Thursday, October 31, 2013

Luther on Government


For John, BLUFMartin Luther wasn't all wrong.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Today, 31 October 1517, is the anniversary of Father Martin Luther writing to his bishop, protesting the sale of indulgences.  Enclosed in the letter was a copy of his Ninety-Five Theses.  Just shy of 500 years ago.

Back in March of this year, at the blog De Profundis Clamavi ad Te, Domine, (Blogger the Reverend Karl Hess), we had "Martin Luther:  Fewer laws, better government".

“Experience, all chronicles, and the Holy Scriptures as well, teach us this truth: the less law, the more justice; the fewer commandments, the more good works.  No well-regulated community ever existed long, if at all, where there were many laws.  Therefore, before the ancient law of Moses, the patriarchs of old had no prescribed law and order for the service of God other than the sacrifices, as we read of Adam, Abel, Noah, and others.  Afterward circumcision was enjoined upon Abraham and his household, until the time of Moses, through whom God gave the people of Israel a variety of laws, forms, and practices, for the sole purpose of teaching human nature how utterly useless many laws are to make people righteous.  For although the law leads and drives away from evil to good works, it is impossible for man to do them willingly and gladly, for he has always an aversion to the law and would rather be free.  Now where there is unwillingness, there can never be a good work.  For what is not done willingly is not good, but only seems to be good….

Another result of many laws is that many sects and divisions in the congregations arise from them.  One adopts this way, another that, and there grows up in each man a false, secret love for his own sect, and a hatred, or at least a contempt for and a disregard of the other sects.  Thus brotherly, free, and mutual love perishes and selfish love prevails.”

No point in gilding the lily.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Martin Luther, A Treatise on the New Testament, That Is, the Holy Mass.  AE 35, pp. 79-80.

World Series

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE RED SOX!

 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Alger Hiss and the Tea Parties of Today


For John, BLUFSome political views are so old we no longer recognize the roots.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



My respect for Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein just went up several notches, based upon this article, which helps explain what is a long term cultural thread.  The article is "How the Alger Hiss Case Explains the Tea Party" and it appeared today in Bloomberg.

Here are the last two paragraphs:

Chambers’ broader charge -- that liberalism was a species of socialism, “inching its ice cap over the nation” -- polarized the nation.  His attack on the patriotism of the Ivy League elite reflected an important strand in American culture, and it helped to initiate suspicions that persist to this day.

Liberals are no longer much interested in Hiss’s conviction, yet they are puzzled, and rightly object, when they are accused of holding positions that they abhor.  We can’t easily understand those accusations, contemporary conservative thought or the influence of the Tea Party without appreciating the enduring impact of the Hiss case.

If you wish for more excerpts, go to the Althouse blog, here.  Or read the whole thing.

However, the big thing is to try and remember to listen to what the other chap is saying and not just judge him or her because they live in Cambridge.  See Greg Page's blog post that touches on this issue.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Of course it doesn't help that many looked down their noses at Governor Sarah Palin, because she attended several different colleges and was the graduate of some cow college in Idaho.  To be fair, the University of Idaho is a Land Grant college, like MIT and UMass Amherst.

Happy Hour in DC


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



This is a little late, the original post having been made on 2 October of this year, but for those of you interested in Happy Hour in our Nation's Capitol, here is some information.  The author, Mr Ryan Evans is the editor of the blog War on the Rocks.  A theme of the blog is Realism.  Here is the lede and the paragraph with the links.  There is additional information in the Comments.
It takes a high-functioning alcoholic to put the answer to “Hey, I wonder where there’s a happy hour?” in a 4382-cell spreadsheet.

If you are one of the 800,000 federal workers who have been furloughed due to Congress’ ineptitude the government shutdown, you probably need a drink.  Thanks to a tireless and single-minded federal worker, you can peruse all of DC’s happy hour options right here in one spreadsheet.  You can sort through it by day of the week, neighborhood, times, and deals.

Download it here or view it as a Google spreadsheet here. As a service to our readers, we will update this spreadsheet periodically and re-post it regularly.  If you see anything missing, tell us in the comments section.  Let’s crowdsource the **** out of this.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Happy Hour is a ritual known in certain parts of this Nation, but not here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where it is against the law.  The US military abolished Happy Hour in on base facilities in 1984.  It is also known in some other parts of the world.
  "Realism teaches us how to think about the world, rather than what to think about it.  It is a broad term that encompasses people of many opinions with a variety of party affiliations but all of whom believe in the centrality of fear, honor, and interest as drivers of inter-state affairs.  Politics is power.  À la Morgenthau, we understand power as “anything that establishes and maintains the power of man over man ….  from physical violence to the most subtle psychological ties by which one mind controls another.”  As such, while we focus on armed force, we do not dismiss ideas and social control as mechanisms for power."

Monday, October 28, 2013

New Yorker Sees GOP in Big Trouble


For John, BLUFRepublicans becoming the incredible shrinking party, or so they say.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at The New Yorker, Commentator Steve Coll goes after the Tea Parties, again.  The EMail version of The New Yorker teases this with "The Crackpots Boil Over".  Somewhere in the article Mr Coll writes:
The Tea Party’s anti-intellectualism reflects a longer, deeper decline in the Republican Party’s ability to tolerate a diversity of ideas and public-policy strategies, and to adapt to American multiculturalism.
Ouch!  That really hurts.  On the other hand, I did try to counter this with a blog post back on 17 October.

In summary, this is another article saying the Republican Party is through.  Sort of like Kad Barma's views.  If the GOP is to go away, then it reflects the changes in the electorate and a new party will rise up to take its place.  What will not happen is the Democratic Party dominating American Politics for the next 50 years.  Heck, even back in the 1930s and 40s the Democrats couldn't hold Congress for twenty years.

Here is the penultimate paragraph:

As recently as 2007, when the Bush Administration almost passed a similar bill, it still seemed possible that a modernizing Republican Party might build a formidable political coalition of Latinos, evangelicals, disaffected Catholic Democrats, high-tech entrepreneurs, libertarians, social and educational reformers, and eclectic independents. Instead, as Geoffrey Kabaservice puts it in his history of the Republican decline, “Rule and Ruin,” movement conservatives have “succeeded in silencing, co-opting, repelling, or expelling nearly every competing strain of Republicanism from the party.” Political purges have no logical end point; each newly drawn inner circle of orthodoxy leaves a former respected acolyte suddenly on the outside. That a Tea Party-influenced purification drive now threatens such a loyal opportunist and boardroom favorite as Mitch McConnell seems a marker of the times.
Remember me likening these so called Tea Party Republicans to the Bolsheviks in October of 1917.  If that analogy holds true, now we have the terror.  All real revolutions have a terror phase.

So what is a boy to do?

  
pollcode.com free polls 

By the way, the article states the Republicans got nothing for their efforts.  I am not sure that is quite true.  The Sequestration is still there.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Yes, I am taking liberties here.  In the previous post I suggested that they wished to sweep aside the Democrats.  They failed.  Now they are dealing with the clutter of "soft" Republicans.  The real question is, if the Republicans become more like the Democrats, why would anyone vote for them?  The Democrats already have the Democrats, and an invincible ignorance of any alternatives.  Republicans who abhor the Democrats aren't likely to vote Democrat light.  What is a City Committee Chairman to do?

Spying on Foreign Leaders


For John, BLUFThis is not good.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Down in Washington, The Hill Reports on "Obama unaware NSA spied on world leaders".  The author is Mr Justin Sink.  In part it reads:
The White House was unaware of National Security Agency surveillance targeting world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and ordered the spy agency to cease some monitoring programs after learning of them, according to a report Sunday in The Wall Street Journal.

According to the paper, the White House first learned of the operations during an internal administration review over the summer.  After their revelation, the White House ordered the NSA to halt some monitoring programs, including the one tracking Merkel.  Other surveillance efforts are still winding down.

The Journal report contradicts a story in the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that suggests that the president was personally briefed on the operation to monitor Merkel’s phone three years ago.

But according to the Journal’s reporting, President Obama only authorized broad intelligence-gathering priorities.  Senior administration officials told the newspaper that individual surveillance levels were made on the agency level.

This is not a good thing.  Somewhere in there is a certain dysfunctionality in our Government.

UPDATE:  Someone said it better than I did:  "What other programs does the President not know about that he should know about?  Does the machinery just operate itself? "

Regards  —  Cliff

Fourth Generational Warfare and You


For John, BLUFThe world may be changing for the worse.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at the blog Small Wars Journal retired Marine Colonel Gary Anderson has an article, "The End of the Peace of Westphalia:  Fourth Generation Warfare".

The Peace of What?  Yes, the Peace of Westphalia, which gave us our present Western international system, Westphalian Sovereignty.  One of the things it gave us was the idea that nations don't interfere in the domestic actions of other nations.

Here is the key paragraph:

The greatest domestic threat of Fourth Generation Warfare to the United States is not in physical damage or human casualties, but that in protecting ourselves from internal and external threats that we evolve into a national security state unrecognizable to the vision of our founders.  That would be real defeat.
Regards  —  Cliff

Appealing to Middle America


For John, BLUFWisc Gov Scott Walker running for President.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I thought this was an interesting comment on how opinion formers (and pollsters are opinion formers) view religion:
And 90% of Americans believe in God — or as Gallup charmingly puts it "More Than 9 in 10 Americans Continue to Believe in God/Professed belief is lower among younger Americans, Easterners, and liberals."  (I love the "Continue to," which implies: Come on, people, after all the evidence, what's your problem?!)
The source is a blog post by Law Professor Ann Althouse.  I don't think she is pushing religion so much as commenting on how the media denigrates people who do believe in God.  The title of the blog post is "Did God Prank-call Scott Walker" (Scott Walker being the Governor of Wisconsin).  It refers to someone calling the Governor and pretending to be Mr David Koch (who is, in the mind of some, the personification of Evil, i.e., Satan himself).

In the course I am taking at UMass Lowell Continuing Education this term ($30 plus books for those 60 and older), Sociology of Religion, one of our texts, The Future of Religion, suggests that while there is a lot of churn in religion, it isn't all people going from faith to unbelief.  Rather, forms are changing and new religions are being born.  As the authors point out, who would have credited eleven guys creating a fairly big religion and changing an empire after their leader was killed and one of their number took French Leave.

And, the blog post also mentions that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has a book about to come out, Unintimidated:  A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge.  Could he be prepping for a run for President?

Regards  —  Cliff

  By Stark and Bainbridge.
  French Leave?  Deserted.  In this case it was Judas Iscariot.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Spying on Friends


For John, BLUFEverybody does it.



Commentator Marc Ambinder (Harvard, 2001), writes for the magazine The Week, "Why the NSA Spies on France and Germany".

I liked the article and I especially liked this quote from a recent French Foreign Minister:

"The magnitude of the eavesdropping is what shocked us," former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told France Info radio.  "Let’s be honest, we eavesdrop too.  Everyone is listening to everyone else."

The difference, he added, is that "we don’t have the same means as the United States — which makes us jealous."

There you are.  The admission that "everybody does it".  That doesn't make it right, and the situation in the former East German Democratic Republic, where the STASI spied on everyone, is a cautionary tale.  The real, unanswerable question, even by the Intelligence professionals, is if it makes a difference.  It surely did at the Battle of Midway, but apparently didn't at Pearl Harbor.  It allowed us to shoot down Admiral Yamamoto, but 65 years on didn't stop 9/11.

We need to strike a balance and we need some public examples of rectitude.  Some acceptance of inefficiency to say that we really do respect the Fourth Amendment, even as we are hoping our Governent is keeping us safe.  For example, shouldn't we feel we can EMail our City Councillors without someone else reading the missive?  How about a compromise?  It is OK for NSA to store the EMail out in Utah, but our local Government shouldn't be running filters to kick out copies to DPW or the Police without benefit of a Court Order.

UPDATE:  Grammer correction—"see" to "else".

Regards  —  Cliff

  Let's be honest, there is a "Special Relationship".  This is about France and Germany (and Brazil and Mexico).  We and the Brits are in bed together on this.  And, England isn't really part of Europe, in a political and cultural sense.  They are partnered with CANAM.
  In France everyone has a mistress and at a recent funeral for a President of the Republic (François Mitterrand) the widow and the mistress were both at the graveside.  That doesn't make it right, although it is very "French".
  Department of Public Works.

Behind ObamaCare


For John, BLUFTrying to make ObamaCare perfect the Congressional Staffers (and software writers) made a hash of it.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Writing for Bloomberg, Commentator Megan McArdle says that the "Obamacare Fiasco Isn't a Single-Payer Conspiracy".  That is good to know.  The fact is that those who don't trust Senator Harry Reid and Representative Nancy Pelosi to tell them if it is raining outside have become suspicious of the whole health care imbroglio.

Ms McArdle's analysis makes since, both of the likelihood of fixing the software problems by 15 December and the likelihood failure or success will lead to the dreaded "Single Payer" health care system.

So, we need to consider Hanlon's Razor:

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Republicans and others of that ilk should stop thinking that ObamaCare is an evil plot and rather look at it as a fine example of why Government should not try massive unitary solutions to serious and complicated problems.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Ms McArdle is what we might term a "classic liberal".  She once worked for a Ralph Nader non-profit.  Check out her photo at Wikipedia.  She looks a little like a local media personality.
  Incidentally, the elephant in the room is that we didn't have enough physicians before "ObamaCare" and we certainly won't after 15 December.  Using the old concept of economics and supply and demand, that means that even with price controls there won't be enough to go around and some segment of society will be hurt a lot or all of society will be hurt enough to feel it.  Then we might get change, but it will be like painting a moving train.
  Or, in the words of Sir Bernard Ingham, "cock-up before conspiracy".

Friday, October 25, 2013

PM on GG and the Guardian


For John, BLUFStriking the balance is the hard part.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at Guido Fawkes' blog, Order, Order I found this quote from British Prime Minister David Cameron regarding the newspaper The Guardian, and, one would presume, Reporter Glenn Greenwold.
And the first priority of a prime minister is to help try and keep your country safe, and that means not having some la di da, airy fairy view about what this all means, it’s understanding intelligence and security services do an important job.
Regards  —  Cliff

  Reminisencent of the Speaker in the House of Commons, trying to maintain order during Prime Minister's Question Time.
  Although Mr Greenwold, a former US Constitutional Lawyer, has moved on to form NNN (Narcacistic News Network).

The Real Mike Hayden


For John, BLUFSome folks are calm, cool and media savvy and some aren't.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at The Washington Post is an item on someone eavesdropping on former CIA and NSA Director, retired Air Force General Michael Hayden.  The big thing I take from this article is that General Hayden continues to be a smooth operator, actually joining the eavesdropper for an quick interview, where they agreed to disagree.  That is to be expected, in that the eavesdropper was Mr Tom Matzzie, a former Washington director of the political group MoveOn.org.

Interesting, but not really picked up by the TV Show Democracy Now (Lowell local access channel 8, 0800 to 0900), General Hayden not only gave Mr Matzzie an interview, but also posed with him for a picture, which Ms Amy Goodwin flashed on the screen of her show Democracy Now.

Best line in the article was:

“Everybody’s a reporter,” said Hayden.
For those who dismiss bloggers and other "new media" people, General Hayden sets the record strait.

Regards  —  Cliff

UN Security Council


For John, BLUFThe Administration is trying to "pivot to Asia" but the Middle East keeps dragging us back.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



You may have missed it, but a week ago the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia turned down a two year appointment to the United Nations Security Council as a "Non-Permanent" Member.  Here is a link to an article from the Beeb.  The reason given was the fact that the United Nations was running a double standard and the Security Council is in need of reform.

Writing in World Affairs Journal, Reporter and Blogger Michel J Totten give us "The Saudi-American Rupture—The American-Saudi alliance is in danger of collapsing".  It can be found here.

Here is a key paragraph.

Foreign Policy 101 dictates that you reward your friends and punish your enemies. Attempts to get cute and reverse the traditional formula always lead to disaster.  Yet Barack Obama thinks if he stiffs his friends, his enemies will become a little less hostile.  That’s not how it works, but the Saudis have figured out what Obama is doing and are acting accordingly.
I am not big on the theory that US foreign policy is driven by the need for oil, such as the view that the Second Gulf War was all about control of Iraqi oil.  On the other, there is no need to poke our fingers in the eyes of those who export oil.  I think Mr Totten gives us food for thought in his article, which I commend to you.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I agree on the need for reform.  The five "Permanent" members of the Security Council, the ones with Veto Power, are left over from the victors in World War II, the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia and China.  I would think that we need to expand that number, including perhaps India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa.  If we fear to many nations with the Veto Power, we could rotate two of those nations on a permanent basis as members with a Veto Power.

Hurricane Season 2013


For John, BLUFSeen any hurricanes this year?  I blame global warming.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Up north, Reporter Michael MacDonald, of the The Canadian Press, gives us "Atlantic hurricane season predictions fall flat".

HALIFAX – Despite dire predictions to the contrary, the 2013 hurricane season is turning out to be a dud.

With a little over a month left in the North Atlantic hurricane season, it’s now clear that the long-range U.S. forecasts issued in the spring – all calling for a high level of storm activity – weren’t even close.

The article has a nice chart showing the frequency of hurricanes and tropic storms during the Atlantic Season.

I picked this item up from a "news aggregator", SOMNIA - Spotlight on Military News and International Affairs, from Canadian Forces College.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Spouse of Ted Cruz


For John, BLUFSenator Ted Cruz has a wife.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The International New York Times we have this article on the wife of Senator Ted Cruz, Heidi Nelson Cruz.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

City Commissions and Boards


For John, BLUFTransparency demands that we know how certain appointed Commissioners lean, politically.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



This post is based on the two hour discussion on City Life this morning.  The show can be seen again at 4:00 PM, or on line from Lowell Telecommunications Corporation.  And, since Ms Linda Bown was on the show, it will also be shown in Thyngsboro at some point.

Here is a list of some 27 Lowell Commissions and Boards.

Here is the City's Web Page on applying for positions on Boards and Commissions.  Even if there are no openings today, if you have an interest, send your resume in today and have it on file.

For almost all of the slots, ANYONE can apply, regardless or race, religion, national origin or political party.

However, to guard against hanky-panky, six positions are reserved, evenly split, between the two major political parties.  That is two positions on the License Commission and four positions on the Election Commission.  Note that there are a lot more positions than those six.

With regard to those critical election and license positions, how would you tell which way "Independent Voters" lean.  One can be partisan without actually declaring it.  With the our current lash-up someone can be registered as an "Independent" and yet pull a Democrat Party (or Republican Party) primary ballot their whole life and vote a straight Democrat Party (or Republican Party) ballot in all November elections.  Would three such "Independents" provide fairness to Republican (Democrat) voters?  No!

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

And The Price Keeps Going Up


For John, BLUFDiversity trumping education.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Blogger and Law Professor Ann Althouse has provided "'Highlights of Diversity Forum 2013: Day 1.'".  This is for 22 October 2013.  For followers of the Althouse blog the comments are predictable.  And correct.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, October 21, 2013

Putting It To The Man


For John, BLUFA lot of things in life aren't as they appear in the press.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The Wall Street Journal took an unfavorable view of the tentative settlement between the US Government and the banking giant, J P Morgan Chase.  The tentative settlement was for $13 billion, which has been noted as being half the annual profits of J P Morgan Chase.

Frankly, profits of $26 billion just seem excessive on the surface.  That is like $82 per man, woman and child living in these United States.  I don't want to give them that much money out of my household income.

Then there is this view from a comment in the article from the International Edition of the New York Times (second link above).  The Commenter is Mr Allen Braun, of Upstate NY:

Criminal investigations need to be pursued to the end and charges laid against people.  Those people, if found guilty, need to be imprisoned, personally fined and barred from the industry.

Fines, even so steep, are just a cost of doing business.

I see the commenter's point.  While I hate putting folks in prison, due to the cost to me as a taxpayer and the fact that they will be associating with known criminals and thus possibly corrupting their morals, sometimes something more than a fine is of value.  However, the long range question is how do we return them to society as tax paying citizens?

But, before we start cheering for Attorney General Eric Holder and all the good guys at the Department of Justice, we need to at least consider the viewpoint represented by The Wall Street Journal.  Here is the lede to the article, "The Morgan Shakedown":

The tentative $13 billion settlement that the Justice Department appears to be extracting from J.P. Morgan Chase needs to be understood as a watershed moment in American capitalism.  Federal law enforcers are confiscating roughly half of a company's annual earnings for no other reason than because they can and because they want to appease their left-wing populist allies.
That is pretty over-the-top writing.  But, then there is this:
The bulk of the settlement is related to mortgage-backed securities issued before the 2008 financial panic.  But those securities weren't simply a Morgan product.  They were largely issued by Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, both of which the federal government asked J.P. Morgan to take over to help ease the crisis.

So first the feds asked the bank to do the country a favor without giving it a chance for proper due diligence.  The Treasury needed quick decisions, and Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon made them in good faith.  But five years later the feds are punishing the bank for having done them the favor.  As Richard Parsons notes nearby, this is not going to make another CEO eager to help the Treasury in the next crisis.  But more pointedly, where is the justice in such ex post facto punishment?

Then there's the fact that $4 billion of the settlement is earmarked to settle charges against the bank by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  We are supposed to believe that the bank misled the two mortgage giants about the quality of the mortgage securities they were issuing.  But everyone knows that Fan and Fred had as their explicit policy the purchase of securities for liar loans and subprime mortgages to further their affordable-housing goals.  Those goals went far to create the crisis, but now these wards of the state are portraying themselves as victims.

The rest is at the link, with all the profit making Wall Street Journal advertising.

But, to go back to the above noted comment from Mr Allen Braun, of Upstate NY, perhaps we should be working on putting former Senator Chris Dodd and former Representative Barney Frank in goal for their roles in all of this.

Regards  —  Cliff

  That used to be The International Herald Tribune, up until this last Tuesday.  I think it was a dumb rebranding move to change the name.
  No, not really.  Just kidding.  After all, they are legislators, solons, so to speak.  On the other hand, ...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Do You Write Your Elected Officials?

I've been doing some thinking about the moral implications about being a citizen. Sure, you can express you opinion when you vote, but if there is an issue of "fierce moral urgency"™ about which you are concerned, do you have a moral obligation to let your representatives know your feelings? What if you know they disagree and are unlikely to ever change their mind?

The conclusion I've reached is that since morality is a question of my conduct, I have an obligation to act. To that end, I sent the President a letter last month—an honest to goodness pen on paper letter. I will not bore you with the details except to say that it expressed my views on abortion and sought to bring him around in just a small way. I figure I need to be sending letters about once a month just so I can cover all the people and all the issues on a regular basis. This also means I'm behind already.

—the Other Cliff

The Republicans Lost That One


For John, BLUFI hope this doesn't cause a short term surge in your business.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The Republican Congress-critters tried to make the case that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) was a boondoggle that should go away and something more effective take its place.  They failed.  In failing they may have taken the spotlight away from what was happening with the "insurance exchange" process. Here is the take of Pajamas Media blogger Rick Moran.  He has been talking with people from Health and Human Services' Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and insurance industry folks.  He claims there is a consensus that the signup software for ObamaCare is having trouble and may need some time to get fixed.  He quotes from a National Review on Line (NRO) article by Yuval Levin:
The problems people are now facing with the basic interface have taken up most of the time that CMS and its contractors have devoted to troubleshooting so far, and although things have improved a little on this front quite serious problems remain.  But there are very serious problems beyond that, which are more like the sorts of problems people were predicting before the launch: database problems at the nexus of several federal and industry data sources.  The federal data hub itself is so far doing reasonably well at its basic tasks, and that has come as a relief to CMS. But some of the site functions that rely on the hub, both in the federal exchanges and a number of the state exchanges, remain highly problematic.  The calculation of subsidies continues to fail tests, and it’s pretty clear that some actual consumers have made actual purchases with bad information, which will become apparent to them when they get their first bills.  If the interface problems are addressed and the volume of purchases increases, this calculation problem could become a huge concern.
Frankly, it may be way to early to know what is really going on, but given the size of the health care industry in the United States, this is likely to send ripples through the ongoing recovery.

The real question is if the software engineers can fix things while the training is moving or if a hiatus of some duration will be needed before there is a reboot, a reboot that could require everyone who has signed up to sign up again.

The question then might be if the President would do that delay by executive order or if it will be a big enough deal that he will have to go to Congress to make it happen.  I guess the question really is, will someone be able to get an injunction against the President, that might quickly go straight to the US Supreme Court, sort of like a Florida Electoral Recount.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Is Iran Changing re Negotiations re Nucs


For John, BLUFIs this change you can believe in in Iran?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Back behind the pay wall of The Wall Street Journal is a Friday article by Reporter Farnaz Fassihi, titled "Nuclear Talks Divide Hard-Liners in Iran".  We have good reason to be dubious about Iran's intentions.  Our friends in Israel and Saudi Arabia encourage us to be dubious.  However, in the article is this paragraph:
Worshipers in Isfahan were stunned during Friday prayers in early October when a hard-line cleric said, "Death to America isn't a verse of the Quran that we have to say forever," according to Iranian media reports.
So we have:
  • Hard-line Cleric
  • Iranian media reports
This looks like change.  Unlikely Iran can show one face to the outside and another inside.

The article says that conservatives in Iran will be challenged by a change in emphasis and negotiating position.  I wonder what makes them "conservative"?  Is it that they are against change with regard to their nuclear plans?  What if the same folks are against capitalism and believe in socialism?

Regards  —  Cliff

Inconsistencies


For John, BLUF"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Warmist points out LATimes bans letters from skeptics — but prints horoscopes!
Source

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, October 18, 2013

New Head of DHS


For John, BLUFIs Ed Davis keeping up his Wikipedia page?  Does he really still live in Lowell?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From Politico we have this item on the new HHS Secretary nominee.  The reporter is Ms Kate Brannen, with support from Jonathan Topaz, Philip Ewing and Austin Wright.
TOP TALKER:  JEH JOHNSON IS OBAMA'S PICK FOR DHS, via POLITICO's Jennifer Epstein:  Later today, President Barack Obama will announce his decision to nominate the former Pentagon general counsel, Jeh Johnson, to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

Johnson's confirmation hearing will provide senators the opportunity to voice their opposition toward some of the Obama administration's signature - and most controversial-- policies.  While at the Pentagon, Johnson was responsible for the prior legal review and approval of every military operation, including drone strikes, ordered by the president.  Detainee legislation, a constant sticking point in the defense authorization bill, was also a top issue for him.  And Johnson was integral to the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for gays in the military.

In 2008, Johnson raised money for Obama's presidential campaign and served on his transition team.  This 2007 New York Times article profiles Johnson, the fundraiser. To understand Johnson's views on the administration's counterrorism policies, two speeches are worth revisiting:  "A 'Drone Court': Some Pros and Cons" in March at Fordham Law School and "The Conflict Against Al Qaeda and its Affiliates: How Will It End?" in November 2012 at the Oxford Union.

Since leaving the Pentagon in December, Johnson, a former federal prosecutor, returned to private practice at the law firm Paul Weiss.

To think, they could have had Professor Ed Davis.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Scientific Literacy


For John, BLUFWait for the punch line.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Politico reports on Yale law professor Dan Kahan, who "posted on his blog this week that he analyzed the responses of more than 2,000 American adults recruited for another study and found that, on average, people who leaned liberal were more science literate than those who leaned conservative."

OK, that confirms the accepted wisdom.  It explains why conservatives, whatever they are, are skeptical about "global warming".

However, those who identified as part of the tea party movement were actually better versed in science than those who didn’t, Kahan found.  The findings met the conventional threshold of statistical significance, the professor said.
Who would have thought?

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Polling Data From Earlier in the Week


For John, BLUFWashington is a mess and voters are almost beginning to notice.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Just two days before Congress got our financial house in some semblance of order, Pew ran a survey of the American People.  It had a number of findings, but I thought this was the most interesting:
The grim public mood is reflected in the record share of voters who want most members of Congress defeated in next year’s midterm elections. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of registered voters would like to see most members of Congress defeated; during the 2010 and 2006 election cycles, which both culminated in shifts in control of the House, no more than 57% in each of these two cycles wanted most members of Congress not to be reelected.

Moreover, the share saying they do not want their own representative reelected – 38% – is as high as it has been in two decades. At this stage in the 2010 and 2006 midterms, fewer wanted to see their own member of Congress defeated (29% in November 2009, 25% in September 2005).

Democrats can take comfort in thinking that this is a massive collapse of the Republican Party, leaving them to run things the way they did in the 1930s and the 1830s, but while the "Tea Parties" fell off in this polling period, it was a shift from 37% favorable / 45% unfavorable to 30% favorable to 49% unfavorable.  Not as bad a collapse as the leadership in DC.
  • President—43%
  • Dem Leaders in Congress—31%
  • Rep Leaders in Congress—20%
The Republican Leaders have fallen from 25% in December 2012 to 20% this month.  The Democrat Party Leadership has fallen from 40% in that same time period to 31%.  (The President from 55% in December last.)

I would say everyone should tread lightly, notwithstanding the election of Mayor Cory Booker as the Junior Senator from New Jersey yesterday.  On the other hand, National Review consoled itself by noting that Mr Booker underperformed on election day, in a state that gave us Woodrow Wilson (well, New Jersey and Georgia).

Regards  —  Cliff

  Why was the election on a Wednesday?  Is not Tuesday sacrosanct?  Could this signal greater flexibility in the future?

Protesting Shut Down in Lowell


For John, BLUFI love the First Amendment.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



So the US Congress arrived at an acceptable balance and passed both a Continuing Resolution (to fund the Government) and an increase to the debt ceiling.  What they didn't do was pass a budget, but the CR, once again substitutes for a budget.  Maybe next year.

However, it appears to me that the thing that pushed the US Congress over the edge toward resolution was a noontime protest outside the Social Security Office in Lowell, as these four photos show. It was a pretty cheerful group of protestors, willing to talk.  I am glad I stopped by.

After the noontime demonstration the demonstrators were going to have pizza.  I saw about six pizza boxes stacked up by the steps into the building housing our Social Security Office.

I would like to thank the protestors for stepping up and talking to the issue of the Government shutdown.

Next, I hope they will pick a day and protest the debt itself, for which we will pay an estimated $222.9 billion in interest this fiscal year (FY2014, which started 1 October—see the bottom photo and the sign with a date on it.).

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Greenwald Followup


For John, BLUFThe media world is resorting itself and some things will go by the wayside.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Last night I posted that Reporter Glenn Greenwald is terminating his relationship with The Guardian, so he could start a new news network.  Mr Greenwald has been the voice for NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Late last night, at Fortuna's Corner is a quote from David Maxwell on the situation:

Just what we need.  NNS:  Narcissism News Service:  All Greenwald, all the time.
Regards  —  Cliff

  Retired Army Colonel David Maxwell was on WCAP's City Life at Night a while back, talking about a then crisis regarding nKorea.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Light Crackdown on Leakers


For John, BLUFLeakers—people who don't play by the rules of normal people.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



As someone wrote to me,
This report from Steven Aftergood puts a spotlight on an activity that may not be well understood, which is that many so-called leaks to the press are "authorized" by senior government officials for political, partisan, diplomatic, or security reasons or even some hidden personal reason.
Frankly, I don't like leaks, although I fully appreciate the role Whistle Blowers play in our system of governance, and have since the Continental Congress.

It is nice to see the US Congress taking its job seriously.

Regards  —  Cliff

Glenn Greenwald on the Move


For John, BLUFLikely nothing good coming out of this.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Staffer Ben Smith, over at BuzzFeed, says that Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald will soon be leaving to create a new news organization.

This could be interesting.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, October 14, 2013

On The Road to Mexico


For John, BLUFJack Kerouac is not just about Lowell.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



In today's issue of The International Herald Tribune I found someone On The Road, checking out "Kerouac’s Mexico".
I found Jack Kerouac’s Mexico on a strip of beach that separated the old hotels from the heaving Pacific, at a bar near where he sat on the sea wall and watched the sunset 61 years ago.

My best friends in Mazatlán, whom I had met only a day earlier, were behind me arguing and laughing. But with a beer in hand and my own perfect view of daylight’s final yawn, I was too blissed out to talk. The crashing waves sounded like drums, and everyone in the water seemed to be dancing: a tangle of teenagers splashed around and flirted, their wiry limbs shimmering like lures, then came a dazzling woman wearing a bathing suit of rainbow stripes, her bare feet catching the surf, her long hair waving in the breeze.

That moment was the closest I got to channeling Kerouac on my journey inspired by his 1952 bus trip from the Arizona border to Mexico City. The scene before me called to mind the Mazatlán he described to Allen Ginsberg: “hot and flat right on the surf, no tourists whatever, the wonder spot of the Mexicos really but nobody hardly knows, a dusty crazy wild city on beautiful Acapulco surfs.”

Still, I wondered, how much did Kerouac’s romantic vision match up with reality?

Mazatlán is one of the many places that the Beats used to bolster the idea of Mexico as the destination for debauched recreation and self-discovery. Hollywood headed south first (Errol Flynn and John Wayne vacationed along Mexico’s Pacific coast), but Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, who moved to Mexico City in 1949 to avoid a drug charge in New Orleans, laid down in literature a charmingly simple notion of the country that has endured.

The story itself goes on for quite a while, but respect for the Reporter and the newspaper requires I not quote too much.  However, an interesting story.

Regards  —  Cliff

The New Boston Globe


For John, BLUFThey should be able to get the newspaper to the front door.



With the Red Sox doing well as the Season was drawing to a close I got a new subscription to The Boston Globe, so my wife could follow the team on the sports pages.  The fact that John Henry had recently purchased the paper only added to our enthusiasm.

However, I have found a glitch.  One would think that a paper in baseball mad Massachusetts, with John Henry as the owner, would have delivery personnel who could get it up on the porch, without having to leave the location of their car/bicycle.  Not in our case.  Most mornings I find it under the ferns that are infesting the hedge I am trying to foster.  Under the ferns that are at the sidewalk, which is up against the curb.

I think that we should be able to expect better from the New Boston Globe, but then I am an optimist.

Maybe not on the scale of Big Papi and his Grand Slam last evening, but still, I am looking for some quality here.

Regards  —  Cliff

  That was another thing I didn't realize when I proposed to my wife, back in '66, her mania for baseball.  All things considered, a fairly benign trait.

The National Debt, Visualized


For John, BLUFThe interest on the debt is the secret killer, since it keeps compounding.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



At the NPR web site we have this graphic on who owns which part of our national debt.  It may be a shock to some, but China doesn't own it all.

(If you click on the image below it may make it bigger.)

 

On the other hand, the really scary part is that for FY2014 we will be paying $222.9 Billion in interest on this debt, going up toward $800 billion by 2020.  That would buy a lot of schools and still have money left over.  It would even pay off the Big Dig, and 14 others like it, with pocket change left over.

Regards  —  Cliff

Name Change in Paris


For John, BLUFIf it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



As of tomorrow The International Herald Tribune will be no more.  It will become The International New York Times.

What are they thinking?

This change, detailed here, will take a brand name, something that has been reliable across Western Europe for as long as I have been going to Europe, and drop it for a Mark that reflects the particular world views of one paper in one city in one state on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.  Up until now The International Herald Tribune has been a cosmopolitan newspaper.  The future?  I am pessimistic.  I comfort myself with knowing that at least we got The Boston Globe Back. Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Guns in France and the NYT


For John, BLUFWe are not the only nation with gun rights.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at ¡No Pasáran! the Blogger is a little cranky at The New York Times.  The paper reports on a jewel theft in Nice in which one of the perps, after holding the jeweler at gun point and physically abusing him, gets shot.  The intrepid blogger thinks the paper is a too sympathetic to the thief and insufficiently sympathetic to the victim of the thief.  The assumption is that it is all about the spin of The New York Times, which is assumed to be pro-gun control.

The question is, in such an advanced, and centralized, nation as France, where did the law abiding jeweler get a gun?  And, not asked, where did the jewel thief get his gun?  Germany?  Italy?  Spain?  The United States?

By the way, in France, there is no ban on "assault weapons", per Wikipedia.

On a final note, I feel sorry for the jewel thief, his having been shot.  On the other hand, he has no right to physically abuse someone and no right to steal with material possessions.  Perhaps not understanding the consequences of his action (the brain is not fully developed until about age 22) he did things that others had previously told him were wrong.  Things like this sometimes raise a question about the 26th Amendment.

Regards  —  Cliff

Redskins Update


For John, BLUFA sense of humor is important, especially when things aren't going well.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



My Brother-in-Law sent me an update on the name issue regarding the Washinton Redskins.  As you may recall, even the President was weighed in on the issue.  Here is the update.
The Washington Redskins are changing their name because of all the hatred, violence, and hostility associated with their name.

  From now on they will be known simply as the Redskins.

And with the red bliss as their logo, matching their fans who are couch potatoes, it will be perfect.

Regards  —  Cliff

Urban Guerrillas


For John, BLUFIf Insurgencies move to urban areas it could be real ugly.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The new rage in the study of guerrilla warfare and terrorism is urban conflict.  Not out of some DHS fear of domestic terrorism from so-called Right Wing terrorists (or former military members), but because of what is going on in the rest of the world.

The very smart Dr David Kilcullen has a new book out, Out of the Mountains:  The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla.  It should be worth reading.

Then there is an article in The National Interest by Author Pablo Brum, "José Mujica and Uruguay's 'Robin Hood Guerrillas'".  Mr José Mujica is the current President of Uruguay.

There it is, Uruguay, tucked in between Brazil and Argentina, as far south as the State of Georgia is north.

The National Interest article is an interesting read and quick.  It should raise more questions in one's mind than it answers, given its shortness.  It also talks to the frustrations of people in tense situations.  I remember the Uruguay/Tupamaro hostage situation way back in 1970, where an American was murdered in cold blood on 7 August 1970.  It was just a couple of weeks later that a Bill Ayers inspired group killed Dr Robert Fassnacht in the bombing of Sterling Hall, at the University of Wisconsin (24 August 1970).  One difference in the two events is that since 1970 Mr Mujica has evolved in a pragmatic direction, while Professor Ayers has just evolved into a dissembler.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Like in this 2009 reportfrom Secretary Janet Napolitano's Department of Homeland Security.
  Here is a review of Out of the Mountains by National Defense University Researcher Frank G Hoffman.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Our Guy Charlie Baker


For John, BLUFWhich Republicans is Mr Charlie Baker talking to?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at The Boston Globetoday we have an OpEd by Mr Charlie Baker, who is a candidate for the Republican Nomination for Governor.  The title is "States Get It; Washington Doesn't".  Here is what Mr Baker says about the current imbroglio in DC:
But I also believe in democracy, and if the voters of this country wanted to defund or repeal the Affordable Care Act, they would have turned the White House and the Senate over to the Republicans. They didn’t do that.
Makes one think of the famous Prince Talleyrand quip: "I wonder what he meant by that?" 

If the reelection of President Obama and the return of Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader means the voters want the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PP&ACA) what does Republican control of the House of Representatives mean? 

On the other hand, was the election of 2012 solely about PP&ACA or was it about other things (also)?  If the election was all about PP&ACA, then can the Republicans in the Lower House trash the rest of the Obama Agenda without comment?  I wouldn't think so.

I think Mr Baker owes us Republicans an expanded explanation of what he meant by that.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I wonder if he should get the nomination just for having the guts to use a semi-colon in public?
  Also attributed to Prince Metternich.  However, it was in response to someone saying the Turkish Ambassador had died.
  I am avoiding use of the term "Obamacare" since when folks are polled they don't like "Obamacare" and like "Affordable Care Act".
  Well, there are those who argue that what with Gerrymandering the House of Representatives doesn't really represent the People of the US, like it ever did.

New Lowell Election Commissioner?


For John, BLUFWhat will this do to (1) the Election Commission and (2) the Lowell Blogosphere?



Over at the [Lowell] Sun, and at the Left in Lowell and Dick Howe blogs, is news that Blogger Gerry Nutter is to be nominated to the Election Commission, subject to the approval of the Lowell City Council.  The article in the newspaper, by Reporter Lyle Moran (lmoran@lowellsun.com) (a person from down County), suggests that a couple of City Councillors have already announced they will vote nay.  Gerry Nutter wields a sharp quill, but there is no doubt he loves Lowell and is an informed and involved Resident.

Regards  —  Cliff

David Koch Offends


For John, BLUFUMass Lowell should offer a free course on boards and commissions.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at The Boston Herald we have Columnist Howie Carr talking about protests regarding Mr David Koch and WGBH.  Turns out Mr Koch (1) gives them money, along with giving money to MIT, and (2) is on the Board at WGBH.  I am thinking the protesters want him to stop giving money to WGBH, seeing how corrupting money is.  I assume the protesters don't care about him being on the Board, since (1) Boards tend to be worthless and (2) WGBH seems to be continuing on its happy Progressive/Statist path.  (Do you think there is a laissiez faire oriented NPR Station anywhere?)

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Nigeria Troops Raid Kano Suicide Vest Factory


For John, BLUFWe need to "fix" society so there is less unrest, if that is possible.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From Reuters we have a news report on Nigeria troops raiding an Islamist bomb-making factory on Wednesday, seizing guns, fertilizer and equipment for assembling suicide vests.

The raid was just outside the biggest city in the Nigerian north, Kano.  The city is on the southern boundary of the Sahel, the strip between the Sahara Desert, to the north and the grasslands to the south that runs some 3360 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea.  The Sahel tends to run from several hundred to 620 miles wide (north to south).

Nigeria is one of those nations that falls along the tenth parallel and has a population divided by that parallel, half Muslim and half Christian.  In Nigeria, as elsewhere in Africa, it tends to be Muslim to the north and Christian to the south.

The focus of this effort has been on the insurgent (terrorist) group Boko Haram.  From the article.

Nigerian soldiers raided an Islamist bomb-making factory just outside the north's biggest city of Kano on Wednesday, seizing guns, fertilizer and equipment for assembling suicide vests, the military said.

Kano has been relatively quiet for much of this year, as Islamist sect Boko Haram focuses its fight for an Islamic state on its heartland in the northeast.

However, Kano, historically a hub for trade across the Sahara, has been periodically attacked by the sect. A bomb blast in a bus park, in an area predominantly inhabited by Igbo Christians from the south, killed at least 15 in July.

Brigadier General Ilyasu Abbah, a Nigerian army commander in Kano, told journalists Boko Haram fighters had fled by the time his troops arrived at a house in the village of Gunduwawa.

I like to this article because it show that jobs are disappearing not just here in the US, but also elsewhere.  The local "suicide vest factory" has been shut down.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The group is officially The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad, but it is better known by its local Hausa language name, Boko Haram, which means "Western education is sinful".

Locked Into Positions


For John, BLUFIs anyone in DC thinking?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Way back on 1 October the on-line presence Defense One asked "We Negotiate With Terrorists, Why Not With Congress?"  One hopes that behind the scenes negotiations are ongoing.  On the other hand, if one subscribes to the proposition that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi think that they are making votes hand over fist, there is no reason to negotiate.

On the other hand, NPR, yesterday, had an Associated Press poll which showed President Obama's approval rating at 37%.  The Daily Caller says that even "W", Hurricane KATRINA notwithstanding, was doing better at this point in his Administration than President Obama is in his.

The Washington Post, with some strange graphs, tells us that the size of the annual deficits is decreasing and that the Republican Party's signature issue, which won them the US House of Representatives in 2010, is going away.  This may well be so.

While one generally hates to go to the Jesuits for insight, at times like this it might be in order.  Over at the magazine America, what appears to be a blogger, Mr Robert David Sullivan, asks about the prospects of the Democrats to retake the House of Representatives in 2014.

The actions of the Republican House in shutting down the federal government and threatening to default on the national debt unless the Obama administration makes unprecedented concessions (like defunding Obamacare) have some pundits re-evaluating the Democrats’ chances next year.  In a Quinnipiac poll released last week, “voters pick a generic Democrat over a generic Republican candidate 43 - 34 percent, the widest Democratic margin measured so far.”  And Rep. Steve Israel, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent that “GOP shutdown shenanigans were giving Dems a big recruiting boost, by prompting reluctant Dem candidates to express renewed interest in running in very tough GOP-held districts.”

So far, I put more stock in the skeptics like Nate Cohn, who claims that the Democrats are “not on-track to make the most of the potentially competitive districts.”

One reason for my skepticism is the topic of yesterday’s post, which is the near-disappearance of the moderate and conservative wings of the Democratic Party (following the purging of liberals and moderates in the Republican Party).  In order to raise the odds of capturing enough seats to take back the House, the Democrats will need some conservative candidates capable of winning in districts that voted for Mitt Romney.  In some cases, the most electable Democrats would be anti-abortion and against same-sex marriage. Ideal candidates may include Republicans persuaded to switch parties—not because they’ve suddenly renounced conservative views, but because they disagree with Tea Party tactics on achieving conservative goals.

The first line of the next paragraph asks "But can such candidates survive Democratic primaries?"  There is a good question.  Some blame redistricting, something required every ten years, but I am not so sure.  How many "Republican" districts could one create in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, even with Gerrymandering?  If "Republicans" were a racial group, wouldn't there be a demand for Gerrymandering to give them a voice on Beacon Hill and a place in the Mass delegation to Capitol Hill?

Regards  —  Cliff

  I wonder what happened to the small fishing trawler logo they used to have?
  "Robert David Sullivan is a freelance writer and editor living in the Boston area.  A native of Malden, Mass., he earned a B.A. in political science from Boston University.  He has served as a copy-editor at the Boston Phoenix and the Boston Business Journal and as managing editor of CommonWealth magazine.  He is also a contributor to the A.V. Club website and has written for publications including the Boston Globe.  As a copy-editor and proofreader, his clients include the communications office of Boston College and Jesuits magazine."

Debt Ceiling Issues


For John, BLUFMarkets are taking notice, but not collapsing.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at the blog Quartz is a post headlined "The markets are starting to look like they seriously think the US might not pay its debt".  From the penultimate sentence:
...real damage has already been done to the US reputation as a borrower.
Markets anticipate the future, but don't necessarily determine it, nor predict it.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Gun Culture


For John, BLUFAll sorts of people want guns.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Even older folks.  I didn't realize she was 5'10".

Regards  —  Cliff

Waiting For Action in the House of Representatives


For John, BLUFThe Democrats could try to breach the Republican majority in the House but either can't or won't.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



There are 435 memebers of the US House of Representatives, 232 Republicans, 200 Democrats and 3 vacant seats.  This is not the US Senate, with its requirement for enough votes for cloture.  That would be 60 out of 100 votes.  Not so the House of Representatives.  What is needed is a simple majority.

As someone noted:

All it would take to bring the so-called clean CR up is for 219 members [of the House of Representatives] to sign a discharge petition.  If [Minority Leader, Democrat] Nancy Pelosi had the votes, she could get that petition signed.  However, if Republican members sign that petition, they would find themselves immediately isolated in their caucus and subject to being primaried.  That's a big step.  [Ms] Pelosi doesn't have the support she is claiming to have it appears.
So far the Republicans seem to be hanging tight.  The other way of viewing it is that there are Republicans who want to pass a "clean" Continuing Resolution, but Mz Pelosi likes things just the way they are and will not reach across the aisle.  Is that possible?

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Tempest Down in DC


For John, BLUFWhat can I say.  Apparently he has a lot of time on his hands, since he won't talk with Republicans.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



On to important issues.

The President of the United States has weighed in on the question of the name of the football team in our Nation's Capitol.  They are known as the "Redskins", or just the "Skins".  Known by fans far and wide by that name.  However, it is a name that upsets some, including the Oneida Indian Nation.

Under the Headline "Obama: ‘I’d think about changing’ Washington Redskins team name", The Washington Post gives us the story.  Here is the lede (and following paragraph):

President Obama became the latest, and most high-profile, figure to weigh in against the Washington Redskins’ name, saying he would consider changing it because it offends many Native Americans.

“If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team — even if it had a storied history — that was offending a sizeable group of people, I’d think about changing it,” Obama said in an interview with the Associated Press published Saturday.

The Wash Post then gives us an informal poll that says 60% of the respondents say keep the name and 40% say change it.

For those who love irony, the lawyer for the team, Mr Lanny J Davis, is quoted thusly:

“We at the Redskins respect everyone,” Lanny J. Davis, the attorney for the Redskins, said in a statement in response to Obama’s comments.  “But like devoted fans of the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Blackhawks (from President Obama’s home town), we love our team and its name and, like those fans, we do not intend to disparage or disrespect a racial or ethnic group.  The name ‘Washington Redskins’ is 81 years old — it’s our history and legacy and tradition.  We Redskins fans sing ‘Hail to the Redskins’ every Sunday as a word of honor, not disparagement.”
Incidentally, in the article from The Washington Post, the Reporter, David Nakamura, notes than in articles about the team the paper does not use the name Redskins.  Which makes one wonder if during Press Conferences the Team spokesperson says, "Yes, Paper X, is Catherine Graham still running your establishment?  And do you have a question about the Redskins?"

One of my Brothers says, in strong tones, that if this happens Syracuse should immediately stop being "The Orangemen", in deference to Irish Catholics, or maybe just Catholics in general.  I agree that "The Orangemen" is pretty offensive.  Maybe even more so than "White People".

So, in the back and forth amongst the three of us the question came up as to if a person on furlough is injured will he or she be able to use their health insurance.

That lead to a comment that there are man-on-the-street interviews where folks are against "Obama Care" but for the "Affordable Care Act".

As for the Skins, I say the owner, Dan Snyder, should remove "Redskins" (name and logo) from all equipment and promotional materials (some allowance for attrition), except for uniforms and helmets, which should all change out immediately.  End of action.

New name for the Skins?  Nothing, nada, zilch, zip, blank.  Sort of like le Mot de Cambronne, we could say it is the name for what politicians in Washington have done.  Nothing, nada, zilch, zip, blank.

On the other hand, one brother said that the idea should be to keep the name and change the logo.

The Red Skin Potato makes sense to me.

Problem solved.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The President does tend to favor the phrase "I'd think about" when wanting someone to change course.

Question From Jane


For John, BLUFI thought trust in Government was one of those things the Founding Fathers didn't believe in as they shaped the Constitution.  Not short term trust, but long term, deep trust.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



At the Althouse blog is this comment from Jane:
If the federal government has the power to shut down roadways and parks and your disability check, why would you give them power over your health care?
You can read the whole blog post by scrolling up at the link.

Regards  —  Cliff

Democrats in High Dudgeon


For John, BLUFWeren't the Democrats the ones calling for civility?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Writing to us from San Jose, Journalist Ed Driscoll, at Pajamas Media, talks to us about the Democrats, "Oh, That Punitive Liberalism".  Just as an aside, those are Progressives, not Liberals, but saying that makes me feel like I am trying to stick my finger in the dyke when there are major breaches to my left and right.

The best part is when he quotes Mr William A. Jacobson, who writes at his Legal Insurrection blog:

The mainstream left media also has become unhinged, like Andrew Sullivan’s rant that the Elephant must be taken down for good:
This time, the elephant must go down. And if possible, it must be so wounded it does not get up for a long time to come.
And then Mr Driscoll says:
Huh — I guess Andrew’s officially done calling himself a conservative.  Took a few years, but I’m glad we finally cleared that up.  And it’s doubly ironic to watch a British-born pundit who no doubt thinks of himself as the second coming of George Orwell employ shooting an elephant as a metaphor.
Here are some of the quotes from Mr Jacobson, via Mr Driscoll:
  1. “Unhinged” Arsonists (Wasserman-Schultz)
  2. Insane People Who “Have Lost their Minds” (Harry Reid)
  3. “People with a Bomb Strapped to their Chest” (aka Terrorists)(Dan Pfeiffer)
  4. Blatant Extortionists (Jay Carney)
  5. “Legislative Arsonists” (Nancy Pelosi)
Well, the quotes are probably Democrats in Pseudo High Dudgeon.

As for Senator Reid, he has always been a bit edgy, at least from the security of the Well of the Senate, for instance accusing folks of cheating on their income taxes.

Lets face it, the Republicans associated with the Tea Parties are acting like a bunch of Bolsheviks in the Summer of 1917 and the Democrats are afraid they will be swept aside like Prime Minister Alexander Kerensky and the Provisional Government.

From one of my textbooks from this semester's class, Modern Revolutions:

It may well be that the Bolsheviks' greatest strength in 1917 was not strict party organization and discipline (which scarcely existed at this time) but rather the party's stance of intransigent radicalism on the extreme left of the political spectrum.
. . .
Among the socialist parties, only the Bolsheviks had overcome Marxist scruples, caught the mood of the crowd, and declared their willingness to seize power in the name of the proletarian revolution.   
Ironic, isn't it.

Regards  —  Cliff

  My computer dictionary says "workers or working-class people, regarded collectively," derived from the word for "the lowest class of citizens in ancient Rome."
  Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, p 42.

Going Ashore at the Tidal Basin


For John, BLUFThings to see by walking around shouldn't be closed due to the furlough.  Let the public assume some risk, like they were from pioneering stock.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From Chris Muir and the on-line cartoon Day by Day we have this offering about one small aspect of the impasse in DC.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, October 4, 2013

Vo Nguyen Giap (RIP)


For John, BLUFOne of our enemies from long ago moves on.



Jack Mitchell texted me that Viet-namese General Vo Nguyen Giap has passed away.

And, someone sent me the following:

From Sen. Mccain's Twitter account:

John McCain @SenJohnMcCain 22s
Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap has passed away - brilliant military strategist who once told me that we were an "honorable enemy" #Vietnam

Those of us who remember back to the Viet-nam War tend to think of General Giap as the military leader of the other side.  He was also the military leader when the Viet-namese ousted the French in 1954.  He was the commander who defeated the French at Điện Biên Phủ.

On the other hand, during the years of war all was not easy sledding up in Hanoi, as this blog post from Reporter Tom Ricks (The Best Defense) points out.

The Tweet from Senator McCain shows that for many in the Service of their Nation it is important to be seen as "honorable".

Hat tip to Blogger Jack Mitchell.

Regards  —  Cliff

What Are We Doing In Syria?


For John, BLUFSyria is a mess.  Are we doing anything to make it better?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Writing in Commentary Magazine, Journalist and Historian Max Boot, questions our commitment to the Syrian Rebels, under the title "Mission Impractical".
The Washington Post today provides fresh details about the anemic CIA program to train moderate Syrian rebels.  Reporter Greg Miller writes that “the CIA program is so minuscule that it is expected to produce only a few hundred trained fighters each month even after it is enlarged, a level that officials said will do little to bolster rebel forces that are being eclipsed by radical Islamists in the fight against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”
Why is this?  Max Boot attributes it to the White House.  He quotes The Washington Post as saying:
The CIA’s mission, officials said, has been defined by the White House’s desire to seek a political settlement, a scenario that relies on an eventual stalemate among the warring factions rather than a clear victor.  As a result, officials said, limits on the agency’s authorities enable it to provide enough support to help ensure that politically moderate, U.S.-supported militias don’t lose but not enough for them to win.
Not a very "George Patton" like objective.
This is not a win for the United States.  It’s actually our nightmare scenario.  And President Obama’s half-hearted policy of not really supporting the moderate rebels–or only supporting them enough to perpetuate the stalemate–is helping to bring it about.  Incidentally, American apathy is also enabling the war to rage on and to kill thousands more people every month.  This is neither moral nor strategically smart.
The underlining is mine.

So much for "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P).  Now it is Responsibility to Frustrate Everyone.  The idea that there are to be no winners seems pretty pernicious.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, October 3, 2013

History Lessons


For John, BLUFNot everyone who cites history knows that history.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



On October 2, Dylan Matthews published a piece in The Washington Post titled "The Shutdown is the Constitution’s Fault.".  I have been meaning to read it, but as my absence on Wednesday shows, I have been busy.  One of my sons, on furlough from Uncle Sam, even offered to draft up a couple of posts for me.

At any rate, when retired CRS Analyst Robert Goldich takes you to the history woodshed, you know you need to brush up a little.  Bob does just that on the blog War on the Rocks, with "Get Your History Right on America's Political System".  Incidentally, I think our system is working just as it was designed.

He argues that shutdown is indicative of a degree of political polarization that could lead to the rise of authoritarian government in the United States, and that a central reason for this is the separation-of-powers system of government we have, rather than a parliamentary system.   In a parliamentary system, there is a unity of executive and legislative branches and often only one legislative body rather than two, or only one truly decisive one.   There are a host of theoretical arguments in favor of both systems.   The problem with Matthews is that the historical examples he cites in support of his contention are nothing less than preposterous.
After looking at some historical errors, Mr Goldich ends:
If Matthews wants to be an Aristotle and write about the vices and virtues of different systems of government, fine.   But if he’s going to cite historical examples in support of a thesis, he should know his history better, and have a better understanding of the forces which affect a country’s political development.
Regards  —  Cliff

  Robert L. Goldich retired from a 33-year career in the Congressional Research Service in 2005.  He was the senior CRS military manpower analyst when he left.  Bob is currently writing a book on conscription in history, from the first human civilizations to the present.