Saturday, December 31, 2011

Drones and War

Here is an interesting article on the use of Drones in the war on terrorism, by Mr Adam Elkus.  The title is "Weapons Don’t Make War".

A thing to keep in mind about the use of Drones to do our fighting is that the other side will, eventually, figure a way around our actions.  Just as after we hardened our bases in the Middle East, and our Embassy's, we found terrorists coming here, so too those who are bothered by drone attacks will find ways to go after us in an asymmetric way.  It is the nature of war.

As the economists keep telling us, there is no free lunch.

Regards  —  Cliff

North Korea Says No

Continuing the negative line of the previous North Korean regime, the new model continues to say no to improving relations with the South.
Also Friday, North Korea said its new leader, Kim Jong Eun, won't work with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, continuing the anger its regime displayed under Kim Jong Il over Mr. Lee's refusal to provide it with unconditional economic aid.

The statement on Friday—which said North Korea would shun Mr. Lee's government "forever," though he has just 14 months left in office—appeared to dash any hope that the younger Mr. Kim might try to change relations with South Korea after his father's death.

Instead, the 1,400-word statement, issued a day after the formal mourning period ended in North Korea, attempted to use Kim Jong Il's death as another event to influence South Korea's political scene, where elections are scheduled for parliament and the presidency in 2012.

The statement's harsh language and attribution to the North's National Defense Commission was also a sign that the younger Kim may engage in some kind of military provocation against the South to rally support for himself by portraying the North's citizens as under threat from Seoul.
This is from The Wall Street Journal today.

The question is not so much as to if the North will hold a hard line as it is if the North will take provocative action.  One can assume the South would respond to provocation so as to avoid further provocation, although a response could also lead to escalation.

Respond firmly or ignore the provocation.  That is the question.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, December 30, 2011

NYT Written For Women?

At this link Law Professor and Blogger Ann Althouse makes the assertion that the New York Times is written for a female audience. 
Now — it's been obvious to me for quite a while — the New York Times is written for women. But at what point does it actually become... ridiculous...
Then, less than three hours later, she doubles down.

I see her point.

Regards  —  Cliff

Kevin Dowd Speaks For … Some

For Christmas the wonderful Maureen Dowd gives her column over to her Brother, Kevin.  This year Kevin, a Republican, took the Republicans to task.  Kevin is apparently a BLUF kind of guy:
It’s time for some sense and sensibility.  With a field of nine candidates, the Republican product is too diluted.  That’s the reason the polls have been so fluid.  There are only two candidates with a chance to win the nomination:  Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.  The rest are sincere, nice people who “can’t light the candle,” as someone said of John Connally in 1980.  You are excused.  There’s only one who can beat Barack Obama.  Romney was a governor and a businessman, and we will need that kind of expertise to pull us out of the president’s famous ditch.  Newt is too volatile and has too much baggage.
And, he is right, if you accept that we just have to steer the car out of the ditch.  If you think we are good and well stuck then you will be calling for a wrecker to pull us out.

Is that a dark horse I see on the horizon?  It is 90 days to the Day of LBJ's Decision.  Ninety days is a lifetime in politics, and the half-life of a political memory.

UPDATE:  I wonder if Kevin Dowd is related to Kevin, the Lost Bunny of the Apocalypse?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Bottom Line Up Front

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Republican Race, Updated

Here is an article advocating Romney for the Republican nomination, at a time the candidates are again shifting places in the polls.

Then there is Senator Rick Santorum surging in the polls, at least in Iowa.

From Hot Air we have this exit question:
In 2008, two-thirds of the party didn’t like the nominee.  This year, three-quarters don’t.  When do we get someone who can excite a majority of Republicans?
Regards  —  Cliff

ID To Vote

From The New Yorkers we have a link to this article on Attorney General Eric Holder and Voting Rights.

Jeffrey Toobin gives us "Holder's Legacy".  In it Mr Tobin attacks South Carolina's new law requiring a Government ID at the polling place in order to vote.  South Carolina is one of a number of states which require "Pre-clearance" to change voting rules.  We all know the reason—South Carolina is part of the Old South and they will never prove they have overcome their past, even though SC has a real minority governor, more of a minority than Massachusetts.  Or are People whose ancestors are from the sub-continent not really minorities?

Mr Toobin ends up with this ringing endorsement of the Attorney General:
This is a chance for Holder to define his legacy as Attorney General—as something more than the guy who tried, and failed, to have Guantánamo Bay detainees tried in federal court in New York.  There is a purity, a simplicity, about the voting-rights fight that is sadly absent from many modern civil-rights battles.  This is not about special privileges, or quotas, or even complex mathematical formulae.  It’s about a basic right of American citizenship, which is being taken from large numbers of people for the most cynical of reasons.  The laws are, quite literally, indefensible—so Holder ought to make the states that have them try to defend them.  That would be a legacy that would make any Attorney General, and any American, proud.
What Mr Toobin fails to mention is that at the recent General Holder speech in Texas, those attending had to show an ID to get into the building.  We have to show an ID to hear the AG talk? From the Instapundit:
Reader Marian Booker writes:  “A group of people organized by True The Vote in Houston went to Austin to shine light on the need for photo ID in voting, on the day of Eric Holder’s speech.  One speaker noted the irony of declaring photo ID to be too onerous a burden in the voting booth, but that photo ID was required to get into the building where Eric Holder was speaking against requiring photo ID.  I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue!”
Sure, many tell us voter fraud is not a problem, yet people still go to jail for it, and we aren't even talking Chicago.

As Hot Air notes, even Unions require an ID to vote, at least the Machinists do.

Regards  —  Cliff

Firefly v Free Speech

Over at the Althouse blog is a post on University of Wisconsin—Stout and Free Speech.  The "offender" was a professor who put up a Firefly poster with the quote:
You don't know me, son, so let me explain this to you once:  If I ever kill you, you'll be awake, you'll be facing me, and you'll be armed.
It is a quote about fairness, not killing.

Free speech is very precious and exceptions are to be avoided.  Campus Police, and other law enforcement agencies need to be very judicious in where and when they intervene.  College Administrators even more so.

Regards  —  Cliff

Europe in History

Europe was created by history.   America was created by philosophy.
Lady Margaret Thatcher
I saw this in response to a link to Professor Victor David Hanson's recent piece on "The New Old Europe".
Like clockwork every few decades, some self-described European "visionaries" swear that the continent can either live in peace under utopian protocols or, more darkly, be united under one grand -- and undemocratic -- system, willingly or not.  But for all the noble pretensions of the Congress of Vienna or the European Union -- or the nightmarish spread of Napoleon's Continental System and the Third Reich -- and for all the promises of European-born fascism, communism and socialism, the result is always the same:  disunion, acrimony and infighting.

That schizophrenia is what we should expect from dozens of cultures and histories squeezed into too small a continent full of lots of bright -- and quite proud -- people.  Every new Europe always ends up as old Europe.
I like the way Professor draws an equivalence between Bonaparte's Continental System and the Third Reich.  Bonaparte had a better PR Firm.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, December 26, 2011

Still Confusing

The Republican Presidential Nomination Race is still in confusion.  The failure of several candidates to get on the ballot in Virginia does not help end the confusion.

Now comes Professor William A Jacobson with a post, "They were wrong in 1990 and they are wrong now".  Here is the Professor's windup:
Call this whole story a parable of what is wrong with the Republican Party.   People who cut deals which sell out our principles are deemed reasonable, while those refuse to cut deals are called bomb throwers.   That’s the term Bush used in endorsing Romney in an oblique swipe at Newt.

In 1990 it was Newt, in 2011 it’s House Tea Party Republicans.   They were wrong in 1990 and they are wrong now.

And now they are propelling the ultimate deal cutter towards the nomination.   And once again, Newt is standing in their way.
There you have it.  Newt is the problem.

Regards  —  Cliff

"Silent Night"

This is the title of Columnist Mark Steyn's short post at National Review this last saturday.  In a short post he notes that Christians in Islam majority nations are suffering persecution.  He does give credit to one person for speaking up, House of Lords member Baron Sacks, Kt.  I guess it takes a Chief Rabbi to recognize the danger to small communities of religious believers.

In the realm of realpolitik the Copts and like Christian denominations overseas are like dust on the scales.  Sad.

Regards  —  Cliff

Lego Club

I was at the Pollard Memorial Library and found some lego constructions in the display cases, with a notice for a "Lego Club".  The problem is, it is limited to Grades 1 through 6.  Where is the club for the rest of us?




Pretty creative.  From a little friendly competition.

The next meeting is Saturday, 28 January 2012, at 9:30 AM.

Details for the club can be found here.

If you miss the 28 January meeting, there is one on Saturday, 25 February at 9:30 AM.

Regards  —  Cliff

Happy Boxing Day

Yes, Boxing Day.

And the Feast of Stephen.

And Good King Wenceslas.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, December 24, 2011

First Kiss

Earlier in the week the US Navy amphibious landing ship USS OAK HILL pulled into port at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.  one thing that marked the return was the tradition first sailor off the ship to receive a welcoming kiss.  The individual is normally picked by lottery, with tickets purchased by sailors, the proceeds going for a Christmas Party for the children of the crew, or some such.

The winner was Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta of Placerville, California,and her kiss was with her partner, dressed in civilian cloths, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell, of Los Angeles.  This is the first such same-sex event and was made possible by the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT).  Most of these events pass unnoticed, except for local media.  This time there was wide coverage, including this NBC Washington report.  Here are some comments from the skipper:
David Bauer, the commanding officer of the USS Oak Hill, said that Gaeta and Snell's kiss would largely be a non-event and the crew's reaction upon learning who was selected to have the first kiss was positive.

“It's going to happen and the crew's going to enjoy it.  We're going to move on and it won't overshadow the great things that this crew has accomplished over the past three months,” Bauer said.
And that is it.  It happened.  Two cute young women, both very presentable and it was over and the next time will be a non-event.  The Navy lucked out (or stage managed this in an excellent manner).  It could have been a paunchy male Chief Petty Officer and his slob-like biker boyfriend.  That would have been a bad picture.  But, it wasn't and kudos to Petty Officers Gaeta and Snell and to Skipper Bauer and the crew of the OAK HILL for getting us past this.

Frankly, we are conducting a social experiment and one hundred years from now this could all be reversed.  But we are where we are today.  This brings us to The [Lowell] Sun and the Dan Phelps column on Chaz Bono, who underwent a sex change operation a while back and who has just broken up with his long time girlfriend.  We are at the stage were people are sensitive about discrimination regarding sexual orientation, both human and robot.

The Dan Phelps column generated a number of letters to the editor, several of which were published this last week.  It also evoked a couple of blog posts at Left in Lowell, including here and here.

Aside from Jack's confusion of older citizens with "The Old World" (Europe) and a slight "preachy" tone, the two blog posts are correct in saying it is time to let things settle down.  While, in it's way, Chaz Bono has nothing to do with same sex relationships, this is currently a tender area and regardless of one's personal feelings, it is time to live and let live in the public arena.  Our elected officials have pointed us in a direction, both at the State and Federal levels.

Let us see where we are in a few years.  This nation has undertaken a number of great social experiments.  Some have been great successes and now appear obvious.  A few have failed and one was actually reversed—Prohibition.

Maybe this Christmas Eve we could ponder the advice of the Parisee Gamaliel, as laid out in Acts 5:34-39.

Regards  —  Cliff

Corporate Personhood

About ten days ago, I captured this URL from the Instapundit.  It is to the Truth On The Market blog.  It was a short blurb on Corporate Personhood, with a link to a Doug Mataconis post at Outside the Beltway.  This issue today revolves around the US Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.  SCOTUS ruled that corporations and unions Could conduct political campaigning.

Here is one proposed Constitutional Amendment designed to reverse Citizens United:
Section 1.  The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, or other private entities established for business purposes or to promote business interests under the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state.
Section 2.  Such corporate and other private entities established under law are subject to regulation by the people through the legislative process so long as such regulations are consistent with the powers of Congress and the States and do not limit the freedom of the press.
Section 3.  Such corporate and other private entities shall be prohibited from making contributions or expenditures in any election of any candidate for public office or the vote upon any ballot measure submitted to the people.
Section 4.  Congress and the States shall have the power to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own spending, and to authorize the establishment of political committees to receive, spend, and publicly disclose the sources of those contributions and expenditures.
Lets start with Section 4, where Congress "…shall have the power to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own spending…".  Frankly, that is not just meddlesome, but over broad.  By that section Congress could mandate only Number 2 pencils for campaign staff.

Section 3 prohibits corporations, but not non-profits, from making political contributions.  Does that seem fair?  Are non-profits inherently more honest than publicly traded companies, the one's found to have been involved in fraud aside?  I am doubtful.  Non-profits are organized and run by humans to achieve the aims of those humans.

Section 2 tries to undo the damage in Section 1, where the parent company of The New York Times and The Boston Globe is stripped of it's rights.  No protection from warrentless searches.  No protection from eminent domain.  The government can walk in at any time and examine all your records.  At any time it wants, the Government can take your property without having to give fair compensation.  Of course the government would never do such things, right up to the time they do.  History is clear about that.

If you didn't like Citizens United, this is NOT the way to change things.

Regards  —  Cliff

We Are One People

I was over at Dapper District just now and came across this photo, supposedly taken on 7 December 1941, at Pearl Harbor.  I was a little dubious, and rightly so, but, in fact it is a real photo of four women at Pearl Harbor, Navy civilian workers, doing fire fighting training, some time during WWII.


Dapper District wove the photo in after mentioning issues of class and economic status in a blog post.  For the photo he linked to one site for reference, which linked to another.  Tracing back through the links I came to this item from MSNBC, which gives the fullest story.

My take-away is that we can all work together for the good of the nation, and from the last link, have fun doing it.

One of the women in the photo is Katherine Lowe, born in August 1915. She was 26 and married at the time of Pearl Harbor.  In the article she is quoted as saying of the firefighting training:
It was a lot of fun. We'd shoot water at one another.
In the photo the four women are, left to right, Elizabeth Moku, Alice Cho, Katherine Lowe, and Hilda Van Gieson. Katherine Lowe and Elizabeth Moku were friends before Pearl Harbor and on their way to church when the attack happened that fateful Sunday 70 years ago.

Regards  —  Cliff

Worst Christmas Songs

From a blogsite called Jezebel comes a ladder for determining the worst Christmas song, by paired eliminations.  I am not sure which was the winner.  Research continues.

UPDATE:  The winner is announced here.  "The Christmas Shoes".

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, December 23, 2011

Voter ID Laws

The issue of Voter ID has been percolating for some time now.  Locally, Businessman Tom Weaver has been pushing the idea of requiring an ID to vote, to avoid voter fraud.

Now the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, has blocked South Carolina's new law to require voter ID.  Expect an appeal, as the issue is contentious.

Then there is this thought and quote from the Instapundit:
I think that right-leaning activists should start challenging other ID requirements on the same grounds.  Why isn’t requiring ID to fly a racial burden on the right to travel?

UPDATE: Duane Hershberger makes an excellent point:  “How about requiring ID and registration to buy a gun?  ID to buy guns started out as a way to keep blacks from having them.  If voting is the same as owning a gun, Holder should advocate disbanding BATFE, a clearly racist organization.”
I think the point about "gun control" being racist in origin is spot on.  Check the history.

This eventually gets down to a question of how much voter fraud there is.  That is an almost religious argument in that often facts are not available or not presented—and it is about the facts.  And it is about the issue of voter intimidation, although why folks would be intimidated about showing ID to vote is hard for some to imagine.  Do these voters neither drive nor fly?  Do they not cash checks or do other banking activities?  Do they not have a Post Office Box?  If whole classes of People, or segments thereof are afraid to obtain and use a government ID we have bigger problems than voting issues—we have sections of the population who are excluded from the American Dream.

If AG Holder's action is upheld, the first step should be to challenge the USPS requirement to show an ID (two, as I recall) to rent a PO Box.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Suicide and Hazing

Both the Army and the Marine Corps have had a recent suicide which appears to be the result of hazing.  The issue of hazing is reviewed by Major Ryan T Kranc, USA, in a post at Small Wars Journal—"Hazing is Simply Intolerable".  He says:
Hazing violates the principles and ethics of our military.
Major Kranc is correct.

Regards  —  Cliff

Secret Societies

My buddy, Juan, sent this along today, along with Christmas Greetings:
More people should quote fat guys:
There is nothing so despicable as a secret society that is based upon religious prejudice and that will attempt to defeat a man because of his religion.
-William Howard Taft, 27th US president (1857 - 1930)
Good words from President and US Supreme Court Chief Justice William Howard Taft.

Regards  — Cliff

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chevy Volt Subsidy(s)

The outside number is $250,000, per vehicle sold.  The reason I say outside is that the total millions being given by Government is based on hitting certain goals, per this article from Reason Magazine.

Hat tip to the Althouse blog, where Professor Althouse used the single word "Incredible".

Regards  —  Cliff

ICAF

My youngest brother, not the one who sometimes comments here, is a graduate of what is know as "The House of Commons", the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF).  House of Commons, in contrast to its next door neighbor, the National War College, or House of Lords.  This terminology from British Government irritates the faculty from ICAF.  (The other brother, Lance, was sent by Uncle Sugar for a course at the Kennedy School, down county.)

At any rate, John sent along this item from the National Defense Authorization Act:
SEC. 2861. REDESIGNATION OF INDUSTRIAL COLLEGE OF THE ARMED FORCES AS THE DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER SCHOOL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AND RESOURCE STRATEGY.

(a) REDESIGNATION.—The Industrial College of the Armed Forces is hereby renamed the "Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy".

(b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT.—Paragraph

(2) of section 2165(b) of title 10, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

"(2) The Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy.".

(c) REFERENCES.—Any reference to the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in any law, regulation, map, document, record, or other paper of the United States shall be deemed to be a reference to the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy.
Yes, Dwight D Eisenhower was a graduate if ICAF or, actually, it's predecessor, the Army Industrial College.  He was one of the first to attend the school, to study the issues of mobilization for war.  Incidentally, Financial Wizard Bernard M. Baruch was one of the early proponents of the school and the large auditorium, inside Eisenhower Hall, is named for him.

All that said, this name change falls into the category of "Fraud, Waste and Abuse".  What were the Congresscritters thinking?

First, it was a waste of the time of Congress to even entertain this idea.  If there were hearings, it was a waste of the time of those who testified, of those who put together the testimony and approved the testimony.  I bet lawyers were involved.

Second, all the name changing will mean changes to signage and to directories.  These things cost money.  Costing money is bad, unless some Congressman is trying to send some recession recovery money to some firms in Maryland or Virginia.  Then it is still bad, but for a different reason.

Third, it is just more abuse of us, the voters and the taxpayers.

Regards  —  Cliff

Capitalism

Capitalism is a rocky road to travel.  There are all those peaks and valleys.  There are winners and losers.  A better system would be attractive.  However, a state controlled economy is not such a better system, as the chart at this link shows, in comparing North Korea with South Korea.  The other chart that shows this is the overhead shot of the world at night.  If you look to the left of Japan you see Korea, or the Southern Half.  The Northern half is almost unlit.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Homeless

You can never tell when one of them might approach you.  Sometimes you see them coming from afar off. Or they can suddenly materialize at your side.  "Got a match?"  "Sir, I'm stranded here and just need a few more dollars to get a bus to...."  "Could you help a...."

The homeless, they're called now.  Which only distances us from them further, putting them in a neat socio-economic category, reducing them to paperwork, field studies, articles in journals of sociology.  ... When they actually approach, we may hurry on.  Who's got the time?  We have so much to do, especially four days before Christmas.  When there is still so much to do, lists to check off, cards to address, packages to send....
And so begins a column by Mr Paul Greenburg.

This column, from today, the 21st of December, reminds us that, as Christmas approaches, some of our fellow human beings are struggling, and may not be able to find a warm place to stay.  The Columnist uses some fine Christian imagery to describe the situation of one homeless man, a Mr Joe Telles, who died 44 years ago today.  The Columnist also uses Jewish imagery to tell us about how we should react,
Maybe I was just meant to say kaddish for Joe Telles every December 21st.
We are told "the poor will always be with you", and so it is.  It is a mark of civilization that the less fortunate are cared for.  It doesn't have to be government action.  Here in our little area, via the WCAP Salvation Army Radiothon, we gave the Salvation Army $105,000.  This last Sunday the second collection at the Immaculate Conception Parish was for the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.  Every Monday evening members of the Society are open for business, helping the needy who live within the parish boundaries.  And others help out, in their own way.

But, there is a roll for Government.  In Lowell there is a program to end homelessness in ten years.  Because there are many aspects to homelessness, our City's program has many aspects.  A new aspect is the formation of a committee to specifically address issues of homeless veterans.  The committee will eventually create it's own place in the collection of groups and services, but if my experience with past committees is any indication, its most important service will be in helping those involved in serving homeless populations better understand the problem and available help and solutions.  As part of that processes, there is a planned one day conference on the topic at the end of March, at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center here in downtown.  If you are interested in attending, and learning more, it will cost $25, but that includes lunch.  Compared to most conferences, it is a deal.

And, for the link to the original article, a thanks to Neal.

Regards  —   Vliff

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Greed At School

On today's show (I was driving down to Hanscom AFB) Rush Limbaugh was talking about "the greed of big education".  He noted that 36 University Presidents are making a million dollars or more each year.  This fits in with an early morning [Lowell] Sun headline on former UMass President Jack Wilson receiving $425Gs while on a year long sabbatical.

People are talking about the education bubble, like they used to talk about the tulip bubble or the housing bubble.  Experience shows that all bubbles burst.  Here is one commentAnd another.

As Rush asks, where is OWS on this?  And the Democrats?

At least people of a certain age can still get Continuing Educations Courses at UMass Lowell for $30, plus books—as long as the class isn't on-line.  A "color of money" issue.  I mentioned this "color of money" dodge to the Chancellor one Sunday morning.  That was right before he moved to Andover.  I haven't seen him in the neighborhood since.

Regards  —  Cliff

Vaclav Havel, RIP

Over at the Althouse blog we have this short appreciation of Czech President Vaclav Havel,
Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred.
He led the Velvet Revolution that ended Communist rule in Czechoslovakia.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, December 19, 2011

There Are Slurs and Then There Are Slurs

Reading Sunday's edition of our Merrimack Valley newspaper of record, The [Lowell] Sun, I came across a column authored by Ms Esther Cepeda.  I looked her up on Wikipedia, but the powers that be had made her go away.  That was unhelpful.

I read the column, "Wrong way to fight a slur".  From the headline I was sympathetic to what she might have to say, but I quickly became disenchanted, especially when she suggested I was a "Nativist".  I know about nativism—I am an immigrant to Lowell, or as my fellow blogger, Gerry Nutter, likes to say, a "Blow In".

Ms Cepeda is upset with the term "Anchor Baby", which made it into the latest edition of The American Heritage Dictionary.  She is against it because it is a put-down of some illegal immigrants.  She is also against use of the term because, in law, such a child, born in the US, of the nationals of another nation, actually conveys no legal rights to the parents.  I cede the point, but, the child is a US Citizen, if born in the US.  While the parents have no rights in law, there is a strong perception that such a situation might work to the advantage of the parents, depending upon the judge, and further, at some future time, when the US Congress decides to deal with the 12 million illegal immigrants, a child as a US Citizen may be an advantage.  So, the perception is that this child, who will be a US Citizen, is the anchor for future generations and perhaps for past generations, on a basis to be determined.  Ms Cepeda is not being fully honest with us.

There is the question of those 12 million people in the United States, who are nationals of other nations and don't have permission to be here.  Maybe the number is ten million. Because of their status, no one is sure how many are here.  This site suggests that DHS thought 6.6 million were from Mexico, with over a million more from Central America.  Do you think the 6.6 million are included in the Mexican population of 112.3 million (2010)?  I know that there are zealots who think they can all be deported, but I doubt it.  We can wait for them to die, with their children being US Citizens and no questions asks.  However, will not others follow, to fill up the numbers, as older Mexicans residing in the US die off?  More realistic, as violence escalates in Mexico, due to the drug trade and its attendant violence, will not more seek the relative security of the US?  (In the interest of fairness, the drug trade exists because of lower, middle and upperclass people in the US who use drugs.  Lots of them.)  Will the population of Mexico slowly be depleted, as people move here?  Maybe.  This is why the most important election in 2012 is not in the US, but in Mexico.

What I really resent is that Ms Cepeda thinks I am a Nativist just because I think "Anchor Baby" is a good term for capturing a certain mindset.  If she denies the concept by hiding behind current law, she has her head in the sand.  If she thinks I am a Nativist she doesn't know me and is slurring me.  She is ignoring that my Granddaughter is married to a man from Europe and I have helped him in gaining permanent residence and moving toward citizenship.  She is ignoring that the man who replaced me in my job at work, when I retired, is someone I recommended to the company when he got out of the Dutch Air Force, someone who, two decades before, I helped with a joint spouse assignment regarding his US Air Force wife.  Frankly, Ms Cepeda used a broad brush and harsh words and just served to alienate me.

Oh, and as I sign off I would like to one more time put down that I am against dual citizenship.  You are either with us or you are not.  If you come to this nation, go all in.  Don't hedge.

Regards  —  Cliff

Europe Versus UK—Debt to GDP Ratio

I ignored this post at the Zero Hedge blog the first time I saw a reference to it.  Then The Other Cliff sent me the link and I followed it.
While certainly humorous, entertaining and very, very childish, the recent war of words between France and Britain [see here for example] has the potential to become the worst thing to ever happen to Europe.  Actually, make that the world and modern civilization.  Why?  Because while we sympathize with England, and are stunned by the immature petulant response from France and its head banker Christian Noyer to the threat of an imminent S&P downgrade of its overblown AAA rating, the truth is that France is actually 100% correct in telling the world to shift its attention from France and to Britain.
Why?  As the chart in the linked blog post shows, the UK debt to GDP ratio is 950%.  That is bigger than Japan, at just over 600%, or Europe as a whole, at about 450%.  Bigger than the US, where it is about 300%.

The article goes on
then this island, which far more so than the US is the true center of the global banking ponzi scheme, will suddenly find itself at the mercy of the market.  At that point the only question is whether the vigilantes will dare to take down the UK, as said take down will result in an implosion in the very fabric of modern finance, much more so than what even a full collapse of France could ever achieve.
The blogger gives a mention to AIG-FP's Joe Cassano.

Doesn't someone have to cover all that debt?  Is this a "bite the bullet" question hanging out there and blocking investment, and thus economic recovery and growth?

Regards  —  Cliff

More on North Korea

Night Watch for the night of 18 December 2011 gives us some insight into the situation in North Korea:
North Korea: Kim Chong-il died on 17 December, according to a broadcast about 0300 on 19 December.  The official notice stated,
Kim Chong-Il, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, passed away from a great mental and physical strain at 08:30 December 17, 2011, on a train during a field guidance tour.

The WPK Central Committee and Central Military Commission, DPRK National Defense Commission, Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly and Cabinet released a notice on Saturday informing the WPK members, servicepersons and all other people of his passing away.

All party members, military men and the public should faithfully follow the leadership of comrade Kim Jong-un and protect and further strengthen the unified front of the party, military and the public,
the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.  The cause of death was a heart attack, which occurred while he was on the train, according to a later official report.

A funeral for Kim Chong-il will be held in Pyongyang on 28 December and Kim Jong-un will head the funeral committee, KCNA said.

Comment: After the stroke in 2008, Kim began making the arrangements to provide for a relatively smooth leadership transition, to the extent he could.  His brother-in-law Chang Song-taek is the regent for the third son and heir-designate, Kim Jong-un.  Jong-un was promoted to a four star general, despite no military service. He was identified as successor in internal indoctrination campaigns, traveled with his father and the two attacks against South Korea in 2010 were attributed to his "leadership."  All the key people, including Chang and Kim Jong-un, have the positions, authority and rank to take charge and take command.

Nevertheless, the succession is weak because the new key people have no direct ties to the three wars - the anti-Japanese war before World War II; World War II, and the Korean War, which has been the cachet for leadership - and have no military training or experience.  Kim Jong-un, in his mid-20s, officially is a four-star general, which some real generals and marshals reportedly resent.  The North is fundamentally a military-backed regime that has multiple factions.

Succession in a communist state always is a dangerous time. There are immediate and longer term grounds for concern.

Most immediately, North Korean armed forces probably are at semi-war state of alert to ensure a prompt response in the event any enemy attempts or is perceived as attempting to take advantage of a period of grief or judges the North is weakened by leadership change. South Korean forces also are on alert against uncertainty and unpredictability in the North.

The longer term concern is the pressure on the new leader to prove himself.  Kim Chong-il lived under the shadow of his father, who filtered the pressure during the transition in the early 1990's.  But it is worth recalling that Chong-il's most sensational achievements were to oversee North Korea's emergence as a nuclear armed state, so it claims, and its proliferation of ballistic missiles, deeds Kim Il-sung never accomplished. The son surpassed the father in military technology.

On the other hand, Kim Chon-il's legacy as a builder of a prosperous North Korea is no better than that of his father.  Most of his civil construction and development projects have been failures.  Thus, North Korea has a nuclear weapons program and a million-man armed forces, but cannot feed itself. Father and son are responsible for this condition.

The great unfinished work of the Kim Il-sung, the father of North Korea, and his son is the reunification of Korea. The third son and successor will be under pressure to outdo his father and grandfather.  Continued vigilance by the Allies will remain essential.
Note the phrase "Nevertheless, the succession is weak", which suggests that there will be problems along the way.

And, this comes just as we in the US are preparing to provide food aid to North Korea:
North Korea-US: Yonhap News Agency reported on 17 December that the United States has agreed to provide up to 240,000 tons of food aid to North Korea in return for North Korea's pledge to implement initial denuclearization measures, including suspension of its uranium enrichment program.  According to unidentified diplomatic sources, the agreement resulted from meetings in Beijing on Thursday and Friday between US special envoy on North Korean human rights Robert King and Ri Kun, Director General for North American affairs in North Korea's foreign ministry.

The food assistance will be delivered in shipments of 20,000 tons each during the next 12 months.  The North apparently also agreed to accept closer monitoring of distribution so that the food is not diverted to the military.

The United States and North Korea also are expected to hold another round of high-level talks on Thursday next week to help resume the six-party talks on Pyongyang's denuclearization, which were last held in late 2008.

Comment: The six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia have been deadlocked since late 2008.  Progress in talks will be delayed by the death of Kim and the funeral rites.  Those provide a unique opportunity for the US to show good will by sending a delegation to the funeral, even of an enemy leader.  For example, former Secretary of State Albright and former President Carter have the credentials because they both visited Pyongyang.
Now is not the time (for the US) to be bellicose.  Now is the time to pour oil on troubled waters.  There will always be time for firm action later on.  There is no need to rush it at this time.

Regards  —  Cliff

IEDs Are Bad

We tend to think of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) in terms of military casualties, and more specifically, NATO force casualties, but really, US casualties in Afghanistan.  Then I saw this anonymous quote:
On average, some 550 people are killed or experience life changing injuries every month, with Afghan civilians making up the bulk of those casualties
It would appear that the killing and maiming is not going to go away just because we pull back US forces, or the larger number of NATO forces, which includes US forces.  Does anybody remember how Cambodia evolved after the US pulled out in the Sommer of 1973?  Here in Lowell we have some 20,000 neighbors who could explain it to us.

Regards  —  Cliff

Kim Jong-il RIP

Who was it that famously said, "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night"?  That comment would seem to apply to the unexpected death of DPRK (North Korea) Dear Leader Kim Jong-il.  Here is the news from The International Herald Tribune.

We need to think about who will be the new leader and what he (unlikely she) will have to do to establish legitimacy.

We need to think about what happens if there is regime collapse and people start starving by the millions.

We need to think about "loose nucs" scenarios.

But, most of all we could pray for a soft landing.

And the quote?  Local girl makes good—Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bradley Manning on Trial

US Army Private Bradley Manning is on trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of State Department Cables (from when State messages were encrypted and sent by undersea cable).  Let us not miss the point that these leaks have impeded the conduct of diplomatic business as friends of the United States have been exposed and embarrassed. Think of yourself as a government official in Mexico who tells a lower ranking American Diplomat about concerns regarding a drug cartel in some State in a lower part of the Mexican nation.  Manning leaks and it makes it's way into the local newspaper.  Your boss calls you in and explains that you will never receive another promotion or pay raise.  How do you explain that to your wife?  And the whole time you thought you were exploiting the American to get technical and economic assistance to fight the cartels.

To Activist Charles Davis, writing an opinion piece in al Jazeera, you don't exist, just poor Bradley Manning.

It would be one thing if Pvt Manning was a Whistle Blower, but he is not.  He is someone who is amoral and dumped up to a million documents because it made him feel good, and in the process endangered many lives.  I am not feeling it for Pvt Manning.  Frankly, I wouldn't hire him to sweep floors, for fear he might feel free to dump the sweeping compound down the toilets, clogging them, or worse, getting me in trouble with the Federal EPA.

Mr Davis, in his screed, takes a swipe at Military Justice.  It is an ignorant and uninformed view.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pakistan Government in Trouble?

This morning's edition of Night Watch had an item on the Pakistani Army appealing to the Pakistani Supreme Court against the civilian government.  While that may sound strange to American ears, it fits in the pattern of Pakistani governance.  It would be like the Turkish military up until a few years ago, where the military, and in particular the Turkish General Staff (TGS) saw itself as the guarantor of Turkish Constitutional Government.  This quote from Wikipedia show the relative standing of the military in Turkey, and other like nations:
The Chief of the General Staff holds the fifth-highest rank, behind the President of the Republic, the President of the Constitutional Court, the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly and the Prime Minister, on the protocol of the Republic of Turkey.
This is a different understanding of Civil-Military relations from those held in nations whose governments derive from Anglo-Saxon traditions.

According to Night Watch the military is appealing to the Judiciary against President Asif Ali Zardari, who is currently out of the country, getting medical treatment.  This is not the way we would think about Civil-Military relations.  Per Night Watch:
If some government leaders are found to have committed treason, acts of disloyalty or related lesser crimes, the Army would be justified in seizing political power.
One wonders what that treason would be.

Then I saw an item from the BBC on this same situation.

And, we have a new Pakistani Ambassador to the United States, Ms Sherry Rehman.  The previous Ambassador, Husain Haqqani, was called home over the same Constitutional crisis.

Things seem to always be interesting with the Pakistani government.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, December 16, 2011

No-Show Jobs

In at least one way France is ahead of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Thetheory are going after officials who pass out no-show jobs.  Yesterday's International Herald Tribune had an article on the conviction of former Resident Jacques Chirac, 79, of corruption and gave him a two year suspened sentence.  The crimes happened when he was the Mayor of Paris.

Lesson Learned?  Even the French can, from time to time, move to clean up their political scene.  The question is, can we?

Supplemental Lesson Learned is that justice does not require a sledge hammer.  It can be administered with a rolled up newspaper.

Regards  —  Cliff

The New Barney Frank?

Last week The Lowell Sun ran a front page photo of the participants in a Democratic Party debate amongst folks seeking the Senatorial nomination for 2012.  It was not a very flattering picture.  I think of her as a physically attractive woman and very bright, although somewhat misguided.  But, as you can judge for yourself, the snarl captured in the photo doesn't do much for her.  It reminds me of Representative Barney Frank and his way of dealing with others.  I think that he looks down on those he thinks are his inferiors—Republicans, constituents who ask challenging questions, Bill O'Reilly, probably Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), but he couldn't say it out loud, since Senators are higher in the pecking order than mere Representatives.

Credit for the picture goes to AP.

The photo at the UMass Lowell web site with the latest poll numbers, Warren in the lead, was not very flattering.  Is she trying to be the "tough guy"?

Then there was the Sissy Willis piece at the Riehl World View, "I'm you:  Elizabeth Warren channels Christine O'Donnell".

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Statistics and Attitudes

In the Sunday edition of The Boston Globe, under "Uncommon Knowledge", is an item, "The persistent dating color line".  The blurb talks to the resistance amongst Caucasians to dating people of color.  The story says that 46% of Caucasian "men say they would be completely open to a relationship with a black" partner.  The number is 62% re Asian women.  For women the numbers are lower.  The blurb has additional statistics, but they all relate to attitudes of Caucasians.

So, what is the standard?  Is it 100%?  Maybe.

But, besides wondering about the standard, one wonders about how we Caucasians stack up against other groups.  I remember a coworker, back in 80-82, when I was stationed at Clark AB, in the Philippines.  He was part Japanese, originally from Hawaii (Or was he part Hawaiian, or a European, Japanese, Hawaiian mix?  Mox nix.), and had married a Philippine woman.  My friend told me his father was not reconciled to the marriage until after the first grandchild.  How do other groups stack up?  And what about religious, political, educational and city/country borders?  This link actually has a broader swath of statistics.

At some level, who cares?  What does this really tell us about ourselves?  We tend to confront this issue, today, as individuals and families, and not races, creeds or ethnic groupings.

What the blurb tells me is that with most social issues it takes a lot more data to gain an understanding than is usually available.

The author of this item is Mr Kevin Lewis, at Kevin dot Lewis dot ideas at gmail decimal com.  Incidently, I like this part of the Ideas Section.  It is a place to learn and Mr Lewis generally does a good job sparking interest.

Regards  —  Cliff

John Conyers Nails It

We ought to get rid of the old myth that you're presumed to know the law.
So spoke Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee's panel on crime, terrorism and homeland security.  This quote was part of a Wall Street Journal article on a bi-partisan concern that the proliferation of Federal Criminal Laws and Administrative Regulations put ordinary citizens at risk for major jail time and fines for minor, unknowing infractions of the proliferating laws and regulations.  Sometimes individual citizens find themselves facing industrial size penalties, but without the legal representation available to an industrial firm.  The lede:
The federal criminal code has grown so large it ensnares everyday citizens who have no idea they are violating the law, a bipartisan group of legal experts told a House panel Tuesday.
Bipartisan.  It has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

Regards  —  Cliff

Citizenship and ICE Detention Orders

Over at The International Herald Tribune is an article on DHS issuing Detain Orders to local Police Departments, under the "Secure Communities" program, against US Citizens who are in their (ICE) Database.  So, if you have been in their database, you are forever there (unless they actually clean it up some day).  The upshot is that if you are in the database and you are arrested (not yet convicted) you can find yourself in jail on a hold order from the Feds.  Here is a place where your $20 a year to the ACLU can pay off.  An ACLU lawyer will help get your birth certificate and US passport in front of the Feds.

Per the story, one of the ways you can get into the ICE database is to have dual citizenship and come into the country on your "other" passport.  Frankly, I am the kind of "press to test" person who would do that.  I once used my old driver's license with TSA, at National Airport, since the very nice clerk at the Registry told me to hang onto it as an additional form of ID.  The TSA person let me through, but I got the additional screening, probably for being a troublemaker.

All that said, this is one more reason why the US Congress needs to take action to make dual citizenship go away.  It is scriptural—Matthew 6:24, and common sense.  This isn't about football (soccer).  What if your dual citizenship is British and Argentinian?  Where do you stand when the next war breaks out?

To wrap up, here is an interesting point from the article:
Americans said their vehement protests that they were citizens went unheard by local police and jailers for days, with no communication with federal immigration agents to clarify the situation.  Any case where an American is held, even briefly, for immigration investigation is a potential wrongful arrest because immigration agents lack legal authority to detain citizens.
Who do you sue?  The Feds or your local police?

Regards  —  Cliff

Oh, Great

From Night Watch for last night we have this good news/bad news story:
Afghanistan:   For the record.  The Afghan government has reached an agreement with the Taliban by which they will end attacks on state schools in return for a more conservative religious curriculum and the hiring of Taliban-approved mullahs as teachers, according to an unconfirmed report.  The deal, which was agreed at the national level with the Afghan education ministry and at the village level by local communities, appears to have contributed to a fall in the level of violence across much of Afghanistan over the past year.

Comment:  The agreement is not confirmed, but would represent a significant concession to the Taliban and would end the education of girls beyond about 6th grade.  NightWatch is investigating the fighting data on attacks against schools.
On the other hand, it is their country.  As H L Mencken (1880 - 1956) observed:
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
But, then Mr Mencken was a known crank.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oh Tannenbaum

Over at the Instapundit is a link to a Boston Herald article on our Governor lighting the Christmas Tree.  There was apparently, some mix up in the office and the Invitation said "Holiday Tree", like we lived in Rhode Island.

These little problems are an embarrassment when they leak beyond our borders.

Regards  —  Cliff

We Are Not Up To It?

Over at the Althouse blog is a discussion of…what?  Maybe it is a discussion, on "Morning Joe, between former Boston newsman Mike Barnacle and former Newsweek editor Jon Meachum.  Or, is it about radio personality Rush Limbaugh being ahead of the curve?  Here is the money quote:
I think he’s stunned by it…I think it’s if you think of it from a biographical point of view, it’s his thinking the system — in a weird way the country is not commensurate with his gifts.  That’s a harsh thing to say. But I have a feeling in the dark night of a soul, that’s what he feels.  I think he thinks this is an 18th century Constitutional Republic that needs significant updating.  I think he sees the reflects of opposition that a culture that Gingrich helped build as one huge stumbling block.  He sees all of us as another huge stumbling block.
My source for the quote is this blog site.

The thought in Mr Meachum's comment that bothered me was "this is an 18th century Constitutional Republic that needs significant updating".  Yes, he places the thought in President Obama's mind, whether it actually exists there is still to be determined, but I suspect it is in his mind.  Worse, it may well be lingering in the minds of others, like Mr Meachum's.

This is a reflection of the debate going on in Europe, where France and Germany are advocating ever more centralized and standardized government, and the UK is saying a more decentralized system is needed.  One size does not fit all.  And, migration is one solution to your piece of the system not working the way you think it should.  I am not advocating "America, love it or leave it".  I don't care what your "ism" is, as long as you play by the rules.  Doesn't mean I like your shade of politics, but I do respect your right to have that view and to peacefully advocate it.

So, that brings me back to our "18th century Constitutional Republic".  I like our system and am not interested in trading it in for some early 19th century Bonapartist form of centralized government.  While it might work for Continental Europe, it won't work for us.

Regards  —  Cliff

  And, what does Mr Meachum's actually know of the "Dark Night of the Soul"?  Does he even like the poem?

Canada Leads the Way

From al Jazeera on-line we have a report that Canada, our always pleasant neighbor to the north, one of the PC nations, will withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol.
Global accord on climate change "does not represent a way forward for Canada", the environment minister has said
Reads the sub-headline.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, December 12, 2011

Smart Border Patrolling

From Drudge we have a link to a Fox News report on a proposal for a remote operating Customs and Border Patrol station within Big Bend National Park.  This makes sense to me.  Can it be any worse than no crossing control today.  This is a local solution to a local problem.  If drug runners and queue jumping immigrants start to frequent this area, then changeupdate the approach, again.

Regards  —  Cliff

Iran as a Problem

From The American Interest Magazine we have an article with this headline, Germany:  War With Iran Can't Be Ruled Out . Israel, of course, is very concerned about a nuclear armed Iran.  Threats of annilation tend to cause that kind of thinking, but now the UK and France are thinking out loud.  But, it is intreating to find the somewhat pacifist Germany talking about war as an instrument against Iran.  Here is Phillip Missfelder, CDU/CSU parliamentary spokesman on foreign policy:
But I say very clearly that even those who want to put the focus on diplomatic efforts cannot entirely rule out a military option.
While war is always an available tool, IMHO, war would not be a good option at this time.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I would note that Herr Mißfelder has some ideas that would cause Sarah Palin to cry "Death Panels".

Ideas on Thinking

Over at the Althouse blog is this Decalogue of "liberal" ideas.  Check it out.

Regards  —  Cliff

  As this is from 1951, it does not mean "liberal" the way it is understood by Democrats today.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Clout of the GOP Establishment

To follow up on this mornings post on "None of the Above", here is Steve Benen, of The Washington Monthly, talking about the (lack of) clout of the Republican Establishment, "The reach of the GOP establishment".  Writer Benen first cites Ezra Klein (Wash Post), who tells us that there is no way Newt Gingrich will make it, given the opposition of "the Establishment".  Mr Benen scoffs:
Consider how desperately the Republican establishment wanted to defeat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in 2010.  Did the party want Sharron Angle as the GOP nominee?  Of course not, but the radical base didn’t much care.  The establishment didn’t want Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, either, and was crushed when Mike Castle lost the primary, but there wasn’t much the party’s leaders could do about it.
Yes!  Both candidates offered a choice rather than a reflection.  And the voters chose.  And both candidates lost in the General Election.  But at least the Republican registered voters got a chance to express themselves.  I dislike being treated like someone's lapdog.

Mr Benen sums up his view here:
In fact, I find it very easy to imagine Gingrich benefiting from this dynamic.  It’s not as if rank-and-file Republican voters are necessarily enamored with the GOP establishment in Washington.  I can imagine Gingrich running an ad saying, “If you want a candidate popular with D.C. pundits and power-brokers on Capitol Hill, I’m not your guy.  But if you want a leader with a vision, fundamental fundamental fundamental, etc.”
And, Newt is the man to do just that thing.

Regards  —  Cliff

 When it comes to story titles I am torn between doing it the way I think I learned (capitalize the main words) and the way the lazy, sloppy typesetters and English teachers of today do it.  Ths time I went with the typesetters.

Egypt-Israel

From Night Watch we have this overnight comment:
Egypt:  Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood (MB) said that the Egyptian parliament should review the country's peace treaty with Israel, according to a statement by MB Secretary-General Mahmoud Hussein.  Hussein denied reports that Egypt had reached an understanding with the United States and Israel over safeguarding the treaty.  Hussein said a long time has passed since the Camp David accords were signed, adding that the treaty is but one of many priorities for Egypt.  He also said Israel generally does not adhere to the treaty.

The MB also announced this week that an MB-led government would improve Egyptian ties with Iran.
So, if the treaty goes away, is that an indication that war is a possibility in the near future?

Perhaps equally interesting would be an answer to the question, does the MB understand the relative military power of Egypt and Israel and how an Arab-Israeli war would likely go?

Regards  —  Cliff

None of the Above

Per Nate Silver, of The New York Times, suggests it might still be too early to tell who will be the Republican Nominee for President in 2012.  His piece is here.
Two of my favorite analysts, Rhodes Cook and Josh Putnam, have a good debate going about just how plausible it is that a Republican who is not currently running for president could enter the race later and potentially win it (probably necessitating a brokered convention).  Those of you who follow my Twitter feed will know that I think Mr. Cook has the stronger side of the argument; I think there is a small but nontrivial chance that the Republican nominee could be someone like Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty or Chris Christie.  (In fact, I was speculating about these scenarios as long as a month ago.)
As they say, it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings.

Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, December 9, 2011

Acceptable Words

Over at the Instapundit are some blogging words of wisdom.
Anyway, my rule is no Nazis, no Commies, no porn.  Pretty much everything else goes.
I think that is a good basic approach.  Then there is the Cole Porter view:
Good authors, too, who once knew better words / Now only use four-letter words writing prose / Anything goes!
From the Broadway hit title song, Anything Goes.

Returns  —  Cliff

Count-Down

It strikes me as tacky, but the White House Web Site has a count-down clock until when the reduction in Social Security tax deductions ends.

I don't so much mind if it ends as wish that it didn't end each year on toward Christmas for the better off.  I think the cap on the tax is wrong.  In the mean time, both parties have plans for saving the day, but can't come to an agreement.  Politics; on both sides.

But, the White House advocating for action with a count-down clock just seems tacky.

Regards  —  Cliff

Left Handed

From The Wall Street Journal is an article on left handedness.  Well, it isn't all bad news.

But, we are prone to ADHD and dyslexia and worse.  One thing we learn is it is likely our Mother's fault.  Too much stress while pregnant.

Hat tip to Pat's Papers, via an ABA Newsletter.

Regards  —  Cliff

Global Warming and Earthquakes

Some time this year someone made a fevered comment about global warmingclimate change causing earthquakes.  I remember I thought it was a silly comment, reflecting a lack of scientific understanding.  Now comes two researchers down in Florida, Professor Shimon Wdowinski and Professor Igor Tsukanov, saying that tropical storms impact the timing of earthquakes, and their theory makes some sense.

I found the report at MSNBC on-line, after prompting from Drudge.  From the report we have this:
Focusing only on very wet typhoons with the capacity to cause of a lot of erosion, and removing aftershocks that would bias the analysis, the researchers found that 85 percent of magnitude-6-and-above quakes occurred within the first four years after a very wet storm.  That was five times what would have been expected from background quake rates…
Pretty interesting.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fast and Furious

From the Althouse blog:
"... not for any legitimate public purpose but in order to advance a left-wing political agenda, and those guns were used to murder hundreds of Mexicans and at least one American border agent – which they were – then we are looking at a scandal that dwarfs any in modern American history."

John Hinderaker, trying to fathom Fast and Furious.  We really do need an explanation.  If Hinderaker's conclusion seems extreme, consider that it could be easily refuted by a clear statement from the Obama administration disclosing the true and legitimate purpose.  The absence of such a statement propels us toward the extreme conclusion.
Remember, Professor Althouse voted FOR Senator Obama for President.  Not one of those "bitter clingers".

And, could we have a round of applause for CBS Reporter Sharyl Attkisson.  Good job, Ms Attkisson.

Regards  —  Cliff

Today

Today is a Holy Day of Obligation, and I have less than an hour to fulfill that obligation.

It is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which is not the same as the Virgin Birth.  That would Christmas.  Nor is it the same as the Annunciation, which would be 25 March when the Angel announces to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she will be with child, if she agrees.

From Wikipedia:
Prior to Pope Pius IX's definition of the Immaculate Conception as a Roman Catholic dogma in 1854, most missals referred to it as the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The festal texts of this period focused more on the action of her conception than on the theological question of her preservation from original sin. A missal published in England in 1806 indicates the same collect for the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was used for this feast as well.

The first move towards describing Mary's conception as "immaculate" came in the eleventh century. In the fifteenth century Pope Sixtus IV, while promoting the festival, explicitly tolerated those who promoted it as the Immaculate Conception and those who challenged such a description, a position later endorsed by the Council of Trent.
Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

US Fights Discrimination Abroad

I caught the news yesterday that the Administration is going to take action against nations that discriminate against homosexuals.  Says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.  It should never be a crime to be gay.
That statement has the twin advantages of being straight forward and true.  That said, I was skeptical.  We aren't actually going to do much, are we?  For example, we are not going to take on Russia over it's abuse of gays.  Will we cut military aid to Egypt, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  I am doubtful.  I think Rep Michele Bachmann pretty well explained that to Rep Ron Paul a few nights ago.

But, I thought it was a positive gesture and the right thing to do, until this AM, when I found this little snippet.  I guess it is OK to throw oppressed religious minorities under the bus.  Or maybe it is just Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).  He is, after all, the Senate Majority Whip, the number two Democrafts in the US Senate, not counting the Veep.  Senator Durbin apparently is the one with a hold on the bill extending the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

Regards  —  Cliff

Run-Up To Pearl Harbor

Here is one man's view on the run-up to American entry into World War Two:
Roosevelt had wanted the U.S. to get into the war in Europe for two years before Pearl Harbor.  In early July of 1941 Treasury Secretary Morganthau and Interior Secretary Ickes urged an oil embargo to thwart Japan’s expansionist policies in Southeast Asia but Roosevelt feared that would push the U.S. into “the wrong war, in the wrong ocean at the wrong time.”  On July 24th the Japanese entered Southern Indochina (South Vietnam) and the U.S. responded on July 26th by freezing Japan's assets in the U.S. and, on 1 August embargoed all oil and gasoline exports to Japan.  At that moment Roosevelt had to know that Japan would retaliate because 90 percent of their oil came from the U.S.  He also had to know that Japan’s expansion into SE Asia endangered 90 percent of America’s vital rubber supply.

It worked!  Pearl Harbor got us into the big war in a big way (not just lend lease).
Most things have a back story.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Useless Coinage

"Die, Penny, Die"

That is the suggestion from Alex Tabarrok, whose blog, Marginal Revolution, can be found here.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Saudi Bomb

From Night Watch this morning:
Saudi Arabia: Former Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal, told a security forum in Riyadh on 5 December that Saudi Arabia may consider acquiring nuclear weapons to match regional rivals Israel and Iran.  "Our efforts and those of the world have failed to convince Israel to abandon its weapons of mass destruction, as well as Iran... therefore it is our duty towards our nation and people to consider all possible options, including the possession of these weapons."

Comment: The conventional wisdom from a few years ago was that proof of an Iranian nuclear weapons program might prompt Jordan, Turkey, Egypt or Saudi Arabia to develop a nuclear weapons program so that there would be an Arab riposte to the Persians.

The implication of Turki's comment is that Saudi Arabia has capabilities, or access to capabilities, that are not generally known.  Proof that Iran has a nuclear weapon not only has implications for Israel's security, but also for the Sunni states of the Middle East.
So, before Iran will have enough nuclear weapons to have a military capability the Saudis might have a "primitive" nuclear retaliatory capability—or a commitment from the US, or some other nuclear state, of a "nuclear umbrella" against a nuclear Iran.

A question for us is, do we care about nuclear proliferation enough to offer guarantees to Saudi Arabia and other Sunni States?

Regards  —  Cliff

Mexican Drug Cartels

Over at the BBC we have an article about Mexico's President Filepe Calderon saying drug gangs are threatening democracy.
Mr Calderon said attempts by drug gangs to manipulate elections was a "new and worrying fact".

Speaking as his sixth and final year in office began, Mr Calderon also defended his decision to use troops to tackle the cartels.

Mr Calderon's speech comes as political campaigns are intensifying ahead of next July's presidential poll.
The problem is, Mexico is next door  If the drug cartels will mess with governments on their transit roots, why wouldn't they mess with governments in their market areas?

One of the reasons I voted for Geo Bush in 2000 was my belief that a President Bush would finally focus the nation's attention on our problems on our southern border.  Then the late Osama bin Laden decided he wanted the attention focused on him.  The rest is history.  But, now we have a chance for a new beginning, as we wind down our major commitments to Iraq and Afghanistan.  Not that we should forget those two nations, but they should no longer dominate our foreign policy.

Here is another view of this issue, from Small Wars Journal.  The footnoted article concludes:
Still, the Mexican cartels have not been elevated to a terrorist designation, so Napolitano has since backed away from any “T” word mention. Further, Obama administration policies also appear to be at work. While such bureaucratic, and possibly executive, logic plays well in Washington, it makes little sense to the rest of the nation. We, the people, need to inject some common sense into Washington threat perceptions—if not, Napolitano, or her successor, will be fixating solely on Al Qaeda for years to come and in the process continue to be preoccupied with what has become the second tier national security threat to our nation.
Seems right to me.  We, the People, need to drive this discussion in the proper direction.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, December 5, 2011

Library Trustee Openings

The City Manager, Mr Bernie Lynch, is looking for two individuals to sit on the Pollard Library Board of Trustees.  The invitation is located here.  The interesting question is if this reflects normal turnover or resignations.  The reason I ask is the turmoil at the library, including a law suit against the Manager and City by a current Library employee.  My sources tells me that one person moved and one person had changed family circumstances.  So the Board of Trustees remains solid.

I think the Library is important and as we try to up our educational game here in Lowell it should be even more important.  Trustee is an important position and worthy people should apply.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Shadow War With Iran

Over at Wired Magazine's "Danger Room, reporter David Axe has this article, "Did Iran Capture a U.S. Stealth Drone Intact?".  Mr Axe thinks not, and I think he is right.

On the other hand, there seems to be a lot going on in Iran right now, what with assassinations of key nuclear scientists and big explosions and now this.  Are we spying on Iran?  Little doubt in my mind—and so are the Israelis (and probably so are the Russians, Chinese and Saudis).  Is someone sabotaging Iranian nuclear efforts?  In all likelihood, or the Iranians are very unlucky.

If it is us, we need to remember that these sorts of things have blowback potential down the road.  An example would be the US backed overthrow of Premier Mossadeq of Iran, in August 1953.  Some of the blowback was the Iran Hostage Crisis after the overthrow of the Shah.

For background, Wikipedia tells us:
CIA officer Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., the grandson of former President Theodore Roosevelt, carried out the operation planned by CIA agent Donald Wilber.  One version of the CIA history, written by Wilber, referred to the operation as TPAJAX.

But, the underlying question is, what do "we" do about Iran's nuclear weapons program?  The first thing to consider is that one nuclear weapon does not a major capability make.  Having crossed the nuclear threshold, Iran will probably need 25 weapons to pose a existential treat to Israel.

First, if Iran is to wipe out all the Israelis in Israel it will need more than one weapon, just because Israel is not just a single city.  If it is to not to kill a whole lot of Palestinians and also destroy the Dome of the Rock (along with the Al-Aqsa Mosque), an Iranian nuclear laydown will need a number of smaller weapons.  Then there is the need to attack Israeli nuclear retaliatory forces.  One might assume these are hardened to some degree.  Then Iran needs some additional weapons in reserve, with which to then threaten Saudi Arabia and Europe and the United States.  I am thinking they need 25 for the job.  Getting one just puts them on the road.  It does not finish the job.  (And, the number 25 is just a wag on my part.  I have not done the weaponeering needed for a definitive answer.)

To recap:
  1. One Nuclear Weapon, especially if tested, will cause the world to go into a panic, although in some quarters it will bring pride.
  2. Two Nuclear Weapons gives the Iranians the ability to do something foolish, such as attack Israel.  It will kill up to 100,000 people outright, but will bring down the condemnation of the world on Iran, and perhaps more than mere sanctions—the Israelis may well feel the time has some to unsheathe the sword.
  3. A Dozen weapons provides an offensive capability that could endanger Israel, but once used, the capability would be gone and Iran naked to retaliation
  4. 25 Bombs would give Iran both an offensive and a defensive (retaliatory) capability and make them a respected member of the nuclear club.
It is my humble opinion that the more nuclear weapons Iran produces the more conservative they will be with regard to nuclear warfare.  There will then be room for a Western deterrence of Iran.

Regards  —  Cliff

Are Local Police Becoming Militarized?

BLUF:  I don't think so, but I do still wonder why the Middlesex County Sheriff needs an urban assault vehicle.

The topic is considered by New York Times correspondent Al Baker, here, in an article titled "When the Police Go Military".
RIOT police officers tear-gassing protesters at the Occupy movement in Oakland.  The surprising nighttime invasion of Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, carried out with D-Day-like secrecy by officers deploying klieg lights and a military-style sound machine.  And campus police officers in helmets and face shields dousing demonstrators at the University of California, Davis with pepper spray.

Is this the militarization of the American police?
There are things to be cautious about, like no-knock searches.  But, by and large the police do an excellent job.  And, the Lowell Police seem to know their job and are polite.  I was recently talking to an Officer at one of the National Grid migrating construction sites and asked about photographing police in action.  He gave the answer every red blooded American Citizen should want to here.  Perfectly legal.

Back to the article, it is a bit over the top, but Citizens need to pay attention to all aspects of government, and offer fraternal correction when something is out of whack.

In the mean time, here are some comments from Mr John Sullivan, involved in Law Enforcement out on the Coast:
This essay raises important questions about police force structure in an era of hybrid threat and global protest.  The police need to remain firmly grounded in the community and build all capability from community policing.  That said, high intensity crime (gangs, private armies using grenades and infantry tactics as seen with cartels) and terrorist attacks (like Mumbai-style 'swarming' attacks) demand a range of capabilities.  The balance between community engagement and 'in extremis' response can be found in a doctrine of 'full spectrum policing' supported by 'police operational art.'

See my co-authored papers "Beyond Active Response: An Operational Concept for Police Counterterrorism Response" (with Adam Elkus) at 'New criminologist'  and "Postcard from Mumbai: Modern Urban Siege," at 'Small Wars Journal' for more on 'full spectrum policing' and police operational art...

The key is police need to sustain legitimacy in the community...
Too much policing and it is 1776 all over again.  Too little policing and the forces of subversion and chaos take over.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Goodbye to Herman Cain

I am sorry to see Herman Cain go so soon.  I didn't think he would get the nomination, but it made me feel good that someone not a mainstream politician was doing well.  I liked Herman for a number of reasons:
  1. He was not another retread from Congress or some statehouse
  2. He brought fresh ideas, like 9-9-9.  I actually didn't like the third nine, but the larger idea spoke to a real problem we face—the Tax Code
  3. He gave Republican voters a chance to warm up to and be comfortable with a BLack candidate, the way they couldn't with Ambassador Alan Keyes.
  4. He gave the Tea Parties a voice in the discussion.
In a way, Herman Cain represented the grass roots Republicans against the establishment Republicans. Columnist Chris Cillizza, of The Washington Post, at 01:44 PM EST, on Saturday, said
“Herman Cain in many ways represented the same qualities that attracted voters to people like [2010 Delaware Senate candidate] Christine O’Donnell,” said Republican senior strategist Terry Nelson. “They thought he would shake things up, and that’s what they want.”
Shake things up because the current approach is not working.  The kind of people who join Tea Parties don't wish to escalate to the OWS level, or to takie to the streets à la the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968, or going all John Galt on the nation. The 14 November 2011 edition of The New Yorker had this sentence in an article on Mr Cain:
The Obama-Clinton race in 2008 did not want for spectacle—it was like a full-employment plan for journalists—but, on the whole, it was a revealing contest between serious candidates.
Revealing?  If it was revealing we would have known President Obama.  As it is, we don't—and I am not a "Birther".  I fully accept that President Obama was born a US Citizen.  It s the rest of the story we don't know. As for serious candidates, if the writer meant interested in winning, I accept the point.  If the writer meant Obama as being up to speed with Senator Clinton in knowing the subject matter, I am very doubtful.  In fact, I think Herman Cain is as up to speed as 2008 Candidate Obama, or even Governor Palin was as up to speed as 2008 Obama. On the other hand, what is needed in the way of knowledge and experience?  Harry S Truman was a man of limited education.  He had been in the US Senate for ten years.  He does seem to have been a voracious reader.  I give you Harry Truman, Herman Cain, Hillary Clinton and then Barack Obama.  On the other hand, The New Yorker has great cartoons.

But, as we wish Herman and Gloria the very best, we need to turn our face to the row to be plowed.  Who do we think best upholds the conservative standard and pulls Mitt Romney to the right?

Regards  —  Cliff

Poverty Down in LATAM

Over at the Wall Street Journal on Thursday last is an article that says "Poverty Rates Fall In Latin America".
Several factors help to explain the fast decline in poverty. Governments managed to stabilize their economies after the 1980s "lost decade" of debt crises and inflation—a period more extreme than what Europe is suffering with its current crisis.  That allowed countries to spend less on servicing debt and more on social spending.

Many nations like Mexico also opened to trade, which helped to lower prices for consumers. Others, like Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil, benefitted from rising commodity prices in products including oil, iron ore and soybeans.  Lastly, fertility rates dropped everywhere, meaning the region has fewer babies and more working-age citizens.

"Macroeconomic stability, opening to trade, less debt, and better demographics have all come together," said Luis de la Calle, a former Mexican trade official who recently wrote a book about the rise of the Mexican middle class called Clasemediero.
Did it reduce emigration significantly?

Regards  —  Cliff