Sunday, November 30, 2008

Made the News

Today I found myself mentioned in "The Column" in my local newspaper, The Lowell Sun.

To quote in full:
Cliff Krieger, the retired Air Force officer and Lowell Republican City Committee member who unsuccessfully challenged state Rep. David Nangle in 2002 and 2004, posts his conservative views on the day's issues online at

Krieger said the blog was originally intended to be a back-and-forth between himself and former WCAP host George Anthes, who is now hosting a daily show on Lowell cable. Now, Krieger is out on his own and enjoying it.

He said that although he never felt unwelcome to comment on other local blogs, there was a need for a conservative voice among the city's political bloggers, which include the aptly named Left in Lowell and the more centrist Democrats of

"I hope to open up the discussion. I would like to get more people talking about the issues of the day, and not just political issues, but also cultural ones," Krieger wrote in an e-mail to The Column.
Thank you Lowell Sun and thank you to "The Column."

Regards -- Cliff

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai Update 1

Via the Instanpundit, there is this from The Hindu, which claims to be India's National Newspaper. It also tells us that it has been around for over 100 years and has a readership of over 4 million. That isn't peanuts.

At any rate, a Praveen Swami* has an opinion piece in the 29 November 2008 edition of The Hindu. Titled India’s strategic deafness & the massacre in Mumbai, it contains some harsh criticism of the Indian Government. This is to be expected.

However, the author makes comparisons with the United States:
But even as India debates what the authorship of the attacks will mean to Pakistan-India relations, commentators have been scrambling to contrast India’s responses to terror with that of the United States. While the U.S. has succeeded in blocking successive attempts to execute attacks on its soil since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the argument goes, India’s failure has been dismal.
This raises questions as to if the US approach, which has been decried in some quarters (e.g., charges of wire tapping phone calls where one party is not in the US, immunity for telephone companies too quick to cooperate with NSA and detentions in GITMO), is not a suitable course. This is a question that the incoming Administration will have to ask itself.

And we will have to ask ourselves the same question and then respond by sending letters to our two Senators and our Representative and by writing letters to our local newspapers. This is an issue too important to not make one's voice heard--but also too important to not think through. While none of us want a Mumbai like experience in our near future, it is also true that we don't want the Federal, State or Local Governments dealing with our data, and our communications, the way some in which the Ohio bureaucracy dealt with Joe the Plummer (leafing through the data on hand to satisfy personal or political interest). Remember H L Menken's quip: "There is always an easy solution to every human problem--neat, plausible, and wrong**." (Apparently it first appeared in the essay "The Divine Afflatus," originally published in 1917. It appears the word "Divine" is redundant.)

Regards -- Cliff

* Mr Swami holds a BA in history from King's College, Cambridge and was a Senior Fellow at the US Institute of Peace, under the Jennings Randolph Fellowship Program. He was In Residence from October 2004–July 2005.

** My underlining.

Whose President?

My wife and I went out to dinner, after Mass this afternoon. At the restaurant, Amanda, part of the staff, asked if "I was for Obama." I am, obviously, a known Republican and no RIRO.

I said that yes I was for Obama. If Obama fails, we all fail.

The incoming President will face a lot of important issues on 20 January.
  • The Economy--I want my meager 401K to not become even more meager. What President Obama does will influence that. But, more important are the jobs of my neighbors. A serious recession could find 12% of the population out of work. That would be bad for all of us.

  • Iraq--Iraq seems to be on the right track and its success is mostly in the hands of the Iraqis. What President Obama does about the drawdown could influence long term prospects in not only Iraq, but also in other parts of the Middle East.

  • GITMO--Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, as it is known, is a problem. President Obama promised to shut down the detention center there, but that will mean that he needs to figure out what to do with the 250 some people still in detention there (his staff needs to develop options and more options and then he needs to pick one). This will have no easy answers, but decisions have to be taken.
This list could go on, but the point is that if President Elect Obama has a successful term in office all Americans benefit. Some more and some less, but all to some degree.

This isn't Europe (with all due apologies). We elect a President, even by a narrow margin, and he is our President. That old line, "The King is dead, long live the King," applies in this situation. I was not one of those with a 01/20/09 bumper sticker. I think Geo Bush has done a pretty good job, everything considered, but I also know he has some warts. But, at noon on the 20th of January, Barack Hussein Obama will be my President. As my President he may be subject to some criticism by me, but that is all part of the game. But, don't let some outsider, someone from Europe or Asia or Latin America or Canada tell me that he is bad and should be run out of town on a rail. He is MY President--may he live long and prosper--so that I may live long and prosper.

Then we will look at it again in 2012.

Regards -- Cliff

Friday, November 28, 2008

India Will Never Be The Same Again

That, at least is what many are saying. Here is a personal report from someone who moved from the US to Mombai about six years ago. The writer, Mr Prashant Agrawal, notes "These attacks are going to serve as a tipping point for India. India has had no less than 10 terrorist attacks over the last five years described as India's 9/11. And so now is the latest assault."

While the loss of life was not like when we were attacked on 9/11, the loss of life was considerable--145 at last report. The attacks not only took on two upscale hotels, a railroad station and a restaurant, but also the Nariman House, a Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish outreach center that had been in Mumbai for some time.

There were the heroes, of course
The tale of the unnamed staff member has echoed across Mumbai where, time after time, hotel workers have emerged as the people who shielded, hid or evacuated their wealthy guests from militants at the Taj and Trident/Oberoi hotels.
As reported by Reuters.

The indications are the terrorists were from the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group (some have it as Lashkar-i-Taiba or LiT) from Kashmir, but trained in the Punjab, in Pakistan. Not a direct tie to al Qaeda. But, it raises questions about the involvement of Pakistan's ISI--the Inter-Services Intelligence.

This major terrorist attack will resonate in Lowell. I was looking over a voter registration list as part of working up Ward Committees and happened to notice that there were 153 people with a last name of Patel registered to vote--and this was only half the list.

Twenty or thirty years ago we were less interconnected internationally. That is not the case today, when terrorism is a sort of franchise operation. There are connections amongst terrorists from the Philippines across Asia and North Africa to Algeria and Morocco and then up into Europe and then across to the United States.

There is no doubt in my mind that India must and will plot its own course in responding to this terrorist attack. But, even if they don't ask for our help or even our opinion, what they do or don't do will impact us. We should not think otherwise. A too soft response will encourage others looking to assert the ideas of such as Osama bin Laden. A too strong response might cause the collapse of Pakistan as we know it, unleashing chaos in that region and dragging the US and Iran and other nations into trying to contain it.

Senator Biden, when he said that a President Obama would be tested within the first six months of assuming office, was thinking about other nations testing our metal. But, it isn't always about us. Sometimes things happen in this world because of the interests and needs of other nations. We will all be tested.

Regards -- Cliff

Piracy off Somalia

It was way back on Monday that James Carroll wrote in the Boston Globe about piracy off of Somalia. Ignore the title--the pirates don't say anything. But, as most of us know, piracy has been a big thing in recent weeks.

On the other hand, Mr Carroll is wrong to start with the line: "THE WORD 'pirate' has come into the news for the first time in memory..." There has been piracy in the news for about 15 years. In 1992 there was the incident in the Malacca Straits that resulted in two ships burning and all but two crew members dying. There was the strange capture of the supertanker DEWI MADRIM in March 2003 in the Straits of Malacca. The pirates stole manuals and practiced steering the ship. the Danish bulk carrier DANICA WHITE was taken off Somalia in June of 2007. So, this is a long standing problem and one that many nations are interested in. Wikipedia has a more detailed list of recent captures.

On the other hand, companies seem reluctant to act to arm crews in that it costs money and raises issues of insurance and legal repercussions. Plus, a serious response might require the shipping companies to make major increases in the size of crews, running up costs. Wikipedia speculates that perhaps only 10% of the cases are mentioned, to keep down insurance premiums. Apparently, like most things, economic laws apply. The pirates tend to not ask too much, thus keeping the cost of paying them off under the change in insurance premiums from making a fuss about it.

In a column that ran from the top of the page to the bottom, there is one inch that is correct:
Somali piracy began when the nation's failed government lost the ability to protect the rights of fishermen. Tuna abound in Somali waters, and in the 1990s vessels from other countries illegally moved in, prompting Somali fishermen to arm themselves and confront the poachers. Soon they confronted everyone.
Most of the rest of what he writes on the subject is rubbish.

While Mr Carroll uses most of his column to denigrate the actions of the United States, it is not always about us. With regard to the pirates off Somalia, while the US is in the area and has chased pirates, other nations are also taking action. For example, the Indian Navy is in the action, having sunk a suspected pirate mother ship. Denmark has dispatch HDMS ABSALON, which has been involved in fighting pirates. The Russians are also participating in the overall anti-pirate operations, having dispatched the Guided Missile Frigate NEUSTRASHIMY (Fearless).

Many of the ships are operating under Combined Task Force 150, which is a multinational effort in the Horn of Africa area. Command of CTF-150 rotations among the nations providing ships.

For a scholarly view on piracy, there is an article by Virginia Lunsford, a professor at the US Naval Academy, in the US Naval Institute Proceedings. The article is "What Makes Piracy Work."

On a side-note, I am puzzled by the fact that even though Mr Carroll writes a column for the Globe almost every Monday, he doesn't have a published EMail address. While I made excuses for the late David Nyhan in my mind, Mr Carroll is younger than I am, so there is no reason for him not to be able to handle EMail. One would think that the Globe would pick up the tab for Mr Carroll, giving him a Globe EMail address. But, if they can't, and no one tells my wife, I would be happy to pay for a cheap account with World Software Tool and Die.

Regards -- Cliff

Beacon Hill

So much to talk about, but today's Boston Globe talks about the key issue of ethics on Beacon Hill. Well, maybe just ethics laws. One wonders if there are any ethics, as such, on Beacon Hill.

The first thing to notice is that just about everyone mentioned is a Democrat or from Common Cause. This could be because there are only 16 Republicans on Beacon Hill. That would be just eight percent of the Representatives and Senators. While the talk is about new laws, perhaps the solution is in two-parts. Republicans run more candidates and the voters reject the corruption apparently inherent on Beacon Hill by voting for a bunch more Republicans--at least enough to sustain a Governor's veto and maybe enough to organize one or more houses.

The person from Common Cause Massachusetts, Pam Wilmot, quoted in the Globe article said:
I haven't seen this much clamoring for change since the early '90s in the general area of ethics. We need more openness, we need more accountability, we need stronger structures that create the best behavior. And we need our lobbyists to be reporting what they do.
Either she failed to mention or the reporter, Matt Viser (, failed to include the fact that another thing we need is a two party system in the Commonwealth.

While, per the story, House Speaker Sal DiMasi, "... has maintained that Massachusetts already has one of the strictest laws in the country," the individual ethical implementations mentioned at the end of the article suggest otherwise. Per an index released last month by the Better Government Association, Massachusetts ranked:
  • 20th overall in the nation on its openness and ethics laws
  • 37th in open meetings laws
  • 42d in open records laws
  • 13th in conflict-of-interest laws
We do rank 2nd in campaign finance law, but that is probably because, to quote reporter Viser, "In the early 1990s, widespread changes were made to the state's campaign finance laws, including limiting contributions to $500, banning lobbyists from providing gifts, and requiring lawmakers to file electronic disclosures." I sometimes wonder if the $500 limit makes it harder for challengers.

As voters--we are all voters, aren't we--we should do all we can to encourage ethical behavior on the part of our elected politicians. That would include not only voting strategically, but also sending letters off to various newspaper editors. The Globe has a chart every week showing how the letters flowed over the previous week. It would be great if we, the citizens, forced the chart to a new scale.

Regards -- Cliff

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and while we tend to trace it back to the Pilgrams, it is really, officially of a more recent origin.

But, that said, out in Madison, WI, award-winning filmmaker Patty Loew has put forward the case that the first celebrants were really "grave robbers." Per the Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times, that is the case.

I got there from the Ann Althouse blog.

Let us grant that Ms Loew, a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, is correct. Does that negate our need to give thanks? Not at all.

Besides, the first Thanksgiving celebration was in St Augustine Florida, on 8 September 1565. That would make it Spanish and before the Pilgrams or European fishermen off the coast of New England.

In 1863 then President Abraham Lincoln declared a day of Thanksgiving for the final Thursday of November. Thus it proceeded, with some modifications in the 1930s, until 1941, when the US Congress pegged the holiday at the fourth Thursday of the month.

The point of the day is that few of us have made it as far as we have without building upon what our families before us have done, and our local community and our state and our nation. We may attribute this in part or in whole to our God or to those who went before us, but in any case we have stood on the shoulders of giants and Thanksgiving is the day to recognize that and to be thankful.

I think the original reference to Giants is from Bernard of Chartres, circa 1130:
"We are like dwarfs standing upon the shoulders of giants, and so able to see more and see farther than the ancients."

Regards -- Cliff

Incidently, someone has been hacking into the Wikipedia page on the US Thanksgiving, defacing it. From the history tab this has been going on for several days. It is now back up, but a couple of minutes ago it was down.

The End of Catholic Hospitals?

Over at Hot Air Ed Morrissey wonders about the long term impact of the "Freedom of Choice Act." This is a bill wandering around Congress, which President Elect Obama has promised to sign the moment it hits his desk. Sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D, Califoria), it would eliminate, nation-wide, all restrictions on abortion "up to the time of fetal viability."

Ed Morrissey, who used to blog under the handle Captain's Corner, further links to the National Review Online and Kathryn Jean Lopez, who notes that the US Catholic Bishops have promised to shut down their hospitals rather than submit to a requirement to perform abortions. The foundational article in this chain is at Slate, where Melinda Henneberger talks about the issue.

A shutdown of Catholic Hospitals could have at least a short term impact on the provision of health care in the United States, particularly in areas not served by a commercial hospital.

Unintended consequences can be a problem when making policy decisions. As I recall from my French Revolution course a couple of semesters ago at UMass Lowell, the Professor noted that the decision of the Revolutionary Government in France to abolish religious orders didn't take into consideration that the motivation of women religious to nurse the sick did not easily and quickly transfer from doing it for the love of God to doing it for the love of the Tricolor and the motto liberty,equality, fraternity. The result was a major failure of health care in France in the last decade of the 18th Century.

If the bill was to be pass, signed and fully enforced there would, of course, be arguments that the US Catholic Bishops were throwing the baby out with the bathwater if they were to close hospitals over having to perform abortions, but if one is going to eventually draw a line, that might be the best place. Let us hope and pray it does not come to that. Being a pluralistic society means accommodating a lot of different views, including those of Catholics.

And, all due credit to The Anchoress for initially pointing me to this thread.

Regards -- Cliff

Monday, November 24, 2008

Senator Clinton Ineligible?

I haven't looked around the local Lowell Blogs to see if this is being debated,* but a question has been raised in the blogosphere by several lawyer bloggers (see here for example) about whether Senator Hillary Clinton is eligible for the position of Secretary of State.

It all turns on the Constitution and in particular Art. I, § 6, cl. 2,
No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time ....
It turns out the pay for the Secretary of State was increased in January of 2007 and that was during Senator Clinton's term of office.

Of course this is not the first time this has come up. There is something called the "Saxbe Fix," whereby Congress passes a bill changing the salary back to what it was when Senator Clinton started her term of office. This fix is not without its critics, as you can see by checking out the Volokh Conspiracy on this subject.

My view--and not a legal view--is that the President should get pretty much the Cabinet he wants and the Saxbe Fix should go in. And, I don't think we care about this with regard to being elected President, but then we don't elect that many Senators or Representatives to that office.

Regards -- Cliff

* My excuse is that I am on my Wife's computer and can't access all my URLs.
** Another view here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Global Trends 2025

The year 2025 isn't so far away. And, things then could be pretty much as they are today, or there could be a discontinuity in the flow of events and we could be viewing a very different world.

The Director of National Intelligence has a National Intelligence Council, which recently published a look at 2025.

Of course I didn't get here on my own. I came via Instapundit, who pointed me to the Volokh Conspiracy. You can catch some highlights of the report there.

The BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front):
The international system—as constructed following the Second World War—will be almost unrecognizable by 2025 owing to the rise of emerging powers, a globalizing economy, an historic transfer of relative wealth and economic power from West to East, and the growing influence of nonstate actors.
And this comment from the Executive Summary
This is a story with no clear outcome, as illustrated by a series of vignettes we use to map out divergent futures. Although the United States is likely to remain the single most powerful actor, the United States’ relative strength—even in the military realm—will decline and US leverage will become more constrained. At the same time, the extent to which other actors—both state and nonstate—will be willing or able to shoulder increased burdens is unclear. Policymakers and publics will have to cope with a growing demand for multilateral cooperation when the international system will be stressed by the incomplete transition from the old to a still-forming new order.
The bolding is theirs and not mine.

Distinguishing from the G-7, the authors use the term BRIC to refer to Brazil, Russia, India and China. They see those four equaling the G-7 in GDP by 2025. (When I was a kid people still talked about the ABC countries--Argentina, Brazil and Chile--and each of them had a battleship, as I recall.) The authors also see China as the largest importer of natural resources (read that as prices go UP) and the largest polluter of the planet.

I will be checking out the scenarios in the report and will be racing my vast reading audience in seeing what is promised for our future--I will be 83 at the time of this report's future. I hope the Baby Boomers don't mess it up for the rest of us.

Regards -- Cliff

Friday, November 21, 2008

Going to the Theatre

My wife and I have two tickets to see "Skylight" at the Merrimack Repertory Theater (MRT) this coming week. They are part of our subscription for the season. Unfortunately we are tied up that night. We could pick a different night, but then we though about people who were going to be here and might enjoy a night at the theater. What a nice gift. But, we thought to check on the play and what it was about.

Wikipedia tells us:
East London school teacher Kyra Hollis is visited on the same night by son and father Edward and Tom Sargeant. Kyra had been living with the Sargeant family years earlier, but left after her affair with Tom was discovered by Tom's wife, who has since passed. Edward accuses Kyra of having left him as well, as he saw her as a big sister. His real older sister having left the house, he is now alone with his father, whom he finds difficult to deal with. Kyra gets angry with him and he leaves, not without asking her what she misses most about his father. Her response is: a good breakfast. Shortly thereafter, Tom, a wealthy restaurateur, with real life references to Terence Conran, appears unheralded and for no apparent reason. Kyra's less than glamorous lifestyle leads him to poke fun at her to the point of insult, accusing her of self-punishment. After Kyra cooks a spaghetti-dinner (which the actress actually cooks on stage), they consummate their relationship once again. During the second act, it becomes clear that their lifestyles and political views are so vastly different that they cannot possibly rekindle their relationship, and Tom leaves. A few hours later, at the break of dawn, Edward reappears with a full breakfast, which he has "borrowed" from a posh hotel.
Is this the kind of play we would recommend to someone?

Not likely. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the first show of the season, "The Fantasticks." The MRT Blurb is:
The world’s longest running musical, The Fantasticks is irresistible with its universal, timeless story and memorable score. Filled with youthful innocence, a boy falls for the girl next door in a rebellious romance until he learns that he may have been deceived. The young lovers part and set out to test the world and all it has to offer. A comedic story of first love, lost love and eventually true love, it will capture your heart with its beloved hit songs “Try to Remember” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain.”
And I love the song "Try to Remember."
Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh, so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a tender and callow fellow.
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow.
Unlike with "The Fantastics." the three characters in "Skylight" seem like people who recognize no boundaries. None. Here is the woman who came between a husband and a wife and is visited by the son of that marriage. While it might be the son seeing the school teacher as a substitute for his sister, the Father showing up and reliving the old fling is not good. But, then the son returns the next morning--looking for what?

While this trio represents a sick relationship, I don't see anything redeeming in the exploration of those boundaryless relationships. Boundaries are one of those things that allows us to keep families and communities together. Boundaries mean that expectations of commitment are met, more or less, and that we can count on those commitments or at least fudge them into a semblance of a working set of relationships. This trio just seems to go by a "whatever feels good" approach to life. Chaos lies that way.

Needless to say, we will not be offering up those tickets to any of our visitors. So, if anyone is looking for two tickets, let me know.

Regards -- Cliff

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Global WarmingClimate Change

For every problem there is one solution which is simple, neat, and wrong.--H. L. Mencken

Climate change is like that. It is a very complex problem and solutions that do not do additional harm will also be complex.

President Elect Obama has stated, post election, that Climate Change is an urgent challenge. In a video produced for a conference on the issue, with a number of state governor's in attendance, he stated: "My presidency will mark a new chapter in America's leadership on climate change...". This supports his campaign pledge regarding the environment. Unfortunately--at least per links on Glenn Reynolds' Instapundit site, the global consensus is breaking down. Space Daily yesterday reported that a survey by Pacific Economic Cooperation Council of leaders from 21 Pacific Rim nations and the issue of Global Warming--eight percent of the votes last year--didn't make the cut this year. Economics was the top vote getter.

Then there is the question of what is happening in Europe. According to EurActive, a site Professor Reynolds linked to, European Governments are backing off their Kyoto commitments--for economic reasons.

Then there is this item about solar winds. I linked to this site, but there are several that have talked about the ULYSSES solar probe. NASA doesn't talk about the implications of the ULYSSES findings for the weather hear on earth, but others do.

And, we have this chart from a paper by two college researchers. The argument is that: "The global atmospheric temperature anomalies of Earth reached a maximum in 1998 which has not been exceeded during the subsequent 10 years."

But, before you go off saying that I am a witless denier of Global Warming and should be shunned, hear me out. What I am is a bit of a skeptic. What I also am is someone who looks at the global markets and sees that when the world comes out of the current economic crisis it will be that either the two population giants, India and China, will have strong economies, with ever more people owning cars, or there will be serious problems of societal breakdown. Let us skip the second option for the moment.

As the economic crisis fades, there will be more and more cars being sold in India and China. That means more gas being use. That means, given that oil production is not rising sharply, higher gas prices. That, in turn, will impact our nation as the US depends upon transportation to link the various parts of the nation and the people of this nation--people who have always been interested in spreading out to find better jobs or better climate. But, they still want to go back home and visit the families.

So, facing coming higher gas prices (back above where they were only a few short months ago), what should we do? In broad terms, we should change our energy consumption patterns.

We do need to be changing how we power our cars. We do need to be making massive investments in alternative energy plans (see the T Boone Pickens Energy Plan as an example of a plan) and we need to get over the idea that some people having a pristine view should stand in the way of these alternative energy sources.

I would be supportive of a higher federal tax on gasoline, if there were appropriate rebates to those in lower income brackets--we can not solve this problems on the backs of those in the bottom half of the economy. And, this energy issue is bigger than getting gas guzzlers off the road. This is a cluster of problems and not a single problem. Our patterns of urbanization, at least in these parts, have been such that those who are not as well off economically have had to move further out to find better housing in their price range. Without mass transportation we can't force those folks off the road. And how are we going to get a transportation system to connect many locations of residence with many locations of work? In my 14 plus years in the area I have worked in Wilmington, Andover, Sudbury and again in Andover. I saw no useful mass transportation to help me get to work and then get home during all those years of commuting.

We need to provide useful and economically sustainable alternatives for energy and for transportation to and from work. These alternatives will almost certainly result in advances in the area of slowing Climate Change. Has anybody seen anything useful?

Regards -- Cliff

Monday, November 17, 2008

Over at Wired is an article on unconventional threats to the United States that are not being looked at. This article, by John P Sullivan, is titled Gang Threat Could Top Al Qaeda, Mr. President-Elect. The author is a Lieutenant in Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office.

Mr Sullivan starts with this paragraph:
While the public and media are occupied with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the potential conflict with Iran, the downward spiral in Pakistan, and a global economic meltdown, a new, rapidly-evolving danger — narco-cartels and gangs — has been developing in Mexico and Latin America. And it has the potential to trump global terrorism as a threat to the United States.
I have to admit that this corresponds closely to my prejudice in this area.

I believe that rather than putting his first foreign policy attention on the Middle East, President Elect Obama should look to the south and reach out to President Felipe Calderon of Mexico.

Mr Sullivan should not be too quickly dismissed. That Wired picked him up is a positive. That is he responsible to the Sheriff's Office for emerging threats is an indication of seriousness. And, I know that he is valued by other national security professionals for his commentary.

Regards -- Cliff

Abraham Lincoln

I am on the road and where I am working I walked by a lithograph of President Abraham Lincoln giving his second Inaugural Address, where the last paragraph begins: "With malice toward none; with charity for all...". I looked, the flag in the print had a lot less stars than our current 50 star version.

But, the reason for this post is that this Wednesday is the anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address--two minutes that changed the nation--or so Author Gary Wills claims in his book, Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America. Wills may be over the top, but the words of President Lincoln at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery, honoring those who died at the Battle of Gettysburg in early July 1863 have stuck with us for almost a century and a half. The speech was given on a Thursday afternoon, the 19th of November 1863.

The speech is so short, I can quote it easily (this version is from Wikipedia):
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Regards -- Cliff

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Father Greeley

While I should be packing for my trip or working on my short paper for class, I have been surfing the blog sites. Along the way I came across this site, recommended by the blog site Happy Catholic.

It is about Father Andrew Greeley, who is a sociologist and author in addition to being a Catholic Priest. As this news report out of Chicago states: "Father Andrew Greeley fell and hit his head while exiting a cab over the weekend. Right now he is in critical but stable condition."

The first blog site linked to, "Aliens in this world," mentions that Father Greeley's jacket was caught in the door as the cab drove off.

And, the blogger at "Aliens in this world" asks us to pray for Father Greeley: "Please pray for him. You may disagree with his ideas, but on the whole he has tried hard to evangelize for the Church, in every genre he possibly could." I have read some of what Father Greeley has written, but of the non-fiction genre. Interestingly, in the blogger's second ever post, back in August 2002, he or she mentions Father Greeley, before going off to talk about little known science fiction writers.

We should pray for people, and not just to feel good ourselves. IMHO miracles do happen.

Regards -- Cliff

PS I was told about the "Happy Catholic" blog site by my youngest son.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What is our Policy(s)?


Over at the Lowell Republican City Committee Blog there is a posting on a article in Sunday's edition of The Boston Globe, titled "Where Are We Going?"

This article, in "The Ideas" Section of The Globe, asks about where the Republicans should be going. The article, by a resident of Milton, talks about where Republicans are. He asserts that Republicans clinging to their guns and religion are totally out of step with the voters in New England--Congressman Chris Shays of Connecticut being cut from the Congressional Roster being the biggest example.

One of the questions we have to ask ourselves is if getting elected is more important than standing by our rights.

With the current corruption on Beacon Hill, getting elected seems like it would be a social good, allowing us to have a more open and supportive State Government. On the other hand, what kind of laws would we pass if we got a Republican Majority in the Great and General Court?

As Republicans we need to stand for something. In History Class last evening (UMass Lowell--low price for Seniors) the Professor made the point that when the National Socialists were running for office in the Germany of the 1920s and early 1930s they didn't run for things, they ran their campaigns by opposing the ideas of others. That is not a good example to follow.

We Republicans need to have a conversation. We need to debate the issues. Heck, we need to raise a few issues and gnaw on them.

We need to make our motto "No RIROs"--No Republicans in Registration Only.

Regards -- Cliff

First Female Four Star


The Washington Post had an article today on General Ann E. Dunwoody, who today became the first US four star officer. She will now take command of the US Army's Army Material Command, located at Fort Belvoir, just outside of Washington, DC, in northern Virginia.

My youngest Brother claims that General Dunwoody was in his Defense Acquisition Executive Overview Workshop at the Defense Acquisition University and that she was an attentive student. He also claims that as her instructor, he got her her fourth star (and demands that I put "in jest" in here).

But, with or without my Brother, GEN Dunwoody has accomplished something big. She is one of 21 female general officers in the US Army today. But, the beginning of that success goes back to our own Representative Edith Norse Rogers. Before World War II women served in the Army only as nurses. An important role, but a very limited one. In 1942 Rep Rogers introduced the bill that created the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). She followed up in 1943 with a bill to create the Women's Army Corps (WAC). But, as one of my friends points out, "The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) and its successor the Women's Army Corps (WAC) were just as segregated as the Tuskegee Airmen and the 555 (Triple Nickel) Parachute Infantry Company during WW II." This keeping women in their own units, separate from male units, continued on into the 1970s, but then the barriers began to fall. It was a good thing all around.

So, our congratulations to GEN Dunwoody and best of luck with a tough mission. She will be the one who has to help "reset" the whole US Army after Iraq and re-equip it for Afghanistan and any future contingencies.

Regards -- Cliff

Bill Ayers Rehabilitated

I realize that it is déclassé to think of Professor William Ayers as a "terrorist." He denies it himself, noting that the Weathermen were not terrorists in that they were not trying to kill anyone. But, he is taking advantage of his re-found notoriety to issuing an updated version of his book, Fugitive Days, with a new afterword, talking about President Elect Obama.

With friends like these, our incoming President doesn't need enemies.

The fact is, the larger Weather Underground franchise killed and injured people and not just their own. You notice that I talked to the Weather Underground franchise. One of the things we are learning from Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda is that it is not a monolithic organization, but more of a franchise, with other groups modeling themselves on the mother organization. It was the same way in the late 1960s and the early 1970s with the Weather Underground. There were a number of groups and they related to one another and fed off one another.

In a way, I understand how Professor Ayers feels about wishing he had done more. When I got my hair cut two weeks ago I apologized to the barber (she is originally from Cambodia) that I had not done more when I was flying Close Air Support missions into Cambodia in 1973. Maybe, if I had done more, it would have prevented the killing of several million Cambodians by Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge. Maybe Viet-nam would not have felt the need to invade Cambodia in November 1978, to stop border incursions and internal genocide.

We need to not forget that while Professor Ayers did not personally kill anyone, his terrorist franchise bands did kill people. I knew one of them, Bob Fassnacht. He was someone I had met and talked to (I met him through my wife, who was a cousin of his). He was a real person to me and not a statistic. But, Bob Fassnacht was not the only one in Sterling Hall that early morning. Physics researcher Paul Quin was injured by the same bomb. (As an aside, the Wikipedia entry linked to above neglects to mention that Bob Fassnacht's wife, Stephanie, after the bombing left the country for several years and lived in Europe.

If Professor Ayers moved to Lowell and moved into my neighborhood I would not sell my house and leave. But, I am pretty sure I would not be part of the welcoming committee. As I would have little good to say to him, I would say nothing and allow him to enjoy his time here in peace. Perhaps a good test on how we should feel about Professor Ayers is to ask ourselves if, had the Government not executed Timothy McVeigh, would we have been accepting of him in our neighborhood twenty years from now? Lets assume that, unlike Professor Ayers, he was repentant for his bombing action. Timothy McVeigh was the person convicted of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, in Oklahoma City and the ensuing deaths.

Professor Ayers still says he wishes he had done more. What more could he have done? A few more bombings, with the inherent risk of injuries and deaths? A lot more bombings and bank robberies with a probability approaching one of deaths? Given that he is opposed to our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in this video links them to Viet-nam, should we understand him to believe that young people should today be engaged in his kind of activities from the period of the late 1960s and early 1970s?

General Curtis LeMay is reputed to have said: "I can not distinguish between the incompetent and the unfortunate and therefore will not try." I feel sort of like that about Professor Ayers.

Regards -- Cliff

North Korean Update

I normally think of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) as a gathering of communications experts, but it includes Intelligence in its charter. Part of that outreach is John McCreary's "Night Watch." You apparently don't have to be a member of AFCEA to subscribe to the near nightly reports. You do have to have EMail and something to read Microsquish Word documents.

For last night his Posting included a report on the Border between China and North Korea being closed as of the 10th of December. The Financial Times says China is strengthening its side of the border and The Telegraph gives us the 10 December date.

While this could point to a number of things, including preparations for war, it most likely indicates a leadership struggle. That would involve not only the Kim family, but also the military and the Party.

Even if we were not in a Presidential Transition at this time, which likely precludes progress on nuclear arms talks and associated activities, this possible leadership transition in Korea would put the kibosh on such negotiations. Don't look for talks to resume in December.

Of course, much worse than no talks in the immediate future would be an internal collapse in North Korea, with several million people becoming refugees within their own country or spilling out into the neighboring countries--South Korea, China and Russia. This would be a humanitarian disaster of major proportions, in the approaching winter, in a country that can get very cold in January and February--ask Veterans of the Korean War.

If there is a leadership collapse in North Korea it will likely happen while it is still President Bush's watch, but it will last into President Obama's Administration. A bipartisan crisis.

Regards -- Cliff

Thursday, November 13, 2008

North Korea

What is up with North Korea?

It was just a few weeks ago that the US announced a breakthrough in negotiations and now the North Korean Government is saying that it didn't agree to international inspections of its nuclear facilities. While the South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan sees this as a prelude to a final agreement, other actions indicate that such an appraisal might be a bit optimistic.

Then there is the question of the South Korean industrial facilities just north of the DMZ (de-militarized zone). The North Korean military has carried out inspections of the some 89 South Korean enterprises that employ a total of 1,900 South Koreans and 35,000 North Koreans. Is this a a prelude to shutting them all down?

On top of this, travel from South Korea is being restricted and the Red Cross office in Panmunjom, North Korea, is being shut down and its telephone lines to South Korea have been terminated.

And, there are reports that travel across the border with China is being restricted. China is a key supporter and supplier of North Korea.

With there being reports that the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, may be seriously ill, the fact that the North Korean Military has taken an active role in cutting back contacts and restricting travel may be a grave signal.

One observer noted that Kim Jong-il made three moves over the objections of the military--opening to the South, allowing foreigners on North Korean soil and experimentation with limited capitalistic markets. Now two of the three seem to be slowly going away. Perhaps this is a sign that Kim is slipping and is not expected to recover.

And this is just stuff in the open press.

One commentator has noted that the conditions are being set for a military incident or show of force and has issued a "warning."

Let us hope he is wrong. But, at least we should all recognize, no matter who is in the White House, North Korea has its own agenda and they do not dance to our tune.

Regards -- Cliff

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Defense Cuts, Again

The Lowell Sun and The Boston Globe have had stories on a report by the Defense Business Board, urging the incoming Administration to consider the fact that the Defense Budget is "unsustainable." The upshot is a recommendation that some of the weapons systems currently being acquired should be cut or cut back.

This was reported by Brian Bender in The Boston Globe (Monday) and Matt Murphy in The Lowell Sun (Tuesday). Both writers are to be commended for including their EMails.

Surprisingly, The Washington Post has nothing on the Defense Business Bureau and its recent report.

There was nothing about the report on the DBB web site this evening, so it looks like the report was purloined or leaked.

I wonder, though, if this is a leak and being done to pave the way for deep defense cuts by the incoming Administration. Were the comments by Congressman Barney Frank just the first of a long information operation between now and late January? At the link provided is a breakdown of the 2008 Defense Budget by percentage. The Procurement Package does not take up a dominant portion of the overall defense budget, especially when some "off budget" "Global War on Terrorism" items are included. There will have to be a lot of programs cut to get close to Congressman Frank's recommended 25%. But, perhaps the real (secret) number is only 12.5%.

As Reporter Matt Murphy points out, $9.2 billion of those dollars come to the Commonwealth (and then in turn generate more jobs as defense workers spend that money).

I am not advocating defense spending as a form of make-work. That is not a good use of the taxpayer's money. I am thinking, though, that we are going to see changes in the Department of Defense with the new Administration. And, a sign that it will include major changes in spending priorities could be if we are seeing more of this kind of item in the MSM.

Regards -- Cliff

Happy Veterans Day


I am not sure. From one point of view there are too many of us. Would that there had been peace and we only had a small military. That, however, is unlikely to happen.

I am trying to remember if when I was young this was still "Armistice Day," commemorating the end of The Great War (World War I) on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. People were sick of the war by that point. But, the taking of the easy armistice led to Germans claiming that they had not been defeated on the field of battle and that the Armistice was all the result of a stab in the back by liberal politicians.

While not the only step toward World War II, the "stab in the back" meme was a big one. The urge to get it over with quickly can sometimes lead to problems down the road. Wars appear to be episodic, but in some ways they flow from one into another.

Perhaps the thing that stands out for me as a Veteran is that I was able to work with my brothers and sisters in arms to make our nation a little safer and the world a slightly better place.

My thanks to all the Veterans and to all those who aren't Veterans, but who supported someone who was in uniform by their love and affection.

Regards -- Cliff

Monday, November 10, 2008

First Amendment

When The Lowell Sun has an OpEd by Nat Hentoff I pay attention. Today's article "What happened to Joe Biden?" is a typical Nat Hentoff discussion of both free speech and of the responsibility of politicians to the voting public. I comment this article to one and all, especially if you care about the first amendment.

The article starts out talking about Senator Joe Biden as a "passionate practitioner, and defender, of free speech." Mr Hentoff then does on to talk about Senator Biden's interview with Orlando WFTV reporter/anchor Barbara West. This is the one where she asked him if Senator Obama was being a Marxist with his comment that he intends to "spread the wealth."

The upshot was that the Obama Campaign cut off WFTV from further interviews with Senators Obama and Biden and their wives. (Updated based upon a comment from one of my Brothers.)

Mr Hentoff then segues into the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" and people calling for it to be reinstated. But, being the thorough and intellectually honest person that he is, Mr Hentoff then talks about the rest of us and the fact that many of us support this inaptly named form of censorship.

The lesson for all of us is to understand the political package we are buying into. In the case of the "Fairness Doctrine" it is an effort by Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic legislators to push the likes of Rush Limbaugh off the air by requiring that stations provide approximately equal time to both the Democratic and the Republican points of view. The real hook here is that this rule applies only to radio and TV (and in the minds of some, the Internet). It does not apply to the liberal historic newspapers and news magazines. Worse, fair and balanced will be determined by the Administration in power, rather than by the market place.

The application of the Fairness Doctrine to the Internet would be not only difficult, but expensive, in terms of Government equipment and personnel. On the other hand, shutting down much of the freedom of comment on the Internet would do the trick. One hopes it never comes to that.

Regards -- Cliff

What is our Policy(s)? Left Here

I moved this up to 7:46 PM, Friday 14 November 2008. The reason is that i started this some time ago and then just around to finishing it today. But, when I published it, it jumped back in the queue to where I had started it. This is a bit unsat. I have asked for help, but have not yet heard back.

So, to get to where it new is, CLICK HERE.

But, we still need to make our motto "No RIROs"--No Republicans in Registration Only.

Regards -- Cliff

Happy Birthday USMC

Per Major General Lejeune, Washington, November 1, 1921
The following will be read to the command on the 10th of November, 1921, and hereafter on the 10th of November of every year. Should the order not be received by the 10th of November, 1921, it will be read upon receipt.

(1) On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name "Marine". In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

(2) The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world's history.
And it then goes on to record the glorious history of the Marine Corps.

But, it doesn't tell the story of the first two recruits, that 10th of November, at Tun Tavern, in Philadelphia. The first recruit reports in and gives his name and makes his mark and is told to go out and sit on the stoop. The second recruit then goes in and gives his name and makes his mark and is directed to the same location. When the second recruit sits down the first one turns to him and says: "Son, let me tell you how it was in the Old Corps."

Happy Birthday, Marines.

Regards -- Cliff

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Osama bin Laden on the Move Again?

Just in case you weren't hyped up enough about world events, now comes a report out of Australia telling us that Osama bin Laden and his forces are planning a new spectacular attack on the United States. (This is the first time I have seen this source and have no opinion on if it is reliable.)

The report says: "OSAMA bin Laden is planning an attack against the United States that will "outdo by far" September 11, an Arab newspaper in London has reported."

But, then, maybe this is part of an information operation to overcome al Qaida on the election of Senator Obama on Tuesdays. Writing in the Guardian, terrorism expert Amil Kahn says: "The real game-changer here is that Obama challenges the higher moral ground al-Qaida assumes it commands when talking to its supporters."

But, in the end, it isn't about us. As Amil Kahn says: "It's often overlooked that al-Qaida promises a fairer society. If its support is flagging, it's because ordinary people have looked at its methods and wondered what sort of state it would run. But the calls for an end to corruption, nepotism and restoration of pride, dignity and self-determination still resound just as they have for more than 100 years through other ideologies."

The part of the report that talks to information reveal by the UK's Telegraph actually is in Monday's edition, HERE. The sub-headline is "Secret enclaves of al-Qaeda extremists based in London, Birmingham and Luton are planning mass-casualty attacks in Britain, according to a leaked Government intelligence report." I may be wrong here, but I would judge the Telegraph to be a paper read by the Tory population.

The reporting seems pretty straight forward. On the other hand, we have had such reports before. If the terrorists wish to lull us into complacency, they need only threaten an attack and then not do anything and repeat this a number of times.

The key lesson here is that everyone needs to be vigilant and cooperative with police and TSA officials. You don't have to give a DNA sample to be cooperative. Being efficient and humble in the airport screening line is a big help. Noting bags and packages that are not associated with someone can be a big help. Usually it will be lost items and you will be helping people regaining what they have lost.

We have to remember that this is, in essence, "the long war," and we will have to take precautions for a long time. But, this kind of political activity (terrorism) moves in cycles and will eventually die down. The actions of our Government and our own actions can help tamp it down. And, we need to keep in mind that not everyone with a grievance is a person with a legitimate grievance.

Regards -- Cliff

Alternative Power

The always interesting Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) linked to this almost three year old piece on Robert F Kennedy, Jr, opposing a wind farm off the coast of Cape Code. This item is dated 12 January 2006. Has this been dragging on this long? Actually, this 12 January 2006 article talks about the four years before it was published. So make it at least seven years. It has been dragging on so long that we have switched from worrying about Global Warming to worrying about Climate Change.

My personal opinion is that even if you think "global warming" is junk science, the fact is that we are importing oil at a level that is NOT sustainable and we need to do something about it. That makes it a national security issue in my mind. We are on a path than can not be sustained over the long run. On the other hand, the fact that we are exporting coal to the Middle East is a good thing in my estimation. We are earning revenue. My thanks to the coal miners of Appalachia.

Now we have a report in the Manchester Guardian that Hyperion is working on aminiature nuclear reactor and has an order for 100. I vaguely recall something about this back at the beginning of the year and sure enough the Air Force is quoted as wanting to go "off grid" with small nuclear power generating systems.

It sure would be nice if there was some public debate here in the Commonwealth as to whether this is one of the directions in which we wish to head. Do you think anybody up on Beacon Hill is thinking about this?

Regards -- Cliff

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mexico's Fight w/ Drug Cartels

Our neighbor to the South, Mexico, is in a major battle with drug lords. We don't see much discussion of this in our MSM, but it does go on. And, it didn't seem to attract much attention in the recent presidential campaign.

The loss of the Mexican Interior Minister, Juan Camilo Mourino, and one of his drug war experts, Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, in a plane crash on Tuesday was a serious blow to the efforts of President Felipe Calderon. In a way, it reminds me of the loss of Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay in a C-47 crash in 1957.

Now we have a report from the al Jazeera website, saying that a bomb on board has been ruled out. The report goes on to say that notwithstanding this report, "many Mexicans will suspect foul play in a country where fear of being a drug-gang target hangs heavily over government officials."

As the al Jazeera report points out, over 4,000 people have been murdered this year in the drug war battles. Most of the murders were within the drag cartels, but a number of Police Chiefs have also been assissinated.

At the end of the day we should acknowledge that most of the illegal drugs entering Mexico are not for Mexicans, but are just passing through, heading for the United States, where the big profits are to be made--profits that are untaxed and thus rob the nation twice.

I hope that our new President will make Mexico one of his first priorities and keeps it at the top of his list. The death of 4,000 people is not to be sneezed at, even if most of them are people in another nation involved in trafficing illegal drugs to sell to our citizens.

Regards -- Cliff

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"Welcome Back Jack"

That is what his supporters were shouting after Rep John Murtha won relection this week.

Full disclosure up front. I was born in Johnstown, PA, Eighth Ward. The center of John Murtha country. Funnily enough I now live in another mill city, one where the mills have all been shuttered and where the work of a key Congressman helped to arrest the slide toward economic disaster.

But, that said, I am still not sure why Representative John Murtha won re-election. When we talk Rep John Murtha we are talking about a man who dismisses his constituents as red-necks and racists. He falsely and publically accused US Marines of murder in Iraq. He is the king of pork in the US House of Representatives (the US Senate is a whole different country in that regard). When we say pork we mean "earmarks." Those little additions to the US budget that slip in when no one is looking and often in the final report, written by staffers after the bill has been passed.

The Office of Management and Budget estimates the 2008 Earmarks at only $16.5 Billion Dollars. Not a large sum by some budget line items, but still, more than half the Commonwealth's budget for this year. Defense was the favorite place to hide earmarks--2,087 for $6,644,746,000 (as in billion). A lot of that went to Johnstown and Rep Murtha's favorite company, Concurrent Technologies Corporation. One web site estimates that Rep Murtha pulled in $166 million for Fiscal Year 2008.

Some earmarks were very small, but there were a total of 11,524 of them in the budget. The Department of State had only four, for a total of $23,012,000 of your money. Now I see the value to Earmarks. Earmarks have been a Congressional tradition for a long time. They are a way for Congress to help the "little guy." The problem is that Earmarks now look like a good idea run amok. One is almost reminded of the Disney Movie "Fantasia" and the Sorcerer's Apprentice.

But, back to the election of John Murtha to an 18th term. It is the surest sign to me that the tide was running for Senator Obama. It was not that the President Elect took Pennsylvania (he did), but that John Murtha is returning for another term in office.

Sure, the challenger, Republican William Russell, just moved to the District, having just this year purchased a house in Upper Yoder. He has recently retired from a long career in the US Army and had probably not lived anywhere very long. It was his decision to move to Cambria County, as it was my decision (or God's Will) for me to move to Lowell. (One of my friends told me the proper phrasing is "I got here as soon as I could").

The good news is that the challenger asserts that he is not going away. I hope he doesn't.

Regards -- Cliff

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Congratulations to President Elect Barack Obama and Vice President Elect Joe Biden. A convincing win.

The best of luck to both of you.

Regards -- Cliff

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Whoever is elected

Law Professor Glenn Reynolds (The Instapundit) has an Opinion Piece in today's, in which he opines that whatever the result of the election, we all need to recognize that the winner is our President. "Whoever Wins, Chill A Bit" is, IMHO, a well written piece that talks about how we need to respect our friends and associates who sincerely believe the other guy was the person to vote for.

The Instapundit's last paragraph nicely sums it up.
We don't have to agree on issues, or on leaders. But if we can't agree that a free and fair election can produce a legitimate president even when it's not the candidate we like, then we've got a very serious problem.

If my side loses, it will be a spur to me to get out and do more. Each side must win on the strength of its arguments, in whatever environment may exist, including an environment of media bias. The environment is a fact, but it is not an excuse. Fish shouldn't blame the water and birds shouldn't blame the air and we should not blame the political environment within which we operate. We can, of course, blame ourselves for not being smarter or more effective.

I am not against a little humor in looking at the outcome. I thought writer Roger Simon's Blog post, "If McCain loses, I’m moving to France" was very funny.
France is more conservative and they’ve got better food. And isn’t that the grand tradition of Hollywood sore losers? Your man fails and you’re outta here. Just think - maybe I’ll meet Susan Sarandon. She’s supposed to be there, isn’t she? Or did she finally stay in Beverly Hills? Well, I won’t. It’s Bordeaux for me. I hear the red wine cancels out the cholesterol in the foie gras. What could be better?

But, even better was Comment 61 to Roger Simon's post:
Of course I understand that all this talk of leaving the country is a joke at previous crying celebrities responses. But in spite of that, the sentiment has an undertone that’s mildly worrying. So to speak towards that, this Asian Catholic proffers a phrase from Jewish wisdom that seems particularly applicable here:

“gam zeh yaavor”… “This, too, shall pass”

No need to leave the country. It’s a big, strong, vital one, despite the economic downturn and recent cynicism. The fundamentals of what makes America strong haven’t changed; it’s just that those fundamentals reputation has taken a bruising, slightly deserved, but not totally so. Anyway, I believe it’ll take more than a bad president to really screw up this country. I may not like the direction it would head in for 4 years of an Obama presidency, but even he couldn’t undermine the heart and soul of what makes this country great.

I guess you have to be an immigrant to appreciate what a truly screwed up government is. Trust me, despite my distaste for an Obama administration, it won’t be anything remotely resembling a genuinely broken government. It’ll just have the potential to be a bad one. And who knows? Sometimes when put to the test, people rise above themselves.

Call me Pollyannaish, but it’ll take more than Obama/Biden to screw this nation up.

All that said, I am still pulling for Senator McCain and Governor Palin.

Regards -- Cliff

Saturday, November 1, 2008

George Anthes Live

A "hat tip" to Richard Howie, whose Blog "RichardHowie.Com" mentioned today that George Anthes, working with producer John McDonough, will be going live on Lowell Cable Channel 8 starting Monday. The time slot is supposed to be 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM. Channel 8.

I went to the LTC website to confirm this good news, but alas, I couldn't find anything. I did note that John McDonough does have the 5 to 6 PM period blocked under his name. Perhaps program announcement adjustments are under way.

I did confirm with George Anthes late this afternoon that this is happening. He will be joined by Tom Byrne, who has been doing duty at WCAP recently. And, John McDonough is the producer. It will be interesting to see how they are going to do this show. It will be live. Will there be guests? Will there be call-ins? Will there be questions thrown out by Tom Byrne?

John McDonough, the Producer, has been involved in LTC for some time as well as having been a co-host with George Anthes on WCAP's former "Morning Information Team." John McDonough's website is a good place to find the City Council Agenda each week.

I am both thrilled and disappointed by this development. Thrilled for George Anthes, who has a lot of good things to say, and has been missed of late, and disappointed, in that I was trying, by this Blog Site, to lure him into Blogging his views. For sure, a number of people have told me that they have missed George at WCAP. They will be glad to see him back on the air, although some will still be missing George, as LTC does not have the same audience coverage that WCAP has--it is limited to Lowell Cable customers. Maybe there will be streaming video.

(UPDATE) Again borrowing from Richard Howe's Blog, Marie Sweeny noted that "LTC has live streams of channels 8 and 10 on their website," available HERE.

Regards -- Cliff

State Senator Dianne Wilkerson

For several days the media have been reporting on State Senator Dianne Wilkerson and her arrest on federal bribery charges. Our State Senate has voted for her to resign. I think one newspaper said it was unanimous, but I doubt Senator Wilkerson would have voted that way. Maybe she abstained, or was detained and couldn't make the vote.

This item by reporter Matt Murphy of The Lowell Sun on the Senator Wilkerson imbroglio didn't inspire confidence: "If convicted, Wilkerson could become the third consecutive senator from the Second Suffolk District to spend time in prison. Her predecessor, William Owens, spent 20 months in jail for a stabbing, and before him Royal Bolling Sr. served time for income-tax evasion."

One of the things that has not been reported is a statement by the State Senator after a late night vote on Beacon Hill (I believe it was after a vote on a "Defense of Marriage" Constitutional Amendment). I was watching a Boston news station on TV when she said "the ends justify the means." That statement should make any citizen sit up and take notice. If one believes the ends justify the means, what are the limits to which one will go to achieve this or that goal?

Does this mean that she is the likely winning applicant for the Jack Bauer franchise for New England? I would think so. Jack is one of those "do what it takes" kind of people. Does this mean that if President Bush had selected her--for some reason--to be a high official at DHS or DOJ (she does have a JD from Boston College) that she would have been supportive of water boarding terrorist suspects? If she thought it would avoid another 9/11 she likely would.

But, back to the quote--either the local media has mass amnesia or they have that peculiar malady, Mass Amnesia, where it forgets the sins of the Democrats, but vividly remembers the infractions of the Republicans. In fact, this was tangentially touched on by WGBH's "Beat the Press" on Friday. I would have provided a link, but at this early point the Web Site does not have the 31 October show up.

To sum up, what we are looking at is a woman who would likely think that taking money under the table to finance her sticker campaign for reelection was not a big deal. We will, one hopes, have a jury to sort this out some time in the near future.

Regards -- Cliff