The EU

Google says the EU requires a notice of cookie use (by Google) and says they have posted a notice. I don't see it. If cookies bother you, go elsewhere. If the EU bothers you, emigrate. If you live outside the EU, don't go there.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

NATO and the War in Libya

Professor Sean Kay is an insightful commenter on issues of international affairs.

Here is a short OpEd on NATO as a fighting alliance against Libya.  It is useful.

One thing to keep in mind, since the media either can't or won't.—The Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) is not "the" military commander of NATO.  There is none. He is one of two Supreme Allied Commanders and some odds and ends, such as the Canada-US Regional Planning Group (CUSRPG).  Above SACEUR is the Military Committee (MC) and then, above them the North Atlantic Council (NAC).

Regards  —  Cliff

A Wilsonian War?

I like a well crafted paragraph, and this one by Commentator Walter Russell Meade, at The American Interest, in "The Shores of Tripoli: Our Latest Wilsonian War", is one such paragraph.
The Wilsonians now have their war; they also now have their president.  Barack Obama’s inner Woodrow Wilson has clearly won out; he has nailed his colors to the mast of a liberal international foreign policy.  The cautious Jeffersonian realists have lost one policy battle after another in this administration.  Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn law (“if you break it, you own it”) has been cast to the winds.  A president who won his party’s nomination as the most consistent opponent of unpopular interventions abroad has become an apostle of liberal war.  Not since Saul went to Damascus has there been such a dramatic conversion.
I especially liked the Saul reference.

That said, I do think it is tacky to compare President Obama to President Wilson.

The problem with this kind of intervention is exactly what General Colin Powell said, and said so well—"Pottery Barn Rule".  And walking away is the worst sort of thing one can do to a People one has been supporting.  I know that Cambodia is an extreme example, but it is one that should resonate with people from Lowell or those living in the shadow of Signal Hill.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Transitions of Power

Meanwhile, in Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) they are wrapping up a presidential election between incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and challenger Alassane Ouattara (Mr Quattara won and President Gbagbo is not handing over the office).  According to Night Watch:
If Ouattara's men seize Abidjan there will be massacres, irrespective of UN peacekeeping forces there.
So far the death toll is in the neighborhood of 500.

I am betting there are as many, if not more, immigrants from Cote d'Ivoire living in the US as there are from Libya.

Regards  —  Cliff

"Am I an anti-elitist elitist?"

Via the Instapundit we have this link to one person's views on elites.

I just finished reading a book that talks about this issue and my Wife is doing a report for Class today that touches on the way France is ruled by elites out of their higher education system.  Makes the Ivy League look tame.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Facebook and You

Maybe I am just being too cynical.

Hat tip to my youngest brother for this one.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I found no indication of copyright.

Uganda to the Rescue

Per this news report, the African nation of Uganda is offering asylum to Libya's Colonel Qaddafi:
The spokesman for Uganda's president, Tamale Mirundi, told the AP that Gadhafi would be welcome in Uganda. He said Uganda's policy is to accept asylum seekers, especially because so many Ugandans fled the country during the longtime rule of dictator Idi Amin.
And Idi Amin going into exile ended his rule of terror in Uganda.

In my mind this would be a welcome outcome if accepted.

Regards  —  Cliff

Libya and Rep Niki Tsongas

Tuesday I updated the situation with regard to our Two Senators and our Rep in the House of Representatives regarding the issue of the War Powers Resolution.  For those of you just joining our program, this is about the fact that President Barack Obama took us to war with Libya (after a quick consultation with the Congressional Leadership) and then within 48 hours sent along the notice required by the War Powers Resolution. A vote by the US Congress is required within 60 days confirming the President in his action or he has to withdraw all US forces within a further 30 days (90 days total).  We reported on Senator Scott Brown's position here.

Then there is the question of if the President followed the War Powers Resolution, which we blogged about here, because there was no attack:
... national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.
The UN saying OK is not the same thing.

Well, today I finally stopped by Representative Tsongas' Lowell office, to see if they had tracked down a position on the War Powers Resolution.  They had not, but a very nice young man named Justin did give me a copy of the Representative's original statement and promised to get back to me re the War Powers Resolution, to include if it is considered "Constitutional" by Ms Tsongas.  Here is her statement, which we cited before
I am concerned that our military action in Libya lacks a clear objective.  It is critically important that our commitment there not extend beyond the scope of U.N. Resolution 1973, and under no circumstances should American ground troops be inserted into that country.
This may look like your normal political weasel wording, but I actually think when it is unpacked, it says quite a bit.

First off she notes the lack of a clear objective.  Good point.  What are we trying to do?  Is it just a no fly zone or are we committed to the removal of Colonel Gaddafi?  Those are two very different things and two very different levels of commitment.  And, given the way things are proceeding, it doesn't sound like "The troops will be home for the Fourth of July".

Given the headlines this evening out of Reuters, about "President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed a secret order authorizing covert assistance to rebels seeking to oust the Moammar Qadhafi regime in Libya, American media reports said", we have to say the Congresswoman sounded pretty prescient a week ago.

Then we have this line:  "not extend beyond the scope of U.N. Resolution 1973, and under no circumstances should American ground troops be inserted into that country".  I think she is being very clear here.  No ground troops.  Maybe she is willing to wink at putting Special Operations Force folks (or CIA folks or Air Force Combat Control Teams) in to help point out targets for air-to-ground operations, but that would be an outer limit.  If we are going to arm the rebels, then we are going to have to provide trainers somewhere.  Pull the Libyans out to train them?  Pulling a trigger is one thing.  Hitting a target is another.  Training.

We will have to wait for the official results, but I would say, at this point, in contrast to Senator Kerry, Representative Tsongas is not all that enthused about this operation and may well have wished it had never started.

Regards  —  Cliff

  And who was the person who leaked this item?  A nation cannot conduct clandestine operations if someone is always leaking the orders.  I am holding my opinion, lest I end up sounding like Mr Bill Maher, who should have held his tongue.

Comedian Bill Maher

I want to say something about Comedian Bill Maher, but I just can't figure out how to get my arms around his ability to lower the level of discourse.

I would appreciate those who understand what I am saying to just agree or not agree, but to not expand on the topic beyond that.  Those who just have to know may EMail me at "crk" at "theworld" dot "com".

Regards  —  Cliff

Uncle Jay Explains Euphemism.

Here he is, the little known Uncle Jay, to explain the news.  Probably not suitable to adults who watch ABC, CBS or NBC.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Getting Our Elected Representatives to Check In

Back to The Boston Globe.  Today The Globe published a letter from Mr David Wade, Chief of Staff, Office of Senator John Kerry, Washington, DC.

The gist of the letter is that Senator Kerry is reaching out to the People of Massachusetts.

This reason this is relevant is that I was called out by a Commenter

Here I talked about my reaching out to our three folks down in Washington.  That was 22 March.  It was a follow-up to to this blog post.

So, Monday a week ago I reached out to all three and Scott Brown's crowd got back to me the next day.  I was asked by the John Kerry crowd to send down an EMail.  I followed up today and spoke to the same person and she said she would try to track down where my EMail went after she forwarded it for a response.  It is not in the main office, since my contact is in the Foreign Affairs office.  The chain of command there is a little murky in my mind.  Information to follow, I am hoping.

Now, with regard to Rep Tsongas' office, I was nicked by one of the Commenters for not working that angle (although I had called down to the office and spoken to a human being):
They pick up the phone at Niki's Lowell office.

Or would that detail mess up your meme?

Niki is constantly out and about the District and, I find, very reachable.
I admit that I had planned on stopping by the Lowell Office on Monday, for a one-week follow-up, but didn't make it.  I took longer than I expected when I went in to work to finally file my travel voucher from January.  I will try again tomorrow.

But, as has been noted, Senator Kerry should have hired the late Senator Kennedy's constituent services staff right after the funeral.  But, I give Mr Wade credit for pushing back at The Globe.  And, if I am still adrift in April I will reach out to him.

But, in the mean time, Senator Kerry does have an OpEd in The Wall Street JournalThis link is only to the beginning, since I am too cheap to subscribe.  Who do they think they are, The New York Times?

I did find it at the Senator's web site.

Regards  —  Cliff

A Balanced Idea?

The lead editorial in today's issue of The Boston Globe says "Preserve national service, even in a tight budget".

The only thing missing is the proposed offset for keeping the Corporation for National & Community Service going, at $1.1 billion.  Cut the F-35 second source engine, which will be a long term detriment?  Cut a Zumwalt Destroyer?  Add a surtax to petroleum products?

A person with an initiative and without an offset is a liar and a thief, even if they are the editor of The Boston Globe.

Regards  —  Cliff

Little Cambodia Meeting

Here is a flyer for a meeting on the idea of a Little Cambodia.  This is an organizing meeting and a chance to get in on the ground floor.  Often people think that things are already "wired" but that is not always the case.  Often organizers are desperate to get folks who will help out.  Help out initially and then move up the rungs of the ladder of City Government, if you wish.

The city will make a presentation on the plan for a Little Cambodia district in the Lower Highlands neighborhood, and take questions and suggestions from both the area businesses and the wider community.  One of those pushing this is City Councilor Patrick Murphy and he noted to me and others that he understands it is a difficult time for many, but it was the best time for business owners in the area to be able to participate.

So, look for a chance to participate.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

10:00 AM

Lowell Elder Care Center

345 Chelmsford Street


The meeting place is on Chelmsford Street (Route 110), between Plain Street and the Lord Overpass.

Regards  —  Cliff

Listening to People Going to and Coming From War

Listening to the Air Traffic Control Center at Luqa Airport, Malta, in the Mediterranean, south of Sicily.  Here we hear people like VIPER Flight check in as they head south out of Italy or north, back to Italy.

I will admit that this is pretty slow going, since not a lot of flights pass through Malta's area, but it is a chance to listen in on the war and also to commercial traffic transiting the area.  NealCroz may enjoy it for background music.

The term Squawk, is used to describe the four number code (Octals for You Math Geeks) for the "Selective Identification Feature" (SIF) that identified the airplane to the radar operator via a "transponder" in the aircraft, triggered by a radar signal.  (Or the pilot going "Flash".)  Sometimes they talk about altitude as a "Flight Level" or Level, which would be in thousands of feet.  Flight Level 300 is 30,000 feet.

You will hear places described by four letters, part of an ICAO code.  While here you might be going to Logan Airport, in Europe it is sometimes safer to use the Four Letter ICAO identifiers for the bases.  A friend of mind ran an F-4 out of gas because the weather at Aviano Air Base was bad and there were already aircraft in the barriers on each end of the runway and he was told to divert to Istrana, (LIPS).  His back seater misspelled Istrana and thus couldn't get a backup frequency out of either the Letdown Book or the Enroute Supplement.  The chap thought it began with an "A" and couldn't get it out of his head.  They flamed out two miles on final when they tried to turn back to Aviano to land on the taxiway or somewhere.

LICZ is the Sigonella Air Base on Sicily, used by the US.  LIPA is Aviano AB, in the north of Italy.  LICT is Trapani Air Base, on the northwestern tip of Sicily.  On the other hand, Gozo is just the name of an airfield on the other island of Malta.

A hat tip to my friend Charlie, known as Gunship (a past association from his Air Force career).

Regards  —  Cliff

The Rebel Army in Libya

Well, not really an Army.  Why did the American Revolution take so long?  Part of the reason is that it takes a couple of years to build an army.

From The New Yorker a short report on the Rebel Army in Libya.

Does anyone have a pool going on how long this will last?

Regards  —  Cliff

Extremists at Demonstrations

Here is an interesting spin on Demonstrations, albeit from the UK.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Competition is Tight at the Top

Then it falls off rapidly to a second tier.  Check out the 2010 Law Prof Blog Rankings.

Regards  —  Cliff

Read the Original

The reason you have to read the original document is because someone else's notes may be wrong.

My example is a PDF from the US Department of Justice.  Over night I received an EMail from the DOJ Information Delivery Service, telling me about recent Freedom of Information releases.  In this case it was a PDF of the original certificates of appointment for nine US Supreme Court Justices, which are done in script.  But, the site has a great technology where you could mouse over a document (that is not that easy to read) and see where someone had made it easy to read in a clearer typeface.

The problem is, for at least "William H Rehnquist of Arizona", appointed an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, the date "done" is wrong.  The "fifteenth day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and seventy-one" is not the year "of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundredth and ninety sixth".

Now, I am hoping that this is quickly corrected by the Department of Justice.  To that end I have called the Department of Justice and am talking to someone in the FOIA Office who said that he thought it could be fixed.

UPDATE:  Who says Government is not responsible?  I just checked (302128/March 2011) and they have fixed it.

Regards  —  Cliff

Radiation Levels?

Confused by all these new terms re the radiation coming out of the F Nuclear Plants in Japan?  Me to.  I keep waiting for someone to use REMs, which is the term I remember.

Here, from one of the cartoons I follow, when I follow them, is a chart showing relative sources of radiation.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, March 28, 2011

NATO Web Site on Libya Ops

Here is the web site put up by NATO to talk about operations over Libya.

Nothing spectacular yet.

The one new thing is that Operation ODYSSEY DAWN (the No Fly Zone, etc) has been subsumed under Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR.

Regards  —  Cliff

Interactive Map re Libya

Here is an interactive map of what is going on in Libya.

I think it is not fully refined yet, but it is interesting.

Regards  —  Cliff

Khmer Rouge Prison Warden Appeals Sentence

Interesting last line.

What is a fair sentence?

Is "following orders" a reasonable defense?

Regards  —  Cliff

Latest Political News

Remember in the movie Men in Black how Agent J, the former NYPD Detective Sergeant James Warren Edwards III (Will Smith) and the new agent, Agent L, former Medical Examiner Dr Laura Weaver, stop by a news stand and pick up several tabloids (scandal rags) for intelligence collection purposes?

Well, this post is based upon that kind of thing, and just as reliable, in just as weird a universe.

For background, while the National Examiner has a presence on the web, its sister scandal rag, The National Examiner has none, and is specifically not for sale in the UK.  But, it is The National Examiner that has the scoop.

The headline is "Kennedys beg Hillary to Run Against Obama!"  It is based on the idea that our President has dissed Caroline Kennedy and the others in the family.  The lede:
It's payback time!  Caroline Kennedy is mustering all her heavyweight political connections and family members to oust Barack Obamas from the White House—and put Hillary Clinton in his place!
In the story they bring in former President Bill Clinton as wanting to help and SecState Hillary Clinton as being loyal to the President.

Not mentioned in the story, but of interest to those of us up here, of course, there is the question of how Senator Kerry fits into this, since he would love to be the next SecState, opening the way for Ms Gail Huff to run for the US Senate.

As a Republican I am happy with our minor little skirmishes and having the people we have posturing for the office of President.  It could be so much worse.  And, good news for our side, at least people headquartered in a Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority ventilation station are not tracking our candidates through the tabloids—that I know of.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, March 27, 2011


This is probably more along the lines of military humor, but some of the comments, including the VELCRO ones, are pretty good.

Re the Carl Prine comments (Carl is a hardworking, acerbic and insightful reporter out in Western PA), CID is "Criminal Investigation Division", the folks who investigate crimes.  Sort of the FBI to your normal Military Police (MPs).  They are really "United States Army Criminal Investigation Command", but CID remains from the old days as an historic artifact.

This is from "Doctrine Man", who runs a series of comic strips on an irregular basis.

Regards  —  Cliff

Free Speech Limits?

Here is a debate, via EMail.

Regards  —  Cliff

Bin Laden on the Move?

This comes under the category of RUMINT (Rumor Intelligence).
ISLAMABAD - After a prolonged lull, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has launched a series of covert operations in the rugged Hindu Kush mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan following strong tip-offs that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has been criss-crossing the area in the past few weeks for high-profile meetings in militant redoubts.
. . .
The development has fueled speculation in intelligence circles that al-Qaeda could be planning another major attack along the lines of the September 11, 2001, assault on New York and Washington, and the July 2007 foiled bomb attack in London.

However, extensive investigations by Asia Times Online, including exchanges within al-Qaeda's camps, point in another direction: given the nature of Bin Laden's meetings, this appears to be the beginning of a new era for a broader struggle in which al-Qaeda, through its Laskhar al-Zil (Shadow Army), will try to capitalize on the Arab revolts and the Palestinian struggle and also revitalize and redefine its role in Afghanistan.
The other option is that things are spinning out of control and there is a scramble to catch up.  That would be the most benign answer.

The source for all this is a column in the Asia Times by Reporter Syed Saleem Shahzad.

There are a lot of balls in the air right now.  Some we can ignore, but some not.  We are closing in on 500 civilians killed in a contested election in Cote d'Ivore.  Too far away and too little in the news.  Yemen is about to lose a government, but it is not on the radar screen.  Israel is gearing up for a smack back at Hamas over recent attacks, including the beheading of a baby.  There have been deaths in Syria and Jordan.  We know about Libya.  Oh, and the government of Stephen Harper has fallen and elections will be in May—up in Canada.  The election coincides with Scurvy Awareness Day.

UPDATE:  I failed to mention Darfur, which has been a human rights embarrassment for several years.

And the new NATO Commander of the operation against Libya is a Canadian, Lt Gen Charlie Bouchard.  At least he is an airman.  He is no stranger to us.  On 9/11 he was on duty at Tyndall AFB, in the Panhandle of Florida, where he was the Deputy Commander of a NORAD Region.  When you "read" his uniform you will find a US Legion of Merit and US Army Pilot Wings, the latter probably picked up when he was stationed at Fort Hood, in Texas.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, March 26, 2011

More Experimentation

Here I try to embed a video from the MSNBC show Hardball, with not Chris Matthews, but "The Chuck", talking about new census figures regarding Hispanics in the United States.  Fifty point five million Hispanics, or 16.3% of the total population.

I am hoping that the transcript is here.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The gist of it is that the Republicans are now in big trouble, due to the demographics of the Hispanic population.  But, you knew that when I said MSNBC at the lede.

Frankly, I am not very concerned.  If the economy turns around, and I hope it does, then this large number of Hispanics will be able to partake in the success, assuming the Obama Administration and the Reid/Pelosi Health Insurance Reform have not combined to create an even greater Underground Economy.

The Republican Party is about John Locke, the Founding Fathers, Middle Class values and Upper Middle Class aspirations.  As the economy improves, that 16.3% of the population will benefit and move upward.  On the other hand, as Hispanics grow as a percentage of the US population they might bring with them habits of thought and action from the old country and we could see the US go the way of the ABC nations.  Once strong and surging economics, those three nations have since slid backward compared to the rest of the world.  Only now is Brazil emerging from many years in the doldrums.  Argentina is still on the ragged edge, economically.

Our future is in our hands.

Regards  —  Cliff

Does the General Court Care?

Over at the Dick Howe Blog there was a post by Ms Marie Sweeney on the upcoming meetings where residents of our Great Commonwealth can voice an opinion on reapportionment.  In the comments, the only comment, I suggested a poll of readers and offered up three foils.

In fact, I have never included a poll myself and when I saw Marie today, after Mass, I said that I would check it out.  By the time I got home I decided that I should run one myself to see if it actually works.  Thus, a poll that related to Marie Sweeney's Blog Post, "Schedule for Redistricting Hearings".
Does the General Court Care for Your Opinion?
They really care
It is all smoke,covering the back room deal
I vote present and defer to Carol Cleven. free polls
The way I set this up, you can vote once a day.  I could have picked once a week or something else.

FYI:  As soon as I post this I will vote and I will pick "They really care."  Someone should pick that foil.

Regards  —  Cliff

Maybe Not

I have been using the term "War Powers Act", since "Resolution" gives a higher probability of a misspelling.  Spelling has always been a problem for me.

I have been maintaining that President Obama has been within the letter of the law regarding Libya and the War Powers Resolution.  Now comes Law Professor Bruce Ackerman (Professor of law and political science at Yale, author of The Decline and Fall of the American Republic) saying that this war (or kinetic action, if you prefer) doesn't meet the War Powers Resolution criteria and the President should have gone to Congress, seeking permission.
After the Vietnam War, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution, which granted the president the power to act unilaterally for 60 days in response to a "national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces."  The law gave the chief executive an additional 30 days to disengage if he failed to gain congressional assent during the interim.  

But... these provisions have little to do with the constitutionality of the Libyan intervention, since Libya did not attack our "armed forces."  The president failed to mention this fundamental point in giving Congress notice of his decision on Monday, in compliance with another provision of the resolution.  Without an armed "attack," there is no compelling reason for the president to cut Congress out of a crucial decision on war and peace....
And, Here is the article.

Just as I wouldn't call for impeachment over a revealing birth certificate (but would call for each of the states to ban such a person from their ballots in future elections), I don't call for impeachment in this case, but I do think that some sort of a "Sense of the Congress" resolution is called for.
It is hereby expressed as the intent of the Congress that the authority granted by the War Powers Resolution is to be construed as approval by the Congress for the conduct of military operation pursuant to responding to a "national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces", but not to include operations that don't meet that criteria under the cloak of international approval by the United Nations, the North Atlantic Alliance or other such body.  This is not to preclude humanitarian assistance and normal training and security assistance operations.
Hat tip to the Althouse blog, maintained by Constitutional Law Professor Ann Althouse, assisted by some guy named Meade

Regards  —  Cliff

Eisenhower Redux

This seems about right, in terms of methodology.
In 2008, many of Barack Obama’s supporters thought they might be electing another John F. Kennedy. But his recent maneuvers increasingly suggest that they selected another Dwight [D] Eisenhower.
Regards  —  Cliff

Different Water Fountains (Bubblers)

Herman Cain on segregated water fountains.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, March 25, 2011

Obama's Odds in 2012

"The Cook Report:  Obama’s Advantage / GOP strategists privately admit that the president has a good chance of winning reelection in 2012."

That would be Pollster Charlie Cook, over at The National Journal, with a hat tip to Hot Air.

On the other hand, President Obama's numbers may be at or above 47% due to the Bradley effect.  Frankly, I can't remember if I voted for Attorney General George Deukmejian or for LA Mayor Tom Bradley in the Gubernatorial election in which that term was coined.  I suspect Governor Deukmejian, who had been our Assemblyman.  He was succeeded by Jim Hayes, who I knew from my time in High School (he was a Long Beach Attorney).  His daughter and I were on the debate team and he would take the team out for desert after a debate.

2012 will not be a walkover for the Republicans unless something terrible happens between now and then and I frankly don't like it when terrible things happen to my nation.

Regards  —  Cliff

Works for Me

Over at Pajamas Media, the CEO, writer Roger L Simon recommends Megyn Kelly to replace Katie Couric.

Downside?  Ms Kelly has been a practicing lawyer.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS  Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Who May Throw the First Stone?

At this location I blogged about Representative Dennis Kucinich and the question of if President Obama has done something impeachable re conducting military operations in Libya.

In the Comments our fellow Lowellian, Kad Barma, takes me to task for being just another partisan, and thus without standing to comment on this.
And, to be clear, righties pointing fingers at Kucinich right now are the exact thought behind my use of the word "hypocrisy" in the preceding comment. We heard none of them even questioning Dubya's debacles, let alone doing anything about them, and that is far worse than Kucinich merely failing to follow throug
Kad seems to be recommending the John 8:7 approach to picking who can comment on this issue of if the President is pushing the edge of the envelope by ordering military operations over Libya without serious consulatation with the US Congress.
But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."
And that is the situation.  None of us is without sin when it comes to politics.

But, in fact, after we shifted—quite early in the history of our Republic—to parties we still managed to accomplish a lot.  Here in Massachusetts we managed to give Catholics the right to hold office.  We fought a great Civil War over the issue of Slavery and managed to free the Slaves, although there was some backsliding on that issue, into segregation.  We freed Cuba from Spain, but then changed Spanish for US control in the Philippines.  We went against the trusts and brought in regulation of activities like the slaughter of cattle.  We joined Britain and France, and others, and fought a war against an ideology that threatened the liberal thoughts of the day, and then we dealt with a Red Scare.  A decade later we dealt with a Great Depression and then went on to fight that same German ideology one more time.  We got around to giving the Philippines their independence, finally.  Recognizing the terrible things done to Jews, we supported the creation of Israel.  We created the nuclear weapon and managed to keep it under control after using two to end our war with Japan.  Then we dealt with a new Red Scare.  We took humans to the moon.  And we have come a long way in ending segregation, giving more rights to women and taking homosexuality out of the closet.

We have been far from perfect, but we also have not descended into chaos.  When one side or the other takes a move that stands behind the Constitution that action comes back to impact them as well as those it was originally meant for.  The War Powers Act was not just against President Nixon, but goes back to President Johnson and President Kennedy and perhaps even Presidents Eisenhower, Truman and Roosevelt.  All had their fingers in what evolved in Viet-nam.

Since I left the Service, after almost 30 years (plus four years as an Air Force Academy Cadet), I moved to Lowell and eventually registered as a Republican.  By that act I didn't defile my name or lose my right to have an opinion.

I believe that our Founding Fathers put the power to declare war with the US Congress for a reason and a good one.  I also realize that from time to time the "Commander-in-Chief" must act before he can get permission from the US Congress.  But, because that power is so terrible it is vital to our democracy that the President, whenever possible, seek approval from the US Congress before sending our troops into action or into a position from which action may be required.

In this instance the President says that he didn't have time to consult to the US Congress:
Muammar Qadhafi was provided a very clear message that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. The international community made clear that all attacks against civilians had to stop; Qadhafi had to stop his forces from advancing on Benghazi; pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misrata, and Zawiya; and establish water, electricity, and gas supplies to all areas. Finally, humanitarian assistance had to be allowed to reach the people of Libya.
The President makes a strong case, and he is following the rules of the War Powers Act, although not admitting to its constitutionality.
For these purposes, I have directed these actions, which are in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.

I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution. I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.
And, like the President, I assert my right to complain about this issue pursuant to my constitutional authority to exercise free speech and as a Citizen and a free man.

And, with some sense of humor.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Let us be quite clear here.  The President made the deadline for a formal notification to the US Congress, which he did with this letter.
  Which leads to this punchline...Silence -- then a stone came flying from the crowd, and Jesus turned around saying "C'mon, Mom, I'm trying to make a point here...".  The reason that actually doesn't float is because the first stone throwers are supposed to be the witnesses to the act.  (Deut 17:7)

Dennis Wimps Out

At this link we have news that that Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich, in fact, has no plans to call for the Impeachment of the President over the little thing about forgetting to involve the US Congress in his decision to go to war.
"I asked the question as to whether that was an impeachable offense; that’s different than actually calling for an impeachment or inducing a resolution, which I am not intending to do," Kucinich told Fox Business Network on Thursday. "I am speaking to the limits of executive power.”
I blame Rupert Murdock.  On the other hand, I hat tip The Instapundit

On the other hand, the Representative may be missing something.  They say the third time is the charm.

Regards  —  Cliff

A Different View (And Vienna Again)

Columnist Charles Krauthammer says we should step up and take charge, rather than let others squabble and dither.

Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Is It A War?

I would say it most certainly is, and I expect those flying missions over or near Libya are getting combat pay and a combat exclusion (to their Federal Income Taxes).

So, while I sympathize with the view of Columnist Byron York in this article in The Washington Examiner, I think he misses the strategic decision to downplay the US role, so that the role of the involved Arab and European (and other) nations will both appear to be and actually will be enhanced.

From the article
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters Wednesday that Libya wasn't a war, describing it instead as a "kinetic military action."
Unfortunately, not everyone in the Administration was given the same sheet of music, including some at the Pentagon.  In my humble opinion, those speaking out of the Pentagon should have done a better job playing down US involvement.

This Administration's approach will be brilliant if we are out of there inside 45 days and a hole to be gotten out of if we are still there in 90 days.

The problem is, war is like childbirth, the outcome is always in doubt, or so someone, whose name I can't recall, suggested.  Just ask my Daughter-in-Law who decorated a bedroom for a girl and brought home a son.

Hat tip to The Instapundit.

Regards  —   Cliff

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor RIP

Camille Paglia on the Late Elizabeth Taylor in Salon.

Blogger Ann Althouse takes this quote for the title of her post that linked to this article:
She was single-handedly a living rebuke to postmodernism and post-structuralism, which maintain that gender is merely a social construct.
A great line.

When I think of Liz Taylor I always think of Actor Eddie Fisher.  Married to Debbie Reynolds, he threw it all over to marry his best friend's widow.  A dumb move.  Someone should have given him a Dutch Uncle talk.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

French Police Being Cautious

The French are being cautious about terrorism coming from Colonel Gaddafi now that French aircraft are helping to enforce a "No Fly" zone.

I must have missed the bringing down of the French DC-10 in 1989.  The connection was made to Libya in this terrorist act, which killed 170 people.

Regards  —  Cliff

Staying in the Background

From a link at The Instapundit we go to an article at The New York Times, talking about the US, and in particular, the US Navy, supporting relief efforts in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami.
At the same time, the American military has found itself trying to achieve a delicate balance.  The United States has played a role in many aspects of the response to the recent crisis in Japan, including sending fire trucks to the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.  But the Americans seem keen to avoid embarrassing the Japanese, or suggesting that the United States is running the show.
This approach is what we should be doing half way around the world, in the efforts to put up a "No Fly" zone over Libya.  We have wonderful capabilities that enable or extend the capabilities of others.  We can achieve a lot more if we are prepared to allow someone else to (1) take the credit, but also (2) provide actual leadership (that means we don't go behind their back to get things done, like we did to then Lt Gen Çevik Bir, appointed as commander of UN Operations in Somalia).

Regards  —  Cliff

A Waiting Period

From The Instupundit
PERSONALLY, I THINK A WAITING PERIOD FOR AN ABORTION is no more reasonable than a waiting period to buy a gun.
The link in the quote is a reference back to a blog post by Professor Althouse.

I think there is some certain logic there.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

War Powers Act

This military action by US forces against Libya is one more chance to review the 1973 War Powers Act

At this post, on Sunday, I promised to contact the office of Senator Kerry, to see where he stands on this issue.  I did that on Monday afternoon.  I also contacted the office of our Junior Senator, Scott Brown, and the office of our Representative, Niki Tsongas.

I got a call back today from the Office of Senator Scott Brown.  The young man who called me was excellent.  He told me that the Congress did receive a letter from President Obama, fulfilling the 48 hour notification requirement.

He noted that some Constitutional Scholars, such as Phillip Bobbit, of Columbia University, feel the the War Powers Act is unconstitutional.  Professor Bobbit is not a neophyte in this area, having written about military force and its uses in the past, including The Shield of Achilles.  Great book.

The gentleman from Senator Scott's office thought that if this operation wound down within two months the question of a Congressional approval would be irrelevant.  This is certainly our President's hope, as shown by his comment about "days, not months".

If this war goes for the long haul then the Congress must approve or the President must withdraw US forces within 30 additional days, for a total of 90.

My thanks to the unnamed staffer from Senator Brown's Washington Office.

And, yes, when I hear back from Representative Tsongas' Office or Senator Kerry's Office, I will blog about it.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Strangely, I called 411 in Boston, MA, and Washington, DC, to get office phone numbers for our Senior Senator and both times the operator asked if the name of our Senior Senator began with a "C".
  Hat tip to Daily Kos for the link to the letter.

What Do Lowellians Think

The Lowell Sun had a piece by reporter Lyle Moran on what locals think about the ongoing war with Libya.  As an aside, I think the headline, "Locals divided on Libya escalation", is misleading.  But, the reporter is not responsible for the headline.  My gripe is that the real escalation is yet to come.

The article notes that both of our US Senators support UN Resolution 1973.  Then it goes on to quote Representative Niki Tsongas:
"I am concerned that our military action in Libya lacks a clear objective," she said. "It is critically important that our commitment there not extend beyond the scope of U.N. Resolution 1973, and under no circumstances should American ground troops be inserted into that country."
And well she should be.

The Sun "Question of the Day" misses an important point.
When should the US military involvement in Libya end?
  • When Gadhafi is toppled
  • When rebels seize control
  • Now
The problem is, having offended Colonel Gaddafi, we face the real possibility of him bringing this home to us, as he did back in the late-1980s, as with blowing up Pan Am 103.  This action, and the night club bombing in Berlin in 1986 were in response to US actions.  We can not let go of this until Colonel Gaddafi is not only out of power but no longer in a position to plan, encourage or finance terrorist acts.  The word to keep in mind is "blowback".  That, and this (source redacted):
My fear is that Gaddafi may not go, greatly diminishing Obama's standing, reputation and ability to lead as he did before making that statement.
That wouldn't be good either.

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.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Its Air Force Day

And, since we gave you a picture of an Air Force Tanker Pilot in the last post, here is a picture of an EC-130J.  The impressive thing is that it is a fairly modern C-130.
This is COMMANDO SOLO and I suspect it is home based in Harrisburg, PA, but at least one of these models is currently off Libya, doing Psychological Operations, or whatever it is called these days in the Pentagon.  The COMMANDO SOLO aircraft is a a flying Radio and TV Station.

Its mission right now is described well by Wired Magazine's "Danger Room".  The Article lede is:
The U.S. military has dispatched one of its secret propaganda planes to the skies around Libya.  And that “Commando Solo” aircraft is telling Libyan ships to remain in port – or risk NATO retaliation.
More good work by the Air National Guard.

Regards  —  Cliff

Air Component Commander

In our Joint and Combined Command and Control environment, the air operation is headed by the Air Component Commander.  In the case of the ongoing operation against Libya by Arab, European, British and Canadian and American forces, Operation ODYSSEY DAWN, the US Joint Force Air Component Commander is the Commander of Seventeenth Air Force, Major General Margaret Woodward.
Seventeenth Air Force, in which I have proudly served, twice, used to be part of United States Air Forces in Europe and is now part of US African Command, as the Air Component.

As one wag put it:
There is an enormous value, I would suggest, to a national capability to rapidly penetrate enemy defenses from a secure base (and, this speaks not just to B-2s, but to submarines as well...).  21st century conflicts are not all about PRTs and tea drinking.
The question now is, can we put this one away quickly, or are we into a long exercise in which we are helping someone we might not like very much replace someone we know we don't like.

On City Life this AM, the Producer, John McDonough, suggested we send in some high quality capability and just take out Qaddafi (or is it Kadaffi, or is it...someone sent me an EMail this AM with a new spelling, but that is a different blog post).  I think that won't work for two reasons.  The first reason is that we can't always get to the person with some Special Forces sniper team and dropping a bomb or cruise missile requires great intelligence and good timing.  The second reason is that the chain of succession might cough up someone even worse.  Lenin was bad, but Stalin was worse.  I am reminded of a quote I once say, attributed to one of those Post-Modernist philosophers, Herbert Marcuse, "Abolish the Weimar Republic; whatever follows can't be any worse."  Of course what followed was the Führer, Adolf Hitler.  So much for that idea.

There is the other idea that we don't wish to have war descend into mutual efforts at decapitation.  Such a direction would distort the place of national leaders, causing them to become ever more protected and out of touch.  It would also lead to more and more violent efforts at decapitation, until tens of thousands are being killed as collateral damage in an effort to get one person.

Finally, there is the fact that a nation trying to maintain peace by means of decapitation would soon lose the good will of the rest of the world and that good will is valuable and leads to cooperation on many fronts.

The present system is inadequate, but available options don't offer much either.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Where Is The Congressional Approval?

This Blog post, from Legal Insurrection Blogger William A Jacobson, asks about why there was no Congressional approval of this military action in Libya, and the Supplemental Question, how is this President different from that clueless Neocon, George W Bush?

Be advised that some of the Comments are unkind to our Senior Senator, John Forbes Kerry.

The title of the blog post is "How Long Before John Kerry Is Against The Libyan War That He Was For?"

Maybe the whole thing is unkind.  I will call the Senator's Office in the AM (EMail or Snail Mail will take too long).

And, for those who are wondering; yes, I am hung up over the proper authorization of the use of military force.  Don't they teach about the Viet-nam War in school anymore?

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Now what?

Over at a blog I have never heard of is a copy of an opinion piece by George Friedman, from StratFor, titled "The Libyan War of 2011".  Here is the lede:
The Libyan war has now begun. It pits a coalition of European powers plus the United States, a handful of Arab states and rebels in Libya against the Libyan government. The long-term goal, unspoken but well understood, is regime change ?~@~T displacing the government of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and replacing it with a new regime built around the rebels.
OK, so the question is, "how does this end"?

There are the major branches from this point.  My stab at them include:
  1. Colonel Qaddafi is killed
  2. Colonel Qaddafi flees to the interior
  3. Colonel Qaddafi flees to a foreign nation
  4. Colonel Qaddafi is captured
Now, with that in mind, what happens after that?
  1. The current government collapses and is replaced by a relatively stable government
  2. The current government collapses and chaos rules
  3. The current government hangs on and begins to (1) kill all seen as part of the rebellion or (2) conduct terrorist operations in coalition nations or (3) a combination of the above
  4. The current government collapses, but regroups in the interior and conducts (1) a guerrilla war against the new government or (2) terrorist operations within coalition nations or (3) a combination of the above
If there is a breakdown in order or the current government hangs on then we (I) accept the outcome or (II) the Arab coalition partners intervene or (III) the European nations intervene or (IV) a combination of the two intervene.  Note that I do not include (V) US intervention, but if you like that solution, throw that into the mix.

OK, that gets us days to weeks into this.  Then what?

Regards  —  Cliff

Picking Winners and Losers

Over at the Dick Howe Blog is a post by John Edwards titled "Picking Winners and Losers".

Excellent reading.

Regards  —  Cliff

Hoity-Toity Talk

Sub-Headline in the copy of The New York Times I purchased at the 38 Store this Sunday:
A No-Flight Zone is Imposed to Bolster Libya's Rebels
No "Flight" Zone?

I guess it is only the low brows and the likes of Fox News that use "No Fly" Zone.

Well, and Reporter David Gregory at NBC's "Meet the Press" and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen.

At least The New York Times still capitalizes words in headlines, unlike Little Sister, The Boston Globe.

UPDATE:  I just went to the on-line version of The New York Times and they have "fled" from "flight" to "fly".  Even the scanned front page has been updated.  One wonders about the cause of this metamorphosis.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Quagmire in the Desert

I hope not, but there is precedent for pessimism.

Over at the Althouse blog we have this little item on Feminism and Foreign Policy:
A feminist milestone:  Our male President has been pulled into war by 3 women.

It's the opposite of the Code Pink idea that women bring the peace.  How long have I heard this feminist plaint:  If only women had the power, we would have peace, not phallocratic war.
This is about Secretary of State Clinton, Deputy Nation Security Council member Samantha Powers and UN Ambassador Susan Rice getting together and urging President Obama to act with regard to Libya.

To again quote Professor Althouse, " Oh, timid men.  Step aside!  Yield to the boldness of women."

Over at The American Interest we have this thought from Commentator Walter Russell Mead on what he calls "Obama’s War":
And President Obama understands one thing that President Bush never quite did: that American power works best when others perceive us as reluctant rather than over-eager to act.   Getting the French and the British to take the lead won’t legitimize the military campaign in the eyes of Islamic militants, but letting others step out in front sometimes in not a bad thing for an American president to do.

Yet when it comes right down to it, this President’s approach is not all that different from the last administration’s on matters of peace and war.   Military assisted regime change as a solution to humanitarian abuses perpetrated by a government with a history of terrorism linked to a firm belief that more democracy in the Arab world will lead to a more stable region: this is much more Paul Wolfowitz than Colin Powell.
The writer includes this observation:  "I hope the Iranians are paying close attention, by the way.   This President is much more likely to pull the trigger than they may think."

But, I think the Althouse post started here, at Just One Minute, under this title, "To The Shores Of Tripoli Benghazi: Special "Days Not Weeks" Edition".  The post is a look at the coverage by The New York Times of our involvement in this imbroglio.  The title refers to the Administration's view that this little war will be over in a few days.  Splendid little war, maybe like Cuba, back in 1898. My buddy Juan has a plan for trying to bring that festering sore to an end.  I hope someone pays attention.

In the comments at JOM is the acronym AUMF, which stands for "Authorization for the Use of Military Force", which is "Inside Baseball" for the US Congress giving the President the authority to employ military forces.  I am no Constitutional Authority, but it would seem to me that it is a requirement.  I sure hope it is.  I don't agree with the idea that a United Nation Security Council authorization is a substitute for our following our Constitution and getting Congressional approval.  get the Congress on board as a way of getting the Citizenry on board!

The one thing working for the Libyan Rebels, and the UN authorized force, is what we might call Rommel's Disease—logistics.  Just as Rommel ran out of gas and working tanks as he got to Egypt, it is likely forces loyal to Colonel Gadaffi ran out of logistics in front of Ajdabiya.  Remember, "Amateurs do Strategy, professionals do Logistics."

Good luck to us.

Regards    Cliff

Friday, March 18, 2011

Che, Told Right

I went to this site from a link at the Instapundit.  The post was about Che Guevara.  Here is a paragraph that captures it for me:
Every time I see some privileged person protest touring, I think of Che.  Every time I hear about some insurrectionists starting shit in other people’s neighborhoods, I think of Che.  Every time some twenty-something white dudes audaciously roll into a room like they have all the answers – summarily dismissing the experience and knowledge of everyone else there – I think of Che.  Every time I see some supposed radicals who can’t recognize how inappropriate it is to “lead” or “save” or “help” the poor people or black people or brown people, without bothering to ask their opinion about it, I think of Che.
I think she has it about right.  The Che t-shirts make me wonder what the wearer is thinking.

Regards  —  Cliff

Black Swans

The Washington Post has an article by Reporter Joel Achenbach, on Black Swan events.  It can be found here.

The term Black Swan refers to the term used by Professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb, of New York University, who wrote The Black Swan:  The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

The article talks to the coming California Earthquake, but then reminds us of the New Madrid Fault in the Mississippi Valley, a fault in South Carolina and other problem areas.  Then the writer throws in the possibility of an earthquake in Boston, down state from us.  About a decade ago a member of the Massachusetts Army National Guard told me they had looked into this possibility and expected it could happen and that it would not be without casualties.

The consensus is that no one can afford protection against all possible outcomes.  Thus, the emphasis is upon response and resilience.  From the article:
The disaster experts have a buzzword:  resilience.  You can’t stop the disaster from happening — the very nature of a black swan is that it catches you off-guard — but you can increase the speed and grace with which society bounces back.

“Think of resilience in terms of the old Timex commercial,” said Jack Hayes, director of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program.  “It can take a licking and keep on ticking.”

Regards  —  Cliff

Getting State Supreme Court Justices

How we get judges varies from state to state.  In Wisconsin next month there will be an election that includes a State Supreme Court justice slot, one of seven.  The major candidates are incumbent David Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg.

The Wisconsin election is being seen by some as a referendum on actions being taken by Gevernor Scott Walker and the Republican Party controlled Legislature.

Here is a link to an interview with a Wisconsin voter regarding the election.

Some doubt that elections are the way to get judges, to include getting State Supreme Court Justices. On the other hand, some in our Massachusetts General Court want to change our current process here in Massachusetts, eliminating the Governor's Council and throwing confirmation into the hands of the Legislators.  I am not sure that is any better than the current system, or, giving responsibility to the People as a whole.  Then there is the approach of the Voters voting to re-confirm Justices from time to time.  I do like our current system here in Massachusetts, where power is a little more defuse.  Concentrations of power are usually not good for the long term success of democracy.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St Patrick's Day

I am late with this post, but it has been a busy day and I did not pre-write something.

I did go to the Manager's St Patrick's Day Breakfast this AM.  The most important thing about the Breakfast is that it is a money raising event for Lowell Youth.  It is also about seeing and being seen.  In my case it also was about being with friends, George Anthes to my left and Linda Bown to my right and John McDonough to George's left and Jack Mitchell to Linda's right.  And, I wanted to pass a copy of the latest copy of The New Yorker to Councilor Franky Descoteaux.  There was an article on the "ACE Study" and its implication for childhood development and learning.

The New Yorker is an interesting magazine.  I think of it as being a bastion of Post-Modernism, but when it comes to medicine it seems to treat it like real science, based on fact.  And it has great wry cartoons.  So, week after week I can't justify the annual expense to my wife and then it happens.  A great article.

But, back to Breakfast.  The City Manager was there, as was the Mayor and the City Council and a reasonable number of the School Committee.  The new Sheriff was in town, Peter J Koutoujian.  Two of our three State Reps (Kevin Murphy was missing) and our State Senator.  Niki phoned in from Washington.  Neither of our US Senators showed, but Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray showed, the Governor being in the Middle East, apparently orchestrating the No Fly Zone for Libya.  And a lot of local personalities.  I was in awe.

But, back to St Patrick.  Europe as it is, or at least as it was at the turn of the last century, is what it is because St Patrick converted Ireland in the early 5th Century.  We do realize that St Patrick was a "blow in", don't we.  Actually, he was a slave taken to Ireland.  There is irony in that, given that many Irish became indentured servants in these United States, before it was these United States.  One of my relatives, way back, according to my papa, was one of those indentured servants.  Which is how we got the "Krieger", from the family to which that relative was indentured.

But, back to St Patrick and bringing Roman Catholicism to Ireland.  From Writer Thomas Cahill we have How the Irish Saved Civilization
In this delightful and illuminating look into a crucial but little-known "hinge" of history, Thomas Cahill takes us to the "island of saints and scholars," the Ireland of St. Patrick and the Book of Kells. Here, far from the barbarian despoliation of the continent, monks and scribes laboriously, lovingly, even playfully preserved the West's written treasury. When stability returned in Europe, these Irish scholars were instrumental in spreading learning, becoming not only the conservators of civilization, but also the shapers of the medieval mind, putting their unique stamp on Western culture.
Some reject Mr Cahill's view, but I like the story.

Thank you St Patrick.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Change in California

Here is a post on two unlikely Democrats calling for Pension reform in California.

Here is the Daily Caller with the link to that item.

Then there is Robert Cruickshank tweeting that they are "Republicans".  How could that be?  They are minorities.  Although they are very welcome in my Republican Party.  But, at this time they are, in fact, Democrats.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

AFLAC Duck Swept Out to Sea in Tsunami


Here is blogger Ann Althouse commenting, with, of course, dozens of comments.

Here is the basis of the Althouse Post.

Regards  —  Cliff

North Korean Nuclear Reach

Someone sent along this link to a South Korean news article on North Korean nuclear capabilities.  It quotes the Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency.
"The North may now have several plutonium-based nuclear warheads that it can deliver by ballistic missiles and aircraft as well as by conventional means," Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. "We expect the North will continue to test-launch missiles, including the TD-2 ICBM/SLV to refine their performance. With further TD-2 tests, North Korea may develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland."
So, not today, but perhaps soon.  The other think I noted was that the new Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).  She is quoted thusly:
"There must be a full accounting of these 20,000 tons of food aid requested," she said. "Lest we forget, in December 2008, U.S. shipments of food aid to North Korea via the World Food Program were suspended due to growing concerns about diversion to the North Korean military and regime elite and WFP's lack of effective monitoring and safeguards. Fast approaching is the 100th anniversary next year of the birth of Kim Jong-il's father, and there is the danger that aid provided would be diverted for this spectacle."
On the note of the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Kim il Song, someone commented, in another forum, that since North Korea is not bound by treaty against an atmospheric test, they might go for a two-fer.  Since North Korea craves attention from the rest of the world, they might try to develop a plan to fire a live nuke atop a delivery vehicle as a test.  As this commenter suggested, it would certainly refocus everyone's attention on NK again!  And, across the North Pole Lowell is not that much further from North Korea than is San Diego.

Regards  —  Cliff

What If?

Over at the Instapundit we have an invitation to a thought experiment.
So, suppose between the earthquake(s), the tsunami(s), the vulcanism, and possible large-scale radioactive contamination, the decision is made for all Japanese to leave the Islands.  All.

Do we charge them to come here or pay them to come here?  Front of the line in immigration?  Hypo, of course, but perhaps cause some thinking in one direction or another about why one chooses either answer.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, March 14, 2011

City Life on Monday

I was lucky enough to be on City Life this AM with Councilor and former Mayor Edward C. (Bud) Caulfield.  It was an enjoyable and educational time.

The first topic out of the box was the Pawtucket Dam, which, as we realize, was in the news Saturday, when we learned that a Federal Court had ruled that the Wang Agreement, in the deed for our dam across the Merrimack River, was not worth the paper it was written on. One view of that was that we can now go forward without that encumbering us.  Another view, presented by the "Lone Wolf", Tom Wirtanen, is that the Memo from Mr William Guey-Lee, Chief, Engineering and Jurisdiction Branch, Division of Hydropower Administration and Compliance, is controlling.  A PDF of that memo is here.  (I admit it takes a while to load and you are staring at blank white screen, but it is coming, just slowly.)

As an aside, John McDonough was doubtful that Mr Guey-Lee's office still existed.  As of this evening it does and its web site can be found here.

We also talked about the City Council's move to have a City Wide Committee, composed of primary and alternate members from each of the Neighborhood Groups, to look into increasing civic participation, increase voter turnout and to increase the number of candidates for public office.  These are all good things and the idea of a Civil Council appointed Committee was brought to the City Council Rules committee by people such as Victoia Fahlberg, Jack Mitchell, Tom Wirtanen and John McDonough on Tuesday of last week and the proposal was approved by the full City Council last week.  Off and running.

Another topic was Japan and the tragedy there.  There was heavy loss of life, but the discipline of the people and the preparations have limited that loss of life, as compared with the Indonesian Tsunami a few years ago.  We touched on the nuclear power issue and we also touched on the "just in time manufacturing" which will be severely disrupted by these twin natural disasters.

We did spend a half hour on the upcoming Greek Independence Day Celebrations, on 25 March.  There will be both religious and civic celebrations.  On the show were two young people from the Hellenic School.  They both did very well and their parents can well be proud of them.  Greek Independence began in 1820, but it proceeded over decades, as more Greek territory was recovered, after 400 years under Ottoman rule.  Councilor Caulfield and I later discussed how it was the beginning of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, which was accelerated during World War I, but which continues even today as Peoples from Tunisia through to Egypt and beyond strike for their freedom.  And, later in this month Councilor Caulfield will get an award from the Greek Community.

In the last half hour we covered a number of topics and then, in the last five minutes, John McDonough through out the Alan Kazanjian issue.  Frankly, I wanted a little more time to sort through this thing, which has been lingering for a while, but the IG report is new.  However, the basic facts are that the IG report is now out and it says that Mr Kazanjian owes the city a connection fee of $3,419 and up to $3,000,000 in fines (up to $5,000 a day).  Councilor Caulfield and I were in agreement that Mr Kazanjian's folks dropped the ball and the permitting folks in Lowell City Hall should have picked up on this and moved to fix it.  A first offense, so it is reasonable to expect Mr Kazanjian to pay the $3,419 fee and to pay a fine of $3,000 for not keeping the paperwork straight.  As for the folks in permitting at City Hall, they should be admonished to be more aggressive in following up on these sorts of things with construction projects.  And the owners of the building should pay the past due sewer fees and future fees, which they are apparently prepared to do.

Then it was all over.

Regards  —  Cliff

Price is An Important Factor

We have expectations of value in response to price.  I was down at Kelly Sheet Metal and ordered a three sided object to cover the ice trays in my freezer.  I wasn't sure of what the fair price should be, but when they said $25 I was happy, but walking back to the car, thinking of how long it would take them to do it, the value of the worker's time and the cost of materials, and the value of them being there, rather than off making Revolutionary Era Furniture (the value of them just idling around waiting for me or other customers) I came up with $20.

Sure enough, when I showed up today there it was with a $20 ticket on it.  If, at the beginning they had said $50 I might have walked.  Fifty sounded too high.  If, when I went to pick it up they had said $30 I would have paid it, rather than try to haggle.  It may well have been a fair price and who was I to say no.

All this leads to this blog site, where the blogger says that the market clearing price on a Kindle is 99¢.

And, with the Kindle it is there in your hot little hand just a couple of minutes later, literally two or three minutes later you are opening it up and reading.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bradley Manning in Jail

There has been some talk about the conditions under which PFC Bradley Manning, he of the Wikileaks tsunami of leaked US secrets, is being held while awaiting trial.

Over at Salon we have Reporter Glenn Greewald talking about "The inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning's detention".  That was back in December of 2010 and it hasn't gotten any better.  On the other hand, he is being held so he can be tried for various crimes.

I frankly think that his being kept away from the "General Population" is for his own good.  Nasty things happen in prison from time to time and Governments at all levels are notorious for not policing what goes on in prisons, with some exceptions, like here in Middlesex County.  And, there is the suicide watch.  Who would wish to be the Brig Commander if PFC Manning killed himself or even harmed himself.

Then the Department of State Spokesman, P J Crowley came out and said he was being tortured.  This, of course, set off a small fire storm.  And, he retired—early today, in fact.  Chalk up one more victim of PFC Manning's leaks.

Over at Think Progress we have this story on today's resignation.  They quote a 2008 paper from Mr Crowley which stated
[W]e have policies, including harsh interrogation techniques, detention without charge, government surveillance, and immigration that are inconsistent with our values and our long-term interest.
The man feels strongly about these issues.

Doctor Daniel Ellsberg gets to what many are thinking, which is that this is cohersion to develop information to use against Mr Julian Assange.  He writes this Friday in a piece in The Manchester Guardian.  But, then, Mr Ellsberg has his own ax to grind in this affair.  There are those who think that this is all about getting the bureaucratic situation right for a move from military detention to the Department of Justice, so they can work the Julian Assange issue.

As for Mr Crowley, who, like me, is a retired Air Force Officer, one person suggested it is a personal issue, since his own Father was a POW.  I would tend to think it is just Mr Crowley's understanding of the facts.  He thinks that Mr Manning is being badly treated and he thinks that this will not play out well on the world stage.  As the US Department of State Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs he is paid to make those kinds of calls.  To allow frustration with his advice being ignored to spill out in public was a momentary slip in his normal "grace under pressure".

Rumor Control has it that young Mr Manning has found a literary agent for his projected book.  With this goes plans for a planned protest in DC this month.

I was thinking of adding to my list of Blog Post Labels the word "Treason" but there are so few cases that it didn't seem worth it.  But, PFC Manning might well fit into that category.

I hope he will be convicted, since I believe he has done damage to these United States and to some of those who serve.  If convicted, I hope he gets a fairly decent time in jail.  If sent to Fort Leavenworth for his actions, I hope he is not put in the General Population, as I think it would not go well for him.

Regards  —  Cliff

Just In Time Manufacturing

Every time I go to pick up my next supply of medicines from the local pharmacy I wonder about the fact that the Insurance Companies hold me to a pretty narrow window for picking up my new meds.  I wonder about the impact of some natural disaster on delivery and me finding myself without my blood pressure medicine or something else.  And, if not me, what about one of my friends in town, whose schedule is different from mine and they get tagged with some "black swan" event.  In any event, it would seem to me that this lack of inventory, either in a medicine chest, at the store or in some warehouse, will someday result in someone being without their meds for several weeks.

Now we get to to run a mini-test of this idea.  The earthquake and tsunami in Japan will likely disrupt some manufacturing.  I have not seen much discussion of this, but here is Ms Megan McArdle of The Atlantic, talking about it.
The auto industry looks to be affected, with supplies potentially disrupted for several months. Memory chip prices may rise as the quake seems to have damaged some production runs.
I am hoping my meds come from the US and not from Japan or are not transshipped through Japan.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

A What?

Former Labor Secretary, The Honorable Professor Robert Reich, said:
Governor Scott Walker and his Wisconsin senate Republicans have laid bare the motives for their coup d'etat.
He said WHAT?

Can we please work with English here?  My dictionary says a coup d'étatis
a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government:  he was overthrown in an army coup.
I know Dr Reich was writing on his own blog, later picked up by the Huffington Post, but still, this is a little much.

What ever happened to that "new civility" our President advocated for after the shootings in Tucson?

To me to cry "coup d'état" is to cry "fire" in a crowded theater.

Now, if it was California and Governor Walker and his band of Republicans showed up and changed the laws, that might be seen as a coup d'état.  Sort of like when Democrat Willie Brown was reelected Speaker of the California State Assembly even though the Republicans were in the majority.

Regards  —  Cliff

After the Thin Man

A reason to have some sense of the Bible is that it helps explain some of the humor in older movies.  In After the Thin Man, Nora Charles' stuffy Aunt Katherine keeps referring to Police Detective Abrams as Abraham.  Why so ever for?  From Genesis, Chapter 17 we have these verses:
  1. When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said:  "I am God the Almighty. Walk in my presence and be blameless.
  2. Between you and me I will establish my covenant, and I will multiply you exceedingly."
  3. When Abram prostrated himself, God continued to speak to him:
  4. "My covenant with you is this:  you are to become the father of a host of nations.
  5. No longer shall you be called Abram; your name shall be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a host of nations.
Thus, the name change is part of showing that Aunt Katherine is a snob, correcting the policeman's name, as God might have done.

I know that almost all of you don't care about this minor point, but I put it up for my youngest Brother.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, March 12, 2011


"If you have a have a purpose."

No, I don't have an author, an original source.  It was probably some Hellenic sergeant at the Siege of Troy, about 3,300 years ago.  This version I blame on my friend Neal Crossland.

Regards  —  Cliff

California Faces an Intra-Party Fight

As news reports out of California show, newly elected Governor Jerry Brown, is facing severe economic issues.  The budget is out of whack to the tune of about $28 Billion (in February of this year), near the size of the visible Massachusetts State budget—the part they talk about in The Globe.  The California State economy is in trouble and thus the State Budget is in trouble and state pensions are a big part of the issue.  Having defeated Ms Meg Whitman for a return to being Governor, and with a Democratic Party controlled State Assembly, he has his job cut out for him, as this article in Reason Magazine shows.  The title is "Farewell, My Lovely:  How public pensions killed progressive California" and the author is Reporter Tim Cavanaugh.  I like the title.

Pension money means money that is not going for other "Progressive" causes.  The article author talks about the view of Orange County Supervisor John M W Moorlach.  Mr Moorlach is the current County Board Chairman and a Republican.
Moorlach alludes to a striking feature of the current pension reform movement:  It is a revolt led by the supporters of big government. At every level, Californians want assertive government.
This is why the most aggressive lobbying for pension reform is coming not from fiscal conservatives but from progressives, who see the logarithmic cascade of pension liability as a threat to public parks, environmental programs, and rail transit.
Thus, one interesting aspect of the ongoing issue of pension reform is that it is a Democratic Party "in house" battle.  As Writer Cavanaugh notes,
The pension fight is properly understood not as a liberal-conservative issue but as a class struggle within the Democratic Party.
Some day we will see the same thing in Massachusetts and, as in California, it will be a Red on Red fight.

Mr Cavanaugh describes the situation thusly:
Yet when Brown looks out on Democrat-controlled California, he seems less like Caesar at the Rubicon than Wojciech Jaruzelski at the Gdansk Shipyard.  Brown is champion of a workers’ party with monopoly control, yet all his plans are being derailed by a labor movement nobody can harness.
The pensions are the problem here, it would appear.
Medium-term unfunded liabilities for government employee pensions are pegged by the Legislative Analyst’s Office at $136 billion—and that’s a lowball figure.  Legislative analyst Mac Taylor acknowledges in his current fiscal outlook report that the estimate leaves out billions in funding shortfalls at the pension funds for public school teachers and University of California employees.  In the next 10 years, taxpayers will most likely be on the hook for somewhere between $325 billion and $500 billion.  (Over the past five years, state revenues averaged $94.5 billion per year.)
The real battleground for pension reform is not Wisconsin, it is California.  It will be very interesting to see how it plays out.

For me it is sad to see California figuratively slipping into the abyss.  It would be not only sad but economically devastating to those of us in Lowell to see the same thing happen in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Regards  —  Cliff

  In the interest of full disclosure, Mr Moorlach represents the district where I used to vote, before I moved to Lowell.
  What?  With Massachusetts being through and through Democratic controlled, how can it be Red on Red?  Please don't confused convention with reality.  The Red and Blue convention, long before it became the colors of US political parties, was the way of showing forces in a battle on a map.  We, the good guys, were BLUE and the bad guys, the enemy, were RED.  Thus, in this situation, RED on RED, since ... well, you understand.

Kerouac Would Have Been 89

Today would have been Jack Kerouac's 89th birthday, had he lived this long.

It makes me realize that my own Father has been dead for a half a decade.  Time just starts to slip away from us.  The attempts to keep the memory of Jack Kerouac alive are good.  I remember my Father reading On the Road when it came out.  Some day I should follow suit, for my personal heritage and my Lowell heritage.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, March 11, 2011

NPR Pursuing a Niche Market?

This blog post by Professor Ann Althouse raises that question.  She headlines her blog post:
NPR board member says "we unwittingly cultivated a core audience that is predominately white, liberal, highly educated, elite."
Of course the comments are very good at the Althouse Blog (and also some are pretty bad).  This one was particularly interesting to me.
Yes, the elite whiteys need to be subsidized by the poor. Reverse Robin Hood, steal from poor, give to rich.
The commenter used the handle PaulV.

Then there is the link to Stuff White People Like.  I am afraid I may not be a fully qualified "White Person", based on that blog.  Also, is "Democracy Now" really part of the NPR/Corporation for Public Broadcasting operation?  I had not thought so.

But, back to NPR, here is a link to the original source, an opinion piece by Ms Sue Schardt, Executive Director of the Association of Independents in Radio.  She represents Independent Stations as a non-NPR member on the NPR Board's Distribution/Interconnection Committee.

Ms Schardt figures that NRP is going after 11% of the possible audience.  That does seem a little narrow.  Dare we ask?  Are they driving people to Fox by their strategy?

Regards  —  Cliff