Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Glenn Beck, Dissected

The New York Times Magazine, this Sunday, will have an article on TV Talk Show host Glenn Beck:
WHILE THE RIGHT has traditionally responded to its aggrieved sense of alienation with anger, Beck is not particularly angry.  He seems sorrowful; his prevailing message is umbrage born of self-taught wisdom.  He is more agonized than mad. He is post-angry.

Beck rarely speaks with the squinty-eyed certainty or smugness of Rush Limbaugh or his fellow Fox News hosts Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.  He often changes his mind or nakedly contradicts himself.  “When you listen and watch me, it’s where I am in my thinking in the moment,” Beck told me.  “I’m trying to figure it out as I go.”  He will sometimes stop midsentence and recognize that something he is about to say could be misunderstood and could cause him trouble.  Then, more often than not, he will say it anyway.

In the middle of his analogy to me about his own personal crash and the country’s need to heal itself, Beck looked at his publicist with a flash of alarm about how I might construe what he was saying.  “He is going to write a story that I believe the whole country is alcoholics,” he said. And then he went on to essentially compare his “Restoring Honor” pageant at the Lincoln Memorial to a large-scale A.A. meeting.  “When I bottomed out, I couldn’t put it back together myself,” Beck told me.  “I could do all the hard work.  I could do the 12 steps.  But I needed like-minded people around me.”
Page 5 on line has this paragraph
“I find it riveting to watch,” says Anita Dunn, the former White House communications director whom Beck railed against prodigiously on the air last year after she named Mother Teresa and Mao Zedong as her “favorite political philosophers” (she says she was joking about Mao) in a commencement address.  “There is that edge where you are always thinking, Is he going to totally lose it on camera?” Dunn told me.
That moves Ms Dunn up in my estimation.

Moving to a favorite top of Mr Beck's, I do agree with him about President Woodrow Wilson.  When I was young, in the 1950s, in South Jersey, President Wilson was a hero and those who had opposed him, especially about the League of Nations, were fools who gave us World War II.  Since that time my view of President Wilson has adjusted and I have come to see him as not being the great hero of the early 20th Century.

To appreciate Glenn Beck you need to think that the nation needs redeeming.  You need to think that things have gone wrong somewhere along the line.  You need to think that people like Bill Ayers were wrong in 1970 and are still wrong today, but worse, you need to think that he should have been condemned and rejected by the intellectuals of this great nation.  That said, due to the action of Mr Christopher Kennedy, son of the late Senator Robert Kennedy, Professor Ayers was denied "Emeritus Status" by the University of Illinois, just last week.  Thank you Mr Kennedy.

The author of the piece is Mr Mark Leibovich, of the Washington Bureau of The New York Times, which might seem strange, considering Mr Beck is out of New York City.

Hat tip to Matt Drudge.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Space is the Place

But Congress is where the decisions are made.  In today's Boston Globe (page A4 of my two star edition) is a short by-lined article on Congress and the Administration agreeing on funding for NASA for the coming year.  The good news is that the Obama Administration gets 75% of what it wants to support commercial space activities for Fiscal Year 2011, which begins 1 October of this calendar year.  That would be $609 million out of a requested $812 million.

While the Obama Administration takes a lot of heat from the opposition for what is seen as a socialist agenda, regarding space exploration and exploitation it seems to be encouraging a lot of capitalism, as noted in this article.
Realizing how internationally competitive space has become, the Obama Administration is trying to make NASA more flexible and innovative by proposing the most market-oriented space policy in decades. The plans to revamp the human space program have received the most media and political attention. Less reported but as significant are efforts to advance commercial development, to encourage aerospace exports by significantly streamlining the bureaucratic International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) process, and to revamp the NASA Advisory Council to promote a more entrepreneurial perspective.
Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ballot Question 3

November 2nd, a Tuesday, will be the General Election across the fruited plain.  Here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts we will elect people to office and we will also vote on three Ballot Questions.  Perhaps the most important is Question 3, Law Proposed by Initiative Petition—Sales and Use Tax Rates.

As summarized by Commonwealth Secretary of State William Francis Galvin:
This proposed law would reduce the state sales and use tax rates (which were 6.25% as of September 2009) to 3% as of January 1, 2011. It would make the same reduction in the rate used to determine the amount to be deposited with the state Commissioner of Revenue by non-resident building contractors as security for the payment of sales and use tax on tangible personal property used in carrying out their contracts.
In other words, it would cut the sales tax from the recently increased rate of 6.25% to 3%, which is once was, before it was increased at a time we were promised that the initial increase was made.

I will not bore you with Carla Howell's argument for the rollback, aside from saying that she thinks that freeing up money to go into the economy will create more jobs and thus more wealth. However, here is the published argument against this initiative on the part of some of your fellow citizens.
AGAINST: The sales tax helps pay for things we all value and rely on. We all want good schools, police and fire protection, safe roads and bridges, clean water and quality health care. Cutting the sales tax by more than half will prevent us from achieving these goals we share.

Our communities rely on local aid to pay for schools, public safety, and emergency services. Local aid has already been cut by 25 percent in the last two years, forcing communities to reduce services. This proposal would result in further cutbacks.

This proposal would take away $2.5 billion in state revenue. This is about half the total amount the state sends to our communities each year to help pay for public education.

The recession has forced communities to reduce services. We cannot keep cutting without doing lasting harm to our schools, health care and the services that strengthen our communities.

Authored by:
Joanne Blum
MA Coalition for Our Communities
20 Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
Before I get into my view on this, let us stop and ask ourselves if we actually believe this argument against rollback of the sales tax.  Is there anyone out there who actually believes the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will allow the vote of the People to influence them?  Is there any history to suggest that the House and Senate on Beacon hill are sensitive to the views of the People, as long as the People keep putting them back in office?  Does anyone remember the Initiative for publicly funded elections, from about a decade ago?

My conclusion is that if this initiative passed with less than a 75% plurality it would be quickly overridden and trampled into the dust of history.  Even if the yea vote is over 75% the survival is iffy.

Now to the issue of should we vote for it.  The only reason to vote for it is we are, per capita, the second most indebted state in the Union.  The odds of the Legislature finding ways to creatively cut back spending (such as freezing pay increases for state workers at all lvels or being creative about dealing with homelessness, thus providing better help for the homeless and still save money) is between slim and none.  Will voting yes change their spending habits?  Not likely.

Thus, your vote may well be based upon your sense of whether or not a "YES" vote will send a signal without destroying government services.  A "NO" vote will be based upon the idea that either (a) those of us still drawing a check for work or retirement can afford to dig a little deeper or (b) the belief that the Legislators will learn.

I say, the best of luck to all of us in the ballot booth.

UPDATE:  Here is a comment on this issue by Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z Jackson.  Mr Jackson asks you to vote no.

Regards  —  Cliff

Blogging on the Earth's Climate

Judith Curry is
Professor and Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology and President (co-owner) of Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN). She received a Ph.D. in Geophysical Sciences from the University of Chicago in 1982. Prior to joining the faculty at Georgia Tech, she held faculty positions at the University of Colorado, Penn State University and Purdue University. She currently serves on the NASA Advisory Council Earth Science Subcommittee and has recently served on the National Academies Climate Research Committee and the Space Studies Board, and the NOAA Climate Working Group. Curry is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Geophysical Union.
And, she has a new blog, which
provides a forum for climate researchers, academics and technical experts from other fields, citizen scientists, and the interested public to engage in a discussion on topics related to climate science and the science-policy interface.
I got this from my Brother Lance, who sometimes comments here.  And gets commented on.

The most recent blog post at the site (No consensus on consensus) concerns the IPCC building a consensus about AGW.
A fascinating study by Kahan et al. recently published in the Journal of Risk Research investigated why members of the public are sharply and persistently divided on matters on which expert scientists largely agree.  This excerpt from the NSF press release summarizes their findings:
[Kahan] said the more likely reason for the disparity, as supported by the research results, “is that people tend to keep a biased score of what experts believe, counting a scientist as an ‘expert’ only when that scientist agrees with the position they find culturally congenial.”  Understanding this, the researchers then could draw some conclusions about why scientific consensus seems to fail to settle public policy debates when the subject is relevant to cultural positions.  “It is a mistake to think ‘scientific consensus,’ of its own force, will dispel cultural polarization on issues that admit scientific investigation,” said Kahan.  “The same psychological dynamics that incline people to form a particular position on climate change, nuclear power and gun control also shape their perceptions of what ‘scientific consensus’ is.”  “The problem won’t be fixed by simply trying to increase trust in scientists or awareness of what scientists believe,” added Braman.  “To make sure people form unbiased perceptions of what scientists are discovering, it is necessary to use communication strategies that reduce the likelihood that citizens of diverse values will find scientific findings threatening to their cultural commitments.”
A bit on the technical side, but AGW is about the technical side of things as well as the political side, which talks to what we do about what we know.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Anthropomorphic Global Warming.  I realize that the Federal Government recently moved to pick a new term for this, but at the moment it escapes my mind.

Nihilism as a Dead End

The title is not meant to be sarcastic, but to convey the position of the late Mr Mitchell Heisman, who is discussed in today's edition of The Boston Globe, B Section.  The pain of life now belongs to the family and friends of Mr Heisman.  I will pray today that God gives them some degree of comfort.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Global Which?

Over at Instapundit we have a link to an opinion piece in The Telegraph, by Mr David Delingpole.  The subject is the Bilderberg crowd.  Here is the announcement from the very secretive group:
The 58th Bilderberg Meeting will be held in Sitges, Spain 3 – 6 June 2010.  The Conference will deal mainly with Financial Reform, Security, Cyber Technology, Energy, Pakistan, Afghanistan, World Food Problem, Global Cooling, Social Networking, Medical Science, EU-US relations.
Yes, as Mr Delingpole points out, that is "Global Cooling".

Mr Delingpole suggests a colossal typo or that the secretive powers that be already realize that AGW was a misreading of the tea leaves.  Mr Delingpole suggests fraud and is already calling for a "'Global Warming' Nuremberg".

I am for a third option, which is that some people have looked into the future and are concerned that as with every solution to every problem, there is always a new problem embedded in the old solution.  If we solve Global Warming by killing carbon use we may create new imbalances, including the possibility that the global temperature will drop.  If the drop is not "controlled" then the solution might turn out to be worse than the cure.

Regards  —  Cliff

  And was on the Bilderberg web site as such as of this post.
  Anthropomorphic Global Warming.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Taleb on the US Economy

Both Samizdata and Ann Althouse note the speech by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, up in Canada, where he takes the Obama Administration to task over the economy.
Obama did exactly the opposite of what should have been done,” Taleb said yesterday in Montreal in a speech as part of Canada’s Salon Speakers series. “He surrounded himself with people who exacerbated the problem. You have a person who has cancer and instead of removing the cancer, you give him tranquilizers. When you give tranquilizers to a cancer patient, they feel better but the cancer gets worse.”

Today, Taleb said, “total debt is higher than it was in 2008 and unemployment is worse.”
And you are wondering, who is Mr Taleb?

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is the author of The Black Swan, which talks to understanding rarer events.  Frankly, to me, more impressive was his book Fooled by Randomness.

Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired worte about the first book:
Four hundred years ago, Francis Bacon warned that our minds are wired to deceive us. "Beware the fallacies into which undisciplined thinkers most easily fall--they are the real distorting prisms of human nature." Chief among them: "Assuming more order than exists in chaotic nature." Now consider the typical stock market report: "Today investors bid shares down out of concern over Iranian oil production." Sigh. We're still doing it.

Our brains are wired for narrative, not statistical uncertainty. And so we tell ourselves simple stories to explain complex thing we don't--and, most importantly, can't--know. The truth is that we have no idea why stock markets go up or down on any given day, and whatever reason we give is sure to be grossly simplified, if not flat out wrong.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb first made this argument in Fooled by Randomness, an engaging look at the history and reasons for our predilection for self-deception when it comes to statistics. Now, in The Black Swan: the Impact of the Highly Improbable, he focuses on that most dismal of sciences, predicting the future. Forecasting is not just at the heart of Wall Street, but it’s something each of us does every time we make an insurance payment or strap on a seat belt.

The problem, Nassim explains, is that we place too much weight on the odds that past events will repeat (diligently trying to follow the path of the "millionaire next door," when unrepeatable chance is a better explanation). Instead, the really important events are rare and unpredictable. He calls them Black Swans, which is a reference to a 17th century philosophical thought experiment. In Europe all anyone had ever seen were white swans; indeed, "all swans are white" had long been used as the standard example of a scientific truth. So what was the chance of seeing a black one? Impossible to calculate, or at least they were until 1697, when explorers found Cygnus atratus in Australia.

Nassim argues that most of the really big events in our world are rare and unpredictable, and thus trying to extract generalizable stories to explain them may be emotionally satisfying, but it's practically useless. September 11th is one such example, and stock market crashes are another. Or, as he puts it, "History does not crawl, it jumps." Our assumptions grow out of the bell-curve predictability of what he calls "Mediocristan," while our world is really shaped by the wild powerlaw swings of "Extremistan."
But, back to the article, I liked this comment from a Samizdata reader:
Interesting article, but I'd really prefer to read the actual text of Taleb's speech than this watered-down version of it.  It seems to me that this article isn't "fierce" enough, although I suspect that the actual speech might have been.
Here is something interesting about the article itself:
To contact the reporter for this story: Frederic Tomesco in Montreal at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scanlan at
I think it is excellent that the editor is out there as well as the reporter.  We can only hope this becomes a trend.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New Parking at UMass Lowell

There is good news tonight.  Per The Lowell Sun, the UMass Trustees have authorized $20 million for the building of a parking garage at UMass Lowell.  The article can be found here.

Within the good news is some bad news.  In the article is this paragraph:
UMass Lowell officials said the first step will be for the UMass Building Authority to complete a traffic study on campus to determine where and how best to meet the parking needs of students and faculty.
The Trustees approve over half a billion dollars in new construction and UMass Lowell doesn't have a plan for citing the approved parking garage?  What is wrong with the Trustees?  What is wrong with UMass Lowell?

Wouldn't it have been better to have actually figured out where the parking garage would go?  This lack of pre-planning may be a clue as to why our per capita indebtedness for the state is number two in the nation.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Remember, articles in The Sun go away after a while, to a different place.  I will not be updating their links unless I am bedridden and have read every book in the house.

Interagency Reform

Here we have what I can hope will be very important hearings by the House Armed Services Committee.  The forum is not that great, but the Chairman, Ike Skelton, is great.  The hearings can be watched via live streaming video, here.

Here is what his office sent out:


Skelton to Hold Hearing, Announce Legislation on Interagency Reform

Washington, D.C. — Next Thursday, September 30, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) will convene a hearing with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to examine interagency collaboration as it relates to national security. The need for interagency reform has continuously been highlighted in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on America, and the hearing will provide an opportunity to assess the status of current efforts to strengthen interagency collaboration.

Following the hearing, Chairman Skelton will be joined by Congressman Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) to announce a new bill to overhaul interagency national security coordination, the largest reform since the 2004 reorganization of the intelligence community.

WHO:     Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), House Armed Services Committee

WHAT:   Hearing to Examine Interagency Collaboration

WHEN:   Thursday, September 30, 2010

WHERE: Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2118
Independence Ave. at S. Capitol St., SW
Washington, D.C.

Live webcast of the hearing will be available at

The Honorable Robert M. Gates
U.S. Secretary of Defense

The Honorable Hillary R. Clinton
U.S. Secretary of State


Regards  —  Cliff

Harvard and ROTC

The issue of Harvard and ROTC came up again in today's Boston Globe.  The reporter, Tracy Jan, gives us an overview of Harvard President, Drew Gilpin Faust's Press Conference yesterday.

And, of course, the topic of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, came up.  One wonders if it would have come up if there was ROTC on the Harvard campus?  Here are the key paragraphs from the story.
Harvard’s president, Drew Gilpin Faust, speaking the day after the US Senate declined to take up a measure that would have repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell’’ policy, said vestiges of antimilitarism on campus dating to the Vietnam War are largely gone and she would now welcome the opportunity to “regularize our relationship’’ with the armed forces.

“We are very much looking forward to the end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ ’’ Faust said.  “It will be a very important moment to us when that happens.’’

Faust’s comments on the university’s relationship with the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps came during a wide-ranging discussion with reporters and editors at the Globe, kicking off a day of events at which she sought to highlight the university’s contributions to the city of Boston.
Frankly, I don't care if Harvard has ROTC.  I would be gladdened if Seccretary of Defense Robert Gates issued a directive to each of the Services and all DoD agencies, directing them to de-fund all contacts with Harvard, including sending students to the JFK School.  If ROTC is not good for Harvard, because of DADT, surely sending Colonels and Navy Captains and high ranking civilians to Harvard is wrong.  Sure, Harvard is a distinguished university, with a distinguished faculty—the second oldest on the continent—but still, if they want to demonstrate rectitude, we should help them.  The Viet-Nam War is long over, the original cause of their discomfort.  The current excuse is just that.  It is an excuse.

Maybe DoD should even stop taking political appointees from the Harvard Staff.  The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, The Honorable Ashton Carter, must be extremely discomforted by DADT.  If he submitted his resignation now he could be back teaching at Harvard with Professor Larry Summers at the start of the new term.  On the other hand, if he stalls around, the US Congress could kill DADT, or sufficiently modify it, in the lame duck session in December, after the Secretary of Defense reports out on his studies of the impact of changing DADT, obviating the need to show the strength of his convictions.  If Congress should fumble this he should show the courage of the Faculty's convictions and resign and go home.

Regards — Cliff

In the interest of full disclosure, my Brother, then a GS-15 or an SES, attended the short program.  An Air Force Colonel, who had been a "personnel" officer before she came to work for me, and went on to gain two stars on a totally different career path (ending up as a Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at No Such Agency), was sent off to Harvard JFK School for a year.  An Army Colonel who, in retirement talked me into coming up here in my own retirement, went for a year.  My buddy Juan did the short course as a Navy Captain.
That said, Harvard President Drew Faust, like Harvard Presidenty Larry Summers, before her, has been more than generous with those Harvard students who take ROTC over at that neighboring Morriell Act (Land Grant) college, MIT.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

DADT Before the US Senate

Gee, no posts since Saturday.  My excuse is that I have been studying for class and doing home repair stuff.  Well, actually, gathering materials for home repairs.

I think this Stephanie Vallejo article gives us the basic situation with regard to DADT, but after that it gets murky.  For example, what does this mean?
The repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is included in a much bill that authorizes $726 billion in military spending next year.
"Much larger bill" perhaps?  Delete "much" as not adding anything?  I don't know.

Then there is this paragraph:
The House earlier this year approved a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."  The Senate's committee report also included the ban, so Republicans would need to pass an amendment to remove it.  By using the filibuster, Republicans prevented Democrats from voting on the bill.
I am betting the responsible Senate Committee Report included a repeal of the ban.

There is this paragraph, which masks some important information:
In addition, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has called for repeal of the policy, has called for a Pentagon review on how such a repeal could be implemented. That review is due on Dec. 1.  Several senators, including Brown, have said they want to wait until that review is completed before voting on the repeal.
Secretary of Defense Gates has said that he would like the US Congress to hold off on repeal of DADT until after the DoD review is done.  That would be after the mid-term elections, when there might be less pressure on some Senators to oppose repeal, especially if the SecDef says his review says it is OK to repeal.

Most interesting to me is that the article has the name of Matt Viser at the end, with Mr Viser's EMail address—  I wonder what gives?  I am blaming the editors.

I am waiting to see what Senator Scott Brown does in December.  In the mean time, comments by Senator John Kerry are just fluff, considering his total inability to respond in a timely manner to constituent letters and EMails.  His remarks are not part of an attempt to inform constituents or to enter into a dialogue with them.  His remarks are more like making sure he is wearing the right shirt, suit and tie combination, so he will look good.

Incidentally, the so called "Dream Act" also died in this vote.  That was the plan to give US citizenship to anyone who arrived in the US before the age of 16, had lived here five years, had a high school diploma or a GED and had two years in the US military or two years of college and was under 35.  It does have the taint of amnesty.  Piecemeal implementation of amnesty is not immigration reform.  It is more like the Health Insurance Reform recently passed by the US Congress and signed by President Obama.  That is to say, it doesn't fix the fundamental problems and it doesn't provide true fairness to all parties.

Regards  —  Cliff

  That is short for Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the vernacular for the current policy with regard to homosexuals serving in the US military.  If you are looking for my opinion on this issue, I say we should follow the lead of Secretary of Defense Gates.  But, we should also pay attention to John Nagl (retired Lieutenant Colonel of Armor, PhD from Oxford), who talks about the issue here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Blessed Cardinal Newman—Tomorrow

The Beatification of John Henry Newman by Pope Benedict the XVI will take place on September 19, 2010 in Cofton Park in Birmingham, England.  Here are some details on the event.  His feast day will be 9 October, the date of his conversion to Roman Catholicism.

I have always been struck by John Henry Cardinal Newman, and his contemporary, Henry Edward Cardinal Manning.  Both are converts to Roman Catholicism.

I am guessing "congratulations" is not the word for it, so I am going with "thanks be to God".

Regards  —  Cliff

  Not quite Canonization, or designated as a Saint, but the step next to it.


Professor Andrew Bacevich talked to several Political Science classes at UMass Lowell on Friday, the 17th, at the O’Leary Library Auditorium, from noon to 1300.  This is my impression of the presentation.  That of blogger Dick Howe can be found here.  I am about 40% of the way through the Professor's new book and will blog it when I am finished.

The sponsor was Professor Jeffrey Gerson ( and represented our 5th Annual commeration of 9/11, a project requested by the family of one of the victims.  As the UMass Lowell web site says:
This is an annual event that addresses what happened on 9/11, the road to 9/11 and the aftermath.  This year's guest speaker is Andrew J. Bacevich, professor of International Relations and History at Boston University.  Bacevich will discuss his new book, Washington Rules:  America's Path to Permanent War (2010).
The room was full, my estimate being 120 attendees, to include Blogger Dick Howe and several professors. Also present were UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan and Frank Talty, Director of Academic Programs.

The introduction of Professor Bacevich was fairly long and effusive.  Professor Gerson noted that Prof Bacevich raises fundamental questions as to who rules in the United States.  Professor Gerson notes that Professor Bacevich wants to bring the citizens back into the conversation.  The person introducing the speaker also noted that 9/11 should have opened doors to reflection, but didn’t.

Professor Bacevich said that there are two reasons to commemorate 9/11.  The first is to honor and remember those who died.  The second is to contemplate what happened and why a day that ostensibly changed everything, didn’t.

While in the study of our history differences are interesting, it is the continuities that matter.  Continuities define the “Washington Rules”.  The Washington Rules are the things we choose to believe.  They are assertions about how things work and the US role in the world.  They are a credo.

Professor Bacevich notes that on the night of President Obama’s election he spoke to a crowd at Grant Park, calling on Americans “to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.” Bending the arc of history implies work.  This is no passive view of our foreign policy.

Moving on to the new Secretary of State, the Professor noted that Hillary Clinton cites Tom Paine: “We have it within our power to begin the world over again…” Then she said, “Today…we are called upon to use that power.”

In his talk, although not in his newest book, Washington Rules, the Professor also cited US Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr Susan Rice, who began her service at the UN by saying that change in the US can change the world.  “In today’s world more than ever world and US interests converge.”

He then notes that these sentiments are the same as those of former President George W Bush.  The Professor sees this as a self-congratulatory vision.  President Obama has acted to adjust how we implement that vision, but he is adjusting at the at the tactical level, not the strategic.

Our foreign policy, Professor Bacevich holds, has four convictions:
  • “First, the world must be organized (or shaped). In the absence of organization, chaos will surely reign.”
  • “Second, only the United States possesses the capacity to prescribe and enforce such a global order. No other nation has the vision, will, and wisdom required to lead.”
  • ”Third, a few rogues and recalcitrants aside, everyone understands and accepts this reality. Despite pro forma grumbling, the world wants the United States to lead.”
  • “Fourth, America’s writ includes the charge of articulating the principles that should define the international order. Those are necessarily American principles, which possess universal validity.”
(This list, except for the inversion of three and four, is as given in the book, Washington Rules.)

The Professor notes that this is all dogma.  He then reminds us that Publisher Henry Luce, back in February 1941, in an editorial in Life Magazine, invented the name "the American Century".

Mr Luce called on us to “accept wholeheartedly … as we see fit.” The Professor notes that we choose the purpose and we choose the means.

The result is that even today we pick activism over example and hard power over soft.  We have more military forces than we need for self-defense.  And, mainstream Republicans and Democrats are in agreement on this.  And, our foreign policy is primarily a military thing and we (the citizenry) take it for granted.

The professor then introduced his “Triad”.  He started by noting that before WWII military power was viewed with skepticism or hostility.  By 1950 most accepted the Pentagon as both necessary and beneficial.  Even after the Cold War we are felt military supremacy was needed.  However, it is the overarching idea of supremacy that is key.  There is no fixed style of military activity and no weapons system favored forever.  It goes on with the draft and without.  It is represented by the “Sacred Trinity” of our military approach.

In the lecture and in the book he says:
Call them the sacred trinity: an abiding conviction that the minimum essentials of international peace and order require the United States to maintain a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projection, and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism.FN5
Looking at our global military presence, he notes that we have bases everywhere, from Germany to Korea and from Iraq to Afghanistan.  He notes some 160 bases, large and small, with the crown jewel being Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean.  A British possession, the inhabitants were expelled to allow transformation into a key base, with Propositioned Ships with arms and armaments, an airfield large enough to land the Space Shuttle and a place through which pass rendition flights and long range bombers.

Moving to power projection, he notes that the Bush Administration gave us the Department of Homeland Security (I am not sure this is so—I thought the US Congress forced in on the Administration).  But, the military is not about defense, but offense.  Look at Fort Hood, the largest army installation in the world.  But, it isn’t a real fort, in the sense of a classical fort.  It is a reservoir from which to project forces.

The Professor notes that he tries to get his students to see Afghanistan as other than routine, but it doesn’t work.  It is all they have known.  They are conditioned to take war for granted.

And look at our policy in outer space, where President Clinton declared we needed access for our national security and would resist anyone denying us that access.  He then asked us how we in the United States would view China or Russia making such claims.

Looking to intervention, he notes that the war in Viet-nam colors the lens through which he views the world.  It was thought to be a watershed, but it was not.  Defeat seemed to leave the sacred trinity in tatters.  But, within five years the trinity was back.  In ten years a new era of intervention began.

His analogy is with Germany post-WWI.  In Germany the officer corps united with the elites to deny what the battlefield had produced and to blame the end of the war on the Jews and the leftists.  In the US, after Viet-nam, the officer corps united with the policy establishment and blamed the leftists, academics and the media.  In 15 years Germany was back—the same for the US.  The US establishment made Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara and William Westmoreland the scapegoats for the US loss of Viet-nam.  He then talked about Anthony Lake, who resigned from the Nixon National Security Team over Viet-nam and was back in the White House with President Clinton, and in between turned to arguing that we were in danger of a fear of another Viet-nam replacing our fear of another Munich.

With Ronald Reagan in the White House intervention was back and then came President George H W Bush and then Clinton and then the Bush Doctrine.  (I was surprised he didn’t mention the famous Secretary of State Madeline Albright quip to JCS Chairman Powell about having a bright and shiny military and not wanting to use it.)

Then the “so what”.  Why not accept things as they are?

The reason is the Washington Rules are obsolete (woefully obsolete).  We are on the path of self-destruction.  The curtain has rung down on the American Century and we can no longer afford it.  We are going to break the bank and maybe break the force.  “The tradition has begun to unravel.”

We need a new paradigm.  Having a strong military means we haven’t had to engage the world, leading to American provincialism.  And, we don’t engage ourselves.  Fixing Iraq or Afghanistan means not fixing Detroit or Cleveland or Lowell.

Punch Line:  Go for “American Rules” instead of “Washington Rules.”


Q. Your view on the recent Saudi Arms sale?
A. Since the end of the Cold War the US has become the biggest arms salesman.  In the past Israel has been wary of such sales; now they tacitly approve.

Q. What about the impact of advances in communications on the engagement of the American People?
A. Looking around campus, with students walking along with their iPods or their iPhones, they don’t seem to be reaching out but rather reaching more into a small circle of friends and family.  Further, regarding casualties, the American Citizens don’t really have a stake in the wars we fight.  (NB:  Professor Bacevich lost a son in Iraq.) Further, the Professor noted, the most cynical thing of the Bush Administration was to embark on war and give a tax cut.

Q. Will we ever be able to exit Iraq cleanly?
A. It is impossible to answer.  Long term presence is up in the air, with the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) having a date certain of next year for an American exit.  The future belongs to the Iraqis, but there are two facts to consider.  One is the capacity of the Iraqi elites to lead and the long delay in forming a government is a bad sign.  The other is the capacity of military forces to cope with what is perhaps a growing insurgency.

Q. You indict us all for buying into this credo.  Was it always true.
A. The claim we are the chosen people—John Winthorp in 1630 calling us the City on a Hill—is a deeply pernicious idea.  “I am a believer” but can’t find it in Scripture.  At a time it was useful, if not true.  It propelled us in the 1840s, Manifest Destiny—which allowed us to take California, Texas and the Southwest.  I am glad, but it was immoral.  The days of usefulness are past.  History is inscrutable.  The is no given path in history leading to democracy.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Chancellor showed up without a jacket or tie.  Do you think that the lack of a contract means he isn’t getting paid, or paid enough? Smiley
  In a way, one wonders if Professor Bacevich is, in his own way, a closet Tea Partier.  I did not ask him.
  In both the book and the talk Professor Bacevich notes that the principles that should define the international order actually are not permanent, but change (presumably as we evolve in a cultural manner).  Thus slavery goes out the window and women’s rights grow.
  This “Sacred Trinity” reminds me of Clausewitz and his tome On War and his use of the term “Trinity” to describe the People, the Government and the Army.
FN5  While the “Trinity” or “Triad” visualization is great, in fact the middle item just naturally flows from the first and the third.  If the United States is going to do anything with its Army besides defend its own borders, it needs that “Power Projection” capability.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Congress Voting

I am thinking that Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has this one right.
25) S. 1055 - A bill to grant the congressional gold medal, collectively, to the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, United States Army (Sponsored by Sen. Boxer / Financial Services Committee)
Representative Eric Cantor, the Republican Whip, lists this as one of the items to be voted on by the House this coming week.  To subscribe to Mr Cantor's weekly EMails of what is happening in the US House of Representatives, from a Republican Party point of view I am sure, CLICK HERE.

I say, "Go For Broke".

Regards  —  Cliff

Victoria Fahlberg Stepping Down

ONE Lowell has announced that Dr Victoria Fahlberg is stepping down as Executive Director of the organization at the end of the month.

Ms Fahlberg has been at it with ONE Lowell since 2002.  Finding new challenges seems a natural progression and it will be interesting to see where she sets her hand in the future.  I expect she will still be thinking about alternative voting systems in Lowell.  And, I am sure there are other issues that will catch her attention.  I think that Lowell will continue to benefit from her interests and activities.

Thanks to Dr Fahlberg for her work.  As the announcement by the Board says:
ONE Lowell is well positioned to continue these efforts on behalf of immigrants and refugees in Lowell. We are proud with the work she has done to get ONE Lowell to the level where it is today. We are extremely grateful and thankful to Victoria's dedication to the vision of ONE Lowell over the past several years and all she did to strengthen the community and impact the lives so many people.
we are extremely grateful.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Time for Congratulations

Congratuations to Jon Golnik, who won the nomination from the Republicans, to run against Incumbent Niki Tsongas.  Congratulations to Mary Connaughton, who defeated local Republican Kamal Jain for the Auditor's race.  And, congratulations to our neighbor, Sandi Martinez, who is going to be running for State Senate against Incumbent Susan Fargo.

ADDENDUM:  And, congratulations to my neighbor, a few blocks over, Ms Eileen Donoghue, for her win in the Democratic Party Primary in the race to replace retiring State Senator Steve Panagiotakos.

Now it is the sprint to the finish.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Colleges Businesses Like

From Professor Paul L Caron (Tax Prof Blog) we have a quick post on a Wall Street Journal article that looks to business to find out which are the best colleges in terms of product produced.  The top five are (number in bow legs is the US News and World Report ranking):
  1. Penn State (#47 in U.S. News)
  2. Texas A&M (#63)
  3. Illinois (#47)
  4. Purdue (#56)
  5. Arizona State (#143)
I note that my wife, Martha, is a graduate of Purdue.  USC, from whom I got my Masters Degree, is number 24 on the list.  In the top 27 schools listed, most are public state schools and many are Land Grant colleges.  Purdue is, and USC is not.

Hat tip to Instapundit.  Those law professors stick together.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tea Party and "People of Color"

Up front I will say that the video to which this links is not a statistical answer to the accusation that the Tea Party is lilly white, but it is a humorous video.

Regards  —  Cliff

Senator Kerry's Constituent Services

Back when the US Senate was debating the nomination of then Solicitor General Elana Kagan to the US Supreme Court, a friend of mine sent a letter to Senator Kerry on the subject.

Today, Monday, 13 September 2010, he received a response from the office of Senator Kerry.  I doubt that letters like this receive the personal attention of the Senator, but one would think that something like this, where the confirmation vote was on 5 August (she was sworn in as a Justice of the US Supreme Court on 7 August of this year), would merit a more prompt response.  This kind of constituent service is demeaning to those who try and involve themselves by contacting the Senator's office.  I think I still have a due-out from the Senator's office with respect to a question about how the Federal Government defines the term "High Speed Rail".

I did suggest to my friend that he apply for a job on the Senator's staff.  There is an obvious hole in his staff and it needs to be plugged.

The alternative view is that he knows who the Republicans are and just stiffs them, in his own inimitable arrogant way.  I would like to think that it is just the obvious hole in the staff and not an attitude toward those he thinks are not as smart as he is.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Hint.  It isn't at speeds conceived by other nations, from Japan, to China, to Turkey to other European nations.

Job-Skill Mismatch?

ShopFloor is the blog of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).  Here a Mr Carter Wood writes a post titled "A Higher-Education Bubble?  Tell it to the Zombies".

The lede for the blog post is that The Washington Post had two articles noted, one being about the Education Bubble and the other about the University of Baltimore offering a course on Zombies.

The thurst of the blog post is that there are jobs out there, but to get one you need to have skills other than knowing how to deal with Zombies.  To make it even more oppressive, Mr Carter Wood suggests that there is an education and training problem.
We have a mismatch. We have people out there that are skilled and trained, let’s say, to work in a retail showroom or to work in a MacDonalds or a restaurant. They are not necessarily trained to be able to know what a radius is or to know how to read a tape measure or to know how to read a blueprint or know how to change a bearing, or a die set in a robot.
Are there, in fact, jobs out there?  Jobs waiting for the right skill sets?

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, September 12, 2010

SecState and Mexico

Over at the Foreign Policy blog, we have comments on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's comments on what is going on in Mexico.  The author, Robert Haddick, says:
I note that Clinton used the phrase "We [the United States] face an increasing threat ...," not "they [Mexico]."  The cartels are transnational shipping businesses, with consumers in the United States as their dominant market.  The clashes over shipping routes and distribution power -- which over the past four years have killed 28,000 and thoroughly corrupted Mexico's police and judiciary -- could just as well occur inside the United States.  Indeed, growing anxiety that southern Arizona is in danger of becoming a "no-go zone" controlled by drug and human traffickers contributed to the passage of Arizona's controversial immigration enforcement statute earlier this year.
I realize that Ms Clinton is a little out in front of the President on this, but she is not out in front of reality.

This is a growing problem, but I think I have said that before.

Who is paying attention to this in Government, Federal, State and Local?

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bad News at UML

I went to the UMass Lowell South Campus today, to visit the O'Leary Library.  My purpose was to look for a very specific book, but one for which I only know the subject and the author's last name.  This would be a history of (or perhaps a visitor's guide to) our Nation's Capital, Washington, DC.  The author's last name is Reynolds.  Any hints would be appreciated.

What did I find at the Library?  Nothing!  The books have all left, and not TDY, but rather PCS.  Except for Music, and references on the first floor, the contents are all now on the North Campus.  I am not sure how that helps Continuing Education Students who are taking South Campus courses.

I am perhaps more sensitive to this than some in that while I was teaching at the National War College our library, which was in our own building, was consolidated with the library of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and moved into a third building, further up the post.  Sure, it isn't a big deal for a physically fit man or woman of 40 to walk a couple of blocks to the library, but moving the library meant that those who might have just wandered through the stacks, killing a few minutes, would no longer do so.  And, wandering is a fine way to discover new things, like when I found a book on Odilo Globocnik, an SS leader and one of the major figures in the Holocaust, which was a course we were taking.  Just plain serendipity.

I can be convinced this massive transfer of books is a good idea, but it is not coming to me as I type.

Regards  —  Cliff

  • TDY is Temporary Duty
  • PCS is Permanent Change of Station

Good News a UML

New signage is going up everywhere. Nice signage. And, the folks who are putting up this new signage are a polite and hard working crew, or at least the ones I talked to are.

This is all good.

Regards  —  Cliff

Republicans vs the Republican Establishment

George Will on "Identity Politics".

Sure, the Democrats are going to pull it out in November, helped by the brilliance of President Barack Obama and his team, and the Congressional Leadership of Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi, but an insurgency within the Conservative movement is changing the face of the Republican Party and the attitude of voters.

Sure, one can say that former Governor Sarah Palin isn't really a good female role model, since she is a graduate of a cow college and didn't abort her most recent child, but we are seeing more and more women and racial minorities moving ahead in the Republican Party, along with Governor Palin.  And, the Tea Party is helping this trend.

We will see what this portends.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Education Bubble Redux

Analysis with a chart on the Education Bubble.

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Getting Directions

Here is a cartoon that sums up some of my frustration with getting directions.  I just want the address.  Map Quest will do the rest.

And, I wonder about the propriety of embedding the cartoon as well as providing a link.

Regards  —  Cliff

Charlie Baker

Word is that Republican candidate for Governor, Charlie Baker, is coming to Lowell on Friday, the 10th, to talk about his plans for his first week in office, when elected.

The venue will be City Hall land the time will be 1:45 PM.

See you there.


Regards  —  Cliff

Main Post Office

I am glad that the Parking Lot at the Lowell Main Post Office has been re-striped.  It looks nice.


Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

School Meals Programs in Massachusetts

There were two Letters to the Editor in today's Boston Globe, which dealt with a bill before the US House of Representatives concerning School Lunch Programs.  The US Senate has already passed their version.

Both letters pleaded for passage.  The authors were:I am all for the school programs that provide additional nutrition to students in school, so they can learn better and thus become, eventually, better, more productive, citizens.

My question is, which states do these two women, and The Boston Globe for that matter (they published the two letters), wish to plunder to pay for these local programs?  Are they hoping to take money from Alaska or Texas or North Dakota?  When we ask for Federal Moneys that is what we are doing.  Either that or we think, but are unwilling to say, that Louisiana and Mississippi are incompetent when it comes to feeding its school-age children and we need a Federal program to lead them along.  If THAT is the case we should be gracious enough and honest enough to say it.

Otherwise, this should be a state level program, financed with state tax revenues.

The Federal Government is not a magic money tree, where programs are free.  All those Federal programs come out of someone's pocket and sooner or later it is either the pockets of those in other lands to whom we sold goods and services or it is our own individual taxpayer pockets, either through taxes we pay or goods and services we purchase which are also taxed.

Legislating on Beacon Hill should be about apportioning pain and those legislators should not be sloughing their work off on the Federal Congress.

There is no free lunch.

In the case of this issue, the Commonwealth should pay for what it thinks is just and necessary.  Either we cut somewhere else or we raise taxes or we stiff the children and our own future.  Asking Alaska to pay for it should not be an option under consideration.

Regards  —  Cliff

Nanny State Backed by Globe

OK, maybe people should not be clogging the internet with huge files (I did it today when sending three pages of a document to someone in Saudi Arabia who might have needed them.  The first two went as JPGs, at about 2.5 MEG each, but the last one was done as a BIT file and it was about 10 MEG.  Careless of me.

But, still, this Editorial from The Boston Globe seemed a little close to the Nanny State (and Blue Laws), and with a clueless statement of who is best to lead a solution:
Technology firms must create systems that store data with less energy, and governments should provide incentives for them to do so.
Government providing incentives leads to governments picking winners and losers.  Maybe some Government money to help meet Government storage problems, but I am not sure about the larger issue.  The Market Place is surer and swifter.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tea Party/Glenn Beck

Here is an opinion piece that seems to conflate the Tea Party Movement and the Glenn Beck phenomenon.  But, it makes some good points, such as:
The tea party’s detractors want to paint it as radical, when at bottom it represents the self-reliant, industrious heart of American life. New York Times columnist David Brooks compares the tea partiers to the New Left. But there weren’t any orgiastic displays at the Beck rally, nor any attempts to levitate the Lincoln Memorial — just speeches on God and country. It was as radical as a Lee Greenwood song.

A New York Times survey earlier this year occasioned shock when it found that “Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, and are no more or less afraid of falling into a lower socioeconomic class.” We’re so accustomed to the notion of a revolt of the dispossessed that a revolt of the possessed (in the non-demonic sense, of course) strikes us as a strange offense against the nature of things. But it’s threatening to wash away the Democratic congressional majorities in a historic wipeout.
The author is Rich Lowry of National Review Online.

Law Professor Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit), who provided the link to this article notes this passage from the article:
The tea party’s detractors want to paint it as radical, when at bottom it represents the self-reliant, industrious heart of American life.
and comments:
That’s what some people find so scary.
Regards  —  Cliff

Improving Schools

What he said.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Here is an OpEd in Sunday's edition of The Washington Examiner, in which Law Professor Glenn Reynolds asks a few questions about Mr James Lee, the Eco-Bomber, or "Warmabomber" as Professor Reynolds calls him.

For those who don't remember, Mr Lee went into the Discovery Channel Lobby in Silver Springs, Maryland, and took hostages.  He was armed with bombs and a gun (which later turned out to be a starter pistol, although the police reported the bombs were real enough).  In the end only Mr Lee died, and that is unfortunate, in that no one deserves to die and further, we are thus denied a chance to understand what was driving him.

At this point what we know is that he believed the Discovery Channel should have been running shows envying against people having children.  He objected to shows like
"Kate Plus 8" and "19 Kids and Counting."
and, per the Globe:
"He said the network should air "programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility.""
The press has been circumspect about Mr Lee's views on humans and the planet, views which were definitely not positive.  This line from the end of a Washington Post article perhaps gives a hint:
They tried to humanize the hostages, who Lee referred to as "parasites" at one point.
However, Professor Reynolds gives us the scoop on Mr Lee's views and they are not pretty.

Someone asked if Professor Reynolds was writing tongue in cheek and the response is here.

So, I end up with three questions about this incident:
  1. Do we think that environmental terrorists are a threat to the nation or just something on the wind, passing by and of no concern to us as citizens?
  2. Do we think that the MSM did an adequate job reporting the views of Mr James Lee, or did it fall to people like Professor Reynolds to keep the People informed?
  3. Will we see more of this kind of terrorism in the relatively near future (read my lifetime)?
Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, September 3, 2010

Education Bubble

I wondered about the propriety of copying this chart, but I noted that Tax Professor Paul L Caron of Tax Professor Blog lifted it from the Carpe Diem blog of Professor Mark J Perry.

This, in a way, a circular set of links, as I read a comment from Instapundit, who linked to Professor Caron, who linked to Professor Perry, who linked to Professor Reynolds' (The Instapundit Opinion Piece in The Washington Examiner.  The OpEd starts:
The buyers think what they're buying will appreciate in value, making them rich in the future. The product grows more and more elaborate, and more and more expensive, but the expense is offset by cheap credit provided by sellers eager to encourage buyers to buy.

Buyers see that everyone else is taking on mounds of debt, and so are more comfortable when they do so themselves; besides, for a generation, the value of what they're buying has gone up steadily. What could go wrong? Everything continues smoothly until, at some point, it doesn't.

Yes, this sounds like the housing bubble, but I'm afraid it's also sounding a lot like a still-inflating higher education bubble. And despite (or because of) the fact that my day job involves higher education, I think it's better for us to face up to what's going on before the bubble bursts messily.
I am of the opinion that the cost of higher education is out of line.  I agree with Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich that a public college education should be essentially free.  (I found the Professor Reich OpEd via Paul M over at the Richard Howe blog.)
Public universities should be free; in return, graduates would then be required to pay back 10 percent of their first 10 years of full-time income.
As Professors Reynolds, Perry and Caron note, we are facing an Education Bubble.  A "Bubble" is:
“trade in high volumes at prices that are considerably at variance with intrinsic values”
Older readers will remember the "Tulip Bubble" of 1637 or the "South Sea Company Bubble" of 1720.  Wikipedia has a more extensive list here.

There are two considerations here.  One is that some of those who go to college could be having very lucrative careers in the trades.  For sure, my plumber is benefitting from being in his trade.  He owns his own company and has put one child through college and has another in college.

The second consideration is that those going through college have large debts, which fall on someone, or are defaulted, leading to the same kind of thing we are seeing with the "Housing Bubble".  Here is some data from The College Board for 2006-2007.  (Note that this is for "Resident" vs "Commuting".)

4 Yr Public$5,836$942$6,960$880$1,739$16,357
4 Yr Private$22,218$935$8,149$722$1,277$33,301
It hasn't gotten better since 2006-2007.

The problem with a higher education bubble is not just the debts unpaid, but that it will result in younger people not enrolling at the same rate.  This will result in fewer professors being hired and fewer staff.  Depending upon the strength of the bursting bubble it could have a major impact.  It could even have a major impact on Lowell.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, September 2, 2010

LA Times vs LAUSD

That would be Los Angeles Unified School District.

Via Instapundit here is a link to a Slate article on the LA Times talking about "Grading the Teachers:  Value-Added Analysis".

The lede is:
The Los Angeles Times has produced an analysis of how effective Los Angeles Unified School District teachers have been at improving their students' performance on standardized tests.  The Times has decided to make the ratings available because they bear on the performance of public employees who provide an important service, and in the belief that parents and the public have a right to the information.
The Slate reporter, Jack Shafer, sees this as becoming a fight between the LA Times and the Teachers' Union.
Nobody but a schoolteacher or a union acolyte could criticize the Los Angeles Times' terrific package of stories—complete with searchable database—about teacher performance in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Union leader A. J. Duffy of the United Teachers Los Angeles stupidly called for a boycott of the Times.  Boycotts can be sensible things, but threatening to boycott a newspaper is like threatening to throw it into a briar patch.  Hell, Duffy might as well have volunteered to sell Times subscriptions, door-to-door, as to threaten a boycott.  Doesn't he understand that the UTLA has no constituency outside its own members and lip service from members of other Los Angeles unions?  Even they know the UTLA stands between them and a good education for their children.
And, Mr Shafer notes that US Secretary of Education Ernie Duncan is supportive of the LA Times.


Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Hope For Peace in the Near East

Over at the Gerard Group there is an article on the ongoing peace process in DC for the ongoing conflict (read low intensity war) between Israel and Palestine.

The author of the article is Hollis Armstrong and the article can be found here.

Titled "The Peace Process to Hell:  Bad Foreign Policy is Precursor to Disaster", the author argues that there can not be peace in that the Palestinian Authority is not prepared to grant Israel the right to exist, pace former President Jimmy Carter.
While the aim may be laudable in principle, it is flawed from beginning to end.  In what is perceived as a possible peace framework, every president since Jimmy Carter has overlooked or ignored the realities of the region, and the true character of the people most critically affected by the outcome.  By accepting the 'Palestinian' leadership as a viable and honest partner in the process, American administrations have not only entered a no win situation, but endangered the lives of millions of civilians in the region.

Ironically, our government's total lack of understanding of the dynamics of Middle Eastern culture and their impact on the potential for successful peace talks has led not to peace, but to war.  Each time a new administration opens a new round of peace talks, the stakes get higher and the cost of peace - in human terms - gets higher and increasingly bloody.

Last night, on the eve of the newest 'peace talks' in Washington, the blood has already begun to flow.  Two Israeli couples, including a pregnant woman, traveling in a private car near the town of Kiryat Arba, were shot to death, and their bullet-ridden bodies were thrown onto the street by Palestinian terrorists.  Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas' military wing, told The Associated Press late Tuesday that Hamas carried out the attack.
On the other hand, Hamas does not see itself subject to the authority of President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.  Thus, they see themselves and Gaza as outside the ongoing process in DC this week.

I am temporarily out of ideas?
   Anyone out there with any ideas on this topic?
      Does anyone think the efforts in DC this week will bring success?
         Does anyone think that this is not important to resolving
         larger issues in this world.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Gerard Group International (GGI) is a private organization which sees itself providing support to companies.  In their words:  "Gerard Group's modular Counter-Terrorism Preparedness program provides enterprise-wide security and continuity planning against a terrorist attack or other catastrophic event. Gerard Group's goal is to close potential security gaps, optimize emergency response capability, and significantly lower risk and liability in the event of a catastrophic emergency."

President's Tuesday Speech

Here it is, via Real Clear Politics.

In our house the vote was tied. One ignored the speech, once panned the speech and one thought it did the job.

I am the one who thought it did the job.

First, he nailed the closing.
Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America, and all who serve her.
You may think that is a minor point, but if he hadn't there would have been a lot of complaining about it.

I admit to not having a lot of high expectations, but they were met.  He called President George W Bush, which was the right thing to do:
This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It's well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush's support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq's future.
The President notes that there are those who now question our continuing commitment of forces to Afghanistan, but commits to that fight against al Qaeda.
Now, as we approach our 10th year of combat in Afghanistan, there are those who are understandably asking tough questions about our mission there. But we must never lose sight of what's at stake. As we speak, al Qaeda continues to plot against us, and its leadership remains anchored in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda, while preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a base for terrorists. And because of our drawdown in Iraq, we are now able to apply the resources necessary to go on offense. In fact, over the last 19 months, nearly a dozen al Qaeda leaders -and hundreds of Al Qaeda's extremist allies-have been killed or captured around the world.
He then hits a foot stomper about the fact that international relations are not just about military force.
Indeed, one of the lessons of our effort in Iraq is that American influence around the world is not a function of military force alone.
Darned straight.  It is time for the US Congress to better fund those other instruments of national power.  Enough of this dismissing diplomats as striped pants cookie pushers.  They are out in the field, enduring the hardships, but there needs to be more of them, and more technical experts from places like the Department of Homeland Security and Department of the Interior and Department of Justice, helping younger nations do a better job.

Then comes both truth and error:
That effort must begin within our own borders. Throughout our history, America has been willing to bear the burden of promoting liberty and human dignity overseas, understanding its link to our own liberty and security. But we have also understood that our nation's strength and influence abroad must be firmly anchored in our prosperity at home. And the bedrock of that prosperity must be a growing middle class.
We have not been willing, throughout our history, "to bear the burden of promoting liberty and human dignity overseas".  I don't think that follows from the thinking and actions of the likes of Washington and Jefferson.  However, he is spot on about the need for "prosperity at home".

In wrapping up, he honored the Service members and their families and that was good.

I am left with two issues.  The first is that I believe that, local caviling notwithstanding, Ambassador Paul Wolfowitz, of whom I am no fan, is correct to suggest that we look to Korea in 1953 as our model for Iraq.  It took a long time for Korea to become the strong, democratic nation that it is.  In the same way it will take Iraq a long time to become another Korea, but it can become such a nation and all would benefit from that.  I would have liked to have seen something about that in the speech.

My second issue is that I am still not sure how, even without the "make it like Korea" suggestion, the President intends to get from here to there.

Regards  —  Cliff