Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Visitor to Boston

Apparently Mr David Axelrod went to Boston today.  His goal, it seems, was to take advantage of the venue of Beacon Hill to talk about the Governorship of Mitt Romney.  He ended up getting asked about Democratic Party Senate Primary Candidate Elizabeth Warren and her claim of Native American heritage.  And, he got booed.

Here is a report from a blog at The New York Times.

It looks to be a long, hot and uninformative Summer.

Hat tip to The Drudge Report.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Actually, it seems a little unfair to be all over Governor Romney, given how the Democrats used to denigrate George W Bush for being Governor in a "weak governor" state.  Massachusetts government is like that in the UK.  A strong General Court, a Governor's Council, like the Privy Council and a figurehead monarch.
  Remember, she first has to finish off Ms Marisa DeFranco, esq.
  Then there is Sir Winston's Iroquois heritage, although denigrated by some.

A Changing Future

Some comments from New Scientist on "Future-Proofing Your Career".  Three keys to being successful over a 45 year working career.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Reynolds' Law

Reynolds' Law, not to be confused with Reynolds Number.
Subsidizing the markers of status doesn’t produce the character traits that result in that status; it undermines them.
This comes from a year and a half old post at The View from Alexandria.  The larger quote from Professor Reynolds was:
The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.
Food for thought.  Which end of the telescope are we using to view this issue?

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Very strange.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Value for Taxpayers

This AM I was at Dunkin Donuts on Route 38 here in Lowell.  I was in my car, about to pull out of the parking lot when I noted a silver Honda next to me with white smoke pouring out from the front hood area.  The young lady driving the car had gotten out and was looking at it, but without an apparent plan.  I got out of my car, wondering where my fire extinguisher was, when I notice a Lowell "Emeergency Management" SUV parked next to me and the driver walking toward the building.  I said "Excuse me." and asked if he had a fire extinguisher and noted the white smoke to the gentleman.  He said he did not, but immediately got on the horn and within 90 seconds there was a fire engine there and firemen checking the car.  Ninety seconds later a Police Cruiser pulled up and the officer stepped out.

Turned out the radiator had boiled over.  Good news for all.

I was impressed by the quick response, but also by the very positive and friendly attitude off all the Lowell emergency response personnel.  Made me proud as a citizen and made by feel my tax dollars are being well spent.

Regards  —  Cliff

Dueling Polls

Over at Reuters we have a story that says "Weary Warriors Support Obama".  Score one for the Obama side.

Then comes The Hill with a poll that says "Poll:  Romney tops Obama by 28 points among male veterans".  Female veterans break for Obama 47% to 42.  The Gallup Poll cited by The Hill says that the age of the veteran makes little difference.

Oh well, it is still early days in this campaign and there are a lot of important elections before we even get to our Party Conventions—Wisconsin, Egypt, Greece, Mexico, and probably others.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Regards  —  Cliff

Get 'er Done

Michael Hollenback, with whom we went to UMass Lowell Continuing Ed, had this quote on Facebook late Sunday:
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.
Words to operate by.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day II

Dave Dilegge has a post up at Small Wars Journal on Memorial Day back in 1868.  It is General Order Number 11, promulgated 5 May 1868, Washington, DC, by the Grand Army of the Republic.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  The General Logan signing GO #11 is not the General Logan of airport fame.

Memorial Day

A Mark Finkelstein goes after Reporter Chris Hayes of MSNBC for saying he is uncomfortable calling our war dead "Heroes".  I am also, but not for the reason put forward by Mr Hayes; "uncomfortable, about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war".  Weak.

My reason is that war is Radom and quirky.  My Pilot Training Roommate, Addo Kommandant, bought it very early in his first tour out of Cam Rahn Bay, when his Front Seater ran into a mountain in bad weather.  My Freshman year roommate, Alan Trent, bought it on a low level weaPons delivery pass in South Viet-nam.  The "Golden BB".  The chap who sat next to me in the last row of the bottom section of third year EE, Karl Richter (actually, I think Lin Bothwell sat between us) died on his 200th mission (100 being a full tour) when he was forced to eject, got a good chute and then smashed into some karst on the way down.  They were men doing their job and were unlucky.  They were like my wife's late husband, who died in an F-4C accident off Okinawa in 1965.

The thing about all of them is that they heeded the call to action and went.  But I want to save the term Hero for the likes of Lance Sijan.  A year behind me at the Air Force Academy, he was born only three days after me.

War doesn't exist because of heroes.  War exists because a nation is afraid, or a nation feels the need to impose its ideology or religion on others, or, once in a while, to end cruelty.  In the past wars have existed as nations tried to find living space.  As Dead Carl says, "War is a trinity of the People, the Government and the Military".  Heroes are a byproduct, but then we even have heroes in peacetime.

But, whether Heroes or the victims of fate, we should honor all our fallen, fallen in wartime or peacetime, because all were ready and willing to serve.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Aviator Earnest K Gann wrote a book, Fate is the Hunter, which looks at luck in the aviation dodge.  Lin struggled with the hard sciences.  As I recall, he was my roommate first semester of our senior year, when he busted not only EE (remember, last row, bottom section, and we sectioned and sat based upon our standing in each particular class), but also Aero and Astro.  He was "that close" and washed out.  He later went on to get a PhD from Harvard, but in a "soft" science.  He was willing, but the Dean of Academics was not.  Fate.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happy Birthday

Today is Pentacost Sunday, often called the Birthday of the Church.

Friday I was out in the street in front of my house, talking to John McDonough and his Granddaughter Zoe, when his competitor, Jimmy O'Donnell, called my cell phone.  My first thought was "What do these two businessmen know that I don't know.  But, it turned out to be Mr O'Donnell asking me to cover for him at the Saturday Four O'clock Mass.  I said yes, of course.

When I got to the Church to prepare I found that for the Pentacost Vigal there were several options for the First Reading, including the 37th Chapter of Ezekiel.  Since we don't have a dominating Liturgy Committee and I had no other guidance I picked the "dry bones" reading, with its wonderful cadence (and the words and beat of that classic spiritual repeating in the back of my mind).

Later, my Wife would point out to me that "it wasn't in the Missilette".  That didn't bother me one bit, since it was one of the approved readings.  And besides, the Congregation is supposed to be listening to me declaim the reading, not trying to follow along in a booklet.  Not because it is me, but because it is the Word of the Lord.

Just as an aside, the Parish is always looking for folks who want to be readers, which would allow us to spread the work around.  Even better would be choir members.  If you can sing (I can't) you can sing in our choir.  Just talk to the organist after the Four or the Nine.

The one thing that did disappoint me was that the recessional, on this joyous occasion, wasn't "Dem Dry Bones".

The Reading, and the hymn, talk to rebirth and to God's love for His People.

Regards  —  Cliff

This is Rubbish

The Janesville (Wisconsin) Superintendent of Schools Karen Schulte is against publishing salaries of employees of the PUBLIC School System.  It is public money and it is for a public purpose.  Of course there should be full and open accounting for the public.  Otherwise we don't know if things have gone off the rails in the school system.  This all came up when someone started passing this information around a few days ago.

Yes, this is a reversal from my normal mode of lauding Janesville, and especially its attention to having long term city managers, people with competency, continuity and strategic vision.

And, it isn't like the information isn't in the public domain.  It is just that the School Department and the Union object to people actually looking at it.


And here is the Althouse blog post on the issue, with comments.

We need to learn to be honest and open with ourselves.  Yes, in private industry it is all very hush-hush, but this is not private industry.  It is public service.  Fair and open.

Regards  —  Cliff

Lower Financial Rating

It is Newsmax, but still, the story is grim.—Financial Downgrade for the US Government if we don't fix the federal debt problem.

This isn't about the Republican Majority in the House of Representatives asking for some action before they vote to raise the debt ceiling.  This is about rating agencies downgrading the US rating if we don't put forward a plan to fix the debt problem.

Regards  —  Cliff

Facebook and the Arab Spring

Over at National Review Canadian Commenter Mark Steyn is being cranky about the Arab Spring in general and Egypt in particular. There is always the question as to if Democracy means the right of the majority to vote in a dictatorship and abolish democracy (and minority rights).

Regards  —  Cliff

  He actually lives in New Hampshire.

Middle East to WHEM—Oil Production Shifts

The Washington Post has an article titled "Center of gravity in oil world shifts to Americas".

This should not be a shock.  I remember, in the Seventies, when the UK and Norway were big producers just then coming on line.  But, it won't last for ever.  Will our Department of Energy (DOE) ever give us a breakthrough or will they just continue to spend $24 Billion (of our money) each year?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Granted, ten billion goes for nuclear weapons custody and maintenance. A little known fact is that all US nuclear weapons belong DOE, and are on loan to DoD.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Contingency Planning for a Euro Collapse

Concern about a hard landing if Greece pulls out of the Euro Zone and then experiences economic collapse is causing the UK to consider measures to stem the tide of mass immigration as Greek citizens of the EU seek jobs.  This concern for economic collapse includes other members of the PIIGS—Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

Spain's larges bank has ask for a 15 Billion Pound bailout.  Fifteen Billion Pounds is north of $15 Billion.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, May 25, 2012

Good News in Space

SpaceX's Dragon makes contact with the International Space Station.  This is an historic moment, and given the retirement of the Shuttle, a relief to those of us who think we are and should continue to be a space faring People.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Couric Invite to Palin

This might be interesting if it was real give and take.

It would probably be the high water mark, ratings wise, for Katie's new show, debuting on NBC in September.  The cringe factor would be huge.

Regards  –  Cliff

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Regulating Space

One of those things out there is a proposal for a Space Code of Conduct.  From The Christian Science Monitor:
There's been some pushing and shoving lately to establish a global "Code of Conduct" for outer space — a protection clause for various international factions keen on preventing nefarious actions by others in the final frontier.
And here is the official position of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from January of this year.

It turns out that Congress, or at least the House of Representatives, is concerned about the Executive Branch negotiating such an agreement but not submitting it to the US Senate for ratification.  However, such an Executive Agreement would allow Cabinet Agencies to issue rules for those US Citizens (and Firms) going into space, based upon the Agreement.

Sometimes it isn't about party, but about separation of powers.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, May 21, 2012

Democratic Primary

From The Instapundit is a link to an article in The Boston Herald on the Democratic Party Primary for the chance to run against Senator Scott Brown.  They did manage to get out the name Marisa Defranco.  Congrats for that.

Regards  —  Cliff


Senior Writer Jen Myers, of The [Lowell] Sun posted a comment at Left in Lowell about the misunderstanding over whether I am open to running for a seat in 2013, whether there Is an appointment to fill an open Mike Lenzi seat or not.  For the record, I am.

I apologize if I misspoke or mislead Ms Myers in any way—or spoke and then later thought better of it and forgot the original comment.  Not running was never my intention.  When I saw the original Sun Blog post I thought it was an error on the part of Mr Chris Camire and made a comment on my own blog.   I should have called The Sun, but didn't want to be bugging people doing real work.

In other news, this AM on "City Life" current incumbent George O'Hare suggested Terry McCarthy might seek the seat.  Since someone jokingly suggested this to him yesterday morning, in my presence, and he denied the rumor, I thought it was interesting and called him.  He called back from the links, where he is participating in a Charity Golf Event.  He affirmed that he s NOT interested in the seat.  There is a lot of flux out there and while Gerry Nutter may have correctly handicapped the race, I think there will be a lot more change before it gets to the vote for the Voke.

Regards  —  Cliff

Homestead Act.

I missed it, but yesterday was the 150th Anniversary of the Homestead Act.  This is the Federal Homestead Act.

From the lede in a Wall Street Journal article we have this:
One hundred and fifty years ago, on May 20, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed a bill that transformed the country. The Homestead Act offered 160 acres of free public land to settlers who would build a home on it and farm it for at least five years. Anyone 21 years old who was either a citizen or declared the intention to become one could stake a claim.
Two things pop out at me about this.
  1. This act was passed and signed in the middle of a big war, when we were drafting men to go fight, and,
  2. You didn't have to actually be a citizen as long as you had declared the intention of becoming a citizen.
Citizenship is important.  It is like getting married.  It is a commitment.  In my mind, one of the questions about illegal immigrants (undocumented immigrants) is if they are here for work or here to become US Citizens.  For me that is a clear distinction.  The former are to be closely regulated, both to protect them and to protect US citizens, who should have first call on work here in the United States.  The second are to be welcomed to our Republic, because they embrace our Republic and its ideals.  On the other hand, queue-jumping needs to be discouraged.

And, there is some upper limit to the number of immigrants we can absorb at any one moment.  We should be aware of that.

Congratulations to the Republicans of 1862.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I do think that we should change our laws so that those who become US Citizens are asked to renounce their previous allegiences.  Today dual citizenship is allowed.  I don't think it makes sense.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Column on Sunday

Just a little while ago I called the office phone of Senior Writer Jen Myers about an excess comma and four words in today's edition of "The Column".  I got the Evening Duty Reporter and left my message for Ms Myers, in hope she would make sure the right person got it.

I admit that I was not aggressive enough in pointing out an earlier version of this error, found in the Blog of The [Lowell] Sun.

But, first, a part of today's "Column" was devoted to speculation about who might be appointed to replace Mr Mike Lenzi on the GLTHS School Committee, if and when he and his wife move into their recently purchased home in Dracut.  This was after a discussion of proper attire for City Officials.  I recommend one and all stop by Dapper District from time to time for advice.  The Blogger, Lee Warren, has good insights and suggestions.

But, back to the GLTHS issue.  The Column lays out the reason Mr Lenzi might step down and then goes on to list those who have thrown or might throw their hat in the ring.  In addition, the include comments by someone who was being mentioned earlier as a candidate, Ms Regina Faticanti.  In saying she was not putting her name forward she said some very nice things about me.  Modesty requires that I not quote directly, but I do thank you, Regina.

Now, to the comma and the four words.  The Column says, in part:
Krieger was approached by Lowell School Committee member Kim Scott.  He said he would be honored to serve until the election, and will not run.
As Mimi points out on Left in Lowell, this is not the first time The Sun has said I would not run for the subsequent election if appointed.   I dealt with this in an earlier blog post, here.

Taking the option of running in the subsequent election off the table is to diminish one's effectiveness, since others would be able to conclude that the appointed person, whoever it might be, could be waited out.  Bureaucracies do that sort of thing from time to time.

So, I will be applying for the post held by the Esteemed Mr Lenzi, if and when he steps down, and I am already beginning to think about the implications of the subsequent election season, whether I am appointed to the GLTHS School Committee or not.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Ms Faticanti and I have a common interest in the issue of Terrorism and from time to time we exchange information on studies and reports.
  Thanks, Mimi.

Michael Lenzi Moving?

The [Lowell] Sun reports on GLTHS School Committee member Michael Lenzi purchasing a home in Dracut.  The location is 7 Brianna Way, near the home of former Lowell City Council member Alan Kazanjian.  Interestingly enough, Mr Lenzi served on the City Council with Mr Kazanjian.

In the article is some speculation as to who might seek appointment to the post.  Appointment would be for less than two years and would require eight votes of the Lowell City Council and School Committee, combined.

When does this evolution get executed? 
While Lenzi said he hopes to make the move to Dracut before his term expires, he is no rush to put his home on the market.

He said May and June are busy months in his Dracut-based catering business.
Time will tell.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wisconsin Recall Update

Here is an update on the Wisconsin Recall Election, due Tuesday, 5 June.  Professor Althouse doesn't seem to think the Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, is able to articulate a solution to Wisconsin's budget problems from a year ago, when current Governor Scott Walker beat Mr Barrett in the general election.

Regards  —  Cliff

Protesting at W-Sick

From the Daily Caller we have this item, "Seven Women Protest Rush for NOW's Big Day of Protest".  The station was Washington DC's 630 AM, WMAL.

On the one hand, I feel bad for Rush Limbaugh, that he can only draw seven protestors in our Nation's Capitol.  On the other hand, WMAL has been known to let people go.  Look at the Fred Grandy imbroglio from early 2011. And, they dumped Chris Core.  Why should Rush be any different?

I blame NOW.

Or the fact that Rush touched a nerve, a buried nerve, and the Democratic Party and it's friends and allies in it's "war against women" meme didn't realize it.

Regards  —  Cliff

  A while back, when our own WCAP was changing hands, the owners of WMAL offered good money for our local call letters, which would have fit well in the nation's CAPitol.

Growing Older

From Hot Air we have this post on a Father and a son, who both flew the same F-15 EAGLE, at the same base on Okinawa, 30 years apart.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Polling—The Military

If the election were held today, Obama would win the veteran vote by as much as seven points over Romney, higher than his margin in the general population.
This is the take-away for me from a recent Reuters Poll.

Interesting and counter-intuitive.

Regards  —  Cliff

When Will It Go Away?

I started this last night, and then abandoned it, but a post by Ms Marjorie Arons-Barron on Dick Howe's blog brought it back up, by trying to quash the discussion of Professor Elizabeth Warren's heritage.  I think Ms Arons-Barron does interesting pieces and sometimes I comment on them, but this time I will comment here by bringing back this item.

It started when I was down around Logan, to retrieve my wife, who had flown up from Dulles.  At 3 p.m. I tuned into WBUR, 90.9, and the show Radio Boston with Meghna Chakrabarti and Anthony Brooks.  One of the topics was Professor Elizabeth Warren's heritage.

Frankly, I was surprised that NPR was giving any attention to this, given their political slant.  But they were.  Sure, there was Jeff Jacoby on the show, but also John Carroll.  I think this issue has moved into its own space and become a sort of parody for the absurdity of some of the lengths to which we go in the name of affirmative action.  As I suggested in a comment at Left in Lowell, if you have been in a hiring or promoting position and you have not given a leg up to someone who was in one way or another part of the "approved set" of applicants, then you are not helping execute the American Dream.  Don't always go for the Ivy League applicant of the set before you.  Once in a while go for the Land Grant College applicant or the A&E applicant.  Look for the other qualities, which may be of value in the short or long term.  Don't always make the easy choice.

The problem is, the Elizabeth Warren story has, as Ms Arons-Barron says, distracted us.
Thankfully, most people understand that there are bigger issues in this campaign, not the least of which is Scott Brown’s efforts to gut strong regulatory support of the Volcker Rule. He may be heeding his heavy level of financial backing from Wall Street at a time when the nation needs to stand firm on financial regulation, rather than watering it down.
Yeah, right.  The real issue is if, or if not, Keynes is the path to take.  As for financial regulation, if Dodd-Frank didn't save us from the CityBank $2 billion loss, how much regulation will?  If you said bring back Glass-Steagall, like the Lyndon LaRouche types suggest, I might be interesting in hearing your story.

As for this paragraph:
The Cherokee story has staying power because its gives Brown an opportunity to pander to white male independents.  It’s easier for reporters, columnists and bloggers to write about because it doesn’t require explaining the significance of procedural votes or delving into complex (sometimes boring) substance.
We do realize, don't we, that the Republicans were the first ones to elect a US Vice President with Native American blood, albeit not Cherokee?  Can we move beyond the "Republicans are racists" meme?

And, yes, I am still planning on voting for the "centerfold".

Regards  —  Cliff

  For those following the sub-plot, Lukas is up to five and a quarter pounds.

Poking A Slumbering Germany

A classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Victor Davis Hanson, has written about the European debt crisis from the point of viewpoint of Germany, rather than Greece:
The newly elected French Socialist president, François Hollande, is warning Germany that Mediterranean ideas of “growth,” not Germanic “austerity,” should be the new European creed.  No surprise there — reckless debtors often blame their own past imprudence on greedy creditors, especially if the latter are supposed to be guilt-ridden over causing two world wars.

All over Europe, the gospel is that tight-fisted Germans are at the root of the European Union meltdown:  They worked too hard, saved too much, bought too little, and borrowed not at all.  All that may be true, in theory.  But, in fact, faulting thrift and industry is a prescription for incurring anger and guaranteeing backlash — especially in the case of the Germans, who are now being asked to provide even more capital to help other European economies recover.

There is one general rule about the history of the modern state of Germany since its inception in 1871:  Anytime Germany has been both unified and isolated, armed conflict has followed.
The situation in Europe is tense.  The PIIGS are in economic trouble.  How are the nations with big debt and few internal solutions to be rescued?  The Greek political parties failed to form a Government and now they are facing elections on 17 June.  The previous elections were 2 May, of this year.  Italy seems to be threatened by the Greek crisis.  And on it goes.

The question is, will the new French President, Francois Hollande, try and roll the Germans?  If he tries it might not come out well.  Even the Obama Administration has suggested that he move slowly.

In Europe we are seeing the great struggle between Keynes and Austerity.  The Germans are backing Austerity—it works for them—and a number of the others—but not all—want a Keynesian pump priming.

I do think there is some confusion about taxing people.  President Hollande wishes to tax the wealthy.  However, in one form or another everyone pays a "tax".  If the Keynesian approach does not grow the economy, then those on the bottom are being "taxed" by not having jobs and a chance to move up.  On the other hand, if the Austerity advocates do not ensure that those out of work are not in depredation, then there will be a move to radical political parties of various flavors, but which all are bad for comity.  The question is, how do we expand the pie so all get a bigger portion.

But, back to Germany, as one person noted with regard to this article,
Well, failure to learn history from the records means another lab class and a field trip.
I laughed out loud when I read that.  Laughed because it was so true and it was better than crying.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain.
  I picked this link for the beautiful picture of the Frecce Tricolori over Rome, with the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, to the right.

Pacific Security Cooperation

Here is some good news on the international front.  Some others are stepping up to take some responsibility for their own security.  This from Night Watch from last night:
Japan-Australia:  Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba on May 18 signed an intelligence-sharing agreement in Tokyo, Japan Today reported.  The two nations are strategic partners and need to increase the strength of their security relationship, Gemba said.

Comment: This agreement could not take place without the tacit encouragement of the US, which has intelligence sharing relations with both nations.  The larger implication is that the Asia-Pacific countries are taking back from the US responsibility for their own security affairs, as they should.  This is tonight's good news.

The next steps are to link up with South Korea and then persuade India to cooperate more forthrightly.  Then all the great and powerful democracies and the finest armed forces of Asia and the Pacific region will be linked.
I do think it will be a while before India joins this group.  Geography matters and they are down around the corner.  And, there are other complications.  This from an expert in the region:
One of the fundamental, underlying flaws with so many hopes and presumptions of Asian, not just NE Asian, multilateralism is the fundamental lack of defined borders as we have in Europe.  There simply has been no equivalent to the Helsinki agreement which set the current European borders as final.  Thus, no one argues any more about Alsace, Lorraine, Sudetenland, Silesia.

But in Asia, in many cases, they can't even agree on the NAMES, b/c each side is adamant about its claims. Is it Dok-do or Takeshima? Senkaku or Diaoyutai?  Scarborough Shoal, Panatag, or Huangyan?  Spratlys or Nansha or Bai Cat Vang, among others?  For that matter, is it the Sea of Japan or the East Sea; the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea?

And for all that states sign onto ASEAN declarations or the Law of the Sea, few are prepared to actually submit to binding arbitration. Certainly not in the more prominent cases, especially those involving the PRC. Indeed, in a recent meeting with Chinese officials, they reiterated that matters of sovereignty are not subject to foreign, and especially American, pressure. But, to be fair, it's not as though anyone else is willing to risk losing their claims to various territories (and the waters and resources around them).

Of course, geography is but one factor.  Differing views of history (Japanese conduct in World War II being a prominent example), widely differing levels of development (to make the gap between Greece and Germany appear minuscule by comparison), different levels of political influence (Laos and Cambodia are seen as Chinese surrogates within ASEAN), all clearly affect the willingness of states to interoperate.  When I've asked Singaporeans about the Five Power Defence Arrangement (involving Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK), they speak of it fairly enthusiastically, pointing out that it's the only multilateral defense situation (NOT an agreement nor a treaty) in Asia.  When I've asked Malaysians about the FPDA, they frequently downplay it as a legacy of either the Cold War or the era of konfrontasi [Confrontation] with the Indonesians.  Most Americans don't think about it at all.
International relations is a messy thing.  That is why we sometimes get wars.  In retrospect the wars don't make any sense, but as they are entered they seem to be very important.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, May 18, 2012

Brain Damage and Suicide

Reporter Carl Prine (does he show up here enough to deserve his own tag?) writes a blog post on brain damage, from football and war.

Well written and informative.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reading is Fundamental

We did NOT make Amazon's top ten list for best read cities.  OK, it is about Amazon purchases and not the Pollard Library, but still…
Lowell needs to be a "Learning City" and that means not only a high level of literacy, but a high level, of reeading.

Those folks down County made the list.  We need to do better next year.  Let's get out and encourage more reading.  It doesn't have to be great literature or heavy policy wonk stuff.  Reading "trash" is reading, and fun for some.  Reading to kids counts.

UPDATE:  Fair shot from Greg re my spelling.  The second time I scanned it I found it.  I ran into Greg at the Mambo Grill yesterday at noontime and was talking with him about religious groups and voting.  Thanks, Greg.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Not Traveling to Timbuktu

From Reuters we have word that an Islamist group is stopping traffic enroute to Timbuktu, effective cutting off the fabled city.  The troublesome group is Ansar Dine, believed to have links to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Timbuktu, in terms of population, is about half the size of Lowell.  It does have a canal.

Ignorance Abounds

I am listening to Bernadine Dohrn as I type.  She is on Channel 8 here in Lowell (on COMCAST) and the show "Democracy Now".  I am amazed at her ignorance.  Has she never heard of the Warsaw Treaty Organization?

UPDATE:  I have been drowning it out with this video, from my Brother-in-Law.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Local Primary

Over at Legal Insurrection, Cornell Law Professor William Jacobson notes that Ms Marisa DeFranco, esq, has filed her signatures to be on the ballot for the Democratic Senatorial Primary.  The vote will be on Thursday, 6 September of this year.

Why yes, there will be a fight for the opportunity to oppose Senator Scott Brown in the November General Election.  But, that fight does pass through the Democratic Convention in June.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Still Primaries to Go

Apparently California has still to hold its Presidential Primary—it is 5 June 2012.

Here is someone from San Diego, pushing Mickey Mouse.

Hat tip to the Instapundit, who is back from vacation.

Regards  —  Cliff

Falklands, Background

Argentina is again making noises about the Falkland Islands, the Malvinas, in their mind.

Reporter Carl Prine gives us a quick background to what may again become a hot war.  Including US play in the history of the Falklands.

Here is the Wikipedia entry on the Falklands.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New Week, Same Problems

Sunday, AP Reporters Olga R Rodriguez and Porfirio Ibarra Rameriz filed a story titled "49 Headless Bodies Dumped on North Mexico Highway".  Here it is at The Denver Post.

One commenter on the story asked a series of questions:
  • As we wind down Iraq/Afghanistan-- are we prepared to address the next lawless, ungoverned region... to our immediate South?
  • Did anyone at the COIN rewrite (FID/irregular warfare/whatever) suggest that the lessons of 8 years in Asia might have immediate value for the Mexican government/police in pursuit of some governance and security for the innocents in the crossfire?
  • Am I out of line to think Mexico should be the US's next national security concern after terrorism/counter proliferation???
  • I don't think a fence is enough -- are we waiting for 50 bodies in Laredo or El Paso before we get really serious in the western hemisphere? . Serious, like, with DoD/IC/State and full-on interagency intervention?
  • I am personally very interested in Mexico but don't have expertise... The plague of narco-terror seems significantly more of a concern than anything that happened in Chiapas '93-'94 with the Zapatistas. I'm not sure the Mexicans can even really say they govern vast swaths of their own territory now.
The response to these points was from a retired Army Colonel and War College Instructor, who is now doing research on activities in Latin America:
Well, welcome to the next insurgency challenge.   You can find lots of information in open-source stuff on the Web, and for a rundown you can pull up the "Crime Wars" study on the CNAS website -- a little dated now (its 18 months old) but still has a good overview on the whole theater.  Hint:  it's not just about the cartels, and it's not just about the border, and it's not just about Mexico.

From what I hear about the COIN conference, it sounds like the Army's not into this (my probably-wrong gut feeling is that if it's not about brigades, it's not going to make the manual. Probably a little harsh).   The Marines, though, are trying to figure out how US military forces play.   It is a very complicated picture, with a lot of US actors already engaged -- border patrol, FBI, CIA, DEA (very important) plus other countries like Colombia.  SF has some people in Mexico and elsewhere, but in Mexico their activities are very circumscribed.
A complicated picture.

Then we have this from noted authority John P. Sullivan:
In addition to "Crime Wars" you might look at my recent working paper "From Drug Wars to Criminal Insurgency:  Mexican Cartels, Criminal Enclaves and Criminal Insurgency in Mexico and Central America.  Implications for Global Security" at the Fondation Maison des sciences de l'homme. 

Also, the archives at SWJ's El Centro page contain several valuable articles on the narco-violence challenge.
This is a problem that is migrating north.  It will make it to the United States, and after that to Massachusetts and eventually to Lowell.  I would think we should act sooner, rather than later.

Regards  —  Cliff

  This is a reference to a recent effort to rewrite the Army/Marine Corps Counter Insurgency (COIN) Manual.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Marriage and Civil Unions

Every once in a while the people over at Nation of Change agree with me.  Such is the case in this OpEd by Dekker Dryer, "Marriage is Already Ruined and Gay People had Nothing to do With it".

I do think Mr Dryer is a little more harsh than I have been, but he gets the point.  The Government should be about contract things and Marriage should be about spiritual things.  "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's."

Regards  —  Cliff

What Are YOU Reading Right Now?

Four Star Admiral and Major NATO Commander Jim Stravitis has out his recommendations for Summer Reading.

I am still plugging away at The Long Argument:  English Puritanism and the Shaping of New England Culture, 1570-1700.  Interesting, but I get bogged down in all the players.

I am, in parallel, reading Mudwoman, about a university president and her travails.

I would put in a poll here, but we are rumbling through North Jersey and the WiFi is sometimes a little spotty, but WiFi is now not just for Acela.  The Northeast Regional has it also, and Route 128 to our Nation's Capitol in under eight hours.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, May 13, 2012

"Occupy" Italy

This can't be good.  According to Reuters, Italy's Interior Minister, Annamaria Cancellieri, is talking about calling in the military to deal with acts against government institution.  We are dealing with translation issues and cultural differences here, so this could be the Carabinieri (a cross between the State Police and the National Guard), or it could be actual Army forces.

And, the fear is a return to the 1970s, with random acts of violence (terrorism).

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Corps, The Corps, The Corps

Someone EMailed me an OpEd by Executive Editor David M Shribman, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, titled "50 years later, MacArthur's farewell to arms continues to inspire".  And, he is correct.  Douglas MacArthur, notwithstanding his being well and properly fired by President Harry S Truman, during the Korean War, has a lot to say to us and this OpEd covers an important part of it..

MacArthur's Farewell Speech to the Corps of Cadets at West Point, given 12 March 1962, is still inspiring, at least to me.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, May 11, 2012

Kim Jung-un's Other Grandfather

As we know, the new leader of the DPRK (North Korea) is the Grandson of the Great Leader, Kim Il-sung.  Now comes Julian Ryall reporting from Tokyo for the South China Morning Post, on the other Grandfather.  It is not a pretty picture.  It appears he was
a collaborator with the Japanese.
A Japanese researcher says he has discovered that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's maternal grandfather worked for the Imperial Japanese Army during the second world war, making uniforms for soldiers whose comrades were hunting Kim's other grandfather, Kim Il-sung.

Such a lineage would technically make Kim Jong-un part of North Korea's "hostile class" and the grandson of a traitor.  That could have "a devastating impact on North Korean society", says researcher Ken

Kato, a Japanese human rights activist who discovered documentation of Kim's ancestor files in military archives in Tokyo and the library of the Japanese parliament, said his evidence that Kim's maternal grandfather—Ko Gyon-tek—was a collaborator undermines his legitimacy.
You don't care and I don't care, but if the North Korean leadership class cares it could mean a succession fight, and that could spill over and then we would care.

Forefathers and mothers—they aren't just in your genes, they are hiding in the archives.

Regards  —  Cliff

Watch Your Tongue In Court

Even in Cook County you are not allowed to use the "S-word".  Even with Rahm [Dead Fish] Emanuel as Mayor.  Frankly, I thought they were talking about sl_t, but I was wrong.  It is le mot de Cambronne.

Regards  —  Cliff

Good News For Voters

Maybe it was Herald overhype that reversed the decision banning bake sales at schools, which often serve as polling places.  I heard the good news on WBUR this AM, driving down the 95 Freeway to University Ave.

Yes, obesity is a problem, in small and subtle, yet profound ways.  There is the increase in diabetes.  As the New York Times Magazine pointed out a couple of weeks ago, it can lead to early menarche, with accompanying social issues.  Heart disease is another problem.

That said, Government banning of bake sales, even if only in schools [at this point in time] seems over the top.  For one thing, it has the appearance of action without striking at any of the real roots.  It may be time for that obscure aphorism, "Don't do something, just stand there"—and do some analysis.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Greece Forming a Government

Sometimes a blogger tries to drive his readership to a specific website and sometimes a blogger just gives the whole thing up in the post.  This is one of the latter.  Night Watch talks about the situation in Greece.
Greece:  Leftist leader Alexis Tsipras gave up his attempt to form a new government on Wednesday, pushing Greece closer to its second election.  The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party refused to join a coalition led by the Coalition of the Radical Left, which rejects the country's International Monetary Fund-EU bailout, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said on 9 May.

The board of the European Financial Stability Facility agreed on Wednesday to make a payment of 5.2 billion euros in emergency aid to Greece, overcoming opposition from some eurozone member states.

Comment:  The failure of the leftists means that Greece must hold another election in 30 days.
Greece is not doing well.  It would not be good if Greece dropped out of the EU or even just the Euro.  Things could unravel, internally or externally or both.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Be Careful With Your Money

CNN is doing us a favor by reporting about a possible scam, the Disabled Veterans National Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., and founded in 2007.  Per CNN reporting, based upon the DVNF reporting to the IRS, little of the donations of hard working Americans is going to Disabled Veterans.

I am not much of a fan of big government, but when it comes to our Veterans, the work of the Department of Veterans Affairs should be covering the needs of those Veterans.  And, it isn't like the VA Secretary doesn't understand.  He lost part of a foot in Viet-nam.

If the VA isn't doing enough then the US Congress needs to investigate and appropriate.  As for charities claiming to help Veterans, we should show caution.  Not ignore.  A friend of mine has been active in the Disable American Veterans.  They are a worthy cause.

Regards  —  Cliff

  An Air Force "Lifer", his injury came while out jogging one early winter morning and a vehicle hit him and drove off, leaving him crippled for life.  The good news is that he has recovered well, if not totally.

Jimmie Davis?

Strategic Analyst James Carville (Corporal Cue Ball) says it is time for Democrats to wake up—they could lose in November.  This is as opposed to Blogger Jack Mitchell's assertion in a recent comment on this humble blog.

Jimmie Davis?  Mr Carville notes:
A long time ago a great three-time governor of Louisiana, Earl Long, said about Jimmie Davis, the two-time not very good governor of Louisiana, "You couldn't wake up Jimmie Davis with an earthquake."
Maybe there will be no earthquake until election day.

Regards  —  Cliff

Then and Now

Michael Totten, guest blogging at The Instapundit, provides some extraordinary photographs from the Former Easter Germany.  Matching pairs, the first photo is right after the Wall came down and the second is sometime later.  The contrast is stark.

If only we could liberate freedom in all peoples.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Sun Blog Says...

I am not a follower of the Blog of the Newspaper of Record, but I was directed over there this afternoon, to view and article on Mr Lenzi and the GLTHS School Committee.  This is a topic already covered by both Gerry Nutter's Lowell and Left in Lowell.  Next Sissy Willis will be talking about it.

The gist of it is that current GLTHS School Committee Member Michael Lenzi is buying (has purchased) property in Dracut and might be moving out of Lowell.  Thus he would forfeit his position on the School Committee and someone would have to be appointed to take his place.

The thing that did get my attention was that the Reporter, Chris Scott, right after reviewing former School Committee Member Michael Hayden's bid to return to the job, mentions my name.  I won't be coy.  Lowell School Committee Member Kim Scott asked me if I would be interested and I said that I would.  It is a chance to service the community and the GLTHS is a very important part of our system for raising children and producing good citizens.  I don't recall saying that if appointed I wouldn't run for an additional term.  I think they have me confused with Mr Hayden.  Two years is a long ways off, let alone three.  On the other hand, I had not been planning on running for the position when Kim called.  Instead, I had been thinking about how I could help out if we here in Lowell again bid for money under the Promise Neighborhoods Grant program.  But, GLTHS must not be neglected.  It is a jewel in our crown.

We do need to be making Lowell a "Learning Community".

Regards  —  Cliff

The President's Position is Evolving

Over at The Washington Post, Columnist Dana Milbank has a go at the White House over the President's "evolving" position on same-sex marriage.  This little tempest in a teapot is as a result of Vice President Joe Biden on a Sunday TV Talk Show, saying he had no problem with same-sex marriage.  As a result, the Press went after Presidential Press Secretary Jay Carney on the status of the President's position.

The cynics might say that the President is trying to avoid taking a position so as to avoid alienating some segments of the voting public.  That would suggest that those in the know believe that after the President wins reelection he will be free to do as he wishes, accepting that he is going to disappoint some who voted for him in November.  The cynicism.

Chris Matthews, of MSNBC, does applaud the fact that Democrats at least believe in evolution.  I guess that is based on the fact that some Americans don't believe in evolution.

I note that the Black Christian Internet Network has taken note of this.

Regards  —  Cliff

  In a somewhat edgy comment at another post on this blog, Jack Mitchell of Left in Lowell has assured us that the Presidential—the US Presidential—Election is basically over and Romney will lose.  Notwithstanding, I still plan on voting in November and so should you.

Key Elections

Fellow Lowellian Tom Wirtanen, earlier today, EMailed to several of us, saying that the election in November for President of the United States was the most important in history.  I think that perhaps the election in Mexico, for President, may be even more important.  And the Mexican Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) is taking it very seriously.

Regards  —  Cliff

Conservatives vs Republicans

The Republican Party is actually a pretty big tent, as was demonstrated on City Life today, with both former Lowell Republican City Committee Chairman Tom O'Brien and show host George Anthes.  Perhaps a bigger tent than the Democratic Party.

Now comes Mr Craig Shirley, writing in Politico and asking "Conservative-GOP marriage over?".  Maybe, but I think not just yet.  I do hope that before the divorce is final someone will answer for me my question as to just where the "Progressives" are progressing.  What is their destination, if any?

Regards  —  Cliff

Serve Your Commitment

Reporter and Blogger Carl Prine scores again, this time regarding Academy Athletes.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sealed, But Not Really

Over at Memeorandum is a piece on Governor Mitt Romney being arrested for disorderly conduct, and released and the case quashed, or so it says:
The charges were dropped and sealed at Romney’s request.
If they were sealed, how do I know about it?  Is this some sort of violation of the law?  Should someone be going to jail?  What about the right to privacy?  If it works for sex, why can't it work for sealed cases?

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, May 7, 2012

Does The Herald Over-Hype?

Bake Sales Banned, come 1 August 2012.

There goes my reason to go to the polling place.

Regards  —  Cliff


Calling Doctor Krugman, calling Doctor Krugman.

From Ed Driscoll, subbing for The Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

The VP Slot

I would have posted this at the LRCC Blog, but I am trying not to get into trouble with the Web Mistress over there.  Here is a list of the Top 50 VP Picks for Romney.

Hat tip to The Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Manager and the Mayor

In his Saturday Chat, Kendall Wallace takes on the City Manager and the Mayor.  The issue is the motion by Mayor Patrick O Murphy for a Home Rule Petition to allow public notices to be published only on the City's Web Site, thus saving money.  Mr Wallace suggests collusion between the two over this issue.  Frankly, I don't see it.

Before I type more I would like to be on the record as saying that this proposal is too soon for Lowell.  Yes, it has been executed successfully elsewhere.  That said, it is too soon for Lowell, where we are not a community saturated with on-line users.  Some day this will be a good proposal for Lowell, but not just yet.  First we need to do something about providing a free WiFi service to the center of the City.  Not all of the City, but parts.  And, maybe encouraging Internet Cafes around town.  But, we are not yet a netted community in an internet sort of way.  Good idea, but not yet.

Then, besides Mr Wallace, there is Blogger Gerry Nutter jumping in on this issue, and suggesting some collusion between the Manager and the Mayor over this Notices issue.
Mr. Manager aside from the sewer tie-in which you know my position on, why did you allow yourself and your Administration to get dragged into this Legal Notice Fiasco?
Gerry, what is your evidence?

Is there some bad blood between City Hall and the [local] Paper of Record?  Appears so.  Should we move beyond this?  Definitely.  Let us not get into a situation where one has to pick a side.  That is a Chairman Mao Phase I Revolutionary War approach.  "Side with us or we will kill you and your family and destroy your village."  We should all take a deep breath and step back.

And, while I am here, I would like to note that I like The [Lowell] Sun.  I have liked it since I arrived in Lowell.  Given its fighting class I think it is a better paper than The Boston Globe.  Coming here from the DC area, where I read The Washington Post, I was very disappointed in The Boston Globe (I like Joan Vennochi).  Boston may be the Hub of the Universe, but based upon the paper, it is a very small and insular universe.  One of the things I picked up on early was that The [Lowell] Sun was more responsive regarding international news than was Brand X from Boston.  Not as in depth, but more timely.

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.

Evangelicals Are ...

Over at the International Herald Tribune is an opinion piece titled "Do as I Do, Not as I Say".  The author is Anthropology Professor T. M. Luhrmann, of Stanford.

Professor Luhrmann writes as if she were a Democrat and talks about how Evangelicals are voters to be courted:
This is a reachable population, and back in 2008, a quarter of white evangelicals voted for Mr. Obama.  Democrats could speak to evangelicals more effectively if they talked about how we could develop our moral character together as we work to rebuild our country.
The question is, are Democrats capable of doing this?  At the local (in Lowell, the non-partisan) level, yes.  At the national level?  Maybe not.  Maybe Republican have a better shot at winning over Blacks using such an appeal.  But, then, many Blacks are Evangelicals.

Regards  —  Cliff

Bertrand Russell re Teachers

Over at the blog Marginal Revolution is a repeat of Bertrand Russell's Ten Commandments for Teachers.  The ten make good sense to me.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Hollande in France

"Many Europeans Will Breathe a Sigh of Relief at the News of My Election", Claims Hollande
I am sure they well. What about the rest of them?

Here is a link to cemmentary from ¡No Pasaran!.

Regards  —  Cliff

Textbook Hope

Textbooks in college are horribly expensive.  I just ordered an academic book as a gift for one of my sons (law and gothic novels) and it was around $80.  The Kindle version was nearly as much.  If the Kindle edition had been at a regular Kindle reduction I might have forgone the author's signature I hope to get and just put it on the Kindle for all of us to read.  What is the author or publisher, or both, thinking. This book won't make or break either of them.  Haven't they ever heard of "priced to sell"?  If you are looking for an example of the 1% vS the 99%, look at academic publishing.
US university students spent $4.5bn on textbooks in 2010, according to the Association of American Publishers, with the vast majority going on traditional printed books.
A bunch.

The good news is that a recent deal mentioned in The Telegraph may begin to bring textbook prices back to normal.  Here is the link, which I found at The Instapundit (Insty is on vacation, so this post is by Ms Sarah A Hoyt).  Let us hope.

Regards  —  Cliff

Bad Headline

This morning's Boston Herald on the newsstands has a blaring headline:

'They are not human beings'

This is referring to the 911 conspirators going on trial down at Gitmo.  It is a quote, so The Herald can claim it isn't THEIR opinion, but still, filling 40% of the front page, it is screaming at us.

This is unacceptable.  It would seem even The Herald realizes that, since a search on their search engine for that headline turns up nothing.

I am not saying these are nice people.  They may be to their own family and friends, but one wonders.  For sure they are warriors, soldiers in a fight against us.  If they had died on some far-flung battlefield no one but their friends and relatives would have even noted the event, except as a statistic.  But, they are fellow human beings.

Given that they are warriors, fighting under the cloak of the late and unlamented Osama bin Laden, they should, IMHO, be treated as soldiers.  We should not be trying them.  Rather, we should be locking them away in some POW Camp until the termination of hostilities, until the United States and al Qaeda have a peace treaty, or at least an armistice allowing for the exchange of POWs.  And, frankly, I would put their POW camp in the northern reaches of Minnesota or North Dakota.  I would give the Red Cross or Red Crescent daily access.  However, I would not let them go, since they are POWs in an ongoing conflict.

As for this trial, which has been on-again, off-again for ten years, I would drop it.  These men were doing what they thought was correct and got caught.  Much as we may not like it, terrorism is part of warfare.  When the conflict is just emerging we treat this "Phase I" activity as a law enforcement issue, but this has moved beyond that.  Put them in a POW camp.

For those who argue that al Qaeda is not a signatory to the Treaties involving Armed Conflict, I say, let us be magnanimous in our treatment of these men.  Give them the honor of treating them as POWs and then put them away for the duration and forget about them until the end, when we, as the winner, will be able to look on them with some benevolence.  In the mean time, no suggestion that these men are other than fellow human beings, as misinformed and misguided as they may be.

Regards  —  Cliff

"Spin of the Times"

From the Althouse blog we have a link to a New York Post OpEd by her fellow Law Professor, Glenn Harlan Reynolds, The Instapundit.  The title of the piece is "Spin of the Times:  Bias cloaked as front-page news".  Your interest in and belief in this OpEd is probably related to your belief in the fairness of the Old Grey Lady.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Future of the EU

Ronald J. Granieri, a Senior Fellow at FPRI, is a specialist in contemporary German and international history. He is the author of The Ambivalent Alliance: Konrad Adenauer, the CDU/CSU, and the West, 1949–1966 (Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books, 2003), and is currently completing a book entitled The Fall and Rise of German Christian Democracy, From Détente to Reunification, for Oxford University Press.  He has developed an "E-Note", based on his presentation to the Foreign Policy Research Institute Study Group on America and the West, Philadelphia, 16 April 2012.  The title is "Who Killed Europe? A Provocation".

His premises are:
  1. The European Union’s current economic crisis is but the surface manifestation of a more fundamental weakness of the European project.
  2. That weakness is the failure of the EU to develop a strong enough political identity and correspondingly legitimate federal institutions to live up to its founders’ vision of a Europe that could act as a coherent unit on the global stage.
  3. Such failure was not inevitable, but the product of specific decisions and historical circumstances.
  4. The future of the European project depends upon confronting those specific circumstances and facing up to the reality that Europe must either become stronger or it will fade away, becoming as dead practically as it appears today to be dead intellectually.
The whole thing can be found here—the "E-Note" that is.

Is Europe, as the EU, dead?  Will elections in Greece and France tell us?  I doubt it.

I would not that in the premises I see nothing about bureaucratic bloat and arrogance.  I wonder to what extent that is a problem?  The author notes:
Indeed, they tend to take the positive aspects of integration for granted, yet still harbor fear and loathing for the Eurocrats in Brussels and for their fellow Europeans, especially those who live in the south and east and can now take advantage of those open borders and new work opportunities.
I wonder if the Europeans have failed to hoist in the lessons of federalism available across the Atlantic, either in Canada or the US.  Then sometimes I wonder if Europe understands us at all:

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, May 5, 2012

French Presidential Candidates

Election tomorrow in France and here is a description of the expected winner:
His friends say charm and amiability are at the center of Hollande’s character.  His political enemies argue he is an eternal maneuverer, more calculating than courageous.
The center of his "character" are "charm and amiability"?  How far character has fallen.

This comment is extracted from the blog ¡No Pasarán!, found here.  The post title is "Pinning Down the Master of Evasion, French Socialist François Hollande".  There is a part where three times a reporter tries to pin down the candidate on immigration.  Finally, the candidate explains:
"I’m not a commentator on public life,” Hollande replied.  “I am the next president of France."
One wonders what his plans are for governing.  It reminds me of … so much.

Good luck to Mr Sarkozy, who not only knows what he thinks, but even sometimes expresses it, even if he is a Gaullist.

Regards  —  Cliff

We Need A Mom?

We need a mom and I'm anxious to be that mom and bring us back together.
Thus spoke former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, at a debate amongst Democrats hoping to oppose Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in the recall election upcoming.

This was in a post at the Althouse blog, which is following this Wisconsin recall process.  The post is here.

Is that what we need, a mom?  Given that next weekend is Mother's Day, maybe it is a good move.  For sure, Ms Falk needs something to counter Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who narrowly lost to Scott Walker in the regular election.

Frankly, the only thing Governor Walker has going for him is savings to the taxpayers.
The Governor's office has estimated that altogether the reforms have saved Badger State taxpayers more than $1 billion, including $65 million in changes in health-care plans, and some $543 million in local savings documented by media reports. According to the Wisconsin-based MacIver Institute, Mayor Barrett's city of Milwaukee saved $19 million on health-care costs as a direct result of Mr. Walker's reforms. Awkward turtle.
Awkward Turtle?  Professor Althouse points us here.  I still don't get it.  It isn't like clenching your left fist and moving it horizontally left and right and then tapping your helmut and nodding briskly.  I KNOW what that means.

Regards  —  Cliff

Elections This Weekend

Over at Night Watch is a report on three elections this weekend—Iran, France and Greece.  And a note about campaigning in Egypt.

Should we have voting on the weekend, or over a weekend?

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Most Compelling Theological Argument

Over at the blog Line of Departure, reporter Carl Prine turns his daily offering ever to Pakistani lawyer (LLB in Criminal Law and a thesis on Jihadi Networks) and reporter Ali Chishti, who talks about the legacy of Osama bin Laden, and about al Qaeda.

Here is the money quote:
Ultimately, this war within Islam will be won by those who present the most compelling theological argument.
We can't kill our way to victory.  Men and women make choices about what they believe and how they act.  With the right conditions they overcome the effect of coersion.  Then the brain counts.

How is the United States Government (USG) helping this process?  Can we help?  Are we more likely to overplay our hand than not?  Are large numbers of troops in Afghanistan helping or hurting?  What about a smaller number of military personnel, with more Special Operations Forces (and support personnel), perhaps with increased emphasis on the Diplomatic, Informational and Economic sides?

Keep in mind that this is an area of the world where Islam is important, but there is no "one Islam".  The win will go to "the most compelling theological argument."

Regards  —  Cliff

Banned in Boston

Several folks have blogged about Candidate Elizabeth Warren and her 1/32 Native American Blood.  For example, here is the take at Left in Lowell.  I recommended Professor Ann Althouse's take—the view of a fellow law professor.

Here is another law professor, Professor Glenn Reynolds, who is claiming 2/32nd Native American Blood (1/16th):
BLUE RACISM:  Antiquated law banned Native Americans from Boston until 2005.  Luckily, Mitt Romney signed a repeal when he was governor, saving Elizabeth Warren from potential prosecution.  I’ll bet she never even thanked him. . . .
Mumbles was the one who called for the law's repeal.  Good on him.

And, I still want to know how the lawyers (Brown, Warren, DeFranco) stand on Keynes vs Hayek.  Pick the wrong one and it will take a decade to turn the economy around.  That is a nuts and bolts working man and working woman issue, I would think.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Voter ID in Massachusetts

OK, The Boston Globe is trying out a new approach to getting Internet readers to pay up, so this link to an article on Voter ID may not work or it may not last.  I will try to provide the gist of it as a basis for commenting.

Mr Kevin Lewis, who does the "Uncommon Knowledge" column on Sundays, did a short item on Voter ID and its application at Boston Polls in 2008.  The reference is to an item by Cobb, R. et al., “Can Voter ID Laws Be Administered in a Race-Neutral Manner?  Evidence from the City of Boston in 2008,” Quarterly Journal of Political Science (March 2012).

Background for this is that Poll Workers may demand to see an ID if they have a question as to if you are a legitimate voter at that Ward and Precinct.  Yes, Massachusetts has Voter ID.  Good thing that Attorney General Eric Holder doesn't know about it.

At any rate. the conclusion of the study was that Poll Workers in Boston tended to request ID of Blacks, Hispanics or people with poor English 10% more often than for other people.

My beef with the article was early on, when Mr Lewis wrote:
In general, Republicans support voter ID requirements — ostensibly to prevent fraud — while Democrats oppose them, on the grounds that they disproportionately burden the poor, elderly, and minorities.
That appears to me to be a blatant attempt to make Republicans out as frauds in claiming voter fraud is a problem.

Is there actual fraud out there? Aside from the famous line from 1960 about the Illinois going for Kennedy—"We just stole it back from the Republicans down state", we have anecdotal evidence.  I was at a rally for Senator Brown a few weeks back when a former Lawrence Mayor told me about people being bused in from out-of-state to vote in local elections.  Not edifying.

It isn't like most folks are opposed to Voter ID.  The quoted study says:
Survey after survey finds over 70% of vot- ers typically support photo identification requirements, with over 60% of Democrats and just under 90% of Republicans in favor (Alvarez et al., 2010; Green-Atchley, 2007). Moreover, public opinion polls suggest that majorities of whites, blacks, and Hispanics support voter ID laws (e.g., Alvarez et al., 2010).
"Majorities of ... blacks and Hispanics support voter ID laws."  Imagine that.

By the way, here is, to me, a key point out of the study:
To the extent one hypothesizes, as we do, that our results may be due to unconscious assumptions on the part of poll workers paid less than minimum wage to work 15-hour days, we provide some evidence that such assumptions may resist remediation via simple training programs.
So, it is incumbent upon the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to ensure that Poll Workers are paid minimum wage and that they are not worked more than eight hours a day, and certainly not 15 hours in a single day.  Is there no union willing to take up this challenge?  What about our State Legislators?

Again, trying to look at this through the other end of the telescope, I wonder if what is lacking is not elderly and minorities, etc, without IDs as much as elderly and minorities being prevented from enjoying many of the fruits of citizenship (or residency for those not eligible to vote due to not being citizens).  For example, at my local Sovereign Bank I saw a sign a couple of weeks ago.  It said:
Notice: For your protection and our's, you may be required to show two forms of identification.
What are we doing to make sure everyone has at least one form of ID?  If you can't bank, what else can't you do?  Is this bigger than voting?  I assert it is.  It is time for our State Legislature, our General Court, to get on the ball and make sure that no one lacks a photo ID.  Let the tax payers ensure that poverty is not a reason for someone to not have an ID.  This issue is bigger than ID to Vote.  While I agree with ID to Vote, even more important is ID for Everyone.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I like the "Uncommon Knowledge" item on Sundays and I think Mr Kevin Lewis does a great job, but he does have a bias toward the Democrats.  But, as discriminating readers, we can filter for that.
  But, not checking everyone's ID just because they are walking down there street.  As per the US Constitution, I will want to be free to walk around my block without any ID.  This is, after all, the United States of America.

Spokesman Gone

For a couple of weeks Mr Richard Grenell was the Foreign Policy and National Security Spokesman for Candidate Mitt Romney.  Per this item at the Althouse blog, he was dropped for being openly "gay".  The Althouse post links to a piece in The Washington Post by Ms Jennifer Rubin.

Certainly the optics are bad, and if this was a personnel action forced by certain factions based upon sexual "orientation", it was a weak choice.  Is there anyone who thinks that homosexuals only became part of political campaigns after "Stonewall"?

This is not about approving or disapproving a lifestyle, but about having competent people in the campaign.  On the other hand, people who don't show some discretion in their sex lives don't belong on the campaign trail—just ask former Senator John Edwards.  His activities, unlike those of Gary Hartpence, were ignored for a long time, but eventually caught up with him.

I hope there is a good explanation for this, but, as Professor Althouse says, "if the headline accurately describes the situation, it's pathetic."

And it is time for Republicans to say so.

Regards  —  Cliff

  On the other hand, if Mr Grenell was indiscrete in some manner (but not criminal in some way) and the campaign is protecting him, then that is to be commended, but protection means we never hear about it and there is no commendation and Mr Romney takes a hit for someone who works for him.  That, to me, is plausible.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Presidential Speech Alert

President Obama has landed in Afghanistan, whence he will give a nationally televised speech about 7:30 p.m. tonight.

Regards  —  Cliff

Here is a Good Idea

Our City is setting up, as per the Manager's Blog, a skill sharing event, this coming Sunday.
On Sunday May 6th, Lowell will host the first ever Mill City Skill Share to connect the community through collaborative learning! Over two dozen awesome workshops will be held from 10-6 at various locations throughout Downtown Lowell.  The goal is to share wisdom and knowledge through collaborative learning and connect members of our community in a way like never before!

Registration and refreshments from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at the Mogan Cultural Center 40 French Street Lowell, MA.
Free, although food and clothing donations are encouraged.

Regards  —  Cliff

COOL Looking At Statues

Here in Lowell we are apparently going to get a statue as part of the new construction ongoing across from Dutton Street.  COOL, or the Cultural Organization of Lowell, is displaying the proposed four options for a statue at the Point Park of the Hamilton Canal District.  The display is up through the 4th of May.

Today at 4:30 in the afternoon, at City Hall, there is going to be a two hour discussion of the four proposed object d'art.

Below is a map of the general location.  Look at the bottom red arrow.
Here are my choices, from my first choicer down to my last choice.

The last one I thought was just garish.  The first one was something that I thought would spark the imagination of children as well as adults.  The second one I thought was a beautiful reminder of our Civil War Monument.  The third does have a child's crawl through capability.

Regards  —  Cliff

A Law Professor on Professor Warren

One of our candidates for the Democratic ticket to run against Senator Scott Brown is Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren.  There are various views of Ms Warren out there.  If you would like to follow the views of a Feminist Law Professor from Madison Wisconsin, who voted for Barrack Obama in 2008, here is a link to Professor Ann Althouse's "Elizabeth Warren" tag.  Ms Althouse was born in Wilmington, Delaware, probably in the 1950s.  She is married and has at least one grown son.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Doesn't anybody care about Ms Marisa DeFranco, the other candidate for the Democratic nomination for US Senate?  Does Ms DeFranco care?  I sent an EMail to the campaign, but got no response.

Discrimination in US

The Instapundit has, for him, a longish discussion of race in the United States, and it's uses.

He notes that Mr George Zimmerman is 1/8th Black, but is seen as a "White" racist who killed a Black kid.  On the other hand, a Harvard Professor 1/32 Cherokee is considered a minority.  Law Professor Glenn Reynolds notes:
Hey, I’ve got double that amount of Cherokee ancestry.  If I’d known that was all it took to get a job at Harvard . . .
He is The Instapundit.

I probably don't care much as long as you are (1) consistent and (2) don't use the term Anglo around me, except in a combining form, e.g., Anglo-Arabian Oil Company.

Regards  —  Cliff

Discrimination in UK

From the Samizdata blogsite we have a short rant against the Guardian and many of its reader, over a modest proposal by a Mr Andrew Copson.  Mr Copson is against state-funded "faith schools".  As happens from time to time, the headline writer twists the message—and that twisted message is what readers responded to.  Many readers wish to ban faith schools in toto.

Of course, Mr Copson's argument wouldn't apply in Massachusetts, where, for reasons rooted in anti-Catholic discrimination, we don't allow state support to faith schools.

Regards  —  Cliff

The War on al Qaeda

There seems to be a debate in our Nation's Capitol over the status of al Qaeda.  Did the killing of Osama bin Laden a year ago 2 May lead to the unraveling of the terror organization or is it still out there?

As an aside, I heard the President saying that we brought Osama bin Laden to justice.  I don't think so.  I think we killed him.  Bringing him to justice would require bringing him before the bar of justice.  We did not do that.  Well killed him and then buried him at sea.  Should we have tried to capture him, thus putting our SEALs at greater risk?  I don't think so.  We saw him as an enemy combatant and dealt with him as such.  But, that is not the same as a trial for General Tojo.

But, back to the issue at hand, over at the Weekly Standard we have an article titled "'The War on Terror Is Over".   At the National Journal it is a question, Can Obama Safely Embrace Islamists?.  As National Journal Columnist Michael Hirsh puts it,
It is no longer the case, in other words, that every Islamist is seen as a potential accessory to terrorists.  "The war on terror is over," one senior State Department official who works on Mideast issues told me.  "Now that we have killed most of al Qaida, now that people have come to see legitimate means of expression, people who once might have gone into al Qaida see an opportunity for a legitimate Islamism."

The new approach is made possible by the double impact of the Arab Spring, which supplies a new means of empowerment to young Arabs other than violent jihad, and Obama's savagely successful military drone campaign against the worst of the violent jihadists, al Qaida.
I think this is a good assessment.  I do think "savagely successful" is a bit over the top, but basically a correct statement.   The Arab Spring was not the move to a paradise on earth, as some characterized it a year ago, but it is a major step forward.

On Friday last, giving the first Terry Deibel Lecture at the National War College, Retired Professor Bard O'Neill reprised his 2001 lecture to the War College Class of 2002, on the nature of terrorism, as understood by al Qaeda.  The lecture was given the day after 9/11, and electrified the class.  It wasn't what we know about al Qaeda but what Bard thought al Qaeda thought about itself.  Here is a print version, in interview format.

One point Professor O'Neil made early on was "hidden hands with blue eyes".  The al Qaeda vision of Islam is not something that only grows on the Arabian Peninsula.  We might find it anywhere.  And, suicide bombing is not restricted to the realm of Arab males.

From the al Qaeda point of view the West is trying to destroy Islam.  One of the ways it is doing this is by calls for separation of Mosque and State.  This thinking about the unification of faith and state is much like the thinking of Pritans in the early Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Early on it even included a form of democracy, albeit with a limited franchise, as in Massachusetts.  A change today is that al Qaeda sees democracy as an abomination to be expunged.  The danger is man-made laws that contradict Shari, that are an abomination.

To al Qaeda, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was a "near enemy", as was President Hosney Mubarak.  And soils the Muslim Brotherhood.  A "near enemy".  And, they don't like those apostates, the Iranians.  Nor the House of Saud.

The leaders of al Qaeda see their goal as an Islamic Caliphate stretching across the Globe.

Those same al Qaeda leaders see themselves in what is, in the end, a battle of ideas.  To paraphrase:
You don't have any message for the downtrodden, especially the educated downtrodden.
That is to say, there is suffering in the Third World.  If you cast your lot with the West you will end up with nothing.  This approach has a certain appeal to intellectuals, who see the .

The late Osama bin Laden examined Socialism and found it a failure.    He looked at Capitalism and rejected it.  While the West was trying to put Viet-Nam behind it, he was looking at the writings of Mao and understanding Mao's Three Stages.  And, he leaves behind an organization, notwithstanding our efforts to eliminate it.

But, more important to us, this Wahhabist view view of Islam and its fight for a world-wide Caliphate will continue to inspire people to take action against the near and far enemies—and we in the West are part of the far enemies.  With Osama bin Laden gone money and organizational talent is reduced, but not eliminated.  It may be twenty or a hundred or two-hundred years before we see something like 9/11, but this approach will be back, as it has been, time and time again.  The timing and the intensity will depend upon the amount of acceptance of this Salafist approach by the billion Muslims across the globe.

For us the question is, when can we return to normal?  For example, if TSA spreads its screening to our passenger trains, that will be a strong sign that either it is bureaucracy run amok or that our Federal Government believes there are still major threats out there.  Another example is how we treat screening at airports.  If we go for an approach that relies more on randomness and tells from personal behavior, then we know we are winning.  If TSA doubles down, then it is a bad sign.  Two things to keep in mind.  First, it isn't what the Federal Government tells us, it is how it actions.  And, second, as Dr Bard O'Neill says, there are always "hidden hands with blue eyes".

Regards  —  Cliff

  The late Dr Terry Deibel had been a Professor at the National War College since 1978.
  The Caliphate is described here.
  Mao Zedong's "classic" three stages includes, (1) the guerrillas earn population's support by distributing propaganda and attacking the organs of government, (2) escalating attacks against the government's military forces and vital institutions, and (3) conventional (mobile) warfare to seize cities, overthrow the government, and assume control of the country.  Circumstances may require going back a stage, before again moving to a higher stage.