Friday, September 30, 2011

Drone Attack Legal

Questions arise about the legality of the U.S. killing an American citizen overseas who has not been charged with, or convicted of, a crime. Go here to see Pete Williams' treatment of the issue for NBC News. Let me state my view of the issue.

Suppose a U.S. citizen joined the military of a foreign power at war with the U.S. Would anyone question the legality of that citizen being shot in the pursuit of hostilities between the warring powers? Answer: no. Soldiers get shot in battle, everyone understands this.

Al Qaida has declared war upon the U.S. Anwar al-Awlaki, a
U.S. citizen, is on record as having joined al Qaida and taken a leadership role therein. His status is identical to that of a U.S. citizen who has joined a enemy's army.

The U.S. has a long history of targeting specific high-value members of an enemy's military. An historic example is the P-38 mission to shoot down Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto over Bougainville, code named Operation Vengeance. The mission succeeded, the Admiral was killed.

Candidates We Deserve

Mark Salter has written a basically upbeat article for RealClearPolitics, urging voters to press candidates to solve our larger problems. I'm not certain what he advocates will work, but it is worth considering.

I particularly like his analysis of the current political environment, which he summarizes in this paragraph:
Candidates are catering to the obsessions of their bases and single-issue voters because they are the voters who reliably vote in primaries and general elections. Americans who find this unserious and profess “a pox on both your houses” attitude are less reliable voters, especially in primary elections. The upshot is that we get the candidates we deserve.
That is one explanation for why, election after election, we keep getting to choose the lesser of two evils. It looks like that could be our choice again in 2012.

Noonan: Leadership Needed

Peggy Noonan was once a presidential speech writer, I expect a darned good one. Now she writes for The Wall Street Journal: columns on politics, on Catholicism, on life in New York City, but mostly on politics.

This week she writes about politicians' obsession with finding "the story" that works, that will convince the public to vote for them. She says politicians need instead to find policies that will actually solve our problems.

That's easy to say and difficult to do. We need jobs and economic growth; nobody knows how to get there from here.

On the one hand, the Fed has no more "ammunition" left to counter a down economy. On the other hand, the government is so far in debt that borrowing more to spend more seems wrong too.

Businesses have plenty of cash but won't spend it to grow or hire workers. Why? Because they see no growth in demand and do not trust government to behave in ways that are business-friendly.

What to do? Perhaps make government more trustworthy as seen by business; something not "do-able" until January, 2013.

It's Theirs to Lose

Bernard Goldberg has written an interesting column for Fox News. The column's title is "Will Republicans Snatch Defeat From the Jaws of Victory In 2012?"

Goldberg's point is that Obama is in great trouble and will lose unless the GOP selects the wrong candidate. He defines "wrong" as extremely conservative, someone who cannot win the independent vote.

It sounds to me like an argument for Romney, although no names are mentioned. See what you think.

Quote of the Day

Dr. Charles Krauthammer, on video for RealClearPolitics, and found online here, makes this trenchant prediction about the 2012 outcome:
I think if Obama cannot rise from the 31% approval he has among independents he is going to suffer a landslide.
I believe many Democrats fear this outcome, too.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

European Issues

Greeks got used to living more-or-less as well as northern Europeans. They did this without earning enough income to afford their lifestyle.

Now the party is over. It's time for them to sober up, to deal with the consequences of living beyond their means. An "economic hangover" is no fun and they'd rather riot than face the music.

Michael Gerson, who writes for The Washington Post, has a good column on the economic problems of Europe and the halting efforts being taken to solve them. He is less than optimistic.

The Admiral's Insight

Admiral Mike Mullen is stepping down as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, our top military officer. The Washington Post's David Ignatius has interviewed him for RealClearPolitics and the article is here.

I particularly like Mullen's insight about Pakistan, a country with which he has perforce spent much time working.
Increasingly, it became clear to Mullen that Pakistan's problems were embedded in the economic, political and cultural fabric of the country. They're on "a declining glide slope," Mullen explains, and this isn't something America can fix.
I am increasingly pessimistic about the chances of an Islamic country operating a modern, capitalist democracy. For awhile, it looked like Ataturk's rigid separation of church and state might enable Turkey to pull it off. Now, under Erdogan, not so much.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Maybe It's Mitt?

Writing for The Hill, John Feehery dips back into the political history of the last half century and examines the patterns of just who the Republican Party nominates.

Feehery makes a good argument for the eventual 2012 nomination of Mitt Romney. Go see what you think.

Political Humor Alert

The other DrC forwards this piece of political humor:
Politicians and diapers should be changed often, and for the same reason.

Brief Wisdom

My friend Earl sent this piece of wisdom along. I can't track down who originated it, Google lists in excess of 90,000 sources. Anyway, it is appropriate to our times.
The problems we face today exist because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.

TV Political Ads Ineffective

If figuring out how to reach the voters with your candidate's message wasn't hard enough, a new study suggests TV ads aren't going to work very well in 2012. Go see this Politico article which describes the study done by a bipartisan pair of pollsters.

Hat tip to the other DrC for passing this link along.

Quote of the Day

Today's quote is by Newsweek editor Tina Brown, speaking on the MSNBC Morning Joe program. It is reported here on Newsbusters.

The panel was discussing the reluctance of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to run for president. At which point Tina Brown said maybe Christie shouldn't run, since he says he isn't ready. Then she added gratuitously:
We had this with Obama. He wasn't ready, it turns out, really.
Is 33 months of data sufficient? Let's don't rush into any hasty conclusions.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Czar Vladimir

I know I suggest you read this or that article for your political or diplomatic edification, probably more often than I should. It's a professor's weakness. Many of those, if truth be told, are optional.

I just finished an article that is honestly not optional, if you would understand modern Russia. Our old friend Ralph Peters here writes about Russia for the Washington Post; he calls Vladimir Putin Russia's new czar.

Peters admires Putin without approving of him, if you can wrap your mind around that seeming contradiction. See Peters' conclusion:
Demographically, economically, developmentally, militarily, even educationally, Russia appears doomed to fierce decline. But one man of genius has brought his people a last, autumnal reprieve. Vladimir Putin is a dangerous man, but a splendid czar.
You owe it to yourself to read the reasons Peters gives for reaching that conclusion.

Quote of the Day

Josh Kraushaar and Jessica Taylor, writing in National Journal about some recent polling data from a Democratic pollster, Stan Greenberg:
Instead of an overall anti-incumbent sentiment impacting members of both parties, voters are taking more of their anger out on Democrats.
Do you suppose they are still blaming Nancy Pelosi? It only seems fair, given how long they blamed Bush.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Brooks: A Gloomy View

David Brooks is The New York Times' resident "thinking man's conservative," which is to say he is somewhat more conservative than the rest of their leftist ideologues. His most recent column is very pessimistic. Among other things he says:
  • The prognosis for the next few years is bad with a chance of worse. And the economic conditions are not even the scary part. The scary part is the political class’s inability to think about the economy in a realistic way.
  • Look at the recent Obama stimulus proposal. You may like it or not, but it’s trivial. It’s simply not significant enough to make a difference, given the size of the global mess.
  • The world economy has many rigidities. The worst ones are in people’s heads.
Brooks accuses both parties of being ideologically rigid, so neither can consider solutions using pieces from both sides of the aisle. He's probably accurate in this condemnation.

No Scientific Way to Study Climate

One of the tough things about studying something like climate is there is no way to run a controlled experiment to test the impact of, for instance, increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It isn't possible.

When atmospheric carbon dioxide goes up, there may also be variations in solar radiation, so-called cosmic radiation, the oceanic phenomena known collectively as el nino and la nina, and other factors thought to have an impact on climate. These may act in accord or in contradiction with each other. Understanding the effect of any one factor is essentially impossible.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Gallup: Obama Equal or Worse than Bush

More than half of those polled (56%) believe President Obama is equal to, or worse than, the widely reviled President Bush. A USA Today/Gallup poll released Friday had this bad news for President Obama:
According to Gallup, 43% rate Obama a better president than Bush, while 34% rate him as a worse president; another 22% say the two president are "about the same."
Go here to see Gallup's own webpage for this poll. Perhaps the most damaging finding for Obama is that 87% of independents find him equal to or worse than Bush.

Hume: Perry Weakness Very Real

Fox News political commentator Brit Hume, speaking on the Fox News Sunday program, had some very downbeat things to say about the Rick Perry candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination. Cited on The Daily Caller, here is a sample of Hume's reaction to Perry:
  • He did worse, it seems to me, than he had done in previous debates.
  • Perry is about one-half a step away from almost total collapse as a candidate.
  • He has got this position on immigration which is anathema to a lot of conservatives.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Another Thompson

In the late hours of the night I occasionally get a strange notion. Tonight it has occurred to me that Rick Perry might be this election season's Fred Thompson.

By that I mean a candidate who appears highly plausible, personable and experienced, but who upon further examination is in some way (or ways) found lacking. Fred had the Reagan stage presence, plus good ideas, but lacked drive.

I begin to wonder if Perry might not similarly lack the single-minded ambition which running for president requires. Pundits have not been impressed with his debate performance, and his recent book Fed Up constitutes a carefully aimed, self-administered bullet hole in the foot.


Jay Nordlinger, writing for National Review Online, about the state of education in the U.S.:
What’s ruining education is the unions and our culture, including broken families.
COTTonLINE takes a more nuanced view of this assessment. We understand that the subcultures of underperforming groups are anti-education, whereas the majority culture is largely pro-education.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Weird Science Redux

Reuters is reporting via Yahoo News that scientists at CERN have determined that neutrinos can move faster than the speed of light. If true, this means Albert Einstein was wrong about a fundamental law of nature.

Einstein argued that nothing could move faster than the speed of light in a vacuum, or 186,000+ miles per second. My whimsical though: maybe a neutrino is effectively "nothing" and as such is not bound by his "law."

If Einstein's basic constant is not a constant after all, then many other things we've taken for granted may be up for discussion, including time travel. Science fiction fans, take note.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Elegy for Summer

Summer officially ends on the 21st of September, the autumnal equinox. Here in the high country it ended two weeks ago, if you go by whether there is a nip in the air and the leaves have begun to turn yellow.

There are some nice fall photos on the other DrC's blog - I expect the first snowfall and the first hard frost will happen sometime in the next three weeks.

We won't be here to see it. The DrsC are snowbirds: when the snow flies, so do we - to somewhere warmer.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tax the Rich

President Obama is proposing that we stimulate the economy by using money raised by taxing the rich. Nobody believes these tax increases will happen, it is merely a campaign ploy, a battle cry in the Democrat's favorite - class warfare.

In case you've forgotten what we've said about this issue in the past, let me reprise why these taxes don't work. The wealthy didn't get rich by being stupid about money; they are very clever about money and the keeping thereof.

Raise tax rates on incomes above a certain level and wealthy people will arrange to earn less than that amount, or earn in different ways like capital gains. Do you remember how we once saw prosperous-looking farms that "lost" money and were told they were tax shelters for physicians and attorneys? I sure do.

Make the "tax the rich" laws tight enough and watch wealthy people move their citizenship offshore, as many very successful entertainers in Europe did. That happens within the U.S. today as people with significant income establish their residence in one of the seven states with no state income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

Finally, people with large incomes find it sensible to hire skilled tax attorneys and CPAs to help them protect income from the tax collector. For all of these reasons, taxing the rich may feel good but it doesn't work.

Quote of the Day

Senator Lindsey Graham, speaking on CNN's State of the Union, about the shortcomings of our President:
President Obama has done everything he knows how to do to beat himself.
Graham's point is that the election is the Republican candidate's to lose. My source for the quote is this article on Mediaite.

GOP Poll Numbers

A USA Today/Gallup poll finds that Governor Rick Perry is more popular among Republicans and independents who lean GOP. Meanwhile former Governor Mitt Romney is more popular among true independents and has the better chance of beating President Obama among all registered voters.

A truly interesting finding is the following, which bodes ill for the Perry candidacy:
In the poll, 53% say they would prefer the nominee with the best chance of beating Obama; 43% say they want the candidate who agrees with them on almost all issues.
The bottom line for most voters is that we need a new president, even if he is less-than-perfect. This is 2008 revisited.

Going Postal

Folk wisdom: if you must kick the can down the road, kick it a long distance.

President Obama has issued his plan for getting the United States Postal Service back into the black, no pun intended. Here is a Reuters article from Yahoo News about that plan.

The President proposes stopping Saturday delivery and allowing the USPS to sell non-postal items. I fear the administration's plan only does the minimum necessary to stave off imminent disaster.

What should be done, call it the COTTonLINE plan, is to move all non-P.O.Box mail delivery to three times a week, and not do away with Saturday delivery. Half of mail recipients would get mail Monday-Wednesday-Friday and the other half would get mail Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday.

Here is my reasoning: (a) the amount of mail being delivered per day is down because of the Internet so (b) mail carriers are carrying less mail to each house each day. (c) Reduce delivery to every other day and the amount delivered on any given day goes back up. (d) I get very little mail the delivery of which a day later would matter greatly.

This plan would enable the USPS to reduce the number of trucks it buys, fuels and repairs, and the number of carriers it hires, trains, insures and later retires. The reduction would not be 50%, but it would be quite substantial.

Will: Obama Can't Persuade

Read what George Will said on ABC This Week of President Obama's ability to influence voters and others with his rhetorical powers:
He went to Massachusetts to campaign against Scott Brown; Brown is now a senator. He went to New Jersey to campaign against Chris Christie, who’s now governor. He went to Virginia to campaign against Bob McDonnell, who’s now governor. He campaigned for the health-care plan extensively, it became less popular. He campaigned in 2010 for the Democrats, they were shellacked. He began, in a sense, his presidency flying to Copenhagen to get Chicago the Olympics; Chicago was the first city eliminated. There is no evidence that the man has the rhetorical powers that he is relying on.
Those powers got him elected, but seem to have evaporated immediately upon inauguration. I found this text quote on National Review Online's The Corner. You can see the video on the ABC This Week site here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

CA Keeps Digging

The most important thing to do when you find you are in a hole is to stop digging. Poor blue California hasn't learned this lesson.

An editorial in the Orange County Register compares the decline of the median household income in CA with that for the country as a whole. Income for the nation declined 5% between 2006-2010; during the same period California declined 9%, almost twice as much. The article adds:
In 2010, 16.3 percent of Californians earned incomes below the poverty level, a 15-year high and higher than the nation’s 15.1 percent rate.

The Jews and Obama

David Paul Kuhn writes for The Atlantic about whether current chatter about "Obama's Jewish problem" is valid. He says "no" and I agree.

I spent some time talking about this issue with a Jewish friend of many years and came away with quite a different insight, one Kuhn doesn't mention. My friend says the problem is the religious right.

My friend believes that Jews are fearful of evangelical Christians, who tend to vote Republican as social conservatives. I'm sure he speaks for himself, probably for others.

It is his concern that evangelical Christians might, if they gained serious control of the U.S. government, blur the line between faith and government. It is his belief that when this happens, when theocracy emerges, pogroms follow. He may be right.

Quote of the Day

Rex Murphy, writing for the National Post of Toronto, about the mainstream media's uncritical treatment of President Obama:
Much of the Obama coverage was orchestrated sycophancy. (snip) As a result, the press gave the great American republic an untried, unknown and, it is becoming more and more frighteningly clear, incompetent figure as President.
Media criticism might be misconstrued as racism, so for 30 months there was none. Blame bias or cowardice, or maybe both. Hat tip to for the link.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Political Humor Alert

Peggy Noonan, writing about the President's problems, for The Wall Street Journal:
Those who write about politics struggle each week to find new ways to say the president's poll numbers are worsening.
I share that struggle, always with the lurking thought that if only he'd do a good job it would be better for our country.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Quote of the Day

Jay Cost, writing for The Weekly Standard about whether our President has figured out he is in serious trouble:
The sort of fellow willing to run for president after just two years in the Senate and make patently absurd promises about what his administration could do is not the sort with a thorough appreciation of his own faults. Despite having written two autobiographies by the time he was 45, this president is really not very self-aware.
By my count, Obama is our third president in a row who has needed training wheels.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Quote of the Day

George Orwell, as cited in this BrainyQuote list of Orwell quotes:
We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.
I was reminded of this classic quote by the actions of the young Marine sergeant, Dakota Meyer, who today received the Congressional Medal of Honor for amazing heroics in Afghanistan.

Romney Has Western Edge

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has some things going for him out West, two of them pointed out in this RealClearPolitics article. Those are the concentration of Mormon voters and his stance on illegal immigration.

Mormons have substantial presence in Utah, of course, but also in Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, and Wyoming. In a contest between Perry and Romney they will tend to back Romney.

Illegal immigration is an issue of interest in this region, particularly among Republican primary voters. Arizona's tough immigration enforcement law is an example of this interest. Perry has been soft on illegal immigration; it is an topic upon which Romney can possibly develop an advantage.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pacific Memories

I just ran across this article from Business Insider about how Pacific Islanders are the fattest people in the world. Reading into the article, the causes have to do with changing diets, moving from a diet of fish, coconut, and taro - the former diet - to rice, flour, sugar, and canned meat.

The "canned meat" takes me back to a year the other DrC and I spent on Guam, as visiting professors. We quickly learned the local people, called Chamorros, love Spam as much as the Hawaiians do.

While we were on Guam the workers at Hormel's Minnesota Spam cannery went on strike. The Spam strike was front page news on the island's newspaper, the Pacific Daily News. Guam's markets experienced a run on Spam, which sold out almost immediately.

Local lore held that Spam was prized as "typhoon food" because it keeps for years and can be eaten cold, if necessary. That was mostly urban legend. Local people ate Spam when the weather was fine, which was most of the time.

The best fried rice I ever ate was at a restaurant named Shirley's on Guam. It was so good it was a popular main dish. I think Spam was an ingredient. And I much enjoyed the lumpia, Filipino spring rolls.

Chamorros also loved fried chicken. The relatively small island had 3 KFC stores at which you could buy a 64 piece box of regular or extra crispy. The huge boxes were great for fiestas, big outdoor parties much loved by all.

A roast pig was often the centerpiece of a fiesta, bland to my palate but much favored by Chamorros. When you left a fiesta you were normally sent home with a plate of food. Very warm, hospitable people. I could tell Guam stories all night.

NY-9, Another View

Steve Kornacki writes for Salon, a source we don't often cite here on COTTonLINE. He has done an analysis of the House election in New York's 9th district that may have merit; it adds some history to our understanding of that district's voting patterns.

Kornacki is realistic enough to admit the President is in trouble, even though I think he comes at the world from the left. I say "I think" here because in this piece at least it isn't blatant.

Those Two House Races

Josh Kraushaar is writing for National Journal about the off-cycle elections that happened yesterday, where Republicans won both House seats. Go see his article, he has some pungent things to say:
  • The president’s base of supporters isn’t showing up, while his opponents are as mobilized as ever.
  • Obama’s approval ratings are lower than they were in 2010, when Republicans picked up a historic number of House seats.
  • Obama’s perceived less-than-favorable treatment of Israel has driven Jewish voters in the district from the party, even though Weprin is an Orthodox Jew whose pro-Israel bona fides are solid.

Spengler: Egypt Nightmare

Daniel P. Goldman, who channels Spengler, here writes for PajamasMedia about the situation in Egypt. He believes that situation isn't at all good.

Goldman summarizes the basics as follows:
  • The misnamed “Arab Spring,” really a convulsion of a dying society, began with food shortages. Egypt imports half its caloric consumption, 45% of its people are illiterate, its university graduates are unemployable, its $10 billion a year tourism industry is shuttered for the duration, and its foreign exchange reserves are gradually disappearing.
  • A country that can’t teach half its people to read, and can’t produce employable university graduates, and can’t feed itself, is going to go down the drain.
  • The result, I predict, will be a humanitarian catastrophe that makes Somalia look like a picnic.
I wonder if we will have the courage and toughness to look at the Egyptian catastrophe and say "It's not our problem."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review of a Review

I've just been reading a review of a book of essays by Irving Kristol, entitled The Neoconservative Persuasion. The review appears in The Weekly Standard, a journal co-founded and edited by Irving's son William. The review is a sort of intellectual history of Irving Kristol, who began as a young man on the Trotskyite left and ended years later on the neoconservative right.

I knew the senior Kristol's work from that later period, when he was a founder of the neoconservative movement. Reading Irving Kristol's essays in The Wall Street Journal was instrumental in changing my views of the world.

Thinking of that "conversion" I am reminded once again of Winston Churchill's wisdom:
If you are not a liberal at 20 you have no heart, if you are not a conservative at 40 you have no brain.
I read Kristol essays on the op-ed page of the WSJ as a young B-school academic. Irving Kristol helped me make the transition from liberal to conservative, from heart to brain.

I think the key learning was to understand that we humans are easily corruptible, easily spoiled by handouts and freebies. What we earn we value; what we are given we don't. If you would destroy someone, put them on the dole. Strength is respected, weakness is despised.

GOP Wins Two House Seats

The Associated Press is reporting Republican Bob Turner has defeated Democrat David Weprin in New York's heavily Democratic ninth Congressional district. With some 70 percent of the votes counted, Turner is ahead 53 percent to Weprin's 47 percent.

Republicans are saying this win reflects a negative vote on various positions taken by the Obama administration, among them lack of support for Israel in this heavily Jewish district. On the other hand, Democrats are pointing to problems Weprin had with his record as a state assemblyman, including support for gay marriage and the Ground Zero mosque. Roll Call says:
Make no mistake about it, the albatross around Weprin’s neck is named Obama.
In Nevada's heavily Republican second district, Republican Mark Amodei handily defeated Democrat Kate Marshall 58% to 37%; she conceded when less than half of the votes were counted. The Reno Gazette Journal reported the win relatively early in the evening. Democrats were not expected to have a realistic chance to win the district.

Viewed as a harbinger of the 2012 voting, these two outcomes cannot be viewed as good news by Team Obama.

Political Humor Alert

For RealClearMarkets, Bill Frezza has rewritten President Obama's jobs speech to show what Barry really meant when he was urging Congress to pass his jobs bill. It is funny in the same bitter way that stupid boss jokes are funny. Here are some examples of what he has POTUS say:
  • I call it the American Jobs Act, although around the West Wing the interns are drawing little Charlie Brown placekick cartoons captioned This Time For Sure.
  • The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: I have 14 months to save my job and I'm willing to spend unlimited amounts of your money to make sure that happens.
  • Everyone knows that small businesses are where most new jobs begin. At least that's what my advisors tell me, having never had a real job myself.

An Interesting Point

Here is another column about gathering war clouds in the Middle East. This from The American Thinker where Jerry Philipson makes an interesting point: various neighboring enemies of Israel recognize that President Obama is (a) unlikely to defend Israel with any vigor, and (b) unlikely to be reelected.

He suggests they have a roughly 17 month window of opportunity to attack Israel. If current trends continue, 17 months from now a Republican president will be inaugurated who will defend Israel essentially without limit. At that point, for Israel's enemies the "window of opportunity" slams closed.

The most strategic time to strike Israel would be between the November, 2012, election and the January, 2013, inauguration. A lame duck president, whose basic inclination is to side with Muslims, has little to lose by dithering, leaving the problem for his successor.

Preparation for War

An Israeli news source, Ynetnews, reports possible preparations for war in Turkey. The extent to which IFF changes represent Turkish bluffing vs. a real threat isn't clear. Those who enjoy learning about the nuts and bolts of military hard (and in this case soft) ware, a la Tom Clancy, should definitely read this story.

Wrong Target

In last night's GOP presidential debate, much was made of Perry's executive order mandating HPV vaccine for all 12 year old girls in Texas. Would somebody explain to me how that is different from giving all babies shots for whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria? Or polio? Or measles?

I suppose it's the issue of sexual promiscuity being an associated factor in the spread of HPV. Okay, let's play that scenario out in your family.

Say your darling daughter is never intimate with anyone except the young man she marries and stays with for life. Not likely in today's society, but clearly your (and my) preference.

Do you seriously believe the fine young man she marries will have had no other sexual partners before marriage? If so, it will not be from lack of trying. In other words, much less likely.

HPV is often asymptomatic in men, in other words they become carriers. Darling daughter may catch it from her faithful-once-married husband, develop cancer and die ugly.

All this because you didn't want your darling daughter vaccinated. That is a heck of a thing to do to your grandkids. If they knew what you'd done they'd abandon you in a rest home.

HPV vaccine prevents an ugly disease, cervical cancer. Preventing cancer is at least as good a goal as preventing other diseases. Maybe Perry should have asked his legislature to act on it, but trying to prevent cancer is no bad thing.

Something I believe Perry is less defensible on is illegal immigration. Giving illegal immigrants instate tuition at state colleges and universities, and being flabby on border enforcement are topics on which Perry is definitely weak. See this Byron York column in The Washington Examiner.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Quote of the Day

Daniel J. Flynn, writing for Human Events about the President's "jobs" speech:
Only in the bizarro world of liberalism is a program’s inefficacy considered a compelling argument to expand that program.
Flynn is naive. My several decades of experience have shown me the policy is SOP in government. Government is the bureaucratic representation of liberalism in action.

O'Grady: Why Canada Is Ahead

Mary Anastasia O'Grady, a specialist in the Americas for The Wall Street Journal, writing about one reason why Canada is ahead of the U.S.:
Canada's housing market was not poisoned by a federal government push to put unqualified borrowers into homes they could not afford.
There is enough guilt to go around. Both major parties pushed, with Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) taking the lead.

Another reason O'Grady emphasizes is that Canada is happy to explore for, and produce, oil and gas.

They Who Must Not Be Named

In the Harry Potter novels and films, most members of the wizarding world cannot bring themselves to say the name of superbad wizard Lord Voldemort. Instead they say things like "he who must not be named" or "the Dark Lord," depending on whose side they're on.

Harry Potter is just a set of wildly popular novels. We hardly expect to see our public figures behaving in this superstitious way, refusing to name the enemy.

On Sunday, our current President made yet another of his many speeches, this time memorializing the 9/11/01 terrorist event. Like a superstitious wizard, President Obama would not identify the attackers as al Qaida or part of militant Islam.

Imagine if FDR had spoken to Congress of the attack on Pearl Harbor and not identified the attackers as Japanese. The very thought is ridiculous. Veep Joe Biden's description of the 9/11 attack as "a declaration of war" was more honest.

BTW, former President Bush spoke at the crash site in Pennsylvania and he identified the attackers as al Qaida. Obama having a Muslim father and relatives apparently makes him touchy about this issue. See the article in The Daily Caller for details.


Back in the day, the "Queen" of Kennedy's Camelot dissed the "King" of the Civil Rights Movement. CBS News has tapes where Jackie Kennedy says to historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. that Martin Luther King, Jr. is "tricky," "phony," and "terrible."

What will Democrats do with this icky situation where one of their icons criticizes another? Mostly ignore it as you would if a dowager farted at a tea party. See this CBS News story for details.

Kristol: Don't Be Dewey

I'm not always a big fan of William Kristol's writing. That said, let me recommend to you his excellent overview of the current presidential race with particular reference to the GOP side.

Done for The Weekly Standard, where he is co-editor, it identifies strengths in each of the presidential candidates. Kristol urges the front-runners to incorporate as many of those strengths as possible into their platforms.

Kristol concludes thusly:
The next Republican nominee has an opportunity to speak for more than himself. He can speak for a broad movement of economic reform and political reformation.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Get Out of the Way

This RealClearMarkets article by Robert Tracinski really does a job on our President, his jobs plan, and government intervention in the market, generally. Tracinski draws an analogy between the Post Office's current troubles and Obama's desire to "manage" the economy. He concludes:
The government does not need to intervene to get people to come up with new ideas or to encourage entrepreneurs to grow and become successful. It only needs to get out of the way.
You'll enjoy the various examples of government failure to spur growth cited by the author.

Expensive Homeland Security

Doyle McManus, a frequent guest on the PBS show Washington Week, writes for the Los Angeles Times. His column deals with the idea that we're now spending too much on homeland security. I particularly like this quote:
There's no such thing as too much security. But there is such a thing as security that's too expensive.
McManus gives examples where "terrorism" was used as an obviously phony excuse to extract money from the government.

Question Answered

You know the old saying about a stopped clock being accidentally right twice a day? Famously off-the-wall Vice President Joe Biden today experienced one such moment. He said something on target about the 9/11 terrorist attack:
It was a declaration of war by stateless actors bent on changing our way of life.
If it was a declaration of war, then all who espouse its aims are the enemy. Biden has answered my question yesterday about what we should do to them - send a Seal team or a Predator drone.

Source for this Biden quote is the New York Daily News.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Social Security vs. Medicare

Yuval Levin, writing for National Review Online's The Corner, makes a very good point about the sustainability of social security and medicare. You owe it to yourself to see his chart comparing the two.

Yes, Social Security has its problems, but can be more-or-less fixed by adjusting the retirement age upward and perhaps uncapping the salary upon which contributions are calculated.

On the other hand, Medicare's costs are going up like a rocket. Of the two so-called "entitlement" programs, we should concentrate on fixing Medicare.

At this juncture there are no easy fixes in sight. I believe we will end up doing cost-benefit triage, and hating it.

Nine Eleven

Everybody feels they must do a column on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, even me. What I believe needs to be remembered is who did it, in whose name it was done, what their motives were (and are), and what needs to be done to all who espouse those motives.
  • Who did it? Radical Islamists.
  • In whose name was it done? In the name of Islam.
  • What their motives were? Eradication of the West and establishment of a world-wide caliphate.
  • What needs to be done to all who espouse those motives? Lex talionis.

NYTimes: Employers Won't Hire

We all know The New York Times loves President Obama, and generally leans left. In this article the Times says the President's jobs plan won't spur hiring, according to a survey of business executives they did on Friday, the day after his speech.

The surveyed executives' reluctance may be based on a sense that the plan will not be enacted or a sense that, even if enacted, it won't help. The article doesn't clarify exactly which it might be.

Most of those quoted in the article said the incentives in the President's plan are insufficient to influence hiring. They look for a better economy before significant hiring will take place in their firms.

Placebo Therapy

Can you say "placebo therapy?" Here is one of those "look at the weird stuff people do in underdeveloped nations" stories. It is from the Los Angeles Times and reports about Indonesia.

A Heroine

I just read a story about 9/11 that choked me up; maybe it will do that to you, too. It's about one of the first women fighter pilots who, with her CO, took off on 9/11 in two unarmed F-16s to intercept the fourth terrorist-controlled plane headed for the capitol.

The plan was to ram United flight 93 with their fighters. Before they could reach it, the passengers attacked the hijackers and forced the airliner to crash in Pennsylvania. Go see her story on The Seattle Times website. Hat tip to for the link.

Milbank: Obama Irrelevant

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank is a liberal, of course. That makes his column about the reception of Obama's job speech much more meaningful. Here are samples from the Milbank column:
  • Too bad so many in the audience thought it was a big, fat joke.
  • The lawmakers weren’t particularly hostile toward the president — they just regarded the increasingly unpopular Obama as irrelevant.
  • Long before the speech, both sides had concluded that it didn’t much matter: Obama has become too weak to enact anything big enough to do much good.
  • Republicans, when they weren’t giggling, were mostly silent.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Good Bread & Chocolate

Every time the other DrC and I travel to Europe we ask ourselves why (a) everyone in Europe can bake wonderful bread and (b) hardly anyone in the U.S. can do so? Normally bread in Canada is much better than ours.

Bakers on U.S. cruise ships make excellent rolls, and some U.S. hotels do so as well. Do you suppose they've imported European bakers?
Speaking of Canada, if you're in Alberta visit a chocolaterie named Bernard Callebaut. The home office and factory is in Calgary but there are offices across Canada and two in the U.S., one in OR and one in IL. The chocolates are pricey but as good as fine Belgian chocolate. Sinfully good.

Quote of the Day

Karl Rove, about the President's speech last night on creating jobs, in an article for Fox News:
The only job he’s really concerned about is his own.
Karl can be forgiven for stating the obvious.

The Alpha Male

Liberal Jonathan Chait, writing for The New Republic, about the GOP debate at the Reagan library and the conflict there between Romney and Perry:
In my view, Perry established his alpha male style, and that impression will matter more than any position or statement he’s made.
Intending to demean, Chait is nevertheless right. Our president needs to be an alpha. President Obama is a beta, maybe a beta minus, and it just doesn't work.

Columnist Don Surber of the Charleston, WV, Daily Mail calls this a rare "presidential moment." A hat tip to Don and to

The Jobs Speech

I couldn't bring myself to listen to the President's jobs speech last night. I told myself I'd read it instead, the text is here on RealClearPolitics.

I tried to read it and gave up after three paragraphs. It was the same old political bafflegab and entirely too long.

I settled for reading what some pundits had to say about it and the words "straw men" kept coming up. A columnist in The New Yorker thought it a rousing campaign speech and compared it to Harry Truman giving 'em hell. Liberals loved it, conservatives didn't, what else is new?

Will the President be shocked, shocked that Congress doesn't immediately jump into action to enact his proposal? No, he'd be shocked beyond belief if they did.

Obama's goal is to show that he tried to solve the problem but couldn't get Republicans in Congress to cooperate. This speech is all about Obama trying to get reelected, it is not about fixing the economy.

Republicans didn't offer a rebuttal which would have emphasized their opposition to his borrow-and-spend proposal. Why help Obama portray the GOP as the problem?

What will happen in Congress? The Republican-controlled House will pass one set of actions aimed at stimulating the economy without spending money. These will include curbing expensive regulations, encouraging foreign trade, maybe facilitating domestic energy production.

The Democrat-controlled Senate will try to offer the President's program or parts of it. They won't pass much since they require 60 votes to shut off "discussion" and Democrats at most can come up with perhaps 55 votes. Result: continued deadlock.

The stock market has given its verdict on the speech. As I write this the Dow Jones Industrial index is down 312, that's 2.74% in one day. Ouch!

Korean Unification Less Popular

Everyone in South Korea is supposed to believe in reunification with North Korea. Both leftists and rightists are officially committed to this view, although they see it happening in different ways.

Many young people, aware of how hard reunification was for Germany, have lost enthusiasm for the experience. An Asia Times article by Andrei Lankov guesses that many in South Korea would privately say:
As a good Korean I cannot say that I am against unification, but I clearly would prefer for this wonderful event to not take place in my lifetime.

Southern Thai Insurgency

Have you tracked that the southern three provinces of Thailand, down the peninsula near the Malaysian border, are the site of a more-or-less open Muslim insurgency against the royal Thai government and its officials? It is an area westerners would be well-advised to avoid. See this article in the Asia Sentinel for details.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Turkey-Israel War Possible?

Turkey now says its naval vessels will escort the next convoy of aid ships to Gaza. Israel will presumably attempt to stop these ships as it did the last convoy. See this Reuters article for details.

Israeli attacks on Turkish naval escort vessels could be a casus belli, leading to a Turkish declaration of war against Israel. The Turkish military is roughly five times as big as that of Israel, though likely not as capable on a man-for-man basis.

Whether Israel could defend itself against Turkey without using nukes is anybody's guess. If several Arab countries joined the conflict, there could be mushroom clouds blossoming all over the Middle East.

Gallup: Obama Posts Another Low

Gallup has polled U.S. adults by racial or ethnic group and finds that President Obama's approval rating among Hispanics and whites continues to drop. His numbers for both groups are at new lows: 48% of Hispanics and 33% of whites approve of his performance.

Obama's approval rate among blacks (84%) ties his former low. Gallup's chart of approval data since January, 2009, is a downhill bobsled run for both Hispanics and whites.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Travel Blogging

Colter Bay, Wyoming. We're taking a few days in Grand Teton National Park, now that those with school-age children have gone home and the Labor Day crush is over. The weather is perfect, except there is a forest fire somewhere in the vicinity so the air is smoky.

The air feels like fall but we've seen only a very few yellow leaves. The shrub maples that turn a beautiful bluish-red are among the earliest to change and they've yet to start.

The little Uinta ground squirrels with almost no tail are common here. Their local name is "picket pin" because they love to sit straight up on their haunches and popeye around, like a prairie dog. We haven't seen even one; they have already finished fattening up for the winter and gone into hibernation.

BTW, a picket pin was a stake driven into the ground to which horses were picketed or loosely tied overnight. These ground squirrels sit up straight and look like a tethering peg, a picket pin.

The Poor Post Office

The United States Postal Service, aka USPS, is in a world of hurt. USPS is required by law to provide postal service to everyone, six days a week.

Their prices - rates - are set by Congress, their market share is dropping as Internet, email, and cheap long-distance phone rates eat into their first class mail business. FedEx and UPS compete for package delivery service.

Meanwhile their large workforce is unionized. The contracts they've signed with those unions bar layoffs. Plus they pay for government-style benefits and retirement.

The number of pieces of mail USPS carries has dropped, and they need to cut costs in order to keep expenditures down to something they can cover. Logically,, they need to close post offices, lay off workers, and charge more for the mail they do carry. Ending Saturday delivery has also been suggested.

In order to facilitate a recovery, Congress needs to enable the USPS to go through what amounts to Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This would allow the USPS to set its own rates and renegotiate its union contracts to lower wages, spend less on health care and retirement, and permit layoffs of workers and closure of offices no longer needed.

Senators from rural states, including mine, probably won't permit closure of the low-volume small town post offices much treasured by their constituents. And there is another problem, those who absolutely rely on USPS.

Two groups much dependent on USPS are the poor and old folks who have no computer skills and no desire to learn them. To say to them "do your business online" just doesn't work, it is like saying "pilot a plane" to most of us. The other DrC and I took a few moments and thought of four people we know who have no computer access or skill; they absolutely need the U.S. mail.

The USPS is a thorny problem, particularly for a Congress with a very lame track record. For more information, see this article in The Atlantic.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

The day star, aka Sol or the Sun, is an ongoing thermonuclear explosion whose mass is 332,950 times that of our planet, Earth. The Earth is the recipient of a continuing stream of solar radiation of many frequencies, including cosmic rays.

Solar radiation varies by where on Earth you are located and the angle at which that radiation strikes us. The equatorial regions are hot, the polar regions are not, the sun is responsible for most of our heat. Solar radiation also varies according to what is happening on the sun, sunspot activity and the like.

Total world population = roughly 7 billion people. Total surface area of the world = 361 million square kilometers, total land surface = 148 million square kilometers. Number of people per square land kilometer = roughly 47. Earth receives 1336 watts of energy per square meter or 1336x10,000 watts from the sun per square kilometer.

What do you think has more impact on that square kilometer's climate, those 47 people or slight variations in that 13,360,000 watts of energy? I'm betting on the sun. See this Wall Street Journal article for some reputable scientific folks who are betting the same way I am.

Obama: New Lows

The Washington Post-ABC News poll shows President Obama in a continuing "death spiral" for as the Washington Post article says:
More than 60 percent of those surveyed say they disapprove of the way the president is handling the economy and, what has become issue No. 1, the stagnant jobs situation. Just 43 percent now approve of the job he is doing overall, a new career low; 53 percent disapprove, a new high.
Team Obama must be sweating. Those are exactly the sorts of lows and highs a president doesn't want to achieve just 14 months from reelection time.

Political Humor Alert

Victor Davis Hanson, blogging for Pajamas Media, has this to say about persistent high unemployment:
There is a scary sort of deer-in-the-headlights look about Obama and Biden that is quite disturbing, as if they are thinking, “This was not supposed to happened to us."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Source of Muslim Pique

Steven Kull has an article for CNN World on the topic of why Muslims continue to be mad at the United States. He claims to have done many focus groups in the Muslim world on this topic and the answer he has come up with is interesting.

Essentially, he finds what peeves Muslims is our insistence that religion be a private matter, not the basis of government. They want to base their government on the tenets of Islam.

Muslims are offended that we see this as theocracy, old-fashioned, what we did centuries ago. There is more to the issue but U.S. support for those elements in their societies which want the state to be secular is repellent to many of them.

It is a long article, and possibly wrong to boot, but it does explain some facts on the ground.

Sabato: Count Electoral Votes

Larry Sabato does political analysis from his base at the University of Virginia. Here he writes for The Wall Street Journal, on the topic of who wins what in the electoral college.

Sabato believes that, assuming no major changes in the economy, the election boils down to who wins seven states with a total of 85 electoral votes. Those states are Colorado (9), Florida (29), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), Ohio (18), and Virginia (13).

These states are critical because they truly could go either way. Most of the remaining 43 are a lock for one party or the other. Ironically, if your state always votes for one party, that party takes it for granted and the other party ignores it.

More Good News

The Washington Times reports that law school applications are down ten percent. Word must have gotten out that we've overproduced attorneys.

Law is no longer a generally lucrative occupation. That is good news for the rest of us.

Caca CA

My native state, California, continues to demonstrate that it is "the land of fruits and nuts." Here are two stories that illustrate the point.

First a link to a Bloomberg story that reports California has bad unemployment that, at 12%, is second only to Nevada. Bloomberg notes:
The most-populous state lost 1.4 million jobs during the recession that began three years ago, and has gained back only 226,800, or about 17 percent.
The second story is about the President's popularity in California. The Los Angeles Times reports that President Obama remains very popular in CA, and would handily defeat any of the Republican candidates now in the running:
The survey also showed that Obama's strength in California has endured despite deep dissatisfaction among voters with the economy. (snip) When asked to judge the president on a range of issues, respondents were negative on economic matters such as jobs, the economy, the federal deficit and taxes. His only positive rating came on terrorism and — narrowly — on Medicare, and voters were split on his handling of healthcare.
Californians disapproved of Obama's performance on the economy, and were hurting worse than residents of most other states, but would vote for him nevertheless. Apparently the really bad economy isn't what motivates California voters. Go figure....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Political Humor Alert

A. Barton Hinkle has written a great piece of political humor for Reason. In a gloomy season you owe it to yourself to read it for a nice laugh. Here are three samples of politics turned inside out:
  • President Obama's approval rating of the American public has fallen to an all-time low, according to a new Gallup survey of White House residents and employees.
  • "He's completely disgusted," said White House press secretary Jay Carney. "Which shouldn't be all that surprising, given the state of the economy, the high unemployment rate, and the fact that most Americans are, let's face it, fat lazy slobs. Go to a mall and look around if you don't believe me."
  • There's always a honeymoon period after any election, but honeymoons don't last forever. I expect that the next president—whoever he or she is—will be disappointed by the American people, just like Obama has.

Stelzer: Reasons To Be Optimistic

Seen enough doom and gloom recently? Tired of being told everything is going to hell in a hand basket? Help is here.

Irwin M. Stelzer of The Weekly Standard has amassed a whole set of statistics which argue that, in the medium to long run, the U.S. is in better shape than other countries.

His article is a decent antidote for that widespread condition: recession-caused depression. Read and become more optimistic.

Quote of the Day

Maureen Dowd, snarkmeister of The New York Times, has fallen out of love with President Barack Hussein Obama. She writes:
The days of spinning illusions in a Greek temple in a football stadium are done. The One is dancing on the edge of one term. (snip) Maybe Obama was not even the person he was waiting for.
The S.S. Obama is sinking and here we see a ship's rodent donning her "personal flotation device."

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Chill in the Air

Labor Day weekend here in the Wyoming high country brings a hint of chill in the air. We have a very short summer at 6000 ft. elevation (roughly 2000 meters); we get a short spring and fall too. Winter, on the other hand, lasts the better part of six months.

The summer is short but oh-so-sweet. It is rare to see temperatures higher than the low 80s, the humidity is almost too low, and except for late afternoon thunderstorms, there's little rain or cloud. We have no air conditioner and never miss it.

As the other DrC has noted in her blog (, our creeks and rivers are running more than usual. It is the result of a very wet winter and a big snow pack.

Our lakes and reservoirs are full, too. They'll spend the fall draining them down so there will be room to do flood control next spring; lakes freeze over in winter.

Greek People Are The Problem

Mark Steyn, who aspires to be this generation's H. L. Mencken, writing for The Orange County Register about the importance of culture:
Every time the government in Athens calls up the Germans and says, OK, we’ve burned through the last bailout, time for the next one, Angela Merkel understands all too well that the real problem in Greece is not the Greek finances but the Greek people.
It's that corrupt Mediterranean culture Greeks share with the Italians, Spaniards, Arabs,Turks and southern French. No wonder Germans don't want to loan them money.