Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Gender Pay Gap Questioned


For John, BLUFWe need to get behind assertions and look at the numbers and what they mean, or don't mean.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is a guy, from AEI (down two strikes already), arguing that the gender pay gap is a myth.  How is that possible?  I think it is due to the myth that boys are better at math than girls.

Hat tip to the Instapundit

. Regards  —  Cliff

Shades of ...


For John, BLUFThe White House is feeling pressure over Benghazi.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is Washington Post Columnist David Ignatius, calling for release of a timeline on the events of 11 September in Benghazi.  He even gives kudos to Fox Reporter Jennifer Griffin.

The InstaPundit refers to this piece as "a modified limited hangout".  Where have I heard that before?

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Intervention


For John, BLUFA means of connection; tie; link.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Nice use of the term "nexus" by City Solicitor Christine O'Conner at tonight's City Council Meeting, at about 9:20.

Didn't help.

Regards  —  Cliff

Protecting the Innocent


For John, BLUFShould we feel free to interfere in the affairs of others?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Back to City Life this AM, we spent the first hour looking at foreign policy and it centered around the Mediterranean Sea, specifically Armenia, Syria, Turkey and Libya, with excursions to the former Yugoslavia.

Jack Mitchell brought up an issue that should be of concern to all US voters (and their children)—the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect or R2P.  Here is the web site of one organization dedicated to R2P.  Given the propensity of governments to allow ethnic cleansing and genocide, this is an effort to create an international norm that says other nations should step in and put an end to such activities.

People connected with this approach include former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and current US UN Ambassador Susan Rice.  Ms Albright once quipped to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, regarding intervening against ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia:

What’s the point of you saving this superb military for, Colin, if we can't use it?
The question is, in a world that works, and avoids war, in part due to a concept known as Westphalian Sovereignty, do we want to now go to a world where the big boys get to intervene in the affairs of the little boys, when they don't like the way the little boys play?  And, R2P isn't free.  Our military and civilian deployed personnel will be put at risk.

Regards  —  Cliff

City Life Thought


For John, BLUFBe careful of what you wish for.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

There was a moment on City Life this AM that reminded me of the Herbert Marcuse comment:

Abolish the Weimar Republic.  Whatever follows has to be better.
Then the moment passed and the opportunity to deploy it went away.

As we recall, the German Weimar Republic was replaced by Adolph Hitler's Third Reich.  Not a step forward.

Regards  —  Cliff

Joseph Pulitzer's School


For John, BLUFThe Mainstream Media, like the rest of media, is not fair and balanced.  This blog is as close as you will get to fair and balanced.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Back to the media and politics, here is an article in City Journal about the differences in the way the media cover Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party.  The author, Harry Stein, argues, about Columbia, "No Longer Joseph Pulitzer’s School:  A Columbia panel on Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party doesn’t even pretend to be objective".

The article is here.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, October 29, 2012

Labeling the Opponent


For John, BLUFSome guy in a "Right Wing" newspaper says Obama, not Romney, is out of the mainstream on abortion.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Mostly Kad, Renee and I have been tossing back and forth the issue of abortion.  There are serious issues involved and serious people can take opposing positions.  And, we can use strong language to express ourselves.  I think I may have been unkind in comparing Kad to Princeton's Professor Peter Singer, both because Prof Singer teaches at an Ivy League School and because Prof Singer is an extremist.

So, lest the ball touch the ground, here is the Senior political columnist for The Washington Examiner, Timothy P. Carney, asking "Who is the real extremist on abortion?".  Again, it depends upon when you reason life begins.

I quote The InstaPundit in full (actually, Elizabeth Price Foley, blogging for Prof Glenn Reynolds, at 7:34 this morning):

ABORTION EXTREMISM:   By the progressives.   Timothy Carney’s column in the Washington Examiner explains why it’s the Obama, not Romney, campaign that is extreme on the issue of abortion.    And I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again (because virtually no one understands this):   Overruling Roe v. Wade would not–I repeat not–make abortion illegal.   It would only make abortion something that would be decided state-by-state rather than imposed from the Supreme Court down, in a one-size-fits-all solution for the country.

Many lawyers I know oppose Roe v. Wade because–as Carney points out–it is a truly awful opinion, in terms of legal reasoning (or lack thereof).   But they don’t necessarily, as a political matter, think that if Roe is overruled, their state legislatures should then make abortion unavailable.

The constitutional right ssue and the “legal availability” issue are apples and oranges.

Regards  —  Cliff

Edger Allan Poe Votes


For John, BLUFVoter fraud has a long history in these United States.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"Death by voter fraud?"

Maybe.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Economic Debate


For John, BLUFThe costumes change, but the economic questions stay the same.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Toward the end of January, the Smithsonian will conduct a debate between Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, on how to fix the economy—in 1790.  I am sure the discussion will echo down the years to today. If you are down in the DC area around that time it might be an interesting event. I post this as I got it.

Hamilton v. Jefferson: How Should the Government Stimulate an Economy in Crisis?
Evening Seminar
Thursday, January 24 - 6:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The challenges facing America after independence resonate with those facing many governments today. Beset by unpaid debt, a crippled economy, and growing popular discontent, the national government under the Articles of Confederation had proven inadequate to chart a road to recovery.

The new federal Constitution, adopted in 1787, brought fresh hope as well as bitter disagreement among political leaders. Two of George Washington’s first-term cabinet members, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, came to vigorously dislike each other as they clashed on questions of politics and policy, and no issue proved more divisive than the role of the federal government in the fledgling nation’s economy.

A Smithsonian Debate brings these men and their conflicting political philosophies to life in a lively, interactive event—in which the audience plays a key role.

Embracing an expansive view of the powers of the new Constitution, Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton proposed innovative programs to stimulate economic recovery and to create an “energetic” national government. Secretary of State Jefferson pushed in a different direction, searching for a sustainable balance of power between the central government and the states.

Their debates and disputes highlight differences over policy, the meaning of the Constitution, and the nature of federalism itself—arguments that continue in earnest to this day.

6:45 to 7:45 p.m. Debate

7:45 to 8:15 p.m. Deliberation

Enjoy a glass of wine while developing questions to pose to the debaters.

8:15 to 9 p.m. Decision

Debaters respond to audience questions; a show-of-hands vote selects the winner.

Richard Bell (who portrays Hamilton) and Whitman Ridgway (Jefferson) are both members of the faculty of the University of Maryland’s history department. Rosemarie Zagarri, a professor of U.S. history at George Mason University, moderates.

Regards  —  Cliff

Krugman on the Election


For John, BLUFPrinceton Professor Paul Krugman says President Obama showed "true grit" re the auto bailout and the bin Laden takedown and thus will win.  I don't think it will happen.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Earlier today I was trying to recall the name Paul Krugman as I made a comment about Keynesian Economics, but I couldn't.  I could visualize him, beard and all, and I knew his name began with a K, but it was escaping me and I didn't have time to track it down.  Then, later, I checked the Althouse blog and there it was, a blog post on Professor Krugman, nobel laureate.  Professor Krugman has a blog post on Governor Romney losing his momentum.  Under the title "Fortune Favors the Brave" he predicts that President Obama's "gutsy" decisions on the auto industry and Osama bin Laden will help propel the President to reelection.

Frankly, I am thinking preference cascade.  It goes along with the Bradley Effect.  And Benghazi.

It isn't over until it is over, but it is not the lock for President Obama that Professor Krugman seems to think it is.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The comments are interesting.
  Benghazi should have gone away as a story a long time ago, but the Obama Administration played politics with it and thus it goes on and on.

Food Conference in Lowell


For John, BLUFAnother successful Homelessness Conference in Lowell.  As you would expect.

Ms Jen Myers, the Mayor's Aide, put up a blog post on this last Friday's Conference, "Food Security and Healthy Living".  It is an excellent summation of what went on.

And the Conference, our 7th in a series on "Keys to Ending Homelessness", was a success.  As I left a number of people were remaining behind to network and talk about the issues brought to the surface during the conference.  Two women said to me that they wished for more time between the breakout sessions.

Ms Linda King, a Community Development Specialist from Lowell's Department of Planning and Development, did an excellent job setting this up.  I would also like to give kudos to Ms Carol Scalesse of the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center.  Not only were things ready, but she hung around early on to make sure they stayed on track.  She even gave us a two-way radio to call her if something came up.  High quality support.

Our next Conference is scheduled to focus on issues for the elderly.  Details to follow.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Me?  I am a dogsbody on the Homelessness Conference and Education Committee.  Thus, this is just one blogger's opinions and does not represent the official position of the City of Lowell, UMass Lowell, the Commonwealth or the Nation.

Fiscal Cliff Divers


For John, BLUFThere is no national concensus on how to fix a recession, and no concensus amongst economists to help us.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Remember when the Republican House members were being excoriated for being stupid, selfish idiots for playing chicken with the debt ceiling?

Now we have their Democratic Party equivelents, "the [fiscal] cliff divers".

Washington Post writer Suzy Khimm writes:

The very notion of a “fiscal cliff” suggests that the country is approaching a calamitous drop-off at the end of the year — and it would be tantamount to suicide to jump off.

But a contingent of policy wonks and Democrats insist that letting the Dec. 31 deadline come and go — thus triggering automatic tax increases and spending cuts — could produce the best outcome for the country. Once the tax hikes have kicked in, the reasoning goes, Republicans would be hard-pressed to roll them all back and would have to accept a deal on taming the deficit that contains more new tax revenue than GOP lawmakers want.

NOTE:  Later in the story is the acronym CBPP, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Race Relations


For John, BLUFRace relations are not getting better, as one might have hoped after nearly four years of the Obama Administration.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

We have an article from The Janesville Gazette talking about race relations in the US.  They haven't gotten better over the last four years.  Here is the original paper, from Stanford.

Here is the lede:

Racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the United States elected its first black president, an Associated Press poll finds, as a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not.
This strikes me as an incomplete survey in that it doesn't talk about the attitudes of minorities, only Caucasians.

Here is a poll by US News and World Report, saying that over the last four years Blacks have come to feel less empowered.

While the economy is Job 1 for a victorious Romney or Obama, working the empowerment of minorities is pretty close as Job 2.  Coupled with that should be improving the way various Americans feel about other Americans—other Americans who don't look like them or have the same background and attitudes.  You know, how people from Harvard feel about people from some Cow College in Idaho.

Regards  —  Cliff

Benghazi, the Administration and the Video


For John, BLUFThe Administration made some possibly wrong decisions on 11 September, that got four of our people killed.  The big problem is that they missed the causes because they focused on some dumb video.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at Military Dot Com we have a post on testimony by SecDef Leon Panetta and Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey.  The gist of it is in the headline, "Poor Intel Held Military Out of Benghazi".  Here are paragraphs two through four:

"There's a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on here," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, but "we did" have air, land and sea assets in the Mediterranean region that could have been called upon when the consulate in Libya came under siege.

While forces in the Med were ready, "it was 9/11 everywhere in the world" and the military had to be on the alert for a potential crisis in other areas, said Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"It was really over before we had the opportunity to really know what was happening," Panetta said.

OK, I get it.  We understood there was a danger of riots or worse on the eleventh anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.  We prepositioned forces, but didn't know where to send them.  There were potential problems everywhere.  Someone in the know said that an Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, was burned, possibly the German.

So, this gets back to the question of why we made a big deal of the "video" and why some guy is in the slammer out in LA?

My wife says there is a coverup.  I am not sure I would go that far, except to say that the Administration has not yet walked the cat back on the video.  Unless and until they do that, including within the Administration itself, we will be going down wrong paths in our relationships with those Arab nations impacted by the Arab Spring.

Could we have gotten our four folks out and done it without losing many more?  Possible but not guaranteed  It may be debatable.  Were forces being held back due to intelligence saying there were bigger problems afoot, bigger problems that, in the end, did not materialize?  I bet that is quite possible.  I give the Administration that they had decisions to make and they did the best they could, given the circumstances, but the outcomes were bad.

What I will not give the Administration is a pass on blaming it on "the video" and then instigating the arrest of the producer, who would otherwise have not come to the attention of the local Dog Catcher, let alone serious law enforcement.  This was bullying and AG Eric Holder should be ashamed of himself.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, October 26, 2012

Determining Pregnancy


For John, BLUFThe Army doesn't knowingly deploy pregnant soldiers.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

At a previous post, Kad Barma commented:

Is it that hard to understand that "I cannot think of any more unreasonable search than the government insisting they need to know if a woman might be pregnant"?
This Spring the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, a helicopter unit based near Ansbach, Germany, deployed subordinate units to Afghanistan.  it being the Army, there were female soldiers.  To the surprise of one soldier, and her chain of command, she delivered herself of a baby boy some time over the Summer.  She, and the baby, we're immediately returned to Germany.  The question on some minds was why she was in Afghanstan in the first place.  Quoting the Stars and Stripes 25 October 2012 article by Reporter Steven Beardsley:
Army regulations require all female soldiers undergo a urine pregnancy test 30 days before deployment, and those who test positive are to be referred for further evaluation, according to a statement from the Europe Regional Medical Command.
The Army doesn't deploy pregnant soldiers, or at least works to avoid it.  Therefore "they need to know if a woman might be pregnant".

Or should pregnant women deploy to a combat assignment?

Regards  —  Cliff

-0 S2 0.5

Defining Life


For John, BLUFWe have a big murky area that is our consensus as to when life begins.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Washington Post Columnist Sally Quinn takes on the brouhaha over Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, and his view that (1) life begins at conception and (2) all life comes from God.  From the Candidate:

"I struggled with it myself for a long time," he said, "but I came to realize that life is that gift from God.  And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."
Mr Mourlock believes life begins at conception.  Ms Quinn writes:
Here’s the problem:  All of these guys are anti-abortion.  They believe life begins at conception.  Therefore, they believe an abortion is murder.  So if that’s true, how can they possibly believe it is okay to murder a fetus (a fully realized person in their eyes) simply because of the way the child was conceived?  This is baffling.  I admire Mourdock for telling the truth about what he believes.
OK, so if we think Mr Mourlock is flat out wrong, when DOES life begin?

Remember, in a few days those readers from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will get to vote on when life becomes no longer supportable as life.  I write that with a level of trepidation for what my future might hold.

Regards  —  Cliff

There Goes The First Amendment


For John, BLUFTufts, down the street, has banned a Christian group for wanting to be Christian.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the InstaPundit, through a couple of sites we come to The Tufts Daily:  The independent student newspaper of Tufts University.  Apparently the Student Christian Group has to go for being too exclusive in its leadership—requiring that they be Christians.

Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF) has lost its official recognition as a Tufts Community Union (TCU) student group over alleged discriminatory clauses in the group’s constitutional requirements for its leaders.

TCF leadership says the group plans to appeal the decision.

The group’s Vision and Planning Team (VPT) failed to make revisions to their governing document that would bring it in line with the TCU Constitution’s non-discriminatory clause, Judiciary Chair Adam Sax, a senior, said.

I don't get it.  Why don't the (I presume Evangelical Protestant) Christians just band together and take over the French Club?

Regards  —  Cliff

  How independent can it be if the Student Judicary can yank theIr right to call themselves a Tufts student newspaper?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ripped Off


For John, BLUFNot everything Amazon sells is good value for money.

About a year ago my wife decided we would take a Fiction Writing Course at UMass Lowell Continuing Ed.  Good pick.  Among other items, I wrote a short story on Exercise ABLE ARCHER 83, which you can look up on Wikipedia.

So, when a classmate from the course recently mentioned that there was a book out on ABLE ARCHER, I went to Amazon and ordered it.  The cost was $19.95.  Didn't seem unreasonable.

What a ripoff.  The authors, Messrs Jesse Russell and Ronald Cohn copied the above mentioned Wikipedia article, plus Wikipedia articles on NATO, the Soviet RYAN missile warning system and the United States.  There are also Wikipedia references and licenses.

So, I basically spent a Double Sawbuck for a nicely printed trade sized version of a couple of Wikipedia articles.  But, it is Caveat emptor.  I failed to read the fine print on the Amazon page.

So, beware those authors and their house, Bookvika Publishing!

Regards  —  Cliff

GLTHS Open Seat


For John, BLUFI am in the race to replace Mr Michael Lenzi on the GLTHS School Committee.

As we all know, Greater Lowell Technical High School (GLTHS) lost a Lowell School Committee member, Michael Lenzi, to resignation.  Mr Lenzi has moved to his new home, in Dracut and his former seat is in play.

Today, at about 4:30 PM, I handed my application to be considered for the seat and my one page resume to Ms Jenn Myers, the Mayor's aide.

Other active applicants include former GLTHS School Committee Member and Chair, Mr David Lefarriere, and Property Appraiser and Pawtucketville activist for youth, Mr Ray Boutin.

The quiz will be on Monday, 5 November.

Regards  —  Cliff

Poverty Growing As A Problem


For John, BLUF"In this war on poverty, poverty is winning."  Nothing to see here; just move along.

One in six Americans are in poverty today—the highest rate in a generation.  In this war on poverty, poverty is winning.
Exactly!  We are currently doubling down on our current approach.  Taking a new approach is not only risky, but it means choosing between alternatives.  On the other hand, government collected statistics say things are not getting better.  At the end of the day I end up agreeing with Rep Paul Ryan.

We need a better approach.
Yes, the first quote is also from Rep Ryan.  Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

St Crispin Day


For John, BLUFLowell is better, stronger, for being a band of diverse brothers.

Thanks to The InstaPundit for reminding us that this is St Crispin Day.

From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
Shakespeare had a way with words.  And we here in these United States are richer for it.

Regards  —  Cliff

Farmers v Herders?


For John, BLUFDemocratic intellectuals (and aren't they mostly) want you to think that Government is inherently good.  I don't think so.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Someone sent long this link to an article in The New York Times.  The title is "Why Are States So Red and Blue?".  Here is the lede:

Regardless of who wins the presidential election, we already know now how most of the electoral map will be colored, which will be close to the way it has been colored for decades.  Broadly speaking, the Southern and Western desert and mountain states will vote for the candidate who endorses an aggressive military, a role for religion in public life, laissez-faire economic policies, private ownership of guns and relaxed conditions for using them, less regulation and taxation, and a valorization of the traditional family.  Northeastern and most coastal states will vote for the candidate who is more closely aligned with international cooperation and engagement, secularism and science, gun control, individual freedom in culture and sexuality, and a greater role for the government in protecting the environment and ensuring economic equality.
I was OK at the beginning, well, except for the idea that people in so-called red states don't believe in science, or that Republicans don't believe in science.  I have seen some progressive arguments that make me think they deny Darwin.  Of course that is better than the Progressive arguments of 100 years ago that said Darwin was cool and they would help along his theory by sterilizing and euthanizing the inferior stock.

But, after I got further into the article I thought it started to contradict itself.  Then I thought it moved into a belief in the inherent goodness of Government.  So, at the end, the author seems to reject the idea that the People are sovereign, and I rejected it.

I am having this same argument with my Middle Brother.  He lives in the New California and was born in Philly.  I am from Western Pennsylvania and am a "bitter clinger" and left high school and California when it was still the Old California, before Orange County went Democrat.

Regards  —  Cliff

"Can't We All Just Get Along"


For John, BLUFYou can pick your friends, but you can't pick your relatives.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In the area of getting your values right, we have a small failure on the part of Actress Halle Berry.  On the Jay Leno show she was asked about a genealogist telling her she was related to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.  She blurted out:

I mean, isn’t that the worst thing you can imagine?
And, in a very Palinesque sort of way she adds a superfluous "I mean" at the beginning of the sentence.

If you look at the side-by-side photos in this article they do have that "separated at birth" look.

What if the genealogist had told her she was related to "Big Daddy" Idi Amin?

Are we not all related, just that some of us have Neanderthal DNA and some don't?  I am guessing Halle Berry is part of the crowd that does.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Turns out Sarah Louise is two and a half years older than her sister Marie Halle.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Long War


For John, BLUFThe war on terror has been going on since you were a young man.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Next year this date will be the Thirtieth Anniversary of the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut—and also the Barracks used by the French 1st Parachute Regiment, also part of the International Peacekeeping Force.

We have been at this for quite a while.

Regards  —  Cliff

-0 M 0.6

Justice Elena Kagan Interviewed


For John, BLUFPolitical opposites can get along in private, but you knew that.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan talks gender, hunting with UT audience".

From KnoxNews (as in Knoxville, TN).

She will be hunting antelope this coming weekend with fellow Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

Regards  —  Cliff

Chris Matthews and "The Video"


For John, BLUFRegarding the Benghazi Attack (and the demonstration at our Egyptian Embassy), forget the video.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Some "Right Wing" blog site has this headline:  "Chris Matthews to Romney Supporter:  Benghazi WAS All About YouTube Video, 'Read the Newspaper!'"  The problem is, Chris Matthews has it wrong, as even the President and [most of] his supporters are saying it was a planned terrorist attack.  The compounding problem is that the video meme leads to bad judgements and bad decisions.

I worry that we are missing the problem of "the video".   I put aside the Constitutional issues to focus on the focus on the video early on.   Like in an accident investigation, a too early obvious cause can prevent us from looking deeper.   With the video in hand we didn't need to consider the Eleventh Anniversary aspect, or the demands for release of the Blind Sheik or the Egyptian internal political issues, which can be more safely played out at the US Embassy than the Presidential Palace, or the attack in Benghazi as being a planned terror event.

And, the video meme was so powerful it still shows up from time to time, e.g., the above Chris Matthews item from yesterday—40 some days after the event.

If that video meme sits in the back of peoples' minds it could well distort future US Foreign Policy, to our detriment.

Thus, the importance of keeping an open mind during the first 24 hours of a crisis and the importance of having professional dissenters.  As an anecdote, during the run-up to the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait the US Intelligence Community was convince it was a bluff, except for the National Intelligence Officer for Warning (the NIO for Warning was Charlie Allen).  He said it was coming and pretty much predicted the day.

And then there is the problem pointed out by former Assistant Secretary of Defense and Writer Bing West.   Unwillingness to grasp the nettle.

I am not concerned about apportioning blame.  In a nation in the throes of revolution there is danger.  Our Ambassador, Chris Stevens, took a calculated risk and almost pulled it off.  He understood that peace and stability wasn't going to come with him isolated in his Embassy in Tripoli.  He was gutsy and that is the kind of men and women we need as out Ambassadors.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, October 22, 2012

Who Is Martin Burke?


For John, BLUFNothing to see here; just move along.

Martin Burke, the Republican in the race for the 17th Middlesex Rep District, has a web site up.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Voting Observers


For John, BLUFThe question is, what does the OSCE care?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Per the OSCE:

Although a total of 32 presidential candidates will be on the ballots across the country, only four have attainted ballot access in a sufficient number of states to be potentially elected.  In addition, there are a total of 120 candidates competing for the 33 Senate seats and some 1,200 candidates competing for the 435 seats of the House of Representatives.  There are ten congressional seats where either a Democratic or a Republican Party candidate is running unopposed.
Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe.  Apparently they have been showing up since 2002.  More to follow.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Sun Recommends


For John, BLUFThe Sun goes for Romney.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Today's edition of The [Lowell] Sun has an editorial endorsing Governor Mitt Romney for President.

Today I happened to run into the Editor, Jim Campanini, and told him that it was a good editorial, but it wouldn't change my vote. 

Regards  —  Cliff

Dress the Part


For John, BLUFPeople are becoming slobs in their dress and it isn't a good thing.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In today's edition of The [Lowell] Sun is an article on declining dress code standards, "Flip-flop nation".  She is spot on.

It can also be found elsewhere, such as the Janesville Gazette.

Regards  —  Cliff

George McGovern RIP


For John, BLUFA true WWII hero, George McGvern, has passed away.  May he rest in peace.

Senator George McGovern has passed away, at the age of 90.  He had lived a full life—combat bomber pilot, PhD college professor, legislator and Presdental Candidate.

In her blog post on his passing, Law Professor Ann Athouse notes that Senator McGovern was her first vote for president.  That presidential election was my third, and my only vote for Richard Nixon (being a California voter I had several opportunities).  Today I am not sure how a McGovern election would have made a difference, except maybe for the outcome of the 73 War.  Would a President McGovern have stood with Israel?  We still would have had the Khmer Rouge and still would have had 20,000 Cambodia-Americans in Lowell, and a like number in Long Beach, California, where I voted for Dick Nixon over George McGovern.

Professor Althouse noted this from the New York Times Obit:

The Republicans portrayed Mr. McGovern as a cowardly left-winger, a threat to the military and the free-market economy and outside the mainstream of American thought.  Fair or not, he never lived down the image of a liberal loser, and many Democrats long accused him of leading the party astray.

Mr. McGovern resented that characterization mightily.  “I always thought of myself as a good old South Dakota boy who grew up here on the prairie,” he said in an interview for this obituary in 2005 in his home in Mitchell.  “My dad was a Methodist minister.  I went off to war. I have been married to the same woman forever. I’m what a normal, healthy, ideal American should be like.

“But we probably didn’t work enough on cultivating that image,” he added, referring to his campaign organization.  “We were more interested in ending the war in Vietnam and getting people out of poverty and being fair to women and minorities and saving the environment.  It was an issue-oriented campaign, and we should have paid more attention to image.”

Here are some comments from the Althouse blog post.

Sometimes misguided, but always a mensch.

Regards  —  Cliff

Grading the Presidents by Alma Mater


For John, BLUFNon-Ivy Leaguers do better as President than Ivy Leaguers.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at National Review Mr Fred Schwartz talks about the impact of the Ivy League Universities on the presidency and presidential performance.  As a point of reference, the Ivys are:

Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale
Mr Schwarz claims that he got the idea from Actor John Cusack, who apparently asked on the leftist site Truthout.org:  “Is Obama just another Ivy League ***hole?”  That was actually a little tacky.

Here is Mr Schwarz's way of summing up the Ivy League Schools:

Unofficially, of course, the Ivy League, even avant la lettre, has for centuries been a symbol of everything Middle America hates: rich, snobbish, exclusive, Eastern, and too smart for its own good. With the exception of Cornell, a post–Civil War parvenu, the schools were all founded before the Revolution, and ever since, they have been filling the ranks of America’s Establishment:  intellectuals, bankers, lawyers, businessmen — and now, increasingly, presidents.
To be filed under "it takes one to know one".
– Fred Schwarz, a deputy managing editor of National Review, is a graduate of Columbia University.
I don't think I can rightly judge this, in that I am from a small trade school in the foothills of the Rockies.  And, my Masters is from a small Methodist college out in LA.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Republican Rally Sunday—UMass Lowell


For John, BLUFRepublican Rally Sunday near Marty's Office.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Tomorrow, October 21st is the largest rally of the year with Senator Scott Brown, Senator Kelly Ayotte and Congressional Candidate Jon Golnik.  The event will be held at UMass Lowell's Cumnock Hall at One University Ave.  Doors open at 10:30 am and the rally will begin shortly after at 11:00 am.  If you would like to join us earlier we will have volunteers standing outside the rally with signs at 10:00 am.

Please click this link for further details and to RSVP.

Let Alexander Ingram know if you have any questions.  His number is (978) 810-1950.

Thanks

Regards  —  Cliff

Paul Ryan For Congress


For John, BLUFCongressman Paul Ryan, the Republican Veep Nominee is also running for his seat in the US House.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Apparently Congressman Paul Ryan (GOP VP Nominee) is still running for his seat in the US Congress.  At least according to US News and World Report, the online version.  Earlier in the day my wife asked how long he would hold his seat and I said until the 2nd or 3rd of January, when the new Congress convenes.  I was wrong.  On Inauguration Day he will just move from the House of Representatives to the US Senate, assuming he wins both races.  Inauguration Day will be Sunday, 20 January 2013.  Looks like it will be observed on Monday, the 21st, which is also the Observation of Martin Luther King's Birthday.  From the Federal Office of Personnel Management:
NOTE: Inauguration Day, January 20, 2013, falls on a Sunday.  Therefore, the next succeeding day selected for the public observance of the inauguration of the President is a legal public holiday for an employee who works in the District of Columbia, Montgomery or Prince George's Counties in Maryland, Arlington or Fairfax Counties in Virginia, or the cities of Alexandria or Fairfax in Virginia, and who is regularly scheduled to perform nonovertime work on Inauguration Day.  (See 5 U.S.C. 6103(c).)  There is no in-lieu-of holiday for employees who are not regularly scheduled to work on Inauguration Day.  In addition, employees for whom January 21, 2013, is the legal public holiday for the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., are not entitled to an in-lieu-of holiday for Inauguration Day if the day selected for the public observance of the inauguration of the President is January 21, 2013.

Regards  —  Cliff

Workplace Violence


For John, BLUFThe Fort Hood shooting, from November 2009, is considered, by the Federal Government, an act of workplace violence, rather than the act of terrorism the rest of us think it is.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at Hot Air blogger Ed Morrissey asks about why Fort Hood shooter, Major Nidal Hasan, is not considered a terrorist, but rather a perpetrator of "workplace violence".  Mr Morrissey references an item in The Stars and Stripes, linked to here.

Here is the lede from Mr Morrissey's article:

Help me understand this.  Nidal Hasan has been held for almost three years after shouting “Allahu akbar!” and opening fire on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, killing 14 and wounding several others.  Almost immediately, evidence arose that Hasan had been in contact with the late and unlamented al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki to discuss the legitimacy of conducting jihad within the American military, a scandal that prompted questions about why the military hadn’t intervened prior to the massacre.  Most people assumed that was enough to consider the massacre a terrorist attack, including me.
Here is a key point from the 18 October 2012 article in the The Stars and Stripes:
Because the incident is not considered an act of terrorism, the victims do not get combat-related special compensation that provides disability pay for medically retired servicemembers.  Manning, who was shot six times, was recently denied such benefits.  The victims are also ineligible for Purple Hearts or medals for valor.
No Purple Heart?  That is a travesty.

Regards  —  Cliff -0 T2 T2 0

Friday, October 19, 2012

Another Homelessness Conference


For John, BLUFThis coming Friday Lowell is hosting another Conference on the problem of Homelessness, this time on food security.

REGISTER NOW!

Friday, October 26, 2012
(Registration from 8:30 AM to 9:00 AM)
  City of Lowell - Keys to Ending Homelessness Conference Series
  Conference 7:  Food Security and Healthy Living
University of Massachusetts Inn & Conference Center
50 Warren Street, Lowell, MA

  Welcoming and Opening Remarks:  
  • Bernard F. Lynch, City Manager
  • James Arena-DeRosa, Northeast Regional Administrator, USDA Food and Nutrition Service
  • Daniel J. Curley, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance
  Keynote and Morning Address:  
  • Parke Wilde, Ph.D. Associate Professor Tufts’ Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
  • Roger Swain, Former Host PBS Victory Garden
If you are interested, please contact Linda King:     Linda King
     Community Development Specialist
     Department of Planning and Development
     The City of Lowell
     50 Arcand Drive
     Lowell, MA 01852
     Tel: 978.674-4252 x 1428
     Fax: 978.446.7014
     http://www.lowell.org

===============================
Workshops (Two sessions, A and B):
A-1: Food Security 101
A-2: SNAPS/Food Stamp Program
A-3: Community Food Assessment Initiatives & Food Policy Councils
A-4: Community Transformation Grants and Wellness Policies
B-1: Food Security 101
B-2: SNAPS/Food Stamp Program
B-3: Interconnection of Food Insecurity, Health, Nutrition and Poverty in Minority Populations
B-4: Community Transformation Grants and Wellness Policies

Regards  —  Cliff



Thursday, October 18, 2012

New Yorker in the Tank


For John, BLUFThe MSM are in the tank for President Obama—and deserve no respect.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

One wonders if any of the writers for The New Yorker actually saw the last debate.  Writing in The New Yorker, Mr Steve Coll obfuscates the issue of the Benghazi Attack on 11 September.

I only saw the reruns and I know that the President didn't give a straight answer and that Moderator Candy Crowley's intervention was a mistake and she got her facts wrong—and she basically admitted that, after the fact.

Worse, the Administration has not repented of claiming it is the fault of the video, Innocence of Muslims, and no one is standing up for the First Amendment in this case, including the Mainstream Media, which depends on the First Amendment more than most.

Regards  —  Cliff

Economy Discussion on WCAP


For John, BLUFThe number of people actually holding a job in our Commnwealth is again going down.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

On WCAP this fternoon Ryan Johnston is talking sense about the economy and "the numbers".  He gets beyond the unemployment number to talk about changes in the workforce, both those entering and those leaving, because they are discouraged.  He makes the good point that the unemployment rate may go up as the economy turns around, as previously discouraged workers re-enter the work force.  Sadly, that situation does not explain our current increase in the jobless rate.

Regards  —  Cliff

Commonwealth Employment


For John, BLUFWe are still losing jobs here in the Commonwealth—fewer people working.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Today's Boston Herald has an article on rising Massachusetts unemployment rate.

The Massachusetts unemployment rate rose to 6.5 percent for September -- up from 6.3 percent in August -- even as a separate survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the Bay State added 5,100 jobs for the month.
Yes, maybe that is the situation, but my concern is overall employment numbers.  Here comes the Bureau of Labor Statistics with a chart for the last few years.  The numbers are squished together, month to month, but it is clear that today's employment (people working) is not as high as it was in December 2006 or January 2008.  Where did all those folks go?  Retired?  Left the Commonwealth?
Regards  —  Cliff

Developing Trend?


For John, BLUFAl Gore's newspaper (his first newspaper job) goes for Romney.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

InstaPundit blogger, Law Professor Glenn Reynolds, links to another blog to examine an endorsement of Governor Romney:

AL GORE’S NEWSPAPER ENDORSES ROMNEY: “To say this endorsement by The Tennessean is an eyebrow raiser is an understatement.  This is the same newspaper where former Vice President Al Gore got his start in journalism, that endorsed Obama in 2008.  Of course, the paper endorsed Gore in 2000.  In 2004, the paper endorsed Democrat John Kerry over President Bush.  Also, Middle Tennessee is a traditional Democratic stronghold.”
Of course not.  It is just an aberration.

Regards  —  Cliff

Weapons of Mass Destruction.


For John, BLUFSometimes words lose their value, and then can't do their job.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

A long time ago the term Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) meant a nuclear device, an A-Bomb or H-Bomb.  Then the Soviets talked us into including Chemical and Biological weapons.  Then, after 9/11, the term got deflated to include truck bombs.  Someone I know wrote in an EMail:

Wow I hate it when the FBI calls a fake high explosive device a "WMD." Stupid lawyer gimmick, not a WMD incident.
This is about the [fake] 1,000 pound explosive outside the New York Fed Office.

The accused, Mr Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, came to our shores in January, on a student visa.  It appears he needed more education.  For one thing, New York City Police have a massive counter-terrorism intelligence operation.  Then you have the FBI not wishng to be outshone.

But, to the complaint, if one thousand pounds of explosives (half a ton) is a WMD, what is a small nuclear device at 10 kt (10,000 tons) of explosive force.  In the late 1960s I sat nuclear alert and 345 kt was normal and 1.1 megatons not unknown (depending on the target and desired outcome).  How do we classify them?

I would note that this terminology being used by police and prosecutors comes to us thanks to the carelessness of the US Congress.  I am sure our delegation strongly opposed it, but somebody voted for it.

UPDATE:  Ah, another EMail.  A little technical explanation of the term WMD in our legal system.

To be fair, the fault lies with Congress in the first instance.   The so-called “WMD” statute is 18 USC 2339a, titled “Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction.”  In relevant part, and rather unexpectedly, this statute defines “weapons of mass destruction” to mean a remarkable array of things beyond CBRN.   Specifically, the definition includes “any destructive device,” and that phrase in turn is defined in a related statute to include just about any explosive device or propellant-based projective weapon one can imagine.   As a result, it’s a standard charge in cases involving run-of-the-mill explosives (or, as in this case, a defendant who simply thinks he’s working with run-of-the-mill explosives).   None of that, of course, is a complete justification for the FBI and DOJ to put emphasis on the WMD phrase in discussing the incident, no matter how accurate it is as a description of the charge itself.

For those who are interested in seeing the actual statutory definitions, I reprint the relevant portions below:

1) The WMD statute itself criminalizes the use of “weapons of mass destruction,” and defines WMD to include all of the following four categories:

(A)any destructive device as defined in section 921 of this title;
(B)any weapon that is designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors;
(C)any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector (as those terms are defined in section 178 of this title); or
(D)any weapon that is designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life.
And as for the meaning of “any destructive device,” 18 USC 921 defines that to mean any of the following lengthy and quite broad list of explosives and projectile-based weapons:

(A)any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas—
(i)bomb,
(ii)grenade,
(iii)rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces,
(iv)missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce, (v)mine, or
(vi)device similar to any of the devices described in the preceding clauses;
(B)any type of weapon (other than a shotgun or a shotgun shell which the Attorney General finds is generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes) by whatever name known which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, and which has any barrel with a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter; and

(C)any combination of parts either designed or intended for use in converting any device into any destructive device described in subparagraph (A) or (B) and from which a destructive device may be readily assembled.

The term “destructive device” shall not include any device which is neither designed nor redesigned for use as a weapon; any device, although originally designed for use as a weapon, which is redesigned for use as a signaling, pyrotechnic, line throwing, safety, or similar device; surplus ordnance sold, loaned, or given by the Secretary of the Army pursuant to the provisions of section 4684(2), 4685, or 4686 of title 10; or any other device which the Attorney General finds is not likely to be used as a weapon, is an antique, or is a rifle which the owner intends to use solely for sporting, recreational or cultural purposes.

Ah, Congress.

Regards  —  Cliff

-0 W 0

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New NYT CEO


For John, BLUFOnce you start a witch hunt you never know where it will end up.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This isn't a good start.  The New York Times is hiring a new CEO, from the BBC, which is involved in a sex scandal.  The man in question is BBC Director-General Mark Thompson.  Here is the lede:

(Reuters) - The erupting scandal at Britain's public broadcaster, the BBC, over allegations of sexual abuse involving late TV host Jimmy Savile is leading to awkward questions for the New York Times Co's incoming chief executive, Mark Thompson.
And, former New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller wrote a column comparing Mr Savile with the recently sentenced Penn State Coach, Jerry Sandusky.

We should, of course, assume that Mr Thompson was clean on this and not involved in a cover-up, but still, it is a bit awkward.

Regards  —  Cliff

Another View on the Debate


For John, BLUFOpinions are like noses and they have to be counted until one has a majority.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I didn't watch the Presidential Debate last evening.  I was doing homework for my Saturday morning class at UMass Lowell, Sociology of Genocide.

From Mr John Cassidy, writing in The New Yorker we have the debated scored as a victory for President Obama.  Here is the lede:

The skinny bookworm who sits in the front row can duke it out after all.  All you have to do is call him a wuss, get the class bully—the Barber of Cranbrook—to taunt him and threaten to take away his personal plane, the one with its own conference room and O.R.  Then, he comes out like Jake LaMotta, eyes flashing, gloves up, his malicious intent plain for all to see.  Nobody could accuse him of having failed to do his prep for this one.  Like Muhammad Ali, after being embarrassed in his first bout with Leon Spinks, he had put in the hours skipping rope, and rehearsed his combinations until he could unleash them at will, from all angles.
I think my wife saw a different debate.

Mr Cassidy did think that Candy Crowley had it right when she cut off Governor Romney over Libya.  Commenter Charles Krauthammer thought Governor Romney muffed it.  But, I thought Ms Crowley said, afterwards, that she had it wrong.  That seems to be what Ace of Spades thought when he posted a video in which Ms Crowley seems to suggest that Governor Romney was, in fact, correct

How does Mark Twain put it?  "It is difference of opinion that makes horse races."

Regards  —  Cliff

The Intervention


For John, BLUFDebate Moderators should not be grading the debate, declaring what is and is not "truth".  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I didn't watch yesterday's Presidential Debate—homework.  I got a debrief from my wife.  Regarding the question regarding Libya, here is Law Professor Ann Althouse on Moderator Candy Crowley's "intervention".

Regards  —  Cliff

"Terrorism" Case Overthrown


For John, BLUFThe Congress shall not criminalize past actions—for our protection from the Government.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the InstaPundit we have a comment on the overturn of the conviction of Mr Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's driver.  The author of the post is Ms Elizabeth Price Foley.

OSAMA BIN LADEN’S DRIVER’S CONVICTION TOSSED OUT:   The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has overturned Salim Hamdan’s conviction (by a military commission) for providing “material support” to terrorists, including his boss, Osama bin Laden, for whom Hamdan served as a driver.   The court reasoned that during Hamdan’s tenure as OBL’s driver (1995-2001), providing “material support” to terrorists was not a recognized crime under the Law of War.  While Congress passed a statute in 2006 (the Military Commissions Act) that made material support to terrorism a war crime, it could not have retroactive application.

The court made it clear, however, that under existing Supreme Court precedent, Mr. Hamdan and other enemy combatants can be detained indefinitely, until such time as US hostilities with al Qaeda have ended.

As a citizen, I agree with the decision.

Our Constitution says no ex post facto laws.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Interagency Crisis Process Reviewed


For John, BLUFWhen it is a crisis, everyone gets involved.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Someone once told me that when Kim Jung-il (you can tell this is an older story) got a cold all the military staff in Korea reported to the Command Post.  No one wants to miss a crisis and a chance to (a) earn a medal or (b) avoid condemnation for not being responsive.  Now comes Night Watch with a description of the process in our Nation's Capitol:

Libya:  Special Comment:  For the record.  Readers need reassurance that the US uses an inter-agency approach to crisis management all the time every time.  All relevant resources are applied to evaluate the situation, limit damage, establish control and stability and restore normality.  That is the way national security crises always are managed in Washington.  Information flows vertically first and then laterally.

In the 4 decades between 1970 and 2010, there never was a time when an American diplomat was injured by hostile action, an embassy or consulate attacked, an aircraft shot down, a ship attacked, an official attacked or kidnapped or many other lesser incidents, especially when they involved damage to US official persons or property, in which the J3 and J2 in the Pentagon failed to set up a crisis action team or group.  Similar teams or cells would be created in the responsible military commands and every agency involved in national security affairs.

During a crisis, all crisis action teams issue situation updates to the national command authority and to each other, often hourly at first.  All are in communications with each other. The White House Situation Room is always in the loop, if not the real time crisis management clearing house, for all reporting on the crisis, in support of the National Security Council staff and the inter agency crisis management process.

An attack on an ambassador is an attack on the United States and the US national security enterprise always takes that as its starting point for crisis management.  Every agency is involved plus the military commands, not just State Department, for example.

News coverage of the Benghazi attack does not reflect the basics of US national security crisis management practice nor the diligence and competence of the people who make it work and would have been on duty on 9-11-2012.

So, either the system fell apart after Mr John McCreary retired from DoD or we aren't getting the full story about Benghazi last month.

Regards  —  Cliff

Cuban Missile Crisis, Reviewed


For John, BLUFBack in 1962 there were up to 100 Soviet "tactical" nuclear weapons in Cuba, in addition to the nuclear missiles that we knew about.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The New York Times we have another article that serves to debunk some of what we have come to believe about the Cuban Missile Crisis.  It is an interesting read and suggests that at some levels we were closer to the use of nuclear weapons that we supposed.  In particular, there is a link to a three page Top Secret memo from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Maxwell D Taylor, to the President, "Evaluation of the Effect on US Operational Plans of Soviet Military Equipment Introduced into Cuba," dated 2 November 1962.

The New Yorker has an article on "Wise Man" Paul Nitze and the crisis, titled "We Will All Fry".  One gets the impression of people groping for a good answer, on both sides, except maybe for Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Then there is this piece in The New York Times, by historian and politician Michael Dobbs.  The title is "The Price of a 50-Year Myth".  Baron Dobbs asserts that we learned the wrong lessons and those wrong lessons have misinformed us ever since.

In the latest volume of his acclaimed biography of Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert A. Caro repeats a long-standing but erroneous myth about the Cuban missile crisis. Drawing on early accounts of the crisis, he describes a confrontation on Oct. 24, 1962, between American destroyers and Soviet ships carrying nuclear missiles to Cuba. According to Mr. Caro, the Soviet vessels were “within a few miles” of the blockade line, but turned away at the last moment.

This was the moment when Secretary of State Dean Rusk, by his own account, uttered the most memorable line of the missile crisis:  “We’re eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked.”

The “eyeball to eyeball” imagery made for great drama (it features in the 2000 movie “13 Days”), but it has contributed to some of our most disastrous foreign policy decisions, from the escalation of the Vietnam War under Johnson to the invasion of Iraq under George W. Bush.

Per the author's calculations, the ships were, in fact, not "within a few miles" but 750 miles apart.  No, I don't know what kind of miles.  But, the point is that while leaders on both sides were looking for a way to back away from nuclear confrontation, the rest of us were learning that hanging tough was the answer.
Kennedy was certainly bracing for an “eyeball to eyeball” moment, but it never happened. There is now plenty of evidence that Kennedy — like Khrushchev — was a lot less steely-eyed than depicted in the initial accounts of the crisis, which were virtually dictated by the White House. Tape-recorded transcripts of White House debates and notes from participants show that Kennedy was prepared to make significant concessions, including a public trade of Soviet missiles in Cuba for American missiles in Turkey and possibly the surrender of the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay.
And, there is the reference to the President having recently read the over-rated The Guns of August, one account of the run-up to World War One, by Barbara W. Tuchman.  But, the key lesson to be learned is that mistakes will be made by statesmen and others.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Here is Baron Dobbs' Home Page.

Hillary Takes the Fall


For John, BLUFHillary taking the fall doesn't answer the deeper questions about where we need to go from here.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I admit to being a bit confused by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying she was the one responsible regarding the attack on our Consulate in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of four Americans, including our Ambassador, Chris Stevens.

Something just doesn't feel right about this.

I applaud her for it, but is just seems a little odd.  If she had resigned, it might have felt more real, but she didn't.  Strange.

Further, this doesn't get to the most fundamental question, which is how we should view the demonstrations on 11 September.

  • Where they about that video?—not likely.
  • Where they general anti-Americanism?—there is that out there, and it was the anniversary of 9/11, back in 2001, but it would not be the key point.
  • Where they about economic problems in various places?—now we are getting warm.
  • Where they about who will run Egypt and other MENA nations?—I think we are on to something.
There are serious issues in the Middle East and North Africa and blaming some 13 minute amateur video isn't going to solve them.  Further, the unrest in the MENA area could boil over into scapegoating, ethnic cleansing and worse.  What does the current Administration have in mind for dealing with adverse outcomes?  Will it involve US forces, either alone or in conjunction with UN, NATO or Arab forces?  And what do the challengers have in mind.  And, finally, what are we going to be expected to give up to fight this sort of thing?  Will it include some of our Civil Rights?

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, October 15, 2012

Althouse on Warhol


For John, BLUFLife is complicated, complex and confusing.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

At the Althouse blog is a short post on Andy Warhol and his sexuality and his spirituality.

Regards  —  Cliff

A Cup of What?


For John, BLUFIt is about Free Speech, the First Amendment, the ability to tell your neighbor he or she is ugly.

Over at The [Lowell] Sun we have this little blurb about the ongoing political race, in this case the race between Democratic Party incumbent Senator Eileen Donoghue and Republican Party challenger James Buba.  And, it turns on the issue of what James Buba was trying to say:

WHAT DO Jim Buba, the Republican candidate for the 1st Middlesex District state Senate seat, and Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy, have in common?  They're both opposed to gay marriage.

Buba opened the door to the issue during a Sun-sponsored debate last week against Democratic incumbent Sen. Eileen Donoghue.  He brought a Chick-fil-A drink cup to the debate, and placed it on the table in front of him.

Buba said he is opposed to gay marriage, saying "it's just not my way."  But he said he's more concerned with the 1st Amendment right to free speech.  "Mr. Cathy can say whatever he wants to," said Buba.

This summer, crowds converged upon Chick-fil-A's 1,600-plus locations, including Burlington, in a show of solidarity.  Boston Mayor Thomas Menino condemned Cathy's position against same-sex marriage while adding Chick-fil-A restaurants wouldn't be welcome.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino says Chick-fil-A restaurants wouldn't be welcome [in Boston]?  Now one sees that this is, indeed, a First Amendment issue.  There are nuances on the issue of same sex marriage.  I took a position, when I ran against David Nangle a decade ago (he has been in office that long?), based on what I had observed as practice in Germany (and some other European nations).  I said that we were talking about contracts and that as contracts, everyone should have to go to City Hall or the Town Clerk to execute the contract, in public.  Then, those who wanted, should go to a Church to get married.

But, the Chick-fil-A brouhaha got out of control when public officials started talking about banning the Restaurants.  While that might be the Chicago Way, it is not what our Constitution and the better angels of our nature call for.  The Constitution for public officials who try to repress a person's right to free speech and the "better angels" for those not in public office who try to suppress that person's operations.

It is analogous to the 13 minute video Innocence of Muslims.  If you don't like it, don't watch it, but Government Officials should not be trying to suppress it.  It is a fine line public officials walk.  Free Speech should be a bright line.  The idea that we should criminalize lying is pernicious.  It is a big step down the road to a totalitarian form of government.  Today's lie, may, at some point, become tomorrow's truth.

Regards  —  Cliff

  How long this link will be good is debatable.  Usually these Sun links die within a fortnight, forcing readers to go to some pay for view site.  I will not be updating the link.
  In this bloggers humble opinion, to focus on the video as the root cause of the recent (11 Sept) riots in the Middle East and elsewhere is to miss the elephant in the room.  It was an anniversary of the al Qaeda attack on the Twin Towers in New York City and two other targets in this nation.  Frustration over local problems were the basis for protests and the video was like a brick laying in the street, picked up to throw through a plate glass window.

Ideology and Economics


For John, BLUFNorth Korea's rigid ideology (Juche) means limited development and increased hunger.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

We skip over to the Korean Peninsula to look at contrasting systems, North and South Korea.  As someone noted:

At the end of WWII North Korea had virtually all of the industry on the Korean Peninsula including all of the electric power generation.  It implemented a set of strongly collectivist policies while the South, after Syngman Rhee was ousted by Park Chung Hee, put in a bit more balanced system.  The results after 50 years are instructive.
From the Korea Times:
Hunger situation in North Korea this year worsened from the 1990s despite considerable amount of international aid to the communist nation, a Washington-based food institute showed Saturday.

The 2012 Global Hunger Index (GHI) published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said hunger remains a serious problem worldwide, with alarming levels in some countries.

North Korea's hunger situation was at the "serious level," the report said, with its GHI standing at 19 points, higher than that of 15.7 in 1997.

Two systems and two outcomes.  It is North Korean Communism that helps create the problem, but also the ideology of Juche.
According to Kim Jong-il's On the Juche Idea, the application of Juche in state policy entails the following:

  1. The people must have independence (chajusong) in thought and politics, economic self-sufficiency, and self-reliance in defense.
  2. Policy must reflect the will and aspirations of the masses and employ them fully in revolution and construction.
  3. Methods of revolution and construction must be suitable to the situation of the country.
  4. The most important work of revolution and construction is molding people ideologically as communists and mobilizing them to constructive action.
The Juche outlook requires absolute loyalty to the revolutionary party and leader.  In North Korea, these are the Workers' Party of Korea and the supreme commander, formerly Kim Jong-il.
And, today, it is Kim Jong-il's grandson, Kim Jong-eun, and, sadly, little has changed.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Norodom Sihanouk (RIP)


For John, BLUFFormer King of Cambodia dead at 89.  Spotty record of rule.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The New York Times we learn that King Norodom Sihanouk, of Cambodia, is dead at 89.  He came to the throne in 1941 and survived for decades.  Here is the period that interests me, as my second tour in Southeast Asia (SEA) was mostly spent fighting the Khmer Rouge—unsuccessfully, as it turned out.  The result was a victory for the Khmer Rouge and "Year Zero" in Cambodia, as Dictator Pol Pot waged a campaign against those who might provide leadership for a counter-revolution.  Many fled to Thailand, and from there to the United States.

Convinced that the United States had been behind the overthrow, King Sihanouk allied himself with the Khmer Rouge at the urging of his Chinese patrons, giving the Cambodian Communists his prestige and enormous popularity.  Their victory in 1975 brought the ruthless Pol Pot to power, with King Sihanouk serving, for the first year, as the figurehead president until he was placed under house arrest and fell into a deep depression.  Over the next four years, the Khmer Rouge regime led to the death of 1.7 million people and nearly destroyed the country.
Today many Cambodians live in Lowell, and in Long Beach, California, where I graduated from High School some 42 years ago.  Their gain, life, is our gain, great citizens.

Regards  —  Cliff

Global Stasis, Temperature Wise?


For John, BLUFThe earth hasn't been warming for 16 years and who knows where it will go from here.  Bonus:  modeling complex systems, like our climate and our economy is very complicated and we may not have it all correct.  Nothing to see here; just move along.
From Blogger Ann Althouse we have a link to an article in the Daily Mail, talking about a "pause in CAGW".  A report out of the Met Office (UK, for Weather Service) says warming stopped about 16 years ago.  Throwing cold water on this report is Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.  Enough said.

The interesting thing about the longish article is that there is a short discussion on the complexities of programs that model large systems.  Professor Judith Curry, head of the climate science department at Georgia Tech makes just that point.  Where the reporter, David Rose, makes it interesting is a slide from climate models to economic models and asks if they are not also unreliable.  So, he asks, are we going down some expensive path without any real basis in solid knowledge about both the climate system and the economic system.

Why all this matters should be obvious.  Every quarter, statistics on the economy’s output and models of future performance have a huge impact on our lives.  They trigger a range of policy responses from the Bank of England and the Treasury, and myriad decisions by private businesses.

Yet it has steadily become apparent since the 2008 crash that both the statistics and the modelling are extremely unreliable.  To plan the future around them makes about as much sense as choosing a wedding date three months’ hence on the basis of a long-term weather forecast.

Few people would be so foolish. But decisions of far deeper and more costly significance than those derived from output figures have been and are still being made on the basis of climate predictions, not of the next three months but of the coming century – and this despite the fact that Phil Jones and his colleagues now admit they do not understand the role of ‘natural variability’.

The most depressing feature of this debate is that anyone who questions the alarmist, doomsday scenario will automatically be labelled a climate change ‘denier’, and accused of jeopardising the future of humanity.

So let’s be clear. Yes: global warming is real, and some of it at least has been caused by the CO2 emitted by fossil fuels.  But the evidence is beginning to suggest that it may be happening much slower than the catastrophists have claimed – a conclusion with enormous policy implications.

A small dose of skepticism is always in order.  And, to add to your interest in reading, here is a post that looks at the 40 year old solution to the then coming ice age.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming.
  Full disclosure, when I was on Staff Course I used their then computer, twice.  I am sure they have new computers, but their main frame in 1974 was most helpful.
  If it isn't enough, he is more politician than scientist, modifying EMails and squelching the ideas of those who don't think as he does.  Not a very nice person and he doesn't know how to play well with others.

The Battle Hastings

For John, BLUF:  The Norman Conquest of England, 14 October 1066, changed our language, for the better.  We got to keep our Common Law and that was the vital thing.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I forgot that this is the date of the Battle of Hastings, when William the Bastard became William the Conqueror and changed world history.

Regards  --  Cliff

A Retired Diplomat Comments


For John, BLUFIt appears the White House doesn't trust the American People enough to update the Benghazi Story as facts emerge, but belive they have to stick to their original story, no matter what.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Some may be aware that Right Side has taken a jaundiced view of the meme that a 13 minute video out of LA County sparked all the demonstrations in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) area, and is especially skeptic of the idea the video had anything to do with the Benghazi Incident.  Now comes a retired Foreign Service Officer with a blog post questioning the Administration's viewpoint.

On Libya, Biden lied gave an account at variance with the truth. He threw the entire intel community and the State Department to the wolves.  He claimed that the Embassy in Libya did not ask for extra security, and that the White House was told the attack resulted from an anti-video demonstration gone awry, and not from a terrorist action.  We all know that is not true.  Foggy Bottom will exact its revenge.  The leaks will come fast and furious (to use a phrase that did not come up last night) to show how the White House was informed and did nothing.  There are now press reports that a US done was overhead for at least part of the attack; the State Department's Charlene Lamb already has testified that she was monitoring the attack in "near real time"; we know that the Embassy had requested additional security; and the CIA and State already have made known that they never concluded that the attack was anything other than a terrorist attack.  Nobody has been able to explain the lack of White House response to an attack that went on for at least six hours.

In effect, he claimed that State, CIA, etc., deceived the White House.  Interesting relationship that between Secretary Clinton and President Obama, that between Director Petraeus and President Obama . . .

Yes, this Administration is not a well oiled administrative operation.  Given his experience out in the economy, competing for profits, it is possible that Governor Romney understands the need to make this part of the government apparatus work.

Regards  —  Cliff

Voting Time


For John, BLUFEarly afternoon is the best time to vote, at least in the Northern Virginia area, but probably here also.

Someone Down in Virginia sent along this EMail note:

There was an article on the WTOP [local DC clear channel news, traffic and weather] web-site about the best time to vote this November 6th.

   As a poll worker I pass along this request.  Please tell all your retired friends to resist the urge to come and vote before breakfast.  The actual best time to vote is after a long, leisurely group lunch, before that afternoon nap.

   I am being serious here about the time frame.

   And I pass on the following realities about voting.    In Virginia voters will also be asked to consider two Constitutional questions.  In Fairfax County there will also be 4 Bond issues.

   If you wish to vote in the electronic machine, please know how you want to vote before you get there—reading the ballot on the machine can be tedious.  The issues involved in one of the Constitutional questions are not straightforward.

   Contrary to the belief of many, the optically scanned ballots are just as reliable as the electronic machines.

We too will face ballot initiatives and it is best to have digested them before you show at the polling place.

But, very important is that absentee voting is not just for those out of state anymore.  Give it some consideration.  And, if you have any questions, check at the Elections Office in City Hall (in the basement, by the Gedunk) or call a local Lowell Election Commissioner.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, October 13, 2012

VP Debate Update


For John, BLUFVice President Joe Biden got it wrong regarding exemptions to mandatory providing of contraction for employees.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Apparantly the Vice Presidential debate this last week contained an error in fact.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops took exception to this comment:

With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution—Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide.  That is a fact.  That is a fact.
The Bishops, through their spokesperson, says that is not a fact.  In fact, they say:
This is not a fact.  The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain "religious employers."  That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to "Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital," or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.
And so it goes, as we count down to 6 November.

Regards  —  Cliff

Campaign Insults

For John, BLUFThe use of derogatory terms based upon gender need to be vetted carefully.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Per InstaPundit, the Democratic Party in Arizona managed to insult a Republican Candidate for the US House, suggesting she was just another Republican lady stuck in the kitchen.  At least she didn't use the motto "Go Ugly Early" in her response.

Good luck, Candidate Martha McSally (R Candidate, AZ-02), even if you arewere a FAIP.

Martha McSally, Colonel, USAF (ret)

And she is running in Arizona, where a terrible tragedy occurred back in January of 2011 and we all agreed to a new civility.  How is that working out?

UPDATE:  And, way back in 2001 she did sue Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld over the requirement to wear an Abaya while traveling off base in Saudi Arabia.  The policy did subsequently change.

Regards  —  Cliff

+0 S2 M 0

Friday, October 12, 2012

Deterring Iran


For John, BLUFWe went after Japan's economy in 1941 and they turned on us and attacked Pearl Harbor and our bases in the Philippines.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the debate last evening, the VP suggested that given Iran's economy is in collapse we don't have to be panicked about an Iranian nuclear weapon.

Does anyone remember studying 7 December 1941?

And why did the Japanese attack?  Could it have been economic sanctions?

Do I have any good policy recommendations?  No, I don't.  I am in favor of doing what we can to educate the Iranians on the consequences of a nuclear detonation and then telling them that if they employ nuclear weapons we will respond in kind, only more so.

Regards  —  Cliff

Unintended Consequences


For John, BLUFFord Motors benefitted from GM $49.5 BILLION bailout.  Apparently, car buyers like Ford's independence.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the InstaPundit Professor Glenn Reynolds is sharing his blogging duties while on vacation(?).  Here comes Mark Tapscott, at 10:57 AM, with a comment on the GM bailout.

FORD HELPED MOST BY GM, CHRYSLER BAILOUTS?  Bet you didn’t see this coming!  A new Rasmussen survey of consumer sentiment finds that a clear majority of those interviewed are more favorably disposed to buying a Ford product because the famous automaker did NOT go hat-in-hand to Washington for a bailout in 2008, as did General Motors and Chrysler.  Since it’s about my two favorite issues, cars and politics, I, of course, have an opinion on these developments!
The short post links to this Rasmussen Poll report.

"Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive Ford prospered."

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Walter Duranty Prize

For John, BLUFNYT Foreign Correspondent Walter Duranty received the Pulizer Prize in 1932 while submitting FALSE reporting out of the Soviet Union.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the report on The First Annual Walter Durant Prize.

The selection committee is pleased to bestow the Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity on reporter Joan Juliet Buck and editor Anna Wintour, for their combined feats of on-site reporting, headline packaging, impeccable timing, and fearless dismissal of the truth in Vogue magazine’s astounding March 2011 cover story:  “Asma al-Assad:  A Rose in the Desert.”
Regards  —  Cliff

Shooting and Aiming


For John, BLUFRegarding the Benghazi attack, Romney was right from the get-go.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Erika Johnsen, over at Hot Air, talks about the evolving story regarding the events of 11 September 2012.  The article title is "Tapper to WH on Benghazi: So, wouldn’t it be President Obama who shot first and aimed later?".  That would be ABC Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper.

The title is a reference to the accusation that Governor Romney spoke too quickly about the events in Egypt and Libya.

I believe Governor Romney hit the target in his statement, and he hit the target because he instinctively stood up for American principles, like Free Speech, and for the integrity of our Diplomatic Missions.

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

[Insert pro forma comment about how Administrations tend to hang their UN Ambassadors out to dry and I will want to see more before I condemn Ms Susan Rice for her early statements]

UPDATE:  I'm sorry, here is the view of Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz (DNC Chair)—just because it was wrong desn't mean it was false.  Interviewer Piers Morgan was having trouble with that concept and when CNN is having trouble, so are others.

Regards  —  Cliff