Sunday, December 21, 2014

Reverend Sharpton Sees the Light


For John, BLUFAnd Mayor deBlasio appears to be clueless.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, in connection with any violence or killing of police, is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases.
Per Rev Al Sharpton.

He got that right.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Boko Haram


For John, BLUFNigeria is the 8th largest petroleum exporting nation and a collapse would impact world oil prices negatively.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is a good question from The New Yorker, As the Year Ends, Where Are Nigeria’s Kidnapped Girls?.  The author is Ms Alexis Okeowo, who is a contributing writer for The New Yorker.  She is based in Lagos, Nigeria.

Most of them are still being held by the group Boko Haram, which is conducting a Stage I (Terrorism) Insurgency against the Government of Nigeria.

Every now and then, a girl might find an opportunity to run away, but Boko Haram has been kidnapping girls and young women for a long time; we know from those who have escaped (sometimes pregnant or with a small child) that they are often handed off to militants as sex slaves or forced to perform tasks for the terrorist group.
With an election for President of Nigeria in the offing, here is a summary of the situation:
The country’s northeast is a humanitarian disaster.  A million six hundred thousand people are homeless, waiting on handouts and unable to farm their land.  A famine is possible.  Refugee camps are overcrowded and woefully bare of services. The region has collapsed in on itself.  President Jonathan, who has presided over the conflict with a mixture of indifference and annoyance, is trying to convince Nigerians that he deserves another chance to bring prosperity to Nigeria, which will have to mean ending Boko Haram’s reign.  But his administration’s incompetency in the war may be the biggest selling point for his opponent, Muhammadu Buhari, who, despite having already ruled Nigeria as a military dictator in the nineteen-eighties, has somehow ended up as the man some Nigerians see as one of their country’s last hopes.
I would say this is a good point at which the magazine Rolling Stone can redeem itself after that atrocious effort regarding alleged gang rape at UVA.  With Boko Haram we have not only gang rape, but also mass kidnappings and the selling of women into slavery, including sexual slavery.  An ugly mix that will not be solved by suggesting to the overseers that "Yes means Yes".  And Hash Tags are not going to do it.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Translated into English, Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden", although the official name of the Insurgent Group is Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'Awati Wal-Jihad (People Committed to the Prophet's Teachings for Propagation and Jihad).  They, too, wish to set up a new Caliphate.

Another Kennedy Rejection of Ms Clinton?


For John, BLUFUncle Joe supported Senator Obama over Senator Clinton in 2008.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The Boston Herald tells us that US Rep Joseph P Kennedy III (Mass 4th Congressional District) has indicated that he would support his old teacher at Harvard Law, Senator E Warren, if she decided to run.

Regards  —  Cliff

Flash Gordon Lives


For John, BLUFGreat Adventure stories for fathers and sons (and daughters).  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I always liked Flash Gordon, when it was serialized on TV in the late 1940s or early 1950s, and I was not surprised that in its own way it was an inspiration to Film Maker George Lucas and to his creation, Star Wars.  The story behind the story has been now told by Author Chris Taylor in the new history of the sci-fi franchise, How Star Wars Conquered the Universe,.

This, in turn was captured by The New Yorkers in an article by Mr Joshua Rothman, "The Crazy History of 'Star Wars'"

Taylor’s book doesn’t evoke the wonder of “Star Wars” so much as the strangeness of its vast success. At the movies’ core, of course, is familiarity: they’re exceptionally good reimaginings of nineteen-thirties sci-fi serials like “Flash Gordon.” As a child, Lucas was addicted to those shows; even in college, the world of military-space fantasy was so alive in his imagination that, according to one roommate, he preferred to “stay in his room and draw star troopers” instead of going out.
I found this paragraph interesting:
… the Emperor was based on President Nixon.  It’s hard for us to see it today.  The analogy I like to draw is to the nursery rhymes of the nineteenth century, which covered all these intricate political situations and were the satire of their day.  We don’t hear that now, we just hear charming children’s doggerel.
While I voted for Richard Nixon when he ran for his second term, it wasn't so much for Mr Nixon as it was against his opponent, Senator George McGovern.  I thought Senator McGovern would be a disaster and that President Nixon in his Second Term would be smart enough to not do anything stupid.  I was wrong.  That said, the Emperor seems a little bit much.  And who does Darth Vader represent?

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Single Payer Health Care?


For John, BLUFI think Single Payer changes health care for the worse for many Americans, without much helping the rest.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From Politico we have an examination of single payer health care in Vermont, by Ms Sarah Wheaton.  The title is "Why single payer died in Vermont" The lede and more:
Vermont was supposed to be the beacon for a single-payer health care system in America. But now its plans are in ruins, and its onetime champion Gov. Peter Shumlin may have set back the cause.

Advocates of a “Medicare for all” approach were largely sidelined during the national Obamacare debate.  The health law left a private insurance system in place and didn’t even include a weaker “public option” government plan to run alongside more traditional commercial ones.

So single-payer advocates looked instead to make a breakthrough in the states.  Bills have been introduced from Hawaii to New York; former Medicare chief Don Berwick made it a key plank of his unsuccessful primary race for Massachusetts governor.

Vermont under Shumlin became the most visible trailblazer.  Until Wednesday, when the governor admitted what critics had said all along: He couldn’t pay for it.

“It is not the right time for Vermont” to pass a single-payer system, Shumlin acknowledged in a public statement ending his signature initiative.  He concluded the 11.5 percent payroll assessments on businesses and sliding premiums up to 9.5 percent of individuals’ income “might hurt our economy.”

The question is, is this a speed bump or the end of the road?

Hat tip to Memeorandum.

Regards  —  Cliff

Ohio Changes Apportionment


For John, BLUFI would like to see something like this for Massachusets.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



"In a Break From Partisan Rancor, Ohio Moves to Make Elections More Competitive".  At least for the State Legislature.  Some are grousing that it doesn't include US Congressional Districts, but this is a good first step.  The article, by Report Trip Gabriel, was in today's edition of The New York Times.

Here is the situation in a nut shell:

In 37 states, legislatures now draw voting maps.  The 13 others use commissions that are, in theory, less partisan.  In some states, the commissions are independent, and in others, their members are politically appointed.  That has been Ohio’s system since the 1970s.  The Apportionment Board is composed of three elected state officials — the governor, auditor and secretary of state — and one member from each party chosen by the legislature. Republicans have controlled it for three decades.

The new plan would add two members, one from each party.  And if the minority-party members did not approve of the district maps, the changes would last only four years, not the traditional 10.  Partisan control of the board could seesaw in four years after statewide elections, so this would create an incentive to win the minority’s approval.

Good luck, Ohio.

Hat tip to Memeorandum.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Paris Commune


For John, BLUFWe should all embrace "that there are legitimate ideas about shaping the future of the nation other than your own."  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The New Yorker, 22 December edition, we have the review of another book on the Paris Commune, under the headline "The Fires of Paris".  The subheadline is "Why do people still fight about the Paris Commune?"  The Review author is Mr Adam Gopnik.

The Paris Commune is one of those obscure artifacts from the Franco-Prussion War (1870-1871) that most people either don't know about, or if they do, chose to ignore.  However, for a small group of people it is a big thing.

The book being reviewed is Massacre:  The Life and Death of the Paris Commune.  The author is Professor John Merriman, from Yale.  From the review we are led to believe that Professor Merriman is pro Commune.

The review is a quick look at French history and the history of the Commune.  The most interest item, in the first paragraph, is "That Napoleon was a bad man but a big figure…", which I had come to believe, but was not sure anyone else saw it that way.  Not mentioned was that France tried to conquer Mexico while we were involved in our Civil War.  Yes, there were a lot of follies in France, from the French Revolution up through Charles de Gaulle.

I think the key paragraph in the Review is this one:

What the Communards fought and died for was, fifty years later, achieved, as France moved toward a modern welfare state, and firmly separated Church and nation.  What the royalists killed for—and died for, too—was over, and for good.  The real winner was the republic as it would become.  The path from the death of the Commune to true republicanism was extremely knotty, but, by the end of the eighteen-seventies, France was on it.  (Even Louise Michel was amnestied, and came home, to resume her career as an unapologetic provocateur.)  The responsible left came to embrace legislative Republicanism single-mindedly, not out of fear but out of wisdom—knowing that the only way to maintain the real revolution was to accept in permanence the truth that rejecting the legitimacy of the opposition could end only in violence, real liberal republicanism being no more than the understanding that there are legitimate ideas about shaping the future of the nation other than your own.
And the key sentence:
The responsible left came to embrace legislative Republicanism single-mindedly, not out of fear but out of wisdom—knowing that the only way to maintain the real revolution was to accept in permanence the truth that rejecting the legitimacy of the opposition could end only in violence, real liberal republicanism being no more than the understanding that there are legitimate ideas about shaping the future of the nation other than your own.
Of course we should understand that left, right, up, down and sideways may well mean different things in France than they do in Ottomwa, Iowa.  And we should understand that France still had a long ways to go.  For instance, it had to get past the Dreyfus Affair.  And then World War I, followed by the 1930s and the debacle known as World War II, and then decolonization.  Life has not been easy for those who are French.

Regards  —  Cliff