Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Good Enough

My previous post, on public schools, brings to mind two quotes, both of which have several sources:
Perfect is the enemy of good enough.

A good plan now is better than a perfect plan later on.
I think those two rules of thumb apply in many walks of life.

Regards  —  Cliff

Pick Something And Stick To It

Reading through an OpEd in The Boston Globe, Choppy waters for teaching, by Junia Yearwood, I was struck by her struggles as a teacher to maintain a consistent and effective approach to her ninth grade students and their study of English.

However, I was more struck by the fact that she is talking about 27 years of teaching—teaching in which there was no agreed path, no consistent educational doctrine running through the school system, year after year, guiding the students on an agreed path.  Rather, it was churn.

I will be honest, from ninth grade I remember only Mr Dibs and drafting class and gym.  The rest has receded into the mists of time.  But, I am smart enough to know that the English teacher was also preparing me for my future.  I remember my high school English teachers, Ms Glada Thrawl and, in another grade, a pert young woman who gave me extra credit for reading my way through James Joyce's Ulysses—"banned in Boston", all 548 pages.

The question is, how long will we continue to hazard our children and our own future by not having a serious and consistent approach to education?  I sometimes make this point for someone by counting up the number of generations that have passed since a young women entered Kindergarten when Judge Arthur Garrity issued his famous ruling.  If they actually graduated high school before getting married and getting pregnant, we are talking the third generation.  Ms Yearwood makes me dispair that Judge Garrity did anything for Boston Schools.  The more scary scenario is that he made a major positive change, but it just wasn't enough.

I think we need to be listening to Teacher Junia Yearwood and hear what she is telling us.  Then we need to take action to really turn this nation around in terms of education.  It isn't going to be through spending more money or through the Federal Department of Education.  It is going to be local parents and local concerned citizens working together to pick a plan and then making sure the schools stick to it for a while.  And, it is going to mean helping those young students who come from homes where there are no books or magazines.  They need extra help with English.  And the young women who are going in the direction of having a baby rather than having a shot at graduating from High School.  The statistics are telling a grim story and they are predicting a less than successful future—for all of us.

Regards  —  Cliff

I Need a Support Group

Honest, I am trying to stop, but it just goes on and on out there.

The original is here, at the Day by Day website.

UPDATE:  You realize that Chris Matthews is comparing her to former President Bill Clinton, at least in terms of media moxie, don't you?  That said, he doesn't think she can win the independent voters.

Regards  —  Cliff


Sure, I have lots of thoughts on this.  First off, this kind of thing is a fact of life.  Secondly, when we can, we should prosecute folks who leak this kind of information.  Thirdly, we have to be careful to not trample the First Amendment.  That short little document is much more important to us than our relationship with Saudi Arabia or China.  Fourthly, some of this leaked information will be put to good use by our Department of State (or so I hope).  Fifthly, a lot of stuff out there in the US Government (USG) is way over classified and should be declassified now.

That said, here is Commentator Max Boot, in Commentary Magazine suggesting that The New York Times doesn't have what it takes to publish its own internal communications, even as it publishes those of the USG.

Of course, there is a big difference between The New York Times and the US Government and that difference is the First Amendment.  On top of that there is the fact that the NYT is a private (or publicly held) institution, as opposed to the USG, which is a public institution.

But, someone I know has noted that The New York Times does not come away with a record to be proud of:
The issue is not comparing the NYT w/ the USG, it is one of comparing the NYT w/ the NYT!

When presented w/ Climategate emails, the NYT sanctimoniously declared "We do not publish purloined emails. (Sniff)

Publishing purloined emails and cables are PERFECTLY acceptable, of course, if it is that of the USG.
And there you have it.  The New York Times is free to pick and choose what it exposes to the public.  You just have to trust them.  Your other option is to read additional sources.  I recommend Instapundit as a starter.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Presidential Succession

I was answering an EMail complaining about the cost of President Obama's recent overseas trip.  I made my usual point that it is worth every penny because it helps us solidify our relationship with India, which will be very important in the out-years.  I also made the point that I wanted our President well protected, and then mentioned that it would take a while to get down to people I would like to see in the Oval Office in the event of (Heaven Forbid) a dire event.

I cribbed this table directly from Wikipedia,
# Office Current Officer
1Vice President Joe Biden
2 Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
3 President pro tempore of the Senate Daniel Inouye
4 Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
5 Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner
6 Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
7 Attorney General Eric Holder
8 Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
9 Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
10 Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
11 Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis
12 Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius
13 Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan
14 Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood
15 Secretary of Energy Steven Chu
16 Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
17 Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki
18 Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano

An interesting collection of people, some of whom I could see as President of these United States and some of whom cause me to shudder at the thought.  It is a long way to Eric Shinseki, who I see as an honorable man and one with the capacity to do the job.  This is not to dismiss Ms Napolitano, but I think she has been tainted by being the Secretary of Homeland Security.  Once upon a time she was the Governor of a Sovereign State.  No longer.  She is now a bureaucrat running a Department that is losing favor with the American People.

UPDATE:  Thanks to Don Lincoln for pointing out that I had a bunch of broken links.  I think I have fixed them, but if not, please send me an EMail.  Thanks.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"It's An Amazing World"

It seemed like just a few hours ago I wrote this blog post on Governor (and potential Presidential Candidate) Sarah Palin.

It picked up a certain amount of snarky comments, but comments that do not stray too far from the truth, or at least the truth as understood by many, many educated American voters.  There are a lot of folks out there, from my wife, to Barbara Bush, to my professor this semester, to Kad Barma, who think that Sarah Palin does not have what it takes to be President.  Not that there are not some of those who think that President Obama isn't up to the job either.

So, over at the Dick Howe Blog is a link to a post at the Huffington Post to a post by former Secretary of Labor and current UC Berkeley Professor Robert Reich at his eponymously named blog.  The post is Dr Reich talking about Sarah Palin and her "outside" game to pick up the Republican nomination in 2010.

There is some faulty analysis in the article, like the accusation of racism against Republicans.  The fact that Willie Horton was Black does not mean that the fear of crime was not real and justified.  It is when we take all Blacks and say they are bad that it is racism.  I don't think I see that in Republican or Tea Party circles.  YMMD.

Then there is this:
All of this is spawning a new and more virulent politics of anger in the nation’s white working class, stoked by Republicans – anger against immigrants, blacks, gays, intellectuals, and international bankers (consider the latest Fox News salvos against George Soros).

According to the right-wing narrative, the calamity that’s befallen the white working class is due to the global and intellectual elites who run the mainstream media, direct the government, dispense benefits to the undeserving, and dominate popular culture. (The story and targets are not substantially different from those that have fueled right-wing and fascist movements during times of economic stress for more than a century, here and abroad.)
That conflates a lot of generalizations to come up with Republicans as being against minorities, especially when Caucasian Working Class Men fail to constitute a majority in this nation.  The bringing in of the word "Fascist" is especially egregious.  For shame, Dr Reich.

But, at the end of the day this is all old hat.  The members of the Democratic Party have been warned, but they ignore the warnings.  My favorite example is Deer Hunting with Jesus:  Dispatches from America's Class War, published way back in 2007.  It was so long ago that at publication there were still folks who thought Senator Hillary Clinton would be President of the United States at this time.  The author is Mr Joe Bageant.

I am not saying I favor Ms Palin, nor am I saying she is going to get the nomination in 2012.  I am saying that Democrat Dr Robert Reich is a very smart man (and at one point he was running for Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but the Mass Democratic Party leadership failed to see in him the person who could lead us into the economic uplands of prosperity (or they thought he would be bad for the leadership in the General Court, which is a more likely explanation)).  Dr Reich looks past the mangled English and the lack of an Ivy League education to see someone he thinks has some great instincts.  His is the right approach for a Democrat.  To just dismiss Ms Palin as an idiot is to set oneself up for a smack upside the head.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, November 26, 2010

Four More Years

The key point in this article from The Boston Herald is that our Senior Senator is good for four more years.

The lack of sensitivity is Ops Normal.

Regards -- Cliff

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Taliban Living Near You

Here is a headline from The Manchester Guardian about the war in Afghanistan
UK-based Taliban spend months fighting Nato forces in Afghanistan. 

Taliban fighter reveals he lives for most of year in London and heads to Afghanistan for combat.
Here are eleven pictures to go with the story.

Well, they are living in the UK.  That is not us.  On the other hand, how do we know?

This is an insurgency we are combating in Afghanistan and that means guerrillas and that means the pace of the war is, to some degree, set by the insurgents.  That they might wish to return to the UK from time to time makes good sense.

Regards  —  Cliff

"It's An Amazing World"

So the MSM goes on and on about Sarah Palin.  Here we have The Boston Globe providing a quote from Barbara Bush to Larry King (isn't this about his last show?).  The Boston Globe lists this in "local" news, on 21 November.
Former first lady Barbara Bush doesn't appear to think much of Sarah Palin's White House aspirations, saying the former Alaska governor should stick to her home state.

In an interview with CNN's Larry King scheduled for airing Monday, Mrs. Bush says she sat next to Palin once and "thought she was beautiful."

The outspoken wife of former President George H.W. Bush says Palin, who is considering a presidential run in 2012, seems "very happy in Alaska" but then adds, "I hope she'll stay there."
OK, so someone asked Governor Palin what she thought of Barbara Bush's comment.  From The LA Times we have this:
"I think the majority of Americans don't want to put up with the bluebloods—and I say it will all due respect because I love the Bushes but the bluebloods who want to pick and chose their winners instead of allowing competition," Palin said, reacting to Bush's comment specifically.  "I don't know if that kind of stuff is planned out, but it is what it is."
And, with that she hit a nerve.  I think that on City Life this AM Host George Anthes used the term "elites" several time with a high degree of distain.  It wasn't about the Bushes, but a more local elite, but the point was clear.  There is the elites and then there is the rest of us.

Given that Ms Palin is not quite as dumb as Republicans fear she is and Democrats believe she is, this kind of thing is only going to work to her advantage.  Sure, she misspeaks, like when she talked about "our ally, North Korea", when she meant "our ally, South Korea", but aside from such things (remember 57 states?), she is fairly media savvy.  It doesn't mean she is presidential timber, but it means that she is not going to be blown away with a light wind.

Hat tip to Law Professor Ann Althouse for the initial item.

Oh, and by the way, we have Governor Chris Christie being interviewed and in the last 36 seconds of the interview with Jimmy Fallon (who reminds me a bit of Greg Page, The New Englander), he is asked if he is running for President or if he would accept the Veep slot and what he thought of Sarah Palin as President.
Who knows, Jimmy, it’s an amazing world.
A hat tip to Hot Air for the video.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Huffington Post has this one, along with a lot of other folks.  The Huffington Post does say:
To be fair, the mistake appeared to be a case of a verbal stumble -- not actual confusion about which country she was supposed to support.


Happy Thanksgiving to family and friends.

A couple of weeks ago I came across the story of a woman, Lindsy Stewart Cieslewicz, who is a descendent of both the first Pilgrims and also the Wampanoag Indians with whom they celebrated the first Thanksgiving.  I thought of that as a neat closing of the circle.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gun Laws in the US

Over at Say Uncle is this quote from Cam Edwards:
There have been more than 2700 homicides in Juarez, Mexico this year. Right across the river in El Paso, Texas there have been 4. Yet President Calderon (and President Obama) says Mexico’s violence is the fault of our gun laws.
Well, maybe the numbers aren't exactly right for El Paso.  Let's assume they are off by a factor of 10.  The point still holds.

Regards  —  Cliff

North Korea, Again

From The Washington Post we have a report on North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) dropping 90 shells on a South Korean (Republic of Korea) Island, which includes a ROK Marine base).
In an official statement, government spokesman Hong Sang-pyo called the North's action a "clear military provocation." In the United States, a White House spokesman said President Obama was "outraged" by North Korea's "provocative" action, adding that the nation stands by South Korea.

The latest conflict comes at a particularly tense time on the Korean Peninsula, just days after the reclusive government in Pyongyang revealed to a visiting American scientist the existence of a new uranium-enrichment facility, and just weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Il began laying the groundwork for his youngest son to succeed him.
Fortunately, the rhetoric has deescalated from earlier today, when it was more indicative of war than not.

Over at Night Watch they tell us that this is not such a big deal.
A review of diplomacy, international relations and leadership activities confirms that North Korea is not preparing for war. Its volleyball team just advanced to the quarter finals at the Asian Games in Beijing. Senior officials are receiving foreign diplomats as usual. Kim Chong il and his son were reported on 23 November visiting a plant together and Kim visited two others without his son.

The number and detail of the activities show that the North does not expect the shelling incident to escalate. There also are no reports of increased civilian or military alerts in North Korea, which would be mandatory precautions if the North expected or intended an escalation.
I trust this analysis.

But, to the long run, an anonymous analyst had this to say:
The problem is not that Kim JI and his advisors are idiots.

Rather, it is that we have trained them improperly.

Since the 1968 "Assault on the Blue House," when North Korean commandoes tried to assassinate the ROK President Park Chunghee, through various attacks such as the axing of two US servicemen at the DMZ and the bomb that wiped out the ROK cabinet in Burma, to the recent sinking of the ROK frigate, the US and the ROK have not responded.

We have protested, we have corraled international condemnation, we have said mean things to the DPRK, but we have not made it clear that such actions have meaningful consequences.

Indeed, as Tim Hoyt noted, we have even sent food aid (which was promptly seized by the military and the Party leadership, aka Kim Jong-il and family).

If you were the North Korean leadership, and your track record of assassinations and other such actions were met w/ such responses, would you believe that your opponents were going to respond forcefully?  Or that they would capitulate, if you were to push hard?

In this regard, it is worth noting how, in one year, we have seen an attack on a South Korean warship, open announcement of a uranium enrichment program, and now an attributable attack w/ land-based artillery.  The DPRK is being more and more brazen, not even bothering to try and provide plausible deniability.

I would submit this is an unhealthy trend.
And there you have it.

But, for a news cycle it looked terrible.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Political Spending in Massachusetts

"Democrats far outspent GOP as races loomed".  That is what the headline says.  The story, in The Boston Globe tracks the headline.

While at the top of the ticket, Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Baker outspent Governor Deval Patrick by $6.9 million to $5.4 million, Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray spend $3.0 million against State Senator Richard Tisei's $1.7 million.  Overall, it was $5.9 million from the Democratic State Committee to $2.6 million for the Republican State Committee.

Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Nassour spoke to this in The GLobe article
Democrats “have more people than we do, they have more money than we do, and they were paying a lot of people to help get out the vote," Nassour said.  Brown’s election was a wake-up call for the Democrats, and they responded, she said.
I bet it was.

The other problem for the Republican Party in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a fixation upon the office of Governor.  As Republicans we need to admit that without substantial numbers in the Legislature the office of Governor is mostly a bully pulpit.  Note that it is called "The Corner Office".  It is an office in the corner of the building housing the legislature, The General Court.  There is no executive mansion.  Heck, even the mayor of New York City has Gracie Mansion.

The focus of the Republican Party in Massachusetts for the next two years must be on recruiting, training, and supporting candidates for legislative office.  If we diverted the money we might have spent in 2012 trying to elect a Governor and instead spent it on electing State Representatives and State Senators, it would pay higher dividends that electing a Republican Governor.

Monday, the 29th of November of this year would not be too soon to start.

Regards  —  Cliff

Annoying Other People

I found this at the bottom of an opinion piece copied into an EMail someone passed along.  Having checked out the opinion piece, I don't think it belongs to that writer, but rather to the EMail writer.
If you can't annoy somebody, there's little point in writing.
The author of that quip is the late Sir Kingsley Amis.  I think it takes a certain personality to fully embrace that philosophy, but, even for the rest of us, there is something to be said for it.  There is some belief that Sir Kingsley was a dipsomaniac and died of it.  That condition might contribute to holding a view such as that expressed in the quotation.

But, it is a good throw-away line if one is running fairly close to the edge in one's writing.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, November 22, 2010

MLA is Weak

So, I am doing a paper for an English Class and the requirement is to use the "MLA style in-text citation and parenthetical documentation, which means no footnotes."  The Professor knows I love footnoting.  The footnote, to quote the Instapundit, "IS THERE ANYTHING IT CAN'T DO?"

So, I pay my almost $30 to have the MLA handbook shipped to my PO Container, but really, so I can go to their own website to check on citation of works.  I buy, I register, I go to the website and see this interesting little note:
Did You Know?

Web sites sponsored by newspapers are generally not periodicals. See 5.6.2a.
I found that interesting. So, I immediately clicked on the link.
The page you requested could not be found.
Regards  —  Cliff

It is Only American History

"CREDENTIALED, NOT EDUCATED:  Kathleen Parker needs a refresher course in American history."

That is the only line in this blog post from the Instapundit.

I bet her grade school teachers are embarrassed.

And former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's teachers must be likewise embarrassed about him just sitting there and letting this pass.

Regards  —  Cliff

California in Trouble?

Over at Forbes Magazine we have this article, "California Suggests Suicide; Texas Asks: Can I Lend You a Knife?"

This comes via Tom Smith at The Right Coast.

As to the "rent seeking" comment, in this case it refers to people seeking to make money with Green Industries by having the government over-regulate and overtax other businesses, like coal, for example.

I gave up my California residency 16 years ago, so in a way it is not important to me, except as an example of what we should be avoiding here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Was He Thinking?

I am past "What was he thinking".  This suggests that Senator Jay Rockeffer had his brain in the off mode when he was talking.  Do you think that is common with Senators, given our own Senior Senator, John F Kerry, thinking that the voters are stupid.

Speaking of "the vorers are stupid", here is a post from the Ann Althouse eponymous blog, where that issue is explored.  To be fair, this is a reference to a newspaper article where the journalist interviews a Professor, who looks pretty arrogant in the beginning, but was actually pretty straight forward.  It was the journalist who was arrogant.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Pope and Condoms

I am not sure I fully understand what is going on here, and like some have noted, I am waiting for the "clarification".  Nevertheless, Blogger Elizabeth Scalia, over at her place on the First Things Blog, talks to a new book on Pope Benedict XVI, in which he talks about the use of condoms.  The Holy Father has some nuanced comments on the use of condoms.  But, in the end, he seems to be against sex for the sake of sex—sex as a drug.

Here are Ms Scalia's comments.

Here is a link to the source of the current brouhaha.

The book is Light of the World and it is due to be released on 24 November.  (For those of you in the know, and you know who you are, this is more likely to be released than that other thing on that date.)

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Dumb Error in Gov't Procurement

The headline from The Washington Post is "Oops:  Air Force sends tanker bid details to rivals".  This is a big deal mistake.  The two competitors are Boeing and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), parent of Airbus, Boeings only real rival at this time.

This means that if the current attempt to award a contract is thrown out and the Air Force air refueling tanker contract is recompeted (one more time) that the competitors will be looking inside each other's books. Worse, it means that inside knowledge of the other company will spill over into competition for commercial airline orders.

Here is the most damaging thing of all:
The Air Force is reviewing how the disclosures occurred and was "taking steps that it doesn't happen again," said [Air Force spokesman Lt Col Les] Kodlick.
The reason it is damaging is that defense procurement has become bogged down in an ever growing bureaucracy that is strangling not only the process, but also initiative.  Another layer of review will be added, but since we are dealing with humans, that added layer will mean that the person lower down will relax his or her vigilance just a little bit more.  This will just create more opportunities for errors.

We have moved from free and open competition to a system that can't get out of its own way.  On balance, I was smart to get out of the contracting dodge and go back to the war Southeast Asia in 1972.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  And, a hat tip to my buddy Neal for bringing this to my attention this morning.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Another New Congressman Goes to Washington

Elizabeth Scalia, over at the First Things blog, wrote about Congressman Elect Allen West going to Washington to get his Freshman Orientation.

As you may recall, as Lieutenant Colonel West he was fined $5,000 for threatening a captured Iraqi insurgent, leading the insurgent to divulge that an attack was planned for the next day.  Colonel West then resigned his commission.

I wonder if Congressman Elect Allen West will be invited to join the Congressional Black Caucus?  My guess is that the Caucus will stick by its invitation to the two newly elected Black Republicans in the US House of Representatives, one of them being Allen West.

Regards  —  Cliff

  She formerly blogged as The Anchoress.


Saepe mendosus, nunquam dubius

"Often wrong, but seldom in doubt"

Must have been said about a Fighter Pilot.

Regards  —  Cliff

More on Ghailani Verdict

I have already posted once on the conviction of Terrorist Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani for his part in the bombing of US Embassies in Africa.

Here is a view from someone who writes on law and national security.  I like the view propounded.  The author, a journalist, is Mr Benjamin Witte.  He is also a blogger and talks to the issue of "lawfare", which is the use of a nation's laws against it to achieve strategic or operation goals.  The article has several references to Charlie Dunlap, a retired Air Force two star lawyer (JAG).  I was his thesis advisor at National War College.  He wrote "The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012" and I didn't have to do a thing except read it and pronounce it good and let it go forward for judging as good.  I like the easy assignments.

But, back to "Lawfare", it is an issue to watch.

Here is another view, from a Robert Chesney, down in Texas.  The post includes, up front, the law under which Mr Ghailani was convicted.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Is It With Sarah?

The New York Times Magazine is doing a cover story on former Governor Sarah Palin, due out this Sunday.

Let me think.  In a year there are 52 weeks and thus 52 cover stories.  In these United States, by my count there are 50 states.  As of the early part of the month there are going to be new governors in some states pretty soon.  Have we had a cover on Governor Bobbie Jindal, elected a while ago?  How about Governor Elect Nikki Haley.  What about Democratic Party Governor Elect Dan Malloy, down in Connecticut, right next door to NYC?

You get my point.  There are a lot of folks worthy of being profiled, and not just governors.  Why this moth-like attraction to the flame known as Sarah Palin?

Personally, I love it, but for all the wrong reasons.  I am allowing myself to enjoy seeing on display the prejudices of those who think like the New Yorker cartoonist of years ago.  It is New England, New York and the Coast and just a thin strip in between.

Flame on, Sarah!

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  For those of you not keeping track, I think it is way too early, but if forced to make a choice, as I was in a political discussion at dinner at the Fox and Hounds in the Mall at King of Prussia (PA) last night, I am going with Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and for VEEP Governor Bobbie Jindal.  But it is a looong way to November 2012.  Right now President Obama should not be counted out.

  If you are a Presidential candidate it may feel like there are more than 50.  Maybe even 57, with one to go.
  Not you, California, since the Governor Elect has been in the Governor's Mansion two previous times (not counting his time as the son of a Governor).  Well, maybe he sold the Mansion off.  I am confused about that part of it.
  I am going with Nikki, as Nimrata Randhawa Haley is too hard to remember how to spell.
  I would like to note that Kad Barma doesn't fall into that category.  He has no respect for people of any organized party, probably based upon (1) experience and (2) high expectations.


"Seize the day—now is the only time we really own"

Regards  —  Cliff

Harvard and ROTC

My youngest Brother just sent me this item from Reuters:  "Harvard University's president on Wednesday invited the U.S. military to restore a training program at the college once a ban on gays serving openly is lifted."  I didn't find it in the on-line edition of The Boston Globe.  I wonder why.

My Brother's first instinct was to tell Harvard to go pound sand.  But, as he notes, we shouldn't cut off our nose to spite our face.  I am thinking that that would be too much like Harvard's decision to continue to keep ROTC off campus.

On the other hand, it is possible the Faculty at Harvard will find another excuse.  Time will tell.

Regards  —  Cliff

Accrediting Institutions of Higher Education

This can't be good news.

There is an apparent disconnect between accreditation of institutions of higher education and their actual ability to teach our young men and women.

An excerpt:
Those requirements do prevent diploma mills (i.e., educationally fraudulent schools that don’t teach, but merely sell bogus degrees) from earning genuine accreditation. (There are also phony accreditation groups.)  That’s important because government student aid money can only go to schools that have been accredited by a recognized accrediting agency.  By preventing students from spending their government aid at diploma mills, we deter them from squandering money on unquestionably fraudulent institutions.

Unfortunately, our accrediting system does not prevent “real” colleges and universities from operating with such low standards that many students graduate with pathetically poor skills in “the three Rs.”  It is not uncommon for weak and disengaged students to enroll in an accredited college and manage to accumulate enough credits to graduate, but learn little in the way of valuable skills and knowledge.
Ahhhhh—I have no smart solutions to this.

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Terrorist Trial Outcome

From The Washington Post we have this headline on the trial of terrorist Ahmed Ghailani, involved in the bombing of US Embassies in Africa—"Ahmed Ghailani, Gitmo detainee, acquitted of all but 1 charge in N.Y.".

I have already received one irate EMail about this and expect more.

My take on the outcome is that even after throwing out all the "tainted" evidence, Mr Ghailani was STILL convicted, and will go away for a couple of decades, if not for life.  That is good news.

I am not saying military tribunals are not the way to go, but the Federal Government having chosen this path, and 12 men and women, tried and true, having sifted the evidence for 5 days, we are sending the chap to jail.  Probably for life.

Once more the average citizen shows that in a pinch he or she knows what to do. This IS a great country.

I will be honest.  I doubt that this process and this verdict will sway a lot of hearts and minds out there across the globe.  But, I like the outcome.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Word of the Year

Over at the blog of Law Professor Ann Althouse we have comments on the New Oxford American Dictionary 2010 "word of the year".


Regards  —  Cliff

The 2012 Outcome

From the Instapundit we have a link to this item at the Politico website.  By Mark Penn, it is titled "The big disconnect: D.C. elites think Obama will be reelected, but the public doubts it".  The first paragraph:
The midterms not only dealt a big shock to Democrats but also sent a message to President Barack Obama. According to the new POLITICO Power and the People poll, only 26 percent of the public believes he will be reelected as president in 2012. Inside the Beltway, however, expectations are quite different, with D.C. elites saying he will have a second term by a reverse 2 to 1 margin. (49 percent say re-elected; 23 percent say not).
I think it is too early to tell.  For sure I would not count President Obama out at this point.  There is a lot of time between now and when candidates have to get serious about putting together a campaign staff.

But, at this point it is Barack Obama's to lose.  Smarter and more clever politicians than the current President have bowed out before a second campaign.

Looking at the Republican hopefuls one is not hopeful.  One is not hopeful about the candidates and about the political pundits.  Reporter Dan Balz, writing in The Washington Post, notes that there is "No clear favorite for 2012 GOP nomination".

In the Balz article it was past the jump and three paragraphs from the bottom that we get to folks who I think are serious possibilities.  In fact, I would think the Republican Party may, in 2012, go with Governor Chris Christie at the top of the ticket and Governor Bobbie Jindal in the number two slot.  That is just my opinion.

Before someone asks, no, I don't think former Governor Sarah Palin will be on the ticket, even though she has more experience than Senator Obama had when he was running.  But, I think she will be around, stirring the pot, for some time to come.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

USCCB Elects New President

Over at The Washington Post we have an article by Ms Michelle Boorstein, "Catholic bishops pull a shocker today by their pick for president".
America's Catholic bishops pulled a shocker today in picking their new president, disregarding tradition and precedent by rejecting its vice-president and instead choosing a man seen as more outspoken and conservative.
Yes, a "shocker", but how conservative can New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan be, given that on 9 November of this year he was down at St Joseph's Church, in Greenwich Village, celebrating Dorothy Day's birthday and talking about what she represented.

That is my kind of "conservative".

Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement.  Challenge yourself and get yourself a subscription to The Catholic Worker newspaper.
The Catholic Worker newspaper is not online.  Subscription or copy requests must be sent by regular mail to The Catholic Worker, 36 East First Street, New York, NY 10003, United States. Phone: 212-777-9617.  The newspaper was started by Dorothy Day herself in New York City in the 1930s'.  The price has been and will remain a penny a copy, excluding mailing costs.  It is issued seven times per year and a year's subscription is available for 25 cents (30 cents for foreign subscriptions), though all donations in excess of that amount go to the hospitality houses associated with the paper, Maryhouse and St. Joseph House.
You can afford it.  It isn't like the cost of The Globe, or it's parent The New York Times, or our local paper of record, The Sun.

Regards  —  Cliff

  For a certain number of the blog readers, I can front you the money, if you ask.

Soot in Space

It turns out that one of the concerns is soot from space flight.
According to a paper in press in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters (GRL), the problem with such launches is with the black carbon soot emitted by rocket engines.  That soot, deposited in the stratosphere, could have a significant effect on the atmosphere should space tourism and other applications of commercial suborbital vehicles generate significant demand for flights.  One model, assuming 1,000 suborbital flights a year from a single spaceport, found that the resulting soot could cool the latitude band around the spaceport by 0.7°C while warming Antarctica by 0.8°C.  “The response of the climate system to a relatively small input of black carbon is surprising,” one of the study’s authors, Michael Mills of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said in the AGU statement.
This via Jeff Faust and The Space Review

There are, of course, a lot of questions to be asked and answered, based on this study, but these are questions that need to be asked.  Perhaps, to preserve the human race we will stop going into space.  Maybe for decades or maybe for ever.  Without overhead imagery, wars may become more likely.  Without overhead imagery, crop predictions may become less accurate.

This could pose an interesting issue for us.  First we will have to do more analysis.  Then, we may have to make tradeoffs.  Good luck to us.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Plame Movie

I haven't seen "Fair Game", about Ms Valerie Plame being exposed as a CIA Operative.  However, I have had a bit of doubt about the case about her being exposed from the beginning, including the role of her husband, Ambassador Joseph C Wilson, IV.

Now comes Mr R E Pound, with a letter to The Washington Post (the second letter down).  His tag line is from a poem by A E Houseman
Tis sure much finer fellows have fared much worse before.
I will likely not be going to this movie.

Hat tip to Juan Paron.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Krauthammer on Obama

Columnist Charles Krauthammer is spot on here.  He comments in "Why President Obama is right about India", that the trip was worth every dollar.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, November 12, 2010

Walter Duranty Reprise

Over at Reason Magazine we have this fisking of a New York Times article, "Where Marxists Pontificate, and Play".

As the Instapundit (hat tip) comments on the original NYT article, "In the finest tradition of Pulitzer-prize winning Timesman Walter Duranty . . . ."

Ah, the newspaper of record for our nation.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Eleven Eleven Eleven

Happy Veterans Day to all.

And it would be a good time to point out that we have this day, on this month, at 11 AM, as the point of celebration due to the Great War, which became known as World War I.

World War I is well worth studying because we could be building up to another conflict like it as new nations emerge and wish to have their place in the sun.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday, Marine(s)

Today is the birthday of the US Marine Corps. Formed on 10 November 1775. At Tun Tavern, in Philadelphia.

Happy Birthday to all US Marines.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Alas, Babylon

Listen up, California.  The other 48 states—your cousin New York excluded—are sick of your bratty arrogance. You're the Lindsay Lohan of states:  a prima donna who once showed some talent but is now too wasted to do anything with it.
That was Ms Allysia Finley, writing in The Wall Street Journal.  Reading it was like having someone trash talk about an old girlfriend, one for whom you still had a warm spot, even if the relationship was long over.

Worse, it is soooo true.  And, I don't think Governor Elect Jerry Brown is going to be able to pull off a miracle, unless it is on my dime and your dime.  Is California one of those institutions that is too big to (let) fail?

Part of the problem in California is that they lost the vision that built great freeways and great water projects and wonderful educational institutions.  Another part of the problem is that they stopped taxing themselves but kept on spending—and that spending included huge balloon payments that are now coming due.

A hat tip to Law Professor Ann Althouse for this.

Regards  —  Cliff

  "Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city!  For in one hour is thy judgment come." (Rev 19:10)
  If you are a Mass resident, don't get smug, because we are doing the same thing.  I am looking forward to seeing how Beacon Hill will handle this in the upcoming session of the General Court.

If You Want a Friend in DC...

... get a dog. (Harry S Truman)

I have things I should be doing, but some things are too delicious to pass up, like this link from Law Professor Ann Althouse, to this article in the Financial Times (Westminster Edition).  Writing about the visit of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown DC, the article has this to say:
Naturally the election came up in conversation.  Trying to be even-handed and polite, the Brits said something diplomatic about McCain’s campaign, expecting Bush to express some warm words of support for the Republican candidate.

Not a chance.  “I probably won’t even vote for the guy,” Bush told the group, according to two people present.“  I had to endorse him.  But I’d have endorsed Obama if they’d asked me.”
There are additional embedded links if you go to the FT site via the link.

You can never tell, can you?

   All those Democrats, voting with Bush in 2008.

      You wonder how many now wish they had voted for McCain?

Regards  —  Cliff

India and the UN

Someone I know, down in DC (not part of the US Government) said this about India and the UN Security Council:
Reportedly, India's position on UN Security Council (UNSC) positions is more than just wanting a seat for New Delhi.  It would entail a thorough reorganization of the UNSC, including adding one or more permanent seats determined by region (1-2 for Africa, apparently).

This almost certainly precludes any serious movement on the idea of adding India to the UNSC, since it would be the equivalent of reordering the workings of the US Congress in order to add the District of Columbia.

This is in addition to the reality that China has no desire to give up its place as the sole Asian P-5 member.

What is interesting is that no one has seriously broached (as far as I know) the idea of combining the French and UK P-5 seats into a single EU seat, and making India (or Nigeria, or Brazil) the next member of the P-5.
The consolidation of the French and UK permanent seats would be a major change in the order of things.  On the other hand, 1.2 billion is a lot of people.  Is their voice not worthy of being heard on a permanent basis?

But, regardless of the problems in execution, the President, the US President, did the right thing to speak out in support of a permanent seat for India.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Air Force is Looking for a New Fighter

Here is an Air Force capability request for information (CRFI), open to all companies. The subject is the "XR_Next_Gen_TACAIR_Technology". It is listed at Fed Biz Ops and can be read here.  If you go to the web page, down near the bottom you can download the actual original document (a Word .docx document of 41 kb).

The opening paragraph of the CRFI is:
The Aeronautical Systems Center (ASC) Capability Development and Planning Division (XRX) is conducting market research analyses to examine applicable materiel concepts and related technology for a Next Generation Tactical Aircraft (Next Gen TACAIR) capability with an initial operational capability (IOC) of approximately 2030. The envisioned system may possess enhanced capabilities in areas such as reach, persistence, survivability, net-centricity, situational awareness, human-system integration, and weapons effects. It must be able to operate in the anti-access/area-denial environment that will exist in the 2030-2050 timeframe.
A picture of a possible Boeing design can be found at this blog, The DEW Line.

If you think this is early, considering the F-22 is just being fielded, remember that it takes about 15 years to produce a new fighter from conception to fielding.

Regards  —  Cliff

Expectations in Life

I was over at Happy Catholic, checking on the weekend joke, when I came across this blog post, which I have quoted in full.
We turn to Flannery O'Connor this week for our quotes. I forgot to bring Habit of Being to work so picked this up from a quotes page because I think it is something that I actually marked in that book to share. And even if not ... it's good no matter where it came from.
To expect too much is to have a sentimental view of life and this is a softness that ends in bitterness.
Flannery O'Connor
I think there is a lot of wisdom in that 21 word sentence. 

Regards  —  Cliff

  On Staff Course I was told that for mere mortals 20 words was the max length for a sentence.  The view within the Directing Staff was that you had to write like a Winston Churchill to be able to manage sentences longer than 20 words.

Obama Speech

This just in.

"That includes India as a Permanent Member [of the UN Security Council]."


Regards  —  Cliff

Turnover at the Pentagon

There is an article in Sunday's edition of The New York Times on the coming leadership turnover at the Pentagon.  Reporter Thom Shanker filed this story, "A Fresh Slate at the Pentagon for Obama", on the fact that the Secretary of Defense and the majority of the Joint Chiefs are going next year.  This will all be on schedule.
It is a rare confluence of tenure calendars and personal calculations, coming midway through Mr. Obama’s first term and on the heels of an election that challenged his domestic policies.  His choices could have lasting consequences for his national security agenda, perhaps strengthening his hand over a military with which he has often clashed, and are likely to have an effect beyond the next election, whether he wins or loses.
Not only will top personnel be going away, but promotions from within will ripple down the organization for some distance.

Those who are going include:
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has said he plans to retire next year, while the terms of four members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are scheduled to end: Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman; Gen. James E. Cartwright, the vice chairman; Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief; and Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations.
So, if General Petraeus is pulled out of Afghanistan to become the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or the Army Chief of Staff, who replaces him?  And the same with others.

If you read the whole article you will see that there are some interesting choices to be made.  I have just finished, this evening, at dinner, Reporter Bob Woodward's book, Obama's War and I think that the President has been heavily engaged with his national security apparatus and will be very heavily engaged in these decisions.  They will not be taken lightly.  Mistakes may be made, but not through not paying attention.

There is a story that an Army General, leaving a briefing to the US President said of an officer accompanying him, that this officer (allegedly Edward C (Shy) Meyer) would be his (the President's) next Army Chief of Staff.  That is, next after General John Vessey, Jr.  The President misunderstood and picked Meyer for the post.  General Vessey got the consolation prize, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Probably apocryphal.

For those of you concerned, it is very unlikely I will be called back down to our Nation's Capitol to fill one of those slots.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Winning Isn't Everything

Winning isn't everything.  And, no, it isn't the only thing.  But, as this article tell us, organizing the team so that you are not maximizing your potential is not a good approach in the long run.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

The President Goes Back to College

In today's Washington Post is a fairly long article by Reporter Scott Wilson on President Obama taking questions from students at Saint Xavier's College in Mumbai, India.  I checked a couple of other newspapers and found no mention, except for this at the The Guardian, where we have this mention of the visit to Saint Xavier's College.

Here is some video of President Obama in India and in the last 40 seconds you can see him at the college.This is from al Jazeera, which has some accompanying text.  I would note that the TOTUS is there, but in the video the President is using a hand held microphone and walking around as he answers a question.

I thought that this visit to a college showed the President at his best.  He is out with the young, showing energy and engaging in open discussion.  I found the fact that it didn't get more play puzzling.  You don't think it was because the place had the name Saint Xavier's College, do you?

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cyber Command on the Offensive?

Today's Washington Post has an article by Staff Writer Ellen Nakashima on the Department of Defense's organization known as Cyber Command and its desire to have authority for more offensive operations.  Titled "Pentagon's Cyber Command seeks authority to expand its battlefield", the article talks about some of the issues regarding the limits of what this command is allowed to do in wartime and in peacetime.
Cyber Command's chief, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, who also heads the National Security Agency, wants sufficient maneuvering room for his new command to mount what he has called "the full spectrum" of operations in cyberspace.

Offensive actions could include shutting down part of an opponent's computer network to preempt a cyber-attack against a U.S. target or changing a line of code in an adversary's computer to render malicious software harmless.  They are operations that destroy, disrupt or degrade targeted computers or networks.

But current and former officials say that senior policymakers and administration lawyers want to limit the military's offensive computer operations to war zones such as Afghanistan, in part because the CIA argues that covert operations outside the battle zone are its responsibility and the State Department is concerned about diplomatic backlash.
I would hope that "senior policymakers and administration lawyers want to limit the military's offensive computer operations to war zones".  While some might argue, as does one former National Security Agency (NSA), below, that cyber attacks are going on all the time and thus no big deal, I think it is just the opposite.  For any government to attack the vital computers of another nation (say Viet-nam attacking Chinese computers) would be seen as a hostile act.  Where that hostile act would lead would depend on a number of factors, but it could lead to overt combat hostilities with lethal weapons.

When hackers attack your computer they are show boating.  When a government does it, or a commercial enterprise, they are doing it for an advantage.  It could be a small advantage, or short term advantage, but it is an advantage.  During the OVERLORD Operation in June of 1944 the Allies put up a major electronic spoofing operation against the Germans in the Pas-de-Calais area of France—part of Operation FORTITUDE.  It worked.  It fooled Hitler. It bought time.

The good news is that:
Senior defense officials are now inclined to "stay conservative" in line with the draft opinion, one senior military official said.  He said it is probable that policymakers will have Cyber Command propose specific operations in order to test the boundary lines.
On the other hand, we have this toward the end of the article:
Stewart A. Baker, a former NSA general counsel, said calling cyber-operations, such as dismantling terrorist Web sites, "covert action" incorrectly implies they carry the same risks.

"There are lots of hackers in lots of countries who regularly break into computers, regularly disguise their identities," he said.  "No one would think that discovering the U.S. had done that would lead to a scandal comparable to . . . the funding of Nicaraguan contras with secret Iranian arms sales, which are the kind of activities the covert action law was written for."
Maybe.  One thing we have to consider is that to attack the computers of others is inherently an offensive action, even if done for defensive purposes.  There is a lot we don't yet know about this kind of thing  Until we do there will be the lure of being able to achieve great ends without having to exert a lot of means or fear a lot of retribution.  That would be a deception, self-inflicted though it may be.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, November 5, 2010

Is MSM Management Mad?

Keith Olbermann has been put on unpaid leave indefinitely?

And his crime was making private political contributions during the last election.

So, it was a violation of the MSNBC ethics rules.  Ethics are important and even when put into handbooks and made part of the bureaucracy, they are important guides.  But, making political contributions doesn't seem like a firing offense.

Is there anyone out there who doesn't think that TV Personality Keith Olbermann is oriented toward the left in the United States.  I am NOT saying Bernardine Dohrn left.  But, still, someone not attending Tea Party events as a participant.

This sanctioning of Mr Olbermann is a sign of madness.

On the other hand, the Instapundit links to this view of what really was going on.

There is a whiff of hypocrisy here, but I don't think that is a reason for the action taken against Mr Olbermann.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  But, then I don't often watch MSNBC, so maybe I don't have the right to complain about what was done to Mr Olbermann.  Nah, I'm an American and complaining is my right.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tip of the World

Michael Yon, a free lance reporter in areas where our forces are engaged in combat.  At his web site he has this picture of Mount Everest, which he took last week.

Hat tip to InstaPundit.

By the way, Mr Yon exists through donations to his blog site, linked to above.  If you want to help get us the truth, a contribution to Michael Yon is more likely to make it happen than a subscription to The New York Times.

Regards  —  Cliff

State Republican Party the Day After

Over at The Boston Globe we have this article, "The only salve:  Wins at bottom of GOP ticket", by reporter Stephanie Ebbert.  This paragraph captures the situation very well.
For Republicans, the disappointing results reaffirmed their assumptions rather than their dreams:  The GOP needs to rebuild from the ground up.
Isn't that the truth.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Afghanistan—Where Do You Stand?

About a week and a half ago I asked the question as to if we should stay in Afghanistan.

I am currently reading Washington Post Reporter Bob Woodward's book, Obama's War, and the issue IS Afghanistan.  I am reading about what all the smart "Inside the Beltway" types are thinking, but my interests is what do others think?  How do you view the goals, costs and tradeoffs.  There is no doubt that our troops, and civilians in the area are being killed or maimed.  There is no doubt that Afghanis are dying, as are people in Pakistan.  Money is being drained away from the US economy.

On the flip side the fact is that al Qaeda still sees the US, and the West in general as a threat to the people of Islam and will continue to conduct a guerrilla war against us, even if we pull out of Afghanistan.  What I don't know is if a partial or total Taliban victory will enhance the reach of al Qaeda, either physically or psychologically.  Pakistan will still be of importance to the US, given it's nuclear weapons and relationship with India, the world's most populous democracy.  And, there will be the question of what we owe the Afghan People and how we will acquit that debt.

In his book, Obama's War, author Bob Woodward notes that India, in 2009, was giving Afghanistan $1 Billion in aid per annum.  The "B" word and not the "M" word.  This is not just about the US and the UK, or even NATO.  A lot of nations are involved, including Russia, Iran and China.

Then there is the question of if the centroid of al Qaeda training is no longer Afghanistan and Pakistan, but rather Yemen and Somalia?  Note that the recent "Printer Cartridge" bomb effort seems to have originated in Yemen.

So, what is the problem we are trying to solve and in doing so, what is our aim, our strategic goal?  Then, assuming we include Afghanistan in our overall solution, what is the way ahead?  My view of the options include:
  1. Pull Out and Threaten.  This would be to withdraw our forces and deal with whatever outcome we receive by using cruise missiles, stealth bombers and Special Forces to deal with real threats.
  2. Biden Option.  This is Counterterrorism Plus.  The idea is that we keep a reasonable level of ground forces in Afghanistan, to keep Pakistan happy and to provide the intelligence sources to allow targeting of counterterrorism attacks via Predator Drones and Special Forces.
  3. Patreaus Option.  This is the use of NATO forces (to include a very large segment of US Forces) to conduct counterinsurgency, hoping to protect large segments of the population, to allow the growth of Afghan Army and Police forces.  It also includes flooding in civilians from other Administration Departments to try and deal with corruption in the current Afghan Administration.
  4. Major Commitment.  This would be a plan to find additional forces to flow into Afghanistan to flood the nation and provide not only greater population protection, but also a large amount of nation building.
At this point I am in agreement with what I call the Patraeus Option, and not just to allow Greg Page to get another campaign ribbon.

What do you think, including you, Neal?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Does anyone under 30 even understand that term?
  In anticipation of a possible comment from Kad Barma, just because the faith of Islam does not accept al Qaeda does not mean that al Qaeda does not embrace it's vision of Islam.

Ike Skelton Lost

Now that was a surprise, and a bit of a disappointment.  Democratic Party Member and Representative from Missouri's Fourth District, Ike Skelton, wen down to defeat.  He has always been a friend of the military and someone who has pushed forward issues like professional military education.  Erudite.  He is someone I respected.  Elections are always a mixed blessing.

I got this via Instapundit, who referenced First Things.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What Happened Here

The headline for this Ann Althouse blog post is "What media characters are repositioning out in front of today's elections?"

Her prize example is News Analyst and Commentator Chris Matthews of MSNBC and hailing from Philly, to which I am off in a few minutes.  The bonus is a video of Mr Matthews on a different MSNBC program.

Then there is Bill Maher as a "proud Westerner".  I am still digesting this one.

Regards  —  Cliff

It could be a way forward to mitigate a bad situation.

So ends a post by the NPR Ombudsman on the "Juan Williams" imbroglio.
In the hundreds of calls and 22,769 emails the Ombudsman received, many said the same thing: “NPR, you’re fired.” Or, “I’m never donating to NPR again.” Some asked for pledge money back. [NPR, as a matter of policy, said it wouldn't share how many emails it's received.]
22,000+ EMails?  To the Ombudsman alone?

Hat tip to Instapundit

Regards  —  Cliff


Sure, I have opinions on how you should vote, but that was before today.  Today I would rather have you cancel my vote by your vote, rather than have you stay home.  So, those of you who are registered voters, please vote.

Those of you who are not registered to vote should get registered NOW.  There will be important elections next year and then we will be at 2012 and a Presidential Election.


Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, November 1, 2010


I guess I should step out and state what I think.

My conservative opinion is a ten seat Republican Party majority in the US House of Representatives and a diminished Democratic Party majority in the US Senate.  This is my 60% view.

My 30% view is that the Republicans will have a strong presence in the US House of Representatives and with the help of Joe Liebermann, a majority in the US Senate.

However, my 10% view is that if Christine O'Donnell, of Delaware, wins, then it will be an extinction event.

However, let us be honest with ourselves.  The real questions come in January of 2011.  The Republicans will have to decide (1) who put them in office and (2) how they should deal with President Barack Obama.

I am not convinced that the Senate Republican leadership understands the power and wrath of the Tea Parties around the nation and those who are tea Party fellow travelers.  I think that Representatives John Boehner and Eric Cantor, over in the House of Representatives, do get it.

Then there is dealing with the Executive Branch.  There is a difference between gridlock and shut-down.  It is one thing to resist initiatives from the Administration and the Democrats in Congress.  It is another to stop the funding of all Government agencies or even the majority of them.  It is one thing to decide the Department of Education should go away and another to stop funding the Department of State or Defense or the payment of authorized entitlements.  I urge my fellow Republicans to be strong in their convictions, but to be flexible in making sure the government functions.

So, I will be on the road as the polls close, enroute to a proposal writing effort in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.  I am hoping to celebrate Republican victories across the fruited plain.  But, then it will quickly be time to figure out how to govern. For the RepublicansPoliticians on Capital Hill, the people to be watching are those associated with the Tea Parties, because, if the Republicans do very well on Tuesday it will be because of the sentiments captured in the ideas of the Tea Parties.

UPDATE:  What to look for tomorrow night.

Regards  —  Cliff

  But, due to the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, only one-third of the US Senate will turn over in any given general election.  The Class III Senators who are up for (re)election tomorrow turn over on 3 January 2011.  As of today, in Senatorial Class III 18 are Republicans and 16 are Democrats.  The odds of the Republicans keeping all 18 of their seats and picking up all the Democratic seats are between slim and none.  Thus, no veto-proof majority.

The History of the US Civil War, 1 November 1860

It seems The New York Times is going to track the US Civil War day-by-day.

Here is the link to today's item, "The Last Ordinary Day".  Their pitch:
One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, Americans went to war with themselves.  Disunion revisits and reconsiders America's most perilous period -- using contemporary accounts, diaries, images and historical assessments to follow the Civil War as it unfolded.
This sounds like it will be a great series.

In case you want to follow it daily, the RSS feed is


Regards  —  Cliff

Rev Liz Walker

On Friday the Lowell City Program to end Homelessness in 10 Years held another Conference on homelessness issues.  About 135 people, from all over the Commonwealth, attended.  The key note speaker was the Reverend Liz Walker, formerly a reporter on Boston Channel 4.

Below is a summary of her keynote presentation:
She started off saying "Good Morning", which elicited a pretty tepid "Good Morning" from the conference participants.  She responded that her religious tradition was one of "Call and Response".  The second "Good Morning" draw a much more enthusiastic response.

When going to New York City to see my son, I often go by train and there is a large church off to the side as one arrives at Penn Station. It has a quotation from Lamentations:  "Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?". In NYC it is, since it is all about no eye contact, my son tells me.

We, as a nation, are in that kind of mood right now.  We feel threatened.  We are struggling to hold back the darkness.  So, I say thank you for what you do.  I know it is not about money.  It is because you feel it.

I have been working in Sudan, mainly with women and children.  We have a group, My Sister's Keeper.  We visit villages and listen.  The Sudan is run by a very elite government whose ideology clashes with the people they serve.  In the south of the country there are limit resources and the people are traumatized and afraid.

We are all traumatized nation after 9/11.  We used to live a risky life.  But it is still with us.  In Sudan it.  There is the risk of stepping outside your comfort zone.  There is always a security risk.  In 1994, I went to Sudan.  The north is Arab, Muslim, elite, powerful, no oil, but educated.  I went to do a story on the clash of North and South.  Then I found I was drawn into their drama.  My life changed around these issues.  My employer, one of our local TV stations, thought this was an international story and took a long time to agree to run it.  Finally they agreed to run it on Sept 11, to include a bit on Osama bin Laden.  It didn't run, of course, due to the event of the day.  The lesson is that we are all interconnected, all taking risks, all engaged.

Now is the time to turn on to serve.  We are all called to serve.  Not all called to be a minister.  You know you have found your mission "When your joy meets the world's needs", in the words of Frederick Buechner.  Things are changing in the world, but we all need to change.

Returning to the south of Sudan, only 1% of the women are educated. The New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof says most of the world's problems are because women are uneducated.  How do you get people to accept that?  And to fix it.

I grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, came to our city in 1957.  He came and called for people to change.  People didn't want to change, even Blacks, due to lynching and other actions of segregation.  Reverend King admitted he wanted to stay in the pulpit, but in 1953 he went into the streets.  When there is change coming, you are either in the train or on the tracks.  Because of Reverend King people were motivated to work for change.

My last point is that you have to have imagination.  [Admiral] Jim Stockdale said he confronted the brutal facts of his reality during this time as a prisoner of war during the Viet-nam War, but never lost faith in the eventual outcome.  He imagined the future as part of his resistance.  He said that the ones who didn't make it were the Pollyannas, the ones without the ability to confront reality and still have the imagination to visualize a better future.

Down in DC they don't seem to talk to each other.  But, this is a chairos moment, which is Greek for the "right moment".  Today we are caught between peril and potential.  Maybe you need to take a risk and open up your minds for new thinking.  We opened up a school for 500 girls and it has changed things.  It was a chairos moment, it was the right time in God's plan.

We need to understand that both Sarah Palin and Barack Obama may have good ideas, but to grasp that we all need to talk and listen.  We all feel threatened today, but we have the way out by seizing the moment.
Then there was a very short Q&A, with one question, which was about how to proceed.  The response from the Rev Walker was:
We need to reach out to like minded people to build community, which can refresh and strengthen us and thus we have churches, synagogues and mosques.  Thus al Qaeda.
From that last little quip I take the point that we need to pull ourselves together towards the goals that WE find important.

A good talk and a standing ovation.

Regards  —  Cliff

Unlucky or Uneducated?

What we have is a Mr Brian Beutler (Talking Points Memo) saying "Sarah Palin Calls Joe Miller A Lost Cause, Quotes Scopes Monkey Trial Attorney."  That would be the famous Clarence Darrow.

Law Professor Ann Althouse thinks that Mr Beutler is patronizing and ignorant, at the same time.

My question is, if Ms Palin is the ignorant person TPM thinks she is, then isn't this TPM post and like blog posts the same as shooting fish in a barrel?

Regards  —  Cliff

  As I recall, the whole John Scopes trial was an agreed deal in order to bring attention to the Tennessee Town where it took place.  It was great theater.

Another Look at Tea Parties

From the UK we have this article by Reporter Janet Daley, discussing the American Tea Parties.  Note how she sees it as a plural.  In the UK, "Parliament are" and apparently they realize, "Tea Parties are".  The dateline is Saturday, the 30th.

FOr those who find this article too friendly to the Tea Parties movement, there is always this view at The Boston Globe.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Actually, Ms Daley was born here in the States and spent her undergraduate time at Berkeley, out in California.  Then, in 1965 she moved to Britain and, notwithstanding her twenty years in academia, slid from left to right.

Final Days

I don't think the campaigning is so much getting ugly as getting surreal.

Look at this exchange at Legal Insurrection.

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I definitely need to stop reading lawyer blogs.