Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Money Available in Lowell for Energy Efficiency

The Lowell City Manager, Bernie Lynch, has put notice in his Official Blog that money is available to help businesses, building owners and homeowners in Lowell's Downtown Historic District made modifications to their facilities for energy efficiency.  But time is short.

Read about it here.

Regards  —  Cliff

Taxed Enough?

I was part of a small EMail exchange in which one of the participants talked about a friend, apparently out of the blue, saying we are not taxed enough.  This friend, with three children and a mortgage, had an effective federal income tax rate of 13%.  He was also a Democrat.  The first interlocutor then mentioned that fellow residents of Fairfax County, Virginia, who are registered Democrats argue that you can raise federal tax rates because people have nowhere else to go.

In response, another addressee, an Economics Professor, noted:
They have grasped one thing – the only chance of making income redistribution work is to have it at the national level.  What they do not accept is that the combination of maximum loss of efficiency that goes with virtually anything done at the national level and the disincentives to take risk (be entrepreneurial) means that the levels of income available to be re-distributed are going to fall.  As a result, what ultimately gets re-distributed is poverty and those in positions of authority are not on the receiving end of that transaction.  This is part of what is meant by “rent-seeking society”.  Sooner or later a rent-seeking society becomes synonymous with corrupt government.

The Fairfax County board member may not remember fleeing taxes but I do.  A good part of Costa Rican development is probably a direct function of US tax rates.  Also, it does not really matter if the people flee because they can send their capital abroad.
I agree with that analysis, but because we have a spending habit, and each of us has things we want the Federal Government to do, we have to tax.  I will agree that in a booming economy we can "outgrow" a debt problem, but only if we have a "booming" economy and we are not also adding to that debt by overspending our tax intake.

In DC they are like Grandparents at Christmas.  They are overdoing it.  My youngest son and his wife just impound the stuff and dole it out over time.  We no longer have someone like that in DC, after President Nixon's over zealous attempt to impound funds, which resulted in Congress passing the Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974.  Thus, there are no longer any adults in charge in DC (and another reason to think that President Nixon really messed up the Federal Government).

I have no solutions, but I do believe that the first step is getting the economy going and the second is electing people who think their job is to limit the reach and role of the Federal Government.  Are those two things compatible?

UPDATE:  (That was quick.)  A friend of mine in the analysis business with a focus on China just noted:
Was told that Hong Kong shipping companies have so many empty (unused) containers that they are leasing container ships (themselves otherwise idle) b/c HK port has no place to put them.
This is NOT a good sign.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Down in Virginia they have Counties, which are actual levels of Government and those Counties are part of the structure of Government, providing a unifying view above the City and Town level, but more local than far off Richmond.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jacked UP

Back during the 14 March rain storm that closed River Road in Tewksbury, one house sustained sufficient damage to its basement that it was condemned.  However, the owners are fighting to keep it and that means some heroic efforts.  Why would they want to sustain it?  The wife told me that her Father had originally built the home and there is sentimental value as well as property value.  For instance, the view out the back door is wonderful, looking down the hill and out over the course of the Trull Brook Golf Club.

As you can see from this picture, the house has been jacked up and there are steel beams running from left to right and held up by beams criss-crossed to make pylons to hold up the steel beams.  Thus the old mess can be cleared out and a new foundation put in place under the house.


Here is another view.


Here is the right hand side of the house (seen from the street), showing how the shoring goes right up to the roof at this point.


And, the last photo show the couple who own this house, wife on the right and husband on the left.


I wish them the very best of luck in their efforts.

Regards  —  Cliff

Dinosaurs in the Neighborhood

Well, you look and tell me if you don't think it looks a little like a dinosaur.  This photo was taken on Sunday last, down by the Oatland Fire House.

Here is a look at the lubricating instructions, placed right where it can be seen by all the operators.  I suspect that in a monster like this machine, good lubrication is important.


And here, in yellow, is a smaller, three wheel, machine for perhaps doing trim work.  It is parked right behind a white "Bobcat" or "Skid Steer".


All very impressive to me.  And, the equipment is for milling down Route 38 so that it can be resurfaced.  I wonder if this is part of the Administration's public works projects that are supposed to be spreading money throughout the economy, in order to stimulate spending, which will cause businesses to place orders to refill inventories and lead to those who have major capital investments replacing older equipment that has outlived its usefulness.  If Keynesian Economics works, now would be the time for it to kick in, giving that the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell to 10,009.75.  Granted that there is nothing magic about the 10,000 mark, per se, but to penetrate it would have a bad psychological impact on the markets and thus on the nation as a whole.

Regards  —  Cliff

Birthers, Again

"Nonsense" is such a harsh word, but it does capture, in a way, the fact that President Obama's birth records have moved beyond the point of being an interesting topic for discussion.  The person using the word "Nonsense" is local blogger Greg Page, here.

The money quote, referring to the currently circulating school registration form from Indonesia:
Guess what Line 2 says? "Place and date of birth." It's right there -- I don't care whether he was going by Soetoro or Obama at the time, the student referred to was born in Hawaii in 1961.  It doesn't matter that his "warga negara" (nationality) is listed as Indonesian or that his "agama" (religion) is listed as Islam.  In the first case, by living in Indonesia, he never would've lost the U.S. citizenship he gained by being born in Hawaii; as for the second, it's not inconsistent with anything he's said about finding Christ later in life (and as far as his qualification to be President goes, that should be irrelevant anyway).
This is not to say that the Reverend Franklin Graham is wrong in saying that having been born of a Muslim Father, he is presumed by (many) Muslims to be Muslim.  But, as Greg Page notes, he found "Christ later in life".  That works for me.

At the link above you can find a copy of the school registration form.

Now, can we get back to the question of ifwhether President Obama should fire his economic team?  That is the critical question.  Is Professor Laura Tyson correct in saying we just need another shot of stimulus or are those who argue that businesses in the US are sitting on $2 Trillion worth of capital and afraid to invest closer to the mark?

UPDATE:  My grammar has been critiqued and I have changed from "question of if" to "question of whether".  This is based upon the advice of my spouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

  From The New York Times, Ms "Laura Tyson, a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, was chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers and the National Economic Council in the Clinton administration. She is a member of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board."

Effective School Reform

From the letters to the editor of The Boston Globe we have this one from Ms Mary Leonhardt, of Concord.  For reasons I can't figure out it has not appeared in the on-line edition of the paper.  The headline is "An approach she'd like us to subscribe to".
I HAVE a modest proposal for spending just a little of that $250 million that Massachusetts is getting in Race to the Top funding from the federal government:  Have all Massachusetts middle and high school students, in districts with below-average MCAS scores, choose a magazine they like, and buy them a subscription to it.

I have taught high school English for 36 years in a variety of schools across the country, and found that I could almost always hook poor readers with the right magazines, such as Sports Illustrated, Ebony, People, and Car and Driver.

In all my years of teaching in Massachusetts, I never had a student fail the reading section of the MCAS.  My secret:  a cupboard full of popular magazines, and plenty of in-class time to read them.

Not only did students improve quickly in reading ability, but many developed a love of reading, which ensured that they would continue to improve years after they left my classroom.
This is the best idea I have heard in a while.

As a student who had to have remedial help with my own reading—thank you Hester Waldo—I understand that for some it is hard.

I do remember that in High School I had a Geometry Teacher who was a retired Navy submariner.  In the back of his classroom was a desk and on it were a bunch of back issue of the United States Naval Institute Proceedings.  This was a magazine where mostly Navy, Marine and Coast Guard officers published professional articles.  One of the articles, I remember, was about naval mines in the North Sea, left over from World War One.  The drill was that if you finished the in-class problems quickly you could go back and pick up a magazine.  I would tear through those problems so I could then go to the back of the classroom and read.  Thank you, Admiral Winters.

And, this idea from Ms Leonhardt dovetails with something someone mentioned a few weeks ago.  The individual, an Army Officer on recruiting duty, said that when visiting poorer families on recruiting duty one of the things he noticed was that in your average "White" family he found books and magazines in sight and in your average "Black" family he did not.  Somehow we have failed, as a nation, to make the point to all people, that reading is vital to moving forward and is also a source of pleasure.

For me, learning to read was hard, but people encouraged me, including our next door neighbor, Mr Fitzpatrick, who bought me my first grown-up book that I remember, Sailing to Freedom, by Voldemar Veedam.  Not a run-away best seller, it is number 851,506 on the Amazon list as of this writing.  But, it turned out to be a treasure for me.

UPDATE:  Please note that the letter writer, Ms Mary Leonhardt is a published author at Random House Publishing.  Her two books are on kids and reading and writing.

Regards -- Cliff

Rose of Lima

Today is the day Saint Rose of Lima is celebrated in Peru.  She is the first Roman Catholic Saint born in the Americas.  Her actual Feast Day, according to the Liturgical Calendar, is 23 August.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Quote of the Day

I ripped this one off of the Happy Catholic:
Nothing shows a man's character more than what he laughs at.
Regards  —  Cliff

"Unprivileged Belligerent"

Yes, that is the reason we are trying Omar Ahmed Khadr, a 15 year old at the time of his alleged crime.  He was, the Government contends, an "unprivileged belligerent".

Here is one view of the situation:
Combatants such as U.S. soldiers, and German/Japanese soldiers during WWII, were privileged combatants. Their battlefield acts were privileged by their status, such that they could not be prosecuted for the lawful killing of an enemy soldier on the battlefield. However, in Khadr's case, and that of the other GTMO detainees facing the same charge, the U.S. government has decided as a policy and legal matter that it is a war crime for these individuals, who are deemed unprivileged combatants, to kill a U.S. soldier. And so Congress established "murder in violation of the law of war" as a crime in the Military Commissions Act, pursuant to its Constitutional power to "define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations."
But, others disagree.  Or as the author of the above quote says, "there is a raging debate in the legal community over the propriety of this charge."

This view of unprivileged belligerents is not new.  During the Franco-Prussian war in 1870/71 the French continued to resist after the Army had given up with Francs-Tireurs (Free Shooters).  The German response was executions.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mexican Violence Elicits a Travel Warning

Well, better late than never on this.  The date of the report is 27 August 2010, but this is the 28th.  But, I doubt anyone is making vacation decisions based upon this blog.  Here is a website with the full Department of State report.

The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens traveling to and living in Mexico about the security situation in Mexico.  The authorized departure of family members of U.S. government personnel from U.S. Consulates in the northern Mexico border cities of Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros remains in place.  However, based upon a security review in Monterrey following the August 20, 2010 shooting in front of the American Foundation School in Monterrey and the high incidence of kidnappings in the Monterrey area, U.S. government personnel from the Consulate General in Monterrey have been advised that the immediate, practical and reliable way to reduce the security risks for children of U.S. Government personnel is to remove them from the city.  Beginning September 10, 2010, the Consulate General in Monterrey will become a partially unaccompanied post with no minor dependents of U.S. government employees.  This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Mexico dated July 16, 2010 to note the changing security situation in Monterrey.

Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year.  This includes tens of thousands who cross the border every day for study, tourism or business and at least one million U.S. citizens who live in Mexico.  The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations.  Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major drug trafficking routes.  Nevertheless, crime and violence are serious problems.  While most victims of violence are Mexican citizens associated with criminal activity, the security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well.
I did pick up a new acronym in the larger article at the link—DTO.  A DTO is a drug-trafficking organization.

Think about this as a set of connections.  To allow drug smuggling operations to work the DTOs find that they must have some degree of control of or cooperation from police organizations in Mexico, to keep their path free for the movement of drugs.  Illegal immigrants coming north to the United States complicate border patrolling and sometimes help DTOs bring in drugs.  The illegal immigrants provide a larger sea within which the DTOs can operate.  Also possibly moving within this sea of illegal immigrants are potential non-state sponsored terrorists (or even state sponsored terrorists).

Regards  —  Cliff

  I wonder if Commonwealth Attorney General Martha Coakley thinks that illegal immigrants are still illegal as they cross the border and only become legal once they are established inside one of the four states that border Mexico.  Or, maybe, she thinks that they are still illegal until they get to Massachusetts, where it is not illegal to be illegal.

National Defense and the Debt

CNN has an item of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, traveling in the Midwest in weekend and telling people that our debt is the top national security issue,  Here is the item on line.
"The most significant threat to our national security is our debt," he told CNN Wednesday. "And the reason I say that is because the ability for our country to resource our military -- and I have a pretty good feeling and understanding about what our national security requirements are -- is going to be directly proportional -- over time, not next year or the year after, but over time -- to help our economy.

"That's why it's so important that the economy move in the right direction, because the strength and the support and the resources that our military uses are directly related to the health of our economy over time."
This AM I was skimming through Stephen Ambrose's Eisenhower:  Soldier and President, looking for a specific quotation, and noticed the fact that President Eisenhower met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff a number of times and chided them not only for not appreciating the needs of their fellow Services and how there had to be trade-offs, but for not appreciating that the economy is, in the long run, key to sustaining our military power.

On the other hand, some wonder if a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the senior military advisor to the Secretary of Defense and the President, should be speaking on matters outside his assigned ken.  My answer is, first the example of President Eisenhower, but second the example of the National War College, which then General Eisenhower helped found, which initially had a curriculum that included such issues and still does today.  This is part of learning national security strategy, which includes all elements of national power.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Found it.  It was retired General Jimmy Doolittle telling the President about the nature of the Cold War in the back alleys of the world.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sack of Rome and The GZ Islamic Cultural Center

Over at First Things Mr David P Goldman contemplates the 1600th Anniversary of the Sack of Rome and draws a conclusion.

I found it an interesting read and the comments likewise.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Trust But Verify

Today we find more emphasis on security, particularly on-line, be it through the world wide web or our telephone.

Often an unfamiliar voice asks us to "verify" our address.  What they mean is they would like us to help THEM verify who we are by telling them our address.  But that is not what they say.  There has developed a short-hand that conveys the point in an abbreviated and convoluted way.  We are asked to "verify our address".

What leaps to my mind is that the person will read me my address and I will confirm that they have it right.  But, that is not what they want.  They want me to read to them my address, so they can verify that it matches the one they have on file.

I guess that in some way the approach of the clerks at the other end makes sense, once one considers what the person on the other end of the line needs.  And, they are doing it to protect us, the customers, from identity theft.  But, it is a colloquialism that I find irritating.

I am hoping that by writing this blog post I can get over my own irritation and thus speed up commerce in these United States by some small part of a minute and also reduce the stress and strain of my interactions with those at the various companies with which I do business via the phone.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tops in Blue

Coming to the Lowell Memorial Auditorium, Wednesday, 1 September 2010, at 7:00 PM.

Long before there was "American Idol" there was Tops in Blue.  In fact, since 1953.  First there is the "Worldwide Talent Search", the US Air Force annual talent search.  And each year a road show of the top performing artists in the Air Force is put together to conduct a "World Tour", showcasing that talent, providing entertainment for the men and women in Air Force Blue stationed around the world.  But, it sometimes uses non-Air Force venues near Air Force Bases, providing opportunities for the rest of us to see the show and also providing recruitment advertising for the Air Force.

Why Lowell Memorial Auditorium?  We are the best venue for the Hanscom Air Force Base leg of the tour, between the MaGuire AFB, in New Jersey, leg and Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (ARS), in NY.

I think the stop at Clear Air Station, Alaska, on 2 February may be the most appreciated by the audience.  Clear is not in the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from there.  Back in 1979 I got to fly the station payroll in when Congress was late passing the budget and the Finance Office at Eielson AFB asked our squadron to get the checks down to Clear after the Federal budget was passed and signed—late.

Remember the nice photos of the Tornados from Buchel AB, Germany?  23 September 2010.

The Tops in Blue web site is here.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Read "propaganda".  Of course it cuts both ways.  Tops in Blue looks for commercial sponsors who will support the expense of the show.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bullets over El Paso

Bullets hit El Paso City Hall.

Just a geography reminder.  El Paso, a large city in Texas, is part of the United States, although right across the river from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

But, Texas is a long way from here.  However, some day in the future we are going to have to fish or cut bait.

Regards  —  Cliff

Vikings in Space

This is interesting and if it works it could revolutionize how we think about space travel.

Hat tip to Istapundit.

Regards — Cliff

Taxing the Bloggers

Over at Instapundit we have a link to this item on Philly wanting to impose a tax on bloggers, and in particular those who benefit from the income from advertising on their blog.  The reporter at the newspaper seems to have found several bloggers who make much, much less money from their blogs than the $300 fee from the City.

This is a bad idea.

If the City was providing free wireless networking throughout the city that might be a service being provided by the City, but aside from that, what infrastructure does the city have that it is providing.  As they say, the power to tax is the power to destroy.  This tax suggests a power that should not be exercised.

Regards  &mash;  Cliff

Sterling Hall Bombing

Law Professor Ann Althouse, from the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, reminds us in several blog posts that this is the 40th Anniversary of the domestic terrorism bombing that killed one person and injured three more.

The man killed, Bobby Fassnacht was a wonderful human being, a loving father, and a scientist with an inquiring mind.  His death was a loss to his immediate family, his relatives and his friends.

From the Althouse Blog is a link to this editorial from the Wisconsin State Journal the day after the bombing and reproduced this week by the same newspaper.

Sadly, we still have not drawn a unified conclusion from this incident.  Going back to the Althouse Blog we have this link to a column by a Ms Ruth Conniff, who tells how her Mother, a peace activist at the time, was so shocked by the action.  Ms Conniff then came forward to today and talked about what she sees as the intolerance of the protests against the Islamic Cultural Center near "Ground Zero".

In contrast there are those who wonder why people who encouraged these violent acts in the late 1960s and in 1970 are so closely associated with the current administration, with names like Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn and Jeff Jones.

Not all are repentant.  Here is a 1986 quote from bomber Karleton Armstrong, from an interview in The Milwakee Journal
"I still feel we can't rationalize someone getting killed, but at that time we felt we should never have done the bombing at all. Now I don't feel that way. I feel it was justified and should have been done. It just should have been done more responsibly."
And how does one bomb responsibly?  I have dropped a lot of bombs on targets in combat and the fact is that it is an act of violence.  One works to do it responsibly, but even in combat there is collateral damage.  To conduct bombings in one's own country is to invite the inevitable death and injury to the innocent, to the uninvolved.  To talk about "more responsibly" is to talk nonsense.

As to punishment of the guilty?  Here is the paragraph from Wikipedia:
Investigators believe that four people were involved in the bombing:  brothers Karleton Armstrong and Dwight Armstrong, and accomplices David Fine and Leo Burt.  The Armstrongs and Fine served jail time, a combined total of 12 years, and were subsequently paroled. Burt has never been found.
The University of Wisconsin is trying to capture the history and impact of this event at the personal level and thus this week there is a booth in the Memorial Library this week for recording one's own oral history of the time.  This is part of the University's History Department Oral History program.

What do we know 40 years on?  The loss was tragic.  The general issues that inspired the terrorists (that is what we would call them today) remain.  Those who think we are doing what we have to do as a nation are still angry at this kind of act.  Those who just want to keep their heads down and get on with life still want to keep their heads down and get on with life.  Which is why a small group can have such a disproportionate impact.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The link to the Wikipedia article misses the fact that the widow, Stephanie, took her three children and went to Denmark for a while after the bombing.  At the time of the bombing my wife (Bobby was my wife's cousin) and I had been back in the States just a couple of weeks and we asked ourselves if we would have been safer if we had stayed in Germany.  This was before the "Red Army Faction" began its own terror campaign in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Does Climate Change Equate to Disaster?

An NYT article saying that there is not a direct link between climate change and the scale of disasters.  Put another way, people are now building in more risky areas.  In my mind, think of those people who have all moved to Florida.

In the mean time, does anyone have documentation on efforts to build dikes in Bangladesh.  That nation today has serious problems with flooding, which will only get worse if global temperatures increase and the sea level rises.  I just don't hear about it.  It would seem to me that this is where we should start taking protective action.  With 166 million people and 30 million of them made homeless in September 1998 this seems like an area ripe for action.

Regards  —  Cliff

Ethical?

The New York Times runs a column in their Sunday Magazine called "The Ethicist".  I like the column, but this Sunday the writer, Mr Randy Cohen, slipped a cog.  The title was "Disheartening Talk", a clever play on words.

Here is the gist of the problem, as presented to the reader:
While preparing to give me a stress test, a technician checked my resting heart rate.  I could see the EKG and hear my heart in action.  As I was wired up and moved to the treadmill, the technician said that she was fascinated with the heart, had studied it and knew that “there is no way it came from an ape.”  Then she added, “Only divine creation could have created such an organ.”  I didn’t want to hear her religious views, but I felt vulnerable, because I was having a test performed in a doctor’s office, and said nothing.  Should I speak to her boss? P.W., PASADENA, CALIF.
Then follows the response.  The first paragraph went pretty well:
You should.  It is important not to inhibit free expression; it is also important not to discourage people from seeking medical care.  At a health care facility, the social good of medical care takes precedence.
That said, in parts of this broad nation the comments of the technician would have been seen by most of the people as smoothing chatter and accepted as such.  However, it is Pasadena.

It is the second paragraph that raises questions in my mind.
This medical professional should not declaim her nonsensical beliefs about cardiovascular design when doing so can undermine a patient’s confidence in the quality of care she is receiving.  Even if the technician confines her theological conjecture to nonmedical topics — oh, say, the biblical injunction to put to death those who work on the Sabbath — some people, particularly when they are a captive audience, may not wish to hear them; you certainly did not.  A sensitive practitioner — a sensitive person — will be guided by the listener’s response: cringing, fascination or something in between.
I get the "some people, particularly when they are a captive audience" bit, but why the "Snark infested waters"?  While I don't subscribe to the technician's view of the heart, I think this strident put-down ("nonsensical") shows a decided lack of courtesy toward someone who might well have been only trying to help someone taking their first stress test.

I remember my first stress test.  It was a voluntary action, based on no medical indications, but as a volunteer in a study.  I was fairly stressed, in that I was playing "you bet your pay check".  If it had gone badly my flying career would have ended right there, and I would have never gotten to fly the F-16 a few years later.

I was disappointed in the form of Mr Cohen's advice, although I agree that the patient, if bothered, should have made that point to the medical facility.

As for the second item in yesterday's column, Mr Cohen is on target and as a taxpayer I am not happy with how this situation evolved.

UPDATE:  Updated the spelling of "clever" to drop a stray "a".  And then updated to put in another quote mark and another bowl egs.

Regards  —  Cliff

  As in the waters off Cape Canaveral.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What Was He Thinking?

Sometimes we get carried away by our rhetoric.  And, sometimes we are just plain clueless.  In this case, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is just plain careless with his words.

I picked this up from The Daily Caller, which seems to be competing with The Drudge Report.

Here is the original Fox News Post.

Regards  —  Cliff

Parking By Automobile "Name Plate"

This blog post has a picture at the very beginning.  What is interesting about the picture is that the Janesville GM plant is shutting down.

The photo story does show that we don't truly appreciate the "American" content in many foreign Marks and the fact that some American Marks are made in Canada and Mexico—although Canada is almost America and Mexico is moving to America.  Frankly, I am not worried about cars made in either of those two nations.

And, bottom line, the American consumer, in a fairly pure form of Democracy, votes with his or her money on which is the best car for his or her ends and means.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tornado Paint Job

Here is a picture of a Luftwaffe Tornado, painted up to look like a bird.  Some of the paint jobs done by European Air Forces are absolutely fabulous.  For those of you legally minded out there, I do not know source of these photos or if they are actually copyrighted.  I did inquire of my source, but he knew nothing.
Note that is one is from the 33rd Wing (Jagdbombergeschwader 33), at Büchel.  Here is another view of the same aircraft, from the top:

And from the bottom:

An excellent job of aircraft painting.  Once upon a time there was a NATO STANAG (Standardization Agreement) that defined aircraft paining requirements.  In about 1984 someone wanted to cancel that STANAG, but the Norwegian representative at the AIr Doctrine meeting protested, saying that the STANAG was needed to justify to the Parliament the expense of paining aircraft.

The next two pictures are of an aircraft painted up to celebrate the unit's 50th Anniversary.  Another excellent job.



My thanks to Richard for these photos.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Wikipedia article mentions the 702nd MUNNS (or MUNSS, pronounced Monz).  This would be a "Munitions Support Squadron" and consists of Air Force Security Police and weapons technicians.  Per the Global Security web page:  "The mission of a MUNSS is to maintain custody and control of US munitions assigned to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The normal authorized manning at a MUNSS is approximately 125-150 personnel. The MUNSS is tasked to receive, store, maintain, and account for US munitions and to provide those munitions to the NATO strike wing commander when directed. The MUNSS mission is one of the most critical within the USAFE theater of operations."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

General Lavelle, Again

Going back to the General Lavelle case, discussed here, Dr Charlie Stevenson, who was on the faculty of the National War College when I was there, had an OpEd in The New York Times in which he stated that given the circumstances the Senate did right to retire General Lavelle as a Major General, two grades down from his highest held rank.  In the beginning of the article presents his credentials and states his case:
Having worked for a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee during its initial investigation into the Lavelle affair, I believe that his rehabilitation could seriously undermine civilian-military relations during our own time of war.
The position of Professor Stevenson is that the General should have gotten it in writing and absent written orders, he should have stuck with what was written.
A core principle of our civilian control of the military is that a general should never act contrary to written orders, and certainly never on vague verbal cues. General Lavelle had no excuse.
This is the nub of the issue.  I am of the opinion that while written orders are good, they may not be forthcoming.  When I joined the Air Force there was still the term VOCO—Verbal Orders of the Commanding Officer.  Or in the quaint words of the day, "The exigencies of the Service being such as to preclude the issuance of proper orders...".

My comment back to the author, in an EMail, was
I agree with Charlie's point, but when the President or his Secretary of Defense gives you a wink and a nod, what are you supposed to do? My sense is that there was this winking and nodding going on.
The Professor ends with this paragraph:
In response to this posthumous promotion request, the Senate must reconsider General Lavelle’s actions. With the nation involved in two wars that at times have put significant strain on America’s civilian-military relationship, I hope it makes the right decision — again.
I agree with his point about having to be careful about civil-military relations. Part of keeping our Republic is the idea that the military remains subordinate to the civil government.

And, here is a letter to the Air Force Board of Correction from another Senate Armed Services Committee Staffer at the time, former Director of the CIA, R James Woolsey.  Mr Woolsey's conclusion is the opposite of Professor Stevenson's.

In all such cases, there are no final answers.  Nor are their right answers or wrong answers.  Most of life is an essay test, at least up until the end.

Regards  —  Cliff

Ground Zero Mosque Issue

I am not winning the debate with my wife about the Islamic Cultural Center proposed for Manhattan, near Ground Zero.  But, diversity is good.

But, here is an applicable article from The Washington Globe, by Ms Petula Dvorak.  I don't think it will win the argument, but it does apply.

In the meantime, someone did a map showing the churches and synagogues around the Ground Zero site.  The person noted:
I came up with 19 churches and Christian centers (purple dots) and 8 Jewish synagogues and centers (red dots) within a quarter mile of the Trade Center. The proposed location of the Cordoba House will be on Park Place across the street from a Jewish educational center (red dot on Park Place between points B and G). Given the Trade Center is located on Church Street a few blocks from Trinity Place and enjoys a strong "defensive perimeter" of Christian and Jewish religious sites-- such as the aforementioned Jewish center, St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church (B) and the Vineyard Christian Fellowship at 7 World Trade Center (G)-- my guess is we don't have to worry about a hostile Islamic takeover any time soon.
While the writer shows a certain insensitivity to the concerns of many US citizens, he does make a point.  Other faiths are well represented (except for Atheists).  But, as I have noted previously, allowing it to be built is a strength.  Other faiths, dominating the political life of other nations, lack the strength to do so.

















United States
Turkey
One Islamic Cultural Center Proposed for GZ and being debatedNo new Christian Churches; one Bishop recently murdered
Egypt
Saudi Arabia
Coptic Churches in disrepair and can't get permission to repairIslam only, and Wahabbist at that

Regards  —  Cliff

Using Models for Analysis

And speaking of being on the living room floor, working, there is this observation from over the weekend.

One of my four and a half year old Grandsons had been playing "Angry Birds" with me on the iPad.  He is pretty good at it and knows to share it by bringing up the next play after his turn and shrinking the screen for the next player.

On Monday I went to visit my friend Juan Paron, down in Woodbridge, VA, and I told my Grandson he could play the game but that he should teach his younger sister how to play (turns out she is still to young to understand how to play).  When I got back I was informed that my Grandson was being withdrawn from the "Angry Birds" because he was saying that he was "k-i-l-l-i-n-g" the pigs (the targets of the "Angry Birds" (because the pigs had stolen the birds' eggs).  OK, he is a little young to be thinking in terms of "killing" and "death" and all the implications therein.

What was interesting was that he then proceeded to take his wooden blocks and build an "Angry Birds" like structure and then hid his sister's farm animal pigs within the structure, just like in "Angry Birds".  He then attacked the structure, as in the game, but the pigs did not blow up.  So, he reasoned from this that the pigs must "go somewhere else".  He then proceeded to explain this to his Mother.

While I see the flaw in his reasoning, I liked the fact that he built a model of the problem and tried to draw conclusions from that model.  He may have a future as a Systems Analyst.

Regards  —  Cliff

Lego No

I was down visiting Grandchildren this past weekend and decided, based upon some work on the living room floor, that the Lego Duplo block sets come with too many of the 2 x 2 blocks and too few of the 2 x 4 blocks (the one double the size of the square 2 x 2 blocks).  So, I went to the Lego Store in Burlington Mall, to buy some Duplo blocks from the bins in the back of the store, where each bin has a specific type of block, by color.  No joy.  Those were just the regular Legos.

So, I went on line and found what I thought would be perfect.  That is, until I read the "fine print".
Sorry, item is not available in this country:  United States.


Needless to say, I was very disappointed.

And, I wonder if the restriction is at the Danish end or here in the US?  And what purpose does the restriction serve, unless it is to force us to purchase specific sets, at extra cost?  Am I slipping into cynicism?

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Planet Blago Comment

Over at Chicago Boyz we have a comment on the trial of former Governor Rob Blagojevich, by Blogger Shannon Love.

Some interesting questions.

And, via Instapundit we have this comment on US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who prosecuted the case.  The writer, Ms Jennifer Rubin, thinks Mr Fitzgerald should go.

Regards  —  Cliff

Lowell General Demolition Continued

Earlier I posted on demolition of a building at Lowell General Hospital.

Here are some more pictures, now that the structure is down and it is foundation and cleanup.

Here is the area overview and two machines working in the former basement.  There is a third machine in the background.









Here a workman watering to hold down the dust, with a skid-steer in the background.








And, a final photo.  The machines are picking through the rubble, using their scoops to pick out pieces of pipe and wire.






I am looking forward to following the construction.

And, over at the Richard Howe blog we have construction at the Lowell Superior Court building, with picture.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Death Panels Again

I was a little surprised to see Law Professor and Blogger Ann Althouse talking "Death Panels".

Actually, this isn't the kind of "Death Panels" former Governor Sarah Palin was talking about, which are closer to what was happening in Germany in 1939 and 1940, when for eugenic and economic reasons tens of thousands of Germans (not, be it noted, Jewish Germans) were gassed and cremated.

On the other hand, she has a point.  And even more of a point is that unless we bring the nameless and faceless bureaucrats to the fore, we will be heading toward "Death Panels".

I got to this discussion at the Ann Althouse blog from the Instapundit, here.  Just follow the links.

Regards  —  Cliff

Scot Lehigh and Birthers

In today's edition of The Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh goes after gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker for going to a fund raiser for Bill Hudak, a candidate for nomination as the Republican contender for the Sixth Congressional District.

Per Mr Lehigh, Mr Hudak is a "Birther" and referred to then Candidate Barak Obama as Osama bin Laden.  The second is the kind of campaigning that is very low rent and should be avoided by all reasonable people.  The first is an issue that has passed its prime.  Further, at this point I would hate to see the President impeached for his birth certificate, only to find him replaced by Vice President Joe Biden.  That would be going from the frying pan into the fire.  Plus, it is strange to me that the Democratic Party would know that Mr Obama wasn't born in the US and then thought it could keep that under wraps for three, four or five years.  This was an interesting question in 2008, but it should be long gone as an issue in 2010.

But, having established, I hope, that I have no support for Mr Hudak's comments, I wonder, since I have been down in Virginia for several days, on vacation, if Mr Lehigh has done a similar column denouncing Democrats who have not distanced themselves from those who call the "Tea Party" movement racist.

Regards  —  Cliff

Planet Blago Collides with Pomona

In the news we have a Mr Xavier Alvarez, a board member of the Pomona, CA, water district.  It turns out that he once claimed to be a retired Marine who had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  About five years ago the US Congress created the "Stolen Valor Act" to punish those who claim to have earned this or that decoration, but had not actually earned the decoration or perhaps hadn't even served at all.

Well, as one might expect with the Ninth Circuit rules, it invalidates this law based upon First Amendment considerations.  Granted, it is just a three judge panel and we may have the US Solicitor General appealing to the full Ninth Circuit (en banc as they say).

In my opinion someone who claims this or that decoration that he or she has not earned is someone who does not know how to cope with life as it is.  They are more to be pitied than condemned.  Thus, I find myself in agreement with the Ninth Circuit three member panel.  It is a strange feeling.

Which brings us to Planet Blago.  As the news tells us, he was convicted of only one count, lying to federal agents.  This is because of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001, which makes it a crime to lie to federal agents.  In this article the author suggests that this includes the SEC, which is a QUANGO.

Remember Ms Martha Stewart?  Remember how she went to jail.  She hadn't committed a crime until she sat down with an agent of the Government, with her lawyer by her side and, allegedly told a fib.  And then she was tried, found guilty and sent to jail.

It is interesting that the fabled Federal Attorney Patrick J Fitzgerald lost on the 23 substantive charges.  The mind goes in two directions at this point.  First one asks, "How many different things did the Illinois Governor do?"  Probably not 23, but there are so many laws out there that the Federal Prosecutor was able to slice and dice the crime and go with a lot of charges.  This may be good for lawyers (on both sides), but offends my sense of fairness.  It calls to mind why we have much of the Bill of Rights—to protect us from the Government and overreaching Prosecutors.

The second question is why Mr Fitzgerald was not able to get a conviction on any of the 23 charges.  It could be that one of the jury members was in the tank for the Governor.  It could be that someone got to a juror and threatened or bribed that juror.  It could be that the Federal Case was just weak.  I feel no need to pick one of those.  But, after all the hype one is a little let down by the failure of the Government to prove its case.  The conviction for lying to a federal agent is very weak.

Back to the lying thing, as Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay used to say, "Never lie to Congress.  You don't have to blurt out the truth, but never lie."  Sound advice.

But, why is lying to a federal agent a crime?  When it is important don't we swear in the person and if they lie prosecute them for perjury?  If it is illegal to lie to a federal agent what need do we have for perjury?

I think we should drop both the Stolen Valor Act and Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001.

Regards  —  Cliff

  It is tough to keep up with the real title.  Wikipedia says it is officially the "Medal of Honor", but I recall that a while back the name was changed to include "Congressional" in the name, since that is how it was understood by the people.  Research is needed, but dinner is close, so this will have to hang fire.
  Note that version of the Medal of Honor shown in the news article is the Air Force Medal of Honor.  The Department of the Navy version looks more like this one.

  Planet Blago is a term of art from Shepherd Smith of Fox News.
  It is interesting to me that in the article in The Boston Globe the prosecutor is not named.  Everyone else is mentioned, except the prosecutor and the bailiff, well, and the person who swept up and emptied the trash cans.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"The Lust Object Redefined"

Just home after nine hours of driving up from Virginia, but had to post this.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Muslim Cultural Center in New York City

From Asia News, a web site out of Italy:
Sukkur, five Christians killed outside church
A group of masked men opened fire on the faithful gathered to talk about security.  Since 2008, members of extremists group threaten non-Muslims:  "they pollute the land they live on and must leave."
I got to this news story with a dateline of 3 August 2010 via the Gates of Vienna blog site.

It is not a good example of tolerance for other religions, but it is Pakistan, after all.  Then there is Turkey, our friend and ally, which is not open to Christians building churches, or Egypt, where repairs to Coptic Christian Churches are long in being approved, or Saudi Arabia, where Christian expression in the open is forbidden.

But, this blog post is about the Muslim Culture Center proposed for Manhattan, here in the United States of America, about which there has been so much controversy.  The New York Times described the Cultural Center thusly in a 25 May 2010 article:
The proposed center, called the Cordoba House, would rise as many as 15 stories two blocks north of where the twin towers stood. It would include a prayer space, as well as a 500-seat performing arts center, a culinary school, a swimming pool, a restaurant and other amenities.
A lot of people are outraged that a Muslim center of any kind would be built so close to the 9/11 Ground Zero, which became Ground Zero when a team of Muslim fanatics crashed a couple of airplanes into the World Trade Center Towers (and went after two other targets, in DC).

There are questions about the funding for this project, but that funding should be no more open to examination than the funding of other church organizations in the United States.  Wikipedia quotes CNN Correspondent Rick Sanchez as saying that there should be equality, but he gets confused by saying we should know how money is going to Rome (Mr Sanchez claims allegiance to Roman Catholicism).  That is not the point.  The point is money coming from someplace, in this case Saudi Arabia.  Contributions from many Muslims is one thing.  However, an orchestrated effort to build this facility with, say, Saudi money, for geo-political purposes, would be declasse, and maybe illegal.

A lot of objection focuses on Muslim cleric Feisal Abdul Rauf, born in Kuwait and a Muslim Sufi with Egyptian ties.  Cleric Rauf is the chief proponent of the mosque project.  Some claim he is not sufficiently harsh on terrorism, as this paragraph from Wikipedia shows:
Columnist Jonathan Rauch wrote that Abdul Rauf gave a "mixed, muddled, muttered" message after 9/11.  Nineteen days after the attacks, he told CBS’s 60 Minutes that fanaticism and terrorism have no place in Islam, but Rauch considered his message "muddled" because when asked if the U.S. deserved to be attacked, Rauf answered, "I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened."  Rauch commented:  "Note the verb.  The crime "happened"?"  [New York Rep Peter] King and [Former Alaska Gov]Sarah Palin have also expressed concern about his remark.
Lots of footnotes at the Wikipedia article.

But, we have this from Newsweek Magazine International Edition editor, Fareed Zakariah:
Fareed Zakariah, (a PhD from Harvard). He writes: "... Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is a moderate Muslim clergyman. He has said one or two things about American foreign policy that strike me as overly critical —but it’s stuff you could read on The Huffington Post any day. On Islam, his main subject, Rauf’s views are clear: he routinely denounces all terrorism—as he did again last week, publicly."
As for President Obama's comments on this issue, I defer to Law Professor Ann Althouse, who commented here, and, in a more exasperated manner, here.

Someone I know wrote this today:
Commenting on the Mosque at ground zero issue, my Iraqi ( Shi'a) friend said, I wonder how Muslims would feel if after destroying a Pakistani village with a drone, the US built a church in the ruins?  They get it, apparently we don't. Amid all the blather about tolerance, freedom to worship, and "feel good" pontificating, commonsense is nowhere to be found.
But, life isn't fair and I have to put up with some pretty strange behavior just to protect my own rights under the US Constitution.

So, in summing this up, I say that we should let this "Cultural Center" go forward, not because we like it, but because it is who we are.  Not because we think it is innocent, but because we represent the worlds best hope for human rights.  This protecting of human rights is an important point here, in that Islam, in the beginning, held itself forth as being a religion and culture that protected the rights of the little person.  Now there are swaths of Islam that protects what it sees as true Islam by terrorizing any who deviate from that view of the truth.

_ _ _ _ _


ADDENDUM:  All of that said, when the Cultural Center is built the US Secretary of State should go to the opening.  Then, when she (or he) is back in Washington, an invitation should go out to the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to come by for tea on a specified afternoon.  After tea the Secretary of State should note that we are looking forward to the opening of a Christian or Jewish Cultural Center in Riyadh and to a new Christian Church in Turkey and the freeing up of funds and authority for the repair of Coptic churches in Egypt.  All very quiet.  All very diplomatic.  All very firm.

Regards  —  Cliff

  NB:  The name has been changed, subsequently to Park51, after the location, 51 Park Place.
  I am advised by a former fire fighter that the New York Fire Department starting using the term "Ground Zero" after the first bombing of the World Trade Center, back in 1993.
  If we have evidence from our Intelligence Agencies tracking of funds flowing to terrorist organizations and can track some such money to the Cultural Center and to sources in Saudi Arabia, the Secretary should provide a sanitized version of those reports before talking to the Saudi Ambassador about what they should be doing, in turn, to improve Muslim/Western relations.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Senator Reid Changes Sides

Isn't Senator Harry Reid the one who said that he didn't know why any Hispanics would vote for a Republican.

Per Ed Morrissey, formerly of Captain's Cabin fame, where he brought down the then Canadian Government, we have this little tidbit about Senator Reid, back in the time after William Jefferson Clinton was elected President.  Senator Reid introduced a bill to deny US citizenship to those born here, but not of a US Mother (some exceptions in the details of the bill).  But, you know where this was aimed in 1993—illegal immigrants.

Well, the fact is that it has been almost two decades and things may have changed.

I think what Senator Reid means is that he doesn't know how any illegal immigrant can be a Republican.  Polling in Arizona suggests US citizens of Hispanic heritage are finding their mileage differs.

Senator Reid is such a political poser.

Hat tip to Instapundit

Regards  —  Cliff

  In his own words, "I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican.  ‘Kay?  Do I need to say more?"
  There was a scandal and the Canadian Government was keeping it from the Press and the People by saying it was under judicial action.  Mr Morrissey, being in the US, could publish leaks without fear of being shut down and hauled into court.  Let us hear it for the Internet, where interested Canadians were going to see what was happening in their own nation.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Voting From Overseas

Having spent about 16 years living overseas (the two years in Alaska counted, and would have been for Remote Tour credit except they moved the main gate of the base to the other end of the base to make it close enough to civilization to remove that artifact).  Voting overseas (or even from a base away from one's home state) takes some planning and the use of the mail.  So, I was interested when I saw this item from Pajamas Media we have this item on voting.

The gist of it is that in the 2008 national election 17,000 overseas ballots were not counted due to being received late—received late because sent to the voters late.  That is, sent 30 days before the election.  The Military Postal Service, per the above article, suggests 60 days as the time to allow for sending the ballot to the voter overseas.  In 2009 the US Congress passed a law mandating at least 45 days before the election for sending out mail-in ballots.

Problem is, twelve states have applied for a waiver to the requirement.  Three here in New England—New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  I haven't heard anything about this.

But, I checked the Elections Division Web Site. Totally missed the big blue banner at the top of the page.  I didn't see anything and called and talked to a very nice gentleman who gave me the 'gen.  Current Massachusetts State Law makes the primary 49 days (seven weeks) before the general election and that doesn't leave enough time to certify the primary results, deal with challenges and print the ballots.  For instance, write-in candidates have ten days to certify that they accept the nomination in a primary election.

And, he told me the information is all available by clicking on the aforementioned big blue banner on the Elections Division Web Site.  So, we have a "work around".

That said, it is a bit of a Rube Goldberg arrangement and thus it appears the General Court needs to change the law, moving the primary forward.  This is a lot more important than Casinos.  This is about voting rights and our Service personnel overseas.  That said, I am prepared to see any studies that say that our "waived" system has proved itself not only effective, but also efficient and secure.

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Afghanistan War

You may have noted that I have some concern about the Afghan War.  I support the war for a couple of reasons.  One is that we don't wish to have a refuge for al Qaeda.  Another is a concern about what moving out of Afghanistan will do to stability in Pakistan.  Another is that abandoning Afghanistan (and that is how it will be seen) will give a boost to Wahhabism as an approach to Islam.  Wahhabism is a more extreme branch of Islam and is the approach that guides, amongst others, al Qaeda.

But, here is a quotation from a Middle East expert:
Last week at a symposium on Helmand Province, Rep Duncan Hunter R-San Diego (not exactly a bleeding heart liberal) cautioned the audience that 12 Republicans - some very conservative - voted against the war funding bill.  He cautioned that although Afghanistan was not a burning issue on the Hill, it was becoming one.  Number one question he got from other Congressmen and his   constituents was why our men and women can't have massive firepower to support them.  He was genuinely concerned about the ability to maintain political support for the war.  This has to be a key part of any strategy for Afghanistan.
The "firepower" issue is about what COIN (Counter-Insurgency) is about.  COIN is about winning hearts and minds and just using firepower and not doing the political maneuvering needed will just kill people and extend the war, meaning more killing.  It is a losing strategy.

The 12 Republicans is about losing support across the fruited plain.  It is a sign that the People are not buying the commitment.  That is most unfortunate.  The political support of the People is fundamental to the way the US fights wars.  With the all volunteer force we can fight a little longer than we could with a draft, but in the end, when the American People quit, it is over except for arranging the details—or perhaps more poetically, "all over but the shouting".

Well, actually it will just mean we are moving to a new phase.  It may be a phase of long quiet, but it may also be a phase of increased terrorist activity and the fall of governments.  It may mean a panic over what happens to the nuclear weapons of Pakistan.

Regards  —  Cliff

  That said, we should not believe that al Qaeda is only in Afghanistan.  It has branch offices in several locations and it has a refuge in Pakistan, aided, perhaps, by the ISI, the Pakistan version of our Central Intelligence Agency, only more so.
  Sorry, but I don't have a citation.  Obtained from a source with a non-attribution policy.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Representative Charlie Rangel

Yesterday, on the Floor of the House of Representatives Mr Charles Rangel rose on a Point of Personal Privilege.

Representative Rangel wanted to make some points about the ethics violations filed against him.  The rules of the House allow him to take up to one hour to do so.  He took about half that time to make his case.  His was was that he made mistakes, and admitted them on the Floor of the House.  He maintained, however, that he was not corrupt.

I was at the 99 on Route 38 in Tewksbury, having lunch and watching it on Fox, but not listening.  I was doing my best to follow the subtitles.

I have mentioned before that Representative Rangel is an authentic US Army hero from the Korean War.  Maybe that is why I was disposed to accept his statement at face value, that
I love my country and I love my Congress.
For me that statement counts for a lot.  If the House Ethics Committee votes for guilty, I hope that he is allowed to proceed with dignity.  The man is 80 years old.  I think his politics is wrong headed, but he is a patriot who loves his country and has served it.  Should he have have learned from Adam Clayton Powell, Jr?  Absolutely; but sometimes we forget those lessons of our youth.

Justice should be done, but justice should include mercy.

Regards  —  Cliff

The President Says...

Am I the only one who was annoyed when President George W Bush would say "I" when he could just as easily and more effectively said "we"?  That is, when he was saying that he was deploying forces he would say "I".  It would have, in my mind, been better if he had been collective about it and said, "we".

He was, after all, the President of a Republic and not the King of a nation.  His commitment of forces was a commitment in our name and thus we were the ones doing the commitment and thus we were the ones responsible, in the end, for how it turned out.  We did, after all elect him.

OK, now that we have narrowed the group to those who agree with me, are there any besides me who are annoyed when President Barack Obama says "I" when he could, and I would argue, should, have said "we"?

Thanks

Regards  —  Cliff

  OK, for you Democratic leaning purists, he was elected by us, the voters, in 2004—or at least we elected sufficient electors to put him in the White House in the 2004 election.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Demolition at Lowell General Hospital

I was over at Riverside Clinic and got a chance to snap a few photos for the Grandchildren—the younger Grandchildren.

Here are some photos of destruction going on at Lowell General Hospital, as it builds a new clinic.  It is the Shedd Building that is going away.  What comes next is a six-story patient "tower".

But, first the demolition.

There are two machines hard at work tearing down the building from the south side.











And another machine working out front, with a water truck to allow one of the workmen to spray the area, keeping down the dust that annoys many people.









Here is a tighter shot of the two machines tearing up the building from the side.

Regards  —  Cliff

Innovation Question

Law Professor Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit has a post about the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and some recent litigation by Civil Rights Division.  He hits two issues at the post, once being about HIV in prisons and the other being about the use of the Kindle in colleges.

I will provide a direct link to this second item, here.

This may mark me as a Neanderthal, but with emerging technology isn't there likely to be a little lag in adapting it to all possible users?  Conversely, if we mandate that all new technology be user friendly according to the Americans with Disabilities Act before it is marketed, are we going to stifle innovation?  If we stifle innovation, will it have an impact on job creation?  If we slow job creation are we not going to bring down the economy?  If we bring down the economy, where are we going to find the tax base to pay the salaries of the DOJ Civil Rights Division?

Regards  —  Cliff

  I would note that I am not now nor have I ever been an employee of the US Department of Justice or its Civil Rights Division.
  I do admit to using my Kindle to read books which I referenced in taking a course at UMass Lowell last spring.
  Ooops, forgot that many of us carry genes suggesting Homo sapiens sapiens inter-breeding with Neanderthal.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Banning Smoking

The lead editorial in today's edition of The Boston Globe is headlined "Boston should ban smoking in all public-housing units".  Find it here.

And just as the editorial says, smoking is a smelly, nasty, unhealthy habit.  It is offensive to many people.  I wonder if it might not be offensive to other smokers.

And, this protection of us from second hand smoke is spreading. First it was, as The Globe says,
the city’s indoor workplaces, including restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
Now public housing.  Where next?

The Editorial ties this into asthama:
Compared to other states and metropolitan areas, Massachusetts and Boston suffer from disproportionately high asthma rates, especially among young people and low-income populations.
On the other hand, how do we know that this is due to second hand smoke?  As someone recently noted, correlation isn't the same as causation.  Granted, an editorial is a short space to lay out a reasoned argument, but to crack down like this requires a good case to be laid out rather than an assertion made.

First they came for the smokers and then they came for the eaters and then they came for those who go to church and then...

No, that couldn't happen here.

Regards  —  Cliff

Nuclear Detonations 1945-1998

Between 1945 and 1998 there were a ton of nuclear explosions.  One was 65 years ago today, at the Japanese City of Nagasaki, which many believe forced the Japanese Emperor to agree that the slaughter had to end, although it also appears he would have encouraged continuation of the war if the Imperial Household was not maintained.

Here is an animated map show that indicates generally where and which nation exploded nuclear weapons.  Not included are Israel (did they do the detonation over the South Atlantic?) and North Korea.

The creator of this presentation is Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto.

Regards  —  Cliff

Fooled by Tyrants

The Instapundit asks:
WHY ARE SMART PEOPLE SO CONSISTENTLY FOOLED BY EVIL REGIMES?
And then sends us to a posting at Reason Magazine's website.

The lead paragraph says:
A terrific documentary from the BBC World Service (episode one available for download here; episode two airs next week) asking the age old question, “why are smart people so consistently fooled by evil regimes?”  The first program, predictably titled “Useful Idiots,” recounts the Sovietophilia of some very clever people, including Malcolm Muggeridge, Doris Lessing, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Claude Cockburn, HG Wells, and Walter Duranty.
I feel bad about Malcolm Muggeridge and Doris Lessing, both writers I like.  As for Reporter Walter Duranty, and those who were his leadership at The New York Times, I am pretty unimpressed by their performance in the 1930s.

Here are the views of Tom Smith over at the University of San Diego Law School.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Bill of Rights Being Eroded

And I am not talking the Second Amendment.

I agree with Bernard Finel, who agrees with Fabius Maximus, who titled his blog post "Code red! The Constitution is burning."

This is about the President going to court to confirm that he has the right to order the assassination of US Citizens who he thinks are aiding and abetting our enemies.

Mr Maximus:
Depending on the verdict of our Courts and the success of our assassins, future historians might say the second American republic died this year.  You’ll miss the Constitution when it’s dead (most of you).  Not tomorrow, or next year.  But eventually.  How will you explain this time to your children or grandchildren.
(This actually sounds like the writing of one of my students at National War College.)

Mr Finel:
I’ve mentioned this before, but it is worth revisiting.  The issue is specifically about New Mexico-born, radical Islamist cleric Nasser al-Awlaki.  If he is giving aid and comfort to our enemies — and he perhaps is — then charge him with treason.  Issue an arrest warrant.  Try to apprehend him, and if in the process of a good faith effort to arrest him, he’s killed, then so be it.  I am not making a radical civil libertarian argument.  I am simply arguing that there needs to be a process — an open process subject to oversight and judicial review before you kill an American citizen.

Yet, my position, that I think by any reasonable assessment is balanced and moderate is somehow outside of mainstream opinion.  Very Serious People in Washington seem to feel that actually having a public, reviewable process is an unreasonable constraint on presidential power.
The Constitution is too important to let executive power erode it.

Regards  —  Cliff

Beauty and the Job

Before I read this article in today's (Sunday's) edition of The Boston Globe about "Looks:  The next chapter in civil rights", I had seen a snippet at Instpundit
Meanwhile, looks matter more to men’s earnings than to women’s. All your stereotypes are backwards!
But, let us not get ahead of ourselves.

The thurst of the article in today's "Ideas" Section of The Boston Globe is how you look can impact your getting a job, getting a promotion or even holding a job.  The first paragraph:
Beauty may only be skin deep, but that’s plenty deep enough to cost you a job, a promotion, or the training to get one.  Marie Smith, a Hooters waitress, who was 5-feet 8-inches and 132 pounds, was placed on involuntary weight probation until she could fit into a company uniform: the only sizes available were small, extra small, and extra extra small.  Brenda Lewis was an Iowa hotel desk clerk who lost her job despite excellent performance ratings because she appeared “tomboyish,” and lacked the “pretty” “Midwestern girl look” that the operations manager thought appropriate.  Sharon Russell was expelled from a nursing school not because of her record but because of her weight and because administrators worried that she would provide a poor “role model [for] good health habits” when counseling patients.
One thing to note about these examples is that they are all women.

I don't doubt that there is discrimination based upon how one looks.  (Otherwise, I would be rich and famous.)  I also don't doubt that when there are egregious examples of discrimination based upon looks that one should be allowed to sue the discriminating.

However, the link given by the Instpundit is to his wife's blog (she is a forensic psychologist) where she talks about this issue of attractiveness and quotes:
Unattractive men, meanwhile, earned 15 percent less than their attractive coworkers in a London Guildhall University survey of 33-year-olds. Unattractive women earned 11 percent less.
Granted, it is the UK, but they are our (English) cousins.

Let us do right, but let us not get carried away by our stereotypes.

Incidentally, the author of the article in The Boston Globe is Deborah L. Rhode, who is the Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law and Director of the Center on the Legal Profession at Stanford Law School.  The Globe tells us that she is the author of The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law” (Oxford University Press, 2010).

I do wonder if, in the future, we will be allowed to discriminate based upon looks with regard to dating and marriage.

Regards  —  Cliff

Administration Economic Team Down One Person

Here is a bitter comment on the departure of Christina D. Romer from her position as chairwoman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers.

For those Harvard folks reading this, Larry Summers stays.

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Abuse of Children

I thought this link from the National Catholic Reporter was very interesting.  The subject is sex abuse of children.  The first comment is also interesting.  And, over at the ¡No Pasarán! there is this 20 July 2010 post about this problem and mentions German Green Party politician Daniel Cohn-Bendit and with a link to a Der Spiegel article in English.  There the attribution is to the 68ers—the German 1968 movement.

As long as the institutional Roman Catholic Church continues to not fully explore this issue, it will persist as a problem.  However, as long as the larger society continues to think this is a problem isolated to the Roman Catholic Church it will persist as a problem in the larger society as a whole.  I understand that it is hard to face the larger issues.  If even Dr Sigmund Freud was not able to face up to the issue, it is easy to understand why others may not wish to either.  But, it isn't an excuse.  We know more that Dr Freud did a century ago.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, August 7, 2010

General Lavelle

I got to Thailand for my second Southeast Asia Tour about eight months after General John D Lavelle was fired and demoted two grades (from four star General to two star Major General) and retired.  The reason he was fired was that he had ordered bombing attacks into North Viet-nam.  There were also allegations of doctoring the mission debriefings to avoid showing that bombing in North Viet-nam had happened or to suggest that the enemy had fired first, provoking a protective reaction.

General Lavelle was relived as commander of Seventh Air Force in late March of 1972 and the scene shifted to Washington, DC.  This was such a hot issue in the Summer of 1972 that when I got to Korat in December of 1972 I was sent down to an office on the main base to sign the "integrity statement" before I was allowed to fly missions.  This was a sheet of paper where all the fighter pilots signed that they had read the "integrity statement".  The interesting thing is the clerk handed me the clipboard with the signature log, but not the "integrity statement" itself.  I had to ask for that.  I admit that I was a little cynical when I said that if I was going to sign that I had read the "integrity statement" I needed to read it first.  Standard stuff.  No false reporting allowed.

The good news for the Lavelle family is that President Obama, on the advice of the Secretary of the Air Force and the Secretary of Defense, has requested the Senate to advance the late Major General Lavelle to the rank of full General on the retired list.

Here is the article in Thursday's edition of The Washington Post.

Here is the report from the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records.

And, here is a web page from the law firm that supported this effort. This case included pro bono work by former (retired) Air Force JAGs Brig Gen Ed Rodriguez and Col Gordon Wilder.

Wikipedia has a long rundown on the controversy.

I am hoping the US Senate moves this along quickly.  General Lavelle's widow is 91 and it would be nice if she lived to see this happen.

Regards  —  Cliff

  In a way that isn't the correct characterization.  Generals never advance beyond the "permanent" rank of Major General, so this was just allowing the General to revert to his permanent rank as he went into retirement, since the US Senate thought that he had not earned retirement as a four star, due to his actions as Commander of Seventh Air Force.  This Senate vote is what is hoped will be reversed.