Monday, May 31, 2010

Dr. K Talks Oil Leaks

Dr. Charles Krauthammer, writing for The Washington Post, makes a great deal of sense about the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, the forces which brought it about and the political fallout. For example, he says:
Obama is no more responsible for the damage caused by this than Bush was for the damage caused by Katrina. But that's the nature of American politics and its presidential cult of personality: We expect our presidents to play Superman.

Particularly when the president sets himself up as the guy who can solve all problems.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Read and Be Proud

On the eve of Memorial Day, 2010, a link at RealClearPolitics took me to this column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, by a talented fellow with the unlikely name of Vin Suprynowicz. His title: "The battle that changed everything."

Suprynowicz briefly summarizes the carrier battle of Midway Island in June of 1942. It was the pivotal battle in the Pacific in World War II, and a story the likes of which has only happened a few times in all of human history.

Read it and be thankful for all the brave young Americans who have gone off to war to protect our freedoms. I'll be surprised if you can finish the column without choking up.

Dowd: President Spock Illogical

New York Times Snarkmeister-in-Chief Maureen Dowd has turned on the formerly beloved President Obama. See what she said:

President Spock’s behavior is illogical. Once more, he has willfully and inexplicably resisted fulfilling a signal part of his job: being a prism in moments of fear and pride, reflecting what Americans feel so they know he gets it.

That is right-on snark. The rest of the article continues to beat up on Obama too. Ann Coulter could have written this column (and probably wishes she had done so).

Slate On Target

The online magazine Slate is left-wing and, as such, for readers of COTTonLINE normally not worth reading. Here is an article from Slate by Jacob Weisberg that is relatively on-target.

Weisberg describes recent Republicanism as being more Western than Southern, and I suspect he has that right, pun not intended. This is a liberal looking at modern Republican happenings and making considerable sense.

If you can ignore the final paragraph, the article is worth your time.

Skepticism in South Korea

It turns out about a quarter of South Koreans are skeptical of the findings of an international panel that their warship was sunk by a North Korean torpedo. On the other hand, 76% are not. There are two things going on that can influence this skeptical view.

First, South Korea now has a conservative government after having a more liberal one for several years. Those individuals who supported the liberal government and its openings to the North are likely to see the conservative one as untrustworthy, just as happens here in the U.S. Polls show the young and better educated are more likely to be skeptical, I suspect they are also the more likely to be liberal.

Second, there is a fairly strong human tendency to decide that what we want to be true is in fact true. We see this among liberals in the U.S. and I suppose it is likely to be true among liberals in South Korea. They want relations between North and South Korea to be getting better, so they refuse to accept evidence that moves in the contrary direction, even when it is based in fact.

See this article in Bloomberg for details. I view South Korea's skeptics as being much like our "truthers" and "birthers" or folks who think the CIA, KGB or Mafia killed President Kennedy. That is, they are people who see conspiracies everywhere. Of course, on rare occasions the conspiracy nuts are right.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Affordable Family Formation

Go see this essay by Steve Sailer in his blog about Affordable Family Formation. He identifies four demographic factors that seem to determine voting behavior: the dirt gap, the mortgage gap, the marriage gap, and the baby gap. His statistics are persuasive and fascinating.

As you might guess, states with more developable dirt, lower home prices leading to more affordable mortgages, more married people, and more babies are more likely to vote Republican. Conversely, states with limited developable land leading to higher home prices leading to less affordable mortgages, tend to have fewer people married and fewer children, and they vote Democratic.

He uses these findings to argue that Republicans should attempt to cut off illegal immigration as it causes places where the illegals settle to become more Democratic. Go see his reasoning, it is interesting.

The Recent Solar Minimum

This article in Scientific American summarizes some of the findings presented at the most recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society. The topic was the solar minimum, the time when sun spot and other solar activity is at a low ebb.

Everyone agrees the most recent solar minimum was the lowest on record. I particularly like the article's conclusion, given by Frank Hill, of the National Solar Observatory:
My main impression of all this is I'm gratified to see that we all agree that this is an interesting minimum. What's not so gratifying is we have no clue why any of these effects are happening.
"No clue" suggests that we be more than a little cautious about solar-influenced climatic predictions such as "global warming" here on Earth.

Friday, May 28, 2010

E Pluribus Unum

See this speech by Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA) on YouTube about the subject of illegal immigration, the AZ law concerning it, the inappropriate remarks by President Felipe Calderon of Mexico to the Congress about that law, and the inappropriate response of Congressional Democrats to that speech.

McClintock's quote of Teddy Roosevelt's views of immigration is particularly appropriate. Multiculturalism is not what we are about. It is a great, short speech.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Noonan: Obama is Detached

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan has some trenchant things to say about Obama's performance in light of the BP oil spill. She writes:
The president, in my view, continues to govern in a way that suggests he is chronically detached from the central and immediate concerns of his countrymen. (snip) He has not, almost from the day he was inaugurated, been in sync with the center. The heart of the country is thinking each day about A, B and C, and he is thinking about X, Y and Z. They're in one reality, he's in another.
Do you suppose it is because the cultures and people which shaped Obama as he grew up share little with mainstream U.S. values?

The Sestak Dilemma

The normally left-leaning Los Angeles Times editorializes about the alleged White House job offer to Congressman Joe Sestak. The Times believes it needs to be investigated.

It is their reading of federal law that to offer a job to someone to get them to do, or not do, something political is a felony. So, either Dem senatorial candidate Sestak is lying or some Team Obama functionary is a felon.

If it is ever investigated, it will turn out it was all an unfortunate misunderstanding. That is, unless Obama decides it is expedient to throw yet another associate under the bus.

Meanwhile ABC News reports that all 7 Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have asked Attorney General Holder to appoint a special Prosecutor to look into the Sestak job-offer matter. Anybody wanna bet he ignores them?

Barone: GOP Could Win Congress

Michael Barone, writing for The Washington Examiner, has evidence that 2010 could be an election year like 1994. That year the Republicans took control of both houses of the Congress. His premise:
Usually House incumbents don’t trail challengers in polls at any point in the campaign, because they almost always start off better known. For an incumbent to trail in a poll is a sign of serious danger.
What Barone finds is a number of GOP challengers who, at this point, lead Dem incumbents in the polls. If that sounds like good news, go see his column.

No Longer Rich Enough to Be Stupid

Mark Steyn has written a great column for Macleans, the Canadian equivalent of Time, hence the antique spelling of such words as "favour." There are too many great thoughts to cite here, but I will give you a sample:
Many Western nations are, in any objective sense, insolvent. (For example) the EU’s decision to toss a trillion dollars into the great sucking maw of Greece’s public-sector kleptocracy. It no longer matters whether you’re intellectually in favour of European-style social democracy: simply as a practical matter, it’s unaffordable.
I love lines like "great sucking maw of Greece's public-sector kleptocracy." Steyn gives another example:
In one-sixth of British households, not a single family member works. They are not so much without employment as without need of it.
Who needs to work when someone else will support you? He explains the mechanism documented by B. F. Skinner, among others:
It’s one of the basic rules of life: if you reward bad behaviour, you get more of it.
Go read the article, there is much more to enjoy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Peters: Treason at the NYT

Our old friend Ralph Peters, who writes for The New York Post, has seen the recent article in The New York Times. This article reports on a memo signed by Gen. David Petraeus authorizing black or clandestine operations in the Middle East. You can read the Times article here. You can read Peters' reaction here.

Peters is mad at the Times for publishing the classified material, and furious at the person who leaked the document to advance domestic partisan goals. He points out that making the document public will cause many innocent people to be killed or tortured, as paranoid regimes imagine them to be a part of these operations.

Peters believes the document was leaked by Team Obama to make it appear that he is doing something about Iran and its nukes. I wonder if it wasn't leaked by pacifists in order to make the operations it specifies so difficult to do as to be infeasible. Whatever, leaking it was an act of treason that, as Peters points out, will never be punished.

When I see this sort of thing happening, I wonder if our nation deserves to survive. We engage in so many self-destructive actions like this one, actions which make us a candidate for the Darwin Award.

CA Worse Than Greece?

See this article in The Daily Caller authored by Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association. He writes about the current problems facing California, which are manifold, and the ways in which its situation resembles that of Greece.

So much of consumer electronics is (or was) based in California that you can understand his interest. If you care about the Golden State, it is a worthwhile, albeit pessimistic, article.

CNN: Three-Quarters Against Illegals

Go here to see a CNN/Opinion Research Poll that finds that currently 76% of Americans would like to see the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. decreased. That is about as close to unanimity as this nation has seen since the end of World War II.

Of those who wanted to see the number decreased, 80% wanted to see the number of illegal immigrants decreased a lot or completely. In our politically divided nation, that is an overwhelming finding.

The poll then asked about attitudes toward numbers of legal immigrants and two-thirds said the numbers should remain the same. Another interesting finding, 82% said they would not cooperate with any boycott of Arizona products or vacation spots.

You can find a discussion of the CNN results in this Politics Daily article.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Democrat Popularity at All-Time Low

Republicans, rejoice. CBS News reports that their polling shows approval for the Democrat Party has dropped dramatically, 54% of respondents have a negative view of the party. Looking at a history of such polling, the article observes:
The public's approval of the Democratic Party is at its lowest level ever, a new CBS News poll shows.
"Lowest level ever" is a dramatic statement. "Ever" is a very long time. In addition, the favorable rating of the Democrats is down 5% and that of the Republicans is up 5%.

Add to those findings by CBS, the following from Rasmussen Reports:
Overall, 42% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president's performance. That is the lowest level of approval yet measured for this president. Fifty-six percent (56%) now disapprove of his performance.
"Lowest level...yet measured for this president" is another of those dramatic statements. To summarize, 56% disapprove of Obama and 54% have a negative view of his party. That is a high degree of agreement between the data from two different pollsters. Let's hear the White House try to spin those numbers.

WaPo: Lack of WH Sunlight

The normally left-leaning Washington Post takes a less-than-friendly stance vis-a-vis the Obama White House on the Sestak matter. See what they say:
The White House position that everyone should just trust it and go away is unacceptable from any administration; it is especially hypocritical coming from this one.
If there was nothing improper, why not all that sunlight Mr. Obama promised?
That hurts much worse coming from a source believed with good reason to be friendly.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Quote of the Day

Boris Johnson, writing for the Daily Telegraph in the U.K. about the euro mess, the Greek role in it, and how these were things he long expected:
Truly, my friends, we have been proved right about the euro. But, as so often, there is little joy in being proved right.
I agree, it isn't much fun finding out the world is truly as FUBAR as you always feared it was.

Global Cooling, Anyone? Pt. 3

The date is Monday, May 24th, and the time is 2:04 p.m. MDT. It has snowed gently all morning and the temperatures have been in the low 30s Fahrenheit, of course.

Tell me again about that global warming we are all supposed to be enjoying.

Rasmussen: 63% Want Repeal

Scott Rasmussen of the Rasmussen Reports polling organization finds that 63% of likely voters want repeal of the new federal health care law. He adds:
That’s the highest level of support for repeal yet measured.
No wonder the only Democrat to be elected recently - Mark Critz - told voters he would have voted against the health care bill.

Meanwhile Rasmussen's Presidential Approval Index stands at -18, with 25% Strongly Approving of President Obama's actions and 43% Strongly Disapproving.

Team Obama cannot view these numbers with much satisfaction.

Measles Vaccine Safe, Doc Banned

The British doctor who published the article that caused the widespread fear of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine as a purported cause of autism, can no longer practice medicine in Britain. This Associated Press article on the Yahoo News website reports that Dr. Andrew Wakefield has lost his license to practice in the U.K.

The journal, Lancet, withdrew the article which reported his 'findings.' Other studies have failed to substantiate the allegation and the vaccine is believed safe by the medical communities in both Britain and the U.S.

Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of children have not been vaccinated and are at lifelong risk for these diseases. Having mumps is no joke for an adult male. Pregnant women having rubella can cause serious birth defects, including retardation, in their unborn children.

Algebra an Important Precursor

The Washington Post reports interesting research results generated by the Montgomery County Schools organization, which follows its graduates to see how they perform. The key finding:
Montgomery students who passed Algebra I in the eighth grade were more than twice as likely to receive a bachelor's degree than those who didn't have the early algebra exposure -- 75 percent for the eighth-grade math students, compared with 34 percent who didn't take the course.
My suspicion is that whether or not a student takes algebra is a reflection of the emphasis the family is placing upon that student going to college. The article doesn't make clear whether taking algebra in the eighth grade is taking it early or "on schedule." Clearly taking it early would require special permission which would likely only be given to really bright kids. I'd guess that eighth grade is the normal schedule for algebra.

In my high school, all those decades ago, algebra was normally taken in the ninth grade, followed by geometry in the tenth, second year algebra in the eleventh, and solid geometry/trigonometry in the twelfth. Calculus as an advanced placement or AP course was not available in our small high school. Today, it is available in many schools so algebra probably starts in the eighth grade to make taking calculus possible.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Allergy Good News

Have you been sneezing, coughing, and rubbing scratchy eyes this spring? If so, you understand the downside of allergies. Do you know the upside?

The New York Post reports that allergy sufferers are less likely to get cancer. They cite the results of several studies which find negative relationships between allergy and various types of cancer, including leukemia, ovarian cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, as well as stomach, pancreatic and brain cancers.

These findings make some sense to me as an outsider to the science, inasmuch as allergy is simply the immune system working too hard. Perhaps an overactive immune system detects and kills cancers before they can become dangerous? Certainly, one approach to curing cancer has been to try to get the immune system to attack it.

So blow your nose, take your antihistamines, and hope your allergies are protecting you, to some degree, against many forms of cancer.

Political Humor Alert

We don't do many images here at COTTonLINE but this one from is just too good to pass up.

Austin Hill: The Citizen Class

Columnist Austin Hill, writing for, defines patriotic Americans as "the citizen class." He maintains that our President has outraged them; I suspect he is correct. He says:
While an overwhelming majority of the citizen class supports Arizona’s effort to uphold the significance of citizenship and sovereignty, President Barack Hussein Obama has sided with the United Nations, Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez, China, and the President of Mexico in opposing the state of Arizona. (snip) President Obama’s party – the ruling party in Congress – couldn’t rise to their feet quickly enough and offer thunderous applause, when Mr. Calderon publicly humiliated Arizona during an address to both the Senate and House last week.

Go see his article. It is easily worth your time.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


This Associated Press article in the Seattle Press Intelligencer reports that,, in a special election, the Republicans have won the Congressional seat for the Hawaiian district in which Barack Obama grew up. A Honolulu City Councilman named Charles Djou won the seat, beating a pair of Democrats who split the liberal vote.

Why the Dems ran two candidates is unclear, and was tactically unwise. Djou only serves until January when whoever is elected in November will be seated. The election does give Djou whatever advantage being the incumbent may carry.

Global Cooling, Anyone? Pt. 2

We awakened this morning to an inch or two of fresh snow and it kept falling all morning. We went out for a drive to see the countryside "flocked." By now, most of it has melted.

Snow can come at any time in the Rockies. We don't much expect it in late May but won't be entirely surprised if we get a trace in early June.

I'll bet you can see snowy photos if you go to the other DrC's blog, it's at cruztalking.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Global Cooling, Anyone?

See this editorial from the Investor's Business Daily which reports on a conference at which scientists seriously talked about the possibility/likelihood of global cooling. Here at COTTonLINE we have be speculating about that possibility for a year or more.

One thing you can take as gospel: climates change, and they do it without human intervention. This much is scientific fact. Is it possible that human activity can give naturally occurring climate change a nudge? Sure it is possible, although unproven.

Meantime, in late May it still feels like early spring here in the Rockies. The aspens have begun to leaf out and the robins are nesting but much else is waiting for warmer weather. It is still too cold to sit on our screen porch, the skies are mostly gray and we continue to use our heating system.

Rhee Kicks Butt

Washington, D.C., School Superintendent Michelle Rhee has used draconian measures in the district's schools, which were worse than dismal, and apparently done some good. Her fourth and eighth graders scored better on reading, the key skill in learning. Furthermore, the D.C. schools were the only one, among major cities, which improved. See this Washington Post article for details.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

NYT Smiles on Rush

Go here to see a positive article about Rush Limbaugh in The New York Times. I'm not kidding, really. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Travel Blogging VIII

Dateline: Western Wyoming. We are home, our travels are over for the moment, more are scheduled later in the summer. At this elevation we are still in early spring, no flowers yet and it is rather cool.

I write to share with you some valedictory thoughts about the tour of southern Utah national parks just completed. It may be that similar formations exist elsewhere in the world, but if so I've not seen them.

Bryce is unique, so is Zion, and in some ways Capitol Reef is just as dramatic. It is out of the way, hard to get to, and so much less visited. If you do go to Capitol Reef, be sure to take the scenic gravel road all the way to the end. You are driving in what was an old wagon road that made access to the area a real challenge.

We didn't get to Arches this trip, but have been there in the past and it is spectacular too. And there is a short stretch just west of Bryce that is, I believe, a state park but for several miles you drive through scenery that is so exotic it is hard to believe it is natural (which of course, it is).

The DrsC have been in 80+ countries and have seen a lot of sights. We continue to believe that the stretch of 11 national parks that begin in Arizona with the Grand Canyon, and continue north through Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and Alberta, Canada, are cumulatively the most spectacular collection of scenery in the world. I am willing to entertain arguments to the contrary.

Philippine Politics

I've been wondering what's been going on in the Philippines; they've been largely "off the radar screen" recently. Here is a New York Times article by Miguel Syjuco, a Philippine political observer, which summarizes the political history post-Marcos and brings us up to date.

It is not an upbeat article. Syjuco shows how one 'reformer' after another has been sucked into the corruption and cronyism that have characterized Philippine post-war politics.

These problems appear to be a legacy of Spanish colonial culture, one that is particularly difficult to overcome. Latin America has struggled with these problems for more than a century.

The DrsC were on Guam (another corrupt former Spanish colony) when the Marcos entourage paused there at Anderson AFB on their way to exile in Hawaii. Local gossip said they ran up very large bills at the PX, bills that were reluctantly covered by the U.S. State Department which was facilitating their exit from Manila. I wonder if the bills included shoes for Imelda?

Immigration Questions

Mexican President Felipe Calderon visited President Obama and whined bitterly about the famous Arizona law against illegal immigrants, see this Associated Press article on Yahoo News. His complaint raises several questions.

Why is the United States responsible for taking in Mexico's surplus population? Or for that matter, Latin America's surplus population? Why should an eighth of Mexico's population be in the United States illegally? Shouldn't Mexico be responsible for their own people?

I'm just asking.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Quote of the Day

John Dickerson, writing for Slate, a normally liberal organ of the MSM, about the results of the primary election which happened today:
The night showed just how limited Obama's political power is.
Really? The Won is limited? It sure didn't seem that way in the fall of 2008.

Political Analysis

See Sean Trende's excellent analysis of the electoral possibilities for 2010, done for RealClearPolitics. He lays out scenarios depending on whether this election will be anti-incumbent, anti-liberal, or anti-Democrat. It will undoubtedly be one of the three, with the first being least damaging to the Democrats, and the last being most damaging. He concludes:
If 2010 is an anti-Democrat year, rather than simply an anti-liberal year, we could see absolutely catastrophic results for the Democrats in the 73 Republican-leaning districts. If we take the fifty percent casualty rate that the Republicans suffered in 2006, add in the twelve retiring Congressmen, and again assume a dozen Democratic Congressmen in marginally Democratic districts lose, then the Democrats are on pace to lose over sixty seats.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to have an ex-Speaker Pelosi?

Volunteers Needed

The Navy Times reports that the State of Indiana is planning to close a site dedicated to the memory and career of famed World War II war correspondent Ernie Pyle. This is a perfect time for the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars to come forward and raise the money to keep the site open.

I remember reading Pyle's books as a kid, and they were great. He spent most of his time with the enlisted men; his writing showed the war from their point of view. It would be a shame to lose this trove of historic material.

South Korea to Blame North

As this article in The New York Times reports, South Korea has accumulated sufficient evidence to accuse North Korea of a torpedo attack on its ship. This attack sank the ship and killed 46 South Korean sailors.

I see no practical way South Korea can retaliate without risking all-out war on the peninsula. As we've discussed earlier, the concentration of much of the South Korean populace within artillery range of North Korea makes such retaliation impractical, and the North knows this.

Sanctions are of little value against a rogue state, run as North Korea is run by megalomaniac autocrats. Perhaps the South could try to run the same kind of underground movement against the North that Ho Chi Minh ran against South Vietnam. It is best to fight on the other guy's soil, using mostly his citizens as your soldiers.

Specter Out

As this Associated Press article in the Los Angeles Times reports, Senator Arlen Specter who changed party registration from Republican to Democratic has failed to win the right to represent the Democratic Party in the race for the Pennsylvania senate seat he now holds. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Specter was a RINO who became a DINO and everyone who knew him said his only party was himself. I suspect that coat-turners make lousy lobbyists (because they're unpopular with everybody) and they therefore find it hard to earn the big bucks in their post-congressional years.

Specter could retire or may end up as president of a small college somewhere, kissing donors' backsides for modest donations. If he lives long enough he will learn to loathe the question "Didn't you used to be Arlen Specter?"

Monday, May 17, 2010

Travel Blogging VII

Dateline: Brigham City, Utah. As we were driving through some podunk town on Utah 24 today I saw a State Liquor Store. I enjoy the irony of the state government in heavily Mormon Utah running the only liquor stores in the state. BTW, drinking alcohol isn't sanctioned by the LDS Church.

I suppose the reason for state stores is so the government can be certain that alcohol is not sold to minors. Or perhaps so all profits from this evil are turned over to the state. Utah isn't the only state with a state-run monopoly on liquor stores, there are certainly other. Control of the sale of alcohol has led to some of the strangest laws in the country.

My favorite story about state liquor stores is the huge state store run by New Hampshire just over the line from Massachusetts. It has its own dedicated offramp on Interstate 95. Really, I'm not kidding.

Last time I was there NH liquor prices were reasonable, which is the way to sell a lot of booze. NH makes money because the liquor taxes in MA are very high. Residents of greater Boston drive into NH to stock up. Doing so probably isn't legal but everybody does it.

Book Review

Recently the other DrC bought a book entitled America: A Visual History from Then to Now published by Time Inc. The title page and cover also carried white letters on a red background that said LIFE. Her hope was that the book would do U.S. History via Life magazine's excellent pictures. It does, sort of.

The book is divided into three sections: People, Places, and Things, in that order. I started at the beginning and by the time I finished the People section I was so turned off the rest of the book had little chance.

The People and Places sections of this book would have you believe white men had very little to do with the history of the United States. It is only when you get to the Things section that, by reading carefully, you discover that most of these were created by...wait for it...white men.

I'm used to political correctness in the mainstream media. I didn't expect to see it in a work of history. I see I was naive.

If your understanding, like mine, is that white men played most of the key roles in the history of this nation, the book is not for you. It is revisionist history written to make the underrepresented feel better.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Travel Blogging VI

Dateline: Bryce Canyon, Utah. The altitude here is about 7000 ft. and the weather has been very changeable. In one day we've seen rain, sun, overcast, snow, and sleet. Global warming has yet to arrive at this elevation. It is cold, going below freezing every night and not warming up much during the day. We could use better weather.

The little Utah towns that support this region have experienced recent growth. There are a lot of new buildings. My sense is that domestic tourism has held up reasonably well at both Zion and Bryce.

This scenery never tires, we've come back time and again over 30+ years. It is still wonderful and still worth another visit next year or whenever we can get back. The drive between Panguitch and here has some hoodoos that are so extreme you wouldn't believe them if you saw them at Disney Land or World. The phrase "you couldn't make this up" comes to mind.

Tomorrow we are headed over a 9000+ ft. pass to Capitol Reef National Park. I hope the road is clear and the weather fair. More later....

Thai Troubles

See this article in RealClearWorld which does a very nice job of laying out the issues driving the troubles in Thailand. The basic issues are primarily driven by social class and region. Here are some thoughts about Thailand.

A serious factor contributing to the unrest is the extreme age and failing health of the much-beloved king, who has held the country together in the past. Technically a constitutional monarch, King Bhumibol has been much more active in national affairs than modern European royalty. It would appear that his deteriorating health no longer permits this involvement.

Until quite recently, I would have said that political upheavals in Thailand are essentially nonviolent. Most have been, this one certainly is not.

The rebels are called "red shirts" but nobody seems to say they are Communists. I suppose this is because most Thais are quite serious Buddhists.

L.A.Times Embarrassed

The Los Angeles Times wanted to see how its readers felt about the Los Angeles City Council's vote to boycott Arizona in response to Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law. If you go here to see the poll you can only find the results after you vote. So vote, and see the results.

What I saw after I voted was that almost 92% of those responding checked the choice "No. The city should mind its own business." It is very clear that this response isn't in line with the editorial policy of the Times, which supports the City Council. The Times is downplaying the poll results.

My conclusion: the L.A.Times must have a very small Hispanic readership in a community with a very large Hispanic population. Advertisers won't be very pleased about that.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Peters: Afghanistan a Mess

Ralph Peters writes about military matters for the New York Post. He has a very interesting article about our current strategy in Afghanistan. Peters' view is that the people who live in Afghanistan are tribal and have little or no interest in a larger multi-tribal "nation."

I particularly agree with the following observation:
The Brits cracked the code on how to get tribesmen to fight for them: You give them a substitute tribe that's an extension of their hereditary tribe. The Indian Army's regimental system fit the bill perfectly: Recruited from an exclusive tribal network or ethnic group, the regiment could count on soldiers performing well to avoid shaming their families (think Gurkhas). Plus, the regiment offered its own tribal rituals.
Peters concludes as follows:
If you want to succeed in a tribal society, you exploit tribal identities. Our officials insist that would undercut our goals. Well, perhaps our goals should be more realistic.
This article is worth your time.

CBO: Economy in Real Trouble

Tony Blankley, writing for RealClearPolitics, quotes the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office which summarizes "The Long Term Budget Outlook" as follows:

The federal budget is on an unsustainable path -- meaning that federal debt will continue to grow much faster than the economy over the long run. ... Rising costs for health care and the aging of the U.S. population will cause federal spending to increase rapidly. ... Large budget deficits would reduce national saving, leading to more borrowing from abroad and less domestic investment, which in turn would depress income growth. ... The accumulation of debt would seriously harm the economy. Alternatively, if spending grew as projected and taxes were raised in tandem, tax rates would have to reach levels never seen in the United States (the highest marginal income tax rate so far: 94 percent, in 1944-45). High tax rates would slow the growth of the economy, making the spending burden harder to bear.

And we think Greece has problems.

Quotes of the Day II

Michael Graham, writing for the Boston Herald, about the Times Square bomber and Washington's reaction thereto:
So who is surprised by the headline “Muslim terrorist tries to blow up New York?” It’s such an obvious plot device they don’t even use it on “24” anymore. The only people naive enough to find it a surprise are the innocents of the Obama administration.
Later in the same article Graham concludes:
It turns out that, the more Americans understand what their government is actually doing, they less they trust it.
Less trust of government is sadly wise.

Quote of the Day I

David Goldman, who writes as "Spengler" for Asia Times, being interviewed by the Israel National News:
It is hard to avoid the conclusion – which I have long believed – that Obama has a profound personal commitment to reconciling America with the Muslim world which will override the usual political calculus.

Given that he had a Muslim father and stepfather, was raised for four years in Indonesia, and has written with passion about his sympathy for the traditional identity of Indonesian Muslims, this is not surprising.
No wonder Obama doesn't spend much time snuggling up to Israel.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rove on Midterm Elections

Karl Rove, (in)famous architect of George W. Bush's political victories, does a step-by-step analysis of the two major parties' chances in the elections of November, 2010. The article appears in The Wall Street Journal.

Rove finds factors favoring each party, with (no surprise) more factors favoring the Republicans. I say "no surprise" because the conventional wisdom favors the out-of-power party in midterm elections, not because Rove is a Republican. A favorite line:
The public, especially independents, increasingly believes Mr. Obama's policies threaten America's economic future.

Illegal Immigration Revisited

On April 30 and again on May 3 we posted about polling results showing public support for the Arizona state law against illegal immigration. Here we go again with more findings.

Now it is a McClatchy-Ipsos poll which finds that 64% of registered voters approve of the law and would like it implemented in their own state. A Pew Research Center poll reported in the same article found the same things.

Both polls' results support what has been reported earlier. A previously unreported finding is the following:
In the McClatchy-Ipsos poll, almost two-thirds of Americans said illegal immigration was a real problem that hurt the country.
What do you call people who absolutely refuse to recognize political reality when their noses are rubbed in it? "Leading Democrats," perhaps?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Travel Blogging V

Dateline: Springdale, Utah. Today we took a drive up the Kolob in the direction of the Kolob Reservoir. Snow had fallen overnight and it was really pretty. You can find some neat pix at, the other DrC's blog, she's the photographer in the household.

Oddly, hardly anybody goes up the road toward the Kolob Reservoir. Everybody concentrates on Zion Canyon which is admittedly spectacular but often crowded with people. The Kolob is less spectacular but still beautiful, and much less populated.

At this time of year the weather can change overnight. Yesterday was warm and sunny, today started rainy and had been cold all day. At our home in Wyoming the conventional wisdom is that it can snow any day of the year. Okay, it is possible, but snow during July and August is doggone unlikely. A trace of snow during June and September is common, but won't stay around long. We have very long winters at 6300 ft. elevation, as you can well imagine.

Brooks on Kagan

David Brooks writes for The New York Times and he is a sort-of conservative. On the other hand, he is a very interesting observer of the educated elite and that is what he does in this article about Elena Kagan.

Here he talks about a hitherto-unidentified group he calls "the Organization Kids." Essentially he is making a play on William H. Whyte's Organization Man, relating that model to the young.

Brooks says he sees this model in Elena Kagan. It is a compulsive suppression of controversial opinions that might conflict with career progress.

Maybe he's really got something and maybe all he has is the subject for a column, time will tell.

Greece a Colony

Anne Applebaum writes an excellent article for Slate in which she enumerates many of the specific budgetary strictures which Greece "shall" enact in order to receive the EU/IMF bailout money. There are deadlines and a list of very tough measures Greece has to undertake.

Applebaum characterizes the document as follows:
For this is no ordinary piece of Euro-bureaucracy: This is the kind of thing a surrendering field marshal signs in a railway car in the forest at the end of a bloody war.
How serious does she believe the situation is for Greece?
Though the European Union has always required a partial surrender of sovereignty from its member states, Greece no longer has much sovereignty at all. (snip) I don't believe anybody knew that the EU had so much power over its member states, least of all the Greeks.

English Strongly Favored

COTTonLINE's favorite pollster, Scott Rasmussen, has asked Americans about language and culture. He summarizes:
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 87% of Adults favor making English the nation's official language. This is the highest level of support yet but in line with what voters have been saying for several years. Just nine percent (9%) disagree.
Language is an important element of national culture, about which Rasmussen reports:
Eighty percent (80%) of voters believe that those who move to America should adopt American culture. Again, this level of support has remained largely unchanged for years.
Rasmussen observes:
The president in remarks last July said that “instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English,” Americans “need to make sure your child can speak Spanish.” But Americans strongly disagree.
COTTonLINE concludes that, in the minds of most Americans, the melting pot is not dead. On the other hand, since President Obama has aligned himself with 9% of the American public, his chances of reelection may be dead.