Friday, November 30, 2012

Vote Present

For John, BLUFThe Republicans will probably not come out of the current budget negotiations as even breaking even.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Well, it is kind of a tacky way of saying it, but Mr Ed Morrissey says, regarding the Fiscal Cliff, "The Republicans Are So Screwed".

I like Captain Ed's idea of the Republicans just voting "Present".  The alternative is to offer up for a vote the bi-partisan Simpson-Bowles plan, as recently suggested by Commenter Mary Katherine Ham.

But, there is always the idea of just going over the cliff, as Dr Howard Dean suggested this morning.

I just want to know who is going to be generating the capital to grow the economy.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Some people are calling it "The So Called Fiscal Cliff".  The implication is that to really smart people it isn't really a fiscal cliff.  Mostly those are the really smart people who think that Benghazi was about a riot and that US Citizens shouldn't be allowed to make YouTube videos that criticize Islam or blaspheme its Prophet.

Falling Fertility Rate

For John, BLUFYou are home free, but your grandchildren could see the adverse consequences of sex selection abortions and overall falling birth rates.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Demographics is Destiny.  Blogger Renee Astee tells us population growth will peak in 15 years and then it is down hill.

The line "Demography is Destiny" is from French Mathematician Auguste Comte (1798-1857).

Regards  —  Cliff

Syria, The Day After

For John, BLUFThe Syrian Government of President Assad seems to be in trouble, but he is the protector of the minorities.  After him, what?

Analyst John McCreary, at Night Watch says the following about Syria, where, in his opinion, the war has "crossed an important strategic threshold"—this is the ability of the Insurgents to shoot down aircraft.  There are consequences here:

As noted above, policy choices have consequences.  Should the Alawite government fall, Syrian Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians and other minorities will be killed and shrines destroyed.  That is why the Syrian Kurds are opposing the Syrian opposition fighters and jihadists.
Those looking down the road and not just calling for giving support to the Syrian Rebels need to ask themselves if, under Responsibility to Protect (R2P), the United States or other nations will feel compelled to intervene if a Salafi jihadist team takes over Syria and starts going after minorities?  The follow-on question is if we should bring the oppressed minorities to the United States to reestablish their lives?

Of course it might never come to that, but it is one of the possible futures for which we should be planning.

Regards  —  Cliff

Free Speech Revisited

For John, BLUFThe US Supreme Court, after the terrible Schenck v United States decision, has tended toward protection of speech.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Law Professor Ann Althouse blogs about Free Speech and Due Process, here.

The post refers to a 1940 US Supreme Court ruling, Cantwell v Connecticut.  (I think there is a typo in the report.)

Professor Althouse highlights:

In the realm of religious faith, and in that of political belief, sharp differences arise.  In both fields the tenets of one man may seem the rankest error to his neighbor.  To persuade others to his own point of view, the pleader, as we know, at times resorts to exaggeration, to vilification of men who have been, or are, prominent in church or state, and even to false statement.  But the people of this nation have ordained, in the light of history, that, in spite of the probability of excesses and abuses, these liberties are, in the long view, essential to enlightened opinion and right conduct on the part of the citizens of a democracy.
The Bold is the Professor's.

Free Speech.  It is a wonderful thing and needs to be preserved.  Everywhere.

NOTE for Gerry:It isn't about politics, it is about the US Constitution.

Regards  —  Cliff

Why Pick a Dumb Cover Story?

For John, BLUFI think Charles Pierce, linked to below, may be a bit over the top in his zeal to skewer Republicans.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I thought this was going away, but then I bookmarked the politics site I learned of from Dick Howe and found Blogger Charles Pierce (of Worcester) drawing a loose connect between Benghazi and Space Aliens, although not the way I would.

My top three reasons for why the CIA pulled out that stupid cover story of the Terrorist Raid at Benghazi being due to a YouTube video were:

  1. The CIA was hiding deceased Space Aliens,
  2. The CIA was conducting a gun running operation, à la FAST AND FURIOUS, or
  3. The CIA was supervising a Third Party torture centre.
I am going with Number One, since I can't imagine the Obama Administration being involved in either Two or Three. NOTE for Gerry:I am doing this for the humor, not the politics.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Predicting 2016 (D)

For John, BLUFTrolling for comments.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I was laying out my theory for the Democratic Party Presidential pick for 2016 when my wife interrupted and told me it would be Michelle Obama.  Then I read this letter in yesterday's edition of The [Lowell] Sun.  The Letter Writer, Mike Ferreer, of Groton, also picked the First Lady.

But, notwithstanding these two expert prognosticators, here is my short list and conclusions:

  • VP Joe Biden—a very nice man but toooo gaffe prone, otherwise toooo dull.
  • SecState Hillary Clinton—a very competent person, but toooo centrist.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama (my wife's guess)—The brains of the outfit, but toooo soon.
  • Senator Elect Elizabeth Warren—by 2016 more experienced than Senator Obama in 2008, and while we have had a VP with Indian blood, she would be the first Pesident.  She would be just right.
There you have it.

NOTE For GerryHumor.

Regards  —  Cliff

Gettysburg As Analogy

For John, BLUFLong history lesson regarding Gettysburg.

I thought this might be of interest to some readers of this blog.  In another venue we were discussing if the Pacific Region needs a NATO like organization when someone threw up a Gettysburg analogy.

The Gettysburg side of it started with this comment by one of the China hands:

Finally, George Pickett (who graduated last from his class at West Point) observed, "I always thought the Yankees had something to do with it."

It seems to me that perhaps CHINA might have something to do w/ China assuming a more nationalist perspective, rather than them simply being a poor, put-upon nation upon whom outsiders, especially the US, work their effects.  Perhaps it's not a matter of US pushing, but Chinese pushing that is more of a determinant?

Fair enough.  But, then one of our historians, Bob Bateman, Army Lieutenant Colonel and one time Associate Professor of History at West Point, weighed in.  LTC Bateman is a published author, producing No Gun Ri: A Military History of the Korean War Incident, which debunked a false narrative on that Incident.  The book garnered a Colby Award in 2004.

Here is his intervention regarding Gettysburg:

Please, let me step in here, at least as regards Gettysburg.  I detest mythology.  I especially detest mythology that I once fell for.

WARNING:  This is my interpretation.

  1. It was 6 weeks after Chancellorsville, when the Union Army, demonstrably, collapsed in the face of an envelopment.
  2. Lee, despite having lost Jackson, was aware of this.
  3. Lee ordered Stuart on a wide, swinging envelopment. Timed to hit the Union wagon trains at 1200-1300, depending upon resistance. THIS WAS WHAT THE PLAN DEPENDED UPON.
  4. The envelopment failed, between 1200-1400, due to a young (24 year old) Cavalry officer...umm, and his Brigade.
  5. Longstreet was apparently not privy to the plan to Envelop from the N/NE.
So, friends, consider:  What if the Union Army, so stalwart on the lines in history, had seen smoke to their rear, just like they had seen six weeks before, at 1200, 1300, or 1400 on 3 July 1863.  What would have been the tactical decisions made at the tactical level, with the obvious implications of what would have happened at the operational and strategic (and indeed, political) levels?

Oh, that single Union brigade that stopped JEB Stuart's envelopment.  Yea, that was a 24 year-old dude named Custer.  About a week after assuming command.

I liked the reference to tactical actions with operational and strategic, to include political, consequences.  The levels of war are a useful construct for understanding how small actions can have major consequences.

If anyone would like to engage LTC Batemen on this topic, let me know and I will forward you his EMail.

Regards  —  Cliff

  He served with the 7th Cavalry Regiment.
  Awarded for "a first work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a major contribution to the understanding of intelligence operations, military history, or international affairs."
  Like the aforementioned General Pickett, George Armstrong Custer graduated last in his class at West Point.

Can We Move On re Foggy Bottom?

For John, BLUFIt would be good for foreign policy prosecution if the President quickly announced Senator Kerry as his nominee to replace Madam Secretary Clinton.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

And another post.  This one was in DRAFT format from yesterday and I accidently passed over it. I don't think it is fair or reasonable that US UN Ambassador Susan Rice should be pulled into the maelstrom that is the Behghazi Imbroglio, but it is happening and there seem to be no real efforts to extract her.  This slops over into the question of who will replace the current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Here is the InstaPundit commenting on the current state of play:

WELL, NO.  HARRIET MIERS NEVER LIED TO CONGRESS AND THE NATION:  Is Susan Rice Obama’s Harriet Miers?  Though I do recall a few Bush operatives trying to claim that criticizing Miers was somehow sexist, so you’ve got that parallel.
One wonders if this distraction is getting in the way of our UN Ambassador and the UN actually doing useful business?

Regards  —  Cliff

Current State of Susan Rice

For John, BLUFAmbassador Susan Rice is peripheral to Benghazi.  But, she does have a record worth examining.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over time issues change, but at this time this blog seems to be moving into all Susan Rice, all the time.  Examples here and here.

Thanks to a recent Dick Howe blog post, I checked out the Charles Pierce blog at Esquire Magazine.  Mr Pierce has a post up on Susan Rice and her investments in TransCanada, a pipeline company with an interest in the Keystone Pipeline.  The point being that as SecState she would be involved in decisions relating to approving the pipeline.  Mr Pierce was pretty sarcastic in his post, mostly about Senator McCain and also the Benghazi Imbroglio, but I think there are enough folks involved in the Keystone issue for that not to be an issue.

More important is the issue of Senator Susan Collins and her concerns about Amb Rice, as noted by Politico.

As someone pointed out to me, the Department of State is dysfunctional in many ways and it will require a strong and savy manager to make it work.  Isn't it fair to ask if Ambassador Rice is that person?  I will note that she was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in 1988 (Clinton Administration), back when two of our African Embassies were bombed.  She has been in the building, but it is a big step to the key office on the Seventh Floor.

Further, there is the issue of Ambassador Rice concurring in Mr Richard Clarke's advice not to accept the offer of the Government of Sudan to hand over Bin Laden (back before 9/11).

All along, I have felt, and articulated, that the real questions about a Rice nomination should not be about Benghazi, but larger issues.  For example, as Senator Collins points out, Ambassador Rice's time as an Africa expert.  For example, there are legitimate questions regarding her advice regarding Congo and Rwanda.  Two people I know, who are closer followers of the issues, suggest that her advice with regard to the situation in Sudan was not all that steller.

I guess we shall see where this heads, but I see Senator Collins' comments as a significant turning point in this discussion.

Quoting from the Politico article on Senator Collins:

“In the military, when things go ba[dck], you don’t get promoted,” [Senator Lindsey] Graham, an Air Force reservist, told POLITICO. “I’m not going to hold it against Susan Rice that the entire system failed. The question is what part did she play in this system failure?”
NOTE for Gerry:This issue is suffused with politics, from the Oval Office to Marty's Office, but at the end of the day shouldn't it be about getting the right fit for Secretary of State?  Once upon a time, before we made the Postal Service a QUANGO, we had the Postmaster General as a Cabinet Level position for the President to place a favorite without expertise in some area like State or Defense or Agriculture.  It would be nice to have it back.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sheila Burgess as Melchizedek

For John, BLUFIt is hard to comprehend how the Patrick Administration doesn't know who has what appointment.  How can they properly manage patronage and no-show jobs if they don't keep track of these things?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

NOTE For GerryNo, this isn't politics, but rather an issue of competence.  However, if I say it's typical of the corrupt ways on Beacon Hill then it is political, isn't it?  But not local politics.

Adults can differ on whether UN Amb Susan Rice was deliberately wrong when she won't on Sunday talk shows after the 9/11 attack in Benghazi.  Two plus months later the facts are still murky.  My question is, how can the Patrick Administration not know who hired disgraced Highway Safety Director Sheila Burgess ?  I wonder if I could just walk into the office, sit down and begin work as Ms Burgess' replacement.

Melchizedek?  The High Priest of Salem.  He came out of nowhere and took a tithe from Abraham.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I am one who thinks Amb Rice was set up by the Administration and thus was not lying to the Great American Public.  That puts me opposed Senators McCain, Graham and Ayotte.  Worse it puts me in company with people who are pushing some outlandish ideas regarding the situation.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Abbot and Costello

For John, BLUFRegarding the Benchazi Imbroglio, the Administration can't get out of its own way and now the Main Stream Media has picked up the scent.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

NOTE For GerryOriginally it was politics with high stakes, but now it is just politics because no one knows how to dismount the tiger without getting scratched.

Someone I know today wrote in an EMail that the Administration can't but Benghazi behind itself "as long as the Administration deals with questions that have been raised as if [it was] Bud Abbot playing "Who's on First?", with the public as Lou Costello."  CBS News this afternoon signaled its confusion.

Regards  —  Cliff

UN Treaties

For John, BLUFWe sometimes confuse our terms regarding International Treaties, which leads to confusion about who down in DC can do what.

NOTE For GerryThe procedures are not political, but the process is definitely political.

From time to time on the "Right" UN Treaties come up.  Usually with cries of alarm.  And not without some reason, as giving away bits and pieces of our sovereignty can limit our rights as citizens as we have traditionally understood them.

In light of that, here are some notes on terms and relationships, some of which I did not know.

  1. The Senate does not "ratify" treaties.  The Senate gives its Advice and Consent (by a 2/3 vote) and then the President ratifies the treaty.  This is a very common error, but it is definitely an error—the step of "ratification," necessary to bring the treaty into force, is accomplished by an executive function, not a legislative one.  And, it is discretionary with the executive—just as the Senate may decline to provide Advice and Consent to a treaty that the President has signed, the President may subsequently decline to ratify a treaty to which the Senate has provided Advice and Consent.
  2. The Law of the Sea Convention was "finalized" long ago.  In fact, it was not only "finalized," it was later "modified" (not quite "amended") via an "implementing agreement" in 1994 that substantially modified the provisions regarding the mining of the deep sea bed, which had been the part that the United States most objected to.  If the United States were to join the Convention today, it would do so through accession, not ratification, and no signature would be necessary or possible.
  3. There is an Arms Trade Treaty out there—the negotiations have been suspended prior to completion of a draft text.  So there is nothing for the President to sign, and nothing for the Senate to provide Advice and Concent.  Also, nothing that the UN does with respect to a treaty can "bind" the United States; the United States becomes bound only by its own acts of signature and ratification.
  4. Regarding the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court, President Clinton signed it.  President Bush communicated the decision of the United States not to proceed with ratification of the treaty.  This act is sometimes colloquially referred to as "unsigning" the treaty, but there is no such thing, and the United States is still a signatory to the treaty; if the United States were to want to join the treaty, it would proceed directly to ratify it; no additional signature would be necessary
All the above is not to deny that we should be always alert against those who see themselves as needing to "nudge" the rest of us benighted individuals for our own good, via international agreements.  Heaven protect us from such.

Regards  —  Cliff

Trading Canceled

For John, BLUFThe Bureaucrats in Washington have stifled another internet innovation—trading "futures" on future political events.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Reporter John Stossel, at Fox, posted a story about the Ireland based political issues on-line futures trading firm kicking out its US customers.  The title was "Government Crushes Innovative Online Prediction Market".  Well put.  Crushes.

Today, Americans were told that they must close their accounts.  That happened because the federal government agency known as the "Commodity Futures Trading Commission" (CFTC) today sued the prediction market, where people from all over the world bet about things like who will win elections.

  Intrade decided all its U.S. customers must now close their accounts and withdraw their money from the site.

Quoting someone else, "from a national security perspective (OSINT) this could have been a great resource for analysts, but the government, for some reason, shuts it down."

Well, it is the Federal Government, and it includes the Dodd-Frank Act:

"Section 4c(b) and 9(a)(3) of the [Commodity Exchange] Act, §§6c(b) and 13(a)(3) (2006); Section 2(e) of the Act, as amended by the Dodd-Frank Act, to be codified at 7 U.S.C. § 2(e); and Regulation 32, as amended, to be codified at 17 C.F.R. § 32 (2011);"

In English:  the government says that many of the things Intrade allows people to predict - everything from what the price of gold will be in the future to whether the U.S. will go to war soon - are legally considered "commodity options," and that Intrade broke the law because it isn't licensed to trade those.  The penalty is $140,000 per violation.

Nate Silver wasn't the only one to predict an Obama victory.  When Analyst Karl Rove was predicting a Romney win, InTrade said it would be Obama.


Quoting another anonymous source:

This is not the first time that a prediction market has been "crushed" by the USG.   Some may recall the Policy Analysis Market, an initiative of the DARPA Information Awareness office back in the 2002-2003 time frame.  It resulted in the resignation of John Poindexter.   You can read more about it here, or here.
I hope Senator Chris Dodd and Rep Barney Frank are happy to have unleashed the petty bureaucrats to crush an innovative and informative service.  It will soldier on, but without any "trades" from the US.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Coakley Recycled

For John, BLUFMartha Coakley may be back.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Madison, Wisconsin Resident Professor Ann Althouse gives me a link to a Boston Herald article talking about Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley running for the Governor's Office.

I wanted to run screaming from the room, but I would still be in Massachusetts.  Isn't she the one who gave us "It isn't illegal to be illegal"?  I should have gone to New England School of Law a long time ago, so I could understand such "elocutions".

In the comments to the Althouse Post one person says "She is perfect for Massachusetts".  Frankly, I didn't take that well.  Also, the term "Amirault story" kept coming up.

Regards  —  Cliff

Benghazi Won't Go Away

For John, BLUFThe Benghazi Imbroglio may fade in history, but if it doesn't it will be seen as a time of confusion and partisan bickering.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

At The Huffington Post we have an article about Fox News interviewing "Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Thomas Ricks". 

A Fox News interview ended rather abruptly on Monday after a guest took not one but two jabs at the network hosting him (see update below).

Co-anchor Jon Scott interviewed Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Thomas Ricks, who has covered the military for decades, about his new book "The Generals." Scott asked Ricks weigh in on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and Sen. John McCain's criticisms of Amb. Susan Rice.

"I think Benghazi was generally hyped by this network especially," Ricks said.  He added that he thought McCain seemed to be "backing off" from criticizing Rice since "the campaign [was] over."

To challenge the views of a "Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author" may seem a little forward, but I feel I must.

I agree with Mr Ricks, the death of a US Ambassador notwithstanding, Benghazi was a small fire fight, but I believe the long term consequences of our responses are of importance.

Further, I have maintained that Amb Susan Rice was not lying, but the victim of what the Administration gave her as Talking Points.   (Check this blog for confirmation, if needed.)   That said, several people I respect, and with insight into the issue, have told me that they don't think Amb Rice is suited for SecState.

Yesterday Scott Helfstein (Director of Research at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point) published an article on the 11 September demonstrations across the MENA area that offered some good insights, but started with the meme that what happened in Libya was a riot, as a result of "the video".   This isn't true.   This isn't helpful.   It obscures the role of terrorist groups in North Africa.   It also obscures what the demonstrations across the MENA Area are about.

The use of "the video as cause" meme has resulted in us brushing aside First Amendment guarantees, almost like it was WWI.

And, the apparent confusion about Benghazi, which went on for weeks, suggests that the Administration was fumbling.

The inability of the MSM, with Candy Crowley in the forefront, to comprehend these contradictions is troubling, but not shocking.

Fox is not my ideal, but others are wanting as well.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, November 26, 2012

The UN

For John, BLUFIsrael always faces an uphill battle.

A comment on the UN General Assembly:

If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the Earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.
Israeli diplomat Abba Eban
Regards  —  Cliff

Finding the Focus

For John, BLUFBlogger Gerry Nutter got confused on WCAP this AM, over why Left in Lowell has again focused on GLTHS.

On WCAP (680 AM) this AM Blogger Gerry Nutter suggested that Left in Lowell picked up the theme of GLTHS as a result of Ray Boutin, vice Cliff Krieger, being appointed to the GLTHS School Committee.

This is rubbish, IMHO.  Cliff Krieger getting appointed to or not getting appointed to the vacated Mike Lenzi seat is of little importance.  What is important is the future of GLTHS.  I do believe it is fair to say that the fact that there were four candidates for the job helped to focus attention on GLTHS and its governance.

The future of GLTHS turns on the performance of the School Committee, which is charged with guiding the Superintendent in the execution of his or her duties.  There are some current hiccups out at GLTHS, including the "gender discrimination" charge and the asking the Tyngsboro Police to investigate Ms Lynne Lupien.  These are fair objects for discussion by the various Blogs.  If the $65 Million upgrade to the school fails in Dracut, that will be a subject worth discussing on the Blogs.  The gap between the number of students interested in attending GLTHS and the number who can be accommodated is a fit topic for Blogging.

UPDATE:  And let us not forget Lowell City Councilor Bill Martin (on the floor) or State Rep Colleen Garry (on City Life) calling for fundamental changes in the relationship of GLTHS and it's supporting communities.  We could throw in questions about GLTHS's relationship with Lowell High and with Middlesex Community College.

Let us not confuse one applicant for an appointment to the GLTHS School Committee with the actual work facing the School Committee itself.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sequestration Again

For John, BLUFAre we seeing posturing by the Democrats in Congress or are those Democratic Party Congress Critters willing to "destroy the village to save it"?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

If Politico is to be believed, the Tea Party isn't the only speed bump in Congress.  We now have the "Cliff Jumpers".

A growing bloc of emboldened liberals say they’re not afraid to watch defense spending get gouged and taxes go up on every American if a budget deal doesn’t satisfy their priorities.

Here’s what these progressives fear:  an agreement that keeps lower tax rates for the wealthy, hits the social safety net with unpalatable cuts and leaves Pentagon spending unscathed.  In other words, they’d rather walk the country off the cliff than watch President Barack Obama cave on long-held liberal priorities.

Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tax Adjustment Suggestions

For John, BLUFIf we are going to raise taxes, let's get free loaders, like Hollywood and non-profits.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Before we go over the Fiscal Cliff, let's consider some modest tax law changes.  Besides going after Hollywood, what about revolving door senior government appointees and elected officials.  Here is a suggestion of a 50% Surtax on the difference between their new salary and their old, government, salary (time limit of five years).

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Creating Small Businesses

For John, BLUFObama Care could decimate small businesses of 50 or more employees, but encourage more folks to take the small business plunge.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The InstaPundit put up a short post (with link) suggesting The Reid/Pelosi Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (all 2700 or so pages) would tend to limit the size of small businesses to under 50 employees.

GETTING IT FAST AND HARD (CONT’D): How ObamaCare will keep unemployment high — by forcing small companies to cut their workforce to fewer than 50 people.
I don't disagree, but I see it as a move that will stimulate the growth of the number of small businesses.

As I responded to Professor Reynolds:

The markets will still be there, looking for people to fill their needs.
In this I got a Roger from The Other Cliff.  Yes, this tends to reduce us to a nation of shopkeepers, and that is a good thing.  More opportunities for more entrepreneurs.

Let's hear it for the 49ers!

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saying You Piece

For John, BLUFNot every cross word is a criminal threat.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

It isn't because I am Roman Catholic that I found this post at Pope Hat, but because I am interested in liberty and the law.

The blog title is "Twitter and True Threats".  The thrust is with regard to Twitter and threats the Secret Service are interested in, but the post might help clarify where we are with Lynne Lupien and her hyperbolic language.

From the Blog post:

In short:  true threats are criminal, but stupid violent rhetoric often is not criminal.
This adds to the blog post we have from Renee Aste, about idioms.

The Regina Fanticanti/Chris Scott Imbroglio notwithstanding, not every sharp word, even if violent rhetoric, is criminal.  And, a bit of historic reflection will tell us that political discourse is a lot milder than it was earlier in our history.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The blog post is a little gamey.  You have been warned.
  "Esq" deleted, but still, a law school grad and a one time lawyer, now a homemaker and blogger.

The Place of GLTHS in Our Educational System

For John, BLUFThere is no doubt we need highly trained non-college grads in the future.  GLTHS is part of the solution.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

As the management style of the current Greater Lowell Technical High School (GLTHS) leadership gets reviewed in various places, let's keep in mind that it is, right up there with UML and Middlesex Community College, one of our crown jewels.  Not to take away from our own great High School and what it has to offer, but GLTHS fills a vital need in our community and our commnity's economic future.

A friend of mine with a PhD in Economics and serving as a Professor at a degree granting institution not in this region, wrote the following this AM:

The arguments for college sometimes miss some productive potential alternatives.   The average age of skilled workers in the US is past 50 (approaching 60 by some estimates).   When those folks retire not only is their direct production lost but we also begin to lose their ability to train replacements.   An example of how important this can be is the case of electrical generator repairs.   The policy goal of returning industrial production to the US will have some serious problems if there is not an adequate supply of skilled labor.

  Taking another step along this not so brightly lit path, industrial jobs that are coming to the US (some returning, some new) require greater knowledge and skill than did the old industrial jobs.   To compete with foreign industry, US firms must be very efficient and rising labor costs make this difficult.   So, firms are making more use of technology in order to boost output per worker.   Thus, while each employed worker in these job categories will make more, there are not going to be nearly as many workers employed.   Low levels of demand both domestically, due to our poor economic performance, and for US exports due to our lack of competitiveness and the even poorer performance of many trading partners, makes this a more difficult problem than in a healthy US economy.

  Newer jobs in the trades have higher startup costs than the old jobs but are still less costly than college degrees.   For those college majors that do not generally result in well-paying jobs post-graduation, a benefit/cost analysis would probably favor students at least considering job training for skilled labor work.   Machine tool makers and heavy equipment operators/maintenance workers have higher incomes than social science and humanities undergrads.

We all have to think about GLTHS's place.  Yesterday a friend of mine expressed some concern that while GLTHS is rejecting students interested in the "trades" it is preparing students for college.  Do we have the right division of labor?

There is no doubt in my mind that there is a definite need for GLTHS in our constellation of educational institutions.  I sometimes wonder if it's future isn't as a combined High School and Junior College.  That would give increased flexibility with regard to when students move to the school, and leave.  But, GLTHS has to be part of a larger picture of education.  It should not sit in grand isolation.  That doesn't mean I agree with City Councilor Bill Martin that the Lowell School System should absorb GLTHS.  While nothing should be off the table, I believe GLTHS's independent status gives it flexibility it might not otherwise have.

Mimi said, in a recent post that we all need to be paying attention to GLTHS—and she was correct.

Regards  —  Cliff

GOP and Minorities

For John, BLUFThe GOP, which started out as a party concerned about an oppressed minority, has lost its knack.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The Lowell Republican City Committee Web Site has a blog post noting that IBD sees Asian-Americans slipping onto the Democratic Party side of the ledger.

This is not a good thing for the Republican Party.  If the approach is to hunker down and look for heretics, then it will become the Party the pundits describe—the Party of old Caucasian males.  Well, the pundocracy tends to say old white guys, but that is just another slur at Republicans.

If you are an Asian-American and you think that the Republicans have a real message; a message of individual freedom and initiative, a message of the protection of individual rights and the principle of one level of government not doing what can and should be done by a lower level of government,then you should check them out.

Regards  —  Cliff

Cutting College Costs

For John, BLUFTexas Governor pushing effort to cut college costs—$10K Bachelors.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I wasn't that impressed with Texas Governor Rick Perry during the Republican Presidential Primary, but if, as Blogger Ed Morrissey reports, he is succeeding in getting the cost of a four year college degree down to $10,000, he might be worth looking at again.

With costs exploding in higher education and student debt becoming a crippling fact of life, many are looking for ways to reduce costs while maintaining access and quality.   Texas Governor Rick Perry has challenged colleges and universities in his state to crafting baccalaureate degree programs that will cost no more than $10,000, including tuition and books — and may have found success already
This approach is for a general degree, but it is a start.  As it is now, college costs are huge burdens on our upcoming working population.  Worse for those who almost get a degree but fall short.  They have the big debt burden, but less earning power.  And student debt is a big drag on the economy.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, November 23, 2012

Rightly Understanding the Past

For John, BLUFLet us dispense with the false equivelency of American Democracy and Soviet Communism.  And let us not go overboard by branding our friends on the left as Communists.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The InstaPundit provides an important point for us.

J.P. FREIRE:  The “Hollywood Holocaust” and Other Cold War Myths.  Leaving aside the obscenity of comparing out-of-work screenwriters with gassed Auschwitz inmates, there’s this:  Communists are no better than Nazis.  Refusing to hire Communists is on the same moral plane as refusing to hire Nazis.  Which is to say:  It’s a good and admirable thing, not a sin.  Go broke and starve, commies.  It’s what you deserve for being eager, willing servants of totalitarianism.
Yes, we were allied with the Communist Soviet Union during WW II, but that Great American, Prime Minster Winston Churchill, points the way to rightly understanding the relationship:
If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.

To his personal secretary John Colville the evening before Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union.  As quoted by Andrew Nagorski in The Greatest Battle (2007), Simon & Schuster, pp. 150-151 ISBN 0743281101
Let us draw a distinction between the Socialists of Europe and elsewhere and the Communists of the Soviet Union, particularly under Joseph Stalin.  The second lot were cruel and evil, killing millions of their fellow countrymen and women in the pursuit of a dream to reduce individuality and independence.  The fellow travelers of Hollywood were misguided at best and knowing supports of an evil up there with the Nazi regime at worst.  It is not that we couldn't forgive them.  We forgave the Germans  It is that their support of evil should not have been swept under the rug, where it would rest, waiting to infect others.

Where scores settled and wrongs done?  Absolutely, but there were reasons Mary McCarthy said of Lillian Hellman "Every word she writes is a lie, including and and the."

Regards  —  Cliff

Current US Carbon Footprint

For John, BLUFOur switch to natural gas is reducing our carbon footprint.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The InstaPundit links to a little known Michigan policy blog site which declares "U.S. Leads World In Carbon Emissions Reductions".  The economic downturn, market forces, "CAGW" and fracking. The article links to a report from the International Energy Agency, a creature of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  Here is the boring money quote:

CO2 emissions in the United States in 2011 fell by 92 Mt, or 1.7%, primarily due to ongoing switching from coal to natural gas in power generation and an exceptionally mild winter, which reduced the demand for space heating.  US emissions have now fallen by 430 Mt (7.7%) since 2006, the largest reduction of all countries or regions.  This development has arisen from lower oil use in the transport sector (linked to efficiency improvements, higher oil prices and the economic downturn which has cut vehicle miles travelled) and a substantial shift from coal to gas in the power sector.  CO2 emissions in the EU in 2011 were lower by 69 Mt, or 1.9%, as sluggish economic growth cut industrial production and a relatively warm winter reduced heating needs.
Regards  —  Cliff

  Burying the lede, "Efforts to curb so-called man-made climate change had little or nothing to do with it.  Government mandated "green" energy didn't cause the reductions.  Neither did environmentalist pressure.  And the U.S. did not go along with the Kyoto Protocol to radically cut CO2 emissions."


For John, BLUFFree Speech is vital to our Democracy.

Lynne comments on the situation.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

Martha and I will be having Thanksgiving Dinner with some of her relatives this year.  As usual, there will be sadness, over loved ones lost, but also lots to be thankful for.  A chance to cleanse the spiritual palate, so to speak.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Marginal Tax Rate

For John, BLUFLimiting your earnings to avoid higher taxes just limits your income.  You save nothing.

Professor Paul Caron, at the Tax Law Blog tells us that The New York Times got it wrong in explaining marginal tax rates.

Here is the strait 'gen.  The way Federal Income Taxes work is that the higher rate only applies to the money you earn above and beyond the money you earn in the lower bracket.

You only hurt yourself by limiting your income to avoid paying extra taxes.

Even Newsreader Rachel Maddow makes the point, at the previous link.  And shows that this is not a new mistaken idea.


Earn more, hire more, enjoy life, contribute to the economy.

Regards  —  Cliff

What Might Have Been

For John, BLUFMitt Romney failed, and failed us, because he could not or would not articulate a vision for America.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is playwright Carla Seaquist writing about what might have been—if Candidate Mitt Romney had been prepared to give us a moral lesson on what it means to 100% of America to follow Republican principles.  Ms Seaquist is a Democrat, so she balances the scales differently from Republicans (Kad Barma's thoughts on the two parties being alike notwithstanding), but it would have been a better campaign if Governor Romney had talked about how these United States are who we are because we are the sum of the individuals who make up this government and not the clients of a benevolent central government there to help each of us.

There is a difference between help and facilitate.  But, that is not the point.  We did not get an articulation of the fact that the Republican Party is about creating taxpayers by creating jobs; and for those who lack the skills to work, about helping them develop the skills to work; and for those who just can't work, creating a safety net to ensure we protect all life; but for those who just wish to be left alone, to give them their space by not imposing on them what the majority embraces.

But, to the larger point about the election, we can always go to Proverbs 29:18a—"Where there is no vision, the people perish."  (KJV)

Regards  —  Cliff

The Wine Blog

For John, BLUFOn the Internet they ask for a lot of stuff without telling you why.  Why?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I am not a follower of The [Lowell] Sun wine blog, by Editor Jim Campanini, but I did read the recent post, "On Her Wine Goddess’ Secret Service"

I liked it.  It was well written and had a tie-in to current events.  I was amused.  And, as a blogger I know that feedback is appreciated, so I went to post a comment:

I liked it.

I am interested in knowing.  Everyone asks for one's website when posting a comment, but what is done with that information?

Regards  —  Cliff

The page told me that it suspected me of writing spam and rejected me.  I called The Sun, but several hours later no one has gotten back to me.  That is OK, but I am left with my question regarding the way some blogs, when you log in to make a comment, ask you for your "web site".  The request for a name (the name you are blogging under) makes sense.  At a given site one should be consistent in the use of a pen name—in my case I make it easy by using the one my parents gave me.  And, the request for an EMail as a way of doing a quick screening also makes sense.

It is the web page request that doesn't make sense.  Sometimes it isn't convenient for me to put down my web page and I leave that area blank, but still my comment gets posted.  This time I cut and pasted my web page URL and got shut out.  Why the web page?  What use are they making of it?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Regards  —  Cliff

Word of the Day


Regards  —  Cliff

There Are Turkeys and Then There Are Turkeys

For John, BLUFOne should always be suspicious of Mayor Marion Barry.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Former DC Mayor and current City Councilor Marion Barry gave away $40,000 worth of turkeys to his constituents in Ward 8 this year.

For those of you who think only those mean, evil Republicans expect to see an ID, Mayor Barry was demanding a photo ID from all his constituents who received a turkey.

There was a question as to the source of the money to pay for all those turkeys, but Mayor Barry turned away the question.

A DC area resident suggested the question wasn't where the $40K came from, but if there was another $40K that went into Mayor Barry's pocket.  Such are our expectations of the man who famously exclaimed to Federal Law Enforcement Officers "The 'woman' set me up".

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

EMail Privacy

For John, BLUFThe people inside the DZc Bubble want to snoop not our private lives and Congress (and the Federal Courts) should be protecting us.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I was about to author a blog post condemning in the strongest possible terms the Senator Leahy associated bill on EMail security from Federal Government snooping, when a new article popped up saying that Senator Leahy, from Vermont, has abandoned his support of the Department of Justice approach, although he hasn't gone back to his original position.  The article lede:

Sen. Patrick Leahy has abandoned his controversial proposal that would grant government agencies more surveillance power -- including warrantless access to Americans' e-mail accounts -- than they possess under current law.
Really, does the National Labor Relations Board need to be able to see my private EMails without a warrant?   I don't think so.   Are we still worried about Harry Bridges?

The Citizenry needs to keep an eye on the Administration and the US Congress, to ensure our privacy rights are not further eroded.  This erosion of our rights started before President Bush and 9/11, although it accelerated under his Adminstration and continues to go in the wrong direction under President Obama's Administration.

We have to be vigilant.

Regards  —  Cliff

Darrell Issa and Copyright

For John, BLUFCopyright laws are holding us back as a People.  There is some small movement on the Republican side.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Representative Darrell Issa to the rescue.  He says he is going to write legislation that makes it clear you can "rip your legally purchased DVD so you can watch it on your computer or iPad.  Seems like "fair use" to me.

There should be little doubt that our copyright laws are broken.  In the mean time the Democratic Party is beholding to Hollywood and other interested parties and the Republican Party is floundering.  [Link Separation Here]  Here is the Memo that pulled the draft Republican House paper and the paper.

Hat tip to The InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Obama Mandate, Part Deux

For John, BLUFThere is no "mandate" to raise taxes, just a mandate to solve the problem.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I am sitting here burning CDs with the Christmas Mass Music for my wife (yes, we are street legal here) and have time to check out more blogs.  One of my favorite Democratic Party thinkers/talkers is Ms Susan Estrich, here talking about the "The Mandate To Raise Taxes on the 'Rich'".  And here is The InstaPundit's extract from the longer article:

Within days of winning the election, President Obama announced that his victory gave him a mandate to raise taxes on the “rich.”

Come again? This was a two-and-a-half-point election.  It reflected a painfully divided electorate.  The only mandate I saw was to unite a divided country. . . . I did not vote for Obama because I think I am paying too little in taxes.

Obama needs to be very careful.  Yes, he was re-elected.  But so were all those folks who blocked the extension of the Bush tax cuts if they excluded individuals and small businesses who make enough money to qualify as rich — but not enough to send their kids to college, or help their aging parents, or buy a home in a decent neighborhood.

We need to avoid going over the fiscal cliff.  But Obama must also avoid the political cliff.

One of the amazing things about this country is that the middle class doesn’t hate the rich.  We are not a society divided by economic castes.  Yes, there are real issues as the gap between the top and the middle, between CEOs and those in good but not great jobs, grows.  But beginning a new term with what will look to many like a class war is not the way to fulfill the real mandate of this election, which is to bring us together, not turn us against each other.

Like I say, I like Ms Estrich.  I think the article is a good antidote for any who are feeling triumphalism coursing through their system.

Regards  —  Cliff


For John, BLUFThe French economy, the world's fifth largest, is in trouble.  These things tend not to be self-contained.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The French Government, under President Hollande has taken a credit rating hit, being downgraded from AAA to AA1 by Moody's.  So goes the story in The Daily Telegraph.

Pierre Moscovici, France's finance minister, blamed the economic management of past governments for the downgrade, and said that French debt remained among the most liquid in the eurozone.
Well, in that way the French Government is like the US Administration.

If you go to the link you will see a picture of loaves of "baguette" bread bound together by a ribbon with the French colors, and with a lit fuse protruding from the top.  This is from a recent front cover of The Economist, and it has elicited complaints from the French Government.

Why seven loaves?  All the news articles say seven.  Is it just an accident or does the number mean something?

Regards  —  Cliff

A Distinction

For John, BLUFThe Democrats and their fellow travelers are playing the race and gender cards and ignoring the openness/inclusiveness of Republicans to people of color and women.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

US Senator John McCain (and Senator Lindsey Graham, but not Senator Kelly Ayotte) is being accused of racism with regard to the possible nomination of US UN Ambassador Susan Rice to Secretary of State.  Here is Scott Whitlock writing for News Busters writing about a segment on Mr Chris Matthews' show, Hardball.  The core of the article:

Former top Newsweek journalist and current editor Richard Wolffe on Monday smeared Senator John McCain as a racist.
Mt Wolffe can find no other reason for Senator McCain's opposition to Amb Rice than racism.  The idea that Amb Rice and her Sunday Talk Show performance over Benghazi, might invoke Jeremiah 20:7 is not considered.  The idea that Senator McCain (but not Senators Graham and Ayotte) might be favoring his good friend Senator John Kerry for the job is not considered.  What is going in here?

My wife asks if there is selective vision here?  Are the pundits unable to see women and people of color in the Republican Party?  Do such people just become "White" once they register as Republicans?

Regards  —  Cliff


For John, BLUF.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

It is as bad as 1912.  View here the cartoons that marked the demise of the Grand Old Party.

Hat tip to the ¡No Pasaran! blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Ladies of the Labor Party

For John, BLUFThe Labor Party of the UK, their version of Democrats, like here, is full of rich people.  No real shock there.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From across the pond we have this post at Order-Order, about the ladies of the Labor Party.  The only thing that caught my eye was that Manchester Guardian left wing columnist Polly Toynbee is a multi-millionairess and owns three homes.  And she lectures me in her column.

Thank you, Guido Fawkes.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Debt Ceiling Limit

For John, BLUFThe Administration wants to reduce Congressional Controls on the Federal Debt and the Federal Debt Ceiling.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

After two pages of web crawler results, searching for "geithner al hunt debt limit" I found a Bloomberg page that was a little more to the center than the collection of responses I was getting.  Less details, but the point is there, Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner wants an unlimited debt ceiling.  That is to say, he wants no limits on the Executive Branch in terms of increasing the Federal Debt.

I am just a mere voter and tax payer, but an unlimited debt ceiling sounds like a bad idea to me.  Convenient for the folks down in DC, but another case of politicians and Civil Servants not having to face the tough issues.  A bad idea.

Regards  —  Cliff

  To me that means the Main Stream Media is ducking this issue for some reason.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Twinkie Dies

For John, BLUFThe fact is it was time for Hostess to go, with the Twinkie being rescued by some Mexican firm.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here at The New Yorker writer James Surowieki makes an excellent point about the Hostess Company (and their product, the Twinkie).

Hostess's management certainly bears some of the blame for its failure to successfully adapt, though the company made numerous (and failed) attempts to introduce healthier products.  But the simple truth is that this kind of failure is endemic to the system—there are always going to be companies that are unable to change in response to the marketplace.  And those companies are supposed to go out of business.  Not to be too clichéd about it, but this is what creative destruction is all about.
"Creative Destruction".  There is a word that helps us understand capitalism.  Old companies go under and new companies are born.  It is the way of the restaurant business and the aerospace business.  Vultee became Consolidated Vultee which became Convair which became part of General Dynamics and was part of the breakup that went to Boeing and Lockheed.  The alternative is stagnation and collapse—think Soviet Union.

One item that I thought was incomplete was the author's putting up part of a Tweet by John Nolte—"Hostess strikers had pensions. PENSIONS! What is this, 1962?"  Turns out that John Nolte is a senior editor at Brietbart (I didn't know that until I started digging) and the full Tweet was:

Hostess strikers had pensions.  PENSIONS!  What is this, 1962?  And now they got nothing.  All part of the union plan, create economic chaos.
Not very uplifting, but it gets to a point.  This collapse is, as Mr Nolte notes, going to be painful for the 18,000 employees of Hostess.  I wonder though, don't we have a Federal system for dealing with collapsed pension systems?  A Federal Agency?

And, I doubt there is a "union" grand plan to create economic chaos.  We are not talking Cloward and Pivon here, or are we?

Regards  —  Cliff

Advice to Local Republicans

For John, BLUFEven the Democrats are offering Republicans advice.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the new Lowell Republican City Committee Blog Site I put up a post on a letter to the editor of The Sun from Ms Mary Sweeney.  I looked at the issues brought up and provided some comments.  Ms Sweeney isn't all wrong in her critique.

As background, the original letter was in response to a column by Mr Peter Lucas of The Sun and appeared yesterday.  I am quite sure that Ms Sweeney is a registered Democrat, so we are getting help from all sides as Republicans.

At the first link is my more expanded discussion of the letter and its main points.

Regards  —  Cliff

Looking to 2014

For John, BLUFEarly prediction:  the Voters will likely continue "divided government" in 2014.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The new statistics whiz, Mr Nate Silver, tells is that the Democrats are unlikely to pick up the House of Representatives in 2014.  The lede:

Democrats did not have as strong a performance in races for the United States House of Representatives last week as they did in the contests for the Senate and the presidency.  Instead, Republicans retained control of the chamber.
"Bottom Line":
In other words, Democrats would have to perform quite a bit better in House races in 2014 than they did in 2012 to win control of the chamber—when usually the president’s party does quite a bit worse instead.
Of course here in the Commnwealth of Massachusetts we have to put up candidates.

Regards  —  Cliff

Pulling the Pin

For John, BLUFMembers of the House of Representatives have condemned two Senators in the strongest possible terms.  Now what are they going to do?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

A Dozen Ladies of the House have pulled the pin on the nuclear hand grenade.  This is over the fact that Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have called into question the qualification of US UN Ambassador Susan Rice to be Secretary of State, based upon her performance after the Benghazi Incident.  Frankly, I think the two Senators are flat out wrong to say that she "lied".  She failed to give us the truth, but her performance was based on the "talking points" she was handed by the Administration.  But, maybe the two Senators think she should have been smart enough to know that it wasn't the "video" and the mob by the time she went on television.

That said, there are reasons aside from the Benghazi Imbroglio for why one might not wish to have Ms Rice as the Secretary of State.  One of them is that we are doing a pivot to Asia and she is not an Asia expert.

But, back to the Ladies of the House, if they are going to accuse the two Senators of Sexism and Racism they are pushing the limits on their ability to condemn the two.  They now have no reserve, no backup condemnation.  They have shot their wad.

The problem with having a nuclear weapon is that eventually the other side gets their own.  The US had the nuclear monopoly in 1945.  But, on 29 August 1949 the Soviet Union conducted its first nuclear test, FIRST LIGHTNING.  I am sure that the Dozen Ladies of the House see no way that the Republicans could find a moral equivalent to their charges of sexism and racism, their nuclear weapon, but history suggests that something will happen to even things out.

The Republicans could back off, but then the Dozen would be stuck with an Administration that lied to the American people over Benghazi for no discernible reason.  And trampled free speech in the process.  The Republicans are demanding that Amb Rice appear before the Senate.  I agree with that.  I also hope she does well.  That doesn't mean that I prefer her to Senator John Kerry for the SecState job.  On the other hand, I am not keen on the Senator either.

Regards  —  Cliff

  And the thing about the "video" is that the most "vile" accusation contained therein is that of genocide.  The Egyptian Muslims are trying to wipe out the Egyptian Copts, per the video.  After the Copts, who?  First they came for the….  Hasn't anyone seen the video?
  One sometimes senses that the Democrats are not good at history.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Scavengers

For John, BLUFNow that there has been a kill, the scavengers descend upon the body of David Petraeus.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is a piece by West Point Graduate and author Lucian Truscott, IV, in The New York Times.  The title is "A Phony Hero for a Phony War".

This is a terrible piling on after the fact.  Where was Mr Truscott before the fall?  And it was poor form for "The Old Gray Lady" to print this.  As one person commented:

I am impressed by the plethora of cowardly pundits & reporters who didn't have the guts to assail GEN Petreaus until he was down.
The person who wrote that spoke truth.  Here is the last paragraph of the Truscott article:
If only our political leadership, not to mention the Iraqi and Afghan insurgencies, had known how quickly and hard he would fall over such a petty, ignominious affair. Think of how many tens of thousands of lives could have been saved by ending those conflicts much earlier and sending Dave and his merry band of Doonesbury generals to the showers.

Is there no longer style?

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The American Dream

For John, BLUFAmericans, by and large, believe their future is in their own hands.

From the PEW Trust we have a global survey on attitudes toward whether or not hard work pays off.

Only the folks in Pakistan beat us on this survey, which is summarized above.  This 77% leaves 23% not having faith in their own ability to achieve their goals, but that 23% is smaller than the infamous 47%.  Governor Bobby Jindal has it right and Governor Mitt Romney had it wrong earlier this week.

If we’re going to continue to be a competitive party and win elections on the national stage and continue to fight for our conservative principles, we need two messages to get out loudly and clearly.  One, we are fighting for 100 percent of the votes, and secondly, our policies benefit every American who wants to pursue the American dream, period.  No exceptions.
As long as we keep this American Dream alive we are going to do OK.  That is a good thing.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, November 16, 2012

Blogs Come and Blogs Go

For John, BLUFJust a little housekeeping action.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I am going to remove a couple of links to blogs that have not been active for at least a year.  Both were put up and maintained by friends of mine and removing them from my Blog Roll means no disrespect.  The two bloggers have moved on and now it is time for me to move on and reclaim the territory:

End of Nihilism.

And Then There is This....

Regards  —  Cliff

LRCC New Presence

For John, BLUFThe local Republican Party Organization has a new web site and blog.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The Lowell Republican City Committee has a new web site and a new blog.  At the blog I have posted a link to a previous post here at Right Side of Lowell, in which I muse on the relationship of the Party, the Candidates and the Grass Roots.

Please consider book marking the LRCC Blog and visiting it from time to time.

Regards  —  Cliff

Picking Speakers

For John, BLUFDemocrats should distance themselves from Professor Peter Singer.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

So Fordham University has invited Princeton Professor Peter Singer, but doesn't want author Ann Coulter. The authorities accuse Ms Coulter of "hate speech", but favor Mr Chris Matthews.  Strange.

But, especially strange is inviting infanticide advocate Peter Singer.  One wonders why the Democrats don't distance themselves from this man and his teachings.  He makes Todd Akin appear very main line in his thinking.

Fordham is a private institution, so the First Amendment doesn't apply.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Global Warming Update

For John, BLUFGlobal warming is continuing, just not yet.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Apparently CAGW advocate, Scientist Phil Jones, has moved the goal posts for the next increase in global warming, as a result of an August data update from the Met Office, per this article in The Daily Mail, a London tabloid.

Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Location, Location, Location

I am on City Life this AM.

Channel 8 in Lowell, but also local access in Dracut.  And again at 4:00 PM.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fixing Illegal Immigration

For John, BLUFHave you ever stumbled across the fact that the way we treat Mexican citizens is a lot more open than the way they treat our citizens.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I had been mulling over in my mind a radical solution to illegal immigration from Mexico, but I waited too long and Roger Kimball basically beat me to it.

As we know, from our Commonwealth's Attorney General, "it isn't illegal to be illegal in Massachusetts".  So, lets make it that way across the US and Mexico.

You can click on the link to see the Roger Kimball plan.  My plan is more formal.  I would have House Majority Leader Eric Cantor introduce legislation authorizing and directing the Administration to open negotiations with the Government of Mexico to provide reciprical rights for citizens with an open border.  Examples called forth would include rights concerning ownership of property and employment rights.  They should be the same for citizens of each nation in the other nation.  There should be reciprical accommodations with regard to government interactions, to include having forms in both languages.  With regard to education, residence, as opposed to citizenship, should determine tuition and fees, on either side of the border.  Both nations would agree to provide special language assistance for students from the other nation.

Regarding voting, it would be based on citizenship.  One's right to vote would be based upon where one was born, until one changed one's citizenship.  The Eric Cantor Bill would provide that citizenship change would be based upon ten years continuing residence in the other nation (with exceptions for reasonable vacations and family visits), the passing of a citizenship test, and a renunciation of one's previous citizenship (i.e., no dual citizenship).

Having dealt with Mexico, we could then turn to the problem of illegal immigrants from Ireland.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Petraeus Imbroglio Expands

For John, BLUFThe current Petraeus crisis is one that is spreading and encompassing more and more folks, but the one good thing is it exposes the spread of the digital age surveillance we face.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The New Yorker author Patrick Radden Keefe talks about how the Petraeus imbroglio sheds light on the constant surveillance in the "national security state" and how it can touch each of us.  The story is titled "The Surveillance State Takes Friendly Fire".  The author has very legitimate points and we should all be contacting our Congress Critters expressing our concern about the reach of government surveillance.

And, just so you are aware, if you exchange EMails with me or talk with me on the telephone, it brings up a touchy subject.  This post is about the FBI investigating the former Director of the CIA, David Petraeus.  He resigned Friday last, after lunch.  Anyway, the same forum where I sometimes get blog post ideas (think Mexico and Drug Cartels, for example), which consists of 500 of my closest friends, includes the alleged Petraeus girlfriend.  Plus, she and I are connected on Linked In.  So, under the concept of six degrees of separation, the FBI is probably investigating you about David Petraeus.  Forewarned is forewarned, but not necessarily forearmed, in this day of digital surveillance.

Just to be clear, I believe that the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency needs to be as pure as Caesar's Wife.  He should be careful in his personal relationships.  He should avoid actions that give the appearance of impropriety.  Did JFK carry on?  Yes.  Might it have caused trouble?  Yes.  People in positions of trust need to show a little more care than the average citizen.  This is not France, where such dalliances are acceptable.

Regards  —  Cliff

  For those who don't know the situation, or don't know the players, here is the place to find the current state of play.
  Actually, I don't know any of the players, but in this digital age, we make connections on the margins.  When I went the Linked In route our ad hoc book club (currently moribund book club) was thinking of reading All In:  The Education of General David Petraeus.  Being "Linked In" with the co-author seemed like a good idea at the time.

Scott Brown's Future

For John, BLUFI think it is early days to be talking about a Scott Brwn comeback.  That said, if Kerry leaves it will be a sprint ti the finish line.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

For a discussion of replacing Senator Kerry, should he fleet up to Secretary of State or Sec Def, I link to the Daily Caller.  The focus of the article is on Senator Brown as candidate, following his loss to Senator Elect Elizabeth Warren.

I did like the reference to Beacon Hill biting off its nose to spite it's face when it took appointment out of the hands of the Governor.  [Note to self:  Eschew feeling of Schadenfreude.]

Missing from the artice was any discussion of our own (well, Andover's) Chancellor Marty Meehan.  He has $6 Million in his war chest and he is a powerful fund raiser.  He is a Blue Dog like Democrat.  The Warren victory notwithstanding, former Rep Meehan may have some strong appeal.

Back to Senator Brown, while the Warren victory was pretty decisive, she did stumble at her first press conference.  Maybe she isn't that impressive after all.  And most relevant, can the Democrats manage to do this a second time inside a year?  Maybe Senator Brown can do it again, but I think he might benefit from a cooling off period.  But then who?  That is the question

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

DNA and Autism

For John, BLUFA researcher may have found a clue to the puzzle of increased autism.

Out at the University of Chicago researcher Hays Golden has written a paper titled Childhood Autism and Assortative Mating.  Did that title help?  I am not sure the Abstract, below, will help:

Diagnosed rates of autism spectrum disorders have grown tremendously over the last few decades.  I find that assortative mating may have meaningfully contributed to the rise.  I develop a general model of genes and assortative mating which shows that small changes in sorting could have large impacts on the extremes of genetic distributions.  I apply my theory to autism, which I model as the extreme right tail of a genetic formal thinking ability distribution (systemizing).  Using large sample data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I find strong support for theories that autism is connected to systemizing.  My mating model shows that increases in the returns to systemizing, particularly for women, can contribute significantly to rising autism rates.  I provide evidence that mating on systemizing has actually shifted, and conclude with a rough calculation suggesting that despite the increase in autism, increased sorting on systemizing has been socially beneficial.
What helped me was the first two pages at the link, in which the author says that with more people going to college, men and women with similar genes are more likely to meet, be attracted to each other and procreate.  Thus, those more inclined to a "structured" approach to life are less able to deal with the messiness of human interaction.  From the article:
One of the more interesting possibilities is that ASDs are related to a genetic trait called systemizing, which governs how much our brains are wired for thinking about formal systems.  High levels of systemizing may give ability in pursuits like mathematics and computer languages.  In this view, ASDs occur when someone has too much systemizing: when their brains are so wired for formal systems that they begin to have trouble dealing with systems that do not follow strict rules.
Hat tip to the InstaPundit for this 6 November 2012 item.

Regards  —  Cliff

Mexico and the US

For John, BLUFWe need to be paying attention to our neighbor to the south.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"Mexico Matters!", per this short blog post as Small Wars Journal.  The author is Army Lieutenant General William Caldwell.

A quick, informative read.

Regards  —  Cliff

A Burning Poppy

For John, BLUFThe Brits are squashing the right to dissent.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

A poem "Upon Hearing Of The Arrest Of A Kent Man For Burning A Poppy".

Appropriately, since it relates to Remembrance Day (Veterans Day) it is with the rhyme and rhythm of "In Flanders Field".

Can we not remember why we fought those great wars?

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, November 12, 2012

Friday News Report From DC

For John, BLUFSchadenfreude is German for enjoying the misfortune of another.  Not good for the soul.

Lawyer and author Daveed Gartenstein-Ross has given us a thoughtful piece on the Petraeus imbroglio, "Petraeus and Schadenfreude".

Regards  —  Cliff

Republicans and Minorities

For John, BLUFRepublicans need to stick to the facts.  They are sufficient.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Renee Astee put this link in the comments to a previous post.  It is an important and powerful post.  I am sure there are a number of Republicans who feel betrayed by minorities who went with President Obama Tuesday last.  The flip side of that is minorities who felt they had to defend the President because he was being attacked personally and not for his failed policies.  The linked article explains this flip side, and here is the closer:

Obama hasn’t improved the lives of black folks.   We aren’t stupid!   But when the right demonized him rather than his platform they made him a living martyr who had to be defended at all personal cost!   Because what stood to be lost by delegitimizing “black” leadership was a higher price to pay than the unemployment rate!
We Republicans need to pay attention and meet minorities more than half way, so they understand that WE think we are all in this together—and we are.  One group fails and we all fail.

Regards  —  Cliff

Drug War In Mexico

For John, BLUFThe drug war in Mexico has grown progressively more brutal.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is a blog column from IVN, by LA County Sheriff John Sullivan, published 25 September, and titled "Barbarization in Mexico Punctuated by Hyper Violence".

Here is the last paragraph of this report:

The need for capacity building for the Mexican security sector is graphically reinforced by a recent uptick in barbarization, in this case a crucifixion.  On Friday, 07 September 2012 a 24 year-old man, Eladio Martinez Cruz was found crucified on a traffic sign in Contepec, Michoacán.  Allegedly he was arrested by municipal police for rape and subsequently taken from their custody, tortured, castrated, and crucified (other barbaric details scrubbed).  This case, while a single incident, follows the trend of increasing barbarization throughout the life of Mexico’s narco conflict.  Actions—such as the Mérida Initiative—to stabilize the threat and contain the reach of the cartels and growth of narcocultura are essential to securing Mexico, the US, and Western Hemisphere.
Now that the cartel is showing that it is the real government, by asserting the right to try and punish alleged wrong-doers.  This should not be taken lightly.  It represents a movement up the stages of Mao's three phases of revolutionary war.

Perhaps the good news is that the cartels may not wish to take over the government, preferring to operate with impunity behind a very weak central government, a government that will acquiesce to the demands of the cartel without providing an excuse for the United States to step in, which would be costly for the cartels.

Regards  —  Cliff

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Homily on Veterans Day

For John, BLUFWe need to keep those old thyme values.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

How often do you remember the Homily?  My youngest Brother sent this along today, which was the opening to the Associate Pastor's Veterans Day Homily:

For the first part he just quoted three lines from Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America:
  • “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.”
  • "When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness."
  • “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”
A Commander in the US Navy Reserve, the Priest is just back from his tenth deployment.

Regards  —  Cliff

Armistice Day 2012

In Flander's Field
John McRae

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lt Col John McRae was a Canadian artillery man and doctor.  He died during WWI.

Regards  —  Cliff

One View On Republican Loss

For John, BLUFPJTV Commenter Zo Rachel says Republicans need a person of color up front.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Does Alfonzo Rachel (Zo) remind you of Jack Mitchell?  He does me.  Here is Zo (Zonation)beating up on his fellow Republicans for picking the wrong candidates in 2008 and 2012.  Here is the comment at the YouTube site:

Zo is not surprised that President Obama won reelection. He is surprised that the Republicans cannot field a winning a candidate. Hear more as AlfonZo Rachel discusses Gov. Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and the future of conservatism and the Republican party.
Regards  —  Cliff

A Day to Honor

For John, BLUFSome served in uniform and some didn't and all are Americans  Just a moment of thanks.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Out of the Armistice in The Great War we get Veterans Day.

Thank you to all my fellow Veterans for doing what you did, whether it was showing up and serving two years in peacetime Germany after being drafted or being a volunteer who went to Afghanistan and won a Silver Star or higher decoration for heroism.  Both served.  Both were at some degree of risk.

And not all served in uniform, but some served just by being a citizen, and active citizen.  In World War Two, with Full Mobilization, only half the men of draft eligible age served in uniform.  Thanks to you also.

Regards  —  Cliff

-0 T2, T1 0

Saturday, November 10, 2012

In the Slammer

For John, BLUF.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

My wife forwarded to me this AP article about the sentencing of Mr Mark Bassely Youssef for parole violation.  I don't quibble with the sentence, but I do object to the characterization of Mr Youssef's film, Innocence of Muslims.

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale argued Youssef's lies about his identity have caused harm to others, including the film's cast and crew. Deadly violence related to the film broke out Sept. 11 and spread to many parts of the Middle East.
And, I thought that the inital Administration intervention in this case kicked up the issue which resulted in this current situation.  I deplore the casual way (or was it a thoughtless way) the Adminstration dealt with the First Amendment rights of Mr Youssef.  And under the false flag of excusing MENA bad behavior based on a 15 minute YouTube video.  We should be clear with ourselves.  We would be intolerant of some Christian group rioting over the "Piss Christ".  We should avoid the soft prejudice of excusing bad behavior because we think Arabs (or is it Muslims?) are not at our level of political sophistication.

And, we should avoid allowing this false view to adversely influence our foreign policy.

The situation in the MENA area is far from resolved, as noted in this article in a recent edition of The New York Review of Books.

Regards  —  Cliff

In A Crisis

For John, BLUFIn a crisis your fellow Lowellians will come through for you.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

A friend of mine from Florida sent along this item about how people react in a disaster (or crisis, if you prefer).  The author, Ms Kathy Waldman, gives us "The Civilizing Power of Disaster:  Where was all the chaos, looting, and mass-panic during Hurricane Sandy?"

The point of the article is that people pull together in a crisis and we respond to "the better angels of our nature", as Abraham Lincoln would have it.

And, this raises a question about our vocabulary.  Should we not stop referring to police, EMTs and firemen as "First Responders" and acknowledge that we are our own "First Responders".  The bigger the crisis the more we are on our own.  This is not to denigrate the heroes who are our police, EMTs and Firemen.  They are splendid, but they are not ubiquitous.

We are our own First Responders.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, November 9, 2012

Voting Anomolies

For John, BLUFIn some Philly Wards President Obama won 99% of the vote.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

On Tuesday President Obama didn't do that well in this Commnwealth, at least compared with Philly and its southern environs.

For those who think this is from The Onion, this is the web presence of The Philadelphia Inquirer, which has been around since I have known about newspapers.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, November 8, 2012

CBO vs Fiscal Cliff

For John, BLUFThere is a Fiscal Cliff coming up in January 2013 (two months away).  We are counting on Congress to fix it.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has issued a report, "Economic Effects of Policies Contributing to Fiscal Tightening in 2013".  This is otherwise known as the "Fiscal Cliff".  Here is a Summary of the report.  Key finding is a GDP drop of 0.5 percent and an unemployment rate of 9.1%.

Substantial changes to tax and spending policies are scheduled to take effect in January 2013, significantly reducing the federal budget deficit. According to CBO’s projections, if all of that fiscal tightening occurs, real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) will drop by 0.5 percent in 2013 (as measured by the change from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2013)—reflecting a decline in the first half of the year and renewed growth at a modest pace later in the year. That contraction of the economy will cause employment to decline and the unemployment rate to rise to 9.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013. After next year, by the agency’s estimates, economic growth will pick up, and the labor market will strengthen, returning output to its potential level (reflecting a high rate of use of labor and capital) and shrinking the unemployment rate to 5.5 percent by 2018.
Here is the full document, in PDF format. The Wall Street Journal scores it at $136 billion in spending cuts and $532 in tax increases.
  • That would be $87 billion in discretionary defense and domestic spending.
  • 435 billion expiration of extended unemployment benefits.
  • $15 billion in reduced Medicare Doctor rates.

  • $24 billion in new taxes from the PP/ACA (so called "Obama Care").
  • $127 in the ending of the Payroll Tax Holiday.
  • $295 from ending the "Bush" tax cuts.
  • $87 billion from other tax provisions.
Regards  —  Cliff

  No, it is no relation to me.