Monday, September 30, 2013

Shutting Down the Government

For John, BLUFIt is time for the Republicans to move on.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

It is my belief that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid want a Government shutdown.  That is why they are not trying to work a deal.

It is my further belief that the House Speaker should pass the bill provided by the Senate, this evening, right after they vote to grant full immunity to Ms Lois Lerner.

Time to move on to the next crisis, the raising of the debt limit, something that then Senator Barack Obama decried just a few years back.

The fact that we're here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure.  Leadership means 'The buck stops here.'  Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren.  America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership.  Americans deserve better.  I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit.
It is my opinion that the Speaker of the House should schedule the vote on raising the debt ceiling and that each and every Republican member of the US House should get up and read that quote and then one of them, to end the debase, should say "Shame".  Then they should vote to pass the raising of the debt ceiling and then turn to hearings involving Ms Lois Lerner.

Oh, and begin to stifle private bills from Democrats, as part of a new strategy.

Regards  —  Cliff

Family Disagreements

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

Over at the Althouse blog is an item from Think Progress that the wife of Texas Governor Rick Perry, Anita Perry, says that women have "a right to choose".  Governor Perry, who happens to be a Republican, is seen as Pro-Life.

This seems pretty stark, although the actual interview would seem a little more nuanced.  Somewhere out there are those who oppose all abortions and those who would allow abortions in all cases, not just up to live birth, but beyond.  The American People are somewhere in between. As usual, the comments are interesting.  I liked this comment on diversity of opinion, with cooperation:

My wife as a pro choice ob/gyn and I am prolife. When she retires, she is going to volunteer in a clinic. We will carpool, because I will be protesting outside.
Maybe we should encourage Governor Perry to push for abortion laws like those in Europe. Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

NPR Looks Around

For John, BLUFYes, we have become a surveillance state.  No big deal, because you never break the law, but the Fourth Amendment was put in there for a reason.  What was it?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

We all need to be careful of National Public Radio.  They are the ones that tried to convince you that President Obama was NOT the one who suggested sequestration as a possible solution.  That said, perhaps they are on to something with this NPR Staff Report, "Your Digital Trail, And How It Can Be Used Against You".

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Important Question

For John, BLUFEye of the beholder.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Why is the President threatening to shut down the Federal Government?

Regards  —  Cliff

Blue Laws in France

For John, BLUFNo shopping at Home Depot in Paris on Sunday.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"French stores rebel against Sunday trading ban in bitter row", or so Reporter Katia Dolmadjian, of Agence France-Presse, tells us:
Paris — Braving a court ban, 14 home improvement stores in France opened to the public Sunday in an increasingly bitter tug of war with the government over a law prohibiting trading on the traditional day of rest.

The move comes amid intense debate over France's labour practices.  The government is seeking to continue a long tradition ruling out Sunday and late-night work, but at a time of record high unemployment, many employees regard the ban as antiquated.

Last week, both Leroy Merlin and Castorama, two home improvement chains, were ordered by a court to stop opening their stores in the Paris area on Sundays or face a fine of 120,000 euros ($162,000) per shop and per day.

But on Sunday, they opened anyway amid anger among employees and customers.

I wonder what the Paris License Commission is thinking?

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Reporting Nation Security

For John, BLUFThe MSM has problems, but Reporter Seymour Hersh is over the top.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The [Manchester] Guardian is an interview with Reporter Seymour Hersh, who seems to be left of the American Left, or a least the Democrat Party Left Wing.  "Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the 'pathetic' American media".  Basically, Mr Hersh is not happy with journalism in America.
Pulitzer Prize winner explains how to fix journalism, saying press should 'fire 90% of editors and promote ones you can't control'
One person commented:
Seymour Hersh continues to trade on a reputation earned some 40 years ago.
Regards  —  Cliff


For John, BLUFAddictive on first use, fatal within three years.

According to a report in The Washington Post, "Krokodil reportedly used in Arizona".  The Reporter is Mr Max Ehrenfreund.  
A poison control center in Phoenix has treated two people who apparently were using krokodil, KPHO reports.  The homemade opiate is commonly used in Russia.  If confirmed, the cases would be the first known instances of krokodil use in the United States.

The name of the drug, which means “crocodile” in Russian, apparently refers to the drug’s dramatic effect on its users.  After sustained use, a person’s skin turns greenish and scaly and begins to fall away.  Krokodil “regularly causes complications” such as rotting skin, burst veins and gangrene, according to a review in the Journal of Addictive Diseases.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, September 27, 2013

Let The Games Begin

For John, BLUFPlease cut a deal.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Politico's "Morning Defense".
LET THE GAMES BEGIN - SENATE TO VOTE ON HOUSE-PASSED SPENDING BILL:  Senators must first clear a 60-vote threshold to end debate on the legislation.  Then, they'll vote to strike a provision in the bill that defunds Obamacare before taking a roll call on final passage, both of which will require a simple majority.

The votes are set to begin at 12:30 p.m. today.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Conspiracy Theories

For John, BLUFGive people the benefit of the doubt.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In an EMail this morning I found this comment:
Generally speaking, incompetence, accident, inertia, and dumb chance explain more than conspiracy.
On target.  I realize this is taking an optimistic view of human motivations, but a pessimistic view of human performance, but I think it is that way.

The person who said this was Jill Hazelton, a Professor at Naval War College, so we have to add the standard disclaimer that in making this comment she was not speaking for NWC, the Navy, or our Federal Government.

Regards  —  Cliff

Text Stop

For John, BLUFAdapting government programs to technology and people.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the blog brittius we have a post on New York state implementing "Text Stop" Parking Areas, to allow one to pull over and read and respond to text messages (or initiate text messages).  This seems like a forward thinking approach to a problem we are facing.  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this change.

Hat tip to the blog Fortuna's Corner.

Regards  —  Cliff

Gov't Shutdown

For John, BLUFElections have consequences.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The source is The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bi-partisan organization.

Regards  —  Cliff

Faith in an Idea

For John, BLUFWhat does "faith" provide us?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Washington Examiner we have Political Analyst Michael Barone comparing believers in "Global Warming" (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming) to religious believers, even talking about the Millerites.

This, of course, raises the question of the degree to which religious faith represents a psychological coping method when someone, or some group of people, face larger background stressful situations.  In class last evening (Sociology of Religion) the Professor said that at some point in the semester we will have to define religion, to describe it.

Any thoughts?

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

President Addresses the UN

For John, BLUFPresident Obama talks a quiet approach at the UN.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

And a pretty good job he did, per this report at the blog, The Cable, of Foreign Policy Magazine.  The reporters were Colum Lynch and Ty McCormick.  The article headline is "Obama to World: Bad News.  The American Empire Is Dead."

Well, the Headline was way over the top.

"The United States has a hard-earned humility when it comes to our ability to determine events inside other countries," he said in his address before the 193-member General Assembly.  "The notion of American empire may be useful propaganda, but it isn't borne out by America's current policy or public opinion."
The US hasn't been doing "empire" since President Franklin D Roosevelt and the Good Neighbor Policy.
Obama said that "the recent debate within the United States over Syria clearly showed the danger for the world is not an America that is eager to immerse itself in the affairs of other countries or take on every problem in the region as its own.  The danger for the world is that the United States, after a decade of war -- rightly concerned about issues back home, aware of the hostility that our engagement in the region has engendered throughout the Muslim world -- may disengage, creating a vacuum of leadership that no other nation is ready to fill."
On the other hand, for some whiners it will always be the fault of America, even while those whiners are reloading after shooting themselves in the foot.
In addressing the conflict in Syria, Obama said U.S. aims were largely humanitarian.

"There's no 'great game' to be won, nor does America have any interest in Syria beyond the well-being of its people, the stability of its neighbors, the elimination of chemical weapons, and ensuring it does not become a safe haven for terrorists," he said.

Seems reasonable to me.  On the other hand, whose terrorists?
Obama, meanwhile, laid out a rather modest accounting of American "core interests" in the Middle East and North Africa: countering military aggression against U.S. partners in the region, protecting global energy reserves, and confronting the dual threats of terrorism and nuclear proliferation.
Approving the Keystone Pipeline would put more emphasis on the "global" part of "protecting global energy reserves".

Regards  —  Cliff

Forget Global Warming. Worry About A…

For John, BLUFYou finally get it almost all figured out and then some Black Hole goes and erupts.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

…Colossal explosion from supermassive black hole at center of galaxy.

From the blog KurzweilAI, the AI standing for Artificial Intelligence.

Two million years ago, a supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy erupted in an explosion so immensely powerful that it lit up a cloud 200,000 light years away, a team of researchers led by the University of Sydney has revealed.
What about the event horizon?  What will be the impact on Earth?  How fast is this thing traveling?

Hat tip to the blog Fortuna's Corner.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Major and Minor Ivy League?

For John, BLUFPrejudice is everywhere and in all sorts of forms.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

What is it about the Ivy League that makes even normal folks, even folks from Texas, act weird?  Here is a comment on US Senator Ted Cruz, in an article in The Washington Post, extracted from a GQ profile:
– A Harvard Law classmate claims that Cruz, a Princeton man, refused to study with anyone who hadn’t gone to Harvard, Princeton or Yale.  “He said he didn’t want anybody from ‘minor Ivies’ like Penn or Brown,” Damon Watson tells the magazine.
It isn't the Ivy League that has made America Great, but all those Morrill Act Schools!

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, September 23, 2013

Some Good News

For John, BLUFMaybe Muslims in the Middle East do know the differences between groups.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Well, I think it is good news.
Al-Qaida: Syrian rebels kill jihadist leader

Sep. 23, 2013 - 11:21AM

The Associated Press

CAIRO — An Al-Qaida group in Syria says one of its top commanders in Syria was killed in an ambush by rival, Western-backed rebels in a northern province.

It was the latest in rising infighting among rebel groups in northern Syria, where the opposition controls large parts of territory captured from President Bashar Assad’s troops earlier this year.

The group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant says its commander in Idlib province, Abu Abdullah al-Libi, was ambushed by members of the Free Syrian Army near a border crossing with Turkey.

The statement says the attackers sprayed the car with bullets on Sunday, killing al-Libi. The name is a nom de guerre.

The statement could not be independently confirmed but it was posted on a commonly-used militant website.

Regards  —  Cliff

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

Lawrence Korb, writing , claims "Fox exaggerates".

No, not that Fox, but Ms Christine Fox, the recently departed director of the Pentagon’s office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation.

Christine Fox, the recently departed director of the Pentagon’s office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, is correct that there are no easy ways to identify savings in the defense budget [“Sequester Facts of Life: Stop Pretending Enforced Cuts Won’t Be Harmful,” Commentary, Sept. 16], but her conclusion that the cumulative effect of the Budget Control Act [Sequestration] will be “some combination of a military that is much smaller, much less technologically advanced and much less ready than we have been accustomed to over the last 30 years” is an exaggeration for six reasons.
Mr Korb things she is wrong.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Mr Lawrence Korb is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Washington, and an Assistant Secretary of Defense from 1981 to 1985.


For John, BLUFPeople seem to be afraid of the term "illegal immigrant".  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"Unauthorized Immigration"

I found this term in a "scholarly" paper, "The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism", in the March 2011 issue of Perspectives on Politics.

I would note that the authors are clustered around Harvard and thus probably have heard many times that "Technically it's not illegal to be illegal in Massachusetts".  The good news is that Attorney General Martha Coakley is running for Governor next year, which means she won't be running for Attorney General, which means maybe a Republican will run, or, baring that, State Senator Eileen M. Donoghue.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I am reading it as part of writing a paper for a class I am taking at UMass Lowell, Continuing Ed.
  I just hope our State Senator fixes the Continuing Ed tuition imbroglio before she moves on.  It is a color of money issue and should be EASY for the General Court to fix.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Didn't She Get The Memo?

For John, BLUFBring back Civics.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"I don't think in America we should throw tantrums when we lose elections and threaten to shut down the government and refuse to pay the bills. The American people had a choice last November.  They had a choice between someone who said repeal Obamacare, and President Obama.
That was Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat from Missouri, speaking on Fox News Sunday, as reported by Politico.

Did she forget that Ms Nancy Pelosi was no longer Speaker of the House?  Did she not realize that the Democrats left a whole bunch of elected Republicans in the Lower House?  Does she not realize that elections have consequences?

I agree the Continuing Resolution should be passed, and with funding for the PP&ACA (ObamaCare), but with a mandate that ALL participate, including ALL on Capitol Hill and ALL Federal Employees, including unionized Federal Workers and ALL Government Contractors.

However, I don't think Democrats should be trying to subvert the US Constitution by saying the House must follow the lead of the President.  The is NOT a parliamentary form of Government.  Co-equal branches, with Congress passing the laws and the President assenting or not.

Regards  —  Cliff

Short Definitions

For John, BLUFA contest.  Win a gin flask.  Nothing to see here; just move along.


Over at the new blog, War on the Rocks, there is a contest to best define the American War of War in 25 words or less.

This originated with Dr. Scott Stephenson of the Command and General Staff College, who challenged his student with this problem.  From there it was ripped off by something known as the warlord loop and from there to WOTR.

Deadline is 8 PM tonight.  PhD Candidate Ryan Evans, the poster, says 8 PM EST, but I am betting he meant Eastern Daylight Savings Time.

Sorry for the late notice.

Regards  —  Cliff

Elections in Germany

For John, BLUFWhat do we think of the German Economic Model?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Bloomberg News we have a report from Reporters Tony Czuczka and Brian Parkin that Chancellor Angela Merkel has again swept into power.  And here is the lede:
Angela Merkel won an overwhelming endorsement from German voters, putting the country’s first female chancellor on course for the biggest election tally since Helmut Kohl’s post-reunification victory of 1990.

Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc took 41.8 percent in today’s election to 25.5 percent for the Social Democrats of Peer Steinbrueck, projections on ZDF television as of 8:57 p.m. showed.

So, Europe is having problems, but the German economy seems to be on firm ground.
After sweeping the election on the back of an unemployment rate near the lowest in two decades and her handling of the euro-area crisis, Merkel, 59, must now look for a coalition partner after her preferred allies, the Free Democrats, crashed out of the lower house of parliament.
Here the paper takes note of the fact that Chancellor Merkel is an Ossi, someone from the former Deutsche Demokratische Republik, or DDR, however it also sees her as a European leader who will by trying to help other European nations gain the economic success Germany has enjoyed.
While Germany’s first chancellor from the formerly communist east again made history with her election score, a third term takes her into uncharted waters to face the perils of a third Greek bailout and a potential breakdown in her 550 billion-euro ($744 billion) energy overhaul.

For now, with wages rising and the budget deficit virtually eliminated, voters backed her handling of the domestic economy, Europe’s largest, and her push for austerity in the euro zone in exchange for aid. They punished the Free Democrats after four years of bickering and failure to deliver on its tax-cutting pledges.

Chancellor Merkel's economic policies sound more "Tea Party" than "Socialist".

My wife's comment was that the Greens made a big mistake when they said that restaurants should go "meatless" one day a week.  I tend to agree with her that it was a blunder.

Regards  —  Cliff

Praising Assad

For John, BLUFWe elect some strange people to Congress.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

You can't make this stuff up.

President Assad is preferable to many of those who are seeking to overthrow him, but he is a thug.  He learned those lessons from his father, who was a thug.  On the other hand, I expect that in his previous life, in England, Bashar al-Assad was an excellent Ophthalmologist.

Regards  —  Cliff

Fooling the Father

For John, BLUFSome people are too clever by half.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the Day by Day cartoon by Cartoonist Chris Muir explores an interesting ethical question.

The focus of the cartoon are Sam, the Red Head fixing the tractor, and Zed, her husband.  and Sam's sister, Skye.

There are others at the week goes by, including Jan and Damon, but for today it is those three.  Well, four, since Skye is preggers.  The issue turns on the responsibility of the Father, Anatoly.  Seems that Skye saved a "used condom" and artificially inseminated herself, without the sperm donor knowing about it (without the sperm donor having consented).  In such a case, what responsibilities and privileges devolve upon the contributor of the sperm?

For myself, I am all for the idea that if you Father a child you are responsible for that child until the child graduates from high school or graduates from college (well, if the child is making a good faith effort).  Both financially and emotionally.  A communication for the birthday and another for one of the winter solstice holidays (Christmas, Chanukkah, Kwanzaa, Eid, or something other).  However, stealing a man's sperm may obviate that proposed rule in such a case.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Age of Sail Returns, Sort Of

For John, BLUFBeing considered for cruise ships also.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The publication The Maritime Executive has a short article on a new, energy saving ship design, "Massive Hull Acts as Sail in New Cargo Ship Design".

Pictures at the link.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Chem Weapons in Syria

For John, BLUFIt ain't over until the fat lady gives the all clear.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the blog Fortuna's Corner we have this headline:  "ASSAD TO DESTROY CHEM WEAPONS ‘IN A YEAR,’ BRING $1B".  Considering the way the US and Russia are making progress down this line the time and money don't seem out of line.  Shipping chemical weapons stocks is no piece of cake either.  Think about Bari, Italy, during WWII.

Regards  —  Cliff

Elections Have Consequences

For John, BLUFI fear we have health care by the wrong end of the stick.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Maddow Blog at MSNBC, Mr Steve Benen blogs "Elections used to have consequences".
We've all heard the "elections have consequences" adage many times, but let's be clear about what we're witnessing in 2013 Republicans are very clearly telling the country, "No, actually, elections don't have consequences.  We're still going to do as we please."
As Professor Althouse notes, the Republicans won the House of Representatives, and that has consequences.
There was a time when Obama said "I won." It was arrogant back then, and in a democracy, that kind of arrogance invites comeuppance.
But, arrogance should not be met with arrogance, in my humble opinion.  But, back to the Professor, who thinks back to Wisconsin a couple of years ago:
Benen ends with a line that resonates with us the people of Wisconsin:  "Democracies aren't supposed to work this way."  Back in 2011, we had weeks of loud protests with chanting over a drumbeat:  "This is what democracy looks like." And those were Democrats who'd lost the 2010 elections.  They were making all the noise they could because they didn't have the votes in the legislature, and yet they still shouted all day and night that what they wanted was democracy.  The idea — to the extent that it made any sense — was that the minority opinion also matters and free expression and dissent are part of the process, adding friction and restraint to the imposition of the will of the majority.
That is our form of democracy, with majority rule and minority rights and the minority not necessarily being a religious or racial grouping, but also an ideological grouping.

For the record, I believe Obamacare is a disaster on the order of the French Revolution imploding health care by closing the cloisters.  However, I don't believe it should be defunded, but it by God sure should be applied equally to Congress, including staff, and the IRS, including staff.  Then it should be replaced by something that provides health care professionals where needed.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that in 2010 there were 691,000 positions for physicians and surgeons.  Looking to the future, BLS says:

Job prospects should be good for physicians willing to practice in rural and low-income areas, because these areas typically have difficulty attracting doctors.
How much of our problem is summed up in those few words?

Then there are 83,600 physicians assistants.

Employment of physician assistants is expected to increase 30 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations.  As more physicians enter specialty areas of medicine, there will be a greater need for primary healthcare providers, such as physician assistants.
There are 105,780 nurse practitioners out there.

So, that is some 880,380 providers, not counting nurses and the like and we are still underserving people in "rural and low-income areas".  Not being an economist of health care, I don't have a finely tuned number, but what if the US Public Health Service, one of the seven uniformed Services in our Federal Government trained and deployed to rural and low-income areas some 10% additional health care providers?  That would be about 88,000 physicians, physicians assistants and nurse practitioners.  I am betting it would make a big difference, if for no other reason than it would provide early detection and treatment of diseases that could, untreated, become very expensive when they finally show up at the Emergency Room.  Even putting 10,000 more folks out there would be a big step forward.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I wonder what exactly is going through his mind when Mr Benen uses the term "aggressive, right-wing agenda"?  I am doubting tennis courts come to his mind.  One wonders if maybe it is neo-cons.
  Like the Army and Navy and Air Force and Marine Corps and Coast Guard and NOAA.

Obama vs Syria vs Putin

For John, BLUFThere is so much bad about Syria I am glad to see that we are making some progress against chem weapons.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Huffington Post Playwright Carla Seaquist comments on the President and Syrian chemical weapons.  he title is "Obama's Principled "Red Line" on Syria (Which, By the Way, Worked)".

This experience has garnered a lot of comments, including our own Peter Lucas, at The [Lowell] Sun.  I don't know if President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry got to where we are by accident or by deliberate planning, but we are in the correct place.  We have managed to drag Russia into this problem and Syria is also responding, rather than stone walling.  Yes, Syria could end up being the North Korea of the Middle East, but maybe not.

As we say in the Fighter Dodge, better lucky than good.

Full disclosure—I have met Ms Seaquist and twenty-some years ago worked with her husband.  Yes, I flack her stuff from time to time.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, September 20, 2013

Question 21

For John, BLUFWe need to fix our broken mental health system, while not making it a prison for the non-conformists.

“In the last seven years, you have consulted with a mental health professional (psychiatrist, counselor, etc.) ... about a mental health related condition?”
Question 21 from the standard security background check form.  The one we assume accused Washington Naval Yard shooter, Mr Aaron Alexis, filled out when he applied for a security clearance as part of being hired by Hewlett Packard.

At this point there are exceptions to Qestion 21, as this article by Reporter Anna Mulrine, of The Christian Science Monitor points out:

In order to de-stigmatize counseling for combat stress, federal guidelines now allow soldiers to answer “no” if they received counseling for post-traumatic stress resulting from battle, marital strife due to war-related separation, or grief from losing a fellow soldier.
And there is the rub.  If you want veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan to come forward and seek needed mental health counselling, rather than toughing it out, you can't stigmatize them for it.  When asked on Wednesday if the exemptions should still stand, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey, said they should.

The title of the article is "Why Navy Yard shooting raises tough questions for Pentagon" and the subtitle is "The Navy Yard shooting has raised questions about security clearance and mental health, but with many vets dealing with combat-related stress, any solutions are fraught with complications."

To be clear, Mr Alexis came to the VA twice last month—once in Rhode Island, and once in Washington D.C.  On both occasions, his complaint was for insomnia.   On both occasions, he appeared alert and oriented.   When asked by VA doctors if he was struggling with anxiety, depression, or had thoughts about harming himself or others, he said "no."

If you think we have problems now, consider the impact of denying veterans jobs if they admit to mental health issues.  There will be those who deny having such problems and those who admit to them but can't get jobs. In both cases there will be a lack of mental health help.

Regards  —  Cliff


For John, BLUF:  Was it President Andrew Shephard who said "America is advanced citizenship"?

Writer E. B. White writing in The New Yorker, Feb 26, 1949.
The pesky nature of democratic life is that it has no comfortable rigidity; it always hangs by a thread, never quite submits to consolidation or solidification, is always being challenged, always being defended. The seeming insubstantiality of this thread is a matter of concern and worry to persons who naturally prefer a more robust support for the beloved structure. The thread is particularly men of tidy habits and large affairs, who are accustomed to reinforce themselves at every possible turn.... But they do not always perceive that the elasticity of democracy is its strength----like the web of a spider, which bends but holds. The desire to give the whole thing greater rigidity and a more conventional set of fastenings is almost overwhelming in these times when the strain is great, and it makes professed lovers of liberty propose measures that show little real faith in liberty.
Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Constitution Day

For John, BLUFWe were pretty lucky.

Per the blog site Mentalfloss we have the thoughts of Founding Father Ben Franklin on the day the Committee signed the new US Constitution.
I confess that there are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them:  For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.  It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others.

I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain may be able to make a better Constitution.  For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views.  From such an Assembly can a perfect production be expected?  It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats.  Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best.

On the whole, Sir, I cannot help expressing a wish that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility — and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.

Read the whole thing.

Regards  —   Cliff

The Fiddler Crab of DC

For John, BLUFWe need to spend more money on the soft side of power.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Reporter Sydney J Freedberg, Jr, at Breaking Defense, we have The Fiddler Crab Effect:  State, AID, NSC Can’t Keep Up With DoD.  The article has been updated to reflect the comments of Michael Hayden at the Air Force Association's Annual Conference.
Frantic diplomacy seems to have forestalled US military action in Syria – for now.  But we stumbled into negotiations at the last minute, only after President Obama had threatened strikes and asked for a vote authorizing the use of force, when Secretary of State John Kerry made an off-the-cuff, off-message remark.

The confusion of the past week is just the latest example of an abiding problem, one that’s tripped America up not just in Syria but in Afghanistan and Iraq – and even, arguably, in cyberspace:  The strength and size of the Department of Defense, and the weakness of civilian agencies, drives policymakers towards using the armed forces to solve every problem.  It puts a heavy burden on the military that it’s generally eager to shake off, and it often militarizes US foreign policy.  But when all you have is a hammer and a couple of broken screwdrivers, everything looks like a nail.

Or you can use the analogy of a fiddler crab:  While the Defense Department and the civilian agencies are in theory co-equal arms of US policy, in reality one is way bigger and more powerful than the other

And, to complicate matters, the ever-controverseal Douglas J Feith has an OpEd in The Wall Street Journal that suggests that Syrian Bashar al Assad has cemented his position with the use of poison gas, since we will now keep him in office in order to secure the chemical weapons stocks in Syria, along with Russia and other UN nations.
This is what comes of focusing on what Mr. Obama legalistically calls the "international norms" barring chemical weapons use.  By choosing not to tackle the difficult strategic and humanitarian challenges posed by the Syrian civil war, the president is now rewarding the very offenses that he said he wanted to punish.  In the name of arms control, he is incentivizing the proliferation of chemical weapons.  In the name of international law, he is undermining respect for treaties. In the name of U.S. interests, he is emboldening America's enemies.

Bashar Assad must be blessing the sarin gas that killed all those men, women and children on Aug. 21.  If he did order that attack, it was a master stroke. The victims of chemical weapons shake in agony.  Assad, Vladimir Putin and Iran's Ali Khamanei shake with laughter.

But, then, the Honorable Mr Feith tends to be on the side of the war party.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, September 16, 2013

Misunderstanding the Shepard Murder

For John, BLUFDoing right by totally misunderstanding what was going on.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I was over at the Blog Althouse, where she linked to The Advocate, which had an article, "Have We Got Matthew Shepard All Wrong?".  The subtitle is "A new book argues that America’s most notorious hate crime was not a hate crime at all."

That is awkward.  Writer Aaron Hicklin, writing on 13 September, examines the background of the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard.  If the The Advocate article is to be believed, then the Wikipedia article has a lot of holes.  Our understanding has holes.  Our legislative reaction was underpinned by errors of understanding and possible important issues were smothered.  From the article:

All that soul-searching may have felt necessary, especially in light of the legislation the case inspired, but was it helpful in getting at the truth?  Or did our need to make a symbol of Shepard blind us to a messy, complex story that is darker and more troubling than the established narrative?
The article supports the idea that the murder of Matthew Shepard was not a "hate crime", but then suggests that even so, the outcome, hate crime legislation, justifies our misunderstanding what was going on.  I am not sure that makes sense.

We need to get to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all in a free, open and truthful manner.  We owe it to our Founding Fathers (and Mothers).  For all, regardless.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Note:  Let it be noted that Law Professor Ann Althouse has a son who is, per the Professor, and her son, gay.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

FSM Question

For John, BLUFA new view on the birth of the Universe.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Nature, the International Journal of Science we have a question, "Did a hyper-black hole spawn the Universe?"  The sub-headline is "Big Bang was mirage from collapsing higher-dimensional star, theorists propose."  The Reporter is Zeeya Merali and the date is 13 September 2013.
It could be time to bid the Big Bang bye-bye.  Cosmologists have speculated that the Universe formed from the debris ejected when a four-dimensional star collapsed into a black hole — a scenario that would help to explain why the cosmos seems to be so uniform in all directions.

The standard Big Bang model tells us that the Universe exploded out of an infinitely dense point, or singularity.  But nobody knows what would have triggered this outburst: the known laws of physics cannot tell us what happened at that moment.

“For all physicists know, dragons could have come flying out of the singularity,” says Niayesh Afshordi, an astrophysicist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada.

Short article, so check it out.

So, the question is, does the Flying Spaghetti Monster qualify as a Dragon within Niayesh Afshordi's understanding.  Vote here:
 free polls 

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Tired of Talking Syria

For John, BLUFIt is humor, but "half in just, fully in earnest".  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From BuzzFeed:  "Craigslist Guy Can’t Deal With His Roommate’s Opinions On Syria Anymore".

Regards  —  Cliff

All Others Pay Cash

For John, BLUFThis is going nowhere.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Huffington Post we have an update on Dr Michael Newdow, Esq.  He just lost in US District Court, again, over his efforts to have "In God We Trust" removed by US Currency.  Surprisingly, The Huffington Post links to the Blog Patheos for part of the story.  It seems that some numismatists (collectors of forms of money) are pained by having the words "In God We Trust" on their collected treasures, their mint proof sets, their rare off-struck coins and long unused bills (since 1864 on coins and 1957 on paper money).

You may well wonder how long it would take to expunge "In God We Trust" from our currency.  Quite a while, it seems.  It is unlikely Congress would order (or the Court require) wholesale replacement of currency.  Such would be very expensive.  Here is a blurb on how quickly money wears out on average:

During the course of these transactions, money wears out, just as any paper product would.  The average life span of a $1 bill is less than 22 months, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; $5 bills last about 16 months; $10 bills last about 18 months; and $20 bills last approximately two years. Lesser-used bills, such as $50 and $100 dollar bills, last much longer, because they don't circulate as much as the smaller denominations. Both $50 and $100 bills last several years before wearing out.  Coins last about 25 years.
So, even if Mr Newdow eventually wins in court, God will likely be with us in a big way for at least another decade or two, and in a small way for many more years.  Check the change in your pocket and see what the dates are on the coins and bills.

From the ruling by The Hon. HAROLD BAER, JR., District Judge,

The Supreme Court has repeatedly assumed the motto’s secular purpose and effect, and all circuit courts that have considered this issue—namely the Ninth, Fifth, Tenth, and D.C. Circuit—have found no constitutional violation in the motto’s inclusion on currency.  While Plaintiffs urge that this court should disregard Supreme Court dicta, the Second Circuit counsels otherwise.  See United States v. Bell, 524 F.2d 202, 206 (2d Cir. 1975) (Supreme Court dicta “must be given considerable weight and [cannot] be ignored in the resolution of the close question we have to decide.”); see also United States v. Colasuonno, 697 F.3d 164, 178-79 (2d Cir. 2012) (acknowledging that it is the “usual obligation to accord great deference to Supreme Court dicta” except in certain circumstances, such as when Congress has “removed or weakened the conceptual underpinnings” of a decision).
And yet Mr Newdow soldiers on.  I would assert that if you can't sell an idea like this to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals you are probably not going to be able to sell it at all.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, September 13, 2013

Adventures in Traffic

For John, BLUFRoads and traffic patterns lead to people performing poorly.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

It isn't like any of us has not sinned in this area.  All have sinned and fallen short of the traffic code.  The other day I was east bound on Appleton Street, when the light at Gorham Street went red. Unfortunately, my gaze fell on the traffic lights on Central Street, just a few feet away, and when they turned Green, with a glance to my left I went, even though the traffic light at my intersection was still red.  Mistake on my part.

Last night, west bound on Merrimack Street, I stopped at the light at Bridge Street. On the corner to my left was a woman on a cell phone.  After traffic came off of Bridge Street south bound, the pedestrian light came on and the peds moved from corner to corner, except the woman with the cell phone.  She remained on the corner until the walking light was almost over and then she started to cross Merrimack Street. As it was, she was going to cross in front of me.  The result was that when the light turned green, she was almost in front of me, enroute to the opposite corner.  It was like being in a third-world city.

Today, at about 0755, north bound on Nesmith Street, turning left onto East Merrimack Street, there was a White Mustang that was lolly gagging along, almost in the left lane and almost not.  Granted, the car was behind a MacDonalds Semi that was straddling the lanes.  At any rate, the White Mustang, just ahead of me, got to the intersection after the left turn arrow went yellow and then went out.  The White Mustang remained behind the stop line while the through light was green and remained there until the light turned yellow, and, just as it went red, the car pulled out into the intersection and made a left hand turn.  For emphasis, against a red light and the right away of traffic entering the box from the left and right.

There is a reason our flagmen are uniformed officers.  It is because we are such scoff laws.

However, we aren't scoff laws because it has been in our DNA since the Pilgrims immigrated.  It is because we are the victims of a horrible sociological experiment in which we are like rats in a terrible maze.  Our roads were not well laid out in the beginning, and little effort has been made to make them better since the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock.  So, while we can blame the Pilgrims for poor traffic planning, we must attribute the blame for the continuation on a flinty New England unwillingness to make early investments in infrastructure, when it is a cheap investment.  Just look at Dracut this last week.

Regards  —  Cliff

Burning the Koran, Again

For John, BLUFFree Speech is a terrible burden, but a wonderful tool for democracy.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

He was planning on burning copies of the Koran, so the police arrested him.  For unlawfully transporting fuel.  The reporter is Desiree Stennett and the source is The Orlando Sentinel.  The lede:
Controversial Gainesville Pastor Terry Jones, known for his plans to publicly burn copies of the Muslim holy book, was arrested Wednesday with thousands of kerosene-soaked Qurans, authorities said.

Jones, 61, was arrested on felony charges after a traffic stop near a pharmacy in Mulberry, a small town in Polk County, just before 5 p.m.  He faces charges of unlawfully transporting fuel and openly carrying a firearm.

Deputies said Jones was riding in a pickup truck that was towing a smoker and trailer filled with kerosene-soaked Qurans.  He also had extra bottles of kerosene inside the truck bed.

If there are enough different laws one never has to worry about actually breaching the First Amendment.  Just arrest the person for picking his feet in Poughkeepsie.

As a commentator at the Althouse blog noted:

Next time, he should stick with burning the politically correct symbol...the US Flag.
Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Faking It

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

The Blog Think Progress has "The Inside Story Of How A Fake PhD Hijacked The Syria Debate".  This is about Institute for the Study of War (ISW) Analyst Dr. Elizabeth O’Bagy, who had a Masters Degree from Georgetown University, but played it as a PhD.  She was a favorite of Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

Here is someone's comment on the situation:

I've seen far too many people burn out because their self-discipline was not on the same level as their talent and ambition.

Regards  —  Cliff

Think Progress characterizes ISW as an influential neoconservative-aligned think tank.  Snark?

9/11 Connections

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

Here is a great story about yesterday and commemorating 9/11.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Energy Makes The World Go Round

For John, BLUFWe can't always whistle up more energy when we need it.  We have to plan for the future.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is a quote from a short article in The Maritime Executive, "Chevron Eyes Tight LNG Market".  The United States is an exporter of LNG, or Liquid Natural Gas.  Here is the link to the updated Reuters version of the article.
"The cycle time for LNG (liquefied natural gas) plants between front-end engineering design (FEED) work and first gas shipments could run up to eight years, Kirkland said in a lunchtime address to investors at the BarclaysCEO Energy-Power conference in New York. Plus, entering that FEED stage represented a $1 billion commitment, he added [George Kirkland, Chevron Corp's vice chairman]."
Eight years.  I am sure that with more money the time could be made sorter, but I bet not much.  And a billion dollars.  Not cheap.  And, it is about making long term decisions.  Back to Reuters, here is a story from a couple of days ago:
Japan's Toshiba Corp has signed a liquefied natural gas tolling agreement with the proposed Freeport LNG export plant in Texas, acting for Japanese utilities as more global companies seek to import some of America's growing fuel supplies.

Under the 20-year agreement, Toshiba will secure the right to liquefy 2.2 million tonnes of LNG each year from the Freeport plant's third production unit, known as a train, from late 2018, Freeport said in a statement.

While we are working on exporting LNG, we, as a nation, are working to curtain the use of coal domestically.  Is this a good energy move?

As someone commented, you should shoot the wolf closest to the sled, but then what?  What do you do next and does it help reduce the population of wolves attacking the sled?  What is your strategy, as opposed to your tactical reactions?

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Right To Be A Citizen

For John, BLUFCitizenship is fundamental for individuals and is not to be taken lightly.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

On Tuesday The Washington Times published an article by Reporter Jessica Chasmar on the evolving situation in Egypt, "Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to Coptic Christians: Convert to Islam, or pay ‘jizya’ tax".  The jizya is, per Wikipedia:
… a per capita tax levied on a section of an Islamic state's non-Muslim citizens, who meet certain criteria.  The tax is and was to be levied on able-bodied adult males of military age and affording power (but with specific exemptions).  From the point of view of the Muslim rulers, jizzya was a material proof of the non-Muslims' acceptance of subjection to the state and its laws, "just as for the inhabitants it was a concrete continuation of the taxes paid to earlier regimes."  In return, non-Muslim citizens were permitted to practice their faith, to enjoy a measure of communal autonomy, to be entitled to the Muslim state's protection from outside aggression, and to be exempted from military service and the zakat taxes obligatory upon Muslim citizens.
This is in contrast to the situation in colonial United States, where the Jews in then New Amsterdam (later New York City) sued to be allowed to be members of the Night Watch.  The person standing in their way was the colonial Governor, Peter Stuyvesant:
Stuyvesant importuned the colonial council to bar Jews from serving in the volunteer home guards.  The council levied a special tax on Jews to pay for others to serve in their place.  On November 5, 1655, Asser Levy and Joseph Barsimon filed petitions with the colonial court asking that they either be allowed to stand watch with the other citizens or relieved of the tax.  After an initial rejection and a two-year fight, Levy won the right to stand watch.
America, the land of opportunity (to sue for your rights, and win!).

But, back to the article in The Washington Times, the lede reads:

The Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters have began forcing the roughly 15,000 Christian Copts of Dalga village in Egypt to pay a jizya tax as indicated in Koran 9:29...
Ten percent of Egyptians are Copts.

Ten percent on not full Citizens of Egypt.  Sound familiar?

Regards  —  Cliff

  This being the United States, those particular Jews were refugees from Brazil, which had been Dutch for a while, before Portugal conquered it back.  They were fleeing the Portuguese, since they had been openly practicing their faith under Dutch rule.

Remembering 9/11

For John, BLUFWe do remember the attacks on us on 9/11.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

At The Huffington Post we have a post of a Reuters article by Reporter Daniel Trotta, "Americans Plan Solemn Ceremonies Commemorating 9/11 Attacks".

Regards  —  Cliff

Learning About Syria and Chemical Weapons

For John, BLUFAre there deeper issues, issues we are not privy to?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The situation in Syria is fluid and as Citizens we don't get access to the "Sensitive Compartmented Information" that the President sees and sometimes shares with Congress.  A usually reliable source, Mr John McCreary, at Night Watch, provides us with not only new information, but also information that flows in directions contrary to what we are getting from the Mainstream Media.  Well worth the reading.

Regards  —  Cliff

Ahead of the Curve

For John, BLUFSure our local elections are stained with partisanship, but making them non-partisan is a good idea.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the web page of the Business Insider we have Republican Josh Barro writing about New York City's Primary Election on Tuesday.

Mr Barro's conclusion is that given how things go, with the Democrat Party candidates going left and Republican Party candidates going right, the City might be better off with non-partisan elections.  It is not like being Mayor of New York City is a major stepping stone for higher office (thank God).

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Unbelievably Small

For John, BLUFState is twisting itself in knots.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Slate, a paraphrase of Secretary of State John F Kerry's comment about hitting Syria:
"unbelievably small" attack on Syria
I would think that "unbelievably small" and "attack" should not be used in the same sentence.

It reminds me of the poster someone forwarded to me.  The picture is Pearl Harbor, with Japanese aircraft overflying damaged ships.  The caption is:

Pearl Harbor
Not Actually An Act of War

Just a Limited Air Strike
With No Boots On The Ground
Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Today's Gospel.

For John, BLUFReading Scripture is rewarding even if you aren't a Believer.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Today was the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time.  The Gospel was St Luke, 14:25-33.  Part of it applies to the current imbroglio over Syria, chemical weapons and the appropriate US response:
Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?  Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, 'This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.'
The next verse is about a king marching into battle.  The same point, different flavor.

I would like to hear our leaders in the Administration lay out the costs if things don't go as planned.  Perhaps they can convince me they have "calculated the costs".

Regards  —  Cliff

Strange Drivers

For John, BLUFyou see all kinds.

I was coming down Mansur Street and at Fairmount there was a car approaching from the left.  It arrived at the intersection before I did.  Plainly arrived before I did, thus having the Right of Way.  I came to a full stop, as was my duty, and the other car, to my left, was still stopped.  Then the driver of the other car motioned for me to drive on through, which I did, and then he went straight ahead on down Fairmount.

Aside from being confusing—the law should be about predictability—this action was environmentally unfriendly, in two ways.  First, the other driver was sitting still, idling, more than was needed.  Secondly, his disorderly action, perhaps meant as courtesy, discourages me from asking for a Yield sign for one of the streets.  A Yield sign would be more environmentally friendly.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A View From The Upper Midwest

For John, BLUFCongress has to look at more than just going after Syria for use of chemical weapons.  This brings up many more issues for their consideration.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

At the STrib we have an OpEd on President Obama's proposal to dope slap President Assad (around 150 Sea Launched Cruise Missiles) for the apparent use of chemical weapons, which are being characterized as Weapons of Mass Destruction.  The author, Mr Andrew Borne, is an accomplished student of military and national security affairs.

With so much on the line, President Obama made a wise decision to consult with Congress before launching punitive missile strikes on President Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria. Congressional support for the president’s request to meet limited foreign policy goals of deterrence and disruption of Syria’s WMD capabilities would give important legitimacy to multilateral and legally justified action.

Political leaders have a responsibility to protect the human rights of their people — and the international community acts when individual governments break inviolable standards of conduct.  The civilized world has a strategic interest in enforcing the rules against chemical weapons use.

Yet, even as that debate happens, more global diplomatic and legal action can be taken against Assad, while Congress and the nation can resolve a serious foreign policy resources crisis.

The next right thing for Congress to debate is not only authorization for the use of force, but also resources for what comes next.  In more than a vote of authorization on Syria, Congress should also decide to eliminate the sequester, and to make a commitment to funding U.S.-led diplomatic, development and intelligence operations around the world.

The author makes a nice move to drag Sequestration into the discussion, and not without reason.  While the Administration is trying to pivot our foreign policy toward the Western Pacific, the Levant just keeps dragging us back in.  And, not only is this current crisis pretty open ended, there is likely to be another one just down the road.  While people like Michael Cohen argue that we are safer now, humans have a tendency to up their view of the threat, even as the threat recedes.

But, it all demands we get our financial house in order.

Here is Mr Borene's last paragraph:

The true decision of historic importance Congress needs to make now is not whether to authorize force this month.  It is whether it chooses to begin another military operation on the cheap or to support investment in America’s future foreign policy independence and global leadership.
Let us avoid the "it seemed like a good deal at the time" mentality.  This may seem to be about chemical weapons, but once we move it will also be about "securing the weapons", the Syrian refugees (some 2 million), Israel and the Palestinians and the direction the Middle East will be taking.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Star Tribune of Minneapolis-Saint Paul.
  When we call chemical weapons "Weapons of Mass Destruction" we are diluting the meaning of the term WMD and we are also confusing categories of weapons.  Used in mass and with skill chemical weapons can kill thousands of unprepared people over time.  On the other hand, even small nuclear weapons can kill ninety thousand people, in a flash.  Biological weapon are their own thing.
  Mr Andrew Borene is a former U.S. Marine officer with experience in Iraq.  He is now an attorney, a high-tech executive and an adjunct professor of national security policy at Macalester College, St Paul, Minnesota.  He also serves on the Defense Council of the Truman National Security Project.
  Not to be confused with the Truman Show.

Missing Persons Report

For John, BLUFWhere ARE the anti-war types?  Did the Republicans scare them off?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From BuzzFeed we have this multiple Amber Alert, "14 Principled Anti-War Celebrities We Fear May Have Been Kidnapped".

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, September 6, 2013

Word Choice

For John, BLUFAs I noted earlier in the week.

The President of the United States, at a Press Conference, just used the term Hocus Pocus.

That was insensitive of him.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Biker

For John, BLUFSometimes you need someone to thank.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From our friend Neal:
A woman received a call that her daughter was sick.

She stopped by the pharmacy to get medication, got back to her car and found that she had locked her keys inside.

The woman found an old rusty coat hanger left on the ground.  She looked at it and said "I don't know how to use this."

She bowed her head and asked God to send her HELP.  Within 5 minutes a beat up old motorcycle pulled up.  A bearded man who was wearing an old biker skull rag.  The man got off of his cycle and asked if he could help.

She said:  "Yes, my daughter is sick.  I've locked my keys in my car. I must get home.  Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?"

He said "Sure."  He walked over to the car, and in less than a minute the car was open.

She hugged the man and through tears said "Thank You SO Much!  You are a very nice man."

The man replied "Lady, I am NOT a nice man.  I just got out of PRISON yesterday, I was in prison for car theft."

The woman hugged the man again sobbing, "Oh, thank you God!  You even sent me a Professional!"

Regards  —  Cliff

Posture Conveys Meaning

For John, BLUFNot everyone in Washington favors attacking Syria.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The headline on the OpEd Page of the 5 September edition of The Washington Post is "A war the Pentagon doesn’t want".  The lede:

The tapes tell the tale. Go back and look at images of our nation’s most senior soldier, Gen. Martin Dempsey, and his body language during Tuesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Syria.  It’s pretty obvious that Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, doesn’t want this war.  As Secretary of State John Kerry’s thundering voice and arm-waving redounded in rage against Bashar al-Assad’s atrocities, Dempsey was largely (and respectfully) silent.
The author is retired Army Major General Robert H. Scales, a former commandant of the U.S. Army War College, at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Looking for Votes

For John, BLUFSo far the President doesn't have the votes to hit Syria.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

See the Politico discussion of Congress and the AUMF vote on Capitol Hill.

Vice President riding to the rescue (via Drudge).

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Authorization for Use of Military Force.  Like a Declaration of War, but not so much.

Harsh Language from Moscow

For John, BLUFIt is never as easy as our Government Official tell us it will be.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This from USA Today, Putin calls Kerry a liar:
The apparent question is al Qaeda influence on the Syrian rebels, an issue Kerry has downplayed.

Speaking to his human rights council on Wednesday, Putin said: "This was very unpleasant and surprising for me.  We talk to them (the Americans) and we assume they are decent people, but he is lying and he knows that he is lying. This is sad."

Who knew that Russia had a Human Rights Council?  I wonder what it does?

But, back to the issue at hand, it doesn't appear we are building a consensus around the world on this Syria issue.

Have I mentioned that I am hoping the US Congress says No?  This has all the appearance of an open-ended, Gulf of Tonkin, kind of thing.  That was 7 August 1964.  In August of 1973 I was on my second tour of duty in Southeast Asia, flying combat missions over Cambodia.  Nine years.  Then we pulled out and a couple of million people were murdered by the Khmer Rouge.  And it all started with a small military action to show North Viet-nam that they were doing wrong.

As a mind game, ask yourself what we should do next if, after our use of some 150 Cruise Missiles, Syrian Government Forces use chemical weapons [again].

UPDATE:  Updated to insert a link in the footnote to an article on CIA training of Syrian Rebels.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Well, it started before that, but that was when the US Congress authorized the use of military force (AUMF) by the US President.  That was when we openly attacked targets in North Viet-nam.  Before that we were training and advising the South Viet-namese (read Syrian Rebels) and providing them weapons and ammunition and other support.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

AUMF Moving Forward

For John, BLUFThe AUMF is far from assured.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

AUMF is Authorization for the Use of Military Force and is from the Congress to the President.

Senate Panel pushes forward resolution allowing US Military to attack Syria as a way of saying no more chemical weapons.  The vote was 10-7 and bipartisan.  From the International Herald Tribune we have this:

The Senate’s newest member, Edward Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, voted present.
I thought that was a Senator Obama kind of thing.

Here is the summary:

The approved resolution would limit strikes against the Syrian government to 60 days, with the possibility of 30 more days upon consultation with Congress, and it would specifically block the use of ground troops.  But to retain the support of Mr. McCain, considered crucial to the authorization’s final passage, the committee toughened some of the language.
If there is no threat of ground troops there is no serious threat, unless one is willing to obliterate the cultural features.  Think Kosovo.

Regards  —  Cliff

A Dysfunctional Hospital After Hurricane Katrina

For John, BLUFMay be good for your business in the short term, but in the long term not so much.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I would say Blogger and Law Professor Ann Althouse is concerned about too much enthusiasm for euthanasia.  No Karl Binding, our Professor Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Senator McCain—"Catastrophic"

For John, BLUFOverheated rhetoric regarding Syria.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Senator McCain's comment, "it would be 'catastrophic' if Congress rejected a use-of-force resolution", reminds me of this line from The Princes Bride.
Inigo Montoya:  You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.
It would be catastrophic if we got into a nuclear exchange, or a 9.5 earthquake hit California or a tsunami swept over Florida or two hurricanes hit New York City within a 7 day period.  Congress voting "No" on dope-slapping Syria would not be catastrophic.

We welshed on the Peace Treaty and abandoned the Republic of Viet-nam and we left the Cambodians to their own devices.  Not to mention Rwanda and Darfur.  Those didn't turn out to be "catastrophic", so I don't see why turning our back on the victims of a (limited) gas attack in Syria would be [catastrophic].

What could turn out to be catastrophic would be us firing a hundred Cruise Missiles and Syria over their use of chemical weapons and then having Syria again use chemical weapons.  What would we do then?

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The North Korean Gulag

For John, BLUFWe can't all fix the problems of the world.  And what some see as problems others see as solutions.  It is tyranny to demand everyone see through our lenses.

The Editorial Board of The Washington Post addressed North Korean "death camps" and the thousands of prisoners who have disappeared into them.
CAMP NO. 22 covered some 775 square miles, a larger geographic expanse than London, New York or Los Angeles.

In a way, the camp was a city in its own right, albeit a locus of inhumanity rather than a bustling metropolis.  Camp 22 was one point in North Korea’s constellation of concentration camps that run on unadulterated cruelty, a secret world where prisoners are fed poison for experimentation, women are forced to kill their own children and entire families are murdered in gas chambers.

As the world sits by, North Korea has imprisoned as many as 200,000 people in these camps.  Although human rights violations remain unfortunately common in many nations, these camps form a category of their own in today’s world.  North Korea’s gulag is a place where people aren’t people but rather objects for exploitation and elimination.

The recommendation of the Wash Post Editorial Board is (more) sanctions.  But, with the short description above, don't we see this as a humanitarian issue?  Do we not have a responsibility, in the name of humanity, to intervene, or at least bomb the rail lines to the camp?

As one person noted to me:

Should we bomb them because of the way they are killing their own, or is this different because they're killing their own?
These kinds of questions are why Syria and their use of chemical weapons is a slippery slope.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, September 2, 2013

Syria, Friends and Foes

For John, BLUFIf you close your eyes you can almost imagine the Summer of 1914.

For those who can't tell the players without a score card, here is a helpful graphic from the news site al Jazeera.

Regards  —  Cliff

Girlfriends and Economics

This is from the German philosopher, sociologist, and political theorist, Herbert Marcuse.  I am not a follower of Herbert Marcuse, but I did think that this was an insight worth passing on:
Not every problem someone has with his girlfriend is necessarily due to the capitalist mode of production.
Professor Marcuse was not always wrong.  Jewish, he left Germany in 1933, coming to the US 1934 and becoming a US citizen in 1940.  He ended up teaching at the University of California, San Diego.  I would say those are the moves of a pretty smart person.  It was just that he may have been wrong about the free market.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Question for W, Unanswered

For John, BLUFFormer Presidents should be seen and not heard.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the Althouse blog we have a question, a thought problem.
"I know you're trying to subtly rope me in to the issues of the day.  I refuse to be roped in."

Said George W. Bush, handling questions about Syria in precisely the style that befits a former President, speaking publicly.

But what if President Obama were to privately consult with George Bush? This is something I've fantasized about.  I imagine Obama talking about how much he understands now what Bush went through and how Bush is the one person in the world who understands what he's going through.  I picture Bush supporting the younger man in a completely empathetic and patriotic way.

Remember, Professor Althouse voted for Senator and President Obama.

I like the fact that "W" has stayed out of the spotlight but has been doing good works in his post-presidential years.  An fine example for all.

Regards  —  Cliff

Coming to America

For John, BLUFPeople from Central America endure a lot just to have a chance to sneak into the United States.  This must be a great country, to attract such passion.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the article linked below, it sounds like folks in the Mexican State of Tabasco have been purloining "fishplates" from the local railroad.  The results have not been pretty.
MEXICO CITY – The theft of a metal bar used to link two rails caused the train crash last weekend in the southeastern Mexican state of Tabasco that left 12 dead, the Communications and Transportation Secretariat said.
That is just terrible.  Twelve dead.  Seven of them "undocumented" Honduran immigrant, hopping a freight for Northern Mexico, where they could cross over into the United States.  They were on a scheduled run of the scrap metal hauler, “La Bestia” (The Beast).

And the last two paragraphs in the article from The Latin American Herald Tribune:

Besides the dangers inherent in hopping onto moving trains, Central American migrants must contend with criminals and corrupt Mexican officials.

Gangs kidnap, exploit and murder migrants, who are often targeted in extortion schemes, Mexican officials say.

It another news article from The Latin American Herald Tribune we have this;
Mexican authorities detained 80 undocumented migrants, most of them from Central America, in three separate operations, the National Migration Institute, or INM, said.

The migrants, 47 Guatemalans, 22 Hondurans, eight Ecuadorians and three Salvadorans, were intercepted during routine inspections of buses and in an operation to combat people trafficking in three states, according to the agency.

It may not be illegal to be illegal, but it can be dangerous to your health.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Do you think she is going to run for Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, or only accept the office if it is handed to her?