Saturday, March 31, 2012

Heads or Tails

Speaking of health care (previous blog post), here is a comment by Mr Mark Penn, at The Washington Post, in which he argues that President Obama might well view the US Supreme Court Ruling on Health Care as a "heads I win, tails you lose" proposition.

The last paragraph:
If Obama plays it right, a defeat for his health-care reform effort could actually move him closer to reelection — giving him another four years to make major advances in health-care coverage, quality and cost.
And, he has two broad options in responding.  He can make it 1936 all over again or he can focus on "helping the people achieve their goals".

Hat tip to Hot Air.

Regards  —  Cliff

Duty to Die

I quote Professor Ann Althouse's blog post in full.
Romanticizing suicide. [AND: Murder!]
In the NYT.

Expect more propaganda of this kind, my friends, because in the future, it is hoped, you will be your own death panel.
In Germany it was two decades between the publication of Life Unworthy of Life in 1920 and the first deaths of Germans under Action T4, in September 1939.  The T4 Program wasn't about Jews and Gypsies and Slavs.  It was about those Germans who needed help to exist, due to physical or mental handicaps.  Two decades.  Then the Asylums and the homes were emptied, because (1) they were too expensive and (2) space was needed for wounded warriors (It was WWII and also some of the wounded were also euthanized) and (3) because such crippledness was not worthy of a great Aryan nation.

It could happen again, in our nation, and it could be that the clock started in 2010 and will run down to 2039.  By then will I be one of those "worthless eaters"?

We need to be concerned about the moral drift.

Regards  —  Cliff

Politically Neutral

Reporter Carl Prine is in fine form, being sarcastic about Service members who support political candidates while in uniform.

Being a military professional who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States means that when you are on active duty you don't campaign for anyone wearing your uniform.  You stand apart from political factions.  You vote, but you conduct yourself knowing that you must loyally serve whoever is elected.  Once you are no longer on Active Duty it is a different story.  Then you can proudly stand up and support Daffy Duck for US Senator, but not wearing your now doffed uniform.

This s a long tradition in our Nation.  Ask Dick Howe, Jr, or Jack Mitchell, or Greg Page or George Anthes or Tom O'Brien or Pat McCartin or Tom Fahlberg or any of dozens of others who are or have been involved in politics in Lowell, in some way.  I bet even John Kerry would agree.

Regards  —  Cliff

Free Fall

Over at the Althouse Blog is a discussion of the continuing fall of News Reader and Commentator Keith Olbermann.  The story at The New York Times is here.  Professor Althouse went to Gawker for her link.

Keith Olbermann was fired by Al Gore (and Mr Gore's Partner, Joel Hyatt).

And, Kad Barma, over at Choosing a Soundtrack, beat me to this story, here.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, March 30, 2012

Class Rank and Fudgery

Monday's "City Life" Show will be on the air again on Saturday morning.  The first half hour featured Ms Linda King and a discussion of Lowell's Sixth Conference on Ending Homelessness, this time focusing on Veterans.  The conference was today and it was a success, in that it helped share experiences and spread the word.  It is not surprising to me, but it is saddening, that social welfare systems in this Commonwealth and these United States are so complicated that even experts sometimes are confused about what is available to help the less fortunate and how that help can be applied for.

The other interesting thing on the show was a discussion of the Lowell School Committee's meeting the previous week and the question of class ranking.  One of the guests on the show was Mr Dave Conway, who is a member of the Lowell School Committee.  He provided us with the details of the issue.

The thrust of the issue is if using class ranking, rather than GPA, is detrimental to the chances of students applying to relatively selective colleges and universities.  To cartoon the issue, there is evidence that some higher education admissions officers use class rank as a first cut instrument to determine which of the many folders they face they will actually open and look at.

My own experience with this attitude was in high school when I asked the guidance councillor's secretary to send my transcript to the Air Force Academy.  I had no reason to think she even knew who I was (Graduating Class of over 700), but her quick, sharp, response was "I wouldn't hold my breath waiting, if I were you."  You see, I was in the bottom half of the class, class rank wise.

It has been suggested that Lowell High School should follow the example of other communities in the area and of private schools, in dropping class rank and going strictly to GPA in ranking students.  For Lowell High School this is particularly valuable in that it is a way to ameliorate the problems of the Latin Lyceum, where class rank distorts the accomplishments of the Lyceum students, and not to their advantage.  The Lyceum students take rigorous classes and then their grades are mixed in with those taking less rigorous classes to form a composite class rank.  Doesn't seem fair to me.

So, the School Committee took action, and that is good.  What concerns me is that the execution by the School Superintendent seems painfully slow.  She is going to take three months to come up with a plan of execution.  Those three months will be 12.5% of the sitting time of this School Committee and, in fact, the report will come out with 25% of the term already gone.  For what seems like a simple change this seems like a long time.  If General George Patton had waited three months for his staff to come up with a plan to change the movement of his SEVENTH ARMY during the Battle of the Bulge, the Germans might have made it clean to the channel ports.

But, more concerning to me is that it was suggested that this change would be implemented in 2016, for the Freshman Class entering this fall.  That is the middle of a School Committee term two removed from the current one.  A more cynical person might ask if this School Committee was being slow rolled.

If changing from class rank to GPA is a good idea for the Class of 2016, then it would appear to be a good idea for the Class of 2013 (the Class of 2012 being close to graduation and the damage of class rank having already been inflicted, we can write them off, except that in future requests for transcripts we could drop the class rank).  Are the students of the Classes of 2013, 2014 and 2015 less worthy of consideration?

The argument could be made that the students of the Class of 2013 have already built their academic efforts around the idea of class rank, rather than GPA.  Perhaps, although I expect that is a small number, balanced by the Latin Lyceum students who couldn't do that without denying the ethos of the Latin Lyceum.  No, the idea of delaying until the Class of 2016 is the worst kind of bureaucrat fudgery, or perhaps merely log rolling.

One senses that the School Committee may be seen, in some quarters, as an impediment to the smooth operation of the Lowell School System.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Incidentally, there appears to be an HTML formatting error on the web page.
  Not really, but I am trying to make the point that Old Blood and Guts had a staff that knew how to turn on a dime and make things happen.  That staff was a key to his success.

Progress Over the Merrimack

For some time now I have despaired of there being a final completion for the rebuilding of the Quinn Holmes (Hunts Falls) Bridge, here in Lowell, Massachusetts.  I was beginning to think the next engineering update would begin before the current one is completed.

However, this week I saw that the Stop Sign coming off the bridge at the traffic circle has yielded to a Yield Sign.  This is progress.  Maybe there is an end to this project.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dangers From Drug Cartels

Over at Wired Magazineis an article on the DEA taking down a wannabee hit squad that saw itself working for a Mexican drug cartel.  This crowd included two ex-Army veterans.

If we don't fix the drug problem, including Mexico's side of it, corruption will run rampant in the streets of these United States.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

There Ain't No Way

Neal Croz found this over at Ed Rasimus's site.  I don't think I had seen it in near on forty years.  It is a half-hour video of Thud (F-105) operations out of Korat RTAFB, Thailand, in 1966.  It is the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing.

I know (knew) a couple of these chaps.  One of them is Ed Rasimus, who returned to Korat in 1972-3, flying the F-4E, which is where I met him.  We were in the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron together.

Another was Karl Richter, who I first met in the back row of the bottom EE Section first semester of our senior year at the Air Force Academy.  We were assigned to Class Sections, and Class seating based upon our academic ranking in that particular class.  As I recall, there was someone seated to our right, otherwise we would have had the lowest scores for that EE Course for the whole Class of 1964.  I then ran into Karl again at Pilot Training, Craig Field, outside Selma, Alabama.  Karl made 200 missions over North Viet-nam, but the last one cost him his life.

The theme song running through the video is Red River Valley and most F-105 operations (both Korat and Takhli (pronounced Ko rot and Tak lee)) were flown into the Red River Valley of North Viet-nam.

I found it very interesting, forty years on.

Regards  —  Cliff

Post-Traumatic Stress

Post-Traumatic Stress is a complex and confusing, but important, topic and here is writer Michael Yon talking about it. Informative.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Voting Rules and the UN

I realize this is two weeks old, and worse, it is from Fox News, but, it is something with which I take umbrage. The issue is individual US States requiring an ID to vote. The issue has now been taken to the UN. The article can be seen here.

I guess if we believe the UN can have an opinion on Iran having nuclear weapons or the UN can "authorize" the use of military force under the concept of R2P, then it can hold hearings on and vote on US voting laws.

Things like this make me cynical about the UN.

Regards  —  Cliff

John Carter on Mars

Over at Samizdata is a review of the movie John Carter.  The movie is based on the Edger Rice Burroughs' 11-volume series of Sci-Fi novels about life on a fictionalized Mars, called Barsoom.  The novels were published between 1912 and 1943.

My oldest son and I had talked about rounding up his younger brother and going to the movie the next time I was in Virginia.  However, the handwriting was on the wall about the longevity of the movie in theaters.  So, on Friday last my oldest son and I both went to the "six o'clock" showing.  And we both made it our source of dinner.  I had a hot dog, popcorn and yellow lemonade.  He had two hot dogs, popcorn and a Diet Pepsi.  (He gets a second hot dog because he is about four inches taller than I am.)  Our actions were uncoordinated.

We both enjoyed ourselves.

Regards  —  Cliff

CIA Terrorist Hunter

Over at The Washington Post is an article on the person who is the head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.  By reporter Greg Miller, it is titled "At CIA, a convert to Islam leads the terrorism hunt".  The article talks about the gentleman thusly:
His defenders don’t even try to make him sound likable.  Instead, they emphasize his operational talents, encyclopedic understanding of the enemy and tireless work ethic.
And, he gets results.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, March 26, 2012

Leaning Left

"Why the 1% Leans Left".  The Washington Times.

Hat tip to Hot Air.

Regards  —  Cliff

Pope Shenouda III, RIP

About a week ago the International Herald Trbune reported the death of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria leader, Pope Shenouda III.

Copts represent 10% of the Egyptian population and they are currently feeling threatened.  The overthrow of the Mubarack Government has only increased that concern.  Ironic

Regards  —  Cliff

Jack is Back

Well, Jackie Doherty.  Here is her latest blog post.  More, faster!

REgards  —  Cliff

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Visiting City Hall

Friday, after the normal Friday Morning Homelessness Conference meeting in the Planning Conference Room, I wandered over to the Elections Division to pick up some data the ladies there had printed out for me on the Presidential Primary.  Fodder for a future post.

Then I went upstairs to see if Greg Page was still the Mayor's Aide.  He was.  I also met Gordan, who is the Intern, from UMass Lowell.  Gordan is an immigrant from Ghana.  His story is apparently in a book.  I am thinking The Big Move:  Immigrant Voices from a Mill City, by Robert Forrant and Christoph Strobel.  At any rate, I was impressed by Gordan.

While I was there someone came in with food for the food drive, which was covered in yesterday's edition of The [Lowell] Sun.  The reporter was Ms Jen Myers.

Speaking of The [Lowell] Sun, today's "Column" suggests that Mr Page forgot his place in trying to arrange for our Beacon Hill delegation to tag up with City leadership.  The way it was written up seemed OOC for Greg, as I know him.  And, he, Greg, told me it didn't go down that way.  New guy getting the normal hazing?  Probably.  I'm a fighter pilot.  I know that the Fresh New Guy (FNG) has to run the gauntlet.  OK, but, it shouldn't go on too long.  We have important issues that we need to pull together on.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Out of Character.

Thinking About War and Thinking About Iran

In today's edition ofThe [Lowell] Sun Mr Michael Goldman has an OpEd on possible war with Syria and with Iran.  Syria is a client state of Iran, but these are two different possible wars.  The title of Mr Goldman's piece is "War, what it is good for---read and weep".

Mr Goldman gives us a list of books to read to inform ourselves about war and its consequences.  It isn't a bad list, although I have questions about two of them, including Ms Babara Tuchman's Guns of August.  This History of WWI is dated and has some wrong ideas as to how the war started.  And with regard to Viet-nam, Mr Goldman says:
Finally, when it comes to Vietnam, my one-volume bias is for Neil Sheehan's A Bright Shining Lie:  John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam over The Best and the Brightest by journalist David Halberstam.  The first account is the "war" book, the second is a "how did we get into the war" book.
I think he should have mentioned Richard Betts The System Worked and some other recent historical research about how we got there and failed to get out.  Let's face it, few since FDR got Viet-nam right and he passed away on top.  When I say everyone, I include Ho Chi Minh, who expended a lot of treasure and people achieving an aim he could have achieved for less, with a little insight.  He lived here, it should have had a better idea about us.

But, the real problem with the OpEd is that it doesn't address the issues.

First, with regard to Syria, we have the issue of Responsibility to Protect (R2P).  Frankly, the problems associated with our intervention in Libya suggest there is no easy way to do these things.  I would suggest that in the case of Syria we (1) don't have international consensus and (2) it is not clear that there is a majority of Syrians who are ready to support the overthrow of the current government.  So, the case for intervention in Syria is no, based upon the facts and not just because we don't wish to see people killed and wounded.  The problem with using the carnage issue is the deaths of people without intervention and the lost of personal freedom.  In Syria some 8,000 people have been killed in the current revolt.  Does that justify an intervention?  When I am looking for information I trust Mr Nir Rosen.  Here is an example of his reporting in Al Jazeera.  What do you think?

The other issue is Iran and here the question is fundamental.  Are we willing to plunge the world into war to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.  We let North Korea work to get nuclear weapons and also Pakistan and India and Israel.  The former Soviet Union played with the idea of attacking China's nascent nuclear capability, and didn't.

The decision turns on the question of we think that with Iran the idea of deterrence by the threat of massive retaliation will break down.  This requires we think that the leaders of Iran are not rational in any way.  They are willing to pull the building down upon themselves, like the Judge, Samson.

Few who talk about Iran think that an attack would do more than delay the Iranian nuclear program.  The program could come back and be more hidden and hardened than ever.  On the other hand, the Iraqi and Syrian programs did not come back.  But Iran is a different quality government.

Yes, the threat to Israel is existential—their existence as a nation (but not as a People) would be in question once Iran had produced sufficient nuclear weapons.  It is my guess that Iran would need 38 to 40 weapons to have a real capability.  A dozen for counter-population efforts against Israel, a dozen for counter-force efforts against Israel's retaliation forces and a dozen to deal with local threats after Iran absorbs a nuclear pummeling by Israel and perhaps other nations.  And a couple to four for testing.

I see the arguments being against getting into a war with Iran by pulling an intervention against their nuclear capability.  It is still time to talk and while politicians may say it is unacceptable for Iran to get a nuclear capability, sometimes the unacceptable is.  But, it should be made clear to Iran that their use of nuclear weapons will result in turning their land to glass and a lot of nations should embrace that vision, not just Israel and the US.

By the way, there was another interesting OpEd in Sunday's edition—on Education Reform.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Remember, articles in The Sun go away after a while, to a different place.  I will not be updating their links unless I am bedridden and have read every book in the house.  And, besides, the Editor tells me the links cost money after a few weeks.  It is the new business model.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

When to Marry

From the Blog of Law Professor Ann ALTHOUSE:
Such ceremonies are unusual but not unheard of in France, where the law allows posthumous marriages in cases where a fiance dies before the wedding. The law states that such weddings can only be approved by the French president "in grave circumstances".
I link to the Althouse blog so you can see the comments.  As an aside, something I see on the Althouse blog is a degree of self-censorshiop by the commenters, who sometimes remove their comments.  I assume they do it for reasons of grammar or spelling, or they decided that a subsequent comment made them look stupid.

This event should not be confused with the Bride who Married Herself.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, March 23, 2012

Education Bubble

As the Instapundit has been saying for over a rear, there is an education bubble growing.  Within that bubble is the student loan bubble, which some see as worse than the housing bubble.  These are, in fact,two different bubbles.  One is caused by the price of a college degree being bid up beyond what it is worth, which could result in people no longer buying education.  This would be analogous to the famous Tulip Bubble.   The second would be student loans going under water and is analogous with the recent housing mortgage bubble.

The suggestion was made, in an EMail thread, that the Federal Government could insert itself and clean up this problem for not-for-profit colleges and universities.  Below are a couple of responses to that suggestion:
There is a potentially dangerous implication of this, namely that the federal government has the right and, possibly, obligation to emesh itself into the administration of private, not for profit universities including the potential to dictate curricula whether or not the universities agree.   Personally, I believe that that is an extremely dangerous precedent.
Good thinking and I agree.  Curriculum was not something I was considering at all for any kind of university, but rather annual rates of increase in tuition driven by expenditures on things not directly related to a university's primary mission of teaching and research - notably capital investment projects, rather than in classrooms, libraries and labs, and expansion of administrative bureaucracy.

Agree the government intruding on university curriculum (which I expect soon anyway under the guise of "accountability") would be generally pernicious.
That is my underlining.  I would note that neither of the commenters come across to me as "Tea Party" members.  Both are thoughtful academics.

In addressing the Education Bubble we need to find a way to avoid an economic meltdown of the lower middle class.  At the same time we need to resist the spread of [generally pernicious] Government influence in Academia.  One of the things that has helped in the formation and growth of Western Democracy has been the relative independence of colleges and universities.  And, for every Harvard or Brown there is some Land Grant school keeping the balance.  Together, they have helped to make this a great nation.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Apparently the experts are now using the term "Tulip Mania", but in doing so they are losing some moral clarity.
  As I recall, the Administration is already making noises about regulating and controlling "evil" for-profit post secondary educational establishments.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Limits of Abortion

While studying for class this evening (Colonial New England) I came across the below passage from an article by Mr James Drake, "Restraining Atrocity:  The Conduct of King Philip's War" (The New England Quarterly, Vol 70, Issue 1, page 56)
If a man have a stufforne or rebellious sonne of sufficyent yeeres of understanding, viz., 16, wch will not obey ye voyce of his father or ye voyce of his mother, & yt when they have chastned him will not harken vnto them, then shall his fahter & mother, being his naturall parents, lay hold on him, & bring him to ye majestrates assembled in Courte, & testify to them by sufficyent evidence yt this their sonne is stubborne & rebellious, & will not obey their voyce & chasticement, but lives in sundry notorious crimes, such a sonne shall be put to death
The citation is Massachusetts Records, 3:101.

Frankly, this isn't much different from the admonition from Deuteronomy, Chapter 21, verses 18 to 21.  The spelling is better in the newer editions of the Bible.

I supposed that this more open view of abortion in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was closed off once the Irish were given permission in the State Constitution to hold office.

Regards  —  Cliff

Civil Rights on Campus

From The Atlantic we have this critique of parts of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), by Lawyer Wendy Kaminer.  The Act is up for renewal.  The mere fact that it is up for renewal gives me hope.  A form of sunset clause exists.

A serious problem with the act is that it allows colleges and universities to conduct their own "trials" for sexual violence involving students.  If you are a local auto mechanic accused of raping a Coed you deal with the local District Attorney.  However, if you also happen to be a full time student you belong to the school and your Constitutional Protections begin to melt away.  Ms. Kraminer writes:
These low standards of proof, together with the appeals provisions, reflect the tendency of victim advocates, including Obama Administration officials, to err on the side of presuming guilt in sexual misconduct cases.  Some have unabashed contempt for the rights of the accused:  Boston attorney Wendy Murphy writes disdainfully of "lawyers for men accused of rape (who) injected themselves into college disciplinary proceedings demanding 'due process' and arguing that accused students have a constitutional liberty interest at stake."  The accused have no constitutional claim to due process, she writes approvingly, but "student victims of sexual assault" do, "because sexual assault is a form of gender discrimination."
The way Ms Kraminer presents Attorney Wendy Murphy makes Ms Muphy sound incoherent, and opposed to the "Rights of Englishmen", which we have retained and refined over the centuries.

Hat tip to The Instapundit.

Regards — Cliff

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mayor's Office Hours

The new Mayor's Aide, Greg Page, sent this out:
Attached to this e-mail is a press release from the Office of Mayor Patrick Murphy regarding the traditional Office Hours that he will hold in the Office of the Mayor at City Hall, as well as the Virtual Office Hours he will offer via Facebook.
Then follows the Press Release:
Lowell, MA, March 20, 2012 – Mayor Patrick Murphy has formally announced that he will hold Office Hours in the Office of the Mayor in City Hall.  During two designated time periods each week – 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays, and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays – Lowellians will be able to meet with the Mayor on a drop-in basis to discuss whatever issues, concerns, or ideas are on their minds.  No appointments are necessary.

The announcement of formal Office Hours fits with one of Mayor Murphy’s primary objectives during his tenure as Lowell’s Mayor – increasing citizens’ direct access to government.

“Too often, citizens feel disengaged from government, even at the municipal level, because of a distance they perceive between themselves and the people making the decisions,” Murphy said.  “By announcing regular blocks of time during which I can be accessible, I hope to break down that perceived barrier.  There are people in this city who have lived and worked here for years, but have never been inside this office, which is really their office,” he added.

Mayor Murphy will also hold “Virtual Office Hours” the first Monday of each month from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.  During that time period, Mayor Murphy will be signed on to his Facebook page, available to chat, respond to Wall Posts, or Facebook messages in real time.  Mayor Murphy’s first Virtual Office Hours will be held on Monday, April 2nd.

Direct meetings with the Mayor are not limited to the Office Hour blocks of time of Wednesdays and Fridays.  Any resident who would like to meet with Mayor Murphy, but cannot do so during those times because of work, family, or other commitments, can reach out to directly to the Office of the Mayor to schedule a more convenient time.  To schedule a meeting with Mayor Murphy, please contact Greg Page at (978) 674-1551 or e-mail
There you have it.

I think folks should be encouraged to drop in on the mayor and tell them what they think.  We need more communication between the "Government" and the citizens.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thank you SCOTUS

Unanimous Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Property Owners in Sackett v. EPA.  This at the Volokh Conspiracy, with a Hat tip to The Instapundit.  While this ruling does not talk to the Fifth Amendment issues ("Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which states that the government may not deprive individuals of life, liberty, or property without due process of law"), it does move in the direction of suggesting the Federal Bureaucracy can't run roughshod over the citizens.

Regards  &mash;  Cliff

Shooting in Pangwai

Reporter Carl Prine on Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, and on the rest of us.

The dead of Pangwai, Afghanistan:  Mohamed Dawood, Khudaydad, Nazar Mohamed, Payendo, Robeena, Shatarina, Zahra, Nazia, Masooma, Farida, Palwasha, Nabia, Esmatullah, Faizullah, Essa Mohamed and Akhtar Mohamed.

Naming them doesn't bring them back, but it makes them more than numbers.

Regards  —  Cliff

Bush v Gore

I mentioned this Althouse post in a comment on Voter ID.  Professor Althouse asserts that if the US Supreme Court ruling in Bush v Gore had gone the other way the vote would still have gone to Bush.  The 2000 election was not a repeat of the 1960 election.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Amazing Internet

Here is a report out of Houston, but below is the data that went out on the Internet almost as the earthquake happened.
Magnitude 7.6 - OAXACA, MEXICO
2012 March 20 18:02:48 UTC

Earthquake Details

     This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.

Magnitude 7.6

     Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 18:02:48 UTC
     Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 12:02:48 PM at epicenter

Location 16.662°N, 98.188°W
Depth 17.5 km (10.9 miles)

     25 km (15 miles) E (95°) from Ometepec, Guerrero, Mexico
     42 km (26 miles) NNW (335°) from Pinotepa Nacional, Oaxaca, Mexico
     87 km (54 miles) SW (219°) from Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca, Mexico
     162 km (101 miles) WSW (255°) from Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico
     186 km (115 miles) E (96°) from Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico

Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 15.8 km (9.8 miles); depth +/- 6.5 km (4.0 miles)
Parameters NST=438, Nph=440, Dmin=312.8 km, Rmss=0.88 sec, Gp= 79°,
M-type=regional moment magnitude (Mw), Version=9

     Magnitude: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
     Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)

Event ID usc0008m6h
And a possible tragedy for thousands.  Over ten miles deep and yet it impacts many lives on the surface.  Fortunately, at this point, no reported deaths.

Regards  —  Cliff

Breitbart vs the Birth Certificate

Mr Ben Shapiro, newly named editor-at-large for, has told WND that there will be no pursuit of Candidate Obama's birth.  In addition he was clear about the issue:
To my knowledge, there’s no evidence.  I just don’t believe it.
This does not mean that he wouldn't like to know all about Student Obama's time at Columbia or other details about the candidate's background.
"We need an army of citizen journalists,” Shapiro explained.  “The media is not going to do its jobs. The media is simply going to continue its pattern of protecting President Obama.  If you have a tip send it to us.”
But let us not waste time trying to find some alternative birth certificate.

Regards  —  Cliff

Promos From Conde Nast

This month I am paying the bills and I came across one for the magazine Travel and Leisure.  Inside is an offer for paying the bill (or, better, for renewing for a year).  It is a "Carry-on Bag."  It looks someone like the same offer from The New Yorker, which arrived a couple of weeks ago from CDS-Global of Des Moines, Iowa.  It came via the US Postal Service, in a think plastic bag.

Not a very substantial bag, but useful for me to carry things to and from the car I drive.  Made in China.  Wouldn't you think that The New Yorker would provide a "made in USA", or at least a "made in North America" item for their promo?

I wonder if Travel and Leisure, like The New Yorker, is a Conde Nast Publications?

Regards  —  Cliff

Immigration Issues

Our immigration issues in the US are probably small compared to those in Europe.  Europe invited in many .  But, European nations tend to not have a culture that is welcoming to immigrants and thus the "Melting Pot" approach is missing.  This results in some degree of blow back.

Here is a report on a book by an immigrant to Austria.  An Austrian of Turkish Kurd background, Mr Inan Türkmen, 25 years of age, is the author of We are Coming, currently available in German, on the Kindle.  The blog states:
A second-generation Muslim immigrant in Austria has authored a provocative new book in which he argues that Europe's future is Turkish, whether Europeans like it or not.

The book's short, sharp and confrontational title says it all:  "We are Coming."

The thesis is:  "Regardless of whether or not you [Europeans] like us [Turks], whether or not you integrate us, whether or not you want us in the European Union, our influence in Europe is growing.  We are more numerous.  We are younger.  We are more ambitious.  Our economy is growing faster.  We are stronger."
An interesting view and one sure to upset several constituencies.

I favor the melting pot approach.  I assume people come to the United States for religious, political or economic freedom.  To achieve such freedom one needs to buy into the "American Way", maybe even buy into "American Exceptionalism".  So, from my point of view, everyone who buys into the American dream is one of us.

Regards  —  Cliff

DOJ and the Texas Voter ID Law

I was optimistic when Eric Holder was appointed US Attorney General.  I have been disappointed.

Here is Alexis Garcia talking about the new Texas Voter ID Law.

So, it is OK for Indiana, but not for Texas.  It is OK for Massachusetts to require that voters have something to confirm who they are and where they live?  It is just that we don't enforce it.  What about Lawrence, MA and voter fraud?

Regards  —  Cliff

A Different View of Feminism

Feminism and the treatment of women has been a hot topic recently.

Following the Rush Limbaugh Imbroglio and the Bill Maher codicil we have the Bristol Palin question.

Conservative Commenter Peggy Noonan puts it down to the coarsening of public discourse, and on both sides of the aisle.  Blame the Internet.

However, Vox Day thinks that Ms Noonan misses the boat and says it has to do with the Recent education of young men about women and feminism.  The final paragraph talks about the ultimate impact on men.
Led by a small cadre of practical game theoreticians, most notoriously the brilliantly dour Roissy, more and more men are taking the red pill and rejecting the pretty lies they have been told throughout the entire course of their education and upbringing.  Some are choosing to go their own way.  Others are improving the quality of their marriages, and still others are using their new-found knowledge to plow through the opposite sex like Visigoths and Vandals sacking Rome.  What Peggy Noonan does not realize is that whereas men once assumed that a woman was a lady until proven otherwise, increasing numbers of them assume women are shallow and superficial until they are provided with credible evidence to the contrary.

In the article is a reference to taking the Red Pill.  An explanation can be found here.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, March 19, 2012

Paying Taxes

When I was young (around 14), after my initial disappointment in bring yanked out of Leavittown, PA, I found [Southern] California to be wonderful.  Then it started to unravel.  Which brings me to the last sentence of this Hot Air piece by Ms Tina Korbe.
No wonder so many Californians have migrated there.
The piece, itself, "Feds to Texas:  You defunded Planned Parenthood, now we’re defunding you", talks about Texas walking away from Federal Funding for Women's Health over the issue of funding Planned Parenthood.

There is something strange here, or would be strange if the Federal Gov't wasn't using Pixie Dust to fund programs.  I could be wrong, but it seems federal funding:
  1. Comes from taxes that could have been raised locally, but without the cost of the Federal Middleman,
  2. Are being taken from taxes raised from the taxpayers in some other State and raked off to help your State, or
  3. Are being taken from the taxpayers in your State for the benefit of folks in some other State.
The one reason for going with Federal funding is that most States don't allow deficit spending.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Of course it is really deficit spending, which is, in the long run, like Pixe Dust.  So how long can we go forward on Pixie Dust?  It is fiat money, so as long as everyone says it is money it is.  Let just one person break the circle and it begins to collapse.

Honoring Iraq War Veterans




Nine years ago, members of the United States Armed Forces crossed the sands of the Iraq-Kuwait border and began one of the most challenging missions our military has ever known.  They left the comforts of home and family, volunteering in service to a cause greater than themselves.  They braved insurgency and sectarian strife, knowing too well the danger of combat and the cost of conflict.  Yet, through the dust and din and the fog of war, they never lost their resolve.  Demonstrating unshakable fortitude and unwavering commitment to duty, our men and women in uniform served tour after tour, fighting block by block to help the Iraqi people seize the chance for a better future.  And on December 18, 2011, their mission came to an end.

Today, we honor their success, their service, and their sacrifice.  In one of our Nation's longest wars, veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn wrote one of the most extraordinary chapters in American military history.  When highways became mine fields and uncertainty waited behind every corner, service members rose to meet the task at hand with unmatched courage and determination.  They learned languages and cultures, taking on new roles as diplomats and development experts to improve the communities where they served.  Their strength toppled a tyrant, and their valor helped build opportunity in oppression's place.  Across nearly 9 years of conflict, the glory of their service—as well as the contributions of other members of the U.S. Government and our coalition partners—always shone through. 
This continues and it can be found in toto here.

Congratulations and thanks to the veterans of the Second Iraq War.

And a Thank You to the President for this recognition of those Veterans.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Little Space History

At this link is a building series of short history lessons on our attempts to go where man has not before gone.

Pretty good.

Regards  —  Cliff

Fix That Gig Line

As long as we are at the Line of Departure, here is a blog post from Carl Prine on the Sergeant Major of the Army and updates to Army Regulation 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia.  Three hundred and some pages on everything from how to wear your Aiguillette to what is acceptable in terms of Tattoos.

It seems the Sergeant Major of the Army would like to spiff up soldiers in uniform.  Frankly, this is a good idea and as a good idea it rolls around every decade or so.  For those of you who have not previously served in one of the Armed Services, the top link might be interesting.  Skip the Uniform Regulation unless you are desperate for something to read.  But, for Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler, III, it is bread and butter.  It is axiomatic that when dress starts to slip, discipline starts to slip.

I wish Sergeant Major of the Army Chandler the best of luck.

Regards  —  Cliff

Reporting From Syria

The reporting from Syria has not been that helpful to me.  The reason Syria is important, amongst other things, is that there are those talking about intervention.  Questions need to be asked by the Citizenry.  Is it a real civil war or just some tribal animosity that will go nowhere in the end?  Is it time for the French to lead an intervention (in their old colony)?  The Saudis have pulled their Ambassador, but is that about Syrian oppression, or Sunnis in Syria, or is it about Iran?

Some have been taking pot shots at those trying to report from there.

Here is Nir Rosen, posting a defense of his work on Carl Prine's blog.  It isn't like Carl and Nir can't get into a dustup at the drop of a hat, so I take it as an important sign that this comes out the way it does.

A happy Sunday to all.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Mayor's New Aide

Jack Mitchell (via Lowell Live Feed) says that Reporter Jen Myers says that recently returned from Afghanistan Mass National Guard Veteran Greg Page will be the new Mayor's Aide.  Greg joined the Mass National Guard hoping to get into Civil Affairs, a small but important career field, which is often neglected.  However, the needs of the Service take precedence and he was pressed into service as an Intelligence type, something he had already done in Iraq when he was in the Navy.

I know Greg Page and like Greg Page and think he is smart and thoughtful and will do a good job.  As an aside, it is nice to see the job go to a man once in a while. :-)

Congratulations, Mr Page.

Regards  —  Cliff

Unhelpful "News"

From an Afghan on-line newspaper and magazine, Khaama Press, we have a story by Reporter Ghanizada titled "Findings reveal 15 US troops involved in Kandahar massacre".  This is a very serious accusation, and one that is probably false.  Here is the lede:
A delegation of the Afghan parliament members who visited Kandahar province said at least 15 US troops were behind the assassination of 16 Afghan villagers at Panjwai district in this province.

It appears that the search party sent out to find the missing shooter has been conflated with that shooter. At this time the person in custody as the suspected shooter is Staff Sergeant Robert Bales.

The linked article shows the importance of a military force engaged in the kind of war Afghanistan is having an excellent information operations program.  The recent series of events show that our forces have not been able to build a reservoir of good will amongst the various tribes in Afghanistan. That said, the lack of nation-wide reaction to the shooting event suggests we haven't completely failed in that area.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Or whatever Washington is calling it this week.  I think it is MISO, or Military Information Support Operations.

Mayor's Aide

I think Gerry Nutter did a good job of covering The [Lowell] Sun article on Mayor Patrick Murphy's decision to return to tradition and bring on board his own choice for an aide.  And, I agree that "fired" was a little inflammatory.

I would like to say thank you to Ms Diane Bujnowski for the help she has given me in the past.

And, I wish the new incumbent the very best in a new endeavor that should prove interesting and educational.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, March 16, 2012

Reporting on China

I provide the link to the Althouse blog because it is a good summary of the problem—NPR and The New York Times may have mis-reported their stories about an Apple factory in China, Foxconn.  I remember the story and my own cognitive dissonance at hearing it.

Regards  —  Cliff

A Sort of Car Bomb

This is a strange news report.  The driver of a car trying to evade Customs and Border Patrol in the San Diego area is stopped.  While being approached the car bursts into flames.  From the article:
Sheriff investigators pored over the burnt remains of a car that burst in to flames on Old Highway 80 near Sunrise Highway early Thursday morning after it was disabled by spike strips that the were deployed by Border Patrol officers during a pursuit.  The driver of the car was killed and a Border patrol agent was injured in the incident.
This seems a little over the top for someone involved in smuggling.

We need to be thinking about the escalating drug war.

Regards  —  Cliff
CIA Director, retired Army General David Petraeus was today appointed as a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Orange Nassau with swords.  This took place at the Dutch Ministry of Defence.  The award was presented by the Defense Minister, Hans Hillen.

Someone translated the Dutch into English as follows:
The former four-star general, who as the son of a Dutch father Frisian roots has received his decorations hung in the presence of Dutch (old) and his military colleagues Frisian relatives.  General Petraeus son of a Dutch father.  The Commissioner of the Province of Friesland, John Jorritsma handed the General's family tree dating back to the year 1599.  Petraeus responded enthusiastically to his award, he praised the good cooperation with the Netherlands and the quality of the Dutch soldiers.  He shut off applicable in Dutch: "The Netherlands, for ever!".
Of course, Director Patraeus will have to comply with Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution and the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act.  I got that from a lawyer.

General Petraeus is not the first American to receive this award.  The same honor was bestowed on Lowell's own Hoyt S Vandenburg.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Yes, they do spell it that way across the pond.

Not the Same

Mr David Axelrod was being interviewed on TV and he was asked, by Ms Erin Burnett, about Bill Maher and his comments about Gov Sarah Palin vs the comments of Rush Limbaugh about Ms Sandra Fluke.

Mr Axelrod said, per the news story, that "...sexist comments made by radio host Rush Limbaugh and comedian Bill Maher are both distasteful but should be understood differently".  Mr Axelrod thought that since Mr Limbaugh is the de facto head of the Republican Party his comments should be more strongly condemned.

Of note, Ms Burnett felt free to repeat the words used by Mr Limbaugh, but identified the Bill Maher word with just the first initial.  So, I guess Mr Axelrod is correct, the two events should be understood differently.  The interview clip can be found here.

Is this not the gift that keeps on giving, and while Democrats think it is giving to them, Republicans may be finding it is giving to them.

And none of this is to excuse the extremely poor taste on the part of Mr Limbaugh in his characterization of Ms Fluke.  I guess we hold Mr Limbaugh to a higher standard.  As for Mr Maher, he is on HBO and thus is not a real person.

Is there anyone out there with a rope they could lower down to those of us stuck at the bottom of this hole with Mr Maher and Mr Limbaugh and Mr Axelrod?

Regards  —  Cliff

  You may think Mr Limbaugh is the head of the National Republican Party, but I don't and neither does he, per his own testimony.  Perhaps he is in the way DWS is the de facto head of the Democratic Party.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rutherford B Hayes

From Memeorandum I caught a link to New York Magazine, which was discussing President Obama dissing the late President Rutherford B Hayes for rejecting the recent Alexander Graham Bell invention, the telephone.

I sometimes wonder if there is a former [Republican] President the Incumbent does like.

At any rate, it turns out there is a President Hayes Library of sorts and Ms Nan Card is the curator of manuscripts.  Card says it is a canard.  I am thinking this mistaken impression of President Hayes came from a speechwriter, who should now be available for employment elsewhere, or from TOTUS, who needs an adjustment.

From the linked website:
In fact, Card noted, Hayes was not only the first president to have a telephone in the White House, but he was also the first to use the typewriter, and he had Thomas Edison come to the White House to demonstrate the phonograph.  "So I think he was pretty much cutting edge," Card insisted, "maybe just the opposite of what President Obama had to say there."
But, the real question should be about Governments picking technology.  While the predecessor to the US Department of Energy gave us the fusion weapon (H-bomb) within a few years of the TRINITY shot, DoE, created in 1977, hasn't yet given us clean, safe, cheap fusion power, or even dirty, unsafe and expensive fusion power, or anything else, really.

Governments are not a good vehicle for picking winners and losers.  That is a job for the free market, and capitalism.

Regards  —  Cliff


I have in the past, and will in the future, bang on about the number of Mexican Government security personnel and bystanders killed by drug cartel violence.  However, there is a bigger killer in Mexico and it is something that should be an embarrassment to all of us here in North America.  It is malnutrition, as shown in this brief report.  The death rate in Mexico from Malnutrition is 13.4 per 100,000 people, compared to 1.0 for the United States, and 0.7 for Canada.  My sources for those numbers is here.  They must be true, I found them on the Internet.

Here is the lede from the article:
A total of 85,343 people died "due to malnutrition" in Mexico between 2001 and 2010, a period during which another 49,804 victims were slain by organized crime gangs, according to official figures released [last week].
On the other hand, in the same period we killed about 400,000 in auto accidents—granted we have a population of 313 million, to Mexico's 112 million.

Regards  —  Cliff

What is the Matter With Women (Politically Speaking)

Once upon a time there was a book titled What's the Matter with Kansas?:  How Conservatives Won the Heart of America.  The author was Mr Thomas Frank.  The core of the book was the question "Why do so many Americans vote against their economic and social interests?"  The point of the book was that the People in Kansas would be better off voting their pocketbook (read voting for Democrats) than their values (read voting for Republicans).  That was way back in 2005 AD.

Now we have the argument being turned on its head by Democrats.  An example is found embedded in this discussion of Democratic Party apparatchiks discussing the results from the election Tuesday last.  In the end one of the apparatchiks resorts to the last refuge of a scoundrel, crying racism.  That is to say, Caucasian women who vote Republican are doing it because they are racist.  The person who formulated this Tinker to Evers to Chance view of the voting—from the economy to "conservative values" to coded language for racism and thus "racism trumped gender"—was former DNC communications director Karen Finney.  The venue was MSNBC, with host Lawrence O'Donnell:

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Yes, you thought the last refuge of a scoundrel was patriotism.  So did Samuel Johnson, on the evening of April 7, 1775.  That was before the Democratic Party switched from looking down on Blacks to accepting them into the Party, some 40 years ago.

Ban Dante

Yes, it is probably time to leave the UN, especially if this idea is adopted—ban the Divine Comedy, a poem by Dante Alighieri.  The poem dates from around 1308 to 1321.  The Telegraph article, by Mr Nick Squires, writing from Rome, starts out:
The classic work should be removed from school curricula, according to Gherush 92, a human rights organisation which acts as a consultant to UN bodies on racism and discrimination.

Dante's epic is "offensive and discriminatory" and has no place in a modern classroom, said Valentina Sereni, the group's president.
I would say that if the UN, or one of its agencies, moves forward with this foolishness, we let them stay in Turtle Bay as long as they wish, but we excuse ourselves and use those then excess diplomats elsewhere.

Don't Mess With Dante

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Values and Leadership

Here is a link to an OpEd that is shown to be from the International Herald Tribune, which is sort of the Paris version of The Boston Globe, a smaller sister of the Old Grey Lady.

The author is Mr Greg Smith, who "is resigning today as a Goldman Sachs executive director and head of the firm’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa."  This is a pretty strongly worded piece about a slide in integrity at Goldman Sachs.  The author doesn't appear to pull any punches.  He sets up the basic point here:
It astounds me how little senior management gets a basic truth:  If clients don’t trust you they will eventually stop doing business with you.  It doesn’t matter how smart you are.
This is where he puts it all together:
Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing.  Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence.
Integrity is important.  People will follow someone with integrity.  People will engage in pillage with someone who lacks integrity but has an eye for available assets.  But, they won't "follow" that person very far.

UPDATE:  A key question is why the change in corporate culture and here is a plausible explanation.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  A nice turn of phrase about "ax murderers".

Underground Facilities

The question of bombing Iranian underground facilities brings up the question of how vulnerable such facilities are, in fact.

Here is a breezy review of underground facilities, from The Space Review.

Hat tip to my Brother Lance.

Regards  —  Cliff

Potential For Voter Fraud

I know voter fraud does not exist.  Many of my friends who are Democrats, or lean in that direction, tell me there is no such thing.  My US Attorney General assures me there is no such thing—and fights efforts to protect against it.  The ACLU, which I help fund, tells me the same thing.

However, from time to time someone comes along and shows how it can be done.

The thing I take comfort from is that no one I know would engage in such a terrible and undemocratic thing.  It just doesn't happen here, in this great nation.  Well, except for Cook County.  You heard that Cook County sold all their old voting machines to Moscow and Richard Daley won the next election for mayor in the Russian Capital?  Sure enough.

The real reason there is not rampant fraud is there are poll watchers, which are not easy to come by.

This opposition to showing some form of identification (someone told me that a utility bill will do in our fair Commonwealth) seems to be strange in the "reality based community", given that it not only can happen, but may even happen in some places—but not here, for sure.

Here is the reality.  If the police stop patrolling the Lowell Connector, speeds along the Connector will creep up.  Sure as God made little green apples.

Regards  —  Cliff

Political Quiz

In honor of Tuesday's primaries and in good humor, we have this little quiz.

Hat tip to my Brother John.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

China's Surging Defense Budget

Analyst Dean Cheng provides us some insights about China and China's "double digit" increase in its defense budget, here.
In some quarters, the latest boost in Beijing's defense spending is already being blamed on the United States.  The U.S. announced a "pivot to Asia" in January, so China promptly increased its defense budget.  This line of thinking underscores the truth in the old adage that, for every problem, there is a solution that is neat, plausible - and wrong.
It isn't always about us.

As for the Analyst, Dean Cheng, he is an interesting person to talk with.  I commend his work to you.

Regards  —  Cliff

New DATT in Mexico City

Last evening I was out to dinner with some friends and the question of the biggest threat to the United States came up (the conversation drifted there from a discussion of Iran, as I recall).  My vote was Narco Cartels and their drifting up into the United States, from Mexico and Central America, with a promise of lawlessness worse than Prohibition.

Someone in the Administration must think the same thing, based upon who is being sent to Mexico City as the Defense Attache.  It is Navy SEAL, Rear Admiral Colin J Kilrain.  His previous assignment was as director, combating terrorism, National Security Council, Washington, D.C.

To be filed under semi-local boy makes good.  The Admiral is a graduate of Braintree High School.

On the other hand, on the question of the battle of the sexes, he loses out to his wife, Susan Still Kilrain, who has her own Wikipedia entry.  But, then, she is a fighter pilot of astronaut.

But on the question of challenge, his is probably the greater.  The nation of Mexico has serious problems and those in the US who are using illegal drugs are just contributing to it.  When you think of the thousands being murdered each year by the drug cartels, keep in mind that it is your drug abusing friends who are making it happen. The flip side of this is that while it won't fix the problem, legalizing drugs and going over to a new coping mechanism, as suggested by the Reverend Pat Robertson, might help in the fight.

Regards  —  Cliff

Election Review

Last week Dick Howe had the results of the Presidential Primary, here.

In Lowell 8.32% of the registered voters voted. Not a good number, but better than the state-wide number.

One of the things I found interesting was the number of voters for President Obama in the Democratic Primary.  He received 1006.  However, 236 voted no preference. That would be 18.44% voting No Preference, vs 78.59% for President Obama.  The remainder were 38 Write-in votes (2.97%)  We don't know if those No Preference votes were Unenrolled voters crossing over to vote as Democrats for the Primary, but why would they?  Perhaps to vote for friends on the Democratic Ward Committees.  If that is the case it is a bad sign for the President in November.  Worse if those were Democrats.

On the Republican side, former Governor Mitt Romney garnered 71.80% of the vote, with only 11 (or 0.40%) voting No Preference.  There were Five Write-in Votes.  I wonder who those voters picked?

Interesting to me was that Ron Paul was second, with 11.44 percent of the vote.  There are voters out there who like his story, his more libertarian approach to government.  I suspect he might have attracted some Unenrolled who took a Republican ballot to register their support.

Equally interesting was that there are people who voted who are still loyal to Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, John Huntsman, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann.

For the Republicans in Lowell the big news was that a small sticker campaign to organize some additional Ward Committees payed off.  Wards 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 11 had at least three members elected.  Ward 1 actually had people on the ballot, with nine people elected, plus a Write-in addition.

As an addendum, it Mr John McCormack, of The Weekly Standard is to be believed, the Limbaugh Brouhaha has not impacted the numbers as much as the economy, not that any of us should be saying that Mr Limbaugh's choice of words was edifying.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, March 12, 2012

ACA Up in a Fortnight

Comments on this blog post have focused on ACA, the Affordable Care Act.

Now comes Blogger Ann Althouse with comments on the upcoming SCOTUS hearing on ACA.

Regards  —  Cliff

Allred's Law

Just now Neal has sent along this definition of "Allred's Law",  a definition based upon, apparently, observation:
Allred's Law:  As feigned Leftist outrage grows louder, the probability of Gloria Allred using it to be-clown herself approaches 1.

Corollary to Allred's Law:  When Allred be-clowns herself, the feigned Leftist outrage has run its course.
Gee, I sure hope the Corollary is correct.

Regards  —  Cliff

  As in Lawyer Gloria Allred.  A Philly girl.

Paying for Birth Control

OK, maybe Sandra Fluke was right.  Maybe the cost of birth control is too high and the Federal Government needs to step in.  See this story, out of Detroit.

Yes, I realize this doesn't handle the cost of dealing with other medical problems, as opposed to pregnancy prevention, per se.

[Insert pro forma condemnation of Rush Limbaugh's language]

[Insert pro forma comment about how Bill Maher, Keith Olberman, Matt Taibbi, etc. aren't held to the same standard]

[Insert pro forma comment about how the real issue, lost in the noise, is First Amendment Rights]

Regards  —  Cliff

  Given the state of the economy, probably with Pixie Dust.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

She Voted For Obama In 08

That is Law Professor Ann Althouse, who comments on an article in The New York Times, "Centrist Women Tell of Disenchantment With G.O.P.".

Is having the government provide birth control medicine or devices a right?  A right guaranteed by the US Constitution, or stated in the Declaration of Independence?  This is a question I am trying to get one of my relatives to answer after an accusation was leveled that I wanted to deprive Ms Sandra Fluke of her "rights".  (I don't even want to know if Ms Fluke is having sex, but I don't see it as my job to pay to facilitate it.)

I will say that the Democratic Party has played this very well so far.

[Insert pro forma condemnation of Rush Limbaugh's language]

[Insert pro forma comment about how Bill Maher, Keith Olberman, Matt Taibbi, etc. aren't held to the same standard]

[Insert pro forma comment about how the real issue, lost in the noise, is First Amendment Rights]

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Movie Gedunks

When you go to the movies and want popcorn or a soda, you go to a gedunk. They may not call it that, but that is what it is. The prices are high, but worse, the selection can be somewhat limited. Want Diet-Coke? Too bad, we only sell Diet-Pepsi. While half the world can't taste the difference, the other half actually can and they don't want Pepsi (or Coke, depending).

Now someone is taking action.  There is a law suit filed in Michigan.  Odds are against the suit, per a person quoted in the linked ABA Journal article.  Still, hope springs eternal (Alexander Pope).

See you at the movies.

Regards  —  Cliff

Blogger Unhappy With DOJ

Kad Barma has reacted to the explanations from the US Department of Justice for the targeted killing of US Citizens.

WARNING:  Strong words used in articulating his position.  You can almost sense him reaching for stronger words.

Regards  —  Cliff

Fixing Student Debt Problems, Or Not

Someone sent my EMail address to Nation of Change.  I suspect my Middle Brother.  Best I can tell Nation of Change is an amalgam of Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now", Occupy Wall Street and the Elizabeth Warren Senatorial Campaign.

At any rate, they have an article up on the student debt problem, part of the larger education bubble issue.

Member of Congress Hansen Clarke (D-MI) has released HR 4170, the Student Loan Forgiveness Act.  It's sponsor claims that the bill, if enacted, would stimulate the economy and protect people struggling to repay their student loans.  From the article:
Clark announced, “It’s time for Congress to stand for the rights of student loan borrowers. It’s time to forgive these student loan debts.”

The bill provides that if a student loan borrower makes payments equal to 10% of their discretionary income for a period of 10 yrs, the balance of their federal student loan debt will be forgiven.
There it is.  While ignoring the hard work of all those students who have paid back their college loans, we are going to help those who haven't.

The reason this is being referred jointly to the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and in addition to the Committees on Foreign Affairs, and Armed Services may be this part of the bill, where Pixie Dust is sprinkled:
Funds appropriated or otherwise made available for a fiscal year to carry out this Act and the amendments made by this Act shall be made available from the funds available for Overseas Contingency Operations.
Overseas Contingency Operations are "Off Budget".  Now, if this gets to the US Senate, the Majority Leader, Harry Reid, won't understand the concept of Off Budget, since the US Senate hasn't acted on a budget in over one thousands days, but that is a different issue.

The way to understand this funding is to think of it as coming from the pool of money paying for military operations in Afghanistan.  Put another way, it is underfunding operations being conducted by our Service men and women engaged in combat or combat support.  Yes, it is possible there is some surplus from our exit from Iraq, but remember, Overseas Contingency Operations are paid for by a loan to ourselves; that is, we print money and hope against hyperinflation.  So far, so good.

Speaking of inflation, this act would cap student loan interest at 3.4%, which means I will get precious little interest on my money in savings.  That, in turn, will help explain why people won't put their money in savings.

Regards  —  Cliff

  It's latest official title is "To increase purchasing power, strengthen economic recovery, and restore fairness in financing higher education in the United States through student loan forgiveness, caps on interest rates on Federal student loans, and refinancing opportunities for private borrowers, and for other purposes".

Gloria For [the] Prosecution

Lawyer and TV Personality Gloria Allred thinks that Radio Personality Rush Limbaugh should be prosecuted, under Florida law, for his characterization of Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke.  Here is one view of that, from UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh.

Based on a comment Friday, at 5:14 APM, by "Patent Lawyer" ("This fight is getting too long and too stupid to waste time composing paragraphs on it."):

[Insert pro forma condemnation of Rush Limbaugh's language]

[Insert pro forma comment about how Bill Maher, Keith Olberman, Matt Taibbi, etc. aren't held to the same standard]

[Insert pro forma comment about how the real issue, lost in the noise, is First Amendment Rights]

Hat to to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Legalization of Marijuana

I am stalling before I get down to writing my paper for class.

The Rev Pat Robertson backs legalization of marijuana, per Law Professor Ann Althouse.

Supplemental question:  Does marijuana appear in the Bible?

Regards  —  Cliff

"The Strong Do What They Can"

Re-reading Jack Mitchell's comment regarding showing an ID to vote reminded me of this quote from 2,400 years ago:
... since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.
It is the representatives of Athens talking to the leadership of the neutral island nation of Melos.  The words come to us via Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War.  It is part of the "Melian Dialogue".

Part of American Exceptionalism is believing we don't operate the way Athens did.  Plot spoiler:  In the end, Athens loses, to Sparta, and the surviving people of Melos are restored, from exile, to their island.

Regards  —  Cliff

Talking Past Each Other

At this video clip we have Senator Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta talking past each other on issues of authorization to use military force.

This is a bipartisan problem.  Both parties, when they hold the Executive Branch, tend to ignore or marginalize the US Congress.  The Administration of the day thinks it will be a quick action and over before the 90 days of the War Powers Resolution runs out.  I attribute this to the US Congress having lost it's self respect.

For his part, Mr Panetta doesn't want to say anything that might seem to reduce the President's (any President's) authority to employ military force.

Ignore the comments.  Most are worthless.

What is important is the general question of committing the nation to war and the specific question of the role of Congress in committing US military forces against Syria or Iran.  While we seem to have skated on Libya, the chances of being bogged down in Syria, or having an attack on Iran's nuclear capabilities result in blowback here in these United States, is very real.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Judicial Recusal

Over at the Althouse blog is a comment on a Dane County (Madison), Wisconsin Judge (Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan) who had put a temporary injunction against the new Wisconsin Voter ID law.  It turns out the first defendant in the suit against the law is the Governor, Scott Walker.  The twist is that the judge issuing the ruling signed a petition for the recall of Governor Walker.

Law Professor Althouse asks, "So?"

In the comments are a lot of thoughts about why it is important, although the first comment is:
We would first have to pretend there is such a thing as an "impartial judge" to make this an issue, so I understand Ann's "so?"

Then, further down, about 2:46 PM, comparing rights:
As I understand the theory, it's that showing a picture ID is an unreasonably burdensome obstacle in the way of exercising a constitutional right.

I reflected on that this past weekend when I purchased a pistol at a gunshow.  Not only did I need to show a picture ID, but I had to fill out a lengthy questionnaire and wait for the feds to clear me over the phone.

There are people who may not lawfully own firearms.  There are people who may not lawfully vote. Why are there different standards for exercising the two rights?  Let's hear it for instant background checks for voters.
OK, so maybe it is a bit over the top, but it is questions like this that put the issue into some context.

In Wisconsin, as of 2002, there were some 222,000 eligible voters who lacked ID.  That would be just over 5% of the voting age population.  I find the number to be surprisingly high, but I then wonder why this large percentage.  The data is from a study by Professor John Pawasarat, used in arriving at the decision to issue a temporary injunction.

Finally, who are these people who have no ID and yet wish to vote?  They appear to live in a phone booth and not cash checks or use credit cards.  Do people bring them food?  Are they part of the homeless, and if so, are they not part of the statistical gathering operation, and how does Lowell keep from double counting them, or not counting them at all.

People conjure up our past history of denying Blacks, Irish, sailors and others the right to vote.  Today that list is pretty much down to sailors.

Regards  —  Cliff

Rick Santorum on Separation of Church and State

As, the separation of Church and State.  Is there anyone without a strong position on this?

From The New York Times we have Stanley Fish writing "Rick Santorum Isn’t Crazy".  I will do the first three paragraphs of a longish OpEd:
Media pundits have been beating up on Rick Santorum for saying that the assertion of an absolute separation of church and state makes him want to throw up, for attacking John F. Kennedy’s pledge to be “a president whose religious views are his own private affair” and for declaring that “the idea that the church can have no influence in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and visions of our country.”

In response, commentators have advised Santorum to read the Constitution, urged him to become familiar with the pronouncements of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson and chastised him for “bashing … the Constitution’s mandate that there should be separation between church and state.”

Well, if that’s the Constitution’s mandate, I guess a number of Supreme Court justices and A-list legal academics have somehow missed the message.  In Wallace v. Jaffree (1985), Justice William Rehnquist called the “wall of separation” a “metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging” and “should be frankly and explicitly abandoned.”  Justice Potter Stewart frequently complained that decisions based on a doctrine of strict separation display a hostility to religion and threaten to establish a “religion of secularism.”  Stewart was fond of citing Justice William O. Douglas’s pronouncement in Zorach v. Clauson (1952) that “We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a supreme being.”  Similar sentiments have been expressed by Justices Warren E. Burger, Byron White, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
And on it goes from there.  The law seems to meander over the field and there is no "wall of separation", as such.

As for myself, I believer that no religion, or sect, or view of how man came to be man, should be allowed to dominate and suppress other views.  As to leaving one's views outside the marketplace of ideas, I just don't yet know how one would do that.

Hat tip to my Brother, Lance.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Back-Alley Vasectomies?"

Those are Rush Limbaugh's words after he heard that Missouri State House member Stacey Newman, a Democrat, frustrated with recent legislative debates over birth control and reproductive health, is proposing to more closely regulate vasectomies.

I got that link from a blog post at the Althouse blog.  She titles the post with a 1916 quote from H L Mencken:
Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
It would seem that Democrats are having a hay day with this birth control issue.  First we had George Stephanopoulos ask Candidate Mitt Romney about birth control, which Gov Romney told him was a non-issue.  That answer made sense to me.  My Faith says use of artificial birth control is a sin.  That said, it has been decades since SCOTUS has ruled that it is legal to purchase such items and they have come out from under the counter.

Then, the Administration issued new guidelines on paying for birth control, which ignited a lot of dissension from religious leaders—First Amendment and all that.  Just recently the President of the Senate, Mr Joe Biden, was quoted by The Hill as saying:
"The fact of the matter is, the ultimate resolution to this problem is where it should have been in the first place," the vice president said.  "I was the one that was tasked to meet with the National Conference of Bishops, and others and Cardinal [Tim] Dolan, to talk about this."
But, even so, some pressed on, like former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

I would like to state, before I continue, that two of the words chosen by Mr Rush Limbaugh, last week, to describe the young woman who testified to a rump session of the Rep Issas committee, arranged by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Ms Sandra Fluke, a student at Georgetown Law School , were unacceptable in polite company and, in fact, brought embarrassment to many of us who otherwise thought that Ms Fluke was over the top in her testimony.  As it turns out, Mr Limbaugh was even more over the top.

Ms Fluke testified that birth control was costing her $1,000 per year or $3,000 over her three years at Georgetown University Law School.  The question Ms Fluke put to the rump subcommittee before which she testified was why some institution (Georgetown) shouldn't pay for her birth control while she was in law school.  With the nation trillions in debt, Ms Fluke wants to create another mandate for spending.  This was presented in terms of women's health, a current Democratic Party theme for warding off the evil Republicans this year.

Over at the Althouse blog, Tim summed up the economics of this, as explained to us before Ms Fluke got involved, by Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Honorable Kathleen Sebelius:
Birth control is too expensive and too complicated for individuals to purchase, so we'll make health insurers cover it, free of charge.  And for those of you concerned about this increasing the cost of your insurance, don't worry.  Birth control is cheap and simple, so this won't increase premiums at all.
As for Ms Fluke, unless she has special problems, $3,000 for three years of birth control is way over the top.  The number is closer to $9 per month, or $324 for three years.  If Ms Fluke is normal and if no one tells my wife, I will cover Ms Fluke's birth control expenses for the three years.

But, the final issue isn't paying for her birth control, but Ms Fluke's reaction to the apology by Mr Limbaugh.  I heard the apology.  Seemed like a pretty good one to me.  I thought, listening to it, that perhaps Mrs Limbaugh had explained to Rush how the cow ate the cabbage.  However, Ms Fluke is not accepting the apology.

I guess if she has already dismissed Mr Limbaugh as a jerk, rejecting the apology is one way to play it, and accepting it, with her own spin, is the other.  The second makes her seem like the bigger person, although she should avoid beers in the Rose Garden with Mr Limbaugh and the President and Veep.

On the other hand, if he really hurt her, rejecting the apology and nursing this wound will not go well for her over the long run.  She might consider talking to her spiritual director.

But, back to the national level issue, it seems to me that the Democratic Party operatives, or perhaps it is the Cook County Contingent, have managed to create out of nothing a major issue that they hope to wield to separate women from the Republican candidates.  They are doing an excellent job.  The Republicans have yet to regain their footing.

As a final note, my middle brother, Lance, who sometimes comments here, has been bugging me for two days about this post and when it is going up.  He is the one who, for Christmas, donates money to some United Nations activity, in my name.  In response, for his recent birthday I told him I was donating money to the Scott Brown campaign in his name.

Regards  —  Cliff

  It appears that Ms Fluke applied to and accepted admittance to Georgetown Law School fully understanding the position of the Roman Catholic Church on the issue of artificial birth control and that Georgetown was and is a Roman Catholic institution.  It has been suggested Ms Fluke picked Georgetown so she could pick a fight.  On the other hand, Law Professor Ann Althouse tells us that such students are the ones most prized by law schools, smart and with an edge.

Bombing Iran

Retired Marine Colonel T.X. Hammes says it is a bad idea.  Dr. T. X. Hammes is a Senior Research Fellow at the National Defense University.  The lede:
The current debate on whether or not to bomb Iran is being framed as a false choice.  Proponents state we must bomb Iran to keep it from developing a nuclear weapon.  Yet in the same statement they often admit that even an effective bombing campaign will delay the program only a few years.  Thus, the real choice being offered is not to bomb Iran or face an Iran with nuclear weapons.  The real choice is facing an Iran with nuclear weapons or facing an Iran with nuclear weapons after you have bombed it.
I am sure there are some who think we can just bomb Iran until all 75 million Iranians are no more, but frankly that is a non-starter.  Besides, we need to keep in mind that the agent of Iran, Hezbollah, is already imbedded deep in Latin America.  We are not totally safe behind our ocean barriers.

And, here is a 2 March 2012 OpEd in The Washington Post, by Associate Professor Colin H. Kahl, of Georgetown University, and from 2009 to 2011, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for the Middle East.  The concluding paragraph reads:
Barely a week after the Osirak raid, [Israeli Prime Minister] Begin told CBS News that the attack “will be a precedent for every future government in Israel.”  Yet, if history repeats itself, an Israeli attack would result in a wounded adversary more determined than ever to get a nuclear bomb.  And then the world would face the same terrible choices it ultimately faced with Iraq:  decades of containment to stall nuclear rebuilding efforts, invasion and occupation — or acquiescence to an implacable nuclear-armed foe.
There are no easy choices out there.  I think that now is the time to talk and wait, looking for an opening.  Now is the time for both the US and Israel to wait.

There are no good choices right now.  Let us wait for a good choice to develop.

Regards  —  Cliff

Super Tuesday

Please remember to vote today.

And for you Republians, Michele Bachmann is still on the ballot, as well as Rick Perry.

And, in Ward 1, Lowell, even your's truly.

Regards  —  Cliff