Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Brutal Wisdom

Victor Davis Hanson, writing in City Journal about our nation's history:
The United States was born through war, reunited by war, and saved from destruction by war. No future generation, however comfortable and affluent, should escape that terrible knowledge.

Quote of the Day

Sir Basil H. Liddell Hart, British military historian, on the purpose of war:
War is always a matter of doing evil in the hope that good may come of it.
My source for the quote is an article in City Journal by Victor Davis Hanson.

Nobody Is Electable

Sean Trende, who writes for RealClearPolitics, with tongue firmly in cheek declares Romney, Gingrich, and Obama "unelectable." That said, he observes that one of them will nevertheless be elected.

What he has to say about reelection campaigns being referenda upon the incumbents is convincing. As Trende notes, since the 2008 election Obama has never been able to run up high approval numbers.

Spam a Diabetes Risk?

Reuters reports via Yahoo News that Native Americans eating processed, canned meat aka "Spam" had an increased risk of developing diabetes. They summarize a study originally reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

If someone wants to replicate this study, they could do so on the Pacific islands where Spam is very popular. I know it to be popular in Hawaii and on Guam, and I suppose it is likewise popular in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, etc.

In the mid-1980s the DrsC were spending a year on Guam when, coincidentally, the Spam cannery in Minnesota went on strike. The Pacific Daily News, Guam's newspaper, headlined the strike. Within a day the grocery stores were sold out of Spam - truly the shelves were bare.

On Guam Spam is known as "typhoon food," food that keeps for years, doesn't get infested by bugs, and can be eaten cold right out of the can when a typhoon tears up the electric lines and distribution systems.

Who knows? Spam may be related to diabetes there, too.

An Historical Precedent

Walter Williams writes of the Obama presidency:
(It) represents the first time in our history that a person could have been elected to that office who had long-standing close associations with people who hate our nation.
Normally I don't find quibbles with Dr. Williams, but in this case I do. Franklin Delano Roosevelt's wife Eleanor certainly "had long-standing close associations with people who hate our nation." Her associations with known Stalinists are documented. Williams' article is for Creators' Syndicate.

Fox Out in Front, Yet Again

Fox News celebrates 10 years as the number one cable news net, story here on Yahoo News. What isn't clear is why anyone should be surprised by this.

At least half of this nation's people are politically conservative. News on the commercial broadcast networks, PBS, NPR plus the other cable news channels are all liberal; among them they divide the liberal audience.

Fox News has most of the conservative audience to itself. Do the math. Be surprised if Fox is anything but number one.

The same logic applies to The Wall Street Journal being number one among newspapers with a national circulation, which it is.

We Told You So

We've been telling you that Newt is the better showman, Mitt is the better manager. Here is a Miami Herald article whose authors are puzzled by Newt's big crowds vs. Mitt's smaller groups, while at the same time polls say more will vote for Mitt than for Newt.

I'm not puzzled, that makes perfect sense to me. More Floridians go see Newt because he is more fun to listen to. That's what I'd do too, listen to Newt and vote for Mitt (probably).

If we elect Mitt, who the polls tell us has a better chance of defeating Obama, we will spend the next four years listening to boring speeches. The important thing is defeating Obama and it doesn't seem that Newt can do the job.

Laffer: Newt Better on Taxes

Arthur Laffer is creator of the famous Laffer Curve which shows lower tax rates can bring in higher revenues. Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Laffer says Newt is better on taxes than Mitt:
When it comes to the election's core issue—restoring a healthy economy—the key is a good tax plan and the ability to implement it. Mr. Gingrich has a significantly better plan than does Mr. Romney, and he has twice before been instrumental in implementing a successful tax plan on a national level—once when he served in Congress as a Reagan supporter in the 1980s and again when he was President Clinton's partner as speaker of the House of Representatives in the 1990s. During both of these periods the economy prospered incredibly—in good part because of Mr. Gingrich.
If that doesn't constitute an endorsement, it comes mighty close.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Travel Blogging

Yesterday the other DrC and I went out for a Sunday afternoon scenic drive. We saw some of coastal California that looks as it did a hundred years ago, in the period just before World War I. If you're finding that hard to believe, I'll tell you where to see for yourself.

Take US 101 north of Santa Barbara along the coast maybe as much as 20 miles. Where 101 turns inland is called Gaviota Pass (Gaviota is sea gull in Spanish).

Go inland a very few miles, maybe 3, to where California Highway 1 separates and is marked as the road to Lompoc (pronounced by locals as lom-poke). Lompoc is famous in recent years for its minimum security Federal prison where white collar criminals are sent. If you reach Lompoc you've gone too far on Hwy 1.

Once you've left 101 and are headed northwest on Hwy 1 everything looks like old California - of the pre WW II era. After a few miles on Hwy 1 take a left turn on well-marked Jalama Road (Spanish pronounciation Ha-la-ma).

Take Jalama Rd. and slowly drive the several miles to Jalama Beach County Park. What you see along Jalama Rd. will look like pre-WW I California. A few small farms, cattle, and a whole lot of untouched coastal California rolling hills, being used as grazing land with cattle dotted among the coastal oaks and chapparal.

If you are a beach person, pay your day use fee and go into the park. There is a store and burger place there, rest rooms, and a nice beach. For pretty pictures see the other DrC's blog at cruztalking.blogspot.com.

If sand in your shorts isn't a thrill, turn around and slowly drive back to Hwy 1. You will have seen several miles of almost entirely untouched California coastal hills, much of it looking the way Richard Henry Dana saw it in the 1830s (except for the road you're driving on).

This drive will convince you why Ronald Reagan bought a ranch in this region. If you still have time and energy, continue northwest on Hwy 1 to Hwy 246, turn right, and drive a dozen or so miles to Solvang, a faux Danish community with architectural charm, many bakeries, and a really nice street fair on Wednesday afternoons (we recommend the apple pies sold there by the Solvang Pie Co.)

If it is supper time, the traditional thing to do here is go back on 246 to Buellton and eat split pea soup at Andersons, a California landmark. And the El Rancho market in Santa Ynez is worth a visit, very up-scale and you can easily assemble a meal from their deli.

U.K. Wants It Both Ways

The United Kingdom refused to sign onto a treaty binding 25 of the 27 members of the EU to closer centralized fiscal controls. The Czech Republic also refused to agree.

At the same time, the U.K. wants to have continuing access to the common market and other positive aspects of the European Union. See the BBC News Europe article for details.

Consumption Si, Inequality No

Professor James Q. Wilson, one of the nation's most insightful political scientists, writes about income inequality and whether we should worry about it as the President insists we should. Wilson concludes we should not:
The country has become more prosperous, as measured not by income but by consumption: In constant dollars, consumption by people in the lowest quintile rose by more than 40 percent over the past four decades.
Income as measured by the federal government is not a reliable indicator of well-being, but consumption is. Though poverty is a problem, it has become less of one.
Wilson's Washington Post article is very much worth your time. Wilson's thoughts relate to what we said Saturday about Reagan's views.

More on Polarization

On Saturday we wrote about the polarizing effects of President Obama, citing a Gallup poll. Here is a Washington Post column, based on the same data, which makes the point even more clearly:
For 2011, Obama’s third year in office, an average of 80 percent of Democrats approved of the job he was doing in Gallup tracking polls, as compared to 12 percent of Republicans who felt the same way. That’s a 68-point partisan gap, the highest for any president’s third year in office — ever. (The previous high was George W. Bush in 2007, when he had a 59 percent difference in job approval ratings.)
In 2010, the partisan gap between how Obama was viewed by Democrats versus Republicans stood at 68 percent; in 2009, it was 65 percent. Both were the highest marks ever for a president’s second and first years in office, respectively.
The column's authors, Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake, conclude:
We are simply living in an era in which Democrats dislike a Republican president (and Republicans dislike a Democratic one) even before the commander in chief has taken a single official action.
With Red vs. Blue states and a very polarized electorate, it feels like we are slowly edging toward another civil war.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What Works, What Doesn't

The Washington Post reports results of research done under the aegis of the National Bureau of Economic Research concerning what does and doesn't work in improving student outcomes. It turns out that class size, per pupil expenditure, number of teachers with credentials and/or graduate degrees are not important predictors of student accomplishment. However:
An index of five policies suggested by over forty years of qualitative research — frequent teacher feedback, the use of data to guide instruction, high-dosage tutoring, increased instructional time, and high expectations — explains approximately 50 percent of the variation in school effectiveness.
There's a good chance most of the rest of the variation is related to factors over which the school has zero control: student socioeconomic status, family stability, parental drug abuse, etc.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Newt Magic

Michael Warren, writing for The Weekly Standard, follows Newt around Florida and shows why Speaker Gingrich appeals to the Republican base. Newt is funny, quick on his feet, and deals well with hecklers; he's just a better showman than Mitt or the others.

Gingrich = Goldwater?

Pollster Peter Hart, who with Bill McInturff does the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, says "Gingrich is Goldwater." By this he means that Gingrich would lose big and drag down much of the rest of the ticket. A National Review Online article by Jim Geraghty is the source.

There could be truth to this claim. Gingrich pronouncements please the Republican base but may antagonize independents and energize both them and Democrats to vote in opposition. At least that is the theory.

Wisdom of the Gipper

President Ronald Reagan, speaking in 1982, and quoted in 2011 by Rep. Paul Ryan:
Since when do we in America believe that our society is made up of two diametrically opposed classes – one rich, one poor – both in a permanent state of conflict and neither able to get ahead except at the expense of the other? Since when do we in America accept this alien and discredited theory of social and class warfare? Since when do we in America endorse the politics of envy and division?
Our aim is to grow the economy and thus improve the lot of everyone, by increasing the size of the pie rather than arguing over who gets how big a slice. We've been successful; our "poor" live better than the middle class of most nations.

Quote of the Day

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, giving the GOP response to the State of the Union speech:
The president did not cause the economic and fiscal crises that continue in America tonight, but he was elected on a promise to fix them, and he cannot claim that the last three years have made things anything but worse.
No kidding. My source for this is an article in The American.

Gallup: Obama Polarizing

Most Democrats like President Obama, most Republicans don't. This causes the Gallup polling organization to report:
Obama's ratings have been consistently among the most polarized for a president in the last 60 years.
On the other hand, they also note:
That may not be a reflection on Obama himself as much as on the current political environment in the United States, because Obama's immediate predecessor, Bush, had similarly polarized ratings, particularly in the latter stages of his presidency.
The cause may be an increase in party ideological consistency.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Welcome Back, Kotkin

Demographer Joel Kotkin has a Forbes article concerning the strength of the Anglosphere. The Anglosphere is, of course, the collection of countries which share language and culture with Britain.

Kotkin begins with why the U.K. doesn't much need the European Union, continues with a discussion of just how dominant the Anglosphere is, and concludes with a lamentation of how President Obama fails to understand, or perhaps rejects, the Anglosphere's importance.

Belabor the Obvious....

Politico reports that evangelical Republicans aren't keen on a Mormon nominee, but they'd clearly vote for him over President Obama. Really? You wouldn't kid us?

President Obama has done as thorough a job of motivating Republicans as the second President Bush did of motivating Democrats. Our two most recent presidents have been as unpopular as any since Carter and Nixon.

Two real questions remain; first, what do independents think of the Obama-Romney match up? For whom would they vote? Second, given a Romney-Obama contest, will Republicans or Democrats be more motivated this year?

Recent polling shows Republicans really want to dump Obama, Democrats are less excited about retaining him. The answer to question one remains unclear.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Enemy of My Enemy....

AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is running an ad in Florida unfairly critricizing Mitt Romney. USA Today says clearly their criticism is not justified, unless you hate capitalism on principle.

Unions never support Republicans anyway; whatever unions oppose I'm inclined to support. AFSCME not liking Mitt is a reason to favor him.

Preaching to the Choir

Numbers don't lie but there are certainly ways to lie with numbers, see this example from CBS News. CBS did a poll sampling the roughly 10% of Americans who watched the State of the Union speech. No surprise, most loved it.

So how are they lying with numbers? By not making clear that people who decided to watch are strongly biased in favor of the Prez and enjoy his speeches. This year 91% liked the speech, last year only 83% liked that speech. However, as my previous post notes, fewer people chose to watch this year, making the sample of speech-watchers even more pro-Obama.

This article makes as much sense as going to a rock concert and asking people on their way out if they like the music. Chances are the only people who chose to go were people who already liked that music.

To get better data CBS should have asked random sample of likely voters whether they watched the SOTU, ask viewers if they liked the speech, and ask non-viewers why they chose not to watch, when SOTU was very widely available. CBS didn't do this because they knew they'd get results they wouldn't like.

SOTU Viewers Down 12%

This year roughly 10% of Americans watched the State of the Union speech on TV, a total of 37.75 million viewers. Last year 42.79 million watched this president deliver the 2011 SOTU. That is a decline of 12% and down 21% from the 48 million who watched him in 2010. Source article is from Deadline/Hollywood.

What do you conclude about the popularity of listening to Barack Obama? What do you suppose it means for his chances of reelection? I wish we had the same data for the last several presidents to see if this is the normal pattern.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Victor Davis Hanson does an evaluation of the Obama foreign policy 3+ years along:
We are back to the deceptive quiet of a 1913, 1938, or 2000, consumed by internal problems, suspicious of the world abroad, assuming that foreigners’ challenges are worse than ours, and convinced that no one would be so stupid as to start a stupid war.
Let us hope no one does. But if someone should be so crazy, others might follow. Then we would learn that our old allies are now neutrals; our new friends are enemies; and the old deterrence will be as hard to regain as it was once to acquire.

That doesn't sound at all good. Source article is in National Review Online.

Political Humor Alert

Ann Coulter combines wit with fact to make a point and get a laugh. Here Jonah Goldberg, son of Lucianne Goldberg, writes for RealClearPolitics and works the same territory.

He pictures Newt G. as Godzilla and Mitt R. as a space alien trying to pass as human. It's funny stuff and reasonably on-target as well. Have some fun with politics, for a change.

Self-Deportation Works

Generally COTTonLINE has been supportive of Newt Gingrich. On the issue of immigration we think Mitt Romney has the right approach.

Newt has ridiculed Mitt's notion that illegal immigrants will self deport if there is no work for them here, no work because employers have to really check their status before hiring.

The example Newt gives of someone's grandmother not leaving is true enough, but not relevant. Grandmothers are not who keeps sneaking across our southern border.

People come here to improve their economic status, to work. If there is no work, such folk will stay home or return home without us shipping them there. Their economic opportunities will be greater at home than here.

Illegals have returned home during the current period of high unemployment. See an ABC News article about this argument.

Truth and Lies

Nine ABC News reporters have done fact checking on the Obama SOTU given last night. As you might guess, it turns out several things POTUS said are fibs or exaggerations - no surprise.

Kudos to the MSM for picking up on the fact checking meme, which began in the online new media. I just realized I used four "inside" terms in the foregoing short passage (SOTU, POTUS, MSM, and meme).

Two Losers

Conventional wisdom has held that Gingrich has much higher unfavorables than Romney, which was once true. The new Washington Post/ABC News Poll shows that now both Gingrich and Romney have negatives much greater than their positives. No wonder Team Obama is smiling.

Friedman Foolishness

We've noted before that The New York Times' columnist Tom Friedman is mostly excellent on foreign affairs, and mostly not-so-hot on domestic matters. His latest column about how automation is destroying American jobs is an example of the latter, lesser sort.

Much of it is unexceptionable in that it summarizes what we know, albeit in a pretentious way. However he ends by quoting the statistics on education level related to unemployment level and then suggests we subsidize everybody to go to college.

What he fails to grasp is that much of what makes college degrees valuable in getting jobs is their scarcity value. If everyone had a college degree the unemployment rate would be the same as it is now. Human resource professionals would have found some other criteria to winnow out the winners from the also-rans.

Many jobs which could be done by alert high school grads are being done by college grads because there is a tendency for HR people to hire the most qualified applicants who will take the job. Requiring a college degree, or even a degree from a select group of elite colleges, is a way to easily disqualify most of the applicants in a tall stack, "easily" being the operational term.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Conspiracy Catnip

This article on the KFI News website reports night military exercises will be held in downtown Los Angeles. The exercises are closed to the public.

Imagine how this news excites the conspiracy enthusiasts who fantasize about black UN helicopters and FEMA-run internment camps. Talk about hyperventilation and palpitations, wow.

Mr. Roadblock

John Harris and Carrie Brown of Politico weigh in with some wisdom about an Obama second term; wisdom we can hope the electorate doesn't grasp as it might be popular. They write:
Absent big — and for the moment, unlikely — Democratic gains in congressional races, the chances are high that the election will not bring clarity but more divided government. That means part of Obama’s election-year message, at least implicitly, is to elect him not for what he would do but for what he would stop conservative Republicans from doing.
Republicans want to rein in entitlements, an agenda not popular with seniors. Seniors might vote for BHO as a way to forestall the GOP agenda.

Stephens: GOP Deserves To Lose

The Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens writes that Barack Obama will be reelected because the Republicans deserve to lose. I hope Stephens is wrong.

You need to read his column, although you won't enjoy it. This is his major point:
Americans are generally eager to send Mr. Obama packing. All they need is to be reasonably sure that the alternative won't be another fiasco. But they can't be reasonably sure, so it's going to be four more years of the disappointment you already know.
Stephens also blames what he calls the Republican A-Team for not running, people like Daniels, Christie, Barbour, and Ryan. Let me share with you his conclusion:
The U.S. will surely survive four more years. Who knows? By then maybe Republicans will have figured out that if they don't want to lose, they shouldn't run with losers.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Spengler: Egyptian Death Spiral

David P. Goldman writes for Asia Times under the pen name Spengler. He has written before about the troubles into which Egypt appears to be plunging; here he revisits this theme. Needless to say, he believes things have gotten worse.

The particular recent event which suggests this to him is the failure of the Egyptian government to place even 1/3 of the Treasury bills offered:
Yields on Egyptian government debt maturing in nine months jumped to nearly 16%, but the government could not place its local-currency debt to Egyptian investors, even at that exorbitant rate.
Spengler foresees a crash in the Egyptian economy with tourism - the foreign exchange earner - drying up and leaving no ability to pay for imported food and fuel. I'm glad I toured Egypt before the current mess.

Stirewalt: The Anger of Newt

Chris Stirewalt writes for Fox News, he has penned a canny analysis of the Newt surge in South Carolina. He says:
Gingrich gives voice to the tremendous rage that has been brewing inside the American electorate. (snip) If you are a voter who increasingly believes that the game is rigged against you and your family and that wealthy, politically connected elites are conspiring to enrich and empower themselves at your expense, Gingrich and Paul would sound like the only sane men on the stage.
Stirewalt alleges that Gingrich did best in the SC counties where the economy was worst while Romney won those which are wealthier. That's one point of view, I think Newt is more fun to listen to.

Quote of the Day

Michael Goodwin is a columnist for the New York Post and a Fox News contributor. Here Goodwin reacts to President Obama's decision against building the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada:
Now we have undeniable proof of the president’s priorities. The man who insisted that “making sure jobs are available is the first thing I think about when I wake up every morning” was just reading empty words from a TelePrompter.

Genocide Denial Criminalized

Both houses of the French legislature have passed bills making criminal the denial of Turkish genocide of Armenians during the breakup of the Ottoman Empire (1915-16). Perhaps as many as 1.5 million Armenians were killed during this period.

This French law is another step in the alienation of Turkey from Europe; another sign Turkey will not achieve the membership in the European Union it had earlier sought. See the BBC News Europe article for details.

Weird Science Redux

Archaeologists haven't been distracted by the euro collapsing and the American political circus, not even by the Arab spring-summer-fall-winter. Today we have announced the discovery of thousand year old Jewish documents from Afghanistan and peculiar architecture from the Roman period in Britain.

See the articles here and here on Yahoo News websites.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dowd: POTUS as Root Canal

Most of the time Maureen Dowd writes skanky left-wing opinion for The New York Times. Her most recent column backs up the well-used manure spreader and unloads on ... wait for it ... Barack Obama. COTTonLINE's conservative readership will enjoy this column.

Dowd is as talented at what she does as Ann Coulter, who does the same shtick for the right. Dowd has produced some gems, here are two examples:
The man who became famous with a speech declaring that we were one America, not opposing teams of red and blue states, presides over an America more riven by blue and red than ever. The man who came to Washington on a wave of euphoria has had a presidency with all the joy of a root canal.
Despite what his rivals say, the president and the first lady do believe in American exceptionalism — their own, and they feel overassaulted and underappreciated. We disappointed them.

SC GOP Primary Results

Google reports the following vote percentages for South Carolina, with 100% of precincts reporting:
40.4% Newt Gingrich
27.8% Mitt Romney
17.0% Rick Santorum
13.0% Ron Paul
The remaining 1.8% went to insignificant candidates. It is a very clear win for Gingrich, as strong as Romney's win in NH, but unlike Santorum's tiny lead in Iowa.

I would not be surprised if Santorum was the next to drop out. It will be interesting to see if he endorses either of the front-runners when he withdraws.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Good Result

Marianne Gingrich has gotten a clear public response to her "open marriage" allegation. The voters of South Carolina responded with an unequivocal "ho-hum."

I don't know if Newt is the right choice for GOP nominee. However I'm happy the good people of SC said "no" to Marianne G.

Quote of the Day

Erick Erickson who blogs at Red State, writing about Newt's apparent win in South Carolina:
Today’s vote is about Republican grassroots giving the Washington Republican establishment the finger. The base is angry, and right now, only Newt is left to fight for them, as imperfect as he is.
I second that thought.

WaPo Calls SC for Newt

The polls in South Carolina closed less than an hour ago. The Washington Post has called the SC primary election for Newt Gingrich.

Voters leaving the polls reported Newt's debate performance was the key influence upon their decision. Romney and Santorum weren't mean enough.

These are some angry voters. Folks reported they wanted someone who could go toe to toe with President Obama in a debate, and destroy him. Newt seemed to be that man.

SC Exit Polls

Nobody is releasing actual "horse race" numbers until the polls close at 7 p.m EST. However many voters say they were influenced by the debates, the last two of which Newt Gingrich is thought to have won. See this CBS News article.

Kinsley: Inflation a Threat

Michael Kinsley writes for Bloomberg that he's concerned about inflation, and backs up his argument. For several years I've suspected that the only way out of the mountain of federal debt was to print money, that is, to reduce its value.

If inflation happens I should have in my portfolio assets whose prices would rise as the dollar's value drops, protecting me against inflation. Examples: property, gold, commodities, maybe equities.

Caveat: I am not an investment counselor. I have not suggested what you should do.

Murray: Preach What You Practice

Charles Murray is a political scientist who often writes excellent pieces for The Wall Street Journal. Here he describes the increasing social class division in the U.S. I strongly recommend the article.

Murray's key point is that the cultures of our upper middle and lower classes have diverged substantially in the last 50 years, since 1960. He particularly looks at the issues of marriage, single parenthood, industriousness, crime, and religiosity.

On all of these dimensions the two groups have diverged in the last half century. The upper middle class still exhibits what we think of as the American culture, the lower class no longer does.

As a libertarian Murray eschews governmental solutions. Instead he advocates the upper classes "reinforcing" American cultural values in the lower classes:
The best thing that the new upper class can do to provide that reinforcement is to drop its condescending "nonjudgmentalism." Married, educated people who work hard and conscientiously raise their kids shouldn't hesitate to voice their disapproval of those who defy these norms. When it comes to marriage and the work ethic, the new upper class must start preaching what it practices.
It once worked, I wonder if that would work today?

Balz: Romney vs. Gingrich in SC

Dan Balz writes politics for The Washington Post. He's probably liberal but mostly keeps his biases out of his analyses, which are often even-handed.

Here Balz does an election day column on the current status of Romney vs. Gingrich and the voters of South Carolina. He makes no predictions himself but cites a prediction by Senator Lindsey Graham (R) that "The wind's at Newt's back." I'd guess that represents a consensus view, which can nevertheless be wrong.

Since revised data shows Santorum winning Iowa and Romney won New Hampshire, if Gingrich wins South Carolina the first three states will have been won by three different candidates - a historical first. As Balz notes, it also would reflect the unsettled nature of the 2012 GOP contest.

Iran Blinked

The U.S. and Iran were threatening each other over the Straits of Hormuz, glaring at each other, and now Iran has blinked. See the Yahoo News story from Reuters.

Frankly, the U.S. could hammer Iran into "Persian paste." I always thought Iran knew we wouldn't do it, at least with this president in office.

Putin's Russia

Russian leader Vladimir Putin, in a speech given in 2008, about his view of Russia:
Maintaining the governance of a vast territory, preserving a unique commonwealth of peoples while occupying a major place in world affairs calls… for enormous sacrifices and privations on the part of our people.
The source for this quote is a book review of David Satter's The Character of Russia, from The Montreal Review.

Fewer Europeans

Samuel Gregg has written for The American Spectator an article about the below-replacement birth rates in most European countries. Actually, most developed countries around the world have per-woman birth rates below the 2.1 replacement level.

Gregg points out the difficulty with low birth rates is that a country ends up with about two people working for each retiree. Those two workers must make contributions and/or tax payments sufficient to support that retiree's old age benefits - benefits that in the U.S. we call Social Security and Medicare.

From whence come the low birth rates? Birth control and women's liberation are the proximate causes; countries without one or both still have high birth rates. It is interesting how human rights improvements have unintended consequences.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wrong Spin

This article from The Week, run on Yahoo News, takes the view that all the hoo-hah of the GOP primary is playing to Obama's advantage. Don't believe it.

Republicans are getting all the attention while Democrats have essentially zero eyes-on. That is never good.

Sure the GOPers are beating each other up, that's what politicians do. A food fight is always good entertainment. Meanwhile what Dems are doing is as interesting as yesterday's porridge - blah.

While all eyes are on the GOP, they are mostly beating up on the Obama record and nobody in that fun brawl is defending Obama. What is happening could hardly be better.

Colonial Advantages

I have long believed that former British colonies have thrived more than the former Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Dutch colonies. This article from Defining Ideas starts out to explain this phenomenon.

In the middle the article gets bogged down in the minutia of land use technicalities. The article finally wraps up by concluding that the institutions inherited from Britain have been of great use to former colonies, particularly those in temperate climates.

In my travels I have particularly noted that former Spanish colonies have had difficulty in moving beyond the "developing" stage. Think of Latin America and the Philippine Islands, still struggling with development after all these years.

Quote of the Day

Mitt Romney, spoken to a heckler who hassled him about being part of the 1%:
Those who try and divide the nation, as you’re trying to do here and as our President is doing, are hurting this country. America’s right and you’re wrong.
I like that response a lot: America's right and you're wrong. My source is ABC News The Note.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Japan Population Crash

The population of Japan is on a relatively steep decline. People are marrying later in life, having fewer or no children, and increasing numbers not marrying at all. However the Japanese are living to quite old ages.

Meanwhile the nation very tightly controls immigration as they are concern about "cultural pollution." See the Wall Street Journal article reprinted in RealClearWorld.

Quote of the Day

Victor David Hanson, writing in RealClearPolitics about the decline of our civilization:
The quality of today's air travel has regressed to the climate of yesterday's bus service.
Isn't that the dreary truth? The balance of this article is also well worth your time.

More Good News

Politico reports New York Times/CBS News polling data that indicates Obama is doing poorly with independent voters. For example:
Two-thirds of swing voters said the president hasn’t made significant progress in fixing the country’s economy, while six in ten said Obama doesn’t share their priorities for the country.
Some conservatives berate Politico for a leftward bias, maybe they're overdoing it.

Political Humor Alert

Snark attack - the Washington Times comes up with six slogans President Obama could use for his reelection campaign. Since this paper leans right, you know they aren't serious but rather funny. Here are three of my favorite examples:
1. Things could be worse.
3. Hope I can change.
6. Hate the government? Then hire an ineffective boss.
The other three slogans aren't bad.

Perry Drops Out

Texas Governor Rick Perry has dropped out of the GOP race for the presidential nomination. To date Huntsman, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and Pawlenty are out of the race. Remaining in the race: Romney, Gingrich, Paul, and Santorum. See the article at Yahoo News.

This winnowing process reminds me of the film Ten Little Indians based on Agatha Christie's novel And Then There Were None. Do you suppose Newt can pull into the lead?

At this point I believe Romney is a better manager, but I'm not certain the presidency is a managerial job. Gingrich is the more visionary candidate, and would make the more interesting president. I don't know whether "interesting" = better for the country.


In The Mourning Bride, William Congreve (1670-1729) wrote "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned."

Newt Gingrich's second wife has given ABC News an interview she says will end his presidential campaign. We'll see if that turns out to be true; I have doubts.

One thing is sure, if her assertion is merely that Newt was unfaithful to her it won't matter to many people. After all, we know (as did she) that he was unfaithful to his first wife, why not to his second wife as well?

In recent years we've learned many successful politicians (FDR, JFK) have been generous with their affections. In truth they are made many offers, at least some of which they are unable to refuse.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WaPo: Keystone XL OK

The editorial board of The Washington Post has come down squarely against the Obama administration's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. COTTonLINE concurs.

This was one more example of the White House kissing up to environmentalists at the expense of the blue collar workers who would have built the pipeline. Talk about your shovel-ready projects, this one could have created construction and refinery jobs and reduced our dependency on Middle East oil.

Canada will export the oil, if not to the U.S., then to China. Wouldn't we rather import oil from Canada than from the Arabian peninsula? Money we spend in Canada won't end up funding anti-U.S. terrorists.

I expect the contenders for the GOP presidential nomination to speak out against this Obama administration decision. It is a bad one, even for this White House.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Quote of the Day

Kimberley A. Strassel, who writes for The Wall Street Journal, talking about keeping the Republican coalition together:
The task of any candidate who wants to unite conservatives remains largely the same: Run on a message that brings together economic libertarians, defense hawks and social conservatives.
Those have been described as the three legs of the GOP stool.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Non-Lethal Warfare....

The New York Times reports with obvious pleasure on the "changed rules of war" being followed by our Navy fighter pilots in Afghanistan. Most of the time the planes don't shoot at anybody, on purpose.

On the other hand, the same Navy commander being interviewed remembers the "kill 'em all" attitude they followed in Kosovo, not that long ago. I remember that what we did in Kosovo "worked." That is, it accomplished what we sought to do.

What we're doing in Af-Pak doesn't seem to be working. Is there a conclusion to be drawn here?


I read Roger Cohen's New York Times article pleading with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu not to bomb Iran. He believes he makes convincing arguments for restraint.

On the other hand, I saw in his article a strong argument for Israel to bomb Iran this spring or summer. That is, in time to influence our November election in Israel's favor. See what you think.

Whiz on 'Em

I am sure soldiers have urinated on defeated foes since we lived in caves, carried clubs and wore animal skins. The behavior isn't new and it isn't important. We should just shrug it off, but I know we won't.

Quote of the Day

Sean Trende, writing for RealClearPolitics about Jon Huntsman's motives in dropping out of the race:
My view is that you can never be too cynical about politicians.

Understanding Romney

It looks like Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for president, absent any spectacular goofs. Thus, for conservatives, it behooves us to learn about him.

The New York Times reviews a new biography of Governor Romney written by two Boston Globe reporters. Both the Globe and Times lean left so we can a priori doubt the claim of fairness.

Actually, I am surprised to find the picture of Mitt drawn by the reviewer to be relatively fair and not excessively negative. I spent 30 years teaching Management at the university level, and what I see described is a good business manager - data-driven, goal oriented, ready to change course when needed.

His shortcomings in public relations are out there for all to see. Mitt makes the right moves but, unlike a Bill Clinton or a Ronald Reagan, the magic just doesn't happen.

Business managers can definitely succeed in spite of a wooden public persona. They are measured by profits, return on investment, earnings per share and gross revenues. Consistency is not an issue.

Politicians are elected based on their public relations skills and consistency. They are only reelected based on results, which are roughly analogous to the measures used to judge business leaders.

So we may be looking at a contest between a President with no results facing off against a contender with weak public relations skills. I therefore expect a low turnout in November; I hope I'm wrong.


It must be an election year, the Obama family are attending church. Do you suppose they pray for reelection? Do you think anyone is listening?

The Obama's church attendance is only news because they haven't done it much in the past three years. It's a part of the pandering that politicians do.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Scotland Separatism

The Scots have been talking about separating from the United Kingdom, and the English are very likely going to call their bluff. If the statistics in this Globe and Mail article are accurate, Scotland is no prize and the English might be better off without Scotland.

The Scots, on the other hand, have resented being part of the U.K. essentially forever, while benefiting from it at the same time. Does this sound like the French Canadians' relationship to Canada? I think so.

It appears anglophone Canadians are enjoying their Brit cousins' sharing their separatist dilemma.

Film Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The DrsC saw this raw, gloomy film this afternoon. It stars Daniel Craig as a Swedish journalist who is hired to investigate the disappearance (and probable murder) of a wealthy young girl some four decades earlier. It is nice to see him in a role that isn't all fights, car chases, and gunplay.

Playing opposite Craig is a relatively unknown actress Rooney Mara. Her character is a sort of psychotic version of Abby from NCIS, on heavy tranks.

The film is rated R and is definitely something to which you won't take your grandmother: lots of nudity and variegated sex as well as some violence and crude language. It won't show up on TV without serious editing unless a separate "for TV" version was made.

There is so little color, the film almost could have been shot in black-and-white. Everybody smokes more-or-less constantly. Talk about a film noir sensibility, Dragon Tattoo has it.

The film says Sweden is a place you might visit but wouldn't want to live. On the other hand, the story "worked" and kept us involved right through to the end.

In spite of the gloom, we liked the film a lot, which is how film noir is supposed to work.

Huntsman Is History

Former Utah governor and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman will announce tomorrow that he is withdrawing from the race for the GOP presidential nomination. It is believed Huntsman will endorse Mitt Romney. See this Washington Post story for details.

It Isn't Bain

People are attacking Romney for his work at Bain. I have no problems with what he did at Bain. Improving or shutting down weak firms is part of the capitalism process.

My problem with Mitt is his government health care plan in Massachusetts. See if my reasoning is logical:

1. The most unpopular thing Obama has done is Obamacare.
2. Americans want Obamacare repealed.
3. The GOP needs to attack Obama on Obamacare.
4. Obamacare is very similar to Romneycare in Massachusetts.
5. Romney will not or cannot disavow Romneycare.
6. If Romney is the GOP nominee, it becomes hard to attack Obama for sponsoring something quite like their nominee's health care plan.
7. Therefore, the GOP gives away its best policy weapon if Romney is the nominee.

Did I miss something here? Why isn't this Mitt's biggest drawback as a candidate? For another view of this issue see Andrew McCarthy's article for National Review.

I think Mitt needs to say something like "The role of a government is not to force unwanted programs on its people. The people of MA wanted state health care so I helped them get it. The people of the U.S. do not want Obamacare so I will sign a repeal if Congress will send it to me."

Mormon Values

Don Surber, columnist for the Charleston, WV Daily Mail, has an interesting article comparing the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life values data for U.S. Mormons and for the U.S. general public. Mormons are very pro-family and pro-marriage (no surprise) but our general public - not so much. Surber says:
The problem is the American public now sees those values as being a bad thing. So the Mormon Problem is not a Mormon problem, but rather a Rest Of Us Problem.
It is hard to see the rest of us blaming Mormons for being happily married and good parents.

Impending Ice Age

The Wall Street Journal reports that we are currently enjoying one of several relatively brief warm spells on an otherwise chilly planet. Furthermore, this warm spell is mostly over.

We can expect relatively abrupt cooling sometime in the next millennium. If human activity is having any climate effect, it may be helping to postpone the next ice age.

N.B. The earth cannot feed its current human population during an ice age.

S&P Downgrades Euro Debt

CNBC, a cable network specializing in business news, reports Standard & Poor's has downgraded government debt in Europe. The article says:
S&P lowered its long-term rating on Cyprus, Italy, Portugal and Spain by two notches, and cut its rating on Austria, France, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia by one notch.
That's today, looking to the future of Europe:
The credit-rating agency put all 14 euro-zone nations — Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain — on "negative" outlook for a possible further downgrade. Germany was the only country to emerge totally unscathed with its triple-A rating and a stable outlook.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Perils of Cruising

As regular readers know, the DrsC spend a reasonable part of each year on cruise ships. That makes an article like this Associated Press piece for Yahoo News hit very close to home.

A Costa ship, the Costa Concordia, ran aground off Italy, tore a big hole in the hull, then maneuvered into shallow water where she rolled over on her side. See the pix in the article, they are no joke - scary.

Particularly nasty is that there are questions about whether the ship had yet held its evacuation drill. Most ships do this either before, or immediately after, leaving the dock at the beginning of the cruise. Parent company Carnival needs to take a close look at Costa management, which may not be doing a good job.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ron Paul: Two Views

COTTonLINE has commented on the Ron Paul phenomenon on several occasions. Two respected columnists for The Washington Post have written quite different analyses of the Ron Paul Libertarian movement. I read them and ended up agreeing with both.

Charles Krauthammer writes a grudgingly admiring column which focuses on the success Paul has had in building a movement. Dr.K. sees Ron Paul trying to influence the direction of the Republican Party, in the same way Jesse Jackson influenced the Democratic Party.

Michael Gerson writes a much more negative analysis of the very politically incorrect views of that movement. Rejections of Lincoln and Reagan, isolationism, and making excuses for radical Islamism are only some of the far-out Paul positions listed by Gerson.

Gerson is of course right; Paul and his followers have espoused some weird and awful stuff. And Krauthammer is also right; Paul's angry band is organized and growing. It will be interesting to see how the GOP reacts to (and civilizes) this movement.

Read them both and see what you think.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Seib: GOP More Blue Collar

Wall Street Journal political columnist Jerry Seib writes that the GOP is becoming a more blue collar party. He wonders if that will make it one in which populist, anti-capitalist rants will prove popular. He gives as examples the Gingrich attacks on Romney.

Maybe yes, maybe no; what I know for sure is that COTTonLINE will stick with capitalism. I spent thirty years extolling its virtues, and I did so willingly, believing in what I sold. If the GOP becomes anti-capitalist, then the party and I will part company.

Capitalism produces more total wealth because it conforms to human nature. Socialism doesn't work well because it asks of human beings behaviors they don't naturally produce. Giving people things they haven't earned is a way to ruin them, to destroy their work ethic.

Big Earners Bail Out

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has an article you should read about how the successful are leaving their neighbor, California. They conclude by welcoming these migrants to Nevada, the Silver State.

The nice people in Texas and Florida could extend the same welcome, as both are also Sun Belt states with no state income tax.

Who Supports Ron Paul?

Jonathan S. Tobin takes a somewhat negative view of the Ron Paul phenomenon in this article for Commentary. He sees much of the Paul support coming from Democrats and apolitical kids who want pot legalized.

Tobin believes that Paul's strong showing in IA and NH is a result of those contests being "open." That is, being contests where Democrats or independents may choose to show up and vote in the GOP primary. He notes that most states remaining are "closed," only registered Republicans may vote in their primaries.

It is difficult to imagine many serious Republicans voting for Paul, most of his votes must come from elsewhere. Tobin may have identified the source; we will learn the answer in the next couple of months.

The "British" Accent

Natalie Wolchover writes in Life's Little Mysteries that what we think of as the upper class British accent developed after the U.S. won its independence. She holds that the American accent of today (other than Boston and greater New York City) closely resembles how the Brits formerly spoke. Who knew?

The difference is whether the language is rhotic or non-rhotic - ours is rhotic, theirs isn't. "Rhotic" means the letter r is pronounced "in words like hard and winter," a non-rhotic accent doesn't pronounce the r.

Film Review: Unstoppable

The other DrC and I watched the DVD version of the film Unstoppable Wednesday evening. It stars Denzel Washingon and Chris Pine as a freight train crew trying to stop a runaway train loaded with hazardous cargo before it destroys a Pennsylvania city. Rosario Dawson plays their dispatcher.

The action is non-stop, the story is believable, and the acting is decent. There is plenty of railroad jargon and hardware to watch in action. The film is particularly interesting to the part of every boy (and some girls) that loves trains. We both liked it a lot.

VDH: Iran May Attack

Victor Davis Hanson writes for The Hoover Institution's Defining Ideas journal that Iran may make the same miscalculations that were made by China invading Korea, by Egypt in the Yom Kippur War, Argentina in the Falkland Islands, and Iraq in invading Kuwait. Hanson's conclusion will give you pause:
An Iranian attack on a U.S. vessel would be an insane act that would ensure that Iran paid a heavy price for its folly—or so we think. But to Iran, there are other considerations, with ample historical precedent, that make what we consider to be unthinkable perhaps not all that unthinkable at all.
We should not shrug off the possibility of Iran initiating hostilities. Hanson draws some interesting parallels between Iran and those earlier aggressors.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Let me see if I understand what is going on. It seems Michelle Obama is angry because people see her as an "angry black woman." That appears to be a self-fulfilling prophesy, does it not? See the Associated Press story on Yahoo News.

She is a black woman and says she is angry so...how else should she be seen? I fear most people's attitudes toward her were pretty much set in cement when, in February, 2008, she made that "For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country" wisecrack. (Source: Fox News).

Garrett: Paul Powerful

Ron Paul, for reasons that are unclear to me, is popular with the young - seemingly the only GOP candidate who is. Major Garrett of National Journal writes that Romney needs to make peace with Paul in order to get that youth support for his campaign. Read what Garrett says, it makes sense.

Weird Science Revisited

Guess what? People who don't own a car or TV are less likely to have a heart attack. They spend less time sitting and more time walking or riding a bike. See the article from Agence France Press on Breitbart.

I write this from CA, a place where almost everyone including the very poor own both car and TV. There are few places in the U.S. where one can manage a life without a car, oddly San Francisco is one of them.

TVs are very cheap entertainment; a few years ago I bought a little color set for maybe $70. Virtually the only U.S. people without TVs are anti-entertainment cranks and the homeless.

Pakistani Intolerance

Forbes isn't the first source I'd think of when seeking an article about teaching religious intolerance in Pakistan. Nevertheless, if you wonder why we have so much trouble with Pakistan this piece will inform you. It turns out the public schools are as discriminatory as the madrassas.

Nothing to See Here Folks, Move Along

Roger Simon, whose writing for Politico often isn't popular with conservatives, says Romney has it wrapped up and the others could just go home. I believe he overstates for effect, which is fine, but he may not be exaggerating after all.

Particularly telling was this bit:
At a dinner of national reporters gathered around a table in an expense-account restaurant in downtown Manchester a few days ago, the talk was not about who might upset Romney in New Hampshire, who might beat him in South Carolina or who might edge him in Florida. The talk was about who Romney might select as his running mate.

New Hampshire Votes

New Hampshire held the nation's first primary election today (Iowa does caucuses instead). Mitt Romney took 39.4% of the vote, Ron Paul came in second with 22.8%, Jon Huntsman got 16.8%, followed by Newt Gingrich at 9.4%, Rick Santorum at 9.3%, and Rick Perry got 0.7%. These results reflect 95% of the precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press and Google.

My reactions are these: Santorum lost his Iowa momentum. Romney kicked butt, as expected. Paul did not exceed expectations, but seems to attract young voters - not sure why since he's a cranky old guy. Huntsman got a boost but would have been more impressive if he' beaten Paul.

Perry put in no effort and his results reflect that; he's spent the week in South Carolina where he believes he has a much better chance. If Perry does poorly in SC expect him to quit. Ditto Gingrich, both he and Perry expect South Carolina to be where they "catch fire." My guess...they're deluding themselves.

What interests me is that each of these candidates speaks to a distinct segment of the GOP. I stand by my prediction that Romney will be the nominee, unless he says something monumentally stupid.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Brooks: Missing Liberals

The New York Times' David Brooks has a column on how "rent seeking" has contaminated the image of Washington and thus reduced the number of liberals. Oddly, he doesn't define rent seeking very clearly. Wikipedia defines it as
Manipulating the social or political environment in which economic activities occur, rather than by creating new wealth. For example, spending money on political lobbying in order to be given a share of wealth that has already been created.
The point of Brooks' column is to answer the question "where have all the liberals gone?" His response:
Life is unfair. Republican venality unintentionally reinforces the conservative argument that government is corrupt. Democratic venality undermines the Democratic argument that Washington can be trusted to do good.
Not all of his columns are good, but this is a good one.

The Bear Growls

As we make the switch from the end of one year to the beginning of the next, everybody (almost) makes predictions for the year ahead. Would you like to see a very negative forecast? Here it is, on the Business Insider website in an article which quotes Nomura's Bob Janjuah. He writes:
I think Q1 is going to be extremely bearish for risk, for equities, for the periphery, for the euro, for credit spreads, etc. The real pain may only be seen in March, when I expect the hard Greece default to happen. In Q1 I expect the S&P will trade down to/below 1000.
I hope he is wrong. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

More Weird Science

Researchers from the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relation have discovered that having power makes people feel taller. It sorta makes sense but is also amusing.

Short but powerful Emperor Napoleon must have felt he was of normal or greater height. See the article at the U.K.'s Daily Mail website.

Gerson Likes Mitt

Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson writes in support of the Mitt Romney candidacy. He makes some valid points about what an improbably good job Romney and his organization have done.

However, Barack Obama ran an amazingly good campaign in 2008 and many believed that meant he'd be a good president. They were wrong. This recent example makes one hesitant to predict presidential performance based on campaign excellence.

Fear This

U.S. News & World Report has a Paul Bedard story reporting their year end poll results. Team Obama won't like the results.
When asked what news event they fear most about 2012, Americans by a margin of two-to-one said Obama's reelection. (snip) Nearly half of Americans 65 and older said Obama's reelection was their top fear, 39 percent of those making $75,000 or more agreed.
Older Americans and people who make at least $75k are those most likely to vote. Perhaps the debaters who said anybody on this stage could beat Obama were right. Wouldn't that be nice?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Spengler: No Turkish Delight

David Goldman, who writes under the pen name Spengler for the Asia Times, takes a look at the politics and economy of Turkey and doesn't like anything he sees. He declares the Turkish government to be much less than democratic, something all careful observers have noticed.

Goldman then does an analysis of the Turkish economy - fiscal and monetary policy - and concludes Turkey is headed for an economic disaster. You don't have to take his word for it, he gives you the data, mostly from the Central Bank of Turkey. Goldman/Spengler concludes:
A disaster is in the making. Leave aside the economic ills of the southern Mediterranean generally, which will impinge Turkey's exports (about half of which go to the European community): Turkey's financial system is reaching the end of the rope. A sudden adjustment in the current account accompanied by large-scale bankruptcies among Turkish businesses and widespread unemployment will make 2012 an ugly year for the Turkish economy, and an even uglier year for Turkish politics.
A year from now we'll see if he is correct.

Let's Be Fair

The other day, talking to the Nashua Chamber of Commerce, Mitt Romney spoke the words "I like being able to fire people." They will be used against him unfairly.

You need to hear what he really was saying which was this:
I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means that if you don't like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know if someone doesn't give me the good service I need, I want to say, you know, I'm going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.
In other words, he likes having more than one provider to choose among - who doesn't? He may like to fire people, but that isn't what he said.

Nevertheless, unscrupulous people will take those six words out of context and use them against Mitt on behalf of other candidates. You need to know what he really said and meant, now you do. The source article is from Yahoo News.

Balz: Romney Authenticity Issues

The Washington Post's Dan Balz writes that Mitt Romney has authenticity issues; voters aren't sure he understands their lives and problems. It's a good article.

Balz says Romney's background is unlike those of middle class Americans, an accurate claim. On the other hand, even fewer Americans have a life history like the president's.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure anyone recently has accused President Obama of having voter empathy. Perhaps this election will be one in which neither candidate truly "feels your pain."

Debate Coach Analysis

A national award-winning debate coach has written an analysis of the last two pre-New Hampshire debates. His conclusion: Romney does the best job of handling attacks and criticism, using a "backward-step-pivot-forward" technique that debate coaches prefer.

This suggests Romney has taken the trouble to prepare carefully, as any candidate should. See the article by Todd Graham on the CNN Opinion website.

The Other Side

I've run some anti-Romney stuff recently, here is an article from Business Insider that says in person Mitt is an impressive dude, looks and acts more presidential than many of the others. Hey, that is not chopped liver.

Rush: Dems Want Mitt

I know you have an opinion of Rush Limbaugh; people like or hate him. Whatever your opinion, one thing you cannot deny: the Rushman spends much time every day thinking about national politics.

For what it's worth, El Rushbo thinks the Dems want to run against Mitt Romney. Here is the quote from The Rush Limbaugh Show transcript of January 9, 2012:
For months I have been telling you that the Democrats want Romney.
Factor that opinion into your calculations as you decide whom to support.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Continuing Good News

Columnist Don Surber who writes for the Charleston, WV Daily Mail, analyzes the most recent Gallup poll numbers. He finds President Obama is still in what President George H.W. Bush once called "deep doodoo."

In most cases Obama's current approval numbers are substantially lower than the vote totals he got from each group in 2008. The eventual Republican nominee will need this kind of help to win. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

A Long War Milepost

The Islamic rebel group in Nigeria is named Boko Haram, which a BBC News Africa article says translates as "Western education is forbidden." In the words of Arte Johnson's German soldier persona, this name is "verrrrry interrresting."

Western education is forbidden. At least some actors in the Long War recognize and admit to it being a clash of civilizations or cultures. To date, few on our side are yet willing to bite that bullet.

Nuke Iran Nukes?

Politico has an article considering the possibility that Israel might use its nuclear weapons against the hardened nuclear sites in Iran. This is thought to be possible in the event that the U.S. will not assist Israel in bombing Iran's bomb-making sites.

Use of nukes is an issue that has arisen in the GOP debates. I expect surfacing the possibility is another step in the psywar aimed at the mullahs in Iran or at a U.S. president, or both.

Reason for Romney

RealClearPolitics' Sean Trende explains what he calls "the real reason" Romney is in the lead. The article is only for the real politics wonks among you - it's the political equivalent of "inside baseball."

The bottom line of Trende's article is the embarrassing reason Romney is successful in 2012:
Due to some historical accidents and bad luck for Republicans, their bench is incredibly weak.
Everyone loves a sports metaphor. That said, 2012 is a terrible year for the GOP to have a weak bench.

Take Aim, Shoot Own Foot

The Republican Party seems about to nominate as its candidate for president the godfather of the Massachusetts state health care plan that became the model for Obama's widely despised national health care plan.

How can the GOP run against Obama's most unpopular action - Obamacare - with a candidate who refuses to repudiate Romneycare? It's crazy, nutty, nonsensical.

Quote of the Day

Cartoon character Damon Thomas, from the Day by Day strip by Chris Muir, dated 8 January 2012, commenting on the lack of objectivity of the press:
You know what the difference is between an MSM reporter and Oprah? A hundred pounds.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Paulistas on the Fringe

In China and India people don't much like having daughters. In both countries many girl babies are aborted and many more are carried to term but abandoned or given up for adoption.

The reasons in the two countries are somewhat different but the results are the same. This is a sad business, one that ultimately will be destructive to countries where it happens.

Now people campaigning for Ron Paul have criticized Jon Huntsman for having two adopted daughters, one each from India and China. Huntsman is P.O.'ed about this criticism and he has every right to be mad.

Paul has blown it off as craziness done by extreme supporters. Maybe...but Paul has a track record of attracting fringe supporters, this isn't the first time. You can see a story about this here at RealClearPolitics.

Nothing New Here

Did you see where Los Angeles Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala resigned after it was revealed that he fathered two now-teenage children? Read the story in The Washington Post.

My reaction is that Bishop Zavala was following a quite old Roman Catholic tradition; there have even been several popes with children. Go here to see a Wikipedia list of sexually active popes.

I'd rather Bishop Zavala fathered children than molested them, as have many priests. Better a parent than a pedophile.

New Patent, Old Idea

This CBS Seattle News site has a story about Microsoft patenting a feature for GPS devices that would create routes avoiding high-crime areas, aka "ghettos." I'll bet many will view this feature as discriminatory or apartheid-like. Many more will like it a lot.

As a GPS mod it may be very new, as an idea it is at least decades old. In the two years I spent in the greater Washington, DC area working for USDA in Hyattsville, MD, I would once or twice a week commute to the USDA headquarters building downtown on the mall, across from the Smithsonian.

The USDA shuttle bus we rode down and back did not take the most direct route, which would have gone through lots of ghetto. Instead it went out of the way to go via parts of northeastern DC that were then relatively "safe."

Safe areas included Catholic University and associated seminaries, the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a cemetery and a couple of black middle class neighborhoods. Only the last mile or so was through what you'd call a poor section. We scooted through that as quickly as we could and arrived in downtown alongside Union Station.

At the time I had memorized the route so I too could drive down to the Federal area safely in my own car. I couldn't find the route today, decades later.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Recess Appointments

The President has made so-called "recess appointments" to the CFPB and NLRB during a time when the Senate was technically, if not literally, in session. These actions will almost surely go to the Supreme Court, after slogging through the lower courts.

Whether this president will still be in office by the time the Supremes get the case is a good question? Answer: probably not. Will a change of president make the case moot? Again, probably not.

Quote of the Day

Jacob Weisberg, writing in Slate, makes a point of journos' vested interest in playing up the "horserace" aspects of the candidate selection process.
Hence the media’s pretense of taking seriously a succession of nonviable candidates with outlandish views. Rick Santorum is not, under any circumstances, going to be the GOP nominee.

Brooks Admits Error

New York Times columnist David Brooks has admitted he misjudged Barack Obama. Politico quotes Brooks from the Laura Ingraham radio show:
I still like him and admire him personally, but he’s certainly more liberal than I thought he was.
Then Brooks explains the President's inactivity in this interesting way:
He's more liberal than he thinks he is. He thinks he’s just slightly center-left, but when you get down to his instincts, they’re pretty left. And his problem is that he can’t really act on them, because it would be political disaster. And so that means, I think right now he’s doing very little, proposing very little.
To be sure, "right now he's doing very little" but imagine what a nightmare he'll be if reelected with no further worries about electability.

Santorum Not PC

The Rick Santorum boom happened too close to the Iowa caucuses for people to learn of the more far-out things he's said. This article from The Week, in Yahoo News, gives you nine examples of Santorum letting his mouth run without first putting his brain in gear.

Santorum manages to criticize gays, working moms, birth control, Palestinians, Mormons, abortion, and blacks. On the other hand he defends the Crusades. While you may agree with some of these viewpoints, I'm sure you recognize the poor political judgment his saying them in public represents.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Economic Mobility

Hey, there, demography fans! Here is another slice through the population data, this time looking at income mobility with a social class bias and written by Jason DeParle for The New York Times.

Given the Gray Lady's current set of leftish biases, you can imagine DeParle worked hard to find evidence of social immobility in the U.S. vis-a-vis Europe and the other English-speaking countries. By focusing on the very top and very bottom he found what he wanted.

DeParle did admit that in the great middle, the U.S. is still mobile. He writes:
Middle America remains fluid. About 36 percent of Americans raised in the middle fifth move up as adults, while 23 percent stay on the same rung and 41 percent move down, according to Pew research. The “stickiness” appears at the top and bottom, as affluent families transmit their advantages and poor families stay trapped.
Most of us are neither in the top nor bottom tenth of the income distribution; economic mobility remains a reality for us - no surprise. You have to get to the second page of the article to find this quote, that's the Times' liberal bias at work. If you read all the way to the end, it is a decent article worth your time.

More 2012 Predictions

Paul Brandus, who writes for The Week, has an article here found on Yahoo News, with political predictions for 2012. Two of his three are boilerplate; he predicts the GOP will take control of the Senate and keep control of the House, albeit by a smaller margin. Virtually all pundits make these same two forecasts.

His third prediction - who will win the presidency - is shakier, something he admits. He predicts Obama will win reelection by narrowly beating Romney.

Brandus lists several factors against reelection: low approval ratings, high misery index, and a feeble economy. Plus he notes "Romney's views correlate very closely with most Americans, and Obama's do not."

Accurately, he says neither man will arouse much voter enthusiasm and thus turnout will be lower. Brandus believes Obama starts with such high approval that, in spite of all of the foregoing, he will still narrowly win.

A greater possibility is that, between now and November, the economy will improve noticeably and Obama will take credit for that improvement.

Top Ten Risks for 2012

The Eurasia Group, a political risk consulting group, has released their top ten list of "things to worry about" for 2012. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

Six of their items are unexceptionable, including the following: the Eurozone, North Korea, Pakistan, China, Egypt, and Venezuela. If you've been paying attention to the world you know these are areas of concern.

Others they list need some explanation: the end of the 9/11 era, G-Zero and the Middle East, the United States, and South Africa. Their paper gives the reasoning for each.

I particularly like their idea of G-Zero, "the inability/unwillingness of major powers to take on new risks and burdens." They see this being particularly relevant to current political turmoil in the Middle East. I believe it is relevant to troubles in Africa as well. It isn't clear how they square the recent NATO involvement in Libya with G-Zero.

To their list of ten I would add the terrorist troubles brewing in Nigeria, a major oil producer. The drug cartel wars in Mexico are also problematic. If I had to pick a wild card it would be the odd nationalistic things happening in Hungary.

On the other hand, I would subtract the United States from their list. Whatever happens politically, the U.S. will muddle through economically. It continues to be the world's economic refuge, the place where money is sent to be more-or-less safe.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Trende Trend

Sean Trende is elections analyst for RealClearPolitics. Here he gives us his three takeaways from the Iowa caucuses. His items one and two are relatively prosaic: it was a good night for Romney, but Romney is not the inevitable nominee. You could argue with either but both are plausible.

His third takeaway would require a paradigm shift for both parties. Trende imagines that Santorum might herald the future of the GOP, even if he doesn't win the 2012 nomination.

Trende sees a possibility that the GOP will come to embody Santorum's mix of social conservatism and populism, a mix attractive to the white working class which the party increasingly represents. The shift could happen in this way:
The Democrats have been moving toward a top-bottom coalition of “New Economy” professionals and minority voters. A Santorum/Huckabee-esque Republican Party would probably hasten the exit of upscale suburbanites from the Republican coalition, and potentially reinvigorate the New Democrat approach to governing that dominated the party’s politics in the ’90s.
I'll believe it when I see it...but stranger things have happened.

Iowa Has Spoken

The Iowa results are in: Romney 25%, Santorum 25%, Paul 21%, Gingrich 13%, Perry 10%, Bachmann 5%, and Huntsman 1%. Romney beat Santorum by something like 8 votes to be the technical winner, effectively they tied.

Santorum benefited by having the last "surge" before the caucuses occurred. Huntsman can shrug off these results as he did not campaign in Iowa. However he'd better do well in New Hampshire if he plans to continue in the race.

The Iowa GOP can breathe a sigh of relief that Ron Paul did not win; that would have been a mess. An analysis of Paul supporters could suggest whether they are likely to vote and for whom when once again their guy isn't the nominee.

What I find amazing is that the top two finishers only split half the votes between them. Fully half of Iowa's Republicans wanted someone other than Romney or Santorum. Almost thirty percent of the Iowa GOP went for one of the last four finishers, the also-rans.

I believe this is more evidence, if anyone needed it, that many GOP voters aren't in love with the choices available this year. The 2012 ballot is going to be a vote against rather than a vote for. Voters will go for the new guy because they're tired of the old guy.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Strassel: "Mr. Good Enough"

The Wall Street Journal's Kim Strassel sums up the pre-Iowa GOP campaign and declares Mitt Romney "Mr. Good Enough." Not outstanding, not charismatic, but perhaps good enough to win the nomination, if not necessarily the election. Her conclusion:
In a presidential election, good enough might not be enough to win.

Monday, January 2, 2012

More on China's Problems

On Christmas Eve day, just over a week ago, we wrote of trouble in the housing market of China. Now an article in Foreign Policy by Gordon G. Chang takes a very gloomy view of China's political and economic situation in 2012. Here is an example:
Since late September, economic indicators -- electricity consumption, industrial orders, export growth, car sales, property prices, you name it -- are pointing toward either a flatlining or contracting economy. Money started to leave the country in October and Beijing's foreign reserves have been shrinking since September.
I wonder how much of this is wishful thinking?

Fixing Flix

John Nolte, writing in Breitbart's Big Hollywood, comes up with several things Hollywood could do to reverse the decline of the movie business. Several of them have to do with a group of left-wing individuals trying to sell product to a center-right nation. No kidding.

Nolte also thinks real stories and real heroes might sell, along with real stars. Right again.

The article is too long, but his reasoning isn't bad. Speed read it unless you are a film maven. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Simon Calls the Primary

Roger Simon of Politico says Romney has the GOP nomination locked up, and hints he will be the next president. His reasoning is interesting, and possibly even correct. Do yourself a favor, read his article.

Does Romney = Kerry?

Joseph Curl who writes for The Washington Times here takes up the issue of Mitt Romney's similarities to John Kerry. Those similarities are both many and scary, he notes they are:
Two Boston blue-blood multimillionaires, spending summers in their island estates and winters in their mountain mansions; both are recidivist flip-floppers with long records of often indefensible 180s; and each was going up against a supremely unpopular — the catch word is “beatable” — president. Both are stiff, highly programmed and have problems connecting with voters.
On the other hand, they have differences and the question for the voters will be: Do those differences seem both substantial and important? Curl ends up concluding the voters can make the distinction and will see Romney as a better choice than Obama.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Romney Problems

Writing for The Weekly Standard, Jeffrey Anderson shows how Romney will be an easy target for Obama:
If one were going to design a Republican opponent tailor-made to President Obama’s liking, that opponent would be uniquely vulnerable to Obama’s main rhetorical thrust (making class-warfare arguments), uniquely unsuited to take clear aim at Obama’s least popular action as president (spearheading the passage of Obamacare), and uniquely strong in states that are unlikely to matter in the general election race. In all three of these ways, Romney is made to order for Obama.
The points are hard to argue against: Romney is wealthy, the father of Romneycare in Massachusetts, and strong in the northeast, which will vote Democratic regardless. Ouch.

Happy New Year!

COTTonLINE wishes all regular readers a Happy New Year! There is some chance it can be an improvement over 2011.

The politics now look like November's election may bring good news, keep fingers crossed. We've a good shot at taking the Senate and a fair shot at the White House.

The economy probably won't improve significantly, especially as Europe looks like it's headed back into recession and China also has problems. On the other hand, fewer American troops will be in harm's way overseas, that is good.

Both the Tea Party and Occupy movements show signs of winding down, Americans aren't big on movements. Hollywood films lose centrality in our entertainment firmament, people spend hours playing with their 'phones' that are really tiny computers.

POTUS Not Popular in Iowa

RealClearPolitics' Salena Zito has wandered the byways of Iowa and finds many who once voted for Obama now determined to try someone else. The article is mostly anecdotal but gives the flavor of the Iowa electorate. Team Obama cannot be pleased.