Monday, November 30, 2009

Immigration and the GOP

It would appear that there is a significant disjuncture between GOP politicians and GOP voters. See an interesting analysis in the National Review based on Washington Post polling data published here.

The polling data says Republican voters believe the party is putting too little emphasis on illegal immigration, on Federal spending, and on the economy and jobs. Like the analyst for NR, I infer a connection in voters' minds between jobs and illegal immigration.

If Republican politicians cannot bring themselves to deal with these issues, interesting opportunities are created for independent candidates who are willing to do so.

Chavez Parodies Self

Recently, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has praised such classically bad actors as Carlos the Jackal, Robert Mugabe and Idi Amin. You can see the story here in Foreign Policy.

We really have to wonder if there is any horrific autocrat in whom Chavez would not see redeeming qualities? How about Pol Pot, author of the killing fields, or Joseph Stalin of the gulag? How about Adolf Hitler of the holocaust?

Those who pose as Chavez's friends, do they subscribe to these views as well? Do Danny Ortega, Rafael Correa and Evo Morales agree that cannibal Idi Amin is admirable, that terrorist Carlos the Jackal was a hero?

There has to be a point at which Chavez' ranting causes him to be viewed as a man in need of psychiatric treatment, as a madman.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Three Interesting Data Points

Three things have taken place in the last week which Americans who pay attention to overseas happenings should note. Here they are for your enjoyment.

The first is the presidential election in Honduras, which may well put to rest the upset concerning the ouster of President Zelaya. It would appear that the conservative candidate, Porfirio Lobo, will win. Go here for a New York Times story. Meanwhile former President Zelaya will be tried for violating the Honduran constitution.

The second story is the election as President of Uruguay of a former member of the Marxist Tupamaros guerilla movement named Jose Mujica. Go here to see the Reuters story. Oddly, Senor Mujica promises to continue the moderate policies of the current Uruguayan government.

The third story is the passage in Switzerland of a referendum banning the further construction of minarets on Islamic mosques in the country. Go here for the BBC story about this. This may be the first step in Europe deciding to defend its culture.

I find world affairs endlessly fascinating.

Cheney in 2012?

Jon Meacham, the editor of Newsweek, writes an interesting article suggesting that the GOP should nominate former Vice President Dick Cheney in 2012. Since Newsweek has been quite liberal, I started to read the article thinking this was a put-down.

I'm still not certain it isn't an attempt to talk the GOP into putting up what Meacham views as a weak candidate against Barack Obama's run for reelection. See what you think.

As for me, I think WY neighbor Dick Cheney is one of the grown-up voices in American foreign policy. He believes there really are serious enemies of the United States lurking out there, a view I share.

He understands the importance of being nice to our friends and not nice to the rest. And I am reasonably certain he wouldn't try to overhaul our entire health care system in order to provide coverage to the roughly 5% who are uncovered.

From an electoral point of view, Dick's main problem is a charisma deficit. He is quiet and serious; soaring rhetoric is not his forte. I think he'd be a good president; I'm not sure he'd be a successful candidate.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Just a quick word to welcome as new readers of COTTonLINE some fine folks who were in my audiences on RCI's Navigator of the Seas. We had a nice cruise across the Atlantic and now that we're home, we can focus on what is going on in the world.

California, Revisited

Read a reasonable and balanced analysis of the budgetary mess in California, written by Richard Reeves for Universal Press Syndicate and RealClearPolitics. I endorse all but the last two sentences and I take those to be throw away lines. The most unusual thought Reeves shares with us is the following:
The most devastating battle on California's political landscape has been old vs. young. And the old are winning big time.
It is a different take on the impact of the famous Proposition 13 which limits property taxes. Its main benefit goes to long-time owner-occupants of a home, almost always the old.

Recession Victimizes Men

See this Wall Street Journal article which lays out the serious differences in male and female unemployment, during the ongoing recession. The impact on men has been dramatic:
As of the end of October, the U.S. had lost 7.3 million jobs in this Great Recession. Men account for 5.3 million of that loss. The shift is so dramatic that women now constitute 49.9% of the work force and will soon outnumber men.
To what does the Journal attribute this disparity?
About half of all job losses have been in manufacturing and construction, overwhelmingly male sectors.
Democrats, who currently control the levers of government, attract the votes of more women. Republicans attract the votes of more men. Bailout money has gone to places that hire women: education and health care. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Miles' Law Still Valid

The Internet is alive with stories of the hacked emails showing that climate "scientists" have acted, and urged others to act, to suppress certain information. Information, that is, casting doubt on AGW, anthropogenic global warming, aka global warming caused by human activity.

I'm having a hard time getting excited about this further evidence of disappointing human nature. We noted in Sunday's blog entry a marvelous quote from Upton Sinclair, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

Sinclair has been dead for 41 years, so this insight isn't exactly new. Pretty clearly current or future research grants of those "scientists" depend upon AGW being real, thus they are willing to cook the books to make it look real. Sad, but not surprising.

It reminds me of Miles' Law:
Where you stand depends on where you sit.
That is, you are likely to hold views that are compatible with your self-interest. See the citation here, from a 1978 Public Administration Review article.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Greetings

COTTonLINE wishes all of our readers a very happy Thanksgiving Day, a lucrative Black Friday shopping spree, and then a nice weekend eating the leftover turkey. We wish for you a four day respite from work, and a job to return to on Monday. We hope the relatives with whom you dine show more common sense and get along with each other better than those idiots in Washington.

This holiday is celebrated as "the most American holiday." It is, of course, nothing of the sort. People the world over celebrate autumn harvest festivals, and have done ever since humans stopped being hunter-gatherers and instead took up agriculture. Thanksgiving is just our name for this feast day, so named as we hope to be thankful for a bountiful harvest.

Nonetheless, a holiday devoted almost entirely to gluttony and the renewal of family ties is, by definition, a good thing. Drive safely and don't forget the Maalox....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rasmussen: Obama Unpopular

This blog follows the Rasmussen Report's daily look-in at how the President is doing in the eyes of the voters. In a word, President Obama is doing poorly.

The Presidential Approval Index is calculated by subtracting the percentage who strongly disapprove from the percentage who strongly approve. The President's rating continues to fall. Today's Index is computed from 26% strongly approving and 41% strongly disapproving, giving the President an index of -15. Rasmussen notes that this is the lowest rating yet recorded for President Obama.

On the same page, Rasmussen also reports that Republicans have a seven point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot. This is a question that asks likely voters whether they will be inclined to vote for a Democrat or a Republican in the next Congressional election in 2010.

These findings, and others like them from Gallup, etc., cannot be conducive to sweet dreams at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Quote of the Day

Upton Sinclair, writing in American Outpost: A Book of Reminiscences (1932).
It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!
I find his comment very relevant to today's advocates for Anthropogenic (man-caused) Climate Change. It also describes the plight of the typical White House Press Secretary.

Hat tip to for posting the quote.

Travel Blogging

Sorry I couldn't post any entries during the trip just concluded. It was a bitter-sweet trip, containing both good and bad. First the good: my lectures were well-received and the Atlantic Ocean was calm considering it was November. The RCI Navigator of the Seas is the most attractive ship upon which we have cruised and that is saying something as we've been on 12-15 cruise ships, all of them nice.

The bad happened before we boarded. We had a piece of luggage stolen outside our hotel in Malaga, Spain. It contained camera and computer equipment as well as other things of value. As a result, we spent the two days before embarkation scrambling to file a police report, cancel compromised credit cards, change passwords, etc.

This experience certainly made us believers in travel insurance. We traveled home on the cash money they wired us as our plastic was kaput. On shipboard we discovered that several other passengers were robbed in various ways, including one elderly couple who were mugged and injured in the process.

What we learned from the experience: Spain is a pretty place, very well supplied with highly professional ladrones (thieves). I daresay we will be less enthused about returning there, an experience like this tends to sour one on the place it happens. Now we're back to our usual line of blogging for the next month, and then we're off on another adventure.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Travel Blogging Alert

I will be traveling for the next 2+ weeks, Internet connections will be less-than-reliable. Right now I am sitting in United's Red Carpet Lounge at SFO. Unlike the lounge in Denver, this one is clean and well-maintained.

Autumn weather is finally rolling in, it begins to look like rain outside. Unlike the cold weather back home in Wyoming, it has been pleasant here in northern CA. Normally this area starts to get cold weather right around Halloween, it has been a few days late this year.

Quote of the Day

The best comment by a Democrat on Tuesday's off-cycle elections:
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) told POLITICO, “We got walloped.”
The whole article is worth your time.

Love My Truck

Check out this article in The Seattle Times about the "cash for clunkers" program just ended. The bottom line is that lots of people swapped their old pickup trucks for new trucks, which get very little better mileage. I understand what motivated people to do this, pickup trucks are great.

I've driven a series of five diesel "pick-em-ups" for the last 26 years. Diesel pickups are noisy, smell bad, and are very "guy" vehicles. You sit up high where you can really see everything, the seats are at chair-height instead of low down, and you feel like there is enough metal around you to protect you in a crash (due diligence: probably only in front and back crashes, much less so in side crashes or roll-overs).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Broder Sees Trouble Ahead

David Broder, dean of Washington political columnists who writes for the Washington Post, has wise words about the off-year election just finished:
Last week, I heard the lead economist for a major New York bank predict that unemployment next November will still linger at 9.5 percent or more. If that is the case, this week's Democratic losses could seem minor by comparison.
One hates to wish for continued high unemployment. Furthermore, I'm not sure the GOP has been out of power long enough to learn the lesson that the last two elections taught - namely, not to spend like Dems when in power.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Idiot Twins: Bush and Obama

David Goldman writes for the Asia Times of Hong Kong under the nom de plume of Spengler. He writes long, thoughtful, hard-edged articles about foreign policy. This one is entitled "The Idiot Twins of American Idealism" and his twins are George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama. Here he explains his title:
It was mad to believe that America could remake the world in its own image. (snip) It is even madder to turn foreign policy into an affirmative action program for disadvantaged cultures. But those are the idiot twins of American idealism: either one size fits all, or size doesn't matter.
His analysis of American foreign policy is amazing:
In the parlance of American foreign policy, "realism" means accepting a howling lie if it is accepted by a large enough number of people.
Check out his view of U.S. policy vis-a-vis Saudi Arabia:
The Saudis will sell us the oil; we do not need to wash their feet in return.
Spengler sees China and India as potential allies, Russia as an opponent, and of Iran he says:
Preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons (snip) probably is the one instance in the world where American interest requires the use of force.
Believe it or not, I've only given you highlights of this article. You owe it to yourself to read the whole thing.


Do you remember that on Thursday of last week I wrote that polarization of journalism was nothing new? Here is John Harwood, of The New York Times, saying the same thing:
The evolution of political news on television, in print and on the Internet has a certain back-to-the-future feel. As the American Revolution approached in the 18th century, wrote William David Sloan and Julie Hedgepeth Williams in the book “The Early American Press, 1690-1783,” journalists “were expected to be partisan — intensely partisan."
Here we go again.

Poor California

John Hinderaker at Power Line has a really good piece comparing California and Texas; California being a high-tax state and Texas being a low-tax state. One of the key points is internal migration, CA is losing people while TX is gaining them. He quotes William Voegeli in the Los Angeles Times:
Between April 1, 2000, and June 30, 2007, an average of 3,247 more people moved out of California than into it every week, according to the Census Bureau. Over the same period, Texas had a net weekly population increase of 1,544 as a result of people moving in from other states. During these years, more generally, 16 of the 17 states with the lowest tax levels had positive "net internal migration," in the Census Bureau's language, while 14 of the 17 states with the highest taxes had negative net internal migration.
And so Hinderaker concludes the following:
Texas, increasingly, is the economic and intellectual leader of the U.S. During the last 18 months before the current recession took hold, while the country as a whole was still creating jobs, more than half of those jobs were created in a single state: Texas. Texas has usurped the leadership position that, decades ago, belonged to California. Today California is in decline, likely irreversibly so.
Projecting current trends into the indefinite future is a sucker bet, but that is the way things look today.

Quote of the Day

A Toronto Sun article notes the median age of the Afghan population is 17.6 whereas the median age of the U.S. population is 36.7. The article quotes Michael Yon, noted battlefield reporter and blogger, on the nature of Afghanistan:
It's crucial to hold in constant memory that Afghanistan is the societal equivalent of an illiterate teenager. The child-nation will fail unless we are willing to adopt the people.
To that description I'd add the "teenager" is the product of a culture whose idea of the perfect state is a caliphate, a kind of theocratic autocracy.

Given all this, becoming the "foster parent" of Afghanistan is not a promising prospect. The basic question becomes: Is the alternative even worse?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Glacier Scientist Has Doubts

Dan Fagre, a U.S. Geological Survey research ecologist at the Northern Rocky Mountain science center in West Glacier, Mont., quoted in an article in Miller-McCune webpage:
The Little Ice Age ended about 1850. We had 150 glaciers here in 1900. We only have 25 left now.
So, does Fagre attribute this change to human activity? Here's what the article says:
Fagre's own research doesn't distinguish between whether the warming is natural or manmade, although he personally believes that humans are causing at least some of it.
But he "gets nervous" when people try to attribute the root of all global warming to burning fossil fuels or land-use change. That's because, as he points out, there's just so much natural variability in the climate system that still is not completely understood.
Fagre sees "much natural variability in the climate system that still is not completely understood." That is the view we take here at COTTonLINE, too.

Hattip to for the link to the article.