Thursday, October 29, 2009

It Isn't New

Folks are treating the obvious bias on Fox News and MSNBC as something new, something to get worried about. I don't know about worried, but it for sure isn't new. It is old, although the medium - cable news - is relatively new.

My father was a lifelong conservative Democrat. As a kid growing up in Southern California, I remember that he avoided reading The Los Angeles Times published by the Chandlers because it was then a Republican paper. It is that no longer; it would now be characterized as a Democratic paper from the bias of its OpEd pages. Instead, our family subscribed to the Democratic Los Angeles Daily News published by Manchester Boddy, a paper which went out of business in 1954 and is not related to the current paper which bears that name.

During my father's lifetime - 1887 to 1971 - there actually were conservative Democrats. For the younger of our readers, those would be vaguely like the Blue Dog Democrats of today.

Campbell Brown Nails It

The White House has directed a hissy fit at Fox News. CNN's Campbell Brown has the following wise words to say about this teapot tempest:
White House officials should elevate the conversation, and talk about bias on the right and on the left. Because when you just target one side, you reveal your own bias. That you are only critical of those who are critical of you.
On the other hand, Brown tries to position CNN as a network without opinion shows like those that appear on Fox and MSNBC. Like CNN's Lou Dobbs or Anderson Cooper don't have relatively obvious points of view? Come on, Campbell, give us a break here.

The quote comes from an article in The Los Angeles Times, flagged in

Quote of the Day

Daniel Henninger, who writes a column for The Wall Street Journal, talking about the problems the Congressional Democrats are having with health care:
It's starting to look like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are leading the Donner Party, the snowbound emigrants who bogged down in the Sierra Nevada winter in the 1840s and resorted to cannibalism to survive.
The imagery of desperate Democrats eating each other is apt. Their ideological tent may be too big to handle the health care issue.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Opting In or Out

There is much talk about allowing individual states to "opt out" of the public option in health care. What I don't hear is how those state get to opt out of paying for the federally run public option.

It wouldn't surprise me if, when the details are known, it turns out that a state can opt out of eligibility but not out of paying its share of the costs. Doing so would be an act of moral purity but economic foolishness. It would be insane to opt out of your share of the benefits while paying your share of the costs.

On the other hand, if a state can opt out of both the benefits and the costs, perhaps only the bluest of states will opt in. Maybe even no states at all. Oh man, the moonbats will be ticked off if that happens. Let us listen for someone to give us more detail about how "opt out" affects the "paying for" part of the program.

Gallup: Trend Right

The Gallup polling organization reports finding that conservatives are the largest single group in the American electorate:
Forty percent of Americans describe their political views as conservative, 36% as moderate, and 20% as liberal. This marks a shift from 2005 through 2008, when moderates were tied with conservatives as the most prevalent group.
Conservatives would have to convince nearly a third of those moderates to vote with them to win convincingly. Recently they have been unable to do so. On the other hand, 2010 looks promising.

Gallup finds public views on seven different issues have become more conservative in the last year, and another four have remained the same. Here comes the money quote:
There are no major examples of U.S. public opinion becoming more liberal in the past year.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Chicago-Style Politics

Michael Barone, writing for, makes a trenchant comment on Obama's response to criticism:
Maybe Obama thought everyone in Washington would be his great friend. Having encountered un-Chicago-like dissent and disagreement, he has responded with classic Chicago brass knuckles. We'll see how far this kind of thuggery gets him.

Stop Whining

President Obama keeps complaining about the nasty situation left to him by the Bush administration. The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan documents several examples:
The president said last week, at a San Francisco fund-raiser, that he's busy with a "mop," "cleaning up somebody else's mess." (snip) Later, in New Orleans, he groused that reporters are always asking "Why haven't you solved world hunger yet?" His surrogates and aides, in appearances and talk shows, have taken to remembering, sometimes at great length, the dire straits we were in when the presidency began.
Stop complaining, Mr. President, you volunteered for this job. You told us during your campaign just how bad everything was. You knew in advance it wasn't pretty and you told us ad nauseam that you wanted the job, that you could do the job, and that you had plans to solve the problems.

A majority of us believed you. Were your voters wrong? It is time to stop whining about the bad situation you inherited. If voters hadn't agreed it was bad they would have voted for the other guy, who represented continuation rather than change.

Stop whining and get busy fixing the problems, Mr. President. And maybe you should be hearing, in the cold dark hours before dawn, the rude voice of James Carville in your shell-like ear saying "it's the economy, stupid."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gallup: Record Approval Drop

The Gallup polling organization reports on presidential approval:
In Gallup Daily tracking that spans Barack Obama's third quarter in office (July 20 through Oct. 19), the president averaged a 53% job approval rating. That is down sharply from his prior quarterly averages, which were both above 60%. Gallup's analysis, how does this compare with other recent presidents?
The 9-point drop in the most recent quarter is the largest Gallup has ever measured for an elected president between the second and third quarters of his term, dating back to 1953.
How does Gallup evaluate this decline?
Obama's 9-point slide between quarters ranks as one of the steepest for a president at any point in his first year in office. (snip) The largest for an elected president in his first year is Bill Clinton's 11-point slide between his first and second quarters.
Gallup attributes Obama's drop in popularity to his failure to pass health care legislation and the rising unemployment rate. I accept rising unemployment as a cause, but suspect it was his advocacy of health care legislation rather than failing to pass health care that was the other cause. That turkey isn't popular with the vast majority of us who are happy with our current health insurance.

Gallup's chart shows that during this same period in the first year of his presidency, George W. Bush's approval went up by 16 percentage points. Bush had the greatest third quarter rise of any president in the last 50 years, caused by the public rallying around him after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Hat tips to and the Washington Examiner for links to this polling data.

Housing Bubble Cause

Scott Johnson of Power Line blog has posted a summary, by Hoover Institution research fellow Peter Schweizer, of the causes of the housing bubble whose rupture led to our current recession. Showing that most of the mortgage defaults are in minority neighborhoods, Schweizer concludes:
The real culprits here are the social activists and their allies in Washington who pushed an activist agenda. They helped to propel us into the mortgage crisis we face today.
Reluctant bankers were coerced into making risky loans in order to meet quotas of loans to various "underrepresented groups." As you would expect, these loans were the first to go delinquent when the economy went south.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lying with Statistics

The Wall Street Journal has a series of articles, written by Carl Bialik, whose column is called "The Numbers Guy." He has taken on debunking widely-cited "statistics" that are actually bogus. I recommend these columns to you.

His most recent article looks at the oft quoted "finding" that the U.S. ranks 37th in the world in health care. His evaluation:
This ranking stands out as particularly misleading. It is based on a report released nearly a decade ago by the World Health Organization and relies on statistics that are even older and incomplete.
To understand why the statistic is problematic, check this out:
The U.S. actually ranked a lot higher. Specifically, it placed 15th overall, based on its performance in the five criteria. (snip) The WHO took the additional step of adjusting for national health expenditures per capita, to calculate each country's health-care bang for its bucks. Because the U.S. ranked first in spending, that adjustment pushed its ranking down to 37th.
Bialik concludes:
High spending rates pushed the ranking down but didn't degrade the quality of care.
In other words, we spend a lot on health care but get darn good care. Add in the fact that we are a nation with something like 12 million illegal aliens trying not to be noticed and thus not getting treatment until very sick. We also coexist with who knows how many hundreds of thousands of individuals who refuse medical treatment for religious reasons. Both of these groups make our health outcome statistics worse.

My guess: we do very well in comparison with other nations. Next time you hear politicians quote that "ranks 37th" statistic, you'll know they are lying and not just because their lips are moving.

PAI Drops Again

Yesterday we shared that Rasmussen's Presidential Approval Index was at -12, today it is at -13. The percentage of Strongly Approves dropped another point to 27%. The Rasmussen Report characterizes the latest rating as follows:
That’s just a point above the lowest level ever recorded for this President. It’s also the sixth straight day in negative double digits, matching the longest such streak.
Combining the Strongly Approve with Somewhat Approve, and the Strongly Disapprove with the Somewhat Disapprove, Rasmussen finds:
Overall, 47% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President's performance. Fifty-three percent (53%) disapprove.
These numbers cannot make President Obama's remaining supporters happy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Presidential Approval Index at -12

Regular readers of COTTonLINE know that we follow Scott Rasmussen's Presidential Approval Index. It is calculated by subtracting the percentage of likely voters who Strongly Disapprove of the President from the percentage who Strongly Approve. Today the index stands at -12, because 40% strongly disapprove and only 28% strongly approve. Rasmussen summarizes:
The Approval Index rating has been lower only on two days since the current President took office.
Go here to find the full Rasmussen Report with this and other interesting data.

Quote of the Day

Chairman Mao was the greatest mass murderer of modern times, outclassing such horrors as Hitler, Pol Pot and Stalin. Nevertheless White House Communications Director Anita Dunn told a group of high school students her two favorite political philosophers were Mao Tse Tung and Mother Teresa.

For those of you who wish to watch her delivering this talk, the video is available here, courtesy of the fellows at Power Line and Fox News. As John Hinderaker, one of the three authors of that blog said yesterday:
She is simply a fool and, if she had any sense of dignity, would resign.
Our young President has surrounded himself with entirely too many foolish people.

Analysis of GOP Choices

Matt Lewis writes for Politics Daily. See his article about the way the GOP chooses presidential candidates. I suspect his head vs. heart analysis would apply to the Dems, too.

I've watched politics for roughly half a century. I believe Lewis has it about right, see what you think.

ABC Goes To Bat For Fox

You wouldn't imagine Richard Nixon would be a role model for Barack Obama. Nevertheless the Obama White House says Fox News is not a news organization. This sounds a lot like Tricky Dick's famous "enemies list."

ABC News' Jake Tapper had a very interesting interchange with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. Read it here. The sum and substance is that Tapper put Gibbs on the spot. Here is the bottom line:

Tapper: I’m not talking about their opinion programming or issues you have with certain reports. I’m talking about saying thousands of individuals who work for a media organization, do not work for a “news organization” -- why is that appropriate for the White House to say?

Gibbs: That’s our opinion.

My next question would have been: MSNBC and CNN both have liberal opinion shows. I presume you believe it would have been equally appropriate for President Bush to declare they are not news organizations?

Whatever happened to that old adage about not getting into battles with folks who buy ink by the barrel or videotape by the mile?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Quote of the Day

Dr. Charles Krauthammer, being interviewed by Jay Nordlinger for National Review, about the White House vs. Fox News controversy:
Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes are geniuses: They found a niche market — half of America.
Is that sarcasm or irony? It is a viewpoint we expressed here in COTTonLINE some months ago. When most of the MSM veers left, while half or more of the populace veers right, smart media follow the populace. This isn't rocket science.

Note: Murdoch's News Corporation owns Fox News, as well as The Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal is "the top-selling newspaper in the United States" according to this Associated Press story. Fox News is the number one cable news channel per this TV Week article.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Balz: Democrats on Defensive

Dan Balz may well be this generation's David Broder. Which is to say, as much as is possible in the MSM he tries to be even-handed. Here in The Washington Post he discusses the problems facing Democrats as they head into the 2010 mid-term elections. His lede sums it up:
Three forces threaten Democrats in the 2010 elections: populist anger on the right, disaffection in the middle and potential disillusionment on the left.
Friends, that can give us hope. Go read the whole article.

Quote of the Day

Michael Barone, writing for the Washington Examiner, analyzing voter attitudes toward Obama's policies:
Until November 2008 Americans did not have any reason to contemplate what a more European approach would mean in real-life terms. Now, with Obama in the White House and a heavily Democratic Congress, they do. And they mostly don't like it.

The Downward Spiral

Go here to see results of a Harris Poll concerning approval of President Obama:
In September, U.S. adults were split almost evenly on the job the President has been doing - 49% gave him positive ratings and 51% gave him negative ratings. This month, the number giving him positive ratings drops to 45% while over half of Americans (55%) give him negative ratings.
It is almost time for COTTonLINE to say "I told you so." Almost but not quite. I think we'll give him a year in office before hauling out that old chestnut.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

India-China Conflict Possible

See this Wall Street Journal article about the real possibility of warfare on the India-China border, in the vicinity of the Indian province of Arunachal Pradesh. These are the two most populous nations in the world, and both have nuclear weapons. A war between them could be a bloodbath, and the fallout could leave all of us glowing in the dark.
Oh yes, the Dalai Lama is involved too, somehow.

Quotes of the Day

Michael Barone, one of the best political analysts in the U.S., writing for RealClearPolitics about what we've learned as a result of the health care debate in Congress:
We know now that it costs a lot of money to pay for insurance policies with expanded coverage for an expanded number of people. And we know that no one wants to pay the price.

Then Barone quotes a telling line from another analyst:

As Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute points out, "Universal coverage is so expensive that Congress can't get there without taxing Democrats."

One major reason: in places like Canada and the U.K. that have "free" health care, people use more of it. They go to the doctor for every hangnail and cold.

I believe we have known these things all along. What Barone is saying is that Congress has demonstrated once again there is no way to evade these enduring truths.

Record Cold in MN

The guys who write Power Line blog consider Minneapolis-St. Paul home. They have had a really cold fall there, after a cold summer. John Hinderaker reports the following:
On Friday, the National Weather Service confirmed that there has never been a colder first two weeks of the month ever. ...
Typically the average high temperature for the Twin Cities from Oct. 1-14 is 63 degrees but this year the average high temperature was only 47 degrees, or 16 degrees below average. That breaks the old mark of 52 degrees set back in 1875.
The coldest first two weeks of October ever, as far back as people have been keeping records in Minnesota, over 150 years. John's conclusion is this:
It is quite remarkable that liberals continue to sell their global warming/government takeover program, when any damn fool can see that the globe isn't warming.
In fact, we my be headed into another Little Ice Age. The last one stretched from the 1300s to the mid 1800s.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quote of the Day

The late Irving Kristol, godfather of the neoconservative movement, speaking of the futility of Middle East diplomacy:
Whom the gods would destroy, they first tempt to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Yet president after president grasps this seemingly obvious nettle, and is wounded thereby. Go figure.
Source of the quote, this Boston Globe article by Jeff Jacoby.

Political Humor Alert

Sen. Olympia Snowe's (R, ME) explained her vote in committee for the Baucus health care bill by saying "When history calls, history calls." John Hinderaker, one of the three authors of the Power Line blog, responded:
I think history got a wrong number.
Way to go, John.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Krauthammer Sums Up

When you have time to read a long, thoughtful article about the apparent foreign policy aims of the Obama administration, go read this Krauthammer piece in The Weekly Standard. The good doctor really nails it, COTTonLINE believes he has it right.

Warning: there is nothing upbeat about the article. Don't read it while you are depressed.

Ken Burns Blows It

The other DrC and I love the National Parks of the U.S. We have visited at least 36 of them over the years. When we heard Ken Burns was doing a program about them, calling them America's best idea, we thought "wow." It turns out we got it two-thirds right, we should have thought "ow."

Burns managed to take something intrinsically interesting and make it boring. We weren't the only ones who felt this way, see this article in Politics Daily which takes the same view. Burns has chronicled the politics of the parks, the battles between local ranchers and the environmentalists, in other words, "ho hum." This was stuff I already knew.

As the article says, he spends too much time focused on talking heads spouting environmentalist piety and new age gush. When he could have shown beautiful scenery, and had naturalists talk about the geology and animal and plant life, he didn't.

Perhaps he knows his PBS audience better than we do. Time will tell.

Indian Women Want Toilets

No, this isn't bathroom humor. Go see a really interesting article about the drive to get home toilets in rural India. Women are demanding potential husbands install toilets before agreeing to marry them.

Courtesy of The Washington Post, the article shows the influence of supply and demand on the marriage mate "market" in India. Decades of aborting female fetuses in favor of male fetuses has created a shortage of marriageable young women.

As classical economics would suggest, a shortage creates the ability to demand more in return. A similar situation is likely to occur in China, not necessarily with respect to toilets but with the demand for wives outstripping the supply of young women.

Cold in the Mountain West

According to a story on Montana's News, a joint production of the state's CBS stations, record cold temperatures have occurred in Montana:
Temperatures in parts of western Montana were near zero overnight and record lows were set in Missoula, Kalispell and Butte on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Missoulian website reports an Associated Press story:
Temperatures on Saturday evening dipped to 17 degrees; the last time it was this cold, this early, in southwestern Idaho was more than two decades ago, in 1985.
I guess we'll have to wait a few years for global warming to kick in.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Armenia-Turkey Pact

This Washington Post article chronicles the last-minute talks that led to a very tentative agreement between Armenia and Turkey to open diplomatic relations, as well as their mutual border. It is easy for this story to get lost in all of the larger issues currently under discussion.

Christian Armenia alleges that Muslim Turkey killed hundreds of thousands of Armenians almost a hundred years ago. Chances are the Armenians have this correct. On the other hand, essentially no Turk involved in that killing is still alive.

It is a region where there is entirely too much holding of grudges for hundreds of years. The Armenian president showed much courage in deciding to move beyond it. It will be interesting to see how this relationship works out.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Political Humor Alert

My candidate for best Obama/Nobel joke, from George Stephanopoulous' ABC website, and attributed to Erick Erickson, managing editor of
Obama is becoming Jimmy Carter faster than Jimmy Carter became Jimmy Carter.
I suppose it is easier this time since Carter has showed us how it is done.

Quote of the Day II

Andrea Tantaros, writing for Fox News:
When she became Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi assured Americans she would “drain the swamp” and clean up ethics violations. (snip) Sadly, the swamp is winning.
Was this outcome ever in doubt?

BBC: Climate Science Confusing

This article on the BBC News website presents science pros and cons about global warming. The author is Paul Hudson, BBC Climate Correspondent. His informed conclusion:
One thing is for sure. It seems the debate about what is causing global warming is far from over.
And Hudson doesn't even mention that we've recently been in a period of few-to-no sunspots. Such periods tend to be cooler.

BTW, it snowed in Minneapolis last night and is expected to snow in Denver today. The Phillies-Rockies playoff game in Denver was postponed for a day.

Quote of the Day I

Daniel Greenfield, writing in the Canada Free Press:
Part of the fun of living under the Obama Administration is having your news headlines keep turning into April Fool’s Day.
Perhaps it is fun if you are in Canada. Here, not so much.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Quote of the Day

Weston Kosova, writing here in The Gaggle at the Newsweek website, concerning President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
No matter what you think of Obama, the man has done nothing, at all, to deserve it.
There isn't much wiggle room in that statement.

"The gaggle" is what the White House press corps calls the daily briefing at which no videography is permitted. Newsweek magazine is published by the same folks who publish The Washington Post - not exactly a conservative newspaper.

Phony Prize

President Barack Hussein Obama has exactly one accomplishment in foreign policy. This one accomplishment has been sufficient to earn him the Nobel Peace Prize. Seen from the icy shores of Norway, it is an amazing accomplishment.

The President's only foreign policy accomplishment: he is not George W. Bush. His foreign policy, unlike that of Bush, is not muscular.

As we noted a few days ago, the world prefers that an American president be a wuss. To date, our new President has completely fulfilled the world's wishes in this regard.

Here is more evidence that the Obama administration will be a replay of the Carter administration. The last American President to win this dubious "honor" was Jimmy Carter.

Carter is still honored by the international community, whereas at home he is widely viewed as the worst president of the last 70 years. Carter was even worse than Nixon, who at least had some accomplishments to balance against his demonstrated shortcomings.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thoughts on Afghanistan

Much to read and ponder about our long involvement in Afghanistan. I'm not sure any foreign power has successfully pacified Afghanistan; neither the Brits nor the Soviets managed it in the last 200 years.

One thing we must not do is be half-hearted about our involvement; that was the pre-surge Bush mistake in Iraq. As General Colin Powell was heard to observe, you either go in with overwhelming force and win, or don't go in at all. I cannot imagine our current President making that kind of major commitment. Anything in between wastes money and lives in a meat grinder stalemate.

As long as the Taliban and al Qaeda have a safe haven in the tribal areas of Pakistan, there is no way to defeat them. If by some chance Pakistan gets control of those areas, expect the bad guys to move somewhere else, maybe Iran or Somalia or Tajikistan or even Venezuela.

I can imagine the US chasing these trouble-makers all over the globe, more-or-less indefinitely. This is not a pleasant thought.

Quote of the Day

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, quoted in The Wall Street Journal, commenting on the high quality of counsel presenting cases before the court:

Lawyers, after all, don’t produce anything. They enable other people to produce and to go on with their lives efficiently and in an atmosphere of freedom. That’s important, but it doesn’t put food on the table and there have to be other people who are doing that. And I worry that we are devoting too many of our very best minds to this enterprise.
Justice Scalia, I believe you are correct.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Barone: Bush Helps Obama

Political guru Michael Barone, writing for the Washington Examiner, has a very interesting take on the current political dynamic. His basic point is that voters aren't so much enthused about Obama's program as they were turned off by Bush's failures. It is an interesting argument, he summarizes the failure of what he calls Narrative A, a supposed enthusiasm for big government solutions:
The unions' anti-secret-ballot bill is going nowhere, and neither, it seems, is carbon emissions legislation. The stimulus package is widely regarded as a failure and the Democrats' various health care bills are not winning majorities in polls. If anything, Americans are more leery of big government than they were a few years ago.
So, how did Obama get to where he is today, elected but with little public support? Barone calls this Narrative B:
In this narrative, Democrats' big congressional majorities owe more to perceived Republican incompetence and to the $400 million that labor unions poured into Democratic campaigns than to any change in fundamental attitudes toward the balance between markets and government.
IMHO the former Republican Congress was incompetent; it spent money like a teenager with a new credit card. I am less willing to view Bush's slow response to Hurricane Katrina as a failure. If a city sits below sea level near the ocean, I believe it is that city's responsibility to protect its people and property against flooding. For it to rely on the Federal government as "first responder" is the equivalent of a healthy adult living on welfare instead of working.

The entire article is worth your time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Verrrrry Interestinggg, But Not Funny

That's what Laugh-In's Arte Johnson would say, in a mock German accent and uniform, when faced with some odd occurrence. I have that same reaction to the appearance in The New York Times and The Washington Post of opinion columns critical of the President. provides the links to a Bob Herbert column in the Times and a Richard Cohen column in the Post, both of which ask in various ways the question "Is the President up to the job?" Neither seems very sure the answer is "yes."

We needed the MSM to figure this out a year ago, when there was still a chance to influence the election. I was not confident McCain would do a good job as president; I was confident Obama would do a mediocre one.

If a semi-retired Management professor living in rural America can figure this out by reading the candidates' vitae, our nation's premier talking heads should have been able to figure it out with their access to the actual people.

I begin to suspect our opinion leaders did figure it out, but hoped they were wrong. Once again, the MainStream Media dropped the ball.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Domestication, Anyone?

Interested in how species become domesticated? How the wolf became the dog, the bison became the cow? See this article in New Scientist, about experimental attempts at accelerated domestication, mostly done in what is now Russia. The article reports rapid domestication of silver foxes, wild rats, and mink, among others. Fascinating stuff.

Ireland Says "Yes"

In case you haven't been paying attention, Ireland has voted again on the draft treaty that will give the European Union central government more power. As this Wall Street Journal article reports, this time Ireland voted "yes."

That gives the Treaty of Lisbon new hope of being approved by all EU members, and taking effect. The reason given for this change in attitude: Ireland is having a worse recession than most EU countries, and looks to the EU for help.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Broder: the Real Obama Will Stand Up

David Broder is the long-time dean of the Washington political commentariat. Today he weighs in on health care and the President's options. Writing for The Washington Post, Broder observes that the health care issue will require President Obama to finally go on record as to whether he is a moderate or a liberal. This is an issue which, according to Broder, Obama has been trying with some success to fudge.

Broder believes the Republicans' choice to oppose the reform forces Obama into the hands of the liberals in his party. Broder's views are always worth considering.

On the other hand, I think it possible some of the Senate's Blue Dog Democrats may not vote for it. They can and do read the opinion polls, which show that we Americans oppose the plan. And of course in this context we have to remember the salience of the First Law of Politics: Get Reelected.

California: A View from the UK

One of the continuing stories COTTonLINE is following is the political and economic debacle in California. Take a look at this long, thoughtful article about California's problems, written by Paul Harris for The Guardian of London.

It is short on answers, but then, aren't we all? It at least does a good job of painting a current picture of some of the worst problems there. It however touts the work of Van Jones, which is a real reason to doubt the judgment of the author.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Some Fun

The London Telegraph puts forward a fascinating piece of conspiracy theory. They print a photo of Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holding up his identity papers which reflect, they claim, that his family was Iranian Jewish, named Sabourjian, but converted to Islam after his birth.

The article's authors argue that having Jewish ancestry could explain his vitriolic attacks on Israel,:
Experts last night suggested Mr Ahmadinejad's track record for hate-filled attacks on Jews could be an overcompensation to hide his past.
Ali Nourizadeh, of the Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies, said: "This aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad's background explains a lot about him. (snip) By making anti-Israeli statements he is trying to shed any suspicions about his Jewish connections. He feels vulnerable in a radical Shia society."
Having seen what Photoshop artists can do to change photos, I accept no photograph as proof of anything. It may be true, it may be nonsense, either way it is fun.

Hat tip to Scott Johnson of Power Line for the link.

Quote of the Day II

John R. Miller, writing opinion for The New York Times, about the world's view of the U.S.:
The world simply distrusts the big guy on the block, and the only way to address this is to stop behaving like a superpower. A much better option, of course, would be to pay less attention to foreign opinion surveys and more to our own ideals and interests.
Nicely said. The whole article is worth your time.

Dad Was Right

I spent my early childhood in Hollywood, CA, where my father had lived since the end of World War I. I had the usual kid's awe of movie stars but my father pooh-poohed such notions. "They are a bunch of degenerates" he would say, without ever being explicit.

I always figured the behavior of the movie colony offended his Midwest moral and political sensibilities and let it go at that. Later I learned some of the details of the Fatty Arbuckle scandal, the uses of the casting room couch, and the Red scare and was sure I was right. Dad was a prude and show folk were fast and loose, slept around, and some were Marxists too.

Recently I began to think dear old Dad was right, that I had been too forgiving. What has convinced me is Hollywood's reaction to the arrest in Switzerland of Director Roman Polanski to serve the sentence for a 30 year old conviction of molesting a 13 year old girl.

Eugene Robinson, writing for RealClearPolitics, documents the Hollywood luminaries who have risen to Polanski's defense. Polanski is an unrepentant child molester - what's to defend? It appears the only heinous sin in Hollywood's value system is naming the names of fellow Communists to a Congressional committee.

Quote of the Day I

An otherwise unidentified Georgian in a letter to Jay Nordlinger (scroll down) of National Review Online, with his answer to the question "what would Jesus drive?"
Like any carpenter, a full-sized American pickup truck, long bed, trailer hitch, locking toolbox (he hung out with thieves), crew cab, with the gunrack modified for fishing rods.
Don't forget the pile of receipts and permits on the truck's dashboard. He might have a snuff can in his hip pocket and wear a "gimme" cap too.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Bad Bet

The world likes a weak American president, but treats him poorly. The International Olympics Committee just gave President Obama a rude slap. See this Associated Press article from Yahoo News, which lays out the grim news for Obama:

Chicago was knocked out in the first round, despite in-person lobbying by President Barack Obama — one of the most shocking defeats ever handed down by the International Olympic Committee.
They give the details of the voting rounds; the loss wasn't even close. BO would have been much smarter to have stayed home:

The final result was decisive: Rio beat Madrid by 66 votes to 32. Chicago got just 18 votes in the first round, with Tokyo squeezing into the second round with 22. Madrid was leading after the first round with 28 votes, while Rio had 26.

In the second round, Tokyo was eliminated with just 20 votes. Madrid got 29, qualifying it for the final round face-off with Rio, which by then already had a strong lead, with 46 votes.

Had Obama succeeded in getting the Olympics for Chicago it would have been a major victory. Losing decisively is a major loss for him, any way you look at it.

You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.*
Obama is not a skilled gambler. The Gambler-in-Chief couldn't see this was one of those "fold 'em" hands.

*Lyrics of The Gambler written by Donald Alan Schlitz, Jr., made famous by Kenny Rogers.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Quote of the Day II

George Will, writing for RealClearPolitics, about climate change skepticism:
What makes skeptics skeptical is the accumulating evidence that theories predicting catastrophe from man-made climate change are impervious to evidence. The theories are unfalsifiable, at least in the "short run." And the "short run" is defined as however many decades must pass until the evidence begins to fit the hypotheses.
In other words, you cannot argue with a true believer. Will can really turn a phrase; I love "impervious to evidence" and "unfalsifiable."

Balz: Independents Lean Right

Dan Balz, who analyzes politics for The Washington Post, is probably this generation's David Broder - the guru of national politics. Go see his article which crunches the numbers of several polls and concludes that while Republicans haven't gained a lot of ground, and Democrats haven't lost a lot, what has happened is a shift in the attitudes of independents. Balz says:
In the first three months of this year, Gallup found that 17 percent of all adults were independents who leaned toward the Democrats, and 11 percent independents who leaned toward the Republicans. Gallup's third quarter data showed that 15 percent of adults were Republican-leaning independents, and 13 percent Democratic-leaning independents.
Balz concludes:
If Obama's policies are causing independents, who were critical to Democratic successes in 2006 and 2008, to look more favorably toward the Republican Party, that should be cause for concern at Democratic Party headquarters.
The entire article is worth your time.

Food for Thought

Here is an interesting article on the Miller-McCune website about the extent to which Americans are geographically segregating themselves by race, religion, political party, lifestyle, etc. It is mostly a review of two books concerning this trend: The Big Sort by journalist Bill Bishop and Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America by Rich Benjamin.

Benjamin, an African-American, says of this racial sorting trend:
There are forces that push people out [of cities and inner suburbs], like diversity and crumbling infrastructure and high home prices. And there are pull factors, like more home for your dollar [in the whitopias], beautiful natural amenities and safety, and the perceived comfort that comes with homogeneity.
Bishop sees pluses and minuses:
The good part is you get this incredible variety from place to place; places zoom off into their own cultural trajectories. But what happens is people lose touch with those who disagree with them. What happens is a nation incapable of compromise; you have this kind of national stalemate.
A "national stalemate" is not a bad description of our current condition. Increasingly, congressional districts are "safe" for one party or the other, and therefore elect more extreme members of the "safe" party. Result: no legislative compromise, leading to a national stalemate as the "blue" states and the "red" states cannot agree. If Benjamin is right about geographic segregation, should we rename those the brown states and the white states?

Quote of the Day I

Ted Nugent, writing for Human Events:
Jimmy Carter is either a racist or an idiot or both. Probably both, tinged with a little senility.
Only a little senility? Carter's ascription of racism to others is probably a psychological projection of his own racist feelings.