Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Roundtable Without a Table

Both Dick Howe and his co-blogger, Paul Marion have blogged about the meeting at Middlesex College this AM, when Senator Kerry, Representative Tsongas, State Senator Panagiotakos, State Rep Murphy (joined somewhat later by State Rep Nangle), Mayor Milinazzo and City Manager Lynch.

There were other local dignitaries present, including a couple of City Councillors (Joseph M. Mendonça and Franky D. Descoteaux and Patrick Murphy, who was introduced, but I did not see) and people from other communities.  UMass Lowell history professor and sometime commenter on the Dick Howe Blog, Bob Forrant, was there.  I also saw political activist Jack Mitchell.  Jackie Doherthy was there, as was WCAP co-owner Sam Poulten.

Notwithstanding the presence of Joe Mendonça and myself, I had the sense that this was a Democratic Party affair (more detail on that later), right up to the Q&A, when the small indications of the presence of Lyndon LaRouche people turned into a very active presence.

Although billed as a "round table discussion on the economy and jobs" it was really Senator Kerry's show. While many spoke, the spotlight was clearly on Senator Kerry.  But, the Mayor, Jim Milinazzo, kicked off this shindig. One of the things that surprised me was the Mayor saying that Lowell's unemployment rate was 9.4%, compared to the national number of 10.0%.  But, overall the Commonwealth is at the same level, 9.4%, and December was up from November.  Today's report in The Boston Globe was not encouraging.  The article, "Bay State Economy Slips, While US Grows", says that the US economy grew at 5.7% for last quarter, while the Commonwealth's economy was at -0.2% (that would be shrinkage, as opposed to growth).

Next to State Senator Steve Panagiotakos, clearly the smartest man or woman in the room.  He told us flat out that Government can't create jobs, but it can create the environment in which jobs can be created.  That would be the 90% of all firms that are small businesses, with 50 or fewer employees.  And in the middle of February, unless something is done, those small businesses, and larger ones, are going to get a rude shock, when their contribution to unemployment funds jumps from about $120 per employee (Schedule E) to about $300 per employee (Schedule G).  Those coffers have to be filled somehow and having employers contribute has been part of the process.  The Great and General Court is addressing this issue now.

Representative Niki Tsongas said that unemployment in the Merrimack Valley exceeds the state-wide average, which is what it feels like.

Then Senator John Kerry held forth for the majority of the time, standing away from the podium and without his crutch (that is, the thing he uses to walk).  He notes that political power on Capitol Hill is moving to the Southwest, as population grows in that area, but extols the local Democratic Party Representatives for helping to hold the line.  He does note that to bring the economy back we need a local, state and federal partnership and the involvement of the tax paying public.

The Senator talked about the President meeting with the Republicans in the House yesterday and then talked about GOP intransigence.  To save time, it is all the fault of Republicans, especially George W Bush, but also including Ronald Reagan.  He also talked about being in a war we didn't need to be in (incontrovertible fact), but he didn't mention which one, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines or some other place.  (Jack Mitchell's favorite line from the meeting was from Senator Kerry:  "'Bush borrowed money from the Chinese to give the rich a tax break.")

We are on the rebound, but jobs lag the recovery.

It is Senator Kerry's contention that we are not going to compete with China with regard to low cost jobs. We are in and need to be in the high tech area; things like bio-technology.  Thus, education is important.  We can not afford to be cutting our seed corn.  Thus, we need deficit spending to prime the pump.

One of the points Senator Kerry made was that we need to change our energy policy and we need to include the "price" of having a carbon based economy.  He noted that a couple of weeks ago he had had himself tested for heavy metals and his body was at 4 times the EPA upper limit.  The Senator noted we need to push for US energy independence.  Later, in the Q&A the question of energy came up and the Senator said that we would be dependent on current energy sources for 30 or 40 more years, but that we needed to be working on green energy and green energy jobs.  When asked about fusion, he noted that he had recently talked to both the Secretary of Energy and the President's Science Advisor, both Nobel Prize Winners, and both said that fusion is still a long ways off (Blogger Comment:  can't we have some sort of Manhattan Project for this?).

Railroads came up and the recent allocation of $8 Billion (with a B) to build High Speed rail and commuter rail.  It was announced by the President on the 28th of January.  (Blogger Comment:  I so much wanted to ask Senator Kerry or Rep Tsongas what their Lordships down in DC thought constituted "high speed rail", but I kept my mouth shut and didn't embarrass myself.  I think I will send letters.  Should I include the TSW?)

Then it was Q&A time and several of the Lyndon LaRouche folks were ready to do battle.

But, there was an interesting question about the President's plan to add fees to big banks.  Someone thought it would just be passed on to the customers.  As Senator Kerry said, everything gets passed on.  He did make the point that with the fees only going to the major banks the competition of smaller banks might serve to keep the big banks from passing them on, rather than absorbing them.

I won't bore you any more.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I am wondering if this number is not a bit messed up.  The responsible State Agency has us at 12.0% for December 2009.
  I am not sure that being a Nobel Laureate has the same cachet it once did, given that they gave one to Paul Krugman, a columnist for The New York Times (and PhD economist).

Federal Debt

I was very pleased to see that in his weekly radio address the President talked, inter alia, about the accumulating federal debt, talking in terms of budget deficits.
But as we work to create jobs, it is critical that we rein in the budget deficits we’ve been accumulating for far too long – deficits that won’t just burden our children and grandchildren, but could damage our markets, drive up our interest rates, and jeopardize our recovery right now.
Frankly, for the long run the Federal Debt is much more important than the unemployment rate.  If we get the debt too high and then we get runaway inflation, or our creditors pull in the credit, we are going to be in big trouble.  So, as we go forward with efforts to create jobs, we need to also get the deficit spending under control.

Frankly, we can't have it all.  Part of the job of our elected representatives in Government is to figure out how best to apportion the pain.

Regards  —  Cliff


Back when I was learning to fly Air Force equipment the local base rescue helicopter had the call sign PEDRO.  Apparently that call sign has been reactivated for the Search and Rescue helicopters in Afghanistan.

Here is a short article by that intrepid free lance reporter, Michael Yon, with lots of photographs.

Regards  —  Cliff

Word of the Day

Well, the word for yesterday.

The word is "anchorite" and columnist Alex Beam used it Friday in the "G" Section of The Boston Globe, in describing Mr Frank Goodwin, from East Boston.  Mr Goodwin makes macaroons and uses the profits to pay for a couple of boys to go through Choir School.

The article is here.

Regards  —  Cliff

New Grandchild

There is a certain reluctance to post the pictures of children or grandchildren on the World Wide Web, but little babies in their first days, weeks and months pretty much look alike, so I think this is safe.  On the other hand, it took me a while to find the first photos in my EMail.

I do expect that whatever I do, I will receive a lot of criticism, but that I am used to.

Bennett Randall Krieger, born on Wednesday last, coming in, as shown, at 9 pounds, 3.1 ounces.  Everyone is doing well.

And this is the third for my youngest son and his wife.  Since we need an average of 2.1 to avoid our nation and its form of Government disappearing into the dustbin of history by failing to reproduce itself, this third child is a good thing for all of you out there.  Another future believer in Democracy and Adam Smith has emerged to make his way in the world.  And I am pleased as punch.

Regards  —  Cliff

Her Positions Sound Like Palin's

Well, sort of, when the former Alaska Gov was being interviewed by Reporter Charlie GIbson and he kept asking her about Georgia and places like that.

On Friday our Secretary of State made an address at the Ecole Militaire, in Paris.  The Department of State published copy is here.  But, on to the talk.  About a quarter of the way down we have this:
We have repeatedly called on Russia to honor the terms of its ceasefire agreement with Georgia, and we refuse to recognize Russia’s claims of independence for Abkhazia and South Ossetia. More broadly, we object to any spheres of influence claimed in Europe in which one country seeks to control another’s future. Our security depends upon nations being able to choose their own destiny.

For years, Russia has expressed a sense of insecurity as NATO and the EU have expanded. But we strongly believe that the enlargement of both has increased security, stability, and prosperity across the continent, and that this, in turn, has actually increased Russia’s security and prosperity.

Furthermore, the right of all countries to enter into alliances of their own choosing has been endorsed by Russia and all members of the OSCE at the 1999 Istanbul summit. NATO must and will remain open to any country that aspires to become a member and can meet the requirements of membership. But we do not seek to create divisions between neighbors and partners. Russia’s confidence in its security enhances our own.

So that brings us to our second principle: Security in Europe must be indivisible. For too long, the public discourse around Europe’s security has been fixed on geographical and political divides. Some have looked at the continent even now and seen Western and Eastern Europe, old and new Europe, NATO and non-NATO Europe, EU and non-EU Europe. The reality is that there are not many Europes; there is only one Europe. And it is a Europe that includes the United States as its partner. And it is a Europe that includes Russia.
This seems like a pretty strong endorsement of Georgia and of keeping the Ukraine free of Russian domination and "sphere of influence" WRT the "near abroad."

Secretary Clinton did a Q&A and talked in depth in answering the questions.  Overall a very good job.

I wonder what Charlie Gibson thinks?

Incidently, the Dep't of State site linked above allows for comments to be left.  I want to type in "You go, girl," but think it might be in poor taste.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, January 29, 2010

Gird Your Loins!

My middle Brother sent along the readings for Sunday Mass this weekend some time in the middle of the week.

Since I am the "Lector" at the Saturday Four PM Mass of Anticipation, I checked out my two readings and they are great reads—the call of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19) and St Paul's hymn to love (I Corinthians 12:31—13-13).  I don't think that George and Jimmy, who take the other two Saturday's get readings nearly as great.

I think of the "Lector" ministry as being very important.  While in no way comparable to that of the Priest, the Lector is responsible for bringing the Word of God to the people.  In the words of the Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers, and Proclaimers of the Word,
We proclaim scripture to experience the Christ present now in our midst and to make present the past events of salvation history.  Liturgy allows us to participate in those events, to experience their power, and their ability to transform.
I am supposed to be not just a reader, but someone who "proclaims" the scripture.  I take it seriously.  I remember a story about theologian Father Yves Conger being asked just before Mass if he would like to read the scripture.  His response was to say no, he had not had time to study the scriptures for the day.

Upon looking over the first reading I found that some of the words had been changed.  In my mind it threw the whole thing out of balance.  In the old days it read:
Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak to them all that I command thee. Be not afraid at their presence:  for I will make thee not to fear their countenance.
Not with the latest translation.  Now the New American Bible reads:
But do you gird your loins; stand up and tell them all that I command you.  Be not crushed on their account, as though I would leave you crushed before them;..
The first part, in my humble opinion, is just not the same.  It is like saying "don't forget your hat and your mittens."  I much preferred the former version, where the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob sounded like he was fearsome.

Eventually this EMail exchange brought out the best (or worst) in the English written word.  Having laid out my case I asked, "Am I wrong here?"  The response from my Brother was "Right once again."  Right in my argument or right in that I am wrong?

O readers of this blog, judge between me and my Brother.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  Over at the Loose Threads blog (Fran Sansalone, Blogmistress), there is a good posting on the Sermon at her Church last Sunday.

  For those of you who played the game Colditz as a youth, Father Congar was a Prisoner of War there from 1940 to 1945.
  For those of you who believe that the AV, the King James Version, was the one Paul used to preach, here is the verse in that translation:  "Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee:  be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them."  Pretty close.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


New Scientist (hat tip to Instapundit) has a short interview with aircraft (and spacecraft) designer Burt Routan.  It can be found here.

The interview is fairly thin, but it does report what Mr Burt Routan, a fairly intelligent person, think about global warming:
I whip out my list of questions, but before I get to the first, Rutan blindsides me.  "Which magazine are you from again?"  I tell him. "OK, well, I won't talk to Scientific American," he says, "They improperly covered man-made global warming. They drink Kool-Aid instead of doing research.  They parrot stuff from the IPCC and Al Gore." I'm taken aback but curiosity gets the better of me so I ask him what he means.  For the next 30 minutes he launches into an impassioned diatribe. He believes claims of catastrophic global warming are nothing but scare-mongering and are a product of "the greatest scientific fraud ever".  At first I think this is some sort of joke but he's totally serious and at times gets quite angry.
In the mean time, over at ¡No Pasarán! we have this simple question:
I’m Just Wondering
posted by Joe @ 06:51
Is Al Gore in Town?
The link is to a Danish English Language newspaper.

The headline is "The thermometer dropped to minus 18 in Central Jutland."  That isn't really that cold.  Remember, it is the Celsius scale.  For real people that is just minus zero decimal four (-0.4).

Regards  —  Cliff

  Winner of the "Ansari X Prize" for designing and demonstrating a civilian vehicle that could get the weight of three passengers to 100 kilometers, twice in two weeks.

Flame Wars

Someone asked me about the article "Right-Wing Flame Wars", that was in this last Sunday's New York Times MagazineThe article is about Mr Charles Johnson, and his blog Little Green FootballsThe blog can be found here.

Little Green Footballs came to my attention about three and a half years ago, when it asked the question "Reuters Doctoring Photos from Beirut?"  It turned out that the respected news agency had been doctoring the photographs.

I had always assumed that the blog was a pro-Israeli effort and that the writer or writers were Jewish.  The article from the NYT Mag tells us that Mr Johnson is "an agnostic and a Gentile."  But the Blog has an Israeli slant and I had also always wondered if the name referred to the Palestinians.  But the blog is not just about Israel.  Like a lot of interesting blogs with a larger world view (e.g., Gates of Vienna or the French focused ¡No Pasarán!) it has a wide range of interests.

Which brings us back to the article in the NYT Mag.  The writer suggests that Mr Johnson writes with a heavy hand, and commenters on his blog are even more heavy handed, if not vicious.  Given the small audience of this blog, that does not yet seem to be a problem.  I have received one comment I took to be spam and I deleted it, but made a not of it in the Comments section.  Some are very careful, not allowing comments to be posted until they have been reviewed.  I am giving the visitors a little more freedom, believing that the People are, as a group, inherently good.  It might be what one might call an economic point of view.

It turns out that a small fracas has sprung up due to efforts to define purity.  This is a long and involved discussion, best left to the article itself.  I am a bit distrustful of purity.  None of us has it exactly correct.  How does The Adding Machine song go?
We laugh, we cry,
We live, we die,
and when we're gone
the world goes on.
We love, we hate,
We learn too late
how small we are,
how little we know
I think this situation with Little Green Footballs is an unfortunate tempest in a tea pot.

If you are made at Little Green Footballs move on.  If you are not, stick around.

Regards  —  Cliff

Out Back Question of the Week

The question goes back to the Election of State Senator Scott Brown to replace the TSW down in DC.

There was some whining in The Boston Globe about people "not feeling represented" any more, what with a Republican having been elected.  For example, we have the letter last Friday from Mr Mark Bridger, of Newton.  He says: "Although Scott Brown won the election, there is a large chunk of Bay Staters he doesn't seem to represent."

Now there is a new problem—a large chunk of Bay Staters feeling they are not represented down in DC.  Mr Bridger; try being a Republican with all twelve members of the delegation being registered Democrats.

The question is, should we fix Mr Bridger's problem, by bringing proportional representation to our delegation in the US House of Representatives?

The way it would work is that we would run the race state wide. Each party would put forward a slate of up to ten candidates. Then, we, the People, would vote for slate. The votes would then be counted by party. If the Democrats won 60% of the votes, they would get six seats and the top six people on their slate would be sent to Washington.  If the Republicans won 30% of the vote, the top three people on their slate would head down to DC.  The Libertarians (or Greens, or Peace and Freedom Party, or whoever wins at least 5% plus 1 vote would get to send their top person to DC.

How would we decide the ranking in the slates?  We could do it by party convention or we could ask the voters to rack and stack them during the election itself.

Regarding the US Senate, frankly I don't see this scheme working.

But, back to Mr Bridger, do we meet the complaint or do we tell him to just go away?

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Hinterland

This all started when my youngest brother sent along this link, from Government Executive Magazine.  At the link is a column by a Mr Charlie Cook, dated the 27th, and titled, "An Ear-Splitting Alarm".  "Over the past 12 months, Democrats have badly damaged their brand."  The column concludes:
Any Democrat with a pulse ought to be extremely alarmed by now:  The same wave of independent voters that swept away the GOP's majorities in the House and Senate in 2006 could do the same to Democrats, at least in the House, this November 2.
Then there was the exchange of a series of EMails.

My big one was
It is truly amazing, isn't it.

And, it is complicated for the Democratic Party because it is easy to blame it on racism and clingers and "tea baggers" and the like.

They have forgotten that there is a hinterland.

[And here is a quote that Law Professor Ann Althouse lifted from a book review on a biography on Justice Louis Brandeis.]

And this also touches on Lance's point about Senators and the States...
Law clerks and other young people who met Justice Brandeis learned how serious he was in his commitment to the states.  He would advise them to leave Washington and go home.  A lawyer I knew in Washington in the 1950s, Joseph A. Fanelli, told me that he went to Washington from Harvard Law School in 1935.  Sometime later he had a telephone call from the justice's messenger, Edward Poindexter, saying that the Brandeises invited him for tea.  Fanelli went to their apartment, was handed tea, and introduced himself when the justice came into the room. "What do you do, Mr. Fanelli?"  "I'm with the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Mr. Justice."  "Don't stay too long!" Brandeis said, and moved on.

Fanelli was invited back once a year, and the same conversation occurred. He achieved such seniority that his wife (he had married) was asked to help pour the tea, and Fanelli was determined to break through the formula.  When the justice said, "Don't stay too long!"  he quickly asked, "Why do you say that, Mr. Justice?"  "Because, Mr. Fanelli, I believe that every man should get back to his hinterland."  "But, Mr. Justice, I come from New York.  I don't have any hinterland."  "That, sir, is your misfortune," Brandeis replied.  And moved on.
I think the Democrats have forgotten that there is still a hinterland in these United States.  Have I mentioned the book Deer Hunting with Jesus?

I have to take out the trash.  [It was Tuesday and Gunter wants it done right.]
And the point about the hinterland—does anyone even use that term anymore— is that while people have left the farms and moved to the cities for industrial jobs, we do still have a sort of hinterland:  the farms, the small towns and small cities and the suburbs of the larger cities.  Mr Fanelli should have wondered about what the folks in Up State New York were thinking, and not just what the people in New York City, and Washington, DC, were thinking.  If we look at the pattern of voting for Senator Elect Scott Brown, it sure looks like the hinterland of Boston went for Mr Brown.

I am not interesting in helping elect Democratic Party candidates come November, but it seems only fair to point out to our Democratic Party friends that Justice Louis Brandeis had a point.  And I would not characterize Justice Brandeis as a true Liberal—he was more of a "Progressive".

Regards  —  Cliff

  People like Maggie Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and Adam Smith and the Founding Fathers, or a good bunch of them.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fear the Boom and Bust

At this location is a RAP Video that talks about the views of two of the most important economist in the Twentieth Century, John Maynard Keynes and F A Hayek.

I do think the video flows more smoothly at this blog site.

The differences between the views of Lord Keynes and Mr Hayek are critical to understanding the debate going on across the nation on whether we need another stimulus package (Stimulus II) or we need to take other actions.

The Video is 7 minutes and 33 seconds, to it takes a while.  But, it is lively, and if you need to review the lyrics, go to the first link to read the words.

Thanks to The Anchoress for this item.  She thanks the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff


I was over at Happy Catholic, looking for the "Weekend Joke" and came across an item from Mexico Bob.  It is about the Stelae of Miguel Hidalgo.

Mr Bob Mrotek, originally from Chicago, now lives in and blogs about Mexico and mentioned in the post on the "Stelae" (or Marker), that this is the year that marks the beginning of the fight for Mexico's Bicentenario or Bicentennial.  Apparently Padre Miguel Hidalgo was the Father of Mexican Independence.
Recently my friend Benjamín Arredondo ("El Bable") asked me to locate the two "Cabezas de Águila" in Irapuato because he is preparing a blog on Mexico's Bicentenario which he will publish very soon. The cabezas de águila (eagles' heads) that he was referring to are markers called "estelas" in Spanish from the Latin "stelae" meaning "marker". Stelae are upright stone slabs or columns that mark roads or boundaries. In this case they mark the route of Padre Miguel Hidalgo, the Father of Mexican Independence from where the fight for Mexican Independence began in Dolores Hidalgo on September 16, 1810, to the place where Padre Hidalgo was executed in front of a Spanish firing squad in Chihuahua, Chihuahua on July 30, 1811. The estelas are made from a column of brick or stone and are topped by the sculpture of an eagle's head. The eagle has a banner streaming from his beak declaring "Libertad".
So, Mexico, with the oldest university in North America, wasn't so far behind us in gaining independence from the "Mother Country".  On the other hand, the path was rocky, with Independence being declared on 16 September 1810, but the Spanish not finally giving up until the "Treaty of Córdoba" in 1821.

If you scroll down you can see a sketch of one of the markers.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, January 25, 2010

EMP Science

The issue of EMP—Electro-Magnetic Pulse—has been around for decades.  It wanes and waxes, but no one does much about the threat.  Does anyone think the Department of Homeland Security is working this?  At least not the Heritage Foundation folks, back in 2008.  To be fair, DHS does list it as a factor under Nuclear Attack.

At any rate, since it is not just the threat of Iran or China popping a nuclear weapon 100 kilometers over the United States that we need to worry about.  There is also the issue of "Space Weather" and EMP like action by the Sun.

In this article, from The Space Review, Yousaf M Butt talks about EMP, and promises us a second part.

Yes, the article is a bit on the Geeky side, but sorting past the deeper science those of us who are laymen can still get a sense of the problem.  And, even if the CIA never does decide if Iran is building nuclear weapons, there is still the Sun out there to worry about.

Some are thinking about this, including Texas A&M.

Regards  —  Cliff

Best Checkout Clerk

Last week I was at the Market Basket on Broadway and some street to be named later, in beautiful down town Lowell.

When I checked out, at the line for 12 or less items, the person running the cash register was Polly.  Polly was very efficient and our line moved right along.  Her actions suggested economy of motion.  Her personality was pleasant and her bearing and dress suggested that she had pride in herself.

I nominate Polly for best Checkout Clerk in the greater Lowell area.  Having said that, I am willing to accept challenges to my pick—challenges in terms of other nominations, with facts.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Map Quest suggests they pick Fletcher, although that is the parking lot and not the store itself.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Market is Everything

Apparently smugglers working the Arizona border are more interested in Chinese (at $40,000 per person) than Latin Americans (at $2,000 per person).  The market rules.

Stephen Ceasar, writing in today's New York Times talks about "In Arizona, a Stream of Illegal Immigrants From China".
In fiscal 2009, 332 Chinese immigrants were caught in the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector, up from 30 the previous year, Border Patrol figures showed. And in what could be a sign of a record-breaking pace for this year, agents in the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector arrested 281 Chinese immigrants from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, the first quarter of the current fiscal year.
That is an indirect way to measure what is happening.  Of course maybe the number is the same and Customs and Border Patrol is just ten times more efficient.

The author quotes Ms Patsy Lee, president of the Tucson Chinese Association, as saying:
The Chinese youth love the freedom Americans have.  They still see America as the land of promise.
As an American I take that as a complement.

But, the fact is, these folks are queue-jumpers and that is unfair to those who play by the rules.  Part of what makes these United States work is the idea that we play by the rules, the Bulger Brothers notwithstanding.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  I got this somewhere else, but I found the link at the Ann Althouse blog.  Thanks, Ann.

What is He Saying

I neither read nor speak French.  Does anyone know what Erik is saying?

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Call for the "Wise Men"?

Law Professor Glenn Reynolds, of Instapundit points us to this Mickey Kaus offering on Slate.

Mr Kaus, after arguing that the Obama Administration managed to upset almost all groups with the Health Insurance Reform proposals, suggests the situation in Washington is serious and asks:
What do presidents do when they should fire themselves?  They fire their advisers and bring in a new crew.  That's what may happen here.  I'd guess we're about 36 hours away from a Beltway call for "wise men." ... If it wasn't for his role in the Massachusetts Senate debate, I'd say we're a week away from David Gergen's touchdown at Reagan National...
Mr Kaus posted at 2222 (10:22 PM ROTC Time), so 36 hours hence would be about 1022 Monday (morning).  Seems like a reasonable time to execute such a move.

The Sunday Morning shows will tell the tale, but I will not be around to watch them.  I will be locked away in a small room, at an undisclosed location, helping to count the collection.  However, this Sunday I would like to be watching the talking heads and their victims.  (Those of you who do watch the Sunday morning talk shows are invited to freely post your thoughts, within the limits of decorum.)

And, if we do get the "Wise Men" to show up, I hope that it results in some reasonable approach to fixing our health care problems.  Even Senator Elect Scott Brown tells us there are things that need to be fixed with regard to health care.

Regards  —  Cliff

General Intercessions

I am with George Weigel in his complaint here in the Boston Archdiocese newspaper, The Pilot, about canned General Intercessions, the Prayers of the Faithful, at Mass. Maybe more-so, in that when I am the reader at Mass I am the one mouthing this strange Prayers of the Faithful.

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C, and a prolific author.  The last book of his that I read was The Cube And the Cathedral: Europe, America, And Politics Without God, about how Europe is slowing using up what existed of its cultural deposit, and is not replacing it.  Thin book; easy read.

But, back to his complaint.  To understand his reaction, recall that the Roman Catholic Church is opposed to abortion.
For those who are considering abortion: may our prayers and the intercession of the Holy Innocents whom we honor today help them choose life as the best option, let us pray to the Lord.
I am sure the person writing it was trying to be gentle and non-judgmental, but like Mr Weigel, I think it was a poorly formed prayer.  Mr Weigel:
The best option?  Oh, so the decision whether to carry a child to term is a pragmatic calculation, and we’re to pray that those concerned get the calculation, er, right?  How did this morally degrading nonsense get written?  How did it get past an editor with any theological grain of sense?
Mr Weigel makes the point that some parishes, including his own, use "canned" prayers, from a "Liturgical Service".

The real point is that all such canned inputs need to be reviewed in light of the needs and sensitivities of the individual parishes.  Such has happened in our Parish and we are better off for it.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, January 22, 2010

The US House of Representatives in Action

Here is next week's schedule for the US House of Representatives, as seen by the Republican Whip, Representative Eric Cantor, of the Commonwealth of Virginia—CLICK HERE.
  • Monday is a day off
  • Tuesday kicks off at 1230, but truth be told, voting doesn't start until 1830
  • Wednesday is a long day, starting at 1000, with a small break in the late afternoon, before reconvening to receive an address by the President of the United States at about 2035.
  • Thursday has nothing scheduled, but there is the possibility of motions to go to Conference on Thursday and Friday.
  • Friday seems to also be a day off.
I sure hope they are doing a lot of committee work in the interstices.

Regards  —  Cliff

Quote of the Day

Trying to track down information on Turner Societies for a footnote for my wife's paper for the UMass Lowell World War I history course I came across this quote from Carl Schurz, one time US Senator from Missouri and Secretary of the Interior under Rutherford B Hayes:
Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right.
So "show boating", I point you to the German version of Wikipedia, where you can find this quote in.  When I say showing off, I am saying that I actually don't speak German, or any other foreign language, but was able to track down some information for my wife at the site and Babel Fish solves 60% of the problem.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Out Back Question of the Week

What is the top news story of this week, not in terms of current splash, but in terms of long term impact on the nation?
  1. The Scott Brown Win.
  2. Speaker Pelosi announcing she lacks the votes to pass the Senate version of Health Insurance reform in the US House of Representatives.
  3. The US Supreme Court throwing our big chunks of McCain-Feingold and telling us Corporations are, indeed, persons.
  4. President Obama proposing stricter rules for major banks with regard to trading ("Volcker Rule").
  5. Concern on the part of Senate Democrats that they don't have the votes to reconfirm Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
  6. Secretary of State Clinton taking on the Chinese Government over Internet freedom.
  7. Some other item that was missed or hasn't yet hit the news.
Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

President Obama is Correct

My wife reports that President Obama commented that Senator Elect Scott Brown won the way he (Obama) did in 2008.

I think that is correct.  The People were dissatisfied and they showed it, both in 2006 and 2008.  That tells me that things did not improve enough after 2006 for the People to be happier (with the Republicans).  This by-election here in Massachusetts shows that the People are still unhappy.  As these two maps show Mr Brown did well in a big ring around Boston, from Salisbury to Chatham and out toward Tolland.  And, he seems to have bested President Obama's numbers almost everywhere in the Commonwealth.

My suggestion for the President is to look at President Lyndon Johnson and Civil Rights.  LBJ cut a deal with Everett M Dirkson, the Senate Minority Leader, and passed the legislation.  In Lowell no one under the age of 65 remembers Everett Dirkson, or his sidekick, Charlie Hallack.  But, the legislation was passed.  If the President cut a deal with the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, he could get 45% of what he wants and that would be a big deal—remember, we need health care reform, just not the way it is being rammed down our throatsgiven to us by the US Congress.  Well, he would also have to work with Rep John Boehner, the House Minority Leader.  But it could be done and it would be good for the nation and ten years from now we would all credit President Obama and be talking about making it better.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I am sure this idea is not original with me.

Who Is In Charge Re Terrorism?

Quoting from an article in the LA Times we find this:
Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair told senators today that it was a mistake for authorities to give the accused bomber in the attempted Christmas Day attack on a U.S.-bound airliner a reading of his Miranda right to an attorney without consulting Blair's office, the Homeland Security secretary and other officials.
Well, that puts the fox in the hen house, so to speak.

Admiral Blair was talking about the HIG, the "...high-value interrogation group, an elite team made up of experts from the CIA, FBI and other agencies.  The team was created to replace the CIA interrogation program that President Obama disbanded."

We have still not figured out who fits in what slot.  I have in the past said that our current understanding of the US Constitution needs to be expanded, so that civilians who, in any form, or to any degree, come under US control, anywhere in the world, should be given the full protection of the Constitution.  For me that includes not handing them over to some other government to be tortured.

On the other hand, combatants should go into Prisoner of War Camps and should be subject to interrogation as per the Laws of Armed Conflict.  They get no habeas corpus rights.  Picked up while engaged in war against the United States, they get put away for the duration.  The Red Cross gets to check up on them to make sure they are not being mistreated. On the other hand, they get no special privileges.  If our guys and gals eat MREs, they have no rights to anything better.

The hard part is those who don't qualify as soldiers, for instance, conducting acts of war while in civilian cloths.  As someone noted this morning, General George Washington hanged British Major John André, who was behind our lines in civilian cloths and carrying information about our defenses at West Point (before it became a four year prison for Army Cadets).

I am not advocating we follow the approach of the Continentals, who tried the Major and found:
"Major André, Adjutant-General to the British army, ought to be considered as a Spy from the enemy, and that agreeable to the law and usage of nations, it is their opinion, he ought to suffer death."
But, folks conducting acts of war (like blowing up airliners) and doing it in civilian cloths, are not mere civilians, but are neither "civilians" nor "soldiers", but are "illegal combatants".  Because I am a soft hearted person and wish to adhere to the rule of law, I say we designate them honorary combatants and treat them as prisoners of war, even when captured on US soil.  Aside from the potential loss of intelligence  we risk unseemly disruptions of our courts, as with Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who yesterday disrupted her trial in Federal Court.
The trial of Aafia Siddiqui, an MIT- and Brandeis-trained neuroscientist accused of trying to shoot American agents in Afghanistan, opened yesterday with unusual courtroom drama: Siddiqui shouted that the first witness was “lying’’ and used the public forum of the trial to reiterate her accusations that she was tortured in a secret prison - accusations the US government repeatedly has called baseless.
Her actions took place in Afghanistan, but she is being tried as a civilian here in the US.  Why?  Why not treat her as an illegal combatant, which she is?

Regards  —  Cliff

  I would note that in this I differ with Senator Elect Scott Brown and it is on me to articulate my view to him in some form of communication, since I doubt he reads my blog.
  While the other approach only provies more work for lawyers, thus raising their earnings overall.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Congratulations to Senator Elect Scott Brown

And thanks to all of you who got out and voted, regardless of who you voted for.  As an aside, I ran into our Congresswoman, Niki Tsongas, outside the Riley School, where I vote.  She looked at me and said something to the effect that "There is no point trying to persuade you on how to vote".  All in good humor.

But, the credit goes to State Senator Scott Brown, who ran an excellent race and won the election fair and square.

And Kad should be happy, in that in his acceptance speech, Scott Brown is giving credit to the independents.

And a thank you to Senator Paul Kirk for filling in during the interim.

Regards  —  Cliff


But only once.  But...



Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, January 18, 2010

Getting the Facts vs Doing the Reporting

I am supposed to be working on my homework and then going to bed so I can get up early and vote, but Martha has the TV on, following what is happening in Haiti.

She is currently listening to CNN and Anderson Cooper is talking about how "Doctors Without Borders" didn't get to land at the airport in Port au Prince, but had to divert to the Dominican Republic and then travel by truck, over the mountains.  Mr Cooper then asserts that people died due to the delay.  Then he points out that the plane of a US Governor did get in, and departed with some children from an orphanage, to go to their adoptive parents.  He then asks a colleague, "Who is in charge?"  The colleague says it is chaos, and he is correct.

I would suggest that before he bring up this topic Mr Cooper should be talking to the folks running the air traffic control at the Haiti airport.  We have been told it is a small airport and that means there is a limit as to what can be on the ground.  Thus, if the Governor's airplane takes up less space (length and wingspan) than the airplane of Doctors Without Borders, if might be able to squeeze in, while the Dw/oB airplane can't at that time.

Then there is the question of if the Doctors Without Borders plane had gotten itself included in the flow control, so that it had a slot to land, unload and then depart.  (I suspect there is also the question of if it would need fuel from the Airport in Haiti or if it could depart without refueling, thus not increasing the demand to fly in fuel).

Going back to when I was young, if the weather in the Eifel part of Germany was bad, one did not launch without an EAC—an Expected Approach Clearance.  The EAC was your promise that the airfield would be yours for a block of time, in case of radio failure or other problems.  I have been in flights that aborted down the runway because we could not get an EAC that matched our available fuel.

And, there is the question of what has a priority and if there is an abort enroute, which opens up a slot to bring in someone else, who is ready.  This is a complicated dance and the folks working it are experts.  Is it possible that the Air Force Air Traffic Controllers gave a pass to some state governor?   Yes, but before we say it was wrong we need to know all the circumstances and Mr Cooper didn't lay out a story that suggested he had a grasp on all those circumstances.  On any given day a C-17 with pallets of bottled water might be more important than a plane load of doctors supported by Doctors without Borders.  Dehydration can kill you just as surely as not getting a needed operation.  And, maybe it is just a critical spare part to repair a potable water making machine.

War and humanitarian relief efforts are chaos with people trying to bring order to what is happening and often different people are doing conflicting things, at a time when each thinks he or she is doing the best thing.  Sometimes it is a case of placing your money and taking your chance.

In this case, circumstances put me in a position to hear the report and to throw the flag.


The US has apparently also offended the French.  As Professor Glenn Reynolds, over at Instapundit (hat tip) commented, "Perhaps the French can send their own aircraft carriers, floating seaports, and massive logistical teams, then.  Oh, wait . . . .".  It was, after all, their colony once upon a time.  Or maybe they are unhappy that we are doing the heavy lifting.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Health Care Reform and Tuesday

Arthur, blogging at the Richard Howe blog site pleads that a key reason to vote for Attorney General Martha Coakley to fill Paul Kirk's seat in the US Senate is health care.

I would argue that health care is a good reason to NOT vote for Martha Coakley.

I agree that we have a health care problem in these United States.  However, the current bill in Congress is not the solution and may delay a solution for decades.  The current bill is a combination Health Insurance bill and pork barrel vehicle.

Yes, there are people not getting the health care they need.  A lot of those people are in places where there are few health care providers, either due to the thinness of people on the ground or the fact that the socio-economic conditions do not support the kind of health care doctors wish to practice.

One of the reasons our life expectancy lags that of Europe is that our infant mortality is so high.  If you Aunt Sally dies at 70, it brings down the average a little.  If you cousin Rickie dies at six months it has a much greater impact.

Providing health insurance for all, but not providing the medical practitioners will not fix the problem.  Why are we not hearing about plans to expand the production of physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners?  When either my wife or I go to our clinic of choice we normally see someone who was not born in these United States.  Why is that?  Did the Federal Government reach out and slow the production of medical practitioners a couple of decades ago?

We need health care reform, but the current efforts going on behind closed doors in the US Congress are only standing in the way.  Sending Attorney General Martha Coakley to replace the TSW will not fix that problem.  It might, however, change how the pork is dolled out at the end of the day.  But health care reform?  Not a chance.  And we need health care reform—real reform.

Regards  —&nbps; Cliff

  This could be a ghetto in some decaying industrial city or it could be Lowell, where, my Primary Care Physician tells me, the ratio of doctors to population is not as high as it should be.

Geekie Stuff—JLOTS to the Rescue

Or at least I hope so.

Here is one blogger, Eagle 1, who is hopeful that we can overcome the destruction of the port in Port au Prince with JLOTS&mdahs;Joint Logistics Over The Shore.

Great pictures and all.  As the Blog Post says, "No other country in the world can bring this sort of 'ready now' equipment to a disaster area."

It isn't just collecting money, but having the equipment and having it readily available.  Someone, in an EMail, commented that a plane is leaving Pope AFB about every 30 minutes, with a platoon of soldiers (think 50 passengers) and tons of pallets (mortuary supplies and medicine) and trucks.  As someone noted, the wholesale side of this is not the hard part, it is the retail, getting the water and the food and the medicine out to the people scattered across Haiti.  The medicine is, I suspect about more than treating injuries.  If you are lucky enough to be on blood thinners, you don't want to stop taking that prescription.

Airlift is great for getting stuff there early, but 90 to 95 percent of everything Haiti needs will have to come by ship, first because the airport is very small and second because going by ship is just 20 ties more effective in terms of cube and weight (size and weight if you like).

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Comment is Awaiting Moderation?

"Your comment is awaiting moderation."

I get that at some blogs at which I comment.

The problem is that this is the blogosphere and very little is ever "moderated".  No one edits comments for for language or hyperlinks or any of that sort of thing.  Probably because there is no way for the Blogger himself or herself to do that.

Clicking the square that allows the Blogger to "moderate" comments on a post slows down the process of commenting.  It allows time to delete comments one does not like, or comments by people one does not like.

I tried it once, on this blog, for a week, to see how it would go, and then switched back.

For sure, what is not happening is moderation.  Delay, yes.  Deletion, yes.  Moderation, no.

I have been wanting to blog on this for some time, but have been moderating my attitudes toward the phrase, but now no longer.

Regards  —  Cliff

You What?!?!?!

So, it being Saturday, Martha and I were out to dinner. At the door of the Restaurant the 20 year old greeter was registered to vote and ready for Tuesday, after she checks up on the candidates (one more time, I am hoping).  However, a younger member of the greeting team, who is 18, isn't even registered!  Don't they teach Civics in school any more?  She doesn't see the point to it.  I need some new arguments so that she registers soon and votes in this years primary and general election.

The odds of your vote making a difference are slim, I grant you.  The odds of your vote and the vote of three people you know making a difference become much higher in a close election.  If the whole voting age membership of the Class of 2010 at Lowell High School did or didn't vote it could change the state-wide results in a very close race.

Part of the problem with not voting is that if you don't vote it discourages others from voting and in an election as important as this one, we don't need discouraged voters, but rather encouraged voters.  Let's go with the sociology of it.  If everyone votes, then everyone votes.  If no one votes, then no one votes and we get ruled by a small political elite that is interested in what it wants rather than what the majority of us want.

Voting is self protection for the masses.

And sure, I want you to vote for the same person I am voting for, because I think that person would be best for our State and our Nation, but MORE IMPORTANT is that you vote!  I would rather see "Brand X" elected with a 70% turnout than my person elected with just a 22% turnout.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, January 15, 2010

Meanwhile, Out on the Coast

I found this at the Volokh Conspiracy:
Elliot-Park v. Manglona (9th Cir. Jan. 12) (Kozinski, J., joined by Bybee, J., with a partial dissent by Callahan, J.) holds that it’s unconstitutional for the police to refuse to arrest someone because his victim is of a disfavored race:
[W]hile the officers’ discretion in deciding whom to arrest is certainly broad, it cannot be exercised in a racially discriminatory fashion. For example, a police officer can’t investigate and arrest blacks but not whites, or Asians but not Hispanics. Police can’t discriminate on the basis of the victim’s race, either.... [T]here is no right to state protection against madmen or criminals, but “[t]here is a constitutional right ... to have police services administered in a nondiscriminatory manner — a right that is violated when a state actor denies such protection to disfavored persons.”
The court also concludes that this right was clearly established at the time of the police officers’ action, so the claim isn’t barred by qualified immunity. (Note that, as with most cases in this procedural posture, the courts’ account of the facts is based on the plaintiff’s allegations; it will be up to the plaintiff to prove them at trial, and to produce enough evidence of them to survive a motion for summary judgment.)
I found the most interesting part the statement was the phrase "[T]here is no right to state protection against madmen or criminals".  I can't think of a stronger reason for the Second Amendment, aside from the fact that the British might come back and try to again oppress us.  This is not to take away from the larger issue of the police using their powers to allow crimes to be committed against certain disfavored classes.

I find this recognition by the Ninth Circuit that there are some things that the state is not responsible for protecting us from refreshing.  The state can't promise protection against madmen and criminals.  In the same way, the state cannot promise to protect you against hurricanes and disease.  That is to say, there are limits to what the state can do.  And, we need to recognize that before we bankrupt ourselves.  Saying there are limits is not the same as saying the state should not be out there doing its best.

Regards  —  Cliff

What is it With Jack Bauer?

Back when I was young I used to "sit" nuclear alert.  That is, I was prepared, depending on the day, to deliver up to 1.1 Megatons of death and destruction on some target in Eastern Europe.  Every fourth day for two and a half years.  Later, as a Wing Commander, I took advantage of NATO Command Post Exercises to practice loading out the Wing as though it was the real thing.

On the other hand, I have never thought that torture was a good thing.  People did it, but that didn't mean that people should do it.  And, while I don't believe that water boarding is the great evil that some do, I think it is unacceptable in these United States, or in black sites across the globe that are controlled by the United States.

So why are we so fascinated by Jack Bauer and "24"?  Alex Beam, who I normally count on to be on the beam, has this to say about "24":
"24" is the repository of some of our most cherished illusions:  that America is the only country that matters in the world; that cool guys on a mission don’t have to play by the rules, and the bad guys tend to have dusky skin and genocidal ambitions.
The problem, for me, is that my most cherished illusions are that we are the "city on a hill", that we "play by the rules" and that eventually everyone will see it our way, at least to a large degree.  Using torture is not part of that illusion.

One of the things about the Victorian Era that I like is that while they may have thought dirty thoughts, they were polite enough not to utter and display them in public.  This had a certain calming effect, or so it seems to me.  Put another way, the idea of doing something may flash through your mind, but actually breaking "the fingers of a recalcitrant civil liberties lawyer" should remain just an option and never an actuality.

Regards  —  Cliff

Franken Units

I found this part of a comment over at the Ann Althouse Blog:
But I have no doubt Coakley and the Massachusettes will scrounge up enough found ballots to win by a margin of 2 or 3 Franken units*.

*(1 Franken = one trunkful of ballots= 250 votes).
I found it clever.  But I would never expect something like that to happen here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  We are honest, decent and fair.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, January 14, 2010

UAV Missile Shots

There is a small piece by Bill Roggio over at Long War Journal on the ACLU filing suit to learn more about decisions taken with regard to targeting individuals who we believe are involved in terrorism activities and who are schedule for liquidation by PREDATOR Drone missile attacks.
In a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed today, the American Civil Liberties Union asked the government to disclose the legal basis for its use of predator drones to conduct "targeted killings" overseas.  In particular, the ACLU seeks to find out when, where and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, and how the United States ensures compliance with international laws relating to extrajudicial killings.

"The American public has a right to know whether the drone program is consistent with international law, and that all efforts are made to minimize the loss of innocent lives," said Jonathan Manes, a legal fellow with the ACLU National Security Project.  "The Obama administration has reportedly expanded the drone program, but it has not explained publicly what the legal basis for the program is, what limitations it recognizes on the use of drones outside active theaters of war and what the civilian casualty toll has been thus far.  We're hopeful that the request we've filed today will encourage the Obama administration to disclose information about the basis, scope and implementation of the program."
You say war is war, but in the area of non-governmental organizations waging war, it is not all that clear.  For example, since there folks are not military personnel, we don't have to apply the rules of the Geneva Convention to those we capture on the battlefield.  So, do we try them as civilians?  If that is the route to go, then what are we doing playing judge, jury and executioner, all rolled into one.  This is a somewhat murky area and the Obama Administration is making even more use of the PREDATOR tool than the Bush Administration.

This will be an interesting trial to follow.  The outcome could change the direction of the long war.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I am NOT advocating hanging them from the lamp posts, as the Germans did toward the end of the Franco German War in 1870-71.

PS:  The Long War Journal says to go here to read more, but at this point it looks the same as the link above.

Out Back Question of the Week

This week's question has to do with the election on this coming Tuesday, the 19th of January—you are planning to vote, aren't you?

I have seen a number of articles and opinion pieces that talk about electing someone to replace the late Ted Kennedy in the US Senate.  But, is Ted the one we are really replacing.  I offer up the following options and ask you to pick one.
  1. Paul Kirk, the TSW
  2. Edward Kennedy, RIP
  3. Ben Smith, RIP
  4. John F Kennedy, RIP
  5. Daniel Webster, RIP
  6. Tristram Dalton, RIP
  7. Some other person, not herein named.
Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Here we have a rant on the part of the blog Classic Values about the New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art limiting its display of Islamic art.

The title is "WHERE'S THE BRAVE ART WORLD THAT STOOD UP TO JOHN ASHCROFT?"  The implication is that while the Art World was upset when the Attorney General John Ashcroft draped some nude statues, the Art World is happy enough to see The Metropolitan Museum of Art avoid displaying holdings that include the image of the Prophet Mohammad from its Islamic Collection.  The reason is that the Museum is concerned that some might object to such displays.  Or like Yale University Press and the Danish Cartoon controversy—talk about the controversy but don't include prints of the cartoons in the book.  I wonder if they dared to include descriptions of the cartoons in their printed study?

Given the recent assassination attempt in Denmark, this is a timely issue.  To what extent we should engage in self-censorship is something each of us has to think about.  Given our long tradition of openness—remember the "Piss Christ" controversy—we should be very slow to engage in self-censorship.

We should not kid ourselves about this issue.  There are folks out there who are sufficiently put off by some of this art which mocks this or that religion that they are prepared to take action.  Look at the controversy over the Danish Cartoons of Mohammad.  Just two weeks ago someone tried to kill (as in murder) Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard at his home in Aarhus, Denmark.

Per a report from the BBC, a Somali group, al-Shabab issued the following comment:
Al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Muhamud Rage told AFP news agency: "We appreciate the incident in which a Muslim Somali boy attacked the devil who abused our prophet Mohammed and we call upon all Muslims around the world to target the people like him."
When we think about terrorism one of the key things we need to keep in mind is that the other side is trying to achieve its goals by making us say uncle.  And, if we are sufficiently unhappy we will replace our elected officials with new ones who will give the terrorists what they want.  Of course the problem with Osama bin Laden is that he wants it all.  But, for today he might be happy with the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art following his dictates regarding images of the Prophet Mohammad.  That and the murder of Danish Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  Hit tip to Instapundit

  Yes, I found it very offensive.

Senator Reid's Gaffe

Eugene Robinson, a columnist for The Washington Post yesterday gave us his insight on the Harry Reid imbroglio:
Skin color among African Americans is not to be discussed in polite company, so Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's newly disclosed remark about President Obama—that voters are more comfortable with him because he's light-skinned—offended decorum. But it was surely true.
Mr Robinson has always struck me as a level-headed columnist, albeit a little more "progressive" than I.  I think he captures the truth behind the controversy over Senate Majority Leader Reid.

Or, we could look at it from a different point of view.  It sure looks like the elite media look down on former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for her use of her patois while campaigning, rather than speaking standard LA Middle Class English.  We are led to think that Sarah Palin's English is little better than that of Eliza Doolittle.  I don't think this attitude is right or insightful, but it does exist and no one in the MSM is going to take on the MSM for this.

I don't think Senator Reid should be taken to the wood shed for forthright comments about a candidate in a private discussion.  Mr Robinson's second and third paragraphs:
Color bias has always existed in this country.  We don't talk about it because we think of color as subordinate to racial identification.  There are African Americans with skin so light-hued that only contextual clues speak to the question of race.  I remember once looking up some distant cousins on my father's side.  They were so fair of hair and ruddy of cheek that I thought I'd gone to the wrong house, until one of them greeted me in what I guess Reid would call "Negro dialect."

Forgive me if I am neither shocked nor outraged.  A few years ago I wrote a book about color and race called "Coal to Cream," and the issue no longer has third-rail status for me.  What I would find stunning is evidence that Reid's assessment—made during the 2008 campaign and reported in a new book by journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin—was anything but accurate.
On the other hand, the Senator could be criticized for not updating his language.

I think it is time to move on.

And, it is still the time we should be judging people based upon their character and their contribution rather than their skin color.

Regards  —  Cliff

  A million other things, yes, but not this.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Watching the Clip Would Be Too Painful

Captain Ed, Ed Morrissey in his old days, has this little post on the debate last night.  It seems Attorney General Martha Coakley claimed that there were no more terrorists in Afghanistan and that we should leave.  Maybe she didn't say it.  Watching her say it would be too painful for me to endure, so I leave it up to the readers to check it out.

If we go with Attorney General Coakley's suggestion, and pull out of Afghanistan, what do we do about Pakistan?&bnsp; What about Yemen?  What about Greg Page, whose whole next year is devoted to getting ready to go to Afghanistan?

I could make an argument for pulling out—we need to save the billions of dollars it is costing us.  We need to put that money to better use.  We need to reconstitute our US Army.  We need to reequip our Marine Corps and Air Force (and Navy).  We need to secure our borders.  However, that is not the case she was laying out.

The question is, do we want to replace the TSW with someone who will follow Harry Reid off the edge of the cliff or someone who might help chart a new path for recovering our economy and fixing a broken health care system.

Regards  —  Cliff

Old Stuff

Older than me.

The Boston Globe had a short article on prehistoic buildings unearthed in Tel Aviv.  This dig found a building dating back 8,000 years and artifacts dating back 13,000 years to 100,000 years ago.

Very interesting.

Regards  —  Cliff

Scott Brown Endorsements

I see where The Lowell Sun came out in favor of Scott BrownKad Barma wasn't all that impressed, but I liked it.  And The Boston Herald endorsed Scott Brown.  I am guessing that The Boston Globe is going to be occupied still looking for "Spiderman", who disappeared from the "G" Section on Monday.  These things don't go unnoticed. Where I work we have a car pool that goes over the comics in The Globe enroute.  They noted that a whole day's worth of comics were dropped last week and never recovered.  They were not happy.

But, I was happy to see the endorsements for Scott Brown.  Is he my perfect candidate?  No, I am, but I am not running and he is my second choice after myself.

And for all those who say the election on 19 January is to replace the late Ted Kennedy, what about replacing the TSW, Senator Paul Kirk. Like on the 20th or 21st.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, January 11, 2010

Is Spidey Gone?

Gone from The Boston Globe, that is.

I didn't see him this AM.  I hope this is not another one of those layoffs, to save money.  They may think they can keep turning down the temperature on the pot, but at some point we are all going to conclude that the paper has gone stone cold dead.

Regards  —  Cliff

New Eating Place

On 3 December a new restaurant opened down on Pawtucket St.  This is the "River Walk Cafe", in the venue formerly occupied by Gary's Ice Cream and before that Burbecks.  I just got around to visiting them today.  I purchased two large soups to go, on the way from class to home.  I had lunch with my wife and then was off to work.

There is an indoor area with a number of small tables.  There is Free WiFi.  Let's hear it for Free WiFi.

Today the place was not very busy, although by the time I got there two of the advertised five soups had sold out.  I bought Chicken Noodle Tortellini.

Plenty of parking.

But, who knows how crowded it will be after those of us doing the Continuing Ed Winter Term go away and the regular students come back.  I bet they are hoping it will be real crowded.

Regards  —  Cliff

New Lowell Blog

As Dick Howe noted yesterday, we have a new blog in town, this one by Gerry Nutter, with the name Gerry Nutter's Lowell.

I really like the photo in the masthead.

In the first post, Mr Nutter tells us a little bit about himself and in the second he tells us why he has switched from planning to run against State Rep Tom Golden to running for the Greater Lowell Tech and/or City of Lowell School Committee in 2011.  Much as I want to see change on Beacon Hill, each of us has to make these decisions based upon our own conditions.  And, it takes time and money.  City Life Host George Anthes told me that if I found him $2 million he would run against Representative Niki Tsongas.  If I had $2 million I would run against Representative Niki Tsongas, and we used to be neighbors.

Welcome to the "furball".

Regards  —  Cliff

  As in the close in maneuvering of a bunch of fighter planes, all going for the kill.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Obama and the Job of President

I think this is a bit of an overstatement, but there is some truth to it.

"The Real Reason Obama Is Faltering"
Just look at the most recent line of presidents.  From Reagan, to both Bushes, Carter, who failed for different reasons, and a mostly successful Bill Clinton, these were individuals exposed to broad elements of America as a whole as they came up.  That isn't the case for Obama, an individual who has admitted to being bored by suburbs and with no real claim to having experienced rural America very much.

From private sector endeavors, to state governorships, a baseball team owner, along with previous experience within the academy and hallways of power, most of our Presidents had either experienced, or dealt significantly and directly with many of the complex elements that comprise American society beforehand.  Obama actually led a mostly insulated life.
The writers statement is a bit over the top.  What about FDR and DDE?  What about JFK, although swimming in the waters of the Southwest Pacific must have given him some sense of how life is for the other 99%.  Truman and Nixon and Ford had seen a broader swath of life.

Maybe there is something to this.

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  And Maureen Dowd seems a little unhappy with the President.

Tea Party vs Scott Brown

As you probably have guessed, I am a registered Republican.  In fact, I am the Republican Chairman of Lowell Ward 1.  (Feel free to contact me if you have a question about things connected with Ward 1 Republicanism.)

But, beyond that disclaimer, I now move on to the Tea Party movement and the campaign of State Senator Scott Brown for our second Massachusetts US Senate Seat.

I notice a tendency to assume that the Tea Party movement is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party.  That is not true in Lowell.  And it is apparently not so elsewhere.

Here is a post from Red Mass Group on the Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh commenting on Scott Brown having an independent voting record and saying inter alia "teabaggers say NO!"

Two points:
  1. Not all Tea Party groups are for Scott Brown.  At least one is for Joe Kennedy.  The Boston Tea Party endorsed Joe Kennedy on 26 December of 2009.  So says Darryl W. Perry.  Now, that is not the Greater Lowell Tea Party.  And given the loose structure of the Tea Party movement, I would think there are a lot of different views out there.  What holds the Tea Party movement together is not a top down structure, but a bottom up belief that maintaining our freedom means being ever vigilant.
  2. Mr Walsh's use of the term "teabaggers" shows either invincible ignorance or a total lack of respect all around.  Suffice it to say, the term is not one you would use in front of your mother.  (Contact me privately—crk at theworld dot com—if you feel you need the details.)
As for me, I have a Scott Brown sign in front of my house.  It is not nearly as big as the Martha Coakley sign on Andover Street (I would say about 250 Andover), but then I have a small frontage and both a driveway and a path up to my front door from the sidewalk.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Joke, A Play on a Story

I got this joke from this Blogger, who has a joke each weekend, and they are suitable for telling in public.
Two women came before wise King Solomon, dragging between them a young man in a three-piece suit.

"This young lawyer agreed to marry my daughter," said the first woman.

"No!  He agreed to marry MY daughter," said the other.  And so they haggled before the King until he called for silence.

"Bring me my biggest sword," said Solomon, "and I shall cut the young attorney in half.  Each of your daughters shall receive a half."

"Sounds good to me," said the first woman.

But the other woman said, "Oh Sire, do not spill innocent blood.  Let her daughter marry him."

The wise king did not hesitate a moment.  "The attorney must marry the first lady’s daughter, he proclaimed.

"But she was willing to cut him in two!"  exclaimed second woman.

"Indeed," said wise King Solomon.  "That shows she is the TRUE mother-in-law."
Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  In fairness to my Mother-in-Law, she was never that way.  A fine, if strong willed, lady, who passed on to what I hope is her just reward.

Lapse in Blogging

It is hard to believe I haven't blogged since Wednesday— and there is a lot to blog about and more keeps rolling in.

My excuse is that this 3 hours a day, six days a week class is tough.  And, we do our homework on line, so the Professor checks us against every problem (and it all counts for the final grade).  And, we had a 60 question test on Friday. It was take home, but it was timed—two hours.  The course is Macroeconomics, for those of you snickering at the old man stumbling along.

So, things to blog about include the UMass Lowell billboard down on the 93 Freeway, by Mystic Valley Parkway.  Then there is the fact that UMass Lowell is doing a good job of keeping the classrooms clean and warm.  I wonder if that is because Chancellor Meehan goes to Mass at the Immaculate and has decided to plot a different course.  Father Nick is more like HRH Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh.  The Duke believes a more austere environment builds character.  On the other hand, we are now down in the Crypt Church—the lower church—and it is a wonderful warm environment in which to worship and the sound system is excellent.

Then there is the former State Senator from Cambridge, although he has been covered by several other local bloggers.  Suffice it to say that drinking and driving don't mix and it was good to see that the judge in that case made that point.  Speaking of politics, there was the debate amongst the three candidates to replace the TSW.  I was so busy I didn't even watch it.  And, fresh from The Herald is an article about that race, titled "Scott Brown swearing-in would be stalled to pass health-care reform".  It seems the Democratic Party establishment in our fair Commonwealth is looking to do a long count if State Senator Brown becomes the winner in the race.  The article had one person talking about a month to "certify" the election.  That would mean that the TSW would be able to vote for the Health Care Insurance Reform Bill, if, as expected, it comes up for a vote before the President's State of the Union speech.  Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

The thing that really caught my attention was this bit of gossip from The Washington Post.  It seems the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has become engaged to woman "B" right after woman "A" gave birth to his child.  The Headline is "Peter Orszag, just engaged, acknowledges new baby with ex-girlfriend Claire Milonas".  Sure, those names mean nothing to you.  They mean nothing to me, but if we were inside the Beltway we would recognize Mr Orszag's name and understand that he is one very powerful person in the Obama Administration, albeit behind the scenes.  From the story:
Life can be complicated. So it turns out for OMB Director Peter Orszag, who, just weeks before getting engaged to ABC correspondent Bianna Golodryga, became a new father -- via his ex-girlfriend.

Orszag, 40, and his ex, N.Y.C.-based venture capitalist Claire Milonas, 39, released a joint statement Wednesday acknowledging the birth of a daughter, after the New York Post reported that the Ivy-educated shipping heiress delivered Tatiana Zoe Milonas on Nov. 17.
Does this remind you of anyone?

Of course, Tom Brady; and a lot of other men who have fathered children only to move on to a relationship with some other woman.  Remember Bridget Moynahan, mother to Mr Brady's first child.  Then there is Mr Brady's wife, Gisele Bündchen, mother of his second child.

OK, so they are the rich and famous and don't have to live by the standards of stoggy middle class people.  Money does make a difference and neither Claire Milonas nor Bridget Moynahan, nor their children, will suffer privation.  However, there are a lot of mothers and children out there who will, abandoned by the father of the child.

Children born out of wedlock are a growing problem.  See this Slate article from almost two years ago.

And, as we all know, or should know, the number one indicator of success in the US is not your parent's bank account or your skin color, but if your two natural parents are still married.

So, here is what I propose.  When a woman delivers a baby and they gather the vital statistics the woman is asked to name the father of the young child.  If it is her husband, all fine and dandy.  If she didn't bring a husband to the delivery room, she is still asked to name the father—and the reason is that the State has an interest in that father having a role in the upbringing of that child, to include providing support to that child until that child is ready to go to work, be it age 18 or age 22.  The State's interest in the father providing support is very strong, since otherwise the State may end up providing that support (and that really means the rest of us, up to the point that all births are out of wedlock and then it is just a scheme to keep bureaucrats employed).

So, you are the named father.  If you don't think so, the State will provide a free paternity test.  If you are not the father, the mother gets to pick again.  I would give her three picks and if none of them work out, then I would have the State take the baby away and put it up for foster care, in that a woman who can't pick the father within three attempts is probably not capable of properly raising said child.

Of course the real impact of this would be the social pressure that would descend on mothers who lost their children due to not being able to name the father.  There would be the additional pressure on men who are interested in sex, but not interested in being responsible for helping to raise a child.  It might result in an increase in abortions, but I am not so sure.  Women who want to have that child may think they can play "Name that Dad" with some success.

Like everything that happens in a legislature, there will be exceptions built in.  Just look at the current Health Care Insurance Reform Bill before Congress.  I would say that if a woman is raped and elects to keep the child she is exempt from the requirement, if she went to the police.  As for Lesley Northrup, I say move to another state.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Duke insisted that Prince Charles should attend his school, Gordonstoun, with its tradition of cold showers.
  That would be the Teddy Seat Warmer, Mr Paul Kirk.
  Office of Management and Budget is a cabinet level office.  While the incumbent is not in line to succeed the President, he still wields a lot of power.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Outback Question of the Week

Not every question in life is political.

Here is one about Market Basket or at least the one at Stadium Plaza.

Here is the setup.  For several weeks I have been hawking the breakfast food aisle, looking for Shredded Wheat.  Nothing.  I have asked store clerks.  I have spoken to the lady at the little office.  Today my wife was in the store and nothing.  My wife says it is all over.  The big biscuits have been dropped in favor of the bit sized version.

What do you think?
  1. It is all over—the Cereal Company has stopped making the item.
  2. It is all over—Market Basket has stopped carrying the big-biscuit Shredded Wheat in favor of Cheerios.
  3. They have a bad algorithm (This was the case a few years back with Staples in Stadium Plaza and their Peanut M&Ms.  People would pilfer the items and then the store's computer wouldn't realize that they were out).
  4. What with the terrible weather we have been having (thanks to AGW) the raw materials haven't made it to the factory or the biscuits are backed up at the factory, waiting to be shipped.
  5. Stop whining and just go across the street to brand X (one more time).
Thanks in advance.

Regards  —  Cliff

Chris Dodd Fading to the Horizon?

Per this AM's Wash Post web site, Senator Chris Dodd is planning on retiring, rather than running for another term in the US Senate.  See this link:  Conn. Senator Dodd to announce retirement.
Embattled Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday at which he is expected to announce he will not seek reelection, sources familiar with his plans said Tuesday night.
If he does announce he is going over the side we can expect sorrow on Wall Street.  For sure Countrywide Financial will miss him.  Me, not so much.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Globe Messes Up

I know that The Boston Globe is a "Progressive" newspaper, in the pocket of the local Democratic Party power brokers, but I at least expect them to get the comics straight.

This evening I sat down to read the comics in The Lowell Sun.  I noticed that there was a "Pooch Cafe" cartoon that looked to be on an older theme, from reading the cartoon this AM in The Globe.  Then I noticed that the "Arlo and Janis" cartoon was not what I had seen in the morning paper.  I then looked at "Dilbert" and it too was different.  My first thought was that The Sun had run the wrong comics.  After all, they play pretty fast and loose with "Big Nate" on Sundays, picking a cartoon from the previous week to show.  What is with that?

For thinking these terrible thoughts about the local "paper of record", I profoundly apologize to Mr Campanini.

When I checked those cartoons in The Sun which had dates, they all said 1/5, which I took to be 5 January.  So, I went back to the "G Section" of The Globe, and sure enough, they published tomorrow's cartoons today.  If they can't be trusted to keep the cartoons straight, how can we trust them to endorse political candidates?  The next thing you know they will be calling for the election of Scott Brown to replace the TSW.  Wait, that might be a good thing.


Adding insult to injury, I opened up today's edition of The Boston Globe—today being Wednesday, the 6th of January 2010—and there were the same comics as yesterday, but otherwise the "G Section" seems to be a different product.  I guess the comics from 5 January are forever lost to Globe readers.  And, the folding machine again folded the paper so that the last part of the last frame of the left page comics are on the other side of the fold, hidden from view.  On the other hand, The Globe did report some good and timely news with a headline telling us that Charlie Baker is raising a lot of money.


I just got around to looking at the A section of The Boston Globe this evening, and on page A-2, we find this item:
Editor’s Note: Because of an editing error and the need to print the "g" section in advance some days, the comics pages, puzzle solutions, and astrological forecast that appeared in yesterday’s "g" section were incorrect.  They were meant for today’s edition, where they appear again.  The solutions to yesterday’s puzzles can be found today on Page B4.  Yesterday’s comics pages can be viewed today at
The good news for the MSM is that there is the Internet to allow them to somehow make up for their mistake, at least partially.  Woe to those Globe subscribers who don't have the Internet available.

Regards  —  Cliff

  An expression attributable to Kad Barma.
  Mr Charles D Baker is seeking the Republican nomination to run for Governor later this year.  There was no mention in the article of his opponent, Christie Mihos.  Maybe Mr Mihos is busy switching parties again.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

SJC Decision

Over at the Richard Howe blog there is this discussion of a Supreme Judicial Court ruling on the Open Meeting Law and evaluations of people like School Superintendents (and City Managers).

My take-away from what Dick Howe wrote was that the preliminaries have to be in public and there is to be no EMailing amongst the School Committee members before hand.  I wonder if that is moving in the direction that no EMails should be exchanged between School Committee members before any meeting, on just about any issue?  I will post that question at the original blog post and see if it elicits a nibble.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Hate Speech Legislation

The new year is starting off in on the wrong foot, as the article linked to below will show.  A hat tip to Instapundit for this item out of the Manchester Guardian on "Irish atheists challenge new blasphemy laws."  I was reading along, thinking that the Irish Government had made a bad turn by strengthening its Blasphemy laws rather than abolishing them.  In the back of my mind I was thinking of how extremists of this or that faith have shown that they can turn out murderous mobs if someone draws cartoons about their religious founders.  I was think about how some are pushing for Government protection of their faith from any criticism, calling it blasphemy.  I was thinking about how this is all bad and how it offends the First Amendment of our US Constitution and that I hope it doesn't jump the pond to our nation.

Then I read a couple of the comments and came to the one by TichyJr at 02/0059 January 2010. Mr Tichy is in favor of "Hate Speech Legislation" but thinks this new Irish law is bad:
Carefully written laws preventing certain well-defined forms of "hate speech"? I'm pretty much in favor of that.
So, it is bad to say certain words, but it is OK to attack someone's sacred beliefs.  Apparently the "clingers" and the "Tea Party" people are open targets.

My position?  You can say what you want as long as you are not saying to kill the President (or the Vice President or some other high official) or you are not crying "Fire" in a crowded theater.  If you feel the Pope is a idiot and a Nazi, feel free to say so.  If you think Mohammad was wrong, say so.  But, remember that Pope Benedict XVI is trying to save Western Civilization in Europe, something Professor Richard Dawkins seems not to be doing.  Remember, Mohammad is seen by a big chunk of humanity as someone who is about social justice, even if a small minority are about anything but social justice.  But, most important, in the US, all such points of view are allowed by law and custom.

So, don't come up to me and say that people who believe in God are idiots and not expect me to tell you that you are another pseudo-intellectual who hasn't thought it all through.  And please show some cuth and not drop the F-Word in front of me without being well acquainted with me and especially don't do it in front of young ears.  If you do, expect me to say that you are totally lacking in class.

The Irish Government got it wrong, but so did commenter TichyJr.


I actually updated this posting after it went up, to soften it around the edges with regard to Islam.  Then, in the news we find that some fanatic from Somalia has tried to murder Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, in his home, with his 5-year old granddaughter in the house.  The reason that the man was going after Mr Westergaard is that the cartoonist was one of those Danes who produced some cartoons taking the mickey out of Prophet Mohammad.  In the case of Mr Westergaard, he is the artist who produced the Bomb-in-the-Turban of Muhammad Cartoon.  Here is the report on al Jazeera and here is the report in al Arabiya.  Hat tip to Gates of Vienna and Instapundit.

Here is part of the story from al Arabiya:
The 28-year-old man, armed with a knife and axe, failed to get into Kurt Westergaard's home in the town of Aarhus late on Friday and was shot in the leg and hand after he threw the axe at a policeman, a police spokesman said.

The man, now under arrest, had "close ties to the Somali terror organization al-Shabaab as well as to al-Qaeda leaders in East Africa," the Danish Security and Intelligence Service PET said in a statement.
Let us hope that this attack does not lead to more weak-kneed responses to the cartoon issue, like that of Yale University Press last year.  A quick synopsis of that imbroglio can be found here.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Things may be different to the north, in Canada.  Thinking back a year or so I recall some Canadian Government lawyer being caught on tape at a hearing saying that there is no such thing as "Free Speech" in Canada—that is an American thing.  And thank God it is a thing in America.