Sunday, September 30, 2012

There is a Limit to Taxation

For John, BLUFEven in Pre-1492 Islamic Culture the smart guys knew that high taxes were bad for the economy.  Nothing to see; just move along.

Or so says Blogger David Foster, at the Chicago Boyz:

It should be known that at the beginning of a dynasty, taxation yields a large revenue from small assessments.  At the end of the dynasty, taxation yields a small revenue from large assessments.
It is obvious that he is quoting someone else, someone with a more archaic vocabulary.  Later within a long extract, there is this:
If one understands this, he will realize that the strongest incentive for cultural activity is to lower as much as possible the amounts of individual imposts [taxes] levied upon persons capable of undertaking cultural enterprises.  In this manner, such persons will be psychologically disposed to undertake them, because they can be confident of making a profit from them.
The original author is Ibn KhaldÅ«n, the great Muslim historian, in his Introduction to History.  There are things to be learned from the vigorous culture that stretched from Spain East to Iran and beyond in those years before European culture recaptured Spain and Portual and then headed West across the Atlantic.

You can read the whole blog post, "Economic Policy Advice From 1377 AD", here.  There is more extracted from the book at the link.

Regards  —  Cliff

Newer Dollar Coins

For John, BLUFThe US Mint moved the Motto and some folks couldn't see it at its new location.  Congress told the Mint to fix it.  Nothing to see; just move along.

I recently saw, pasted to the door of an office, a printed copy of a web page showing a dollar coin and noting that the words "In God We Trust" had been removed from the face (obverse) of the new "Presidential" dollar coins.  I pick up dollar coins at my local bank drive through, when they are available, to use in local Lowell parking meters—they work just fine and are two coins for two hours, rather than eight.  Thus, I had several to check out.  Three didn't have the US motto and two did.

So, I decided to cheat and check out Snopes, the "Progressive" fact checker.  There it was.  For a few years the US Mint had authority from the US Congress to stamp the Motto on the rim of the coin.  And there it was, but not as well defined as similar stampings that I remember from larger German coins.

I think this would be described by the Williams Twins as an unforced error.

Maybe we can now return to our normal hopes and dreams, our happy place, where all is well and back in place.  As Writer John Cheever tells us

The last to come is Jupiter. He prances through the tomato vines, holding in his generous mouth the remains of an evening slipper.  Then it is dark; it is a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains.
Is it Hannibel or clouds?

Regards  —  Cliff

  The short story, "The Country Husband".  In my humble opinion, the protagonist is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress.

Another View On Current Turmoil Over There

For John, BLUFMiddle East actors, nation states and terrorist groups alike, are working an internal struggle, but they sometimes like to drag us in.  The pot is currently simmering, but could go to boil in the next three months.

Joe Mazzafro, who I don't know from Adam's odd ox, tries to connect some dots in the Near and Middle East.  The title of his on-line commentary is "Bad Movies and Threats to CONUS", and it can be found here.  I think he does a good job of looking at the issues that underlie ongoing unrest in the Arab/Muslim world.  Once again, it isn't about us.  He ends up:

Given what we are experiencing right now it seems likely that we are going experience another attack on our homeland before we have the national debate called for by 9/11 Commission on how much of our civil liberties we are willing to trade for our security.   A denial of service attack against YouTube or its parent Google just feels like something we should be anticipating before Election Day.

That’s what I think; what do you think?

My own opinion is to look for something more physical.  I don't think these various terrorist bands are pro anyone.  I do think they want to send a signal to the US as a whole, and any target, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, will do.

And, there is the possibility of war in that neighborhood.  One of the things about revolutions is that they kick up a lot of dust.  From the French Revolution we got war that spread as far as Spain, Egypt and the gates of Moscow.  It resulted in the reconfiguration of the United States, with the Louisiana Purchase, and spun off the War of 1812.

While I am not impressed with the Obama Administration Foreign Policy for the Near and Middle East, I am not sure there is a great policy out there.  We need to muddle through.  It is the Anglo-Saxon way.  Keep calm and carry on.

And let's not be giving up our Civil Rights, e.g., The First Amendment.

Regards  —  Cliff

  It isn't all bad news out there.  I do think there are some successes out there.  Libya's response to the Benghazi incident has been positive.

Spam

For John, BLUFShould I (CRK) deal with spam comments, instead of you?

I just deleted near a hundred comments that Blogger ID'd as SPAM.  They were from the 15th of this month to today.  These spam comments have showed up in such numbers since I turned off that irritating "prove you're not a robot" feature that required commenters to put in random letters and numbers as a code while publishing their comment.

Do you like it better without that code system?

Regards  —  Cliff

Don't Be Shrinkng The Circle

For John, BLUFBe careful about excluding someone God wouldn't exclude.

In the Roman Catholic Mass Readings for today (Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time) are two that, among other things, say we should not be too quick to dismiss those who are not following our specific formula.  In the First Reading, The Book of Numbers (11:25-29), Moses draws up a list of 72 who will receive a portion of the Spirit God has bestowed on Moses.  There is a meeting outside the camp and 70 make it and receive the Spirit.  As with any big operation, two don't get the word.  Even so, Eldad and Medad, back in the camp, get their share of the spirit. 

Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses' aide, said,
"Moses, my lord, stop them."
But Moses answered him,
"Are you jealous for my sake?
Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets!
Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!"
Moss isn't so much concerned about the process as he is the outcome.  Let's not be excluding those touched by God in some other way.

The same approach shows up in Mark's Gospel (9:38-43, 45, 47-48)

At that time, John said to Jesus,
"Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us."
Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him.
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
who can at the same time speak ill of me.
For whoever is not against us is for us."
The same principle.

Then there was the Second Reading, from The Epistle of James (5:1-6), which appeared to be a paid Democratic Party advertisement, attacking Republicans, excoriating the 1%, people like Elizabeth Warren and her husband.  It starts out:

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries.
But, it doesn't give us an arbitrary percentage.  Maybe the other readings inform this one.  Maybe the problem goes to those who got rich by cheating the workers.
Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers
who harvested your fields are crying aloud;
and the cries of the harvesters
have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
To be a good Republican you have to understand Catholic social teachings, or it's corollary elsewhere.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Bad Bible joke.  Who in the Bible, outside the Garden of Eden, had no father?  Joshua, son of Nun.

Parking Data

For John, BLUFNothing to see; just move along.

I am parking the number "4000" here for a while.

Feel free to talk about anything you wish to in the Comments.

Regards  —  Cliff

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Danger of High IQ

For John, BLUFIt takes brains to screw up big time.

Someone sent along this comment, attributed to Thomas Sowell.

There is usually only a limited amount of damage that can be done by dull or stupid people.  For creating a truly monumental disaster, you need people with high IQs.
I suspect people have been saying this from before the time humans mated with Neanderthals.

As I was selecting a "Tag" for this post I accidentally hit "Congress".  I was tempted to leave it, but then thought that it was too direct and that, also, it might be an insult to all the other people in the two Houses.

Regards  —  Cliff

"Right To…"

For John, BLUFOur State Constitution says we have a "right" clean air and water, and freedom from too much noise, etc, and the General Court can seize assets to make it so.  Nothing to see; just move along.

Looking at our Constitution here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:

Article XCVII. Article XLIX of the Amendments to the Constitution is hereby annulled and the following is adopted in place thereof: - The people shall have the right to clean air and water, freedom from excessive and unnecessary noise, and the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic qualities of their environment; and the protection of the people in their right to the conservation, development and utilization of the agricultural, mineral, forest, water, air and other natural resources is hereby declared to be a public purpose.

The general court shall have the power to enact legislation necessary or expedient to protect such rights.

In the furtherance of the foregoing powers, the general court shall have the power to provide for the taking, upon payment of just compensation therefor, or for the acquisition by purchase or otherwise, of lands and easements or such other interests therein as may be deemed necessary to accomplish these purposes.

Lands and easements taken or acquired for such purposes shall not be used for other purposes or otherwise disposed of except by laws enacted by a two thirds vote, taken by yeas and nays, of each branch of the general court.

I always thought that "Rights" were against the Government, and not against nature.  Granted, some of this is about one group of people exploiting the environment in ways another group doesn't like, but still, the use of the term "Rights" is bothersome to me.

Regards  —  Cliff

How DC is Working

For John, BLUFBob Woodward's new book suggests a lot of the blame for problems in Washington belongs on the carpet in the Oval Office.  Nothing to see; just move along.

This from the blog of Harvard Professor Greg Mankiw.  While panning the critical book about President Obama, The Amateur, he gives credence to the new Bob Woodward book, The Price of Politics.

It is a detailed recounting of the back-and-forth negotiations among President Obama's White House, the Republican leaders in the House of Representatives, and the major players in the Senate regarding the debt ceiling and long-term fiscal outlook.  The book is primarily an objective narrative, rather than a foaming-at-the-mouth polemic (unlike the over-the-top book The Amateur, which I read over the summer).  Nonetheless, the story Woodward tells does not make this White House look particularly good.
This does not make one optimistic about what will happen come the new year, when Sequestration hits us.

I may need to rethink my broad brush view of the faculty at Harvard.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Professor Mankiw is into the idea of Pigovian Tax.  There is a mouthful.

The Bicycle and Commuting

For John, BLUFSome would like to see more folks commute by bicycle, no matter how much it hurts.  I don't see this applying to you.  Nothing to see; just move along.

I find it amusing that my liberal city puts so much tax money into amenities that serve, overwhelmingly, its white male population.
Thus ends Law Professor Ann Althouse's blog post, "Madison, where the powerful bike lobby pushes for policies that will get 20% of workers commuting by bike...".  She then goes on to note that "... bicycle commuting dropped to only 4.69% in 2011. The previous year it was 6.03%."  The post can be found here.

Frankly, I am dubious about statistics on bicycle use that go to the second decimal point.  The Wall Street Journal article upon which the blog post is based just adds to my sense that the numbers are given with an accuracy unwarranted.

The bicycle is being pushed in Lowell and we even now have Sharrows and bike lanes.  I hope that we are not going to expend a lot of taxpayer money to benefit solely white Caucasian males and those who emulate them.  On the other hand, it might help that population group grow healthier and at the same time it might reduce carbon emissions into our collective atmosphere, so isn't it helping everybody, and might it not be a good investment?

That said, is 20% using bicycles a reasonable goal for commuters in Madison, Wisconsin?  Would it be here in Lowell, even if we considered that riding to the train by bike counted?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Sharrows is a compression of two words, Share Arrows, and says that auto and truck and motorcycle drivers are legally bound to share the rode with bicycle riders.

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Concern About Todd Akin

For John, BLUFAn assertion at The New Yorker magazine that Republicans don't believe in science.  Also, a tamping down of Democratic Expectations for 6 November.  Nothing to see; just move along.

I earlier put up a blog post that touched on the Missouri senate race between incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill and Missouri Representative Todd Ayers.  (And thanks to Chris for enhancing that post by point out that the free phones mentioned came in under the reign of Ronaldus Magnus.)

Over at The New Yorker is an article titled "If Todd Akin Wins".  Not withstanding his gaff with the phrase “legitimate rape” and the subsequent round condemnation from all quarters, he stayed in the race.  It now seems The New Yorker thinks he again has some chance of winning, and thus the article.  One of the hits on Rep Akin is that he is (a) stupid or (b) doesn't understand about science or (c) all of the above.  In the comments to the article was this snarky item by someone who apparently believes in Darwin and evolution but hates the messiness of science.

Science is a vast left-wing conspiracy.
I wonder if that means that engineering is a vast right-wing conspiracy?

Regards  —  Cliff

Who Are the Grownups?

For John, BLUFThe Republican Establishment is throwing Mitt Romney under the Bus, so they will look insightful if he loses in November.

Over at Real Clear politics Mr Benjamin Domenech writes an Opinion Piece, "After Foisting Romney on Base, GOP Elites Now Start to Gripe".

We see three different groups in play here, the candidate, the grass roots and the Party Apparatchiks, all of which I discussed here.  Per the author, the Apparatchiks are now whining about the Candidate.  It is up to the grass roots, the People, to save the candidacy.

Frankly, I am waiting for His Honor, Mayor Tom Bradley, for whom I voted for Governor, back in the day, to weigh in.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Obama Phone

For John, BLUFFree cell phones are bad political optics, but may actually help the less fortunate.  Nothing to see; just move along.

As we know, sitting Senator Claire McCaskill is being challenged by the inept US Representative Todd Akin.

Here is a plus for the Senator, from her web page, "McCaskill Moves to Stop Government Waste in Free Phone Program".  Well, the phones aren't free.  Those of us who pay phone bills pay for them.

This came up after an SEIU paid protestor outside a Romney rally in Bedford, Ohio, outside of Cleveland, 26 September, talked about her Obama Cell Phone.  A good program, but bad optics.

Actually, the idea of giving, say, the homeless, cell phones, makes some sense.  That way those who are interested in jobs are always available to those who may have their name and number and a job for them.  The program may, in the long run, save taxpayers money.  Besides helping people get work, it may serve to reduce the stress induced by being disconnected from family.  Less stress means better health and thus fewer trips to the emergency room.  Life is complicated and it takes some thought to find the best path to success.  In the end, it is about helping the homeless become taxpayers, and a successful part of this great American experiment.

In the mean time, Lowell is looking at its Seventh Conference on Homelessness, later in October.  Food Security and Healthy Living is the topic and the date is 26 October, starting at 8:30 AM, but with Registration at 8:00.  The location is the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren Street in Downtown Lowell.  Costs must be defrayed, so there is a $25.00 registration fee (includes breakfast and box lunch).  And, there is a "Gleaning Event" on 3 October at 9:30 AM at Farmer Dave’s farm, 437 Parker Road, Dracut, MA.  This event is free.  To participate, RSVP to King Linda at LKing@lowellma.gov or call (978) 674-1428.

Regards  —  Cliff

Space as a Place in the Election

For John, BLUFSpace is a vacuum and nothing is happening.  Nothing to see; just move along.

From Jeff Foust (editor and publisher of The Space Review) we have this evaluation of how the two major campaigns are looking at Space Policy.

Regards  —  Cliff

Free Speech v Offending God

For John, BLUFThe Third Commandment is back, with a vengeance.  Nothing to see; just move along.

It is Breitbart, but still, this does seem timely and interesting.  "Islamic Leaders in Dearborn Michigan Plan Rally to Support Speech Prohibition".  They are, of course, concerned about blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed.  From the article:

In other words, it appears one of the goals of the rally will be the eventual creation of blasphemy laws:  laws that would reflect an international movement toward banning speech that is critical of Islam or Mohammed.
So, does that mean the use of terms like "Jesus F------ Christ!" will be banned outside of private settings, or banned in all settings.

It seemed like only a few decades ago that we got rid of Blasphemy laws.  Now they are coming back?  I would propose for our Commonwealth here in Massachusetts something like:

Whoever wilfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, his creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars, and may also be bound to good behavior.
I would put it in our General Laws.  Part IV, Crimes, Punishments, and Proceedings in Criminal Cases, TITLE I, Crimes and Punishments, CHAPTER 272, Crimes Against Chastity, Morality, Decency and Good Order, Section 36, and call it Blasphemy.

Regards  —  Cliff

  "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain."
  1. Rudeness or contempt arising from arrogance; insolence.  2. An insolent or arrogant remark or act.  Not a Twenty-first Century word.  On the other hand, Blasphemy is not a Twenty-first Century crime.
  Maybe we should just go with our last such law.  But then that is what is quoted.  But then you figured that out, n'est pas?

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

The US in the Middle East—Impotence

For John, BLUFIn the Middle East:  It's Not About Us.

I am a little slow in posting this piece by Mr Michael A Cohen in Foreign Policy.  Mr Cohen is a Democratic Party type, but this is pretty even handed.  Here is the end of the article:

That's a message you're not going to hear on the campaign trail.  Republicans will keep on insisting that Obama should be do more and Obama officials will insist that their policies for the region are working in shaping positive outcomes.

But don't believe a word of it.  We're more impotent then we think and the sooner we realize it, the better our foreign policy will be.

What this really means is that we need new ideas and a public that will support learning and experimenting.

Regards  —  Cliff

A View of Prof E Warren

For John, BLUFProf Elizabeth Warren is a bureaucratic scold.  Nothing to see; just move along.

I have my own reasons for favoring Senator Scott Brown over Law Professor Elizabeth Warren in the Massachusetts Senate race.  But, here is George Mason University Law Professor Michael S. Greve, who thinks a good reason to be against Ms Warren is because she is a nag.  Not in a small, family, sort of way, but in a big, Federal, bureaucratic way.

What he [Scott Brown] hasn’t said and probably won’t say:  she is a nag.  A scold.  An ideologue.  An advocate of a nanny state beyond a Swedish socialist’s wildest imagination.  A bureaucratic Bruegel who paints an America of victims—pathetic figures in a landscape of unremitting hostility.  Also, Professor Warren is an economic idiot.
That last was a bit harsh.

He does provide examples.

Regards  —  Cliff

Massachusetts Constitution

For John, BLUFThey can make you vote.

I wonder what this means?

Article LXI.  The general court shall have authority to provide for compulsory voting at elections, but the right of secret voting shall be preserved.
Regards  —  Cliff

Breaking Gridlock in DC

For John, BLUFE J Dionne thinks gridlock is about partisan politics and ignores the possibility it might be about economic ideas in conflict, and thus the best path out of the Recession.

Yesterday's [Lowell] Sun had an OpEd by Columnist E J Dionne.  The title was "Can This Election Break the Partisan Party Gridlock?  You can find it here, at least for a while.  Mr Dionne talks about the problem in DC being about politics and elections and ignores the fact that we have a hugh recession and the two parties are presenting two opposing ways of solving the problem.  On the one hand, you have the Keyensians, pushing a plan that cuts taxes and increases Federal outlays to spur the economy.  On the other hand you have something that might be called the Chicago School (or reference F A Hayek), which believes that recessions are about bad investments, which must be purged to clear up the system.  These two views are not compatible.

Showing that he doesn't understand, Mr Dionne concludes:

If Obama wants to do more than survive, he thus has to fight a bigger and broader campaign that targets not only Romney but also a GOP congressional apparatus that has moved the party far to the right.  Paradoxically, Republicans who want to bring their party to a more sensible place share an interest with Democrats in the president doing just this.  It will take real toughness to produce more peaceable politics.
This misses the point that we have irreconcilable differences and to cut a deal in the middle is to give us the worst of both possible worlds.  Why doesn't Mr Dionne grapple with the real issue?  It could be that he doesn't understand it, but I suspect he just thinks Republicans and the Chicago School are stupid (putting him in the Paul Krugman School—as opposed to the less caustic Keynesian, Professor Brad DeLong).

Sometimes there are no easy answers.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Here is the version in The Washington Post.

  That is Chicago as in the University, not Chicago as in Municiple Politics.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"America's Dumbest War, Ever"

For John, BLUFNew guidance to our forces in Afghanistan are not furthering the mission.  Should the mission chance?  Nothing to see; just move along.

Meanwhile, back at Chiang Mai, Michael Yon gives us a soldier's letter home to his Father.  The son says they are no longer patrolling outside the wire and air-to-surface weapons are banned.  Neither, if true, will add to the safety of our Service members in Afghanistan.

…because of this massive change in policy (and complete change in mission) all U.S. forces are forbidden to actively patrol their AO and are to remain on their respective COPs/FOBs.  There are only a few exceptions to this rule and they all pertain to "hardening" highway 1 in our AO.  We have received orders that clearly state that all CF [Coalition Forces] will no longer be allowed to drop air to ground munitions within the country of Afghanistan.  This preempts Karzi's announcement that will be made shortly that states the above mentioned order, making it a tactical directive that he is ordering.
It's war and he may have the scuttlebutt wrong in detail, but it sounds right in general.

Last week I was a supporter of the war in Afghanistan, but this week I am a fence sitter.

UPDATE:  Here is a comment from a random individual:

I was told recently by a gentleman who was on the ground in the 1980's arming the Muj that the Soviets had green on blue (red) in the same places that we have them when they tried forming militias.  In light of our strategic mistake of conducting something other than a punitive raid and staying after May 2002, tactical actions are irrelevant
Not edifying,

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  Michael Yon is an independent writer, but not financially independent.  Consider hitting his "Tip Jar".

Lord Keynes, Frustrated

For John, BLUF:  Environmental laws tie the hands of Federal and State Governments trying to stimulate the economy through big construction projects.

I was thinking, the other day, about how environmental and other laws, Federal and Local, were frustrating development of "shovel-ready" projects that would allow the execution of stimulus actions a la the Keynesian view of economics.—roughly, cut taxes and spend government money.

Here is an example of such a frustration, in this case relating to the California High Speed Rail Project.  Here is the key paragraph:

President Obama’s stimulus allocated $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, including, eventually, up to $3.5 billion for California’s project.  However, according to the stimulus law, California must begin construction on the project before December 31, 2012 or they will not be eligible for any more high speed rail stimulus dollars.  Obama’s Transportation Department reaffirmed this time limit last year when they admitted they had “no administrative authority to change this deadline.”
Granted, it was The Washington Examiner, but the principle seems right.

Regards  —  Cliff

Is Victory Everything?

For John, BLUF:  In the international arena you sometimes have to be prepared to cut your losses.

Army Colonel, and History PhD, Gian Gentile, gives us an OpEd, in the Jerusalem Post, based upon a phrase I had to learn as "Fourth Class Knowledge" at the Air Force Academy—General MacArthur's Message from the Far East:

From the Far East I send you one single thought, one sole idea—written in red on every beachhead from Australia to Tokyo—there is no substitute for victory.
The title of the OpEd is "War: Sometimes there ‘is’ a substitute for victory"

Sometimes the way a military fights a war results in it reaching a point where it is no longer worth the amount of blood and treasure invested to fight it in that way.

The most dangerous statement by a military man in modern times was uttered by Gen. Douglas MacArthur when he lectured his political master President Harry Truman in 1951 that in war, “there is no substitute for victory.”

MacArthur had been in command of American and allied forces fighting the Chinese and remnants of the North Korean Army in Korea in early 1951 and he believed the only way to win in Korea was for Truman to allow him to fight the war in whatever way he deemed best.

If that meant taking the war directly to the Chinese, with the possibility of bringing about World War III, so be it, thought MacArthur. After all, a World War II hero who led Allied forces in the unconditional surrender of Japan, MacArthur believed that once war starts, military victory is the only goal and can have no substitute.

The problem, however, is that MacArthur was wrong: in some wars, there are substitutes for victory. Sometimes the way a military fights a war results in it reaching a point where it is no longer worth the amount of blood and treasure invested to fight it in that way.

When you look at the war in Afghanistan, you see a conflict where it is worth asking if there is a substitute for victory.

This is an important question and one being argued by players outside and inside the Government at this time.  Thus the reference to writer Max Boot.  Do you have an opinion?

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Red Crescent

For John, BLUF:  Not everyone uses a Red Cross on the battlefield to signal medical personnel (Per Geneva Convention, non-combatants).

Michael Yon took this photograph of an armed medic last year in Zhari District, Afghanistan.

The medic, a member of the Afghan Army, is wearing the "Red Crescent" indication of his being a medic.  But, unlike US medics, he is armed.

Actually, he is wearing the emblem of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

So, who is he signaling?  I would think his fellow Afghan soldiers.  "Hey, I'm your medic!"

Regards  —  Cliff

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Yes, Bad Republicans

For John, BLUF:  Republican State Rep in Florida resigned after being linked to prostitution operation (not as a client).  Having done the wrong thing he did the right thing.  Article support's Rush's rule that if it was a Democrat the party affiliation would have been in the sixth paragraph.  Here it is in the first.

Yes, bad Republicans exist, such as Florida State Rep Mike Horner, caught up in Prostitution and Racketeering.  He not only quit the race for reelection, but he resigned his seat.  This notwithstanding from the State Attorney General's office:

“We’re not interested in the representative,” said Bernie Presha, a spokesperson for the state attorney’s office in Orlando, which has not released details of their investigation into the alleged prostitution ring.
Mr Horner did the right thing.  He has disgraced himself, his family, his office and his party.

Regards  —  Cliff

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Stuck in the Mud

For John, BLUF:  In Afghanistan, at the "tactical" level, we seem to be going through the motions, rather than being innovative and smartly aggressive.  Further, technology is not a replacement for training, leadership and a quality circle approach to learning from those at the coal face.

"Stuck in the Mud" is the title of a blog post by Writer Michael Yon.  The issue is the Afghan War at the level of the individual Soldier or Marine.

War is usually visualized as being composed of Tactical, Operational and Strategic levels.  At the strategic level we have the President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, and people of that ilk deciding the big questions, which revolve around what we will do before the 2014 US/NATO withdrawal, and after.  As some say, matching Ends, Ways and Means.

The operational level is big unit employment.

The tactical level is small units, although in a big war (e.g.; World War II), Army wise, it can include corps level units.  It is at the tactical level that Michael Yon has been embedded.  At that level he has noticed the inability of the Department of Defense to adapt to the environment.  For example, the Army's insistence on flying MEDEVAC helicopters with Red Crosses and thus unarmed.  The Taliban doesn't respect the Red Cross.  It does no good.  Insistence on the Red Cross sometimes delays medical evacuations.  This does not make good "tactical" sense.

It does sound like we have lost our way.  Read the whole thing.

Related is a book, Mud:  A Military History, by C.E. Wood.

Regards  —  Cliff

  My formulation is "Matching objectives, threats and opportunities in a resource constrained environment".

What is the UN SG Actually Saying?

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy is a discussion of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, talking about blasphemy and freedom of expression.  It is from a 19 September press conference.  The key quote:
When some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected in such a way.
This quote can be found here, toward the bottom of the web page.

Law Professor Volokh comments:

This view on the part of the Secretary-General is not surprising; many governments and world leaders do indeed support banning supposed blasphemy, “defamation of religions,” and similar provocative or humiliating speech. But it’s still worth noting, I think, especially when we decide whether to legitimize U.N. action related to such matters.
So what are the limits?  If an angel speaks to me and gives me a new revelation, is that protected, or, if the revelation rejects previous faiths, am I committing blasphemy?  How about if your reason leads you to reject all faiths?  Are you free to state that and explain your position?

Sign me as still confused by this ongoing conversation.

Regards  —  Cliff

Polling Data, Presidential Election

From the Althouse blog we have this post:  "The window is narrowing for Romney, and he’s in deep, deep trouble."  This is a quote from Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, who worked on the POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll.  Frankly, the Althouse post is all about being snarky about Ms Lake.  By the way, did you hear where Rep Barney Frank was calling Senator Scott Brown snarky.  Barney Frank thinks Scott Brown is snarky?

But, back to our story, Ms Lake says:

Ultimately, people don’t like this guy.  If they don’t like someone, it’s hard to get people to vote for him — particularly to fire someone they do like.
I have fired someone I liked, over someone I didn't like as much—it was my choice.

Sure, we don't feel all warm and fuzzy about Governor Romeny.  He is not Greta Garbo.  On the other hand, we feel that this is our hope for change in the nation.  If this is about the fact that we didn't like Romney and liked Obama, why are the numbers stalled where they are?  I know; it is too early in the campaign for the numbers to solidify.

In the mean time, Professor Althouse notes that:

Only 23% of likely voters think the killing of Christopher Stevens was a "spontaneous reactions to an anti-Islamic video."  57% say it was "planned in advance."  And 85% "believe it is likely that terrorists were involved."
The Professor then extracts from the article this interesting item:
Younger voters are far less convinced than their elders that the protests at U.S. embassies in the Middle East have been planned in advance.  Female voters are not as sure of that as male voters are.
Well, actually, that seems to conflate the Embassy demonstration and the murder of our Ambassador to Libya and three of his companions.

I think people are still wrestling with the facts, as they come pouring trickling in.  But, given that the half-life of a political memory is 90 days, we are now inside the window of maximum retained memory.

Rush, just now, said he thinks the polls are just putting us on an "emotional roller coaster", which is designed to suppress Republican voting.  You pays your money and you picks your dog whistle.

But, new polling comes forward all the time, such as UnSkewed Polls.  On the other hand, In Trade has Romney at 29.4 and Obama at 70.8.  While it is crowd sourcing, it is probably a limited crowd.

Check back with me in November and I will tell you how it all came out.

Regards  —  Cliff

QE 3 Critiqued

For John, BLUF:  We don't know where the Federal Reserve is taking us.  It is a crap shoot.  Nothing to see; just move along.

Earlier this month the Federal Reserve Bank's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to give us QE3, or the third round of Economic stimulus.  From Wikipedia:

QE3 was announced on September 13, 2012. In an 11-to-1 vote, the Federal Reserve decided to launch a new $40 billion a month, open-ended, bond purchasing program of agency mortgage-backed securities; to continue until at least mid-2015.[62] According to NASDAQ.com, this is effectively a stimulus program which allows the Federal Reserve to print $40 billion dollars a month for an unlimited amount of time.[63] Ratings firm Egan-Jones said it believes the Fed’s decision “will hurt the U.S. economy and, by extension, credit quality.” As a result the firm once again slashed the U.S. bond rating bringing it down to AA-. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke aknowledged concerns about inflation.
In remarks before the Harvard Club of New York City, September 19, 2012, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Richard W. Fisher, said "We Are Sailing Deeper Into Uncharted Waters", economics wise.
It will come as no surprise to those who know me that I did not argue in favor of additional monetary accommodation during our meetings last week.  I have repeatedly made it clear, in internal FOMC deliberations and in public speeches, that I believe that with each program we undertake to venture further in that direction, we are sailing deeper into uncharted waters.  We are blessed at the Fed with sophisticated econometric models and superb analysts.  We can easily conjure up plausible theories as to what we will do when it comes to our next tack or eventually reversing course.  The truth, however, is that nobody on the committee, nor on our staffs at the Board of Governors and the 12 Banks, really knows what is holding back the economy.  Nobody really knows what will work to get the economy back on course. And nobody—in fact, no central bank anywhere on the planet—has the experience of successfully navigating a return home from the place in which we now find ourselves.  No central bank—not, at least, the Federal Reserve—has ever been on this cruise before.
"…allows the Federal Reserve to print $40 billion dollars a month for an unlimited amount of time."  I make that to be near half a trillion dollars a year.

This doesn't inspire confidence.

Regards  —  Cliff

Totten Gives Us The Big Picture

For John, BLUF:  Islamists do try to intimidate our citizens, here in the US, and we should all be troubled.

Michael J Totten writes about "The Terrorists’ Veto" in City Journal.  Here is a key paragraph from the article:

Six months ago in the New Republic, Berman reviewed a book by Paul Marshall and Nina Shea called Silenced:  How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes Are Choking Freedom Worldwide.  It makes for sobering reading.  Islamist murder and intimidation campaigns against apostates and blasphemers are so widespread and common nowadays that the authors managed to write 448 pages about them and only cover 20 countries.  Religious minorities are the principal victims, but so are liberals, free-thinkers, and humanists from every religious community.  “Our survey,” they write, “shows that in Muslim-majority countries and areas, restrictions on freedom of religion and expression, based on prohibitions of blasphemy, apostasy, and ‘insulting Islam,’ are pervasive, thwart freedom, and cause suffering to millions of people.”
Yes, it CAN happen here.  Michael Totten cites the case of Seattle Weekly cartoonist Molly Norris.  Back in 2010 the FBI put her into the Witness Protection Program, following her infamous "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" cartoon.

This is about our freedom and our way of life and our way of governing ourselves.  Give in to the threats and we will live in fear or more.

Regards  —  Cliff

-2 F W 0.5

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Draft Speech for 44

There is good news tonight. 

For John, BLUF:  It is humor—parts of past speeches stitched together.  Nothing to see; just move along.

I thought I was going to have to go to the blog of GrEaT sAtAn"S gIrLfRiEnD (American Exceptionalism, Foreign Policy Initiatives, Foreign Affairs, Diplomatic, Intelligence and Military Analysis).  But, no, they linked to Victor David Hanson, who originated this draft speech for President Obama with regard to the ongoing problems in the Middle (Near) East.  The first three paragraphs:

I know my country has not perfected itself.  At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people.  We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

But let’s be perfectly clear, the Middle East acted stupidly.

If the people of the Middle East cannot trust their governments to do the job for which they exist — to protect them and to promote their common welfare — all else is lost.  It’s not surprising, then, that those on the Arab street get bitter; they cling to their religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-American sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

If only.

Remember, for the whole thing, click here.

Regards  —  Cliff

Larry Flynt v Andrea Dworkin

For John, BLUF:  Another advocacy of Free Speech.

Professor Stephen L. Carter, a law professor at Yale, is a Bloomberg columnist.  In a piece titled "How Muslim Extremists Can Learn From Larry Flynt", he tells the Muslim extremists (and perhaps the Administration) that the First Amendment isn't going anyplace.

However, I think it is really about what they can learn from Author and Feminist Andrea Dworkin.  It starts with Mr Larry Flynt saying of Ms Dworkin that she "advocates bestiality, incest and sex with children".  This being the United States, she sued.

She lost.  The Supreme Court of Wyoming noted:

Ludicrous statements are much less insidious and debilitating than falsities that bear the ring of truth.  We have little doubt that the outrageous and the outlandish will be recognized for what they are.
If the outraged Salafists sue in Wyoming they will end up like Ms Drowkin.

I don't know if I agree with Proessor Carter's characterization of the following as the "best" First Amendment statement of the rule (Law Professor Ann Althouse doesn't) but I think it is pretty good:

The best statement of our constitutional rule remains the one announced by the U.S. Supreme Court 40 years ago in Police Department of the City of Chicago v. Mosley:  “To permit the continued building of our politics and culture, and to assure self-fulfillment for each individual, our people are guaranteed the right to express any thought, free from government censorship.”  The government, said the court, “has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.”
The author concludes:
…speech is only free if we protect it when we hate it.
And, besides, the early condemnation of the video turns out to have been a case of fire first and aim later.  One for Romney.

Bonus Info:  Professor Carter is the author of The Violence of Peace:  America’s Wars in the Age of Obama, and his most recent novel is The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln.

Regards  —  Cliff

Federal v Commercial Production Costs

For John, BLUF:  A book produced by a non-government outfit costs half as much as the same one produced by the Federal Government.  Nothing to see; just move along.

Because of some issue John McDonough has raised on City Life I purchased a copy of Nomination and Election of the President and Vice President of the United States, 2008 Including the Manner of Selecting Delegates to National Party Conventions.  That is a mouthful, but it is a Congressional Research Service report to the Committee on Rules and Administration United States Senate and it is date 2010.

Lots of good stuff in there.  I had purchased, for a nominal fee, an earlier edition for an earlier election.

Here is the question.  Why the high cost?

I purchased a copy with a slick cover, from Amazon, for $19.42, including shipping.  It is a commercial reproduction of the original Senate report.

I checked on line, once I had the document name, and found the US Government Bookstore is selling the original US Government Printing Office (GPO) version for $54.00.  Yes, that is more than twice as much.

So Uncle Sugar puts this together and sets it up to be printed and then can't print it as cheaply as some commercial firm?  I am assuming that the GPO is not working on a profit.

Why is the BiblioGov Project able to do this cheaper than the GPO?&nvsp; Maybe it s the two "fold-out" pages in the GPO edition (reduced to one page in the commercial version).  If that is the case, start shrinking pages.

Maybe I will ask our three down in DC.  Granted, Senator Brown and Representative Tsongas are busy with elections, but I bet they still beat Senator Kerry in responding.

Regards  —  Cliff

  John McDonough has asked, as have others, about why the taxpayers pay for Primary Elections for the Parties.  This is not to be confused with Preliminary Elections for local office, where a sufficient number of candidates will trigger a winnowing election to get the final field down to something the voters can easily get their arms around.  One guest on City Life was allowed to suggest that Primary Elections is in the US Constitution.  I don't think so.

-2 W T 10

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Protest Near City Hall

For John, BLUF:  Union protest at City Hall over who gets work.

In his Saturday Chat on page 3 of The [Lowell] Sun, Mr Kendall Wallace talks about three issues going on in our community, including honoring the late Paul Sullivan and also Ken Harkins.  He talks about CNAG and gun violence.  He also talks about downtown renovation and about the work Trinity Financial is doing in the former Freudenberg building.

What Mr Wallace does not mention is that there were IBEW members holding a sign down on the sidewalk in front of City Hall.  I saw them two different days last week.  This did not seem to be a picketing operation, as they were not near the work site and were not preventing people from entering or leaving the work site.

At least one of them was the same guy (north end of the sign).  The argument from the Union man was that the Union helped get the permits for earlier like work and now the work is going to non-union folks.  Is this a true representation of the facts?  I don't know, but I do know that fair is fair.  I think unions are good for the workers, but at the same time I don't think everyone should have to belong to a union to work.  That takes us back almost a thousand years, to craft guilds, which excluded others from their work.

I would like to see something in our newspaper on this.  Maybe there has been and I missed it. 

Regards  —  Cliff

  Remember, articles in The [Lowell] 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.

Editorial Page Update Pool

For John, BLUF:  The EMail for Letters to the Editor at The [Lowell] Sun goes nowhere.  When will the dead tree Editorial Page be updated?

This starts in September, and will be updated as needed.  I first posted on this on the 17th of September (5:19 PM), here.  I have October 12th, because it is an important day for the Editor.

SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
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CRK
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Take a stab at it.  EMail me or post a comment.  There is no money involved, so it is all about bragging rights.

Regards  —  Cliff

Rumors About Senator Harry Reid

For John, BLUF:  Governor Romney seems pretty straight forward and Senator Harry Reid seems like a "creepy-great-uncle" type.  Nothing to see; just move along.

Over at the InstaPundit we find this post:

READER GAVIN KIRK WRITES:
Now that we have cleared up whether Mitt Romney has paid taxes in 20 years, when will Harry Reid step forward to clear up these troubling [deleted] rumors we keep hearing about him from various ‘sources’?  It seems like it's high time for him to come clean!
We have no definitive evidence that they aren’t true.  And he does give off a sort of creepy-great-uncle vibe. . . .
Well, then there is the question of what the ever gracious Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, had to say:
The information released today reveals that Mitt Romney manipulated one of the only two years of tax returns he’s seen fit to show the American people – and then only to ‘conform’ with his public statements.  That raises the question:  what else in those returns has Romney manipulated? We already know Romney has money in tax havens in Switzerland, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.  What we don’t know is why he refuses to be straight with the American people about the choices he’s made in his financial life.  When will the American people see the returns he filed before he was running for president?  Governor Romney is showing us what he does when the public is looking.  The true test of his character would be to show what he did when everyone was not looking at his taxes.

It’s also galling to see the creative accounting Mitt Romney applied to his own tax returns only days after learning of his insulting comments that seniors, soldiers and hard-working parents don’t pay enough taxes.  Once again, we see Mitt Romney is out of touch with middle class families, who don’t have the luxury of accounting wizards and foreign tax shelters.  It’s obvious he believes in two sets of rules: one for him, and one for the middle class.  He says he wants to be president for only half the people but he acts like he only cares for the top two percent.  Despite the fiscal cliff looming in just over three months, Mitt Romney refuses to explain the details of his tax policy.  Will the policies he proposes benefit all Americans, or only multi-millionaires like him [and me]?

So, Mr Reid, who is a multimillionaire, thinks that because Governor Romney took advantage of the tax code the Senator helped to create that he, Governor Romney, is a manipulator.  What about the Senator, who helped create that tax code.  And how did he become a millionaire?  Add that to the other rumors.

But, looking down range, if by chance Governor Romney wins in November, and the Democrats retain the Senate, is Mr Reid going to do a pivot and change his demeanor so that he can work with Mr Romney, or will he continue to treat him contempt. Someone needs to check to see if Senator Reid is carrying a cane to the office.

Regards  —  Cliff -2 M T 0.7

Friday, September 21, 2012

There Is Good News Tonight

For John, BLUF:  Not all Arabs/Muslims are alike and the Libyans are looking like our friends.

At CNN some three hours ago is a report on a protest in Benghazi, Libya, against the terrorists from 11 September of this year, who gave their city a black eye.

Ten days after four Americans were killed in their Libyan city, hundreds marched in Benghazi and took over the headquarters of a radical Islamist group tied to the attack.

Thousands of protesters had taken to the street earlier Friday, loudly declaring that they—and not those behind last week's deadly attack—represent the real sentiments of the Libyan people.

As in almost everything in life the broad brush is too broad and a more nuanced approach is best.

There is a big difference between Libya and Egypt or Pakistan.  The attitude of the Libyan Government and People says we should continue to engage them and encourage them and help them.  Not all Arabs are alike.  Not all Muslims are alike.  We need to find those we can work with and work with them.

Regards  —  Cliff

Consideration of Others

For John, BLUF:  Drivers are inconsiderate.  Nothing to see; just move along.

Today, heading from the Post Office toward Drum Hill, approaching Cabot Street, on Father Morissette Blvd, I was in the Number 1 Lane and the driver in front of me wanted to make a left turn.  As you may recall, the lights signal straight ahead and right turn and then switch to a left turn arrow only.  As luck would have it, the driver in front of me was a left turner.  As things our in our Commonwealth, he didn't signal this, except by not moving when the straight ahead and right turn green arrows came on.

This reminded me of driving home last night (about 7:05), in Tewksbury, north on Route 38.  At the light where Main Street is crossed by Pike, Astie and Old Main, Route 38 widens to four lanes.  The car in the Number 1 Lane was showing no turn signal, and was a single, so I slid over behind that vehicle.  The Number 2 Lane had several cars stacked up.  I considered the possibility that the driver was a lurker, planning on turning left but not yet aware that he or she might be impacting others.  However, it was the shorter line and I was eventually turning left into Home Depot.

You guessed it.  The driver was turning left.  My wife spouse asserted that there was some correlation with this being a "Blue State".  Is that overly harsh?

Regards  —  Cliff

First Reports

For John, BLUF:  The narrative on the 11 September rioting in Egypt and Tunesians has changed and the video is diminished.  Nothing to see; just move along.

World Affairs Journal has an article on the Arab Street/Muslim World and the recent riots, based on updated information.  As Dead Carl tells us, first reports are usually wrong.  Here is Professor Ilana Kass on this:

My all time favorite quote (hated by every intel officer world-wide) is on p. 117 [of the Howard and Paret paperback version of On War]:   "Many intelligence reports in war are contradictory; even more are false, and most are uncertain…. Reports turn out to be lies, exaggerations, errors, and so on.   In short, most intelligence is false and the effect of fear is to multiply lies and inaccuracies."
The fact that facts emerging today are different from those presented by the Administration is not a knock on the Administration.  However, what is important is that our national understanding be updated as new information emerges.

The source of this review of things, World Affairs Journal, is a home for Bloggers Michael Totten and Ann Marlowe, who I trust.  So, here is Michael Weiss on the situation, with some background.  The video, Innocence of Muslims, seems a bit player in this drama, and a distraction for Americans.  There are much bigger fish being fried here.

The reason for again addressing this is that if we don't have this thing by the right end, we will not be able to set the proper course for the US in the Near and Middle East.

Regards  —  Cliff

-2 F W 5

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Japan Talking Back

For John, BLUF:  The Japan that can say no to the rest of Asia.

Since we have been focused on turmoil in the Muslim World, it might help us to know that Asia is having its own good time.  Recently China sailed two Coast Guard equivalent ships into Japanese waters to protest the Japanese Government purchase of the three islands known as Senkaku from private owners.  And, China insulted the US Defense Secretary by bringing up problems with Japan during a joint press briefing during Mr Penetta's recent visit.  And there has been rioting in the streets in China, against Japan.  Oh, and a Chinese General suggested preparing for war.

We have to remember that Japan was a major aggressor in Asia up until 1945—that would be 67 years ago.  The Japanese have been slow to apologize and the Chinese, Koreans and others have been slow to forgive.

In the 19 September 2012 issue of The Wall Street Journal Reporter Yuka Hayashi talks to "Rejecting Japan's Remorse, [Japanese] Nationalists Feed Asia Strife".  She gives us this tidbit:

"Shinzo Abe, a hawkish former prime minister vying for a comeback as head of the former ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has called for reconsideration of apologies Japanese leaders issued in the 1990s to soften lingering wartime tensions.  He told the Sankei newspaper in an interview published Aug. 28:  "Being excessively considerate to neighboring nations...has not brought us real friendship."
I wonder if there is something for us to learn there, aside from the need to muzzle some people?

I believe in being polite and being respectful, but that being supine is not helpful.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The author, Shintaro Ishihara, is currently the Governor of Tokyo.
  See, I am already taking sides.  The Chinese named is Diaoyu.

Antarctic Ice Growing

For John, BLUF:  South Pole ice at observed maximum, and under-reported by MSM.  Nothing to see; just move along.

At Forbes we have an article that acknowledges the shrinking Arctic Ice sheath (which, of and in itself might be a good thing, making sea transportation cheaper and increasing areas that can be farmed), but asserts that Antarctic ice is at a 33 year maximum.  The selection of 33 years is because we have been surveying the Antarctic from space for 33 years.

Frankly, my own take on this is that it is one more indication that the Mayan long cycle end on 21 December 2012 means the end.

Another explanation is that CAGW views may be (1) wrong or (2) distorted.  I bet there is a lot we don't know about weather and climate.  Remember the old saw—"How can you tell a weather person is lying?  You watch their lips."  

Regards  —  Cliff

  CAGW is Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming.  That means we did it and it is going to be terrible.  See here for example.

  No, Lance, this is not an attack on your Brother-in-Law.

Sen Brown May Be Ahead

For John, BLUF:  UMass Lowell poll says Brown pulling ahead.  Nothing to see; just move along.

Over at Instapundit is a reference to our very own UMass Lowell

MASSACHUSETTS NEWS: UMass/Herald poll:  Brown pulling ahead of Warren.  “There also is some troubling news for the well-financed Warren campaign.  Despite spending millions of dollars to tarnish Brown’s image, the GOP incumbent’s popularity has actually increased in the last nine months.  Brown is now viewed favorably by 57 percent of registered voters, up nine points from a UMass Lowell/Boston Herald poll conducted in Dec. 2011.  Brown’s unfavorable rating actually has dropped six points to 29 percent.  He is also drawing 22 percent of voters who say they will vote for President Obama.”
I have an extra Brown sign, if anyone wants it.

Regards  —  Cliff

Constitutional Originalism

For John, BLUF:  While there was slavery when we adopted the Constitution, thanks to five States (yeah, Massachusetts), Blacks did have skin in the game from the get-go.

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy we have Ilya Somin asking, "Were African-Americans Part of “We the People” at the Time of the Founding?"

Notwithstanding Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently making news by stating that Blacks were not part of “We the People” at the time of the Founding in the 1780s, it appears they were.  The basis of that assertion is that in five states Backs held full citizenship, and thus helped ratify the US Constitution.

Referring to US Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Curtis, who dissented in Dred Scott v. Sandford, Mr Somin says:
Earlier in the opinion, Curtis explained why citizens of states at the time of the Founding were legally citizens of the United States as well, and described the relevant laws of the five states he refers to:  New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and (most surprising) the southern state of North Carolina.

None of this negates the terrible reality that the vast majority of African-Americans in 1787 were slaves, and as such clearly were excluded from political participation and otherwise severely oppressed.  Even free blacks were also subjected to extensive official discrimination, including exclusion from the franchise in several states.  Nonetheless, it is not true that African-Americans were completely excluded from the “We the People” who established the Constitution.
So what?  In a subsequent post Mr Somin elaborates:
Some critics of originalism have argued that the original Constitution was illegitimate because it excluded blacks.  There is little doubt that the original Constitution tolerated severe racial injustices, most notably slavery.  But there is nonetheless a difference between a Constitution that left slavery and other injustices alone (in part because abolition was politically impossible at the time), and one that categorically denies all blacks any “rights which the white man was bound to respect,” as Taney put it.
If the Constitution is illegitimate, then are we living a lie?  If this becomes an issue, I would vote to readopt the current Constitution, as is, warts and all.  Once you move to change one thing it will be 52 card pickup.

Regards  —  Cliff

Bill Thompson RIP

Another funeral today.

We hear talk about "The Greatest Generation" passing away, but so to are the veterans of the Korean Conflict era.  and, in the case of LTC USA Army (Ret.) William John Thompson, Viet-nam.  Bill was 81 when he passed away peacefully on Friday, September 14, 2012.

Note his time in Iran, as a student.  It was a different time.

FYI:  ARMISH/MAAG was the US Army Mission to Iran and the Military Assistance Advisory Group.

Regards  —  Cliff

-2 F 0

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pew View

The Pew Trust says Candidate Barack Obama is ahead in the polls, "with Stronger Support, Better Image and Lead on Most Issues".

On the other hand, I thought I saw, on the web site, that they had a bridge for sale.

Regards  —  Cliff

Hitch On Free Speech

For John, BLUF:  If you won't protect the right of the ignorant and foolish to say what they will, you don't have free speech.

Law Professor Ann Althouse gives us a link to a 2006 talk by the late Writer Christopher Hitchens, in Toronto, talking about free speech.

And, a nice little discussion of Justice Holmes and the case where he introduced us to "shouting fire in a crowded theater".

I would like to draw a distinction.  If Joe Bagadonuts derides your video it is fine.  If he refuses to have it in his house, fine.  If YouTube bans it, not so good.  If the Government lifts a finger against it, that is very bad.  At that point every right-thinking American should stand up and say "Shame on the Government".

Here is the link to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

I Am Insulted

For John, BLUF:  Lebanese religious leader comes out of hiding to demand US suppresses video trailer.  Nothing to see; just move along.

I am insulted that Hezbollah Leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah would DEMAND that the United States Government suppress the trailer to some movie that has been seen by a dozen people (and the movie).  Who is Mr Nasrallah to demand anything of us?  What is his standing in the international community?  What has he done to spread calm across the waters?  Nothing.

Does he not understand that he is insulting us.  Is he just grandstanding?  Is his hold on power that tenuious?

Maybe I am not insulted, maybe I am outraged.

If you give in to bullies you reap what you sow.

Regards  —  Cliff

Romney May Be Wrong

For John, BLUF:  Romney correct re Palestine and wrong re 47%.

Not about the Palestinian question.  We have decades of experience pointing to the Palestinians wanting the whole thing.  Of course, the question is, where would the Israelis go?  Short answer—here.

No! This is about how the "47%" will vote.  Mr Brian Micklethwait, over at Samizdata, says that we should look at the Thatcher analogy, where many on the dole voted for her because she was their only hope of getting off the dole, and they wanted off.  Stubborn pride is a powerful force.

I am not one of those fatigued by the campaigns and ready to declare it over, and Candidate Obama the winner.

Regards  —  Cliff

-3 T1 T1 2 50%

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Media Matters Hiccup

For John, BLUF:  DoJ pumping info to Fox News critic, Media Matters.  Nothing to see; just move along.

Over at the Daily Caller is an involved article wherein Writer Matthew Boyle shows DoJ employee, [DOJ Office of Public Affairs Director] Tracy Schmaler feeding information to Media Matters writer Jeremy Holden, et al.

I think this will quickly blow over, because no one but The Daily Caller and Fox News care.  The Daily Caller cares because they are still waiting for the Department of State to explain about one of their vehicles hitting a writer for The Daily Caller in a crosswalk.  Fox News cares because it thinks that an outfit supported by tax deductible contributions is acting as a shill for DoJ.

Well, I did benefit from the story in that it reminded me I was going to file a Federal FOIA request and it pointed out that the normal time to respond is 20 Business Days (about a month).

Regards  —  Cliff

We Are The 99%/You Are The 47%

So wrote Law Professor Ann Althouse this morning juxtapositioning different headlines from yesterday.

For John, BLUF:
The percentages are different, but the us/them attitude is similar.  It's a way of speaking politically:  There are X% of us and Y% of them, and the recognizing the comparative size of the 2 groups tells us what our politics should be.
Is this about "dog whistles"?

Regards  —  Cliff

Immigrant Populations

In the The New York Times the editor for The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada), Mr Doug Saunders, has an OpEd on the US and Muslim immigrants.

For John, BLUF:  Muslim immigrants will, like Roman Catholics 60 years ago, eventually meld into our culture and be happy, productive fellow citizens.

After Mr Saunders describes current fears and gets past his innuendo about the Internet and the "Right" he gets into his historic example.
The view that members of a religious minority are not to be trusted — that they are predisposed to extremism, disloyalty and violence; resist assimilation; reproduce at alarming rates, and are theologically compelled to impose their backward religious laws on their adopted home — is not new.  From the 19th century on, distrust, violence and, eventually, immigration restrictions were aimed at waves of Roman Catholic immigrants.

As late as 1950, 240,000 Americans bought copies of “American Freedom and Catholic Power,” a New York Times best seller.  Its author, Paul Blanshard, a former diplomat and editor at The Nation, made the case that Catholicism was an ideology of conquest, and that its traditions constituted a form of “medieval authoritarianism that has no rightful place in the democratic American environment.”

Catholics’ high birthrates and educational self-segregation led Mr. Blanshard and others — including scholars, legislators and journalists — to warn of a “Catholic plan for America.”
Maybe it is quibbling, but Anti-Catholicism in America goes back beyond the beginning of the 19th Century, but yet in the middle of that 19th Century we had a Roman Catholic sitting as the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court.

Not having been raised in Lowell, but, for a while, in South Jersey, I know about being a religious minority—six Roman Catholic families in a Township of about 2,800 people.  There were no ugly scenes, but you knew you were different.  That said, I was not scarred for Life.  Far from it—I sensed the fact that we were united as Americans in certain beliefs and customs.

The point is, if we believe in our Constitution (and Declaration of Independence) and can maintain our way of life, Muslim immigrants will find a way to become like the rest of us here, some God fearing and some God denying, but all working toward a more perfect union and individual freedom.

Regards  —  Cliff

  At this time The International Herald Tribune web sit is having difficulties, but it should return to service.

Anti-Blasphemy Laws

Some have made the point that we are dealing with blasphemy with regard to the film Innocence of Muslims and the current unrest in the Near East.  Over at the Althouse blog we have a post on blasphemy laws in the United States.  Quoting from the blog post:
And here's the 1952 case Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson where the Supreme Court struck down a New York law that banned showing "sacrilegious" movies.  New York's highest court had interpreted the statute to mean "that no religion, as that word is understood by the ordinary, reasonable person, shall be treated with contempt, mockery, scorn and ridicule."  The U.S. Supreme Court said:

[T]he state has no legitimate interest in protecting any or all religions from views distasteful to them which is sufficient to justify prior restraints upon the expression of those views.  It is not the business of government in our nation to suppress real or imagined attacks upon a particular religious doctrine, whether they appear in publications, speeches, or motion pictures.
Those stodgy old men (and they were all men) on the US Supreme Court back in 1952, near the height of McCarthyism, said that we don't censor art based upon protecting some religion from being offended.

Again quoting from the blog post, this time about the SCOTUS ruling:
Lawyers even saw fit at that time to argue that movies shouldn't get free-speech protection at all because "their production, distribution, and exhibition is a large-scale business conducted for private profit."

Oh, wait, the President of the United States today argues that corporations don't have free-speech rights, and many Americans, including highly educated lawyers, are saying the Constitution should be amended to delete those rights.
OK, roll out the proposed Constitutional Amendment and run it up the flagpole and lets see who salutes it.  That is the American way.

In the meantime, lets try to avoid Dhimmitude.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I hope no one, UN Ambassador Susan Rice excepted, still believes the murder of our Ambassador to Libya wasn't a preplanned action, related to our own use of drones to deal with enemies from a distance.  I excuse Ms Rice because administrations of various shades have had a tendency to hold UN Ambassadors out to dry.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy Birthday USAF

Today is the 65th Birthday of the United States Air Force.

Here is the greeting from the White House.

Happy Birthday!

     And off we go into the Wild Blue Yonder.

Regards  —  Cliff

It Is All Campy's Fault

I would say most of the Lowell Bloggers, except maybe Greg Page, Renee and myself, have been in the camp of those saying "it is all Campy's fault".

I am about to move, notwithstanding holding the Editor of The [Lowell] Sun in the highest possible esteem, if for no other reason, because he honors Reporter Nat Hentoff, who is a strong advocate for free speech, toward the other camp.  As an aside, free speech is one of the things that makes us who we are as Americans.  Without it, it is all down hill.

Anyway, back to the Editor, his editorial page has an EMail address for those writing letters to the editor.  The address is "letters@lowellsun.com".  This has been there for quite some time.

Over the weekend I sent a letter to the Editor at "letters@...", and cc'd the Editor himself, Mr Campanini.  I am confident Mr Campanini got my EMail.  "letters" not so much.  It bounced and I got an EMail back saying that "Remote SMTP server has rejected address".  The diagnostic code was "smtp;550 No such user - psmtp".

So, this afternoon, I got in my car and drove down to the Lowell Sun, to talk to the CIO of our local newspaper—the head of IT.  At the reception desk I was allowed to call the head of IT and state my case.  His response was that the EMail address goes nowhere, it is an internal item for the web page.  (You can send a Letter to the Editor from the web page of the Sun.)  He further said that he had told the editor about this some time ago.

By the way, good letters to the editor are the way the rest of us provide the fair and balanced view that the MSM needs.  Please feel free to indulge and if you don't wish to go to the Web Page, just send it to Campy at "j" "campanini" [one word] at (that funny symbol on the 2 key] "lowellsun" dot "com".  Mail early, mail often, as they say.

Oh, and we could have a raffle (like when breakup comes on the Tanana River in Alaska) based upon when the Faux EMail address leaves the Editorial Page.  I am taking Columbus Day, 12 October 2012, as a tribute to the Editor.

Regards  —  Cliff

Margaret Thatcher v Barack Obama

Over at the InstaPundit there is this comment comparing Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's treatment of Writer Salman Rushdie (Satanic Verses) and President Barack Obama's treatment of video maker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (Innocence of Muslims)
When Salman Rushdie had a death fatwa pronounced on him for a novel considered insulting to Islam, Margaret Thatcher immediately ordered a protective detail to be sent to Rushdie, who took him to an undisclosed secure location.  They have been protecting him ever since.  Bear in mind that Rushdie had been a severe and vocal critic and political opponent of Thatcher.
And the UK doesn't have a First Amendment.  It doesn't even have a written Constitution.

Regards  —  Cliff

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Double Standard

The thing about having double standards is one should try to avoid being caught out.

Over at the InstaPundit I found this post:
RICK MORAN ON THE U.S. GOVERNMENT’S DOUBLE STANDARD:  Free Speech for Pussy Riot, but not for Innocence of Muslims.  Well, Pussy Riot threatened Putin’s power.  Innocence of Muslims threatens Obama’s.  Totally different situations.  Totally.
Totally.

For those not familiar with the Russian all female band, Pussy Riot, here is Wikipedia on their Cathedral Act.

Regards  —  Cliff


Comments Closed

No, not here.  Over at Gerry Nutter's Blog, for the post "Sunday Notes Sept. 16th 2012".

So, I return home to comment.

It was nice of Mr Nutter to mention my name and suggest I am intelligent.  Not everyone has been so kind throughout my lifetime.

Gerry mentions the "Tyngsboro Bridge" and I want to know, having used it once since it was reopened, what does this new configuration do for the region?  I know the new road and traffic pattern on the left bank is an improvement, at least for me heading toward Lowell, but what else does it do?  Sure, if avoids a bridge collapse, which is almost never good.  But, does the lack of an upgrade, the retaining of two lanes, not stand in the way of economic opportunity?  Would the placement of a four lane bridge have been of some benefit?  I admit that my question springs from what I would like to see in terms of repalcement of the next bridge down river.

Finally, I would have liked to have seen Mr Nutter talk about the First Amendment and the current imbroglio regarding riots in the Muslim world.  Sure, we are isolated here in the upper end of Middlesex County, but that only lasts until someone up our way makes some cock-a-mamy video and someone in Timbuktu uses as an excuse to further Salafist ideas and ideals.

Regards  —  Cliff

Dueling Headlines

At this moment Drudge has dueling headlines:I am going with Libyan President Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf on this.

Just think about it.  You want to make a statement to your spouse about how you feel.  If your Wedding Anniversary is coming up are you going to pick some day a week before or a week after that Anniversary, or are you going to zero in on that specific date, that memory filled date?

If we don't get the facts straight on this we will be making bad decisions in the area of international relations for years to come.  Maybe the first step is replacing Mr Jay Carney with someone who can tell us the truth.  Maybe Claire Shipman would be a step up?

Regards  —  Cliff

Presidential Primaries

On City Life last Monday Producer John McDonough was riding his hobby horse about the State and City not paying for partisan elections.  Guest Representative David Nangle asserted, with Host George Anthes sitting there silent, that Primary Elections are in the Constitution.

It was at the same time I got to this passage on the Democratic Presidential Convention in 1968, in American Empire:  The Rise of a Global Power, the Democratic Revolution at Home 1945-2000, by Joshua Freeman:
Though coming in too late to enter most of the primaries, he nonetheless emerged as the favorite for the nomination; most states picked their national convention delegates at state conventions, which Democratic insiders dominated, while in a few of the fifteen states that held primaries Humphrey hoped to inherit delegates won by surrogates or favorite sons.
As Wikipedia, notes:
Following the 1968 convention, in which many reformers had been disappointed in the way that Vice President Hubert Humphrey, despite not having competed in a single primary, easily won the nomination over Senators Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern (who announced after the assassination of another candidate, Senator Robert F. Kennedy), a commission headed by Senator McGovern reformed the Democratic Party's nominating process to increase the power of primaries in choosing delegates in order to increase the democracy of the process.  Not entirely coincidentally, McGovern himself won the nomination in 1972.
So, Primaries are a creature of the political parties, a way to give more power to the individual votes and relinquish it from the hands of the Party Apparatchiks.  It was that or lose the voters.

Here is a quick look at Presidential Primaries from Wikipedia.

I am with Mr John McDonough on the Commonwealth and local communities not paying for primaries (and, I think, Kad Barma).  But, I go beyond John's point and argue that those who declare themselves "Unenrolled" 363 days of the year should not be allowed to declare themself this or that on the day of a Primary Election.  They may have good reason for not being enrolled in one party or another—like being in business in Lowell.  That said, it was a choice and choices matter.  I just don't want them wandering in and watering down my vote on who my party nominates.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Dr Anthes teaches US Government at UMass Lowell.

Brown Shirts at Midnight

Over at the Althouse blog we have her saying she is worried that we are down to 10% of our freedom.

But, at the InstaPundit we have calls for the President to resign, for violating his oath of office.

These are not two Tea Party Loons.  These are two Law Professors.

And, here is a more immediate downside to this LA police (and FBI?) interrogation of the supposed producer of the 15 minute movie Innocence of Islam.  The InstaPundit notes:
Reader J.M. Hanes writes: “I went berserk over the L.A.T. Nakoula photo too, but on top of the brownshirted Constitutional debacle, one incredibly consequential point has gotten lost in the shuffle:  Could any visual more effectively reinforce the Arab Street’s belief that the U.S. government can, in fact, punish blasphemers if it so chooses?”
Then the Instapundit links to the Volokh Conspiracy, where Law Professor Eugene Volokh blogs "Why Punishing Blasphemous Speech That Triggers Murderous Reactions Would Likely Lead to More Deaths".
That’s why it seems to me to actually be safer — not just better for First Amendment principles, but actually safer for Americans — to hold the line now, and make clear that American speech is protected even if foreigners choose to respond to it with murder. That would send the message, “murder won’t get you what you want.”  Not a perfectly effective message to be sure, but a better one than “murder will get you what you want.”
OK, so the President isn't going to resign, but we have gone down the wrong path on this video issue.  It is time to stand by the First Amendment and tell the Arab world to learn that we don't appreciated their diverting their internal issues on to us.  Our constitution should not be up for discussion by foreign mobs and foreign "intellectuals".

In my fantasy world I can see us telling the Egyptians we are pulling police protection from their Embassy in DC and their Diplomatic Mission in New York and letting nature take its course.  No mobs will be needed.  Crime will accomplish everything.

Incidently, at 10:00 PM Saturday Memorandum had as its top headline the Glenn Reynolds Blog Post calling on the President to resign.

UPDATE:  And still at the top on Sunday morning at 11:00 AM.

Regards  —  Cliff