Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Quote of the Day

Charles Hill, diplomat and Yale professor, being interviewed by Robert L. Pollock about the state of U.S. foreign policy in the weekend Wall Street Journal. This WSJ interview does not require a subscription to read, and I recommend it to you:
The message remains dead serious. The "battle" for liberal democracy and some semblance of international order "has been being won because the U.S. has been putting out the effort for it," he says. "And now we're not." 
In other words, when the U.S. stops being international policeman, nobody else steps up. The world becomes a more lawless, dangerous place.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Social Humor

Victor Davis Hanson, writing for pjmedia.com about the absurdity that is modern California, in particular the proposed CA high-speed rail system which France already has:
If we can’t keep sofas and washing machines out of the local irrigation ponds, why do we think we could keep them off high-speed rail tracks? Do we think we are French?

Quote of the Day

Andrew Rosenthal, writing for The New York Times, commenting on the "what happened to the bust of Winston Churchill?" conflict:
The White House’s handling of the issue was bumbling and amateurish. In other words, business as usual. 
Rosenthal's believes that Obama's people let him down, my view is that the boss is responsible for what his (or her) appointees do. What's your view?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Opening Ceremony

The DrsC recorded Friday night's Olympics opening ceremonies so we could watch them later while fast-forwarding through the commercials and the boring, talking-head sections. We watched them tonight, and mostly wished we had used our time more profitably.

Out of the evening-long ceremony, there were four things I enjoyed: first, the fireworks were good, second, the march-in of the various national groups of athletes happened quickly. Third, I liked the creative design of the Olympic beacon, made up of many individual torches that pivoted up to cluster together. Fourth, the Arctic Monkeys' cover of The Beatles' Come Together was done well.

The entire early part of the ceremony, before the march-in, didn't work for me. I particularly found the celebration of the National Health Service with dancing nurses and kids bouncing on beds tedious and irrelevant to the rest of the world.

Kenneth Branagh is a talented actor, but was wasted doing what he did. Had he given the "we band of brothers" speech from Shakespeare's Henry V, that would have been a winner recognized around the world.

J.K.Rowling was wasted as well. Plus Sir Paul McCartney no longer has a voice and it's sad for him to embarrass himself trying to sing.

Dragging poor, sick Mohammad Ali out to stand mumbling by the Olympic flag was cruel. It appeared he had no idea where he was or why. And the Queen looked tired, which she probably was as she had no way to fast-forward through the boring parts.

My overall grade of the Olympic opening ceremony: C (average work).

Saturday, July 28, 2012

An Old Friend

Some designs just cannot be improved upon. One of these is the 100 year-old Browning-designed .45 caliber Colt automatic M1911. Do you know it's history? Here's the story I was told.

Following the 1898 Spanish-American War the U.S. occupied the Philippine Islands as colonies. At least some Filipinos didn't like being a colony and a guerilla insurrection occurred (or more likely, continued).

The sidearm of the U.S. Army at that time was a .38 caliber revolver carried by sergeants and officers. The Army learned the hard way that the .38 didn't have enough power to stop an enraged rebel charging with a machete.

Responding to this problem, the .45 was designed to stop whoever it hit. It is viewed as a success in that regard. After using 9mm Berettas exclusively for several years, the Marine Corps has placed a new order for more .45s, see this Fox News story.

True Undecideds

Do you honestly know anyone who (a) doesn't already know for whom they will vote for president and (b) is likely to vote in November? My guess is that you don't know anyone who meets both criteria. I know I don't.

In the next 100 days the two parties and their two candidates will spend many millions to sway that tiny fraction of true undecideds who care enough to vote. And they only care about the undecideds in 12 so-called "battleground states," states which really could go either way.

In the other 38 states our votes for president are essentially cyphers. Yep, if you are an undecided who lives in either California or Utah, forget it - nobody cares how you vote. California will go Democrat and Utah will go Republican, regardless of what you decide to do.

The only states whose voters are courted are those teetering on the knife's edge. The good part is that in the other 38 states we don't get overwhelmed by Obama and Romney ads. The two parties already know which of them will get those states' delegates to the electoral college.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kurds and Way

We've noted before that Kurdish people live in northern Iraq, eastern Turkey, north-western Iran and northern Syria. They don't have a country of their own and they want one.

Kurds are a problem for all of these countries as they are ethnically and linguistically distinct from the Arabs, Persians, and Turkic peoples among whom they live. What's more, they wish to stay distinct.

As first Iraq and now Syria have experienced civil war, the Kurds have pulled back into their enclaves and stood aside from the fighting. Fights among Arabs don't much interest Kurds. This Christian Science Monitor article has more details.

Political Humor Alert

Lucianne.com says President Obama is going to release ten years worth of birth certificates.

Neighborhood Policing

Suppose India, China, Russia, and Europe took over policing the Middle East, so we could shift our attention elsewhere. They wouldn't do it, you say. Who knows, maybe they would.

William W. Chip, writing for the American Conservative, believes that because these four large entities are in the Middle East's neighborhood so to speak, they just might police it. Clearly, the U.S. is not located in that neighborhood.

It's a good article, although somewhat isolationist in tone. One factor Chip doesn't deal with is our desire to protect Israel from its neighbors.

Why the United Nations?

The Hoover Institution's Kenneth Anderson writes about the United Nations and why it continues to exist, for Hoover's Defining Ideas journal:
The distinctive salience of the United Nations is that it is a failure today—and a hope for tomorrow. And this is so even though it is always a failure today, each and every day—and yet always a hope for tomorrow.
I think Anderson leaves out one key reason for the U.N.'s existence: it provides employment for thousands of diplomats. This gives them much reason to support its continuation.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hostile to America

Kimberley A. Strassel writes the Potomac Watch column for The Wall Street Journal. Her most recent effort focuses on the trouble his saying "you didn't build that" has caused President Obama.

I particularly like her analysis of the words:
They raise the far more potent issue of national identity and feed the suspicion that Mr. Obama is actively hostile to American ideals and aspirations.
This column is available without subscription and it's a good one. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Electoral Tribes

Joel Kotkin, writing for The Daily Beast, talks about how this election is being pursued in a "tribal" fashion by Team Obama. Kotkin makes the point that the president is pitching his campaign to specific groups or "tribes" who may be persuaded to vote for him: single women, gays, minority voters, and youth.

Kotkin compares the Obama election strategy to that of Bush in 2004:
Like Obama, Bush was a polarizing president of meager accomplishments and modest popularity. And like Bush, Obama is hoping to rally his base and demonize his opponent to achieve a fairly comfortable reelection. 
Finally, Kotkin quotes what Obama said in 2007, criticizing the very same "tribal" strategy he's now using:
Maybe you eke out a victory of 50 plus one. [But] you can't govern. 
Apparently, being president is good, even if "you can't govern." Presidents get the best tee times and Air Force One sure beats flying commercial.

A Boom Town

Is there a place where anybody who wants a job can get multiple offers? In the U.S.? Yes, in Williston, North Dakota. It is an oil boom town a two hour drive from nowhere (aka Minot).

See a New York Times article about Williston. Everybody in town is hiring, but your wage may not pay your rent.

Quote of the Day

Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa, writing in the introduction to the commission's report on the disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant:
What must be admitted, very painfully, is that this was a disaster 'Made in Japan'. Its fundamental causes are to be found in the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture: our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to 'sticking with the program'; our groupism; and our insularity.
The source for this quote is an article by Kevin Rafferty in The Japan Times. An island people see "insularity" in themselves ... wonderful.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Gallup: GOP More Enthusiastic than Dems

The Gallup polling organization has released new numbers which show Democrats are less enthused about voting this year than in the last two presidential election years: 2004 and 2008. On the other hand, Republicans are more enthused than they were in 2008 and at a level of enthusiasm equal to that of 2004.

Is anyone surprised?


Maybe they were taking the authenticity too far at Disney World? Dozens of participants in Disney's "Wild Africa Trek" got a digestive upset after "tasting African-inspired foods." See the article at the Click Orlando website of WKMG. Hat tip to Matt Drudge for the link.

Unhappy News

Mortimer Zuckerman has an article in The Wall Street Journal you definitely should read, after taking a handful of Prozac to ward off depression. Unfortunately you'll need a subscription to read it in WSJ. I'll show you some choice bits:
For the 80% of Americans born after World War II, this is their Great Depression.

A stunning 70% of U.S. retailers missed their sales targets in June, the third consecutive month that sales have weakened and the worst showing since November 2009.

Fifty percent of the jobs created since the recession hit have been part time, with no benefits and a wage that's inadequate to enter the middle class.

The official unemployment rate is 8.2%. But if you add to that the number of discouraged workers who have dropped out of the labor market since the recession began in early 2008 - approximately eight million - the rate would be an alarming 12%. (snip) If you add the number of part-time workers into the mix, the unemployment rate climbs to 14.9%.

Another depressant has been the drop - by more than 40% - of the average American family's net worth over the past five years.  
Three workers out of twenty are unemployed, have quit looking for work, or are working part time. And that doesn't count the hundreds of thousands who have "qualified" for disability and likely will never work again. Remember what happened to Herbert Hoover?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Murder Is International

Dan Gardner, writing in The Ottawa Citizen, talks about mass murders like the one in Aurora. He concludes that they happen everywhere, including Finland and Switzerland, not to mention Norway.

If you ban guns, people drive a car into a crowd, or make a crude bomb following instructions on the Internet. As Gardner points out, the murder rate is declining in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Middle East Passe'

David Rothkopf, writing in Foreign Policy, argues that like Madonna, the Middle East is over the hill as a central focus of U.S. strategic interest. Over the hill but still on stage; it is an interesting analogy.

In short, Rothkopf says we no longer much need their oil, as a result no longer need Israel as a base, and are tired of the region and its never-ending problems. He believes the Middle East is no longer important to us but we haven't figured out yet that we can let it go to blazes on its own.

I wonder if he's right?

Memory Lane

Long-time political analyst Jeff Greenfield, writing for Yahoo News about the need for a decisive election outcome in 2012:
The whole idea of good-faith disagreement among political combatants has pretty much gone the way of the mimeograph machine. 
Talk about history. Used mimeo masters were black and gooey, hard to store. And mimeo paper was porous, impossible to write on with a fountain pen.

Remember the ditto machine and the purple-on-white copies it made? Its activating fluid was some sort of alcohol; a stack of fresh copies smelled good but probably rotted our brains.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Remembering Iraq

I suppose most Americans would rather forget Iraq and our involvement there, it cost us a lot of dollars and not a few lives. Generally we didn't leave Iraq feeling much satisfaction at a job well done.

The MSM would have you believe today's Iraq is on the edge of disaster. If you have the stomach for it, a relatively open mind, and are willing to consider another viewpoint, take a look at this long column by Amir Taheri in the British journal Standpoint.

Taheri takes the view that Iraq is doing pretty darn well in spite of its lame government. He says:
Iraq remains the best hope for democratisation in the Middle East. 

Quote of the Day

Stuart Rothenberg, writing for Roll Call, about the Democrats' chances of winning a majority in the House of Representatives, where they are now down 25 seats. After a detailed analysis he concludes:
What does seem impossible, at least at this point, is a Democratic takeover of the House in November. 
That is good news, coming from a Democrat ... no more Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

If Rothenberg is correct, the least attractive outcome we are likely to see in November is gridlock of the sort we have now. With luck and skill, maybe we can do a lot better than that.

Attack on Welfare Reform

You may have heard that President Obama, by executive order, has "gutted" the welfare reform signed into law by President Clinton. You may also have heard that Congress is trying to overturn this executive order, inasmuch as it contravenes the intent of Congress-passed law.

If this subject interests you, and you would like to learn more, read an article by Kay S. Hymowitz in City Journal. She lays out what the administration is saying and what it is feared they actually mean, two quite different things.

The WSJ Agrees

In the Saturday-Sunday Wall Street Journal you'll find paragraphs by Charles Murray, in their Notable & Quotable feature. It is the same quote I cited last Thursday under the heading Tone-Deafness. I am in good company with the WSJ.

Note: The WSJ link above requires subscription; the AEIdeas blog cited Thursday does not.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pretty Pix

The other DrC is the photographer in the household, and a good one, too. To see two gorgeous photos she took yesterday of the Wyoming countryside, maybe 30 miles from where we live, see her blog at http://cruztalkingtwo.blogspot.com/ The posting is headed "Back in Time."

Security Clearances

Twice during my early working life I had to get a security clearance. This process involved listing all one's associates and relatives, everywhere one had lived, worked, gone to school, etc., etc. Then investigators went around asking questions about you until the government was satisfied you weren't a secret Communist or some other kind of subversive risk.

I met these investigators because on other occasions they visited me at the university inquiring about my former students. The alums needed security clearances for their work.

I bore you with this ancient history because it occurs to me that our president could not pass these screens, could not get a security clearance. His association with Frank Marshall Davis, William Ayres, Bernadine Dohrn and Jeremiah Wright, his living overseas, his admitted drug use, his use of multiple names, his unprovable assertions in his autobiography and his questionable associations while in college would all be problematic.

He's lucky he doesn't need a security clearance. Several of the president's appointees would have similar problems.

Vets for Mitt

Have you read the Robert Heinlein novel Starship Troopers? It advocates giving the vote only to veterans, all of whom are volunteers. I believe this idea is not in the film of the same name.

If Heinlein's citizenship model existed today, Mitt Romney would be elected in November by a landslide. Rasmussen Reports has polled vets and they prefer Mitt over Barack by 59% to 35%.

It makes sense.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Commodities Are Hot

Demographer Joel Kotkin, writing for newgeography, looks for places where things are doing well, and finds them. The economy went bad in 2007, so Kotkin looks for places that have done well since then.
The states that have added the most jobs since 2007 — Texas, North Dakota, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Alaska – are located in a vast energy and commodities corridor extending from the western Gulf to the northern tip of the Continent. (snip) Since the onset of the new century, much of the sustained growth in the world has taken place not in the financial or information capitals, but in regions that produce basic commodities like energy and food.
Kotkin adds that it helps when states develop a business-friendly set of policies.

An Evil Bargain

Once we had mental institutions in this fair land, places where people whose minds didn't work right could be separated from society. A substantial number of people were housed therein, at substantial cost to the state.

Then two things happened. The left decided we were interfering with the civil rights of the mentally ill, believing they had a right to be behaviorally different. Society had no right to lock them up.

Coincidentally, the right decided we could save a pile of money if we did away with mental institutions, if we stopped warehousing people whose minds didn't function properly. We'd take care of them in community outpatient clinics, using psychoactive drugs.

So an evil bargain was struck between the left and the right, each would get what it wanted. The left would get the freedom to be as odd as you please, the right would get to stop spending all that pointless money.

Many of the mentally ill refuse to take their prescription meds, preferring alcohol or street drugs. Some live under bridges and urinate in doorways, a blight on society pushing a stolen shopping cart full of "possessions" along a roadside. Others are less obvious.

Occasionally, one of these sad, lonely people does something horrific. They float along as society's loners, harboring desires for revenge against the rest of us, almost always later described as "quiet, shy men" nobody dreamed would do something awful.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Noonan: Obama Hasn't Worked

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, once a speech writer for Ronald Reagan, is critical of several things badly communicated: the U.S. Olympics uniforms, the Romney tax returns, and the president's failed attempt to talk about how we're all in this together. I particularly like this quote:
The American people tell you the narrative. They look at the facts produced by your leadership, make a judgment and sum it up. The summation is spoken—the story told—at a million barbecues in a million back yards.

The narrative on the president right now is: He's not a bad guy, but it hasn't worked.

Some people will vote for him anyway, some won't. But all, actually, know it hasn't worked. That's the narrative.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fed Not Optimistic

Yesterday The Wall Street Journal began its story about Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's semiannual testimony to the Senate Banking Committee thusly:
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke delivered a bleak new assessment of the U.S. economy to lawmakers on Tuesday but remained guarded about what, if anything, the Fed would do about it.
Translation: the economy sucks and the Fed is hoarding its remaining ammunition. To read the rest of the article you must be a subscriber.


Charles Murray, writing for AEIdeas, reacting with disgust to the president's comments about who builds a business:
“You didn’t build that” is another example of the president’s tone-deafness when it comes to the music of the American culture. (snip) Time and again, he does things and says things that are un-American. Not evil. Not anti-American. Just un-American.
Murray is too charitable. I don't know about "evil" but I hear "anti-American."

Tough Economic News

John Nolte has rounded up ten pieces of negative economic news - with links to take you to sources for each - which taken together say our economy isn't doing at all well. This isn't good news for the country, nor for our incumbent president's reelection campaign.

Nolte cheekily heads the column with a picture of President Obama on the golf course, lining up a putt. Find Nolte's column at Breitbart's Big Journalism site.

The D Mark Lives

Not everything we deal with here at COTTonLINE has to be oh, so serious; some things just strike us as whimsical or ironic. This Yahoo News story from The Week is one of the fun items where nobody gets killed or even angry.

It turns out many, many Germans are still using the old deutsche mark, which officially went out of circulation ten years ago. Unlike other countries in the eurozone, Germany never declared a date after which the deutsche mark was defunct. So they circulate, over 13 billion of them.

I'm reminded of the old rallying cry "Hang onto your Confederate money, boys. The South will rise again." Do you suppose somewhere in an old warehouse Fritz is oiling the tracks on a Panzer? Field-stripping a Schmeisser? Dreaming of lebensraum in the east? Nah.

Coulter on Steroids

Ann Coulter has a column for Townhall.com on the ways Democrats are biasing the electorate in their favor. She dances along the knife edge of racism and cites some interesting statistics along the way.

This Coulter is so full of quotable punch lines I don't know where to begin, there must be 20 of 'em. I'll give you a few samples:
  • Just like California, the United States is on its way to becoming a Third World, one-party state.
  • Every time someone gets a divorce, Democrats think: We got a new Democratic voter! Every time a child is born out of wedlock: We got a new Democratic voter! And if the woman has an abortion -- we got a new Democratic voter!
  • The Democrats' siren song to single women is: Don't worry, the government will be your husband. 
Love it or hate it, you must read this Coulter column.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Two Charts

Underlying factors may mean more in the presidential race than the day-to-day food fights and spats about this and that. For example, see Chris Cillizza's column in The Washington Post which focuses on two key charts.

The first chart shows consumer confidence which, after improving until May, has dropped back as low as it was in January. The second chart shows the relation between consumer confidence and whether incumbents got reelected. On it Obama is clustered with the losers: Carter and Bush I. All the winners are at the other end of the spectrum, where the consumer confidence is higher.


Yesterday I wrote that Syria breaking up into sectarian mini-states would "cause less regional angst than the feared split-up of Iraq which threatened to put the Turks at war with a Kurdish state." Perhaps I spoke too soon.

See this article from The Telegraph (U.K.) which indicates one of the strongest of the post-Syrian mini-states might be Kurdish. The Turks won't like that one bit.

They will object to it in the same way they object to any independent Kurdistan wherever it exists. And yet ... a Kurdistan could happen in spite of the Turks.

Sectarianism Lives

Sectarianism, that is, commitment to tribe, group, clan, race, ethnic group, religion, or confessional within a religion, lives. It doesn't just live, it thrives even as our foreign policy ignores it. See David Rieff's fine article for World Affairs Journal on this topic.

He points out how sectarianism has confounded foreign policy in places like Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, not to mention the Sudan, Libya, Mali, and Nigeria. For example, Rieff quotes Valli Nasr's essay for Foreign Affairs in 2006:
The Bush administration thought of politics as the relationship between individuals and the state, and so it failed to recognize that people in the Middle East see politics also as the balance of power among communities.
Sectarianism is going on today in Syria and elsewhere, at gunpoint. However, don't limit sectarianism to the Middle East. Rieff gives the example of Belgium's two main ethnic groups: Flemish and Walloon. I'd add Canada's English and French speakers. I'm certain you have your own favorite examples.

Remembering Guam

The DrsC spent a year on the island of Guam in the mid 1980s, as visiting faculty at the then rather grandiosely named "University of Guam." That was an experience. If I start telling OOG (only on Guam) stories, this blog will never end.

Even then there was a "brown power" movement; Chamorros who wanted to reclaim ownership of their island. I suppose it has gotten more intense. See this National Review Online article by John Fund about the current plebiscite.

North Americans don't understand how island natives feel about acreage, mostly because we have no shortage of land and there is so little of it on a small island. Scarcity makes island land really important. Resentment at the military taking over large swaths of the island for bases continue to fester several decades later.

If I had to guess the outcome of the plebicite, I'd predict the Chamorros will again choose Commonwealth status, probably not in conjunction with CNMI to the north. They've seen that Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau aren't suddenly wealthy or happy as a result of independence. Plus Commonwealth status gives them a U.S. passport and the right to move to California (perhaps 1/3 already have).


Anybody who thinks there is no downside to raising the minimum wage lacks understanding. Higher minimum wages = fewer "entry" jobs, fewer summer jobs, more youth unemployment.

Anybody who goes to work and is still earning the minimum wage a year later is either a darn poor worker or lacks initiative. John Stossel of Fox News has an excellent article about these issues. I particularly agree with this:
Forcing employers to pay $7.25 an hour leaves them reluctant to give unskilled kids a chance -- why pay more than a worker can produce? So they offer fewer "first" jobs.
BTW, it costs an employer considerably more than the minimum wage to employ a person. This MIT article suggests the additional costs for a minimum wage, part-time employee with no benefits would equal roughly another 20% of ongoing costs. Add to this the costs of paying the person for several hours or days when they are learning and producing essentially nothing, and the costs of whoever is training the person instead of doing their own job.

Stossel also favors unpaid internships. If a young person can afford to do an unpaid internship in an area of interest instead of flipping burgers for minimum wage, that can be a real plus. Learning whether a particular career is right before spending more thousands taking courses in that field is excellent.

France Wimps Out Again

The "cheese eating surrender monkeys" of France are at it again.* See the Reuters article on Yahoo News for details of their likely pull-out from NATO.

Apparently former President Sarkozy was the only French leader willing to pull his share of the load in the organization responsible for the defense of Europe. Unfortunately geography is on their side; France is the heart of Western Europe, most other NATO countries hang around the fringes of France.

The French wimp-out of NATO presents an opportunity. The U.S. can declare that without France NATO makes little sense and also leave. Pulling our troops out of Europe would save us much money.

It would pressure European governments to spend realistic amounts on defense, something they've not done since 1945. It's high time Europe defends itself.

*The Simpsons TV series first popularized this insulting name for the French. Wikipedia attributes it to writer Ken Keeler.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

IRC: It's a Civil War

The International Red Cross finally figured out that the unpleasantness in Syria is a civil war; they apparently need a lot of proof. Those of us who've been following the violence in Syria reached that conclusion some weeks ago.

Assad's minority Alawites have got nowhere else to go so they keep fighting. There is some talk of carving out an Alawite state on the Syrian coast just north of Lebanon.

Syria could degenerate into several mini-states representing various factions. This would cause less regional angst than the feared split-up of Iraq which threatened to put the Turks at war with a Kurdish state.

Scary Thought

James Taranto, writing in his Best of the Web column for The Wall Street Journal online, about marriage and politics:
If the marriage gap persists, then it will be in the Democratic Party's long-term interests to undermine the institution of marriage.
It's logical ... maybe they've already done so with WIC.

LAT: The Wisconsin Lesson

The normally left-leaning Los Angeles Times has an op-ed piece advocating California copy what Governor Scott Walker led in Wisconsin, because:
Walker's narrowing of collective bargaining privileges for government workers benefited the state. 
I'm surprised LAT's unionized pressmen and women would run such a scabrous thing. Do you suppose the bankruptcies of Stockton and San Bernardino have caused changes of heart in La-La Land?

Not Socialism

One needs to be careful about historical parallels as history rarely repeats itself exactly. That said, I want to weigh in on the comparisons people keep making between Obama's actions and socialism. I believe they are inexact and therefore unfair.

What Obama practices is more the crony capitalism that characterized the Third Reich. Hitler was friendly with the big industrialists of Germany, the Krupps and the Thyssens, just as Obama has been friendly with the Buffetts and Immelts. This Weekly Standard article also makes the "crony capitalism" claim.

Being friendly with executives while heavily increasing government control of business and instituting industrial policy together characterize the economic policy of the Third Reich. And that of our 44th and current president.

Is our president a Nazi? I would never make that claim; he isn't the jingoist the Nazis were. However, if you must find an historical precedent which his economic policies parallel, they more closely resemble those of the Third Reich than they do those of Mao's China or Lenin's Russia.

Quote of the Day

Former New Hampshire governor John Sununu, speaking on behalf of the the Romney campaign about President Obama:
I wish this president would learn how to be an American.
Way to go, John. Many of us have had this very thought. Source is a Yahoo News article.

Santelli Is Pessimistic

Rick Santelli reports from the bond floor in Chicago for CNBC daytime market reports. He is also credited with doing the rant that started the tea party phenomenon. It is fair to say that Santelli speaks his mind.

Yesterday on air Santelli mused that conditions looked a lot like going back into recession. For all his bluster, I think he is canny about markets. Don't be surprised if it turns out Rick was right.

Light Reading

Senior Editor Jay Nordlinger writes a column called Impromptus for National Review Online, the column titles normally end with "&c." He blogs about this and that, including language, music, sports, politics, and the like.

Now and then he travels and writes a series of travel reports, which normally don't carry that &c postscript. I've provided a link with his name to the National Review Online website in the Favorite Links column alongside. You can go here to see an archive of his columns.

I enjoy his musings, I hope you will too.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Party of People Who Want to Get Rich

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, speaking at a fund-raiser in Mississippi:
We're accused, by the way - in our party - of being the party of the rich, and it's an awful moniker, because that's just not true. We're the party of people who want to get rich.
See the ABC OTUS News story on Yahoo News.

Who for GOP VP?

Sean Trende is Senior Elections Analyst for RealClearPolitics. Here he takes a dispassionate walk through the GOP vice presidential candidate selection process.

Trende looks at 12 possible candidates and runs them against ten hurdles they need to clear. The candidate who clears the most hurdles is the most likely pick.

The winner of Trende's analysis is Tim Pawlenty, who passes nine of the ten screens. T-Paw's downside is that he is boring, solid but boring.

On the other hand, Pawlenty will be difficult to criticize. What concerns me is that "solid but boring" is how I'd describe the whole Romney campaign.

Ironically, the person who brings excitement to the Romney campaign is Barack Obama. The more we see and hear Obama the more we want to vote for somebody else. Romney is that "somebody else."

I swear Romney's campaign staff have concluded their job is to irritate as few people as possible, leaving the irritant-in-chief job to POTUS. So maybe boring T-Paw is a good fit.

The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny thinks Pawlenty has a good chance, see Zeleny's write-up on Pawlenty here.

Obama Steps in It

President Obama was off the teleprompter again, and he said on camera something that will come back to haunt him. Here is the quote from The Washington Times, admittedly taken out of context:
If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen. 
There are hundreds of thousands of Republican owners of small businesses who will be offended by those words. Hyperbole can get a candidate in trouble.

Marriage is Key

Last Wednesday we criticized a Matthew Dowd article for leaving out the marriage variable, it explains much about lives and what social class we end up in. Now here is a decent New York Times article which focuses exactly on the marriage variable and its power in people's lives.

Jason DeParle who wrote the Times article does a good job of merging examples from the lives of two women who work together, one married, one not, and the ways their experiences diverge as a result. He cleverly blends this together with the demographic and sociological data which show that his examples are not outliers, but quite typical.

CA Debunks Keynes

Conn Carroll, writes for The Washington Examiner. After summarizing how government spending in California has doubled in the last 16 years, he notes:
With all of this unfunded government spending, Keynesian-Democratic thinking would predict that California's economy should be booming. It isn't.

At 10.8 percent, California has the third-highest unemployment rate in the country. There are fewer private-sector jobs in the state today, 11.9 million, then there were in 2000, 12.2 million. 
This resembles what economists call a "natural experiment." That is, a situation they did not control but which enables them to test an hypothesis suggested by theory.

California experienced what Keynes prescribed and floundered, while Texas experienced non-Keynesian minimalist government and flourished. Result: Keynes debunked.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Neoeugenics, Anyone?

People hate and fear eugenics because the Nazis liked it, I'm told. Of course, the Nazis liked working out and being fit, but we don't hate and fear physical fitness. I expect they liked many other things we also like, as well as some things we rightly hate. Selectivity is the issue.

I don't entirely understand why having children who are smarter, healthier, more attractive and longer-lived is such a bad deal. All of that sounds good to me, and I suppose it sounds good to others if we can keep the scare word "eugenics" out of it.

As DNA code testing becomes widespread, we may back into something that looks and feels a lot like ... eugenics. See this article in The Telegraph (U.K.) for more.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

TNR: Obama in Jeopardy

William Galston, writing in The New Republic, crunches numbers from many established polls and reaches this conclusion:
Obama’s vital signs look dicey. Over the past 33 months, his job approval has been lower than George W. Bush’s at a comparable time in his presidency for all but one week. (snip) And the famous “wrong track” measure now stands at 63 percent, versus 55 percent in the days preceding the vote in 2004. If these two numbers don’t improve for Obama, his presidency will be in jeopardy. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Another Hitler, or Maybe Mussolini

Thomas Pascoe, who writes on matters financial for The Telegraph (U.K.) has a gloomy column suggesting that economic conditions in today's Europe resemble those there in the 1930s. See his reasoning:
As in the early 1930s, the decision on the fate of financial order on the continent rests with debtor countries who admit no guilt for their debt. And, once again, faith is being placed in the treaty system to maintain order. To push the analogy further, I believe that the dominant form of political organisation over the next decade will be nationalism. We are one charismatic leader away from a complete re-ordering of the continent.
The article draws some uncomfortable parallels; Pascoe reminds us of Germany's default on WW I reparations and concludes:
A great deal now depends on whether a man will emerge somewhere in Europe capable of pushing nervous and resentful electorates over the precipice to outright default. I would not bet against it.

Rice? Maybe Not

Matt Drudge has been pushing the idea that Condoleezza Rice will be Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick. The Week on Yahoo News comes up with four reasons why she won't be his pick, I find them persuasive:
1. She supports abortion rights.
2. She's tied to Bush.
3. She would be a novice candidate.
4. She's not an attack dog.
See their article for an explanation of each.

Quote of the Day

The Gallup polling organization, writing about the voter turnout difficulties facing Team Obama:
The challenge for Obama is that many of his strongest support groups, including young adults, blacks, and Hispanics, have historically turned out to vote at lower rates than other subgroups.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Noonan: A Flat Election

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan writes about how the presidential election lacks fire, lacks passion. She has a theory to explain this, in two parts:
First, people know that what America needs right now is the leadership of a kind of political genius. Second, they know neither of the candidates is a political genius. 
Alas, I fear she is correct.

New Poll Data

Not all poll data deals directly with the presidential horserace, some is tangential. Connecticut's Quinnipiac University does well respected polls, asking questions on matters of national policy.

I've chosen to focus the answers to two of those questions which relate to recent Supreme Court decisions. How people feel about the Arizona immigration law that was mostly struck down by the court, and whether voters view Obamacare as a tax hike?
By 61 - 34 percent, voters want an Arizona-type law in their state, requiring police to check the immigration status of someone they have already stopped or arrested if they suspect he or she is in the country illegally.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a tax hike, American voters say 55 - 36 percent, but in a mixed message, voters agree 48 - 45 percent with the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the law, while they say 49 - 43 percent that the U.S. Congress should repeal it.
I disagree those numbers constitute a mixed message. People view ACA as a tax hike, agree that, as such, it is constitutional but want it repealed. Why is that hard to fathom?

Wedding Guide

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control have put out a guide for how to survive a wedding. This follows their popular guide last year on how to survive a zombie apocalypse. See the article on Global Post.

Honestly, until they cure the common cold I believe the CDC has more important things to do than post spoof websites. Is this a good use of our tax dollars?

Hypocrisy Watch

Attorney General Holder has been active in trying to prevent states from enacting laws requiring voters to present photo IDs in order to pick up their ballots. He claims the practice is racist.

At the same time, the media was required to have photo IDs in order to hear him speak at the NAACP National Convention in Houston, TX. See the story here at TownHall.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Quote of the Day

Jay Cost, writing for The Weekly Standard, about problems President Obama has with various aspects of the electorate:
The last Democrat to win a majority of the white vote was Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
Obama's current approval among white voters: 37%. This column is filled with other interesting numbers, too.

Dowd: White Middle Class Women the Key

Matthew Dowd of ABC News does some of what he calls "back of the envelope" calculations to come up with white, middle class women who like Obama, dislike his policies, think the country is on the wrong track, and oh, by the way, dislike Romney. Dowd says they are the key to the 2012 election.

Dowd leaves out something other studies have shown: a large proportion of these women are unmarried. I suspect, given his description of the group, many won't get around to voting.

These women lack passion for either side. They won't send off for an absentee ballot and on election Tuesday most will be too busy or too tired to stand in line at a polling place. Ergo, they won't be the big factor Dowd thinks they'll be.

The Glories of Guvment Medicine

Thousands of Canadians left Canada to get medical treatment last year. The Daily Caller reports:
The nonpartisan Fraser Institute reported that 46,159 Canadians sought medical treatment outside of Canada in 2011, as wait times increased 104 percent — more than double — compared with statistics from 1993. 
I expect most of those came to the U.S. Danny Williams, the premier of Newfoundland, went to Miami for his heart surgery (San Francisco Chronicle)

However, many retired Canadians spend winters in the southern U.S. where it's warm. When they become ill and seek medical care in the U.S., they aren't fleeing Canadian wait times. They are getting care where they happen to be: Palm Springs, Mesa, Brownsville, or Sarasota.

I expect that could account for a quarter of those cited. On the other hand, Canadians who winter in the U.S. could become accustomed to short medical wait times and intolerant of what they deal with back home.

Wealthy or Not

Vice President Joe Biden claims to be be "middle class" and posts joint income tax filings showing an income of $379,000. On the other hand the President and the White House claim everybody making over $250,000 is "wealthy." SourceDaily Mail, U.K.

Who is right? Team Obama needs to get its stories straight. 

Medicaid Gone Wild

See a very short, very scary blog post with charts. It shows how we're getting near the point where there's one person working in private industry for every one on welfare or working for government.

That situation is unsustainable. The author is Jim Pethokoukis writing on the AEI-Ideas blog. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Rubio: Obama Naive

President Obama has told a radio interviewer that he believes Hugo Chavez of Venezuela "has not had a serious national security impact on us." In the narrowest sense, that may be true. Venezuela has launched no invasions of U.S. territory, sent no terrorists our way, nor kidnapped any of our citizens.

On the other hand, fueled by its oil production and sales, Venezuela has taken over from Cuba the role of encouraging hatred of the U.S. among the peoples of Central and South America. They've made friends of our enemies, and enemies of our friends.

Chavez has funded crypto-Communist movements in Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia, and elsewhere. He has encouraged drug-running rebels in neighboring Colombia, and perhaps provided them arms.

I like Mitt Romney's comment on the President's view of Chavez: "It is disturbing to see him downplaying the threat posed to U.S. interests by a regime that openly wishes us ill." (The Weekly Standard)

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is probably best positioned to comment on Obama's assessment of Chavez. After summarizing the many ways Chavez has worked to our detriment, Rubio concludes:
President Obama continues to display an alarmingly na├»ve understanding of the challenges and opportunities we face in the Western Hemisphere. (Politico)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Long-Range Climate Science

Scientists studying tree rings going back two thousand years have found that summer high temperatures have been gradually cooling over that period - consult their graph with trend line.

The popularized article is at The Register website. The scientific paper is available at Nature Climate Change, where they find that natural forces have been on the order of four times as powerful as anthropogenic forces.

Interesting stuff, this. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Egypt's Poor Economy

Egypt is in trouble: less tourism and more people to consume the food the foreign exchange pays for. See a good article in The National Interest which summarizes the economic problems Egypt faces.

Egypt is hurting for water, it has to share the Nile with Ethiopia, Uganda, and the two Sudans. And those nations get first dibs on the water before it flows north into Egypt.

Egypt has a young population and a high percentage of them are unemployed. Food has to be imported:
Egypt depends on foreign food supplies and is the world’s largest importer of wheat and second-largest importer of maize. These commodities, which have seen sky-high prices, must be paid for in foreign currency.
Like many poor nations, Egypt exports labor and "imports" their remittances. The unrest of the Arab Spring has decreased demand for exported labor.

Jay Cost: Four Political Facts

Jay Cost who writes for The Weekly Standard has identified what he believes are the four key facts concerning the presidential race which culminates in early November. In outline form, here they are:
(1) Barack Obama is an unpopular president.
(2) Impressions about Obama seem mostly to be set.
(3) The economy is hurting the president.
(4) Romney will have an opportunity to define himself.
Cost concludes: "This president is in deep trouble." See what Cost says about each of his four facts, his column is worth reading.

Is Manzanar Available?

The Iranian government is making efforts to recruit Iranian emigres in Canada (and probably the U.S.) to be a fifth column in the event of an outbreak of overt hostilities between the U.S. and Iran. See the story on the Fox News website.

In the event that this becomes something more than a recruiting effort, if actual fifth column terrorism occurs, one can imagine a renewal of the internment camps of World War II. Thus the title reference to Manzanar.

Yes, I know the conventional wisdom is that internment camps were horrible and violated civil rights, but they worked.  Canada had them too.

Is Roosevelt lucky he died before he could be prosecuted as a war criminal? I doubt it. We give presidents wide latitude to win real wars.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Happy on the Right

Conservatives are happier than liberals/progressives, or so the research shows. Arthur C. Brooks has written a pleasant column for The New York Times which explores this phenomenon in its various permutations. Brooks covers various components of this including the one to which I give most credit: marriage.

In spite of all the griping and jokes to the contrary, married people are happier than unmarried or no longer married people - much research shows this. Likewise, married people are much more likely to be conservative than are unmarried people.

The most unusual finding is that extremes - left and right - are happier than moderates. As Brooks says, perhaps in partial jest:
Extremists have the whole world figured out, and sorted into good guys and bad guys. They have the security of knowing what’s wrong, and whom to fight. They are the happy warriors.
No wonder the country is polarized and becoming more so.

Kristol: Romney Needs a Plan

Bill Kristol, who writes for The Weekly Standard, has an interpretation of some Fox News poll numbers which suggest Mitt Romney needs to put forward an economic plan. Maybe yes, maybe no.

If you believe, as Romney's campaign staff do, that this election is just a referendum on Obama's performance, no plan is necessary and putting one forward would turn off people whose interests weren't included in that plan.

If you believe that the election is a battle between competing economic plans, Obama's and Romney's, then Romney needs a plan and at this point hasn't put one forward in any detail.

I'm not sure who is correct. I do understand that newsies like Bill K. would like to have plan details to paw over. Their needs may not be the same as the needs of the voters.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

How and When to Intervene Militarily

Mark Helprin had an excellent column in Thursday's Wall Street Journal, which you would require a subscription to read. Fortunately, the article is also available without subscription here on the Mastermind Century Group website. Helprin lists six rules for involving U.S. troops overseas, see his article for the explanation of each:
Maintain overwhelming reserves of military power.
Make the argument, speak the truth, and strike with maximum consensus.
Strike in time.
Strike with overkill in relation to the objective.
Abstain from nation building, transformation, and counterinsurgency.
Approach war with the mind of a general, but the heart of an infantryman.
There is much wisdom here.

Quote of the Day

Stephen Moore, writing in The Wall Street Journal, about the recent power outages in the D.C. area:
Every initiative by green groups is focused on reducing our access to electrical power - although they never admit that explicitly.
Unfortunately, a subscription is required to read the entire column.

Weird Heart Science

This piece of science is so strange I won't try to paraphrase it. Here is the quote from a HealthDay article on Yahoo News: 
Heart failure patients who are carrying extra pounds have a lower risk of death and other heart failure-related health outcomes than thin or normal-weight patients, new research suggests. Researchers call it the "obesity paradox." Obesity raises the risk of developing heart failure, but once people have it, excess weight is associated with lower risk of death, of needing a heart transplant and other problems, the researchers said. 
I'm happy there is an upside to being overweight. The researchers who did this study are at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine.

An Interesting Assertion

Mark Weisbrot, who writes for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, has an unusual take on the federal budget problems:
In the long run, there is a budget problem – but this is entirely due to health care spending.  If you pick any country with as high a life expectancy as ours, and plug their health care costs per person into our budget, our long-term budget deficit will disappear. So we just need to have normal health care costs – not budget cuts. 
Do you suppose this is true? That we grossly overpay for health care in comparison with other countries with developed medical systems? I wonder how much of this overpayment is due to the predation of the trial bar and the high costs of malpractice insurance?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Racism is Universal

Guess what? North Americans aren't the only people afflicted with racism. Read a story in The Guardian U.K. of two African peoples who discriminate against each other on the basis of skin color. It happens in India, too.

My conclusion: racism is one of the less attractive aspects of the human condition, but it exists essentially everywhere there are people of more than one color.

Goin' on the Dole

New federal figures show that during June more people went on disability than got new jobs. If this trend were to continue, eventually everyone would be disabled for one reason or another - nobody would have a job to pay the taxes to support the dole. See an Investor's Business Daily article for details.

Fortunately, trends like this cannot be permitted to continue. If they do, everything collapses in a heap, we become Greece or worse.

Eventually, the government will have to set the bar for disability higher, make it more difficult to qualify, perhaps even - gasp, shock - boot off disability some malingerers who shouldn't be there.


As we've previously noted on COTTonLINE, this search for government support also occurred during the Great Depression. Literally thousands of former "doughboys," veterans of what we now call World War I, discovered that they were "disabled" as a result of their military service.

These were "disabilities" veterans had overlooked during the 1920s when they were younger and jobs were plentiful. The Veterans Administration was so overwhelmed they constituted special hearing panels to review the many cases.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

George Will: About the Schools

George Will, writing here for the New York Post, talks about the mess in the Chicago schools. In the process, he says some wise things about schools in general. Will strongly infers that the Chicago city schools are largely non-residential reform schools or youth prisons, he writes:
Teaching is necessarily subordinated to the arduous task of maintaining minimal order.
What leads to this problematic behavior? Will summarizes:
Abundant data demonstrate that the vast majority of differences in schools’ performances can be explained by qualities of the families from which the children come to school. (snip) Much the most important variable (is) the number of parents in the home. In Chicago, 84 percent of African-American children and 57 percent of Hispanic children are born to unmarried women. 
To give you a handle on what those illegitimacy statistics mean, Will adds:
Chicago schools are 86 percent black and Hispanic.

Barone on Recent Mexican Politics

Michael Barone writes for RealClearPolitics an unexcited, almost placid summary of Mexican presidential politics over the past thirty years, culminating with Sunday's election of PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto.

Barone concludes Mexico has become a country with normal politics. I believe his headline writer overstated disinterest in the presidential election with the "What if they held an election and nobody came?" trope. In fact I read several fine stories about the election and we today await a substantial recount of the ballots.

An issue much covered is the photogenic nature of Pena Nieto and his actress second wife Angelica Rivera. The handsome couple are not unlike the Kennedys in this regard, and the term "Camelot" has been bandied.

Politico: Seven Inflection Points

Politico's Maggie Haberman finds seven inflection points that could change the dynamic of the supposedly close race between Obama and Romney. The article is interesting, although I don't believe all of her seven issues are of equal impact. Take a look.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, United States of America

Let's all wish the U.S. a happy birthday, whether or not it's your citizenship. I suspect most of us, particularly COTTonLINE readers, see the U.S. as a force for good in this world, at least on balance if not in every particular of its actions. (Whew, that was a run-on sentence.)

I was musing yesterday how fortunate the U.S. was to have so many polymaths among its founders: Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Hamilton and Washington. These were giants of wisdom and human insight.

Where are their equals today I wonder? Probably running hedge funds, I reply snidely. Follow the money....

Wierd Particle Science

It appears the Higgs boson or so-called "God particle" has been found. It is believed the particle "confers mass" and therefore would be crucial in the creation of the material universe, hence the God reference. See an explanation of its relevance on MSNBC.

Physicists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research located on the Swiss-French border, announced the find. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking says if the discovery proves out, Peter Higgs should receive the Nobel Prize. See more in this Agence France-Presse (AFP) article on Yahoo News.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Weird Cat Science

Joke comparing dogs and cats as pets: dogs have owners, cats have staff. Now a finding about cats by a University of Maryland med school scientist. See the article on the website of The Telegraph (U.K.).

Women who keep cats are more likely to be infected with toxoplasmosis and those with this infection are 1.5 times more likely to attempt suicide. The T. gondii parasite can hide in brain cells in oocysts, and may thus be able to influence mental health.

Actually what has been found is a correlation. It could be that there is something about being predisposed to suicide that makes women want to keep cats. The possibilities are endless and fascinating. The article mentions as though in passing the following:
The infection, which is called toxoplasmosis, has been linked to mental illness, such as schizophrenia, and changes in behaviour.
Seems to me suicide attempts constitute a significant "change in behavior."

Monday, July 2, 2012

NYT: Obama Losing Young

When the Obama-loving New York Times tells you he has a problem with a major voter base segment, believe it. Now the Gray Lady reports Obama is having trouble creating the excitement among the young he had four years ago.

Let's think ... how could this be true? In 2008, after eight years of Bush-Cheney realpolitik, the young wanted to believe in something idealistic. When Obama promised "hope" and "change" the kids believed because (a) they wanted it to be true and (b) there was little in his record contradicting his message.

Four years later, assuming they've paid attention, the young have discovered Obama is just another untrustworthy, boring politician who says one thing and does another. He has to run on his record and his record largely sucks.

Obama can't very well ask the young to ignore the last four years and instead recapture the 2008 dream. Meanwhile, the young owe too much on their student loans, they don't have jobs, and they're back living with their parents. What's not to love?

Four more years of this? If the young get around to voting they'll probably vote for Obama, but many won't bother and that is his problem.

Old or New Mexico?

Mexico is one of our two close neighbors and, clearly, the more troubled of the two. As such it demands we pay attention to what happens there.

Yesterday the voters of Mexico elected a new president, Enrique Pena Nieto. See an CNN article about him, with photo. He represents the PRI or Institutional Revolutionary Party, a party out of power for 12 years after ruling for 71 years.

The PRI was described during its long rule as the "perfect dictatorship," something of an exaggeration. A "perfect dictatorship" would win all elections, and twice in the last twelve years the PRI lost presidential elections. Now it appears to be back in power.

Polls have shown for some months that Pena Nieto was expected to win. The Mexican press has attributed this switch in voter sentiment to dissatisfaction with economic growth and the incumbent's inability to curb the violence of the drug wars. This violence has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Mexicans.

As recent elections in Greece, France, and now Mexico have shown, it is difficult for incumbent  parties to be reelected during an economic downturn. Perhaps that will also be the case in the U.S.

It isn't clear what the Mexican government could do to reduce drug violence. Perhaps stop trying to enforce the laws against drugs?

The violence of prohibition in the U.S. was dramatically reduced when we legalized alcohol sales. It seems unlikely, but not impossible, that Mexico would legalize narcotics.

During its long rule, the PRI was known for corruption, vote-buying, and ballot-rigging. On the other hand it managed to keep enough of Mexico's people happy to stay in power for a very long time.

One could argue the PRI understands the Mexican psyche better than the other parties which have run against it. The history of Mexican politics during the PRI's 71 years was one of issues being decided by factions within the PRI rather than within the legislature, which was largely a rubber stamp of PRI policies.

In this regard, Mexican politics resembled the politics of Japan which for most of the post-war period was ruled by one party. Within that ruling party various factions hashed out the issues of Japanese policy.

Causality Issues

The article that triggers this post comes from USA Today and shows that children who receive non-abusive physical punishment are more likely to exhibit mental disorders as adults. What could be more clear?

Punishment happens to children, mental disorders appear in adults. One happens before the other, therefore one causes the other, or does it?

I think it is even more likely that individuals who exhibit mental disorders as adults also are more erratic and disorderly as children. As such, they are more likely to receive non-abusive physical punishment.

The anti-physical punishment bias that pervades the psychological research community is reflected in this piece of work, not so much in the data as in the interpretation thereof. Kids who are well-adjusted are also well-behaved and attract less non-abusive physical punishment ... no kidding.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hill Stations

The Brits ran India before air conditioning. They'd send Mum and the little ones up to a hill station during the summer. Hill stations were substantially higher in elevation and thus naturally cooler. Dad would stay down in the heat making things work, but sweating profusely.

It still works, this "higher elevation = cooler temperatures" thing. Right now most of the U.S. is burning up while here in the Rockies we're comfortable without air con.

You wouldn't want to spend winters here. The winters are both cold and long; that's how a hill station works. We spend the cool summers here and leave the long, frigid winters to the year-round residents.

The great central valley of California, from Redding in the north to Bakersfield in the south, gets beastly hot in summer. Temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit are common. Places in the Sierras like Burney, Shaver Lake, Lake Almanor, Quincy, and Lake Tahoe were the valley's hill stations.

Before air conditioning lots of valley families had a summer cabin up in the Sierras' piney woods, a fair number still do. Mom and the kids would spend the summers there and Dad would drive up on weekends.

Of course, air conditioning has made hill stations less of a necessity and more of a luxury.

How the Court Decided

If you would read a detailed discussion of who decided what when concerning the Supreme Court's health care law decision, Jan Crawford's article for CBS News is your choice.  As Jan Crawford Greenberg she did SCOTUS analysis for the PBS News Hour for 9 years, and she is the real deal.

It turns out Chief Justice Roberts did change his mind. He was initially against it, and later changed his mind and decided to support it. You are unlikely to read a better discussion of his actions, unless at some point he decides to write them up himself. Hat tip to The Weekly Standard for the link.

Hispanic Voters Concerns

It turns out Hispanic voters do not have immigration as their highest priority, not even as their second highest, it comes in third. Mind you, those are the priorities of Hispanic voters, not of Hispanic persons in general.

It is demonstrably true that many Hispanic voters have been in the country long enough not to prioritize the issue so highly. This Politico article summarizes the results of a USA Today/Gallup poll from which these findings come.

As you might surmise, immigrants and first-generation Hispanics care more about immigration than do Hispanics who've been here longer. Ceteris paribus, immigrants and first-generation Hispanics have closer ties to family in other countries.

Gallup concludes that, as both presidential candidates make overtures to Hispanic voters, immigration should not be their main selling point. They note:
Rather, the economy -- specifically, unemployment and economic growth -- is of greatest concern to nearly four in 10 Hispanic voters, while another 21% are most concerned about healthcare.
Which statistic suggests many Hispanic voters are concentrated in employment not providing health care.

Latin American Malfeasance

Pulitzer Prize winning Andres Oppenheimer writes for The Miami Herald about issues in Latin Americas. In this column he summarizes evil things happening in Latin America about which the region keeps quiet because the governments in question are on the left. Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the link.

He itemizes wrongdoing in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Cuba, all of which have gone uncriticized. And he admits the criticized "coup" in Paraguay is in fact a violation of their constitution.

If you would see some of what is going wrong in Latin America, this one short column lays out a fair amount of it. If your interests include Latin America, as do mine, this column is worth your time.

A Mandela Moment

Egypt has elected Mohamad Morsi - candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood - as President. See a Project Syndicate article for details.

President Morsi now has an amazing opportunity, if he will take it. He can become the Islamic hardliner everyone expects him to be or he can become another Nelson Mandela, a president of all his people.

Egypt is not a universally Islamic nation, according to the CIA World Factbook roughly 10% of Egyptians are Christians, most of these Coptics. Furthermore, many of the young Tahrir Square activists who brought about the overthrow of Mubarak are secularists, that is, people who want government and religion to continue to be separated.

Most of those who voted for Morsi want him to be a hardliner, to turn Egypt from a secular state into an Islamic state. Nearly half of Egyptians voted for the other candidate who, although tainted with his connection with the Mubarak regime, campaigned on a platform of secularism.

While no one will be surprised if Morsi does what he is expected to do, the world certainly would be pleased if he tried to govern in a way that included the needs of all of his people. However, I'm not convinced his political base would tolerate it.

Mandela figured out how to get the African National Congress to live with his inclusiveness. Perhaps Morsi can do the same with the Muslim Brotherhood, presuming he wants to do so.

The Middle East usually disappoints the West with its actions. If you were a betting person that's how you'd bet on this outcome, too.