Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mitchland's Law

From Slate's culture blog, we have a post about Canadians threatening to move to the US.  The reason for the blog was a number of Tweets after the US Supreme Court ruling on ACA, where the Tweeters threatened to move to Canada (which already has universal health coverage).
At one point shortly after the announcement, about 13,000 tweets were sent in a minute. Responses ranged from delight to rage. As BuzzFeed noted, seventeen people tweeted that the Supreme Court’s decision was driving them to Canada—a country with a publicly funded health care system.

Of course, these tweets were meant as jokes—the joke being that it’s not unusual for Americans to threaten to move to Canada when an election or a political decision doesn’t go their way. The day after George W. Bush won reelection the CBC reported that the number of hits from Americans visiting the Canadian government’s immigration website increased six-fold; “Threatening to Move to Canada” is number 75 on the list of Stuff White People Like.
I jumped on it because we may be developing our own version of Godwin's Law.  I would like to call it "Mitchland's Law".
As a blog comments section grows longer, the probability of a call to move to another country approaches 1.
Or so it seems.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Named after my two good friends, Jack Mitchell and Neal Crossland.  The good news is that one lives in New Hampshire and the other lives in Massachusetts.

Where's Kad?

The newspaper of record, The [Lowell] Sun, says the 99th Tour de France starts Saturday, which is today.  So where is Kad Barma explaining the race to us.  And most important, explaining why the Tour de France is starting in Liège, Belgium.  Is this a Preemptive grab of territory, in the event the Belgian Kingdom breaks up?

Regards  —  Cliff

You Are Your Own First Responders

My Granddaughter texted me last night at 9:37 that she and her husband had been without power for five hours.  Not just them, but tens of thousands of their neighbors, as this map shows (scroll down).  The Granddaughter and her husband live outside Dayton, Ohio, in Montgomery County.

Key lesson here is that in a big crisis you are your own first responders.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Just graduated, this month, from Wright State with a degree in Chemistry.  I am hoping she will go on for a Masters Degree in Chemistry, to make her even more valuable in the marketplace.  Well, once power is restored.

White House Says ACA Unconstitutional?

Over at the Instapundit we have this post:
THE SUPREME COURT SAYS “YOU LIE:”  White House Already Denying That Mandate Is A Tax.  If you deny that it’s a tax, you admit that it’s unconstitutional. . . .
Is this a heads I win, tails you lose story?

Thinking back on this, I think the impact of Universal Health Care on the body politic is more like the Federal Income Tax than like Social Security.  That suggests to me that the approach of the advocates might have been wrong.  Rather than a two thousand page bill that even then Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn't understand, we needed a simple, straight forward Constitutional Amendment, which would have been the frame upon which various laws could have been hung.  Take the 16th Amendment:
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
We could have done the same with health care, but that would have been too easy, and to susceptible to the People, in their collective wisdom, rejecting it.
The Congress shall have the power to create a system of universal health care.
Simple and straight forward.  Instead we got the world's fattest Christmas Tree.

And, with a Constitutional Amendment, if we didn't like Universal Health Care we could repeal it.  The Twenty-first Amendment:
Section 1.  The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
Didn't take two thousand pages.

And please remember that this isn't about the President.  This is about the US Congress.

UPDATE:  From the Althouse blog.  Commenting on what White House Press Flack Jay Carney said about it not really being a tax, she noted the lawyer's catch phrase, If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck (or a tax).  When the ACA lands back in court, which it will, it will be a duck… er, a tax.

Regards  —  Cliff

Free Who?

So here is Allahpundit, over at Hot Air stating that the new President of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, is saying that he will be asking us to free "The Blind Sheikh", Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted of conspiracy after the first bombing of the World Trade Center.

If someone talks about how the government should be overthrown or calls for implementation of Sharia, that is fine.  The First Amendment protects that right.  But, nothing protects criminal activity, including conspiracy to commit treason or taking up arms against the US.  Nothing should protect Mr Omar Abdel-Rahman, except the rule of law.  Here is a quote from the new President of Egypt:
I see banners for Omar Abdel Rahman’s family, and for prisoners arrested according to martial rulings and detainees from the beginning of the revolution,” said Egyptian president-elect Mohammed Morsi to a buoyant crowd of Islamist supporters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday.  “It is my duty to make every effort, and I will beginning tomorrow, to secure their release, among them Omar Abdel Rahman.”…
What is President Morsi thinking?  I sure hope President Morsi is going to get a polite but firm no, if he asks for the release of Omar Abdel-Rahman.

We are supportive of Egypt and this year are giving them $1.3 billion in aid.  Not as big as the budget of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but still, a bunch of money.  If they wish to cut us off; fine.  If they try to push us around; not so fine.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, June 29, 2012

Voting at 17 in Lowell

The Gerry Nutter Blog has a recent post on the UTEC Rally down in Boston for a Home Rule Petition to allow Lowell to give the vote to 17 Year Olds for local elections.

The Worcester Telegram has an article that says the Lower House of the General Court has actually passed the bill, advancing it to the Senate.

Congrats to the teens of UTEC.

Regards  —  Cliff

Church and State

Over at Hot Air, Columnist Ed Morrissey spins the First Lady's speech to a conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Interesting.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Absolutely Best ACA Photo[shop]

 
Oops

Note the double breasted suit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Individual Mandate Survives—As A Tax

Interesting.  The good news is the use of the Commerce Clause was struck down.  But, the individual mandate survives as a tax.  I thought Congress told us it wasn't a tax.  But then Ms Pelosi apparently hadn't read the bill before it was passed.

UPDATE:  The spin from the Althouse Blog:
Obama imposes huge tax on the American middle class.
That is true.

Looking back in history:
STEPHANOPOULOS: [I]t's still a tax increase.

OBAMA: No. That's not true, George.  The — for us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase.  What it's saying is, is that we're not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you anymore than the fact that right now everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance.  Nobody considers that a tax increase.  People say to themselves, that is a fair way to make sure that if you hit my car, that I'm not covering all the costs.
I guess Ms Pelosi was right about having to pass the ACA bill to know what it says.

UPDATE:  Dracut Form was quick to comment.  Nice insights.

Regards  —  Cliff

"Stolen Valor" Act Struck Down

I think SCOTUS was correct here.

Regards  —  Cliff

Exxon on Climate Change

Yesterday, the CEO of Exxon Mobile, Rex Tillerson, addressing the Council on Foreign Relations, in New York City, said that climate change exists, but global poverty is a bigger problem.  His talk had three major points:
  • Policy should focus on adapting to climate change
  • Global poverty more pressing than climate change
  • Poor would benefit from fossil fuel access
This makes sense to me.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tuesday Primary Results

In New York Charlie Rangle won another shot at his House seat.  Orin Hatch will compete for another six years in the Senate.  But, the best result was Mayor Mia Love winning the Republican nomination for a House Race out in Utah.

Regards  —  Cliff

iPad Sustainment Cost

A study out of the Electric Power Research Institute says the annual cost of charging your iPad tablet is $1.36.
"The analysis shows that each model of the iPad consumes less than 12 kWh of electricity over the course of a year, based on a full charge every other day," EPRI said. "By comparison, a plasma 42" television consumes 358 kWh of electricity a year."
Not bad.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Looking Forward to Seeing The Pictures

With the gracious and beautiful Alegra Williams marrying the handsome Patrick O Murphy on the weekend of the 7th of July, I am looking forward to seeing the wedding photos.

I think it was a smart move to travel a distance.  Martha and I got married in Las Vegas, after driving from Tample, Florida, to her parents home in Janesville, Wisconsin, and then flying out to Southern California, before driving to Lost Wages.  Our marriage was on my Port Call for Viet-nam (fortunately, it was put off a month).  In my case, I had to do it all over again seven months later at a MacDill AFB Chapel, to save my immortal soul.

I wish the couple the very best, as I am sure we all do.  A love story within the confines of our City Government precincts is heart warming.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

One Person, One Vote

I think Candidate Tom Weaver is right to continue to bang away at the issue of one person, one vote, but only if the person is registered.  Here is a tale published just now by the Instapundit:
UTAH: David Kirkham emails: “Today is the Utah primary.  My sister got two, yes two, absentee ballots in the mail with DIFFERENT voter ballot numbers and bar codes.  I couldn’t believe it so I went to her house saw it for myself.  We called our State Senator, Curt Bramble, to alert him of the problem. He is a bulldog.  He has been growling at the County Clerk’s office all day.  So far they have admitted to 12 duplicate ballots (disturbingly, no one but my sister has come forward yet).  We are all for increased voter participation, but I think we need to look carefully into voting by mail to make sure elections are fair, open, and transparent.  Lest anyone think this isn’t a big deal, my sister lost her race for city council by 5 votes.”

Well, it could just be a glitch, but when the establishment has closed ranks this way, irregularities do seem suspicious.
Regards  —  Cliff

Oil Prices

In a comment on a previous blog post, Jack asks:
I have noticed, since we started looking into renewable energy more seriously, the "peak oil" can has been kicked down the road, quite a bit. Do you think once the "green" movement has stop being subsidized, the oil will dry up, again?"
I though about that for a while, because it is kind of convoluted—the kind of question I would ask.  My quick answer is no.  The longer answer is that I don't think that the "green" movement is yet a driving factor.

The fact is that the price of West Texas Intermediate has dropped below the price of other benchmark oils.  I read that in a paper out of "The National Bureau of Economic Research" from down county, in Cambridge.  On the other hand, Monday night I was talking to a guy from Houston at the Mobile station at the intersection of Route 38 and the 495.  His business is shipping petroleum equipment around the world.  He noted that drilling for fracking is dropping off.  I wonder what that means?

At any rate, there is a paper out of the Harvard Kennedy School that worries about a collapse of oil prices due to over-production.
For Release Monday, June 25, 6:00 pm (eastern)
Cambridge, Mass. -- Oil production capacity is surging in the United States and several other countries at such a fast pace that global oil output capacity is likely to grow by nearly 20 percent by 2020, which could prompt a plunge or even a collapse in oil prices, according to a new study by a researcher at the Harvard Kennedy School.

The findings by Leonardo Maugeri, a former oil industry executive who is now a fellow in the Geopolitics of Energy Project in the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, are based on an original field-by-field analysis of the world’s major oil formations and exploration projects.

Contrary to some predictions that world oil production has peaked or will soon do so, Maugeri projects that output should grow from the current 93 million barrels per day to 110 million barrels per day by 2020, the biggest jump in any decade since the 1980s. What’s more, this increase represents less than 40 percent of the new oil production under development globally: more than 60 percent of the new production will likely reach the market after 2020.

Maugeri’s analysis finds that the gross additional production from current exploration and development projects in the world could produce an additional 49 million barrels per day by 2020, an increase equivalent to more than half the world’s current 93 million bpd. After adjusting that gross output increase for political and technical risk factors as well as the offsetting depletion rates of current fields, the analysis projects the net increase by 2020 to be about 17.5 bpd.

His study attributes the expected growth in oil output largely to a combination of high oil prices and new technologies such as hydraulic fracturing that are opening up vast new areas and allowing extraction of “unconventional” oil such as tight oil, oil shale, tar sands and ultra-heavy oil. These increases are projected to be greatest in the United States, Canada, Venezuela and Brazil. Maugeri also predicts a major increase in Iraq’s oil output as it regains stability, which will add new production in the Persian Gulf region -- potentially destabilizing OPEC’s ability to manage output and prices.

The combination of new production in the Western Hemisphere and the still growing production in other parts of the world could lead to a sharp drop in oil prices, Maugeri finds, which if steep enough could lead oil companies to cut back on investment and ultimately slow down oil supplies. But if oil prices remain above about $70 per barrel, sufficient investment will occur to sustain continued growth in production, possibly leading to a stable phenomenon of oil overproduction after 2015.

“Leonardo's conclusions are not only startling, but his paper provides a transparent explanation for how he reaches them - something lacking in many studies,” said Meghan L. O’Sullivan, the Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at the Kennedy School and director of the Geopolitics of Energy Project. “His findings have major implications for geopolitics, suggesting important shifts in how countries interact and wield influence."

Maugeri was senior executive vice president of the Eni oil company in his native Italy, and has authored books and articles suggesting that oil will remain more plentiful than many predict. His new research tests that hypothesis with in-depth analysis of reserves and production levels of all the major oil fields across the globe. He also assesses the impact of evolving technologies that open up new fields and allow more efficient extraction in existing fields.

The most dramatic increases involve the exploitation of unconventional oils in the United States, Maugeri says. For example, the Bakken and Three Forks fields in North Dakota and Montana could become the equivalent of a Persian Gulf-producing country within the United States. The Bakken formation’s output has grown from a few barrels in 2006 to 530,000 a day in December 2011.

While the surge in production in the Western Hemisphere in coming years will in effect leave the region self-sufficient in oil, the global nature of the market makes that all but meaningless except in psychological terms, Maugeri argues. He adds that the industry will need to make major investments to keep oil production environmentally safe to avoid threatening the new bonanza.

###

For further information or to arrange an interview with the author, contact:
James F. Smith, Communications Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, james_smith@hks.harvard.edu, direct 617-495-7831, cell 617-750-5584, or Sharon Wilke, Associate Director of Communications, Belfer Center, sharon_wilke@hks.harvard.edu, direct 617-495-9858
There you have it.  Confusing, isn't it?

Regards  —  Cliff

Fast and Wide

Every once in a while commenters pimp me about "Fast and Furious", a Federal program designed to do something.  It appears to be a linear descendent of the Bush Administration's "Wide Receiver" program, which, in coordination with the Mexican Government, attempted to determine how weapons were illegaled "walked" into Mexico, to arm drug cartel members.  

From Hot Air we have writer Ed Morrissey with a piece to wraps around a couple of Jon Stewart clips on President Obama's recent assertion of Executive Privilege.  Good clips.

I have been saying the withholding of documents by Attorney General Eric Holder and then the President's assertion of Executive Privilege have been inexplicable.

My alternative scenario is that the Executive Branch, or some part of it, undertook "Fast and Furious" as a vehicle for undermining individual rights under the Second Amendment.  As I find this scenario to be so reprehensible, I am sticking with inexplicable.

Regards  —  Cliff

  While it has been suggested in the MSM that the US is the source of weapons being used by various gangs and cartels, this may not be the case.  For example, in 2011 StratFor had an article that suggests that the US might be providing only 12% of those "illegal" weapons.
  I believe Executive Privilege to be an key part of our form of Government.  The President needs to be able to receive unvarnished advice and input and Executive Privilege means that the bearer of non-standard information will not fear seeing his or her name and thoughts published on the front page of The Washington Post.

Advocating a Flat Tax

I went to Sissy Willis' blog, SISU:  The Light Fantastic, and the top post led to this New Yorker Magazine article on Ms Ann Romney and her horse, Rafalca, which will be going to the Olympics this summer, in a dressage event.

Part of the whining by New Yorker writer Amy Davidson was regarding how Rafalca gave Governor Romney a tax writeoff.  Just whining, no solutions.  Could not Ms Davidson suggest a flat tax with minimal deductions?  Or is that retrograde?  I would suggest that what is retrograde is bringing a problem and not bringing a solution.  As a manager one dreads the employee who brings problems, but is clueless as to possible solutions.

I also find it pitiful that this reporter, in order to diminish Governor Romney as a Presidential Candidate has to make fun of his wife finding an outlet to help her cope with her Multiple Sclerosis.

Frankly, some time back I might have taken this as a piece written in good humor (it is, after all, the New Yorker), but the political conversation seems to have moved beyond that for too many people and thus I am less accepting of the idea that what might be humor is humor.  I think Sissy Willis has this one properly characterized.

Regards  —  Cliff

The VP Stakes

With Governor Mitt Romney the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, people have turned to the Vice Presidental nod.  For a while it was Governor Chris Christie, and then Senator Marco Rubio.  Now it appears to be Governor Bobby Jindal, who was recently endorsed by Columnist George Will.

Over at Hot Air is a very informal and unscientific poll which racks and stacks 14 possible candidates, with Governor Mitch Daniels, my choice, holding up the column.  The top tier is (the other eight are in double digits):

ORDERNAME HIGHEST JOBVOTES
1Jindal, Bobby Gov594
2Rubio, Marco Sen509
3West, Allan Rep300
4Ryan, Paul Rep249
5Rice, Condoleezza SecState124
6Pawlenty, Tim Gov101

Four of the top five are "minorities".  The fourth, Representative Paul Ryan, has made his name bringing forth a proposed budget that starts to wrestle with the budget deficit and Federal debt.  Two successful Governors.  Two from Florida.  One female.

In picking a Vice President we should keep in mind the office is NOT a Deputy President, but rather a President in Waiting, as well as being the President of the Senate.  A Vice President too closely identified with a President and his policies and methods would also need to go if the President himself was Impeached and Convicted.  One thinks of Vice President Spiro T Agnew.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, June 25, 2012

SCOTUS Rules Against AZ Re Immigration—Mostly

In a 5-3 decision (Associate Justice Elena Kagan not participating) the US Supreme Court has ruled all but the "racial profiling" unconstitutional.  From The Washington Times:
The court said state and local police can continue to ask the legal status of those they suspect of being in the country illegally and can report them to federal officials, but struck down the state’s efforts to impose its own penalties against illegal immigrants.

Of four major provisions, the court struck down three of them — the ones that created state penalties for illegal immigrants who tried to find jobs and legal immigrants who fail to carry their papers, and that allowed police to arrest those they believed were deportable.
So, the most personally obnoxious part of the law stands and the parts that might infringe on Federal powers falls.

This again points out the need for the US Congress to act to change (increase) quotas or to pay for border security.  Otherwise we risk falling into being a nation ruled by Presidential decrees.

It also points out that the Supreme Court is not locked in a 5-4 political deadlock.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Finding the Locus of the Problem

At another venue someone wrote about the idea of "American Exceptionalism" and had this comment, which managed to smear Arizona specifically, as well as the rest of us in general:
Then there is Emma Lazarus whose words are not currently cherished in Arizona:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Emma Lazarus 1883
I thought about what the person said and then concluded that he had missed an important point about Arizona and its approach to illegal immigrants.  This is not a problem in Arizona, but a problem in our Nation's Capitol.  No, I am not talking about Presidential Amnesty.  I am talking about the US Congress.  If rooting out illegal immigrants is such a problem, and has been such a problem, why has the august US Congress not changed the immigration laws to increase the quota for those from "south of the border"?  If, in fact, we have room in our economy for these additional folks, why are we not opening the gates to them?  I realize that up to 1.4 million new workers brought on board by President Obama's amnesty will send small shock waves through the economy, but one would think that the President has taken this into account and that he sees the economic recovery as demanding these new workers.  Why does the US Congress not see this and act on it?  This is an equal opportunity question, as the Democrats controlled Capitol Hill for four years this decade, and control is divided now.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Server Down

I just tried to connect to the City of Lowell web site and apparently the Server is down, at least for external access.

Maybe tomorrow.

Regards  —  Cliff

First Amendment Twist

Rapture
Separation Of Church And State
Driving back into Lowell from dinner at the Longhorn with friends from our time in the 525 TFS, the Bulldogs, back in 69/70, I came across the above on a sign at Lowell Assembly of God Church on Route 133.  I thought it was a good play on words.

The Rapture is that point in time when Christ, returning in His glory, calls His faithful to Him.  Theory wise, there is your pre-tribulation (Pre-Trib), mid-tribulation and post-tribulation Rapture.  I think I am more of a post-Trib kind of person.  The question is, when is the tribulation?  Does it have anything to do with the Greek Bailout.  My oldest son called this evening and one of his questions was about what a bank run looks like.  Actually, I am not old enough to know.  Then we got into discussing hyper-inflation.  Pretty gloomy, but not yet the Tribulation.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, June 22, 2012

Honors to Bud Caulfield

Martha and I went to the "Appreciation Night In Honor Of Edward 'Bud' Caulfield", at Lenzi's this evening.  Contributions went to the benefit of the Salvation Army Radiothon.

First off, the food was good.  Basically cheeseburgers and potato salad and cole slaw.  One thing I noted was that in addition to mustard, ketchup and mayo, there was relish.  Not something I see in lots of restaurants.

Lots of folks were there, including GLTHS School Committee member Michael Lenzi.  The current and previous state senators were there, along with David Nangle and Tom Golden.  State Senator Panagiotakos put in a plug for David Nangle's run for reëlection.  You don't think they thought I might jump in, a decade later?  Former City Manager John Cox recalled for someone when I had stopped by for a courtesy call on him when I ran ten years ago.

Our table included some City Life folks, including George Anthes (and his wife, Bev) and Linda Bown.  John McDonough and his wife Ellen stopped by before heading out to a wedding in New Hampshire.  Former Mayor Rita Mercier was at our table, along with a woman I didn't meet, with a yellow t-shirt with a green dragon fly.  Also at our table was Deb Forgione, from one of our neighborhood groups (Pawtucketville, as I recall).  I thought that Ms Forgione had some good points, including that, compared to Lynne, with a strong mayor, Lowell was lucky to have a City Manager form of Government and she noted the difference in the trajectories of the two cities (Deb had lived in Lynne at one point).  She also spent time out in California, where my middle brother lives, in the Sunnyvale/Cupertino area, which I think of as a high tech/space faring area.  So, while Ms Forgione is a "blow in" she noted that those who have been here their whole lives bring some wisdom to the discussion.  She noted how there was an effort to clean up an overgrown cemetery and how that then lead to vandals going in and damaging the cemetery.  The overgrown vegetation was, in fact, a deterrent to vandalism.

Back to the party as a whole, Councillors Rita Mercier and Marty Lorrey presented former Mayor Caulfield with a Proclamation from the City.  Rep Nangle said that the Proclamation from Beacon Hill was being held up by the budget battle.  There was a band, lead by Leo Sheridan and with Paul Belley as the singer.

And, as an editorial note, I saw the Editor of The Sun and asked him if it was Campi or Campy and he told Campy.  Bloggers take note.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, June 21, 2012

No Debt Ceiling Fight?

I think this is a step in the wrong direction, but I give House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi credit for a creative approach to the US debt ceiling, which was so contentious last time we approached it.  This report, from Slate, is by Matthew Yglesias and can be found here.  Ms Pelosi suggested today that a statutory debt limit is "inconsistent" with the US Constitution, Section 4 of the 14th Amendment
She at first referred to this possibility obliquely while making a larger point about the lack of cooperative spirit between the Republican Party and the Obama administration but clarified her stance in response to further questions saying, "I would like to see the Constitution used to protect the country's full faith and credit."  She didn't offer a legal argument in favor of the position but argued on policy grounds that "you cannot put the country through the uncertainty" again, noting that America's sovereign debt was downgraded by ratings agencies in the wake of the standoff even though it was successfully resolved.
The thing is, it might work.  The supplemental question is, what then?  How will we rein in a growing public debt?

By Executive Order.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hidden Clues

My wife and I are in the process of watching all the old Castle episodes.  The night before last we watched "Almost Famous", written by Elizabeth Davis and Directed by Félix Alcalá.  This is the 41st episode and the 7th of the third season, first airing on 1 November 2010.

The basic storyline is:
Beckett and Castle respond to an "Officer Down" call only to find that the murdered "officer" is actually a male stripper wearing a police costume.
My problem, our problem, is that at the end Beckett and Castle go to the home of a rich widow (a trophy wife) to arrest her for the murder of the stripper and when they arrive they almost immediately go for her lawyer as the murderer.  So, what happened in the car during the ride over that caused them to refocus their attention?

Regards  —  Cliff

Hope and Change on the Education Front

From the Blog of Law Professor Ann Althouse we have this item on an initiative by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the University of Wisconsin—"self-paced, competency-based" online degree model.
“This new model for delivering higher education will help us close the skills gap at an affordable price to get Wisconsin working again,” Walker said in a press release.  “As states across the country work to improve access and affordability in higher education, I am proud to support this exciting and innovative University of Wisconsin solution.”
NOW I have hope for change.

Regards  —  Cliff

Objective Debate Moderation

On City Life this morning is Richard Howe arguing that there are objective journalists on MSNBC—or at least one objective journalist.  He didn't say who that one objective journalist would be.  I remember when I thought Chris Matthews was an objective journalist.  Today I think their best shot is Rachel Maddow.

Monday night a friend of mine suggested CNN as the objective moderator for the Presidential debates.  Maybe 25 years ago.

Maybe the answer is a tag team of Rachel Maddow and Shepherd Smith.

An alternative is going back to the Lincoln-Douglas style, but maybe not the full three hours per debate.  For both the Senatorial and the Presidential Debates.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Iran and Nuclear Weapons

Mr William J Broad, a reporter for The New York Times, had an article on Sunday, "Iran's High Card at the Nuclear Table".

NYT BLUF:  As much as we and others try to constrain the Iranians, through sanctions and through acts of sabotage, they are making slow but steady progress and now have enough nuclear material that, with a little more refinement, will allow the production of several nuclear weapons in the near future, if they choose.

Let us look at a little history.

Declaration of Independence—1776
Victory at Yorktown—1781 (5 years)
Treaty of Parist—1783 (2 years)
War of 1812—1812 (29 years)
Treaty of Ghent—1814 (2 years)

A total of 38 years from that signing ceremony in Philadelphia on the 4th of July, 1776, to the Treaty of Ghent, actually rarified in February 1815.

For Iran, its revolution was in 1979.  That would be 33 years ago and they are still settling out.

On the other hand, it is not clear the French Revolution has ever ended.  (For those of you who will take Professor Scott Russell's "Napoleon and the French Revolution" class, that is a question on the final—when did the French Revolution end?)

So, Iran is probably still in its revolutionary phase and not likely to easily go along with the interests of the other nations which have an interest in its future.  Even if the People of Iran strongly dislike the current regime or even dislike the form of government, they will not take kindly to other nations trying to tell them how to refine uranium and how to then use that refined uranium.

My conclusion:  Our current efforts are probably buying time, but not enough.  Further, a military attack will, again, buy time, but in the end the Iranians will have a supply of highly enriched uranium.  Our focus should be on how they use that highly enriched uranium.  This is not a very satisfying answer, but in international relations that is sometimes the case.  As Thucydides tells us in the History of the Peloponnesian War,
… the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.

What to do?  Blogger Michael J Totten said it well in a 2 January 2008 post from Fallujah, Iraq:
Have a Plan to Kill Everyone You Meet.
So, the Department of State needs to be looking for solutions that don't involving war, but the Pentagon and US Central Command need to be making plans in the event Iran both develops and employs nuclear weapons and the President and Congress decide to act with military force in response to that employment.  I counsel against "preventive war" with regard to Iran.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I like the fact that The New York Times continues the old practice of capitalizing the important words in titles.  It is so civilized.

Kerry as Romney

Over at the Althouse blog we have this post title:  "Obama picks John Kerry to play Romney in mock debate rehearsals."  And, the Althouse comment:
That seems like a terrible idea!
But, here is the quote from the source:
“There is no one that has more experience or understanding of the presidential debate process than John Kerry,” said David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist.  “He’s an expert debater who has a fundamental mastery of a wide range of issues, including Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts.  He’s the obvious choice.”
Maybe.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Be Careful Where You Point That Gun

Over at Reason we have a report on the Ninth Circuit ruling in the case of a family suing the Federal Government (and specifically the DEA) over the excessive use of force during a raid (turns out they had the wrong place) when they put a gun to the head of a 14 year old and an 11 year old.
Accordingly, we reverse the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the United States on B.F.A.’s and B.S.A.’s claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
And I am glad they did.  There should be some reasonable limit to law enforcement waving guns in people's faces.  And in dropping the F-Bomb when visiting someone's home, with or without a warrent.  I would hope there was a lot of apologies after this raid gone awry.  I doubt there was.

The Reason article ends
…the Obama Administration could have declined to defend the DEA in this case.  Instead, Obama's Justice Department has decided to make the case that federal agents should be allowed to hold guns to the heads of children.
The job of Law Enforcement is hard, but they shouldn't take it out on the US Public, even when they are at the correct address, dealing with real low-lifes.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Big Parking Ticket

There is a bit of a kurfuffle about Mr Chuck Carney and the punishment of the chap who stole $37,792 from our parking receipts.  Given that I pay into those meters I want to see every nickel (they don't take pennies) going to the City Coffers.

All that said, this is not a major case.  For example, there is no where near the scandal that is the way colleges and universities are allowed to run star chamber like hearings for students accused of crimes up to rape—the rights of the accused being violated left and right.  This is a case of taking money, and the perp promising to pay it back (and has already begun to do so).  And, he was fired.

So, we have a contract with a company for which this person works.  Does that contract allow us to stick our oar in the water with regard to how they discipline their employees?  If the secretary had been stealing petty cash and she was cashiered, would we see it the business of the city to interfere?  If we do stick our oar in the water do we violate the contract and lay ourselves open to being sued?  What do the lawyers say?

Now, I grant you that on his blog, Gerry Nutter suggested that there may have been some favoritism on the part of Mr Carney.  Maybe and maybe not.  Let us set this aside for a moment.

The plan, as I read it in the newspaper is to turn this over to the police.  What will that do for the taxpayer?  We will spend some amount for a jury trial if the perp now pleads innocent (and why shouldn't he?).  We convict him and put him away for two years at $60,000 pa, which is $120,000 plus the trial, paid for by us.  In the mean time the convicted perp might take this opportunity to straighten out his life, but maybe not.  Maybe he becomes a person who turns to a life of crime.  Even if he doesn't, do we think he will quickly get a job when he gets out?  I hope he has a family to help him out.

In some way this incident asks the larger question of if our system is working for us or against us?

If we had just let the company deal with it we would have gotten our money back, avoided additional costs as taxpayers and maybe even found a man who straightened out his life.  Then again, maybe he was destined for perdition.

It is just that I would have preferred avoiding the instant outrage and asking some questions.  I would have liked some "out of the box" thinking before throwing the book at the perp.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Arab Way of Regime Change

It is not always easy to tell the bad guys from the good guys in international affairs.  Sometimes it seems that we are dealing with all bad guys.  Sometimes it is a case of all desperate guys, trapped and with nowhere to go.

Writing in The Washington Post, Reporter Marc Fisher gives us a different view of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad:
In Assad’s mind, his presence and control are the only protection from mass killings for his Alawite clan — a Shiite sect that makes up about 12 percent of Syria’s population.
And, who would intervene to protect the Alawites?  Perhaps Iran, but then how would the rest of us react?

Hat tip to the The Daily Caller.

Regards  —  Cliff

Taxing Auto Milage

I usually don't purchase The Boston Herald, so I missed this Howie Carr item on a mileage tax for our autos.  Apparently the proposal is for only 0.85¢ a mile—initially.  That would be 8.5 mills (₥).  Any bets on how long it would take for it to go to a whole cent?  That would average about three bucks every time I fill up.  How will they know how far I drove?  Annual Inspection odometer check?  A GPS tracker I have to pay for, and pay to have installed in a tamper-proof manner?

My problem is that (1) it is politicians, afraid of bumping the gas tax or the income tax, looking for some cutesy new way to extract money and (2) it does not provide any incentive to get better gas milage, either through better driving or selective purchasing.

Whatever we do, we have to pay for it, but that payment needs to be up front.

Here is my supplemental question.  If I drive to our Nation's Capitol, will I be paying this milage tax as I wander through Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and the District itself?

There will be an election in November, if anyone cares.  Now would be a good time to send cards and letters (and EMails) to our elected representatives down on Beacon Hill.  They may be listening.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

UVA President Resignation

Here is a Breitbart article on the recent resignation of University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan.  The common thread with Democratic Party presumptive Senate Candidate, Professor Elizabeth Warren, is that they, along with a Professor Jay Lawrence Westbrook, wrote a 1989 book, As We Forgive Our Debtors:  Bankruptcy and Consumer Credit in America, and were subsequently accused of scientific misconduct.

What should be a big story in Charlottesville and a minor dust ball elsewhere, lingers on.  Breitbart seems to think it is about the book.  If it is, we will all be wondering where Ms Marisa DeFranco is hanging out.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Educational Alternatives

Before I read this article I had heard of free online courses by various institutions of higher education, but didn't know they had a collective name—Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs).  One doesn't get college credit for such courses, at least not directly.  After completing the course one can then go for a prior learning assessment.  This is disruptive technology.  Not enough to replace current college degrees, but we are on the path to a new approach to higher education.  The current education bubble, combined with reduced job opportunities for humanities graduates could force a revolution.  For example, we could give higher value to an AA and front load that AA with immediately useful courses, very task related, saving the other 60 credit hours for Continuing Education/Distance Learning for courses that round out a person, preparing them for leadership or management positions.  A little innovation and the current system could implode.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, June 15, 2012

Recycle

I was cleaning up some old EMails and found this one from my wife, which she had received from her friend Ellen, down in Louisiana.
Beer is where the money is.

If you had purchased $1,000.00 of shares in Delta Airlines one year ago, you would have $49.00 today!

If you had purchased $1,000.00 of shares in AIG one year ago, you would have $33.00 today.

If you had purchased $1,000.00 of shares in Lehman Brothers one year ago, you would have $0.00 today.

But, if you had purchased $1,000.00 worth of beer one year ago, drank all the beer, then turned in the aluminum cans for the recycling refund, you would have received $214.00.

Based on the above, the best current investment plan is to drink heavily and recycle.  It is called the 401-Keg plan.

And, as a bonus... a recent study found that the average American walks about 900 miles a year.  Another study found that on average Americans drink 22 gallons of alcohol per year. That means that the average American gets about 41 miles to the gallon!

Makes you damned proud to be an American!
It does make you think, especially when today's edition of The [Lowell] Sun tells us that supporters of an expanded bottle-deposit law found their proposal sent to committee, to languish until next January and a new legislative session.  But, the chances of much turnover of legislators is slim.  The General Court is a place where recycling has not benefitted us.

Ironically, a bill that might increase jobs was killed because it is the "Great Recession".

On the other hand, someone suggested to me today that if everyone in Lowell picked up one soda can or bottle each day and recycled it they would (1) recoup more than the anticipated property tax increase and (2) help make the city look better.  Funnily, taking ownership of our own City would be a good thing.  One of the things I noticed in my time in the Air Force was that more senior NCOs and Officers tended to be the ones who picked up scraps of paper on the sidewalk.  Like GLTHS former School Committee member David LaFerriere has told me, leave the work site better than you found it.

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.

Egypt Update

Below is a long quote from the 14 June Night Watch on the situation in Egypt.  The Night Watch reporter is, and as been, cynical regarding the "Democracy Revolution" in Egypt.

Regards  —  Cliff
Egypt: Egypt's Islamist-dominated parliament, or at least its lower house, has been suspended by order of the high court which ruled that one-third of its members were elected unconstitutionally.

The court also ruled that Mubarak ally former prime minister and retired air marshal Ahmed Shafiq is allowed to run for president in elections that begin on Saturday, invalidating the law that bars members of the ousted dictator's party from participating in political life.

Comment: This is a no-brainer.  If the parliament itself is unconstitutional, so are all of its laws, such as the ban on Mubarak-appointed officials.

Some news services reported that Egypt's military rulers were going to take over legislative power in the country and planned to announce the dissolution of the lower house of parliament.  In fact, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces denied that it was assuming legislative authority or that it had declared martial law.

Military action.  One thing the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces did was to affirm that the second round of the presidential election will take place 16 and 17 June scheduled by law.  One source reported the Council was deliberating the implications of the high court ruling and had reached no decisions yet.

The Egyptian street. Incensed activists called the two high court rulings the death of Egypt's revolution.  They also declared the dissolution of parliament and Shafiq's candidacy as the final steps in a military coup.  Protesters clashed with security forces outside the courthouse minutes after the decisions were announced.

Brotherhood reaction.  The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's (MB's) presidential candidate Mohammed Mursi on June 14 said he respected the Supreme Constitutional Court ruling that declared the rules under which Egypt's parliament was elected as unconstitutional.  The Brotherhood still hopes that it might win a rigged presidential election.  In any event it must lose to justify the next wave of anti-government violence which is now unavoidable.

Comment: The NightWatch position since the overthrow of Mubarak has been that no revolution occurred in Egypt.  Mubarak was overthrown in a military coup, led by Mubarak's Defense Minister Field Marshal Tantawi, over Mubarak's insistence that his son succeed him as president. Mubarak forgot his roots and his son has none in the Egyptian armed forces.  The armed forces leadership took action against its patron, Mubarak, to protect itself, the army and its extensive holdings.

The election of an Islamist-dominated parliament was a potentially important step towards a fundamental system change.  An Islamist presidential victory would have consolidated Egypt as on the path towards a caliphate.

However, it is now apparent that the parliamentary elections were rigged.  The armed forces council tried to craft the election law so that no one group or coalition of groups could obtain a working majority, as the Brotherhood with its Salafist allies did. The election law was drawn up deliberately to prevent an Islamist victory.

That was not supposed to be possible and only happened because the Brotherhood cheated by running candidates for parliamentary seats that the military had reserved for independents.

The military set the rules and has now had them interpreted in its favor by a pro-military high court.  There is no soft or hard military coup because the military has always been in charge.  The ruse of democracy was nothing more than a stratagem to help maintain civil order.

The Brotherhood almost succeeded in outmaneuvering the generals at their own game by manipulating a rigged political structure and turning it against the generals.  In the end, the guys with the guns showed they are in control because they have the guns.  The entire process has been manipulated.  Legality has been nothing more than a fig leaf to cover the exercise of brute power.

The actual mechanics of counter-revolution are often difficult to discern, especially in open source reporting.  But the lack of substantive political change has been obvious for more than a year.

The irony is that an Egyptian government under military stewardship is actually better for long term US strategic interests and for Israeli security than a government that is moving towards installation of a caliphate under Sharia.

Readers should expect prolonged and violent political disorders in Cairo and the major cities of Egypt.

Never Ending?

Maybe the Wisconsin recall will never end.  From my primary source on Wisconsin politics, Law Professor Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

A Modest Proposal

I just mailed a package to Virginia.  Instead of going to the counter, I used the computerized kiosk in the front of the lobby.  No standing in line.  The one thing missing was the clerk saying "It should be there by Monday".

So, the question is, can not the computer give us an estimate of the delivery date and print it out on the receipt?  I would think so.

Thanks, USPS.

Regards  —  Cliff

SSIDs and Political Preference

Many of us can see the wireless networks of our neighbors.  Some are secured and some are not.  If your wireless is "open" your neighbors (and anyone driving by) can freeload off your system.  And, if they are doing anything nafarious it tracks back to your system.  It seems I am protecting myself by my technological backwardness.  One of my neighbors has commented that they wouldn't bother freeloading off my wireless because it is too slow.

One of the things I have noted is the names folks give their wireless networks.  It turns out that there is a technical name for these names—Service Set Identifiers, SSIDs.

Ms Anne Sorock has a post at Legal Insurrection, "SSIDs: The New Political Lawn Signs?".  It is about how some people are naming their wireless networks in pro- and anti-Obama ways.  Referencing a webpage she gives some examples:
To give it a test, I zoomed in on my part of the country.  It seems like they got it pretty right, “Obama08,” “ObamaMama,” and “ILoVeObAma!!” were designated as pro.

“OBAMA SUCKS,” “Obama Bin Biden,” and “Obama_is_a_huge_clown,” and my personal favorite, “OMG-ObamaMustGO-Wake UP People!” as anti…
Some people are out there in their views.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, June 14, 2012

California

Over at Forbes is an article, an equal opportunity condemnation, on the situation in California.  The author condemns both the current Governor and his predecessor.  He uses analogies to the late Soviet era to suggest that the leaders in California don't yet understand how serious the situation is.

He does make the point that the voters are ahead of the political leaders.  For example, talking about the planned high-speed rail line down the Central Valley, he notes:
The most recent LA Times poll currently finds nearly three in five California voters would like to see the project scrapped.
Then there is the fact that two cities voted last week to reform pensions for city civil servants:
The most auspicious sign of grassroots support for perestroika was last week’s smack down of public employee unions in San Jose and San Diego.  For the first time in recent memory, the unions suffered a humiliating defeat — the measures passed by a margin greater than two to one — as voters endorsed deep reform of the pension burdens bringing these cities to the brink of bankruptcy.  Backed by its Democratic mayor, Chuck Reed, San Jose’s measure B aims to reduce pension benefits for both future and current hires.  Unsurprisingly, the public employee have threatened to sue.
I love[d] California, from being a resident for over three decades, but I would not like to have to give tax money to DC so that the Congress could bail out a failing California.  But, we wouldn't have much choice, would we?

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  At 220 mph it is actually in the "high speed" area.  But, it is not on the bleeding edge of technology, as one might expect from California.

Which Culture Rules?

I am fascinated at the contradictions in this article in The New York Post.  That is, at one, playful, level, but at another it shows the clash of cultures within our multiculturalism.  I would hope we don't want to see any group under the thumb of prejudice.  We may think someone is wrong, but we have to find ways to provide space for that person.

As Rodney King asked, "Why can’t we all just get along?”

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Politics

Kad Barma raised an interesting and important question about political competition, here:
It's an extremely important point to make—pouring money, time and energy into opposing any particular political party, by way of its apparatchiks, is a losing game for all of us.  I view the 100,000 people in the public square as an expression of their collective non-partisan frustration that the entire system (i.e. the endless D vs R vs D vs R downward spiral) is broken for them, and their government is not doing its job.  That its exploited by a political party as a crude cudgel to be used against another is not so much a surprise. But it is a disappointment for sure.
Law Professor Ann Althouse comments on the situation in Wisconsin in this post "Defeated in Walker Recall, Democrats Vow to Fight On"
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (from my district) urged Wisconsin Democrats to keep fighting "our fight for Wisconsin's middle class," which "isn't a political fight, it isn't a partisan fight, it is a moral fight." (Baldwin is the near-certain Democratic candidate for the Senate seat that Herb Kohl is declining to continue to occupy.)
For me the issue in Wisconsin was how unions would play in government, an issue we haven't addressed since the PATCO strike, back when Ronald Reagan was President.  And, this isn't just an issue in Wisconsin.  Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York is also taking it on—not all unions, just unions of state and local government employees.

Is the power of municipal and state employee labor unions worth having a fight over?  The Wisconsin unions seem to think so, given that they forced a recall on a sitting governor.  Was there a compromise position?  Yes, but not without a fight.  Or maybe there isn't.  There is that line from former US Senator Russ Feingold—"It isn't over until we win".

In the mean time, Governor Scott Walker managed to balance the budget and help towns and cities free up money for schools.

The area most obvious to me for no middle ground is how to fix the economy.  It is the battle between government spending and austerity to wring out the mal-investent in the economy.  It is summarized here, in this rap video ("Fear the Boom and Bust").  Or, look at The Euro and Germany vs Greece.

In the United States we have folks like Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman shouting that the Federal Government needs to spend more, to stoke the fires of the economy.  Opposite him are folks who believe that if we keep spending we (1) won't end the recession and (2) will get ourselves in a terrible economic pickle.  (Along with them are the folks who think there is a natural limit to Federal spending, something like 21% of the GDP.

Thus, when the House Republicans are cranky about the debt ceiling they are expressing their concern that Krugman and the other followers of Lord Kaynes will lead us to where Japan is today.  Japan has been in a recession for over a decade and a whole lot of Government stimulus spending has failed to end it.

So, how do we have Congress compromise between those listening to Paul Krugman and those fleeing from him?  Will a little stimulus be good, or a little austerity.  I fear not.  We have to go "All In" one way or the other, but which is the way?  In 2008 the People voted to stimulate the economy.  In 2010 they voted to not stimulate.

You are riding in a car that has started drifting into the oncoming lane.  Where is the good compromise point between going all the way into the oncoming lane and staying in one's own lane?

So, Gridlock in Washington is not just about politics and winning in November.  It is also an existential argument about the best way out of this recession (although maybe Jay Carney is edging up to calling it a depression).

Regards  —  Cliff

  I will grant you that the issue is dirtied up by the unwillingness of Greek citizens to play by tidy German rules.  That is to say, the Greeks don't pay their taxes and in other ways run an "underground" economy.  Thus, the Central Government has less to finance programs.  Further, the Greek retirement age is much younger than the German, putting more strain on Government social programs, financed by a smaller tax-paying population.  Think New Hampshire with the Massachusetts State budget, but a New Hampshire tax base.
  I am currently reading Dr Krugman's new book, End This Depression Now.  Report to follow.

Miss Me Yet?

I admit to the fact that when some obscure fact flies in the face of received wisdom it makes me smile.  It is like when a scientific theory turns out to not explain ALL the data.  This means that there is more to learn, more to explore.  So, in that vein, from The Anchoress, I got this link to a story in the Dallas News
“No American president has done more for Africa,” said Festus Mogae, who served as president of Botswana from 1998 to 2008.  “It’s not only me saying that.  All of my colleagues agree.”
I know.  He was a terrible President, or so I have been told.  And yet, he is a hero somewhere.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wars That Don't End Right Away

At this link is a blog post on "11 Wars That Lasted Way Longer Than They Should Have".

Regards  —  Cliff

Monuments?

Columnist David Brooks, of The New York Times talks about Monuments and Leaders and Followers.  In doing so he managers to suggest that the OWS and Tea Parties are equivalent, which I flat out reject.  His point about Leaders and Followers is pretty good.

What I really agree with is his point about monuments.  Praising the Jefferson and Lincoln Monuments, he goes on to pan all the newer monuments, starting with the "Wall".  I like the Viet-nam Memorial, but agree the FDR and MLK Monuments don't do it for me.  FDR without his jaunty cigarette holder isn't FDR. It is just a monument to political correctness.  Jefferson had slaves and FDR smoked.

I think the MLK Memorial is another bad design.  I am sure no one cares what I think WRT this Monument, but I think it fails to tell a story.  I would probably have him at the East end of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, heading toward Montgomery.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Drones and Leaks

I don't often link to Nation of Change articles, but thought that this link to a blog post (Blogger Tom Engelhardt), containing an OpEd (FSO Peter Van Buren), might help lay the basis for discussion of the nexus of drone attacks and leaks of national security information.  The same questions are being asked in the Wash Post by Lawyer Katrina vanden Heuvel, who writes a weekly column for The Washington Post and is the editor and publisher of The Nation magazine.  She dismisses the search for leaks as a smokescreen obscuring the real drama, the President of the United States directly involved in picking targets for drone attacks.  Assassinations in the minds of some, legitimate military operations in the minds of others.  For those of us who are older it brings to mind the vision of LBJ on his hands and knees, picking targets for Operation ROLLING THUNDER during the Viet-nam war.  Whatever happened to plausible deniability?

Let's face it; if this had been Geo "W" Bush, we would have been all over him.

But, this is still an issue to be wrestled to the ground.  First, does the US accept that enemy leadership is a legitimate target?  If it is, do we understand that this creates a certain reciprocity?

Then there is the question of where the "battlefield" ends when fighting al Qaeda?  If Number 2 is in Yemen, is he an acceptable target?  If Number 2 is living in the outskirts of Naples, Italy, is it OK to go after him?  What about Drum Hill, in Chelmsford, MA?  Where is it no longer acceptable to send up a Predator Drone (or send in a covert agent)?

Then there is the question of US Citizenship.  What about legal rights?  Can they be waived by a procedure developed by the Executive Branch?  Does fighting for the "enemy" automatically forfeit US Citizenship?

Finally, if some evil terrorist leader, what about some evil drug lord?  If some evil drug lord, what about some slightly less evil drug kingpin?  Put another way, once on this slippery path, where do we stop?

We need an open debate on these issues.  This is not so much a D vs R issue as one that has come to the fore due to the intersection of technological maturation and geo-political reality.

Regards  —  Cliff

Brietbart Bites Warren

This is pretty obscure, but it goes to the issue of scientific integrity in the area of "scientific research".  Can your data be verified or should we just take your word for it, because you are a pretty face?  Here is the piece in question, which implicates Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren.

And, the research was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), which suggests taxpayer money.

Is Immigration Lawyer Marisa DeFranco still about?

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, June 11, 2012

Jeb Bush's Views

From Memeoradum we have this somewhat confusing report from BuzzFeed on Former Governor Jeb Bush's assessment of politics today and the Republican Party today.

Regards  —  Cliff

Citizens United v Wisconsin Recall

Well, the impact of Citizens United in the opinion of Stanford Law Professor Michael McConnell, as reported by Blogger (and Law Professor) Ann Althouse.  The conclusion is that the benefit went to the unions.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Congratulations!


Congratulations to the Graduate and bon chance to those studying to be future graduates.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, June 8, 2012

Progressive Regret in Wisconsin

Law Professor Ann Althouse has a not very sympathetic post on a Wisconson Progressive complaining that the Democratic Party high jacked the protests against Governor Walker and turned it into a recall—a recall that failed.

I think that there may be some sense in the point of Mr Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive.  Writing in the Isthmus, he says:
[T]he movement -- a real giant grassroots movement, which flooded the Capitol Square with more than 100,000 people.... began to disintegrate the moment the leaders (and who were they, exactly?) decided to pour everything into the Democratic Party channels rather than explore the full potential of the power that was latent but present in the streets back in February and March of 2011....
But, the question remains; then what?

I don't ask because I thought Governor Walker should be turned out, but because the process interests me.  Who knows, someday we may have the same kind of protest in Massachusetts.

Regards  —  Cliff

  My question is, what is the destination to which they are progressing?  Is it a European form of Government, and if so, more French, Greek or German?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Shutting Down Bloggers

A name not well known is that of Mr Brett Kimberlin.  Mr Kimberlin has come to the attention of part of the Blogosphere, and thus a Maryland judge has issued a restraining order against a Mr Aaron Walker, telling him he can't blog about Mr Kimberlin for the next six months.  I have been ignoring this tempest in a teapot, but along comes Law Professor Eugene Volokh who has joined the appeal as an unpaid consultant.

Here is an earlier post by Professor Volokh.

At one time Professor I B Holley said that Doctrine was the opinion of the senior officer present.  Professor George Anthes, esq, suggests that the law is the opinion of the majority of judges present.  We will see how this turns out, but it is of interest to bloggers everywhere.

Regards  —  Cliff

A Local View of Wisconsin Recall

Over at The Hill is an article saying Rep Barney Frank is saying.
"I think the people on the Democratic side made a big mistake and the funding thing was a big deal," Frank told The Hill Wednesday afternoon, alluding to Republicans' big cash advantage in the race. "My side picked a fight they shouldn't have picked. The recall was upsetting to people, the rerun of the election with [Democratic Milwaukee Mayor] Tom Barrett — it's not a fight I would have picked."
And Rep Frank is a pretty scrappy politician.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, June 4, 2012

Health Care Bureaucracy

In the mail Friday I received a mailing from the "Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services".  It was postmarked 29 May, so the mail service was pretty good. 

This notice was about a flu shot I received in the fall.  Per the form, it was on 24 October 2011.  In fact, it was two shots, one for $13.31 and one for $29.93.  To me they were "free".  Since my company arranged this, I would have thought they paid for it, but this says it was paid by Medicare.  

The claim to Medicare was processed on 17 February 2012, some three and a half months after I got the shot.  Maybe not in your world, but where I come from there is interest being paid on that amount, or interest being lost on that amount.  Not very much for this transaction, maybe only a penny, but still, if it was 100 million shots that would be one million dollars at one penny a shot.  It is my guess that the folks who lost that $1 million were us, the US tax payers.  I am NOT suggesting that someone here is involved in "Penny Shaving", a normally pejorative term.  Having said that, remember the movie Office Space?

So, to recap:
  • Shot:  24 October 2011
  • Claim Processed:  17 February 2012
  • Notice Cut:  18 May 2012
  • Notice Mailed: 29 May 2012
  • Appeal Closure:  20 September 2012
Is this any way to run a railroad?  Or, worse, is this actually the best we can do and the most protective of the rights of those receiving Medicare?

I wonder what Professor Elizabeth Warren thinks?

Regards  —  Cliff

  I think the US Postal Service does a pretty good job of getting the mail from one place to another, the Merrifield Sorting Center in Northern Virginia being an unfortunate exception.  They are across the street from the Headquarters of my Credit Union, but it doesn't much help.
  It always pays to check.  the Memo from the Company said it would be covered by our health insurance, except those with TRICARE, who needed to go to a physicians office.  Because of my advanced age, Medicare kicked in.

A Little Bit of Both

Columnist Ed Morrissey, over at Hot Air talks about Roman Catholics and the two main political parties.  The article reminded me that recent Roman Catholic institutional opposition to aspects of the Reed/Pelosi Health Care Reform (Obama Care) has had some crying that Catholic leaders are all Republicans.  On the other hand I often hear how the Bishops support positions of the Democratic Party—I hear this from both sides of the aisle.

Regards  —  Cliff

Rapid Sea Change?

I believe this analysis is a bit premature, but it presents an interesting look at the current situation, for both President Obama and Governor Romney.

Writing in Human Events, Mr John Hayward talks about "Romney, Obama, and the 2012 preference cascade".
What I believe we are seeing here is the beginning of a “preference cascade,” a term made popular by Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame.   It’s a fascinating concept, applied originally to the process by which oppressive governments fall. 

A large population can be dominated by a small group only by persuading all dissenters that they stand alone.   Most of their fellow citizens are portrayed as loyal to the regime, and everyone around the dissident is a potential informer.   A huge dissident population can therefore be suppressed, by making them believe they’re all lonely voices in the wilderness… until the day they begin realizing they are not alone, and most people don’t support the regime.   The process by which dissent becomes seen as commonplace, and eventually overwhelming, is the preference cascade.
So, we ask ourselves, are individual Democrats coming to believe they are not alone in thinking President Obama is not the Hope and Change they thought he was?  Are individual Republicans coming to think that maybe they weren't the only ones who liked Governor Romney as a choice?  Sometimes a rapid sea change was building for a long time.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bill Clinton in Wisconsin

In The Washington Post we have Greg Sargent writing "Bill Clinton hits a home run in Wisconsin.  Will it be enough?"
Bill Clinton, in his speech in Wisconsin just now, framed the recall election as a stark choice between unity and division, between cooperation and conflict, and between shared prosperity and right wing winner-take-all economics.
On the other hand, on the ground, reporting from Wisconsin we have Professor Ann Althouse saying "Bill Clinton did not come to Wisconsin to help Tom Barrett win the recall election."
The Democrats have given so little help to Tom Barrett in his effort to oust Scott Walker, but Bill Clinton did show up for a rally yesterday, 4 days before the recall election.
She then proceeds to suggest that the Clinton visit was all about Hillary in 2016.

It is all about Hillary and 2016.

Strategic Vision combined with the art of the political compromise.  But isn't that what politics is all about, compromise when it works?  William Jefferson Clinton is a master at this sort of thing.

Regards  —  Cliff

Walter Duranty Prize

Did you know there was a new prize for Journalism, the Walter Duranty Prize?  Neither did I.  It is named after a long forgotten reporter for The New York Times, Walter Duranty.
PJ Media and The New Criterion are now accepting nominations for what our readers consider the most egregious example of dishonest reporting for the fiscal year 2011-2012 (July 1, 2011-June 30, 2012).

This prize is named after Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow correspondent in the 1920s and 1930s who whitewashed Joseph Stalin’s forced starvation of the Ukrainians (the Holodomor) and many other aspects of Soviet oppression.  Duranty was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for his efforts.
I think it is fitting.

You can submit your nomination here.

Yes, I see no reason to not include local media, from Lowell Blogs, to City Life, to WCAP, to the Valley Patriot, to The Sun.  I guess you could throw in the Boston Media as well.

For those who question this whole enterprise, I note that one of the judges has my first name and my cousin's last name.  I don't think you could find a better indication of integrity than that.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  No, Walter Duranty was not the person who coined the phrase "I have seen the future and it works".  That was Lincoln Steffens.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Father of the Nuclear Navy

Via The Instapundit we have a link that goes to a story on then Navy Captain Hyman Rickover.  Interestingly, Admiral was an immigrant from a Polish Shtetl before WWII. During WWII his village of origin was wiped out by the Germans under GENERALPLAN OST.

Admiral Rickover, commissioned out of the Naval Academy in 1922, had to deal with the ingrained anti-Semetism of the US Navy of the day, which he did by hard work and efficiency.

Regards  —  Cliff

Citizens United—Montana Version

One of the nice things about federalism is that one can see a variety of solutions worked out for a single problem.  In this case the Great State of Montana goes a separate way from SCOTUS and it's Citizens United ruling.  Columnist George Will of The Washington Post writes about it.

Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff