Saturday, February 27, 2010

Senator Jim Bunning

My understanding is that Senator Jim Bunning (Republican of Kentucky) objected to a "Unanimous Consent" decrees with regard to some legislation that bundled together the extension of unemployment insurance, avoids cuts to fees for Medicare and TRICARE benefits and deals with Cable TV Access.

OK, so Senator Bunning's objection is that the US Senate, earlier this year, promised to not do this sort of thing without having the funding—or in other words, to not increase the Federal Deficit and Federal Debt.

But, still, it is the extension of unemployment benefits for millions of Americans and the avoidance of old people on Medicare and TRICARE finding their PCPs pulling back.

But, the number one problem we face is the debt, especially foreign debt.

What I don't understand is why the US Senate doesn't just buckle down and treat this like a bill, breaking it up into its part and then voting for it.  There are 99 other Senators out there.  What are they doing?  Sitting around, doing nothing?

I started this point on Friday evening. Now, on Saturday morning, we have this from The Washington Post (note this is Democratic Party Senator Chuck Schumer, not Republican Senator Jim Bunning
"We have to be careful here. We need job creation. . . . At the same time, we're really worried about deficits and too much spending," Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) recently told reporters. Of Obama's request for an additional $267 billion to boost the economy, he said: "Whether we could get something as big as $270 billion through the Senate or even through the House, I just don't know."
I am, unusual as it may be, with Senator Chuck Schumer on this.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Primary Care Physicians.

Au Revoir Desiree Rogers

Here is the LA Times take on the departure of Desiree Rogers from her position as Social Secretary at the White House.  And it includes a bit of a civics lesson on how things operate, in Washington and in Chicago.

Frankly, I don't think the gate crashing Salahi couple were such a big deal.

Good luck to you, Desiree, in your next adventure.

UPDATE:  Julianna Smoot is the new Social Secretary and deputy assistant to the president.

Regards  —  Cliff

Ignorance of the Military

Derrick Jackson, writing about "The military's evolution on gays" shows some confusion about the military.

For example, he has Admiral Mike Mullen serving with gay soldiers since 1968.  What do you bet those were actually sailors.  Did the Admiral perhaps say service members?

Then Mr Jackson talked about "the individual commanders of the Marines, the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force" testify on Capitol Hill. The only problem is, the Chiefs of Staff are not commanders.  It is an important point.  It is about our civil military relations.  Way back in 1958, then President Dwight D Eisenhower asked Congress to take the Chiefs of Staff out of the Chain of Command, which subsequently ran from the individual service units up through the Unified and Specified Commanders—the Combatant Commanders in the words of Congress and Title 10—to the Secretary of Defense and the President.

The one place where Mr Jackson really missed the boat was in his last paragraph:
While “don’t ask’’ is not yet dead, the burial is in sight.  This is no longer your 1993 military waving the white flag at paranoia.  America is deciding that soldiers are not to be judged by their sexual orientation, but by their character on the battlefield.
He didn't mention the US Congress, which has to repeal DADT and associated activities banned by the UCMJ.  While one might think that this would be easy for the US Congress, I have my doubts.  If we are looking for the last holdouts, they are on Capitol Hill and they aren't all Republicans.

Doesn't the Department of Defense Public Affairs Division run some sort of "boot camp" for reporters?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
  Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Senator Scott Brown Vote

Our new US Senator, Scott Brown, voted for cloture over the jobs bill.

$15 billion. As Ev Dirkson used to say, a billion here, a billion there and it soon adds up to real money.

The bill offers tax rebates for small businesses who hire the unemployed. That is a good thing.  The second Lowell Conference on ending homelessness, Friday, 11 March at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center, will have two presentations on that very issue.  Even now there are tax incentives for hiring this or that person.

That said, I would probably have gone the other way.  But, I am not in the position right now.  And it is easy to make the wrong call.  Just look at the Dutch Speed Skater in the 10K.

Over at The Wall Street Journal, Mr James Taranto had a column, "In Defense of RINOs".

One local Republican said this:
Let's think about considering this one a brilliant first vote.  It was not a perfect bill for sure, none are.  But in reality Scott voted for a tax break for small businesses on this one, if I read it correctly.  With this vote though, no one can say he's there to just another Democrat Program spoiler.  By himself, he's shut down the liberal "see, I told you so", trash talkers.  Trust me on this one, the Democrats are stunned...
Well, we would like to think the Democrats are stunned, but maybe not.

What this does say is that with Scott Brown around there may be some put up or shut up action in the US Senate, and that might not be all bad.  With Scott Brown there the resort to the nuclear option, as it used to be known, will become more dangerous.

And, maybe the Democratic Party Leadership will begin to consider some of the ideas of Republicans.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Republican in Name Only.
  That is to say, using reconciliation for things it was not meant to be used for.

The Key Election in 2012?

Probably for the position of President of Mexico.

Whoever we elect as US President will muddle through for four more years.  Well, that is not guaranteed.  Mr Charles Munger, Warren Buffett’s longtime business partner in Berkshire Hathaway, sees the U.S. economy in trouble, and said so in Slate.

But, here is a comment by someone I know on the internet:
It's not a given to me that the Presidente that follows [President Felipe] Calderon is going to continue to fight the drug wars, or that he will be friendly to us.  Clearly, capturing a friend at the top in Mexico would be a coup for [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez.  It is also not a given that he himself will still be in office by 2012, but I'm not betting against him.
A hostile Mexico on our border, or even one that is just badly broken, will be a major problem for us.  While we can't, and shouldn't, fix Mexico's problems, we need to be attentive and helpful.

For example, if you are a happy and fully employed Mexican, why would you try to do the illegal border crossing thing to the US?  On the other hand, if Mexico is broken and you need a job, why wouldn't you try the United States?

A good outcome in 2012 means doing the groundwork today.  The clock is ticking.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, February 22, 2010


This is what flying is all about.

Three French Mirage fighters, and early on, a tanker—to take them to the Sahara desert.  That little quick stop, at the beginning of the video, when the airplane is taxiing out of the hardened aircraft shelter, is so the bottom of the tires can be checked for cuts and nicks that could cause a tire to blow out.

Regards  —  Cliff

Denial vs Denial

From Instapundit to PJ Media, where we have Charlie Martin writing about the The World's Biggest Story, Everywhere But Here".

For those of you in Rio Linda or in denial, it is about Climategate.

Which is not to say that the shifting of the climate won't impact the lives of people and require costly adjustments.  But, the scientists who have done some of the work that underwrites the idea of AGW seem to have been less than candid and straight forward about their work and its value.  One could appeal to Galileo Galilei, but he had to fudge on comets, which he could not explain.

Regards  —  Cliff

  You know who you are.
  Let us hope just costly and not also intrusive.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Quote of the Day

From an article in the International Herald Tribune, referring to Dr Amy Bishop, of Huntsville, Alabama.
When I worked with her, I found she was always within striking distance of the edge.
The quote is attributed to a Mr Lenny Cavallaro.

Regards  —  Cliff

Back to the Falklands?

If we can get past the "Red State" thing and the idea that Argentina has planes that can routinely conduct surveillance off of the UK, this is still a pretty interesting article, even if it does carry a certain condescension toward Labor.

The plot is simple.  The Argentine Government has tried to impose control on all the water between Argentina and the Falkland islands, thus inhibiting British exploration for oil.  This move is by an Argentine Government, under President Kirchner, which is in trouble and could use a foreign (or in their view, domestic) adventure to regain support.

Interesting questions arise.
  1. How would the British react to action against one of Her Majesty's ships?
  2. How would the British react to a new invasion?
  3. How would the British react to a blockade?
  4. How would the US react to any action on the part of Argentina?
  5. On the part of Britain?
  6. And finally, is this the Out Back Question of the Week, in disguise?
Hat tip to the other Cliff.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Getting the Budget Under Control

My buddy Jeff sent along this URL, which looks at President Obama's plan to cut $100 million out of the Federal Budget.

You could take this as just one more right-wing attack on President Obama, and maybe it was intended that way.  However, I take it as a very graphic demonstration of how hard the problem is.  President George W Bush didn't show any strong skills in this area.  Neither did the Republican controlled Congress, back before January 2007, when the Democrats got a chance to show a lack of strong skills in this area.

Regards  —  Cliff

Dutch Gov't Falls over A'stan

The International Harold Tribune reports that the Dutch Government has fallen, over the issue of Dutch Troops in Afghanistan:
A last-ditch effort to keep Dutch troops in Afghanistan brought down the governing coalition in the Netherlands early Saturday, immediately raising fears that the Western military coalition fighting the war is increasingly at risk.

Even as the allied offensive in the Taliban stronghold of Marja continued Saturday, it appeared almost certain that most of the 2,000 Dutch troops would be gone from Afghanistan by the end of the year.  The question plaguing military planners was whether a Dutch departure would embolden the war’s critics in other allied countries, where debate over deployment is continuing, and hasten the withdrawal of their troops as well.
Elections will be required within 83 days of the Queen making a decision about whether to dissolve parliament or try for a new coalition (perhaps from Monday).

If the government goes to the voters it could be an interesting election.  I, for one, will be looking for expert commentary from one of the bloggers over in North Andover.  I think he has sources on the ground at this time.

Which will be important, since I don't think this has made The Boston Globe.

A hat tip to Gates of Vienna for pointing out this story.

Regards  —  Cliff

The New New Camouflage

There it is, the new US Army Utility uniform for those assigned to Afghanistan.  Yes, this will be different from the Utility uniform being worn in Iraq— and there is some logic to that, given that Iraq may provide a somewhat different background into which one might try to blend.  The news report I found was on Buffalo (New York) TV.

Uniforms are important in that they are part of the criteria for being considered a legal combatant, and thus protected by the Geneva Convention.  Get caught out of uniform and you could be considered an unlawful combatant or a spy.

One wonders if this new uniform was developed by the Army Research Laboratory a little south of us, Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

The news story tells us that this new field uniform was developed in four months:
The secretary of the Army announced Friday that, starting this summer, the Army will provide combat uniforms in the MultiCam pattern to all soldiers deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The Army says the decision follows a rigorous four-month evaluation and reflects its commitment to giving soldiers in Afghanistan the most effective concealment possible.
Rumor Control has it that this development effort came about after soldier complaints rose to the level of the US Congress.

UPDATE:  Army Times points to the late Rep John Murtha.

Interestingly, Blogger Ann Marlowe (Peace Later) talked about this general subject on 1 February, here.

And for those of you who wonder why everyone doesn't wear the same thing—it died in Conference Committee.

Regards  —  Cliff

  While at the Natick web site I did come across this neat thing, the BCU, or Beverage Cooling Unit.
Utilizing an extremely efficient design in a small footprint, the cooling system is capable of chilling water in a standard water container a minimum difference of 40°F in 25 minutes in ambient temperatures up to 145°F.
But, in the end, there will still be a need for Gunga Din to bring the water, but this will be worth its weight in gold.  Back in the day, when I was in a fighter squadron many of the crew dogs would put a canteen in the freezer in the squadron and just before stepping to the jet take it out and put it in a pocket of their G-Suit.  Too cold to drink at the time, but great 60 or 90 minutes into the flight.
  Someone did try to put some standardization into this Battle Dress Uniform issue with this language for the Fiscal Year 2010 Defense Budget, but it died in Conference Committee.

The Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Director of the Defense Logistics Agency, shall standardize the design of future ground combat uniforms. The future ground combat uniforms designed pursuant to this section shall be designed to--
(1) increase the interoperability of ground combat forces;
(2) eliminate any uniqueness that could pose a tactical risk in a theater of operations;
(3) maximize conformance with personal protective gear and body armor;
(4) ensure standard coloration and pattern for the uniform;
(5) be appropriate to the terrain, climate, and conditions in which the forces may be operating;
(6) minimize production costs; and
(7) minimize costs to the services for issuing the new standard ground combat uniform.

Fourth Amendment

Here is Law Professor Ann Althouse telling us about a recent ruling from the Ninth Circuit.  It is about unlawful search and seizure (Fourth Amendment) and how law enforcement is trying to stretch it to the point that the Fourth Amendment ceases to exist in fact.

Thank you to Ms Althouse for posting this.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, February 19, 2010

THAT was Embarrassing

Last night I was at a meeting and stumbled over GHG, which, it turns out, stands for Green House Gases.

I then said, it is like AGW, which drew a blank on everyone's face.  I then said, Anthropomorphic Global Warming.  My computer (MacBook Air) says:
anthropomorphic |ˌanθrəpəˈmôrfik|
relating to or characterized by anthropomorphism.
• having human characteristics
That seemed to go over OK, but I thought some were dubious.  Right they were to be dubious.

When I got home I was checking a couple of odd blogs and at No-Pasaran I found AGW described as Anthropogenic Global Warming.  Back to the dictionary:
anthropogenic |ˌanθrəpōˈjenik|
(chiefly of environmental pollution and pollutants) originating in human activity : anthropogenic emissions of sulfur dioxide.
So, to my companions on Thursday night, I apologize.  And to readers of this blog who I may have led astray, I apologize.

Anthropogenic Global Warning.

And, as long as we are talking climate, here is Professor Richard S Lindzen's letter to today's Bloston Globe.

Regards  —  Cliff


Notice the symbol, in gold, on the backs of the chairs in this photo taken in what we are to presume is a Dutch Courtroom.  (My source is the Canadian magazine, Macleans.

Doesn't it look strikingly like the diagram of the symbol for the British House of Commons, known as the "Crowned Portcullis"?  (To see it you have to go to the link, as the House of Commons symbol is protected by copyright, after all these years.)

As Mark Steyn might say, there is nothing else to see here, just move along.

Regards  —  Cliff

Renée Loth is in a Parallel Universe

And, the question is, which one are the rest of us in.  It is sort of like Representative Barney Frank asking one of his constituents what plant she was from.  Frankly, I thought she was from Planet Earth, which made me then wonder what planet Rep Frank was on.

Today, in The Boston Globe former editor Renée Loth talks about "Washington:  Polarized and paralyzed".  Ms Loth starts out by talking about Senator Evan Bayh, who says he will not be running for re-election this year.  She then goes on to talk about poor Senator Arlen Specter, who was intimidated by those terrible primary voters into changing parties.
Last year Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who is liberal on some social issues, switched parties rather than submit to continued browbeating from Republican leaders - or from primary voters, who tend to skew more to the political extremes.
But, a little further down it is all blamed on the Republicans.
No doubt the Republicans lit the fire, with their lock-step opposition to anything President Obama might propose and their venomous, personal attacks amplified by new-media proselytizers.  Republicans are being driven further to the edge by the crazy-quilt of activists rallying to the Tea Party movement, who see any sign of compromise as a betrayal or even treason.
Could we get a grip for a moment?  Here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts we have 21 Republicans out of a total of 200 members of the Legislature, or about 10%.  I hope we are not going to start blaming the Republicans when Governor Deval Patrick and the Democrats in the Legislature fall out.

In the same way, why are we blaming the Republicans because the Democrats in the US Congress, where they had the needed votes—60 in the US Senate and a solid majority in the Lower House—failed to get things done?

Is Ms Loth willing to stipulate that the problem for the Democratic Party agenda was Democrats?  Is she willing to stipulate that if they could have found common ground amongst themselves the Republicans would not have mattered?

If not it would be useful to the Republic, and to Progressives, if she just went off into retirement.  Or, she could spend a couple of columns recalling how Democrats on Capitol Hill used to tread Republicans as non-persons when those Republicans were busy being bipartisan.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Heaven forbid that the primary voters—the registered voters of the Republican Party—might want to run a candidate under their endorsement who is more socially conservative than Mr Specter.  What rights do THEY have?  Maybe we should repeal the Seventeenth Amendment and go back to letting State Legislatures select the US Senators.
  In the interest of full disclosure, not only am I a member of the "new media", but I am also a member of the Great Lowell Tea Party.  (Membership in the GLTP is relatively easy—show up at meetings and throw a couple of bucks in the coffee tin.)

Kathryn Grayson, RIP

Part of the problem of being old enough to collect social security is that when people start dying of old age you actually know who they are and appreciate what they have done.  So it is with Kathryn Grayson, who was memorialized by Arm Chair CommentaryWikipeadia has a nice rundown on her contribution to the stage and movies and even TV.
She was born Zelma Kathryn Elisabeth Hedrick in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  The Hedrick family later moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where she was discovered singing on the empty stage of the St. Louis Municipal Opera House by a janitor, who introduced her to Frances Marshall of the Chicago Civic Opera, who gave the twelve-year-old girl voice lessons.
That is a great story.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  A hat tip to Instpundit.

Iraq War Now Called Operation NEW DAWN

Meanwhile, Reporter Greg Jaffe, of The Washington Post, has written an article titled "War In Iraq To Get New Name To Reflect Change".
The Obama administration has decided to give the war in Iraq a new name -- "Operation New Dawn" -- to reflect the reduced role U.S. troops will play in securing the country this year as troop levels fall, according to a memo from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

Since U.S. forces charged across the Kuwaiti border toward Baghdad in 2003, the war has been known as Operation Iraqi Freedom.  The new name is scheduled to take effect in September, when U.S. troop levels are supposed to drop to about 50,000.

The change is intended to send a message that the U.S. military's combat role in Iraq is rapidly drawing to a close.  In the Feb. 17 memo, Gates wrote to Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander for the region, that the name change seeks to "recognize our evolving relationship with the Government of Iraq."

Such name changes are not unusual.  The name of the 1991 Persian Gulf War changed as the mission changed, from Operation Desert Shield to Operation Desert Storm and then finally to Operation Southern Watch and Operation Northern Watch.
And while we are talking about this future name change, let's talk about the Obama Administration claiming success for our progress in Iraq.  That is fine with me.  If it turned out that the Baathists had hidden two nuclear weapons and exploded them last week, we would have blamed the Obama Administration (even if the Obama Administration had tried to pass it off to George Bush).  The Obama Administration has owned the war in Iraq long enough that they get to book both the praise and the blame.

UPDATE:  I have a copy of the signed memo and if anyone is interested, I will EMail it to them. s; Just send an EMail to crk (at)

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Fourth Party

I don't think this sells me, but it is a point of view—"Forget a Third Party — Let’s Go for a Fourth Party!".

Regards  —  Cliff

Jeanne M Holm, RIP

Jeanne M Holm was our first US Air Force female general officer and our first to make it to two stars—Major General.

I never met the lady, but she was a big deal back in the day.  She was a leader, not just of women, but of people, and she lead the US Air Force into the age that recognized the value of women as members of that Service.

Major General Holm passed away on Monday.

General Holm was a doer.  If you look at her fruit salad (her ribbons) you will notice one in the middle and colored white, black, red and then white again, with an airplane on it.  That would be the German Occupation ribbon with the Berlin Airlift Device.  She didn't get that sitting in Louisiana.

To quote the American Forces Press Service press release:
Holm served in a variety of personnel assignments, including director of Women in the Air Force from 1965 to 1973. She played a significant role in eliminating restrictions on numbers of women serving in all ranks, expanding job and duty station assignments for women, opening ROTC and service academies to women, and changing the policies on the status of women in the armed forces. During her tenure, policies affecting women were updated, WAF strength was more than doubled, job and assignment opportunities expanded, and uniforms modernized.
A pause in memory of and a vote of thanks to Jeanne M Holm, Major General, USAF (retired), now gone on to her just reward.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

34th America's Cup Coming Up

The 33rd Challenge for the America's Cup has ended (14 February 2010) and the Golden Gate Yacht Club entry, USA 17, was the winner.

That ugly trophy is once again back home in the USA, where it belongs.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  Here is my blog post on the first race and one cranky comment from someone who used to have to actually hoist sails with some degree of muscle power.  To be noted, on a sailboat berthed behind Zane Grey's yatch.

Interesting Questions

Last nigh I got together with three other guys to talk about Niall Ferguson's book The War of the World, which is about the 20th Century.  My take on the Century is that it was all about decaying Empires (Russia, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman and Chinese) and how that impacted the rest of the nations.

I was going to say that for the UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and the US there was more or less graceful degradation, but that isn't true. First off, there were serious long term problems in some of the colonies (millions died when India partitioned and US forces are again engaged in fighting an insurgency in the Philippines). And, France experienced a coup and a change of Constitution as a result of the events in Algeria.  The UK experienced terrorism for quite a while due to Ireland.  In the US we had an attempted presidential assassination and then the same generic freedom fighters shot up the US House of Representatives a few years later.

Which brings me to this question I received in an EMail today:
Is the President’s ringing endorsement of nuclear energy power plants actually an attempt to cover up refining of weapons grade uranium for warheads to use against Iran?
Of course not, but it should give us pause to think about the fact that other nations may be viewing their nuclear programs through their own positive and peaceful lenses. And, just the reverse, there are some lying scoundrels out there who should remind us of Mary Therese McCarthy's line, "every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'."

What do we think is really happening in Iran?  I bet there are people in Iran who see their nuclear program as purely peaceful in intent, with no interest in weaponizing the nuclear results.  On the other hand, there are those, for sure, who intend it as a way of ensuring Iranian military power in the Middle East, but for maintaining the peace (and deterring the US and Israel).  Then there are those who think that they need nuclear weapons so that Iran can right past wrongs.

On the other hand, there is no putting the nuclear genie back in the bottle.  We have to make our choices and live with the consequences.  I am glad that the President has been trying to find a peaceful solution to the Iran question, but I am not sure there is an easy answer.

My own preference is that we go for deterrence and that as part of that we should include bringing members of the Iranian military and civilian leadership to the United States to go to nuclear weaponeering school, so they can see that the consequences of the detonation of a nuclear weapon can be serious.  Further, we should quietly offer Iran information on securing and safing nuclear weapons.  I think it would be worth our while to provide information on Permissive Action Links (PAL), in the hopes that Iran would develop its own PAL, so that if their weapons fell into the wrong hands they would not be readily useable.  And woe be unto them who don't understand that Iran's national interests may well shift in twenty years and at that point the great Satan may no longer be the US.

Regards  —  Cliff

  These words were uttered on the Dick Cavett show and were about Lillian Hellman.  Cue the lawyers.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Evan Bayh

Law Professor Ann Althouse refers to the decision of Evan Bayh to not run for re-election and the opinion of Jonathan Chait on the decision.

I am still thinking a Eugene McCarthy-like next move.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Daily Beast says...

Well, actualy Leslie H Gelb says "President Obama desperately needs a sweeping staff shakeup to save his presidency",  Mr Gelb's thoughts include that "he must reassign Rahm [Emanuel], dump Larry Summers, and get rid of National Security adviser Jim Jones".
The negative, even dismissive, talk about the Obama White House has reached a critical point.  The president must change key personnel now.  Unless he speedily sets up a new team, he will be reduced to a speechmaker.  It’s mostly a matter of relocating the Chicago and campaign crowd who surround the Oval Office and inserting people with proven records of getting things done in Washington and the world.
Much as I am always rooting for the outsides against the insiders, the fact is that one needs some of the insiders to make things work in Washington.

The President should not roll over to the insiders, but a few grey-beards are needed.

While I think health care needs to be recast and "cap and trade" is a mess, we can't afford to have our President reduced to speechifying.  The Congress will right itself in November, but the President is with us until 2013 and a lot could happen between now and then and I want him to be a strong factor in both domestic and world affairs.  Rush Limbaugh got it wrong.  We don't want the President to fail.  On the other hand, we would like to see him jettison overboard a couple of his current approaches to certain policy promises, because we believe they are not the solutions that meet the needs of the American People.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Mr Leslie H Gelb is a long time observer of the Washington scene and deserves to be listened to.  In 1980 his book The Irony of Vietnam:  The System Worked was published.  It talked about how Washington dealt with the issues of Viet-nam, as they came up.  He understands the Federal Government, from inside and outside.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Proposed Constitutional Amendment

Proposed Amendment to the United States Constitution:
Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States. No member of Congress (Senators andRepresentatives) shall receive payment for their service greater than the average income for the area they represent.
Now to divert for a minute.  Did you know that Snopes will not allow you to sweep and copy their work?  It seems to be put up like it was a photograph.  On the other hand, when I went to "Source" I was able to get this from Snopes, which seems to be good logical thinking:
Could this amendment really be passed without Congress voting on it?

Yes and no.  Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution specifies two procedures for amendments. One method is for two-thirds of states legislatures to call for a constitutional convention at which new amendments may be proposed, subject to ratification by three-fourths of the states. The constitutional convention method allows for the Constitution to be amended by the actions of states alone and cuts Congress out of the equation — no Congressional vote or approval is required. However, not once in the history of the United States have the states ever called a convention for the purpose of proposing new constitutional amendments.

The other method for amending the Constitution (the one employed with every amendment so far proposed or enacted) requires that the proposed amendment be approved by both houses of Congress (i.e., the Senate and the House of Representatives) by a two-thirds majority in each, and then ratified by three-fourths of the states. It's probably safe to speculate that the odds that a supermajority of both houses of Congress would pass an amendment which placed such restrictions upon them are very low indeed.
I like the idea, but it looks to me like it is something that a "Tea Party" like force could get passed, but not your normal legislative amendment process.

Regards  —  Cliff

John Who?

Someone came up with this line:
I finally figured out what is going on with all the Democrats in Congress deciding not to run:  "They are going Galt!"  They aim to deprive us of their "skills" so that we will hit bottom and welcome them back with open arms.  Of course, they seem to have missed something in the book . . . hopefully they will not figure it out.
One might think of Evan Bayh as an example.

Regards  —  Cliff


"Climate changes are proven fact" says Kerry Emanuel, Director of the Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He says it in today's edition of The Boston Globe.  Here is where he makes his point:
But when the dust settles, what we are left with is the evidence. And, in spite of all its complexity and uncertainties, we should not lose track of the simple fact that theory, actual observations of the planet, and complex models - however imperfect each is in isolation - all point to ongoing, potentially dangerous human alteration of climate.
On the other hand, The Daily Mail, a British Tabloid, has this headline:  "Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995".  The piece is by Mr Jonathan Petre and was previously updated at 5:12 PM on 14th February 2010 when I linked to it.  The key point is that Professor Phil Jones was not just a messy bookkeeper, but that he is not as confident about AGW as he used to be:
Professor Jones also conceded the possibility that the world was warmer in medieval times than now – suggesting global warming may not be a man-made phenomenon.

And he said that for the past 15 years there has been no ‘statistically significant’ warming.
oh oh...

Here are a series of Q&As with Professor Phil Jones done by the BBC.

Back to the first article linked above, from Director Kerry Emanuel, we have this final paragraph:
We have never before dealt with a problem that threatens not us, but our distant descendants. The philosophical, scientific, and political issues are unquestionably tough. We might begin by mustering the courage to confront the problem of climate change in an honest and open way.
The first sentence is a bit of purple prose and can be ignored, except to note that if there is AGW there is a very long term problem we are looking at.  He is darn tootin' that the problems are tough.  And, we all need the courage to confront the issues, especially the climate scientists, whose whole story is currently in a cocked hat.

I admit to being a skeptic about those who were claiming the sky is falling, and have been since then Senator Al Gore denied what he had written in his book Earth in the Balance.  With AGW now being seriously challenged, and starting to show cracks in the foundation, I am still a skeptic, but this time a skeptic who is not ready to throw out the questions about what should we be doing if there really is global warming.

But, first, I want to know what the science really says.  The best way to put it is that I don't want "experts" telling me that I should just sit down and listen.  I want to be talked to, as an adult.

Regards  —  Cliff

Trains Are A Big Deal

I was surprised to find the degree to which trains shuttle between the US and Mexico and Canada.  Here is a news report on a Department of Homeland Security request for information on detecting nuclear materials passing back and forth across the US border.
The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office within DHS is gathering information from companies and other organizations about their ability to detect radiological and nuclear materials being carried on approximately 120 freight trains—containing about 4,800 rail cars—that travel into and out of the United States each day, through rail ports of entry at the Mexican and Canadian borders.
That is a lot of trains and a lot of freight.  Trains continue to be a major part of our transportation infrastructure and part of the reason is their energy efficiency.  This, in turn makes then "environmentally friendly", at least relatively.

And, then there is the romance of the rails.  Trains are just neat to watch as they go hurtling along, or even creeping along.  And, I wonder how many people have been connected to railroads. I have a Great-Grandfather who was a conductor. My wife, Martha, worked for a firm of lawyers for several railroad worker unions (including the Brotherhood of the Maintenance of the Way) and her grandfather was an engineer on the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern (EJ and E) Railroad.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Which always strikes me as more like the name of a monastic group.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


The President has brought up the issue of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) and suggested we drop it in favor letting homosexuals serve openly in the US military.  And here is former Vice President Dick Cheney on the same issue on ABC's "This Week":
Twenty years ago, the military were strong advocates of 'don't ask-don't tell,' when I was secretary of defense.  I think things have changed significantly since then.
This is, of course, a somewhat controversial issue here in the United States.

I remember getting to ask the late Manfred Wörner, then German Federal Minister of Defense, 1 v 1, when Germany would enlist women in their military.  He told me that they could not do it now since they were in a manpower crunch and it would send the wrong message to German women—that it was all about the manpower and not about equality for them.  These thing can be complicated.

The 15 February issue of The Army Times has a poll out that shows that military members don't favor this move.  I discount that polling, on the advice of a professional journalist, with enlisted time as a Marine and in the Army National Guard.  This person pointed out that this is mostly a survey of "Lifers", the people who will be in the Service for 20 to 30 years.  It does not necessarily represent the views of younger enlisted personnel (and perhaps younger officers).

From things I have seen in EMails exchanged, the folks a generation younger than me are much more favorably disposed to homosexuals serving in the military.  But, even near contemporaries of mine had long ago adopted Greg Page's reformulation of DADT as Don't Ask, Don't Care.  A Chief Master Sergeant friend of mine told me he had a homosexual in a big squadron he was First Sergeant for and it didn't both him at all, since the person performed.  I suspect it is that way in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially in the "low density Military Occupation Specialties", the skills where there are only one or two people around and their contribution is important.  Down at the squad level it is probably just a case of being dependable.  Down amongst the privates there is a special bonding, especially in combat, and an attitude of "he may be Xxxx, but he is our Xxxx".

And polls are a strange animal.  Wording makes a difference.  In this post I have been saying homosexual, rather than gay and lesbian, or gay, lesbian and transsexual, or ....  This may, one way or the other, set someone's teeth on edge.  A CBS News / New York Times article says the results depend, to some degree, on how you ask the question:
The poll finds 59% of Americans say they now support allowing "homosexuals" to serve in the U.S. military.  But when the question is changed to whether Americans support "gay men and lesbians" serving in the military, 70% of Americans say they support that.

There's a further difference when the question specifies that they "openly" serve.  In this case, just 44% favor allowing "homosexuals" to openly serve in the military while 58% favor allowing "gay men and lesbians" to serve openly.
But, polls are not how we decide things in the US.  It is by politics and voting.

How this will come out of the US Congress is yet to be determined.  Back to the article in The Army Times:
Congressional aides involved in the debate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they believe there is little chance of Congress agreeing this year to repeal the law banning gays, which holds that the mere presence of gays in the military creates “an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.”

The most likely outcome, aides predicted, will be some process to collect data — perhaps creating an independent commission or launching studies — that would put off any decision until after the November congressional elections and perhaps delay a final vote on repeal until after the 2012 presidential elections.
On 1 February, Reporter Rowan Scarborough, writing in The Washington Times noted:
The president's proposal needs 218 votes in the House.  A bill to repeal the policy known as "don't ask, don't tell" has fewer than 190 co-sponsors.
And, there are issues to be ironed out.

For example, if James and John are married in Massachusetts, do they get married quarters in Texas?  Is this then a de facto Federal recognition of "Gay Marriage"?  With so many states having laws against homosexuals marrying, this could be an issue on the floor vote of the House or Representatives, or US Senate, especially in an election year.

On the flip side, claiming to be a homosexual, like being in Afghanistan and saying one is pregnant, is a "Get Out of Jail Free" card.  In its own way it may reduce suicides and self-inflicted wounds and other unfortunate incidents.  Do I have numbers?  Just suspicions.

If you want my opinion on DADT, I say drop it.  Let James and John have married quarters, but put language in the bill that buffers it from the larger debate in society, otherwise this becomes a whole other issue.  If you want my personal opinion on Homosexual relationships, we can meet up some place and you can tell me what you think and I will tell you what I think, but in my mind it is not relevant to the question of DADT.  For the sake of the Services and for the sake of fit patriotic Americans of all stripes, we should repeal DADT and associated articles in the UCMJ.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Fellow fighter pilots.  He had flown the Fiat G-91 in the Luftwaffe.
  Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Its Coming and Its Important

The 2010 National Census. 

Here are Five Myths about the Census.

For us here in Lowell, one of the key questions is if the Commonwealth will lose a seat in the US House of Representatives,  which will trigger not only a redistricting, but also the danger of even more extreme Gerrymandering.  If those people on Beacon Hill have time on their hands they should be finding a non-partisan way to redistrict the Commonwealth.

Regards  —  Cliff

  And, the practical result of that would be for the Sixth District, our district, to get broken up like we were Chelmsford, into several other districts.  That would not necessarily be good for this part of the Merrimack River Valley.

These People Think They Are Bullet Proof

Ms Joan Vennochi, in today's Boston Sunday Globe, talks about the new Andrew Young book, The Politician, which is about Presidential Candidate John Edwards.  Well, and Rielle Hunter.  The first indictment handed down has to be for the parents, for the name Rielle.  Still, Ms Vennochi is encouraging us to read the book, as a warning of ' "Voter Beware" '.

Sadly  —  Cliff

Shallot Out There?

On 22 November 2009 The Lowell Shallot had this for his lede
Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Is it just that I am having trouble finding his latest web post or is "The Shallot" on a very long vacation?

Or, maybe, Lowell has settled into that long sought-after upland where all is tranquil and happy.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Day the Music Died...

Looking for the "Weekend Joke" from Happy Catholic I came across this link to the Paragraph Farmer.

The subject is "When Don McLean rebuked John Lennon", and is about Don McLean's Miss American Pie.  The song is something I don't even pretend to fully understand, but is one of those Rock and Roll songs I really like.  There aren't many—I mostly like the music of the 30s and 40s.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, February 12, 2010

Airborne Laser Scores

From The Right Coast we get a link to an LA Times article on the YAL-1 Airborne Laser.  A look at the YAL-1 can be found at Wikipedia.

Regards  —  Cliff

America's Cup

And what about the America's Cup?  Totally drowned out by the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

But, the US Team won the first round decisively, and with a radically designed boat that was able to hit 22 knots in a wind of less than 10 knots.  Go here to see a picture of our ship flying along.

Hat tip to Instapundit

Regards  —  Cliff

  Knots are like miles per hour.  A knot is one nautical mile per hour.  A nautical mile is about 6080 feet, which is longer than a statute mile, which is 5280.  Remember all that from Elementary School?  Me neither.  But, the upshot is that one knot is faster than one mph.  Please don't say knots per hour.  That would be acceleration and not speed.

The 9/11 Defendants.  What to do?

How we deal with terrorists is not a settled issue. Last week I called the local Massachusetts office of the ACLU (Boston, MA) and left a question with the person answering the phone regarding the position of the ACLU (of which I am a paid up member) on unlawful combatants.  They have yet to get back to me.  This week I got a call from someone soliciting money for the ACLU and I noted that I hadn't gotten an answer to my question and the person said that everyone has to be released some time.  I don't think that is what the Law of Armed Conflict says.

Sometimes in these discussion the Nuremberg Trials after World War II come up.  Here is a comment by a former military lawyer (Judge Advocate General, as they are called).
I have grown tired of hearing about Nuremberg.  While it was certainly a commendable achievement in its time, it has, in my view, taken on some romanticized aura greater than it warrants.  Recall that Nuremberg predates the Geneva Conventions and 65 years of legal developments that have occurred since WWII.  At Nuremberg there was no hearsay rule (some of the lesser cases were based entirely on hearsay evidence), the accused was required to take the stand and be cross-examined by Robert Jackson and the other prosecutors (there was not right against self-incrimination), most of the charged offenses did not exist prior to WWII (ex post facto offenses) and there was no post-trial review (those sentenced to death were hung shortly after the verdicts were announced).  When people used to throw up Nuremberg as some shining example of how we once did it right, I’d say I would be happy to use the Nuremberg rules at Gitmo, but I was hoping to have fair trials.  If you compare the original order President Bush signed in November 2001 in an effort to create military commissions, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, or the Military Commissions Act of 2009, you’ll find that any proposed version of military commission we’ve attempted since 9/11 affords an accused far greater protections than anyone ever received at Nuremberg.

As for how military prosecutors prepare cases and prove guilt, that is clearly defined for courts-martial where we have rules of evidence and rules of procedure that we’ve used and refined over many years.  On the other hand, the UCMJ made reference to military tribunals and military commissions, but offered no express guidance on what rules did or did not apply.  Some critics said we were making it up as we went along and they’re not too far off base.
One question we have to answer is if we are going to treat terrorists from al Qaeda (and its spin-offs) as enemy combatants, protected by the Geneva Conventions or as unlawful combatants, who get to be treated as criminals.

Ali H Soufan, an FBI Special Agent for eight years, wrote about this issue in The New York Times on Thursday of this week.  He reviews the history and then talks about military commissions vs civil trials and comes down in favor of civilian trials for those who are involved in crimes on US soil.
Military commissions do serve an important purpose.  We are at war, and for Qaeda terrorists caught on the battlefield who did not commit crimes inside the United States, or who killed American civilians abroad, military commissions are appropriate.  But for terrorists like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who plotted to murder the innocent on United States soil, federal courts are not only more suitable, they’re our best chance at getting the strongest conviction possible.
I would like to associate myself with Mr Soufan on this.  That does not mean that I think the 9/11 Conspirators need to be tried in Manhattan.  We could try them in rural Western Pennsylvania for all I care.  Sure, we can try them with a military commission, and the Administration is again considering that approach, but I think it would be a step in the wrong direction.

I believe we should, as Serena Williams might say, "man up" and try them the regular way, in a civilian court.  It is the American way and while the defendants may mouth off in court, in the end it makes us stronger and the other side weaker.  And there is an other side.  To defeat them we have to show them as extremists totally out of touch with humanity and even with Islam, thus allowing the other 99.9% of Islam to marginalize them within their own community.

To put it another way, the use of terror to push the agenda of the al Qaeda extremists is not going to be defeated by us so much as by forces within Islam.  The use of US and other military force is necessary, but not sufficient.  This is "the long war" and it is for hearts and minds.  The whole of government is going to have to come together to win this fight.

Regards  —  Cliff

Is this Humorous or Not?

My wife and I have a disagreement.  I contend this is a wonderful line and my wife disagrees, seeing no humor in this, but only a serious offer:
I will say prayers for [deleted] using a rosary acquired in the Holy Land July 1952.  Each bead allegedly is the pit of an olive from an ancient olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane.
"Judge this case for me."

Regards  —  Cliff

The What?

There is apparently a list of undesirable commenters, from Instaputz. 

What we now have available to us is the Human Garbage list.  Showing my lack of sophistication, I only recognize four of the ten on the list.

And how did Arianna Huffington move up 12 positions on a list of ten?

A hat tip to Professor Ann Althouse.

NB:  When I tried to back out of the Instaputz site with the "back" button, it would not go back to the original site.  I am not sure why that happens with some sites, but I find it impolite.

Regards  —  Cliff

  We will not be explaining that term on this website.  If you can't figure it out, EMail me at crk (at)

Patches Throws in the Towel

Rumor Control has it that Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy is not seeking re-election this fall.
That announcement is expected to come Sunday, when a TV advertisement taped by Kennedy is set to air in Rhode Island. In that tape, circulated by the media last night, Kennedy says his “life is taking a new direction, and I will not be a candidate for reelection this year.’’
Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

This is a Major Disappointment

From The Daily Mail a couple of days ago (I am just catching up):
The internationally celebrated historian and TV presenter Niall Ferguson has broken up with his wife of 16 years after a string of adulterous affairs.

The 45-year-old Harvard professor has left former newspaper editor Susan Douglas, with whom he has three children, for his mistress, the Somalian-born feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
When I say major disappointment, I am talking about Ms Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Ms Hirsi Ali had written the script for the movie Submission, which was directed by Mr Theo Van Gogh, who was assassinated on an Amsterdam street in 2004 by an outraged movie critic. After being shot eight times, his throat was cut and then he was stabbed in the chest, with a death threat against Ms Hirsi Ali pinned to his chest.  Unsurprisingly, this drove Ms Hirsi Ali into seclusion and traveling with armed protection. The assassin, Mr Mohammed Bouyeri received a life sentence.  He was not repentant at his trial, telling Mr Van Gogh's mother that he did not feel her pain and he would do it again.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I will say this is probably a bad break for the Tories.
  Including Jews and politicians.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Notes on the Hand

Why is former Governor Sarah Palin getting knocked around for writing notes on her hand?

As a fighter pilot I not only wrote things on my hand, but had a grease pencil with me to write things on the canopy of the aircraft.

Escorting a couple of EB-66s over North Viet-nam?  Write your call sign and theirs' on the canopy (both sides) so that when the MiGs show up you can look at them closing and when you mash the mike button it is easy to say "SCOTCH LEAD, SHEBOYGANS AT NINE, BUZZER BREAK LEFT!  (Scotch lead being us and Sheboygan being the day's code word for enemy aircraft and Buzzer being the two EB-66s.)  At a time when one is seconds from missiles in the air one does not want to clutch and use the wrong call signs and code words.

So, if arrogant fighter pilots make notes, it seems OK to me for a mere Governor to do so.  It wasn't like she had borrowed the TOTUS.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Independents

I am going to be backing a couple of Republicans for office this fall, but our fellow resident and blogger, Kad Barma has again made the point that the two parties are flawed institutions and that we are seeing the rise of the Independents.  For example, 50% of the voters are registered as Unenrolled (in a party), which means either a pox on all your parties or I don't really care or I am afraid to say, given the way people are around here.

Thus, I am looking for Kad to be backing Tim Cahill for Governor.  Remember Tim?  Remember "Tim for Treasurer"?  I will be looking to Kad to keep us up to date on Tim's progress over the Spring, Summer and Fall.

It will be interesting to see from whom this former Democrat draws voters in November.  And, it will be interesting to see if Christy Mihos again bolts the Republican Party this Spring, if he gets passed over by the Republican State Convention for the Governor's race.  Kad, what do you think?

Regards  —  Cliff

Out Back Question of the Week

Someone out in cyberspace has noted that the
Iranians will take to the streets in Teheran [or Tehran] on Thursday.
and asks
What line will the [US] Administration take and what impact, if any, will Iranian popular unrest have on US national security?  What, in other words, is the US government prepared to do and how far should it push?  So far, it has lent in support of Iran civil rights, only lip service.  Of course, anything behind the curtain is off limits.
And, I agree, anything behind the curtain is not to be talked about, although I grow more and more cynical about the ability to conduct covert operations on anything but the smallest scale.

The reason this should be of interest to us is Iran's nuclear ambitions.  It would appear that Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons (heck, so is Myanmar, or Burma to us older folks).  My opinion is notwithstanding the National Intelligence Estimate a few years back telling us that Iran did not have an ambition for nuclear weapons.

But, today's Washington Post has this headline:  "Defiant Iran accelerates nuclear program".

In a lot of ways we could ignore the idea of a nuclear armed Iran.  They would just be another nuclear nation.  For nuclear weapons we have the US, Russia, UK, France, China, Israel, India and Pakistan, as well as North Korea. South Africa gave up their nuclear arsenal and Libya gave up their program.  And, while perhaps not now, in the old days of the cold war, there were a set of NATO nations trained and prepared to deliver nuclear weapons.  This would include Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

The problem is Israel and Iran's attitude toward that nation, having swung from silent partner to antagonist.  This is a serious issue.  The Iranian Government rhetoric is that there was no Holocaust in the last century and that Israel should go away so that the land can be given to the Palestinians.

If the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is to be believed, he thinks Iran will use its nuclear weapons against Israel.  I think he is wrong, but what I think doesn't matter.  Being Israeli probably means being just a tad paranoid, and with good reasons.  Six million dead in the Holocaust is an indication that there are people capable of the most terrible crimes.  The question is, is the Iranian Government capable of such madness?  It is quite possible.

Back to The Washington Post, in an article on Wednesday the Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon is quoted:
"It is important to continue to make clear to the extremist Iranian regime that all options are still on the table and that ignoring the international demands can end in the worst way," Yaalon said.

"Despite the time that has been wasted on diplomatic efforts and the like ... Iran may still be stopped," he said. "The coming period will be decisive for the chances to achieve it."
My guess is that Israel is not going to go the way of Czechoslovakia with the Munich Agreement of 1938, followed by the disolution of rest of the nation and its consumption by its neighbors, mostly Germany, but including Hungary and Poland, in 1939.  All ancient history, but probably still alive in Israel.

So, back to Thursdays.  What do we think the US Government should be doing?
  1. Nothing, it is for the Iranians to figure out.
  2. A major public diplomacy campaign.
  3. Actions to ensure cyberspace, to include twitter, etc, are available to the demonstrators.
  4. Covert action to support the demonstrators.
Before you pick your answer, ask yourself if you are sure a new Iranian Government would be any better than the current administration.

The supplemental question is do you think that Israel would really attack Iranian nuclear sites to deny Iran a nuclear capability?  And, if they do, then what is next?  A more general war?

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rep Nangle and the Lawrence Bailout

As I noted earlier, I did send an EMail to our State Rep, David Nangle, and he responded today.
First, I would like to express my concern with the Mayor of Lawrence, who I believe is wrong for holding two executive positions at once, he is working two jobs that require his attention 24/7.

Secondly, I feel that prior to the state allowing the City of Lawrence to deficit borrow we must have a state–appointed fiscal overseer in place.  I also want to make sure that updates are being made to the Secretary of Administration and Finance on a monthly basis and not wait until January 31, 2011.
I would say that, at least with regard to the second point, the Representative and I are in complete agreement.

Regarding the first point, I do agree that the Mayor of Lawrence does not need to be distracted by being in the Great and General Court, and should resign.  While our mayor here in Lowell has outside employment, we are not in the same situation as Lawrence, which has a Plan B form of government.  And, per Mass General Law, Chapter 43, Lawrence doesn't need a City Manager.  From that perspective I am in agreement with Mr Nangle.

However, there are so many State Reps and State Senators with outside interests (and Mr Nangle is NOT one of them) that I am not shocked by the idea of one of them being the mayor of some town or city.

Thank you Mr Nangle.

Regards  —  Cliff

John Murtha, RIP

It is never good news when someone passes away.  My wife just called me with the news that Representative John Murtha, Democrat from the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, area has passed away.

Here is the news flash at the Johnstown Tribune Democrat.

Representative Murtha had been having complications to a gallbladder operation performed in January.  Apparently there was infection after the laparascopic surgery.  Mr Murtha had been in intensive care and was thought to be improving, but then this final turn.

As an aside, there is a new book out which talks about the importance of medical personnel developing and following checklists as a way to reduce infections.

Let us pause for a moment to remember Representative John Murtha and may he Rest in Peace.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  It is interesting to note that Wikipedia already had the fact of Mr Murtha's death.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Gerry Nutter, Libertarian

Or so it would seem.  He has a post here questioning the wisdom of Attorney General Martha Coakley in ordering "Garden Clubs" to file records with the Commonwealth, up to four years back.

Here is the Brian McGory column that kicked the whole thing off for Mr Nutter.

I am with local blogger Gerry Nutter:
When you read the entire article it looks like not only is it a giant waste of time and resources by the AG’s Office but another example of creating laws for the sake of creating laws and infringing once again on personal freedom.
Should there not be some limits to the Nanny State safeguarding us?  Do we have a long list of Garden Clubs that have acted viciously, in the interests of their leadership, in planting flowers.  Not just one or two, but a consistent history of abusive Garden Clubs across the state.

Maybe this helps to explain why Ms Coakly lost last month.  I know that it feels consistent with my concerns about her understanding of personal liberty and the freedom of the people.

Good Work Gerry Nutter (and Mr Brian McGory).

Regards  —  Cliff

There Goes My Shot at Blog Greatness

President Obama is advising the Democrats in Congress (and, I would assume, by implication, all Democrats and maybe even all Americans) to just turn off the blogs, and cable news, to include cable entertainment, like MSNBC.

As reported in the Fox News Congressional Blog, the President told Democratic Party Senators Wednesday:
"You know what I think would actually make a difference, Michael?  I think if everybody here—excuse all the members of the press who are here—if everybody here turned off your CNN, your Fox, your blogs," Obama said, before being interrupted by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, who piped up, "And MSNBC!"

Obama, appropriately reminded of the network with shows more friendly to liberals, continued, "Just turn off the TV—MSNBC, blogs—and just go talk to folks out there, instead of being in this echo chamber where the topic is constantly politics.  ...  It is much more difficult to get a conversation focused on how are we going to help people than a conversation about how is this going to help or hurt somebody politically."
How am I ever going to get past 22 "Followers" if people start tuning out the blogs?

But, in all seriousness, candidates should be turning off their own TV and appointing someone to follow the Blogs and MSM for them.  The candidates should be out walking around and meeting the people and seeing how the People feel about things.  It might be discouraging, but it might make a difference.  I could be wrong, but I think the fact that Rep Niki Tsongas holds town hall meetings works to her advantage.  I think the fact that Mr Sam Meas walked in last year's Chelmsford Fourth of July Parade makes a difference.

Here is something blogger Ann Althouse gleaned from Mark Leibovich, writing in the NYT
Ms. Palin has also enlisted a small team of policy counselors to guide her through the substantive areas in which many deemed her to be lacking in 2008....

People with knowledge of the daily briefings say they are conducted by phone or e-mail.  They typically include information on the day’s news, material that could be relevant to an upcoming speech, or guidance about a candidate Ms. Palin might endorse....
This was in a blog post Ms Althouse titled "Sarah Palin was a blithering idiot until she became a devious genius."

And all this time I was hoping that Miss Sarah was secretly reading my blog, looking for the pulse of America.  Apparently not.  Reading this blog has been delegated to someone.

Regards  —  Cliff

Out Back Question of the Week

"Patches" Kennedy spoke yesterday.  Actually, I am not sure that Talk Show Host Howie Carr is being fair to Rhode Island's US Representative Patrick Kennedy when he calls him Patches.  Shouldn't a member of the US House of Representatives get more respect?

Well, Mr Kennedy is a resident of Rhode Island, which made me take notice when he took up about 18% of the front page of The Boston Globe today, with his ranting about US Senator Scott Brown.  Mr Kennedy is from the other house and from another state.  Why do we care?  Then I thought that perhaps people in Rhode Island read The Boston Globe.  Perhaps there are no newspapers in Rhode Island.

Mr Kennedy asserts:
Seven out of 10 of Brown’s voters were labor households and he stressed that he was independent...
Seven out of ten?  I am trying to do the math here.  Is he just pulling that number out of the air?  Is that supposed to be union only or union and non-union?  Is that including all workers or only those traditionally considered blue color plus SEUI?  In the end, Mr Kennedy is telling us that about 50% of the voters in the last Massachusetts state-wide election were from labor households.

But, the lede was about the Brown campaign being a joke.  Mr Kennedy said
Brown’s whole candidacy was shown to be a joke today when he was sworn in early to cast his first vote as an objection to Obama’s appointment to the NLRB,
I guess.  But, if Senator Brown's was a joke, what was Ms Martha Coakley's?

Here was Richard Howe's take on Wednesday, which agreed with mine:
My guess is that his future colleagues have grown tired – maybe jealous is a better word - of the whirlwind PR tour that’s engulfed Brown since his election and let him know that he ought to report for duty and get to work.
Time to turn off the campaign mode and get down to work.

The Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank opined about the reason to move up the swearing in:
Still, the urgency requiring the hastily arranged swearing-in ceremony was something of a puzzle. Democrats had already agreed that their health-care reform bill was dead, so that couldn't explain it.

Was he rushing to town to vote against a jobs bill? That would be awkward, because Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, is a co-sponsor of one of its main provisions. He may have been in a hurry to block Obama's nominee to the National Labor Relations Board, but this was hardly top priority for Massachusetts voters.
This doesn't exactly jibe with the assertion of Mr Kenney.

So, the question of the week is:
  1. Was Richard Howe correct in saying that the "early" swearing in was about Mr Brown sucking all the oxygen out of the atmosphere, or,
  2. Was Mr Kennedy correct in saying this was all about stopping the nomination of (the never named) new appointee to the NLRB, or,
  3. Was this about Gail Huff having to get back to work?
And, of course, there are those who have the gumption to just up and put down some other reason.  Good on you.

Regards  —  Cliff

  From The Washington Post:
A Senate panel has narrowly approved the nomination of union lawyer Craig Becker to become a member of the National Labor Relations Board.

But the loss of a Democratic seat in the Senate could mean that Becker won't take the post anytime soon.  Arizona Sen. John McCain has vowed to place a hold on the nomination.  When newly elected Republican Scott Brown is sworn in later Thursday, Democrats will no longer have the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster.

Republicans claim that Becker would make pro-union changes on the NLRB without congressional approval.  The 13-10 party line vote in committee sends Becker's nomination to the Senate floor, where a vote could come as soon as next week.

Friday, February 5, 2010


A new term for me, picked up at the Ann Althouse Blog.  TTT stands for "Third Tier Trash" and refers to the less highly ranked law schools and its use is attributed to certain lawyers who are out blogging.  Ms Althouse is not amongst them.

At this location Ms Althouse comments on Justice Clarence Thomas speaking at the University of Florida Law School.
And for law clerks he chooses "the kids I like," with "a preference for non-Ivy League law clerks," because "I'm not part of this new or faux nobility."
For a long time there has been this "nobility" from the northeastern quadrant of the nation running things. And here is Justice Thomas trying to give a leg up to folks from the southeast quadrant.

The Justice Thomas talk is shown on this video of the webcast.

But, back to TTT.  This sort of class distinction is not good for the nation.  Sure, we know that Harvard is the second oldest university on the continent. But, let us not look down our collective noses at people who graduated from Slippery Rock State Teachers College until we see how they perform on the job.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lawrence and the $35 Million

Over at Left in Lowell Kristin Ross-Sitcawich has posted on House Bill 4421 (Great and General Court House).  This bill will give $35 million to help the City of Lawrence weather its current economic storm but proposes a financial control board be kicked down the road 12 months.  Frankly, that seems wrong to me.  I would hope that for $35 million of our taxpayer money a financial control regime of some sort would be put in place concurrent with the arrival of the money.

I have written to my own Representative, Mr David Nangle, asking him to vote against this or to provide some reason why it should go down the way it is currently written.  I urge you to do the same.

EMails are:

David Nangle—Rep.DavidNangle@Hou.State.MA.US
Kevin Murphy—Rep.KevinMurphy@Hou.State.MA.US
Tom Golden—Rep.ThomasGolden@Hou.State.MA.US


Regards  —  Cliff

  Who is someone I know and sometimes work with on the Lowell City Government project to end Homelessness in 10 years.

My Brother's Keeper

At Genesis 4:9 Cain, trying to duck responsibility, asks "Am I my brother's keeper?"

I would like to compare Irish revolutionary leader Gerry Adams, whose letter to the editor appeared in today's Boston Globe with Dr William Bulger, of Boston, Massachusetts, in regard to how each interacts with the law, regarding his brother.

In the letter from Mr Adams he admits that, having sought and received advice, he has supported his niece in her accusations against her father, his brother, with regard to child molestation.  His first three paragraphs read:
When my niece, Aine Tyrell, made her allegations against her father - my brother Liam - in 1987, one of my family members accompanied her to social services, and the Royal Ulster Constabulary was informed.

When Aine came back to live in Ireland in the 1990s as an adult, I offered to go to the police with her, and I told her I would support her in whatever action she might decide. She told me she wanted Liam to admit what he had done. There commenced a very long and difficult process in which I tried to create the circumstance for him to do precisely what his daughter wanted. He failed to do so.

Moreover, when Aine decided to go back to the police three years ago, I went and made a statement to the police in support of her.
He admits he made mistakes in this long process, but he is clear that he was interested in supporting his niece and that he was interested in justice being done and his brother, Liam, admitting to what he had done.

OK, not perfect, but pretty good, in a trying family situation.

Granted, Wikipedia is not the be-all and end-all of truth, justice and the American way, but here is part of their posting about Dr Bulger and his brother, James (aka Whitey), who is currently a fugitive from the law.
On June 19, 2003, he testified to a House about an incident in which, while still President of the Massachusetts State Senate, he "went to an arranged location in 1995 to take a call from his fugitive brother, apparently to avoid electronic eavesdropping. He said that accepting the call from the gangster without bothering to inform the FBI was 'in no way inconsistent with my devotion to my own responsibilities, my public responsibilities.'"
Given his position as first a State Senator and then the President of the State Senate and then President of the University of Massachusetts System, I find his reluctance to be engaged in bringing justice to his brother James to be a dereliction of duty.

What kind of an example is he to other citizens and especially to our youth?

It discourages me that the Commonwealth's Republican Party was unwilling to go to the mat on this issue.  It saddens me that the Commonwealth's Democratic Party was unwilling to call out one of its own over this.

Gerry Adams provides the much better example of a brother doing his duty to his brother and to his family and to his fellow citizens.

I hope that others have drawn a similar comparison based upon today's letter from Mr Gerry Adams, stand up guy.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Obama Boost State Budget

Ah, the shorthand we use.  President Obama has proposed a $5 billion increase in the budget for the Department of State for FY2011.  This is good news.  It is time to stop depending on the Department of Defense to do a lot of our overseas work.  It is time to bring the Department of State back into the picture.

The article, from The Washington Times is right here.  The author is Nicholas Kralev—no, I don't know him either.
President Obama on Monday proposed a $5 billion increase in the State Department's 2011 budget, most of which is intended for programs in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq — the only three countries to also benefit from an additional $4.5 billion this year.

Global health and development aid overseas will go up significantly in the fiscal year beginning in October, while the biggest decreases will affect the fight against HIV/AIDS and migration and refugee assistance.

The State Department budget request, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, totals $52.8 billion, Deputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew told reporters. Aid and civilian contributions to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq represents 20 percent of the entire budget, he added.
One of the good things about appointing Senator Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State is the possibility that her voice will be heard in the corridors of power.

Regards  —  Cliff

Troublesome Young Men

If you were lucky you missed the weekend kerfuffle between Amazon and Macmillan Publishing.  It as all about Mr Jeff Bezos of Amazon being a troublesome young man.

Amazon was boycotting Macmillan for a couple of days—you couldn't buy a Macmillan published book at Amazon, either on the Kindle or in paper.  Here is the reporting from The New York Times.

Now comes Mr Charlie Martin, of Pajamas Media, talking about the issues behind the dispute.  Mr Martin is a Colorado computer scientist and freelance writer.  He holds an MS in Computer Science from Duke University, where he spent six years with the National Biomedical Simulation Resource, Duke University Medical Center.

Mr Martin's take is that it is all about the business model.  With the Amazon Kindle now being supplemented by the Barnes and Noble e-reader and now Apple's iPAD, the computer based approach to reading is threatening to make big cuts into the production and selling of paper books, hard cover or paperback.
Who is going to win? Bet on Bezos. The mainstream publishers can hold on for a while, based on reputation and while e-readers aren’t widely available; there’s still some prestige to being published by a reputable publisher like MacMillan. But eventually, some publisher will realize that a book that would have sold for $29.95 in a physical edition can be sold for the cost of the royalty, plus a small markup for production and administration. Our $29.95 novel would sell instead for $3.95. When that happens, except for coffee table books and an occasional print-on-demand hard copy, the physical book is dead.
Speaking of "print-on-demand", it has come to the COOP at Harvard Square, Cambridge, or so I am told.  I need to go down and check it out.  It sounds neat.

The article is interesting, but it involves talking about business models and risk and anticipation of the future.  All of which are very important as we ask where the jobs are in the current economic recovery.

The world is a'changing and if we are to move forward and secure the new jobs for our citizens we are going to have to find out which way the future is going and run with it.


And here is a rebuttal, from a writer.  Hat tip to Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Interestingly enough, the future British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, used to edit books in the family business during the day, before showing up for sessions of Parliament.  This was in the 1930s, when he was one of those Troublesome Young Men who thought that Adolf Hitler was a menace to Western Civilization.
  I love mine.

Sun on City Life

I am listened to the Local Access TV show, City Life.  The guest co-host today is Sun Editor Jim Campanini, who has just explained about the finances for the paper and its parent holding company.  While the holding company is in some financial trouble, apparently the local "paper of record" is making money and hiring people, and without benefit of help from the Obama Administration Stimulus Package.

Love it or hate it, The Sun is our local paper and it would be a serious loss if it went away.

So, some good news today.

And, the show will rerun this afternoon at 4 PM, on Channel 95.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  I noted that The Sun swapped out a cartoon on us yesterday.  It didn't swap out some great cartoon, so no loss there, but it is a duplicate of the new cartoon at The Boston Globe, which replaced Spiderman.  Now that was tragic.