Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Political Humor Alert

Chris Muir, a cartoonist whose Day by Day strip is wonderful, today has his lead character say:
Daily killings, vote fraud, crumbling infrastructure, corruption - yet Obama and family jet to Copenhagen.
To all of this her husband replies:
Are you talking about Afghanistan or Chicago?
The punchline is the wife answering:
Hon, obviously I'm talking about...about... (this followed by a puzzled look).
Current news out of Chicago suggests perhaps the two are not so dissimilar.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Travel Blogging II

The Wall Street Journal has run a recent article about economic hardship in Bend, OR. I'm sure there is some truth to it but the town sure looks busy and happy to these eyes. I saw a couple of businesses closed down, but most of the parking lots looked full. It is a good looking city, if you are willing to put up with somewhat long and cold winters.

Today we drove south from Bend, OR, to northern CA along US 97. Again, several hours of driving through country that is mostly unpopulated. We'd see a small town every 30-40 miles but we passed a lot of empty forest.

Interestingly, Oregon calls this forest "High Desert" because, I suppose, it doesn't get all the rain that the coastal and Willamette Valley parts of Oregon get. To a native Californian who regularly drives across Nevada, it doesn't look like desert at all. Different strokes....

Gender Imbalance on Campus

You see articles like this one from The Greenville News about the gender imbalance on college and university campuses. What is reported is that more women than men are enrolled in higher education.

What isn't much reported is that a lot of the imbalance occurs because campuses are pressured to recruit minority students and find that the minority students they are able to recruit and retain are women. In this article which runs four pages, here is all that is said about the impact of ethnic and racial designation on this imbalance, quoting Jacqueline King, an American Council on Education policy analyst:
In particular, black, Hispanic and low-income white males “are far outpaced by their female peers,” King said. (snip) In South Carolina, males make up 43 percent of enrollment at public four-year colleges, 40 percent of enrollment at technical colleges and 39 percent at private institutions, according to the state Commission on Higher Education. Males make up 31 percent of black enrollment at the state’s public four-year colleges, 29 percent of black enrollment at technical colleges and 36 percent of black enrollment at private colleges, according to commission data.
In four pages, that is all that is said about a major cause of the imbalance, perhaps the major cause of the imbalance. It is wonderful how political correctness causes folks to tiptoe around sensitive issues.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Travel Blogging I

Yesterday and the day before we drove across southern Idaho and eastern Oregon. Southern Idaho is relatively empty. Eastern Oregon is very empty - mile after mile of sage brush and the occasional juniper tree.

Southern Idaho is relatively flat, with the canyons carved by the Snake River winding here here and there. Eastern Oregon isn't flat at all, but rolling, quite dry, and mostly unpopulated.

If you have the impression that the U.S. is densely populated, crowded, and overrun, go visit eastern Oregon along US 20 - a classic blue line highway - and it will change your mind. Large parts of this great land have almost no population and substantial acreage is either lightly used pasture or unused at all.

You owe it to yourself to go see North America. The other DrC and I have visited 70+ countries and none contains as much spectacular scenery as the U.S.

Public Against Health Reform

The Rasmussen Reports polling organization finds that only 41% of those polled favor the Obama health care reform plan, whereas 56% oppose it. Rasmussen notes:
That’s down two points from a week ago and the lowest level of support yet measured.
I believe it is time for the President to change the subject; he isn't looking good in the health care arena.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

No Apology Needed

Our President goes to the United Nations and apologizes for U.S. foreign policy. I believe he doesn't speak for many COTTonLINE readers.

On the other hand, in the last nine months there has been much for which he should apologize. Mostly this consists of extending the hand of friendship to hostile dictators while turning his back on our allies.

I find myself asking whether our President likes or dislikes the United States. It is a question I haven't asked since the Carter administration. I didn't much like Bill Clinton but I am sure that he loves our country.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Quote of the Day

Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis, quoting a Turkish general as saying:
The problem with having the Americans as your allies is that you never know when they'll turn around and stab themselves in the back.
The source for this quote is a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal. Recently the Hondurans, the Israelis, the Poles and the Czechs have learned the truth of this aphorism.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

California's Woes

From time to time COTTonLINE has given attention to the problems besetting state government in California. Troy Senik has written a long, thorough article for National Affairs on this very topic. If the topic interests you, and you have the time, go read it. For example, speaking of the untoward power of the California Teachers Association union, Senik says:
Despite having some of America's lowest-performing schools, California's teachers are the highest paid in the nation.
Do you suppose this is true?

Carter Calls Obama "Black Boy"

Go here on YouTube to see former Democratic President Jimmy Carter, being interviewed by Jim Lehr of PBS The News Hour, call Barack Obama "this black boy." We understand this usage is particularly offensive to African-Americans.

Hat tip to Jeffrey Lord writing for The American Spectator for the link.

You can't make this stuff up.

Political Humor Alert

This photo is from The Los Angeles Times, and shows anti-ACORN graffiti that has been appearing around downtown Los Angeles. The graffiti includes the ACORN logo and the words "Funded Prostitution Zone."

McChrystal Takes a Stand

In a confidential report leaked to The Washington Post, Afghanistan commander Army General Stanley McChrystal has requested more troops for the Afghanistan effort. He has also warned that we have perhaps 12-18 months to turn the losing situation there around.

This McClatchy article concerns the apparent stand expected of General McChrystal. What is new in the McClatchy article is the expectation that if he isn't given the troops he believes he needs, he will resign rather than preside over a losing effort.

McChrystal is not quoted to this effect, other officers are quoted as believing it is what he might do. McChrystal has plausible deniability. In other words, it may be a bluff or it may be an accurate assessment of his intentions. Generals have been fired for less, think MacArthur in Korea.

McChrystal was sent to Afghanistan to replace the former commander who Obama fired. If the White House calls McChrystal's bluff and he does resign, it will be a serious setback for an administration that already has had several and doesn't need any more.

Once again, the rock and hard place are in close proximity. Being President is no easy task.

Mandatory Health Insurance is Necessary

If a motorcyclist has an accident and injures himself to the point where he is a vegetable, you and I get to pay to take care of him for he rest of his life. This being the case, in most states we insist he wear a helmet as it reduces the odds of our being saddled with his lifetime care.

Similarly, if a healthy young person elects not to buy health insurance and subsequently becomes very ill, once again we will pay his bills. Our society is uncomfortable with the idea of allowing that improvident person to die because he or she has no insurance nor cash with which to pay their bills.

If we are unwilling to allow persons without means to sicken and die without care, then we must require them to purchase health insurance if at all possible. Not to do so is to encounter "adverse selection." "Adverse selection" occurs when only the people likely to get very sick buy insurance. If that happens, the premiums will be horrendous.

If requiring healthy young people to buy health insurance is a tax increase, so be it. In this case, the old business professor's knowledge of insurance principles outweighs the old conservative's desire not to raise taxes or to interfere in peoples' lives.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Gallup: Government Too Involved

See this Gallup polling report about the level of government involvement in our lives. Here is the question they've been asking since 1993:
Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Others think that government should do more to solve our country's problems. Which comes closer to your own view?
Currently 57% of those polled agree with the first statement: "government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses."
Only 38% want the government more involved.

Go here to see the Gallup chart which shows that, with the exception of a brief period in 2001, there have always been more Americans agreeing with the first statement than with the second. Commentators describe the U.S. as a basically conservative, pro-capitalist nation; this chart explains why.

Electoral Talent Doesn't Translate

Recently there have been several individuals who are very talented at getting elected but not talented at governing, once elected. Off hand I think of President Obama and Governor Schwarzenegger, to mention notable examples from both of the major political parties.

Can we think of a way, a priori, to identify such candidates before they are elected? Certainly one thing these two had in common was very little experience in elective office.

Given the poisonous nature of our current politics, I suspect their inexperience was viewed by the electorate as an advantage. Of course it turned out to be a crippling disadvantage.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quote of the Day

Edward Lucas, writing for the London Telegraph about President Obama:
Regimes in Moscow, Pyongyang and Tehran simply pocket his concessions and carry on as before. The picture emerging from the White House is a disturbing one, of timidity, clumsiness and short-term calculation. Some say he is the weakest president since Jimmy Carter.
Here at COTTonLINE we've been making the comparison with Carter for some months now. Meanwhile, grotesque examples of Obama's replay of the Carter foreign policy continue to pile up.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Quote of the Day

Mary Anastasia O'Grady, writing for The Wall Street Journal, about the impact of drug cartels on Mexican officialdom:
Government officials who couldn't be bought with silver were eliminated with lead.
That is a very poetic, albeit metallic, statement of the problem.

Demography Is Destiny

The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating article by Gunnar Heinsohn about the demographic reasons why Afghanistan is a tough fight first for the Soviet Union and now for a NATO force that is mostly the U.S. The basic issue is the comparative birth rates:
Decade after decade, the women of Afghanistan have been averaging three to four sons each. This means even if an Afghan family loses two or more boys on the battlefield—"disposable sons"—it still has one or two male offsprings at home to carry the family into the next generation. Russian soldiers in 1979, however, were likely to be only sons. Statistically, that is also true for American soldiers in 2009.
Among several candidates for the most chilling phrase you'll hear this year, surely "disposable sons" must rank high.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Racism Flow Chart

This tragicomic flowchart is provided by, the original can be accessed here. Hat tip to the guys at Power Line for the link. Click on the chart to enlarge it.

Color Blindness

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) of San Francisco, was filmed making the following heart-felt plea, available here on RealClearPolitics:
I have concerns about some of the language that is being used because I saw... I saw this myself in the late '70s in San Francisco. This kind of rhetoric is just, is really frightening and it created a climate in which we, violence took place and ... I wish that we would all, again, curb our enthusiasm in some of the statements that are made.
No doubt what she says is sincere and represents her true feelings. When her pals on the left are on the receiving end she frets. When folks on the right are receiving the vitriol, as was abundantly true during the eight years of the Bush administration, she was notably quiet.

There are blue states and red states. One could wish Speaker Pelosi was equally concerned about possible violence directed toward all, not just toward her blue state friends and supporters.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Racism and Politics

Former President Jimmy Carter has famously said that criticism of Barack Obama is racism. Does that mean that the African-Americans who criticized President Bush were racists too? If women criticize men in office is that sexism? Or vice versa?

People in, or running for, elective or appointive office are legitimate targets of criticism. Get over it. Otherwise the only people who can criticize an official are those of the same race and gender - patently ridiculous. If that were true, we'd have to elect only white females in order not to disenfranchise the largest single group.

Destroying Trust

CNN reports the Obama administration has decided not to go forward with the missile shield for Europe. Components of the system were to be located in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Both of these countries greatly offended neighbor Russia in order to agree to U.S. basing in their countries. Now they don't get the missile shield and their neighbor Russia is still angry at them. In other words, Obama decided it was more important to please Russia than to protect Europe from Iranian nuclear missiles.

This is a glaring example of dumping two small friends to try to snuggle up to a larger one. Can you imagine any small country will trust the U.S. again anytime soon?

It was once said that U.S. politics ended at the waterline, that our diplomacy was apolitical. If it was ever true, it is true no longer.

Thanks to Obama it is now clear to every potential ally (or enemy) of the U.S. that our political parties have different diplomatic styles and goals. Within two or four years our next election may (or may not) change whatever deal you've struck with us.

Being an unreliable partner does not build trust.

A Great Idea

See this Wall Street Journal article about a really clever idea thought up by the police in Peoria, IL. They've got an old armored Brinks truck outfitted with infrared cameras and labeled "PEORIA POLICE Nuisance Property Surveillance Vehicle."

They park it on the street in front of houses neighbors have complained are being used to sell drugs. Being largely indestructible, it tends to drive drug sellers and drug buyers out of the neighborhood quick.

I like this idea a lot. Suggest it to your police department if these problems exist in your town. The article explains how to outfit the truck for this job. The upside is great and the downside is minimal.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

WSJ Cute Animal Story

You think The Wall Street Journal only covers financial and political news? Think again. This WSJ article deals with a baby monk seal named KP2 who was raised by people and, it would seem, thinks he is one of us. Unfortunately, KP2 is getting too big to be safe for people to swim with.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is planning to remove KP2 from the Molokai folks he loves (and who love him) and ship him to a place with no people. The folks on Molokai will survive the loss of their friend.

Nowhere in the article does it say what this separation may do to the well-being of the seal. Seals are a social species. KP2 has no clue how to fraternize with other seals as he has spent no time with them. I believe he'd be better off in a Sea World-type setting where he can continue to interact with people.

The Perfidy of the Old Media

Go read this American Spectator article entitled "Media Malpractice: Tom Brokaw's World Implodes" written in the form of an open letter to Tom Brokaw. It is a summary of Old Media failures to report stories the left doesn't like, going back to Jack Kennedy's various affairs while in the White House.

A hat tip to for alerting me to this gem.

The Worm Turns

The journalists at Politico are usually fairly supportive of the President, so when they run this opinion piece by Jeremy Lott you know they have become disillusioned. Lott says of Obama's efforts at sweeping change:
So far, he’s failing miserably. (snip) The question that most political handicappers are considering right now is not “Will Republicans make gains at the midterm elections?” but “How large will those gains be?”
And then Lott concludes:
What all this means is, barring some unforeseeable world event, Obama’s will probably not be a historic presidency. He will have some successes and a lot of failures. His opposition won’t roll over, and his party will refuse to go along with his more costly, and thus risky, schemes. He won’t coast to reelection.
Do you remember how people were saying the Republicans were destroyed only six months ago? A week is forever in politics.

Political Humor Alert

The folks in the photo above were part of the crowd of anti-Obama protesters on the Mall in Washington on Saturday, September 12. I like the way they are making fun of Obama's czars. This photo comes from the Jim Treacher blog, with our thanks to Jim.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Size Matters

If you've wondered just how large the crowd was at that anti-Obama march in Washington Saturday, this article in Pajamas Media by Charlie Martin does a pretty fair job of estimating the crowd size. He comes up with a number in the neighborhood of 850,000.

It may have been larger, too. That is one big tea party for a nation that drinks coffee. I am encouraged.

About Russia

I recommend to you this Wall Street Journal article about Russia, written by Daniel Pipes. He has some insights you may find helpful. His main point is that, as the world's largest country, Russia sees itself as a Great Power.

Many of the objective facts about Russia today do not support this view: declining population, weak military, internal problems with their Islamic provinces, and declining influence with adjacent states that were formerly members of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, Russian citizens want to believe their nation a Great Power, much as France cannot accept that it is no longer a great empire.

Pipes' notion that it hurts nothing to treat the Russians as a Great Power is less solid. See what you think.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quote of the Day

Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana, speaking to the anti-Obama marchers in Washington, D.C., yesterday, as quoted in Power Line:
This Administration and this Congress are getting a badly needed history lesson, starting with just what our founders meant by 'consent of the governed.' If silence is consent, it is now revoked.
Go read the rest of his speech, it is a real stem-winder.

Violence in Chile

This rather odd article in the Latin American Herald Tribune reports violence in Chile on the 36th anniversary of the coup by which General Augusto Pinochet overthrew President Salvador Allende. It reports there is usually violence on this anniversary but doesn't indicate by whom, in favor of whom and against whom. I presume we are supposed to know these answers.

To read the article you'd never know that the overthrow of Allende was relatively popular among many Chileans. Perhaps the violence is enacted by Chileans embarrassed that they (or more likely their parents) didn't resist the coup when it occurred.

Quote of the Day

A health care math editorial in the liberal Washington Post has the subhead "Mr. Obama says he won't add one dime to the deficit, but a lot of dimes remain unaccounted for." While good, that isn't the quote of the day. This is:
When politicians start talking about paying for programs by cutting "waste and abuse," you should get nervous. When they don't provide specifics -- and when the amounts under discussion are in the hundreds of billions of dollars -- you should get even more nervous.
When the pro-Obama Washington Post says things like this about his programs, imagine what his enemies will say. They'll use words that can't appear in a family blog.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Political Humor Alert

Sign carried by a protester at today's Washington rally opposing Obamacare:
Obama Bin Lyin
This gem endorsing the views of Congressman Joe Wilson (R, SC) reported in an Associated Press article about the protest appearing in Yahoo News.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remember September 11, 2001

Today we remember the awful things done to the United States by a group of young Arab men on September 11, 2001. The crimes were done in the name of Al Qaeda acting on behalf of Muslims struggling against the Great Satan (aka, the United States).

The hijacking and crashing of four planes, three of them into high value targets, caused over 3000 deaths of innocent people going about their lawful pursuits. They were not the first American deaths in the Long War, but they were certainly the largest group yet to die in one day on U.S. soil. We owe it to their memories never to forget what was done to them, or by whom.

A Very Cool Summer

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce reports as follows:
The average June-August 2009 summer temperature for the contiguous United States was below average – the 34th coolest on record, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. August was also below the long-term average. The analysis is based on records dating back to 1895.
In other words, it was the 34th coolest out of the last 114 years, or put another way, 80 of the last 114 summers were warmer than the one just ending. Tell me again, why are we hearing about the dangers of anthropogenic global warming?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Friedman Follies

The New York Times' foreign policy columnist, Tom Friedman, has written an appreciation of dictatorship that is so awful even he should be ashamed of it. This article includes these thoughts:
One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.
Ask the Uighurs of Western China or the Tibetans just how "enlightened" the Chinese autocracy is. Neither believes what China imposes is moving them forward, quite the contrary.

This column is more of the thoroughly discredited "Mussolini made the Italian trains run on time" apologetics. It should be sufficient to earn Friedman a pink slip, if the Times had any backbone, something I fear they do not have.

The Obama Speech: An Analysis

John Hinderaker, one of the three authors of the Power Line blog, does a masterful job of picking out lines in Obama health care speech given tonight and showing where they are incorrect, misleading, or simply falsehoods. For example, he quotes Obama as saying:
Now, I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business.
Then Hinderaker responds:
Really? We've all seen the YouTube video where Obama says that under his plan, private health insurance will be driven into extinction over a period of ten to twenty years. Has he changed his mind? When? Why? Does President Obama fail to understand the ubiquity of YouTube? Does he not understand that many millions of Americans consider him a liar when he says things like this?
The whole article is worth your time and effort.

Public Schools in Trouble

This article by Paul E. Peterson in The Wall Street Journal reports some of the results of the Education Next poll, done by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. The news isn't good, the public's view of public schools is at the lowest level ever found in the poll's 28 year history. For example:
When asked how many ninth graders graduate from high school in four years, the public estimated that only 66% of students graduated on time—slightly less than the best available scholarly estimates.
These negative views have consequences:

In 1990, 70% of taxpayers favored spending "more on education," according to a University of Chicago poll. In the latest poll, only 46% favored a spending increase. That's a 15 percentage point drop from just one year ago when it was 61%.

When those surveyed are told how much is actually being spent in their own school district, only 38% say they support higher spending.

Peterson observes that the schools' poor performance has led to these gloomy evaluations.
High-school graduation rates are lower today than they were in 1970. The math and reading scores of 17-year-olds have been stagnant for four decades.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Quote of the Day II

An editorial in the Investor's Business Daily has this to say about global climate:
A team of international scientists has finally figured out why sunspots have a dramatic effect on the weather. It shows the folly of fearing the SUV while dismissing that thermonuclear furnace in the sky.
Solar variations are the primary cause of climatic variations; that is a no-brainer.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Quote of the Day I

The subtitle of a Wall Street Journal article by Fouad Ajami entitled Obama's Summer of Discontent:
The politics of charisma is so Third World. Americans were never going to buy into it for long.
Well said. The article is good, too.

More on Van Jones

See this Fox News post by Major Garrett, Fox News White House correspondent:
An administration official said special advisers to the president, or czars, are not required to fill out the questionnaire that runs 7 pages and contains 63 questions. The entire questionnaire, the official said, is reserved for appointees who must win Senate confirmation.
The article continues:
An administration official said Jones never hid his controversial associations or remarks from the White House. "It wouldn't be fair to characterize him as being dishonest or hiding his comments or his positions," the official said. "It's just fair to say that he didn't go through the most rigorous vetting process."
That answers one of the questions we've had about White House vetting. Other ticking time bombs probably exist among the Obama appointee ranks. Go find 'em, New Media.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quote of the Day II

During the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, Juan Williams is supposed to have written in the Washington Post words like the following:
Yale law school has ruined more good black minds than crack.
People are citing this in connection with the Van Jones affair, as Jones is a Yale Law grad. I cannot find a direct citation to the original Williams article in the Post, but for example it is cited here in an American Thinker article by Clarice Feldman.

Quote of the Day I

Jim Greer, Florida GOP chairman, indicating how to distinguish members of the two major parties:
Republicans get up and go to work; Democrats get up and go down to the mailbox to get their checks.
You can find this quote here in the online Orlando Sentinel.

More Thoughts on Van Jones

If there is anybody awake in the White House this Labor Day weekend, they'll be thinking about what went wrong with their vetting process. If they did this badly on Jones, they're wondering how many other really spooky characters slipped through their screen.

If I were Rahm Emmanuel I'd be starting all over with the vetting process, asking the hard questions and trying to identify the ticking time bombs before others do. Then the iffy people turned up would quietly offer their resignations and slip away into the night before they made trouble for the boss in the Oval Office.

I'd also be asking how the original vetting process went so wrong, and who was responsible for making POTUS look bad. My guess: the problem isn't in the Hoover Building but in the White House.

I suspect the FBI reported issues about candidates and the White House ignored those issues because they believe the FBI to be paranoid McCarthyites. If the White House tries to blame the FBI, I bet the original findings are leaked to the press.

The situation only gets worse for TeamObama.
What the New Media needs to focus on next is this:
who screwed up and who is covering up.

Since Watergate, all big scandals in Washington are called Something-gate. COTTonLINE now announces a contest for the best _____-gate name for this scandal. All good suggestions will appear here and the winner will be identified and get credit, if desired. Submit suggestions as responses to this post, and indicate if you wish your identity known.

The Blogosphere Wins Again

This Associated Press article reports that the President's Green Jobs czar, Van Jones, has resigned. This resignation is an enormous victory for the blogosphere: the Internet-based group of political commentators, of which COTTonLINE is a very minor member.

Van Jones signed a petition urging investigation into allegations that the Bush administration was in some way responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Also a Communist, this is the same Van Jones who called Republicans "a**holes."

Nevertheless, Obama White House official Valerie B. Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement, is quoted by Power Line as follows:
Oooh. Van Jones, alright! So, Van Jones. We were so delighted to be able to recruit him into the White House. We were watching him, uh, really, he's not that old, for as long as he's been active out in Oakland. And all the creative ideas he has. And so now, we have captured that. And we have all that energy in the White House.
According to Michelle Malkin, it turns out that the bloggers at Gateway Pundit dug up Jones' petition signature, and that finally brought this loser down. Until the last day or so, the only mainstream news organization that reported the problems was Fox News. Conservative talk radio and the conservative blogosphere were also instrumental in Jones' defenestration.

This is a victory for those of us who labor in the vineyards of the right. It is also an enormous setback for the mainstream media, which resisted until the eleventh hour reporting this story.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Black Eye on Labor Day

See this poll which finds that the public has an increasingly negative view of labor unions. Gallup says:

The 48% of Americans now approving of unions represents the first sub-50% approval since Gallup first asked the question in the 1930s.
Wow, the lowest approval rating ever, the previous low was 55%. Gallup's subhead summarizes their findings as follows:
Unions Help Own Workers, Hurt Other Workers and the Economy
Coming out two days before the Labor Day weekend, those findings are a real kick in the teeth for unions.

As Mickey Kaus notes in his Kausfiles blog on Slate, likely causes for these findings are the UAW's lead role in destroying GM and Chrysler, and the teacher unions' role in damaging the public schools.

Quote of the Day

Ken Duberstein, former White House chief of staff for Ronald Reagan who endorsed Obama last year, quoted in a U.S. News & World Report article:
The opposition is very energized right now--much more motivated than Obama's supporters.
When his own supporters say he's got trouble, believe it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Travel Blogging X

Go see the pretty travel pix taken by the other DrC at her blog; you will find it at I also endorse her dreary evaluation of United Airline's Red Carpet Lounge at the Denver airport, there's a lot of deferred maintenance showing there.

Unemployment Goes Up

The Wall Street Journal reports:
The U.S. unemployment rate jumped to a 26-year high of 9.7% in August as nonfarm payrolls fell by 216,000, the 20th consecutive monthly decline, the Labor Department estimated Friday.
Watch President Obama use this sad situation as an excuse for dramatic big government action.

Could Cheney Be Right?

Read this defense of Dick Cheney's claim that terrorism is still a very real threat, written by Douglas MacKinnon for The Baltimore Sun. Speaking of the events of September 11, 2001, MacKinnon says:
Most have forgotten the terror, forgotten the hate, forgotten the indescribable pain and destruction, and forgotten the lessons. Most - but not Mr. Cheney. He refuses. At the risk of his reputation, he has made it his life's work to never forget. For to forget is to condemn our nation to much worse.
The article isn't fun, but it is worth your time.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Travel Blogging IX

Dateline: Thayne, Wyoming. Herewith are more random thoughts from the trip just finished.

River cruising in Europe may be the most perfect form of travel ever invented. We visited 5 countries and our hotel "room" (cabin) traveled with us; two weeks of travel without once schlepping luggage. There are no "sea days," every day there are towns to visit and walk in. There is no sea sickness. There is always something ashore to see while cruising. The narrowness of the river means all passing boat traffic is near enough to view easily. The locks are much more interesting than those of the Panama Canal.

Airport security in Europe has become much more uniform than it was some years ago. It now strongly resembles what the TSA does here in the States. On the other hand, the last time I was in Brazil it was still idiosyncratic, a couple of years ago. The one thing that still varies from airport to airport is whether or not one must remove one's shoes.

The crew on our river ship was much more international than in former visits, the last maybe four years ago. Then the crew was largely Eastern European, except for the executive positions which were filled by Western Europeans. This time we had several Indonesians and one lad each from India and the Caribbean, as well as the usual Romanians, Croatians, Serbians, and Macedonians. Once again the executive positions were mostly Dutch, except for the chef who was Bulgarian and the Macedonian maitre d'.

As is the case on ocean cruise liners, all these folks seem to get along with each other relatively well. Perhaps we should turn over international relations to the cruise lines, which seem to do a better job of creating harmony than our diplomats do. It appears that the future world will communicate in heavily accented, broken English, as much of it does now.

Speaking of which, many shops had signs either partially or entirely in English; this in countries which have another language as their own. Ditto magazine titles. I suppose they are "borrowing" cachet the way we all used to with French.

Barone on Immigration

Michael Barone is one of the best data analysts going. Writing for Real Clear Politics, see what he says about immigration trends:
Most housing foreclosures have occurred in four states -- California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida -- and about one-third of those who have lost their homes are Hispanic. Immigration is stimulated by the reports of success that immigrants send back home. It may be discouraged by reports of failure.
Barone suggests the storm clouds of recession may have an immigration silver lining.

Quote of the Day

Joshua Bell, concert violinist, being interviewed at the Salzburg Festival by Jay Nordlinger for National Review Online.
He (Bell) was talking about how it’s hard to get a sound on the violin, and less hard to get one on the piano. He cracked, “Playing the piano — you might as well be typing.”
Jay adds that Joshua was kidding.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cultural Relativity

Jay Nordlinger, writing in National Review Online:
A survivor of Auschwitz is asked what is the most important lesson he has learned in the last few years. He says, “When someone says he wants to kill you, believe him.”
The earliest source I Google for this quote is Newt Gingrich, testifying before a U.S. Senate committee in the autumn of 2005. Newt was alluding to threats against Israel made by Iran's Ahmadinejad, and the seriousness with which they should be taken.

Perhaps the quote should read "when an Austrian demagogue says he wants to kill you, believe him." When the speaker is an Islamic leader in the Middle East, he may or may not be serious.

Most Iranians who shout "death to America, death to the Great Satan" do little to make that happen. Similarly in Iraq, Sadam's "mother of all battles" turned out to be the mother of all routs. In Arabic and Persian there is a linguistic convention of florid overstatement that should not be confused with, and is often a lame substitute for, planned action.

Japan Votes for Change

Exit polls suggest the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan has been ousted after being in power almost continuously for the last 50 years. See this CNN.Com/Asia article for a quick overview.

Countries where one party always wins the election are less-than-fully democratic. As Lord Acton said in 1887, "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." Eventually a long-governing party generates its own downfall.

Mexico's many years of rule by the PRI was another example of this phenomenon. In both Mexico and Japan there were opposition parties which for decades amounted to little. However, now in both countries opposition parties have won power at the national level.

This election is an important milestone for representative government in Japan. Regardless of the DPJ's policies, its election in Japan is a positive step for representative government there.

On the other hand, there are press reports of the new leader's wife believing in UFO abductions.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Frost Warnings in August

According to this article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin have gotten cold over the weekend. As the Sunday article notes:
Parts of northeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin are under a late summer frost warning, and residents there should consider protecting their sensitive plants.
Frost in August, it must be more of that famous global warming.

Quote of the Day

David Brooks, writing for The New York Times, commenting on the post-election drop in Obama's popularity.
All presidents fall from their honeymoon highs, but in the history of polling, no newly elected American president has fallen this far this fast.
No kidding, and Brooks is a moderate, too.

Political Humor Alert

P. J. O'Rourke, writing for The Weekly Standard, about some silliness appearing in The Washington Post, tells the following joke from Russia:

An old guy's wife tells him to go to the butcher shop and get some meat. He goes to the butcher shop and stands in line for hours. Finally the butcher says, "We're out of meat."

The old guy blows his top. He yells, "I am a worker! I am a proletarian! I am a veteran of the Great Patriotic War! I have fought for socialism all my life, and now you tell me you're out of meat! What kind of a system is this?! You are fools! You are thieves! . . . "

A big man in a trench coat comes up to the old guy and says, "Comrade, Comrade, not so loud. In the old days you know what they would do if you said such things." The big man in the trench coat makes a pistol motion with his hand. He says to the old guy, "Calm down and go home."

The old guy shrugs and leaves. He comes back empty-handed, and his wife says, "What's the matter, are they out of meat?" "Worse than that," says the old guy, "they're out of bullets."

Travel Blogging VIII

Our two weeks of cruising on the Rhine and Mosel are ended, and we are home in Wyoming. This blog contains some concluding thoughts about the trip just ended.

We observed that window curtains are rare in Protestant Netherlands. We were told it is because people want to show they have nothing to hide. I wonder what debauchery they think we're hiding when they come to the States and nearly everybody has curtains?

People who live in the northern, Flemish portion of Belgium, often speak of their country and the Netherlands together as "the Low Lands." I wonder if this is a closet separatism or if the Walloons of southern Belgium use that terminology too?

"Real" Europeans refer to the economic model of the U.S. and the U.K. together as "the Anglo-Saxon model," and it is one to which they do not subscribe. Their model is much more government-based, government-managed and has as its goal the support of the less fortunate. I wonder if that helps us understand why their unemployment rate in good times is about what our rate is in bad times?

In Antwerp we saw many buildings built with what they call "the bacon style" exterior. It is called that because the buildings consist of a layer of white stone followed by several courses of red bricks, followed by another layer of white stone, followed by more bricks, etc. It does look like bacon, but it is also attractive.

Europeans like living in the city or in town, and hope to be able to afford to do so. Therefore, particularly in France, the poor get pushed out into the suburbs. In the U.S. we mostly operate in exactly the opposite way; the poor live in the inner city and the more affluent live further out. I'm guessing our greater reliance on the automobile is partly responsible.

I may have more trip-concluding thoughts in a day or so.

Ruminations on the Death of Ted Kennedy

The death of a powerful, wealthy figure like Senator Edward Kennedy causes us to revisit the fact that, with all his wealth and power, he could not cheat the grim reaper. Others will do a better job than I could, or would, of appreciating Kennedy’s life – I didn't agree with much of what he stood for. So be it; I don’t choose to speak ill of the dead.

Rather, I choose at this moment to suggest we all confront our own mortality; recognize that any day could be our last and live accordingly. Is there a trip you dearly want to take, or an item you’ve been putting off buying? Don’t delay, do it today. Putting things off to the future only makes sense for the young, and most of COTTonLINE’s readers are not, I fear, as young as they'd like to be.

In retirement, you need to frontload your travel into the early years when you have the health to be able to do it. Seriously, don’t put off travel hoping gasoline prices will drop or cruise deals will get better. Those things may happen, but will you be healthy enough to take advantage of them?

You likely will have plenty of time later to sit around moldering in front of a TV or computer monitor. Every day you are a day closer to the time when all you’ll be able to do is sit. When that sad day arrives, don’t be full of regrets, of “might have dones.” Instead be the person sitting there with a head full of memories of places you’ve gone, things you’ve done, entertainments you’ve seen, meals you’ve eaten, wines you’ve drunk, great cars you’ve owned…you get the picture.

Let your goal be “No Regrets.” You probably won’t achieve it completely, but give it a try.

Travel Blogging VII

Dateline: Willemstad, the Netherlands. This entry was written on Friday, August 28. Our cruise is winding down to a close, tomorrow is our last full day on the ship. We’ve spent the last two days in the Netherlands, which translates as “the low countries.” Holland is only a part of the Netherlands, a couple of provinces or states if you will. And some months ago on a cruise liner I had a citizen of this low and soggy land give me a bad time for referring to all Netherlands people as “Dutch.” He was a citizen of the Netherland and was not Dutch, he said, but Frisian or some such.

Discussions of the history of this land always include William of Orange, who helped them liberate themselves from Catholic/Spanish rule. He later became the Protestant liberator of Northern Ireland, which is why the Prots of Belfast are called Orangemen and why they wear orange when marching to irritate the green-wearing Catholics.

Sunday we are in Antwerp, Belgium, a country that probably shouldn’t exist. The southern part of the country speaks French and is populated by Walloons, the northern part of the country speaks more-or-less Dutch and is populated by the Flemish. Of course these two groups don’t like each other even slightly. Does anybody like the French?

Here Comes the Sun

Do yourself a favor, read Jonah Goldberg's column in The Los Angeles Times about the impact of sun spot activity on global climate. He brings together a lot of things we've been trying to say at COTTonLINE. Here is his conclusion:

What does it say that the modeling that guaranteed disastrous increases in global temperatures never predicted the halt in planetary warming since the late 1990s? (MIT's Richard Lindzen says that "there has been no warming since 1997 and no statistically significant warming since 1995.") What does it say that the modelers have only just now discovered how sunspots make the Earth warmer?

I don't know what it tells you, but it tells me that maybe we should study a bit more before we spend billions to "solve" a problem we don't understand so well.

Obama Approval at New Low

Yesterday's Rasmussen Reports polling finds the overall approval rating for the Obama administration continues to head downward. Rasmussen concludes:
Overall, 46% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President's performance. That’s the lowest level of total approval yet measured for Obama.
Drip, drip, drip...each month their ratings just get worse. At some point I won't be able to resist saying "I told you so," but we aren't quite there yet.