Friday, November 26, 2010

Movie Reviews

Last night we viewed the film Avatar on DVD. Imagine restaging Custer at the Little Big Horn, only in the future with aliens as Indians. The aliens are very well done, the avatar technology is interesting, and Sigourney Weaver is in danger of being typecast in space movies, in this one she plays a relatively believable scientist. All in all, a fun action movie.

The bad guys are a greedy corporation once again; doesn't Hollywood ever get tired of this theme? Why not greedy politicians or greedy scientists or physicians? Nope, it is always a company out to make a buck. Maybe Hollywood uses that theme out of guilt, for "greedy businessmen out to skim off all the money they can" is exactly what the studio heads and movie producers are.

Today we saw the new Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. It is a good 'un. Turning book 7 into two films is enabling the screenwriters to include more of the book, which is good for continuity. I suspect this film holds together better for a viewer who hasn't read the book. The film is substantially faithful to the book, unlike some earlier films.

One oddity, the last film more or less ended with the Weasley's home The Burrow burning down as a result of a Death Eater attack. You'd never know it in this film as The Burrow is just fine once again. There appear to be a couple of casting changes, nothing serious.

The three main characters, Harry, Ron and Hermione, are well done in this film. Either the director was doing his job or the kids have learned their craft. The director has built into this film the hint of a more-than-platonic relationship between Harry and Hermione. It isn't in the books but I didn't find it offensive.

This film has Voldemort's nose looking good, unlike the last film where it looked like they didn't want to spend money on special effects. Of course they failed to have his fingers look long, white and spidery, and his eyes aren't red, but you can't have everything and the nose was more important.

Also with regard to special effects, the elves return in this film. Both Dobby and Kreatur(e) are very well realized, both facially and as complete little people.

A casting quibble: many of the Death Eaters whom we see gathered around a table at the palatial home of Lucius Malfoy seem too wholesome, although they try their best to act nasty.

The fellow whose body Harry takes over to infiltrate the Ministry walks like he had a dry corncob stuck in a very uncomfortable place. If this "funny walk" was supposed to suggest Harry inhabiting an unfamiliar body, it didn't work.

Travel Blogging II

Dateline: Netherlands Antilles. We've visited Aruba and Curacao, on two successive days. Aruba was too hot to enjoy, but looked much as it had a few years ago when we were there - relatively barren. Curacao was cooler and greener, and more attractive too.

Like Aruba Curacao has achieved a semi-independence from the Netherlands, local autonomy but existing under the defense/foreign affairs umbrella of the Netherlands. This status is not unlike that of the U.S. commonwealths like Puerto Rico, where we go later on this cruise.

These islands, often called the A-B-C islands (for Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao), sit very close to Venezuela, Hugo Chavez's home. Most of their produce comes from Venezuela.

I suspect the ABCs need the Netherlands to keep Chavez from sweeping them into his orbit, for I'm sure Venezuela has a long-standing claim to these three offshore islands, like Argentina's claim to the Falklands (aka, las Malvinas).

Travel Blogging I

Dateline: Caribbean South of Bahamas. Day before yesterday we were taken to Sarasota beach to see the sand. I know, intellectually, that not all sand is alike because some is okay for making concrete while other sand is not. I seldom can experience that difference by touch or feel.

Sarasota sand is different and even I can feel and see that difference. It is finer, smoother, closer to powder. The signs say it is quartz-based, and washed down from the Appalachian Mountains – darned far away from here.

Did you ever notice how all malls in America look very much alike? We were in a big mall in Sarasota looking for a small item, which by the way we didn’t find, and it looked just like a big mall anywhere in the States. If there is “regionality” in shops you don’t see it in mall shops.

I suppose you might see regionality in certain merchandise if you were a detailed shopper (I’m not). Heavy-duty parkas are sold where there’s lots of snow and cold, I guess. Swim suits sold in Florida in winter, not in Maine or Minnesota until spring. These minor differences don’t show up in a cursory walk through the mall.

The little item we were looking for we finally found in the crafts section at Wal-Mart, which by design looks like Wal-Marts everywhere. Oh well, all of this reflective of a lessening of regional differences across the U.S. I suppose.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

An Insight

Carol Marin, writing for the Chicago Sun Times, quotes NBC's David Gregory having an insight about President Obama - his campaign successes and presidential failures - that COTTonLINE finds helpful. Gregory says:
I think the president faces a challenge where he’s most inspirational when it’s about him, but not when it’s about you. And that I think is his fundamental challenge.
Campaigning is all about why you should select me to vote for; governing is not at all about me but about what you want and need done for you. When the topic switches from me to you, he seems to lose us.

Barack Hussein Obama has an interesting story, his "me" is interesting. However, his life story is so far out of the American mainstream story that I wonder whether he can empathize with us, and vice-versa?

Broder Disapproves

The grey eminence of the Washington press corps, David Broder, weighs in with a Washington Post column that purports to be about the retention of Jim Clyburn in the House Democrat leadership. The column is sourced from the RealClearPolitics website.

A superficial reading of Broder's column suggests it is a critique of the Democrat's increasing the number of leadership positions a minority party needs in the House. A more careful reading shows the column really is a veiled criticism of Pelosi's decision to stay on as minority leader. Broder cites with approval examples of former speakers who stepped down when their parties lost many members in an election.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Travel Blogging I

Dateline: Sarasota, Florida. There has been much talk about intrusive searches at airports, "nude" xrays and full body pat-downs. Here is an Associated Press article about the controversy from the Yahoo News website. I now have a personal interest in this issue.

At six a.m. this morning I was chosen "at random" for a full-body pat-down. A very professional TSA person explained in detail what would be done, where all would be, if not groped, at least have rubber gloved hands slid over or patted upon. He asked if I would rather have the procedure done in private, I said "no."

I ended up removing my belt and all pocket contents which had already passed the metal detector, putting them on a chair, after which I got everything covered in clothing patted down, except my stockinged feet. Trouser waistband was felt, I presume for wires or det cord.

Knowing in advance what would be done, I was mellow about it and, since I wasn't growling at him, the TSA person was very decent too. He finished up by rubbing one of their single use cotton cloth pads against his gloves, which pad was then machine tested for residues of unspecified materials. I passed the test, reassembled my personal accouterments, and boarded my plane.

Is the process intrusive? Hell, yes. Can I imagine many people being offended? Certainly. Can I envision people refusing to subject themselves to it? No question. Do I think it is "too much?" I honestly cannot say for sure. It sure wouldn't surprise me if the TSA gets a lot of pressure to back off.

This raises the whole question of how much security is too much? When do the costs exceed the benefits? Are we willing to accept some level of casualties in order not to have our lives too seriously interfered with? These are real questions and Congress is the correct forum in which to consider them.

I suspect that I will conclude, after consideration, that TSA has gone too far but I will not be cross with them. They've been told to keep us safe and they believe this is what it takes to keep underwear bombers, and the like, off our aircraft.

I wonder if it is not time to revisit the question of the costs and benefits of profiling?

Argentina and California

As readers of COTTonLINE will remember, the curious fate of Argentina is to us what Yul Brynner's King from The King and I would call "a puzzlement." They have a beautiful country, a wonderful climate, excellent soil, lots of coastline, educated people, everything a country could ask for.

At various times Argentina has been predicted to be the next superpower. Instead they have done poorly; they continue to shoot themselves in the foot. What is wrong? In a word, politics. In two words, Peronist politics. The CIA ranks Argentina 63rd among nations in Gross Domestic Product per capita.

What does all this have to do with California, the fate of which is much on our minds lately? Only that, like Argentina, California seemed to have everything going for it. And in recent years, like Argentina, California's messed up politics are taking a near-paradise and turning it into a mess. In both, the unions 'own' the government and in both the unions' interests have proved to be unhelpful.

Argentina finds the situation they are in is one from which they cannot extricate themselves. I hope California isn't similarly trapped in quicksand. Here is another article about California's situation, from Forbes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Equal Pay for Unequal Work

June O'Neill, a professor of economics for Baruch College, writes a critique of the Paycheck Fairness Act for The Wall Street Journal. This act, which has passed the House and is being considered in the Senate, attempts to legislate equal pay for men and women, regardless of whether their contributions to the firm are equal.

The bill's sponsors base its need on a claim that women earn only 77% of what men earn. O'Neill finds they aren't comparing equally job-committed individuals, since "full-time men work 8%-10% more hours per week than full-time women." Then she says some obvious things that are not at all politically correct, for example:
The gender gap shrinks to between 8% and 0% when the study incorporates measures such as work experience, career breaks and part-time work.
The most important source of the gender wage gap is that women assume greater responsibility for child-rearing than men.
Women often seek flexible work schedules, less stressful work environments, and other conditions compatible with meeting the demands of family responsibilities. Those come at a price—namely, lower wages.
In addition to child-rearing, I'd guess women take more responsibility for the care of elderly relatives, too. And for all of these reasons a number of women are less available for business travel, often a job requirement.

Just sayin'.

Eat Your Spinach

President Obama, during and immediately after his campaign in 2008, was hailed as the greatest presidential communicator since the fabled Ronald Reagan. Two years later he blames the 2010 Democrat debacle on a failure to communicate effectively. Something is wrong here.

What is wrong is his diagnosis of the 2010 problem. The sales pitch wasn't the problem, the problem was the product Democrats were pitching. It is much harder to sell folks something they don't want, even if you believe they should want it. "Eat your spinach" has always been a hard sell.

It will always be easier to get reelected if a party can show that it has been working hard on exactly what the voters want, rather than on what the party believes the voters should want. Democrats did the latter.

Democrats are the mommy party, Republicans are the daddy party. The problem with being the "mommy party" is that your mother will always treat you like a child, however old you are. In 2010 the voters told the Democrats, in effect: "Mom, give it a rest!"

BTW, I like spinach. On the other hand, an admonition to "eat your Brussels sprouts" I would reject.

More on Climate Change

A researcher in eastern Europe claims to see a relationship between shrinking sea ice in the arctic and colder winters in the northern hemisphere. He sees this as a part of global warming. Who knows, he may be correct. Go here to see the Reuters article.

Diplomatic Air Guitar

Bret Stephens, writes a column for The Wall Street Journal. Here he is talking about the Obama foreign policy and how it tries to be like that of Europe, which Stephens describes as singularly ineffective:
The foreign policy of the European Union, and that of most of its constituent states, amounts to a kind of diplomatic air guitar: furious motion, considerable imagination, but neither sound nor effect. When a European leader issues a stern demarche toward, say, Burma or Russia, nobody notices. And nobody cares.
Nobody notices, nobody cares...why would you want to imitate that?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weird Science

Here is an article from the journal Nature News that claims scientists have turned knowledge into energy on a nano scale. Perhaps they have succeeded, I am not qualified to judge.

At the end of the article they ask if there are not already examples of this in existence that we've not recognized as such. What occurred to me was the example of a sailing ship tacking upwind.

What enables shipbuilders and sailors to move a large, heavy object (a ship) into the wind is knowledge. The wind does its level best to move the ship downwind, but the lore of the sea (aka knowledge) enables the shipbuilders to build a vessel that sailors using more knowledge can tack into the wind, albeit slowly and with effort.

To me this seems much like the example in the article, on a macro scale. What say you?

Object Lesson

Yesterday TLC showed the first episode of "Sarah Palin's Alaska," which I have not seen. Here is a review of that episode from The Boston Herald by an alleged former supporter who claims Palin has "jumped the shark" with this series, and turned her off.

I've read other reactions that claim the concept is brilliant politics, as well as decent TV. For example this piece in the CNN Politics website. Time will tell who is right.

I write to make another point, namely that more exposure isn't always positive. It is not true that the more people see of you, the more they like you.

I think Barack Obama demonstrates this can happen. He has been seriously over-exposed; many people who enjoyed watching him in 2008 won't watch him today.

Until now, Palin has seemed aware of this problem, "rationing" her appearances.

Lebanon Watch

The international U.N. tribunal investigating the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005 is reportedly about to issue findings. If those findings incriminate Hezbollah, the Shiite militia called "terrorist" by the U.S. government, then Lebanon may explode.

Is Lebanon worried? Yes and no, according to this Washington Post article. If you follow events in the Middle East, you may find this interesting reading.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Golden State Tarnished

Historian Victor Davis Hanson, writes from his home in rural California for PajamasMedia, about the sad situation in his state. I'm not certain he says anything particularly new, but what he puts together in a sensible, organized fashion is certainly true.

Most people write about California's political gridlock, Hanson doesn't bother. He lists the things many of us know are wrong but also know we must not talk about, lest we be labeled racists or environment-destroyers. Hanson concludes:
Privately millions of all races and ethnic backgrounds, including millions of liberals and Hispanics, are terribly worried. (snip) There are only so many gimmicks left. Either our Governor-elect and veteran liberal Jerry Brown will have to do a Nixon to China, or the Republican House will have to let us go broke and cut off the cash. Either way, it should be an interesting ride.
In this context, "interesting" means the same thing it means in the old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times."

Single Term

Larry Sabato, writing for Rasmussen, makes the following prediction:
There’s only one logical conclusion to be drawn: President Barack Obama is down for the count, will have an early lame duck presidency, and will be out of the White House in two years.
There's a prediction conservatives will like.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Political Humor Alert

Ruth Marcus, writing in The Washington Post and reprinted in RealClearPolitics, about the post-election comments of President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
Their instincts have tended more to blaming the dogs for not understanding how good the food is for them, not accepting that it's time to tweak the recipe.
Hmmmm, that sounds about right.

Honor Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day, the day when patriotic Americans honor those who have served in our military. At various times and in various places the date also has been called Armistice Day or Remembrance Day.

It happens on 11/11 because it was on that date in 1918 that the "Great War" we later learned to call World War I ended, at eleven o'clock in the morning. If you enjoy being an American, thank the vets you know for preserving it.

Debt Panel Weighs In

Months ago President Obama picked two old Washington hands to head a commission to study how to reduce the federal debt and deficit. Co-chairs Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles have made the preliminary report which has enough ugly in it for both Democrats and Republicans to hate.

Cut Social Security, check. Kill popular tax deductions, you bet. Cut federal budgets, yep. Raise the gas tax, sure. Cut farm subsidies, count on it. Raise retirement age, more than a little. Cut defense spending, substantially.

There are things in this bill that Democrats like, and others that they hate. Likewise, things Republicans like and hate. On balance, however, I'd guess there is more there to offend Democrats than Republicans. See this article in National Review Online.

Why do I say so? Because the bill heads us in the direction of a smaller government doing less for the constituents. That has to bum out Democrats. Oddly, a lot of what they propose could garner tea party backing, although not the tax increases.

Here are links to relevant articles on the websites of Bloomberg, MSNBC, and The Washington Post, courtesy of Matt Drudge.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Smart Night Owls

Are you willing to have some fun with science that isn't overly serious? Here is a Yahoo News article about research finding night owls smarter than those who exhibit "morningness."

On the other hand, morning people get better grades, etc. Whichever you are, you'll find something fun in this article.

Changing of the Guard

See a Washington Post editorial about the political changes happening in South America's two largest countries: Brazil and Argentina. WaPo takes note of the accession to power of Dilma Roussef in Brazil, a protege of former President Lula de Silva.

They note as well as the widowing of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Argentina, upon the death of her husband, the former President Nestor Kirchner. There was a sense in some quarters that Nestor was orchestrating Cristina's actions.

Now each of these women will be operating on her own, facing opposite challenges. Roussef needs to continue the successful policies of Lula de Silva, whereas Fernandez de Kirchner needs to move away from the less-than-successful policies of her husband.

As we noted in this space earlier, commenting on a column by Mary Anastasia O'Grady for WSJ, it will be very difficult, albeit desirable, to take Argentina in a new direction. It may be equally difficult to keep Brazil on the winning track upon which Lula had it running.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Political Humor Alert

Joke from, attributed to a contributor named "Struan" on the topic of carrying a gun:
Q: Why do I carry a gun?
A: Because a cop is too heavy.
I think that's funny, even if it is sad that one should feel the need to carry either.

Poor Pakistan

We wrote a few days back about the question of whether Pakistan could or would be a reasonable ally in the fight against terrorism. Here is another article which deals with this issue, in The National Interest.

The article does not draw optimistic conclusions. My favorite lines from author Christine Fair's piece are these:
Unable to counter India’s expansion through diplomatic, military or political means, Pakistan relies upon the only tool it has: Islamist terrorist groups that operate in India and in Afghanistan.
Terrorism is a weapon used by the weak against the strong. A weak Pakistan cannot give it up.

Quote of the Day

Radio show host Dennis Prager, writing about California's troubles for
Those who believe in individual responsibility, the free market and personal liberty are a minority in California. We greet each other as Americans would greet each other meeting in a foreign country.
If you've been an expat, as I have, you know what Prager is talking about.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Remember the Edmund Fitzgerald

Sometimes singing about a thing makes it famous. Gordon Lightfoot sang the doleful ballad that begins:
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy.
People are still interested in the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, see this article from USA Today website, written by a reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Lyrics are from this site about the event.

The article reports the activities of a retired policeman who spent much of his savings renting a two-man sub to dive on the wreck. It includes a picture of the ship's name, still visible on the hull at a depth of 530 feet.

On a stormy November night, we remember that Lightfoot concluded:
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
Superior, they say, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early.

Argentina Revisited

Mary Anastasia O'Grady writes about Latin America for The Wall Street Journal. This week she is looking at the future of Argentina after the death of strong-man ex president Nestor Kirchner.

O'Grady is not among those who were optimistic upon his death, hoping for a return to rule of law. She says the country is being run by union bosses, who are the power behind the Peronist party. I particularly like her closing thought:
The only thing up in the air is who can maneuver most effectively within a country ruled by the ideology of 1930s economic nationalism. It's like a battle of mafia dons. The rest of the Argentine nation remains a spectator.

Identity Group Voting

If an identifiable group of voters always votes for one party, that party takes them for granted while the other party ignores their interests as irrelevant. If, on the other hand, an identifiable group of voters sometimes votes for one party, sometimes for the other, then both parties pay attention to their interests.

In the last 50 years roughly 90% of African American voters have voted for Democrats. As noted above, Democrats have largely taken their votes for granted and ignored their interests. Mostly Republicans have ignored them as unreachable.

On the other hand, in the election just concluded, Hispanics voted for both parties. A Washington Examiner article has the data:
At 34 percent, Republicans turned in one of their better recent performances with Hispanic voters. If all margins hold as currently reported, Republicans will represent eight of the 30 most heavily Hispanic congressional districts in America. Three of those are South Florida districts with significant Cuban populations.
Cuban Americans are known to favor Republicans; it is interesting that 5 Hispanic congressional districts not dominated by Cuban immigrants appear to have elected Republicans. If over time Hispanics continue to vote for either party, both parties will attend to their interests.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Advanced Gerrymandering 1A

Gerrymandering, and the advantages it gives the party controlling the process, are some of the most arcane aspects of political inside baseball. If you are enough of a politics wonk to want some gerrymandering details, here is an article by Mark Greenbaum from Salon about the current state of play.

The author concludes that our friends across the aisle could be in semi-deep doodoo for the next decade. The reasoning is that in 2010 the Dems lost a number of seats they shouldn't be holding, legacy seats held by blue dog Dems in districts that lean right.

Most of the rest were seats in somewhat conservative districts that were gained during the recent Dem wave elections. Greenbaum believes that the upcoming round of census data-driven redistricting/gerrymandering in state houses controlled by the GOP will tend to strengthen Republican control for the next decade.

Given Salon's lean to the left, you know this notion gives them heartburn. We rarely get the opportunity to say to them, "Gosh, I hope they are correct."

Yesterday's Faces

Teams with losing records fire their coaches, seek new leadership. See what liberal Albert Hunt writes for The New York Times about the continuation in office of the former congressional Democratic leaders:
In U.S. elections where voters expressed disapproval with Washington, the decision of the House speaker to remain as the Democratic leader of the minority, following the re-election in Nevada of the Senate majority leader, Mr. Reid, means that the face of the congressional party will continue to be yesterday. (snip) Republicans were jubilant. Leading Democratic strategists were despondent.

Older = Wiser

I've been wondering for whom older citizens voted in the midterm elections. Here is an article from Politico which answers that question.

Author Byron Tau pulls together results from a variety of sources to conclude that seniors were large contributors to the anti-Democrat wave. Here is the money quote:
The shift in older voters was the most dramatic swing of any age group, George Mason political scientist Michael McDonald said, and it gave the GOP the “magnitude” of its victory.
Tau also indicates that seniors were a larger proportion of total voters in 2010 than in earlier elections. It has always been difficult to motivate young folks to make the effort to vote, more so in midterm elections, and even more so this year.

Adams on Management

Scott Adams, author of the "Dilbert" cartoon series lampooning organizational life, has an excellent article for The Wall Street Journal. His basic thesis is that the prevalence of managers who are "hamster-brained sociopaths" is a real stimulus for our economy. They motivate subordinates to go to work for themselves.

Adams also applies his concept to countries:
The United States is a nation founded by people who couldn't stand the leaders of their old homelands. I'm no geneticist, but I suspect that the "screw it, I'm out of here" attitude can get passed on. We're probably the most disgruntled, self-loathing, hard-to-satisfy people on Earth. It's no wonder our GDP is awesome.
BTW, I spent a career educating managers, some of whom undoubtedly are seen by their subordinates as hamster-brained sociopaths, or worse. Maybe this outcome isn't so bad after all.

Scott Adams is a humorist but I wonder if, like Ann Coulter, he hasn't stumbled across truth in the pursuit of laughs. Along the way Adams takes a couple of hard jabs at affirmative action, jabs only a humorist can get away with.

Friday, November 5, 2010

New Britain-France Defense Treaty

I've been shaking my head at the news that the British have signed a 50 year defense pact with the French. Can you believe the people who fought the Battle of Britain and withstood the London Blitz have made common cause with cheese-eating surrender monkeys?

Talk about the halt leading the blind, my guess is that the pact will be fortunate to last 5 years, let alone 50. Go see this article by a British author in The Wall Street Journal. He is correct; the pact should have been with the United States, or perhaps with the U.S. and Australia.

2012 Begins

The midterm election happened November 2; the presidential derby for 2012 began November 3, if not earlier. One thing about modern politics, the game never stops.

At this point there are two interesting sets of questions to be answered. Set one: will President Obama face a primary challenge and who will be in the running to be the Republican nominee? Set two: who will be the nominees of the two major parties?

In my lifetime, a number of sitting presidents have been denied a second term. Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush come to mind. What do they have in common? In every case they had done things that really ticked off the electorate: unpopular war, Nixon pardon, Iran embassy hostages, breaking a no new tax promise, respectively.

Two years from now, will Barack Obama be seen to have ticked off the electorate? Will his phrase be "screwed up health insurance?" Will it, like Herbert Hoover's, be "ignored the bad economy?" Or will he be reelected? These are questions we will be exploring over the next two years.

Let the seminar begin!

California, New York Politically Similar

Fred Siegel writes a very interesting article for City Journal. He finds New York and California politically similar in a variety of ways, and observes that they differ from the rest of the country. I particularly appreciated this description:
New York and California lead the country in middle-class—often white—outmigration. That has produced a vicious circle in which the very wealthy, the urban poor, and the public-sector unions who define the Democratic coalition create a high-taxing, heavily regulated polity that drives business and the upwardly mobile to the exits.
As you see, Siegel agrees with my "banana republic" analogy of two days ago. He concludes that NY and CA will demand the solvent red states bail them out of impending bankruptcy, leading to an epic battle Siegel describes as follows:
The upshot would likely be a high-stakes conflict about free trade, globalization, social class, race, illegal immigration, and public-sector unionism.
I can hardly wait.

McConnell Gets Tough

Presumptive new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the brutal truth about what is required to accomplish the Republican agenda. Speaking to The Heritage Foundation, as reported by Howard Kurtz in The Daily Beast, McConnell said:
If our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill; to end the bailouts; cut spending; and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all these things is to put someone in the White House who won't veto any of these things.
Talk about flinging down the gauntlet. I doubt that sentiment will make cooperation with the White House any easier.


Pundits throw ideas at the wall. Some ideas stick there and are admired as art, or something very like art. Others fall to the floor and are treated like the animal waste they resemble.

A columnist who is highly variable in this way is The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan. A former presidential speech writer, attractive TV talking head, and longtime observer of the nation's politics, Noonan has plenty of both hits and misses.

Her latest column has great examples of each. In the hits category, we have observations like the following:
>The implicit message of two generations of negative ads: Vote conservative, limit the reach of the thieves.
>On Wednesday, President Obama gave a news conference to share his thoughts. Viewers would have found it disappointing if there had been any viewers. The president (was) speaking, in effect, to an empty room.
>In the future the tea party is going to have to ask itself: Is this candidate electable? Will he pass muster with those who may not themselves be deeply political but who hold certain expectations as to the dignity and stature required of those who hold office.
In the misses category, Noonan finishes with this loser:
>Americans don't want, as their representatives, people who seem empty or crazy. They'll vote no on that. It's not just the message, it's the messenger.
That line should read "They should, and often do, vote no on that." Barack Obama was an empty candidate with a feel-good message.

Quote of the Day

David Paul Kuhn, chief political correspondent for RealClearPolitics, writes about the recent election in Yahoo News:
This election was not a vote for Republicans anymore than 2006 was a vote for Democrats. We just witnessed an historic no confidence vote.
"An historic no confidence vote" is exactly what I would call it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

California's Woes

On Tuesday a Republican wave swept the nation, a wave that didn't reach California. We wrote about this yesterday. Explaining this refusal by Californians to face reality is hard to do.

The Investor's Business Daily has an editorial that summarizes just how screwed up things in the Golden State have become. They do an entire column on the indications of CA's disaster, let me give you three samples:
• With just 12% of the U.S. population, California has almost a third of the nation's welfare recipients.
• The state's sales tax is the nation's highest, and its income tax the third-highest, the Web site recently noted.
• California is home to 25% of America's 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants.
One eighth of the U.S. population supports one third of those on welfare and copes with one quarter of the illegals. Poor California has more than its share of trouble; and Californians just voted to make it worse. Merde alors.

This Los Angeles Times article explains from whence the votes for CA Democrats are thought to have come. The author gives most of the credit to Hispanics.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

CA as Banana Republic

Democrats swept all of the top jobs in California...every one...without exception. And yet, about 40% of Californians voted for the GOP. Imagine being one of those 40%, as I once was.

Imagine seeing that your state, a place of which you are fond, of which you are possibly a native, is going irretrievably into the toilet. What happens, what do you do? My nephew is in this fix now and he asked me where could he move? My answer was: Texas or Oklahoma.

As a native Californian my nephew won't like many aspects of those states, but he will find the politics congenial. He will find housing inexpensive, taxes relatively low, and the climate not too different if he can tolerate the tornadoes and the humidity.

Will he move? Probably not until retirement. Many who aren't tied down by secure employment will go sooner. Others will get opportunities to move with their employers that are leaving the state.

Over time, this migration will hollow out California's middle class, leaving the state with many poor, and a few wealthy. Does that sound like the classic description of a third world country, resembling many nations in Latin America or Asia? It does.


It was a good night for those of us on the right. A good night, perhaps even a very good night, but not a spectacular night. We don't know how close we came in the Senate; as I write this a couple of seats remain to be called. What we do know is that we didn't quite get a majority.

Seemingly using tactics learned from Mayor Daley's father, a vastly unpopular Harry Reid managed to squeak a narrow win over an inferior opponent in recession-ridden Nevada. That is sad, I really didn't want to hear about him over the next two years. I cheer myself up by remembering that I will no longer be looking at Speaker Pelosi's Botox work.

Not capturing the Senate may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, at least some of the pundit class think this could be true. It makes it harder for the electorate to blame the GOP for the inevitable failures of the Congress. Our candidates in 2012 can still run against the Democrat establishment comprised of Obama and Reid. As this election demonstrates, there are distinct advantages to being on the outside looking in.

One nice thing the Republican "wave" brought was some wins in New England, an area that has appeared lost to the GOP over the last decade or two. We also elected some minority GOP candidates: blacks, Hispanics and another East Indian. That makes ragging on us as racists more difficult.

I look forward to seeing a summary of the election results. Perhaps there is more reason for happiness than I am experiencing now. I think Majority Leader-in-waiting Boehner had it right, it is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An Unhappy Democrat

In years past, Georgie Ann Geyer has had decent insights on foreign affairs, her specialty. She now writes for U express, after a long career with Universal Press Syndicate, and her column is here on the Yahoo News site. Tonight she gives us a bewildered Democrat's look at the situation on this unhappy (for her) election day.

Ms. Geyer is genuinely confused and, unusually for a career pundit, she admits it. I expect her "we did everything right and got blamed for everything wrong" meme will be on many Democratic lips in the next few weeks.

We Screwed Up

Bret Stephens, of The Wall Street Journal, has an interesting column in which he says we - the electorate - are responsible for Obama. We knew he had no experience, a truly bizarre background, repellent associates, an inflated opinion of himself, and we hired him anyway.

When Stephens says we are to blame for Obama, I have to say I think he's right, if by "we" he means the American people. Actually most readers of COTTonLINE didn't vote for Obama, but a distressing majority of our fellow citizens did.

Now, if the pollsters haven't totally missed the mark, those same voters are going to register a "we don't love you any more" vote. Go figure....

Monday, November 1, 2010

NOvember Is Here

We learn midterm election results tomorrow. Those of us who proudly wear the label "conservative" are likely to be happy with the outcomes. Those who equally proudly, I suspect, wear the label "liberal" won't.

I hope you have a good evening tomorrow. Grinning is permitted; however skipping and giggling in this context are considered unseemly.

Quote of the Day

Hugh Hewett, writing for the Washington Examiner, about the implications of Tuesday's election:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and President Obama have accomplished an extraordinary thing. Tomorrow they will enter the history books as the most spectacularly failed partnership in modern American political history.