Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bring Back the Draft?

For John, BLUFBringing back the Draft is a bad idea.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Washington Post columnist Dana Millbank is advocating the restoration of the draft (military conscription).  Here is the story.  I skipped the lede and went straight to the next three paragraphs.
As I make my rounds each day in the capital, chronicling our leaders’ plentiful foibles, failings, screw-ups, inanities, outrages and overall dysfunction, I’m often asked if there’s anything that could clean up the mess.

My usual answer is a shrug and an admission that there’s no silver bullet.  There are many possibilities — campaign spending limits, term limits, nonpartisan primaries, nonpartisan redistricting, a third party — but most aren’t politically or legally feasible, might not make much of a difference or, as with Harry Reid’s rewriting of Senate rules, have the potential to make things even worse.

But one change, over time, could reverse the problems that have built up over the past few decades:  We should mandate military service for all Americans, men and women alike, when they turn 18.  The idea is radical, unlikely and impractical — but it just might work.

I wasn't impressed with the argument.  And that isn't counting the economic costs and the risk sharing.  For most of our history we have not had a draft and yet the last caning of a US Senator, on the Senate Floor, was over 150 years ago.

Then Mr Bob Goldich, retired from the Congressional Research Service, where he was an expert on military manpower, wrote the following response at the Web Magazine War on the Rocks:

In 33 years on the Hill, I never noticed any appreciable relationship between military service and understanding of national defense matters among Members of Congress.  Dirty little secret: for most draftees, their military service went in one ear and out the other.  They didn’t like it (historically most men have never liked military service), although they usually felt it was a necessary duty and were proud of it, and because they didn’t like it they had no particular desire to relive it or think about it much.  For instance, only one-quarter of World War II veterans ever joined a veterans organization like the American Legion, VFW, Jewish War Veterans, and so on, and most of them didn’t stay active in the organization for a long time. Furthermore, when they do look back to their service, it has usually been between 20 and 50 years or more earlier, which can be highly misleading when dealing with current defense policies and issues.  When Milbank states that having more Members with military service would change much of anything about politics and governance, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Then there is this comment:
How do you get around the problem that if more politicians with military experience = a more perfect union, the Nation's only Civil War was fought by men who had served together in the Mexican-American War and (in some cases) were West Point classmates?
That may be a bit overdrawn, but read The Killer Angels.

Regards  —  Cliff

New Obama NSS

For John, BLUFIt will be interesting to see where President Obama thinks he is going.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

As we pass from Thanksgiving toward Christmas we are told by The Washington Post that the Obama Administration is looking to issue an updated National Security Strategy (NSS) early in the new year.  The article can be found here.

President Obama will formally present a new national security strategy early next year, identifying his foreign policy priorities for the remainder of his time in office, the White House said Friday.

The new policy document will be the second of Obama's administration and will likely update the previous one, released in May 2010, in several important areas.  Those include policies for fighting the next phase of the war against al-Qaeda, the shift of national security resources to Asia and a plan to manage declining defense budgets amid fiscal strain.

The administration will present another strategy paper on how it intends to achieve the policy ambitions to be outlined in the new national security doctrine sometime in the spring, Obama told Congress in a letter made public Friday.

The 2010 version of the National Security Strategy can be found here.

The reason for a published national security strategy is so that we, the Citizens, know which direction our Federal Government is trying to lead us.  Having a strategy is a much better way to guide budget development that just the normal pork barrel log rolling Congress normally engages in.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, November 25, 2013

You Can't Use My Standpoint

For John, BLUFHigher education is a strange universe, but fun if you approach it with the intention of not taking everyone and everything too seriously.  And you are willing to disagree without being disagreeable.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the blog of Law Professor Ann Althouse we have this headline, "At UCLA:  Protesting microaggression, micro aggressively."
One of various charges against [Professor] Rust was that he overdid the marking up of their papers with spelling and grammar corrections. There were other offenses as well, such as failing to intervene in a classroom dialogue between 2 students in which a black male was telling a white female that she's not entitled to use "Standpoint Theory," because she's not a member of an oppressed group.
Bear in mind that this was a graduate level course.

The thing that struck me was that one person is denying another the right to use an academic theory, in this case Standpoint Theory.  My quick read of the Wikipedia article is that this is another post-modernist way to deny the existence of ground truth.

Then there are the comments.

Oh well, at least they are off the streets and not out mugging folks.

Regards  —  Cliff

  By the way, the student picking on the female student needs to go back and read up on who writes about "Standpoint Theory".  Hint.  Males not so much.  But, if you don't take the discussion too seriously, it is interesting and a little humorous.  Maybe he is correct; it needs to be ripped from the hands of feminists and given to more deserving groups.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Kennedy Assassination

For John, BLUFMr Oswald did it.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

It was a tragedy.  We have no way of knowing how things would have turned out by 1968 if President John F Kennedy had lived.  We hope better than they did.  In fact, we have no way of knowing how things would have turned out by 1976 if Richard Nixon had won in 1960.

Mr Lee Harvey Oswald did it.  It appears it was his second go at assassination.  The first being an attempt on the life of retired Army Major General Edwin Walker.

What we do know is that people have focused on all sorts of alternative answers.  Some see a conspiracy.  Some even blame Dallas itself, as this post, "Remarkable Take on JFK’s Assassination", by Mr David Bernstein, addresses.  The place for this post is, appropriately, The Volokh Conspiracy.

May the President Rest in Peace.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Things Change

For John, BLUFSometimes a blog post is both short and to the point.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From blogger and law professor Ann Althouse:
November 20, 2013

Whatever happened to the "Republicans are committing suicide" meme?

It was all the rage back in September.

There was also "The death of the Republican Party."

The number one lesson learned is "don't get cocky".  It is politics and, as Lord Clifford tells us, even the worm turns.

Seen another way, the political half-life of an event is 90 days.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bike Lanes

For John, BLUFWe are not the only ones with confusing ideas about bikes and bike lanes.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

It's sexist, ageist, ableist, and ridiculous.
She left out racist.

What is?

This is blogger and Law Professor Ann Althouse's take on the City of Madison (Wisconsin) for considering a plan to pay folks who bike to work.

And now, here are these Madison liberals planning to give cold cash money to the white males.
The Sustainable Madison Committee will begin a discussion Monday on the potential for reimbursing city employees for giving up their parking spots in favor of biking, walking or taking a bus to work.
It might be helpful for us to keep in mind that much as we owe the Dutch for who we are as a nation, this is not Holland.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, November 18, 2013

Gettysburg Address

For John, BLUFThe Gettysburg Address builds on a tradition over 2,000 years old.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Tomorrow is the 150th Anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.  The National Park Service will be helping to celebrate that Anniverary with a reenactment of the speech:
This year's Dedication Day ceremony on November 19 will observe the 150th Anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.  The ceremony takes place at 10 a.m. in the Soldiers' National Cemetery and is sponsored by Gettysburg National Military Park, the Gettysburg Foundation, the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania and Gettysburg College.
You can see more here.

The ceremony, with the actual reenactment of the speech, by Mr James Getty, can be seen HERE, starting at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, 19 November.

The speech isn't very long, as we can see below:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

The summary at Wikipedia can be found here.  In there is a discussion of the role of Pericles' Funeral Oration, as it comes down to us via Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War.  Yes, that Pericles.  The one caught having a beer with our Mayor at a local watering hole, but who is usually hiding out at City Hall, in the Mayor's Reception Room.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, November 15, 2013

Extending Your Health Insurance

For John, BLUFThis is mostly just theater.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Blogger Ann Althouse is now using the expression IYLYPYCKYP. That pretty well sums it up.  She quotes Mr Evan McMorris-Santoro, at BuzzFeed as saying the change "doesn’t change anything other than force insurers to be the political flack jackets for the administration."

Today's headline in The Boston Globe (print edition) is

Obama yields on below-par insurance
Below-par insurance?  Yes, that is the point.  Like Mayor Bloomberg in New York City, the Administration (and Senator Reid and Minority Leader Pelosi) think you are too dumb to properly pick your own health insurance.  At least that is what the Headline Writers of The Globe are saying, and by extension, the Editorial Staff of the paper.  And, the key is in the subparagraph of the Globe article:
Lets policies continue for a year, accepts blame for consumer uproar
Not the second part, the first part.

If you like your health plan you can keep it for another year.  Now stop having a tempter tantrum while the adults take care of things.

This is mostly theater and we have not seen the final act.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Yes, in a separate post she castigates BuzzFeed for misspelling "flak".

The Cost of Homelessness

For John, BLUFWe aren't going the right way re homelessness.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Boston Globe Opinion Writer Ms Joan Vennochi hit some homeless issues on Thursday (14 November).  She captures it with this comment about the plight of the homeless, our fellow residents who are, mostly, down on their luck or suffering from physical or mental illness.
Their plight may or may not tug at your heartstrings.  But the economics of these emergency solutions most definitely yank at your purse strings.
We are talking "some $200 million for shelter subsidies and short-term housing assistance…".  That includes hotel and motel rooms for homeless families. Unfortunately, long term housing, which used to get $120 million a year, is now down to $57.5 million.  So, we are eschewing long term solutions for expensive short term solutions.  Think of it this way.  A family in a motel is $100 a night or $3,000 a month.  That same family in a home might be only $800 or $900 a month.  Call it a grand and it is still one-third the cost of going the hotel route.  Taxpayer money.  For those of you thinking that the taxpayers in Connecticut and New York are paying for this, remember, we are a net exporter of Federal tax dollars.

Check out the whole OpEd.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Talking Kids Out Of Poverty

For John, BLUFLittle kids need a lot of nurturing.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The New York Times we have a Sunday OpEd by Mr Nicholas D Kristof, regarding Pre-School.  Frankly, given the research data, I am always dubious about Pre-School, but the approach in Oklahoma, being touted by Mr Kristof has some additional parts which I think warrant attention.  The piece starts with a mischaracterization of what is a Liberal and a putdown of the Republican fly-over states, but then it gets down to business.
Every 4-year-old in Oklahoma gets free access to a year of high-quality prekindergarten. Even younger children from disadvantaged homes often get access to full-day, year-round nursery school, and some families get home visits to coach parents on reading and talking more to their children.
Later the article notes:
Research suggests that high-poverty parents, some of them stressed-out kids themselves, don’t always “attach” to their children or read or speak to them frequently.  One well-known study found that a child of professionals hears 30 million more words by the age of 4 than a child on welfare.

So the idea is that even the poorest child in Oklahoma should have access to the kind of nurturing that is routine in middle-class homes.  That way, impoverished children don’t begin elementary school far behind the starting line — and then give up.

Thirty million more words.  That is a lot of words.

What I like about the Oklahoma program is that the school is coaching (repeat, coaching) the caregiver (in the article a step great-grandmother) about all those things "middle class parents" do to nurture their young children and prepare them for school.

This is the kind of effort former City Councillor Franky Descoteaux has been pushing under the title "Promise Neighborhoods".

We have to break the "cycle of poverty" and this kind of coaching of young parents seems to be an important step in the proper direction.

Maybe I should have run for School Committee.  No, on reflection, I have a job, License Commission, and we have the right folks on the School Committee to move in this direction.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I'm a Liberal, just like Maggie Thatcher.  The Democrats on Beacon Hill are, by and large, Progressives.

Regarding Health Care We Need New Thinking

For John, BLUFWith PP&ACA we have the cart before the horse.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Someone has comment about the PP&ACA in the following, edited, manner:
From the micro level I can assure you that my clients are fearful and mistrustful of a government they consider to be out to screw them six ways from Sunday.  A few have simply shut down their businesses.  Most have retrenched and moved some employees to part time to avoid temporarily ACA's most draconian provisions.

The bill is about population control not health care.  The simple logical fallacy that you can improve national health care by and make it cheaper by forcing more people on fewer physicians and compensating those physicians less for the extra work would be laughable if it was not destroying the best healthcare in the world.

Even my least astute clients have figured that out.

If our politicians lack the logical skills to work out the same problem, we certainly need a new crop.

I think this writer has hit on a key point.  We are increasing the number of people who will seek routine medical care from a physician vice an Emergency Room.  There may be cost savings in that, but given the fact that we already face a shortage of key medical providers, physicians, physicians assistants and nurse practitioners, it is dubious.  What in the PP&ACA will force such medical providers toward the northern tier great plains states or northern Maine, or into inner cities?

Since opponents of "ObamaCare" are often accused of having no plan of their own, here is mine.

I believe we have put the cart before the horse.  The problem is a shortage of medical personnel and a way to fund them in areas of low density.  My guess is that we are short some 80,000 Physicians, Physicians Assistants and Nurse Practitioners.  We need them in the upper great plains, upper Maine and inner cities.  I suggest we fund them through the Public Health Service, one of the seven uniformed services.  Not that I wish to see the Federal Government funding healthcare, but that I see this as a problem needing a solution and Federal Money (extracted from all of us) is a way of beginning to put in place the proper economic incentives.  And, the Public Health Service being a uniformed service they can be assigned where needed.

The current bill seems to be leading us in the wrong direction.  Health care is, as some point out, one sixth of the US economy.  On the other hand, today about 18% of our GDP goes to the central government.  Some economists think that number is close to the tipping point where economic freedom starts to go away, with very unfortunate consequences for all of us, not just in terms of medical care, but in terms of the overall economy.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Portal

For John, BLUFYes, these things can be made to work.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Someone forwarded the following to me:
According to statistics from the FBI, there were 1,687,599 firearms background checks processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) during the month of October.  Compare this to the 106,185 individuals who are rumored to have enrolled through O'Care's federal exchange.
For one thing, the 106K number has to include State operated portals as well as the Federal version.  Here is the quote from The Washington Post, linked to by blogger Ann Althouse:
Slightly more than 106,000 Americans signed up for health plans in the first month of new state and federal insurance marketplaces, the Obama administration reported Wednesday.  The figure, which was far lower than the administration predicted, points to the steep challenge ahead as the White House tries to overcome public and congressional frustration with the program’s problem-plagued rollout.

The tally showed that just a quarter of the enrollments were in the federally run marketplace, while the rest were in the state exchanges.

Notice how the newspaper skips the actual numbers.  Skimming, I missed it the first time.  Law Professor Althouse gives us the numbers.
Only 26,794 have been able to sign up through the federal health insurance exchange in its first month.  These come from the 36 states that are not running their own exchanges.  There are also 79,391 who have signed up using the 15 exchanges set up by the remaining states and the District of Columbia.
But, back to the NICS System.  Who did their software?  Should we take the PP and ACA away from the IRS, the Canadians and the Navigators and just give it to the cops.  It may look more fascist, but in fact might be less communist (in this situation there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the two characterizations of excessive state control).

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  In doing this post I wondered if I needed a Tag for incompetence, but then I realized I had one.  (A little over the top humor there.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Faking It

For John, BLUFWho can you trust anymore?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This is hard to believe.  "Men Faking Orgasms Is Much More Common Than You Might Think, Poll Finds".  But, it is the Huffington Post.  If you can't believe the Huff Post, who can you believe.

And, if true, these statistics suggest the sexual revolution was a bust and we have just been faking it for the last half century.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, November 11, 2013

General Wainwright's Letter to Discharging Service Members

For John, BLUFCitizenship is active, not passive.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Yes, this is a shameless direct lift from Small Wars Journal:

Below is a letter that General Jonathan Wainwright sent to Soldiers discharged from the military, following their service in World War II. As our military downsizes and many choose to leave the service, I think this letter reminds us of the charge to continue to reflect the values of our individual services and be examples within our communities.


Fort Sam Huston, Texas

To: All Personnel being Discharged from the Army of the United States.

You are being discharged from the Army today- from your Army. It is your Army because your skill, patriotism, labor, courage and devotion have been some of the factors which make it great. You have been a member of the finest military team in history. You have accomplished miracles in battle and supply. Your country is proud of you and you have every right to be proud of yourselves.

You have seen, in the lands where you worked and fought and where many of your comrades died, what happens when the people of a nation lose interest in their government. You have seen what happens when they follow false leaders. You have seen what happens when a nation accepts hate and intolerance.

We are all determined that what happened in Europe and in Asia must not happen to our country. Back in civilian life you will find that your generation will be called upon to guide our country’s destiny. Opportunity for leadership is yours. The responsibility is yours. The nation which depended on your courage and stamina to protect it from its enemies now expects you as individuals to claim your right to leadership, a right you earned honorably and which is well deserved.

Start being a leader as soon as you put on your civilian clothes. If you see intolerance and hate, speak out against them. Make your individual voices heard, not for selfish things, but for honor and decency among men, for the rights of all people.

Remember too, that No American can afford to be disinterested in any part of his government, whether it is county, city, state or nation.

Choose your leaders wisely- that is the way to keep ours the country for which you fought. Make sure that those leaders are determined to maintain peace throughout the world. You know what war is. You know that we must not have another. As individuals you can prevent it if you give to the task which lies ahead the same spirit which you displayed in uniform.

Accept and trust the challenge which it carries. I know that the people of American are counting on you. I know that you will not let them down.

Goodbye to each an every one of you and to each and every one of you, good luck!

                                                                                 J.M. WAINWRIGHT

                                                                                  General, U.S. Army

Note that in the original, "No" is underlined by hand.

Regards  —  Cliff

Poets on Patriotism

For John, BLUFEven Poets served in WWI, including Sergeant Joyce Kilmer (Trees).  Nothing to see here; just move along.

For reasons now unclear to me, I was chosen to recite this poem before my fellow high school students in Assembly.  All 2400 of them.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

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

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

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

While Lt-Col McCrae was a medical doctor, he was an artillery man at heart.

Then there was the cynic who wrote:

And if we win,
And crush the Huns
In twenty years
We must fight their sons.
That was Mr Joseph Leftwich, who wrote it during the war, in anticipation of WWII.  The whole thing can be found here.

Since both these poems come from World War I, a much maligned war, here is a small corrective.  An article from The Telegraph, a London paper.

Regards  —  Cliff

Veterans and Honoring Same

For John, BLUFIt isn't just the trigger pullers who help win the wars.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Happy Veterans Day

I say happy because our Veterans have kept our form of Democracy secure from those who would change it.  I say happy because many of us returned from war to live productive lives and those who did not are being remembered and honored today, and not just by relatives and friends.  I say happy because those who returned and are suffering have people out there trying to help, no matter how inadequately.

Then, to put things on a down note, there is this headline from The Washington Post"In Afghanistan, interpreters who helped U.S. in war denied visas; U.S. says they face no threat".

Yes, that would be your US State Department.  This isn't a political issue, it is a bureaucratic issue.  For the Department of State to assess that these folks are safe in Afghanistan is an example of invincible ignorance.

Here is a story attributed to Mr Chris Taylor, former CEO of Mission Essential, who employed nearly 6,000 Afghan interpreters…

YES, these guys are at risk!  On Thanksgiving Day in 2009 I had one of my interpreters, whom I gave an award to only the previous day, pulled off a bus by the Taliban and slaughtered in front of other passengers as a message not to work for the Americans.
During Mr Taylor's time with Mission Essential the statistics were nine interpreters killed, 435 combat wounded and 13 kidnapped or missing, including six kidnapped from a wedding.  They too served.

Thanks to WashPost Reporter Kevin Sieff for bringing this to our attention.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Up To 1,500 Died

For John, BLUFTo save the majority, you have to protect the minorities.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From ABC News is this report on the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht, across Germany.  The Wikipedia report on Kristallnacht is here.  From Wikipedia:
The pretext for the attacks was the assassination of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by Herschel Grynszpan, a German-born Polish Jew resident in Paris.  Kristallnacht was followed by additional economic and political persecution of Jews, and is viewed by historians as part of Nazi Germany's broader racial policy, and the beginning of the Final Solution and The Holocaust.
Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

All Veterans, All People, From The President




On Veterans Day, America pauses to honor every service member who has ever worn one of our Nation's uniforms. Each time our country has come under attack, they have risen in her defense. Each time our freedoms have come under assault, they have responded with resolve. Through the generations, their courage and sacrifice have allowed our Republic to flourish. And today, a Nation acknowledges its profound debt of gratitude to the patriots who have kept it whole.

As we pay tribute to our veterans, we are mindful that no ceremony or parade can fully repay that debt. We remember that our obligations endure long after the battle ends, and we make it our mission to give them the respect and care they have earned. When America's veterans return home, they continue to serve our country in new ways, bringing tremendous skills to their communities and to the workforce -- leadership honed while guiding platoons through unbelievable danger, the talent to master cutting-edge technologies, the ability to adapt to unpredictable situations. These men and women should have the chance to power our economic engine, both because their talents demand it and because no one who fights for our country should ever have to fight for a job.

This year, in marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, we resolved that in the United States of America, no war should be forgotten, and no veteran should be overlooked. Let us always remember our wounded, our missing, our fallen, and their families. And as we continue our responsible drawdown from the war in Afghanistan, let us welcome our returning heroes with the support and opportunities they deserve.

Under the most demanding of circumstances and in the most dangerous corners of the earth, America's veterans have served with distinction. With courage, self-sacrifice, and devotion to our Nation and to one another, they represent the American character at its best. On Veterans Day and every day, we celebrate their immeasurable contributions, draw inspiration from their example, and renew our commitment to showing them the fullest support of a grateful Nation.

With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our service members have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor our Nation's veterans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2013, as Veterans Day. I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and private prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.


The Sunset of Interns

For John, BLUFDid you expect any other outcome?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

So, here is the headline:
In Unintended, But Totally Expected, Consequences:  Condé Nast Eliminates Internship Program
It turns out that Condé Nast hires used to hire "interns".  In my mind interns are underpaid or unpaid people who are hired on to learn the ropes of some job and in the process, contribute to the organization where they are interning.  The US Air Force has a program like that, called Education with Industry, or EWI.  Neophytes are sent out to various industries to learn something about the acquisition business.  No cost to the host company, which gets cheap labor.

So, here is the story, as told by Reporter Jess Remington at Reason, on 5 November of this year.  It is about...

...two former interns, [Ms] Lauren Ballinger and [Mr] Matthew Leib; in June, the interns sued Condé Nast for months of backpay, alleging that the publisher violated federal and state labor laws.
Did the two interns not understand the game?  Did they not understand that they would kill the deal for thousands of others coming after them?  Was this outcome totally beyond reason?

Regards  —  Cliff

  I did EWI with Honeywell Corporation, just north of St Petersburg, Florida.  My follow-on assignment was Research and Development Contracting at Eglin Air Force Base, outside Fort Walton Beach, Florida.  I escaped the pay-back tour early by volunteering to go back to the War in Southeast Asia.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cranky Progressives

For John, BLUFMany don't understand our political system.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The New Yorker Columnist George Packer has a blog post like comment on the recent elections in which he misses a lot of good points, but catches his talking points.  "Our Democracy's Unnecessary Stupidites".

The author does state that "[t]he filibuster is an unnecessary stupidity." . Then, at the other end of the paragraph he says "[r]ampant abuse has exposed the filibuster as an anti-democratic tool of the defeated minority to thwart the will of the elected majority." But, he goes on to explain it, but without understanding it:

Without bloodlines or ancient traditions to hold the country together, we have only our founding rules, which take on the infallible aura of holy writ, despite immense confusion about what they actually contain. Certain things can be added, with great difficulty—we have twenty-seven constitutional amendments—but it’s almost impossible to subtract anything.
The genius of the system is that it protects the minorities by preventing the majority from imposing its will in a capacious manner.  Just look around the world and see how minorities fare.  Look at the Kachin in Burma (Myanmar).

Regards  —  Cliff

What Does Someone Deserve?

For John, BLUFWhat drives salaries?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Yesterday I received the following in an EMail:
In today’s USA Today, the salaries of most level one football coaches are listed:

Army head coach--$401,500

Air Force head coach--$882,000

Navy head coach-- $1,514,240

My question—Is it 3x harder to coach Midshipmen than Cadets ???  Thus the difference in pay?

Just curious.

Regards  —  Cliff

  "Midshipmen" are from the Naval Academy (Annapolis) and "Cadets" from the US Military Academy (West Point).

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wrong on Nation of Change

For John, BLUFNot everything on the show following yours is correct.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I was listening to News Reader Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, where she is interviewing Film Producer Oliver Stone.  Mr Stone, talking about President Kennedy, says that it was only after he was inaugurated as President and had had his Secretary of Defense confirmed and sworn in that he found out that the "missile gap" he had run on was a myth.

The truth is that President Eisenhower offered to brief Candidate Kennedy on the truth early on and finally in July 1960, during the election, CIA Director Allen Dulles did brief Senator Kennedy and Senator Johnson, before the election.

Regards  —  Cliff

Guido Fawkes

For John, BLUFImprovised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are not new.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This is the Anniversary of the arrest, 408 years ago, of Guy Fawkes, thus ending the Gunpowder PlotMr Fawkes, whose visage, "the Guy Fawkes Mask", is the model for some protest groups, installed some 36 barrels of gunpowder in the basement of the House of Lords in Westminster Palace.  The plan was to get not just the House of Lords, but also King James I (James IV of Scotland) and the Members of the House of Commons.  This event gave rise to the political motto:
Vote Guy Fawkes — The Only Man Ever To Enter Parliament With Honest Intentions
There is even a political blog with the visage of Guido Fawkes, Order, Order.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, November 4, 2013

LA Times Questions The Administration

For John, BLUFI am seeing some crumbling around the edges here.  Nothing for you to see here; just move along.

This morning, from the Blog of Law Professor Ann Althouse, we have:
"Obama unable to govern like he campaigns"... a painfully funny front-page teaser at the L.A. Times...

... takes us to a more-painful-because-they're-serious headline:  "Why can't Obama run the government as smoothly as his campaign?"  Subhead:  "The president increasingly seems to be battling top-level management failures as much as policy or political problems, observers say."

This isn't the Union Leader, out of Manchester.  This is the LA Times, way out there in LaLa Land.

I am looking for my California Brother to explain this to me.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Preaching Revival Here

For John, BLUFA little revival is a good thing.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

For Sunday morning a little talk of revival.  I didn't know it, but even so this last week the Archdiocese of Boston was experiencing a little revival, in this case from 25 to 27 October the 18th annual Boston Black Catholic Revival.  Eighteen years.  Impressive.  Maybe Lowell could conduct an annual revival.

At any rate, this event was reported on by Mr Christopher S Pineo and published in The Boston Pilot on Friday.  The article focused on Father Maurice J. Nutt, CSsR, who came up from New Orleans to preach.  The heart of his message seemed to be the need for a New Pentecost:

"We are desperately in need of a new infusion, a new invasion of the Holy Spirit," he said.

He said Church efforts to combat evil in the world need a revival themselves, which can only come from Jesus Christ into the people through the Holy Spirit.

"We need a new Pentecost in our Church.  That is what your popes have been trying to tell you, when they say new evangelization," Father Nutt said.

Father Nutt said, through the revival, each person there had been hooked up with a bolstering of faith to go forth and live the Gospel.

"Whatever you have got going on in your life, you have got to make sure, make up your mind, that God is all up and over your life," he said.

Well, it is always time to call for a new Pentecost in the Church, a new infilling of the Holy Spirit in the members of the body of faith.  Amen.

Regards  —  Cliff

Feeding the Poor

For John, BLUFYou can't outsource your duty to God.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the blog International Liberty we have this post, Libertarian Jesus.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Anniversary of Death of President Ngô Đình Diệm

For John, BLUFOur Government does some bad things in our name, usually to avoid doing bad things.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Republic of Viet-Nam President Ngô Đình Diệm. From that point the war in Viet-nam got worse and then it turned around a bit and then we went home and the Republic of Viet-Nam fell to a conventional attack from the North.

Some try to link the death of President Diệm to the assassination of President Kennedy, several days later, in some karmic way.  I think that is wrong-headed thinking.  They are separate events, each with their own causes.

However, when we think about the coup and the consequences, including President Diệm's death, we should consider State Department Cable 243.  Here is the intro from Wikipedia (there are links in the original):

DEPTEL 243, also known as Telegram 243, the August 24 cable or most commonly Cable 243, was a high-profile message sent on August 24, 1963 by the United States Department of State to Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., the US ambassador to South Vietnam.  The cable came in the wake of the midnight raids on August 21 by the Catholic regime of Ngo Dinh Diem against Buddhist pagodas across the country, in which hundreds were believed to have been killed.  The raids were orchestrated by Diem's brother Ngo Dinh Nhu and precipitated a change in US policy.  The cable declared that Washington would no longer tolerate Nhu remaining in a position of power and ordered Lodge to pressure Diem to remove his brother.  It said that if Diem refused, the Americans would explore the possibility for alternative leadership in South Vietnam.  In effect, the cable authorized Lodge to give the green light to Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) officers to launch a coup against Diem if he did not willingly remove Nhu from power.  The cable marked a turning point in US-Diem relations and was described in the Pentagon Papers as "controversial".  Historian John W. Newman described it as "the single most controversial cable of the Vietnam War".

The cable also highlighted an internal split in the Kennedy administration, with anti-Diem officials in the State Department prevailing over generals and Department of Defense officials who remained optimistic that the Vietnam War was proceeding well under Diem.  This was underlined by the manner in which the cable was prepared before being transmitted to Lodge.

Foreign policy is complicated and there are lots of moral hazards out there.

Regards  —  Cliff

  It is in conformance with Mao's three phase view of revolutionary warfare.

Sometimes Amateurs Beat Experts

For John, BLUFQuestion conventional wisdom.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Wall Street Journal is an essay by Mr Gregory Zuckerman.  It is NOT behind the paywall.
The Outsiders Who Saw Our Economic Future

In both America's energy transformation and the financial crisis, it took a group of amateurs to see what was coming

An interesting discourse on why markets and the freedom to take another path are good for the economy.  The problem with markets is that some win and some lose.  The moral question is, do the costs outweigh the gains?  I would argue that even the losers in a free market system benefit, if only indirectly

On the other hand, a mercantile system benefits the rich few and consigns the rest of the population to loser status.  There is neither freedom nor equality, and thus there is not fraternity.

As Damon Runyon told us, "The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet."  Same with experts.

NOTE for Gerry:.

LAX Shooter

For John, BLUFReporters are sometimes sloppy thinkers.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the web site Mediaite we have a report by Mr Noah Rothman:
NBC News reporter Pete Williams identified the suspect in Friday’s LAX shooting as 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia who, according to authorities, had literature on him that suggests “strong anti-government views.”  Williams noted, however, that NBC News could not confirm that Ciancia was in any federal or state database or that he had been listed as a potential violent anti-government threat.

Williams reported that Ciancia was born in 1990 and is an American citizen.  The motive for why he shot multiple people at the Los Angeles airport, killing one, remains unconfirmed.

“We’re told, that he had strong anti-government views,” Williams reported.  “That’s based on some written material that we’re told he was carrying, that they found on him after he was shot by L.A. airport police.”

Williams noted that the shooter may have had some connection with the Transportation Safety Administration and had targeted TSA agents as his victims.

“So, it would seem to be a combination of anti-government views and some kind of grudge against the TSA,” Williams said of the shooter’s motivation.

My sense had been that the shooter at LAX, Mr Paul Ciancia, was emotionally disturbed and talking suicide.

Are we to gather from Reporter Pete Williams that there is a link between anti-government views and mental illness?  And which way does it go?  Are the mentally ill inherently anti-government?  Or are those who are anti-government inherently mentally ill?

Regards  —  Cliff

  This second version conforms closely to this Soviet practice of placing people in mental hospitals for "philosophical intoxication" and for religious belief.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Absentee Voting!

For John, BLUFPlease Vote.

LOWELL, MA  (November 1, 2013)  Need to vote absentee?  The City of Lowell Election Office will be open tomorrow, Saturday, November 2, 2013 between the hours of 10 A.M. and 3 P.M. for absentee voting.

Regards  —  Cliff