Wednesday, May 30, 2007

COTTonLINE Goes Traveling

The DrsC will be traveling soon, which means a slowdown in postings on this blog. Anything posted is likely to be in the category of travel blogging. Expect some observations about current conditions in Eastern Europe either upon our return, or before.

Political blogging will resume in late June, gentle readers. Perhaps we will be back in time to welcome Fred Thompson to the race for the Republican nomination.

Ann Coulter Calls Bush "Really Stupid"

Ann Coulter writes smartly conservative columns spiced with bitter humor. Here she dips her pen in hydrochloric acid and etches a description of President Bush as one of a group of "really stupid Americans." Her concluding thought is interesting:
In 1993 -- long before 9/11, before the USS Cole bombing, before the bombing of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania -- the eminent Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington predicted that the greatest threat to Western civilization would come from a clash of civilizations, noting with particular concern the "bloody borders" of the Muslim world.

So it ought to be of some interest that Huntington is now predicting, in his book "Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity," that America cannot survive the cultural onslaught from Latin America.

Low Skill Immigrants Are a Net Loss to U.S.

Kate O'Beirne, writing in the National Review Online, does a nice job of showing how low skilled illegal immigrants on average cost the U.S. way more than they ever produce. She is basically summarizing the findings of a Heritage Foundation study done by Robert Rector. She is also debunking a Wall Street Journal critique of the study. She concludes:

Robert Rector’s careful analysis demonstrates that low-skilled immigrant households consume far more in government benefits than they pay in taxes. The Wall Street Journal’s careless editorial demonstrates that his critics are unable to credibly disagree.

One cannot reasonably accuse the WSJ of being ignorant of basic economics. If the supply of something in demand is great, the price of that thing is correspondingly low. Conversely, things with more rarity have higher prices. This is as true of labor as it is of goods. The Wall Street Journal has been consistently in favor of unlimited immigration, and very holier-than-thou about it too. Of course, their real motive is an unlimited supply of people willing to work cheaply. In this they represent their primary constituency, namely, the nation's employers.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Is Dyslexia a Real Condition?

This article claims that dyslexia is either (a) nonexistent or (b) widely over diagnosed. It argues plausibly that parents don't want to admit their children are unintelligent and prefer the medical-sounding dyslexic diagnosis.

This article reminds me of the dyslexic atheist who was reported to have said:

"I don't believe in Dog."

Monday, May 28, 2007

Buckley Takes a Measured View of Immigration

A "two-handed" William F. Buckley looks at immigration in an opinion piece for Yahoo News. Given that it is the product of a infamous serial polemicist, the article is very balanced. Bill's concluding two paragraphs contain the kernel of his argument:
The gnawing point for skeptics is the matter of realizing immigration laws. The current measure speaks of additional fencing to bolster those leaky barriers of past decades. But skeptics are entitled to wonder just when the dividing barriers would be made effective enough to freeze the flow of immigrants at the desired level.

Our lawmakers should understand the public skepticism. Theirs has been the responsibility in default. If Congress had begun reforms by stabilizing the Mexican border, it might more credibly have gone on to elaborate residually desirable changes in the mess Congress has permitted.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Russians Look Like Europeans, But Aren't

Mark Franchetti, writing in the London Sunday Times online, says Russians really like Vladimir Putin, because he is not democratic. The key paragraphs in his article appear near the end, and I've reproduced them below for your enjoyment.

Many years ago, when I first came to work in Moscow, a political pundit close to the Kremlin told me that the problem between Russia and the West is that Russians are white.

“We look like you. We look like Europeans and so the West expects us to think and act like you. As a result, when we don’t you get all upset. Why can’t they be like us, you fret. But you don’t say that about the Chinese, for instance. You don’t expect them to think and act like you. Well, we are white but we are different.”

That is an interesting comment. Insightful Western Europeans have long held that Russians are really Asiatic people, not European, whatever their appearance may imply.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Podhoretz on the Politics of Immigration

John Podhoretz, writing in the New York Post online, says President Bush wants the immigration reform bill to pass but will be much better off if it does not. His prediction is that even if the bill passes in the Senate it will die in the House or in the House-Senate reconciliation process. He argues that almost no politicians will truly benefit from the bill's passage.

I hope he is right.

Noonan on Immigration

Peggy Noonan writes for the OpinionJournal online, a part of the Wall Street Journal. Her view of immigration is certainly different than that of the WSJ's editors. The nut graph from her article says:

Naturally I hope the new immigration bill fails. It is less a bill than a big dirty ball of mischief, malfeasance and mendacity, with a touch of class malice, and it's being pushed by a White House that is at once cynical and inept. The bill's Capitol Hill supporters have a great vain popinjay's pride in their own higher compassion. They are inclusive and you're not, you cur, you gun-totin' truckdriver's-hat-wearin' yahoo. It's all so complex, and you'd understand this if you weren't sort of dumb.

Miss Peggy took a leave of absence to work for Republicans in 2004. When she says the White House is "at once cynical and inept," you know the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is in a world of hurt.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Senators Hear Boos from Own Party Faithful

Robert Novak, a syndicated conservative columnist nicknamed "the Prince of Darkness," writes for the Chicago Sun-Times. In a recent article, Novak reports that two senators - Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) - were subject to boos at their respective state party conventions. The subject triggering the boos was immigration 'reform' as imagined by Ted Kennedy and his accomplices in the Senate and the White House.

Maybe rank-and-file Republicans aren't in favor of amnesty for illegal aliens, ya think? A number of Republican legislators have gotten on the unpopular side of the immigration issue, and will face primary challenges as a result. The only explanation that makes sense is that these senators desperately need the campaign contributions of slaughterhouses and other large-scale employers of illegal aliens.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Do We Need This?

One of the hit movies at Cannes this year is a film about human-horse bestiality called Zoo. It is reported to treat the subject sympathetically. I am inclined to respond in the words of Joseph Welch of McCarthy hearings fame: "Have you no sense of decency, sir?"

Quote of the Day

My quote of the day comes from a blog at National Review Online called The Corner. It was a reader response concerning immigration problems.

Immigration is basically a plumbing problem - our border leaks. When you have plumbing that leaks, you fix the leak before you start cleaning up your house.

That pretty well sums up my view.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Happy to Hate You

Arthur C. Brooks has written an interesting article for the Wall Street Journal about the politics of happiness. His work is based on poll findings that people on the extreme right and extreme left report being happier than those whose political leanings are less radical.

People at both political extremes are characterized by straight-out hating their opposite numbers and being only too willing to say so online. Those of us who are less extreme in our views are also more moderate in our statements, and probably in our feelings too.

Brooks makes the good point that while the political extremes may be happier, they make those of us around them less happy with "their intolerance and antisocial ways."

I expect some people can enjoy hating the way they enjoy a number of other intense emotions.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Why Whales Go Astray

This article reports on the two humpback whales, apparently mother and calf, which swam into the San Francisco Bay and then up the river toward Sacramento. They got nearly 90 miles inland.

The mother, for sure, and perhaps the calf as well have wounds on their backs, probably from boat propellers. It appears that they now may have started heading back toward the sea.

One big question is why they have gone so far off-course in their annual Pacific Coast migration toward summer in the Arctic? I have a theory. You know the old saying "put salt in the wound," meaning make it hurt worse? I wonder if salty seawater hurt in their wounds, whereas fresh river water felt good, or at least hurt less. I believe that is how a human would experience salt vs. fresh water in a wound, and whales are of course warm-blooded mammals like us.

Perhaps their wounds are healing and so, experiencing less discomfort, they are headed back to the ocean to go on north to the feeding grounds off Alaska and Siberia. I wish them well: fair winds and following seas.

Maoist Rebellion in India

When I think of places in revolt around the world, I have gotten the impression India's problems are limited to the Kashmiri northwest and the areas where Sikh independence is popular. Much less publicity has focused on the Maoist uprising that has been going on for 40 years.

The Maoist Naxalites are a guerrilla insurgency in rural and jungle India. They are particularly strong among the tribal people at the very bottom of India's status hierarchy. This Associated Press article estimates their numbers at 10,000 to 15,000. The Indian government has had little success in suppressing the revolt. Meanwhile, the Naxalites show no signs of either winning or fading away.

Mark Steyn's Wry Look at Immigration 'Reform'

Writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, Mark Steyn takes a wry look at the White House and Senate's proposed capitulation on immigration. He manages to be both funny and serious at the same time.

I particularly liked his reprise of how we are afraid we will look racist if we oppose unlimited illegal immigration. His bottom line: if we legalize the 12 million illegals here now, we might as well issue legal status to the entire population of the world, in all their billions.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Quote of the Day

Fred Thompson was single for two decades between marriages. He admits to enjoying the company of women. Asked about this, he replied:

I was single for a long time, and, yep, I chased a lot of women, and a lot of women chased me. And those that chased me tended to catch me.

This gem appeared in a Washington Post article about Thompson by Liz Garrigan. The "muy hombre" strategy worked for Bubba Bill Clinton, why not for Tennessee Fred? At least Fred was single at the time.

The "I Quit" Bush Satire

Here is a link to a satirical resignation speech somebody thinks President Bush should give. It is definitely in the genre of conservative humor, not recommended for Bush haters.

Hat tip to reader Phyllis N. for bringing it to my attention.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Thompson "Gets It" on Immigration

Fred Thompson is not impressed with the "bipartisan" immigration reform legislation being produced by the Senate. The bill was written by Democrats with the collaboration of the White House and those few Republican Senators who view cheap labor as a paramount value.

Thompson clearly understands that those of us here legally don't support giving amnesty to 12 million illegals or leaving our borders open. Read his radio commentary here, as reprinted in the National Review Online.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Noonan, Hayes on Fred Thompson

Peggy Noonan worked for Reagan and Bush I. Now she writes for the Wall Street Journal and is one of our smartest observers of politics. Her Opinion Journal article today about Fred Thompson's "stealth" campaign for the Republican nomination is excellent. If you find Thompson at all interesting, you'll enjoy her largely positive analysis.

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer for the Weekly Standard. His views of the Fred Thompson phenomenon are much like those of Noonan, cited above. Hayes views Fred's approach as the next evolutionary step in Internet-based campaigning.

Gore "Out of Love with Politics"

Time magazine quotes Al Gore as saying he has "fallen out of love with politics." Well, that's a relief. It is pretty clear that the voting public has fallen out of love with him as a candidate.

There are, of course, the "sky is falling" environmentalists who love his global warming sermons based on incomplete science. They are welcome to him. But please, no more Gore for President nonsense.

Quote of the Day

The quote comes from a New York Times article by Mark Liebovich about what '08 candidates leave out of their resumes. Republican candidate Mitt Romney avoids mentioning that he was governor of liberal Massachusetts.

Upon learning that the 2004 Democratic convention would be in Boston, MA, former House majority leader, Dick Armey, replied

"If I were a Democrat, I would feel a heck of a lot more comfortable in Boston than, say, in America."

The quote is 3-4 years old but new to me. Absent something more profound, it is my quote of the day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Quote of the Day

The following quote appeared in James Taranto's daily column in the Wall Street Journal's

"Wouldn't it be weird if French President-elect Nicolas Sarkozy turns out to be more pro-American than all the Democrats running for U.S. president?"--Jim Seay of Henrico, Va., quoted in the Richmond Times Dispatch's "Your Two Cents" feature.

Unless something better comes along, Jim Seay gets credit for the Quote of the Day.

Global Warming Humor

Last night in the monologue, David Letterman announced that former President Bill Clinton made a speech in which he expressed great concern about global warming. Clinton was heard to say that the warming was getting so bad that a 2 lb. chunk of ice had fallen off his wife, Hillary.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Reparations for Guam?

James Taranto, writing in the Wall Street Journal's, reports that the House of Representatives voted to pay reparations to residents of Guam who were mistreated by the Japanese during World War II. To be sure, Guam was occupied by the Japanese for 3 years or so. And yes, the Japanese did severely mistreat many of the Chamorros, as the natives of Guam are called. This much is history.

Typically, one pays compensation if one has injured someone. I am unable to figure out how the U.S. Government is responsible for the criminal acts of the soldiers of a country with which we were at war. Particularly when those criminal acts occurred sixty years ago. If anybody pays reparations to injured Chamorros, it should be the wealthy Japanese.

The other DrC and I lived and taught on Guam for a year, in the mid-1980s. The Chamorros are neat people, who certainly harbor no love for the Japanese. They are, however, very willing to harvest Japanese tourist yen at the resorts along Tumon Bay.

In my opinion, the statute of limitations has run out on Japanese attrocities. If the bill reaches the President's desk, I hope he vetoes it.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Steyn on the Roots of Radicalism

Mark Steyn is almost always worth reading. His weekly column in the Chicago Sun-Times is a look at homegrown, second and third generation Muslims becoming radicalized. He ties the whole thing to the troubles in Bosnia, of all places. It certainly is a different view of the problem, and worth considering.

Hillary's 'Nuanced' Position on Iraq

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann, writing in the New York Post online, do a great job of clarifying Hillary Clinton's evolving position vis-a-vis Iraq. I won't try to summarize it for you, just go read it.

Hillary must have a very low opinion of our collective intelligence. I can almost guarantee you will shake your head in wonder and amazement, or maybe amusement.

Training for Today's Army

In The Atlantic online, Brian Mockenhaupt writes a very interesting article about today's all-volunteer Army. He talks about changed training standards and less rigorous, less abusive basic training. If you are interesting in the issues of turning today's Ipod, XBox, cell phone generation into soldiers, this thoughtful, balanced article is for you.

Mockenhaupt has been there and done that. He goes back to see how the new approach is affecting his old unit, the 10th Mountain Division in upstate New York.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Psychological Displacement in Foreign Policy

Following 9/11, the U.S. found itself in a different kind of war. Not a war with a nation state, but a war with the transnational religious/cultural/political movement that is now called radical Islam or "Islamofascism."

Largely unnoticed by most Americans, this new type of war had been going on since 1989, when the Soviets left Afghanistan. Earlier milestones in that war included bombings of the Khobar Towers, our embassies in Africa, the U.S.S. Cole, and the first (unsuccessful) World Trade Center attempt. Still, most Americans didn't pay attention until jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

At that point the question became, "What can we do?" Our military doctrine is designed to counter enemy nation states. We don't have a diplomatic or military doctrine to deal with a rogue social/political/religious movement that exists in maybe 40+ countries, including our own and those of our main allies.

Since we had no idea how to counter an often suicidally murderous ideology that neither controlled nor defended territory, we did what we knew how to do. We invaded the nation state where most terrorists were trained - Afghanistan. Next we invaded Iraq, an Arab state that, while hostile to the United States, was probably not much of a threat. Again, we did what we know how to do, which is conquer a nation state.

Psychologists call this type of behavior "displacement," that is diverting one's attention (or aggression) to a target with which one knows how to deal. We got mad at al Qaeda but attacked Iraq, because we knew how to attack Iraq and didn't really know how to attack al Qaeda.

To date nobody has come up with a feasible solution to the Islamofascist problem. Individuals 'infected' with this ideology can be citizens of countries for which they don't constitute a problem because their enmity is directed mostly at the U.S. Asking those countries to "do something" about such individuals is likely to be futile inasmuch as they have broken no obvious laws at home.

Ralph Peters' Baghdad Blues

Ralph Peters, writing in the New York Post online, takes a dim view of the current leadership of the U.S. military. He notes that the top generals have never led (as opposed to "commanded" from a distance) a unit in combat, under fire. Peters compares them to bobble-head dolls, nodding in foolish agreement with every politician's dream of winning without violence and on the cheap.

On the other hand, his prescription for victory sounds a lot like the bitter slogan of GIs in Vietnam, faced with a similar mixture of enemies and civilians, "Kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out." Current U.S. public opinion doesn't support draconian measures. After the next 9/11, it may.

"Winning Dirty" in Iraq

Mort Kondracke is Executive Editor of Roll Call and a frequent panelist on Brit Hume's Fox News show. He writes in the RealClearPolitics website about what he calls "winning dirty" in Iraq.

In Iraq the Shia outnumber the Sunni three to one and would, in a democratic Iraq, control the country. Today U.S. troops are in the middle of a Sunni-Shia civil war trying, but failing, to keep the two sides from killing each other. As he points out, civil wars eventually end when one side wins and the other side loses.

Kondracke wonders if maybe we should side with those Shia who are not in Iran's pocket, while protecting the Kurd minority in the north. The result would be ugly, involve ethnic cleansing, and result in Sunni refugee flows into neighboring Sunni-majority countries. It could, however, leave Iraq with a government that represents most of the people and is not an active enemy of the U.S.

This proposal is an example of the often cited maxim "don't let the best become the enemy of the good." Our current goals represent "the best" outcome, while winning dirty represents, in the minds of some, a "good" outcome. Kondracke makes an interesting argument, I do recommend it for your consideration.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Conservative Humor Alert

Go here to see a great piece of conservative humor, based on the Geico caveman ads.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Barone on Demographic Trends

Michael Barone, writing in the Wall Street Journal online, analyzes population trends within the U.S. These population movements have clear political implications, which he lays out in his normal clear fashion.

Barone finds that Americans are moving away from the biggest coastal cities and being replaced there by immigrants. The mobile Americans are relocating to non-coastal places with much less immigrant inflow.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Mass Psychosis Alert

Rasmussen Reports' polling finds that 35% of Democrats believe President Bush knew about the 9/11 terror attacks before they happened. Further, 22% of the total population believes he knew. says psychosis is "a mental disorder characterized by symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations, that indicate impaired contact with reality." Sounds to me like a whale of a lot of Americans are psychotic. Many clearly have an impaired contact with reality.

If W really were as evil as they believe him to be, his enemies would all be in internment camps or dead. For sure he wouldn't have allowed the Congress to move to Democratic control in 2006.

And to think that we let these sad, paranoid people vote. Fortunately for the country, most of them don't bother.

The Fred Thompson Manifesto

Go here to read Fred Thompson's prepared remarks for the Lincoln Club annual dinner in Orange County. This man just might be the next Republican presidential nominee.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Kristol on the 2008 Election

William Kristol, writing in Time online, sees two dynamics working in the 2008 presidential election: change and war. Pretty clearly change will be on the minds of the electorate, he believes. This gives Democrats reason for optimism.

At the same time, it is also a wartime election, giving reason for Republican optimism. Bill Kristol thinks "wartime" will trump "change." Take a look at his historical analysis here.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

A Jaundiced Look at the Democrats' Debate

Ann Coulter fills the same role on the political right that Maureen Dowd fills on the left. Both are expert wielders of the satirical needle.

Here Coulter dips her poison pen in hydrochloric acid and writes an unflattering review of the recent Democratic presidential primary debate. If you enjoy conservative humor, it is good for a snicker or two.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Resistance to Change is Overstated

One of the most commonly held misconceptions is that people automatically resist change. Its more trendy formulation is that people resist being changed. I'd like to share with you another view, which is attributed to Professor Emeritus Jerry B. Harvey, of George Washington University.

Harvey observes that people don't resist change that is pleasant. If you won the lottery tomorrow it would surely change your life radically. If resistance to change were universal, you'd refuse to cash the ticket or give all your winnings to charity. In practice, hardly anyone does either.

What people do resist is pain. When change is painful, people resist it. Painful change takes many forms. It can arise from loss of income, loss of status, loss of skill, loss of friendship, or the need to start over.

If your employees are resisting change, it is because in some way they perceive the change as not in their best interests. Telling them it will be good for them in the long run often won't work. J. M. Keynes was right, "In the long run, we are all dead."

Paraphrasing Mary Poppins, you need a 'spoonful of sugar' to help the 'medicine' of change go down. People embrace change when they can see immediate personal benefits arising from that change. Seeing no major immediate personal losses doesn't hurt either.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Sen. Feinstein Conflict-of-Interest

I'm in California at the moment. Yesterday afternoon I was listening to award-winning talk show host, Tom Sullivan, on KFBK AM 1530 in Sacramento. He reported that California's senior Senator, Diane Feinstein served 6 years as the ranking Democrat on a Senate sub-committee that routed over a billion dollars in government contracts to firms with which her husband, Richard C. Blum, was either associated or controlled.

As evidence for these allegations, he cited this article by David Keene published in The Hill, a non-partisan newspaper focusing on the U.S. Congress. Keene reports that Feinstein did not recuse herself from legislation which directly benefited her husband. Maybe the most ironic fact Keene relates is that Feinstein now chairs the Senate Rules Committee which supervises senatorial ethics. Isn't that like having Bill Clinton teach a girls' Sunday school class or Ted Kennedy be a lifeguard?

My reaction: Can you say "Martha Stewart?" Are you surprised the 'unbiased' MSM have no interest in this story? Can you imagine DiFi doing the perp walk?

Unintended Consequence of Social Security

I love unintended consequences. This article in the Weekly Standard online is a great example. We all know that declining birth rates cause problems for Social Security. I'll bet most of us haven't figured out that Social Security can be a cause of declining birth rates.

First, let's review the facts. Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system. The payroll taxes you pay today are not saved for your retirement, they are used to pay the pension of someone who is now retired. The system's major problem is our aging population. The reasons for this aging are twofold: we live longer and have fewer children. As the ratio of younger workers to older retirees declines, fewer workers have to pay higher taxes to support more retirees.

Capretta's argument is that people in societies without retirement plans have more children in order to be sure to have care-givers in their declining years. People in societies with retirement plans have fewer children as they rely instead on government payments for old-age support. Much of the money they might have spent raising children gets paid into formal retirement plans instead. Thus, the existence of a retirement system removes one motivation for large families, and also reduces the earnings available to raise children.

I find this interesting because while I knew that a declining birth rate caused problems for Social Security, I hadn't spotted that Social Security helps cause a declining birth rate.

Why They Hate George W.

See Wes Pruden's light-hearted disquisition on the phenomenon of "Bush hating." He begins with a dissection of New York Times' bilious opinion columnist Frank Rich.

However, as Pruden points out, hating the President is nothing new. Lincoln was reviled as a baboon, Jackson as a hick, millions unfairly blamed Hoover for the depression, and GOP dislike of FDR was legendary. Who can forget our dismay at boorish Lyndon Johnson showing people his operation scar, or picking up his dog by the ears? And, Pruden reminds us, we didn't so much hate Bill Clinton as be embarrassed to have Bubba as our elected "groper-in-chief."

Recently, hating George W. has provided more-or-less innocent merriment (hat tip to Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado) to many on the left. These sad souls will need to find alternative entertainment after January, 2009.

Still More on Climate Change

See this article reporting research from Sweden regarding climate change in the North and South Atlantic basin. Using data from the last 10,000 years, they find that when the north is warm, the south is cold and vice versa.

Be clear, they aren't talking about the annual switch from summer in the north to summer in the south. Instead, for prolonged periods the North Atlantic area will be warm while the South Atlantic area will be cold, then north and south trade climates.

The Swedish researchers believe this variation is driven by changing ocean currents. These same currents influence the frequency and intensity of hurricanes.