Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Wrong Diagnosis

Take a look at this article in The American Thinker which argues that the declining number of males in universities (down to 43%) is the result of feminism and women's studies programs. I suspect this is the right problem but the wrong diagnosis.

If you look at the number of men and women college graduates in various groups you find that the differences in some categories (i.e., European Americans, Asian Americans) are insignificant and in other groups are quite large. Historically much larger numbers of Hispanic and African American women have graduated from college than men from the same groups. The reasons for these imbalances are unclear and in any case beyond the scope of this post.

As colleges have attempted to make their student populations more representative of the national population, they have increased their enrollment of Hispanics and African Americans and have thereby, quite unintentionally, aggravated the female/male imbalance.

It is often the case that an attempt to solve one problem inadvertently creates another problem.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Sotomayor Nomination

The President has nominated Federal Appeals Court judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace retiring David Souter on the Supreme Court. As John McCain reminded an audience recently, "elections have consequences."

One of the consequences of electing Barack Obama President is the nomination of judges selected from the various interest groups which comprise the Democratic Party. To expect anything else is folly. Sotomayor was selected to appeal to three interest groups: diabetics, women and Hispanics.

This president received a majority of the votes cast in 2008 and is entitled to nominate whom he chooses. The Senate is entitled to confirm or not confirm those nominations and, inasmuch as there is a Democratic majority in the Senate, his nominations are likely to be approved.

Replacing liberal Souter with liberal Sotomayor is not likely to be consequential. Only when a liberal replaces a conservative, or vice versa, is the appointment likely to be important. The court's conservatives aren't particularly old and are unlikely to retire during an Obama administration. The court's liberals are older and Obama will probably get to replace many of them with younger judges.

The court's even balance of liberals and conservatives will probably continue into the forseeable future, regardless of who is president.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Travel Blogging V

Dateline: Star Valley, Wyoming. Today we drove from Rock Springs to our home here in the Star Valley. It is a nice drive, not too long and mostly scenic. The Star Valley is building up somewhat quickly; it is both a resort area and a bedroom community for Jackson.

Jackson is a three-season resort; spring is the only "down" season. Winter is the season for skiing and snowmobiling, summer is for camping, fishing and river-rafting, and fall is for hunting deer, elk, and bear.

Like Meeker about which we wrote yesterday, Jackson has been "discovered" by the rich and super-rich. In the Jackson real estate market, the joke is that the billionaires are buying out the millionaires. Consequently, real people who work in Jackson cannot afford to buy homes there.

Police, teachers, hospital staff, civil servants either rent or live elsewhere and commute. Those who commute from the Star Valley drive 100 miles a day to reach their jobs in Jackson. That drive must be exciting during the long winters we get here in the Rockies.

This is the last edition of Travel Blogging for the next month or so. In the meanwhile, we return to commentary upon politics, world affairs and other interests like the one below.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Harry Potter Discontinuity

We are currently listening to Book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and we hear about thestrals, winged horses, being used as part of the Order of the Phoenix's effort to safely spirit Harry away from the Dursley's home. When they arrive the thestrals are allowed to hang out in the garden at The Burrow, the home of the Weasley family. There they are said to "browse" which when applied to animals means eat plants.

In volume 5, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, we first encounter thestrals. Later that year Rubeus Hagrid demonstrates that they are meat-eaters, and at the end of that year Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny, Luna, and Neville fly to London on thestrals which are attracted to them by the giant blood on the robes of Harry and Hermione.

Animals which Hagrid attracts by providing a half carcass of a cow, and later Harry attracts with fresh blood on his robe, such animals are carnivores. They won't "browse" on plants as is alleged in Book 7. Once again we see that Rowling's continuity editors dropped the ball.

Travel Blogging IV

Dateline: Rock Springs, Wyoming. We spent the last three nights in Meeker, Colorado, visiting relatives who ranch there. I have three cousins living in the area, and we visited two of these and their spouses. We learned a lot about cow-calf operations, which is what Cousin Bill operates. Meeker is a very pretty part of north-western Colorado. Around Meeker there are pine forests, aspen forests, scrub-covered hillsides, farmed meadows, you name it.

A bunch of wealthy folks have 'discovered' the region and bought ranches to use as hunting lodges and summer places. Everybody in the area seems to love hunting and shooting. Yesterday as we were out for a scenic drive a herd of maybe 35 elk ran across the gravel road in front of us - beautiful animals that are also very tasty.

Meeker is a part of the so-called "overthrust belt," an oil and gas producing region that runs all the way north into Alberta. A number of otherwise pristine canyons have large oil or gas facilities "decorating" them. Before the petroleum firms arrived there wasn't much going on except agriculture and the various activities which support it, plus hunting-based tourism.

Today we drove north out of Meeker through Craig and on north to link up with I-80, where we turned west. A lot of the day we drove through rain. We noted again a thing we've noticed many times before: the nature of the terrain often changes at the state line. Can this be coincidence? As we drove north out of Colorado into south-central Wyoming the terrain became dramatically less interesting and less picturesque when we crossed the state border. Northern Colorado is just better looking than south-central Wyoming.

As we drove today, we must have seen several hundred pronghorns also called antelope, in groups of 5 or 10, within a hundred yards of the highways. These animals have very pretty and dramatic coloring: tan and white and black. I guess they may be attracted to the area along the roads because in winter the roads are salted and the salt contains minerals they need but otherwise don't get from their browse.

Pronghorn don't pay any attention to cars passing, but I understand they are very leery of a hunter on foot. This is the reason hunters want extra-long range rifles with very high power scope sights, so they can shoot them at extreme distances. Wyoming hunters refer to them as "goats," I think because a skinned antelope looks like a skinned goat, being about the same size and body shape. Once again you'll find pictures from our last few days on the other DrC's blog at

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hinderaker on Pelosi

John Hinderaker is one of the three guys who write Power Line. Here (on May 22) is his view of our dear Speaker of the House:
Nancy Pelosi is a fool and a liar.... Anyone who saw her self-destructive press conference must wonder, further, whether she requires medication to get through the day and sometimes forgets to take her pills. There is no other obvious explanation for her bizarre performance, for her wild charges, or for her current, pathetic plea to forget the whole thing.
Hinderaker concludes:
The country, to put it mildly, is not in good hands.
Sadly, I concur.

Rasmussen: Voters Want Less

Rasmussen once again asks the right question and learns what the "peeps" are thinking. Check out his summary paragraph:
For nearly four-out-of-five U.S. voters, the problem is not their unwillingness to pay taxes. It’s their elected representatives’ refusal to cut the size of government.
I suspect a lot of voters feel that programs they don't personally benefit from are the programs deserving a cut. Even so, politicians who plan to seek reelection may want to pay attention to the "tea party" sentiments abroad in the land.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Travel Blogging III

Dateline: Green River, Utah. In the last three days we've visited Bryce Canyon National Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park, and have driven across central Utah. What follows are some thoughts about these places.

First, if you drive north from Bryce to I-70 and then east to Green River, as we did today, you see an enormous amount of essentially empty country. Across the middle of Utah on I-70 there is a stretch of roughly 100 miles where you literally can't buy a gallon of gasoline, or find a motel room. So...what is my point? The point is that most Americans live in urban places and have the feeling that the United States is densely populated - it isn't. Much of this country is essentially unpopulated - lightly-used pasture, forest or just wasteland.

Second, Bryce is one of those places you've got to see to believe. You'll look at the odd spires the sandstone has eroded into at Bryce and tell yourself rock cannot do stuff like this. Seriously, it looks like something Walt Disney dreamed up and put together out of wire mesh and gunite. It looks like Disney but is actually Mom Nature's work: gaudy colors, hoodoos and natural bridges.

Third, Kodachrome Basin was named for the color film, by the National Geographic Society. Its claim to fame is a crop of rock phallic symbols of many sizes and shapes. Check out the second picture for this area at the other DrC's blog ( - it is 30 feet tall, anatomically correct enough to be X-rated, and entirely natural in occurrence. Kodachrome Basin is not heavily visited, being overshadowed by several National Park Service attractions nearby.

Fourth, Green River is one of those towns that seem to have little intrinsic reason to exist. Half the storefronts in town are empty, and the other half look like they might be soon. In that it reminds me of Lovelock, Nevada, or some of the little towns in the Texas outback.

I'd guess most of Green River's revenue comes from providing services to folks passing through on I-70. That and maintaining the infrastructure: highway repair, police, fire, utilities, and schools for the kids of the folks who do all of the above. It is 100 miles from Grand Junction, CO, and 130 from Provo, UT, probably the nearest WalMarts or chain supermarkets. This place is seriously isolated.

Cheney's Star on Rise (Again)

Fascinating...former Vice President Dick Cheney, who was Mr. Unpopular in January when he left office, has become substantially more popular in the intervening four months. The difference: Cheney is now the leading spokesman for the GOP, attacking an Obama administration whose popularity has spent those four months declining. Not bad for Wyoming's favorite son.

Cheney's popularity has risen 8% in these four months. Due diligence: his unpopularity is still at 55%, not exactly Mr. Popular. The CNN survey results are here.

Quote of the Day

Karl Rove, writing for The Wall Street Journal, on the subject of President Obama's flip-flops:
America now has a president quite different from the person who advertised himself for the job last year. Over time, those things can catch up to a politician.
Karl knows all about the "catch up" problem, his boss W. had it too. The whole article is worth your time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Taxes Matter: A Data Point

On May 17, COTTonLINE wrote about the negative impact state income taxes have on state economic development. Here is a New York Post article by Tom Golisano, CEO of PAYCHEX, saying he is moving from New York (a high state income tax state) to Florida (a zero state income tax state) and that this will save him $5 million a year in state income tax.

When the CEO moves to Florida there is a great chance that the corporate headquarters will move there too. Imagine all of the jobs going out of state that move represents. Taxes matter.

The Governator Gets It

California Governor 'Ahnold' Schwarzenegger apparently understands the message voters sent in yesterday's special election. Check out these lines from him in the Sacramento Bee (imagine his Austrian accent):
I think the message was clear from the people: Go all out and make those cuts and live within your means.
And then delivering believably the role "politician" he has learned to portray, the Governator added:
And you know something? I appreciate that. When you hear that from the people, then it gives us a chance to go and adjust and say, "OK, we went the wrong direction. Now let's go in the right direction. Let's go do what the people want."
Anyone wanna bet he and the legislative leaders will try to make "those cuts" as painful as possible, so the voters can be persuaded to let them raise taxes?

Clueless Quote of the Day

California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, on the message he got from yesterday's special election by which CA voters rejected several measures aimed at covering the state revenue shortfall:

One thing we do know is the voters' wish list is a lot longer than the "I'm willing to pay for it" list. People are going to have to rectify the two.

Rectification happened yesterday, Bill. The voters' message is unambiguous:
Reduce state spending until it equals state revenue.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gallup: Parties Tied

Go see this Gallup poll result at the website. They find party identifications dead even, not good news for Democrats who have to defend their majorities in 2010.

True, the numbers vary from month to month, and will probably vary in directions any given voter doesn't like between now and November of 2010. Still, you've been told the GOP is in the toilet and the numbers from Gallup, which has no pro-GOP bias, say it just ain't so.

Take heart, friends on the right.

Gas Hike Threat

On Wednesday, May 6, 2009, COTTonLINE wrote of the dangers of the Obama administration raising gasoline prices via increased taxes. Here is the same idea raised by a senior CNNMoney writer, Peter Valdes-Dapena in an article for their website.

His basic thesis is that, instead of raising the CAFE or Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, as President Obama is suggesting, we should do whatever is necessary to raise the cost of fuel. Here is a key graph:
Experts say what's needed is a rule that will raise fuel prices. The proposed rules deal only with vehicles being produced, without pushing changes in consumer behavior.
Dear friends with SUVs, pickups and RVs, don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Happiness Is....

Check out this article reporting research by the Pew Research Center which shows that the happiest people are old, male, and Republican - in other words, me! Imagine - this occurs during a time when the national political agenda is controlled by Democrats.

And guess what, Republicans aren't happier because they are richer. Even when researchers control for income Democrats are just less happy, as are women. One could draw all sorts of speculative conclusions from this data, have fun with it.

Misery Map

Check out this map, created by the Associated Press, which shows the degree of economic misery in various parts of the United States. Their economic index weighs three variables: unemployment, foreclosures, and bankruptcy.

I find interesting that the western part of the U.S. is experiencing the most economic pain. On April 24 COTTonLINE cited a Michael Barone column which talked about the Sand States - California, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida - having many foreclosures. Clearly those foreclosures, and the associated collapse of the labor-intensive building industry, are a major contributor to the AP misery index.

Note: units on the map appear to be counties, which in the west tend to be much larger.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Travel Blogging II

Dateline: Springdale, Utah. Springdale is the small Utah town just outside the western entry station of Zion National Park. Like many old Utah towns it has stone-lined mini-canals running along the city streets. Mormon irrigation canals bring water down from the mountains all over the arid mountain west.

If you haven't seen Zion National Park, you've missed one of nature's truly spectacular places. Sheer red sandstone cliffs rise many hundreds of feet above the Virgin River. At Zion you see these cliffs from the bottom, rather than the top as you do at the Grand Canyon or Bryce.

At the other DrC's blog ( you'll see her pictures of this amazing place. Zion isn't an easy place to take pictures, everything is simply too big and we humans are too small.

We have returned to Zion many times. We came here together for the first time in 1974; I came with my parents in 1950. A wonderful thing - national parks don't change. Decade after decade, one sees the same natural wonders.

Yesterday afternoon we took the walk from the Temple of Sinawava to the Narrows. This is an easy stroll along the Virgin River as the canyon walls get closer and closer together, until they are maybe 30 feet apart and rise upward in sheer red walls perhaps nearly a thousand feet. Amazing....

State Tax Policies Matter

Do you think state tax rates are irrelevant? Maybe that taxing the rich is a great idea? Read this Wall Street Journal article by Laffer and Moore; they show that states with high taxes are hurting economically, while those with low taxes are growing.

You can attribute the success of low tax states like Texas to chance, if you believe in coincidence. As a high-income individual you may have the choice of paying 10% state income tax in California or 0% in Texas. Could you figure out something useful to do with 10% of your income?

I'm of the opinion that the rich get that way, and stay that way, by being smart about money. Many high income individuals, particularly retirees, can choose where to earn their income. A list of the states with no state or local income taxes isn't hard to come by and includes Sun Belt states Florida and Texas.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Quote of the Day

Today's quote comes from a Wall Street Journal editorial, probably authored by Paul Gigot:
President Obama's endorsements of Bush-Cheney antiterror policies are by now routine: for example, opposing the release of prisoner abuse photographs and support for indefinite detention for some detainees, and that's just this week.
Obama has the chutzpah to call this continuation of hated Bush antiterror policies "change." This caving-in cannot be going down well with the moonbats, who were Obama's campaign shock troops.

CIA Chief Wimps Out

Go here to this Politico column to read the entire memo from CIA Director Leon Panetta to his employees concerning the controversy about what Nancy Pelosi knew and when she knew it. The memo is interesting reading. Here is a key section:
The political debates about interrogation reached a new decibel level yesterday when the CIA was accused of misleading Congress. Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values. As the Agency indicated previously in response to Congressional inquiries, our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing “the enhanced techniques that had been employed.”
On first reading that sounds very tough, so go read it again. Then see Panetta's next sentence:
Ultimately, it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened.
There is the wimp-out. If, in order to protect Madam Speaker, the Democrat-controlled Congress concludes that the CIA cooked the books, recorded something other than what happened, it is okay with Panetta. He is ready to throw the CIA record-writers under the bus.

You should know three things about this situation: First, Leon Panetta is a former Clinton Chief of Staff, long-time Democrat member of Congress, and no enemy of his party. Second, he was not associated with the CIA when the 2002 briefing took place. Third, Porter Goss who was the Republican Congressional committee chair at the same time that Pelosi was the ranking Democrat minority member, and who attended the same briefings, agrees with the CIA's version of the story.

H. Potter Plot Glitch

The other DrC and I are listening to H.P.6 on the CD player in the truck as we drive. We ran across one of those irritating things that says Rowling's continuity editor dropped the ball. Let me set up for you the issue as it appears.

During the summer before Potter's sixth year at Hogwarts School, he and Dumbledore visit a retired professor, one Horace Slughorn, and convince him to return to teaching. This happens just before Harry's birthday on July 31, as Harry subsequently spends his birthday at The Burrow, the home of the Weasleys. Some 5-6 weeks later Slughorn teaches his first lesson and has a variety of cauldrons of potion simmering in the classroom for the students to identify, learn about, etc. One of those cauldrons contained felix felices, the lucky potion.

Some months later Ron says to Harry, something like "Wouldn't it be handy to brew our own supply of lucky potion?" So Harry looks it up and discovers it takes six months to brew. Slughorn simply didn't have time to brew it up from the time he agreed to return until the time the first class on or about September 2. Old Sluggy says, and we have no reason to doubt him, that he's only taken it twice in his life and neither time was recently, so there is no reason to believe he had brewed it up just to "have on hand."

The literary screw-up wasn't him showing students the potion, the error was Rowling gratuitously introducing the idea that it takes 6 months to brew, a factoid that adds little to the story and could easily have been omitted. I suppose Slughorn could have used a time turner to go back six months and start the potion, but that is extremely improbable and entirely unnecessary from a plotting point of view. Nobody puts that kind of energy into lecture preparation.

Travel Blogging I

Dateline: Las Vegas, NV. What can you say about "Lost Wages" that hasn't been said before? It has been "over the top" for decades. It still is, so much for that.

I just surveyed the entertainers performing here and was struck by how self-referential Las Vegas has become. In addition to the usual has-beens (Cher, the Osmonds, Barry Manilow), there are lots of performers doing retrospectives of former greats (the Jersey Boys, the Rat Pack imitators) as well as a number of nobodies being touted as somebodies. Frankly, except for a couple of current comics, the only first class stuff being done are the various companies of Cirque de Soliel, entirely too many magicians and a couple of companies doing hit Broadway shows (Phantom of the Opera, Lion King).

I suppose part of the issue is that with a bad economy there are fewer high rollers here to support the first-class acts. Another issue is that this is a traditionally flat time for Vegas, the snowbirds have gone home and the summer visitors haven't shown up yet.

The temperature is already nearing 100 degrees, but, as they say here "it's dry so you don't suffer too much." That is true up to about 105, above that "dry" doesn't cut it, the heat is miserable.

We got out of the tourist area and into the normal part of the city this evening. If you weren't paying close attention you could mistake it for a reasonably new suburb in Southern California. The town has mushroomed in the last decade.

We spent Wednesday night near Mojave, and the wind blew a gale, actually rocking the RV. It made very clear why there were a whole bunch of wind generators in the pass between Bakersfield and Mojave. When we awoke on Thursday you'd wonder if it had been a dream, no wind at all. Interesting weather patterns....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Travel Blogging Alert

COTTonLINE will be "on the road" for the next 2-3 weeks. We are wandering the highways in our RV, a 35' Hitchhiker 5th wheel pulled by a Ford F-350 diesel crew-cab, long-bed truck.

Expect to hear postings from places like Las Vegas, Springdale, Utah, and maybe Meeker, Colorado. An RV is a good way to see the southwest, we've done it many times over the last 37 years, and hope to do it several more times before we finally park the RV.

We met a German couple today who've rented a small Class C motorhome and are spending four weeks driving the west - starting and ending in Las Vegas. They'll view scenery totally unlike anything in Europe - what a spectacular trip.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Viguerie Speaks

Richard Viguerie, famous proponent of political direct mail, concludes about the future of the GOP:
Moving left would please Democrats, The New York Times and others with vested interests against smaller and constitutional government -- which is why that is against the best interests of the people.

Republicans should realize that when their political opponents and enemies want them to position themselves to the left, it's in their opponents' best interests -- not theirs.
Makes sense to me.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Quote of the Day III

Victor Davis Hanson, writing for the National Review, about the Democrats' odd coalition:
The nexus between those who don’t pay taxes and those who have so much money that they don’t worry about taxes.
That is a nice turn of phrase. Most of us are somewhere in between the poor and the super-rich.

Quote of the Day II

President Barack Obama, speaking at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner about his relationship with the press:

Most of you covered me; all of you voted for me. Apologies to the Fox table.
It's not clear whether (a) the One meant Fox wasn't included in "all of you," or (b) he was outing the Fox folks as secret O supporters.
The article cited is from The Washington Post.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Arias: It's Our Fault

Oscar Arias, President of Costa Rica, said some amazing things at the Summit of the Americas (text here). This was the same meeting where thugs like Chavez and Morales were trashing the U.S. as our new President sat calmly listening.

Arias said most of Latin America's troubles are their own fault. That Latin America started out with the same advantages as Canada and the U.S. but accomplished dramatically less with them. Let me share with you some samples from his speech:
Fifty years ago, Mexico was richer than Portugal. In 1950, a country such as Brazil had a higher per capita income than that of South Korea. Sixty years ago, Honduras had more riches per capita than Singapore, and today Singapore – in something like 35 or 40 years – is a country with $40,000 annual income per person. Well, we Latin Americans did something wrong.
He concludes:
In 1950 each American citizen was four times richer than a Latin American citizen. Today, an American citizen is 10, 15 or 20 times richer than a Latin American. That is not the fault of the United States, it’s our fault.
Yes, the countries of Latin America are responsible for their outcomes. Maybe this can be attributed to the legacy of Iberian (Spanish and Portuguese) colonial culture as opposed to the British colonial culture which became the basis for Canada and the United States. Culture matters, and (warning: non-PC thought ahead) not all cultures are equally useful at achieving societal economic success.

Go read the entire, short text of President Arias' remarks; he gets it.

Quote of the Day

The entertaining Mark Steyn, writing for the Orange County Register, on the future of the Republican Party:
When the going gets tough, you don't, as Gen. Powell advises, "move toward the center." You move the center toward you, as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher did.
I do like his style: "Move the center toward you."

Friday, May 8, 2009

I Was First

Victor Davis Hanson, who writes for the National Review Online, has used the Joseph Welch "Have you no sense of decency" phrase in a blog posting about Nancy Pelosi. I want the record to show I used it in that context before he did. My Pelosi posting using that phrase was at 12:30 a.m. on 05/08/09 and his was almost nine hours later at 9:22 a.m. on 05/08/09.

I am certain we came up with this formulation independently.

Pelosi Truth Deficit

We joke about politicians lying anytime their lips are moving. Even so, there should be some sort of penalty for bald-faced fibbing.

Assuming the document described here is legitimate and accurate, it would appear the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi straight out lied about what she knew (about waterboarding) and when she knew it. Someone in the public eye needs to stand up, point a finger, and ask in the famous words of Joseph Welch, "Have you left no sense of decency?"

Nobody bothers to ask this question because the answer is sadly self-evident.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Quote of the Day

Grant Ellis, writing in the American Thinker,
Without an effective strategy against modern leftist political terrorism, America is doomed to a fate called France.
Zut alors! That is a nice turn of phrase.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

$5 Per Gallon Gas

President Obama has been pushing auto companies to build cars that get very good fuel mileage. He has been doing this in spite of knowing, as he must, that Americans don't like to drive little, high mileage cars.

Articles, like this one from The Wall Street Journal, often make reference to our widespread dislike for European-style minicars with the comment that they only sell here when gas prices are high. The Journal says:
Unless gasoline prices go to $5 a gallon, Mr. Marchionne (head of Fiat) certainly is not so foolish to believe making and selling teensy eurocars in the U.S. is anybody's route to salvation.
As I read that I had a really unpleasant epiphany. What if Obama is pushing minicars because he plans to double the price of gasoline by imposing really high taxes. By pushing the price of gasoline up to around $5/gallon he can create a continuing interest in little, fuel-efficient cars. At the same time, he can raise enormous tax revenue to help fund universal health care.

According to this government source, we use 390 million gallons of gasoline per day. A tax of $2.50 per gallon would bring the government roughly a billion dollars per day at current consumption levels. Even if consumption was cut in half, we would still be talking about nearly $200 billion. That would pay for a lot of doctor's visits, a lot of prescriptions. This would represent another bold step in the Europeanization of our United States.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Journalism's Decline

Debra J. Saunders writes a thoughtful column for Creator's Syndicate, about the decline of the news business. She reaches many of the same conclusions we've reached here at COTTonLINE. She finishes up:
There are days I wonder if newspaper and network news execs cannot change by broadening their ideological diversity — even to save themselves. They'll keep telling themselves that they are unbiased — up until the end.
Amen, sister.

Quote of the Day

Rich Lowry, writing in The New York Post, about Arlen Specter:
Specter joined the Republican Party in the '60s for opportunistic reasons, and he left it last week for opportunistic reasons.
'Nuff said. Those are the bookends of Arlen Specter's career.

Silly Enemies List

Every now and then our British "cousins" across the pond do something silly. Have you seen this article about the United Kingdom banning 16 people from entering, one of them being radio talk host Michael Savage?

What isn't clear is whether any or all of them had applied for entry, my guess is none of them. Reportedly two of the people on the list are currently in prison; it is hard to imagine either of them showing up at Heathrow anytime soon with passport in hand.

Can you picture how much envy this will engender among the other talk hosts of the right? I can imagine Sean, Rush and others saying, maybe privately, maybe on air, "Dang, why didn't I get included in their list of 'dangerous' individuals? That is great publicity."

I suspect in this great (and diverse) land of ours there are individuals with much more extreme views than Michael Savage. Where are our skinhead leaders, our animal rights extremists, our Weather Underground alumni, our black nationalists including Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright, our ACORN nuts? Our Obama-is-too-moderate moonbats who dream of waterboarding Dick Cheney?

The U.S. has no monopoly on badasses. How did Iranian leader Ahmadinejad, who advocates the elimination of an entire nation, get left off the list? The leaders of the genocide in Darfur? The leaders of violent, drug-involved FARC and Shining Path? The leaders of China, who oppress Tibet? The leaders of the Naxalites in India? The Taliban?

You get the point. Once you start a list like this who you include (and omit) says more about you than about the people on the list. The Brits' list says of them "we're a bit dotty."

Monday, May 4, 2009

More on Multiculturalism

On the 29th of April we wrote about the failure of multiculturalism in Canada. Here is a Times article about the failure of multiculturalism in Britain, specifically in Brixton which is a London neighborhood.

The voluntary segregation in a nominally integrated environment that he describes in Brixton is exactly what I have observed for decades in universities. Universities have made every effort to create a multicultural student group, to the point of setting up (off-the-record) racial quotas with quite different admission standards for each.

Oddly enough, once on campus the heterogeneous student group segregates itself when in those settings where the composition of groups is within student control. In class and other official university settings, students are integrated. Out of class, in the student union or in off-campus housing arranged by the students, resegregation is pretty much the name of the game.

I would walk into a student union (fancy name for cafeteria and recreation building) and see students grouped around tables. Here I see a table of African-American students, there a table of Asian-American students, maybe a table of Hispanic-American students, dotted among several tables of European-Americans (aka "whites").

Dormitories are university-controlled and thus integrated. However, typically when "dormies" form voluntary groups to look for off-campus housing together - rent an apartment or house - those groups are mostly segregated.

My conclusion: the appearance of multiculturalism can be coerced, but true voluntary multiculturalism is probably quite rare.

Pity the Poor Chicken

The Los Angeles Times reports this is International Respect for Chickens Month. Good luck to the poor darned chickens. They are useful in almost as many ways as Al Capp's famous shmoo.

The other DrC and I have observed in our travels around the world that whereas McDonald's is the leading fast food outlet here in the States, it feels like KFC gives McD a very good run for the money overseas. We've seen many KFC in Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Central and South America.

You might ask "Why?" We answer: the chicken is nobodies sacred bird, nor is it anybodies taboo flesh. And, of course it is cheaper to raise than beef, pork, or lamb. The only people on the planet who don't eat chicken are vegetarians, and only India has a substantial vegetarian population. So...this planet is a tough place to be a chicken.

New Ice Age Feared

National Geographic News reports that the sun is more quiet than it has been in one hundred (100) years, "quiet" in the sense of producing no solar storms. That much is fact. There is also speculation that this could lead to another ice age, of unknown length. They note:
The coldest period of the Little Ice Age, between 1645 and 1715, has been linked to a deep dip in solar storms known as the Maunder Minimum.
Here at COTTonLINE we earlier noted the resemblance of current events to the earlier Maunder Minimum. It is odd how little our current situation resembles global warming; you might want to buy a really good parka.

European Travelers' Guide

If European travel is in your near future, check out this Reuters article about survey results of the best and worst of European major cities. For example, London is the dirtiest, but has the best free things to go see and do, Paris has the best food but is the least friendly - no surprises there. Copenhagen is cleanest, and Brussels is most boring, with Zurich as runner-up. Barcelona has the best architecture, Warsaw has the worst. There is more, go see the article.

I find it interesting that the only major German-speaking city mentioned in the article is Zurich, and that for being quite boring. Surely Vienna, Berlin, Frankfurt or Munich would be a most or least something? Perhaps the German cities are not extreme, being "sort of interesting" or "moderately expensive?" Or perhaps the unnamed author of the piece looks at a map of Europe and for whatever reason doesn't imagine traveling to the German speaking countries.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

MSM Errors of Omission

Do yourself a favor, read this column by Canadian Andrew Smith, who lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and writes for The Chronicle Herald of Halifax, Nova Scotia. He lists twelve Obama Administration screw-ups that the adulatory mainstream media of both countries have found too distasteful to much mention. Here is a sample:
•Obama abandoned his campaign promise to reform earmarks, signing the omnibus bill which contained 8,816 of them.
I haven't checked out all of his allegations, but they make interesting reading. As regular readers of COTTonLINE know, I do agree with his ultimate conclusion:
There’s a lesson there, though Fox News will be just as well pleased if the impeccably "mainstream" news business remains clueless about it. (snip) And they wonder why the news business has come on hard times.
Hat tip to for the citation.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Popularity Sags

Less than two weeks ago, on April 21 we wrote that the Rasmussen Presidential Approval Index had dropped to a new low of +2. Today it has dropped to a lower low of +1 since the percentage of voters who Strongly Approve (33%) minus the percentage who Strongly Disapprove (32%) equals the Presidential Approval Index of +1, a new low for President Obama. Here is the relevant Rasmussen Report.

One wonders just how soon this indicator will drop into negative territory? Almost certainly by the end of the second hundred days; that gives us something to which to look forward.

The Republican Future

Noemie Emery writes a very interesting piece on the future direction for the Republican Party, for The Weekly Standard. The point she makes is that the conservative movement and the Republican Party are not one and the same.

Rather, Emery observes that operating in a two party system, the Republican Party is a center-right party which includes, or should, everybody to the right of center in U.S. politics. She holds that while the conservative movement can be as pure and exclusionary as it chooses, the Republican Party should not. Its big tent should include everyone whose views don't fit comfortably in the Democrat Party. That is:
The Republican party is the vehicle for the center-right of the American polity, a group that includes the conservative movement, but is not quite of it, and includes many people who touch the conservative movement with different degrees of intensity, or only lightly, or on only a limited number of points.
I relate to Emery's party model. I agree with the GOP on tough defense and foreign policy, limited government and spending, lower taxes, and tough law enforcement. On the other hand, I agree with the Dems on abortion, secularization of government and the need for government regulation of the marketplace. At this point in our history, I don't think either party represents me on immigration. Both seem to favor amnesty for illegals.

I end up mostly voting GOP because I think defense is the most important thing government does. In other words, I touch the conservative movement in some places, not in others. On balance I'm a Republican, but not entirely a movement conservative.

Understanding Pakistan

On matters military, Ralph Peters who writes for the New York Post is always worth reading. See what Peters has to say about the reluctance shown by the Pakistani army to take on the Taliban within their country. We're asking the Pakistanis to undertake a civil war:
For a big part of the answer, look to our own history. Along the Indus River, 2009 looks worrisomely like 1861 did on the Potomac.
See his example of Col. Robert E. Lee who, when the chips were down, decided to fight on the side of his relatives, friends and neighbors instead of for the nation he had honorably served for decades. If you would understand the dilemma we force Pakistan to face, read Peters.