Saturday, June 30, 2012

Quote of the Day

Headline writers were the original Tweeters, the original creators of pithy sayings. This one from is from the U.K.'s Daily Mail, attributed to Kathy Gyngell; it needs no explanation:
Why are we surprised so many children are too badly behaved for school, when their parents are too busy to bring them up properly?
And then we blame the teachers. I could not have said it better if I tried for a week.

Friday, June 29, 2012

There Will Be Death Panels

I just saw a Washington Post article in which someone "fact checks" some Sarah Palin comments. I have no interest in the accuracy or otherwise of Gov. Palin's comments but it does prompt me to write about death panels.

The only way publicly funded health care can avoid going bankrupt is death panels. So-called death panels decide when further care is not cost-effective, that is, is unlikely to return the patient to reasonable health.

What people don't know is that some of this happens already. Decisions are made about the wisdom of providing additional treatment which will, perhaps, extend a dying person's life for another few days or weeks at vast cost. Or the decision of whether or not to continue life support for a brain-dead individual who is technically "alive," whose heart continues to beat.

Death panels apparently operate sub rosa in the U.K.'s National Health Service today, although they never talk about it.

Choosing a College Major

There is much talk about a bubble happening in college student loans. A RealClearPolitics article by Glenn Harlan Reynolds cites the example of a young woman who majored in religion and women's studies.

Time was when anybody with a college degree could get a job, for degrees were relatively rare. Then many people figured out that [degree = employability] and lots more people started getting them. Now employers don't want just any degree but a specific degree related to the position they wish to fill.

Back to Reynolds' example; who wants to hire someone with a dual major in religion and women's studies? In fact, wouldn't a resume with those majors listed flag someone you would not wish to hire? I believe they say "I'm a trouble-maker, a lawsuit waiting to happen."

COTTonLINE believes the day is long past when students can come to college, find what they love, major in it, and leave to find a good job using a degree with whatever major suits their passion.

Today, smart students early on go to the student placement center, find out what majors firms are coming to the university to recruit. They then limit their choices to that subset of college majors which are leading to employment.

If only engineering, computer science, business administration, and education majors are being actively recruited, smart students limit their choices to those fields of study.

Students who love some other field of study need to seriously consider whether it makes sense to borrow up to a hundred thousand dollars to learn something at which they will not be able to earn a living. Generally, the answer to that question should be "no."

This is particularly true since, as Reynolds notes, they will be stuck with the debt regardless of whether or not they go through bankruptcy.

Conservative Quote of the Day

Josh Kraushaar, writing in National Journal about the latest poll numbers:
The overall state-by-state numbers are good news for the Romney campaign. Obama's job approval is under 50 percent in all of them, and is in perilous territory in several must-win states. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the electoral math is looking better for Romney than Obama, given that several electorally-rich Democratic-friendly states - Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan -- now look like toss-ups.

Cook: High Floor, Low Ceiling

Charlie Cook is widely reputed to be one of the 2-3 best political analysts in the U.S. Cook calls this presidential election a close one.

Here in National Journal he says something interesting about President Obama's chances of reelection:
Obama has a high floor, meaning that he has a fervent base of support. He also has a low ceiling, meaning that he has large and adamant opposition. 
In other words, there are fewer people who don't already know how they'll vote in November. However, he reports that Obama's base is less excited about voting than is the Republican base.

Who Knows?

I've read lots of conservative pundit mumblings about the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare. They go both ways. Some like it, some hate it, some say they like it after first hating it.

Without citing all the various viewpoints (you can find them, as I did), let me summarize. Those who don't like the decision say Obama won, Roberts caved, it was Bush's fault for appointing Roberts, and voters will now decide they like the new law after all.

On the other hand, those who want to see the glass half full say we can blame Obama for a huge tax increase, that most employers will drop their health care plans now that state pools exist from which employees must purchase insurance, and that most importantly, Romney can run against Obamacare and be elected on a promise to cancel this unpopular law.

Who's right? Nobody knows. We will begin to learn the answer in roughly 130 days when we see who is elected. Given what Romney did with a similar law in Massachusetts, I'm not sure we know what he'll do if elected.

Damn ... we live in interesting times, don't we? As we once said in the days of radio, "stay tuned."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

SCOTUS Upholds Unpopular Obamacare

The Supreme Court today upheld the widely unpopular health care "reform" known as Obamacare. See this USA Today article for details. Oddly, Chief Justice Roberts (a conservative) voted with the four liberals to create the 5-4 majority in its favor.

Just to be clear, the Court's decision was not an endorsement of its fitness as policy, but merely a finding that the policy was lawful.

Now Obamacare's future is in the hands of the electorate. Republicans vow to repeal it, Democrats to support it. Polls continue to show Obamacare is unpopular, I've got to think the decision ends up being a plus for Republicans. We will know in roughly 130 days.

Meanwhile, the stock market reacted quite negatively to the Court's decision. See this Investors Business Daily article for more.

Better Late Than Never

The Summer Solstice occurred just over a week ago on June 20, 2012, and I failed to note its arrival here at COTTonLINE. Say "hello" to summer which officially started on that day.

I was traveling and had other things on my mind. Nevertheless, observing the arrival of the longest day of the year is an important milestone. Humans have been celebrating it for tens of thousands of years, according to archeological findings at places like Stonehenge.

Early humans moved out of the equatorial zones and into those regions where knowledge of the seasons is important for hunting, gathering and planting, not to mention staying warm or migrating. At that point knowing when seasons would occur and how long they'd last became crucial to survival.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pipes: Israel Can Raid Iran

A Hoover Institution foreign policy expert, Daniel Pipes, writing in National Review Online, looks at the likely Iranian response to an Israeli attack on its nuclear sites. Pipes concludes that an Iranian response would probably be manageable and of a non-apocolyptic nature.

Would there be deaths and unpleasantness? Yes. Would these be widespread and of large numbers? In Pipes' opinion, no. He particularly believes Iran would be careful not to drag other nations into the conflict.

Most interestingly, Pipes quotes with approval the words of Eisenstadt and Knights concerning the alternative to a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, namely:
Apocalyptic Islamists controlling nuclear weapons.
I wonder, do Iranian leaders believe the end-times rhetoric they spout, or is it just conventional wisdom they need to espouse as serious Shia? Are they willing to jump headlong into acts that will (or at least "can") result in the end of Iran and most of its people - regional nuclear war - because this final battle between good and evil is predicted in the Koran?

I certainly understand why Israeli leaders don't want to find out the hard way that these beliefs are sincere, that they mean what they say. On the other hand, Arabic is a language of hyperbole, of saying more than is meant. It may be that Farsi is the same.

Israel's Nukes

A question I don't see much discussed is this. Israel has apparently assembled a group of nuclear weapons. Under what conditions would they use those weapons? Or are they simply a deterrent never to be used? 

Does an aide follow Netanyahu around with nuclear launch codes? That is, someone analogous to our president's military aide who carries what is called "the nuclear football." 

If there are conditions under which Israel would use nukes, have those conditions been communicated directly or indirectly to regional leaders like Jordan's king, the ruling royals in Saudi Arabia, the ayatollahs of Iran or the military junta in Egypt? Or does Israel deem it best to keep these conditions secret, keep the opposition guessing what will trigger regional apocalypse? 

Saving the Euro

An opinion column in The New York Times makes a very intriguing suggestion for saving the euro. The notion is that Germany leave the euro zone, thereby effectively devaluing the euro and making it easier for the euro countries now in danger to refinance their sovereign debt.

Griffin and Kashyap's core idea is this: preserving the European Union is more important than preserving the euro in its present format. They note that the U.K. functions as a key E.U. member while not being part of the euro group, and that a Germany once again using the mark could do likewise.

They believe it will be less damaging to the euro scheme for Germany to exit, rather than for other nations which cannot cope economically to leave. This latter outcome they believe can lead to the European Union's demise. Theirs is an idea worth considering.

Friedman on Arab Freedom

The New York Times' Tom Friedman writes about the direction the new government in Egypt should take, and the other Arab Spring governments as well:
The principles identified by the 2002 U.N. Arab Human Development Report, which was written by and for Arabs. It said that for the Arab world to thrive it needs to overcome its deficit of freedom, its deficit of knowledge and its deficit of women’s empowerment. And, I would add, its deficit of religious and political pluralism. We should help any country whose government is working on that agenda — including an Egypt led by a Muslim Brotherhood president — and we should withhold our support from any that is not.
That's easy for Friedman to say, but what of our decades-old relationship with the very undemocratic and unpluralistic rulers of of Saudi Arabia? Or the king of Jordan?

Should we withhold our current support from them? That would be a dramatic change in U.S. policy.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Travel Blog VI

Western Wyoming: The trip to eastern Germany and the Czech Republic has concluded, and we're once again home. This final travel blog entry contains some wrap-up thoughts.

First, flying west around a third of the globe creates an amazingly long day. We took off in mid-morning in Prague, flew to Frankfurt, changed planes, flew from Frankfurt in early afternoon, and landed in Denver in late afternoon of the same day. Finally we left Denver in early evening and arrived in Jackson in mid-evening and drove home just over an hour arriving home around eleven p.m. Our Monday, June 25th lasted roughly 32 hours. No wonder we get jet lag.

One of the things I look for whenever overseas is the extent to which English has permeated the local signage. There is significantly less English in eastern Germany and Prague than in western Germany. The reason: because Russian, not English, was the second language there from 1945 to 1990. Whatever Russian had permeated the local signage is completely gone now, but English has had 45 fewer years to influence the local dialog.

Throughout Europe many firms use English in their signs to seem "international" and trendy. There is an underlying assumption that most people understand a fair amount of basic English, although my encounter with a hotel maid suggests that assumption may be an exaggeration.

Klavan on Candidate Character

Andrew Klavan, writing for, about the campaign issue of presidential candidate character:
I’ll make no claims for Mitt Romney on this score. (snip) I’m willing to stipulate he’s no better than any other politician. But on the very surface of it, based on his own words and actions and what we know, President Obama clearly does not live up even to that exceedingly low standard. 
After reviewing several examples of Obama failures, Klavan concludes:
Whatever his foibles and flaws, it seems pretty clear that Romney has the character to be president. Barack Obama has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he does not.
This column is worth your time and effort. Hat tip to for the link.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Undecided Quarter?

This Associated Press article claims a quarter of the electorate is undecided. I don't believe it; I don't think anything like a quarter of the likely voters are undecided.

I'm willing to believe a quarter of the adult citizens may be undecided, I just don't think many of them are likely voters. Probably half of those are people who will have better things to do when the time comes.

Another half are people who cannot stand Obama but can't bring themselves to vote for a Mormon - likely result: nonvoting. Some Ron Paul supporters may stay home too, as they should. Neither candidate represents their views.

In short, I believe almost all of the likely voters have made up their minds by now. Instead of a quarter of voters, I would guess the true "persuadables" equal 1 or 2%. Both candidates will spend a lot of money trying to reach those few, meanwhile boring the rest of us to tears with their TV commercials.

Brooks: GOP Favors Restructuring

David Brooks has an interesting New York Times column in which he believes the Republican Party favors a  radical restructuring of the economy. He says:
Republicans, meanwhile, envision comprehensive systemic change. The G.O.P. vision is of an entirely different magnitude: replace the tax code, replace the health care system and transform entitlements.
You can understand why Romney doesn't spell that out in detail. I'm not at all certain the electorate is ready to accept such a program.

Krauthammer: Presidential Malfeasance

Charles Krauthammer writes for The Washington Post. He has an excellent column about President Obama's illegal maneuvers vis-a-vis illegal immigrants.

Dr.K asks what would have happened if a Republican president had announced he would not collect capital gains taxes and not penalize those who failed to pay? He attributes this hypothetical to law professor John Yoo. Can you imagine the Democratic outrage, the demands for impeachment? How is this unlike what President Obama has done with respect to illegal immigration? Simply announced he will not enforce the law.

I suppose he believes it is too close to election time to trigger an impeachment. Perhaps he is correct. It is an ugly precedent.

Travel Blog V

Prague, Czech Republic: We go home tomorrow, I'm ready to head home. Tomorrow will be a very long day as we fly west chasing the sun around roughly 1/3 of the globe.

It will be three flights: Prague-Frankfurt, Frankfurt-Denver, and Denver-Jackson. I hope we fly over Greenland in daylight and clear weather as that can be spectacular viewing: hour after hour over enormous ice fields interrupted by tall mountains.

I've left my watch on Mountain time and used the rubric of "minus 4 hours" on my analog watch. In truth it is plus 8 hours but minus 4 is easier to compute using mental arithmetic.

Our flight leaves early so we may not get much breakfast. We'll get fed on the plane - Business Class all the way to Denver - but it may be the Europeans' idea of breakfast, which resembles the American/British idea of lunch - salad and cold meats.

When Americans say "continental breakfast," they mean rolls and coffee. I'm not sure what continent they are referencing but it isn't Europe. These are the oddities of cross-cultural travel....

For pix of our recent travels, see the other DrC's blog at

Travel Blog IV

Prague, Czech Republic: The last day of cruising on the Elbe, the day at the southern end of the route they cruise, is the prettiest, most scenic, etc. everyone said so. Many folks were on the sundeck taking pix. Obviously, if you were doing the river cruise in the other direction, beginning in Prague and ending at Hamburg, the first day would be the best.

Then we went by bus to a place called Bastei Rocks that had amazing on-high views of what we in the American West call "hoo-doos" or rock formations that stand up vertically. Except these weren't red or yellow sandstone, but more like gray sandstone.

All of this was wrapped around a continuation of the Elbe with railroad tracks alongside; we were up so high the whole thing looking like a model train layout. These were some great views and a place to have lunch, too. Many in our party had a bratwurst and a beer, eaten outdoors in a biergarten-like setting, the DrsC had ice cream cones.

We arrived here in Prague in beautiful, shirt-sleeve weather, real Goldilocks stuff - not too hot, not too cold. Prague is a pretty city in the European way of being pretty; which is to say, nothing much modern, lots of ornate old stuff.

Our guide says they're still trying to clean up Prague after roughly 50 years of neglect under the Communists. They've had over 20 years since Communism went bye-bye but still haven't made much progress. I guess they have needed to work on neglected sewers, water systems, schools, and roads more than facade clean-up.

For reasons unclear to me, Communists never seemed to do much maintenance. I'm sure there is an obscure explanation buried somewhere in the "Communist rationale." I'd bet it was a need to show progress when little was possible, so emphasis was placed on showy new projects at the expense of keeping up existing plant.

This is a characteristic of former Communist states we've seen elsewhere - particularly in Russia. Moscow is littered with enormous apartment blocks looking really run-down and nasty.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Beach Boys

You may or may not like The Washington Post's George Will's politics (right wing) but he writes very well about other issues, including baseball. Here he writes about the Beach Boys as they set out to tour after 50 years of performing. If you loved their music "back when" give the article a scan.

Kuhn: Obama Losing White Support

David Paul Kuhn who analyzes politics for RealClearPolitics crunches the numbers and concludes that Obama has lost white support whereas Romney hasn't won it. Does that leave you confused? It does me.

Go read his article and see if you can figure it out for yourself. I find it confusing. Kuhn is normally clear as a bell, not this time.

Why They Hate Us

This CNSNews article reports research with one take on "why some Muslims hate America" which I'd rephrase as "why most Muslims hate America." But then, hating America has been popular in parts of Latin America and elsewhere.

COTTonLINE takes the view that countries hate America as a way of explaining why they are poor and we are not. If America would only behave itself they'd have plenty and we'd have less, much less.

Islam tells its adherents that by adhering to Islam they are superior and should rule the world. For the last several hundred years that has not been the case. They've been poor and benighted.

The reason must be that the West, especially America, has been holding them down, keeping them from their natural dominance. Alas, that is not the case.Not all cultures are equally adept at the creation and collection of wealth.

Warmth in Arctic

Expatica reports that the Arctic has gone through quite warm, ice-free periods. I believe we already knew this but further scientific confirmation is good. 

They established this via drilling into the sediments of a metiorite-formed lake The article speculates on several possible causes.

One obvious comment: these warm periods were not human-caused.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Travel Blog III

Meissen, Germany: We sit here on the Elbe tied up alongside. This is a more narrow river than many others in Europe. So we have a smaller ship/boat/whatever. There is commercial river traffic but much less of it than on the Rhine, more like the level we saw on the Seine or perhaps the Moselle.

This is the town of the famous two crossed blue swords on the china or porcelain. We have a rainy day so the tourists took umbrellas. I'm not doing much of anything, just hanging out in the lounge, staying dry and warm.

Yesterday we did a substantial amount of daylight cruising, and I was amazed at how flat the land along the Elbe turns out to be. That would have to be the case since the river has effectively no locks.

This is very unlike the Rhine which is "managed" from one end to the other, Rhine cruising is mostly navigating a series of lakes created by low-level dams and locks. The Elbe was probably the first navigated river in Europe, ready to go as-is without the creation of dams and locks.

River cruising is the smoothest, quietest, most pleasant cruising there is, it beats ocean cruising since there is always something onshore to see. And if there is ever a problem, the captain has only to drive the prow into the bank so we can walk ashore.

Yes, there are life jackets or flotation devices as they're called in this era of lawsuits. We even tried them on, not sure why. Oh, well, it didn't hurt.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Not Doing His Job

The president announces he will not deport certain young illegal immigrants. Now a group of 20 Republican Senators have written him a letter asking him to do his job and deport such individuals. See The Hill story for details.

As we've noted earlier in COTTonLINE, we believe willful failure to enforce lawful laws with which the president doesn't happen to agree, or in this case, finds it expedient to disagree with for political reasons, is grounds for impeachment. It is a violation of the oath of office. Is anybody in Congress game?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Barone Wisdom: Angry Money

Michael Barone coins a new term: angry money. That is, the donations of those opposed to the incumbent. For RealClearPolitics, he says:
The apparent Republican edge in spending this year, like the Democratic edge in 2004, was evidence of widespread and heartfelt opposition to an incumbent president. It's a sign of civic health, not sickness.

Quote of the Day

Gov. Sarah Palin talking about the Breitbart legacy and quoted in this Breitbart Big Government site:
In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
Every now and then that lady says something wonderful.

Test of Socialism

There are those who claim socialism has never had a good, thorough test of its effectiveness. If so, France is about to give it that test. Now we'll see how well it generates both wealth and fairness. See this Los Angeles Times article for details.

Socialists have majorities in both houses of the French national legislative body, plus the presidency and the mayorality of many major cities. If they can't make it work with that kind of majority, they simply cannot make it work period.

COTTonLINE's prediction: Socialists cannot make it work, because their underlying assumption of how human beings work is flawed. We are much more greedy than we are altruistic, although admittedly we are both to some degree.

France may be able to increase perceived fairness, we doubt they'll be able to increase wealth. That's our view, for what it's worth.

Euro Dodges First Bullet, More Coming

It appears the eurozone dodged a Greek bullet this past weekend, see the story in The Telegraph (U.K.). Now they can get braced for the next challenge - Spain. That story is here, also in The Telegraph. See also the Associated Press article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

Wonder what comes after Spain? Italy should follow after Spain, or maybe Portugal, or both. The eurozone contains no end of threats. The basic threat - lack of a unified budgetary policy - has not been repaired and political will to do so seems lacking.

At some point the German-in-the-street will get fed up with footing the bill for everybody else's profligacy, the question is when? If Herr and Frau Schmidt are going to bail out, sooner is better than later. Wading out into the middle of the swamp before giving up is bad strategy, giving out closer to shore is more likely to work. (Please pardon the overused metaphors.)

Travel Blog II

Wittenburg, Germany: We're sitting in the MS River Allegro tied up alongside in Wittenburg on the Elbe. I love the river ships/boats/whatever. I could spend the whole summer living on the rivers of Europe in these craft.

This one holds two buses full of people, those on the Rhine normally hold three buses full, the Elbe is a smaller river. Why "buses?" Well when it's necessary to take us somewhere too far to walk, they trot out buses and sizing ships to buses makes sense.

Oddly I shared that fact with a Program Director (guide) and she hadn't figured it out. Program Directors get hired based on being bilingual, not on being rocket scientists.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bad News in Egypt

The Muslim Brotherhood claims victory in the Egyptian presidency. This cannot be good news for the west.Think of it as a medium-sized defeat in the Long War. We hoped Mubarak's former functionary who was the other finalist would win - no such luck, according to this Associated Press story.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Travel Blogging I

Hamburg, Germany:  The DrsC are wandering again. We're in Hamburg on our way to an Elbe River cruise south in the general direction of Prague, although we won't get alll the way there by boat, the last leg is by bus.

Hamburg is an attractive city, not nearly as nasty looking as many old port cities have been. Count on the Germans to clean things up and make the buildings tidy and the streets clean. 

Germans even take showers more regularly than they once did, I was on the underground today and didn't smell BO even once.

The rest of the trip will be in the old East Germany, an area in which we've not traveled. That should be interesting. We get to see some storied places like Berlin, Potsdam, etc. 

Today we visited the world's largest toy train layout, it fills many rooms of an old warehouse. I expect eventually the other DrC will have pix on her website at

An Evil Precedent

Illegal immigration is, by definition, illegal. When things are illegal and we know they've been done we prosecute, don't we? Answer, not if we are President Obama and we want Hispanic votes. How about if he failed to prosecute Mafiosi because he wanted Sicilian votes? Isn't that sort of the same thing? Or Russian mobsters? Where does this end? 

Prosecutors work for the President and he's decided not to prosecute illegal immigration, to ignore violations of the law. In other words, not to do his job. That sounds like (a) political pandering, and (b) grounds for impeachment for simple failure to do one's job.

I believe the Republican majority in the House should bring charges of impeachment, charges which would not pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate.Let's put the Democrats on record as not being willing to enforce laws in which they don't believe. 

Does this mean a Republican president can use this as precedent to refuse to enforce laws in which he doesn't believe, for example organization rights for unions or habeas corpus for lefty trouble-makers? Down this road lies autocracy, a scary business altogether.

Falsehood Wrapped in Fallacy

On Tuesday we quoted The Washington Post's Dana Milbank saying some ugly things about POTUS, here he is again with more. He listened to Obama's "big speech" about matters economic and his verdict isn't pretty:
I had high hopes for President Obama’s speech on the economy. But instead of going to Ohio on Thursday with a compelling plan for the future, the president gave Americans a falsehood wrapped in a fallacy.

The falsehood is that he has been serious about cutting government spending. The fallacy is that this election will be some sort of referendum that will break the logjam in Washington.
That is just the killer quote, the rest of the article is good, too.

Ya Think?

A Jerusalem Post article reports a poll shows most Israelis think a President Romney would be more friendly to Israel than a President Obama. Are you surprised? I'm not.

Romney and Bibi Netanyahu (i.e., the Israeli PM) were buddies when both worked for Boston Consulting Group.They have stayed in touch ever since, according to The New York Times. There is no similar tie between Obama and Bibi.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Quote of the Day

Michael Barone, one of the savviest political analysts, writes for the Washington Examiner. See his wisdom vis-a-vis the probable outcome of the 2012 vote:
In the last three presidential elections, the winning candidate has won a percentage of the popular vote identical to or within 1% of the percentage of the popular vote for the House of Representatives in the election held two years before. In this case, the November 2010 results are very different from 2008. In 2008 Obama won 53% of the popular vote. In 2010 House Democrats won 45% of the popular vote.

Unions Bail Out

USNews & World Report article says the AFL-CIO is taking its funds out of supporting the Democrats. This is just one more ugly thing for the Dems, in addition to all those we've listed recently. At some point they will have to begin panicking.

Business Week: We're Poorer

Your net worth includes your assets such as houses, cars, 401Ks, and stocks/bonds/mutual funds minus your liabilities which might include mortgage, car loan, and credit card debt. Peter Coy of Business Week writes that Americans' median net worth is lower today than in 1989. Ouch.

The article shows family net worth climbed until 2007 and then 2010. We had a property bubble that burst, and our property values declined precipitously. I believe we knew that, but Coy puts numbers to what we already knew.

Coy also notes that family net worth rose 62% from 1962 to 1983, but fell 12% from 1983 to 2010. Twelve percent isn't a big drop, but we were accustomed to it rising instead of falling.

This sort of number crunching can be misleading. Overall family net worth can fall while individual family worth increases because as people get older, they have more home equity and less owed on their mortgages. Their 401Ks and IRAs may get bigger, too.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cavuto: America IS Exceptional

Neil Cavuto of Fox News argues that the United States is indeed exceptional. He is taking issue with Bill Maher's notion that we should stop seeing ourselves that way.

I like what Neil says. I think he wins the argument. Go read the Cavuto column, I believe you will enjoy it.

Obama Losing Key Supporters

Matt Drudge links to several articles saying President Obama is losing support among various groups. For example, Business Insider says he's losing support among black voters in North Carolina.

We already knew Obama was losing support among white voters, but Gallup is saying it is getting worse among key groups: women with graduate degrees, young voters, and the nonreligious. And a Siena College poll reported by The Weekly Standard says Obama's support among Jewish voters in New York State has dropped 22%.

DrudgeReport also links to this BuzzFeed article which includes a memo from Democracy Corps (that's James Carville and Stan Greenberg, noted Democrat operatives) with the following rather dramatic wording:
We will face an impossible headwind in November if we do not move to a new narrative, one that contextualizes the recovery but, more importantly, focuses on what we will do to make a better future for the middle class.
Later they say of their survey respondents:
When asked whether Romney or Obama would do a better job on the economy, more chose Romney. That is some measure of the challenge we (Democrats) face, since many have heard the president's economic message.

Milbank Turns on POTUS

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank is normally a staunch supporter of the President. Yesterday he wrote a Post column that really dumps on Obama. He begins:
Job growth has stalled, the Democrats have been humiliated in Wisconsin, the attorney general is facing a contempt-of-Congress citation, talks with Pakistan have broken down, Bill Clinton is contradicting Obama, Mitt Romney is outraising him, Democrats and Republicans alike are complaining about a “cascade” of national-security leaks from his administration, and he is now on record as saying that the “private sector is doing fine.” Could it get any worse?
Milbank continues with apparent relish:
Obama learned that it could. His aides delivered the news to him that his commerce secretary had been cited for a felony hit-and-run after allegedly crashing his car three times over the weekend.
He concludes, with less glee:
This has been one of the worst stretches of the Obama presidency. In Washington, there is a creeping sense that the bottom has fallen out and that there may be no second term. Privately, senior Obama advisers say they are no longer expecting much economic improvement before the election.
I thought you might enjoy Milbank's gloomy ruminations.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A New Battlefield, an Old War

lt is time we talked about a new battleground in the never ending wars between humans - this one is virtual, in the electronic arena, the Internet. For example, see this ABC News article on Yahoo News.

We battle each other on land, on water, underground, in the air, under water, in space (in a limited way to date), and now in the man-created arena of electronic space. Of course, the Internet is also the universe COTTonLINE inhabits, with a bazillion other creations.

I've tried to list those battle arenas in the approximate order in which we engaged in them. It may be that war is the most distinctive human creation or, if not distinctive, certainly the most universally applied. That thought leaves me somewhat depressed.

On the other hand, perhaps it means we humans are merely the result of a not-always-attractive evolutionary impulse to be survivors. In the often brutally competitive environment we occupy, we are honed by evolution to battle anything in our way - storms, floods, famine, predators. For much of our history many of those predators have been human.

Unfortunately, evolution must work the same way everywhere, on every planet, creating creatures who are unrelentingly competitive. When we meet ETs we should expect them to be armed and dangerous, if not immediately, soon.

Not a happy thought, is it? And if the environment in which ETs developed was more brutal than ours, we should expect them to be even more aggressive and combative than ourselves ... a thought SciFi authors have explored.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Middle Class Rejects Class Warfare

Nolan Findlay, writing opinion for The Detroit News, has this to say about the Democrat's class warfare:
No matter how hard Democrats try to convince middle-income citizens that they are victims of the wealthy, they understand the real threat comes from a runaway government that wants to replace the American values that produced the world's broadest middle class with a nanny state that will drag everyone further down the ladder.

Irony Time

Naill Ferguson, writing for The Daily Beast, about the Euro zone's troubles:
If the disintegration of Europe kills the reelection hopes of a president Europeans fell in love with four years ago, it will be one of the supreme ironies of our time.

End Near for Public Sector Unions

From the beginning, COTTonLINE has argued against public sector unions. Their leverage is simply greater than that of private sector unions. The Boston Globe has a good article about the implications of the recall failure in Wisconsin. They conclude:
When labor and management bargain in the public sector, they are divvying up public funds, not private profits. Government bureaucrats don’t have to worry about losing business to their competitors; state agencies can’t relocate to another part of the country. There is little incentive to hold down wages and benefits, since the taxpayers who will be picking up the tab have no seat at the table. On the other hand, government managers have a powerful motivation to yield to government unions. Union members vote. 
And they don't even mention that public unions' coerced contributions provide the millions needed to get public officials reelected.

Quote of the Day

Editors of the Chicago Tribune, writing about the failed recall in neighboring Wisconsin, what it meant, and what it should tell President Obama to do:
A nation divided waits for the solutions-oriented, dare-to-lose leadership that Wisconsin voters convincingly endorsed. 
Umm ... well, yes ... except what about the last, lost three years?

Some Fun

Go read an article by Lloyd Green writing for Fox News entitled "Why Obama's coalition is unraveling." He has rounded up all the statistics that point to Obama doing poorly, and he unloads them at you one after another. It's fun.

Mostly what Green finds is that the upper income whites who voted for Obama in 2008 are moving away from him in 2012. It makes sense. 

In 2008 they were all "Let's give the promising black kid a chance" where in 2012 it's more like "We gave him the opportunity and he blew it. Who's next, that Mormon guy? Okay, let's give him a shot." 

One could wish Americans took the Presidency more seriously, but it seems they don't. Who knows? Maybe they're right and we're wrong. 


Recently Egyptian TV ran public service spots (govt. created) urging Egyptians not to talk with foreigners. Can you imagine anything more insane for a country mostly dependent on tourism for its income? Madness - the government finally woke up and ordered the ads off the air. See the story on the Associated Press website.

Egypt has some of the world's most spectacular antiquities; pyramids, temples, tombs, museums. People come from all over the world to see them. Various Egyptian tour guides speak all the world's major languages: English, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, Japanese, etc.

Egyptians who don't live in open-roofed mud brick homes along the banks of the Nile need to be aware of exactly from where their income comes. Directly or indirectly it comes from tourists.

All of the tens of thousands of owners of summer getaway condos along the Mediterranean beaches east of Alexandria need to understand that the Egyptian economy lives on the tourist dollar, euro, yen, pound, peso, etc.

For these reasons, as well as their own comfort, they need to get the nation settled down, calmed down. Most of us won't come if we are fearful of our safety.

Balz: A Bad Week for Dems

The Washington Post's Dan Balz is probably as good a MSM political reporter as we now have. Here he writes for WaPo a summation of all the troubles Team Obama and the Dems generally have had this past week. It could easily be described as the Dem's week from hell.

Balz lays out all the screw ups Obama and his surrogates did last week, and they were many. As we've noted earlier, probably the worst was saying the private sector was doing fine.

Nobody believes this as it turns out, not even the President if you believe his retraction (I don't). Balz charitably describes the comment as "unscripted," meaning POTUS wasn't reading some speechwriter's text at the time, but instead telling us what he believes.

Balz tells us Team Obama has fallen behind the Romney organization in fund raising.  Somewhere in the last 48 hours I heard it said Obama's main fundraising source will be Hollywood celebs.

Why aren't the scores of multi-millionaires in professional basketball and football kicking in a million each? Perhaps they aren't so invested in a second Obama term.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sad News

National Public Radio has at least one talk show with almost no left-wing political content: Car Talk with brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi, aka Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers. It is the only NPR show that the DrsC listen to since we gave up the weekend morning news shows a decade ago.

The sad news is that the brothers are retiring effective sometime this fall, according to this Los Angeles Times story. The program will go on for awhile using recycled material and I suppose we mostly won't notice much change, except for their oft-repeated exhortation to call the toll-free number; to be fair they should edit the "call us" out.

I wonder if they'll start pairing the original call with the Stump the Chumps outcome - that could be fun. Hat tip to for the link.

Climate Change ... or Not

We just came off a particularly warm winter for most of the country and I wasn't expecting this story. The Los Angeles Times reports that the polar sea ice off the northern coast of Alaska is the heaviest in ten years. They say:
While Canadian waters in the far North Atlantic have relatively low ice levels, Alaska is an iceberg — at least for now. 
Climate simply changes, and has done so forever, without our help. Our efforts seem puny by comparison with the planetary forces at work.

Are we changing the climate now? It is essentially impossible to know if we have an effect, and to assert we do without proof is hubris of a dramatic sort. Hat tip to for the link.

Later CBS News reports that we may have another El Nino this coming winter, according to NOAA scientists and the National Weather Service.  The odds are roughly 50% that we will. When El Nino happens the jetstream drops farther south and we get really unusual weather.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Obama's Six Words

As the Washington Post's Karen Tumulty notes in her column, President Obama said the six words that may well sink his reelection effort. It is poetic justice ... here are those words:
The private sector is doing fine.
Yes, I know that he meant "better than the public sector" which is probably true, but that's not what he said. His actual words make him sound entirely out of touch with Mr. & Ms. America's perceptions of our economy. He'll have trouble living those six words down.

This could be as damaging to Obama as the comment of Romney's father George that in Vietnam he'd "just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get" referring to his briefings by the U.S. military.

Argentines Dollarize

With the economic craziness being perpetrated by Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, her citizens are rushing to put their wealth in dollars. No kidding.

That action is standard practice in this home of economic self-immolation. Before you believe the dollar is in trouble, see a Reuters article about this absolutely typical Argentine rush to a safe-haven currency - our dollar. It's nice somebody loves us, or at least our currency.

The Pain in Spain Is Mainly in ... Its Banks

Europe's slo mo economic train wreck continues; the current focus is on Spain, the fifth largest economy in the EU. Unlike the relatively small economies of Greece and Ireland, Spain really matters. See this Reuters article on Yahoo News for details.

Big Tent Blues

Reporters have to report, even when nothing is happening; that is the nature of this Yahoo News article. The supposed issue is a Republican convention platform "fight" between the few delegates committed to vote for Rick Santorum on the first ballot, and the few delegates committed to vote for Ron Paul.

My sense is that each will be permitted to offer platform planks, and the arguments of each will be listened to politely and rebutted politely. After which the overwhelming number of Romney delegates will vote in favor of the platform Mitt Romney wants to run on.

At least that's what would happen if I were in charge. Who knows what will actually happen? The article's author is obviously hoping for headline-making intra-party chaos.

The Republican party wants Santorum and Paul supporters to vote for Mitt Romney in November, even if he doesn't agree with them on every issue. That is the GOP version of a "big tent." It is likely both Santorum and Paul will eventually endorse Romney, perhaps without enthusiasm.

The Dem's have it worse. Their version of the "big tent" tries to corral the LGBT community and its opponents in the black religious community, plus immigration liberalization fans in the Hispanic community and its opponents in the labor movement, not to mention conflict between the teachers union and the minority communities who believe correctly many of their children aren't being educated.

I almost forgot the conflict Dems face between environmentalists and labor (think coal miners, loggers, oil roughnecks) and that between supporters of Israel and serious liberals who support the Palestinians against Israel. Imagine writing a Dem platform all of these will like.

In other words, big tent tensions are a problem for both parties, and both parties say different things to different audiences, trying to bridge these gaps. It is the nature of a de facto two-party system.

Good News

Boston subway employees rescued a little girl's stuffed rabbit "Nummy" who fell on the tracks of the MBTA. That is nice.

The MBTA is the latter day acronym of what Kingston Trio music fans of the late 1950s learned to call the MTA;  a system from which famously Charlie couldn't get off for lack of a nickel. See the website of CBS Boston.

Quote of the Day

The ever-snarky Ann Coulter, writing for TownHall, about New York City:
New York City is now entirely composed of a tiny slice of Wall Streeters and the people who serve them –- personal trainers, doormen, maids, doctors, lawyers, restaurateurs and Keith Olbermann's cat groomer.

If the financial sector ever leaves, New York City will be Detroit, which itself was once the nation's crown jewel metropolis. 
I imagine derelict skyscrapers ... elevators, power, and water no longer running ... with the homeless living in office cubicles, burning the furniture for heat, and relieving themselves in the stairways or out the windows.

They've made that movie, more or less, as Soylent Green. A good film that doesn't have nearly the impact of the Harry Harrison's book Make Room, Make Room, upon which it was based.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Vietnam vs. China

Georgie Anne Geyer has been traveling the world - thinking and writing about America's place in it - for four decades. Like Tom Friedman, her domestic politics are tiresomely liberal but that doesn't often bleed over into her international commentary.

Her recent Uexpress article for Yahoo News does a good job of echoing U.S. history in Vietnam and raising questions about our policy with respect to Asia. After documenting our wars in places from Vietnam to Iraq to Afghanistan, she has become convinced of their long-term futility. She concludes:
China historically has not been an expansionist nation or society. (snip) Now China is rich and increasing her military. Will she not try to get the oil in the South China Sea?

Will it not come down to a fight if Japan, as seems likely, is going to try to get the Senkaku Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea from China? There are dozens of reasons for war in those waters.

It would seem to me, as we dance our destroyers and drones around the world, that we need to examine why we are in these places and what we intend to do. 
Geyer doesn't even mention the interests of the Philippines in these same waters, interests the Filipinos expect the U.S. to protect.

Quote of the Day

Jonathan Haidt writing in The Guardian (U.K.) about why relatively poor voters vote for conservative parties:
Politics at the national level is more like religion than it is like shopping. It's more about a moral vision that unifies a nation and calls it to greatness than it is about self-interest or specific policies. In most countries, the right tends to see that more clearly than the left.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

More Thoughts on Denying Health Care

Sunday we wrote about the idea of denying health care to those whom it was uneconomical to treat. The article triggering our post focused on withholding treatment for smokers and the obese.

Another "take" on withholding treatment for those whom it is uneconomical to treat is withholding it from those who cannot pay for it. In a market economy people can spend their money how they choose, within reason.

Today their choices include buying health care not otherwise paid for by insurance, like botox injections, face lifts, or other "elective" procedures. In the future it might include doctor appointments for smokers or the obese or skateboarders.

In a dystopian future society might withhold treatment from the unemployed, the poor, criminals, the homeless, the insane, the chronically ill, and those with whose lifestyles the mainstream society disagreed. They might honor this approach as "enhanced Darwinism." It doesn't sound like fun.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Walker Wins Wisconsin

Wisconsin brings us good news today. Republican Governor Scott Walker survived a recall attempt, and not by a narrow margin. Walker won roughly 53% of the votes and Democrat Barrett won 46%, according to the Associated Press.

Walker had taken courageous action against state employee unions, action which was the impetus for the abortive recall attempt. It appears the lieutenant governor and at least three of the four state senators up for recall also survived these efforts and will continue in office.

President Obama did not campaign actively for Barrett, and has been criticized for his lack of support. Conservatives, including Tea Party activists, put lots of money and energy into saving the governorship for Walker.

Pundits wonder if the support Republican Walker received will be translated into support for Romney in November. Wisconsin hasn't voted for a Republican presidential candidate since Reagan, although Bush came close twice.

The recall's failure does suggest public employee unions have lost considerable public support as well as strength. As we've noted here recently, public employees' incestuous relationship with their employers' bosses - the legislature and governor - where they effectively bribe each other with our money, is inappropriate.

Bill Clinton Wants Obama to Lose

Dick Morris is always ready to say what he thinks, and sometimes a little more. In a video discussion with Fox News' Sean Hannity, Morris says former President Bill Clinton wants President Barack Obama to lose this fall. Noel Sheppard has the video and text on NewsBusters.

Morris quotes a conservative friend who reports Bill said to him, "You have six months to save the country." Bill doesn't like Barack, which should be no surprise since Barack defeated Bill's wife Hillary for the nomination. A Dem intra-party fight is fun to watch.

Weird Weight Science

A Harvard study finds exercise is associated with absence of obesity in white women, not in black women. This sounds like a result I would have wanted to suppress, if it were my study.  See a Reuters article for details.

I'll bet I know why they included it though - in order to have significant findings. If they rolled all participants into one batch they probably didn't have much in the way of findings, so they segmented the subjects by race and, viola, they had something to report. In the bad old days, when I needed to get things published, I was guilty of this kind of data mining.

Later - Another thing concerns me about this finding - implied causality, that is, that exercise prevents obesity. How about the alternate interpretation that obesity prevents exercise? That makes sense to me.

Doing exercise while obese is like doing exercise wearing a backpack weighing 50-100 lbs., much more tiring and less exhilarating. The alternate conclusion is of less utility to the folks who want us all to exercise.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Glass Half Full

A very interesting chart in the Boston Review, by a couple of Stanford liberals, whining about the reduction in middle class neighborhoods, and the corresponding increase in both poor and affluent neighborhoods.

I'll give them the benefit of the doubt about the poor neighborhoods, they're probably pretty grim. But what about the increase in affluent neighborhoods? Shouldn't we celebrate that?

Twelve percent of us who once didn't live there have moved up to affluent neighborhoods. If we're conservatives we should celebrate their good fortune; capitalism has paid off for them.

This entry seems related to the previous entry, eh?

Assortative Mating

If you've got time for a somewhat long read, this City Journal article by Kay S. Hymowitz is a good one. Once again, it is a riff on Charles Murray's book Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010.

Except Hymowitz is a solid demographer in her own right, so her riff is worth your time. She adds a lot of interesting stuff about the state of America's underclass. She helps you understand that economics isn't the only cause.

Hymowitz's most interesting stuff, however is her take on the overclass, her writeup of "assortative mating" (scroll down); we've commented on it before. The idea of lawyers marrying lawyers and then spending the money and energy to see that their children are also achievers thus creating a hereditary overclass is a strong one.

However, if you drill down you'll think of many exceptions including the whole "tiger mother" phenomenon. I'll bet Mitt Romney is a product of this.

She also overlooks the whole middle 40% or two quintiles (fifths) which Murray leaves out, a place where arguably most of the American interclass mobility (up and down) always did happen. We wrote about this phenomenon on May 19 of this year, commenting on another review of the Murray book.

Wisconsin Tomorrow

Earlier we wrote about the recall election in Wisconsin tomorrow: the governor, four senators, and the lieutenant governor. We hope Republican Governor Scott Walker can keep his office, he's done amazing things in rolling back the power of public employee unions. The other outcomes are important too, if less so.

It is our view that public employee unions should not have the right to make political donations to those who decide how much they will be paid, effectively bribing their bosses in the legislature and governor's office. Those bosses then bribe their employees in turn with higher wages and benefits, paid for with our taxes.

Go here to read a RealClearPolitics article about the races and what is at stake. An even better list of what is at stake is Chris Cillizza's piece in The Washington Post, a column that is amazingly balanced for Cillizza, who normally leans left.

Irrelevant Science

A biologist at San Diego State University co-authored a study of the bacteria on surfaces in office cubicles and found that men's offices had more bacteria than women's offices. The number and intensity were roughly equal to those found in airplanes and bathrooms.

At the end of the day, the study proved nothing, which is just as well, I suppose. See the National Geographic website for more trivial details.

We've Been Right, Far Right Actually

Here is a Pew Research Center poll which shows what we've been feeling is correct (as it often is, he added egotistically). As the Los Angeles Times reports, Pew finds Americans are becoming more polarized, the left farther left and the right farther right.

Democrats are more pro-immigration, pro-ecology, and pro-social safety net than Republicans, and the differences are not trivial. The opinions of each party's adherents about the appropriate role of government have moved in opposite directions, too. It's a good article, very worth your time.

In addition to "moving" our opinions, I believe demographers find we are physically moving to states where people agree with our views, too. That is certainly true of the DrsC, who relocated from very blue California to very red Wyoming a decade ago. We moved with a one year detour to Texas, another very red state.

Bad Omen, Pt. 2

A Reuters article lists a bunch of negative economic indicators, perhaps the most interesting being the Tokyo Topix index hitting a 28 year low. That takes us all the way back to 1984.

The equities selloff is happening in Europe and the U.S. as well. A chief investment officer is quoted as saying "investors are just fleeing risk assets." Remember our adage that the equity markets are predicting what will happen six months ahead.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sanity in Egypt.

Two weeks before the run-off election for Egypt's president, one of the candidates is making an overt play for the votes of Christians, women, and centrists, for a civil state. See the Reuters article in SwissInfo.

I've been wondering whether anyone would make this pitch and whether it would attract enough votes of those groups, while not driving away too many of the country's largely Muslim citizens. Whatever else he did wrong, Mubarak ran a civil state that didn't discriminate on the basis of religion. Nobody believes the Muslim Brotherhood is able, much less willing, to do that.

Unfortunately, the candidate making this pitch was a quasi-member of the Mubarak government. I'd hope one of his big pitches would be to revitalize the tourist industry which the current unrest has shut down.

House Rules

Michael Medved has written a very interesting column for The Daily Beast which I highly recommend to you. For those with limited time, let me summarize the key point.

Medved has the numbers which show that, economically speaking, which party controls the House of Representatives is more important than which party controls the White House. That is a big finding.

The Constitution requires that spending bills originate in the House. A president cannot spend money the Congress won't appropriate. Republican-controlled House sessions don't appropriate nearly as much money as Democrat-controlled House sessions.

Not that who is elected president is unimportant, for that individual pretty much controls both foreign policy and the bully pulpit. However, in terms of who controls the size of budgetary deficits and government spending, Medved says control of the House is key. Hat tip to for the link.

Requiem for a Burger Joint

For many years there was a greasy spoon burger joint on the square in Jackson, Wyoming - Billy's. No tables, only stools at a U-shaped counter, and the 'entertainment' was watching the burgers being fried and assembled.

Some years the young men (and a few women) working there would allow their creative side a bit of leeway and act like faux New Yorkers - being aggressive and smart-alecky. Other years, not so much.

Some years the staff would be native North Americans, other years immigrants - mostly temporary and legal. Regardless of who worked there, the burgers were great.

The other DrC and I ate Sunday supper there for at least ten years. We'd eat Billy's burgers four months a year and miss them the other eight. This year in late May we drove into Jackson and discovered Billy's, and the Cadillac Bar and Restaurant of which it was part, were closed.

I truly cannot tell you how sad we are. An important part of our Wyoming experience just died. This was the restaurant where we chatted up Dick Cheney's Secret Service detail, where we met Wall Street maven Mario Cabelli, where Bill Clinton ate before he got dietary 'religion.' All gone, alas .... restaurants are like that, ephemeral.

Dowd Cracks Wise

The New York Times' Maureen Dowd, writing about the Obama administration and campaign:
On Friday night, the nation’s capital was under a tornado watch. And that was the best thing that happened to the White House all week. 
It was a tough week for Team Obama.

Changing Views

Holman Jenkins of The Wall Street Journal writing about attitudes toward health care:
It's a mistake not to root political actions, even those based on "universal" principles, in their time. Two generations ago, the impetus was to extend health care to those who didn't have it. The entire industrial world is at the opposite end of an arc of government growth and sustainability today. The new impetus inevitably will be to deny health care to those whom it is not cost-effective to treat.
Denying "health care to those whom it is not cost-effective to treat" is a scary proposition altogether.

Quote of the Day

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, writing about the various and sundry screw-ups committed by the Obama campaign:
The president's campaign is making him look small and scared. 
It is devoutly to be hoped that Miss Peggy's judgment is correct.

Watch Wisconsin

Pay attention to the outcome of Tuesday's recall election in Wisconsin. Lots of money and energy has been deployed by the left to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker.

The right has spent plenty on keeping him in office, too. The election is being seen as a leading indicator of national sentiment for the November election. See a Reuters article for details. Hat tip to for the link.

Malaysia Update

It's time to take a look at Malaysia, a nation which has been independent from the British Empire for 55 years. Upon leaving the Brits set up a situation that strongly favored the majority ethnic Malays, who were then (and are still) substantially poorer than the ethnic Chinese minority who control most of the wealth in the country.

It would appear that the Malay affirmative action programs are losing support among ethnic Chinese, see a long, thorough Reuters article on a Yahoo News website. The article leads this way:
Ethnic Chinese voters, upset over policies that favor majority Malays, have become increasingly alienated from Malaysia's ruling coalition, raising the risk of racial polarization.
Multi-ethnic democratic countries are difficult to govern under the best of circumstances, as we know in the U.S. and our Canadian neighbors to the north know much better.

Footnote: The English-speaking majority in Canada has been effectively blackmailed for decades by their French-speaking minority. Openly blackmailed, and without shame, with the threat of separation. This scenario is unlikely in Malaysia.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Spooky Parallels

Do you remember four years ago when it looked like McCain would win until the markets went down? Could we be experiencing a replay of that thing here where it looked like Obama could get reelected until a couple of days ago? It sure feels like it.

When our people feel uncomfortable about the state of the economy, there is a tendency to vote for change. Yes, I know this blog has taken a pro-change stance since November, 2008. But the mainstream media certainly hasn;'t. Will they now? Or will they continue to back a loser?

CNBC's Jean Chua here writes about Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank drawing economic parallels between 2008 and 2012. It makes me wonder if there are political parallels too.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Financing Politics a Man's Game

The so-called super-PACs or big money political action committees are mostly financed by men. See this Yahoo News article for details.

Frankly, I am not surprised. Decades ago the joke was that the wife got to decide which house to buy and the husband got to decide what political party they'd vote for or whether the family liked the United Nations.

The joke's implication was that she made the important-to-the-family decisions while he decided the airy-fairy esoteric stuff which didn't matter anyway. So men argued about politics, sports, and cars and women discussed what made the best house.

I wasn't so sure this was still true, but perhaps it still is the case when it comes to writing the really big checks.

Jindal Tackles the NEA

If K-12 education interests you, see this Reuters article about pupil vouchers in Louisiana. Governor Bobby Jindal is behind forcing through a state-wide voucher program that is the broadest in the nation. By next year every pupil in Louisiana will have access to state vouchers that can be used at a range of private schools - religious and otherwise.

Each student who takes advantage of a voucher will mean thousands of dollars less for public education. The National Education Association must be outraged.

I admit to being more than a little nervous about some of the religious schools' science curriculums teaching only creationism. On the other hand, all voucher students will have to pass state standardized tests which should provide some need for teaching regular, evolution-based biology.

That's assuming the state of Louisiana recognizes evolution as noncontroversial - a rather sweeping assumption in the biblically literal, highly religious Deep South. On the other hand, Louisiana historically has a large Roman Catholic population, so perhaps it is an exception to the southern evangelical mode.

Economy Tanks

The Wall Street Journal reports the U.S. economy is in the proverbial toilet and the stock market put in it's worst numbers of the year.
Employers added a seasonally adjusted 69,000 jobs last month, the smallest increase in a year, and estimates for the two previous months were lowered. The politically salient unemployment rate inched up to 8.2% from 8.1% in April, and the report immediately became a flash point in a presidential race focused on the candidates' job-creating credentials.
Needless to say, Romney blamed Obama for this lack of performance while Obama searched for a silver lining.

Social Media in Trouble

We've wondered when people would catch on that social media ends up revealing TMI, too much personal information. Looks like that question has finally surfaced in the media, see this Yahoo News article for details.

The whole idea of running a diary and sharing it with more or less everybody never made sense to us. The slow motion collapse of Facebook as an IPO is a perfect way of dramatizing this phenomenon.

Instead, what we do with COTTonLINE is share with  you our thoughts about "what matters in this world." It's mostly our views of politics, world affairs, demography, science and other stuff we enjoy like travel, films, etc.

Our blog is what we'd hope our input to a conversation would contain face to face, but is somewhat more content-laden because it is one-sided. Because a blog is written, not spoken, we dress it up with links to articles you might want to read about those issues; articles we've read that triggered our conversational content. We hope you enjoy it.

Ugly Vote Scrounging

The White House says aborting a girl fetus is "a very personal and private decision." Wow, the White House must be very desperate to round up every last vote of East Indian and Chinese naturalized citizens, natives of cultures where preferences for male children are particularly strong.

COTTonLINE wants to go on record as saying girl and boy babies have equal rights to life; we believe sex selection abortions are abhorrent. See a article for details.

A Dismal Omen

There is an old stock market adage that an investor should "sell in May and go away." In other words, sell ones shares in May and tuck the money under the mattress, or in a savings or money market account, particularly if a gloomy view of the economy is held. The time to get back into the market is around Labor Day.

It looks like a lot of investors followed that rule, as this CNN Money article reports. The article says the Dow Industrials and NASDAQ had in May their worst month in two years. That means a lot of gloomy investors.

The market predicts what the economy will be doing six months from now. A lot of selling suggests a widely-held dismal view of the economy through November. That isn't good news for the Obama campaign, as they need an economic upturn to boost his chances.