Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Della Femina: Be Very Afraid of Obama

Jerry Della Femina writes a column for the Long Island Independent newspaper, which he co-owns. In this column he puts forward a very frightening proposition: what if Obama is not another Jimmy Carter but instead another Mikhail Gorbachev? If you've lost track of Gorbachev's career accomplishment, it was to disintegrate the Soviet Union of which he was leader.

One of the twentieth century's most famous advertising men, Jerry Della Femina likes to do "off the wall" and this may be just another example thereof. I just wish he hadn't done such a good job of drawing the parallels between Obama and Gorbachev.

The Vietnam War Revisited

See a review in Human Events of a book with an intriguing title: The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Vietnam War, authored by Phillip Jennings and published by Regnery.

If you've always had the suspicion (as I have) that the Vietnam War was lost here in the U.S., instead of in the rice paddies of Southeast Asia, this could be the book for you.

Quote of the Day

Howard Fineman, writing for Newsweek magazine, about President Obama's commitment to the health legislation called Obamacare:
He's dug himself a partisan hole with this big bill, and it'll be interesting to see him try to dig his way out.
The first law of holes, variously attributed to Will Rogers and Denis Healey, says: when you find yourself in one, stop digging. It appears Fineman doesn't subscribe to that wisdom, or perhaps he doesn't believe Obama does.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


John Hinderaker of Power Line does a very interesting analysis of three recent events, and suggests that they are not equivalent. He looks at the arrest by the FBI of the Hutaree crazies who planned to kill a cop, the arrest of the man who threatened the life of Congressman Eric Cantor, and the two women who suicide bombed the Moscow subway, killing dozens in the process.

Hinderaker suggests that the first two are different than the third, and I find his argument somewhat persuasive. See what you think.

The Red Headed League

Perhaps some bank robbers in France have read A. Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes short story entitled "The Red Headed League." See this article in ABC News which describes them digging into the basement vault of a bank, just like the robbers in the Holmes story did.

BTW, if you haven't read the Holmes stories, give them a try. The short stories are particularly fun.

Harris Polls: Obama Believed a Socialist

See this Harris Interactive poll taken a week or so ago in which 67% of Republicans and 40% of Independents believe President Obama is a Socialist. Roughly the same percentages believe he "wants to take away Americans' right to own guns."

In addition, a majority of Republicans believe he is a Muslim, wants to turn over our sovereignty to a world government, and has done many things that are unconstitutional. Close to 30% of Independents believe these things too.

The large numbers of Independents who believe ill of the President is probably the most important finding here. There are several other findings you may want to check out.

Good News

If TV ratings mean anything, and for the last half century plus we have believed they do, then the story in this Los Angeles Times article is good news (pun intended). Johanna Neuman writes that Fox News is kicking butt. She leads off with:
Maybe it just means that anger sells. Maybe it means that television has gone niche, appealing to core audiences rather than the middle. Or maybe this really is, at heart, a conservative nation. Whatever the reason, the trend is clear.Voted out of office in 2006 and 2008, Republicans are now the Party of Opposition. And their network of choice, Fox News, is now king.
So what is the evidence that Fox News is "king" of cable news?
Just-released ratings for the first quarter of 2010 show that CNN is in a precipitous free-fall, its prime-time hosts losing half their audience. (snip) Ratings on MSNBC plunged too. Conservatives are hailing the ratings news as more evidence of a "liberal media death spiral." Meanwhile Fox News, which broke records last year, continues to grow.
Everybody thinks this is odd, and it isn't. Most national mainstream news sources are liberal, without realizing or admitting it. The nation is sort of split politically. So, all of the liberal sources (ABC, CBS, NBC, NYT, WaPo, CNN, MSNBC) have to share the half of the populace that is liberal, while The Wall Street Journal and Fox News have the conservative half all to themselves. Coincidentally, they are growing while everybody else is shrinking. This isn't rocket science, folks, it is simple arithmetic.


James P. Gannon has written a moving essay about the anger abroad in mainstreet America. It appears in The American Spectator and you can read it here. One of my favorite passages is this one:
It is the fury of the voiceless, the powerless, the ordinary nobodies of Flyover Country who are ridiculed, preached to, satirized and insulted by the Celebrity Loudmouths of the two Left Coasts.
"Two Left Coasts" is a nice turn of phrase, and sadly accurate politically. Hat tip to the good folks at for the link.

What I think Gannon misses is that there is also anger on the left. Do you remember the vitriol spewed at George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? The sincere wishes expressed for their immediate and painful deaths?

Perhaps 40% of Americans pay no attention to politics and don't vote. But among the 60% who do vote, there is considerable crankiness on both sides. Bricks are being thrown through the windows of both parties. This is not an era when bipartisan cooperation is likely.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Science Alert

See this Agence France-Presse article, courtesy of Breitbart, about the mysterious decline in the bee population. If that sounds like something in which you cannot fathom having an interest, think again. Without bees, many crops on which we depend for food and clothing would not grow.

Called "colony collapse disorder," it is wiping out bee hives all over the world and neither scientists nor beekeepers know the cause or cure. The "greens" are strongly tempted to blame pesticide usage, and they may be correct. But they are guessing, just like everybody else. This is an issue to track in the next few years.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Movie Review

Last evening we watched again the Nicolas Cage opus National Treasure. It is a fun movie, not especially heavy-weight but fun. Sean Bean plays an interesting mix of good-and-bad guy as foil to the overly idealistic character Cage does well.

The plot mystery revolves around a mix of Templar/Masonic/ Rosicrucian symbolism. It is not unlike the material author Dan Brown has gotten much mileage from in his latest best-selling book.

Everybody loves using the fact that perhaps half of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Masons and that Masonic symbols appear on the U.S. one dollar bill.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

White Males Abandon Obama

See this article from the Albany Times Union website by David Paul Kuhn, chief political correspondent for RealClearPolitics. He writes about the extent to which white males who voted for Obama are turning away from him. He says:
It was only after the economic collapse that Obama's white male support climbed above the 38 percent ceiling. It was also at that point that Obama first sustained a clear majority among all registered voters, according to the Gallup tracking poll.

Kuhn's comparison of the governing styles of Obama and FDR is particularly interesting. Hint - he finds them quite different. I suspect Obama's style is more like that of Woodrow Wilson - professorial.

BTW, I spent 30+ years working with professors and, trust me, you don't want a professor as a president, me included. We make reasonable policy wonks, but poor executives.

Friday, March 26, 2010

LAT: Obama Tied with Anybody

See this Los Angeles Times article which reports the results of a CNN/Opinion Research Poll. The poll:
Finds Obama tied at 47% with any Republican candidate. (snip) The same poll also finds a clear majority of Americans now believe that Obama is a one-term president.
Do we have a 'suicide bomber' President, willing to lose the presidency to gain government control of health care? That should gain him sainthood in the Democratic Party, for whatever value sainthood might have in a secular party that still honors St. Jimmy Carter, patron saint of wimps and losers.

Movie Review

Last evening the other DrC and I watched the film State of Play with Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, and Helen Mirren. That is a heavy duty cast, namewise.

The film asks you to believe that Crowe and Affleck were college roommates and BFFs, although Crowe portrays a real slob of a reporter and Affleck a neat and tidy Congressman. It is unlikely that two such different individuals would be BFFs, they are more like the odd couple. I think they would have gotten on each other's nerves big time.

Meanwhile seemingly everybody is having sex with everybody else, getting shot, and selling out each other for money, leverage, or the proverbial scoop. All this is set against the very current backdrop of failing newspapers, private-security-for-hire mercenary forces, and corrupt politicians.

Do I sound like they didn't quite close the sale? State of Play is decent mystery-thriller whodunit with a nice twist at the end. For my money Affleck and Mirren did quite good jobs, McAdams wasn't bad, and Crowe, the biggest star, sort of phoned it in. Because his was the lead character, the film fell short of being the big splash it could have been.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

About Breitbart

Go see this Time magazine story about Andrew Breitbart, perhaps the leading conservative web entrepreneur. The article is less critical than you might imagine. I suspect the author started out to do a hit piece and ended up admiring what Breitbart has accomplished.

An interesting aside is this comment about Breitbart's experience as an undergraduate at Tulane University in New Orleans:
The South was a revelation for Breitbart. Southerners, whom he'd assumed from their depiction on TV to be Neanderthals, were warm and smart and less neurotic than Californians.
This is something I spent a working lifetime telling colleagues in California. I daresay not one of my neurotic colleagues believed me.

Movie Reviews

Last night we viewed the film The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock. We both liked it. She does a good job of portraying a certain kind of Southern woman who is a steel magnolia, so-called.

If you haven't lived in the South, you have no idea the commitment that goes into being a cheerleader. They start in pre-school. It was simply fun to watch Bullock bulldoze others, and to be glad we weren't among those being bulldozed. Both feminine and inexorable at the same time, this ex-cheerleader gets what she wants. We give the film two thumbs up.

Earlier in the week we watched again the three-film Bourne series: Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum. Bourne is like a young Superman in mufti, he does a lot of improbable stuff and it is fun to watch. He's not suave like Bond but everything he does is at least theoretically possible and he does it without Bond's high tech gadgets courtesy of Q. If you haven't seen these films for awhile, they are worth another look.

Fidel and Rush

A number of conservative commentators are making much of the fact that Cuba's Fidel Castro has praised the health care revision legislation just signed by President Obama. I guess the reasoning goes like this: if someone I don't like favors a particular policy or activity, then I must oppose that policy or activity.

I'm not sure this makes sense. For example, Fidel Castro and Rush Limbaugh both like cigars, as does Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yet a group of people whose policy preferences are more different would be hard to assemble.

I don't like the health care revision just passed into law, but whether or not Fidel likes it is irrelevant. Presumably he likes any policy that involves the government controlling society. I like some such policies, and dislike others.

Presumably both Fidel and I dislike a normal citizen killing his neighbor, we both agree this should be against the law. Does him liking this policy make it wrong? Most would say no.

Chances are we both favor safe drinking water, even if his government doesn't always succeed in providing it. So we agree about that, so what? Government control of safe drinking water isn't an automatically socialist agenda.

My point is this: whether or not Fidel or Hugo Chavez or any other bad guy favors or opposes a policy isn't the criterion by which to judge that policy. The criterion is whether or not that policy is good or bad on its own merits. Obamacare is mostly bad on the merits.

Quote of the Day

Michael Barone, writing for RealClearPolitics, about the trillion dollar impact of the health care issue upon the financial health of the U.S. government:
Moody's declared last week that the Treasury is "substantially" closer to losing its AAA bond rating.
Good grief, this almost puts us in the same leaky boat as Greece and Portugal.
This is not good.

55% Favor Repeal

Rasmussen Reports has done a national telephone poll which finds that 55% of likely voters favor repeal of the health care legislation just signed by President Obama. Furthermore, 52% say they would vote for a candidate who favors repeal over one who does not.

A CBS News poll finds 62% want Republicans to keep challenging various aspects of the bill. It is a long time until November but those numbers cannot be encouraging for Democrats.

Hat tips to and Power Line for the info.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Quote of the Day

Lady Margaret Thatcher, quoted from her papers at Cambridge by this article in Pajamas Media, on the topic of morality:
Morality is personal. There is no such thing as a collective conscience, collective kindness, collective gentleness, collective freedom. (snip) You can’t delegate personal morality to your country. You are your country.
Can you imagine these words in Nancy Pelosi's mouth? Neither can I.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Analysis

Read Jay Cost's analysis of how the health care bill just passed will play out over the next few years. He writes for RealClearPolitics and does a nice job.

Cost's point is that there will be winners and losers but the losers' losses will occur sooner than the winners' winnings. This creates a political "window" during which it may be possible to shut Obamacare down.

Quote of the Day II

Tunku Varadarajan, writing in The Daily Beast, about the passage of Obamacare:
Barack Obama did, of course, promise “change” in his presidential campaign. He just left out the bit about its being change in which those who think they know what’s good for us pass a law that most of us oppose with a passion.

Political Humor Alert

Former President Bill Clinton, noting that the warming of spring is:
Otherwise known to Al Gore as proof of global warming.
Source of quote is this article in The Wall Street Journal about the annual Gridiron Dinner.

Quote of the Day I

Matt Drudge headline today in his Drudge Report about the passage of the health care bill:

Obamacare Outcomes

So, assuming I am correct in my prediction below of being stuck with Obamacare, how do I see health care playing out over the next couple of decades? We have several models upon which to base predictions.

First is public education. It is now true that large numbers of public school teachers in large urban areas send their own children to private schools. Don't take my word for it, go look it up. They know how bad are the schools in which they are employed, and don't want their own children in such.

Second is the Post Office, which cannot figure out how to break even, much less show a profit. Neither of these public institutions has the faith of the tax-paying public. All of these are examples of deciding a function is a public good, something to which everyone has a right, and letting the function be performed by government.

The upshot of these government functions is that private institutions have sprung up in parallel to perform the same or similar service for those willing and able to pay. Private schools and FedEx are examples. It is likely that the same thing will occur in medicine, and to some extent it already has.

The result is that, similarly to education, we will pay once for government health care which we will not much use, and again for private health care which we will use. Meanwhile all those government health care workers will be unionized and their political contributions will keep socialists in office, effectively at our expense and in opposition to our interests.

Can Obamacare Be Reversed?

As those of you who follow politics already know, the House of Representatives last evening passed the health care revision bill that had already passed the Senate. It is a sad day for supposedly representative government.

Practically speaking, we are stuck with Obamacare for at least the next 2.75 years. Why? Because any bill to reverse it would need the signature of President Obama. In the event of an presidential veto, overriding a veto requires a 2/3 vote in both House and Senate. It is unlikely that such legislation could attract those super-majorities in both houses.

In the event that President Obama is a one-term president in the model of Jimmy Carter, and if the GOP can muster sufficient votes to pass legislation to overturn Obamacare, it is conceivable that we may only live with it for three years.

If I were a betting person, I'd bet we're stuck with it. I'm a glass-is-half-empty pessimist.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rasmussen: Health Care Hurts Obama

The Rasmussen Reports Daily Presidential Tracking Poll's Presidential Approval Index has President Obama at -21. Rasmussen comments:
That matches the lowest Approval Index rating yet recorded for this President. Each time the President leads a big push for his health care plan, his job approval ratings suffer.
Rasmussen summarizes:
Overall, 43% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President's performance. That also matches the lowest level yet recorded for this President. Fifty-six percent (56%) disapprove.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Movie Review

Last evening we watched the film Defiance with Daniel Craig (he is the latest Bond) and Liev Schreiber. The guys at Blockbuster recommended it, and their recommendation was a good one.

The film concerns a group of 1200 Jews who fled the Nazi holocaust by taking refuge in a forest in their native Belarus. A group of three brothers led this group, and to a large extent the film is their story.

The basic facts of the story are historically accurate. Two of the three brothers survived the war and emigrated to the U.S. where their descendants live to this day.

A hostile political climate in Belarus made filming there impractical. The film was shot in next door Lithuania, which has similar forests and swamps. We give it two thumbs up.


I saw a notice in the financial news that Blockbuster will likely file for bankruptcy, and it didn't sound like Chapter 11. Our Buellton Blockbuster store may not be there next winter when we return, alas.

Noonan on the Baier Interview

Peggy Noonan, writing for The Wall Street Journal, finds much to approve of in Bret Baier's interview of President Obama. She notes:
Mr. Baier pressed the president on his statement as a candidate for the presidency that a 50-plus-one governing mentality is inherently divisive. "You can't govern" that way, Sen. Obama had said. Is the president governing that way now? Mr. Obama did not really answer.
Noonan concludes:
Memo to future presidents: Never stake your entire survival on the painful passing of a bad bill.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Boxer at Risk in CA

A Reuters article reports that:
Democratic stalwart Barbara Boxer risks losing her U.S. Senate seat in the November election, a California poll showed on Thursday.
Boxer's unfavorable rating has shot up to 51 percent from 39 percent in two months and she is in a statistical dead heat when compared with the two leading candidates for the Republican nomination, former Congressman Tom Campbell and former Hewlett-Packard Co. Chief Executive Carly Fiorina.
For coastal blue-state California, that is quite something.

The Actual Plan

Read the words of Robert Reich, well-known advisor to Obama and former Labor Secretary, as transcribed in American Thinker from this source on YouTube which shows a speech Reich gave at the University of California on September 26, 2007.
This is what the truth is...If you are very old, we're not going to give you all of that technology and all of those keep you alive. It's too expensive, so we're going to let you die...(We're) going to use the bargaining leverage of the federal force drug companies and insurance companies and medical suppliers to reduce their costs. That means less innovation, and that means less new products and less new drugs on the market, which means you are probably not going to live that much longer than your parents.
Who decides which "very old" folks die, one of those famous Death Panels? I can't believe Reich actually describing the brutal reality. This sounds more like a dystopia than a utopia to me, how about you?

Movie Review

Last evening the memsahib and I watched Cold Mountain starring Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger. There are also excellent cameos by Donald Sutherland and Emily Deschanel. We had owned the DVD since it first came out but had never opened it.

Although long, it is a good film. The battle scenes are graphic: both bloody and muddy. The folk music is nice, too. Most of the film takes place outdoors, which made filming difficult.

Afterward, the other DrC asked me why I hadn't wanted to see it for several years. I replied, "because I believed it to be sad." She said "So...?" and I replied "I don't like sad films." It is almost a truism that films about the U.S. Civil War will be sad.

Verdict: Yes, it is a sad film, but very well done and worth your time.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Movie Review

This evening the other DrC and I watched the film The Hurt Locker about a team of EOD (explosive ordinance disposal) guys in Baghdad during the Iraq War. The film won six Oscars, those for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Sound Editing.

Hurt Locker has an Oscar-winning woman director but if the results in my household are any indication, this is a guy film. I liked it, the other DrC did not. In fact, she tuned it out about a half hour in and started doing stuff on her laptop. So I guess we give it one thumb up, one thumb down.


During the month of March the DrsC will watch more films than we'll see during the other 11 months. Once a year we do a deal with Blockbuster where for around $25 we can watch a new movie every night for a month if we choose. Some years it might be January or February, this year it is March. We don't get around to getting a new DVD every night, so in the month we may see 15 films - for us that's a lot and the price is right.

Doctors Don't Like Obamacare

See this article which summarizes a poll summary in the New England Journal of Medicine. NEJM is the #1 medical journal in the U.S. Their poll finds that nearly 3 physicians out of 10 would retire early or try to leave the profession if the bill called Obamacare passes.

That means you have nearly a 1 in 3 chance that your family physician would quit. In other words, if it doesn't happen to you, it will happen to one of your two next-door neighbors.

So...we'll have greatly increased demand for medical services and many fewer doctors to provide it. That will bring a whole new meaning to the term "waiting room."

If you are represented in the House by a Democrat, perhaps you should remind him or her that you expect a "no" vote if they hope to be reelected this fall.

Trouble in South Africa

Here are links to two articles describing attacks on the farmers of South Africa. One speaks of literal attacks, murders and the like. The other speaks of a proposed governmental "attack" which will shift the ownership of farm land from farmers to the state.

These look very much like what happened to the farmers of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. I fear we are watching the slow, inexorable slide of South Africa into the corruption, chaos, disease and poverty that characterize most of Africa. If I had money invested in SA, I'd be moving it somewhere safer and doing it sooner rather than later.

Movie Review

The other DrC and I watched Up in the Air with George Clooney last evening. For a couple of serious travelers and former road warriors, the film rang a lot of bells.

To be sure, the character Clooney portrays is extreme. Not many people travel 320 days or fly 350,000 miles a year. Not many make their living firing people either.

Was it a good flick? Yes. Not a great film but a good one. It had elements that made it both a guy film and a chick flick, an uncommon combination. We each give it a thumb up.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Influence of Tea Party Movement

In this article for RealClearPolitics, Michael Barone posits that the influence of the Tea Party movement on the GOP may be to shift the party's emphasis toward holding down government expenditures and away from cultural issues. This may give the GOP a broader base, as there have been those who were uncomfortable with the lock the religious right had on the party.

Barone also compares the influence of the Tea Party movement on the GOP to the antiwar movement's influence on the Dems during the Vietnam War. It will be interesting to see if he is correct.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Movie Reviews

Today was a beautiful blue-sky day with some wind. It was a little cool for shirt-sleeves. The awkward sort of weather that means you are always dressed wrong - it's too hot in the car with a jacket on and too cold outside without one.

Last night we viewed the DVD of Inglorious Basterds. If you haven't yet seen it, don't bother. The story doesn't hang together, the use of "chapters" within the film seems artificial and phony, and the pacing is all wrong - it spends entirely too much time on some scenes and not enough on others. Folks in Hollywood may wish the war had turned out this way, but it did not, not even close. So we got subjected to this piece of Hollywood wish fulfillment. Don't let it happen to you.

Earlier this evening we viewed Maiden Heist, a comedy art theft film. It was so-so, not bad but not great either. It has a good cast, except for the gal who played Christopher Walken's wife=she had the lines and accent of a shrew but the appearance of an attractive young woman. The dialog and accent didn't go with her appearance. They tried to cover this but the cover didn't work.

Earlier in the week we viewed Johnny Depp's Public Enemy - I wasn't as impressed as I expected to be. The picture captures the feel of the era but I never felt like I was siding with John Dillinger, and in that sense I suspect the picture was a failure. Where films are concerned, I am hard to please.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Quote of the Day

Howard Fineman, writing in Newsweek, about the dying love affair between President Obama and the Mainstream Media or MSM:
The truth is, we in the press are bored with Barack. The "mainstream media" are losing patience with, and even interest in, their erstwhile hero.
Fineman tries to spin this as being good for Obama - I don't believe it. Adoration by the MSM was one of the few things he had going for him.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Musings on Health Care

I found myself in an emergency room Saturday, after taking a fall. The ER doctor had several Xrays taken of joints that I could move without pain. His rationale: covering his backside against some possible future lawsuit. My guess: it added hundreds of dollars to the bill.

If we wish to reduce the cost of health care, we need to create a disincentive for ambulance-chasing attorneys. My suggestions are four: first, have all injury liability lawsuits tried before a judge, not a jury; second, have whoever loses the lawsuit be responsible for both parties' trial costs, third, forbid insurance companies to settle cases without establishing culpability, and fourth, allow suits for actual damages only, do away with punitive damages and create other mechanisms for punishing malpractice.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Barone: Nancy's Dilemma

Michael Barone, writing for The Wall Street Journal, does a very interesting analysis of the issues facing Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she tries to round up 216 votes to pass the Senate bill in the House. It shows his normal attention to detail.

Barone is candidly skeptical of her ability to twist enough arms to get the votes. He identifies several groups of Democrats who will resist voting for the Senate bill.

Quote of the Day

Roger Cohen, writing in The New York Times about how Obama is viewed in Europe:
The Obama presidency has been a shock to Europe. At heart, Obama is not a Westerner, not an Atlanticist. He grew up partly in Indonesia and partly in Hawaii, which is about as far from the East Coast as you can get in the United States. “He’s very much a member of the post-Western world,” said Constanze Stelzenmüller of the German Marshall Fund.
I am not ready for a post-Western world, are you?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Maybe a Little....

See this Stanley Fish column in The New York Times which asks the question concerning President George W. Bush, "Do You Miss Him Yet?" It is basically a nicely written "I told you so" column.

Do I miss W yet? I am clear that I dislike different things about the Obama presidency than I disliked about the Bush years.

Bush knew enough to be friendly to nations that are our allies and ugly to nations that are not. He understood we need military strength and was willing to be tough with terrorists. And I miss Dick Cheney as Vice President.

I don't miss feeling I should defend him when he did or said stupid things. I don't miss the big spending impulse that supported a prescription drug benefit for seniors. I don't miss his sunny optimism that our way would be the best way for every country, every culture.

On balance, I guess I do miss W. I hope I live long enough to see a president I admire, respect, and agree with wholeheartedly. I think the odds are slim.

Poll: U.S. Less Respected, Weaker

The Associated Press reports the results of a poll done by two left-leaning organizations, results I am frankly surprised they released. To say these results don't make the Obama administration look good is an understatement. Go here to see the article on The Washington Times website.

Basically the poll shows that voters believe the Democrats currently in control have done a poor job in foreign policy and defense. Many of us have been talking about these issues for over a year. It is good to see folks have been listening.

Quote of the Day

John Hinderaker, of Power Line, writing about the President's attacks on medical insurers' premium increases:
Every time the federal government chisels on Medicare payments, doctors and hospitals shift costs to non-Medicare patients, that is to say, the ones covered by the carriers whom Obama wants to demonize.
That sounds right to me.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sad Situation

See this column by Michael Yon, one of our premier war correspondents of the last decade, appearing in Big Journalism, a Breitbart website. It reports that American troops in Afghanistan, co-located on a Spanish base, are being treated badly by the Spanish. We certainly don't need this kind of 'cooperation' from what are supposed to be allies.

Read the column if you have a strong stomach. Defense Secretary Gates needs to lean on the relevant Spaniard.

Ahmadinejad a Truther

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has pronounced the September 11 attacks on the United States a "big fabrication" according to this piece in Reuters. I guess that makes him a truther, like the nutcases here in the U.S.

I wonder how long before he declares the world to be flat and the moon to be made of green cheese? Is he insane or just an opportunist with even less commitment to the truth that most politicians?

Asia's Missing Women

See this article in the website from South Africa. It reports that there are estimated to be 96,000,000 missing women in Asia. In Asia there are 119 boys born for every 100 girls, whereas the world average is 107 vs. 100. The article adds that India and China are responsible for most of the shortfall.

The article attributes the difference to the following, cited from a report on gender equality prepared by the UN Development Programme (UNDP):
Sex-selective abortion, infanticide, and death from health and nutritional neglect in Asia have left 96 million missing women... and the numbers seem to be increasing in absolute terms.
Such differences must have social and geopolitical implications in the years ahead, One could speculate on increased levels of male homosexuality, military adventurism, and sexual emigration not unlike the economic emigration which is prevalent today.

Quote of the Day II

Robert Samuelson, writing in The Washington Post, about Millennials (those 29 or younger):
In surveys, they say they're more disposed than older Americans to big and activist government. Their ardor for Obama is already cooling. Will higher taxes dim their enthusiasm for government?
As Churchill famously said, "If you aren't liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you aren't conservative at forty, you have no brain." Neo-conservatives are liberals who have been mugged by reality in the process of growing up. One suspects there are a lot of us.

Quote of the Day I

Larry Thornberry, writing in The American Spectator, with perhaps the meanest characterization of President Obama yet seen:
The late enchantment with the little hustler from Chicago appears to have largely dissipated. Buyers' remorse has set in.
Brrr, that is cold. Arguably accurate, but harsh.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Barone: TX a Winner, CA a Loser

Michael Barone, writing for the Washington Examiner, does a comparison of the governmental policies of California and Texas. He finds that Texas comes out a winner, California a loser. For example in CA:
Population growth has not been above the national average and, for the first time in history, it appears that California will gain no House seats or electoral votes from the reapportionment following the 2010 census.
Whereas in Texas:
That inflow has continued in 2008-09, in which 143,000 Americans moved into Texas, more than double the number in any other state, at the same time as 98,000 were moving out of California. Texas is on the way to gain four additional House seats and electoral votes in the 2010 reapportionment.
The difference is taxes and government controls, both of which are much less onerous in Texas.

Peters: The Wrong Enemy

Our favorite military analyst here at COTTonLINE, Ralph Peters, who writes for The New York Post, has a very penetrating view of the situation in Afghanistan. You owe it to yourself to go read it. He says, for example:
The Taliban isn't fighting for development, but against progress. They're reactionaries, not revolutionaries.
Peters explains:
Our current hearts-and-minds approach that seeks to avoid "unnecessary" combat gets it exactly wrong: Religious warriors can't be bought with new roads, wells and vaccinations. On the contrary, over two millennia of religious revolts tells us that fanatic uprisings can only be subdued by killing the true believers.

On one level, rural Pashtuns are hillbillies who just don't want the revenuers coming up their hollow, but the problem's greater than that. Our "heavy footprint" played into the hands of propagandists for jihad, who depicted us as infidel invaders (as we told ourselves that Islam was irrelevant). Faced with zealous believers who regard death as a promotion, we pretend we're fighting Canadians in pajamas.
How ridiculous is this? Peters continues:
The Taliban, al Qaeda and other Muslim terror organizations announce repeatedly that they're waging jihad. Our response? We insist that our enemies don't know what they're talking about. This is the stuff of Monty Python routines, not serious wartime analysis.
He concludes:
In Afghanistan, we're imagining the enemy we want, rather than seeking to understand the enemy we face.
Peters tends to favor the Roman model of dealing with rebellious tribes. He overlooks the modern world's revulsion with mass murder.On the other hand, there is something to be admired in the notion of granting the wish of someone who wishes to die fighting you.

Doggy Door Danger

See this article on the 9News website from Colorado. Apparently a mountain lion/puma can enter through your doggy door. If you live in a rural area you might want to think twice about having such a portal to your house.

If a dog can enter, so could a coyote. I've also heard of raccoons and the like entering through these. All of these would be unpleasant but a mountain lion is a real threat to humans; something that kills deer for a living can kill you too.

Better Late Than Never

Saturday Night Live spent years making fun of the Bush administration. This NewsBusters article says that SNL is now making fun of the Obama administration. Excellent, if belated.

If comedy programs make fun of everybody, they seek laughs at the expense of whomever is in power. If they only make fun of the GOP, they are part of the liberal bias of the MSM.

We've had good reason to suspect SNL; if this report is accurate, and if they keep it up, they have made their chops and begun to prove their willingness to hassle everybody. Way to go, guys.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Huge Budget Shortfall

See this article on the Bloomberg website which begins with an apocalyptic paragraph:
President Barack Obama’s budget proposal would generate bigger deficits than advertised every year of the next decade, with the shortfalls totaling $1.2 trillion more than the administration estimated, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
That is no small error and the CBO is non-partisan, too. It would appear that the "tax and spend Democrats" have become simply the "spend Democrats."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Travel Blogging II

Dateline: Dallas, Texas. Herewith some random thoughts about Texas. This town has some of the most imaginative post-modern architecture you'll see anywhere. Be sure to give it a look if you get here. Dang, the countryside around Dallas is surely flat.

Texas freeways seem to be designed by local civil engineers who have never been out of state. The off ramps are often on the left, both on and off ramps can connect with the access road and the access roads are either one-way or two-way and you can only tell by reading the signs. Driving here, until you learn the local patterns, is like driving in a foreign country.

Texans are friendly people, I have known many elsewhere and actually lived here for a year. I can honestly say I've known almost none I didn't like - that is amazing. On the other hand, if you want to become visit-each-others'-homes friends, as opposed to being merely pleasant and friendly, you'd better go to the same church the Texan attends as that is where s/he makes friends.

Dallas is an interesting place to teach a night class. Several colleges and universities have taken an old department store in the downtown area and converted it into an urban center which they share for offering off-campus, after-hours coursework to urban workers. It is the only building I've ever taught in that had working escalators. It also has guards to keep street punks out and a couple of the highest tech classrooms I've ever had the privilege to use.

In Texas WalMart is so dominant that if you live outside urban Dallas you virtually have to shop there. In fact it was here that we learned that "WalMartin'" is a word, used as "let's go WalMartin'." It is important to drop the final g when saying what should be "go WalMarting."

If you're like me you have a mental image of Texas being a place where good beef is readily available. Wrong. The year we lived here we tried several vendors and never got a piece of beef that was better than so-so. The best beef is in the mountain west, where it is taken for granted since many people eat primarily elk they have hunted.

Yes, folks hereabouts do like their Dr. Pepper soft drinks. And, yes, there are still stylish women with "big hair."


This Washington Post article tries to make the case that the looting Chile has experienced in the aftermath of the recent earthquake and tsunami is the result of economic inequality. This analysis is only partially correct. As the article points out, some of the looters carried their spoils away in 4-wheel drive vehicles.

What part of the allegation is correct? The "inequality" part. People are unequal but the key issue is inequality of character, of ethics, of morals. We have inequality of outcomes in large part because we have inequality of ability, inequality of ambition, and inequality of gratification deference, in short, inequality of individuals and of subcultures.

Looting happens when the social fabric breaks down; when the network of systems that restrain the losers in our society fails for whatever reason. In short, whenever lowlifes believe they can get away with looting. An earthquake will do as a cause of chaos, so will a hurricane or a power outage or a riot. All have spawned looting.

Mediterranean No Mill Pond

People tend to believe the Mediterranean Sea is relatively calm, not nearly so rough as the bigger oceans. A couple of recent occurrences make me believe otherwise.

The first event occurred late at night on November 21, 2008, as the Grand Princess was sailing north along the west coast of Italy to dock at Civitavecchia, the port of Rome. She hit "rogue" waves and broke windows, lost power, and caused no end of chaos among the passengers, finally getting into port several hours late.

The other DrC and I boarded the Grand Princess in Civitavecchia on the 22nd. We interviewed several people who lived through the experience and saw the damage, which wasn't completely repaired until we reached Ft. Lauderdale, several weeks later.

The second event is this example, from the Associated Press via Breitbart. It reports three very large waves that hit a cruise ship based in Cyprus sailing off the coast of Spain, Two passengers were killed with flying glass from the broken windows.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Quote of the Day

Dan Gerstein, writing for Forbes, on the topic of why the Democrats keep pushing a widely unpopular health care "improvement" bill:
Over the past 14 months they have continually been trying to jam a square political peg into a round historical hole.
That's a nice turn of phrase.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Friedman and Chile

See Bret Stephens' Wall Street Journal column on the positive impact Milton Friedman had on the economy of Chile. Note also that, contrary to leftist MSM rhetoric, Gen. Augusto Pinochet wasn't entirely bad for Chile, but rather a mix of good and bad. Once you've noted this, remember not to repeat it to anyone as it is definitely not a politically correct view. Stephens shows the results:
Chileans have become South America's richest people. They have the continent's lowest level of corruption, the lowest infant-mortality rate, and the lowest number of people living below the poverty line.

Quote of the Day

Nina Easton, Washington Bureau Chief, Fortune magazine, speaking as a panelist on the Fox News Special Report with Bret Baier. The transcript appears in RealClearPolitics. Her topic is the extension of unemployment benefits, being held up by Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky:
Economists found out, who study this stuff historically, find that it - continually to extend them contributes to high unemployment rate because people wait to the last minute. They wait until their benefits are about to run out before they take a less desirable job, before they decide to move, before they decide to, you know, go to a job that they wouldn't otherwise take.
FYI: Nina Easton was the designated liberal on the panel this particular evening, a role she often fills.

Fat Rats

See this summary of a scientific paper arguing that typical lab rats (and mice) are overweight as they eat all they want and get little exercise. This may make research results based on the rodents only relevant to overweight humans, which is to say, most of us. The paper in Nature has one very interesting implication:
Studies showing that caloric restriction can extend lifespan may have to be reinterpreted. "A major reason the lifespan of rats and mice is extended by caloric restriction is they started from an unhealthy baseline," argues Mattson.
Mark Mattson is chief of the National Institute on Aging's Laboratory of Neurosciences and a coauthor of the paper.

A Sister Souljah Moment

Bill Clinton, running for president in 1992, criticized a black performer called Sister Souljah who had said some racially antagonistic and violent things about whites. Therein was born the term "Sister Souljah moment" which is defined by Wikipedia as follows:
In United States politics, a Sister Souljah moment is a politician's public repudiation of an allegedly extremist person or group, statement, or position perceived to have some association with the politician or their party.
President Barack Obama, who was strongly supported for election by the teachers' unions, has supported the firing of all the teachers at a poorly performing school in Rhode Island. This may be Obama's Sister Souljah moment, see this article from The Washington Post.

Greece Revisited

See this New York Times column by Roger Cohen about the financial dilemma in the European Union and more particularly in Greece. Cohen compares the European situation to the one in the U.S. and finds important differences. He opines:
The integrative dream has faded. Europe, for the foreseeable future, will remain in the halfway house of monetary union, fiscal divergence and à la carte national politics.

Harry Harried

Power Line blog summarizes data from the Las Vegas Review Journal's poll indicating that Harry Reid may fail to get reelected. He is apparently much less popular than either of the Republicans who might run against him.

How great if two Senate Democratic leaders in a row fail to be reelected: Tom Daschle and then Harry Reid. The position might come to be viewed as jinxed, like that of the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts.

Political Humor Alert

John Hinderaker, writing in the Power Line blog about the competing cable news networks (Fox, CNN, MSNBC):
I'd rather get a root canal than watch Olbermann.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mommy vs. Daddy

David Paul Kuhn has written an insightful column for RealClearPolitics, focusing on the mommy-like characteristics of the Democrat Party and the daddy-like characteristics of the Republican Party. He lays it out very clearly, without obvious bias in either direction.

Kuhn reports that the Pew Research Center asked Americans to prioritize 21 issues a couple of months ago. The economy was most important for everybody. After that, see what they found:
Democrats five most partisan issues: health care, the environment, aiding the poor, education and securing Medicare. In short, maternal.

Republicans five most partisan issues: strengthening the military, illegal immigration, influence of lobbyists, terrorism and the moral breakdown. In short, paternal.

You need to read this article.

Barone: Obama's Nanny Care

See Michael Barone's take on Obamacare, with reasonable sociological analysis thrown in for good measure. It is here courtesy of The Detroit News online. In conclusion, Barone says of Obama:
His greater problem, on health care and other issues, is strategic. Most Americans don't share his view that they are victims, in need of protection and supervision by "the educated class."
And that includes some of us who are members of the educated class.

Pelosi's Problems

See this article by John Bresnahan and Jonathan Allen of Politico which looks at the problems facing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. While it is relatively even-handed, it suggests Pelosi has substantial issues facing her. For example, about health care they report:
Pelosi and other top House Democrats say publicly that they have the votes to push through a comprehensive package, but privately, they know they don’t.

Money Trouble Where?

See this Forbes article reporting the relationship between states' financial conditions and their political orientations. Did you guess that heavily Democratic states were more likely to have financial difficulties? If so, you were correct. For example, Forbes says:
Of the 10 states in the worst financial condition, eight are among a total of 23 defined by Gallup as "solidly Democratic," meaning the Democrats enjoy an advantage of 10 percentage points or greater in party affiliation.
Forbes reasons:
Why do Democratic states appear to be struggling more than Republican ones? It comes down to stronger unions and a larger appetite for public programs.
The unions they identify as problem sources are mostly public employee and teacher unions.

Steyn: The Greek Problem

See what demographer Mark Steyn, writing for The Washington Times, has to say about the extent to which the problems of the Greeks are about to be replicated in other developed nations, including the U.S. Here is his conclusion:
In Greece, they've run out Greeks, so they'll stick it to the Germans, like French farmers do. In Germany, the Germans have only been able to afford to subsidize French farming because they stick their defense tab to the Americans. And in America President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are saying we need to paddle faster to catch up with the Greeks and Germans. What could go wrong?
See the whole article.