Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Redistricting Rumors

Based upon what I observed this evening at the Annual Immaculate Conception Parish Golf Outing, I am wonder if the outline of the redistricting of the General Court is beginning to emerge.  In particular, I am wonder if the General Court is going to correct that terrible rending of Chelmsford from ten years ago, the one that, while it drove Republican Carol Cleven from office, also drove Speaker Tom Finneran from politics.

What I observed was State Rep Tom Golden at a basically "Belvidere" event meeting and greeting people like there was no tomorrow, or rather, like there was a tomorrow, come November of next year.  I know the cover story was that he was only there to be the auctioneer for the evening, but then his Mother was there also (we sat at the same table as the honorable Mrs Golden).

This item from the Chelmsford Patch suggests that Chelmsford will go from four Reps to three or maybe two.  One option would be to close off Rep Golden's Chelmsford Precincts and then extend his district south and east into Belevidere, thus pushing Rep Dave Nangle's district to the South and West.

That is my rumor and I am sticking to it.

And, Rep Golden did an excellent job as auctioneer and a good time was had by all.

Regards  —  Cliff

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to Go On Trial

DoD Announcement, 31 May 2011 (No. 458-11)
DOD Announces Charges Sworn Against Five Detainees Allegedly Responsible for 9/11 Attacks

The Department of Defense announced today the office of military commissions prosecutors have sworn charges against five individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay:  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin 'Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi.

The prosecutors have recommended that the charges against all five of the accused be referred as capital.  Capital charges may only be pursued with the convening authority's approval.  Under rules governing military commissions, the accused will have the right to counsel learned in applicable law relating to capital cases.

The charges allege that the five accused were responsible for the planning and execution of the attacks on New York, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, Pa. that occurred on September 11, 2001.  Those attacks resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people.

The charges are allegations that the accused committed offenses that are chargeable under the Military Commissions Act of 2009, 10 U.S.C. §§ 948a, et seq.  There are eight charges common to all five of the accused: conspiracy, murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, hijacking aircraft, and terrorism.  The accused are presumed innocent and may be convicted only if their guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

These charges go beyond what is necessary to establish that the 9/11 co-conspirators may be lawfully detained under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, as informed by the laws of war -- an issue that each Guantanamo detainee may challenge in a habeas petition in federal court.

In accordance with the Military Commissions Act of 2009, the sworn charges will be forwarded to the Convening Authority, Bruce MacDonald.  The convening authority will make an independent determination as to whether to refer some, all, or none of the charges for trial by military commission.  If the convening authority decides to refer the case to trial, he will designate commission panel members (jurors).  The chief trial judge of the Military Commissions Trial Judiciary would then assign a military judge to the case.
And about time.

One wonders if the Bruce MacDonald mentioned in the last paragraph of the Press Release is this retired officer and Holy Cross graduate.  It would appear so.

Regards  —  Cliff

Undocumented Workers and the DNC

Republicans might refer to these folks as "Illegal Immigrants".  On the other hand, our Commonwealth Attorney General says that here there is nothing illegal about being illegal.

Over at Hot Air Blogger Ed Morrissey shows confusion about the position of DNC Chairman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz on Immigration Reform.

I think it is straight forward.  Ms DWS believes that the 12 million Illegal Undocumented Immigrants are vital to our economy (and apparently doing work citizens are unwilling to do, despite a high unemployment rate).

Personally, I think immigration is good for this nation.  I assume the US Congress has passed good laws to encourage the world's best and brightest to come here and become US Citizens.  I know I have done my part with regard to two Dutchmen in particular and when I hear someone with a different accent, after I determine they are not from New York or some other exotic spot across the fruited plain, I personally encourage them to get their citizenship and vote.  I do that knowing they will probably vote Democratic.  My hope is they will have more than two children and those children will vote Republican.

But, back to DWS, I wonder if she has done the math?  How many of the folks are in an ever growing underground economy?  Further to the statistics, while the flow is currently reduced, due to our recession, when the economy picks up, will the flow not resume?  Is there some natural limit to this Immigration of People Without Papers?  And, what internal conditions in Mexico (e.g., level of drug cartel violence) is that number based on?

Immigration is a fairly complicated subject.  We need a flow of immigrants into these United States.  We have little information to allow us to form a consensus and few seem to be helping us gather that information.  For sure DWS is not helping.

Regards  —  Cliff

Younger People Like Obama More

A Gallop Poll released for Memorial Day shows that Younger cohorts are more likely to like President Obama's job performance.

The other thing noted, and I liked this, is that active duty military were more reluctant to reveal their opinion of the President's job performance.
... active-duty military—particularly those under 40—are significantly more likely to say they have no opinion about Obama's job performance than is the case for all adults in the same age group.

There are several possible explanations for this finding. Those on active duty may in general be less involved in politics and current affairs and thus less likely to hold an opinion on Obama or other political matters. Or, it could be that members of the active-duty military are adhering to a general nonpartisan norm within the military culture, and are therefore less willing to express an opinion to a survey interviewer, regardless of what they may actually believe.
This is as it should be.  While I voted in every election I could while on active duty, I was always registered "Declines to State" (the California version of "Unenrolled").

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, May 30, 2011

Government Contracting Corruption

Recently the issue of corruption in Government Contracting has been discussed on this blog site, for instance here.  And, it was a subject for discussion yesterday while we were counting money, with one participant noting that the spouse thought there was a lot of corruption in the space and missile business and one company was singled out for receiving favoritism.

I still maintain that the Federal Government is trying to do the People's work in a fraud free manner and usually succeeding.  But, that is just my experience.  Below is a comment from a person who has seen contracting in the Air Force, the Marine Corps, the IRS and BATF.
Do you hear stories about bad, even rotten, apples in our business?  Yes.  But, the likes of Major John Cockerham and Major Charles J. Bowie, Jr, et al. are few and far between.  [Not to mention She, who must not be named.]  Do you hear the stories about the good, honest hard-working apples in our business?  No.  There are 147,705 people in the Defense Statutory Acquisition Workforce, as of 1 December 2010.  That's not even counting the thousands of support contractors.  In fiscal year 2009, we, the DoD, accomplished 3,553,207 contract actions, enlisting the contractual efforts of thousands of companies around the globe.  Is there fraud, waste, and abuse?  Yes.  Do we try to find it and rip it out by its roots?  You bet.  Do we wish there was none?  Absolutely.  Unfortunately, last time I checked, we were still living outside of the Garden of Eden, and some use their free will in the wrong-headed exercise of the freedom they have been granted.

On the other hand, if you'd like to compare the DoD's 147,705 to another Federal Government organization that only has 535, then . . . .
That said, corruption does exist, and not just in our fair Commonwealth.  Here is an article from yesterday's Baltimore Sun on one DoD organization (The National Security Agency—sometimes referred to as No Such Agency) that has a number of contractor prosecutions under its belt (or the belt of the Baltimore US Attorney.

The article states:
The Baltimore Sun identified 11 defendants accused within the past five years of bilking the agency.  Nine of the cases were filed in the past two years, even though some of the alleged crimes reach back to the late 1990s and mid-2000s.
The cases are listed in the article.  In one of the cases, the defendants admitted their guilt when taking a lie detector test in order to get a security clearance to obtain more contracts.  I put that down to lack of judgement.

While you may say the glass is half empty, I say it is half full, and that efforts to "make it better" may actually, over the long run, make it worse.  It is my belief that to the degree we drive people down Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs", to that degree we make them less engaged and more like automatons, and thus the higher the chances that creativity and initiative will be lacking.  That is to say, if you treat people like they are incapable of independent thought and action, that is what you will get.  They will be stuck at the level of "Love and Belonging" and will not advance to "Esteem" and then to "Self-actualization".  The problem with self-actualization is that sometimes a person will go off the rails.

Regards  —  Cliff

Airbus Crash out of Brazil

In the report that follows, BEA is the Bureau d'enquêtes et d'analyses (pour la sécurité de l'aviation civile), the French aircraft accident investigation arm.

The current accident investigation status for Air France Flight 447, an Airbus A330-203, lost 1 June 2009, enroute Rio de Janeiro to Paris can be found here.
A330 Apparently Stalled, Impacted The Ocean Descending More Than 10,000 FPM

The French accident investigating agency BEA has released a document culled from the initial findings from the Air France Flight 447 accident which occurred nearly two year ago. The report indicates the Airbus entered a deep stall from which the cockpit crew was unable to recover. While icing on the speed sensors is not specifically mentioned, the pilots do indicate that "we've lost the speeds."
It turned out to be a 2001:  A Space Odyssey sort of adventure, with the A330 flight computers playing the part of "Hal" to the pilots' "Dave".

A friend of mine, a former C-130 and AC-130 pilot, sent me an EMail in which he repeated a story he had heard, wherein an A330 Instructor Pilot said that he tried to deal with the scenario in the Flight Simulator and almost lost control of the aircraft.  And he noted that if he had been in actual turbulence the margin would have been thinner.

There are those who will bring up the two "terrorists" on board, but it appears they have been ruled out as the cause.  For more details on the flight and subsequent mishap investigation, there is a Wikipedia entry, here

In the mean time, fly Boeing for a while.

Regards  —  Cliff

Where's Waldo

Over at the Althouse Blog there is a post on a New York Times article on former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and family visiting the monuments in our Nation's Capital.

It seems the Palins were able to be out and about without causing a big media crush.  Just bumping into "folks".

The NYT lede was:
Sarah Palin and her family sneaked out in Washington on Sunday night for what she called an “incognito” tour of the national monuments, having successfully created a media frenzy and then ditched the press
You can tell it is The Times since they said "sneaked" instead of "snuck".  Incidently, nice picture of Todd in the article.

This is an interesting gimmick, the "One Nation" bus tour.  I think it is irritating The New York Times reporter, Michael D Shear, who says she could end all this.  All she has to do is admit she won't be running for President.
She could announce that she is not running for president.

So far, she has not.
Is she?

Regards  —  Cliff

Memorial Day

We, as Americans, celebrate Memorial Day in many different ways.  It is a living custom which grew out of the American Civil War.  There is an OpEd in today's International Herald Tribune on the origins of this holiday.  The author, David W. Blight, is a history professor at Yale.  An interesting story, and one to remind us that our war dead go back through a long lineage of battles.

As a veteran with a family, a family where my wife was an Air Force widow when I met her, I think the words of John Milton are applicable to any Memorial Day,
They also serve who only stand and wait.
We should not forget that it isn't just the Servicemen who have gone before us, but also those they left behind.

There is also the question of those civilians who have died in the service of our nation.  There is Anthropologist Paula Loyd, who died on 7 January 2009, two days shy of her 37th birthday.  She was serving in Afghanistan on a Human Terrain Team, helping soldiers understand the culture in which they are immersed.  An older Afghani man in the village where she was working doused her with gasoline and set her on fire.  Ms Loyd had a degree from Wellesley College and a Masters Degree from Georgetown.  She gave the last full measure.

This larger issue of the kind of wars we are in today—Counter-Insurgency—and the important roles played by civilians, lead to a discussion in another venue on whether civilians who die while serving in a hostile environment should be afforded burial in Arlington Cemetery.  The discussion was hot and heavy and there was no consensus.  One factor, of course, is that Arlington is filling up since the day when Army Quartermaster General Montgomery C Meigs elected to bury Union War Dead in the land below Robert E Lee's pre-Civil War home.

Arlington Cemetery is an interesting place and those who are buried there are interesting also, including nine Canadians who were awarded the Medal of Honor by our nation.

For me, today is a day to remember not only those who gave the last full measure, whether in peace or war, but their families.  I previously mentioned my wife being a widow.  Her first husband, Robert Harlan, died during a training accident, half way around the world, off Okinawa.  His unit was there so the local air defense squadron could deploy to Southeast Asia in 1965, in case North Viet-nam decided to fly over the Republic of Viet-nam.

One of my Academy roommates, Alan Trent, died flying close air support in South Viet-nam.  Alan was from Ohio.  The same for a roommate from Pilot Training, Aado Kommendant.  Aado was originally from Estonia, born during the Second World War, but his family escaped to the United States.

Aado died while both of us were on our first tours.  He was flying out of a different base.  My classmate Ray Salzarulo also died in the second half of 1966, leaving a widow back home.  Ray and I went to F-4 training together, at MacDill AFB.  And my classmate Karl Richter died flying combat missions in Southeast Asia.  Karl and I sat next to each other in Electrical Engineering and we were in the same pilot training class at Craig AFB.  Regarding seating in EE, we were assigned seats by academic performance in each particular subject and both Karl and I were in the back row of the last section.

And others I remember on this Memorial Day.

Regards  —  Cliff

Obama Will Triumph in 2012

But, that said, Senator John McCain is not of the same belief.

But, it is Senator John McCain.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Equality Means All Register

In this last Friday's Washington Post there is an OpEd, "Five myths about women in combat", by Marine Reserve Major Jane Blair.  In the article the author explores five reasons given for not allowing women in combat.  Of course the most important counter to those five reasons is te actual performance of our service women in combat, including ground combat.

Combat is not for every woman.  We don't even allow every man to be in a unit that might see combat.

The US Congress could drop it's restrictions and just let the Department of Defense deal with it.  This would be empowering those closest to the problem to deal with the problem.&; The economics of recruiting would serve the needs of all equities in a fair and balanced way.

The only thing I ask is that if the law of the land is that men have to register for the draft, then it should require the same of woman.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

The French (Americans) Are Different

The New York State legal problems of French Socialist DSK—Dominique Strauss-Kahn—a frontrunner for the French Presidency in the 2012 election, points out the differences between our two systems of justice.  Here is an International Herald Tribune article on the differences in legal systems.

In my mind the differences are based upon a difference in understanding of where "Freedom" comes from.  For the French it is because the Government is there to grant it and protect it.  For us it is inherent and we appoint a Government to protect it.  As the article points out, the French system assumes that you can trust the Government to do right and protect the little guy.  The US Government and its English Common Law heritage assumes that one has to be ever vigilant about the Government.  Thus, we honor those barons who stood up to King John in 10661215 and extracted the Magna Carta.

I would agree with the French that the Perp Walk is unnecessary and should be abolished.

UPDATE:  My only excuse is I allowed myself to rush into posting this, so I could then clear mr car out of the way for my wife.  Patrick has a very good sense of history.  And thanks for catching my error.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Crude Oil Market

Reports on Supertankers carrying crude oil show a reduction in demand for carrying capacity, at least for one of the major fleets
According to the Baltic Exchange, VLCCs that reaped $177,036 a day in 2008 were last at $8,900.  These vessels would need $29,700 a day in order to simply break even for Frontline.
That is a lot of idle supertankers.  I wonder what this means for prices at the pump?

Given that oil is a fungible product—which means that a change in production at one location means a change in price everywhere—oil tankers being idle may have an impact similar to a drop in production.  It does raise questions in my mind about what is going on in China, which I thought would have continuously driven up crude oil prices and thus crude oil production.  But, while China is producing a lot of vehicles (since 2009 the world's largest auto producer), there is a slowdown in growth for this year.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Another way of looking at it is that until we put up some horrendous trade barriers (remember the Great Depression) any additional oil we pump here in the US will be available to the world market and thus if there are others willing to bid more for that oil it will not lower our price of gasoline at the pump here in Lowell.  If, however, there is not a need for the oil, the price will fall, but then that pumping may become not cost effective (cost to produce being less than price when sold).

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Oh Oh

Below this post is one on the situation in Sudan.  It talks to a Humanitarian Crisis.

Now we have George Clooney, a Hollywood actor who does not really stand out in my mind, teamed with John Prendergast, a co-founder of the Enough Project, writing an OpEd in The Washington Post on the developing situation in Abyei.  The writers do not coddle the leader of Northern Sudan.
President Omar al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide, is escalating bombing and food aid obstruction in Darfur, and he now threatens the entire north-south peace process.
I am impressed that Messrs Clooney and Pendergast have their own intelligence operation going, putting up commercial imagery of military activities, to include military buildups, under the name Satellite Sentinel Project.  Given that they have the ability to get out the information on atrocities, the chance of public outcry trumping mid-level bureaucratic insight and long term planning goes up.

You didn't want those striped pants dandies making those decisions anyway, did you?

But, we should all think through the steps along the escalation ladder.
We are not advocating military intervention.  But the evidence shows that incentives alone are insufficient to change Khartoum’s calculations.  International support should be sought immediately for denying debt relief, expanding the ICC indictments, diplomatically isolating the regime, suspending all non-humanitarian aid, obstructing state-controlled bank transactions and freezing accounts holding oil wealth diverted by senior regime officials.
If all else fails, there is still the option of committing US troops to prevent the deaths of tens of thousands more in Sudan, but at the cost hundreds of Sudanese and dozens of US lives.  An intervention in Sudan to separate North and South would not be like an intervention in Haiti for earthquake relief.

Incidentally, the two OpEd writers blew a bouquet to Senator John F Kerry as well as President Obama.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

UPDATE:  I was upbraided off line for being a little too flip about the Department of State types ("those striped pants dandies").  As this person points out, "...we blew it in 2004-3005 by not allowing the Misseriya, Darfur, Beja, Umma, etc to participate."  The truth is that the Department of State experts have been at this a very long time, trying to avoid the genocide ongoing in Darfur and not having success.  My comment was meant to be ironic and to put in stark contrast the views being pushed up from the middle bureaucracy in the Government toward the President and the impact of outside pressure groups.

Regards  —  Cliff

Another Humanitarian Crisis

A BBC report says that 150,000 have been forced to flee from the Abyei region of Sudan. The oil rich area sits on the border between Sudan and the soon to be independent South Sudan.
After this week's UN Security Council trip to Sudan, US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said the occupation of Abyei was a violation of the 2005 peace deal which ended the 22-year civil war.
Ahumanitarian crisis has been ongoing in this area for some time, including forcing people out of their villages by murder and rape.  The BBC report states:
Analysts fear the dispute over the region, also claimed by South Sudan which is due to become independent in July, could reignite the north-south war in which some 1.5 million people died.
This crisis barely makes the radar scope.  The fact that a Chinese backed mostly Muslim North is making war against a mostly Christian South is not part of the media equation.

The report at the above link includes maps.

UPDATE:  An expert on the region says that "War would be catastrophic for the South, but we cannot discount the possibility.  Consider the regional implications."

Would would we in the US do?  Appeal to the UN, for sure.  Intervene?  Not likely, but we might become the logistics and intelligence arms of an intervention.  But, in the end, you just don't know what the President is going to do—who would have predicted that President Harry S Truman would recognize Israel or intervene in Korea?  Which is a reason to not run down our military capabilities to far during a defense contraction.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, May 27, 2011

Another Turkish Flotilla for Gaza

Here is the report on another Turkish Flotilla heading for Gaza.

I think that if the EU had accepted Turkey for membership that nation would be so busy being European that it wouldn't have time to worry about stirring up trouble in the Near East.

The reason we, as Americans, should care, is that, aside from the roughly 60% of the US Population that actually thinks that a Jewish homeland in its current location is right and proper, there is the question of what happens if things go horribly wrong.  Of course, one answer is that things won't go horribly wrong and Israel will continue on, suffering rocket attacks and retaliating for decades to come.  But, if things really do go horribly wrong we could get the Second Coming, as some 20% of our US Voters would tell you.  Another answer is that we end up picking up the pieces for the survivors from the 7 million Jews now living in Israel.

But, you say, Israel has nuclear weapons.  And so they do.  Will those weapons deter a spiritually renewed Arab world?  If they won't deter new Arab governments, will Israel use them to slaughter tens of thousands of invading soldiers?

Let us hope that things do not go horribly wrong and the Palestinians see a reason to negotiate two separate homelands and the Israelis agree and we get an treaty and peace.

If there is no agreement then we are going to have to find a place in this nation for millions of Jews who are going to be forced to flee once more in my lifetime.  I hope that if we have to welcome them, we do that with openness and generosity as we all sort out a new story on the run-up to the Second (or First) Coming.  The reason I say that is the current story line is that the return of the Jewish People to their homeland is a signal that this is the end times.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Why us?  Because no one else is going to be prepared to or be capable of absorbing that number of people who will want to do more than just sit in DP camps.  And, we are a nation that understands that this is a problem with a long lineage and one that needs to be fixed sooner rather than later.

Obama Goes Up In My Estimation

Check here.

Hat tip to the Althouse Blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Being Predictable

When you are flying a fighter plane over enemy territory the catch phrases are "Speed is life" and "Keep it moving".  Keep it moving means to change your flight path and altitude constantly.  As I recall, back in the day, the rule of thumb was to figure to change your vector every number of seconds that was half your altitude in feet above the ground, divided by 1,000.  For example, at 5,000 feet, change heading or altitude (or both) every 2.5 seconds.  At 8,000 feet, every 4 seconds.  The point is to be unpredictable to the gunners on the ground.

It is just that kind of unpredictability (on the part of Government) that is causing some small businessmen to hold off hiring people.  At least that is the thrust of an article by author and law professor Stephen L Carter.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Obama Win Inevitable in 2012

My belief in the inevitability of an Obama win in 2012 just softened a little bit.

The reason is inflation in China.

The key to forecasting is not in detecting the trend line, but in anticipating the knee in the curve.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, May 26, 2011

House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearings on WPR

Here is an article from The New York Times, by Reporter Charlie Savage, on the War Powers Resolution and Libya.  At the hearing a number of Representatives spoke against the current situation.  On the other hand,
Several other lawmakers spoke favorably of a proposal introduced this week by Senators John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, and John McCain, Republican of Arizona, that would in effect end the debate by expressing legislative support for the Libyan operation.
It is good to see that our Senior Senator, John H Kerry, has not been asleep at the switch.

But, as for the war itself:
The Obama administration has described the American contribution as limited — supporting NATO allies, along with the intermittent use of drones to fire missiles at ground targets.  Still, speaking in London earlier this week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton portrayed the American contribution in robust terms.

“Even today, the United States continues to fly 25 percent of all sorties,” Mrs. Clinton said.  “We continue to provide the majority of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets.”
It is time we got our act together down in Washington.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wash Post on Libya

Here is The Washington Post talking about the war in Libya—and it is a war, at least to Mr Moammar Gaddafi, the current Libyan leader.  His office and his life are at stake.  Of course it is war.

The Wash Post faults President Obama for not doing enough.  On the other hand, there is that whole "War Powers Resolution" issue, recently discussed here.  It is about our Constitution and how we manage our Government.

Where stands the US Congress?

If the Congress lets the President slide on this because it is minor, he (or eventually she) will try to slide on larger issues.  It is time to draw a line and ask the President to step back over it onto his side of the Constitution.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

First Amendment

This makes sense to me.

Transparency and all that.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Too Much SWAT?

I am just angry about this sort of thing.
One must wonder if the “prejudice and bigotry” he [Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik] considers endemic to Arizona is to blame for the death of U.S. Marine veteran Jose Guereña, killed when Dupnik’s deputies gunned him down in his home.  They fired 71 shots.  They hit him 60 times.  And then, as if this wasn’t enough, Dupnik’s deputies blocked paramedics for an hour and 14 minutes from approaching the scene, denying Guereña treatment until he was assuredly dead.
This is from Pajamas Media.

The SWAT Team fired 71 shots!  Who was in charge to make sure that there was some form of fire discipline?  Obviously not Sheriff Dubnik, who was talking a lot of nonsense after the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, at the beginning of the year.

The Instapundit wasn't very impressed and made his own exerpts from the post and then commented.
Police shouldn’t launch this sort of raid absent an imminent threat to life. They go wrong too often. And clowns like Pima County’s Sheriff Dupnik shouldn’t be around guns of any kind.
The icing on the cake?  US Marine veteran Jose Guereña still had the safety on his AR-15 as he died in a hail of bullets.  The initial Sheriff's department report that he had fired on the police was either a lie or very bad situational awareness on the part of the SWAT.

Protecting the population means protecting all the population.  AN "Oops" is not just bad, it is an indication of poor performance on the part of the law enforcement agency and a reason to ask questions and then perhaps vote in new people.

Lest one think I am pointing a finger at the local police or our County's Sheriff, I am NOT.  I am pointing a finger at Sheriff Clarence Dupnik and the voters of Pima County, Arizona.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

David Brooks—Elitist

Writing at Salon, lawyer and blogger Glenn Greenwald talks to the issue of New York Times Columnist David Brooks.  I quote from the same paragraph as Blogger Ann Althouse.
It has long been the supreme fantasy of establishment guardians in general, and David Brooks in particular, that American politics would be dominated by an incestuous, culturally homogeneous, superior elite "who live in [Washington] and who have often known each other since prep school."   And while these establishment guardians love to endlessly masquerade as spokespeople for the Ordinary American, what they most loathe is the interference by the dirty rabble in what should be their exclusive, harmonious club of political stewardship, where conflicts are amicably resolved by ladies and gentlemen of the highest breeding without any messy public conflict.
Yup, that is pretty much the way I see it.

I am not really pushing Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for the Republican nomination for president next year, but the distain with which she was treated in 2008 is indicative of this kind of clubbiness on the part of many establishment politicians and the media.

One of the reasons I like the Tea Party Movement is that, in my experience, it is small groups of citizens willing to stand up to their "betters" and demand to be heard.  There is an awful lot of this kind of droit de seigneur like behavior going on, be it DSK or the Fairfax County School District rolling over the little town of Clifton, VA (Full disclosure—one of my Daughters-in-Law has parents living in Clifton).

Kudos to Mr Glenn Greenwald for connecting the dots.

The comments at the Althouse Blog can be found here.

1460 Blog

Over at Vanity Fair is an article about Democratic Party political consultants Peter Daou and James Boyce suing Arianna Huffington over who gets credit for the concepts behind the Huffington Post.

The author is Reporter William D Cohen, with photographs by Julian Dufort.

The basic argument is that after the defeat of Senator John F Kerry in 2004, Mssrs Daou and Boyce decided that a lack of a Drudge Report on the Democratic Party side was critical.
[Boyce] remembers coming across a statistic—whether true or not is unclear—that in the last 24 hours of the election some 36 million people had visited the Drudge Report.  The numbers swirled in his head—125 million voters, 36 million people on Drudge, and the election was lost because of around 100,000 voters in Ohio—and he had his eureka moment:  “John Kerry lost that election because he did not have a Drudge,” he says.  “That’s why we lost.”
Needed—A Democratic Party version of the Drudge Report.

They wrote a memo and they met with Ms Huffington and about a dozen others to debrief the Kerry loss.  The rest is history, except for the credit for the idea.  Ms Huffington claims the credit.  Blogger Andrew Brightbart claims credit.  And so do Mssrs Daou and Bryce.  They just want their fair share of the glory.

The term 1460 comes from Mssrs Daou and Bryce and is the number of days between Presidential Elections.

Hat tip to the Drudge Report.

NB:  This was not what I promised my lunch companions I wold post.  That will be next.

Regards  —  Cliff

Government Favoritism

In an earlier post the question of political contributions and transparency in Government Conracting was discussed.

Now comes political analyst Michael Barone, writing in The Washington Examiner, about Federal Government favoritism with regard to waivers to the mandates of the Reid/Pelosi Health Insurance Reform Bill.

If we are granting waivers under the current reform, will we be granting waivers to millions if we, God forbid, move to an individual mandate?

Regards  —  Cliff

House Majority Leader on Israel

From the Brutally Honest blog we have this post, which talks to what the blogger sees as the root cause of the inability to have peace in the Holy Land.  This view goes to stereotypes, but, on the other hand, this is a marker on the path to peace, notwithstanding former president Jimmy Carter.
A Palestinian woman from Gaza arrives at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba for lifesaving skin treatment for burns over half her body.  After the conclusion of her extensive treatment, the woman is invited back for follow-up visits to the outpatient clinic.  One day she is caught at the border crossing wearing a suicide belt.  Her intention?  To blow herself up at the same clinic that saved her life.

What kind of culture leads one to do that?

Sadly, it is a culture infused with resentment and hatred.

It is this culture that underlies the Palestinians' and the broader Arab world's refusal to accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.

This is the root of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.  It is not about the '67 lines.

And until Israel's enemies come to terms with this reality, a true peace will be impossible.
So, how do we deal with this resentment and hatred?  What gestures, what acts, will be sufficient to change things.  And, if it is not working at the individual level, how will it work at the collective level?

Here is the entire Eric Cantor speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Regards  —  Cliff

Tea Party Goes to College

The Tea Party shows up in semi-higher education, at least per Inside Higher Education.

The thing I found interesting was local communities voting for their local community college (junior college) school boards.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

DSK As Seen From France

It is all the fault of the Americans, of course.

Regards  —  Cliff

Symbol of Republican France

Over at The New York Times, on Saturday, 21 May, reporters Steven Erlanger and Maia de la Baume gave us a picture of Anne Sinclair, wife of accused rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK).  The article tells us that in 2006 she told the newspaper L'Express, in response to a question about her husband's womanizing:
No!  I’m even proud of it.  It’s important to seduce, for a politician.  As long as he is still attracted to me, and I to him, it is sufficient.
Well, it is France, after all.

However, with regard to another assertion in the article, I am not convinced that Ms Sinclair, along with Brigitte Bardot (1968) and Catherine Deneuve (1985), was a model for Marianne, the allegorical symbol of France.  I do not fine the name Anne Sinclair amongst those who have been listed as a model for Marianne.  Not that I would be opposed, even now, in her 62° year.

Regards  —  Cliff

Government Contracting

On 20 April The Washington Post published an article on a draft Administration Executive Order regarding disclosure of political contributions when submitting bids to the Federal Government in response to Government requests for proposal.

There was a follow-up article today, by opinion writer Marc A Theissen.  He noted that last week the second-ranking House Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), noted:
The issue on contracting ought to be on the merits of the contractors’ bid and capabilities. I think there are some serious questions as to what implications there are if somehow we consider political implications in the context of awarding contracts.
Representative Steny Hoyer is correct.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, May 23, 2011

One of the Top 12 (French) Political Blogs

That would be the blog of Ms Anne Sinclair, as put forward by the French newspaper L'Express.  Ms Sinclair, born in New York City in 1948 of French Jewish parents who fled Europe ahead of the German Army, returned to France to finish High School, graduate from college and get a law degree.  Her blog is here.
Why should we care?  Her husband is DSK—Dominique Strauss-Kahn—recently arrested for attempted rape of a maid in a $3,000 a day motel room.  While not drawing a lot of attention here, DSK seems to have "drawn" attention in a number of French editorial cartoons.

To be noted, Ms Sinclair is standing by her man.

Regards  —  Cliff

President at AIPAC Reviewed

Here is Professor Stephen Walt talking about President Obama's speech to AIPAC, discussed on this blog here.  My take is that Professor Walt liked the move.  He also lays out the long term alternatives.

Regards  —  Cliff

The State of the Race

As the candidates come and go for the Republican Presidential Nomination, Analyst Michael Barone weighs in.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, May 22, 2011

President to AIPAC

Previously there was a post on President Obama's speech on the Middle East, delivered this last Thursday.  Today he went to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  There he talked to what he expects, which is evaluated by Mr Ron Radosh of Pajamas Media.  Here is the text of that speech.

Does this mean things are back to the way they were?

UPDATE:  The Althouse post and comments.

Regards  —  Cliff

Priest Shortage

At Mass last evening Father mentioned the Priest shortage.

My youngest son was up visiting from Northern Virginia and his comment to me was that we need a new Bishop, since "Orthodoxy creates vocations.  This has been proven across denominations and religions."

My own solution to the problem is slightly different from my son's, but he has a good point.  His diocese, Arlington, Virginia, has quite a few vocations and very full churches and at his parish two priests plus a part time.

In this discussion orthodoxy is about hewing to the line of the Church.  Its opposite is Liberalism, which might be defined in terms of "Cafeteria Catholics".

What is the secret to more vocations?
Orthodoxy in the Diocese
A more liberal approach to doctrine
Married Priests
Women Priests
There is no solution
None of the above
  
pollcode.com free polls
Regards  —  Cliff

Mitch Says No

And who can blame him.  Here is the story in The Washington Post.

The same Wash Post has an incomplete gallery of Republican candidates—where is Herman Cain?

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Fight May Go On in Wisconsin

Law Professor Ann Althouse tell us that the recount on the election of a Justice to the Wisconsin Sate Supree Court is over and Prosser won.  But, there is word out on the street that Ms Kloppenburg may go to court to overthrow the election, which could leave the seat vacant for some time.

Per Professor Althouse,
So Kloppenburg failed to win a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in an election that focused on the budget-repair bill, but she could try, by initiating a futile lawsuit about the election, to affect the way the Wisconsin Supreme Court decides the budget case and to affect it in a way that is contrary to what the voters voted for. And, if she does that, expect to hear her say lofty-sounding things about protecting the interests of the voters.
Regards  —  Cliff

30 Day Countdown?

Does the 30-Day Clock begin today?

Cleaning out the basement this afternoon I found a Phamhlet and a law review article on the War Powers Resolution, from about 20 years ago.  This is NOT about President Obama.  A number of Presidents have chaffed under this Congressional Act.  This is about our Constitution.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, May 20, 2011

Marine Le Pen is Up

As we know from the news, IMF President Dominique Strauss-Kahn spent some time at Rikers Island, accused of raping, or attempting to rape a hotel maid.  He has since resigned his position.

It even made the NPR Diane Reams Show on Wednesday. I listened to "Political Power and Sex Scandals" on Ms Reams home station, WAMU, driving north out of DC.

Not unexpectedly, the view on NPR was that private morality is disconnected from job performance, except for former Speaker Newt Gingrich. The other thing that caught my attention was the discussion of unequal power arrangements between Arnold and his household held, and President Jefferson and his slave, but slid right over the tremendous power differential of the President of the United States and a lowly Intern.

One guest, Eric Pape, calling in from Paris, had an item in Foreign Policy, "Sarkozy's Favorite Sex Scandal:  The political suicide of IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is great news for France's embattled and unpopular president."

The same magazine also had this take on the impact on French politics, by Mr Joshua Keating.

Over at Says Uncle we have a link to a Samizdat quote from Mr Perry de Havilland:
"Arrest Throws France Into Disarray and Disbelief" says the New York Times...

But why 'disbelief'? Now I have no idea as to the merits of this particular case and thus no position on this statist bastard's guilt in this matter, but socialists are people with a profound sense of entitlement to what other people have but are not freely willing to give up without threats of violence.

So is it hard to believe that someone whose entire world view is based on using force to take what is private without prior consent might have used force to take what they wanted from a woman? It is not really so different.
Of course it is a long ways to 2012, even in France.  And, with their two phase election (an election and then a runoff if no one gets a majority of the votes cast) this small episodes can have more major impacts.

This might be a strait-forward rape case, but then there is the question of if DSK was set up—set up by Sarko or by other Socialists or by Marine Le Pen or by the CIA or by someone else.

Regards  —  Cliff

Republican Pick for 2012

It's now official, the only body with a higher dropout rate than the Los Angeles Unified School District is the 2012 Republican presidential field.
From an article in the LA Times. The premis is that there is a secret plan to draft New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

UPDATE:  Track recently married his high school sweetheart, Britta.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Gun Control

Apparently "gun control" is not dead in the Obama Administration.  It is just avoiding all that messy transarency stuff.  At least "according to the Greeley Gazette.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The President Talks to the Middle East

With President Obama talking about Peace in the Middle East today, there is also a comment on the Peace Process over at Pajamas Media.  Under the title "Peace and the ‘Right of Return’" Mr Peter Berkowitz talks about the reality of the negotiations, based upon the leaked Palestine Papers, published by al Jazeera earlier this year.

Turning to President Barack Obama and his speech at the Department of State, about a quarter of the way through his speech today the President says:
So we face a historic opportunity.
But, this isn't about Israel and Palestine, but about Tunisia.

About 60% of the way through the talk the President lays out a Four Point economic plan for supporting democracy in the area.  It is after that important statement that the President turns to the issue of Palestine and Israel.

I think these are fair and balanced words by our President:
For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure.  Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won't create an independent state.  Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection.  And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.

As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values. Our commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable.  And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums.  But precisely because of our friendship, it's important that we tell the truth:  The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.
Those are all good words, but here are the words that may cause the most heartburn:
We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.
It seems not unreasonable to me, except for that "contiguous" part.  With the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, how can it be "contiguous"?

OK, so Israel says fine, we are pulling back to the 1967 borders, except as negotiated between us and Palestine.  Does that bring peace?

If Palestine won't make any changes to the border and Israel just pulls back unilaterally, will that be peace?

If, after Israel pulls back to the 1967 borders and sponsors a UN Resolution proclaiming a State of Palestine, is that peace?

What about the right of return?  What is fair? Or, how many Palestinians being allowed back into Israel is fair?

If, at the end, nothing satisfies the Palestinians and their Arab and Iranian supporters, where do the Israeli People go?  Europe?  Would you want to go back to Europe, if your grandparents had died in the death camps?

Regards  —  Cliff

Mugged by Reality?

That is the view of Commentator Max Boot.  Writing in Commentary Magazine, speaking about foreign affairs, he asserts "Obama Has Been Mugged by Events".

Regards  —  Cliff
2-3 S1 4-0

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Arab Spring

Yes, I am trying to catch up.

Here is a view of the "Arab Spring" from someone who has been living in the Middle East for a couple of years.  The writer is an academic by training and a natural observer of events.
OK.  My observation of events since Egypt (viewing this from inside the Middle East), is that we are watching the beginning of a period of deep personal reflection in the region.  So many people that we know had friends and relatives in Egypt, and we heard the same story from a wide variety of families:  those coming to the square, day after day, were motivated by three things:  a general frustration over corruption, the need for jobs, and the desire to restore a sense of pride in Egypt.  While I know that not all of the thousands had this motive, the themes are there.  When these motives were attacked by clerics... with the charge that the demonstrations were "un islamic"... each participant faced the question.... did they feel that their actions were unislamic?  The various al Jezeera mini documentaries show this dilemma over and over.  Thus, while I agree that there are strong political forces at work, and serious concerns about the outcomes of these "revolutions", I believe that we are seeing a profound period of personal reflection that will be important to the future of the region.  This is about them, not us; this will take time, it will be bumpy.  But it is the reflection of the choice to be citizens, and as I say, a deeply personal period.
Just to add to this anonymous input, it seems to me that the "Arab Spring" is not about "democracy", as we understand it, but about "justice", as Muslim's understand it.  Someone once told me that it was significant that Islam doesn't have a clergy, but does have a lot of lawyers.

Regards  —  Cliff

Dead Carl Alive at Bard

Why we should study Carl Von Clausewitz.

"Clausewitz:  Master of War", by Professor Walter Russell Mead.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday Deadline?

There is still a war ongoing In Libya. We are still involved in military operations in Libya.

An OpEd from The Washington Post.

As the Instapundit notes, maybe The Warpowers Act only applies to Republican Presidents.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This Is NOT A Small Issue

Yes, blogging has been light.  I have been in DC with the lead author, checking on details regarding "The Book".

But, the big news is that The Anchoress weighs in on quote marks and (other) punctuation. Actually, Max Lindenman, as the Anchoress herself is under the weather. The headline, in BOLD, is"The New Punctuation: A Menace to Our Way of Life – UPDATE!".

I think the "Britsh" system is a little clearer and cleaner.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, May 16, 2011

Iraq and the Arab Spring

I saw an assertion that "If Saddam Hussein were still in power, this year's Arab uprisings could never have happened".  Someone with some time and experience in the Near and Middle East opinioned:
I'm sure the neo-arabist will not agree, but my Iraqi friends do and they are very proud of the fact that yes....Iraq set in motion the tremors in the Arab world....not sure if it will lead to anything better but even the grand old man of Arab opinion Hussenein Heykal (who rarely has anything good to say about the US or Iraq) agreed that the Iraqi government structure is best for the Arab world.
This is not about giving credit to anyone or sanctioning the Second Gulf War, but noting that events have origins and sometimes it is useful to acknowledge those origins.  As bumpy as the governmental process is in Iraq, might it not be at least equal to that of Belgium and perhaps good enough to survive for some time.  If it survives, might it give hope to others?

Might Iraq now be ready for US, and other, forces to withdraw?  Sure, it might need further monetary aid and expertise from abroad.  But, it might be ready to stand on its own two feet.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Cloud

Over at the Althouse blog we have this post title:
"Google Introduces New Computer-Like Object, Where Everything Happens On the Web

"Oh? Great. Benefit? It's a neat idea. Drawback? Do you feel lucky? Well, I'm not feeling lucky with Google this week. I'd like to like t..."
The post has an embedded You Tube of the Rolling Stones, way back in 1965, singing "Get Off Of My Cloud".

When I hear The Cloud I think of the book.  Then I ask myself if we are talking "The Cloud of Unknowing" or "the Cloud of Forgetfulness"? In the case of Google, maybe both.

Kad Barma talked to this in a recent post, here.  the shorter Gospel from Kad is "cloud = clown".

The Blogger meltdown earlier in the week has gotten me thinking.  It has not brought me to a conclusion.  Blogger is free and easy to operate and has few annoyances.  Did I mention it was free?  On the other hand, an Apple central server in the house would benefit both my wife and myself in other ways.  What do women say, "You can never have too many shoes!"?

Regards  —  Cliff

To Allow Comments?

The Instapundit gives a good reason for not allowing comments:
One of the reasons I don’t have comments on my blog — besides laziness, which has always been the main reason — is that if you have comments, some dishonest hack will attribute them to you, instead of the commenters.
The source of the reflection is a third party blog commenting on comments on an Althouse blog post on the finalists for Dean of the University of Wisconsin Law School, a matter of public record.  Here is the original Althouse URL, although at this time Google/Blogger hasn't yet restored the link.

As an aside, Moe Lane, at Red State attributed the whole "Blogger" crash to evil forces trying to silence the Althouse blog.

But, back to the original thrust, here are the "Third Party" comments that were originally mentioned—the Brian Leiter blog.
[The Althouse blog has] degenerated into a cesspool of vile misogyny and homophobia (not only multiple calling Margaret Raymond a token “diversity” candidate, but multiple posts opining that she should get the job only if she has “big tits” and speculating that she’s a lesbian).
As a frequent reader of the Althouse blog I find the accusation strange.  I find the blog to be a little racey, but not a forum for hate.  Not to everyone's taste, but a legitimate expression of opinion with a fair amount of cultural reference and earthiness.

Commenting on the issue of breast size, Professor Althouse notes:
All right, that's absurd and over-the-top, but our dear, treasured Titus — a gay man.  He's been talking like that on this blog for years.  The regulars know him.  And they know I love him.  If that's what Leiter and the Anonymous Professor feel such angst about... it's because they don't understand the community here.
Then the Brian Leiter blog posts this EMail from the Dean at the University of Wisconsin Law School:
At today’s faculty meeting, the faculty expressed concerns with the derogatory comments about the three dean finalists recently posted on a blog.  In response to our discussion, I wish to share the following statement:

Like the rest of the Law School community, I was extremely impressed with the caliber of the applicants to be the next Dean of our school, and believe that each of the three finalists would be an outstanding Dean.

That makes it all the more unfortunate that a few individuals have used a blog maintained by one of our own faculty members to post scurrilous comments about the finalists.  To the best of my knowledge, none of the individuals posting these comments claims to have any connection to our school or university.  We are appalled by these remarks.  Kathie Hendley and I have communicated this to each of the finalists.

Given the tenor and nature of the blog comments, I believe that a public response is inappropriate and might give the comments more weight than is warranted.

Please continue to share your thoughts and concerns with me.  I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the law school community.
Prissy.

Then there is the whole AutoAdmit thing, brought up in the anonymous post.  It was a new website to me.  And too Geekie for me.   Apparently with a reputation in some corners.  But, they haven't picked up and responded to the comparison—maybe the participants don't care.

My conclusion at the end of this is that comments are not as embarrassing as unintended connections being drawn from trying to "monetize" the site.  As Professor Althouse notes about "Titus", you tend to know your own Commentariet.  The advertisers, and the code writers who develop the algorithms that link them to you are a total unknown.  Or worse, could include Kad Barma, from over at Choosing a Soundtrack.

Blogging is a communal activity.  Bloggers standing on their blog corners, shouting at bloggers standing on their own corners, seems to miss the whole point of blogging  There are times to speak from one's own blog, because of certain blogging tools available, but one should venture out from time to time and comment elsewhere, and allow reciprocal facilities.

Regards  —  Cliff

None of the Above

As reported in the Deseret News
AP-GfK Poll:  Republicans shrug at GOP's 2012 field
Followers of this blog should not be shocked by this finding.

I found the link on the Drudge Report.  Was Mr Matt Drudge trying to convey some subtle message by picking for this story a link to the Deseret News?

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, May 13, 2011

Don't Give Up Smoking

The US Surgeon General warned, in 1966, that
Cigarette Smoking May be Hazardous to Your Health"
In 1970 the US Surgeon General escalated and said
The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health
But, long before that we, as a community, knew that smoking was not good for you.  The On-Line Dictionary gives an origin date of 1885-90 for the term "coffin nails" for cigarettes.

When I first joined the Air Force, in the early 1960s (as a cadet), the definition of an optimist was an F-105 pilot who had given up smoking for fear of dying of cancer.

So, with that background, I recommend that we save money by not conducting any anti-smoking campaigns or smoking cessation efforts at our locals schools.

The reason is that the students are much more likely to be killed jay-walking, to include walking against the light, than to live long enough to die of cancer or some other smoking related disease.  In particular, during periods of arrival at or departure from the High School, students act as though the streets of downtown Lowell are one big walking plaza.  And, the truth is, the teachers and administrators do not offer a good example for the students.  They are violating the law in fact and in spirit just as much as the students, or so it appears to a driver having to navigate the streets during those hours.

Regards  —  Cliff

School Committee Candidate Announcement

Kristen For Kids

On Sunday The Lowell Sun carried an article by Jenn Myers that Kristen Ross-Sitcawich had thrown her hat in the ring for School Committee.  More candidates is a good thing.

The thing I really liked in the article in The Lowell Sun, and in particular this quote, was..
Our number one focus needs to be put squarely back into our classrooms; prioritizing our investment in data-driven initiatives, early learning, enrichment programming, all of which is central to our city's mission in building a solid economic base.
… the use of the term "data-driven".

Lord Kelvin, back in 1883, said:
When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind.
I worry that often when we are talking about educating our youth our knowledge is of the "meager and unsatisfactory kind".

Go visit Kristin's website, here.

Regards  —  Cliff

Blogger Buzz:  Blogger is back

Blogger Buzz:  Blogger is back.  Kad mentioned this, but I didn't see the link.  Heck, I didn't even know that this site existed, although ught I guess I should have guessed it.

I am a little dubious about the claimed 20.5 hour outage.  Seemed like more than that to me.

Regards  —  Cliff

Weekend Joke (Late)

The Weekend Joke over at Happy Catholic shows different views based upon ethnicity and nation of origin.
A German tourist walks into a McDonald's in New York City and orders a beer. (In Germany and many parts of Europe, McDonald's actually does serve beer.)

The local guy in the line behind him immediately gives him the jab: "They don't serve BEER here, you MORON!"

The German fellow felt pretty stupid, but suddenly turns to the New Yorker with a surprised look, and begins to chuckle.

"And what's so funny?" the New Yorker demands.

"Oh, nothing really, I just realized that you came here for the food."
Just because we think it is one way doesn't mean everyone does.

Regards  —  Cliff

BLOGGER IS BACK

Well, I hope Blogger is back and we can get on with exchanging inanities.

It seemed the engine was down for around 36 hours, although I am open to fraternal correction.  I am up and running, although it appears the Althouse Blog is not.  The advantage of being a small-time operator.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Great Satan's Girlfriend

The irony of this one is palpable for DM. He's been working this one since first discovering Courtney's blog . . .
This is complicated.

I have only just recently stumbled upon this blog.  I am not yet sure it is a good thing.  Maybe CPT Greg Page can help us out.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Bizarre" Departure of School Superintendent Questioned

On Saturday, the Chairman of Lowell Publishing, Co, Kendall Wallace, started out his "Saturday Chat" with this line:
Through a bizarre set of circumstances, the city of Lowell will have a new superintendent of schools next month, who is the first in a decade to come from within the city's public school system.
The column was a nice discussion of and congratulations to Jean Franco, our new Superintendent of Schools.

Congratulations Ms Franco and welcome on board in the top slot.

But, back to the use of the word "bizarre".  I think that Mr Wallace is joshing us with that word.  There was nothing bizarre about the decision on the part of the School Committee to not make an offer to Dr Chris Scott.  The members of the School Committee, or most of them at any rate, had finally drawn the conclusion that Dr Scott was sailing her own course and that she felt that she did not need to let the School Committee get in the way.  The issue with the Alternative High School makes the point.  The questions tabled by School Committee members that went unanswered made the point.

If Dr Scott had followed the traditional model of "It is easier to get forgiveness than permission" it might have worked.  Instead, it seems to me, she followed the Admiral Nelson model and put her spy glass up to her blind eye and sailed on, ignoring the signals being hoisted for her to read.  The bizarreness was in Dr Scotts independence of the School Committee.

In addition to that, and those I have asked have denied it strongly, the Regina Faticanti imbroglio must have been in the back of their minds.  Dr Scott was willing to take School Committee Member Faticanti to court and make her eat humble pie.  This helped force Ms Faticanti off the School Committee.  Frankly, the whole thing seemed like something that could have been worked out by adults without dragging the public and the courts into it.  I made it a mark against Dr Scott.  That said, others took advantage of the error and prospered.

In the mean time, as Mr Wallace seems to be suggesting a "steady as she goes" approach:
There was a sense the committee wanted to select a local person to bring some stability to the system that has been somewhat shaken by the circumstances of Scott's departure.

Franco won't need a road map to guide her through the issues the city's public schools are facing. She has been a major player in the operation of the Lowell schools for years and has pretty solid support from a wide variety of staff.
I am a little dubious.  Is the present course the proper one?  What will be the strategic vision of the new School Superintendent and what will be the measures by which we gauge our progress toward that goal?

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.  And, besides, the Editor tells me the links cost money after a few weeks.  It is the new business model.

The Atlantic Goes Rogue

From The Atlantic we have this psuedo-positive article on Governor Sarah Palin, by Joshua Green, titled "The Tragedy of Sarah Palin".

This is via the Althouse blog, where there are comments  Professor Althouse says:
I've been staring at the odd illustration, a weirdly masculinized painting of Palin. That title and that painting... so angsty... so expressive of something eating at the hearts of Palin-haters.
As one commenter notes, the downturn at the corners of the mouth look unnatural.

If you read the article, note the comments about Mr Bill Allen, who will, I hope, show up in a future blog post about the Senator Ted Stevens corruption trial and its aftermath.

Regards  —  Cliff

Doing Business With Totalitarian Regimes

Doing business with totalitarian regimes is distasteful.  They are not our kind of people.  They are the antithesis of the American ideal.

Still, totalitarian regimes are out there, in various forms, abusing their own People and also others (like North Korea kidnapping Japanese citizens).  They abound.  We can deal with them or ignore them.

This short extract from the Night Watch report for the night of 9 May 2011 points out why working with such regimes is of value.
The US relationship with Pakistan has shallow roots for another reason. An entire generation of Pakistani military officers have received no training in US military schools and courses because International Military Education and Training (IMET) was cut off in 1990. Chinese military authorities know more about the next generation of Pakistani military leaders than the US.
So, we give the cold shoulder to Pakistan and they turn elsewhere and we miss the opportunity to learn about our nuclear armed "neighbors" in an increasingly shrinking world.

The Night Watch report goes on to make the case for engagement with Pakistan.
Long after the US withdraws soldiers from Afghanistan, Pakistan will be important to the US because it has nuclear weapons that can be used against India and proliferated to Arab states.  Secondly, it has close security relations with China that are not congruent with US interests in South Asia and the Middle East.

The long term interests seem to outweigh the short term interests in doing more to control terrorists.  Terrorists do damage, but nothing remotely comparable, yet, to the inescapable consequences of a potential nuclear war between Pakistan and India.  Without exaggeration, millions of people would die in such a nuclear exchange, the first between two less developed nations.

In the unavoidable tradeoffs between US tactical and strategic interests, one way out would be to tolerate Pakistani shortcomings on terrorism while focusing on maintaining the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons; on supporting a secular, elected government in Islamabad; on preventing nuclear war in South Asia, and on limiting the expansion of Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean region …with the proviso that whenever the US finds anti-US terrorists in Pakistan, it will kill them without permission, warning or apology.  There is no need to turn up the heat on Pakistan; just continue doing what best serves the interests of a great power, going forward.
I think this makes some sense.  As for the nuclear war possibility, the really scary thing is not millions of people dying.  The really scary thing is that at the end of the day the Earth's human population would change about 1% and the world might conclude that nuclear weapons really were OK to use.  Remember, in World War Two some 60 million people died, and we didn't give up war after than conflict.  At that time the world population was about 2.3 billion and today it is closer to 6.5 billion.

But, to our foreign policy, President George Washington set the tone described above:
Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages, which might be lost by a steady adherence to it?

. . .

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur.
Let's not get all worked up about Pakistan and Osama bin Laden.  It is possible they didn't know.  It is possible that some small faction inside their Intelligence Apparatus knew and wasn't telling anyone.  We have our justice.  We should now let it go.  There are bigger fish to fry and this will soon recede into memory, but the future stretches before us.

Regards  —  Cliff

Is God Speaking to Me?

I got a short EMail this AM from my youngest Brother.  In his capacity as an instructor at Defense Acquisition University, Defense Systems Management College, School of Program Managers, he was doing some research.
I went to the National Archives and Records Administration Code of Federal Regulations on the Government Printing Office website to look at Title 48, Federal Acquisition Regulations System.  When I clicked on Department of the Treasury, I got USAID.  Is GPO warning me to cash in my savings bonds now?
Interesting.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, May 9, 2011

"Banality of Evil"

This article in today's International Herald Tribune isn't great, but it does bring up some interesting issues about the Holocaust and the treatment of the perpetrators (and victims) in the years that followed.

The article is in the Arts Section of The New York Times Online, but page A-1 of the New England Print Edition.

The article covers a new exhibition on SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Adolf Eichmann at the Topography of Terrorism Museum, in Berlin.  For those too young to remember, Lt Col Eichmann was assigned by Obergruppenführer (General) Reinhard Heydrich to organize the logistics of the round-up and deportation of Jews to the German Death Camps in Poland.

Philosopher Hannah Arendt came in for some strange criticism in the article and in the exhibition
…reappraising the work of philosopher Hannah Arendt, pointing out that she failed to attend much of the trial, never saw Eichmann cross-examined and thus didn't witness his "just following orders" defense crumble.

"Neither perverted nor sadistic," is how Arendt described Eichmann, but "terribly and terrifyingly normal."
In this age of Osama bin Laden, Ms Arendt's description still rings true to me.  Evil, micro and macro, still abounds.  The atrocities in Communist nations in the Twentieth Century, are ignored.  The Rwanda Genocide, and other like it, are just too hard to deal with.  For quite some time it was too difficult and too politically chargted to deal with ethnic cleansing in the Balkins.  Then there are those incidents like the several women in a McDonalds in Maryland, kicking another woman senseless.  And yesterday (as in Sunday) it was Salafis thugs in Egypt, persecuting the Christian miniority.
Christians blamed Saturday's deadly sectarian clashes at two churches near Cairo on Egypt's ultraconservative Salafis, a radical Islamist ideology whose growing influence is worrying both secularists and the country's Christian minority.
In the end, it is our own indifference, reinforced by the reality that we can't do everything—so we do nothing.  One arguement about not going into Libya this Spring was that we were not also willing to go into Syria.  On the other hand, if France and its allies, including us, can fix the Libya problem, then maybe Syria will take note and change its approach to its own protestors.

Regards  —  Cliff

Other Views on the OBL Event

Over at Guernica we have the views of MIT's own Norm Noam Chomsky on the US takedown of the Osama bin Laden compound.  Mr Chomsky has 80 "commands" making the assault, rather than 26 SEALs.  Even with the TF-160 aviators, I don't think it would have come to 50.

Mr Chomsky wanted Mr bin Laden taken alive.  My suspicion is that Mr bin Laden didn't want to be taken alive.  Perhaps most pertinent to the issue was the environmental conditions at the time.  It was night.  Things are harder at night.  On the other hand, a daylight raid would have denied our forces several advantages and would have likely resulted in collateral damage and the deaths of uninvolved civilians in the area.

Like Admiral Yamamoto, he was a commander in an ongoing conflict.  he was doing his duty as he saw fit and s were the SEALs, God bless them.

Back to Mr Chomsky, he says:
We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic.  Uncontroversially, his crimes vastly exceed bin Laden’s, and he is not a “suspect” but uncontroversially the “decider” who gave the orders to commit the “supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” (quoting the Nuremberg Tribunal) for which Nazi criminals were hanged:  the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country, the bitter sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region.
"Uncontroversially"?  Maybe in Cambridge, Mass, but not in Lowell, Mass.  I enjoy talking with those of differing views, but the distance here seems a little wide for a serious exploration of the views of each other.

Then there is the question of Holder v. Holder, as Andrew C McCarthy, of the National Review Online.  Te question raised is how conflicted our Attorney General would have been if Mr bin Laden were taken alive.

You pays your money and you takes your chances.

UPDATE:  I said "Norm" and it is Noam Chomsky.  My apologizes.  As for TF-160...back in the day it was.

Regards  —  Cliff

Language in the US

I fully understand stores going bi-lingual or even tri-lingual, if that helps them draw in its natural customer base.

According to Wikipedia
Multilingualism is becoming a social phenomenon governed by the needs of globalization and cultural openness.
What I don't understand is a one-size-fits-all approach that assumes that if folks in the local area are not English speakers, they are Spanish speakers.

Take our local Sears at Stadium Plaza (granted, in Tewksbury, on the northern fringes, but still a Lowell store).  Even when it was K-Mart and clerks were from Cambodian families, the second language was Spanish.

Entrance to the Sears at Stadium Plaza

Closeup of Sears Entrance

So, I went to the 2010 Census data and Lowell has 21,513 people of Asian ethnic heritage and 18,396 who noted themselves as being Hispanic.  We also had 3,867 who claimed to be of two or more races.

So, my question is, is Spanish the "default" second language and if it is, by consensus, should it be?  I actually have no firm answer in my mind, but am looking for other thoughts, aside from the predictable "if they can't speak English the heck with them".

For enquiring minds, yes, I was in there purchasing something Sunday morning at about ten.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, May 8, 2011

View of Immaculate Conception Church

A shot of the Immaculate Conception Church from across the corner.
As you can see from the crane truck to the left of the flowering tree, the Church is undergoing renovation.  The roof has needed work and the interface between the stone outside and the brick inside also needs work.  Every weekend a second collection adds to the amount to pay for this renovation for one of the most interesting building in Lowell.

Regards  —  Cliff