Friday, January 31, 2014

Mr Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Eligible for the Death Penalty.

For John, BLUFThe death penalty just wastes taxpayer money.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Every time I think Attorney General Eric Holder can't disappoint me any more than he has already, he tries again and succeeds.

While virgil xenophon, commenting at the Althouse Blog (9:18 AM today) has a point about Mr Dzhokhar Tsarnaev possibly being pardoned by some future President, I really don't wish to see taxpayer money wasted on the appeals involved in a death penalty.

And, I don't wish to let him bask in some supposed martyr complex on death row.  Just let him sit in prison and see if that opens his soul to his crimes.

As a bonus, The Boston Globe gives us some statistics:

  • 492 Federal Cases Authorized to Seek Death
  • 287 Taken to Trial
  • 222 Where Juries chose between life and death
  • 74 Sentenced to death
  • 3 Executed
That was as of 14 October 2013.


Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Picking a City Manager

For John, BLUFBest person, not best friend.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Late this afternoon, listening to John MacDonald on WCAP (980) and his show "The Pulse", I heard State Reps Tom Golden and David Nangle talking about candidates for City Manager and the theory put out that the new City Manager should be "from Lowell".

I wondered what that term meant?  Was it some sort of code word, or dog whistle, as Blogger Jack Mitchell would say?  Was it related to "From Lowell, For Lowell."  Perplexed, I texted John MacDonald, but to no avail.  It looks like Mr MacDonald got a new cell phone when he left Sal's to form his own firm, Big Decisions, LLC.  Here is what I sent:

What does it mean "from Lowell"?

Cliff Krieger?
George Anthes?
Bill Taupier?
Senator Eileen?

Regards — Cliff

When my intervention didn't come up on the radio program I did some paradigm exploring.  What does it mean to be from Lowell.  Is it enough to be born here, or must your parents also be from Lowell.  How about their parents?  Back as far as when Mansur was Mayor?

The real point was communication and its importance.  Having gone to high school with the State Reps should not be a qualification.  And what of our esteemed State Senator.  Should the City Manager have to be from out west, so he or she can talk effectively with the State Senator?  Do they need to know where Hungry Hill is?

Regards  —  Cliff

  This reminds one of the "natural born citizen argument we have had with several Presidential candidates, wherein some argue that the use of the term "natural born" in the US Constitution means the parents must be US Citizens.  This is, of course, rubbish.

ASA Against Israel with BDS

For John, BLUFAcademics distorting education.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the blog Legal Insurrection Professor William A. Jacobson talks about talking to Da Tech Guy (who is located just west of us, in Fitchburg) about the American Studies Association calling for an academic boycott of Israel.  This is not a raging issue, but it is a small window into the world of academia and the small bore agendas therein.  The ASA is pushing an anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement.  Short sighted.

Engage, don't boycott.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

NPR Bias

For John, BLUFHard cases make bad law.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I am a little calmer now.  However, on the way to the Podiatrist, and leaving, I was listening to NPR's "On Point" program, with Reporter Tom Ashbrook.  Mr Ashbrook used to work for The Boston Globe.

I caught the first ten minutes and the last ten minutes of a show on a situation down in Texas where a woman was brain dead, and decomposing, but pregnant and the hospital was keeping her alive, until a judge said the family could pull the plug on the woman.  I missed the middle part and perhaps Mr Ashbrook was more neutral.  However, in the parts I listened to it was obvious Mr Ashbrook had decided what the answer was and he was going to steer the show that way.  It was a Governor Andrew Cuomo moment—I might as well move out of the US since I have the wrong views.

When I listen to NPR I am hoping to find out new facts or different facts or different understandings of the facts.  I am not looking for pre-packaged diatribes. What does Lance think?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Or maybe just move to fly over country.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Run-up to The Great War

For John, BLUFIt isn't what we don't know that hurts most, but what we know that isn't true.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the web magazine War on the Rocks, we have this piece by Ali Wyne, an Associate of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, "Disillusioned by the Great Illusion:  The Outbreak of the Great War"
As we approach the centennial of World War I, Norman Angell is likely to receive more than the ritual criticisms that he endures in college and university courses on international relations each semester.  Despite enjoying a sterling career—he served in the British Parliament, received a knighthood for public service at the end of his time in office, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1933—he is remembered primarily for a book that he wrote in 1910, The Great Illusion.
The standard belief is that Mr Angell argued that due to economic interdependence war in Europe was impossible.  In fact, he argued that due to economic interdependence, war in Europe would be a disaster.

And it was.

Regards  —  Cliff

Moving in the Right Direction

For John, BLUFOur culture is changing.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is a story from Market Watch on how changes in our understanding of "marriage" is impacting college financial aid.  People living together are now considered a family unit for college aid.  This flows from the US Supreme Court acting on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and other actions:
The 2014 Free Application for Federal Student Aid or Fafsa—which calculates income, assets and family size—now collects financial information about parents “regardless of marital status or gender.”  Since the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, same-sex couples must report their marital status if they were married in a state where same-sex unions are legal but reside in a state where they are not, or even if they were married in a foreign country.  If the student is one half of a same-sex marriage, he or she may also be considered to have independent financial means.  “It’s a recognition of diverse family structures,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst with
This is a step toward recognizing that children are part of a family, including two parents, a way of improving their chances of succeeding in this society.  There is a ways to go, but this is a step in the proper direction.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Robbie Risner (RIP)

For John, BLUFGreat men come from all walks of life.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here, from The American Interest is an appreciation of Fighter Pilot Robbie Risner by Chuck Boyd, himself an American POW in North Viet-nam.

Regards  —  Cliff

Pete Seeger (RIP)

For John, BLUFA great talent has moved on.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the Dick Howe Blog Paul Marion has an appreciation of the late Pete Seeger.  There is a slightly longer appreciate over at the Althouse Blog.  Both link to a New York Times story on Mr Seeger.

I think Ms Althouse does a better job of addressing the fact that Mr Seeger was a small "c" and a big "C" Communist.  From the NYT article:

He would later criticize himself for having not left the party sooner, though he continued to describe himself as a “communist with a small ‘c.’ ”
These distinctions are important.  It turns out that Walter Duranty notwithstanding, Party Boss Joseph Stalin was a horrible man and the Rosenbergs were guilty.  Mr Seeger had a consistency in those areas that went to the People and not to some party.  As Althouse Commenter "West Virginia Rebel" wrote:
He did apologize, and performed for Solidarity supporters.  I think he, like many in his generation, was disillusioned by Stalin and the Soviet Union.
Mr Seeger was a wonderful talent who explored paths of demonstrating his humanity.  That he made some unfortunate detours does not detract from him as a human being or a talent.  On the other hand, no one benefits from whitewashing what is history.  There has been too much of that.

Regards  —  Cliff

  And the Venona Papers were real.

Who's On First?

For John, BLUFDoes City Life need a fact checker?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

On City Life Host George Anthes keeps asking when our City Solicitor, Ms Christine O'Connor, was appointed to her current position.  The reason for the question does tend to drift a bit, but he asks.  This is a knowable thing.

Then City Manager John F Cox appointed Ms Christine O'Connor City Solicitor.  Ms O'Connor was initially hired into the Law Department by then City Manager Brian J Martin.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, January 27, 2014

Wheelchair Users, like FDR

For John, BLUF"Truthers" come in all colors and stripes.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Conspiracy alert:  Greg Abbott ‘wheelchair truthers’ actually exist
From the Twitchy Staff, posted at 8:12 pm on January 25, 2014. What can I say?

Oh, yes, Attorney General Greg Abbott is the current presumed opponent of Senator Wendy Davis, down in Texas.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Republicans on Trial

For John, BLUFLife is not fair.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the Althouse blog is a discussion of Senator Rand Paul being interviewed by Reporter David Gregory on Meet the Press.  The focus of the blog post is how Mr Gregory appeared to three times try to open trap doors in the area of feminism for Senator Paul to fall through.

Just as Democrats are, today, seen as the party of Civil Rights,  they are seen as the Party that sides with women against their "oppression".  In an attempt to be rationale, Republicans miss the personal.  All of us sometimes sacrifice our "principles" for dealing with the actualities of our lives and the personal pains therein.  The flip side of that approach is the Democrats, who are happy enough to loosen public morality in order to avoid individual pain.

  The question is, will that second approach have long term consequences?

Regards  —  Cliff

  A miracle transformation over the last half century.

On Being Consistent

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

On City Life this morning Host George Anthes was complimenting Guest Richard Howe on his consistency.  Consistency has not always been admired here in the Commonwealth Massachusetts.  Perhaps the most famous comment on "consistency" is from Mr Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25 1803 – April 27 1882):
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.  With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.  He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall.  Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
Here is Wikipedia's description of the source of the quote, Essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson's Self-Reliance;
Self-Reliance is an essay written by American transcendentalist philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson.  It contains the most thorough statement of one of Emerson's recurrent themes, the need for each individual to avoid conformity and false consistency, and follow his or her own instincts and ideas. It is the source of one of Emerson's most famous quotations:  "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."
Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Getting Into Wars

For John, BLUFTruth is the first victim.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

How is the world ruled and led to war?  Diplomats lie to journalists and believe these lies when they see them in print.

Karl Kraus, Austrian journalist writing in the early 1930's
From a friend of mine, a retired Foreign Service Officer.

Regards  —  Cliff

Antics in Texas

For John, BLUFActions have consequences, some long-term.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Washington Times is an Editorial, "A ‘log cabin’ of gossamer:  Wendy Davis’ rags-to-riches tale unravels in Texas".

State Senator Wendy Davis rose like a rocket and captured the imagination of people in Texas and in the United States.  It was all based on her 11 hour filibuster of a bill banning late term abortions.  In the end it passed.

Frankly, I go with restricting late term abortions which are for the convenience of the Mother.  The Texas Bill would preserved the right to an abortion to save the life of the mother or to prevent permanent bodily damage from a pregnancy.  But, it would mean that otherwise life would be preserved past 20 weeks.  Preserving the life of a child in the womb is a good thing.  It seems obvious to me that such a life should not be thrown away any more than a six month old should be abandoned on the side of a hill.  Some may put this view down to religious sentiments, but I think it also comes from my concern that we not slip into to the crass approach to life extant in Germany and German controlled territory during World War II.  Bad things were done in the name of "making society better".

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, January 24, 2014

College Hookup Culture

For John, BLUFThe grass is always greener on the other side of the fence (no, not talking Mary Jane).  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Slate we have a brief article, "Coverage of Nonexistent Hookup Culture Makes Students Feel Left Out of Nonexistent Hookup Culture".  The author is Ms Jessica Grose.

As a Continuing Ed student at UMass Lowell I will say I haven't been seeing or experiencing the "Hookup Culture", well, aside from one fellow student, my wife.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Throwaway Culture

For John, BLUFPresident meets Pope.  Who will learn what?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Writing for The Fiscal Times, Mr Edward Morrissey gives us "The Pope's Views On Inequality Test Obama's Mettle".

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I remember a simpler time, when he was just Captain Ed.

Please Don't Blame the Victim

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

Here is one of those Wall Street Journal items that is available this side of the paywall.  It is an opinion piece by Mr. Gregory N Hicks, US Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli between 31 July 31 and 7 December, 2012.  In it he explains the bureaucratic issues that impacted Ambassador Chris Stevens decisions regarding diplomatic security in the period leading up to the Benghazi attack.

Diplomatic Security is a bottomless pit.  There isn't enough money to secure everyone and everything.  As the article makes clear, we are not free to roam another nation, free from their laws and customs, except under the cloak of diplomatic immunity.  That was a consideration in discussions before the attack.  Another consideration is how we provide security to our diplomatic personnel and facilities.  There is the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.  That said, a lot of diplomatic security is provided by local police forces or contractors hired for the job.  Look at who has died defending US Diplomats and Facilities.  A lot of contractors in that list of some 100 people.

For those who say the Marines protect the Ambassador, that isn't quite true.  The US Marines are there to provide security for the Embassy.  From Wikipedia we have this sentence:

The primary mission of the MSG is to provide security, particularly the protection of classified information and equipment vital to the national security of the United States at American diplomatic posts.
We live in a dangerous world.  We should do the best we can to protect our Diplomatic Personnel and Facilities (to include classified information, which is classified so others don't read it).  The importance of reviewing each untoward incident, the difference it makes, is so we can do better in the future and honor those who died or were wounded by trying to figure out what we might have done better.  As a pilot I knew aircraft went down, but I counted on the Accident Board to figure out why and get a fix started.  As an example, they didn't refer to the early F-16 as the "Lawn Dart" for nothing.  But accident boards figured out the problem and worked to fix it—and did.  That answers the question of what difference it makes.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Blogs And Newspapers

For John, BLUFThere is good news tonight.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The Washington Post today announced a partnership with The Volokh Conspiracy, a blog that covers law, public policy, politics, culture and other topics.
Regards  —  Cliff


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

A friend of mine put the following sentence in an EMail on North Korea and China.
Einstein is reputed to have observed that gratitude has the shortest half-life of anything in the universe.
If he didn't, he should have.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


For John, BLUFBe careful of experts.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In another forum I have been following a discussion on experts and how they feel rejected by mere laymen and laywomen.  Here is a Fisking of an item in defense of experts, by blogger T. Greer.  The original item was written by Mr Tom Nichols, professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College (just down the street, in Newport, RI).  Poor Professor Nichols.

We need experts and for structurally complex problems—like flying an airplane—the interactions are fairly predictable and experts generally agree on what works best.  And, we trust the experts.  Few in Row 7, Seat C wish to get up and move into the pilot's seat.

In interactively complex problems (wicked problems, as some might say up here), the various parts/players have very large degrees of freedom.  The interactions are inherently unpredictable (economics, climate change, family dynamics, peace negotiations, etc).  One of the characteristics of wicked problems is that experts will fundamentally and strongly disagree with each other.  Yes, I know that some believe climate change (or Keynesian Economics) is settle science, but there are reasons to have doubts, and some smart people do.  Not everyone accepts John Maynard Keynes as having been correct.

I am reminded by all this of the quote from the Baron Rothschild, back in the 1800s:

There are three principal ways to lose money:  wine, women, and engineers.  While the first two are more pleasant, the third is by far the more certain.
These are more egalitarian times, so the first two may be called into question by some, but might we replace engineers with "experts"?

Regards  —  Cliff

Pursuit of Happiness

For John, BLUFFreedom is about economic freedom.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

It is Tuesday and time to go back to work—if the State allows.  At the Volokh Conspiracy Saturday was a post on economic liberties, titled "Kentucky’s War On The Little Guy…And Nevada’s…and Missouri’s…".  The author was Mr Timothy Sandefur.

This is about various states and their "Certificate of Necessity" laws, where a new company is forces to obtain a license, a license to which those already in the trade can object, based on there not being a necessity for another firm.  One wonders where the law of supply and demand comes into play in such cases.  For existing firms to be able to bar competition sounds like a form of mercantilism.  We might use the term "rent seeking".

Here is the concluding paragraph:

Remarkably, every time the Supreme Court has considered the constitutionality of laws like these, it has struck them down. And the Court has made clear that the government may only restrict entry into a trade or profession if its grounds for doing so are related to a person’s “fitness or capacity to practice the profession.” But Certificate of Necessity laws have no relationship at all to a person’s fitness or qualifications. Moreover, the Sixth Circuit—which governs Kentucky—has made clear that the Constitution forbids states from using licensing laws simply to protect established businesses against legitimate economic competition. Yet Kentucky laws explicitly forbid competition, simply to prop up existing firms. And not only do Kentucky bureaucrats deprive hard-working entrepreneurs like Raleigh Bruner of their right to earn a living—but while his federal civil rights lawsuit was going forward, they tried to shut down Raleigh’s business by suing him in state court! Fortunately, the federal judge put a stop to that. Here’s hoping the courts also put a stop to the Bluegrass State’s unconstitutional favoritism.
If one wishes to see how this kind of government interference can impact a geographic area and suppress the economic success of those trying to climb out of poverty one can read Economist Hernando de Soto's The Other Path.  Contact me if you wish to borrow a copy.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, January 20, 2014

Views of America

For John, BLUFThis is about Hollywood seeing an America different from the center of the nation.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the Chicago Boyz we have a post on the difference between Hollywood and Flyover Country.  The poster, Sgt Mom, seems to have had some time with the US Military in Europe.

Regards  —  Cliff

MLK Holiday

For John, BLUFFocus on the good.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This is Martin Luther King, Jr, Day.  Some, wishing to make money off that fact, have given us a controversy just before the holiday weekend.  Mr Oliver Stone has announced he is withdrawing from a film about Dr King.

It is Oliver Stone, so I don't care.

What I do care about is that we not be distracted from the fact that it wasn't until the 1960s that we started cleaning up the remains of the American Civil War.  We can thank LBJ for part of that and the Republicans and Northern Democrats in Congress and especially Dr Martin Luther King, Junior.  There will be time enough to find the warts.  As Saint Paul tells us, "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". (Romans 3:23)  For now let us just be thankful there was a Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior, walking our streets and providing a reasoning voice on the issue of race in the 1960s.

Regards  —  Cliff

Divide into Camps and Stay There

For John, BLUFSometimes it is tough to be an individual.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This is a convoluted issue.  Blogger Ann Althouse talks to us about someone being fired from The Vagina Monologues.  In this case, Ms Maria Conchita Alonso.  It turns out she was in a "Tea Party" Advertisement out in California. From the Althouse blog:
In the ad — which we talked about here — she said, expressing antagonism toward big government — "We’re screwed."  She said it in Spanish.  "The Vagina Monologues" production was also to be in Spanish.  I don't know how to say "screwed" or "vagina" in Spanish, but the producer of the show, Eliana Lopez, wife of San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, said:  "We really cannot have her in the show, unfortunately."
Is this part of the theory that The Personal is the Political?

Professor Althouse captures the issue here:

If you're a member of a minority group and you speak in a setting that seems to be conveying the message — politically leveraging the message — that you are a typical member of that group, you will attract criticism, and that criticism can also be criticized.
If you define yourself solely in terms of your minority status, you can't be anyone else, because they will keep dragging you back in.  Or is that only if you are Sicilian?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Who famously called Actor Sean Penn a "Communist".  All he did was call her a pig.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Comics

For John, BLUFDid Dilbert go political?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Was this Sunday's Dilbert Cartoon slightly anti-Muslim?

Regards  —  Cliff

Reigning in Presidential War Powers

For John, BLUFPresidents shouldn't be free to go to war when the wish.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Senator Rand Paul is calling for the repeal of the Authorization of the Use of Military Force in Iraq.  This is reported in Foreign Policy Magazine.

This would be a good thing.  The original reason for the AUMF for Iraq was their development of nuclear weapons and not cooperating with the United Nations.  That excuse is long past, whether you think they shipped incriminating materials to Syria or you think they never had them and were just bluffing.

Regards  —  Cliff

Understanding Economics and the Poor

For John, BLUFRush misreads Pope Francis.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Recently Talk Show Host Rush Limbaugh rushed in where others fear to tread and challenged Pope Francis on some of the things the Pope had said.  Things were not helped by the Main Stream Media making a hash of what the Holy Father was saying about economics.

Here is the counter, an Opinion Piece in The Boston Pilot, "An Economy of Gratuity", by Professors David and Angela Franks.

Is the pope a Marxist?

To be a conservative should mean recognizing that any true progress depends on receiving a tradition, being open to what Chesterton called the democracy of the dead.  To be a conservative means to recognize that we belong to the great organic continuum of humanity, where past, present, and future are under our stewardship.  It means being realistic enough to see the hubris of utopian schemes which, in the name of the powerless, slaughter the powerless on the altar of "progress" and revolution.  To be conservative means recognizing that there are no silver bullets in politics, but only the unceasing labor of prudence and mutual deliberation.  Conservatism should mean recognizing that we are not God, and that the indispensable communal act is that of thanksgiving and praise of the all-provident Creator and Sustainer of all things. Conservatism should mean humility, piety, and gratitude.

What was Rush Limbaugh thinking, to accuse the Holy Father of giving aid and comfort to the inhuman ideology of President Obama, a man who speaks of addressing inequality but is uncompromising in his advocacy for abortion?  The president would like it to be so that the pope is on his side, but that just means he doesn't understand anything Pope Francis says about solidarity with the powerless.  Not the first thing.  But a supposed conservative feeding the president's delusion?

Conservatism needs Pope Francis, because it has become riddled with the same disease that has bedeviled the Left from its beginning in the French Revolution: secular contraction of consciousness, partisanship, radical individualism, and a hatred of religion unless it simply serve the interests of ideology.

One expects the Left to carry through Jacobin hatred against Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.  But what is left of conservatism if it becomes anti-Catholic and if it will not entertain the possibility that there are truths bigger than our way of seeing things?

Note the reference to the French Revolution.  As Americans we are lucky we did not have to go through the French Revolution.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Kendall on the Crisis

For John, BLUFDid you vote in the last election?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In today's "Saturday Chat" Mr Kendall Wallace talks about the exodus of professional city administrators, listing Tom Moses, Bernie Lynch, Cheryl Wright and Adam Baacke.  And, he left out our chief of police, which just turned over to William Taylor, who took over from Ken Lavallee, who took over from Ed Davis.  This is an important position in City Government.  Then we had Senior Planner Aaron Clause depart for a new job.

The thing is, if the leadership has been doing its job the City Administration should be able to plow ahead without major course corrections for several months.  That is baring a major disaster, such as a devastating earthquake.

I am confident the City Council can find a solution to all the holes we face, even if some are only filled by the City Council filling others.  On the other hand, if you are nervous, you need to ask yourself if you voted in the last election.  If you did you gave it your best shot.  If not, shame on you.

Regards  —  Cliff

Bloggers and First Amendment

For John, BLUFNinth Circuit Court gives amateurs respect.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Lawyer and Blogger Eugene Volokh (Volokh Conspiracy) tells is about the Ninth Circuit Court ruling in Obsidian Finance Group v. Cox (9th Cir. Jan. 17, 2014) (in which he represented the defendant)—"Bloggers = Media for First Amendment Libel Law Purposes".
…the Ninth Circuit concludes that all who speak to the public, whether or not they are members of the institutional press, are equally protected by the First Amendment. To quote the court,
The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others’ writings, or tried to get both sides of a story. As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable: “With the advent of the Internet and the decline of print and broadcast media … the line between the media and others who wish to comment on political and social issues becomes far more blurred.” Citizens United, 558 U.S. at 352. In defamation cases, the public-figure status of a plaintiff and the public importance of the statement at issue — not the identity of the speaker — provide the First Amendment touchstones.
Good news for the Blogosphere.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, January 17, 2014

War Powers Reform

For John, BLUFCongress needs to assert itself in this area.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From an interested source, The Stars and Stripes, is an Associated Press article on Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), who banded together and…
unveiled legislation on Thursday that would repeal the 1973 War Powers Resolution, often ignored by presidents of both parties, and replace it with a new law that requires greater consultation and a congressional vote within 30 days on any significant armed conflict.
I absolutely agree with the action of Senators Kaine and McCain.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Political Change in NoVa?

For John, BLUFCracks appearing in Dem Congressional facade.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Turns out that Virginia Politician and Member of Congress Jim Moran is not going to seek reelection this year.

Here are some highlights from his career.

There is at least one person stepping up to run, Mr Micah Edmond.

Edmond’s LinkedIn page mentions previous experience as as the senior defense legislative assistant for two subcommittee ranking members of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC):  Representative Mike Turner (R., Ohio), with the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, and Representative Joe Wilson (R., S.C.), with the Military Personnel Subcommittee.  Prior to his congressional staff service, Mr. Edmond served as a Marine Corps officer.  Senior posts included speechwriter for the Marine Corps service chief and special assistant/aide-de-camp for two senior general officers.

Prior to his military service, Mr. Edmond worked for Citigroup.  Mr Edmond holds a B.A. from Williams College and an M.A. and M.B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Here is his web site.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

DiFi on Benghazi

For John, BLUFThe Benghazi story is unraveling, slowly.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Via Memeorandum is a link to a posting at The Hill on Senator Dianne Feinstein rejecting the NYT article on the Benghazi Attack.  Ms Feinstein is the Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Next Global Warming Issue

For John, BLUFNature is always interesting.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the Daily Mail an item on ice quakes.
'Ice quakes' hit Wisconsin:  Deep booms heard in the middle of the night cracks open in frozen ground.
With photos and a sketch showing how it happens.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Homeschooling Opposed

For John, BLUFPeople are seeking alternatives, as you note.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is an article on homeschooling and the US.  In this previous post we talked about homeschooling in the Fatherland, where it is verboten and has been for 76 years, at least.
While homeschooling is blotted out in Germany, as the cost of education exceeds its value to such a degree that the bubble begins to burst in America, as Glenn Reynolds argues, homeschooling will become an increasingly attractive alternative.  This, says [National Review writer Kevin]Williamson, poses a grave threat to leftists as:
“The institutional Left hates homeschooling, hates it with a remarkable intensity, even though homeschooling recently has come into vogue with a certain subset of Park Slope–style progressives.  Robin West of Georgetown’s law school has written admiringly of the suppression of homeschooling and regimes under which “parents who did so were criminals.”  She writes that homeschoolers are dangerous precisely because of the fact that, far from being docile sheep, homeschoolers are as adults more likely to be politically engaged, which Professor West worries might “undermine, limit, or destroy state functions that interfere with family and parental rights.”  For good measure, she notes that many homeschoolers were enthusiastic about George W. Bush in 2000 — quelle horreur.  Many others on the left argue that homeschooling should be either banned outright or effectively regulated out of existence.”
I would note that the article has LOL (Lots of Links).

As an aside, being left handed, I find the reference to political left and right to be annoying as well as misleading.  It is really about faith in big (centralizing) government and distrust of big government.

The original source is The Blaze, which may be frightening to some.  As for me, I am looking for truth, justice and the American way wherever I can find it.

The Glenn Reynolds book is The New School:  How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Gridlock in DC Explained

For John, BLUFExplains a lot.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Washington Post is this item on a report from the Semi-Official Iranian New Agengy, Fars News"Iranian news agency says the U.S. is secretly run by Nazi space aliens.  Really.".  The author is Max Fisher and the dateline is 13 January, at 11:31 AM.  Here is the lede:
Iran's semi-official news outlets have something of a reputation for taking conspiracy theorism to the next level.  They've written on Israel's secret plans to annex Iraq, the conspiracy by Western media to fabricate quotes by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemning the Holocaust and the secret Jewishness of the British royal family.  You may notice a certain theme here.

On Sunday, the hard-line semi-official Fars News dropped one of its biggest bombshells yet:  The United States government has been secretly run by a "shadow government" of space aliens since 1945.  Yes, space aliens. The alien government is based out of Nevada and had previously run Nazi Germany.  It adds, for timeliness, that the controversial NSA programs are actually a tool for the aliens to hide their presence on Earth and their secret agenda for global domination.  This is all asserted as incontrovertible fact with no caveats.

There are some practical considerations here, as noted by Mr Max Fisher in The Washington Post article:
A worldview that sees the U.S. as an evil hegemonic force so irrationally driven toward global domination that it must be run by space aliens is not a worldview that is predisposed toward negotiation or accommodation.
Regards  —  Cliff

Blogger Jailed, Indefinitely

For John, BLUFWhen you rile the cops and the judges, expect trouble.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This from The International New York Times, about a blogger jailed.

The City of Birmingham, Alabama, makes Lowell, even Dracut, look calm.

Regards  —  Cliff

Can't or Won't Read

For John, BLUFIf you can't read there is nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the blog The Orthosphere is a post on people reading, titled "Post-Literacy and the Refusal to Read"
A colleague who teaches in the humanities at the state college where I work also teaches at a nearby private college.  In the colleague’s description, the private college is perpetually in the grip of a panic over the prospect of a drop in enrollment.  The college’s administration has therefore instituted an unwritten but implacable policy the upshot of which is that the student is always right, no matter how absurd his complaint, and the consequence of which is that instructors must never tax students beyond an infantile minimum of scholarly exertion.  Among the consequences of the consequence are that students refuse to undertake out-of-class reading assignments, fail quizzes related to those assignments, and then lodge complaints with chairs and deans against the instructor.

The colleague has responded by redistricting the semester’s reading to take place entirely in the classroom.  The concession naturally and drastically reduces the amount of reading that the semester can accommodate, but it obviates the career-threatening complaints.

This raises the question of if a society that can't, or won't, read actually knows anything.  How is information accurately transmitted from one person to another?

Of course there is also the question of why the private college isn't allowed to just go out of business.  It appears to be bilking parents out of a lot of money with no return.

Hat tip to the Chicago Boyz.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, January 13, 2014

Golden Globe Speech

For John, BLUFForgiveness. We could use a little.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Blogger Althouse has a clip of the Jacqueline Bisset Golden Globe acceptance speech.  The most important part is at the very end.
You have to forgive everybody.
Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Homeschooling Verboten in Germany

For John, BLUFSome fear homeschooling.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Mr Roger Kimball, over at Pajamas Media has this item, on homeschooling in Germany.
Things are different in the Fatherland of Germany, where a judge recently ordered that parents may not have custody of their children because “the family might move to another country and homeschool, posing a ‘concrete endangerment’ to the children.”


In August, 20 armed police, equipped with a battering ram just in case, arrived at the door of this Darmstadt family and forcibly took four children, ages 7 to 14.

Was there anything wrong with the children?  Nope.  The judge — whose name, by the way, is Marcus Malkmus, in case you have a voodoo doll handy or wish to burn him in effigy — the judge admitted that the children were 1) academically proficient and 2) well adjusted socially.

He just didn’t like homeschooling.

To be fair, it is the German Government that doesn't like home schooling.  It has been that way since at least 1937.  The judge's ruling includes the statement of a fear:
“…the children would grow up in a parallel society without having learned to be integrated or to have a dialogue with those who think differently and facing them in the sense of practicing tolerance.”
Please note also that it isn't just about homeschooling, but also the concern that the parents would flee Germany and homeschool their children in another country.  As Americans we are lucky this judge wasn't around in the aftermath of the failed Revolution of 1848.  We might have lost a lot of great future citizens if he had been ruling from the bench.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Yes, that is a sort of dog whistle.

A Bottle of Water

For John, BLUFData is gathered everywhere.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I bought a two dollar bottle of water at the gym the other day.  They wanted my name for their computer.  I was paying cash—two dollar coins.  I said "cash" to the Clerk, but she said "policy" to me.  Policy trumps paying cash.

I guess they are compiling a list of folks dumb enough to pay $2.00 for a cold bottle of water.

Coincidently, someone told me that Senator Warren is trying to pull back the issuing of dollar coins.  That is disappointing.  I like the dollar coins for parking meters and bottles of water.  I thought it might be because the Susan B Anthony coins were taken to be a symbol of the Pro Life crowd, since she was very anti-abortion, thinking abortion was a male imposition on women.

Turns out it is about jobs in Western Massachusetts, where the paper for paper money is manufactured.  Crane and Company, of Dalton, out in Berkshire County.

On the other hand, it was on 11 December 2011, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner suspended production of dollar coins, "due to cost of production".  Senator Warren wasn't sworn in until 3 January 2013, so maybe she had nothing to do with it, but is still getting credit/blame.  Politics is so strange and interesting.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Well, the the Sacagawea dollar does have a baby depicted on the Obverse, along with Ms Sacagawea.  The story is she was pregnant when she started the journal with Lewis and Clark and had the baby along the way.  There are a billion Sacagawea dollars in circulation and about 250 million in reserve.
  Except for those produced for collectors.
  Apparently about 80,000 of the latest dollar coins, the Presidential Series, does not have "In God We Trust" on the edge, leading to them being called Godless Dollars.

Snowden Status Today

For John, BLUFWe always need to monitor the Government.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Thomas E Ricks, who was the Defense Reporter for The Washington Post from 2000 to 2008 is beginning to look like a contender for a slot on Duck Dynasty, but still, his blog at Foreign Policy, titled The Best Defense does look at DC based issue.  Here is his recent take on the Snowden imbroglio, "The More I Listen to American Intelligence Officials, the More I Edge Toward Snowden.  I think it is also the more he listens to younger Americans.  Worth the read.  And it is short.

Someone responded in an EMail thread, saying:

What I find so interesting…how much angst we spend on relatively modest penetrations of personal privacy by intelligence agencies, as opposed to the massive penetrations of personal privacy by private businesses…
My response was:
Not my area either, but I have thought about it a bit.   Google, which is at best amoral, can't arrest me, detain me or otherwise harass me or put me in jail.   The Government can.   It is that fear of the Government that motivated the Fourth Amendment (and some other Amendments).   I accept I am giving Corporate entities like Google  information that they will exploit when I sign up for Blogger or Facebook or Linked In.   That is why on my iPhone I don't turn on the feature for following me around (although I figure there may be some secret back door for Federal Domestic Spying--I am not totally naive).   Corporations are big and scary, but they come and go.   The Federal Government has been growing in power for over 200 years, and before that there was the British Government, whose actions motivated the Bill of Rights
Just one person's view.

By the way, fellow Lowell Blogger Greg Page (The New Englander) is making a business of advising groups about privacy in the digital age.

Regards  —  Cliff

Molesting of Our Children

For John, BLUFThere are no single answers to complex social problems.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Other McCain we have a blog post on teachers having sexual liberties with their charges, "Lauren Harrington-Cooper and Other Teachers Arrested for Sex Crimes".

The part I liked best about this story was the comment by Blogger Glenn Reynolds, at his blog:

Obviously, we need to end mandatory celibacy and let high school teachers marry.
Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, January 12, 2014

New Cardinals

For John, BLUFThe Pope is trying to change things.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The Pope has appointed 19 new cardinals, 16 of them young enough to vote in a papal conclave, if and when one is required.  Searching around, the Beeb is the source with the list of names.  No one from North America.  From the article:

Pope Francis is to appoint 19 new cardinals next month, including churchmen from Haiti and Burkina Faso, reflecting his commitment to the poor.
The Consistory will be on 22 February.  No, I am not expecting an invite.

Regards  —  Cliff

DOJ Rules on School Discipline

For John, BLUFChildren need to learn self-discipline at home, before school begins.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The Daily Caller is all up tight about the US Department of Justice ruling that punishment in K-12 has to be administered evenly across racial and ethnic lines.
Schools also violate Federal law when they evenhandedly implement facially neutral policies and practices that, although not adopted with the intent to discriminate, nonetheless have an unjustified effect of discriminating against students on the basis of race.

Examples of policies that can raise disparate impact concerns include policies that impose mandatory suspension, expulsion, or citation (e.g., ticketing or other fines or summonses) upon any student who commits a specified offense — such as being tardy to class, being in possession of a cellular phone, being found insubordinate, acting out, or not wearing the proper school uniform.

This is from a letter released this Wednesday last.

Does this mean that if your racial or ethnic group is behaving better than other groups, say in terms of being tardy to class or using a cell phone in class, your group needs additional punishment to even thing out?

I don't know.  It might work.  It does seem to fly in the face of arguments that say a well run classroom is necessary for learning to take place, but an experiment of several years along this line may not be out of the question.  If classroom disruption goes up we can always pull back this rule.  Csn't we?

The thing is, if you go to Sidwell Friends School, you and your parents won't have to worry about this kind of thing.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Treaties vs States Rights

For John, BLUFSenators reasoning out loud is a good thing.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

So Senator Ted Cruz has an article in the Harvard Law Review.  The article is titled "Limits on the Treaty Power".  Here is a comment at Examiner dot Com, "Ted Cruz causes media uproar with scholarly Harvard Law Review essay".

Do we want Senators out there writing scholarly articles?

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  It isn't like the Senator wasn't a primary editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Religious Freedom

For John, BLUFA dog in the manger?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

As we know, the Lowell City Manger (vice Manager), recently moved from JFK Plaza to St Anne's church.  It has been discussed here and here and here and here.  And also here.

There is a similar issue up north at Canada's York University.  The article, from The Beverton is "York University Dean supports student’s religious right to Aztec human sacrifice".

TORONTO - After permitting a student to be excused from course work on religious grounds so he would not have to publicly interact with female peers, the Dean of York University is also permitting another student to have the right to ritually murder people to appease his gods.
I think it is quite decent of the Dean to be open to all faith representations.

But, so we are clear on the action that initiated this action, here is the original story from CityTV:

In a controversy that's attracted the attention of some top politicians, Toronto's York University is defending its policies after the administration came down on the side of a male student who didn't want to do group work with his female classmates.

"A deciding factor in this case was that it was an online course where another student had previously been given permission to complete the course requirement off-campus," university's vice-president academic Rhonda Lenton said in a statement issued Thursday.

"Ultimately, a satisfactory agreement was reached between the professor and the student."

The controversy stems from an unnamed student's request, citing unspecified religious grounds, that sociology professor Paul Grayson excuse him from the group project that's part of the otherwise online course.

As the CityTV story later notes, this incident does go to the heart of what it means to be a Canadian.  Are there views that cannot be accommodated?  Some nations in Europe are asking this question.

My view:  Manger, yes.  Flying Spaghetti Monster, yes.  Aztec human sacrifice, no.  Physical separation of men and women in public institutions, no.

UPDATE:  CTV to CityTV, on the advice of a Canadian friend.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I am still confused as to how it can be Lowell's Manger if it is at St Anne's.

Small Shifts in Political Self-Identification

For John, BLUFIn case you missed it, political polarization is increasing.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the Gallup Poll we have an article by Mr Jeffrey M Jones about the annual poll regarding political self-identification.  As a note, the term "liberal" as used here is not really a liberal, but more of a "progressive". True liberals, classic liberals, are lost in the other two categories, "moderate" and "conservative".  The article is "Liberal Self-Identification Edges Up to New High in 2013".  The subtle is "Fifteen-percentage-point conservative advantage ties as smallest to date."  The article has three charts to help us understand the trends since 1992 (2000 for political parties).  The lede:
PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans continue to be more likely to identify as conservatives (38%) than as liberals (23%).  But the conservative advantage is down to 15 percentage points as liberal identification edged up to its highest level since Gallup began regularly measuring ideology in the current format in 1992.
Interesting stuff.

Here is the conclusion:

Americans' perceptions of their political views -- if not the views themselves -- are undergoing unmistakable change, contributing to greater political polarization in the country.  Now, the plurality of Democrats consider themselves to be politically liberal, whereas a decade ago, Democrats were most likely to say they were moderate.  That could be because Democrats are now more comfortable calling themselves "liberal" -- a term that was less popular in the recent past -- even if their current and past views on issues are similar.  But it could also reflect an evolution in their views to favor more traditionally liberal issue positions.

Meanwhile, Republicans, who have always been overwhelmingly conservative, have become increasingly so.  One manifestation of that may have been a series of primary election challenges for long-serving GOP members of Congress by candidates aligned with the Tea Party movement.

These data confirm the tendency for Americans who identify with the two major parties to be more ideologically homogeneous than was the case in the past, a tendency that appears to be matched by the increasing polarization between Democratic and Republican members of Congress.

The changes in ideological identification among party groups has resulted in a rise in the percentage of Americans overall who call themselves liberal and a decrease in the percentage of moderates.  Even though the percentage of conservatives has generally held steady, the rise in liberal identification leaves conservatives with their smallest advantage over liberals in the last two decades.  If the trends in Democratic self-identification continue, that gap will likely continue to shrink over time, and could lead to further polarization in U.S. politics.

Many blame the Parties for this, but what if it is the People themselves who are becoming more polarized?

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dominos Fall

For John, BLUFShould we have a pool on how many will leave City Government?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the blog Left in Lowell we find information on additional resignations in Lowell City Government.  And a link to an article at The [Lowell] Sun saying that blow-in and former State Senator Steve Panagiotakos has taken his name out of consideration.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, January 9, 2014


For John, BLUFThe defenders of President Obama are out to get former SecDef Robert Gates.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Professor Juan Cole gives us a new word, "Gatesgate".  It was bound to happen, and it did on Professor Cole's blog, Informed Comment.  The article is "Gatesgate:  Why Obama was right to Distrust his Generals on Afghanistan".

Professor Cole is having a field day with a book, Duty:  Memoirs of a Secretary at War, which he may not have yet read.  Here he is with "Top Ten Things Bob Gates was Wrong about, Some Criminal".  With regard to that item, just be happy you are (1) not in Mr Cole's sights and (2) not within 50 miles of DC in the last 30 years, otherwise you might find a "Top 10" list on you.

Back to the original article, it ends:

If anything, Obama could be faulted for giving the COIN (“counter-insurgency”) officers the benefit of the doubt and playing along with their completely unrealistic plans.  He should have listened to Joe Biden, who has long experience in foreign policy and is most often right (unlike Gates).  If Gates is right and Obama distrusted the generals pitching them and was skeptical of the strategy itself, it has to increase your estimation of Obama.  Our estimation of Gates, in contrast, can only fall because of his disloyalty and his naive approach to Afghanistan.
First off, to deal with Vice President Biden, his suggestion that we pull out and smack terrorists where they are would put us right back in Afghanistan, and this time again with a Government trying to defend its territory from our attacks.  On the Vice President, Mr Gates is correct and Mr Cole wrong.

Mr Cole soft pedals the President's campaign embracing of the war in Afghanistan.  If Afghanistan was the real war, as opposed to Iraq, then he needed a strategy and a plan of execution.  Yes, there are those who are opposed to the concept of COIN, such as Army Colonel Gian P Gentile.  On the other hand, Mr Cole has no alternative solution to the problem of Afghanistan.  The thing that is strangest is that Mr Cole characterizes Mr Gates as disloyal, given the years of loyal service Mr Gates gave to President Obama.  Would Mr Cole have been happy if Mr Gates had waited until 2017 to publish this book?  How much loyalty does Mr Cole wish?

Again, I cite this blog post for the title, "Gatesgate".

Regards  —  Cliff

  I have my doubts if the blog is correctly named.

China Demographics

For John, BLUFChina is behind the population curve and will be losing people toward the end of the Century, not that either of us will be around.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the web presence Real Clear World, part of Real Clear Politics, we have an article by Mr Joseph Chamie, "Easing China's One-Child Policy Won't Stop Demographic Decline".
In an attempt to mitigate a near-certain demographic future of rapid aging, shrinking labor force and critical gender imbalance, the Chinese government has adjusted its one-child policy.
China has 115 male births per 100 female births and the female fertility rate is 1.6.  Those are not replacement level figures and means a lot of males without brides.  Estimates are up to 25 million males without women.  That is a lot of males getting into trouble.

Isn't demography destiny?

Regards  —  Cliff

California Breakup?

For John, BLUFSomeone suggesting California is too big and unmanageable.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Washington Times we have this article on a proposal to break California up into six separate states.
There’s nothing like a guy with a few million bucks to lend instant credibility to a previously penny-ante movement to split up the state of California.

Venture capitalist Tim Draper of Silicon Valley has filed paperwork for a November ballot measure that would divide California into six states, calling the Golden State as presently constituted “too big and bloated.”

“Six Californias is an opportunity, an opportunity for Californians to get a fresh start, an opportunity for Californians to build new platforms for growth and prosperity,” Mr. Draper said at a Dec. 23 live-streamed press conference. “An opportunity to be awesome.”

One of the key points of a breakup is to bring the Government back down to the level of the People.  Mr Jack Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College, talks to the size of California in terms of area and population:
“Just look at the size of our state Senate districts — any one of them has more people than the entire population of South Dakota.  So there are real questions about the relationship of the people to their government.”
The breakout looks about right in terms of the different communities that are California.

For those concerned about the breakout not being properly balanced, Republican vs Democrat, we could always make Puerto Rico a State at the same time.  That might protect Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's majority.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Action—Manager Going

For John, BLUFWe need a numbers guy.

First order of business.  Hire Greg Labrecque!

Regards  —  Cliff

Laying a Fleece

For John, BLUFThe City Council vote yesterday may have determined the City Manager's move.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

After a good night's sleep I wonder about Lowell City Manager Bernie Lynch's actions last evening.  As this Sun article notes, he resigned as of noon on 10 March.  He dropped his resignation letter after the City Council refused his request to talk about his [current] contract in Executive Session.

Could we say, in the idiom of certain Christians, that Mr Lynch was putting a fleece before the Lord?  Was he saying to himself:  If they vote for an executive session I can work with them and if they don't I can't and thus I will drop my letter of resignation?  That is to say, the decision to resign was not made until the vote by the City Council.

This idea of laying a fleece comes from The Book of Judges, 6:11-40, where Gideon is asking God for a sign as to what He wants Gideon to do.

Here is a discussion of the technique from the web site The Dictionary of Christianese.  Here is a relevant example:

1963 Wilkerson, Sherrill The Cross and the Switchblade 9 : I made an experiment in a special kind of prayer which seeks to find God’s will through a sign. “Putting a fleece before the Lord,” it is called…. “Lord,” I said aloud, “I would like to put a fleece before You now…. If You want us to stay here in Philipsburg, we ask that You let us know by having the Committee vote for us unanimously.”
So, the City Manager made a move to determine the mood of the City Council, or the Will of God, and we are now looking for a new City Manager.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Book by Mr Robert Gates

For John, BLUFNot everything was happy in the early Obama Administration.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Washington Post, Ace Reporter Bob Woodward (of Watergate fame) uses the new book by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Duty:  Memoirs of a Secretary at War, to offer a harsh critique of Obama’s leadership in national security affairs.  Read the whole Woodward article here.  Here is the lede and following paragraph.  
In a new memoir, former defense secretary Robert Gates unleashes harsh judgments about President Obama’s leadership and his commitment to the Afghanistan war, writing that by early 2010 he had concluded the president “doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his.  For him, it’s all about getting out.”

  Leveling one of the more serious charges that a defense secretary could make against a commander in chief sending forces into combat, Gates asserts that Obama had more than doubts about the course he had charted in Afghanistan.  The president was “skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail,” Gates writes in “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.”

  Mr Woodward quotes Mr Gates, regarding Afghanistan:
I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission.
This is a sore point with many in uniform, since how can folks support the troops while sending them on a fool's errand.  I have heard discussions of folks, active and retired, questioning how much real support there is from folks applauding in airports and like activities.

Gates acknowledges forthrightly in “Duty” that he did not reveal his dismay.  “I never confronted Obama directly over what I (as well as [Hillary] Clinton, [then-CIA Director Leon] Panetta, and others) saw as the president’s determination that the White House tightly control every aspect of national security policy and even operations.  His White House was by far the most centralized and controlling in national security of any I had seen since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger ruled the roost.”
"…the most centralized and controlling in national security" since President Nixon.  Those are strong words.  It is counterbalanced by the promise of transparency.  One hopes the spinmeisters will be out explaining this.

I agree with those who believe it would have been better if this book had not appeared until late November of 2016.  That said, Mr Gates is 70 and may have wished to get if off his chest while he was still young.

UPDATE:  Added link and fixed typo.

Regards  —  Cliff

Farewell Bernie Lynch

For John, BLUFCity Manager just don't wish to put up with additional pain, IMHO.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Just now the City Manager here in Lowell, Bernie Lynch, resigned effective 10 March 2014.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, January 6, 2014

Is Social Security Discriminatory?

For John, BLUFMost Government projects are driven by multiple inputs.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is a lesson in why we need to keep asking questions and testing assumptions.  Over at the International Liberty blog Mr Daniel J Mitchell says "Government-Run Social Security Is Bad News for Blacks and other Minorities".  The reason is that Social Security is about transfers of money.  Check the charts at the link.

This is not a reason for terminating Social Security, but it is a reason to ask if there is a better way.  Change is hard.  Asking questions is a necessity for progress.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Is the MLA a Fascist Organization?

For John, BLUFPeople with agendas that preclude examination can't grow, but can disrupt.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

It appears The Daily Caller thinks so.

Here is an article from the web news presence about being excluded from this year's Convention of the Modern Language Association (MLA).  Mr Eric Owens, The DC Education Editor, is bitter about this exclusion.

My only comment is that their MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers is no Plain Words.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Redeeming Economics

For John, BLUFThe Pope is not a Marxist, but won't let Capitalism off the hook.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In The Boston Pilot this week is an article by Professors David and Angela Franks on the question of if the Pope is a Marxist.  The title is "An economy of gratuity".  Spoiler Alert—he isn't.

Yes, as usual, this opinion piece, being a good opinion piece, points us toward more reading, in this case John Mueller's Redeeming Economics.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, January 3, 2014

Cuba 55th Anniversary

For John, BLUFTime to stop the embargo on Cuba and let free trade subvert the regime.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Sometimes I am confused by the rhetoric coming out of Cuba.  In this news item from the Beeb Cuban Raul Castro (1) talks to how
"global power centres" were "subtly introducing neo-liberal and neo-colonial thinking" into Cuba.
Then (2) the article talks to:
Cuba has long blamed the US and the trade embargo it has been enforcing since 1960 for the island's economic woes.
For sure, if we opened up free trade with Cuba it would tend to undermine their Communist state.  Here they get the best of both worlds.  The US is causing them suffering by the trade embargo and the US is trying to undermine them.  If we really wished to undermine the regime we would open up free trade.  Period.

Regards  —  Cliff

China Rising

For John, BLUFThis says "Fasten your seatbelt, its going to be a bumpy ride".  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the blog The Diplomat is a quick discussion about why China is being so pushy these days, "Why China Can’t Rise Quietly".

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Reviewed

For John, BLUFNice Comment on "Boston Strong".  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Doctrine Man sums up 2013.

Doctrine Man is from the US Army, so it is "Lessons Learned".

Regards  —  Cliff

Bombing in Russia Analyzed

For John, BLUFThere are going to be more terrorist events in Russia in the runup to the Olympics this year.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Canada we have a CTV News analysis of the bombing of a train station in Russia on Sunday, the 29th of December.  The analyst is Professor Christopher Swift, from Georgetown University.  Here is the video.

I found this item on "Linked In", a professional networking on-line presence.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The CNN report says "massive explosion".  I don't think of a reported 10 kilos (22.2 pounds) of plastic as "massive", but that is just me.
  There is a 30 second advert on the front end.  This is, after all, a private operation up there in Canada.

Aged and Contraceptive Coverage

For John, BLUFA big, complicated law invites litigation.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Sort of like the Ball falling in Times Square in New York City, the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged gets a reprieve from the "contraceptive coverage requirements imposed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 42 U. S. C. § 300gg-13(a)(4), and related regulations pending the receipt of a response and further order of the undersigned or of the Court."  The undersigned was Ms Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.  One page.

Like Chief Justice John Roberts has told us, it's a tax.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff