Friday, May 31, 2013

Floor Eleven Video

For John, BLUFAccents can be a problem.

A voice activated lift and two Scotsmen.  Not quite safe for work—mildly racy.

It was funny when I saw it six months ago and it is still funny.

Regards  —  Cliff

Murder Most Political (Fiction)

Silken Prey
John Sandford
Hard Cover:  416 Pages (We listened to the audio version)
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
Language:  English
ISBN:  1611761662
Copyright:  2013

For John, BLUFGood yarn, get the version in CDs, or borrow mine.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Martha and I traveled down to Virginia earlier in the month, for a picnic.  The picnic was for members of "The Warlord Loop" living in or able to get to the Northern Virginia area.  The Warlord Loop?  Yes, a list serve best explained here.

As is normal, we listened to a book on CDs.  Also, as is normal, it was a mystery story by one of Martha's favored authors.  I would have preferred something along the lines of national politics or national security affairs, but marriage is a product of compromise.  The book was Silken Prey, available from Amazon here.

The author, Novelist John Sandford is the pseudonym of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Camp.  The novel is the 23rd in a series based upon detective Lucas Davenport who rates his own Wikipedia page.  In the series Detective Lucas Davenport is working for the Minneapolis Police Department, but then shifts to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.  Yes, there is such an organization.

This story looks at politics and the underside of same.  Our intrepid detective is invited by the Governor of Minnesota to quietly take a look into the allegation that a Republican candidate for a US Senate Seat was found to have kiddie porn on his personal computer at his campaign headquarters.  The Governor is a Democrat, but he and the Republican incumbent go back to Kindergarten.  And, adding to the mix, the Democratic challenger seems to be a little narcissistic. 

This is a timely book (May 2013) in that we are dealing with a lot of political scandals at this time down in Washington.  I count five, including "Fast and Furious", Secretary of HHS Kathleen Seblius, IRS, AP and some aspects of the Benghazi Imbroglio.  In this case it might even be a throwback to the speculation surrounding the Clinton Administration and the Rose Law Firm.  There is the kiddie porn issue, found on the Candidate's own computer by a young female campaign volunteer.  There is murder.  There is theft and there is how people work out their own special quirks and drives.

Without giving away the ending, some get caught and some don't.  Some die and some don't.  And, as often happens, one wonders who the good guys are at the end of the day.  Forget the question of if good is rewarded and bad punished.

For me the most interesting parts of the story are seeing Lucas Davenport knit together the different strands of the story to come up with a larger whole.  The second thing I like is seeing those who actually have some sense of justice work to see justice done.  Some in somewhat strange ways.

I recommend it.

Regards  —  Cliff

♠  As opposed to the Deficit.  The Debt is the totality of what the Federal Government owes to creditors.  The Deficit is the amount the Federal Government overspends in a given fiscal year—Expenditures minus Revenues (Taxes) collected.
♥  Rush’s own words on this issue can be found her.  In essense, Mr Limbaugh didn’t like the policies President Elect Obama had been proposing and Mr Limbaugh thought they were bad for the nation.
♦  Sometimes referred to as "Dead Fish" after he mailed a dead fish to a pollster who was late with the data.
♣  Bomb Power:  The Modern Presidency and the National Security State, which suggests the acqusition of nuclear weapons "dramatically increas[ed] the power of the modern presidency and redefin[ed] the government as a national security state".
  In college she was told that she had a narcissistic personality disorder, which she assumed was a good thing.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why Did Drummer Lee Rigby Die?

For John, BLUFWhat influences those who attack others in the name of God?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

An individual down in Miami found this item in the Miami Herald, from the AP Wire Service.  The date is Thursday, 30 May 2013.

The title is a little confusing, as is the writeup, but the gist of it is that Mr Michael Adebolajo, one of the suspects in the butchering of Drummer Lee Rigby, outside his barracks at Woolwich area, was freed by a Kenyan court based upon an intervention by the British High Commission in Nairobi, back in November 2010.  So much for gratitude.  Turns out that Mr Adebolajo was being held as a suspected terrorist, hoping to cross over from Kenya into Somalia.

Kenyan police believed Adebolajo, a British citizen, had earlier associated with a radical Kenyan Muslim cleric who tried to help him join al-Shabab, an al-Qaida-linked rebel group in Somalia.  Muslim cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed, who was gunned down in August by unidentified gunmen in Mombasa, helped Adebolajo in his attempt to travel to Somalia to wage jihad, or holy war, against the country's United Nations-backed government, a senior Kenyan police official said Tuesday.
How do we see this?  Does Mr Adebolajo, the knife wielding murderer, have no sense of appreciation for others who help him?  Does he have no empathy for others?  Is he just another a sociopath?

Should Her Majesty's Government have just allowed Mr Adebolajo to rot in some Kenyan jail back in 2010?

Regards  —  Cliff

Managing the Sahara Desert

If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand.
- Milton Friedman

Probably over the top, but perhaps basically sound.

Regards  —  Cliff

David Koch Gives Away Money

For John, BLUFShould we kill the charitable deduction?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I am listening to Democracy Now (because I haven't taken the time to change the channel from watching City Life) and Amy Goodman comments that Mr David Koch has given $26 million to an NPR station in New York (WNET).  The response from the guest is that it is "tax deductible dollars".

Are tax deductible dollars of less value to WNET than are regular dollars?

Regards  —  Cliff

Doctor Stops Accepting Insurance, Prices Drop

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

Here is the headline:

South Portland doctor stops accepting insurance, posts prices online

The byline is Portland, Maine.

I picked this up at The Instapundit, who noted:

Some of Helen’s psychologist friends have gone all-cash. They thought they’d lose business, but wound up with more patients, more money, and (much) less hassle.
The physician, Dr Michael Ciampi, says that when he made the switch he lost several hundred of his 2,000 patients, but now he is free to do medicine, rather than paperwork.

From the article:

But the decision to do away with insurance allows Ciampi to practice medicine the way he sees fit, he said.  Insurance companies no longer dictate how much he charges.  He can offer discounts to patients struggling with their medical bills.  He can make house calls.
For younger readers, a house call is when the physician comes to your home to check up on you when you are sick.  Ah, yes, I remember it well.

Perhaps the most radical impact of this change can be found in this sentence in the article:

Some patients with health coverage, faced with having to seek reimbursement themselves rather than through his office, bristled at the paperwork burden.
Citizens are made aware of the size and complication of the current health care insurance system.  This is before we feel the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Regards  —  Cliff

  "Obama Care"

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Polio Not Going Away?

For John, BLUFSmall actions can have major impacts.

A friend sent along this article from The New York Times about the dangers involved in distributing oral vaccine against Polio.  The lede:

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A volunteer in a polio vaccination campaign was killed and her colleague wounded in an attack by militants near Peshawar on Tuesday, a district administration official said.
My friend's comment:
The WHO and the CDC might as well forget about eradicating polio in the Muslim third world.  It appears that it's now impossible to combat ignorance of communicable diseases with a vaccination campaign, as was done in the past with smallpox eradication.  BTW, thank you, CIA.

See also this article from the NYT and this one from The Baltimore Sun.

If we don't eradicate Polio, will it eventual make a comeback in the Western World?  The activities far away can sometimes come back to impact us locally.

Regards  —  Cliff

Parenting Prevents Crime

For John, BLUFOur births to unwed Mothers is 40.8% of all births.  What can't be sustained won't be sustained.

Yesterday, on City Life, Registrar of Deeds Dick Howe made an important point about the great experiment we are embarked on in these United States.  He noted that when he was practicing criminal law he had about a thousand clients, but only a few were evil.  Most were suffering from not having a proper upbringing, usually by single Mothers.  The subtext is that if parents start getting it right, crime will go down even further.

Well, those were Dick's exact words, but that is the gist of it in my understanding.

This was not a please on Mr Howe's part for the hundreds of be let go, but rather a statement that we need to be doing better helping parents raise their children.

I fully agree.  The statistic I have recently found is that a typical successful middle class child hears 30 million words by the age of three.  The typical child living in poverty hears far fewer, by orders of magnitude.  Head Start can't fix this.  The child is with the parent more than with the school, and this is from the child's earliest years.  The question is how we help new Mothers to not only understand the importance of what she is doing, but how to do it.  On the other hand, where is she going to learn all this?  School?  Is a 16 year old pregnant girl mature enough to absorb the needed lessons?

Then there is the question of the role of the Father.  It is my opinion that all births need to have a registered Father as well as a Mother.  The Father has an economic responsibility to his offspring.  We tend to recognize that in our laws, but are perhaps not sufficiently forceful with regard to unknown Fathers.

But, beyond money, the Father owes the child attention.  The Father should be expected, in law, to respond to birthdays and some or another winter period holiday.  The Father should be expected to pay attention to school performance, both in terms of grades and deportment, but also in terms of material support to the child.

Let us have more of a sense of responsibility.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I am happy to make proper arrangement to handle the issue of surrogate Fathers.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"CC" A/G Eric Holder on Everything

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

At National Review On Line, Reporter Jim Geraghty's "Campaign Spot", we have an item titled "Reporters Should Just CC Eric Holder on All E-Mails From Now On".

This was actually a post from last week, 24 May 2013, 7:23 in the morning.  It hasn't gotten any better since.  No rocks have been turned over to expose problems to the universal disinfectant, the light of day.

The Attorney General spent from 1976 until 1988 in the Department of Justice Public Integrity Section.  Did he learn nothing?

Frankly, Attorney General Eric Holder has been a great disappointment.  He had a great resume.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Too Short For President

For John, BLUFPlease don't read this post.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This is really a blog post by Law Professor Ann Althouse about relative heights of human beings, but it has the title "Predicting the 2016 candidates:  Rahm Emanuel vs. Rand Paul".  The reason for the title is, of course, that both Mayor Rahm EManuel (5'7") and Senator Rand Paul (5'8") are short by both national and political standards.  By the way, this prediction for 2016 was from Professor Althouse's husband, Meade.

In the US men average out at 5'9.5" and women at 5'4".  Turns out there is a Wikipedia entry for this kind of information, with a table by nation.

On 25 March of this year Commentator Ann Coulter ruled out both Rand Paul and his fellow Senator, Marco Rubio, for being too short.  In Ms Coulter's words, "You can’t run a short candidate!"

Professor Althouse comments:

Now, Ann Coulter is 6 feet tall, so we might speculate about the personality traits of very tall women and the politics that ensue, but I'll just say perhaps contempt toward less tall men seems likely.
Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, May 27, 2013

Better Living Through Chemistry

For John, BLUFSoon there will be a pill for everything.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The New York Times Magazine has an article on a new pill under development that could be the female answer to Viagra.  The author is Daniel Bergner and the title is "There May Be a Pill For That".  Here is the crux of the issue.

Dietrich Klusmann, a psychologist at the University of Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany, has provided a glimpse into the bedrooms of longtime couples.  His surveys, involving a total of almost 2,500 subjects, comprise one of the few systematic comparisons of female and male desire at progressive stages of committed relationships.  He shows women and men in new relationships reporting, on average, more or less equal lust for each other.  But for women who’ve been with their partners between one and four years, a dive begins — and continues, leaving male desire far higher.  (Within this plunge, there is a notable pattern:  over time, women who don’t live with their partners retain their desire much more than women who do.)
OK, but what are the long term consequences of solving this problem, if it is a problem?  Just as there is no free lunch, there is no solution without new problems.

In the mean time, better living hrough chemistry.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Washington Leaks

For John, BLUFMy leak is good, yours is bad.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

My wife sent me a link to the blog Diplopundit, where I came across the following in the "Burn Bag" feature, for 24 May 2013:

Today I opened the Post to see yet another story about Syria and Iran, based on an anonymous State Department official without authorization to discuss. This, when we have Bradley Manning, the AP media wiretapping, and other cases where leaking is aggressively pursued. I don't understand this double standard.
Yes, leaking is OK as long as you are one of the favored, one of the high ups.

Here are some of the terms.

Regards  —  Cliff

  An obsessive compulsive observer, diplomatic watcher, and opinionator who monitors the goings on at ‘Foggy-Bottom’ (i.e. the State Department) and the “worldwide available” universe from Albania to Zimbabwe.

Those Expensive CODELs

For John, BLUFManagement by walking around.

Last week, on City Life, Producer John McDonough was all over the cost of the care and feeding of our US Senators and House Representatives.  He is correct in noting it is very expensive.  They have their salaries, health benefits and retirement contributions.  They have their own cafeteria, their own gym, their own post office, their own barber shop, and on and on.  They have a special parking lot at Reagan Airport.  They go on junkets, flying here and there.  They have staffs, both in DC and at home.  They cost a lot of money.

That said, someone I know down in Connecticut, who has connections in the Kingdom of Jordan, or at least an interest, sent along this article from The Jordan Times.  It helps explain the value of Congressional Travel, known, at least by those in Embassies and on US military bases being visited overseas, as Congressional Delegations.  In this case, Senators John McCain and Robert Menendez and Congresswoman Kay Granger travelled to Jordan to learn about things first hand, rather than listening to people from the US Department of State testify at some hearing on Capitol Hill.  They are avoiding the filter of the Department of State's "official Administration" position.  When you talk with Jordan's King Abdullah, in English, which he does very well, you get what the King of Jordan wants you to know, not what SecState John Kerry thinks you should know.

I happen to think that getting those 535 CongressCritters a chance to hear the word unfiltered is a good thing, even if they have to fly to Jordan to hear it.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Jordan Times is an English daily newspaper in Amman, Jordan.
  Remember how the "official" position, articulated by Ambassador Susan Rice, was that the attack on our CIA facility (with a State Department cover) was a spontaneous mob action?  Right.
  King Abdullah, II, attended Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, MA.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Great Gatsby

For John, BLUFLots of glitz, but, in the end, little hope.

Last evening my wife and I went to see the movie The Great Gatsby.  There was a nice review in The New York Times earlier this month. And, there was an OpEd by NYT Columnist Maureen Dowd, which cites this line from F Scott Fitzgerald's novel and from his headstone:

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Then she goes on to use this line:
...the decay of souls, the crumbling mythology and the dark side of social mobility.
I get the decay of souls and the idea of crumbling mythology, but I don't get the dark side of social mobility.  Are we now against social mobility?  And, the idea of a "Gatsby Curve" was debunked by the NYT Catherine Rampell here.

All well and good, but my take-away, my Lesson Learned, from The Great Gatsby is this:

Jay Gatsby was wrong.  You can't hit the "reset button".  You have to play the ball from where you find it.  And it is there because of everything that happened in the past.  You can't go back.  You have to go forward.
I call as my witness, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who learned you can't push the "reset button".

Regards  —  Cliff

The Agnew Rule

For John, BLUFSign that A/G Eric Holder is in trouble—Lt Gov Tim Murray is stepping down.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Per Hot Air there is growing discontent with the Federal Attorney General, Eric Holder.  Even The Huffington Post is down on the Attorney General.  Is it possible he will have to go?  If he goes, who replaces him?  Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (Harvard Law), of course.  But first there is what I call the "Agnew Rule".  When the number two, and constitutionally designated successor, is deemed unacceptable by the political powers that be, he or she goes, so that the principal can be thrown over the side without endangering the institution.  For example, Vice President Spiro T Agnew.

Let us remember how the Watergate incident and the eventual resignation of President Nixon went down.  As this abbreviated timeline (see here for a more complete version) shows, it took over two years from the Watergate break in until the resignation.  I would assert that a key function in allowing the US Congress to go forward was the forced resignation of Vice President Agnew.

September 9, 1971The White House “plumbers” unit burglarizes a psychiatrist’s office to find files on Daniel Ellsberg
June 17, 1972Five men, one of whom says he used to work for the CIA, are arrested at 2:30 a.m. trying to bug the offices of the DNC at the Watergate hotel.
January 30, 1973Former Nixon aides G. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord Jr. are convicted.
April 30, 1973Nixon’s top White House staffers, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst resign.
May 18, 1973The Senate Watergate committee begins its nationally televised hearings.
July 13, 1973Alexander Butterfield reveals taping system.
October 10, 1973Spiro Agnew resigns for tax evasion, over $100,000 in bribes while Gov of Maryland.
October 20, 1973Saturday Night Massacre.
July 27, 1974House Judiciary Committee Passes First Article of Impeachment.
August 8, 1974President Nixon Resigns

What is the point of all this?

The point is that the sign that Attorney General Eric Holder's grip on office is slipping is that Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray is leaving office early to become head of the Worcester Chamber of Commerce.  Worcester is Mr Murray's home town.  The date is 2 June.

But, the fact is, Lieutenant Governor Murray has become a political liability, after (1) his close associate Chelsea Housing Authority director Michael McLaughlin crashed and burned and (2) he crash his government furnished automobile at 108 mph (and he wasn't wearing his seatbelt).  Not that it proves anything, but Lieutenant Governor Murray was unhurt.

Now the safe and reliable Secretary of State, William Galvin, is in line for the Governorship, when the current Governor, Deval Patrick, is summoned to Washington, to replace current Attorney General Eric Holder.

UPDATE:  Thanks to The InstaPundit for 5000+ page views.

Regards  —  Cliff

  It is to be noted that even when giving birth to twins, Governor Jane Swift did not turn the reigns over to Mr Galvin to act in a temporary capacity as Governor.  I wonder why that was?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Mother Says She Protects The Home

For John, BLUFGun control is hotter than a two dollar pistol.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Last month Ms Nora Craig from Franklin Township, Gloucester County, in South Jersey, went up to Trenton to testify before the New Jersey Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, which was holding hearings on gun control bills.  At this link is a video of her testimony.  Would that we had such people up here in our Commonwealth.

By the way, New Jersey is the most densely populated of the 50 states and the second most wealthy, in terms of median income.

The Hat Tip goes to Mr Pat Devine.

Regards  —  Cliff

  We need to mention the county, as there are four separate Franklin Townships in New Jersey.  The one in Bergan County (North Jersey) is named in honor of William Franklin, last royal governor of the colony of New Jersey, and a loyalist through and through.  William is, of course, the illegitimate son of Benjamin.  The family was given to illegitimate children—Ben, William and William's son Temple all fathered such, including William and Temple.

The New Yorker on Plugging Leaks

For John, BLUFMore use of the 1917 Espionage Act that all other Administrations put together.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The New Yorker, on 22 May, had an article posted by John Cassidy, "The Leaks Scandals:  Questions for Obama".  Seven good questions.  This does seem like an Administration that is not press friendly, and wants to plug the leaks, come what may.

Regards  —  Cliff

Comments on the IRS Situation

For John, BLUFTrust but verify—someone said that.

Here is a Blog Post from a Mr Bob Krumm, on an OpEd in The Wall Street Journal by Ms Peggy Noonan.  The title is "Peggy Noonan Gets It Almost Right".  This is about the ongoing issue of the IRS abusing its authority with regard to granting exempt status to certain groups identified as "conservative" or "on the right".  From Mr Krumm:

My favorite quotation from the entire 85 editions of the Federalist Papers is this one from Federalist 25 by Alexander Hamilton:
The people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion.
Who is Mr Krumm?  I don't know him, but I did find this:
Bob is a operations research analyst, applied statistician, and since 2005, a blogger at  A graduate of West Point and Vanderbilt, he is an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and a veteran of two tours in Iraq.
I like the quote.  It captures a profound truth.  On the other hand, it is no reason for being impolite to those in Government, either those elected or those who are Civil Servants.  Be polite and be professional.  Show respect, but be willing to politely ask questions.  This is a leadership issue.  We, as the Citizens, are the leaders and we need to show our leadership by our attitude.  With the proper attitude we help to elicit the best from those in Government who do our will.  Even when we are talking elected officials of the other party.

Hat tip to The InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Judging the Terrorist Threat in the US

For John, BLUFBoston Marathon aside, domestic terrorism isn't the biggest threat to life and limb.

"Finally Talking Terror Sensibly"

Over at the magazine National Interest is a discussion of the discussion about terrorism today in the United States.

I think it is a fine article, except for taking a swipe at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for declaring a "no fly"zone over the Boston Marathon Bombing site.  I think the FAA was smart to do that, to keep airborne rubber-necking from turning into a mid-air collision.  That might turn out to be really tragic, given those killed in the air and, by falling debris, on the ground.

The one thing to keep in mind is that the new al Qaeda leadership achieves its goal of creating many small terrorist events in the US this judgment may change.  Of course, the best way to deal with such a threat is to not panic and to grow closer to the Muslim community in the US.  This, of course, is what the terrorists wish to prevent, since they will hope to increase radicalization and thus more punishment for the West and its approach to culture and government.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Code Pink Attack

For John, BLUFShe what?  What about Presidential security?

Medea Benjamin's Two-Step Verified Trick to Sneaking Around Washington

Associated Press
Elspeth Reeve 4:02 PM ET
Code Pink protester Medea Benjamin got herself inside the National Defense University in Washington on Thursday for President Obama's big speech about drones, even though she's been a famous heckler in Washington for a decade.  Indeed, she's been seen and heard at many big political events over the last year:  at CIA chief John Brennan's confirmation hearing, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre's press conference, the Republican National Convention.  As Financial Times reporter Anna Fifield tweeted, "amazing how Medea Benjamin of @codepink gets in to all these speeches. every reporter in Washington recognises her, but security never does."  So how does she do it?  By using her old name — plus maybe a little help from middle-aged woman invisibility syndrome.  At Obama's speech, Politico's Jennifer Epstein reports, "A photographer who waited in line near Benjamin saw her wearing a bright green press pass like those handed out to the rest of the media at the event, the name 'Susan Benjamin' written in ink."  Benjamin used the same trick to get press credentials from a Senate office for a swearing-in ceremony a couple years ago, a Senate source tells The Atlantic Wire.

Susan Benjamin was her name until she changed it as a freshman in college.  At right is her 1970 yearbook photo. But it can't just be that Susan is a common name.  It has to help that, when she's not screaming about human rights violations, Benjamin looks like an unthreatening middle-aged woman.

On the other hand, it might be a brilliant move on the part of Administration operatives to drive home the idea that GITMO needs to be closed.  But, I doubt it.  Not enough payoff for the risks involved.  Plus, too imaginative.

Regards  —  Cliff

  And it does.

Working Together in Cambodia

For John, BLUFUS and Cambodian forces working together.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

How many of us follow Voice of America (VOA)?  Not as many as follow City Life, I suspect.  Thus, I will quote this Wednesday, 22 May 2013 item in full.  By the way, if you wish, you can Watch and Listen to VOA in Khmer

This item it titled Military Exercises Begin Between US, Cambodian Forces. The author is Suy Heimkhemra, VOA Khmer, and she wrote the piece on 17 May

PHNOM PENH - Joint military exercises between Cambodian and US forces began Thursday morning, the first of four days at training center outside Phnom Penh.

The Angkor Sentinel exercises, held at the National Training Center for Multinational Peacekeeping Forces in Kampong Speu province, is the fourth to be held since 2010.

More than 300 Cambodian troops will take part in the training, which aims at improving their capability to take part in UN peacekeeping operations.

Moeung Samphan, secretary of state for the Ministry of Defense, said the training would further strengthen military ties between Cambodia and the US.

“This training is really appreciated, and significant for building and strengthening Cambodia’s military capacity to have professional skills, knowledge and real practice to effectively respond to the UN peacekeeping missions,” he said.

Exercises will be held at the command post and field training levels, including in the use of equipment to counter improvised explosive devices, officials said.

Jeff Daigle, deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy, said the exercises would put together Cambodian peacekeepers who are ready to be deployed in the field with US military personnel with extensive operational experience.

“This type of exercise is really important for helping the capability of the Cambodians for them to deploy,” he said. Cambodia has already made significant contributions to UN peacekeeping efforts outside of Cambodia, and the Angkor Sentinel exercises will help the continue to do so, he said. “And the American side is learning, as well,” he said.

Decades ago I provided close air support to Cambodian forces, in an unsuccessful battle against the Khmer Rouge.  Maybe if the US Congress hadn't told us to stop those sorties it would have turned out differently.  But, Richard Nixon was President and the Congress, controlled by the Democrats, felt that President Nixon was improperly and immorally extending the war that we had inherited from the French and which had been joined in ernest by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.  I wish I had done a better job back in 1973.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, May 20, 2013

Should We Have To Know On Which Side Our Bread is Buttered?

For John, BLUFThe question is, does the IRS operate like Chicago.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The InstaPundit is a fairly expanded post about "The Chicago Way".  It is from an article by Columnist John Kass in The Chicago Tribune, which appears to be behind a paywall.  Professor Reynolds headlined his post:

JOHN KASS:  IRS scandal a reminder of how I learned about The Chicago Way.
Here is the thing.  If the American People come to believe the IRS is being subsumed under "The Chicago Way" it will result in a major loss of faith in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, something that is already being questions due to size, complexity, rigidity and affordability.  The outcome of a collapse of faith would not be good and might even echo over into congressional elections.

Answer to the question in the title is "Not for getting government services".

Regards  —  Cliff

  Mr Kass is about 14 years younger than I am, but we both spent some time in Oak Lawn, Illinois.  I spent a couple of months and graduated from 8th grade there.
  "Obama Care".

Our Trust in Government

For John, BLUFThe IRS appears to be out of control and that is as bad as being out of control, from a political point of view.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

When the Obama Administration kicked off I had some hope that the promise of transparency and openness in government would be fulfilled.  What was I thinking?

From long time Washington Post reporter Dan Balz, we have an opinion piece on President Obama's current situation.  It is titled "Obama’s trust-in-government deficit".  That the IRS is involved is doubly problematic for the President, in that success for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act hinges on acceptance of the IRS as a trustworthy agent of implementation.  If we can't trust the IRS to give some local Tea Party organization a tax exempt status and find it is asking about what people "pray about", it is going to be rough sledding.  While the question about "prayer meetings" may actually be legitimate, it is well beyond the giggle limit for many Americans.  Trust depends upon predictability.  Americans are not seeing the kind of predictability they think they should have from the IRS.

Regards  —  Cliff

  It would appear that acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller realized the problem, given that he ducked and weaved around this issue while testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee this last Friday.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What The Heck Is Water?

For John, BLUFLife is grinding routine, day after week after month after year.

From the background to the below video:

In 2005, author David Foster Wallace was asked to give the commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College.  However, the resulting speech didn't become widely known until 3 years later, after his tragic death.  It is, without a doubt, some of the best life advice we've ever come across, and perhaps the most simple and elegant explanation of the real value of education.

This is the abridged version.

Hat tip to the Althouse Blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Love for GOP

For John, BLUFBe optimistic.

KSL, out of Salt Lake, reports that Saratoga Springs, Utah, Mayor Mia Love has announced she will run again for the Utah Fourth Congressional District.  In 2012 she lost the election for the seat by 768 votes.  In announcing her new run on Saturday Mayor Love said:

I am confident in our country.  I am confident in our future.  And I have great confidence in the people of Utah and America.
This is good news for Republicans.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Unhelpful Comparisons

For John, BLUFKeep calm and carry on.

Still with us, one of the two iconic Washington Post Reporters from the days of the Nixon meltdown in office, Mr Bob Woodward, is comparing Benghazi to Watergate.

I believe we should go slow here.  I don't think anyone should be hoping for an early exit by President Obama.  For one thing, the Vice President is Joe Biden.  For another, to have our first self-identified Black President go out under disgrace would harden lines for well into the future and that would be bad for all of us.  With an alert Congress we can endure just about anything.  The time of President Andrew Johnson shows us that.

We need investigations and hearings and the like, but there should be no talk of anything except correcting and improving the system.  And I doubt piling on more laws will help.  Likely they will harm.  Sunlight as disinfectant is the best solution.

Regards  —  Cliff

  And, for our Democratic Party friends, the Republican Speaker of the House, if Mr Biden succeeds President Obama, is only a heartbeat away until a new VP is sworn in.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

President Obama as King Henry II

For John, BLUFIf you are a true believer, a hint from the boss is sufficient.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

OK, so the source is Red State Blog, but still, there is a certain historical truth to this argument.

Obama went on the campaign trail in 2010 and told supporters to “punish our enemies.”  The IRS did just that.  The need for specificity or explicitness was unnecessary, just like in 1170.
The year 1170 you ask?  Who can forget the famous line,
Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?
The ruler was Henry II and the target was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas à Becket, later to become Saint Thomas of Canterbury.

And we have the lineage.

While not a line that any jury would convict on, many people have gone off and done dumb things based upon what they thought the boss wanted.

And for those of you who think that this will bring down the President, our historic example tells us that while Henry II did penance, he kept the thrown.  And the murderers were not tried, let alone convicted.

Regards  —  Cliff

Bra Burnings?

For John, BLUFCity Inspector (not in Lowell) gets panties in a twist.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel we have this human interest story, but also a story about government going a little off the rails.  Maybe there is a relationship with the Gerry Nutter blog post this morning on City Councilor Rodney Elliot having a motion on some claim denied.  In this story an Alderman, Bob Donovan, worked to fix a problem about bras in Milwaukee.

The article title is "City bra ban doesn't hold up" and Reporter Jim Stingl does a great job with it.  Well worth the read.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Pain in Spain Falls Mainly on the Young

For John, BLUFSpain is in deep economic trouble.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"Spain Is Beyond Doomed:  The 2 Scariest Unemployment Charts Ever"

I don't include the two scary charts, which are available here, from The Atlantic Monthly.  The author, Matthew O'Brien, saw this published on 26 April 2013.  His sub-headline is "This is what a permanent underclass looks like."

Five years after its housing boom turned to bust, Spanish unemployment hit a record high of 27.2 percent in the first quarter of 2013. It's almost too horrible to comprehend, but 19.5 percent of the total workforce has not had a job in the past six months; 15.3 percent have not in the past year; and 9.2 percent have not in the past two years.  You can see this 1930s-style catastrophe in the chart below from the National Statistics Institute.
The author's recommendation is:
In an ideal world, Spain would pair major reforms with major stimulus; in the real world, it will drag its feet on reforms, try to cut its deficit, and fall deeper into depression.
Well, not everyone agrees with Mr O'Brien.  Here is an alternate view:
When one reads of high unemployment among youth in a European country, this usually means the main problem is not "stimulus vs. austerity."  Rather, it is structural.  Vested interests seek to protect through political means or monopoly power their economic rents at the expense of others who would do better if labor markets were more competitive.  Indeed, the author puts his finger on it:  "It's almost impossible for companies to get rid of older workers, which creates a horribly bifurcated labor market."

But when it comes to policy prescription, the author becomes confused:  "Spain needs shock therapy for its labor markets, but that's an impossible political sell when more than a quarter of the population is unemployed."

In fact, only when unemployment—and desperation—mount are some troubled European polities willing to reduce restrictions that stratify their labor market and to slash excessive regulations that burden the private sector and entrepreneurs.

Not until less competitive countries make substantial efforts to lessen labor and market rigidities and excessive state economic roles do they deserve bailouts from others.  This is why the IMF, ECB, and Mrs. Merkel are demanding structural reforms.  Welfare-laden polities are resisting, but most will fold their cards.  For example, [French President] Francois Hollande has done some embarrassing about-faces and he'll do more.

I suspect there is more faith displayed in discussions of economics than at Lourdes.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Video?

For John, BLUFMs H Clinton making promises no one should keep.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Reporter Stephen F Hayes, writing in The Weekly Standard, asks my question, "What About the Video?".

This has to do with the Benghazi Imbroglio and how the Obama Administration explained it and continues to explain it.  With the release of 100 pages of EMails by the Administration we still don't see how the "Vile Video", produced by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (aka Mark Basseley Youssef), got introduced into the explanation, particularly as articulated by US UN Ambassador Susan Rice on five Sunday TV News Shows in one day.

Let us be clear with one another.  Talking points, like all papers inside Government, are subject to multiple edits as they progress from the lowly Action Officer to the Principal, who is going to finally sign off.  When I was on the Joint Staff, in the Pentagon, the Action Officer worked for one of my three Section Chiefs.  I passed the Paper to the Deputy Director for Policy and Strategy, where first a Navy Captain and then a One Star reviewed it.  From there to a two star and then a three star in the Directorate of Strategic Plans and Policy.  That is 6 different reviewers, and if the paper stopped there, that was it.  But, if the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was going to sign off, there was the Deputy Director of the Joint Staff, and the Director, the Chairmans Staff Group, the Vice Chairman and then the Chairman.  That adds five.  Not counting the substantive changes, there were the happy to glads.  One wag developed a table for word changes, depending upon whose office the paper had left and whose it was going to.  Of course the Talking Points were vetted and received numerous edits.  It is how a bureaucracy works.

The question is, who made the video a big deal?  CNN Reporter Candy Crowley notwithstanding, the video became a big deal.  Per Reporter Hayes

Hillary Clinton mentioned it in her remarks at the ceremony to receive the caskets of the four dead Americans on September 14, regretting the violence “over an awful Internet video we had nothing to do with.”  According to Charles Woods, the father of one of the officials killed in the attack, former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, Clinton told him at the same ceremony that the U.S. government would make sure the filmmaker was “arrested and prosecuted.”  Pat Smith, the mother of communications specialist Sean Smith, reported that Clinton told her the same thing, “nose to nose.”
OK, lets sort through this.  The fact that four Americans died in Benghazi is unfortunate.  They died because our government, at several levels, from Ambassador Stevens to the Secretary of State to the CIA to the President to the US Congress took risks.  If we had shifted money to security in Benghazi there might have been a problem elsewhere, or levees along the Mississippi might have been lower, or Head Start might have been cut more.  The choices made were wrong, but not obvious at the time.

Aside from the question of why the military didn't saddle up, in case this had gone on for several more hours, the question I am interested in is why the weight of the Federal Government was brought done on the videographer, Mr Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who is still in jail for his parole violation.  If the Federal Government hadn't made a big deal about his video he still might be walking free.  But, the idea that the Secretary of State would promise the Father of one of the victims that the full weight of the Federal Government would be used to "arrest and prosecute" someone exercising their First Amendment Rights is not just wrong but scary.

So, how does the video fit into the story about the talking points and beyond? Hat tip to the Blog Hot Air.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Given that Parole Officers are busy people, he might not have come to their attention without the attention of the Federal Government.

Who Does Accountability?

For John, BLUFAnother sign of Congress not doing its job.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The Internet being what it is, I am in an argument with one of my Brothers' friends.  My point being that calling the GAO the Government Accountability Office sluffs off the very important point that in our form of Government, it is the US Congress which holds the Executive Branch accountable and it does it through its power to legislate.  Here is the new GAO Logo:

Let it be noted that the GAO is an arm of the US Congress.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress.  Often called the "congressional watchdog," GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars.  The head of GAO, the Comptroller General of the United States, is appointed to a 15-year term by the President from a slate of candidates Congress proposes.  Gene L. Dodaro became the eighth Comptroller General of the United States and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on December 22, 2010, when he was confirmed by the United States Senate.  He was nominated by President Obama in September of 2010 and had been serving as Acting Comptroller General since March of 2008.
Here is where I get my idea that "Accountability" is the job of the US Congress:
Congressional oversight refers to oversight by the United States Congress on the Executive Branch, including the numerous U.S. federal agencies.  Congressional oversight refers to the review, monitoring, and supervision of federal agencies, programs, activities, and policy implementation.  Congress exercises this power largely through its congressional committee system.  However, oversight, which dates to the earliest days of the Republic, also occurs in a wide variety of congressional activities and contexts.  These include authorization, appropriations, investigative, and legislative hearings by standing committees; specialized investigations by select committees; and reviews and studies by congressional support agencies and staff.

Congress’s oversight authority derives from its “implied” powers in the Constitution, public laws, and House and Senate rules.  It is an integral part of the American system of checks and balances.

To be fair to my interlocator, he does have a point.  If the US Congress can claim for itself the power to oversee the Executive Branch, is there any limit to what it can oversee?
Unless I missed it, nothing in Article I of the Constitution says that Congress gets to oversee the Executive Branch.  It says that Congress gets to make laws and appropriate money.  Nothing talks about a committee system that can investigate, drag citizens before them, interrogate them, and lambast them in front of TV cameras.  The Constitution doesn't say anything about "implied" powers.  Who made the implication? Congress? Oh, well, I see.  Well, what other Government powers can be exercised by somebody by implication?

The guys and gals sitting at those committee tables trying to humiliate people are guilty of felony jackassery, plain and simple.

Well, I would say it may well be jackassery from both sides of the tables.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Old Age is All New Territory

For John, BLUFWe are a mobile society and we need to look out for each other, especially in old age.

This is a news story about old age, hoarding and homelessness.  It is a very sad story, because it is about a bright person who grows old and, perhaps lacking local support, goes down hill and dies alone in their apartment, and remain undiscovered for months.  Think it can't happen?  It did to Barbara Salinas-Norman, "a Chicana activist, a bilingual teacher, an author, a publisher and an artist". Here is an article by Anne Constable, "Writer and activist Bobbi Salinas dead several months before family finds body", in The New Mexican.

Ms Salinas was an educated person:

Salinas earned a bachelor’s degree in education from California State University in Los Angeles and a master’s degree in public health education from the University of California, Berkeley.
A master's degree in public health education.  She was educated in a way that should have helped her recognize her situation and cause her to seek professional help, if not help from relatives.  As it was, she didn't.
Stories from friends and family suggest Salinas’ life had been unraveling for some time.  She often slept in her car and washed up in the bathroom at a local library.  The gas and electricity had been turned off in her condo because she wasn’t paying her bills.  She ate at soup kitchens.  Her home was in foreclosure.
Her point of contact appears to have been Ms Peggy Trujillo, a librarian at the New Mexico State Library.  Did Ms Trujillo know who to talk to about this situation?  Was there even a person to talk to?

This is the kind of situation we should all be on the lookout for.  There is a line between being helpful and being intrusive, and part of cultural growth is knowing that line and that it shifts with each person.  But, that said, we need to be prepared to help our relatives, friends and neighbors as they move on in years.  Cases like Bobbi Salinas are to be avoided.

And, this is not to say that no one cared about Ms Salinas.  Her sister, Edna, lived 700 miles away, as the crow flies.  Contact attempts were made, and finally the sister and her husband, Mr Louis Ponce, drove back to Santa Fe, to check up.

Salinas’ body was discovered by her brother-in-law, Louis Ponce, who said Friday that he had become concerned about her because he hadn’t heard from her for a long time.  He and his wife, Edna, Salinas’ sister, decided to drive from their home in East Pasadena, Calif., to attend a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque.  A niece of Salinas was dancing at the event.
May we be more lucky.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Gov't Too Big—David Axelrod

For John, BLUFIf the Federal is too big for the Prez to manage it is too big.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The government is simply too big for President Obama to keep track of all the wrongdoing taking place on his watch, his former senior adviser, David Axelrod, told MSNBC.  “Part of being president is there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast,” he explained.
This from Mr Andrew Johnson, writer for National Review's "The Corner".  Video from the Joe Scarborough Show embedded.  The title is "Axelrod:  Government 'So Vast,' Obama Can't Know About Wrongdoing".

So, the Tea Parties seem to have some useful insight about the size of Government.

Hat tip to Rush and Drudge.

Regards  —  Cliff

China is Back, After 175 Years

For John, BLUFChina is poking its Asian neighbors.

Manchester Guardian reporter Justin McCurry, in Tokyo, tells us, today, "China lays claim to Okinawa as territory dispute with Japan escalates".  It feels like "Crazy Season" in Northeast Asia.  There is North Korea, of course, but also a rising Japanese politician saying that during Word War II "comfort girls" (mostly Korean women) were doing a necessary duty.  That reopened that contentious issue between Korea and Japan.  Further south, Taiwan and The Philippines are in a spat over a dead Taiwan fisherman and disputed islands.  Now Okinawa.

People's Liberation Army two-star general Luo Yuan…

…raised the territorial stakes again this week, saying the Ryukyus had started paying tribute to China in 1372, half a millennium before they were seized by Japan.

"Let's for now not discuss whether [the Ryukyus] belong to China, they were certainly China's tributary state," Luo said in an interview with China News Service.  "I am not saying all former tributary states belong to China, but we can say with certainty that the Ryukyus do not belong to Japan," he added, in comments translated by the South China Morning Post.

China is feeling its oats and trying to reverse the Century of Humiliation.  The question is, what are the limits to such reversal?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Toru Hashimoto, the populist mayor of Osaka.

Kathleen Sebelius Continues to Draw (Some) Attention

For John, BLUFRecent scandals obscure slightly older ones.

Reporter Sarah Kliff, in The Washington Post, "Lamar Alexander: Sebelius fundraising ‘arguably an even bigger issue’ than Iran-Contra".


Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius?

Apparently more than just a Hatch Act violation.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Examining the Fruit of the Presidency

For John, BLUFWho is President Obama?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I know that there is a small group of Citizens who think President Obama is doing a bad job.  Most of those who I know think that the President is a crooked political manipulator (e.g., he runs against opponents who are divorced and their sealed divorce records somehow pop into the open).  I have been arguing that he is feckless and uninvolved.  I am apparently in the minority.  Now I have some support.

Law Professor and Blogger Ann Althouse points us to an OpEd by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, from yesterday.  The Althouse Blog title (and Mr Milbank's lede) is "President Passerby needs urgently to become a participant in his presidency."

Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason asked [White House Press Secretary Jay Carney] how Obama felt about “being compared to President Nixon on this.”

The press secretary laughed.  “People who make those kinds of comparisons need to check their history,” he said.

Carney had a point there.  Nixon was a control freak.  Obama seems to be the opposite:  He wants no control over the actions of his administration.  As the president distances himself from the actions of “independent” figures within his administration, he’s creating a power vacuum in which lower officials behave as though anything goes.  Certainly, a president can’t know what everybody in his administration is up to — but he can take responsibility, he can fire people and he can call a stop to foolish actions such as wholesale snooping into reporters’ phone calls.

It isn't just Columnist Dana Milbank and myself.  Here is a clip from Downfall, showing the German Chancellor being not so enthralled.

How do you see it? free polls 

Regards  —  Cliff

  That is to say, the inmates (staffers) have been running the asylum (Executive Office).

You Can't Handle the Truth!

For John, BLUFNever let truth get in the way of your political stance.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Blogger and Law Professor Ann Althouse gives us a blog post that points us to an Andrew Sullivan post "Race And IQ.  Again."

This all goes back to the question of if we accept vetted research that runs against the grain of our ideals (or prejudices).  From the lede:

I should know better than to bring this up again.  But the effective firing of a researcher, Heritage’s Jason Richwine, because of his Harvard dissertation should immediately send up red flags about intellectual freedom.
What we have is a PhD being hounded because some don't agree with his findings, findings accepted by his thesis committee, all distinguished professors at Harvard University.  While I may think Harvard's reputation is a bit overblown, I think that folks who teach and research at Harvard are a pretty bright bunch.  Given who has been doing the complaining, this episode brings up the question:
What on earth are these “liberals” so terrified of, if not the truth?
Yes, that wording is a little awkward, but Mr Sullivan is a Brit.  Following this question Mr Sullivan goes on to say that what we should be doing is peeling back the layers, in this case of what IQ means.  Often we stop at some superficial level, rather than asking about the underlying assumptions.  That is heavy lifting, but it needs to be done.

Regards  —  Cliff

NB:  Title quote is by Colonel Nathan R Jessep in the movie A Few Good Men.

VFW Votes to Return

For John, BLUFVFW back to Greater Lowell Veterans Council.

As was noted on City Life this morning, by local political activist John MacDonald, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Walker-Rogers Post, 662, voted last night, unanimously, to rejoin the Greater Lowell Veterans Council.  Mr MacDonald was one of those present last night when the vote was taken.

This is good news.  This also shows that following the approved process, while it may grind slowly, allows for the building of consensus and agreement, making the eventual decision stronger and more unifying.  Good show.

Regards  —  Cliff

Political Cartoon

For John, BLUFIRS explained.

You're Just Paranoid.
Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Freedom to Walk the Streets

For John, BLUFBill of Rights.

I dream of a better tomorrow, where chickens can freely cross the road without being questioned about their motives.
Hat tip to Neal.

Regards  —  Cliff

Understanding Benghazi, Part MCCVII

For John, BLUFWere they terrorists or extremist?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Blogger and Law Professor Ann Althouse talks about US Senator Dianne Feinstein, on yesterday's "Meet the Press:"

“When you see a group going up with RPGS and weapons to break into one of our facilities, you can assume it’s a terrorist attack."
So says the Senator, but then the post goes on to a distinction between "terrorist" and "extremist".

Regards  —  Cliff

Private Property Evolves

For John, BLUFAgriculture is about private property.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

At NPR is a 13 May article by Rhitu Chatterjee on why humans transitioned from hunter/gatherers to farmers.  One result of farming was population increases.  The source of this concept is Dr Samuel Bowles, from the Santa Fe Institute, in New Mexico.  The title of the article is "Why Humans Took Up Farming:  They Like To Own Stuff".

For decades, scientists have believed our ancestors took up farming some 12,000 years ago because it was a more efficient way of getting food.  But a growing body of research suggests that wasn't the case at all.

"We know that the first farmers were shorter, they were more prone to disease than the hunter-gatherers," says Samuel Bowles, the director of the Behavioral Sciences Program at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, describing recent archeological research.

Bowles' own work has found that the earliest farmers expended way more calories in growing food than they did in hunting and gathering it.  "When you add it all up, it was not a bargain," says Bowles.

So why farm?  Bowles lays out his theory in a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  The reasons are complex, but they revolve around the concept of private property.

Think of these early farmers as prehistoric suburbanites of sorts.  The first farmers emerged in less than a dozen spots in Asia and South America.

Joseph Stalin and his theorists thought to reverse this evolutionary development by going with collectivist agriculture.  The result was millions of death, the worst being part of the the Holodomor in the Ukraine between 1932 and 1933.

UPDATE:  From The InstaPundit:  "I BELIEVE THE ANSWER IS THAT THE “EARLIEST FARMERS” WERE GROWING GRAIN FOR BEER.  That’s why they were willing to put more work in than the calories produced justified."

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Interestingly enough, Dr Bowles, while at MIT was see as being a Neo-Marxian economist and is identified with Post-Walrasian Economics.

City Life Reviewed, Monday, 13 May 2013

For John, BLUFMore on yesterday's City Life show.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

On yesterday morning's City Life Show there were a number of issues touched on that need to be retouched before bedtime.  I mentioned the canard about Nixon and the IRS in this Blog Post, earlier today.

I was disappointed that Ms Marie Sweeney was so disparaging of New York Times Columnist Maureen Dowd, who Sunday wrote "When Myths Collide in the Capital" for the International Herald Tribune.  She seemed to see MoDo as just another Republican Operative.  As a Republican, while I very much enjoy Ms Dowd's writing, I definitely see here on the Democratic Party side of things, although being someone with a fair mind, she sometimes acknowledges when Democrats go off the rails.  I think this weekend's MoDo piece is worth reading.

Then there was reference to former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and his defense of the non-response on the part of the US to the attack on our facilities in Benghazi.  One headline read "Gates:  Benghazi-obsessed Republicans have ‘cartoonish’ view of military capability".

I wish to be clear here.  I do not believe we had military assets (or CIA assets) that could have intervened in the battle in time to make a difference.  At the same time, I believe there should have been a lot more "leaning forward in the foxhole" kinds of activities.  I was disappointed that forces were not moving, just in case this fire fight lasted longer than its eight to ten hours.

Here is a comment from a friend of mine, Janice, a retired Foreign Service Officer:

Secretary Gates has missed three big points.  First, as a former diplomat with no pin stripe suit I served in difficult places.  My son was evacuated three times.  We all believed that our government would (1) never negotiate our release if taken hostage and (2) our government would do all possible to help if we were seriously threatened.  As someone who had the privilege of working closely at times with our special military units, I do not have a "cartoon" impression of their capabilities or commitment.  I believe that some groups actually prepare to operate in a relative unknown environment.  I could be wrong.  Maybe things have changed.  Finally, can anyone tell me that we had no idea what the situation on the ground in Benghazi was?  I also have some faith in our intel capabilities.

Again, maybe am wrong.

Finally, we look weak, divided, and whiny.  Our enemies had better be sure that their actions have consequences.  Our friends ought to know the same.  Where was the Libyan Government support, for example?  If we are going to play in the big league, we have to at times demonstrate force and this was one of those times.  The world is not a kinder and more gentle place.

In at least one forum I read there was displeasure at the overcautious approach of our Government in this situation.
Recall then-Secretary Panetta's statement to reporters (as quoted in the New York Times of October 25, 2012):
The basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on, without having some real-time information about what’s taking place.
Aren't we all glad our local police [and firemen] don't adhere too closely to that principle?
There are some lessons lost in the past.  After North Korea captured the USS PUEBLO (23 January 1968) or they shot down an EC-121 (15 April 1969) the US Air Forces in Europe instituted a program to respond in defense of our Reconnaissance forces in international waters or airspace in Europe.  Air Defense Aircraft were part of the response, as had always been the case for when Warsaw Treaty Organization helicopters harassed our own helicopters on the Inter-German Border (CREEK BALL).

To that was added an Air-to-Surface Capability (bombs and rockets), which we aircrews informally named "The Hook".  The long pole in the tent was aircrew planning and mission briefing.  Even on a weekend, the aircraft maintenance personnel would be able to "generate" the needed aircraft and the munitions personnel would be able to assemble the needed bombs and load them on available aircraft in a couple of hours.  But what about assembly of the aircrews?  In the years before cell phones, if an aircrew member left home for shopping in Trier (think going to Burlington) or lunch or dinner in Luxembourg (think going to Andover), he was out of touch until he came home. The solution to the "long pole" was to select aircrews currently on the base, sitting Victor Alert, to begin the planning effort.  In the mean time, personnel off duty would be recalled to suit up and assume the Alert role.  After a couple of hours (I don't remember the actual timelines) Bitburg Air Base would have four aircraft ready to launch out to attack surface targets in defense of Americans under attack.  Of course they weren't going very far without air refueling.  But, it was something.

Of course there was still the question of what they would pick for aim points.  But, just showing up might have been a factor in a situation of confusion.  One of the impacts of airpower is at the psychological level.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, May 13, 2013

Important VFW Meeting This Tuesday

For John, BLUFVFW Stuff.  Please mention on City Life.

As members of the VFW Post 662, we have our monthly meeting on the Second Tuesday, commencing at 7:30 PM.

That is to say, tomorrow, Tuesday the 14th of May.

Each of us should have received a Special Newsletter, telling us that at the Regular Meeting a Vote will be taken by the membership as to whether or not we, VFW Post 662, should return to the Greater Lowell Veterans Council.  We left quite some time ago, for what seemed good and sufficient reasons.  Many feel that with the passing of time those reasons no longer apply.  Thus now would be a propitious time for us to rejoin the Greater Lowell Veterans Council.

All interested comrades should attend this meeting and Vote so their Voices may be heard on this important matter.

See you there.


Regards  —  Cliff

City Life and Nixon

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

On City Life this AM the Registrar of Deeds Dick Howe brought up President Richard Nixon and his enemies list and the IRS.  This was by way of saying that the IRS under President Obama going after Tea Party folks wasn't a new thing—and it wasn't.  However, the IRS Commissioner under President Nixon, Mr Donald Alexander, did a masterful job of resisting the Nixon reelection team from gaining IRS access.  Mr Alexander won and the Nixon Team lost on this one.  That President Nixon used the IRS to go after his enemies is a canard.

As for former SecDef Gates saying he wouldn't have done anything different, I am not sure that is a ringing endorsement of how the Administration handled the Benghazi Imbroglio.  More later, but it is time to hit the road for Lowell.  Enough of this time in the DC area.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Live feed over the Internet was perfect.  I am down in Reston, Virginia, and had no problem viewing the show and texting and calling in.

It Isn't What You Don't Know, It Is What You Know That Isn't True

For John, BLUFLow Information Voters have the wrong spin on firearms use.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.
Mark Twain
The 10 May 2013 issue of The New Yorker has a sob story by Mr Arkadi Gerney, "Guns and My Mother".  Mr Gerney has until recently managed the coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which was led by Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Thomas Menino.

The news, for the past month, like so many others, has been filled with guns.  There was the gun that the Tsarnaev brothers used in Cambridge, where they killed a cop—perhaps in an effort to get his gun. There were guns used elsewhere, too.  In Akron, Ohio, four people were murdered, execution-style, in a basement of an apartment complex.  The next weekend, another four people were shot and killed in a different apartment complex, along with their killer, just south of Seattle.  A few days later, the crime scene was Manchester, Illinois, population two hundred and eighty-seven:  a man allegedly shot and killed the grandmother of his daughter and four other people, including a five-year-old and a one-year-old.  What happened in Manchester, in Washington state, and in Akron garnered little attention around the nation—part of what we’ve come to see as an unremarkable epidemic in which thirty-three Americans are murdered every day with guns.
According to the Pew Research Center, 56% of Americans believe gun violence has gone up in the last 20 years.  In comparison, 12% say gun crime has gone down.  Per the Pew Research Center, in 2010, compared to the 1993 peak, the gun homicide rate is down 49%.  Non-fatal violent firearm crime victimization is down 75%.  This is against overall non-fatal violent crime victimization, which is down 72%.  Gun ownership is up, or so we are told.

Very concerning, or it should be, is who is killed in gun violence.  Again going to Pew, while Caucasians make up 64.8% of our population, they represent 25% of firearm victims.  Hispanics and American Indians are about even-steven.  Asians are 5.2% of the population and 1.4% of firearms victims.  It is in the Black community, which is 12.8% of the population, has 54.6% of the firearms victims.  It would appear that there are serious social issues that need to be dealt with in certain segments of our society.  Every voter should be concerned about the larger implications of these disparities.  And, one would hope, every legislator.

Going to the Census Bureau, Table 117—Age-Adjusted Death Rates by Major Causes:  1960 to 2008, there are ten causes listed, with accidents being number 5 and suicide being number 10 (2008 data used to determine position).  Homicide is not one of the top ten.

There is no "Constitutional Right" to drive a car, and we license millions to do so.  Some drive illegally, and when they do and attract the attention of the police, we punish them.  In sum, several thens of thousands die each year from vehicular accidents and homicides, but, we aren't arguing that automobiles should be banned.

Did you notice in the quotation there was no mention of race?  Maybe you thought the Akron, Ohio, killings was Black on Black crime, but Seattle and a small town in Illinois?  Don't you think Caucasian?  The article author was no dummy in terms of writing.  Because we are using a broad brush to whitewash the issue of firearms, we are missing some important nuances and thus allowing ourselves to make unnecessary, and perhaps adverse, changes while not fixing the major issues we face.

And what about suicides and mass murders, as events?  Is anyone besides the Speaker of the Massachusetts General Court going to stand up and say that mental health needs to be on the table, now?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Mayor Bloomberg is the prototypical Fascist Mayor of the modern era.
  It is The New Yorker, so Mayor Bloomberg is identified by name and Mayor Menino is identified by the city of which he is the mayor.  I am assuming this is just another Yankees slur against the Red Sox.
  Well, most of them.
  Although perhaps a dummy in terms of analysis.

What Really Drove the Boston Marathon Bombing?

For John, BLUFLet's not jump to conclusions.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Shiraz Maher and Samar Batrawi writing in Foreign Affairs, talk about what others think about the Boston Marathon Bombing—What Jihadists Thought About Boston:  "Allah Akbar. Let's Move On."  The lede:

Residents of Boston, pundits, and analysts were not the only ones confused by last month’s bombing at the Boston Marathon.  In jihadist forums, as in the mainstream media, a debate has raged about the suspects’ motivations, allegiances, training, and possible other plans.  As in the rest of the world, no one had good answers about whether the Tsarnaev brothers were operating directly under al Qaeda’s command or were lone wolves, whether they had trained in terrorist camps or found most of the know-how they put to deadly use online, or whether they were part of a larger cell planning further atrocities.
Calling to mind the quote from Reporter H L Mencken:
There is always a well-known solution to every human problem--neat, plausible, and wrong.
If we are going to understand the Boston Marathon Bombing we have to check all the nooks and crannies of this situation before we draw any hard conclusions.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Let's Not Do Syria

For John, BLUFLet's not do Syria, but we may have to.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Mr Lee Smith, writing in the Weekly Standard, talks about the US, Israel and Syria (and other nations.  The title is "Our Strategic Ally's Strategic Clarity:  Israel sees Syria as part of its Iran problem—why doesn't Obama?"

Israel’s air campaign this past weekend, its two strikes Friday and Sunday on Syrian targets, shows where the Obama administration has gotten Syria wrong.  Over the last few weeks, the White House has framed its Syria policy, or its lack of one, in terms of Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal and the growing strength of the Islamist opposition, including al Qaeda affiliates.  With these talking points, the administration has managed to tie up its critics on two fronts.

First, the debate over whether or not Assad crossed Obama’s red line by using chemical weapons has obscured the fact that for over two years the White House has failed to take an active position in Syria and advance American interests by toppling an Iranian ally.  The longer deliberations over the chemical weapons/red line story drag on the better it is for an administration that is simply using it to play for more time—to do nothing.

Second, concerns over the growing presence of Islamist elements among the rebels shelters the administration from critics who charge that its Syria policy is a strategic disaster, as well as from those who say it is a moral failure.  By repeatedly emphasizing, and likely over exaggerating, the strength of al Qaeda, the White House means to show that any strategic gains to be had in setting back Iranian interests in Syria would be offset by empowering Islamist fighters.  As for the humanitarian argument, the administration’s implicit rejoinder is that since such a large part of the rebellion is made up of al Qaeda, these are not really innocent civilians who deserve American help.  As the conventional wisdomnow has it, “there are no good guys in Syria.”

So, here is Mr Smith's bottom line:
The latest attacks on Syrian targets, like Israel’s January raid on an arms convoy destined for Hezbollah, are all part of the same campaign.  It shows that Israel sees Iran’s regional project strategically, and Syria as part of greater whole.  Why doesn’t the White House?
But, this is not the only way of viewing things.
Lee Smith clearly belongs to the group who wants Obama to "do something about Syria" , which means, to them, military action.  I disagree that Obama has no policy on Syria; it's just not what the war party wants to hear.  The Administration's approach is clear: (1) no US ground forces in Syria, (2) no US support for radical Islamic militias, (3) support for Jordan, a long-time ally that is threatened by refugees and arms trafficking, (4) help NATO ally Turkey cope with its own large refugee situation, (5) train select militias and provide non-weapon military equipment/intelligence, (6) work closely with the nascent exile Syrian government-in-waiting and (7) station SOF and USMC in or near Jordan to be available should the Syrian situation appear headed towards either Assad collapse and religio-ethnic turmoil or a dominant position of a radical Islamic coalition.  Given the sluggish US economy, the deficit (actually declining) and the impact of the sequester, I would think bi-partisan support for NOT adding more defense operational missions with large price tags would be easy.  But, apparently not.
So, how are we doing?  Where should we go? free polls 
Regards  —  Cliff

  Lee Smith is a Senior Editor at The Weekly Standard and a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute, writes extensively on Arab and Islamic affairs and U.S. Middle East policy.