Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Here We Go Again?

Iranian Students storm British Embassy in Tehran.  From The Wall Street Journal:
Student protesters loyal to the government stormed the British embassy in Tehran and its residential compound Tuesday in the most serious security breach of diplomatic sites since the American embassy takeover in 1979.

Live television footage from Iran's state broadcaster showed angry mobs climbing on the wall of the British embassy building in downtown Tehran and two young men attempting to break the lock on the iron gate of the compound. They brought down the Union Jack flag and raised Iran's, according to Iranian news media, and took some occupants hostage which were later released.
Here is the article at al Jazeera.

Does anyone remember the last time?

Regards  —  Cliff

Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva (RIP)

Yesterday the Althouse blog had a post on the death of Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva, the only daughter of Joseph Stalin.  I should have posted something, but I did not.  She died 22 November, in Richland Center, Wisconsin, at the age of 85.

Today comes this story from The Chicago Boyz, on one of her teenage relationships, with mention of the tallest building in Moscow, the Lubyanka Prison—"From there you can see all the way to Siberia."

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fraud Abounds

From "Gerry"; not our Gerry, best I can tell:
I feel like I'm living in the Weimar Republic. Everything seems fraudulent.

When the euro finally goes, maybe a new cycle of the same-old will begin.

This is not a good feeling.
Ths was in response to a post at the Althouse blog about fraudulent science out of Tilburg University, in the Netherlands.  The subject of the inquiry was psychologist Diederik Stapel, Tilburg University’s former professor of cognitive social psychology and dean of its School of Social and Behavioral Sciences.  Per Inside Higher Education he "was regarded as one of Europe’s top researchers in the field."

Fraud in science.  Who could imagine?

Regards  —  Cliff

Terrorism Definition

Terrorism works by convincing otherwise free, prosperous, and reasonably secure polities to adopt foolish and counterproductive policies.  On that score, the terrorists are still wracking up victories.  And they will continue to do so, even if they never again carry out a "successful" attack.
The author is anonymous, but the sentiment is spot on.

The goal in any fight with terrorists should be to move the fight from nation military and police forces to local police departments.  For the United Staes, a clear sign we are winning will be the elimination of the Department of Homeland Security and the elimination of some functions and the reapportionment of other functions.

UPDATE:  Here is a shorter version of the above statement, buy the same person.
Terrorism works by convincing otherwise free, prosperous, and reasonably secure polities to adopt foolish and counterproductive policies.
Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute.

Regards  —  Cliff

Elections in Egypt Today

From Night Watch we have this comment on the recent elections in Morocco and the future in the Near and Middle East:
The so-called moderate Islamists of Morocco already have announced their platform for "Islamicization."  Election day in Egypt is 28 November [Today].  A win for the Muslim Brotherhood will mean three data points in favor of elected Islamist governments - Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt.  That is a trend for Yemen and Syria, in the near term, and the Arab monarchies eventually
But, what does it really mean?  War on Israel?  Economic breakout due to increased democracy and reduced corruption?  A return to the Eleventh Century?

Regards  —  Cliff

Barney to Not Run in 2012?

Over at Drudge we have a link to a very short article saying that at a 1 PM Presser Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) will announce he is not runnig for a ninth term.  The link is to CNN.

There is little doubt that Rep Frank has been a powerful force in the Lower House.

Regards  —  Cliff

28 November in History

Here is a slightly different spin on the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.  At the Command Post blog is an article by Historian John Wukovits, saying Admiral William Halsey departed Pearl on this date with what he thought was a license to attack Japanese ships or aircraft that passed his way.
On November 27 [Admiral Husband] Kimmel received a dispatch from the Navy Department alerting him to the imminent threat of war.  The message referred to Southeast Asia, the Philippines, or Borneo as the likely avenues of advance.

Kimmel took fast action.  That same day he ordered Halsey to ferry twelve Marine fighters, under the command of Major Paul A. Putnam, to Wake Island in an attempt to bolster that outpost’s defenses.  “We fully expected that the trip with these Marines was leading us into the lion’s mouth and that an overt act might occur and war be precipitated at any moment,” Halsey stated in his memoirs.  When he asked Kimmel what action he could take should he encounter any Japanese on the way to Wake, Kimmel gave him a free hand.  “Goddam [sic] it, use your common sense,” he replied.

Halsey needed little prodding.  His Academy classmate had just given him orders that were tantamount to telling him to start the war should the opportunity arise.  He appreciated Kimmel’s faith in him, as Halsey would be the man on the spot and could better determine the proper reaction in a crisis.  “I think that was as fine an order as a subordinate ever received and there was no attempt to pass the buck,” explained Halsey.
This is excerpted from the longer article, which is, itself, an extract from Admiral “Bull” Halsey: The Life and Wars of the Navy’s Most Controversial Commander by John Wukovits.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The "New" Mass

Saturday at the Four we had our first taste of the New Mass, the one that, in my mind, goes back to some old forms.  I thought it went well, with both Priest and Congregation showing flexibility and good humor.

For those of you who have not been to Mass since Easter and are planning on going at Christmas, now would be a good time to check on the new working of various prayers and responses.  It isn't hard.  For example, "And with your Spirit" is back.  In the Confiteor we are back to "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault."  Little things like that.

Here is the new text for the People, with the new text on the right (darker blue background).

Regards  —  Cliff

Improv

No Oscar's, but still, a nice diversion.  Star Wars on a Subway Car.

Regards  —  Cliff

BBC View of Last Week's Debate

From The Beeb's North American Correspondent, Mark Mardell, we have this view of last week's Republican Candidates debate.

As a follow-up point on the debate, I would think recent events in Pakistan have shown that Rep Michele Bachmann has a more realistic view of the situation than Rep Ron Paul, although Mr Paul's view might hold if we are thinking of just washing our hands of everything East of the 22nd Meridian (East).

Regards  —  Cliff

Bureaucracy Run Amok

At least it isn't here, in these United States.

I admit this is old news (18 November 2011), but it is still instructive.  Within the European Union (EU) is the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA), which has ruled that bottled water producers may not claim drinking water can reduce dehydration.  There you have it. 

Our thanks to The Telegraph for this information.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Typo?

I think they meant Rep Michele Bachmann in this article.

From Fox News we have this headline
Sen. McCaskill Requests Probe Into $433M Smallpox Drug Contract
The lede is:
A Democratic senator called this week for an investigation into a $433 million government contract for a smallpox drug amid questions over the necessity of the drug and the way the contract was approved
$433 Million seems like a nice chunk of change, but is probably just a drop in the Federal Budget (and deficit).

Hat tip to my Wife and Neal.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tax Increases Examined

Do you think the photo Blogger Micky Kaus uses on his blog is because he is going bald on the top?  One would hope it is because he sees his eyes as his best feature.

His most recent post talks to Commentator Ann Coulter and Republican resistance to tax increases.  His post is short and to the point:
My translation: Tax increases aren’t unthinkable in themselves.  If we could get a deal that actually guaranteed spending cuts and also included tax increases–maybe because the spending cuts had to happen first–Coulter would take it.
Then Mr Kaus adds a postscript:
P.S.:  The dirtly little secret, of course, is that you can’t count on Republican congresspeople to actually implement spending cuts either, given the power of government-dependent lobbies (including both contractors and aid recipients).
That is the way I see it.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

What is an Activist?

Over at al Jazeera is an article reporting on "Activists" going to the International Crimnal Court (ICC), in The Hague, accusing Mexican President Felipe Calderon (and Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the Sinaloa drug cartel leader) of war crimes.
A lawyer for the group of 23 activists who have signed the complaint of war crimes against the president said Calderon's offensive against drug cartels had involved about 470 cases of human rights violations by the army or police.

The activists accuse Calderon of systematically allowing troops to kill, kidnap and torture civilians.
Remember, if you are a recreational user of illegal drugs you are a contributor to this mess.

As for the question, per Wikipedia, an activist is anyone with a pulse and an interest in the betterment of society, like, for example, the Tea Parties.  As for OWS, while they have a pulse, I am not sure they are for the betterment of society or not.  I worry they are for the regimentation of society.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, November 25, 2011

Have We Come to This?

Here is a post by the Instapundit.
Parents Sue D.A. for Charging Their 6-Year-Old Son With a Felony After He Played Doctor With a 5-Year-Old Girl.  But no one should be shielded by their office from consequences for this kind of jackassery. And there certainly seem to be a lot of rotten officials in Wisconsin.
Have we come to this?  Are parents unable to talk to each other, across the fence, about what is going on?  Must the government supervise every interaction?

Regards  —  Cliff

William Bulger

I am reading Render Unto Rome:  The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church.  Per the Kindle, I am 23% of the way through the book.  My location is where then Archbishop Seán O'Malley is visiting the Vatican and Cardinal Castrillón in particular.

This passage made me ask myself, if Massachsetts Senate President William Bulger had been a Bishop and his brother, Whitey, had been a Priest, guilty of pedophilia, rather than mere murder, would the People of Massachusetts have been more willing to condemn him (William) for his (William's) willingness to shelter his brother and protect him.

I think so.

Regards  — Cliff

Climategate 2.0

Over at Watts Up With That we have a short discussion of the "Climategate" EMails, Version 2.0.  On the one hand you have the admission that the "Data" isn't available.  This is, of course, ridiculous from a scientific point of view.  If the dog ate your homework you are back at Square One.  There is no way to grade your homework and thus no credibility.  Mr David Palmer, Freedom of Information Officer for the CRU, wrote, at the time:
My head is beginning to spin here but I read this as meaning that he wants the raw station data; we don’t know which data belongs to which station, correct?
Yes, it does sound like Mr Palmer believes someone has his hand in the cookie jar.

The author of the Blog Post, Mr Willis Eschenbach, puts his finger on the larger issue, the issue that creates libertarian urges in the People:
My conclusion after all this time is that Phil [Jones] truly didn’t get it.  He actually didn’t understand.  He was not the owner of private data.  He was the curator of public data. He didn’t understand that FOI requests are legal documents.  Throughout the whole episode he treated them as some kind of optional request to grant or not as he saw fit.  In this he was aided and abetted by David Palmer.
A serious problem with the whole climate change issue is scientists trying to act like politicians.

Last evening I was in a discussion of this issue and a PhD in Marine Biology made the point that some impacts of "global warming" can be quickly reversed.  That was interesting.  The flip side was the mention of the question of how we reverse greenhouse gases with China and India still trying to grow to where Western economies are now.  We talked soft coal, hard coal, gas and nuclear power and no one had a nervous breakdown.  There are hard problems out there and we need new engineering solutions and a realization that tradeoffs will be required.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Some Not So Good News

"US Embassy Damascus warning Americans to leave."  That from a reliable source.

This, along with this news rumor on Turkey and Arab states agreeing to put up a "no fly" zone over Syria.

Regards  —  Cliff

Holiday Greetings

Happy Thanksgiving


Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Last Night's Debate

Thanks to Law Professor Ann Althouse, from the Althouse Blog, we have the link to the transcript from last night's Republican Presidential Debate.

She linked to it for her discussion of former Speaker Newt Gingrich and his discussion of illegal immigrants in this nation.

I discussed http://right-side-of-lowell.blogspot.com/2011/11/secure-borders.html.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Super-Committee Leaks

Apparently there is word that Arizona Senator Jon Kyle (R) blocked progress.  Over at The Washington Post Ms Jennifer Rubin disputes that.

Ms Rubin notes that her colleague, Columnist Dana Milbank, wrote that Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) was “the committee member who had done more than any other to assure its failure.”  Apparently Ms Rubin was not convinced:
I asked Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the former head of the Office of Management and Budget who is regarded as an effective deal-maker, about Kyl. He shot back: “Having been a key part in the negotiations with Vice President Biden this summer, Senator Kyl played a very constructive role, including building upon the Biden talks to identify billions of dollars of spending reforms on the mandatory and discretionary sides that had a degree of bipartisan support. These policies would have been at the core of any package had we come together.”
And, from listening to the President talk about the 12 Apostles throwing up their hands, I thought the Republicans offered no tax increases.  Now comes Ms Rubin saying that Senatory Pat Toomey (R-PA) had a quarter of a trillion dollars to offer.

It is out there somewhere and some guy with a lamp is looking for it.  I hope he finds it.

Regards  —  Cliff

Huntsman on National Security

Over at CNN we have Republican Presidential Candidate, Ambassador Jon Huntsman, writing about national security.  It is an interesting and innovative look at national security.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Secure The Borders

At 1+38 into the CNN/Heritage Foundation Presidential Candidate National Security Debate we got to something that I thought was interesting and doable and reasonable.  Former Speaker Newt Gingrich said we need to secure the border and then convene local boards to review local resident illegal immigrants and those with family and ties to the local community and those who have made themselves Americans should be given a legal status.  Not Citizenship.  But, a legal status to remain here for the rest of their lives.

Governor Rick Perry agreed with him.  Others did not.

The thing I would tie to this is that for immigrants to whom we grant citizenship, we should require that they renounce their former allegiance and we should make it an automatic renunciation of ones US Citizenship to take up citizenship in another country.  But, that is just me.

Regarding Iran, I think we not act to take down their capabilities, but give them a strong signal of deterrence.  If we attack Iran, and that is what it would take, we are making war on Iran and many would die.  On the hand, with deterrence we have the chance of never going to war.

Regards  —  Cliff

Greece and Rich People

From Nigh Watch we have this little item on what is happening in Greece, as their national finances melt away:
Greece-EU:  For the record.  The European Commission is helping Greece negotiate an agreement with Switzerland to repatriate as much as $81 billion believed to be in Swiss bank accounts, a high level European Union executive body official said on 17 November.  The European Commission is working with Switzerland and Greece to stop what it believes is an ongoing exodus of money from Greek bank accounts into Swiss and other offshore banking centers, the EU official said.

Comment:  Greek account holders broke no laws in safeguarding their wealth in Swiss bank accounts, but they stand to lose a great deal under a repatriation agreement, which amounts to national expropriation.
How are we to look at this?
  1. Is this a morality play in which the rich are being punished for being rich and following their self-interest?
  2. Is this a case of the rich being overly rich, since they got that way because it was everyone else who built the road, etc, so they could then use their smarts and skills to get rich and now it is payback time?
  3. Is this a case of the rich being the available deep pockets?
  4. Is this a case of the Government doing what it must to stay afloat and it doesn't matter who gets hurt, as long as they can get re-elected next time around?
The real question, of course, is this a play that is coming to a nation near you?

Regards  —  Cliff

Unconventional Oil Sources?

This was a new term for me.  I have also noted that gas prices on Rogers Street are down a few cents a gallon.

From Reuters, via Arab News is this:
The speech by Saudi Aramco’s Chief Executive Khalid Al-Falih was the first from the oil exporter to acknowledge that unconventional oil was set to shift the energy balance of power and cut US dependence on Middle East crude.

“The abundance of resources and the more ‘balanced’ geographical distribution of unconventionals have reduced the much-hyped concerns over ‘energy security’ which once served as the undercurrent driving energy policies and dominated the global energy debate,” Al-Falih said.

For years oil markets, nervously watching pressure on limited spare production capacity, have obsessed over Saudi Arabia’s supply cushion as the last defense against prices spiraling higher.

“A few years ago, much of the global energy debate was based on the premise of acute resource scarcity and its economic and political ramifications,” Al-Falih said.

“Rather than supply scarcity, oil supplies remain at comfortable levels, even given rising demand from fast-growing nations like China and India,” he added.
On the other hand, the current administration seems to be slowing the exploitation of these unconventional oil sources.  In some bases, like the Keystone Pipeline, the oil will flow elsewhere and since oil is fungible around the world, the price will not be impacted, except in terms of transportation costs.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  Just in passing, shouldn't paragraphs tend to have more than one sentence?

"[T]hey have this conscience thing..."

So spoke US House of Representatives Minority Leader, Ms Nancy Pelosi.  From the Instapundit to Hot Air to The Washington Post.

Your milage may differ.

Regards  —  Cliff

Long Time Coming

The Instapundit sent me to The Fiscal Times this AM, for an article titled "Goldwater's Disastrous Prophecy Has Come True".

I actually think the headline writer bumbled, the article author, Jennifer DePaul, wrote that Senator Goldwater did say
If the government is left to it's own devices "the glory that is America might go the way of the glory that was Rome".
The blame, this AM, seems to be going to Grover Norquist and his no new tax pledge.

Maybe Mr Norquist is that powerful, but I doubt it.  What is more powerful, IMHO, is the belief that any tax increase, rather than going to reduce the Federal annual budget deficit and pay down the Federal Debt, will go to pay for more spending.

If I thought we had finally rejected Keynesian Economics and turned the corner on excessive spending, I would be happy to vote for a reasonable tax increase, as part of real tax reform.

Regards  —  Cliff

Senator Kerry as Stock Trader

Maybe it is just his wife.

Regards  —  Cliff

You Get More of What You Reward

A Guest Post from The Other Cliff, sent last night.

Today on the way home from work, I stopped at a bad auto accident to help out.  Several things about this accident jumped out at me.  First, a description.  This was an offset head-on collision; the worst you can have.  In such a collision, the two drivers meet head-on, with only the driver's side of each car overlapping.  In this accident, both cars were totaled beyond recognition.  One car had been moving at the speed limit of 55 and the other at about 40.  When I got there seconds after the accident, one of the cars was smoking, but the smoldering was contained to the engine compartment, or what was left of it, and did not spread.  The other car, a Hyundai Sonata of recent vintage, was so destroyed that the front left wheel was canted in, from the top, more than 50 degrees.  The running board was on the ground.

What is striking to me is that, while the fire department was going to have to use the jaws of life to get the Hyundai driver out of the car, that was more of a preventative measure.  Had he felt up to it, he could have crawled out under his own power.  I know from personal experience (about 7 years as a firefighter/EMT) that had these cars been twenty years older, this would have been a double fatality.  As it is, I'm betting both drivers will be home tonight, or tomorrow at the latest.

Engineering has come a long way in a short time, and we have two more taxpayers alive tonight who can absorb some more of societies burdens because of it.  Can any of the liberal arts majors make the same claim?  If the taxpayers are going to continue to fund student loans, perhaps we should reconsider our criteria, after all, you get more of what you reward and you get more of what you make easier to achieve.

The Other Cliff

Monday, November 21, 2011

Justice Scalia and Justice

Over at al jazeera is an OpEd on US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Frankly, it is written by someone who does not seem to be an admirer, Professor Corey Robin, who teaches political science at Brooklyn College.
Scalia takes special pleasure in unhappy consequences. He relishes difficulty and dislikes anyone who would diminish or deny it. In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, a plurality of the Court took what Scalia thought was a squishy position on executive power during wartime. The Court ruled that the Authorisation for the Use of Military Force, passed by Congress after 9/11, empowered the president to detain US citizens indefinitely as "illegal enemy combatants" without trying them in a court of law. It also ruled, however, that such citizens were entitled to due process and could challenge their detention before some kind of tribunal.

Scalia was livid. Writing against the plurality - as well as the Bush administration and fellow conservatives on the Court - he insisted that a government at war, even one as unconventional as the war on terror, had two, and only two, ways to hold a citizen: try him in a court of law or have Congress suspend the writ of habeas corpus. Live by the rules of due process, in other words, or suspend them. Take a stand, make a choice.

But the Court weaseled out of that choice, making life easier for the government and itself. Congress and the president could act as if habeas corpus were suspended, without having to suspend it, and the Court could act as if the writ hadn't been suspended thanks to a faux due process of military tribunals. More than coloring outside the lines of the Constitution, it was the Court's "Mr. Fix-It Mentality", in Scalia's words, its "mission to Make Everything Come Out Right", that enraged him.
I, for one, agree with the Justice on this.

That said, I feel that someone who takes the field of battle against US forces has committed an act of war against the US and should be put in a POW camp for the duration, plus.  I would not be as extreme as the Soviet Union, which kept German POWs from World War II until 1956, more than a decade.  US Citizens who commit acts against the US Government and the People of the United States, on US territory, in support of an enemy, should be tried for treason.  Let the chips fall where they may.

Regards  —  Cliff

12 Apostles Fail

Fox News is telling us that the 12 Apostles (The Congressional Super Committee) have agreed they can't agree.  That is a disappointment.  However, I don't think this failure diminishes Senator John F Kerry's standing—given where he stands.

I talked about this earlier, here.

Here is the Super Committee membership:

 DemocratsRepublicans
Senate MembersPatty Murray, Washington, Co-Chair
Max Baucus, Montana
John Kerry, Massachusetts
Jon Kyl, Arizona
Rob Portman, Ohio
Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania
House MembersXavier Becerra, California
Jim Clyburn, South Carolina
Chris Van Hollen, Maryland
Jeb Hensarling, Texas, Co-Chair
Fred Upton, Michigan
Dave Camp, Michigan

I hope the Fox News report is incorrect.

Regards  —  Cliff

Where Does Newt Stand...

..with reard to Evangelicals?  Just the other day, at Applebe's, I was saying that I thought that Newt Gingrich's conversion to Catholicism seemed genuine to me, given that I thought Evangelicals might not look kindly on his defection from his Baptst faith, and Mr Gingrich would know that.

Now, via Hot Air, comes PJ Media with an article titled "Why Evangelicals May Win the Nomination for Newt Gingrich".

Of course, it is Newt vs Mitt, and Governor Romney is probably judged the more liberal, and with Herman Cain seeming to be fading...

Hat tip to Hot Air.

Regards  —  Cliff

OWS Future—Scott Turow proposal

Lawyer and Novelist Scott Turow has proposed the OWS movement make as its goal the enactment of a Constitutional Amendment limiting that free speech which is in the form of campaign spending.  Usually, in these kinds of incidents, the person proposing does not go down all the possible rabbit holes this kind of thing could create, because the proposal is "good" and "what could go wrong?".  But, in the back of my mind I remember the RICO statute, which had a laser like focus on organized crime and then ended up being used against abortion protesters.  What could go wrong?  Lawyers.

Here is the proposal:
The Congress and the States shall regulate the direct and indirect expenditure of private funds on the electoral process in order to ensure that no group, entity or individual exercises unequal influence on an election by those means.
Will this include The New York Times and The Boston Globe as one entity for the purposes of reporting, or two?

If you want to see a discussion, you can go to the Althouse Blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Being Thankful

As we move toward Thanksgiving I would like to reflect back by linking to an OpEd by Washington Post Columnist George Will.  This column, discussing the tenth anniversary of 9/11, opens up some questions, but I would hope, gives us a chance to talk about where we have been and where we are going.

Choices were made after 9/11.  Some of them were good and some were bad.  I suspect some of the good ones look bad in retrospect.  Some of the bad ones may now look good.  and the mix continues.

President George W Bush telling us to all go shop was probably a good decision, as the economy suffered a major shock on 9/11.  In some ways it sent bad signals, like we didn't have to worry about the cost of the war, but in others ways it stabilized the economy.

Going into Iraq, while filled with hope that Iraq would become another democracy, like Italy, Germany and Japan after World War Two, turned out to be a bad idea.  One of the problems with war is that the outcome can never be guarantees, even when big nations pick on small ones.  Very high probability is not certitude.

Moving to smack down al Qaeda and the Taliban was a good idea.  Hanging around to do nation building may have been a bad choice, although finally tracking down Osama bin Laden made it feel like a good decision.  Sadly, there is no way of telling.  And, if you are of a mind to right all the world's wrongs, then Afghanistan would be a good place to start, given how the rulers were treating women and religious minorities.

But, the past is past and we have to think of the future.  We need to inspire out children with a vision of a better world.  But, what is that better world?  I don't think it is one where the US will be the sole superpower, telling everyone else what to do.  But, it will be one where we cooperate with other big players and achieve good things—or not.

One thing I hope the future is not is a time when we jettison friends for the sake of living in peace ourselves, while other suffer from our decisions.  There needs to be a moral dimension to what we do.  Someone recently suggested, on the pages of The New York Times, that we jettison Taiwan for a reduction of our debt to China.  That would be a case of a decision bad on moral grounds.

Let us reflect this week on who we are and where we are going.

And a Happy Thanksgiving, in case I forget to say it on Thursday.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dollar Down

Saturday, around 1130, I drove down to the [St Joseph the Worker] Shrine, to be shriven.  I parked on Kirk Street, which is appropriate, since Kirk is another word for church.

I found a parking space at meter "9D".  It says on the meter "DOLLAR COIN FOR CONVENIENCE".  It also has a sticker, in yellow, with back lettering, that says, "No Parking If meter is jammed or broken".  How is that good for the residents of Lowell?  Even more interesting, in this parking space challenged area, how is that good for business owners, who might be hoping for customers from out of town?  Who is responsible for keeping the meters working?  Not those parking, I suspect.  So why punish them for a failure to properly maintain the money collection devices?  But, I digress.

I slipped a dollar coin into the coin slot, but it failed to register.  The time still showed 00:00.  Not happy, and expecting the worst, I snapped in a quarter—the meter showed 00:15.  I was going to be able to park.  I flicked in a second quarter, in case the line for confession was long—00:30.

I needn't have bothered.  Confession is a much needed, but not popular, Sacrament.

Would I like my dollar back?  Yes.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  With a Two Hour Limit, why, on the meter, are there two digits to the left of the colon?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bad Energy

Over at Pajamas Media, a name inspired by a New York Times columnist, is an interview with Mr Alex Epstein, an energy expert from the Center For Industrial Progress.

Mr Epstein was at Zuccotti Park, interviewing a member of OWS.
The sign at her feet read “For a nuclear free, carbon free future.” The one in her hands an equally predictable “Excessive wealth and consumption are dying paradigms. Renew American with a Green Revolution.”
So, Mr Epstein asked the woman what percentage of global energy comes from nuclear and carbon sources.

She filibustered.

He told her 95%.

Frankly, we need to reduce that number, a lot, and not having Senator Edward Kennedy opposing Cape Cod wind projects will help.  On the other hand, those two sources will be dominant for a long time.  The Administration can stop extraction in Ohio and force Canada to work on exporting oil to China, rather than the US, but when the "Brown Outs" come, the People will demand action on the part of their Government.

Frankly, the billions we have thrown at the Department of Energy, nuclear weapons and nuclear power aside, seems to have been money down the drain.  But, maybe they are only weeks away from announcing some "cold fusion" breakthrough.  We can hope.  In the mean time we should not destroy the economy for some marginal increase in the Environment Less Humans, while causing a major decrease in the quality of life of humans.

The woman being interviewed per the above link was just unable or unwilling to think through the problem.  It is sad.  But, maybe she doesn't vote.  She is young.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, November 18, 2011

And I Thought I Was Alone

Friday Night Irony:  According To The Fed, Just Over One More Year Of ZIRP Will Lead To 38.36% Annual Inflation
That is interesting.  (ZIRP is the Fed's Zero Interest Rate Policy.)

The source for that subject line is the Zero Hedge blog (tag line:  "On a long enough timeline the the survival rate for everyone drops to zero"), which can be found here.

Inflation.  It could ruin the Middle Class.

Regards  —  Cliff

The 12 Apostles Near the Deadline

Here, from Talking Points Memo, is one spin on the Super Committee meeting to fix the Federal Budget before a deadline of Wednesday, 23 November (the upcoming Wednesday).

The report is pessimistic, and it sees the Republicans as the villains.  That is an a-historic view, but it is the view of the reporter, Mr Brian Beutler.  Of course, this is all further complicated by the fact that economists are currently clueless about how to fix our problem.  On top of that, Europe is in deep economic trouble and so is China, although China has done a better job of covering it up.

For those who picture themselves, or their Congress Critters, as Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, the fact that the cuts and taxes doesn't go into effect until 1 January 2013, when there is a new Congress, there is plenty of time to find an escape from this problem.

The problem is, this problem is not going away.  There are ever more of us older folks and ever fewer young folks, and those who are entering the job market are not finding many jobs.

Can we spend our way of this, or do we have to destroy the overhang of mal-investment in order to spark new investment?  I don't think you can split the difference.

In the mean time, stand by for layoffs in the Defense Sector.  Both returning servicemen and women and those in defense industries.  I am thinking the US Army, active duty, could shrink up to 20% from its current authorized end-strength of 561,984.  Not only will we be retiring colors and mothballing equipment as the Services shrink in size, we won't be buying as much shiny new stuff, nor as much in terms of spare parts.  Then there are the cuts to social services that will begin thirteen and a half months from now—medicare reimbursements, for example.  It is an ugly picture.  We better hope there is an Indiana Jones out there to show us the way to successfully escape this doom.

Regards  —  Cliff

A New Europe Out of The [Financial] Rubble

Over in the UK The Telegraph is putting out the story that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is looking for a stronger political union, at least within the Euro group.

The reason this is important is that a new, stronger, more unified nation could emerge from the current economic crisis, as nations yield sovereignty in exchange for financial assistance.

Here is the deal:
The leaked memo, written by the German foreign office, discloses radical plans for an intrusive new European body that will be able to take over the economies of beleaguered eurozone countries.

It discloses that the EU’s largest economy is also preparing for other European countries, which are too large to be bailed out, to default on their debts — effectively going bankrupt. It will prompt fears that German plans to deal with the eurozone crisis involve an erosion of national sovereignty that could pave the way for a European “super state” with its own tax and spending plans set in Brussels.
The situation is that Great Britain is being asked to accept the changes as is, with no tradeoffs, which would be opposed by Tory MPs.

Regards  —  Cliff

Candidates and Religion

The Pew Trust has put on line a set of short essays on the religious views of the known presidential candidates in the US for 2012.  Missing is Ms Clinton (It is a long way to the conventions.  Just ask LBJ.)

Interesting, but not nearly the total answer on who to back.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bill Maher vs Elisabeth Hasselbeck

Over at the Althouse Blog we have a discussion of Bill Maher vs Elisabeth Hasselbeck on "The View".

Ms Hasselbeck has the right side of this one, it seems to me.

And, Ms Laura Logan had a terrifying experience, which is no joking matter.

Regards    Cliff

State Committee Chair Race (R)

Over at The Boston Pheonix is an article on the race to replace Ms Jennifer Nassour, Esq, as Republican State Committee Chair.

It is a not particularly balanced piece, although I agree with a good deal of this analysis:
But many rank-and-file party members — and several Tea Party groups and conservative organizations — don't buy that. Plus, they aren't particularly thrilled with Brown, who they feel has abandoned the Tea Partiers who elected him. They are even less keen on Romney.

The skeptics also think that recent history has proven their point. When the state party was led by Romney-installed Darrell Crate — business partner of then–lieutenant governor Kerry Healey's husband — Republicans lost ground in the legislature, and failed to win a single statewide or congressional race.

Things only got worse in the following two years, under former congressman Peter Torkildsen, another establishment figure.

And, although Nassour straddled the two worlds better than her predecessors, the party devoted its attention and resources to Charlie Baker, and the Bay State completely missed out on the national November 2010 Tea Party–fueled Republican gains.
The place the article misses the mark is in trying to leave the impression that in November of next year Republicans will stay home, allowing Ms Elizabeth Warren a cakewalk, or, for that matter, President Obama.

There is no doubt that we are divided between the "Grass Roots Republicans" and the "Downtown Republicans", my wife's terms.

The other place this article misses the mark is in not at least acknowledging Mr Kamal Jain and his pursuit of the office.  Kamal, whom I know and work with on the LRCC and like, is a true "Grass Roots" Candidate.  Kamal, who has previously run for State Auditor, is a native born citizen of our Commonwealth and a resident of Lowell.

I judge the article to be blatant support for the Democratic Party Candidate for US Senate.

Regards  &mash;  Cliff

China and the Global Economy

From Night Watch we have this note and analysis.  With a nod to "City Life", this is, in some ways, along the lines of thought of producer John McDonough.
China:  The Ministry of Commerce said on 16 November that China's exports are feeling pressure from global economic uncertainties. A spokesman said the ministry cannot be optimistic about the export situation during the coming period, citing a downshift in global economic recovery, a downgrade of the US credit rating and the expansion of the European debt crisis. He said that frequent protectionist measures and trade disputes have had a "relatively large influence" on China's exports and that these issues, along with rising costs at home, have complicated China's foreign trade outlook.

Comment:  The Xinhua report is significant for several reasons. First it disclosed that the Chinese government expects that the credit rating of the United States will be downgraded. Second, the Chinese economists predict a contraction of the global economy. Finally, the Chinese anticipate a contraction of globalization as the result of protectionist policies, in other words, a reassertion of economic nationalism. The Chinese seem to expect that the export markets for cheap Chinese manufactures will shrink and the prices for raw materials will rise.

The apparent Chinese linkage of the US credit rating to the European debt crisis implies that the Chinese know or believe that US banks have much greater exposure to European sovereign debt than they have admitted. The Chinese assessment evidently is that Europe will drag down the US.

One Chinese economist, a professor of finance at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, recently wrote that the Chinese banking system is nearly bankrupt already and China's Gross Domestic Product is declining, but the Chinese are hiding the data. He wrote that "every province in China is Greece."

This note is a warning to hedge bets in China in 2012.
But, it isn't just China.

Here is a report in The Wall Street Journal, which is at a stub link here.
Europe's debt troubles on Tuesday spilled over to top-rated nations that had been largely untouched by the crisis—including Austria, the Netherlands, Finland and France—in an ominous sign for European policy makers.

Bond yields across the Continent jumped as prices dropped, in a sign of investors' faltering confidence in officials' ability to keep the debt crisis contained in the euro zone's troubled peripheral countries.  Tuesday's selloff came amid news that the euro zone's economy scarcely grew in the third quarter.
The economic situation is not getting better and the fact is that the economists don't really have an answer for us.  The number of folks who think that printing money is the answer decreases every day.

One thing to keep in mind is that part of what has fueled China's growth has been their willingness to ignore environmental issue and their low wages.  The low wages issue could well be self correcting as workers in China realize that not everyone works for such low wages.  Of course, that probably doesn't impact the prison labor that China has been employing.

Regards  —  Cliff

Locked in the Latrine

If it can go wrong, it will go wrong, as this article in The New York Post shows.  The pilot on a puddle jumper airliner got locked in the latrine.

You can listen to the audio and judge for yourself as to if the reporting is correct that states:
But crew members didn’t react well to the unexpected visit from a stranger trying to breach the highly secure area of the plane.
I thought the co-pilot (the "First Officer") did exactly what he should have.  The rules are:
  1. Maintain Aircraft Control
  2. Analyze the Situation
  3. Take Appropriate Action
You wouldn't believe how many folks fall down on the first rule.

As for this situation, the co-pilot, locked in the cockpit, has no idea what is really going on in the passenger compartment.  I think he did just the right thing.

And a thanks to Neal for sending this along to me.

Regards  —  Cliff

War Includes a Lot of Confusion

And a lot of assumptions.  This article, from Armed Forces Journal, "Lessons from Rhino LZ:  How the Afghanistan invasion changed combat airlift", by Major James G Young, highlights that confusion and the ways that assumptions can bring you to the edge of disaster.

It also shows that, as those of us from the aviation dodge say, "Flexibility is the key to airpower."

I thought it was an interesting read.

Regards  —  Cliff

Westy Reassessed

Here is the advert for a talk next week on US Viet-nam commander, General William Westmoreland:
Unless and until we understand General William Westmoreland, we will never understand what happened to us in Vietnam, or why.  An Eagle Scout at fifteen, First Captain of his West Point class [the top cadet], Westmoreland fought in World War II and Korea, rising rapidly to command the 101st Airborne Division and become Superintendent at West Point, then was chosen to lead the war effort in Vietnam.
Not mentioned was that he commanded 18th Airplane Corps and that he had a graduate degree from Harvard Business School.

Now the down side from the advert.
That turned out to be a disaster.  He failed to understand a complex war, choosing a flawed strategy, sticking to it in the face of all opposition, and misrepresenting the results when truth mattered most.  In so doing he squandered four years of support by Congress, much of the media, and the American people.  The tragedy of William Westmoreland provides lessons not just for Vietnam, but for America's future military and political leadership.
The talk will be given by another West Point Graduate, author Lewis Sorley.  You may not know Dr Lewis Sorley, but his book, A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of American's Last Years in Vietnam, was read by the likes of Thomas E. Donilon, who gave the book to Rahm Emanuel, who apparently gave the book to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden, both of whom read it.

You can catch the talk on streaming video, here, Tuesday, 29 November 2011, from 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

English Independence

Over at Samizdata there is a discussion of Scottish independence.  Mr Brian Micklethwait, writing out of London, gives us a longish blog post that starts "I have long thought, first, that the United Kingdom has for some time been heading towards being the Non-United Kingdom, and second, that this would probably be a very good thing."

There is a certain amount of "inside baseball" in the linked post, but there is food for thought regarding how the world is evolving in the 21st Century.  The idea of an independent Scotland and an independent England is interesting.  Who gets the Queen and who gets the nuclear weapons?  Who gets the Labor Party?

And with Prince William and Kate taking a posting at RAF Lossiemouth (EGQS), in Scotland, maybe he is planning a career in a future Scottish Air Force.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Al Qaeda On Trial—Norway

Here is a very short article in the International Herald Tribune, about a Norwegian trial just getting under way.  The trial is of several gentlemen who tried to bomb an Oslo newspaper for printing the "Mohammad Cartoons" a few years back.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sand Table

At The Register we have these overhead photos from remote China.  This from July 12006.

So, given this effort to understand with models, perhaps that explains the recent strange apparitions in the Chinese Desert.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tease Article at IHT

Over at The International Herald Tribune is a tease article on US Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geitner, "Spotlight Fixed on Geithner, a Man Obama Fought to Keep".

I say this profile on the Treasury Secretary, by Ms Jackie Calmes, is a tease in that the headline conveys the idea that something is up.  When you get into it, the article is about how Mr Geitner fits into the puzzle that is the Obama First Term Administration and the fact that the President lobbied Mrs Geitner, back in August, for her husband to stay on the job.  One of the values Mr Geitner brings to the Administration is his willingness to speak truth to power.  In saying that I do not mean to imply that Mr Geitner has truth in his dispatch case, but he is willing to swim against the stream, and for a President that is a very important asset.  There are too many "yes men" (and women) around, in any Administration.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What We Owe Taiwan and Ourselves

Some bright young person, formerly a Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, has proposed we bargain Taiwan back to the Mainland Chinese.  You can read the article in The International Herald Tribune here.
There are dozens of initiatives President Obama could undertake to strengthen our economic security. Here is one:  He should enter into closed-door negotiations with Chinese leaders to write off the $1.14 trillion of American debt currently held by China in exchange for a deal to end American military assistance and arms sales to Taiwan and terminate the current United States-Taiwan defense arrangement by 2015.

This would be a most precious prize to the cautious men in Beijing, one they would give dearly to achieve.  After all, our relationship with Taiwan, as revised in 1979, is a vestige of the cold war.
I think a war for Formosa would be a bad deal for the Taiwanese.  They would suffer many casualties, both military and civilian.  In the end, if the Mainland folks wanted, most of them would die.

On the other hand, our casual treatment of the problem has keep Taiwan free to grow into a democracy over the last 60 years.  Another decade or two or even more, might allow time for Taiwan to grow in sophistication and maturity and China to find a solution that meets the needs of all sides.  A preemptory dumping of Taiwan by the US will just create more nuclear armed nations.  That might not be a good idea at a time we are trying to talk down Iran and North Korea.

And, to boot, once we run the trade deficit to China back up to $1.14 trillion, who do we trade off next?  Korea?  Japan?  Australia?  The Philippines?  Hawaii?

And, there is such a thing as integrity.  Sure, we are not as exceptional as we think we are, but I would hope we would hang on to our integrity for a while longer and not get into treating other nations likes this was a giant "Risk" game.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day.  I am old enough to remember when it was Armistice Day, a day recognizing the end of major hostilities in World War I.  A terrible war, with major loss of life.  Billed as "The war to end all wars."  How naive that sounds today.  Thus it is fitting that the holiday was expanded, in 1954, to include all Veterans.

Our thanks to all those who served, in both peace and war.

In typing the title to this post I wondered about where to place the apostrophe.  Punctuation is a subject with which I have trouble.  I went with none. In looking up the year the name changed I found this in Wikipedia:
The holiday is commonly printed as Veteran's Day or Veterans' Day in calendars and advertisements.  While these spellings are grammatically acceptable, the United States government has declared that the attributive (no apostrophe) rather than the possessive case is the official spelling.
And, it makes sense, in that while this is the holiday that honors Veterans, it is a holiday that belongs to all of us, for the purpose of honoring those Vets.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ohio Sends Mixed Message

On the one hand, the Ohio voters approved a repeal of a law limiting the rights of Civil Servants to bargain collectively.

On the other hand, the Ohio voters passed a State Constitutional Amendment intending to keep Government from mandating participation in a health care system.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lowell School Committee Elections

My take on the Lowell School Committee elections is that those who voted were not happy with the ways things are going in the School System.  The real question, now, is what message did they mean to send.  Three new members, and two of them taking the top two slots and the third new-bee beating Incumbent Connie Martin says dissatisfaction.

I would like to suggest that the voters think that the talent pool in Lowell is good.  People did NOT end up in Lowell, or their parents or grandparents, through sloth or ignorance.  Getting to Lowell meant hard work, perseverance and a certain amount of intelligence.  Therefore, with our excellent gene pool, our students should be standouts.  That they are not suggests we have a problem.  Problems invite solutions.  I will echo City Councilor Joe Mendonca in saying that it is not just a question of money.  I will go further and say it is not just a question of salaries.  We need to look further afield for knew approaches.

And my hearty congratulations to all the winners.

Regards  —  Cliff

Free Speech and Government

Quoting from The New York Times blogger Ann Althouse gives us the lede, which lays out the issue of free speech issues surrounding selling cigarettes:
In a preliminary injunction, Judge Richard J. Leon of United States District Court in Washington ruled that cigarette makers were likely to win a free speech challenge against the proposed labels, which include staged photos of a corpse and of a man breathing smoke out of a tracheotomy hole in his neck.
There is no doubt in my mind that cigarette smoking is dirty, smelly and ugly.  Still the industry has certain free speech rights.  And that is the way it should be.

But, it does again raise the issue of if entities are "People" in terms of "rights".  Some say they shouldn't, but then the question is, how do we prevent the government from oppressing business.  Also, if your local bakery isn't a "Person", how do you sue them for selling raisin bread without raisins, causing you pain and suffering.

Regards   —  Cliff

Bill Clinton and Presidential Term Limits

Over at Ed Morrissey's Column at Hot Air we have a discussion of Presidential Term Limits.  This came up when former President Clinton was on today’s Morning Joe.  Host "Joe Scarborough tells Bill Clinton that he will be inundated with e-mail" about why no third term.  The 22nd Amendent is why.  And a fear of too much power in the hands of a President.

Cap't Ed pretty well covers it all.

Regards  —  Cliff

Kim Dozier at West Point

Not that any of you are going to make it, but News Reporter Kim Dozier is going to talk at West Point as part of her launch of her book, Breathing the Fire, in Paperback and EBook editions.  In her own words:
AP reporter Kim Dozier is launching the paperback and e-book of Breathing the Fire this week, about recovering from a car bomb in Iraq five years ago, with her profits going to wounded warrior charities.

She worked to bring out the paperback after requests from wounded warriors, their families, and hospital caregivers for more copies, after the hardback sold out.
 
The book is fairly gritty and unvarnished about the hospital and recovery process, so hospital staff recommend that loved ones read it to understand what a patient is going through.  Military commanders say the blow-by-blow of the bombing also starts conversations between troops and loved ones about what they’ve seen overseas.
 
She also want to send a message to Americans who haven’t been in a war zone that troops—and anyone who has served in a war zone—are most often stronger because of that trial by fire.  That’s a message that’s sometimes muddied by the media’s well-meaning attempts to raise awareness of troops left harmed by war, that obscures the fact that most come home with “post traumatic growth”—the wisdom and experience that comes from surviving war, and its losses, and injuries.
 
Kim herself has returned to Afghanistan and Pakistan with The Associated Press, breaking major stories on the CIA and U.S. special operations forces.
 
Kim writes, “Please order a copy at kimberlydozier.com, and walk in their boots for a while, like I did.  It’s a rough journey, but it’s a privilege.

And yes, this weekend, thank a veteran, but even better, please hire a veteran. These are the people you want on your team!”
Here is the contact information.

Kimberly Dozier | Intelligence Writer | www.kimberlydozier.com
AP DC 1100 13th St. NW | Wash, D.C. 20005 | o: +1 202 641 9590
Alt. email: kd@kimberlydozier.com

Regards   —  Cliff

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lean Forward Ad

Here is TV personality Rachel Maddow talking to us about the Hoover Dam.  Ignore the words around the video and just view the video.  Here is the Wikipedia overview of the Boulder Dam, come Hoover Dam Project.

Could we do this again, she asks?  I wonder how many snail darters died to allow the Hoover Dam to be built?

On the other hand, it does make the "Big Dig" look small.

The cost in then-year dollars was $49,000,000 (49 million).  Inflated 2011 dollars would be $778,280,000 (778 million).  Dollar wise it makes the "Big Dig" look big.

Hat tip to the InstapunditClick here to see the Instapundit's commentary.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Is Afghanistan Worth It?

Here is an article by an Afghani—identification verified by a US Navy officer in Afghanistan—that talks to the issue from the Afghani point of view.  I was moved by the piece.

Regards  —  Cliff

Guy Fawkes Day

From this blog post over at the Althouse blog we see that Guy Fawkes Day is being made a mockery of by an OWS branch in London.

Maybe we can say that those who don't know history will likely pervert it.

From the Althouse blog we have this quote from a history professor:
"Gradually over the centuries, the meaning of Guy Fawkes has dramatically changed...  The reputation of Guy Fawkes has been recuperated.  Before he was originally seen as a terrorist trying to destroy England. Now he's seen more as a freedom fighter, a fighter for individual liberty against an oppressive regime.  The political meaning of that figure has transformed."
So, is Guy Fawkes a terrorist or a freedom fighter?  Does this action mean that OWS supports acts of terrorism, at least in retrospect?  If they do, how far back to be safe?  John Brown?  John Wilkes Booth?  The Chicago Haymarket Bombing of 1886?  The assassination of Huey P Long?  The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party attack on the US House of Representatives in 1954?

Regards   —  Cliff

Star Parker Deleted From Wikipedia?

Over at the Instapundit we have a report that the Wikipedia page for writer and former Congressional Candidate Star Parker has been deleted.

Here is the Wikipedia discussion.

I would have thought that a Black, Female, off of welfare and a conservative to boot, would be so unique as to warrant inclusion.  Sure, she lost the election, but she did better than I did against David Nangle a decade ago.

Maybe I just have sympathy because she was running for a seat, California's 37th congressional district, that included Long Beach, Compton, Carson, and Signal Hill.  I wonder what my former "step-mother", Neena, editorialized at the time in her Signal Hill newspaper.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, November 4, 2011

Asking For ID Racist?

Meanwhile, out in Madison officials have discovered a new area that divides the minority from the majority—drivers licenses.

Law Professor Ann Althouse blogs about Madison Officials upset by bars asking for drivers licenses as a form of ID.  The fact that there is a correlation (Kad, please note I am saying causation) between asking for IDs and a decrease in violence seems not to be of interest to City Officials.  The observant reader will note to himself that the Police, in fact, do not have a duty to protect.  You truly are your own first responder.

Here is the original newspaper article.

The first comment At the Althouseblog was:
Next thing you know folks will be required to produce a birth certificate to get a drink; that is, until President Obama decides to have another beer summit, only this time in Madison.
For those humor challenged, this was humor.

Frankly, returning to the question of IDs, if the bar owners have found a discriminator, in the good sense of the word, is this a bad thing?  Is bar violence just the price of doing business and the bar owners should just put up with it?  To what degree should bar owners be allowed to tailor their clientele?  To what degree is this like lunch counters?  To what degree does a "thug culture" create a hostile environment for other customers?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Or herself.

Herman Cain in Perspective

Over at Role Call, Contributing Writer Stuart Rothenberg tells us that Herman Cain's race does not work for him the way Barack Obama's race works for him, partly because of their party affiliations.

An interesting look at things, in 2008 and now.  And, the writer suggest, Mr Cain might well have been where he is today even if he had been Caucasian, as Conservative Republicans look for an alternative to former Governor Mitt Romney.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mohammed Cartoon Alert

Here is a novel approach.  If you don't like what the press is doing, fire bomb them.

I am at Applebee's otherwise I would download the "offending" Magazine Cover.  Later.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The 12 Apostles Still Meeting

Here is one view of what the 12 Apostles will bring us when they report out. 

In terms of Defense spending, not much.  In this article writer Spencer Ackerman talks to famed civilian budget analyst Professor Gordon Adams.  (I was going to link to the Wikipedia bio on Mr Adams, but, alas, there isn't one.)  (I once interviewed for a job with then Mr Adams.  Alas it went to someone else and I went to Lowell, which has turned out, on balance, to have been good for me.  As for Mr Adams, I don't know.)

The gist of it is that the 12 Apostles, six democrats, six republicans (or six from the Senate and six from the House of Representatives) have to find a solution to our spending problem or automatic sequestration comes into play, with half the budget cuts going to defense spending and half not.  However, it is a long ways to when the ax falls, in January 2013.
“In those circumstances, I don’t think the sequester will ever happen,” says Adams — even if the Supercommittee fails and sequester becomes allegedly “automatic.”  Congress and Obama will have a full year to change the law, something that many in Congress already want to do.

Think about it.  In order for sequestration to happen, both history and the current political environment would have to be defied.  The brass would have to knuckle under and meekly accept the cuts, rather than telling Congress, as Gen. Raymond Odierno did this morning, “cuts of this magnitude would be catastrophic to the military.”  So would the defense industry, with its phalanx of lobbyists.  Members of Congress would have to be happy to explain to voters and the media why they hung the military out to dry.  So would Obama, who can be certain that his GOP rival will vow to roll back the cuts.
Then, of course, there is the various lobbies for the other half of the sequestration, including the various OWS organizations and the several States.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I was going to link to the Budget Control Act of 2011, but I thought its description of the debt ceiling problem back in the Spring was a bit over the top.
  Voters of Massachusetts; remember that one of them is your own Senator John Kerry.
 DemocratsRepublicans
Senate MembersPatty Murray, Washington, Co-Chair
Max Baucus, Montana
John Kerry, Massachusetts
Jon Kyl, Arizona
Rob Portman, Ohio
Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania
House MembersXavier Becerra, California
Jim Clyburn, South Carolina
Chris Van Hollen, Maryland
Jeb Hensarling, Texas, Co-Chair
Fred Upton, Michigan
Dave Camp, Michigan

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The City Manager and Hiring

First off I would like to note that Blogger Gerry Nutter has either upped his game a step or is getting some outside help.  Either way, his most recent post, on Residency Requirements for City Hires, was very good.  And, it leads to the idea that at least one City Councilor, Rodney Elliot, is grandstanding.

Taking the idea of residency, which I hear once in a while, to its logical conclusion, we would become a sealed city.  You work here, you live here.

Thus, Gary Francis would not be allowed to sell ice cream to Lowellians.  We would have to buy our ice cream at Heritage or go without.  Along the same line, Gary would not be allowed to nip down to Good Times for lunch or dinner, since he is outside our economic area.  For me this does not make sense.  Didn't some dead economist, long ago, argue for the value of economic advantage, bolstering the idea of trade?  David Ricardo perhaps?

But, back to our hiring practices in the city, I was encouraged by the idea that Mr Tom Moses picked someone and it went to the manager for a stamp of approval and that was it.  It made it look like managers were given the freedom to pick the person they see as most fit, without political input from our City Manager.  That Mr Moses knew the person he picked is neither here nor there.  That he would not know him would be a shock to me.  I would hope that there are professional relationships amongst town and city financial personnel.  If they all existed in isolation it would mean that good ideas were not being exchanged.  If there are no professional associations, with periodic meetings, it would be, to me, a bad sign.

There is one place where I would nick the City Manager.  The last time I talked to him he said that the city did not have a written procedure for hiring.  With hiring being such an important part of the City's Human Resources activities I would think there should be, for the benefit of citizens and applicants alike, a broadly worded regulation on the hiring process, posted on line.  There is an idea that Mr Elliot should get behind.

Regards  —  Cliff