiar that it's almost a leitmotif of American foreign policy. Washington wants to see a change of government so it encourages local rebels to rise up. Once these rebels are on the barricades, policymakers often get cold feet, realizing that they lack public support. This process happened in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the Bay of Pigs in 1961, the Prague Spring of 1968, the contras program in Nicaragua in 1984. It happened in Lebanon, Laos, southern Iraq ... make your own list.
The only one with which I'd quarrel is the contras; they did get substantial, continuing military aid from the U.S.

It is odd how often our foreign policy establishment takes positions unsupported by public opinion. Perhaps they should (a) be more circumspect or (b) do a better job of building support at home for the risks they wish to take abroad.

Quote of the Day

Sean Trende, writing for University of Virginia's Center for Politics' Sabato's Crystal Ball, about the movement of whites to the Republican Party. See his conclusion:
The Democrats are reaping the benefits of our increased diversity. But they’re paying it back with an increasingly poor showing among whites.
Whites will be the majority for some decades to come.

Huckabee in 2016

Scott Conroy has written a RealClearPolitics article about Mike Huckabee's chances at the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. Conroy concludes that Huckabee is well thought-of among Republicans, particularly among evangelicals, but doesn't like to raise money, a requirement for a presidential run.

I remember thinking, when he was running in 2008, that Mike Huckabee is the best natural campaigner in the GOP. He is simply very good at reaching out to people, at being seen as warm and genuine.

Huckabee's identification with the evangelical wing of the party makes it difficult for him to take moderate stands on social issues.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

An Argument for Non-Intervention

I just read a CNN World article with the title "The Perils of Non-Intervention in Syria" by Will Marshall. He describes conditions in Syria accurately enough and draws the conclusion that the U.S. absolutely must become involved.

He describes two of the U.S.'s opponents - the Shia world led by Iran and the Sunni jihadis - killing each other in wholesale quantities. What he fails to mention is that they aren't killing us.

I agree with Marshall's description of conditions and conclude contrary-wise that we absolutely must not become involved. You know the old adage about "why don't you and him fight?"

That's what is happening in Syria. Two groups that hate the U.S. are beating each other to a pulp, what could be more ideal?

We need to stand back and ask them softly to stop the awful fighting. It will have absolutely no effect whatsoever, but it puts us on the side of peace.

Too Beautiful?

Have some fun with this New York Times article about a dental assistant who was fired because she was too beautiful. At least the dentist (and his wife) thought she was beautiful and too great a risk to their marriage.

While the article's author, a professor of sociology, blames men, I'm not certain the real villain here wasn't the dentist's wife. She's probably a better judge of her husband's sexual proclivities than a panel of judges and it appears the judges agreed with that view.

Meeeeeooow

Mostly I don't provide links to Maureen Dowd's columns for The New York Times, which feature leftwing snark. However, today she is beating up on the French, and that's always fun. For example, Dowd observes:
France’s first unmarried first lady, ValĂ©rie Trierweiler, is conducting a global charm offensive in an effort to escape her nickname, “The Rottweiler.”

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Quote of the Day

Nate Silver, ace New York Times statistician, blogs about the 2014 Senate race:
Our best guess, after assigning probabilities of the likelihood of a G.O.P. pickup in each state, is that Republicans will end up with somewhere between 50 and 51 Senate seats after 2014, putting them right on the threshold of a majority.
Silver is no conservative, so he reaches that conclusion reluctantly. I hope we can do a little better.

No WalMart for DC

There's no way around it, WalMart has some of the lowest prices anywhere. Yet DC has enacted a special rule forcing them to pay a more-than-minimum wage in the District. So ... WalMart decided to not go forward with planned stores in poor parts of DC.

Who gets hurt? DC's poor residents, that's who. More affluent folks hop in their cars, drive a few miles, and pay Sam W's low prices. The poor who rely on public transport find it too hard and get stuck with higher prices, how is that fair?

So Wallyworld "sales associates" don't get paid a "living wage." Stocking shelves isn't a career, it's a tide-you-over job - what you do until things get better or what you do if you need to work part- time.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Travel Blogging

The DrsC are in Meeker, Colorado, a tiny town in a sparsely populalted part of the state, here for my cousin Bill's birthday party which was Saturday. Must have been nearly 100 people there, from toddlers to the nearly elderly.

We're staying in the Blue Spruce motel which does breakfast with your room. They have a piece of technology I've never seen before - a pancake machine.

It resembles a tortilla maker and makes good hotcakes. You push a button and in less than a minutes it rolls out a short stack - 2 pancakes, one at a time. I've seen many waffle machines, much less automatic than this, but this is my first pancake machine.

Another unique-to-me technology at this out-of-the-way motel is card door keys which do not get inserted into a slot. You wave the card in front of the the lock and  the lock flashes a green light saying, "I'm unlocked."

Friday, July 12, 2013

Missing White Voters

Sean Trende, data cruncher par excellence for RealClearPolitics, has a column in which he defends his notion that roughly 6 million downscale white voters sat out the 2012 presidential election. These are voters we would expect to vote GOP.

Trende identifies these as the so-called "Reagan Democrats," blue-collar whites who are turned off by the Democrats' thralldom to various "victim" groups. I suppose he is generally correct, but I'm an empiricist.

I'd like to see the Republican Party do a number of focus groups among downscale whites who didn't vote in 2012 to learn why they stayed home.

Maybe Trende has the correct answer - neither Romney nor Obama was simpatico to these voters - maybe he doesn't. I'd be more comfortable with actual data upon which to base policy decisions.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wrong-Headed

The Snowden controversy has apparently caused Russia's equivalent of our Secret Service to place orders for special typewriters to use in lieu of computers. This news comes from an article at the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website.

I understand the desire to move away from insecure online connections but that is no reason to dump computers. A computer plus printer, disconnected from the Internet, is an enormous improvement over a typewriter. Unlike many younger users, I've generated hundreds of thousands of words on both systems so I have personal knowledge.

Williams Gets It Right

Juan Williams is a liberal black columnist for Fox News who tries not to be radical and generally succeeds. I don't often find myself agreeing with him, but here is a clear exception.

Williams has written an appraisal of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial that I find does a balanced job of seeing how sad this whole thing is for everybody concerned ... actually for our whole society.

Williams pinpoints the mainstream media's faulty insistence on making this a black-white racial tragedy. They entirely overlooked that Zimmerman is a Hispanic who could himself have faced discrimination.

Nobody comes out of this situation looking good: not the press, not the legal system, not Mr. Zimmerman, not Rachel Jeantel. I fear it will degenerate into another O.J. Simpson trial where virtually every white person has one view of guilt and virtually every black person violently disagrees with that view.

It's an example of the old adage sometimes attributed to Nelson Mandela, "Where you stand depends on where you sit" - an elegant way to describe acting from self-interest. One can easily imagine Mandela saying this in his classic, gentle irony.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Unemployment ... a Primer

Nicholas Eberstadt is an economist for the American Enterprise Institute. He has written for RealClearMarkets a quite good description of our actual unemployment problem, a problem which is much greater than the 7.6% figure now quoted. He finds
Over 11 out of every 100 men of prime working age are completely out of the labor force today-one in nine, fully four times the fraction back in the early postwar era. 
Eberstadt's conclusion is sobering:
There has been a major behavioral change in America, wherein a growing proportion of working-age Americans are checking out of paid labor altogether. Suffice it to say that not working at all is neither unthinkable nor unaffordable these days, even for adults in the prime of life. 
I wonder how many of those not working are in prison? A contributor to the increase is the three strikes rule - imprisoning for life repeat offenders. Another factor is the great increase in Social Security disability recipients.

Whistleblower or Traitor?

Various sources are mulling over the question "Is Edward Snowden a Whistleblower or a Traitor?" For what it's worth, here is my opinion.

A traitor is someone who takes secret information and gives it covertly to his nation's enemies. A whistleblower is someone who takes embarrassing information and makes it public. Ergo, Snowden is a whistleblower.

Can a whistleblower damage the national security? Certainly he or she can. The intent is nevertheless different; by making information public the whistleblower hopes to create enough embarrassment to bring about change in his own government's behavior.

Will Snowden succeed in bringing about change? Doubtful. The American public doesn't seem all that put off by what they learned from him about the NSA. I'd guess some of us will be more careful about what thoughts we entrust to electronic media.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A New Normal for Europe

Jan Techau, director of the European Carnegie Center, writes about a new normality emerging for Europe. His article is reprinted at the RealClearWorld website. For readers who have warm feelings for the collective old countries, I recommend his article. Here is a choice morsel:
The new normal also means that the presence of Europe's great external postwar balancer, the United States, will be less strongly felt in Europe's politics. But Europeans still yearn for the great subsidizer. (snip) They all hope in vain. Because Europe's new state of affairs also means that European countries will have to become normal nations in foreign policy. After two generations of lavish subsidies, they will finally be forced to foot a larger part of the bill. This will likely be the most painful element of the new normal. 
Imagine ... a European country with an actual military and navy ... expensive but it may help with the perennially high unemployment. Those "lavish subsidies" came courtesy of American taxpayers.

Frightening Thought

Richard Gwyn, writing for The Star (Toronto), about the extent to which the popular street-mob-based uprisings in places around the world are fueled by the Internet and social media:
We once thought, as the savant Francis Fukuyama pronounced when the Cold War ended, that we had arrived at the end of history. What we may have arrived at is the start of endless revolution.
Gwyn has a gruesome thought, see the column for his reasoning. Will the trigger in the U.S. be a Zimmerman acquittal?

Quote of the Day

John Bolton, former U.N. ambassador, writing for the Ottawa Citizen about U.S. policy vis-a-vis Egypt:
The lesson for America is to give priority to its national interests, not abstract democratic theory.
Had we done so, Mubarak might still be in power.

CA Current Status

Thomas Del Beccaro, former Chairman of the California Republican Party, describing the current status of his state for Forbes:
California has the highest income taxes in the country, the highest gas taxes, the most regulations of any state and – surprise – the fourth-highest unemployment rate (which, as every serious person knows, is understated). The latter is a real feat when you consider California’s natural resources – including oil reserves which could easily be a big part of the answer to many of California’s economic and budget problem (sic). 
NIMBY ... precious CA environmentalists don't like those ugly, icky oil derricks and pumps. They'd rather oil was produced somewhere far away; North Dakota sounds about right.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Puzzle Solved

A National Geographic article says that private gun ownership is banned in China, except in this village. Actually, if you read the fine print, it says ethnic minorities get cut slack. This village is home to Miao tribespeople.

That explains how I saw a civilian walking along a paddy dike near Guilin carrying a rifle (or perhaps shotgun). I had thought, as the article says, that Chinese civilians couldn't own firearms. This would have particularly been true in 1986 when I made the sighting.

However the Guilin area is home to a substantial number of Miao, according to Wikipedia, and I suppose I saw one of them. That sighting has puzzled me for over two decades.

A Vote Against Dynasties

Liz Cheney, daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney and Fox News commentator, has let it be known she is considering a primary challenge against Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) in 2014. See this article on Breitbart Big Government for more detail.

One of my favorite bloggers, John Hinderaker of Power Line, has written opposing her running against a solid member of her own party; I agree with John. I like Liz Cheney, I also like Mike Enzi. However, as John says, a battle between the two is fratricidal and serves little purpose.

Wyoming sends a solidly conservative delegation to Congress. I believe the only real argument for Liz Cheney is that, as a member of a celebrity family, she can get invited to present her views on TV more often than Mike Enzi. On the other hand, Enzi has seniority in a body where seniority really counts.

Anyway, I believe I grow tired of dynastic families in politics.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Reviews of America 3.0

Michael Barone does a summary review of America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century - Why America's Greatest Days Are Yet to Come by James Bennett and Michael Lotus. He likes most of what he sees, the review is for RealClearPolitics.

Another columnist I like, Glenn Harlan Reynolds (aka Instapundit) does a similarly positive write-up of the book for USA Today. I think what appeals to both reviewers is that the book is positive in its outlook, not doom and gloom.

Authors Bennett and Lotus are both active in the Anglosphere movement, people who see the English-speaking nations taking the world lead in the 21st century. That viewpoint is clearly part of why they believe "America's Greatest Days Are Yet to Come."

On the other hand, this review of America 3.0 by "Hamilton" for Breitbart Big Peace is quite negative, and he (or she?) makes good points too. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Jobs Numbers Dismal

Breitbart Big Government reports that, according to the most recent release of the Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 47% of American adults have full-time jobs. That is p*** poor.

Yes, many of us are retired, and some indeterminate number more are willing stay-at-home parents. However, 8 million are working part-time while wishing to work full-time. Millions more are unemployed, often for long periods, and still looking for work.

A discouraging number have dropped out of the workforce and no longer seek work. Many of these have found other ways to live - disability, food stamps, WIC, the underground economy, crime, etc. Many of the young live with parents or other relatives.

An economy in which less than half of us must support all of us isn't adequate. There is no way the government can relax and say, as it seems to have done, "Everything is fine, problem solved."

It is not fine, Washington, the problem is not solved.

A Pinochet Needed

The Wall Street Journal has an editorial about Egypt which reaches an interesting and controversial conclusion:
Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile's Augusto Pinochet, who took power amid chaos but hired free-market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy.
The author, probably Paul Gigot who edits the Op-Ed pages, takes a risk. Saying positive things about General Pinochet is so very not politically correct in the mainstream media.

Friday, July 5, 2013

First Step to Divorce

The British House of Commons voted unanimously 304 to zero to hold a referendum on continued membership in the European Union. Many Labor and Liberal Democrat MPs chose to be absent and thus not voting.

See the Daily Express website for article details. However:
The Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders believe their (sic) is virtually no chance of the the (sic) bill becoming law. 
Two errors in one sentence? Proofreading seems not to be important at the Express.

Egypt, Again

About Egypt ... the MSM is full of how what just happened in Egypt was a military coup, and is therefore bad. It seems to me that ignores the hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating in the streets for an outcome like what happened.

If the military moves toward elections and a return to civilian government, I think the U.S. should keep its hands off. Egypt needs two things: a government that protects the rights of all Egyptians, and one that works to restore Egypt's economy (hint ... tourism). Tourism needs calm, needs order, needs what Mubarak, for all his faults, was able to deliver - safety.

Fireworks, Etc.

I saw polling results yesterday which found that Republicans are more patriotic than Democrats. I don't have the citation readily at hand. Those findings don't surprise me; I doubt they surprise many members of either party.

The other DrC and I viewed fireworks locally last night. We didn't make the usual "pilgrimage" to Idaho Falls to see the Melaleuca fireworks this year; getting home at perhaps 1 a.m. felt like too much of a chore.

You may find pix of the fireworks on her blog at cruztalkingtwo.blogspot.com, I know she took some. There are also photos of the latest wildflowers in our yard - perhaps harebells.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Quote of the Day

Tahseen Bashir speaking about the Middle East, as quoted by Karl Vick in Time:
Egypt is the only nation-state in the Arab world. The rest are just tribes with flags.
That feels like the truth.

U.S. - Philippine Naval Cooperation

On June 28 we wrote about naval tensions between the Philippines and China. We pointed out the implications for U.S. involvement this entailed.

Now an article in Canada's National Post describes how, 21 years after the U.S. was asked to leave its bases in the Philippines, they are likely to be invited back to those selfsame bases as very welcome regular "visitors." China will not miss the clear implication of such friendly "visits."

Declaring Independence

Ron Brownstein covers politics for National Journal. In honor of the nation's birthday coming up tomorrow, he writes of the nation's divisions, what he calls our "polarization, separation, and confrontation."

Brownstein summarizes our divisions on several key issues, and wraps up with a rather gloomy conclusion:
This week we celebrate the moment when the authors of the Declaration of Independence concluded they had no choice but "to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another." It's an excellent opportunity to consider how ominously our own "political bands" are fraying.
Does Brownstein suggest there could be another declaration of independence, separating blue and red states? Over just such a declaration we fought the Civil War; the bloodiest war we've ever fought, brother against brother.

Political Humor Alert

The always humorous and often accurate-as-well Ann Coulter cracking wise for Town Hall about immigration:
How did it become an urgent priority for Republicans to bring in 30 million new voters, 80 percent of whom will vote Democratic?

Democrats want 30 million new voters and they will say anything to get there.
The rest of her column is a hoot, too.

Egypt Anew

Reuters reports the Egyptian Army has deposed President Morsi, who represented the Muslim Brotherhood. The article runs on Yahoo News.

Morsi is to be replaced with an interim government responsive to a broad spectrum of Egyptian interests and, one presumes, more focused on improving the Egyptian economy.

The most interesting paragraph in the article is this apparent aside concerning Tunisia:
The country that gave birth to the demands for democracy two and a half years ago now has its own "Tamarud" movement, seeking to end the rule of Tunisia's Islamists in parliament.
If what is happening in Egypt spreads throughout the Arab world, the result will be anybody's guess.

Down-Home Humor

Jay Nordlinger, a columnist for National Review Online, quotes a letter he received from a reader. I liked it so much I had to share it with you.
One of the funniest lines I’ve heard about the Paula Deen story came from a guy on the radio in Indianapolis. He said he had to do some research to find out who Paula Deen was, because he doesn’t watch cooking shows for the same reason he doesn’t watch porn: Every time he tried it at home, it didn’t work out very well.
Doesn't that sound like Indiana to you? It sure does to me.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Son of Burger Madness

Shortly after arriving in Western Wyoming for the summer, we learned the folks who formerly owned/ran The Cadillac and Billy's restaurants (both now defunct), had opened new premises called The Lift. We hoped they would do this.

Through entirely painless trial and error we discovered how to order what amounts to a Billy burger at The Lift. Order a Lift burger and make a point of asking for it medium-rare. The fries are the same, the meat's the same, and (trumpet flourish) ... TA DAH ... the meat is cooked on Billy's old grill.

The Billy's people own the grill - a workhorse old monster that was completely seasoned decades ago - so they installed it in the new kitchen. Herds of cattle have been fried on that old rascal over the years.

In sum, the Billy burger lives on at the south end of Cache Street, and there is parking. The Lift is likely to appeal to locals more than tourists as it is several blocks off the US 89 beaten track.

How Egypt Fell Apart, Again

See this article from a Canadian paper, The Globe and Mail, to read a very clear description of how Egypt has arrived at a place where its new Muslim Brotherhood-run government is threatened with revolution anew.

Many in this poor country recognize that acting in ways that drive away foreign tourist income makes no sense. That, and the Suez Canal are essentially Egypt's only sources of foreign exchange, with which to import much of its food.

Also, like Turkey, this largest of Arab countries has a substantial minority, or perhaps a majority, who favor a secular state. Add to that Egypt's indigenous Christians, the Copts, and the numbers become substantial.

Trende on Polarization

RealClearPolitics' Sean Trende writes something smart about political polarization in the U.S. See what he believes:
We have an ideologically polarized House and Senate because our country has become politically more polarized. The Grand Ideological Realignment that began in 1932, where we began substituting ideological parties for the old ethnic/sectional parties, has mostly worked its way out. Today, conservatives by and large vote for Republicans, and liberals by and large vote for Democrats.
It is perhaps difficult for younger readers to remember that this was not always the case. Here are two vivid examples. Until the mid-1960s, Southern Democrats were in fact conservatives in every sense of the word. And Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the very liberal "Warren Court" was a former Republican governor of California, appointed to the court by Republican President Eisenhower.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Noonan on Immigration

In today's The Wall Street Journal column Peggy Noonan tells the truth about immigration, and why we cannot solve it:
The American president has the power to control America’s borders if he wants to, but George W. Bush and Barack Obama did not and do not want to, and for the same reason, and we all know what it is. The fastest-growing demographic in America is the Hispanic vote, and if either party cracks down on illegal immigration, it risks losing that vote for generations.

But while the Democrats worry about the prospects of the Democrats and the Republicans about the well-being of the Republicans, who worries about America?

No one. Which the American people have noticed, and which adds to the dangerous alienation—actually it’s at the heart of the alienation—of the age.
She concludes:
If our leaders were farsighted not only for themselves but for the country, they would fix the border.
The balance of her column is worth your time.

Poll Shows Latinos Dislike GOP

Business Insider runs an Associated Press article summarizing the results of a poll of Latinos' political likes/dislikes. The headline of the summary article pretty much says it all: "New Poll Shows That Republicans Are Totally Screwed With Latinos."

Check out the data for yourself. My conclusion: there isn't much the GOP can do to win over Latinos, that train has left the station. Logically, the House kills the Senate's comprehensive immigration "reform" bill.

Obama Admits (?) Spying on Allies

President Obama admits spying on allies, see this CBS News piece for details. This forces our EU allies to act offended, as though we've done something odd. Spying on allies is common; what is uncommon is admitting one engages in the practice.

It is like announcing at a dinner party that you belch or ______(fill in one of the less attractive things done in conjunction with a toilet). Everyone knows it is done, yet many are offended by your rudeness, your failure to realize it is not spoken about.