Friday, February 28, 2014

Were Nazis Socialists?


For John, BLUFHistory is useful, when it isn't misunderstood.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



It is National Review.  It is Jonah Goldberg.  It is Godwin's Law.

But, still, entering the debate currently raging in The Telegraph, Mr Goldberg makes the point, correctly, that National Socialism was both national and socialist.  No hiding from the facts, please.

This feels like old times. Across the pond at the Telegraph, Tim Stanley and Daniel Hannan are having a friendly disagreement on the question of whether the Nazis were in fact socialists.  I don’t usually wade into these arguments anymore, but I’ve been writing a lot on related themes over the last few weeks and I couldn’t resist.

Not surprisingly, I come down on Hannan’s side.  I could write a whole book about why I agree with Dan, except I already did.  So I’ll be more succinct.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Condi Rice to be Honored


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



I am not a big follower of West Point and the West Point Association of Graduates (WPAOG), but I did see this and was pleased with their choice.

WPAOG is proud to announce that Condoleezza Rice will receive the SYLVANUS THAYER AWARD on Monday, October 6, 2014. From January 2005-2009, Rice served as the 66th Secretary of State of the United States and she is currently a professor of Political Economy in the Graduate School of Business; the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution; and a professor of Political Science at Stanford University.
Excellent choice.

Regards  —  Cliff

Suppressing Free Speech


For John, BLUFIf you wish to keep your rights you should avoid school.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Today, over at Instapundit, Law Professor Glenn Reynolds calls attention to an item in The Washington Post by Law Professor Eugene Volokh, "Not safe to display American flag in American high school".

Professor Reynolds titles his post "K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE" and quotes:

Today’s Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified School Dist. (9th Cir. Feb. 27, 2014) upholds a California high school’s decision to forbid students from wearing American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo.  (See here and here for more on this case.)  The court points out that the rights of students in public high schools are limited — under the Supreme Court’s decision in Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Comm. School Dist. (1969), student speech could be restricted if “school authorities [can reasonably] forecast substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities” stemming from the speech.  And on the facts of this case, the court concludes, there was reason to think that the wearing of the T-shirts would lead to disruption.  There had been threats of racial violence aimed at students who wore such shirts the year before. . . . This is a classic ‘heckler’s veto’ — thugs threatening to attack the speaker, and government officials suppressing the speech to prevent such violence.”  Leaving aside the First Amendment aspects, this says terrible things about immigration and the state of our public schools.
It seems that students, high school and college, lose many of their rights as American Citizens.  Are we out of balance here?

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, February 27, 2014

IRS Going After Conservative Groups


For John, BLUFThe IRS Scandal is a very slow leak.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Tax Professor Paul Caron calls attention to the fact that this is "The IRS Scandal, Day 294".

I am looking forward to next week, when Ms Lois Lerner is supposed to return to Capitol Hill and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  From an article by Bryon Preston at the PJ Tatler, we have "What Happens when Lois Lerner Returns to Testify Next Week?"  The lede:

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), has recalled IRS honcho Lois Lerner to testify on the agency’s abuse of Tea Party and conservative groups.  She has since retired from the IRS and is receiving a six-figure retirement income, making more money per year after leaving her government job in disgrace than most Americans make working full-time.
But, looking at the past, we have an examination of the Democrats attempting to steer the IRS.  Sometimes The Wall Street Journal lets something out beyond the paywall.  One of those items is Professor Bradley A. Smith's "Connecting the Dots in the IRS Scandal".  It is Mr Smith's contention that "The 'smoking gun' in the targeting of conservative groups has been hiding in plain sight."

Mr Smith is using the question asked by King Henry II of England in 1170 to illuminate the problem.  Speaking of Thomas à Becket, King Henry asks "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?"

Turned out four armed early IRS agents left the castle and drove down to Canterbury Cathedral.

Remember what the "Mahatma", Commonwealth State Senator (and Boston Ward 8 Boss) Martin Michael Lomasney told us a hundred years ago:

Never write if you can speak; never speak if you can nod; never nod if you can wink.
Hat tip to The InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Ms Donna Brazile and Arizona


For John, BLUFHistory is complicated.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



In a way I think we need to be careful about looking at history and assigning blame on today's individuals for those past actions.  Yes, the Holocaust happened because of Germans, but that is not today's Germans.  The lesson to learn is how a group, probably any group, can fall into some pseudo-science and enact horrid public policy.  Gunter and Hildi, college students in Munich, are not responsible for the Nuremberg Race Laws.

So Ms Donna Brazile, a pretty bright and effective leader of the National Democrat Party, Tweeted out yesterday about Arizona Bill SB 1062, (a "religious freedom" bill) which was picked up by Twitchy.  Here is the original Tweet from Ms Brazile:

AZ GOPers must have amnesia with "No Gays Allowed" bill. Call for a veto
With the Tweet there is a photo of a lunch counter and this caption:
Just so you know.  You've already lost this argument—50 years ago.  You don't get to decide who sits at the lunch counter.
Between sets at the gym, Professor and Blogger Glenn Reynolds Tweeted:
@dccc @donnabrazile So this is basically the political lie of the year, given that Democrats were the authors and supporters of segregation.
Exactly.

By the way, how serious are we about this kind of thing?  For instance, a couple of years ago I needed a jeweler to repair my Rosary.  I went to a local jeweler.  The jeweler said he couldn't (wouldn't) do it, because there was a Crucifix on the Rosary and that would violate his religious strictures.  Can I sue?  On City Life on Tuesday, Host George Anthes suggested I could.  I wonder if Ms Brazile would Tweet out some support for me?

UPDATE:  Back to my neighbor, the jeweler.  Nice guy.  Not belligerent.  He nicely declined to work on my Rosary.  I didn't want to make a "federal case", or even a "commonwealth case" out of it.  The jeweler is of a minority religion and a minority ethnic group, although not a minority race.  Why give him a hard time?  This is America and we have a certain live and let live approach to things.  It is a big nation and there are lots of jewelers.  I still go to him for watch batteries.  My real concern is all those Christians in Muslim lands who find themselves discriminated against (this used to include Communist lands as well).  We don't hear much about that.  Perhaps, for me, in these United States, why does anyone care that Holy Spirit Cupcakes doesn't wish to make a cake for a same sex wedding?  Is it really just about forcing someone to submit after years of being forced to submit?  Where is the progress in that?

Regards  —  Cliff

  This is fairly complicated, but the focus is on small business owners being allowed to not bake cakes or photograph same sex marriages, because their religious views are offended.  At the end of the day, Arizona Jan Brewer vetoed the bill.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Law Unmoored


For John, BLUFAre they beginning to sound desperate in DC?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at the International New York Times is an article on Attorney General Eric Holder telling State Attorneys General they don't have to enforce State laws they feel are discriminatory.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Monday injected the Obama administration into the emotional and politicized debate over the future of state same-sex marriage bans, declaring in an interview that state attorneys general are not obligated to defend laws that they believe are discriminatory.

Mr. Holder was careful not to encourage his state counterparts to disavow their own laws, but said that officials who have carefully studied bans on gay marriage could refuse to defend them.

I wonder if that extends to crack cocaine?  In the past it has been contended that the law is prejudiced against Blacks, who tend to use crack more than powdered.  (And such a theory would not be wrong.)

And what about laws against polygamy.  Are they not the representation of a Western Civilization prejudice not share by hundreds of millions, if not billions of people around the world (and here in the US)?

Yes, this is a slippery slope.  Yes, sort of like a super signing statement.  Except in this case the US Attorney General is saying State Attorneys General can ignore both their Legislatures and their Governors.

This is just a cap to Ham Sandwich Nation.  This means one can ignore the law to protect one's friends.  I don't mind that so much when the Supreme Judicial Court does it, but when an Attorney General does it it smells corrupt.

If you don't trust our regular democratic institutions to right things, and wish to substitute the power of great men for those democratic institutions, then maybe you should move to New York, or Harvard.
Just saying.

Regards  —  Cliff

Susan Rice on TV New Shows


For John, BLUFDo we have a foreign policy?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at The Washington Post, OpEd Writer Richard Cohen takes on National Security Advisor Susan Rice for her performance on the Sunday news show, Meet the Press.  He also criticizes Interviewer David Gregory for weak followup.

Susan Rice ought to stay off “Meet the Press.”  The last time she was on, she misrepresented what led to the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.  On Sunday she was back, this time misrepresenting critics of the Obama administration’s Syria policy.  Last time her misrepresentation was unintentional.  This time it wasn’t.  I prefer it, though, when she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

In a frustrating colloquy with host David Gregory, Rice initially said all the right things about Syria. She called the war there “horrific,” which indeed it is.  She said it had “spilled over and infused the neighboring states,” which indeed it has.  And she said the United States had “every interest in trying to bring this conflict to a conclusion.”  Yes.  Yes, indeed.

“But if the alternative here is to intervene with American boots on the ground, as some have argued, I think that the judgment the United States has made and the president of the United States has made is that is not in the United States’ interests,” she continued.

Gregory, usually as alert and twitchy as a squirrel, flat-lined. He did not ask Rice who, precisely, advocated boots on the ground. He did not ask her to name just one prominent critic or to wonder why this is “the alternative” when there are so many others.  He just pushed on, leaving this straw man to crinkle and crackle under the hot TV lights and allowing Rice, who is the president’s national security adviser, to get away with rebutting an argument that has not been made.  She did, though, exhibit an administration mind-set — all or nothing — that, in practice, amounts to nothing.

Rice’s was a splendid performance, characteristic of an administration that values the sound of policy over its implementation.  But it bore directly on another urgent foreign policy problem confronting Washington and the world:  Ukraine.  Of course the revolution in that country was discussed, and Rice warned Russia not to resort to force, saying that would be “a grave mistake.”  She declared the United States on the side of the Ukrainian people, an airy but prudent generalization.  This will have to do for the moment.

The rest of the article is just as well written and gets into the issue of national disintegration around the world, an issue that the United States should be interested in a deep way.  However, I should not just lift the story wholesale.  But, Mr Cohen has done an excellent job examining the territory here.  As we all know, "you gotta know the territory".

Regards  —  Cliff

Afghan Future


For John, BLUFWe keep an eye on Afghanistan or problems will brew up again.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The President has sent a message to President Hamid Karzai that since President Karzai is unwilling to sign a mutually beneficial Bilateral Security Agreement, we are planning on how best to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan.  The White House Press Release says, in part:

With regard to the Bilateral Security Agreement, in advance of the NATO Defense Ministerial, President Obama told President Karzai that because he has demonstrated that it is unlikely that he will sign the BSA, the United States is moving forward with additional contingency planning.  Specifically, President Obama has asked the Pentagon to ensure that it has adequate plans in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014.  At the same time, should we have a BSA and a willing and committed partner in the Afghan government, a limited post-2014 mission focused on training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces and going after the remnants of core Al Qaeda could be in the interests of the United States and Afghanistan.  Therefore, we will leave open the possibility of concluding a BSA with Afghanistan later this year.  However, the longer we go without a BSA, the more challenging it will be to plan and execute any U.S. mission.  Furthermore, the longer we go without a BSA, the more likely it will be that any post-2014 U.S. mission will be smaller in scale and ambition.
On the other hand, Representative Howard P "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee for the 113th Congress, talked to the issue at the National Press Club, in Washington, DC, on Monday, the 24th of February.  Fox News put up the speech under the title "A safe, secure Afghanistan is within our grasp -- don’t let it slip away".

Representative McKeon throws a compliment at President Obama

The president has sustained international support for this new democracy.  He went out and found billions in aid to help lift them out of despair.  He kept the coalition of countries willing to send troops to fight with us.  And as a direct result of his military strategy, Afghanistan is freer and America is safer.
But, he is making the point that we have to be in for the long term if we are not allow our success to slide into long term failure.
These fights can be won.  But they take time, patience, and treasure – and all those things usually come in short supply with voters.
So, are these conflicting views, or is the Administration and the House of Representatives double teaming President Karzai, so he will be motivated to sign the BSA?

Regards  —  Cliff

Zero Dark Thirty And The Oscars


For John, BLUFSenator McCain knows whereof he speaks.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Torture is morally wrong and it isn't all that effective.  So argues Mr Mark Salter, former chief of staff to Sen. John McCain and a senior adviser to the McCain for President campaign (way back in 2008).  He argues his position in Real Clear Politics.  This came up out of an NPR discussion of the movie Zero Dark Thirty missing an Oscar last year, and one of the on air people blaming three US Senators, including Senator John McCain.
We shouldn’t have to argue against the use of torture by disputing its efficacy, but those are the grounds on which its proponents make their stand.  Sometimes torture will get you actionable intelligence.  More often it produces false leads.  It didn’t give us bin Laden.  But it is always morally wrong, contrary and corrosive to the ideals that our nation was founded to protect.  “Zero Dark Thirty” gave credence to those who would have us employ those practices again.
I am with Mr Salter.

Regards  —  Cliff

Farewell to Academic Freedom?


For John, BLUFAn up and coming Bill Ayers?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Down county we have the local college newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, with an opinion piece on "Academic Justice" versus "Academic Freedom".  The author of the OpEd, Sandra Y.L. Korn, Class of 2014.
Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous standard:  one of “academic justice.”  When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.
Yes, if we could have banned all those academics doing research in the area of Eugenics this would have been a better world in the Twentieth Century.  Unfortunately, it was not obvious to everyone that eugenics would lead to, amongst other things, the Holocaust.  Or forced sterilization of women in the US, sanctioned by the US Supreme Court.  (Once more G K Chesterton had it correct, but the Yankee from Olympus had it wrong.)

The problem is, who decides "academic justice".  It would appear that Ms Korn would like to crowd source the answers.  I like crowd sourcing, but in issues of science I am not sure crowd sourcing is the way to go.  On the other hand, crowd sourcing would save a lot of money in terms of research into climate change.  We wouldn't do it.

Also, Ms Korn ties, in the OpEd, to justify the "American Studies Association’s resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions until Israel ends its occupation of Palestine."  I think it is a foolish resolution, but to each his own.  I would be more impressed if they also publicly called for a boycott of Palestinian academic institutions until Hamas backs off and everyone agrees to the right of Israel to exist.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Looking to November


For John, BLUFNovember will be a real test for the GOP.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



A friend of mine, on Monday evening, assured me that the Republicans can go nowhere in November, given that their only voting demographic is old Caucasian males.  Based upon his analysis, I am assuming that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will be the Speaker again in January 2015.

On the other hand, Mr Bill Press, former Chairman of the California Democratic Party (1993 to 1996), sees some problems.  Of course there is the Koch Brothers, but number one, in the mind of Mr Press, at least in his article in The Hill, is the Pogo insight, "We have met the enemy—and he is us."  That is to say, the Democrats are their own worst enemy.

Here’s the problem:  Too many Democrats, and too many members of the media, are spending too much time talking and scheming about 2016.
I wonder if the way Mr Press connects the Democrats and the Media suggests he thinks they are one in the same?

Here is how he sums it up.

For Democrats, there’s too much at stake in 2014 to be worrying about 2016 now.  With 36 Senate seats on the line, a shift of only six seats would mean loss of control for Democrats.  In the House, Democrats need only 17 seats to get back in power.  Among the 36 governorships up this year, with reapportionment on the line, Democrats have excellent prospects in Maine, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, among other states.  But those opportunities could be lost with so much energy going into 2016.
My "German" friend thinks the current social and economic issues will deny Republics all but a handful of voters.  Mr Bill Press seems to think the Democrats will miss the 2014 election by focusing on 2016.  Which is it?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Actually, he used an unworthy racist term, but I am putting it down to ignorance.
  Of course that will mean more occult legislation that the Democratic Congress will have to pass before mere citizens can know what it says.

Lowell Election Commission Meeting Thursday


For John, BLUFLowell Election Commission working for you.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Today I received an EMail from Election Commissioner Gerry Nutter:
In order to try to make the meetings more accessible to the public, we have moved the time to 6:00 pm beginning this Thursday. On the Agenda is a speaker from UTEC [Geoff Foster] and discussions on changing polling locations, asking the Council/School Committee to cancel school on Election Day in November and organizing voter registration days at the various High Schools this spring.
That would be this Thursday and the location would be the Mayor's Reception Room on the Second Floor of City Hall.  (From the elevator, turn right, from the top of the stairs, turn right and then look left.)

I draw attention to an agenda item about polling locations—"Set May meeting for Public Hearing on Polling Locations".  From time to time I hear complaints (and suggestions) about polling locations.  This is YOUR chance to have an input.

Also, please note that the Lowell CENSUS is out.  We all should fill out the CENSUS and return it to City Hall.  For one thing, it ensures our voter registration is up to date.

Speaking of voter registration, voting is very important.  Some, like City Life Host George Anthes, a Professor of Government at UMass Lowell, believe that those who haven't been voting should not be encouraged to vote, since they are likely ill informed about the issues and the candidates.  I, on the other hand, while acknowledging the logical of Professor Anthes' position, argue for urging as many as possible to vote.  The reason is that if a lot of folks turn out to vote it will keep the elected officials on their toes, since they will realize that it is possible with the additional voters that things could go a different way.  Greater voter participation means greater elected official attention to the voters.

Regards  —  Cliff

Krieger's Corollary to Godwin's Law


For John, BLUFAnd yet running for office costs a lot of money.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Krieger's Corollary to Godwin's Law:
"As an online political discussion that includes Democrats grows longer, the probability of the invocation of the Koch Brothers approaches 1."
Here is a recent example, from a Nobel Laurette, Professor Paul Krugman.  My Brother, the Democrat, mentioned it.  Not my other Brother, from Northern Virginia.  On the other hand, the Koch Brothers come in 77 on this list.  Frankly, I had them up around number 50.  Incidentally, the Koch Brothers never surfaced when I ran, twice, for State Rep.  Nor did Mr Martin Burke get a donation from the Koch Brothers when he ran two years ago.

Per the Washington Examiner the Koch Brothers, per Open Secrets dot Org actually rank number 59, behind such other conservative organizations such as AFSCME, NEA, IBEW, UAW, Carpenters & Joiners and SEIU.

As Professor Althouse has it:

I think it's like the way 15 is 105 in dog years.  $18 million — the Koch total — should be understood in "conservative" dollars when ranking "most evil" donors.  Let's use the "dog years" multiplier of 7, to demonstrate the concept.  $18 million is $128 million in conservative dollars.  So, understood properly, the Koch Brothers actually do rank #1 on the most evil donor ever ranking.
Krieger's Corollary to Godwin's Law.

Regards  —  Cliff

  That was yesterday.  Today he invokes Godwin's Law, but, he says, in a good way.
  Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Floods in England


For John, BLUFYou mess with messing with Mother Nature and there will be consequences.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



As we know from the news, there has been terrible flooding in England this Winter.  I am sure most attribute it to the weather, which flows from this continent to the United Kingdom and then on over Europe.  One assumes it is then recycled somewhere over Asia and then flows back over us.  At any rate, things seem to be worse this year and it is attributable to Global Warming/Climate Change.

Mr Richard Fernandez, of the blog Belmont Club, takes on this issue.  He narrows it down to British Environment Agency and their failure to continue past practices, practices their Masters have deemed unfriendly to the environment, an environment which appears to not include humans.

The floods were apparently not only inevitable, but foreseeable.  The chief problem to preventing them lay in a policy which maintained that active flood control was bad.  Nature treats humans as part of the natural world but environmentalists treat nature as part of the political world.  Many a misunderstanding arises therefrom.  Alas the rains and the seasons refuse to read Labor Party and Green Left manifestos and the results are often inconvenient.  And so the floods came.
My only addition would be to note that if Government is going to return some area to its "pristine" state, some 2,000 to 3,000 years ago, it ought to notify and relocate the people impacted and then not sigh in public about the forecastable results.

The Environment Agency is a Non-Departmental Public Body, in other words, a QUANGO.  The idea is to have an agency such as the Environment Agency at arms length from the responsible Government Minister (here it would be the Cabinet Secretary).  The nearest US example might be the Federal Reserve, responsible for keeping the US economy ticking along.  The Fed is as close to a perpetual motion machine as we are likely to see in our lifetimes.

So, this British flooding is unlikely related to Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change. Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

"Rule Like Stalin"


For John, BLUFUnrest in many places.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



At the Day by Day Cartoon (Chris Muir as artist) is a cartoon dedicated to Fausta Wertz.  The punchline is a translation of a sign, in Spanish, from Venezuela:
They speak like Marx, rule like Stalin, live like the Rockefellers, while the People suffer.
For those actually paying attention, most of that attention is on what is going on in Ukraine, where street demonstrations have emboldened Parliament to throw out the President, Viktor Yushchenko, and set new elections for May of this year.  The above quote could have referred to the opulence found when the people in the street broke into President Yushchenko's residence.

It doesn't.

It turns out that Ukraine isn't the only action.  There is Thailand, of course.  However, under reported, in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, there is unrest and lively street demonstrations.  In fact, events are moving fast enough that Wikipedia isn't keeping up.

Regards  —  Cliff

  For older readers, yes, it used to be "The Ukraine", but apparently modern usage drops the "the".

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Politics in Texas, Partly


For John, BLUFDon't look for balance from the NYT.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at The International New York Times Columnist Gail Collins has at Texas politics, "Texas Strikes Again".  It is your typical collection of all the weirdness that is politics in Texas.  Being part of the NYT empire it is long on Republican weirdness.  For instance, Governor Rick Perry and Senator Ted Cruz get a little snark.  The nephew of President George W Bush gets the treatment.
“My friends and family call me George P, so feel free to call me P,” the 37-year-old energy consultant and son of Jeb told CNN.  This was one of his more expansive interviews during a campaign that has mainly involved driving around the state in a bus while keeping as far away from reporters as humanly possible.  P’s genius for avoiding the media is so profound that, in a primal moan of despair, The Austin American-Statesman endorsed his primary opponent, a businessman who advocates barring children of illegal immigrants from public schools.
Well, the "good news" is that Ms Collins is not an equal opportunity offender.  The leading Democrat in the race for Governor, State Senator Wendy Davis, gets a pass on her own antics.

Notwithstanding the obvious snark and prejudice, it is an interesting read.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, February 21, 2014

Protecting Our Freedoms


For John, BLUFFreedom needs to be pursued every day.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



To be up front about this, I blame President George Bush (43).  In his zeal to prevent another terrorist attack on the United States, perhaps one killing way more than 3,000 Citizens and Residents, he started us down the gentle path of increased surveillance.  Then Senator Barak Obama, Professor of Constitutional Law that he had been, railed against weakening of our Constitutional safeguards.  Now here we are into the sixth year of the Obama Presidency and things are worse, not better.  For example: In a zeal that reminds one of the Nixon White House, the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, has been going after leaks.  Past use of secret subpoenas or search warrants, against the Associated Press and Fox News, have raised some questions and received some pushback.  Now the Department of Justice is saying it is going to abandon that practice, with some exceptions:
a clear and substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation, risk grave harm to national security or present an imminent risk of death or serious bodily harm
So, somewhere between SECRET and TOP SECRET.  Incidentally, since the definitions of SECRET and TOP SECRET come to us via Executive Order (Executive Order 13526), why the ambiguity?

From the news report by Reporter Peter Yost of Yahoo:

Jane Kirtley, a University of Minnesota professor of media ethics and the law who speaks often on First Amendment issues, said she was troubled that there remain instances under the new rules in which the government might not notify news organizations of plans to obtain records, such as when the government believes notice would threaten national security.

"It seems that in times of crisis, there's a tendency to see everything as a major national security breach," she said. "Obviously the intelligence community is always going to represent security breaches as a big deal. My question is, are they all created equal? Do they all rise to the level of severity to justify what I see as an intrusion into press independence?"

I would say that DOJ moved to cauterize this before they got help from Congress or the Federal Courts.  This bears watching.

The other little item is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) backing off, for now, its plan to do a news content study ("Critical Information Needs" or CIN).  The original survey was to be dry run in South Carolina.  This item was covered Reporter Tim Cavanaugh, of National Review and Reporter Hadas Gold of Politico.

Part of the original survey tool included interviews of newsroom management and employees, raising concerns about intimidation of those who develop and report the news.  This would be a breach of our First Amendment.  That said, Congress has mandated that the FCC examine barriers to entry by entrepreneurs and other small businesses, under Section 257 of the Communications Act.

The survey tool was to look into issues such as health, education, transportation, emergency(?), economic opportunities, environment, civic info, political info.

Now the survey is on the back burner, but it hasn't gone away.  The National Review article concludes:

One observer speculated to National Review Online that the FCC may take this opportunity to revisit a matter on which it has repeatedly been shot down.  The airwaves regulator has been consistently blocked by courts in its efforts to establish race-based media ownership rules – on the grounds that it did not have data to justify such rulemaking.  There is a movement to make the CIN a mechanism for gathering such data.

A December comment on an unrelated FCC docket suggests this idea is not as far-fetched as it sounds.  A group called the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights singled out the CIN survey as an avenue for race-based research by the FCC.

“Communities of color and women should have opportunities to control the distribution and creation of images about themselves,” the Conference wrote on December 5.  “We look forward to working with the Chairman to consider the variety of technologies and policy initiatives that would accomplish that objective.  We emphasized the importance of collecting data that tracks the impact of media consolidation on women and people of color, as mandated by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Prometheus v. FCC…  We expressed our support for the Section 257 Critical Information Needs studies as a mechanism to obtain such data, and encouraged the Commission to move ahead with the effort, paying special attention to its ability to assess the needs of linguistic minorities.”

I am all for minorities having a shot at entering the broadcast world.  On the other hand, I am not sure what "control the distribution and creation of images about themselves" means.  That reminds me of the kind of thing going on in Canada and Europe, where those critical of Muslims in print and on the air are being suppressed by the Government.  This is America.  Everyone takes their lumps, but everyone gets a chance to push back.  This is sort of a tradeoff between freedom of expression and a desire for "dignity".  I go with freedom of expression, even if it means you can make fun of me and demean me in the press.  Heck I get demeaned on City Life a couple of times a week.  Hasn't hurt me yet.  :-)

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Equal Pay Problems


For John, BLUFEqual pay for equal work.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Is it fair to call this out?
#WARONWOMEN: Today is White House Equal Pay Day, the day to which women staffers must work through in 2014 to earn as much as male staffers did in 2013.
Posted by Glenn Reynolds at 10:32 am.

Regards  —  Cliff

Calling Doctor Anthes


For John, BLUFWhat is the new civility?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



For the last week or so the Host of City Life, Professor George Anthes, has been calling for civility on the part of City Officials, elected and appointed.  It is almost like he has reverted to his Democrat Party youth in calling for a new civility.  Democrats, as we well know, have, ever since the Rep Gabby Giffords shooting, been calling for a new civility.  And now they are bashing the Republican over some mythical "war on women".  But, City Life Host George Anthes is focused like a laser beam on local uses of terms that suggest disrespect toward other City Officials.

Today's edition of The [Lowell] Sun has an article ("School panel: City's $3.8M shortfall is 'irresponsible'") which suggests that perhaps Mr Anthes is on to something.  The reporter is Mr Lyle Moran.  Here are some of the quotes:

Member David Conway called the shortfall the result of "mismanagement" and "irresponsible" actions on the part of both school and city officials.
Then there is this:
Member Stephen Gendron said of the shortfall:  "It was a gross mistake. We should have gotten the $3.8 million."
If someone accused me of a "gross mistake" I wouldn't take too kindly to it.
"To me this is negligence on the part of the administration," Elliott said.  "We should have been made aware of this huge deficit a long time ago."
My dictionary says, regarding the law, negligence is "failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another."

I wonder when we get to "fighting words".

At any rate, tune in to City Life tomorrow (live from six to eight and on replay from four to six) on LTC Channel 8.  The show is also available on line, here.

Regards  —  Cliff

  That said, he is a loyal member of the Ward 1 Republican City Committee.
  Remember, articles in The [Lowell] Sun go away after a while, to a different place.  I will not be updating their links unless I am bedridden and have read every book in the house.  And, besides, the Editor tells me the links cost money after a few weeks.  It is the new business model.

What Are Appropriate Actions?


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



From The Instapundit we have a link to an article in The Wall Street Journal about climate change.

I would like to note that I believe that "climate change" happens.  Who wouldn't?  History tells us that climate varies.  The question is, how to react?  It is one thing to work for cleaner energy and it is another to create a world where there is little or no energy to support the life of six or seven billion people.  Besides, what is the upside of climate change?  Who talks about that?

But, back to the WSJ item.  Here is the link from Professor Reynolds.  Here is the link to the original Instapundit post.

By the way, the biggest polluter of the atmosphere is China.  There are practical politics in play, and as someone pointed out to me, the Chinese view environmental degradation as an acceptable price for:

  1. Preserving the power of the Party, by
  2. Raising the level of economic activity, and
  3. Preserving employment/preventing unemployment.
This is not simply a matter of allowing polluting INDUSTRIES to remain in operation, but also in allowing high-sulfur coal mines, poor quality coal, etc., to remain in use. (China has some of the largest coal reserves in the world.)

As China's economy has begun to slow down, the idea of cutting back on pollution by closing down even more businesses is a non-starter, whatever the level of profound optimism.  This notwithstanding Secretary of State John Kerry calling climate change a National Security Threat.  (Ms Clare Foran, The National Interest.)  Secretary of State Kerry called for international cooperation and for all nations to work to curb emissions.  From the article:

… while the U.S. is taking steps to rein in carbon emissions, developing nations must also curb air pollution.
And, of course the new symbol of the Obama Administration, the crossed pen and phone, came in to play.  Regarding the US failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, Mr Kerry said:
"On the subject of climate change and the international conventions, actually the United States of America is taking a lead today," Kerry said. "President Obama has decided that he will do, by executive order, what Congress has been unwilling to do … [and] we have lowered emissions in the United States significantly."
Ah, the pen is mightier than the Congress.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The view of the current US Administration seems to be somewhat different.  Unemployment is an opportunity to go out and write poetry.  (That is a link to The [Lowell] Sun.  Remember, articles in The [Lowell] Sun may go away after a while, to a different place.  I will not be updating their links unless I am bedridden and have read every book in the house.  And, besides, the Editor tells me the links cost money after a few weeks.  It is the new business model.)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Professional City Management


For John, BLUFA simple yes or no answer requires agreement on what the words in the question mean.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



On City Life this morning, (Dave Leferriere and Jack Mitchell as co-host and guest) Host George Anthes tried to pin down what "Professional City Management" is and tried to force the dividing line as being whether the person is a politician or a lawyer, on the one hand, or someone with a degree in "city management" and experience in that area.

I believe George's characterization misses the point, at least as I understand it.  I believe the concept turns on the question of "a fair shake".  It is the difference in how you get City Services.  Do you get them because of who you know, because of your political connections, because of your party affiliation, or do you get them because a clerk treats you just like every other member of the community, with courtesy and fairness.

This is different from competent and incompetent (or to add the Curtis E LeMay spin, fortunate or unfortunate).

What a Bernie Lynch brings to the job is an assumption that he will be a-political in his administration of the City.  It may not be a fact, but it is an assumption.  The flip side of this would be a belief that Rep Kevin Murphy would bring to the job a preference for the Highlands section of Lowell over the rest of the sections.  I don't think that would be the case, but the "always lived in the Highlands" assertion came up on City Life this morning.

As Host George Anthes might note, there is no specific path to being an Air Force Base Commander (when he was on active duty a JAG, like George, could be the Base Commander).  What was expected was leadership and integrity.  The Base Commander couldn't be an expert in everything.  The Air Police and the Base Civil Engineers reported to him.  The Services people, like the base feeding facilities, and the personnel office and financial services reported to him, and his reach included the Post Office and the Supply Squadron.  The Base Theater and the Commissary were under his purview, as was the Base Library.

My experience was that the Base Commander was a crew dog who had made colonel as a navigator.  Until toward the end of my career, navigators didn't command combat flying units.  Thus, the colloguial term, Base Navigator.

The dividing line, not easy to discern, is the leadership style of the individual.  Do all citizens get an even-steven break?  Or, does croneyism reign?  Worse, if possible, nepotism.

Which is not to say that City Government doesn't operate, internally, due to a little bit of cumshaw.  Let's be realistic here.

Another way to look at it is the assertion by the late Robert S McNamara that management is a skill and a good manager can manage just about anything.  Is Kevin Murphy a good manager?  Better than the other 20 people applying for the job?  Yes, there is the fact that he "knows the territory", knows the people and personalities.  The flip side is if he has ever experienced life outside of the Highlands (and Beacon Hill) and thus can bring diverse ideas to the job.

Picking the City Manager will probably be the most important task the City Council undertakes this year.  I hope they are open to all of the candidates, not prejudging any, and in the end picking the best man or woman for the position.  At this point I have no recommendations.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Strangely, because he was an aviator, he was the titular authority for cross-country flights to fly.
  I am not sure George was doing my any favors by trying to drag me into the on-air discussion.  More dividing than unifying.

Monday, February 17, 2014

European "Tea Parties"


For John, BLUFThere is political unrest in Europe.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



It is Brietbart, so there are all the questions about if it is real, but I think the pieces are there for an interesting discussion.  GLOCALIZATION:  EUROPEAN TEA PARTY MOVEMENTS ON THE MARCH.  "Glocalization" is the word.  No typo.

This article is about three parties, that of Mr Geert Wilders (Freedom Party in the Netherlands), Ms Marine Le Pen (France's Front National or FN) and Mr Nigel Farage (UKIP or the United Kingdom Independence Party).  So, the question is, are they really part of a "Tea Party" movement or are they just Fascist?  Of course part of the question is what does it mean to be Fascist?  I would suggest that these parties are the buffer between the old-line mainstream parties and possible true Fascist movements—movements that will call for dictatorship and secret police.

Per the article, what these movements suggest is that there are voters in European nations who are concerned about over centralization, petty bureaucrats dictating broad rules for local communities and immigration.

One thing to keep in mind is that European nations tend to have laws that allow individuals to be tried in court if they make certain utterances which might, in the United States, be seen as offensive, but not criminal.  Mr Geert Wilders has faced such legal action.

This blog post is not an endorsement of either the political parties listed or Brietbart, but it does call attention to the fact that there are voters out there who are unhappy with the mainstream parties in their own nations.

What would be a bad outcome is for Voters to lose hope and opt for Parties that promise to take away the burdens of citizenship as well as the right to vote, thus making "life easy again".  Civics doesn't work that way.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Presidents


For John, BLUFIn the old days we broke up winter with holidays fixed in date and flowing in day.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Happy Presidents Day.  I am old enough to remember when we had two holidays this month, one for Washington and one for Lincoln.  I am not sure this is an improvement.

In a way, one wonders if the consolidation is not also part of the "feel good" idea that everyone is a winner, rather than a focus on our two greatest Presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Doing Something About Syria


For John, BLUFStay out of Syria.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The American Interest and Mr Walter Russell Mead we have "Slaughter in the Cities, Ineffectual Mumbling in the White House". 
The President can only count his one remaining blessing:  the press is still busy trying to shield itself from understanding the full damage this administration’s painfully inept Syria policy has done.  Our Syria response has harmed America’s position, our alliances in the Middle East, and our relationships around the world — to say nothing of the humanitarian disaster we’ve implicated ourselves in.

To bluster heroically about how ‘Assad must go’, then do nothing as he stays; to epically proclaim grandiose red lines and make military threats that fall humiliatingly flat; to grasp with pathetic eagerness an obviously bogus Russian negotiating ploy; to sputter ineffectually as the talks collapse…it is rare that American diplomacy is conducted this poorly for so long a period of time.

OK, that is the indictment, and Mr Mead is not the only one doing the indicting.  We have Analyst Max Boot, who on 10 February wrote in The Financial Times, "Obama’s Syria policy is a deadly mistake".  Author Max Boot is no lightweight. He is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, in New York City.

Someone I know commented on Mr Boots article thusly.

No one has commented on the feasibility of Max's military courses of action in achieving his aim.  I am of the opinion that no fly zones, safe havens etc, will not stop the war, they will only change it.

Good for AQ that they want to attack America.  The last guys they sent couldn't light gasoline on fire in Times Square.  Better Assad fights them there.  If they do win, we can target their camps and drop the new version of a BLU-82 on their heads.  Cruise missiles are so 1998.

I think our obsession with moderate, secular, democrats is ridiculous.  Nice people don't fight house to house.  Hardcore, extremists do that.  Marines do that.  The US Army is rumored to have a few in hiding who claim they can.  The point being, like a grand plan of stopping the violence via "safe zones," winning via moderates doesn't pass the tactical reality filter.

My life has been unchanged by Srebrenica.  If everyone in Syria dies, I'll still be able to get the double chocolate brownie at Starbucks.  If the Jordanians, Saudis, Turks and other regional players won't fight, why should we?  Our track record in this sort of thing is terrible and in the last 30 years we've fought in Syria's eastern and western neighbors to no avail.

Falling into the trap that limited force as a third party can positively change another's total war damages American credibility more than fake red lines or from behind leadership.

And, as stated, it is "total war" for them, while it is a "limited war" for us.

The other thing about Mr Max Boot is he is pretty casual about the President sidestepping Congress with regard to acting in Syria.  It is time for the US Congress to stop playing lap dog to the President on issues of war (or conflict, if you prefer).  That said, President Obama did right when he checked with the Congress over Syrian Chemical Weapons.  In fact, the President has generally done well with Syria, notwithstanding his "red line" and his "Assad must go" statements.  I am sure there is a lot of pressure on him from the "Responsibility to Protect" contingent in the Administration.  That he is resisting is a credit to him.

Nowhere in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence does it say we have to sally forth to protect the citizens of other lands.  We have done such things in the past, but with a mixed record.

This is not the Holocaust, with the victims trapped inside the country and being rounded up and gassed and their bodies burned to ashes.  There are, in fact, hundreds of thousands of refuges in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.  President Obama recently told Jordan's King Abdullah II that we would continue to provide $660 million a year in aid and $1 billion in loan guarantees, to help out with refugee relief.

The President is on the correct course.  Let us not encourage him to jump off this approach.  Work with others and see if we can find common ground.  Americans killing Syrians to save Syrians doesn't make much sense at this point.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I wonder if that is an indirect reference to Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter and her time as Director of Policy Planning at the Department of State, which she left in February of 2011.  She is also known for her Atlantic article, "Why Women Still Can't Have it All".
  There is a paywall, but you can sign up for eight articles a month free.

Voting Records and Standards


For John, BLUFRegardless, one should vote when one can.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is a report in Saturday's edition of The Boston Globe on the voting history of Democrat Party Gubernatorial nomination candidate Juliette Kayyem.  Fortunately for me, the first word in the article by Reporters Jim O'Sullivan and Todd Wallack was "gubernatorial", since I don't know how to spell it.

But, from there it becomes dodgy.  I know that the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act (later the Uniformed and Overseas Citizen Absentee Voting Act of 1986) allowed me to vote in California the whole time I was in the Air Force.  I am not so sure about civilians.  The fact that Ms Kayyem didn't vote in Cambridge (a town down county from here) while living in the DC area seems perfectly normal to me.  The fact that she didn't go to Cambridge City Hall and say "deregister me" also seems reasonable.  I am not saying she shouldn't have.  I am saying that it is probably something that no one thinks of.  I wonder if I am still registered in Huntington Beach, California.

The other thing that bothers me was that while the Reporters compared her voting record with the other candidates, they did not compare it with themselves, even though they mention that Ms Kayyem is a former reporter.  If one is going to call attention to the deficiencies of another (and not voting is a deficiency for all adult citizens) then one should be prepared to state one's own status.  There ought to be some standards for those who claim to be press professionals (as opposed to those of us in the "new media').  By the way, I vote whenever I can, City, State and National Elections.  I have made some wrong choices in the past, but I have made the choices.  Even from as far away as Bitberg and Ramstein Germany and outside Angeles City in the Philippines and outside Fairbanks in Alaska.

If one is going to criticize, even as a reporter, one should show how one measures up to the mythical standard being created.

Regards  —  Cliff

Their First Legislator


For John, BLUFA view of Christianity from outside.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I received this from a friend of mine and thought it insightful—brethren
After observing the warm fellowship of believers in Jesus, this was the reaction of the unbelieving Greek writer Lucian (AD 120–200): 
It is incredible to see the fervor with which the people of that religion help each other in their wants.  They spare nothing.  Their first legislator [Jesus] has put it in their heads that they are brethren.
Well, actually, I think the first Legislator was Moses, but why quibble with an outsider?

To the point, many Christians believe each of us must become a son or daughter of God (it seems), and thus brothers and sisters.  Note that God has no Grandchildren.

Sometimes it is hard to love a brother or sister, but that is what we are called to do.

The how is the tricky part.  Remember, Saul of Tarsus, the first to form a Tea Party, said that those who will not work shall not eat.  He said this in a letter to the Thessalonians.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Clueless in Boston


For John, BLUFInvincible ignorance on Morrissey Boulevard.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The Boston Globe has a particularly inane Editorial today, "Boehner must spurn Tea Party again on immigration reform".

The Editorial Cartoon, by Mr Michael Ramirez, better captures the actual situation in DC.

The editors totally miss the point that the debt is growing and no one seems to have any idea how to deal with it, the various Tea Parties aside.  We sail further and further out on this uncharted sea, confident that the directions left by Lord Keynes will bring us safely to port.  Their Lordships at The Globe see only some men and women dressed as Native Americans and dumping tea in the harbor.  They don't see a possible economic disaster in front of us.  Their Lordships lack the grace to acknowledge that those of us who identify with the various Tea Parties have concerns that deserve some consideration.

The other place Their Lordships show a lack of grace, and lack of insight, is with regard to immigration.  If the President is legislating from the Oval Office, if only by selective enforcement of the laws passed by the US Congress, then how will a deal on immigration be enforced, except by shutting down parts of the Government?  (I don't think the Feed and Forage act extents to Customs and Border Patrol or the Immigration and Naturalization Service.)  But then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would shut down the entire Federal Government rather than allow the Lower House to call the President's attention to his lack of attention to parts of an agreement, by not funding certain agencies involved in immigration (eg, CBP and INS).  And Their Lordships at The Globe would applaud Mr Reid.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, February 14, 2014

Success As Teacher


For John, BLUFSuccess is not promised, it is earned.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Success is a lousy teacher.  It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.  And it’s an unreliable guide to the future.
— Bill Gates, The Road Ahead
This is pretty much what Mr Nassim Nicholas Taleb said in Fooled by Randomness:  The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets.

Regards  —  Cliff

Shooting Offense


For John, BLUFMonuments Men?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From the Cornell Law School blog site we have 10 U.S. Code § 902 - Art. 102. Forcing a safeguard.  This gives us the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) Article 102:
Any person subject to this chapter who forces a safeguard shall suffer death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.
What does that mean?.

Maybe City Life host and one time Air Force JAG George Anthes knows what this means.  Or former Army Staff Sergeant and Old Guard Member John Mitchell, from his time in Iraq.

Here is the most likely explanation I have found out on the Interwebs.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sidelining Candidates For 2016—Already


For John, BLUFSometimes politics is dirty.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



An OpEd in The Boston Globe caught my attention.  Mr Tom Keane wrote to ask Governor Mitt Romney to not run for President in 2016.  Mr Keane does not deny that Governor Romney would make a great President, just that he would make a bad candidate.

On the one hand, I thought Mr Romney had already said no.  On the other hand, observing from afar, I haven't judged Mr Romney as a man, like say Governor Adlai Stevenson, who just has to have the job.  No, this is some sort of eminence gris operation, and both Major Parties do it.  Look at the "Hillary File" that as just been released.

So what is up?

  • Kill an opponent early.
  • Get your guy some notice, early.
  • Damage "A" so "B" will rise, creating an opening for "C".
  • Get the bad news out early (half life of a political memory being 90 days).
  • Political payback.
  • Personal payback.
  • Other.
  • Some of the above.
Happy Saint Valentine's Day.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, February 13, 2014

New Gun Ruling


For John, BLUFThis makes sense. The anti-gun folks should have never picked this scab.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Stand by for heavy weather.  The Ninth Circuit (REPEAT Ninth Circuit) has issued a "Sweeping ruling on guns in public" (SCOTUS Blog).

The amendment means, the panel ruled in a two-to-one decision, that it is unconstitutional to confine the “right to bear” arms solely to the home.
Regards  —  Cliff

Special Circumstances


For John, BLUFJust a straw in the wind.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Althouse blog headline:  "Republican wins San Diego mayor special election.  And in spite of a flood of public-union money in favor of the Democrat."

Then there is this:

Obama Turnout Machine Crashes in San Diego — Loses Mayor’s Race by 9 Points.
I am thinking "Filner fallout", named for Mr Bob Filner, misogynistic former mayor of San Diego.

Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Growing in Depth, Shrinking in Breadth


For John, BLUFThe Baby Boomers are shaping the future of the Federal Budget.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Writing in The Washington Post Mr Robert J Samuelson suggests the end of Government options>  The title is "The End of Government", but really it is "the end of government as we know it".
Something strange is happening in Washington.  We are slowly dismantling the federal government, even as its spending is growing larger.  The paradox is that governmental competence is being systematically degraded while the government’s size, as measured by its budget, is increasing.  We are spending more and getting less, and — unless present trends are reversed — this will continue for years.  It threatens the end of government as we know it.
It is all about the voters and the power of certain groups to influence the Government.  Mr Samuelson gives us some examples of how the Government outreach is shrinking and the total cost goes up.
  • The military is being weakened.  As a share of national income, defense spending is projected to fall by 40 percent from 2010 to 2024.  For example, the Air Force has discussed retiring all its 300 A-10 jets, a close-in ground support fighter, for a savings of $3.7 billion. The move would mean that “more people will get hurt and die” in combat, one general told the Wall Street Journal.
  • The National Institutes of Health reports that since 2003 its budget has declined 22 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars.  The cuts squeeze research for Alzheimer’s, AIDS, cancer and heart disease — among others — and makes it harder for younger scientists to get grants.
  • Chief Justice John Roberts warns that cuts in the federal courts’ $7 billion budget threaten delays in trials and decisions.  Since 1997, the system’s workforce has shrunk 14 percent, despite more civil filings (up 2 percent), criminal defendants charged (up 34 percent) and people on probation (up 45 percent).
The National Institutes of Health is a bothersome one, in that advances in medicine, some of which might lower costs, are not being explored.  The medical device tax strikes me as falling in the same category.

I see this as some sort of Governmental graveyard spiral that could lead to decreases in investments in R&D, Infrastructure and Education, all of which will narrow the future for our children or grandchildren.

Mr Samuelson concludes:

But no one is looking.  Budget debates and the media focus on deficits and debt ceilings.  This makes people seem engaged when they are actually evading explicit choices of what programs to cut and taxes to raise.  Both liberals and conservatives are complicit in this charade, but liberals are more so because their unwillingness to discuss Social Security and Medicare benefits candidly is the crux of the budget stalemate.  This refusal is rich in irony:  The pro-government party in rhetoric has become an anti-government party in practice.
Which takes us back to the comments of Rep Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) from one of yesterday's blog posts.  As noted there, only the voters can save us.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Medical devices, such as the examination gloves used by a medical person in a medical institution.  "Most medical devices become subject to a 2.3% excise tax collected at the time of purchase.  (The ACA provided for a 2.6% tax, but this was reduced to 2.3% by the Reconciliation Act).  This tax will also apply to some medical devices, such as examination gloves and catheters, that are used in veterinary medicine."  This Wikipedia extract has a link to here, which has links.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Fixing the Fixing of the Process


For John, BLUFIt is up to the voters.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I say this paragraph in a report on the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act, which is approaching 40 years of age, and has four years where it actually worked as constructed. 
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on Ryan's panel, placed the blame on Republicans.  “There may be things that you can play with at the margins, but what's happened here is a breakdown in the willingness to make some tough compromises,” he said.  “And I would argue, obviously from our perspective, that when you have a Tea Party faction in the House that runs on an anti-compromise platform, it obviously undermines the process.”
I think that Rep. Chris Van Hollen is going to win the propaganda war, but the fact is he is arguing from the point of view that what currently exists is some sort of baseline and any proposed change is against "Truth, Justice and The American way".  This shows an unwillingness to truly explore the current problems, to explore new ideas.  Frankly, this approach of Mr Van Hollen will not improve things.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The item is behind a pay wall.

The UN Preaches


For John, BLUFHypocrites at Turtle Bay.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at The Instapundit is a link to a Wall Street Journal article by Ms Claudia Rosett, and this extract of the key point.
That’s rich coming from the U.N., which has still not solved its own festering problems of peacekeeper sex abuse, including the rape of minors.  Exposing abusers and holding them to account is a great idea.  The Vatican has spent years addressing the scandal of its own past handling of such cases.  But the U.N. hardly engages in the transparency it is now promoting.

The U.N. releases only generic statistics on violations committed by personnel working under its flag.  The U.N. doesn’t share with the public such basic information as the names of the accused or the details of what they did to people the U.N. dispatched them to protect.  Blue berets accused of sex crimes are simply sent back to their home countries, where in the majority of cases they drop off the radar.

Though the U.N. has been recording a drop in sex-abuse cases since it began releasing numbers in 2007, the number of alleged instances of rape and exploitation each year still runs into the dozens.  (This may understate the realities, given the hurdles to victims coming forward, often in societies in tumult or at war.)  From 2007-13, the U.N. reported more than 600 allegations of rape or sexual exploitation, with 354 substantiated—many of them involving minors. The numbers do not convey how ugly some of these cases get.  Details can occasionally be gleaned when an incident seeps past the U.N. wall of omerta and makes it into the news, as with the peacekeeper gang rape in 2011 of a Haitian teenager, whose agony was caught on video.

As Professor Reynolds says, "If it weren’t for double standards, the U.N. would have no standards at all."

Or, as Saint Matthew says (7:4):

Or how sayest thou to thy brother:  Let me cast the mote out of thy eye; and behold a beam is in thy own eye?
Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  This is about the United Nations trying to take the Vatican to the woodshed over child abuse.

Glenn Greenwald Expands


For John, BLUFThe NSA Flap isn't over.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



For those of you who think that Mr Edward Snowden is a national hero and so is Reporter Glenn Greenwald, for being a conduit for Mr Snowden's leaks of National Security Agency (NSA) secrets, here is good new.  Mr Greenwald, along with Ms Laura Poitras and Mr Jeremy Scahill
We are very excited to welcome everyone to The Intercept, a publication of First Look Media (FLM).  The Intercept, which the three of us created, is the first of what will be numerous digital magazines published by FLM.

As soon as we resolved to build The Intercept, we set out to recruit many of the journalists whose work we have long respected and admired:  those who have a proven track record of breaking boundaries, taking risks, and producing innovative, rigorous journalism.

We have assembled a team of experienced and independent journalists and editors (see our masthead here).  Our central mission is to hold the most powerful governmental and corporate factions accountable, and to do so, we will report on a wide and varied range of issues.

For those of you who wish to communicate secretly with any of the three, their PGP Public Keys are published with their bios in The Intercept.

On the other hand, there are those who think that Mr Edward Snowden is a traitor and that those who assisted him are likewise.

By the way, here is the first actual offering, "The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program?"  If you wish to read the article with the Top Secret documents redacted, ask me.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Does Climate Change Mean Less Snow or More


For John, BLUFModern feminism is killing marital sex.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



As we contemplate another couple of inches of snow this evening and another big snow storm next weekend, there is this item from The New York Times on end of snow and skiing.

Of course, if you believe The New York Times on this will you believe them if they ask Does a More Equal Marriage Mean Less Sex?  I got this via PJ Media, here, which was linked by The Instapundit. Regards  —  Cliff

Donuts On The Skyline


For John, BLUFNothing to see here; just move along.



Go to this link for a picture of a really big donut.

Regards  —  Cliff

Early Polling For 2016


For John, BLUFI guess this early guessing is important for winnowing the field.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is the Quinnipiac Poll on the views of voters in Colorado, looking forward to the Presidential Race in 2016.  For Joe Biden fans, he is not in the discussed match ups, although he is up 2 points since November on if he would make a good President (to 26%).  But then is Senator E Warren didn't even make the questionnaire.  She, apparently couldn't get there on her own.  Someone else has made it possible, but not for this poll.

The George Washington Bridge traffic scandal stalls New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie's 2016 presidential bid in Colorado, but other Republican contenders give former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a run for her money, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Secretary Clinton gets 43 percent today, with Gov. Christie at 42 percent. This compares to a 46 - 38 percent Christie lead in a November 20 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.

Christie's plunge does not help Clinton who is struggling against other Republicans:

  • U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky gets 47 percent to Clinton's 43 percent;
  • Clinton is at 44 percent with 43 percent for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas;
  • U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin leads her 48 - 43 percent.
Of course, Rep Paul Ryan is just down the road from Professor Althouse, who is in Madison.  Mr Ryan is from Janesville.

Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Changing Economy


For John, BLUFTh economy is definitely changing and I suspect we don't have a clue.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From Quartz (A subsidiary of Atlantic Magazine's parent company) we have a short article arguing that US Labor Force Participation Rate is going to be going down.  The author, Mr Tim Fernholz, argues that it isn't just the PP&ACA (Obamacare) that is reducing work hours in our economy and overall labor participation rate.  Mr Fernholz has a chart from the Bureau of Labor of Statistics (BLS) that shows the percent of our population involved in the work force going steadily up from about 58% before 1950, peaking at 68% in the late 1990s and then slopping down to under 62% by 2020.  The sub-headline:— "It’s not just Obamacare.  In the future, we’ll all work less".

There is a lot of experimentation going on with our economy and we are not thinking about the fact that we are out there sailing in uncharted waters.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, February 7, 2014

It Isn't Just NSA Listening


For John, BLUFOnce you tell someone, it is out there.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Source is The New York Times:

U.S. Points to Russia as Diplomats’ Private Call Is Posted on Web
By PETER BAKERFEB. 6, 2014

WASHINGTON — After months of taking grief for snooping on foreign leaders, the Obama administration found itself on the other side on Thursday after a private telephone call between two American diplomats appeared on the Internet in a breach that the White House tied to Russia.

In the recording, an assistant secretary of state and the ambassador to Ukraine are heard talking about the political crisis in Kiev, their views of how it might be resolved, their assessments of the various opposition leaders and their frustrations with their European counterparts. At one point, the assistant secretary uses an expletive in a reference to the European Union.

More at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/07/world/europe/us-points-to-russia-as-diplomats-private-call-is-posted-on-web.html

This all started with this article from The Kyiv Post.  The headline, cleaned up for family friendly audiences was "‘F*** the EU,’ frustrated Nuland says to Pyatt, in alleged leaked phone call".  That would be Ms Victoria Nuland, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, at Foggy Bottom.  And U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt.

Number one rule in DC—don't write it down or transmit it if you are not prepared to see it on the front page of The Washington Post.

Regards  —  Cliff

Types of Policing


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



This comes from The Washington Post, a pretty mainstream newspaper.  The question posed by Mr Radley Balko, in "Scenes from a militarized America: Iowa family ‘terrorized’", has to do with the changing methods of policing in the Unted States.  Are these changes good for American Democracy in the long run?

Frankly, I like Lowell's emphasis on the Police getting out amongst the citizenry.  It is a different approach and one better suited to his nation.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hillary and Watergate


For John, BLUFIt was about protecting the Kennedy legacy.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is a different twist on Mrs Clinton in her younger years, when she was a member of the impeachment inquiry staff to the House Judiciary Committee, dealing with President Richard M Nixon and the Watergate Scandal.  The theme of Mr Robert Gehl's article in Downtrend is that she was dismissed at the end, without a recommendation.  This comes from the view put forward by Mr Jerry Zeifman, who was Ms Clinton's senior on the Committee Staff.  Mr Zeifman suggests she was guilty of "lying, unethical behavior."

Say it ain't so, Joe.

Regards  —  Cliff

Becoming An American


For John, BLUFSome things are darned near eternal.



"What Did Lincoln Say at Gettysburg?"

Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Is Frank Luntz Giving Up On You?


For John, BLUFA bad shift in attitude.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is an article by Atlantic Reporter Molly Balljan, from back on 6 January of this year.  The focus is Pollster Frank Luntz and carries the title "The Agony of Frank Luntz".  The sub-title is "What does it mean when America's top political wordsmith loses faith in our ability to be persuaded?"

Mr Luntz has lost faith in the electorate.

It was what Luntz heard from the American people that scared him.  They were contentious and argumentative.  They didn't listen to each other as they once had.  They weren't interested in hearing other points of view.  They were divided one against the other, black vs. white, men vs. women, young vs. old, rich vs. poor.  "They want to impose their opinions rather than express them," is the way he describes what he saw.  "And they're picking up their leads from here in Washington."  Haven't political disagreements always been contentious, I ask?  "Not like this," he says.  "Not like this."
The other thing, per Reporter Balljan, that bothers Mr Luntz is the sense that we have become an entitlement society.
"You should not expect a handout," he tells me.  "You should not even expect a safety net.  When my house burns down, I should not go to the government to rebuild it.  I should have the savings, and if I don't, my neighbors should pitch in for me, because I would do that for them."  The entitlement he now hears from the focus groups he convenes amounts, in his view, to a permanent poisoning of the electorate—one that cannot be undone.
Actually, the Government pitching in works, until you run out of other peoples money.  For example, for the Greek nation.  They ran out of other Greeks money a while back and are now getting their third bailout from Germany.

If Germany is backstopping Greece, who is going to backstop the US?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Based in part on the theory that the Germans owe it to them, for World War II.

WWII Internment, Again


For John, BLUFThe question is, when we surrender our civil liberties in wartime, can we get them back?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



It may not be as bad as it sounds, but US Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia told the University of Hawaii Law School that the US Supreme Court could again approve internment camps during wartime.  This came up while he was discussing Korematsu v. United States.  An appropriate venue for such a discussion.

In wartime we give the President wide latitude in his actions to keep us safe from subversion.  That is not likely to change, per Justice Scalia.

UPDATE:  Professor Althouse weighs in.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Running Already


For John, BLUFIf it were legal, my money would be on Lizzie.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From Mr John Wagner, writing in The Washington Post we have this article saying that Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is gearing up to run of the Democrat Party nomination for President in 2016.

I guess all politics is, as Tip O"Neill said, local, since today's edition of The Boston Globe has an item on Senator Elizabeth Warren, by Reporter Noah Bierman.  Does anyone really believe she doesn't see the Oval Office out of the corner of her eye?

And, of course, there is always Hillary, from Chicago, Arkansas, DC, New York.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff