Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chris Matthews

Last evening I watched the Chris Matthews show, Hard Ball, re the primaries, and then the follow-on show, ramrodded by Rachel Maddow.  Then I caught Hard Ball again this evening.  My conclusion is that MSNBC is not the left wing answer to Fox, but is rather the left wing answer to Rush.  But not as entertaining.

And, MSNBC does make Fox look "fair and balanced".  Particularly the balanced part, but regarding Hard Ball, also the fair part.  Mr Matthews continues to talk over his guests.  I guess that is his style.  I used to like Mr Matthews.  Maybe it was because he was from Philly.  Go Athletics!  That may have been before his time.

Regards  —  Cliff

Olympia Snowe Bows Out

Here is the take of Washington Post Columnist Ezra Klein on the announcement by Maine Senator Olympia Snowe that she will not seek reelection this year.

There is a nice graphic half way down the article, at the link.

My problem with the column is that it leaves no space for the possibility that there might be serious disagreements in the US Congress on how the economy works (Keynesian vs the Austrian School) and about how deeply the Federal Government should be involved in the lives of US citizens, vs help being managed by states, locally or by private charities.  Some of this can be smudged and compromised, but some of it cannot.  If you truly believe following the Keynesian approach of deficit spending to get us out of the current recession, you will think the idea that the problem is making the massive bad investments by Government and Industry go away is just plain foolishness, and, visa versa.  Because we are, in fact, compromising, we are getting the worst of both possible worlds.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Burning of The Koran

World Traveller Michael Yon talks about apologies for the accidental burning of copies of the Koran in Afghanistan.  The title of the piece is "Tigers, Crocodiles, Korans and Superstitions".  After taking us on a trip through the border region between India and Bangladesh, the Sundarbans, and the harshness of life there, he has this comment:
Superstition is king of many deserts and jungles.   If you come into a village, and someone falls from a tree and dies, it might be best for you to move out.   Many a traveler no doubt has met his tragic end for some superstitious therapy, to set villagers’ minds at ease that the rip in the universal fabric has been mended.
We understand this sort of thing.  Trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees was the sort of event that puts a tear in the fabric of the space-time continuum.  It took a long time for it to be repaired.  But, we didn't kill people over it.

Michael Yon concludes with this thought:
Those committing the human sacrifices in Afghanistan hold sufficient power that they caused the President of the United States, and our Commanding General in Afghanistan, to buckle and supplicate themselves with apologies for offending the sensibilities of superstition.   Granted, it is unwise to gratuitously offend the beliefs of others, but when murder is being committed the apologies should cease.   We are not responsible for atrocities they commit.

I have repeatedly spoken up against the burning of the Koran, yet there comes a time to acknowledge that something is wrong for which we are mistaken to apologize.
Mr Yon is correct.

If The People of Afghanistan are so rigid they can't get over this accidental Koran burning, then it is time to move on, with a notation that another 9/11 like event, directed or facilitated out of Afghanistan, will engender a response that will make the current Afghani mob reactions seem peaceful.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Use of "Orthogonal"

The state of the Republican Party presidential primary is one of confusion.  Governor Romney is still the one to beat and challengers have appeared and then fallen away.  As The Instapundit, Law Professor Glenn Reynolds, notes here, Senator Santorum is doing better against the incumbent than is Governor Romney—albeit by only a couple of points (“Santorum leads Obama in the swing states, 50% to 45%, and nationwide 49% to 46%.  This gives him an edge of three percentage points over Romney, whose swing-state lead is 48% to 46% and who ties the president nationally at 47%.”).  The Instapundit points us to a column by Mr James Taranto, for this data from Pew.

As The Instapundit puts it:
Wait, I thought he was an unelectable extremist. . . .

I’m not a fan of Santorum, whose big-government social conservatism is pretty much orthogonal to my own views.  But I’m not convinced that he’s as out of touch with the views of American voters as his media critics think.
I like the word "orthogonal".

One place this thread leads is back to a Business Week column by Clive Crook, "What Democrats Can Learn from Santorum About Populism:  Rick Santorum—and Bruce Springsteen—could teach Democrats a few things about channeling populist rage".  Toward the end of the column, Mr Crook mentions former Enron Advisor Paul Krugman and notes the view that:
When prosperous liberals vote their values, not their interests, that’s enlightened.  When poor conservatives do it, it’s dumb.
He then references the "bitter clingers" line from the last election, about people in Western PA.  That term has become a sort of catch phrase in some Republican Party circles, a badge of honor.

Regards  —  Cliff
     A bitter clinger  :-)

  “And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Blogger Comments

I don't like the recent changes to the Blogger Comments section.  The new system for keeping out robot commenters is too hard, at least for me and my iPad.  I think I tried ten times to post a comment to Greg Page's blog this evening.

Then, for me, and my iPad, the "print preview" wraps around in a strange and not very WYSIWYG manner.

I am not sure how to effectively express my disappointment to Blogger.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, February 27, 2012

Flag at Half Staff

Today I noticed at State and Local facilities the flags were flying at half staff, a sign of honor normally reserved for those who have departed this vale of tears.

Today it is in honor of Marine Corporal Christopher Arzola.  I found this information at a web site named Half Staff.  You can sign up for EMail notifications.  The site noted that:
Massachusetts Acting Governor Timothy P. Murray has ordered that the United States flag and the Commonwealth flag be lowered to half-staff at all state buildings from sunrise until sunset on Monday, February 27, 2012 in honor of Marine Corporal Christopher Arzola of Westfield, Massachusetts who died on February 14, 2012.
As an aside, I get why Mr Murray is the "Acting Governor".  We are expecting the real governor, Deval Patrick, to return to the corner office.

So what about when the governor resigns or dies in office?  The governor is still just acting; not being a real governor?  The former governor is coming back from the dead, before the Final Resurrection?  Don't give me the Constitution line.  I have read the Constitution and that is not how I read it.  No, it is the small sick minds of the Editorial Staff at The Boston Globe, and their running dogs, who never liked or respected Ms Jane Swift.  Thank you Ms Jane Swift, for being our Governor.

Regards  —  Cliff


Having a Mormon run for President seems to bring out the strangeness is all of us.  Well, make that having a non-WASP run for President.  Here is Eugene Volokh talking about Mormon “posthumous baptisms”, with focus on the issue of posthumous baptisms by Mormons of Jews, whether Holocaust victims or otherwise.
Either the Mormons are right about their theology, or they’re wrong.  If they’re right, then the posthumous baptism will do good.  If they’re wrong (and, being not a Mormon, I by definition think they are wrong, or else I’d be a Mormon), then the baptism will have no effect whatsoever:  It is just some people going through some ineffectual — by hypothesis — rituals in their own temple, and I don’t see what it should be to me that those rituals use the names of (say) my late relatives, however much I love those relatives.
And let Stephen Colbert try to change as many dead Mormons as he wants into Jews.  That said, The Instapundit, law professor Glenn Reynolds, thinks Mr Colbert would never do a comedy sketch like that regarding Muslims.  At the link he explains why.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wyoming's Aircraft Carrier

Professor Ann Althouse picked up on the news story about the Wyoming Lower House considering a bill to study Governmental collapse (think Greece):
State representatives on Friday advanced legislation to launch a study into what Wyoming should do in the event of a complete economic or political collapse in the United States.

House Bill 85 passed on first reading by a voice vote.  It would create a state-run government continuity task force, which would study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes, from disruptions in food and energy supplies to a complete meltdown of the federal government.
The reporter is Mr Jeremy Pelzer of the Star-Tribune capital bureau. The dateline is Friday, February 24, 2012 6:00 pm.

Aside from the Aircraft Carrier distractor
And House members approved an amendment Friday by state Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, to have the task force also examine conditions under which Wyoming would need to implement its own military draft, raise a standing army, and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier.
it does not seem unreasonable.  By the way, I spent a lot of time in NATO, where there is a technical distinction between attack aircraft (conventional) and strike aircraft (nuclear), with Dual Capable (DUC) being configured and supplied, and aircrew trained, to do both.

An investment of $16,000 does not seem unreasonable for thinking about the unthinkable.  Or, as one Althouse commenter (Pogo, a regular) said, "Just 5 years ago this would have seemed completely crazy.  Now, it's prudent."

There are those who argue that the world is actually a safer place than it was five years ago.  Osama bin Laden is dead and our military commitment to Europe, in terms of stationed forces, is less than 20% what it was when the Wall came down.  We have experienced the Arab Spring.  The US is out of Iraq and we are drawing down in Afghanistan.  Kim jong il is gone.

On the other hand, such optimists have not looked to our immediate South.  Leo Carrillo was correct, back in the Spring of 1957.  We need to be paying attention to our Southern neighbors.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Women And Opportunities

Retired Army Major General Robert Scales, whose two daughters have served in the Army, recently made this comment:
In fact I believe that service in the Army at least is proportionately more valuable to females than males simply because our culture rewards males with leadership opportunities earlier in their careers and too often women fall into the administration groove and are given few opportunities to lead.
I think there is some sound career guidance for parents, looking to guide their children.

We should be careful of stereotypes.  My youngest son and his wife are currently home schooling their children.  However, I am not allowed to buy their four year old daughter "girl" toys.  A Lego helicopter earlier this week was very acceptable.  I was glad to oblige.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Right to Mock

This started over at Instapundit, where there was a quick jab at Comedian Steven Colbert (Insty was dismissing him for not having what it takes at mock Muslims, along with Mormons), but there is a link to The Volokh Conspiracy where there is discussion of a Judge who threw out a case involving someone (a Mr Talaag Elbayomy) attacking a person, in a Halloween parade, where the parader was carrying an anti-Muslim sign, and shouting that he was the Prophet. Yes, poor taste on the part of the parader, but at a time when over 20 people, including two Americans, have died over the accidental burning of copies of the Koran, and Christians, as Christians, are being killed in the Middle East, the judge seems a little flip.

Regards — Cliff

Friday, February 24, 2012

Understanding a Text

This Althouse post on the death of Publisher Barney Rosset of Grove Press and Evergreen Review, reminded me of part of our reading assignment in class for Thursday evening.  The money quote is:
The man who published all those dirty books... and turned down Lord of the Rings because he "couldn’t understand a word."
Our texts were:Seventeenth Century English is a whole other language.

Regards  —  Cliff

Term Limits

The subject line of the EMail was "Term Limits" and I was prepared to respond with the word "Lazy", but this actually makes sense:
Limit all U.S. politicians to two terms:
One in office...& One in prison
Louisiana already does this.
Thanks, Neal

Get ready to vote next month, here in the Commonwealth of Massachsetts.

Regards  —  Cliff

Birth Control Moms

Here is Ms Joanne Kenen (Politico)raising the question of if Birth Control will be a good issue for Democrats to run on in 2008—Birth Control Moms?

When Reporter George Stephanopolous brought this up a couple of weeks ago I thought he was just out in left field.  Now I wonder if he was just a scouting party for the Obama Election Operation.  I wonder how that fits into Journalistic Ethics.

Then, last night, apparently Republican Candidate Newt Gingrich went on the offensive with CNN moderator John King, brushing past the question and going after the media for having a double standard.

I have to ask, since I didn't see the debate yesterday, did Newt really accuse the President of the United States, Barack Obama, of voting, when he was a State Senator, for allowing infanticide?  Unbelievable.  Is nothing sacred?  And then Mr Newt said that (in the words of Left in Lowell's Jack Mitchell), our surrogates, the media, failed to question Mr Obama on this.  I find it hard to believe the Press left rocks unturned.

There was some questioning, by Mr Alexander Burns, at Politico as to if Candidate Obama was not asked about this in 2008.  After some hemming and hawing, Mr Burns is saying he is less sure at this point.

But, getting to Newt's point, is there some time and distance rule about abortions gone bad—that is to say the baby is still alive outside the womb?  If the baby, or is it still a fetus, home free after some time, or if taken into another room?  Or is the issue that once the Mother decides to kill the little tyke the tyke's days are numbered, regardless.  Will the Peter Singer rules apply?  Up to two years?

I believe some see a certain cynicism about all of this.

Let's be clear.  The Republican candidates for the Presidential Nomination don't seem to be saying no birth control for women (or men, for that matter, given that most of the birth control I see on the shelves are the tried and true system designed to prevent disease, etc.

Abortion is a more open issue.  Looking at the voters, about 80% see it as a right and about 80% see it as wrong.  As Sally says, in When Harry Met Sally, "You do the math."

So, we have three issues here:  Birth Control, Abortion and the fairness of the MSM.  I don't think it is obvious that anyone has this all under control.

Regards  —  Cliff

Shoe on Other Foot

Althouse: "Gay hair stylist drops New Mexico governor as client because she opposes same-sex marriage."

Thank God the Governor wasn't a minority, a woman and homosexual. Think of the trouble the hairdresser would be in if the hairdresser were a straight Caucasian guy and had refused service.

Regards — Cliff

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Stupid Moves

Foreign Policy is hard.
The genius of you Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves which make the rest of us wonder at the possibility that we might be missing something.
Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970)
When we get our ideals and our practicality mixed together.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.
An annual reminder is not a bad thing.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wikileaks Hurts Government Openness

Mr Bill Keller, former editor of The New York Times, gets it right about Julian Assange, the head of Wikileaks
Here’s the paradox the documentaries have overlooked so far:  The most palpable legacy of the WikiLeaks campaign for transparency is that the U.S. government is more secretive than ever.
Mr Assange is no hero.  He is a world class jerk.  Yes, information wants to be free.  But it shouldn't want to hurt the innocent or those on the side of the angels.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, February 20, 2012

50th Anniversary

Mr Jeff Foust, of The Space Review, talks about the 50th Anniversary of Colonel John Glenn's three orbits that move the United States from sub-orbital missions to being a space faring.

I hope we continue to be a space faring nation.

Regards  —  Cliff

Ed Reform

This is about Madison, Wisc, so the term "Left" doesn't mean what it means in the rest of the nation.
"Question:  Where is the political Left on education reform?"
The Althouse blog links us to an answer.

Regards  —  Cliff

The View From Israel

At Bloomberg is an opinion piece by Efraim Inbar, a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies.

This is the flip side of a post earlier today (the one that wandered off into forestry in the comments). The author takes a pessimistic view of the chances for stability with a nuclear armed Iran.

I liked the way the author follows the thread of consequences and doesn't just give us a single, guaranteed, outcome.  It brings to mind the comment of a chap who was a professor at the Army War College when I was a student there:
There is another often-repeated wrong assumption even more serious than assuming that air strikes alone can be decisive and produce a hygienic war.  That is that the attacking country can control events once war starts.  My experience, and I believe history agrees, is that once war starts, neither side can control it to the degree that they planned before hostilities.   War has a dialectic all its own, and it is dangerous and unpredictable.  Bombing nuclear plants in Iran might—I say might—set back the Iranian nuclear program, perhaps even significantly, but they will also bring a host of cascading problems, seen and unforeseen, that might even be as serious as an Iranian nuke.  I'm not saying not to bomb, but policymakers should understand that subsequent events will be unpredictable and perhaps unstoppable, just as was reaction to the assassination of an Austrian archduke almost a century ago.
There are no really good choices at this point.  But, as Winnie tells us, "To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war".

Regards  —  Cliff

President's Day

I just wanted to brag that I am old enough to remember when we got two holidays in February, one for Washington and one for Lincoln—Federal Holidays.

Happy Presidents Day—pick one.

UPDATE:  I thought I was alone in my dislike of the "generic" Presidents Day.  Here is the comment of another blogger.

Regards  —  Cliff

Iran and the Bomb

Professor Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations has an OpEd in Saturday's Washington Post.  The title is "Why Iran thinks it needs the bomb".

The lede:
Bombastic claims of nuclear achievement, threats to close critical international waterways, alleged terrorist plots and hints of diplomatic outreach — all are emanating from Tehran right now.  This past week, confrontation between Iran and the West reached new heights as Israel accused Iran of a bombing attempt in Bangkok and others targeting Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia.  And yet, on Wednesday, an Iranian nuclear negotiator signaled that Tehran wants to get back to the table.

What does Iran really want?  What, as strategists might ask, are the sources of Iranian conduct?
While not a rose-strewn path out of the current problem, the short piece does give us some insight.  Sadly, Professor Takeyh is not as optimistic about there being a young, more secular group to pull the nation back from the brink of constant confrontation.  However, his words give us some insight into why Iran seems to be so public about their nuclear progress.

One quibble I have with the piece is this wording:
Under the auspices of an austere and dogmatic supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a “war generation” is taking control in Iran — young rightists who were molded by the prolonged war with Iraq in the 1980s.
What does the use of the term "rightists" mean to convey?  Is it that, like me, they go to Church/Mosque once a week?  Is it that they put a lot of stock in the Constitution of their nation?  Is it that they are worried about the erosion of the cultural deposit upon which their nation is founded?  Is is because they are worried that a false Marxist-Keynesian economic view will impoverish the majority of the People?

Or was it just an extreme carelessness?

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Europe's Debt and Boomerang Boys

Yes, correlation is not the same as causation.

That said, here is an interesting chart from a PBS Web Site.

"What Do 'Mama's Boys' Have to Do With the Euro Debt Crisis?"

Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards — Cliff

Your Right to Lie

Professor Jonathan Turley, George Washington University, writing in The Washington Post, lays out his view that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment trumps the Stolen Valor Act, 18 U.S.C. § 704(b).  From the SCOTUS Blog we have the United States v Alvarez "Plain English Issue":
Whether a federal law that makes it a crime to lie about receiving military medals or honors violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to free speech.
The Professor's view is laid out in the title of his opinion piece.
Lying about receiving a Medal of Honor?  It’s shameful — but it shouldn’t be a crime.
Here is the lede:
Xavier Alvarez will soon have something to brag about, assuming anyone believes him.  On Wednesday, he will join the small number of citizens who have appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court.  He has secured this distinction, however, not by what he achieved in his life but what he falsely claimed to have achieved.

Alvarez, you see, is a liar.  Upon that much, everyone agrees.  What has perplexed judges is whether his lies are protected by the First Amendment.
I would think that the answer here would be obvious to all right-thinking (as in correct thinking) Americans.  The issue isn't about lying about receiving the the Medal of Honor.  The issue is about giving the Government one more tool with which to coerce Government-desired behavior. ["You 'know' it is for your own good."]

If the US Congress can criminalize lying about the number of Air Medals I received, then they can criminalize just about anything.  (And, frankly, I don't remember—I think it was 17, but what if it was just 16?)

Let us be clear here.  If I falsely solicit money from the public, claiming I have Post Traumatic Stress problems, brought on by the events surrounding my MoH earning event, it s fraud.  We already have a law for that, at the local level.  We don't need another Federal law dealing with this.

If SCOTUS confirms this law, which I most sincerely hope it does not, we should each write to those thee people representing us in Congress and tell them to repeal this law before some Federal Prosecutor uses it in a manner never intended.  That is part of what being a Federal Prosecutor involves—taking tools laying around and finding new uses for them.  That is what the are paid to do.  And, it is legal for them to lie to you, but it is not legal for you to lie to them.

Ask yourself, where would Civil Rights be today if the RICO Act had been passed in 1936?

Regards  —  Cliff

Bio-Ethical Issues

Over at the Althouse blog is a post on a new book on bio-ethics: 
"The Body Politic:  The Battle Over Science in America", by Jonathan D. Moreno, Bellevue Literary Press, 224 pages, $18.95

Here is the book review in Reason Magazine.

The author's points include the idea that the Neo-Cons and the Progressives are united in believing that advances in biological sciences are going to spread inequality, not reduce it.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Iran and Its Nuclear Program

Over at The Wall Street Journal is an 18 February opinion piece by Author Edward N. Luttwak, discussing military options for dealing with a possible Iranian nuclear weapons program.  I say possible because the leaders of our Intelligence Agencies tend to put the reality in the future and tend to avoid saying it is a certainty.  The title of the article is "The President Has Been Given A False Choice On Iran:  The Joint Chiefs have said a massive, sustained air campaign would be needed to set back the nuclear program. Not so."

It is my assessment that an attack on Iran's nuclear program would set it back, but not end it.  Iran is not Syria.  It is bigger, prouder and more confident that it is following God's path for it, as they understand God.  It is a theocracy, after all.  An attack would be a setback, but the program would resume in time, with the Government and the People even more determined.

I believe Mr Luttack agrees.  Here is the last sentence in his article:
In fact, given the probability that an attack could only delay Iran's nuclear efforts by several years, the only one worth considering at all is the small, overnight strike.
This question of dealing with Iran is complicated by Iran's promise to wipe Israel off the map.  Given the number of pogroms that have been conducted against Jews, this should not be considered an idle threat.  That said, I favor the cold war strategy of deterrence via Massive Retaliation.  We promise the Iranian Government that we will return them to the stone age if they use nuclear weapons against Israel; if their own people don't throw them out first for their crimes.

The problem is further complicated by the Presidential candidates on both sides, who promise to deal with this issue.  All except Ron Paul, who apparently still believes in the concept of nation sovereignty.  I am particularly disappointed in Candidate Newt Gingtich in this respect.  He is smart enough to think through this issue.

Our political leadership has been failing us on this issue.  A classmate of mine, from UMass Lowell, Pat, sent me a link to the latest Pew Poll.  Pew says:
Nearly six-in-ten (58%) of Americans say it is important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it means taking military action.
This is not good.

The often asked question is "how much is enough".  There are a couple of ways to cut this.  For Iran there is the question of how many nuclear weapons Israel has.  The estimates range from 75 to 400.  A point to keep in mind is that with Israel we are probably talking thermonuclear weapons.

By way of comparison, the US nuclear inventory grew fairly slowly, being 2 in 1945 (plus three expended, two on Japan), 9 in 1946, 13 in 1947 and 50 in 1948.

Then there is the question of what Iran would need.  With one nuclear weapon, on Tel Aviv, Iran might be able to kill 100,000 people, Jews and Arabs combined.  Fewer if it is a ground-burst, but then more nuclear fallout to the East.  To avoid Muslim casualties, smaller weapons would be best, but requiring more weapons.  Then there is the question of "counter-force".  What would it take to neutralize Israel's retaliation ability.

Not having the "Green Book" in front of me, I am only guessing.  A couple of weapons for testing.  A dozen weapons for counter-population.  A dozen weapons for counter-force.  Then a dozen weapons to cow the various neighbors who might take advantage of the Israeli (and US) retaliation that would ensue.  A devastated Iran might be relatively easy pickings for Saudi Arabia and others.

Iran faces the fact that it is one thing to use a couple of nucs on a nation without a nuclear capability.  It is quite another to go toe to toe with a like armed nation.

Regards  —  Cliff

Clever People

As ridiculous as it sounds, that was the first time I became aware that clever people are buried in every nook and cranny of life.
From Ms Jennifer Wright, at Slate.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, February 17, 2012

Is It Or Isn't It a Tax?

Here is Blogger Ann Althouse talking about the two faces of the Obama Administration regarding the question of if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is a tax.  Before SCOTUS the Administration is saying it is a tax, but before everyone else they are saying it isn't.

What is the real answer here?

And, it isn't "Obama Care".  It is a bill passed by the Democrats in the US Congress.  The President just signed the bill.

But, still, it is the President's job to enforce the law.  My question is, if he doesn't know if it is a tax or not, how can be properly and faithfully execute this law?

I think I would be more confident if he had some experience with Constitutional Law.  Maybe teaching it.  Then he could be straight forward with those of us who are the Citizens of this Great Nation.

Regards  —  Cliff

It Is Turtles All The Way Down

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says that she would prefer war savings be used as a means to offset a payroll tax cut deal made by lawmakers Thursday.
I heard this somewhere and found it at Talk Radio News Service.

Do you think she knows that a lot of the war is "off budget"?  Does she realize that we are paying for our wars by deficit spending, as Democrats have been complaining about for a decade, and thus there is no way we can use "savings" from pulling out of Iraq and cutting back in Afghanistan to pay for anything.  It is debt.  It is debt piled upon debt.  To paraphrase the woman talking to Bertrand Russell, it is debt all the way down.

Congratulations to both sides of the aisle in the House for coming to an agreement.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Gunny has a Message for You

Sometimes Commenter NealCroz sent along the URL for a blog post on Registering to Vote, from the Blog Site of Ed Rasimus.  Ed and I were in the 34th TFS back in early 1973 (Korat RTAFB).  The war up North ended, our POWs came home and Ed left.

Here is Gunny with some guidance.

Regards  —  Cliff

Birth Control Mandate (Cont)

Over at Hot Air we have Analyst Ed Morrissey writing about the Obama Administration and it's maneuvering regarding mandating employers provide insurance coverage for birth control, to include abortions.

Mr Morrissey's piece would make a good basis for a broad ranging discussion of the various equities involved in this issue.  One interesting point he cites is a 2009 CDC Report:
Contraceptive use in the United States is virtually universal among women of reproductive age:  99 percent of all women who had ever had intercourse had used at least one contraceptive method in their lifetime.
This suggests the Adminstration is either using a scatter gun to deal with a pinpoint problem or is doing policy without a grounding in reality or is picking a fight.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hitting Back

I believe that some think that covert action will suffice in dealing with Iran and its nuclear program.  Perhaps.  On the other hand, Iran seems to have a long reach and a willingness to pay back for what it sees as "terrorist" attacks in its own nation and people.

We should not believe that we can conduct covert actions against Iran and come out scott free.  In fact, if our friends conduct covert actions against Iran, we might find ourselves suffering some of the retaliation.

And, Iran has recently made threats.

This is not to say that attacks on US Citizens should go unpunished.  It is to say that there is no free lunch.

Regards  —  Cliff

Mission Drift

Somewhere in the comment thread of this blog post at the Althouse blog is the suggestion:
It's time to break up the public schools and restart it.  They suffer very badly from mission drift and they are poking their noses into things that don't concern them.
The issue is to be found here.  A young child in a pre-school program at an elementary school in North Carolina had her home-packed lunch confiscated and was given school cafeteria food and the bill for same sent home with the child.

Maybe the salary of the school cafeteria monitor could have been better spent on up-to-date textbooks.

I encourage you to go to the Althouse site and take her poll on this issue.

Regards  —  Cliff

Good Social Policy—Fathers

A Professor David Barash, from the University of Washington, on sabbatical in Costa Rica, has a post up at The Chronicle of Higher Education, about a law in Costa Rica regarding the responsibilities of Fathers toward their offspring.

This law, the “Ley de Paternidad Responsable”, or Responsible Fatherhood Act, which went into effect in 2001, seems like a very good idea to me.
This law, the first of its kind anywhere in the world, identifies paternal obligations in terms of the right of children to know their fathers and to be supported by them and, in so doing, also removes some of the stigma for children born out of wedlock.  The landmark legislation established an entitlement procedure whereby single mothers could identify the father of their children, who would then bear his last name on their birth record, with each father held legally responsible for contributing to his offspring’s medical costs and child care until the child is 18 years old or 25 if the child is still in school.
If the named father disputes his involvement, there is mandatory DNA testing, paid for by the taxpayers.

Results include a decrease in deadbeat dads and a drop in the national birth rate.

I fully commend this concept to our Washington delegation.

And, if this turns out to be some sort of early April's Fool Day joke, it should be acted on here anyway, as sound social policy.

Regards  —  Cliff

Media Matters in the News

Here is Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz, talking about Media Matters.  Yes, he is opposed to Media Matters.

Hat tip to The Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Starbucks and CC

I figure it is just me, but the Starbucks logo makes me think of the blessing of the fishing fleet in San Pedro, and Mary Queen of the Sea.

At any rate, this is Saint Valentine's Day and so I drove down to the Hess Gas Station on the north edge of UMass Lowell South Campus.  I put $20 of gas  in the tank of my car and then parked it at the gas station and walked up to the Starbucks at the O'Leary Library. 

When I got to Starbucks I ordered a brownie and a medium (grande) hot chocolate.  Then I paid for the items with three two dollar bills (Jeffersons).  This was a bit of a shock to the cashier.  She said something to the effect, "Look at that, two dollar bills.  We have never had them before".

So much for the idea that those who support the Second Amendment were going to use two dollar bills at Starbucks today, in support of Starbuck's support of the Second Amendment.  This action came about because those opposed to the Second Amendment and the right of US Citizens to bear arms said that folks should boycott Starbucks on Saint Valentine's Day due to the fact that Starbucks allows those with a CC permit to carry in the store, in states where that is legal.

Of course, this is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Notwithstanding the reduction in gas consumption and the increase in supply, it looks like gas prices are going up.  People are talking $4.00 per gallon and maybe $5.00 per gallon.  But, it is a prediction, and like all predictions subject to revision.
  I sure would like them to bring the books back to the O'Leary Library.  The North Campus is not the place for South Campus course library materials.


The situation in Syria is serious.  It is also a bit confusing, in that the US and al Qaeda are, apparently, on the same side.  For the Citizens of the US one question is what is our responsibility to the Citizens of Syria.  Is there an Responsibility to Protect (R2P) out there?

Here is an article titled "Save Us from the Liberal Hawks:  Syria's a tragedy.  But it's not our problem."  I have extracted the first two paragraphs because this is such an important issue and it represents fair use to tease you with two whole paragraphs on this issue:
Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of (humanitarian) war.  That, at least, is what much of the U.S. policy elite seems to be pushing for these days in Syria.  That many of the "permahawks," like Fouad Ajami, Max Boot, and Elliott Abrams, who championed the George W. Bush administration's decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein, are now calling for supporting the uprising against Bashar al-Assad's dictatorship should come as no surprise to anyone.  Nor should similar calls from most of the liberal writers and editors associated with the New Republic magazine come as a shock.  They, too, have been remarkably consistent,  and the magazine's current symposium on what needs to be done next in Syria is eerily reminiscent of the one it ran the year after the invasion of Iraq, which tilted so lopsidedly toward justifying the war, though not the way the Bush administration was prosecuting it.

What is surprising, though, is that despite the disaster of Iraq, looming withdrawal in what will amount to defeat in Afghanistan, and, to put it charitably, the ambiguous result of the U.N.-sanctioned, NATO-led, and Qatari-financed intervention that brought down Muammar al-Qaddafi's regime, is how nearly complete the consensus for strong action has been even among less hawkish liberals, whether what is done takes the form of the United States and its NATO allies arming the Free Syrian Army, opening so-called humanitarian corridors, or encouraging Turkey and a coalition of the willing within the Arab League to do so.  British columnist Jonathan Freedland summed up this view when he wrote recently in the Guardian that the West must not "make the people of Homs pay the price for the mistake we made in Baghdad."
As this sort of talk goes forward, do the voters realize that things are not going well in Libya, let along Iraq and Afghanistan.  There is no immaculate war.  Bad things happen, just as bad things happen when dictators fight their fellow citizens to stay in power.  One problem is, dictators tend to not realize they are dealing with their fellow citizens, but think of those people as enemies.

Where do we stand?  What would we say to our Senatorial Candidates here in Massachusetts?  What would we say to are US Representative candidates here in Greater Lowell?  What would we say to a presidential candidate on the rope line?

At the end of the day it is our responsibility.

Check out the full article.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, February 13, 2012

DoD Contracts in the Local Area

While there is talk of cuts to the Department of Defense budget, the contracts are still flowing.  Here are three Army contracts from a 13 February press release:
Watermark - ECC, L.L.C., Lowell, Mass. (W912DR-12-D-0001); H&S - Zapata, J.V., Westborough, Mass. (W912DR-12-D-0002); Chimera - ERRG, Martinez, Calif. (W912DR-12-D-0003); TPMC/ARM Environmental Solutions, Irving, Texas (W912DR-12-D-0004); and Coastal Environmental Group, Inc., Central Islip, N.Y. (W912DR-12-D-0005), were awarded a $49,700,000 firm-fixed-price contract between five contractors.   The award will provide for the environmental services to various federal, state, and local agencies.   Work location will be determined with each task order, with an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2017.   Twelve bids were solicited, with 12 bids received.   The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore, Md., is the contracting activity.
And, in the neighborhood, there is this:
Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, Andover, Mass., was awarded a $15,705,172 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract.   The award will provide for the services in support of the Patriot Missile Support Center.   Work will be performed in Chambersburg, Pa.; Andover, Mass.; Burlington, Mass.; and Germany, with an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2014.   One bid was solicited, with one bid received.   The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-11-C-0156).
And just up Route 3:
BAE Systems - Information and Electronic Systems Integration, Nashua, N.H., was awarded a $38,010,103 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract.   The award will provide for the services in support of furthering the technology development phase of the Common Infrared Countermeasure Program.   Work will be performed in Nashua, N.H., with an estimated completion date of Oct. 30, 2013.   The bid was solicited through the Internet, with five bids received.   The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-12-C-0045).
These sound like "shovel ready" projects.  And, it contributes to national security.

But, we still need to ask the question, "How much is enough?"

Regards  —  Cliff

Child Sexual Abuse

Over at Slate we have a report on sexual abuse of minors.  It seems that Catholic Priests are not the only players in this game.  Frankly, I believe we have no idea about what is going on here and that the emphasis on Catholic Priests has only obscured the larger problem.  I would lay this at the feet of The Boston Globe, which thought it had a handle on this issue, but perhaps didn't.

Hat tip to The Instapundit.

Regards  &mash;  Cliff

Sunday, February 12, 2012

25 Years Out

University of Wisconsin Law Professor Ann Althouse has a post up at her eponomously named blog, taking Radio Personality Rush Limbaugh to task for his, in her view, inconsistent take on the First Amendment.  The title is "'For justices in the middle, I don't think they want to be on the wrong side of history' on same sex marriage".  This is from Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan.  Ms Karlan says:
"Unless we see a massive about-face (in public attitudes), 25 years from now people will look back at this and wonder why (equal marriage rights) took so long.
First, looking at the "Wrong side of history", we have, in the comments, Kevin saying:
People talking about "the right side of history" or the "wrong side of history" should periodically acknowledge the guy who invented the concept - Leon Trotsky.
There was another comment about former Senator Chris Dodd suggesting that if we opposed Communism in Africa we might find ourselves on the wrong side of history, but then Senator Dodd is history, except for trying to abuse our First Amendment rights and impose harsh and self-defeating copyright laws.

The other thing that interested me was the trend of commenters to question the idea that we have a clue what is going to happen 25 years out.  Obviously, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B Taney thought things were going to go on as they had when he rendered his Dred Scott v Sandford decision in 1857.  Then, there were the folks, in the 1980s, who thought that the Cold War would go on for ever and that President Reagan should pull back from tweaking the Soviet Union.  Then there is Scandinavia, where heterosexual marriage was a big deal, until it wasn't any longer.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Judge Said What?

Here is an article in The [Lowell] Sun that tells of a couple forfeiting $31,000 due to a misunderstanding.  It is also a good example of why the average citizen who commutes by train to Boston is dubious about lawyers and judges.

It turns out the judge thought the couple's unwillingness to sell their current home while trying to buy a new one was unreasonable.  To get the loan they needed to sell their current home, per the loan folks.  The deposit went poof.

I wonder if they had a good lawyer?  I wonder if they could sue their lawyer?

Remember, the article will go away soon.

Regards  —  Cliff

Declining Gas Consumption

Over at the Zero Hedge blog is a discussion of declining gas consumption and its implications for the economy.

The short of it is that automobile gas consumption is down and it is not all about better fuel economy or electric cars.  This is a harbinger of a downturn in the economy.

Nice charts and graphs.

Hat tip to The Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What Compromise?

I haven been avoiding the brouhaha over Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius mandating that religious institutions (the focus has been on Catholic hospitals and colleges) should provide contraception and abortion coverage in employee health insurance.  The Administration's point being that no one should be exempt from the mandates of the Government (except in the case where someone is an acknowledged minister and thus exempt under the First Amendment, as per a recent SCOTUS ruling).  We looked like we were between a rock and a hard place for a few days and then the Obama Administration announced a compromise.  The MSM praised this in the early hours and it seemed the Roman Catholic Bishops were happy.

However, per Blogger Ed Morrissey, the Catholic Bishops were never consulted on this issue by the Administration.  How do we have a compromise without a consultation.

Thus one aspect of this deal.  When I heard about it I wondered about the cost burden.  The deal was that the institutions didn't have to include it, but the Insurance Companies would provide it free of charge, if the individuals voluntarily applied for it.  My immediate question was about who would cover the cost.  I had already ruled out Pixie Dust and had assumed it would either fall on taxpayers via a tax write-off or on all of us paying for health insurance through some sort of leveling effort.  Turns out I was wrong.  The Insurance Companies are happy to pay for it themselves.  It turns out that the economics make it advantageous to the Insurance Companies.  An abortion is cheaper than a live birth.  Contraception is cheaper than an abortion, with its possible complications.  At least that is the view of Slate's Amanda Marcotte, who says "Obama Punks the GOP on Contraception".

I know that polling suggests that many Roman Catholics, my fellow members of the Church, accept birth control and even abortion.  Thus, we are seen as hypocrites, and so we are, although I would prefer a softer term.  Hypocrite is so harsh.  The thing is, when you set some sort of moral floor you run the risk of falling through.  That is why theree is the sacrament of confession.  I believe Donald Cardinal Wuerl made that point earlier this week.

Turns out this was all about President Obama showing his muscle and courting the pro-abortion forces of the left.  I would like to think my President is doing this because he believes it is the morally right thing to do, but, in fact, I just think of him as being from Chicago.

For two of the above links I have the Althouse blog to thank.

Regards  —  Cliff

Where Is China?

Over at The New York Times is an article that asks if China is ripe for revolution.  The author, Stephen R Platt, an Associated Professor out at UMass Amherst, lays out the history and talks to the current economic condition.  Then he talks to the Taiping Revolution (20 million dead), a Century and a half ago.  In the end the British and French intervened on behalf of the established government, against those in rebellion.

The question is, how would we view a contemporary revolution in China.  Here is his concluding paragraph:
We may not be so far removed.  Given the precarious state of our economy today, and America’s nearly existential reliance on our trade with China in particular, one wonders:  for all of our principled condemnation of China’s government on political and human rights grounds, if it were actually faced with a revolution from within — even one led by a coalition calling for greater democracy — how likely is it that we, too, wouldn’t, in the end, find ourselves hoping for that revolution to fail?
Life can be complicated

Regards  —  Cliff

Going Green

I used to worry about the status of our electrical grid.  Would it be able to handle stress?  Now it seems the problem may be under control.  We are shutting down power plants.

How is that going to work out?

Higher prices and more brownouts.

And if the Power Commission won't let power prices go up, the power companies will shut down more of the less efficient production facilities, giving us more brown outs.

Hat tip to the instapundit.

Regards7nbsp; —  Cliff

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Word "Marriage"

Prop 8 ruling by 9th, released at 10 yesterday.

Some interesting comments.

Regards  —  Cliff

Lacking the Gene for Humor

Hiding inside the Department of Defense is an Air Force organization known as the Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO).  Here is a fact sheet on the organization, albeit a fact sheet in some need of updating.  This is the outfit that claims to have developed the X-37B, currently orbiting the Earth, doing God knows what, which is somehow fitting for this story.

Reporters Jeremy Herb and Daniel Strauss, last evening, reported in The Hill on a change in the motto of the RCO, which was picked up by Drudge.
A group of Republican lawmakers is protesting the removal a reference to God in the patch logo for the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO).
The motto used to read:
Doing God’s Work with Other People’s Money
Those with little time in one of the Armed Services will fail to appreciate the cynicism of the motto.  Those without experience in the Acquisition field will not automatically add, as they read the motto, "Through Godless Contractors".

Well, someone lacking a gene critical for a sense of humor jumped on this and thus the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers asked for a motto change, thus giving additional employment to the folks at the Army Institute of Heraldry.  The motto was changed to:
Doing Miracles with Other People’s Money
Honest.  In Latin.

But, it is still work being done through Godless contractors.

The nice thing about this is that it gave a group of Republicans in Our House of Representatives an excuse to send a letter.  Quoting the article:
The 35 lawmakers, led by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), wrote a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz urging them to restore the logo with a reference to God.

And all of this "with other people's money".  Our money.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Principles of War

There are some things that aren't done.  One of those things is add or subtract from the Principles of War.  I remember when Major Dick Frishkorn recast Air Force Manual One Dash One, Air Force Basic Doctrine, back in 1984.  We added a principle of war, which upset the leadership down at Tactical Air Command (now Air Combat Command) no end.  The cynical comment was that it was just a dumb idea cooked up by a couple of Majors talking around the drinking fountain.  Frankly, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Now comes USMC Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Frank Hoffman, head of National Defense University Press, writing in Armed Forces Journal, with a proposed new Principle of War, Understanding.
Strategist Bernard Brodie once observed that “good strategy presumes good anthropology and good sociology.”  Fundamentally, war involves an iterative competition between peoples whose behavior patterns will be a result of a complex combination of factors.  Our national security community has experts who monitor and study the strategic and military culture of adversarial states and assess an opponent’s military capabilities. During the Cold War, we created a cadre of experts in Russian history, language and culture.  After the Cold War, we lost that expertise.
From the United Kingdom we have this explanation:
Intelligence is knowing a tomato is a fruit; understanding is not putting it in a fruit salad.

The source was Joint Defense Publication 04, Chapter 2, Page 2-1.

For me the Principles of War is not a list to be memorized, but rather a set of terms to use for a series of discussions about what they mean at this time and place and in possible future conflicts.

Regards  —  Cliff

"The Upside of Dyslexia"

Over at The New York Times author Annie Murphy Paul has given us "The Upside of Dyslexia".

The point is that while there are problems with being dyslexic, there are also some benefits, such as better peripheral vision and a better ability to grasp the whole scene in a glance.  Maybe people with dyslexia make better fighter pilots.

On the other hand, having to have your own tutor to learn how to read has its own drawbacks; and a big thank you to Ms Hester Waldo, wherever you are.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, February 6, 2012

Knowing the Middle East (and Beyond)

That other Boston newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, has a quiz to test your knowledge of current Islam.
Most of the world's major religions are made up of multiple sects or denominations, and Islam is no different. Islam's two major sects are the Sunnis and the Shiites, and the division and interplay between the two is a major factor in the geopolitics of the Middle East. How well do you understand Sunni and Shiite Islam? Take our quiz and find out!

Arthur Bright, Correspondent
Take the quiz here.

I got ten out of ten.  How about you?

I note that this quiz does not prove you know more than a year's reading of the newspaper and some ability to make links will give you, but it is a start.

Regards  —  Cliff

Most Important Election This Year

I think I have said this before, but it seems to me the Mexican Presidential Race is the most important election this year, at least in this hemisphere.  The Party in power, the National Action Party (PAN), has nominated a woman to face the long dominant PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party).  We are talking former Congresswoman Josefina Vazquez Mota.  She is the first woman nominated for this high Mexican office.

1 July 2012 is the date of the election.

Regards  —  Cliff

Partial Picture

In the Sunday edition of The New York Times the house conservative, Columnist Ross Douthat talks to what he sees as "The Media's Abortion Blinders".  His lede:
IN the most recent Gallup poll on abortion, as many Americans described themselves as pro-life as called themselves pro-choice.
The fact is that more than half of Americans think abortion should be legal.  The fact is that more than half of Americans think abortion is wrong.  The discussion of the Koman/Planned Parenthood imbroglio fails to reflect that statistical and political fact.  And that is a sad commentary.

Regards  —  Cliff

Due Process and Campus Life

I am not a subscriber to The Wall Street Journal, so this post at the Instapundit is all I have of this part of the story of a Yale football player, who, it appears may have been smeared in public by a newspaper.

Here is the original story. Yale senior and star Quarterback, Patrick Witt, passed on his chance for a Rhodes Scholarship to play in the game with Harvard, "The Game". No mention of sexual assault charges, formal or informal. (For those wondering about how sexual assault charges can be informal, welcome to the club.)

Then came Reporter Richard Pérez-Peña, on 26 January 2012, with this story.  I am thinking Mr Pérez-Peña is a Harvard graduate, given that he gives us an in-depth report on Mr Witt that would make Republicans happy if that effort had been applied to Senator Obama, back in 2008. One of the things that came up was the "informal" sexual assault complaint. The reporter contends that this informal complaint scuttled the Rhodes Scholarship application.
But Witt was no longer a contender for the Rhodes, a rare honor reserved for those who excel in academics, activities and character. Several days earlier, according to people involved on both sides of the process, the Rhodes Trust had learned through unofficial channels that a fellow student had accused Witt of sexual assault. The Rhodes Trust informed Yale and Witt that his candidacy was suspended unless the university decided to re-endorse it.
I still have questions, such as who leaked this information to the Rhodes Committee, if it actually was?  Who leaked this to the reporter, Mr Pérez-Peña?  Were was some editor, providing adult leadership?

I wonder if this was reviewed on "Beat the Press"?

The "Public Editor" of The New York Times, Mr Arthur S Brisbane, has weighed in.  Here are the last two paragraphs:
Maybe you just can’t publish this story, not with the facts known now.  If those involved in the case are more forthcoming later, or if the allegations are investigated more fully, then perhaps.  But for now, the timeline and whether Yale had declined to re-endorse Mr. Witt are murky and unresolved — by me and certainly by what was presented in the Times article.  Even more unknown are the details of the accusation of sexual assault.

This was a compelling story, and The Times was motivated to publish it.  But when something as serious as a person’s reputation is at stake, it’s not enough to rely on anonymous sourcing, effectively saying “trust us.”
For me the real story here is not The Game or the Rhodes Scholarship, but rather this "informal" sexual acquisition process of Yale.  It seems to me to be disrespectful to the accused and the accuser.

Because of the power of the press, great responsibility falls to the reporting chain.  I sometimes think MSM attacks on bloggers is just to deflect the light from the Press itself.

Regards  —  Cliff

Lowell Native Son Did Well

I missed it in The [Lowell] Sun, but a Lowell native son, Roger Boisjoly, has passed away.  Mr Boisjoly was the engineer who wrote the memo pointing out the possible impact of cold temperatures on the Shuttle Booster Rockets.  Ignoring that memo led to the 28 January 1986 CHALLENGER disaster.

The Obit in The New York Times can be found here.

I would hope that we could find a way to commemorate this as an example for our young men and women in school.

In the mean time, kudos to Mr Boisjoly, a man of integrity.

Regards  —  Cliff

Lessons Not Learned

From the UK we have this OpEd from The Telegraph, titled "The lessons of the fall of communism have still not been learnt".  The writer is Ms Janet Daley.  The thesis is in the title.

This is a short and concise discussion of the fact that in the West we did not really draw the proper conclusions from the collapse of Communism.  In some circles the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the other Communist States, is not seen as the indictment of Communism that it should be.  An indictment of an economic system that not only didn't bring equity to all, but brought oppression of the many.  Here is one passage:
The failure of communism should have been, after all, not just a turning point in geo-political power – the ending of the Cold War and the break-up of the Warsaw Pact – but in modern thinking about the state and its relationship to the economy, about collectivism vs individualism, and about public vs private power.  Where was the discussion, the trenchant analysis, or the fundamental debate about how and why the collectivist solutions failed, which should have been so pervasive that it would have percolated down from the educated classes to the bright 18-year-olds?  Fascism is so thoroughly (and, of course, rightly) repudiated that even the use of the word as a casual slur is considered slanderous, while communism, which enslaved more people for longer (and also committed mass murder), is regarded with almost sentimental condescension.

Is this because it was originally thought to be idealistic and well-intentioned?  If so, then that in itself is a reason for examining its failure very closely. We need to know why a system that began with the desire to free people from their chains ended by imprisoning them behind a wall.  Certainly we have had some great works of investigation into the Soviet gulags and the practices of the East German Stasi, but judging by our present political discourse, I think it is safe to say that the basic fallacies of the state socialist system have not really permeated through to public consciousness.
This is a lesson the Republican candidates for office would do well to absorb.  Back to Winston.  Not perfect, but better than the other options.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The writer:
Janet Daley is American-born, but has lived in Britain since 1965.  She was educated at the University of California at Berkeley (BA in Philosophy), and Birkbeck College, London (post-graduate).  She spent twenty years in academic life, teaching philosophy at the Open University, the external department of London University and the Royal College of Art.  She wrote art and literary criticism from the late 1960s to early 80s, and left teaching to become a freelance journalist in 1987, writing for The Times, Sunday Times, Independent, Sunday Telegraph and Spectator.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl

That was a disappointment, wasn't it?

Regards  —  Cliff


My youngest Son sent this quote along, from Powerline.
The men whom the people ought to choose to represent them are too busy to take the jobs.  But the politician is waiting for it.  He’s the pestilence of modern times.  What we should try to do is make politics as local as possible.  Keep the politicians near enough to kick them.  The villagers who met under the village tree could also hang their politicians to the tree.  It’s terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hung today.
Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Security Theater

Here is an article that shows that not all the Counter-Terrorism foolishness is here in the United States.
A Muslim businessman in Canada became a terror suspect for telling his sales staff in a text message to "blow away" the competition at a New York City trade show, a religious association said Friday.
The good news is that Mr Saad Allami is suing the Province fr false arrest and other events.

The only problem I saw was the President of the Muslim Council of Montreal, Salam Elmenyawi, calling this "the result of racial profiling".  This was religious profiling.  There is still the odd Christian and Jew in Arab lands.

And religious profiling is as pernicious as any other.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Tax Laws Are Broken

Over at the Althouse blog was this link to a New York Times column on a chap who "paid 102 percent of his taxable income in federal, state and local taxes for 2010."  Mr James Ross, 58, the owner of a small commercial real-estate firm and a member of the fabled 1%, was responding to Columnist James B Stewart's complaint that he paid more taxes than Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney.  Writes the Columnist, Mr Stewart:
That doesn’t mean Mr. Ross pays more in taxes than he earns.  His total tax as a percentage of his adjusted gross income was 20 percent, which is much lower than mine.
Turns out that Mr James Cramer, a money guru and TV Host on CNBC, pays a high rate, due to living in New Jersey and working there and in New York City.

This isn't about rich and poor, but about who gets helped by the tax code—who does the best job of lobbying Congress.
Mr. Ross’s plight illustrates something that came through in nearly every response and cuts across nearly all income levels: the disparities of the tax code don’t just pit rich against poor or middle class.  It taxes people within the same income brackets at grossly unequal rates.  “I cannot help but reflect on the unfairness of the current tax regime,” Mr. Ross wrote.  “Why should I pay 102 percent of my taxable income in taxes when others, with far greater wealth than mine, pay a fraction of that?”
This is not about arrogant Republicans and humble Democrats.  The Democrats have had control of Congress for most of the period since early 1933.  I am sure they have been as clean as the new driven snow, but they are assuredly part of how we got here.  As Kad Barma might point out, it is the system that is the problem.  Oh, and the voters.

The last paragraph of the NYT column sums up the situation:
The rich themselves are some of the most distressed.  “None of the dialogue about taxes has anything to do with fairness,” Mr. Ross lamented.  “Certain rich people are paying way more than their fair share and other rich people are paying a lot less.  I’d like to see a conversation take place along nonideological lines where everyone is asked to pay their fair share, where everyone makes some payment, even if it’s one dollar.  Everyone I know is so disgusted.  People aren’t stupid.  They know what’s going on.  At the end of the day, the system is broken.”
Thank you Mr Ross and Mr Stewart.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Of course, these chaps do live and work in places like New York City and New Jersey and Conneticutt, rather than the more moderately taxed Massachusetts.  We are in the middle of the pack, believe it or not.

Friday, February 3, 2012


A Jewish friend of my youngest Son commented to him after Florida, "Even Jesus only rose from the dead once."  This comment on resurrection helps put the future of Newt into perspective.  I loved the comment, made better by the source.

But, the continuation of the primary battle is favored by any number of us.  On 2 February, J E Dyer, at Hot Air wrote a column titled "Why Sarah Palin is right about having a competitive primary season".
For the “Not OK” wing of the GOP, what is essential in 2012 is repudiating government on this model.   Nothing is more important to America’s future than that.   The different wings of the GOP have differing views of what constitutes “realism”:   the “America is OK” wing views it as unrealistic to focus on something other than putting up the candidate whom they feel will appeal to the most voters.   The “Not OK” wing sees that as an unrealistic perspective on the current situation.   If government is not reined in – put through an effective bankruptcy proceeding, with its assets sold off and its charter reorganized – then nothing else will matter.

Who is right?   While I am with the “Not OK” wing philosophically, I don’t think it would be the end of America as we know it if Mitt Romney were elected.   But I do believe it would be a grave strategic error for the Republican Party to endorse him early, and silence intra-party dissent as if he represents what America really needs.   A Romney presidency would be no more than a hiatus in deliberately using the state as a steamroller for ideological purposes.   That would be better than 4 more years of Obama, but from the perspective of getting America on a different path, it’s not good enough.

The GOP needs this fight over philosophy of government.   What has to be established in the 2012 primary season is that the small-government vote matters.   If that is not established, the GOP itself will matter little.   Its difference from the Democratic Party will not be sufficient to attract (or keep) membership.
In my mind. this coming election is not about President Obama (or where he was born), but about the best management for the economy and the Federal Government.  Democrats from Senator Harry Reid to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and including President Obama, think we can spend our way out of this recession and that the Federal Government is the "go to" organization for solving national problems.  Some of us on the Republican side think that Keynes is wrong and more should be pushed to the States, albeit at the cost of not every State doing it the same way.  Not every Republican sees it the same way.  We are a party of diversity, so not everyone sees it the same way.  The question is, will we have enough people in Congress, thinking our way, to make a difference.  It would be good to have a President who went along.  But the key is people in Congress who will stand up and be counted.

Regards  —  Cliff

Daniel Pearl Remembered

I missed this on Wednesday.  Wednesday, 1 February, was the tenth anniversary of the behedding of Reporter Daniel Pearl.  This was commemorated over at ¡No Pasaran!.

Here is a comment by Sergeant First Class Steven Green at PAONCO.  SFC Green is currently stationed at Fort Hood, Texas.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Elite Bubble

The infamous Dr Charles Murray (co-author of The Bell Curve) has a new book out, Coming Apart:  The State of White America, 1960-2010.  Not a promising title, is it?

The blurb at Amazon starts:
In Coming Apart, Charles Murray explores the formation of American classes that are different in kind from anything we have ever known, focusing on whites as a way of driving home the fact that the trends he describes do not break along lines of race or ethnicity.

Drawing on five decades of statistics and research, Coming Apart demonstrates that a new upper class and a new lower class have diverged so far in core behaviors and values that they barely recognize their underlying American kinship—divergence that has nothing to do with income inequality and that has grown during good economic times and bad.
Over at Instapundit there was a link to a self-evaluation that helps one to understand if one is inside an elite bubble or more in contact with the hoi pilloi.  As Dr Murray puts it:
A new upper class that makes decisions affecting the lives of everyone else but increasingly doesn't know much about how everyone else Lives is vulnerable to making mistakes.  How vulnerable are you?
Here is the "quiz".  My score was 43.

I don't think this is a problem restricted to the Democratic Party.  Just listen to Republicans complaining about "the Republcan Establishment".

I remember Rep Shirley Chisolm campaigning in 1972, for President, and saying that she was not so much worried about the ecology of the whales as she was about the ecology of little boys and girls in Appalachia and New York City.  This was a response to a college student in Denver asking about her position on ecology.  She was my kind of Democrat.  She and Senator Scoop Jackson.  Oh well, that was a long time ago.

Regards  —  Cliff

Why Go To College?

Over at the International Herald Tribune is an article titled "Why Go to College at All?"  The writer is Ms Holly Epstein Ojalvo and the subject is the views of Mr Dale J. Stephens, 20, the founder of UnCollege, which urges students to “hack their education” by finding their own pathways to success.  Mr. Stephens is a Thiel Fellow.

There is talk of an education bubble, just like there was a tulip bubble and a housing bubble.

An admission.  While at the Theil website I found that my saying, "Never let school interfere with your education" may not be original with me.  It seems Mark Twain lifted it from someone before even my parent came along.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

They Are Pulling the Plug

Over at Buzz Feed the end has been declared.
It's January 31st and it’s over.  Mitt Romney has blown away the field in the Florida primary and is now the de facto Republican 2012 nominee for president.

So what does everyone do?  Huge armies of "embeds" and reporters and producers and “analysts” and bloggers and talking heads have been amassed to cover the campaign.  They work at cable television networks, broadcast networks, web-sites, magazines, newspapers and radio stations.  And they have been spending money faster than all those dreary people in accounting can count it.
It's all about the money.  At least according to Columnist John Ellis.

But, William Kristol thinks it isn't over yet.

Regards  —  Cliff