Sunday, August 31, 2014

Real Per Capita Income by State

John Hinderaker of Power Line posts the real per capita income for the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as calculated by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Real per capita income is the total real personal income for that jurisdiction divided by its midyear 2012 population.

Any guesses which unit has the highest real per capita income? How about the District of Columbia? No? Well, you're wrong if you thought not. D.C.'s real per capita income is $59,759. Second comes the oil boom state of North Dakota with $57,367, third is NYC bedroom community Connecticut with $51,559. No other unit has a real per capita income greater than $50,000.

Believe it or not, fourth is our home state Wyoming with $49,587, just nosing out Massachusetts with $49,354 in fifth place. All of the numbers shown in Hinderaker's post are means (averages) and as such greatly affected by income inequalities. As he notes:
If we saw the same data using medians instead of averages, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Nebraska, etc. would look even better. The average person is remarkably better off in those states.
A median is that value above which 50% of people earn, and below which the other 50% earn; it is what Mr./Ms. Average earns.

Meanwhile, more than half the states have greater real per capita income than California, at $38,888. Remember, we divide total income by population. Having 1/3 of the nation's welfare caseload, plus a horde of illegal immigrants, pulls down CA's average as it increases the divisor.

Most Jews Won't Vote GOP

Zev Chafets writes for Fox News about the recurring hope that American Jews will finally vote for the GOP. Chafets calls this hope "sheer fantasy."
Jews are not simply supporters of the Democratic Party; they are at the heart of everything from union leadership to campaign funding, think-tank policymaking to grass roots organizing.

Three of the four liberal justices on the Supreme Court are Jews. There are 10 Jewish U.S. senators and more than 20 Jewish members of the House. In contrast, after the departure of Majority Leader Eric Cantor, there isn't a single Jewish Republican in Congress.

The great majority of American Jewish Democrats see their party and its agenda as their secular religion. Reform Judaism, America’s largest Jewish denomination, is sometimes jokingly called “the Democratic Party with holidays.” A lot of Jews would sooner convert to Shia Islam than leave the party of their forefathers.
I'm sorry to report those views agree with what my Jewish friends tell me, as noted here before. Obama would have to arm Hamas to get Jewish votes for the GOP, and even that might not work.

Hating One's Country

We tend to believe our political Left hating the U.S. is a peculiarly American shortcoming. While I'm sorry our British cousins are similarly afflicted, it is something of a relief to read a Telegraph (U.K.) story which complains about their Left hating Britain. Hat tip to for the link.

Does this whole Left-hate-your-country thing date back to pre-WW II Reds seeking an end to nation states via the Communist Internationale? Is it the result of the Left's perpetual dissatisfaction with the status quo, wherever it is found? Or is it often, as I suspect, displaced self-loathing?

Whatever the cause or origin, it is extremely tiresome, as are its practitioners. I remember first becoming aware of it during the Vietnam War protests. That war ended in 1973, 41 years ago, but the Left hating the U.S. goes on forever, almost as strong today as it was then.

Country hate does tend to explain the Left's infatuation with radical Islam. Both despise the Great Satan (U.S.) and the enemy-of-my-enemy phenomenon can paper over many differences.

Cruz Quotes LeMay

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) shared with a gathering of conservatives his answer to the ISIS problem, according to a Fox News story (with video) on his speech:
They want to go back and reject modernity. Well, I think we should help them. We ought to bomb them back to the Stone Age.
As COTTonLINE readers know, the "bomb them back to the Stone Age" line is usually attributed to Air Force General Curtis LeMay, who headed the Strategic Air Command (SAC) during the early Cold War. I daresay LeMay would have approved Ted C. borrowing it in the ISIS context.

Norwegian Offers for Oceania, Regent Seven Seas

Interesting news, fellow frequent cruisers, Norwegian Cruise Lines is in talks to purchase Prestige Cruises International, operator of premium ships cruising under the Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises marques. As a Reuters article for CNBC reports,
An agreement may be announced as early as this week, the sources said on Sunday, cautioning that the talks could still fall apart. The owner of Prestige Cruises, private equity firm Apollo Global Management, also owns a 20 percent stake in Norwegian Cruise.
Norwegian is often unfairly denigrated as a low-end cruise line charging extra for almost everything beyond your cabin, basic food and entertainment.  In reality, Norwegian has pioneered a number of innovations later adopted elsewhere in the industry. If the deal goes through, it will give Norwegian a foothold in the high-end, premium price (everything included) market.

Full disclosure: while Apollo Global Management (U.S.) owns 20% of Norwegian, the largest owners are from Malaysia and also own Star Cruises. The management team is largely American. Exceptions: the boss Captain appears to be, in fact, a Norwegian who lives in Florida; the overseer of new construction is a Swede who lives in Germany where Norwegian's ships are built.

Two Systems a Sham

Reuters reports for Yahoo News that pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have demonstrated, and plan to do so again, against a ruling by the National Peoples Congress in Beijing. The ruling limits candidates for the city's chief executive to a group of two or three picked by a nominating committee stacked with "Beijing loyalists."

It has been suggested a Taiwan reunification with China follow the Hong Kong "one country, two systems" model. You can be certain that these protests are being closely watched in Taiwan, where people have been quite skeptical of the "two systems" claim.

Noonan Visits the Tetons

Peggy Noonan, former Reagan speech writer and columnist extraordinaire for The Wall Street Journal, was invited to visit Jackson Hole by wealthy friends who own a ranch in the valley. Her column from The Patriot Post chronicles the visit of the Tenderfoot (Noonan) to God's Country.

She writes about how she's a city gal, used to crowding and noise, getting accustomed to emptiness, solitude and quiet. And, no, Peggy, we aren't lonely here. Not nearly so lonely as we would be in Manhattan or San Francisco. Perhaps she noticed how clean our air is. It is no accident the Fed comes back here every August.

Wyoming's a place where the vagaries of wind, water and weather can change your plans in an heartbeat. Returning from taking guests to their plane in Jackson (perhaps the nation's most picturesque airport), we discovered the road we'd earlier traversed along the Snake River canyon south of Jackson completely blocked by a mudslide. We had to return to Jackson and detour through Idaho to get home, hours later than planned.

I hope Noonan's hosts took her for a Billy burger at The Lift, a restaurant maybe 150 yards from the Snow King ski lift in Jackson. Served in a metal pie tin, with crisscut fries, Billy burgers are justly legendary, a once-upon-a-time favorite of Bill Clinton and of Dick Cheney's Secret Service detail.

That was in the day when Billy's was a hole-in-the-wall diner located on Jackson's town square, an offshoot of the former Cadillac Bar & Grill. The Cadillac's one-time owners now own The Lift, much grander but in summer an off-the-beaten-path location with actual parking.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Arctic Ice Cap Doubles in 2 Years

The U.K.'s Daily Mail reports the arctic ice cap is twice the size it was two years ago. They have satellite photos which compare August 25 of 2012 and 2014, go see for yourself. They write:
The most widely used measurements of Arctic ice extent are the daily satellite readings issued by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, which is co-funded by Nasa (sic). These reveal that – while the long-term trend still shows a decline – last Monday, August 25, the area of the Arctic Ocean with at least 15 per cent ice cover was 5.62 million square kilometres.

This was the highest level recorded on that date since 2006 (snip), and represents an increase of 1.71 million square kilometers over the past two years – an impressive 43 per cent.
Poor Al Gore can't catch a break, can he? Another Little Ice Age anyone? Autumn is coming early in the Rockies, golden leaves started showing up a couple of days ago.

An Interesting Proposal

I began reading Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry's column for The Week with a very negative attitude, based on its title "Why the West should let Russian have eastern Ukraine." I have to admit I finished the column with a positive attitude.

Gobry makes the point that Ukraine is, like Iraq, an artificial grouping of different peoples. In Iraq the groups are the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shias. Gobry is quite correct that what held Iraq together was Sadam's terror police.

In Ukraine the groups are Ukrainian speakers and Russian speakers, who are oriented west and east respectively. And as Gobry reminds us, the eastern portion was only added to Ukraine in 1954 by its former governor Khrushchev in what was a largely symbolic move because both Russia and Ukraine were part of his Soviet Union.

Gobry suggests an interesting quid pro quo for Kyiv letting Russia have eastern Ukraine: accepting western Ukraine into NATO. That move would give Putin heartburn and make Ukrainian speakers feel more secure.

Sanctions Are A Weak Reed

Writing in Canada's National Post, Kelly McParland reacts to the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine in the following way:
President Barack Obama said Thursday Ukraine rebels are “backed, trained, armed, financed by Russia,” but ruled out sending U.S. troops to join the conflict. (snip) Mr. Obama is correct that the only plausible course is to increase the pain on Moscow to the point that Mr. Putin’s domestic position is substantially weakened.
Is Mr. Obama correct? That would be different, and rather unlikely.

Russia can sell its oil and gas to China which has little petroleum of its own, an almost unlimited appetite for energy, and billions of U.S. dollars to spend. Using oil revenue Russia can buy food on the open market from unaligned nations like Argentina, Brazil and Indonesia.

Can we make sanctions hurt much? I doubt it. Russians dream of regaining the empire known as the Soviet Union plus Warsaw Pact - everything behind the former Iron Curtain.

Putin wakes up every morning scheming on that very goal, and Russians know and love it. Can you blame them? I expect they feel, paraphrasing Budd Schulberg's words from On The Waterfront, "I was a contender, I usta be somebody instead of a bum, which is what I am."

The Wrong Rx

Writing in the Fiscal Times, Andrew L. Peek argues that Ukraine should utilize Taliban-like insurgency methods against the invading Russians. I hope you see the major fallacy in his reasoning.

The Taliban can do what they do because many, if not most, of the Afghan locals are either on their side or at least somewhat disposed to wish invading foreigners ill. In eastern Ukraine most residents are Russian-speakers who feel more Russian than Ukrainian.

As such, they don't view Russian troops as "invading foreigners" but as defenders against the Kyiv government. Not only are they unlikely to cooperate in Ukrainian IED placement but happy to rat out whatever few Kyiv-loyal neighbors they have who might aid an insurgency.

Sorry, Taliban-style insurgency won't work when the natives aren't sympathetic to your cause. This thought is not original with COTTonLINE, it's often attributed to Chairman Mao. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

White Rage?

Carol Anderson has written an op-ed column for The Washington Post in which she argues that what happened in Ferguson is the result of "white rage." That is merely the tenuous "hook" upon which she hangs a column enumerating African Americans' grievances with white America since the Civil War.

As Anderson tells it, whites have fought an unbroken string of rearguard actions resisting equal rights and decent treatment for black Americans. She believes the string remains unbroken to this very day, deep in the fifth year of a black President elected with more white votes than black.

A half-empty glass is also half-full. If you assume Anderson is correct, an assumption COTTonLINE does not share, you are apt to be as depressed and full of rage as she appears to be.

Carol Anderson is an Emory University associate professor of African American studies and history. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Study: Gunshot Injuries in Six States

RealClearPolicy number cruncher Robert VerBruggen has a short column on who gets shot in America. In it he summarizes the findings of a study of 6 states done by Howell, Bieler, and Anderson for the Urban Institute. After reprinting Table 2 from the study showing "Rate of Male Firearm Assault Injury Hospital Use per 100,000," VerBruggen writes:
These numbers (snip) go a long way toward explaining why we talk about black-on-black crime a lot more than we talk about white-on-white crime, even though most crime for both groups is intraracial.
"Intraracial" means between members of the same race or group. The Urban Institute has traditionally concerned itself with the plight of the urban black poor; it must be very concerned by the study's findings.

As an example, from the table referenced above, in the most populous state California, the gunshot injury rate for young white males is 40.3 (per 100,000). The rates for young Hispanic males (173.3) and young black males (683.2) in CA are between four and 17 times greater. Shootings among young black males are also disproportional (much higher) in the other five states surveyed: AZ, MD, NJ, NC, and WI.

In Defense of Tan

As regular COTTonLINE readers know, we rarely come to the defense of President Obama. However, today is one of those rare events.

A number of sources, including Esquire, have beaten up Obama for the tan suit he wore to a press conference a day or two ago. There has been considerable piling-on.

Nobody accuses DrC of being a fashion plate, but I tend to know what looks "together" and what does not. I thought his tan suit looked entirely appropriate for summer wear, and he wore it well.

Admittedly, the world condition is grave. Must our president therefore always dress like a mortician?

The real fashion gaffe is V. Putin going shirtless at photo ops. That truly lacks class.

Guam in the News

Periodically, COTTonLINE notes happenings on the U.S. island of Guam. It's the southernmost island in the Marianas and the only island in that chain not a part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. The DrsC spent a fascinating year on Guam in the mid-1980s.

What caught our eye is Power Line's Paul Mirengoff posting about the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit meeting in Guam yesterday for the first time since 2002. The case, Davis v. Guam, concerns whether a racial requirement for voting on a plebiscite is lawful.
Mr. Davis, a resident of Guam, attempted to register to vote in a plebiscite on Guam’s relationship to the United States. He was denied permission to register because he could not trace his ancestry to a native inhabitant of Guam.

Guam law allows only those with correct ancestry to vote in the future status plebiscite. Guam has effectively conditioned the right to vote in its plebiscite on race.

Guam tried to defend its race-based voting requirement on the theory that Guam represents a special case because its native population was never polled as to whether it wanted to become part of the United States.
One hopes the court sides with Davis. As an "unsinkable aircraft carrier" and naval base in the western Pacific, Guam is too valuable to the U.S. military to be permitted independence.

Ever since we lived on-island 30 years ago there has been something of a "Brown Power" movement on Guam. Its adherents would love to be a quasi-independent "nation" like Palau or FSM, out from under U.S. anti-corruption laws and FBI enforcement.

Friday, August 29, 2014


A lady who likes to shoot and goes by the pen name Ammo Grrrll, does a human interest column for Power Line. In her latest column, she writes about the 50th reunion of her high school class. She reports a possible reunion conversation starter, and her reaction to it:
“Should they change the name of the Golf Channel to The Cialis Channel based on the number of commercials for it?” What’s up with that, so to speak?
Cute wordplay, without being gross.

Asking the Wrong Question

The Washington Examiner reports 53% of poll respondents think the U.S. Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder is motivated "primarily by political interests." Only 38% hold a favorable opinion.

Really? Motivated by politics? I believe DOJ appears to be motivated primarily by anti-white racial animus. Such animus is attractive to some Democrat voters, but certainly not to all.

No Wonder They Don't Work

The U.K.'s Daily Mail reports being on U.S. federal assistance can pay much better than an entry level job. Hat tip to for the link.

My first question: Why do we have to read this in a British paper? Shouldn't the U.S. media report this ridiculous state of affairs? The Mail writes:
A third of Americans are now on welfare benefits. (snip) New census data has revealed that around 110 million Americans are receiving government assistance of some kind.

The number includes people receiving 'means-tested' federal benefits and subsidies based on (low) income. Those receiving food stamps, subsidised (Brit. spelling) housing and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families are also included in the total.

Analysts have raised concerns that the programs are encouraging people to stay at home rather than work. They pointed out that when recipients combine several government assistance programs, in many cases they pay better than going to work.

Michael Tanner, from Cato Institute think tank said that in the eight most generous states, the benefits are comparable to a $20 minimum wage. This would exceed the $7.25 minimum wage in most states.
My next question, why are we so darn generous? Giving people more than the bare minimum necessary to keep body and soul together is a foolproof way to destroy them.

Total welfare from all sources should never exceed the take-home from a 40 hour minimum wage paycheck. That is $290 a week minus deductions for Social Security, etc.; a net of around $250/week. At that level the unemployed have plenty of incentive to find and keep a job.

"Fired" Twice by Husband

National Review quotes Senator Rand Paul saying about Hillary Clinton:
I think if Hillary Clinton had worked for Bill Clinton she’d have probably been fired.
My first thought: Senator Paul doesn't know political history. Hillary did work for Bill, early in term one, heading a health care task force which was disbanded by him without completing its work - so she was fired from a consequential job and relegated to the ceremonial First Lady role.

My second thought: Bill being serially unfaithful to his wife with Monica and a string of other women is tantamount to firing her, yet again.

Foreign Policy 101

COTTonLINE believes Dr. Henry Kissinger was, in his heyday, the premier U.S. foreign policy thinker, if not the world's. At 91 he remains a powerful intellect.

The Wall Street Journal has an excerpt adapted from his forthcoming book World Order, out September 9. In it Kissinger suggests the U.S. needs to determine its answers to several key foreign policy questions:
What do we seek to prevent, no matter how it happens, and if necessary alone?
What do we seek to achieve, even if not supported by any multilateral effort?
What do we seek to achieve, or prevent, only if supported by an alliance?
What should we not engage in, even if urged on by a multilateral group or an alliance?
What is the nature of the values that we seek to advance?
And how much does the application of these values depend on circumstance?
In other words, Dr. K believes we need an actual foreign policy, not an ad hoc, figure-it-out-as-we-go-along semi-random set of stumbling steps. He has always tried to go beyond the exigencies of the day to see the underlying framework.

Unfortunately, there is not agreement on the above questions among the current and likely future leaders of our two major parties, and their differences are not especially partisan. For example, you can be sure Mitt Romney and Rand Paul do not agree on the answers to those questions. Nor, for that matter, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Quote of the Day

Peter Sutherland writes for Project Syndicate about the likelihood of the U.K. staying in the EU.
One thing, however, seems certain: If Scotland votes for independence in September, a referendum within the rump UK on continued EU membership would be even less likely to produce a victory for those who wish to remain.
This is because the Scots are substantially pro-EU while the Brits are not.

Forbes: There Are No Poor Americans

Forbes reports using income levels is a misleading way of measuring poverty, the appropriate standards measure consumption levels - how much people have and consume:
By those same World Banks standards the definition of globally middle class is a consumption possibility of $2 to $50 a day. (snip) Even those reporting no income at all in the US have consumption possibilities roughly equal to those reporting incomes of $20 a day. And to repeat, yes, this is adjusting for the different value of money in different places and countries.

Thus we can say that by global standards there are no poor people in the US at all: the entire country is at least middle class or better. We seem to have fought and won that War on Poverty.
The U.S. poor tend to have color TV and cars - old ones to be sure. There is little actual hunger in the U.S. except among supermodels. If anything, our poor tend to be obese. Hat tip to for the link.

Gallup: President's Ratings Down

Gallup has a poll of attitudes about the Obama Presidency, dated today. More than twice as many voters strongly disapprove of Obama (39%) as approve of him (17%). Looking only at the responses of Republicans, the strong disapproves (75%) are almost seven times the strong approves (11%). No surprise in those numbers.

Among Independents, the strong disapproves (39%) are over three times the strong approves (11%). Only among Democrats does Obama do relatively well, strong approves (38%) outnumber strong disapproves (9%) four to one.

Obama's strong approves among Democrats have fallen from 57% in early 2011 to 38% today. The president has lost a third of the strong approvers within his own party.

COTTonLINE believes the other real news in this poll is that Independents, who often decide elections in this divided nation, oppose Obama by 54% to 39%. That is, by double digits. A little over two months before the election in early November, those numbers can't make Democrats happy.

GOP Problems with Unmarried Women

Politico reports on polling done by Republicans in an effort to determine the party's problems with women voters. Oversimplifying the findings slightly, what unmarried women want is a party with the Democrat's platform.

It is unclear to COTTonLINE how the GOP can adopt policies unmarried women like without becoming an inferior clone of the Democrats. How can Republicans do that without losing men voters?

True, we could talk more about equal pay for equal work. Except what women truly want is equal pay for unequal work, with allowances made for childcare responsibilities and "work-life balance." Those two things working men often forego while earning a living.

I believe the GOP must resign itself, as the "daddy party," to appealing more to men, and to married women who have a semi-realistic understanding of men's lives. As the "mommy party," Democrats will have an edge with unmarried women, unfortunately a growing portion of the demographic.

My Rx for the GOP would be twofold: (a) do an even better job of garnering the votes of men and married women - our natural constituency, and (b) when in power put in place policies that increase the advantages of being and staying married.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More American Jihadis

The Washington Times reports that a senior government official, speaking off the record, has indicated:
The U.S. government is tracking and gathering intelligence on as many as 300 Americans who are fighting side by side with the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and are poised to become a major threat to the homeland.
Earlier today we cited a CNN report that the number was near 100. The government should revoke jihadis' passports and leave them overseas; I'm certain legal authority exists to do this. Knowing they cannot return will discourage further ISIS recruiting.

Only A Third Want to Come?

The Pew Research Center did a late spring poll in Mexico to examine attitudes toward their government and toward the United States. The results were just released yesterday.

Compared with last year's numbers, this year's data shows more than a few Mexicans have soured on President Peña Nieto in the past year, particularly on his handling of the Mexican economy. Mexican attitudes toward the U.S. also show some change.
A plurality of Mexicans (44%) believe life is better north of the border for those who migrated from Mexico. And roughly a third (34%) still say they would move to the U.S. if they had the opportunity, including 17% of Mexicans who would do so without authorization. Nonetheless, the declining net rate of migration from Mexico to the U.S. is reflected in the percentage of Mexicans who report having a friend or family member living in the U.S. – 32% today, down from 42% in 2007.
Only a third would move to the U.S. if they could? I'd have guessed that over half would want to come here, at least the whole 44% who think life in the States is better for transplanted Mexicans than life at home in Mexico.

Of course the numbers were collected before California's doofus Governor Moonbeam said all Mexicans were welcome to come to CA to live. Brown must be trying to go down in history as the last Anglo governor of CA.

I Disagree

Regular COTTonLINE readers know I frequently link to thoughts by Instapundit Glenn Harlan Reynolds, as I often enjoy and endorse his viewpoints. On the other hand, his recent column for USA Today contains viewpoints with which I do not agree.

Reynolds is very concerned with the existence in police hands of equipment created for the military. I believe such vehicles are often useful in dealing with barricaded drug houses and their assault rifles only give them the same armament available to criminals.

American Jihadis

CNN reports the names of eight Americans who were trying to fight for ISIS or the al-Nusra Front in Syria. They have been arrested and held on various charges.

At least one American - Moner Abu-Salha - has done a suicide bombing there, and at least one more - Doug McCain - was killed there in fighting.
Some 100 other Americans are believed to have either fought in Syria since 2011 or been arrested before they could get there.

East or West - the Issue in Ukraine

When protestors first started gathering in the square in Kyiv (formerly Kiev), before the prior government fell, the driving issue was the degree to which Ukraine would be oriented to Europe and the West or to Russia.

The then-government preferred Russia, the protestors preferred Europe. For having this preference Russia's Putin calls them "Nazis." Echoes of the Great Patriotic War 70 years ago.

As a recent poll reported in The Washington Post makes clear, it remains the issue that divides Ukrainians; some want to orient east, others west. Some miss being part of the Soviet Union, others wish to be part of the European Union. Plus ça change plus c'est la même chose.

A Difference of Opinion

Writing in The New York Times, columnist Thomas B. Edsall tees off on what he calls "poverty capitalism" or making money from the poor. He begins by describing a program which enables criminals to stay out of jail by having them pay for the monitoring services that try to keep them out of trouble.

Edsall thinks such programs are anathema, I think they are brilliant as they cost law-abiding taxpayers nothing. If they work, if they keep criminals from repeating while enabling them to stay out of jail, then everybody wins. The company makes a living, the criminal avoids incarceration, and the taxpayer avoids paying for his or her upkeep or supervision.

Making people pay for the services that they utilize is not reprehensible: think of toll roads, taxes on vehicle fuel, and park entry, hunting license and building permit fees.


Canada taxes corporate earnings at a lower rate. As we've all heard repeatedly, Burger King plans to buy Tim Horton, a Canadian coffee-and-donut chain, with the financial assistance of Warren Buffett. They will move the combined headquarters to Canada to save millions in U.S. taxes, an action called an "inversion." See the story in Forbes, which quotes Buffett as follows:
I will not pay a dime more of individual taxes than I owe, and I won’t pay a dime more of corporate taxes than we owe. And that’s very simple.
People who should know better are claiming inversion is unpatriotic, inappropriate, and reason to boycott Burger King. See a story about this nonsense in The Federalist.

A corporate board of directors carries out its fiduciary responsibilities when it takes advantage of any lawful way to seriously reduce the corporate tax burden and return more profit to the stockholder-owners of the firm. Doing less could be grounds for a lawsuit; granted that almost anything can be grounds in our litigious society.

If the President and the Congress believe "inversion" is wrong, they are invited to change the law so such acts are no longer lawful. Such change will not happen soon.

Republicans and Democrats cannot agree on the form a remedy should take. Republicans prefer lowering our corporate tax rate so that "inversions" no longer make financial sense. Democrats prefer requiring the higher U.S. tax rate on all profits earned in the U.S. regardless of where a firm is domiciled. Isn't governmental gridlock wonderful? (I'm still in sarcasm mode.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Political Sarcasm Alert

Jennifer C. Braceras, writing snark for the Boston Herald, says Islamic terrorism encompasses both Hamas and ISIS.
Many countries are beginning to understand that [Islamic terrorism] is one front,” Netanyahu said Sunday, and that “[ISIS and Hamas] are branches of the same poisoned tree.”

The Saudis get it. The Jordanians get it. Even Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gets it. But our Golfer-in-Chief and his Secretary-of-Wind-Surfing do not.
Not Secretary-of-Swift-Boating? You could easily add Boko Haram, Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya to Netanyahu's list of poisoned branches.

If I ever meet John Kerry, it will take all my willpower to keep from asking "Why the long face, Mr. Secretary?"

The Current Status of Political Polling

Nate Silver writes for his FiveThirtyEight website about the accuracy of political polls, and the status of the polling industry. He identifies challenges, like the proliferation of cell-phone-only households and the difficulties pollsters have in ascertaining their voting preferences.

As a consumer of political polling and a political blogger, I found Silver's article interesting. Perhaps you will too. It turns out polling presidential elections are relatively easy, while primary elections of any stripe are difficult and substantially less accurate. That, and the farther "down ballot" you go the less accurate polling becomes.

The Puzzle Answered ... Maybe

We may have an answer to the mystery I posted here on Sunday, under the heading "A Puzzle." The Telegraph (U.K.) reports the warplanes attacking Tripoli, Libya. appear to have been from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. See The Washington Post's story on the source of the air attacks. Hat tip to for the links.

The Telegraph cites The New York Times as its source for reports Egyptian diplomats denied to the U.S. government any responsibility for the Libyan attacks. Do Egyptians believe they can have it both ways? They should know we have the technology to check such claims.

Denying responsibility for anything gone wrong is an integral part of Arab culture. I experienced this phenomenon repeatedly with more than a few Arab exchange students to whom the truth seemed an entirely arbitrary construct with no real world referents.

Quote of the Day

Historian Victor Davis Hanson, writing in National Review, about the current President:
Certainly, no recent president has failed on so many fronts — honesty, transparency, truthfulness, the economy, foreign policy, the duties of the commander-in-chief, executive responsibilities, and spiritual leadership.
I can't argue with any of the enumerated shortfalls. And here is a factoid I didn't know:
National Journal warned us in 2008 that Obama was the most partisan of the 100 U.S. senators.
Hanson blames the voters, not Barack Obama, for the slough of despond into which we have fallen. He argues, and I agree, that signs and portents of disaster were clear enough before November, 2008, and irrefutable in 2012.

A Non-PC View of Race in America

PJ Media's Andrew Klavan has a bitter, biting column on the central role of race hustlers and their enablers in the media in keeping black Americans off the path to success. They do so, he says out of evident self-interest.

I don't necessarily endorse his very non-PC views. Perhaps they are what you've been thinking but not saying. Hat tip to for the link.

American Dies Fighting for ISIS

An American man is reported dead in Syria, fighting for ISIS. NBC News has the story and a photo of Douglas McAuthur McCain. It's sad his parent(s) couldn't spell "MacArthur."

This 33 year old and others like him are the reason the U.S. needs to be extra-vigilant about young men with U.S. passports coming from overseas. If he hadn't been killed in Syria, he might have become a mass murderer or suicide bomber back home in the States.

Weird Chemical Science

The Washington Times reports four students at North Carolina State University have invented a nail polish that changes color when it come into contact with date rape drugs.
A woman paints her nails with the polish, and when her nails come into contact with a liquid, the color will change if drugs like Rohypnol, Xanax, or GHB are present.
Why wasn't that polish invented by women students?

Ayatollah: 3G Immoral

The Jerusalem Post reports the pronouncements of a Grand Ayatollah in Iran:
Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, a prominent Shia scholar, (snip) said 3G — third generation mobile communications technology — and broadband internet were morally wrong, and that there needed to be standards to prevent users from dangers such as “immoral and inhumane” videos and photos, rumors, and espionage.

In addition to his conservative stance on the internet, the Grand Ayatollah, whose ancestors were Jewish converts to Shi'ite Islam, has also dubbed the Holocaust “nothing but superstition.”
He's aware of the porn Iranian kids see, not to mention rock music, near-naked pop stars and streaming video - oh, the Western decadence, the horror! Methinks he doth protest too much.

Monday, August 25, 2014

An Attractive Soprano

You believe all operatic sopranos are fat ladies? Go check out the photos of Mojca Erdmann, a German-Slovenian soprano and a really attractive young lady. National Review's Jay Nordlinger interviews her at Salzberg.

Bitter Humor

Instapundit Glenn Harlan Reynolds writing on the subject: what to do about ISIS or the Islamic State.
I’m thinking that a useful paradigm for dealing with ISIS is "what would Gen. Curtis LeMay do if he were serving under President Andrew Jackson?" But I could be mistaken. 
LeMay is the Air Force general to whom "bomb them back to the stone age" is attributed.

Going to the Fair

Nothing serious about this post, Power Line's John Hinderaker posts photos of the Minnesota State Fair He also writes some light atmospheric prose thereabout.

A quick scan at his photos is all you need to remind you why you stopped going to fairs years ago. A fair isn't horrid, far from it, but if you've gone a few times going back is like seeing the same movie over and over.

It is, unless you're an exhibitor like my friends Bob and Lisa. Their cute kids in 4-H show pigs at our county fair - and win. The DrsC go to see Bob and Lisa's kids and their piggies but skip the rest of the fair.

Who Knew?

Stephen Hayward posts at Power Line about a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals okaying discriminating against a candidate for police work on the grounds that he scored too high on an IQ test.
New London police interviewed only candidates who scored 20 to 27, on the theory that those who scored too high could get bored with police work and leave soon after undergoing costly training.

The average score nationally for police officers is 21 to 22, the equivalent of an IQ of 104, or just a little above average.
Amazing ... and I thought the few bright people who become cops got promoted to detective or spokescop or captain. How silly of me, we can't have smart police, it would be unfair to the criminals.

Christmas in Yellowstone Today

They celebrated Christmas in Yellowstone today - August 25. It's an old tradition among park employees, having little to do with park visitors.

The park mostly closes by Oct. 1, for winter is both long and hard in the Rockies. College student summer employees leave around Labor Day, retiree temps stay a bit longer.

Employees like to share "Christmas" cheer with coworker friends before scattering to the four winds. Thus, celebrating August 25 with Christmas trees, decorations, and the exchange of presents. See Wikipedia about the custom.

Taking Care

Writing in City Journal, editor-at-large Myron Magnet opines the risk of terrorism on U.S. soil has increased. He asks:
What would a responsible president do?
He believes there are enough indicators of danger for the U.S. to begin actively paying "additional attention" to Muslims in the U.S. And concludes:
It is emphatically true that not all Muslims are terrorists—that indeed very few American Muslims are. But it is no less true that most terrorists are Muslims. 
I'd add we should be extra watchful of Muslims coming from overseas with U.S., E.U. or other passports that permit visa-less entry. Particularly so if we can determine they've been in the vicinity of ISIS.

BTW, is the president we have "responsible?" Didn't think so. Hat tip to Power Line for the link.

To Invade Taiwan

The National Interest has an article by J. Michael Cole, a Sinologist, examining the likelihood that China will invade Taiwan. Cole concludes that China would have to basically make war on the U.S. and Japan in order to create enough battlefield "elbowroom" to make an amphibious landing on the island successful.

Cole believes what could encourage the Chinese to attack would be a belief in Beijing that either Taiwan or the U.S. has not the will to resist an attack. His subtext, not explicitly stated, may be that he fears our current President would not go to war to defend Taiwan.

Cole is emphatic in warning that both Taiwan and the U.S. need to be very much on record as ready to resist with force Taiwan's involuntary absorption into the P.R.C. I don't remember hearing this from U.S. spox recently.

What It Will Take

The Federalist carries a column by Angelo Codevilla on what it will take to eradicate ISIS/the Islamic State. You could argue Professor Codevilla is channeling Julius Caesar. His Rx is not for the faint of heart, but I fear he is correct.
Killing the IS requires neither more nor less than waging war (snip) in the dictionary meaning of the word. To make war is to kill the spirit as well as the body of the enemy, so terribly as to make sure that it will not rise again, and that nobody will want to imitate it.

That requires first isolating the Islamic State politically and physically to deprive all within it of the capacity to make war, and even to eat. Then it requires killing all who bear arms and all who are near them.
Codevilla argues we can get the Saudi and Jordanian air forces to do most of the bombing. He also believes that the Shia militias will finish up what the Sunni air arms begin. I have little faith in either outcome.

I reluctantly conclude most of the killing will have to be done by our legions, led by a commander-in-chief with no stomach for the fight.

Movin' On

The New York Times carries an article entitled "The Blue-State Diaspora." Given the liberal bias at the Grey Lady, authors Gebeloff and Leonhardt do their level best to find a political silver lining in the "rats" abandoning blue ships. Fortunately, 85% of migrant New Yorkers stay in the East.

The authors find solace in members of the diaspora continuing to vote Democrat in their new locations, causing places like Florida and North Carolina to become purple instead of reliably red as they otherwise would be. However, they're forced to admit:
The movement of blue-staters into Texas, Utah and Idaho hasn’t helped Democrats as much, in part because many of the migrants are more conservative voters, such as whites from Southern California. Texas and the interior West have also drawn more red-state migrants than states where Democrats have recently won.
More important, the authors do not deal with why people are leaving blue states. At COTTonLINE we argue that much of this movement is to escape blue state high taxes and economic stagnation. If New Yorkers, and other such take their voting habits with them and flip their new states' policies, they'll end up with the same high taxes in their new homes.

I'll finish with a fondly remembered slogan formerly taped to a wall in the local county clerk's office. It said:
We don't care how they did it where you came from.
Only 40% of Wyoming residents were born here. I'm certain the office staff meant every word on that sign.

Can the U.S. Act?

Peter Beinart writes in The Atlantic that much as he'd like to see the U.S. bomb the Islamic State, he fears such action allies us with people with whom we'd rather not ally, like Assad. I think it is a false dichotomy he poses.

All we need from Assad is an agreement not to shoot at those of our planes that enter his air space to bomb IS targets. Such agreement should be done sub rosa, out of the public eye. Then we carpet-bomb IS, not because we wish to win but because we wish them to lose, presumably to Assad in Syria and to Bagdad or Kurdistan in Iraq.

If Assad retakes his country, are we much worse off than before the Syrian civil war began? Maybe a little as today Assad is closer to Iran - no friend of the U.S. - than formerly.

On the other hand, Assad won't want to become an Iranian satrap. We can expect him to continue to put the interests of Alawite-run Syria first.

Beinart does cite one problem for which I have no solution:
Given that President Obama called on Assad to leave power three years ago and last year almost bombed him for using chemical weapons, even a tacit alliance with the Syrian dictator would make Obama’s past flip-flops look trivial.
It is certainly true that our reluctant President would have to eat a large, disgusting helping of crow if the U.S. appears to be helping Assad, even in the absence of a formal alliance. To date Obama has demonstrated little appetite for walking back earlier pronouncements.

It's Likely Wilson Walks

Politico has an article in which a former Justice Department attorney discusses in detail the reasons why the odds are strongly against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson going to jail. A jury has to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer did not fear grievous bodily harm when he shot Michael Brown, that he shot recklessly or with malice.

Assuming reports that Wilson was injured in the incident are true, that he received broken facial bones, proving he did not act in self-defense will be nearly impossible. No one has reported Wilson having prior violent encounters with people of color. And surveillance video evidence seems to show the victim strong-arm robbing a convenience store minutes before the shooting.

A finding of justifiable shooting will not please the rioters in Ferguson, who are likely to be violent again. And the violence can spread to other urban areas where people feel, rightly or wrongly, they have little to lose.

Some Better Off, More Worse Off

TaxProfBlog reports Census Bureau data on household wealth, which is defined as the sum of the market value of assets (including, but not limited to, cash and cash equivalents) owned by all members of the household minus liabilities owed. Census says:
Median household net worth decreased by $5,046, or 6.8 percent, between 2000 and 2011. ... Between 2000 and 2011, experiences of households varied widely depending on their net worth quintile (See the linked article for Figure 1). Median household net worth decreased by $5,124 for households in the first (bottom) net worth quintile, $7,056 (or 49.3 percent) for the second quintile, and $5,072 (or 6.9 percent) for the third quintile. Median household net worth increased by $18,433 (or 9.8 percent) for households in the fourth quintile, and by $61,379 (or 10.8 percent) for households in the highest (top) quintile.
In sum, the bottom sixty percent of households are worse off than 14 years ago. The top 40% are better off now than in 2000. These numbers reflect the "hollowing out" phenomenon detailed in the post immediately below.

Middle-Paying Jobs Decline

The American Enterprise Institute's James Pethokoukis has snagged a chart from a presentation made a couple of days ago by David H. Autor at the Fed's Jackson Hole conference. It shows graphically the extent to which middle-paying jobs are disappearing across the 16 nations of the EU for which data is available.

The chart reflects changes taking place over a 17 year period - 1993-2010. We can be relatively certain a similar disappearance has happened in the U.S.

Losses of middle-paying jobs range from almost 15% in Ireland to about 5% in Portugal, with the median loss of such jobs being 10.5%. What are middle-paying jobs?
Middle-paying occupations are stationary plant and related operators; metal, machinery and related trade work; drivers and mobile plant operators; office clerks; precision, handicraft, craft printing and related trade workers; extraction and building trades workers; customer service clerks; machine operators and assemblers; and other craft and related trade workers.
While middle-paying jobs have declined in all 16 countries, high-paying jobs have increased in all 16. Intriguingly, low-paying jobs - laborers, unskilled sales and service jobs - increased modestly in 14 of the 16 nations, declining only in Luxembourg and Finland.

The much ballyhooed "hollowing out of the middle class" is not, it would seem, a purely American phenomenon but in fact something happening across the developed world. These societies have not dealt with what will become of the individuals in coming generations who have average intellectual capacity and modest motivation levels when the jobs they once would have filled no longer exist.

Some will be able to qualify for high-paying jobs; many more will either take low-paying jobs or live on the dole. Aldous Huxley's Brave New World had a solution for this problem: produce exactly those people society needs - easier said than done, of course.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Argentine Update

The Financial Times reports the latest squirrelly behavior of the Argentine government vis-a-vis the financial crisis and U.S. court-mandated sovereign bond default. It is the opinion of FT that things there are headed for more trouble.

Paradoxically, confrontation with foreign lenders and international firms suits Fernandez's political aims perfectly. She is a populist who is committed to protecting the descamisados (literally "shirtless ones") aka the Argentine poor and laboring class against the depredations of the domestic wealthy as well as multinational firms and organizations.

In practice, this means giving the poor things they have not earned by working for them. Peronist shtick causes this richly endowed country to be eternally on the economic ragged edge of disaster. Politics matter.

Unfilled Job Vacancies

Stephen Moore, formerly of The Wall Street Journal and now chief economist of the Heritage Foundation, writes in The Daily Signal there are plenty of unfilled jobs out there, perhaps as many as a million. These go unfilled, he writes, because of impediments in the structure.

Moore identifies three factors that cause our 8 million unemployed not to take those million jobs. First, is a mismatch between skills and job requirements. Lack of math skills and reading ability would be key shortfalls.

Second, there are lifestyle issues.
Mr. Funk (CEO of a temp firm) cites figures that more than half of the applicants for these kinds of jobs in the temporary job market can’t pass a drug test. “They are unemployable in that case,” he says regretfully.
Third, there are disincentives to work:
Jobs don’t get filled because the work lacks glitz and glamour. Too many Americans have come to view blue collar jobs or skilled artisan jobs as beneath them.

Contributing to this attitude is the wide availability of unemployment insurance, food stamps, mortgage bailout funds and other welfare. Taking these taxpayer handouts is somehow seen as normal and a first, not a last resort. One owner of a major trucking company told me last year, “drivers who get laid off don’t come back until their unemployment benefits run out.”
Hat tip to for the link.

Par for the Course

Yo, buds. Maureen Dowd of The New York Times has a snark-filled column about Obama's golf obsession. Written as a spoof of Lincoln's Gettysburg address, it contains some choice moments and more than a few sour giggles. MoDo begins:
Fore! Score? And seven trillion rounds ago, our forecaddies brought forth on this continent a new playground, conceived by Robert Trent Jones, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal when it comes to spending as much time on the links as possible — even when it seems totally inappropriate, like moments after making a solemn statement condemning the grisly murder of a 40-year-old American journalist beheaded by ISIL.
Dowd continues:
But, in a larger sense, we can dedicate, we can consecrate, we can hallow this ground where I can get away from my wife, my mother-in-law, Uncle Joe, Congress and all the other hazards in my life.

The world will little note, nor long remember, what we shot here, or why I haven’t invited a bunch of tiresome congressmen to tee it up. I’m trying to relax, guys. So I’d much rather stay in the bunker with my usual bros.
Those are just samples, the column has lots more fun stuff. Enjoy.

A Puzzle

Do you like puzzles? Jets have been attacking cities in Libya and nobody seems to be certain whose jets they are. One faction has claimed responsibility but isn't believed to have the capability to mount such attacks. See a Reuters story for Yahoo News about the most recent event.

U.S. spy satellites should be able to determine whence the planes come from and return to. Ditto NATO AWACS aircraft which keep an eye on what's flying around the Med. So ... somebody knows but nobody is talking ... very mysterious.

It would be interesting to see if anyone has managed to snap a photo of one of the warplanes. Different countries fly different attack jets which would narrow it down more than a little. A cursory web search turns up several stories but no plane pix.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Assad's Syria an Ally?

After whining about what an asshat Syria's President Bashar Hafez al-Assad is, and how he should abdicate, it looks like the U.S. government will have to eat crow and collaborate with him in opposition to the Islamic State. The U.S. may also have to collaborate with Great Satan-hating Iran to the same end.

There is plenty of precedent for such collaboration. We partnered with the Soviet Union during World War II to stop the Nazis, although we were opponents both before and after the war.

Compared to the Islamic State, Assad's pre-civil war Syria was relatively benign, no threat to the U.S. and not much threat to Israel. At most it menaced Lebanon, only a big deal to the Lebanese.

A Theory of Jihadi Motivation

The New Republic, not often cited by COTTonLINE, has an article about how British jihadis don't know much about Islam. They buy Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies on Amazon before leaving for Syria.

In fact, the article alleges many young jihadis aren't particularly observant Muslims although obviously raised in the faith. Author Mehdi Hasan notes:
The swivel-eyed young men who take sadistic pleasure in bombings and beheadings may try to justify their violence with recourse to religious rhetoric — think the killers of Lee Rigby screaming “Allahu Akbar” at their trial; think of Islamic State beheading the photojournalist James Foley as part of its “holy war” — but religious fervor isn’t what motivates most of them.
Hasan quotes sociologist Scott Atran, testifying to a Senate committee as follows:
What inspires the most lethal terrorists in the world today is not so much the Quran or religious teachings as a thrilling cause and call to action that promises glory and esteem in the eyes of friends, and through friends, eternal respect and remembrance in the wider world.

(He described wannabe jihadists as) bored, underemployed, overqualified and underwhelmed (young men for whom) jihad is an egalitarian, equal-opportunity employer ... thrilling, glorious and cool.
Hasan concludes:
Muslims aren’t all Islamists, Islamists aren’t all jihadists and jihadists aren’t all devout. 
Allowing for the fact that Mehdi Hasan is a bit defensive about Islam, one could make the argument that the same forces that lure idle young men into the Crips, Bloods, MS-13 or the Marines inspire jihadis to go viking. Adventure, being part of a tough crew, blowing up things and killing people, the motives are as old as the stone age.

However, the theory described above doesn't explain the Islamic State imposing strict Sharia law and brutally punishing many of their own citizens with crucifixions and beheadings. That sounds like darn serious religious fundamentalism, not juvenile delinquents on the prowl.

Right and Wrong Unclear

CBS News Sacramento reports two Fairfield CA police officers were using the department computers and online connection to troll for dates on dating websites, and then checking out the criminal records of the women they found online. The article says what they did could be considered a felony, if accurately described.

I will admit the officers shouldn't have been cruising the dating websites while on duty, although they were entirely free to do so on their own time and equipment. On the other hand, a single policeman or woman perhaps should be able to check out whether someone has a criminal record before seeing that person socially.

Not being able to do so can compromise officers' reputations through no malfeasance of their own if it turns out they've unwittingly been romantically involved with a convicted felon. I can easily imagine a defense attorney using such information to damage an officer's credibility as a witness, credibility the state relies on for the conviction of criminals.

However, I can envision an unscrupulous officer learning a woman has a record and blackmailing her into a sexual relationship with the threat of disclosing her past to her present associates or employer.

This is one of those situations where there is right (and wrong) on both sides of an issue.

Murray Weighs In

We've done a couple of posts about declining teen pregnancy numbers, yesterday and the day before. Along comes the always interesting, sometime controversial Charles Murray, writing for AEIdeas on this same topic.

See the spin Murray gives the data. He notes, as have we all, that the numbers of out-of-wedlock live births are declining but the percentage has not declined.
Is the glass half full or half empty? It depends on whether you are more interested in the amount of bad luck for newborns or the socialization of the next generation.

The reduction in the rate of nonmarital births is good news. Relative to the size of the population, fewer children are being born with bad luck.

For the socialization of the next generation, the reduction in the rate is irrelevant. Only the ratio counts. Whatever the social deficits produced by non marital births may be, a cohort in which 40.6% of the children are born to unmarried women will exhibit the same population percentages whether the number of such births are 500,000 or 5,000,000.
Murray is not terribly optimistic as a result of the declining numbers, it would take declining percentages to cheer him up. On the other hand, I speculate that declining numbers mean fewer individuals in prison or on welfare in a couple of decades, no bad thing.

Lack of Empathy

Writing for The Daily Beast, the online arm of Newsweek, Sally Kohn whines at great length about whites' inability or refusal to empathize with African-Americans. She is undoubtedly correct, but so what?

A question she never raises, much less answers, is whether blacks empathize with whites to any greater extent. I doubt they do.

My hunch is that no group particularly empathizes with any other, or wants to. That famously includes men and women not understanding each other's motivations or concerns.

We humans are ethnocentric rascals, and likely to stay that way. It is part of the human condition. Get over it -- figure out how to work around it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Noonan on the Islamic State

COTTonLINE readers who've learned to enjoy Peggy Noonan's Wall Street Journal columns, often linked to here, may want to read her reaction to the conflict between the U.S. and the Islamic State, posted on The Patriot Post website.

By the way, The Patriot Post is a decent source for columns congenial to conservatives, if you'll pardon my alliteration. It is subtitled The Right Opinion and has a list of columnists whose names you'll recognize and respect.

The Polling on Immigration

The same Robert VerBruggen cited two posts below, who pokes about in data sets for RealClearPolicy, looks at the conflicting polling results on illegal immigration and concludes you can get whatever answer you seek, depending on how you word the questions.

Actually, this is something everyone who has done survey research knows only too well. VerBruggen believes all such polling can be ignored by politicians. That is nonsense.

I am certain Republican members of the House of Representatives are crystal clear as to the views of those constituents whose votes they've earned in the past. GOP voters oppose amnesty, unequivocally. Ask Eric Cantor, former Rep. from VA how GOP primary voters viewed his squishy acceptance of amnesty.

GOP voters might be okay with a guest worker program for farm labor, with proper controls, under a president who follows the law as passed. Mostly, they want better control of our borders, something hard to achieve with a President who finds such controls politically counterproductive.

College Grads on the Move

As you know, at COTTonLINE we enjoy demography -- population trends. Comes a New Geography article about which U.S. urban areas are either net gainers or losers of residents aged 25 and older with a baccalaureate or higher degree, based on data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey for the period 2007-2011.

As you might surmise, the regions that are the greatest net losers of adult residents with college degrees are New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston, Orlando, and San Jose. Regions showing the greatest net gains are Austin, Dallas, Phoenix, Houston, Portland, Denver, and Seattle.

You may enjoy looking at the trends for regions in which you have an interest, coded on the article's national map. The map for my state of WY shows one region gaining, the Casper area. I cannot imagine why.

Rainy Afternoon Apocalyptic Musings

Yesterday we wrote, under the title Weird Behavioral Science, about the declining teen birth rate. Today comes an article by The New York Times' Ross Douthat reacting to the same Vox article. He makes some interesting points, differing from those I wrote yesterday.

Douthat links to a RealClearPolicy article by Robert VerBruggen which discusses new Center for Disease Control data on births - legitimate and otherwise. CDC begins with the idea that non-marital births have declined, but VerBruggen notes that, as a percentage of all births, they remain essentially the same. All births have declined -- marital and otherwise.

Mulling Douthat's article, and VerBruggen's, an apocalyptic thought came to me. Suppose what we are seeing is a cultural, perhaps even a species-wide fertility inflection point that first became obvious in Japan.

Maybe just downward, maybe the first step toward species extinction a la Bartleby, a Melville character known for saying, "I would prefer not to." What if people "would prefer not to" reproduce? What if increasing numbers even "would prefer not to" engage in non-reproductive recreational sex?

Perhaps we will learn too late why Earth has not been contacted by star-faring intelligent species. Just maybe with a certain level of social development comes the seeds for species decline and extinction. Imagine if intelligence and/or civilization, instead of being survival traits, are evolutionary dead ends, species sidetracks to oblivion. Maybe the great apes will inherit planet Earth.

Hat tip to Fred Barnes at The Weekly Standard for the Bartleby reference, which Barnes uses in to describe our President's unwillingness to perform the duties of his office.

The Wrong Author = The Wrong Advice

That RealClearPolitics would run an article by what they describe as "a veteran Democratic political consultant," and couch it as advice for the GOP shows preposterous cheek. When did "a veteran Democratic political consultant" ever have the best interests of the GOP at heart?

The correct Hispanic to have asked for such advice is someone like Governor Susana Martinez (R-NM). She at least wishes the party well. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) would also have ideas.

A summary of Maria Cardona's advice to the GOP: become Democrat clones. COTTonLINE's advice to the GOP: why bother when the Democrats already fully represent those views?

If Cardona believes it is in the interest of Hispanics to become dedicated Democrat voters, she should note how little such dedication has accomplished for black Americans. A party which believes it can take for granted a particular ethnic or demographic group does little beyond pay lip service to their aims and interests, and that only during campaign season.

New Poll: Black and White in America

A new CBS News/New York Times poll looks at U.S. race relations in general and the troubles in Ferguson, MO, in particular. The Times article has the interactive details, with the sample segmented by race, gender, politics, where people live, and age group.

Only 10% think race relations are better since President Obama was elected in 2008. Fully 35% believe they are worse. Asked about the protestors' behavior in the shooting aftermath, 59% of all adults say they went too far.

In which three segments did less than half believe the protests were too violent? Answer: blacks, liberals, and those aged 18-44. If you think about it, some of the same people showed up in each of those three groups - for example a young, black person.

One of the most revealing findings is that people are relatively evenly split on the good (47%) or bad (44%) character of race relations in the United States. However, three quarters (78%) say race relations are good in their own community.

The difference between view-of-nation and view-of-community reflects the generally segregated living patterns of most Americans. Seventy-five percent of whites say they regularly come in contact with few or no black persons. Similarly, 89% of black people say somewhere between half and almost all of those they regularly come in contact with are black.

White and black America live largely separate lives, watching different TV shows, listening to different music, shopping in different stores, etc. A Venn diagram showing areas of overlap would probably feature athletics and government institutions, including the military.

Fawns in the Meadow

Cute photos of twin deer fawns (and their mama) in our meadow, see the other DrC's blog post at this web address:
Yes, I know ... deer are only long-legged rabbits, but they're charming critters nonetheless.

Quote of the Day

Instapundit Glenn Harlan Reynolds writes about the appropriate response to the Islamic State beheading reporter James Foley:
The response to Foley’s beheading should have been a MOAB dropped on an ISIS-held town.
MOAB is the acronym for a "massive ordinance air blast," in other words a very big conventional explosive detonated above ground. It is also known as the "mother of all bombs."

Chances are a MOAB blast wave would kill anyone in the open and collapse buildings atop everyone indoors. Humanitarians would decry it as "disproportional." Ask the Japanese how effective Truman's disproportional bombs were.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Poll: No Group Wishes Hillary Won in '08

YouGov does a form of polling, not exactly random sampling but maybe interesting anyway if not necessarily predictive of the population at large. They asked their panel the following question:
Do you wish Hillary Clinton had been elected president instead of Barack Obama in 2008?
Their results are counterintuitive, both Democrats and Republicans answered "No." Forty-nine percent of Republicans answered "No," 59% of Democrats answered the same.

Are we sure she will be her party's nominee two years from now? Presumably Democrats felt answering "Yes" was disloyal, I get that.

What I don't get is why Republicans are glad Obama is president instead of Clinton? Is it because his weirdness makes him easier to demonize than the Pants Suit Diva?

Are Republicans unready for a woman as president? Or is the thought of ol' horny Bill back in the White House, reminiscing about where Monica L. knelt in her blue dress, and sneaking around to meet his current main squeeze just too much to stomach?

Weird Behavioral Science

An article on the Vox website reports the teen birth rate in the U.S. has been dropping. They frame the situation thus:
For five years now, America's teen birth rate has plummeted at an unprecedented rate, falling faster and faster. Between 2007 and 2013, the number of babies born to teens annually fell by 38.4 percent, according to research firm Demographic Intelligence. This drop occurred in tandem with steep declines in the abortion rate. That suggests that the drop isn't the product of more teenagers terminating pregnancies. More simply, fewer girls are getting pregnant.
Nobody is exactly sure why fewer girls are getting pregnant. Several theories are proposed and discussed at some length in the article. These include:
The recession theory
The IUD theory
The sex ed theory
The 16 and Pregnant theory
The perfect storm theory (essentially, all of the above)
COTTonLINE would like to propose three additional theories, and describe each briefly. Let's begin with the oral sex theory. This theory suggests more teens are engaging exclusively in oral sex, which results in fewer pregnancies.

Second, there is the vanishing sex drive theory. First reported in Japan, and not understood there or elsewhere, it is a diminishing interest in sex with another person. Large percentages of Japanese young people express no interest in sex or romance with another human. Full-size sex dolls proliferate there.

Third, there is the social isolate theory. This suggests a large number of people spend their lives online at social media sites, or sexting/texting via smart phones, alone except for the electronic presence of others in their lives. Essentially unlimited free online pornography may meet these individuals' sexual needs.

Bergdahl Swap Broke Federal Laws

National Review shares the results of a Government Accountability Office report which identifies two laws broken by the Pentagon and President when they did the Bergdahl swap for five Guantanamo detainee terrorists. The GAO is an investigative arm created by Congress, and generally has a clean reputation.
“[The Department of Defense] violated section 8111 because it did not notify the relevant congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of the transfer,” the GAO report said. “In addition, because DOD used appropriated funds to carry out the transfer when no money was available for that purpose, DOD violated the Antideficiency Act. The Antideficiency Act prohibits federal agencies from incurring obligations exceeding an amount available in an appropriation.”
Apparently the White House suggested the law was unconstitutional, GAO rebuts:
“It is not our role or our practice to determine the constitutionality of duly enacted statutes,” the report says. “In our view, where legislation has been passed by Congress and signed by the President, thereby satisfying the bicameralism and presentment requirements in the Constitution, that legislation is entitled to a heavy presumption in favor of constitutionality.”
Hat tip to Drudge Report for the link. 

Where Homes Cost Too Much

CNBC real estate reporter Diana Olick surveys a new study of home prices in various markets vis-a-vis those cities' median incomes done by Zillow. Six of the top ten markets in which affording a new home will take a large share of median income are, no surprise, in California.

Los Angeles is the worst, followed by San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego and rounding out the top five is the New York/Northern New Jersey market. The next two are in CA: Sacramento and Riverside, followed by Boston, Seattle, and Portland.

See the article's accompanying table. Los Angeles experiences a double whammy, its home prices are high while incomes are not especially lofty. Home prices are a lot more expensive in SF and SJ but median incomes are higher there too - techies earn big bucks.

There aren't many bargains on the left coast, are there? On the other hand, home prices in most of Texas are relatively affordable. We see reflected in these figures a major reason why the middle class is migrating away from the Golden State.

Expert Opinion

On the CNBC website, semi-legendary stock guru for UBS, Art Cashin, attributes the stock market "strength" to the Fed's ultra-low interest rates.
Cashin said stocks still look good when compared to low interest rates for fixed income investments. "You get no yield anywhere. If you're going to put money to work, where else? And that's what we're seeing."
If the Fed ever does raise interest rates into the 4-5% range, imagine what will happen to stock values. Can you say, "plummet?" No wonder equity traders study Fed pronouncement nuances.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Quote of the Day

The New York Times' Tom Friedman, writing about what it will take to put down the Islamic State rebels.
Will the ends, will the means. Otherwise, you’re not being serious.
If you would get rid of the brutal Islamic State, you must be willing to kill many, lose some of your own, and spend plenty.

Adios, Asperger's

I've been reading an article at the ABC website on the topic: "What happens when Asperger's no longer exists?" The condition hasn't gone away, in case you were hoping, but rather has been redefined as a part of the autism spectrum of disorders by the DSM-5.

What made me chuckle was this description of the condition, which could be the character synopsis for Dr. Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory sitcom.
The reality is just because you’re very bright and very articulate, if you’re having significant difficulties reading and coping in social situations and your behavior is inflexible and you have a great need for routine and can’t go with the flow, life is going to be very challenging and you’re going to need a lot of support in that and people mightn’t understand.
Too right people won't understand, normals can experience such persons as giant pains in the backside. Sheldon Cooper is funny to watch in 25 minute doses, he would be very tiresome as a roommate, neighbor, or coworker.

Life-Saving Advice

I don't often pitch to you a Must Read article, but The Washington Post has one you owe it to yourself to read. Written by a 17 year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, it tells you how to avoid getting injured or killed if stopped by police.
Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me.

But if you believe (or know) that the cop stopping you is violating your rights or is acting like a bully, I guarantee that the situation will not become easier if you show your anger and resentment. Worse, initiating a physical confrontation is a sure recipe for getting hurt. Police are legally permitted to use deadly force when they assess a serious threat to their or someone else’s life. Save your anger for later, and channel it appropriately. Do what the officer tells you to and it will end safely for both of you.
The really valuable parts of the article deal with how the stop looks to the officer(s) conducting it. Their mindset is very different from yours. You know you didn't do anything wrong, he (or she) doesn't know that.
An average cop is always concerned with his or her safety and tries to control every encounter. That is how we are trained.
Controlling behavior feels like bullying even when it is not so intended, which makes taking this advice harder, but no less important.

Romney Leads 2016 GOP Pack

Forbes reports the results of a Zogby poll which finds Mitt Romney leads the pack of 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls. None scores heavily but Romney gets 20% where Mr. Second Place - Chris Christie - has 12%.

Christie is followed by Rand Paul 11%, Ted Cruz 9%, Mike Huckabee 8%, Jeb Bush 6%, and then Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Suzanna Martinez, Nikki Haley, John Kasich and Rob Portman in descending order, all with 4% or less.

Given the modest showings of all the other possible candidates, 20% looks pretty good. Also in Romney's favor is the extent to which positions he took in 2012 have been vindicated by time and experience.

It turns out Romney was right and Obama wrong about many key issues, particularly in foreign policy. I suspect there's lots of buyer's remorse among former Obama voters.

The Fed Is in the Hole

This week the Federal Reserve Bank holds it annual Jackson Hole summer meeting. Nice duty, nowhere is summer nicer - normally cool, dry and pleasant. The tarmac at Jackson airport will be full of executive jets. See the story at the CNBC site.

My hope is the Fed will finally allow interest rates to rise to a level at which it is worthwhile holding Treasuries. That is my hope, not my expectation.

I fully expect the Fed to continue stimulative actions including holding down interest rates. The result of their actions is a Fed-caused stock market bubble, otherwise unjustified by economic growth or prospects.

It is clear the Fed is doing what the politicians who appoint them, and to whom they report, want. Janet Yellen would like to be reappointed when her term expires. So much for "independence."

The New Normal?

George Friedman, chairman of Stratfor, writes for RealClearWorld about Europe's malaise. He wonders if poor performance is the new normal for Europe. See Friedman's dire numbers:
The German economy contracted despite indications that there would be zero economic growth. But the rest of Europe is faltering, too. France had zero growth. Italy declined by 0.2 percent. The only large European economy that grew was the United Kingdom. (snip) Together, the European Union scarcely grew at all.

The unemployment situation is truly disturbing. Spain and Greece both have around 25 percent unemployment, the level the United States reached during the Great Depression. While that's stunning, 15 of the 28 EU members have unemployment rates of more than 10 percent; most have maintained that high rate now for several years. More alarming, these rates are not falling.

Half of all EU residents live in four countries: Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy. The average growth rate for these countries is about 1.25 percent. Excluding the United Kingdom, their economies contracted by 0.1 percent. The unemployment rate in the four countries averages 8.5 percent. But if we drop the United Kingdom, the average is 9.2 percent.

Removing Britain from the equation is not arbitrary: It is the only one of the four that is not part of the eurozone, and it is the country most likely to drop out of the European Union.

A Power Vacuum

The New York Times' Roger Cohen writes of the shortcomings of the Obama foreign policy. He concludes:
Pax Americana is in decline. America’s readiness to use its power to stabilize the world — the current bombing of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria notwithstanding — is fading. For that reason, the world is more dangerous than it has been in a long time. The waning under Obama of the credibility of American power has created a vacuum no magnetic soft power fills.

The president has gone too far; and in so doing has undersold the nation, encouraged foes, disappointed allies, and created doubts over American power that have proved easy to exploit.
The Times has been Obama's biggest backer, his amen corner. This has got to hurt.

Review: Maleficent

This Disney retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story from the viewpoint of the eponymous villainess Maleficent is about to leave theaters and make its way to DVD rentals and premium movie channels. The DrsC only saw it this afternoon; as rural residents we don't get to a theater often.

The question I had, going in, was whether Angelina Jolie as Maleficent could top the beautifully evil performance Charlize Theron gave in a similar role in Snow White and the Huntsman. The answer is no, although Jolie does a fine job.

Spoiler alert. Jolie wants to have it both ways, be both the film's villain and hero. Asking the audience to follow her in both directions is a bit much. Theron plays a straight-out villain, bad to the bone, easier to deliver and more believable.

That said, there is much to like about Maleficent, the film. Disney makes it beautiful, dreamlike and totally pleasant to watch. The story line holds together most of the time, the supporting cast does good work, Dakota Fanning's kid sister Elle makes the Princess Aurora character charming, Sam Riley plays Maleficent's sidekick Diaval and creates an interesting character, and the three women who play the pixies who raise the Princess are fun to watch.

Be clear, it's Jolie's film. The horns apparently growing from her head resemble those of the greater kudu or perhaps the blackbuck. Her wings could grace the shoulders of a condor. Makeup gives her, I believe intentionally, a not-quite-human appearance with exaggerated cheekbones and yellowish eyes. She has presence.

The film has no sex, no swearing, and the violence is sufficiently make-believe to not traumatize the tender-hearted. You can safely show it to your children or your maiden aunt. We enjoyed Maleficent, it was a pleasant afternoon.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

10 Most Liveable Cities

The Economist, a British publication with an international reach, reports their Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked the world's top 10 cities for "liveability" (note British spelling). All but two of the top 10 are in three former British colonies: Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

The two exceptions are Vienna and Helsinki, ranked 2 and 8 respectively. The balance in descending order are Melbourne, Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Adelaide, Sydney, Perth, and Aukland. What do these ten have in common? The ten cities
Tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density.
As it happens, the DrsC have visited all 10 at least once, four more than once, and they are mostly a fine bunch. Perth was a particular favorite of mine, reminding me of an idealized California city, without the drawbacks. Calgary is great too.

Weather is a real plus for the antipodean cities of Oz and Enzed, much more benign than that of either Canada or Europe. The other DrC reminds me Toronto probably doesn't deserve inclusion in this list - it's too big and has too many big-city problems.

The U.S. is a wealthier country with mid-sized cities in areas of relatively low population density. It is likely the absence of NHS-style guaranteed health care kept U.S. cities from qualifying, reflecting British bias.

The Real Difficulty

Jason Riley, a young black man who writes for The Wall Street Journal, commenting on Fox News about the furor surrounding the events in Ferguson, MO. The video and text are available on RealClearPolitics.
I know something about growing up black and male in the inner city and it's not that hard to avoid getting shot by a cop. They pull you over, you answer their questions, you are on your way.

The real difficulty is not getting shot by other black people if you are a young black man in these neighborhoods and again that is something we need to talk more about. Cops are not the problem. Cops are not producing these black bodies in the morgues every weekend in Chicago, in New York and Detroit and so forth. That's not cops. Those (are) other black people shooting black people.
I expect Riley is correct about the relative dangers.

MoDo Rains on BHO

Maureen Dowd writes snark for The New York Times. Today's target is none other than the President. See her conclusion:
The sad part is that this is an ugly, confusing and frightening time at home and abroad, and the country needs its president to illuminate and lead, not sink into some petulant expression of his aloofness, where he regards himself as a party of his own and a victim of petty, needy, bickering egomaniacs.
That's not a bad description of his current posture.

Geraldo Nails It

I tend to think of Geraldo Rivera as a self-promoting buffoon. However, Mediaite reports him saying some sensible things on the Outnumbered panel on Fox News. These are his comments:
I’ll tell you what will happen: they’ll have a trial, white jurors will see it one way and the black jurors another,” Rivera said. “The white jurors will look at that convenience store surveillance tape. They will see Michael Brown menacing that clerk. The white jurors will put themselves in the shoes of that clerk. They’ll say, of course the officer responded the way he did; he was menaced by a 6′ 4″, 300 pound kid 10 minutes fresh from a strong armed robbery. The white jurors will put themselves in the white officers’ place. The black jurors will see Michael Brown despite his flaws as the surrogate for every black youngster.
Mediaite notes the hosts of Outnumbered were offended. Can you seriously imagine any other outcome? I cannot as I remember the black and white reactions to the OJ murder trial verdict.