Sunday, August 31, 2014

No, She Didn't Say That


For John, BLUFWhen something gets associated with you, it can be hard to shake.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Trying to strike a lighter tone with one of my "Progressive" friends, I said that I thought it was unfortunate that in 2008 there were the choices there were.

His response was that the Republican Vice President (Sarah Palin) was unacceptable under any circumstances, and then mentioned the apocryphal Palin line, "I can see Russia from my house".  Even that progressive web site Snopes admits that it was never uttered by Ms Palin.

OK, so Governor Palin did say to Charlie Gibson "They're our next-door neighbors, and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska".

By Dave Cohoe (Photo by Dave Cohoe) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Little Diomede Island on the left (Alaska, USA) and Big Diomede Island (Russia) on the right, looking Southward.  About three and a half miles apart.

The ever charming and funny Tina Fey is the one who, while playing the part of Governor Palin in a SNL sketch, said "And I can see Russia from my house."

But, what really makes this a joke is Electing Senator Joe Biden as Vice President.  Really?

UPDATE:  I notice I had left out a footnote indicator, but not the footnote.  Fixed.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Actually, a Democrat due to what he sees as a lack of Republicans he likes.
  I loved her in the movie Admission, where she was Ms Portia Nathan.  On the other hand, maybe I just liked the alternative high school.  No, I liked Ms Fey also.
  I would like to put in a plug for my view that the Vice President does not work for the President, but is an independent person, with an actual, albeit often scoffed at, job as President of the Senate.  And, we shouldn't want the Vice President so close to the President that if the US Congress moves to Impeach and Convict the President of High Crimes and Misdemeanors it has to take down the Vice President at the same time.  Remember Vice President Spiro T Agnew?  The "Deep State" had to make him go away before it felt free to go after President Nixon.  Or so it appears.

Drought in CENTAM


For John, BLUFThis immigration thing is not going away, in that the immigrants are driven by drought and violence.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Surely someone in Government saw this coming.  Someone in CIA?  Someone in Department of States?  Maybe someone in the Department of Agriculture or Treasury?

This is a short blurb with some statistics, but what it points to, inevitably, is the fact that, as often happens with drought, mass migration follows.

This Reuters report is from The International Herald Tribune.  The dateline is Friday, 29 August, and the headline is "Central America Hit by Severe Drought".

A severe drought has ravaged crops in Central America, and as many as 2.8 million people are struggling to feed themselves, the United Nations World Food Program said Friday.  The drought, which is also affecting South America, has been particularly hard on southern Guatemala, northernHonduras and western El Salvador.  Guatemala declared a state of emergency after 256,000 families lost their crops.
Regards  —  Cliff

  As old as the Bible.  Isn't that how Jacob and his sons ended up in Egypt? (Genesis 42)
  I would think 256,000 families works out to more than a million people.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Scotland the Brave


For John, BLUFNext month will be interesting, elections here and across the pond.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I don't know how the vote will come out on Thursday, 18 September on Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom or separating itself back to its former independent self.

But, we do have partisan views here in Lowell.

And, of course, we have Scotland the Brave

No, I think it would be a bad move.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Scotland and England have been united since 1 May 1707, 52 years after Chelmsford, MA, was incorporated.
  After a mandatory Advert.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Trading Prisoners


For John, BLUFThe ISIL problem is not just isolated to Syria and Iraq.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is an interesting article from yesterday's edition of The Washington Post, about ISIL wanting US to release a prisoner from a Federal Prison.  It isn't like we are threatening to behead this woman, Aafia Siddiqui.  We just put her away for over eighty years for trying to kill American law enforcement personnel.

Here is the headline:  ‘Lady al-Qaeda’:  The American-educated PhD the Islamic State desperately wants freed.  From the article,

They want her back so badly, jihadists said they would have traded James Foley for Siddiqui, who’s in U.S. prison.  They said they would have traded Bowe Bergdahl for her.  They said they would trade a 26-year-old American woman, kidnapped one year ago, for her.
Regards  —  Cliff

  "U.S. officers were invited to question her and were ushered into a room without being told by their Afghan hosts that Siddiqui was “unsecured” behind a curtain that divided the room, according to an FBI criminal complaint. She grabbed an Army officer’s M-4 rifle that was on the floor next to the curtain and screamed, “Allah Akbar!” and, in English, “Get the f— out of here!” the complaint said. She opened fire, but missed the officers, who returned fire and hit her twice in the abdomen."

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Market Basket Back


For John, BLUFWill Arthur T be able to bring back the business?  That is the big gamble.



Today Market Basket got back in the grocery store business, after a settlement.

I believe Hannaford anticipated this, because they had special tents on the South side of the Store on Route 38 here in Lowell, to feed the folks who are in from as far away as New York. Here is a closeup of the hand made sign: In the mean time, here is a NECN TV truck in front of the Market Basket at the North end of Tewksbury. And to prove it is real, here is a Cart Herder straightening Carts (Carriages) at a Corral. My wife is thrilled.

Regards  —  Cliff

Like Brother Like Sister?


For John, BLUFMulti-culturalism is sometimes awkward.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From MSN we have an Associated Press article from Reporter Michael R Sisak, about another member of the Tsarnaev family.  This time it is sister Ailiana Tsarnaeva.  Ms Tsarnaeva is living in Bergen, NJ, with her sister Bella Tsarnaeva.  There appears to have been a love triangle with someone from Manhattan involved with Ms Tsarnaeva's boyfriend.  Per the article:
Several media outlets reported Tsarnaeva told the Harlem woman she had "people who can go over there and put a bomb on you."
Actually, I would think the number of people is slowly dwindling.  But, maybe not.

The article has a very attractive photo of Ms Ailiana Tsarnaeva, who is a nice looking young woman and not some harridan.

Here is a link to the article and here is the lede:

NEW YORK (AP) — Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's sister was arrested Wednesday on suspicion she threatened to bomb a woman who previously had a romantic relationship with her boyfriend.  Ailina Tsarnaeva, who lives in North Bergen, New Jersey, made the threat against an upper Manhattan woman via telephone on Monday, police said.  She turned herself in at a Manhattan police precinct, and police charged her with aggravated harassment.
It appears Ms Tsarnaeva has already come to the attention of the police, over the passing of bad paper.  This time she was issued a ticket and told to appear at a 30 September court hearing.

The question is, as people from other cultures immigrate to the United States, how long does it take them to shed their old ways of coping with problems and adopt the ways of their new nation?  I would hope sociology could help us in this matter.  The flip side of the question is if we will be forced to adopt the coping techniques of the new immigrants.<.p> Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Fight in the Middle East is a Fight Over Ideas


For John, BLUFWe are dealing with fights over ideas in the Middle East.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Many ask why Muslim scholars don't push back against violent actors blowing things up and killing people in the name of Allah.  Here is an article from The Jordan Times, providing that very specific pushback.  THe author is Reporter Abeer Numan and the Headline is "Scholars say extremist militants should not be called ‘jihadists’".

The person who forwarded the article said:

The struggle against Muslim extremism is also a battle for ideas.  Few have spoken out against having their religion hijacked by criminals and murderers as much as the Jordanian religious leaders and the monarchy.
Since this battle with ISIL and other such groups is to a large degree a battle over ideas, it behoves us to pick our words in ways that do not enhance the standing of ISIL.

We should not think we can defeat ISIL by just killing people, by playing "whack a mole".  Strong, disciplined forces can push ISIL back into a guerrilla mode, but that is not the same as defeating the ideas being put forward by ISIL.  Those ideas are attractive to men and women around the world.  Not large numbers, but significant numbers.  For example, per Newsweek 16% of French Citizens support ISIL.  There are reasons to question the poll numbers and its methodology, but still, it is an indication of a problem in Europe.

Regards  —  Cliff

  For example, US Psychological Warfare types might be updating Wikipedia to make "the Islamic State" the "so called" Islamic State.

Attorney General Candidates Duck


For John, BLUFThe Justice system is more messed up than you think.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From the print edition of The Boston Globe we have an interesting article from Reporter David Scharfenberg, of the Globe Staff.  The subject is the debate between Democrat Mass Attorney General candidates Warren Tolman and Maura Healey.  It can be found here on the Internet.

Early on the subject of rape on college campuses came up.  Rape is a serious issue on college campuses.  Young men and women, with high hormone levels, can get into situations they shouldn't.  Drinking only adds to the chances of improper conduct.  Then there is the impact of groups egging on their compadres.  And, remember, that rape is not limited to men attacking women.  It can be men on men or even, in some rare cases, women on men.

Here are some paragraphs from the article:

Tolman pledged to convene a summit with Massachusetts colleges, pressing them to address the headline-grabbing crisis more aggressively. “We will lead here in Massachusetts when I am attorney general and, you know what, other states will follow,” he said.

But Healey said convening meetings won’t solve the crisis.

“You solve campus sexual assault by giving schools the resources they need — rape crisis counseling centers, forensic investigators, relationships with police and district attorneys that are working so that people can come forward,” she said.

The question we should be asking is why Campus Administrations deal with rape, rather than having the allegations turned over to local police.  Is DUI adjudicated by the college or university?  What about vehicular homicide?  Murder?  Mass murder?

I take the campus adjudicating rape to be a sign that schools, for whatever reason, don't want these cases coming to public attention.  Thus, they have created their own legal system, based upon an assumption of agreement on the part of the students, based upon the act of enrollment.

I believe every candidate for Attorney General should be explicit in saying that if it is rape, then the case should be turned over the local police.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I wonder what it means for those of us enrolled in Continuing Education?  Am I subject to such kangaroo courts?

Registering Voters


For John, BLUFWords convey meanings and sometimes we use them improperly.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Listening to Candidate Fred Bahou on City Life I am convinced that he is an Independent Candidate for the General Court.  He is Independent in that he is willing to caucus with whoever provides advantage to him and to his District.

Here in Massachusetts there are 4,342,841 registered voters, of whom (as of October 2012) 2,283,273 are "unenrolled".  (1,551,693 Democrats, 484,099 Republicans and 23,776 odds and ends.) The term "unenrolled" seems to refer to enrolled by a political party.

Given the three to one ratio of Democrats to Republicans one wonders (1) how Republicans manage to get elected and (2) how many "unenrolled" are really Republicans who wish to disguise their political leanings, perhaps for reasons of commerce.

I suggest that we here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts drop the term "unenrolled" and replace it with the term I remember from my time as a voter in California, "declines to state".  These two million plus are not enrolled because they haven't made a choice, but because they are hiding.  Let's call them what they are, people who "decline to state".

Action to our Legislators.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Since the Commonwealth "enrolls" Citizens in political parties, does that mean that they can not be rejected or dismissed by the political party?  Further, does that involvement of State Government justify the State Government paying for Primaries?

Ethics at IRS


For John, BLUFWhat kind of a culture exists where the ethics person is corrupt?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The Washington Times, by Reporter Jim EcElhatton, we have a very short article, "IRS ethics lawyer facing possible disbarment, accused of lying".

Imagine!

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, August 25, 2014

Supply Chain Management


For John, BLUFThe Demoulas imbroglio has not yet smoothed out and may not for some time.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Market Basket has been basically closed for several weeks and here along the Route 38 Corridor the local Hannafords has taken up the slack, and done a good job.  And, as of Sunday there was no solution to the Demoulas family crisis.  The lack of a settlement has surprised me, in that I saw that as one possible explanation for why after lunch today I found the Hannaford shelves with Coke products pretty devastated.  There was no Caffeine Free Diet Coke and little other Coke product.  Normally the shelves are stocked, but not today.  And, some Pepsi product was in short supply, like Pure Leaf Ice Tea, where there was no Lemon or Diet Lemon on the shelf.

The question is why?  More important, for long term interest, is how fragile are the various supply chains upon which we depend.  My wife asked me that very question last evening, using the term "supply chain".  She has been reading a novel that includes an EMP attack that disrupts everything.

I wondered if this was a short term shortage as Coke responded to a restocking request from Market Basket, so that product could be prepositioned for a push to the stores.  That is one possibility.  Another is that Shoppers, fearing future disruptions, are hoarding Coke products, and other products, as a buffer in case of supply chain disruption.

Are there other options?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Most of us who have shopped at a Market Basket realize that as part of his approach to life, Artie T provides work for the disabled.  Now, with the turmoil in the Supermarket Chain that seems to be going away.
  And recently North Korea's EMP capabilities have been in the news.

2nd Order Effects


For John, BLUFIt isn't the crime, it is the coverup is a good paradigm for understand that actions lead to other actions.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



A lot of times we ignore the possible 2nd and 3rd order effects of our proposed good ideas.  Sometimes those effects are bad and sometimes they are good.

The Instapundit brings to our attention the fact that the recent emphasis on campus sexual assault issues has resulted in a reduction in "hookup culture" at Harvard and Stanford.  Unfortunately, Bloomberg has taken down the article at Insty's Link.  The article had even been listed by Memeorandum.

Here is an article from the Newspaper, Central Maine.

College hook-up culture wanes amid assault alarm

While sexual assault is undoubtedly a real problem, heightened attention in the media has created a ‘witch-hunt’ environment, says a Harvard Medical School psychologist.

The Instapundit ends with:
They told me if I voted for Mitt Romney, our colleges would be taken over by prudes who fundamentally disapproved of coeducation. And they were right!
So, creating a witch-hunt over sexual assault on campuses where casual sex is common brings about a reduction in the amount of casual sex. [GOOD]  This, in turn, will perhaps reduce the opportunities for men and women on campus to meet possible future marriage partners.  [NOT GOOD?]  This, in turn, could result in more "dating" at future work places, resulting in a possible growth in sexual harassment charges in the out years.  [BAD]  Or fewer marriages.  [NOT GOOD]  Remember, the magic number is 2.11.  Demography is destiny for your children and grandchildren, and maybe for you in old age.

Regards  —  Cliff

Scotland for Ever


For John, BLUFI am for "power down" to the lowest level, but this seems like going too far.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From the Web News Source Quartz, we have this on the Scottish Independence vote on 18 September:
Scotland’s boring independence debate.  The former British chancellor, Alistair Darling, has been urged to “keep it boring” in a final televised debate tonight against Scottish first minister Alex Salmond over Scottish independence.  The first debate was a shouting match that neither side won.  More voters believe Scotland should remain part of Britain than become independent, recent polls show.
This is going to end up like Market Basket, I fear.  Division with no gain for either side, just loss.

Regards  —  Cliff

Keeping The Eye on the Ball


For John, BLUFRepublicans doing wrong while doing right.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Quoting the Instapundit, linking to the Althouse Blog:
DEMOCRATIC OPERATIVES WITH BYLINES:  “Meet the Press” covered Rand Paul’s pro bono eye surgery in Guatemala and larded it with impugnment of his motives.  Obama golfs and they defend him; Paul fixes poor third-worlders and they impugn him.  That’s who they are, that’s what they do.
Well, and Senator Rand Paul is not the sort of Republican that bien pensant Democrats like.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Shades of Yellow


For John, BLUFNo, not the yellow of cowardice, but the yellow of attracting attention.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Last week, down in Virginia, Southbound on US 29, I found this car turning left into the Stonewall Shopping Center (Big Wegmans).

Not only is the Super Beetle yellow, but so is the license plate, and the characters on the license plate spell out "YE110W".  The owner is into Yellow.  My wife noted the "Oval", which has ATM.  Maybe the owner has teenage children.

At the time I thought the license plate was a Gadsden Flag plate, because it is yellow.  No, this was a license plate about children.  And that is a good sentiment.  But it wasn't the droids I was looking for, I realized when I looked closely at the photo after I took it.

On the other hand, I did find a Gadsden Flag plate, in the Lowe's parking lot at Virginia Gateway Shopping Center, northeast of the intersection of US 29 and State 619 (Linton Hall Road).

Then, just today, out in front of Christ Church United (UCC), a Church on East Merrimack, I found this car, apparently owned by a sailor.

I wonder if we get to have a Vanity Plate, in yellow, with the coiled snake and the motto "Dont tread on me"?  Probably not.  The bien pesant would think it too offensive.

Regards  —  Cliff

  No apostrophe in the original.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Changing Names


For John, BLUFMuch of the public agenda is driven by hurt feelings.  I don't care that Pope Pius IX had empathy for Jeff Davis.  Public roads, Federal Highways, named after him are offensive to me.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The Editorial Board of The Washington Post has told us they will no longer be using the name "Red Skins" when referring to the Washington football team—"Washington Post editorials will no longer use ‘Redskins’ for the local NFL team"

That's fine, but it also show misplaced priorities.

As we all know, On July 9, 1790, Congress passed the Residence Act, which provided for a Federal City, 10 miles by 10 miles, along the Potomac River.  Surveyor George Washington, who also signed the Residence Act as President, picked the site, just up the river from his Plantation, Mount Vernon.  Part of the property was in Maryland and part in Virginia.  This was all provided for by the US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, toward the end of the section.

But, then slavery reared its ugly head.  Around 1830, fearful that the US Congress would outlaw slave trading in Alexandria, which Virginia had given up to the Union, Virginia asked for it back.  Finally, on 9 July 1846 the US Congress passed the Retrocession Act.  It was signed by President Polk the next day.  However, Virginia took until 13 March 1847 to accept back the land.

One of the things that strikes me is that US Highway 1, which runs from Key West, Florida, to the US Canadian Border in Maine.

Key West FH000013

Runs through that old area lost to all of us in the Retrocession of 1847. Where US 1 runs through Virginia it is, by state law, called Jefferson Davis Highway.  Including the part that runs through that former part of the District of Columbia.  Jefferson Davis, one of the worst Democrat Presidents in the history of our nation.

So, Virginia honors that man who would have dismembered the Union by naming a stretch of highway designed to unite the Union after him.  Jefferson Davis Highway.

But, that is not the most offensive thing.  One could see President Davis as being, by his own lights and his own time, a Virginia Patriot during the recent unpleasantness, but time tends to change understandings and language.  Today he would be considered a traitor.  In his own time he was indicted on Treason, but spared by a general amnesty from President Johnson on Christmas 1868.

So, here is my charge to The Washington Post, so we can erase this blot from our maps:

  1. Appeal to the People of Virginia to petition their state legislators to erase this offensive naming of US 1, bringing back integrity for the nation and all its Citizens.
  2. Appeal to the US Congress and the Virginia Legislature to restore the 31 square miles taken away from the District of Columbia for reasons having to do with the slave trade.
Times change.  It is time to put this homage to Jefferson Davis behind us and to provide right names for things.

Back to the issue of the name for the Washington football team, I commend to you the article by Dr Charles Krauthammer, "Redskins and reason".  Hail to the Skins.

UPDATE:  Law Professor Ann Althouse suggests "The Washington Redskins need to change their name... to The Washington Posts."

` Regards  —  Cliff

NYT Denigrating Republican Candidates


For John, BLUFI think Governor Walker has a lot to recommend him to the Country.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Yesterday Law Professor, Blogger and Madison, Wisconsin, resident Ann Althouse commented on a New York Times article on Republican prospective candidates for President in 2016. "The NYT blithely dispenses with Scott Walker as a GOP presidential candidate."  "Blithely", as in "showing a casual and cheerful indifference considered to be callous or improper".

From the Blog Post:

The column is "Taking Account of Republican Presidential Contenders," by Albert R. Hunt, which begins with the assertion that this year "hasn’t been so kind to... Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin." That's backed up only with this:
Mr. Walker of Wisconsin, 46, a success in a generally Democratic state, was considered a first-tier contender. But a mini-scandal and an expected tight re-election race this autumn have dashed his prospects.
Governor Christie, Governor Perry, and now Governor Walker.  Is this a case of The New York Times colluding with the Democrat Party or are they just clueless about those living more than a two hour drive from their offices in New York City?

Regards  —  Cliff

US Policy Toward ISIL Evolving?


For John, BLUFIt would be so nice if everyone played in his or her own sandbox, but it never happens.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The threat de jour is ISIL, the Islamic Caliphate, AKA ISIS.  This article from Reporter Eli Lake of The Daily Beast talks to the current mood in Washington.  The article suggests that President Obama is beginning to sound like President George W Bush after 9/11.
Since U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed the authenticity of a video that showed the beheading of American journalist James Foley this week, the president and top cabinet officers have employed rhetoric about the jihadists of the Islamic State (also known as the “caliphate,” ISIS, or ISIL) that echoes the Bush administration in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
The urge to do something is always strong, so the President may well decide that it is time to show ISIL who is boss.  However, the thing to consider is that if we respond to ISIL with more than rhetoric, they may well look to escalate, to maintain escalation dominance (Here is Mr Adam Elkus talking about escalation dominance).  There is no free lunch out there and we could soon find ourselves having to back down or having to put "boots on the ground".

One hopes it wouldn't come to that, that our airpower and our training and logistics support would allow local forces to reduce ISIL to another small group with terror capabilities, but there is no guarantee.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Republican Gubernatorial Primary Debate


For John, BLUFNo knock out punches thrown.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here are my rough notes on the great debate between Mr Charlie Baker and Mr Mark Fisher, held at the MCC Conference Center (Old Federal Building in Lowell).

Education, no mention of Admin burden.   Mark Fisher talks Votec.   Charlie Baker agrees.   Jobs available in Massachusetts, but without skilled workers.   Votec AA Degree.

Charlie Baker—Not about how much you spend but how you spend it.

Mark Fisher—Mandatory reporting of Fraud, Waste and Abuse, and Whistle Blower Status.

Charlie Baker—Need full transparency re medical pricing.

Neither supports in state tuition for illegal immigrants.

Market Basket:   Charlie Baker—Gov's wife had a conflict of interest.   12-20% below market.   Gov encourages resolution.   Mark Fisher—Gov'r too involved.   Private enterprise.   Market isn't going away.

Charlie Baker—Gov should encourage resolution.   Get a professional arbitrator.

Mark Fisher—If anything, lighten up "gun laws".   Impact law abiding gun owners.   Not criminal gun owners.

Charlie Baker—I would have signed the law, re national gun owners.   Illegal gun trafficking bad.

Smart gun technology?   Mark Fisher—Opposed.   Solving minor problems, not the real problems.

Working poor.   Charlie Baker—Grow economy.  Focus on creating jobs.   Clean up regulatory mess.   Mark Fisher—Worked for four companies that left the state.   Taxes and regulations.   Eliminate inventory taxes, to encourage distribution centers in Mass.

Common Core:   Mark Fisher—Against.   Charlie Baker—Against

Gas Pipe Line:   Charlie Baker—Support.   Mark Fisher—gas good, but property rights also.

CC:   Mark Fisher—Graduated CC.   Good jobs out there for AA Degrees.   Charlie Baker—Follow North Eastern example.

Crime and Mental Health:   Charlie Baker—Need more beds.   Work with law enforcement and get clinical health benefits for incarcerated.   Mark Fisher—Stop sending on illegals, use money to

Mark Fisher—I talk to this … Rosie's Place homeless women ask me about illegals and dead with EBT Cards.   Charlie Baker—State needs to be a better partner for local communities (cities and towns).

Mark Fisher Summary—Gov is a leadership position.   You have to show up.   Mass a mess, Charlie Baker's comment notwithstanding.

Charlie Baker Summary—we have an opportunity problem in Mass.   The rich are OK, but Government needs to be there for the rest.   Can you execute?

My thanks to Jim Campanini for making this happen.  Lowell is the only City or Town to host a debate between the two GOP candidates.

Please remember to go to the polls on 9 September and vote in the Primary.

Regards  —  Cliff

Critical Thinking


For John, BLUFThinking is important.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From the blog Sources and Methods we have a discussion of "Critical Thinking" and a new book by Mr Joe Lau, An Introduction to Critical Thinking and Creativity.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The blogger is a professor at Mercyhurst University, Eire, PA.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Policing vs Suppression


For John, BLUFWhen police do not act proportionally, the people will reject the actions of the police.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From the web magazine War on the Rocks we have an article on the problems in Ferguson, MO, by an Army veteran with experience in military policing.  Mr Fritz is a doctoral student in the Department of Justice, Law and Criminology at American University.  He knows what of he discusses.  The article, "Ferguson and the Lessons of Conflict Zone Policing", is well worth reading.

Here is a key paragraph from the article:

There are some fundamental problems with what these police officers are doing and how they are doing it. Constitutionally, it appears they were trying to prevent the Ferguson’s residents from exercising their right to assemble, and it is pretty clear they are infringing on the rights of a free press. There is also a moral irony at play: the police are responding to a spontaneous protest about excessive police force with deliberate and organized excessive police force at a far greater level. But there are fundamental issues related to how we think about, how we form, and how we use police effectively that we can draw lessons from as well.
The author points out that there are five levels of citizen insecurity:
  1. war
  2. insurgency
  3. subversion
  4. disorder, and
  5. normal crime
Against this, we have six types of policing:
  1. uniformed general
  2. non-uniformed criminal investigators
  3. stability police
  4. armed units
  5. covert intelligence agents, and
  6. border police
From the article we can see why calling out the National Guard was a deescalation move.  The Military Policy of the Missouri National Guard are training to respond to the level of violence present in Ferguson with a level of policing that is appropriate to the situation, "stability policing".
… stability police – police with masks, shields, batons, and other nonlethal weapons – should handle disorder and armed police – police with assault rifles, sniper rifles, and other lethal weapons – should handle subversion and insurgency.  These conclusions relate directly to something well known to anyone in military studies:  the principle of proportional response.
The situation in Ferguson is about why a young man was shot and killed by police, but it is also about how police respond to and handle situations where the Citizens express their anger via demonstrations.  There are the short term issues, but also the long term issues.  What will Ferguson be like in five or ten years?  How will the police regain the trust of the Residents of Ferguson?  I would think there might be changes in the City Council and in turn in what the City Council will and will not do for the Police Department.  Of course, the Residents of Ferguson have to actually get out and vote to have an impact.

Regards  —  Cliff

  From Wikipedia:  "In the 2010 census, 29.3% were White and 67.4% were African American."  [They meant Caucasian, I am sure.]
  It appears the Democrat Party has not served the People of Ferguson well.  Now would be the time for Republicans in Missouri to step up.

Russian Gov't Confiscates Pension Input


For John, BLUFSomething like "no man's wallet is secure as long as the legislature is in session".  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From Business Week we have this article on Russian Pensions.  The headline is "Unlike Russia, the U.S. Government Won't Take Your Pension Outright".  Here is the lede and following paragraph:
Earlier this month, the Russian government seized its citizens’ pension contributions.  Normally, 6 percent of Russians’ salaries is invested in financial markets, earmarked for their retirement.  This year that $8 billion in contributions will finance Russian spending instead.  Russia is not the first country to confiscate pension assets to pay its bills, and it probably won’t be the last.  Argentina, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, and Bulgaria have all done the same in the last six years.

This is not only a setback for Russians’ retirement accounts; it also harms Russia’s financial markets, which count on a steady flow of pension assets each year.  The move is expected to further weaken the already fragile Russian economy. Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin spoke out against the move, saying “today we are getting a government policy that lowers economic growth, plus a ‘shrinking’ of the economy’s possibilities and increasing uncertainty.”

A double whammy.

Think of this as a tax on those rich enough to have pensions.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, August 18, 2014

Crime Rates


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



My sense is that people believe crime is up.  However, overall statistics, both here and across the pond, suggest it is down and has been for over a decade.  Here is a report from the weekly news magazine, The Economist.

The sub-headline is "The rich world is seeing less and less crime, even in the face of high unemployment and economic stagnation".  A nice thing about the article is that it explores a number of possible reasons for the falling crime rate.  I expect there is some fiction out there about why there are falling crime rates, but something is happening.  One thing that caught my attention is that crime has fallen further in England and Wales than in the US, although it is down in both areas.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Do you think The Economist has already decided it will be a YES vote in September and Scotland will be on its own?  The vote will be on Thursday, the 18th of September, just over a week after our primary.

Washington Divided


For John, BLUFLet People, to the extent they can, do it themselves.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From the Instapundit we have this comment on an article from The Washington Examiner, looking at gridlock in DC.
PHILIP KLEIN:  Washington is divided because it has abandoned federalism.
There has been a lot of handwringing in recent years about how divided Washington is, and how it’s difficult for the parties to come together on anything. But the reality is that the states are divided among themselves.

The architecture of the Constitution offers a natural solution to this problem. Instead of trying to solve every issue at the national level, power should be shifted back to the states. Those states whose residents are willing to pay higher taxes for more government services should be free to do so, as should states whose residents are willing to forgo government benefits in favor of lower taxes. Under such a system, instead of bitterly hashing out every issue in Washington, Congress could be focusing on a limited range of issues.

It’s clear that liberals don’t see things this way. But it should be no surprise that their efforts to impose one-size-fits-all solutions across the nation encounter so much resistance.

And, neither party is immune to this problem, as Professor Glenn Reynolds notes at the end of the blog post:
They rediscover federalism whenever the GOP controls the White House and Congress, but they quickly forget it upon regaining power at the national level. The GOP is only moderately better.
The key point, for me, is that when one has a problem that can't be solved by the group at hand, perhaps it is time to send it back down to a lower level, back where the rubber meets the road.  Too often we are trying to apply a "one size fits all" solution to a complex problem, made more complex because it is not the same problem in Caribou, Maine, as it is in Laguna Niguel, California.  Allowing different areas to solve their part of the problem on their own is the genius of federalism, of our US Constitution.  There is gridlock because people in Washington think they have the single solution to everyone's problem.  And they don't.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Republican Gov Debate


For John, BLUFAre all Republicans alike?  I doubt it.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



We have an opportunity to watch, in person, a debate between the two Republican candidates for the Gubernatorial nomination.  That would be Mr Charlie Baker and Mr Mark Fisher.  It may be the only debate before we go to the primary polls in September.

This debate will be this coming Thursday, the 21st of August, at 3:00 PM.  The venue will be Middlesex Community College's Federal Building on East Merrimack Street.

The sponsors are The [Lowell] Sun and MCC.  Details of the event are in this article, from earlier.

Here is an extract from the article:

According to several published polls, Baker, who lost the 2010 election to Gov. Deval Patrick, is the leading GOP candidate to win the Sept. 9 primary against the little known Fisher, a Tea Party member.

Fisher, however, has gained support among the GOP's more conservative members, and successfully challenged the Massachusetts Republican Party in court to get his name on the primary ballot.  Fisher argued that the 14.765 percent of the votes he received at the GOP Convention, where he needed 15 percent to get on the ballot, were diluted because blank votes were counted in the total.

Oh, the warmup match is between the two independents for the office, Messrs Evan Falchuk and Jeff McCormick.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Three Warfares


For John, BLUFIt isn't just shooting guns.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I thought this article, "Beijing applying '3 warfares' to South China Sea disputes" was interesting.

China is expanding its "three warfares" policy in dealing with Taiwan to its territorial disputes in the South China Sea, reports our Chinese-language sister paper Want Daily. Richard Hu, deputy executive director of the Center for Security Studies at Taipei's National Chengchi University, told the paper that the People's Liberation Army first officially coined the political warfare concept of the "three warfares" back in 2003, being public opinion warfare, psychological warfare and legal warfare.
The three warfares are:
  • Public Opinion Warfare
  • Psychological Warfare
  • Legal Warfare
Legal Warfare is often referred to as "Lawfare".

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Want China Times is out of Taiwan.

Whether the Republicans


For John, BLUFNothing in the future is guaranteed.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The Washington Post has an article on Republican fissures.  The title is "Some evangelicals in Republican Party are feeling left out, see no standard-bearer".

Maybe these two paragraphs say it best:

The disconnect between social conservatives and the GOP has become a “chasm,” said Gary Bauer, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000 and is now head of the Campaign for Working Families.  He pointed to the party’s two most recent presidential nominees, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, as examples of candidates who were touted initially as having broad appeal to centrists in the general election but ultimately never inspired evangelicals and lost.

“Values voters have been treated as the stepchildren of the family, while the party has wanted to get on with so-called more electorally popular ideas,” Bauer said.  “The Republican base will not tolerate another candidate foisted upon us as a guy who can win.”

That is my link embedded in the quote.

I would suggest that part of the reason Senator Scott Brown lost his second election was because those socially conservative voters stayed home the second time, while the Democrats turned out over 600,000 additional voters.

YEARBROWNDEMINDYOTHERBLANKTOTAL
2010 1,168,178 1,060,86122,388115511452,253,727
20121,458,0481,696,346--2,15927,6433,184,196

Senator Brown picked up less than half as much.  Not a good sign.  And the big uptick in "Blank" ballots, re Senator, is, to me, a telling sign.

So, is it Dr Ben Carson for the Republicans?  I hear from folks who say yes.

I think the deeper issue is whether or not the Republican Party can survive half social conservative and half libertarian.  And, if the Republican Party crashes, what will it do to Democrats?  Will they stay united, following the Reid/Pelosi line, or will there be fracturing?

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, August 16, 2014

About Baseball


For John, BLUFBaseball needs to speed up a little bit.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The Pilot, a local Boston paper, is a rather acerbic article on selection of the new Baseball Commission, to replace Mr Bud Selig.

The Commissioner has been the Commissioner ever since Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis took the position and made himself the sole arbiter of baseball.  Judge Landis cleaned up the Black Sox gambling issue and the general problem of gambling in the game, but he failed to integrate baseball, which fell to his successor, Commissioner Happy Chandler.

For me the key question is if the new Commissioner will be able to speed up baseball a bit, since the length of the games is one of the common complaints against the national pastime.

The author of the piece is Mr Clark Booth, who has been doing this column for quite some time.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, August 15, 2014

Women in Engineering


For John, BLUFEvery news story needs to be questioned.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



My Middle Brother, Lance, send along this NPR story about women in the engineering career fields.  The story tells us that 38% of women who enter the engineering fields drop out, and the story puts the blame on the culture, which is described, at one point, as being afflicted by, amongst other things, "white mid-western male syndrome".  I can remember when white mid-western males were considered the salt of the earth and the group that made this nation great.  Oh well, sic transit gloria.

One thing struck me about the story.  There is no basis for comparison.  The 38% is deemed too high and that is it.  No discussion of the male washout rate.

There is discussion of culture and the glass ceiling, long hours and career focused expect ions.  None about how engineering is a challenging area, with great achievements and sometimes great failures.  No discussion of if the SR-71, or the trip to the Moon or the invention of the light bulb could have happened, or have happened as soon, in a different environment.

Where is Paul Harvey when you need him, to give us "the rest of the story".

Regards  —  Cliff

  Frankly, I think the use of "white male" marks the speaker or writer as someone who is trying to work out their hostility toward Caucasian males.  It is petty, but it is also likely hypocritical.  We are soon to be the new minority.  Give us the respect demanded for all other minorities.

Immigrant Children and Schooling


For John, BLUFWhere is the transparency?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The Hill is a report that on Monday the Federal Department of Education sent a message to the States and local School Districts.  The article says, in part,
It says all children in the United States “are entitled to equal access to a public elementary and secondary education, regardless of their or their parents’ actual or perceived national origin, citizenship, or immigration status.”
The article tells us sponsors have taken large numbers of children, including Texas at 5,280, New York at 4,244), California at 3,909 and Florida at 3,809.  Six other states, Virginia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Maryland, Louisiana and Georgia, each have 1,000 or more released illegal young immigrants.

The article implies that the Obama Administration is working hard to quickly deport these recent illegal immigrant children.  Maybe.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Immigration Reform and Impeachment


For John, BLUFThere are no Hispanic votes in Immigration Reform for Republicans—only a better nation.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From CBN we have an interview with the new House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, of Bakersfield, CA.  He represents the 23rd District, the Southern San Joaquin Valley, north of LA. Here is Rep McCarty responding to a question about Impeachment:
Oh yes.  When people ask me that, I say ‘have you met Joe Biden?  But seriously…
Here is House Majority Leader McCarthy on what Republicans are trying to do:
The only one talking about that are democrats and they’re doing it because they want to make it political.  If you really look at what we're talking about, we're talking about bringing back the three co-equal branches.  It's not a lawsuit about an individual.  It's about an administration.
Frankly, it is more than this Administration.  And, it is about a supine Congress, which has let its place in the balance slip.  Some have argued that this is the inevitable result of nuclear weapons.  For example, Author Garry Wills.

But, back to the part about Democrats crying "Impeachment".  I think it is about providing a form of inoculation for the President for when he finally moves out to grant one or another form of amnesty to illegal immigrants.  The New York Times notwithstanding, it is quite possible the President will exceed his authority in some such action.  The Democrats want to be able to claim that the Republicans were planning on Impeachment all along, because those Republicans are dirty, rotten, racists.

One thing that surprises me is that people crying for Impeachment can't count.  They don't understand that it isn't just about the Republicans having a majority in the House of Representatives.  Conviction requires a two-thirds majority in the US Senate, which I reckon to be abut 67 Senators.  The Republicans are in the minority in the US Senate at this time and the November elections, while it may give the Republicans a majority come January 2015, will not give them 67 Seats unless terrible things happen between now and the election.  Impeachment, except as bad theater, is a non-starter unless Senator Harry Reid says it is time for the President to go.

I do find interesting the assertion that Republicans need to vote for some Immigration Bill, legalizing the millions of illegal Hispanics (and, one would assume, Irish) in the US.  History suggests that the Republicans would gain NOTHING.  Remember the Civil Rights Act of 1964?  It passed because Republicans supported it in big numbers

ChamberVotes NeededPartySeatedYeas
Senate51Democrats6746
Republicans3327
House218Democrats244153
Republicans171136

We had 67 Democrat Senators and only 46 yea votes, five short.  Same with the House of Representatives, with 244 Democrat Members and 65 votes shy of passage.  It is obvious the Republicans made the difference.

And what did the Republicans reap for voting for Civil Rights in 1964.  Honor, justice, righteousness, self-satisfaction.  Oh, and the thanks of President Lyndon Johnson.  What they did not reap was thanks from the Black Community or Black votes in future elections.  Those went to the Democrats, who couldn't muster the votes to make it happen on their own.  Senator Barry Goldwater is scum for voting Nay.  Senator Robert Byrd, despite voting Nay, is honored by Democrats by being elected Majority Leader several times.  There is no political gain for Republicans in immigration reform.  There is only honor, justice, righteousness and self-satisfaction.

On the other hand, Blacks who see Hispanics coming into the nation and displacing them, both as workers and as favorites of the Democrat Party, may begin to drift back to the Republican Party.  That would be ironic.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Bomb Power:  The Modern Presidency and the National Security State.
  If he has the authority to do such a thing, why hasn't he acted before now?  Surely it isn't because he is being nice to the House Republicans.  I would suggest he has not acted because he (1) doesn't have the authority and (2) has been concerned about how it will play in the 2014 and 2016 elections.
  Or whatever other motivation you may wish to input to them.  Frankly, it is all rubbish.
  Try to explain calmly and quietly to those who say Republicans have to vote for amnesty or lose the Hispanic vote, that such a vote won't help the Republicans with Hispanic voters, but if properly crafted, it might help America.

Senator Rand Paul on Our Changing Police


For John, BLUFWe need to rebalance police power and make the local guys the good guys.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



US Senator Rand Paul, quoting, amongst other folks, Law Professor Glenn Reynolds (the Instapundit), talks to the fact that there needs to be a distinction between the police and the military.  The headline is "Rand Paul: We Must Demilitarize the Police".  This item is sparked by the tragic events in Furguson, Missouri.

Senator Paul is spot on.  The police and the military work in two different realms and need to operate to different standards and rules.  While the drug war grows, most crime is down over the last few decades.  At the same time we have seen the militarization of the police.  Some may argue a more muscular police have driven this decrease in crime, while others would suggest things such as "community policing" and the "broken windows" view have made the difference.  However, we have eroded civil liberties, such as with no-knock searches, national security letters and asset forfeitures.

Senator Paul makes the point that race is a factor and changes need to be made:

Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention.  Our prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent mistakes in their youth.
I found this at Memeorangdum, but my Wife also pointed out that it was prominently posted at Drudge.  I haven't checked, but I bet it is reference at the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  This is about the shooting, by police, of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
  The New York City Police and their stop and frisk actions seem to this writer to be particularly egregious.   Asset forfeiture often involves the taking of private property even before a trial, or even without a trial.  They money is then funneled to local and county police to beef up the firepower and force protection of the force.

Scanning Your Purchases


For John, BLUFIt is a good thing computer code has no weight, otherwise our phones would be too heavy to carry.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



More good news this morning.  Now you can get an app for your smart phone that will allow you to determine the political orientation of the producer of the products you come across.  You just scan the product bar code and the phone tells you if the company producing the product is Progressive or not, I assume.

Of course, if it is something you need, you face the question of if you will actually trade with the enemy.

For many of us, it won't be a hard choice since we don't actually see the other side, politically, as the enemy, but rather as fellow Citizens to be educated.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Phased Retirement


For John, BLUFThis is a good way for folks to transition into retirement.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



This news item, by Reporter Shefali Kapadia, is a week old, but it is still timely and it is a sign that sometimes there is good thinking in DC.  The source is Federal News Radio.
The Office of Personnel Management released the final rule on phased retirement Thursday morning.

The rule comes more than two years after President Barack Obama signed the provision into law on July 6, 2012.

Under the final rule, eligible employees can work part time while drawing on part of their earned retirement benefits. Phased retirees must also spend at least 20 percent of their time mentoring other employees.

Employees must have at least 20 years of service in the federal government to qualify for phased retirement.  The final rule states employees cannot submit applications for phased retirement to OPM until at least 90 days after publication of the rule.

Readers are invited to ask questions of the reporter at this email:  skapadia@federalnewsradio.com (after reading the article, I assume).

Regards  —  Cliff

Good News This Morning


For John, BLUFThis is interesting in that Mia Love is a Republican in Utah.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From the Instapundit we have this report on Mia Love and the Utah 4th.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Racism and Diversity


For John, BLUFWe have come a long way, but we have a way yet to go.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From the Instapundit:
SO THIS BLOOMBERG PIECE BY MARK MILIAN ON SILICON VALLEY AND DIVERSITY only talks about women, blacks, and hispanics, but completely omits asians.  Why?  Are asians considered white now?  And [d]o H1B visas play a role?
Well, first, it is Caucasian, not "white".

But, to the question, I used to think that way, except for the H1B thing.  However, recent events suggest that it is a general rule, except when Nativist Democrat Operatives think they can gain an advantage by attacking the spouse of a Republican candidate.

Regards  —  Cliff

7.4.0.0

New Chinese Christianity


For John, BLUFIdeas, including ideas of Faith, are powerful.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The South China Morning Post we have "China will create own Christian belief system amid tensions with church, says official". Here is the concept:
New Chinese theology must suit Chinese culture and values, State Religious Affairs director says.
While a drop in the bucket of China's population, there are some 23 to 40 million Protestants and up to 12 million Roman Catholics.  And there have been some Christian Chinese whose discussion of the faith have had influence in the Western World; people such as Watchman Nee.

The lede:

China will construct a "Chinese Christian theology" suitable for the country, state media reported on Thursday, as both the number of believers and tensions with the authorities are on the rise.
Then there is this, also from The South China Morning Post
Christian missionaries ‘forced out’ in droves as China cracks down on North Korea border city.

As many as one-third of 3,000 South Korean missionaries alone have seen visas refused; those who remain describe atmosphere of fear from interrogation and harassment

Those darned Christians.

Regards  —  Cliff

Comment on Iraq


For John, BLUFOn the other hand, VP Biden might have been correct, long ago, when he said break up Iraq.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From the Instapundit we have this short item:
TWEET OF THE WEEK:  John Kerry said that if you didn’t study or were stupid, you would get stuck in Iraq.  Today, John Kerry is stuck in Iraq.
Regards  —  Cliff

SecState Threatens North Korea


For John, BLUFNorth Korea is a problem and we need to monitor it.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From Channel News Asia we have this 12 August item on US Secretary of State John Kerry.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday (Aug 12) he was prepared to improve relations with North Korea, but warned of further pressure and isolation if it chose the path of confrontation.
Good luck.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tough Noogies


For John, BLUFOne can't intervene everywhere, but one shouldn't ignore everything.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



At Investers Business Daily Reporter Richard Cohen has an OpEd headlined "America's Left Slides Down A Slippery Slope In Iraq".

I am not sure that this is a problem just of the "Left", but Mr Cohen writs "On the Left", so it is his beat.

The point of the item is that there are those who just don't wish to risk getting involved in Iraq.  That includes humanitarian intervention that could, through mission creep, become military intervention.  On the other hand, Mr Cohen seems to equate combat with soldiers on the ground, not aircraft flying sorties and dropping bombs, or dropping supplies, like food or water, (or doing reconnaissance).  Here is a key paragraph:

This is the "tough noogies" school that laments the plight of this or that ethnic group but can't do anything for them lest the U.S. find itself on a slope slippier than the one the Yazidis were clinging to on Iraq's Mount Sinjar.  Intervene to save the desperate Yazidis and, before you know it, you're back at war.
Regards  —  Cliff

7.4.1.0

A Trip At City Hall


For John, BLUFSafety is everyone's responsibility.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Back in May I tripped going down some steps at the Kennedy Center at City Hall.  Fell down and skinned my knees and broke my iPhone.  Fortunately, I was able to do an abbreviated version of a PLF and thus didn't hurt myself too bad.

No, this is not a plea for a contingent fee lawyer.

For a while I wondered why I tripped on the bottom step, and then I figured it out.  I was multi-tasking, talking on my phone and walking.  I was not concentrated on the steps and, apparently, I didn't see the last step but thought I was stepping onto the sidewalk.  That difference in height made me trip.  Why didn't I see the last step?  Because it looks more like the sidewalk that the three steps above it, as shown here:

Not totally the same, but close enough if you aren't paying attention.  Here is the same location, from a different angle.  Three repaired steps create a possible problem.

My humble, non-expert, opinion on what, if anything, should be done is to paint the bottom step a contrasting color, or put a wash on it the same as the three steps above.

Yes, I have told a couple of folks in City Government.

Regards  —  Cliff

Taxes Vary


For John, BLUFGlad to not live in Tax Heavy New York.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Driving South on Saturday we stopped at Armonk, New York.  Stayed at La Quinta, which we have found to be a clean and reasonably priced motel.  That said, the Breakfast used to be a tad better, being in the restaurant, as opposed to the lobby, as it is now.  I have never seen the pool open.

But, this is about the price of gas.  From the motel it is out to the highway and a left and a right and there is a gas station on the right with a nice Quick Mart.  Strangely, this time it no longer had a major brand name on the gas station.  It is now a minor chain.  You can see the price of regular in this photo:

$4.299, or $4.30 a gallon.  That is more than we pay up in the Lowell area.

However, on the Jersey Turnpike, last Rest Area southbound (Clara Barton)

It is near a dollar less (86¢):

Different states tax gas at different rates.  It was no surprise that Gubernatorial Candidate Martha Coakley didn't know the amount of state tax on gas.  She guessed 10¢.  The answer is 24¢.  The total, with Federal taxes, is 41.9¢.  These were number for back in May of this year, when Ms Coakley missed the mark.

Then, of course there is the issue of pegging the Mass Gas Tax to the rate of inflation (up).  This is another case of Legislators shirking their duties by moving unpopular actions over to bureaucrats or automatic actions.  I am in support of the recent tax increase—we need the money to improve our roads.  What I strongly oppose is Legislators shirking their duty.  You should also.  Go to the polls in November and support the initiative to stop linking gas taxes to inflation.

By the way, while we are called "Taxachusetts", back in 2011 we were 11th in terms of state and local taxes.  Not great, but not evil.  And regarding the Federal taxes we pay, we get back about 86¢ for every dollar paid.

Regards  —  Cliff

  She once wiffed on the softball question about the Team Kurt Schilling played for.
  I was driving around in Northern Virginia yesterday, going into DC, and the construction I say, improving and widening roads that are better than what we have in Eastern Massachusetts today, seemed more than what I have actually seen between Lowell and Situate.  We are definitely lagging in this area.  Investment in the Big Dig didn't help.

Eating Down Near Wegman's


For John, BLUFAnother nice restaurant.  Many are tested, few are chosen.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Staying on the theme of food, from last evening, last week my Wife and I had dinner at The Bancroft Restaurant, on 3rd Street, in Burlington, MA.  Cutting to the chase, good food and service, but a little pricy.  The Bancroft is owned by the same folks who own the restaurant on Gibbet Hill in Groton.

The place was busy, but we were able to get a table in the bar.  I had the appetizer crab cake and it was great.  And, they were able to scare up some Worcestershire Sauce for it.

The entrance was a little misplaced, in that they are still installing the main parking lot.  We parked in the back and had to walk around to the front. : What was interesting to me was that the location of the parking lot is also the drainage area for sewage.  It is the half-pipe system  My connection to that system is that my late cousin, Randy May, invented the system.

We enjoyed ourselves, but we will likely taking the Monday Night Discussion Group to The Bancroft.

Regards  —  Cliff

  That would be the Webber Restaurant Group.
  Half round pipes laid side by side.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Clyde's Place


For John, BLUFA great lunch and a great conversation.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I had lunch today with a friend at Clyde's, in Washington, DC (Gallery Place).  Here is the painting that greeted me, on the left side, as I entered the establishment.

"The Sultan of Swat"
The discussion was wide ranging, from the nine-dash line in the South China Sea (my friend is a "China Hand") to the current economic situation, to the dangers of too much government regulation squeezing out the small business persons, to how the current school debt problem will work itself out.

But, back to Clyde's, it is kind of pricy, but one is paying for the ambiance.  And the ambiance is great.

I had a BLT with coleslaw and it was good.  Then the Server came by and offered deserts, which we resisted until he said fruit.  I mentioned pineapple.  He wasn't sure of the fruit, but he knew there was watermelon and I settled for it.  When it arrived my host and I both thought it was pineapple, but when I tasted it it was watermelon—"yellow watermelon", from New Jersey.  It was a pleasant surprise.  And a generous portion, so I was able to take some with me and "educate" several of my Grandchildren.

Regards  —  Cliff

Meanwhile, Back in Asia


For John, BLUFDoing Foreign Policy requires multi-tasking.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



While we are focusing on what is happening in the Near East (the Levant), life is also happening in other places.  For example, Chinese Foreign Minister Mr Wang Yi, at a press conference following the China-ASEAN (10+1) Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Myanmar's capital of Nay Pyi Taw, has "clarified" China's position on territorial claims in the South China Sea.  The article is headlined:  "Chinese FM clarifies unshakable position over South China Sea issue".  This item is from the Chinese on line presence Xinhuanet

Remember, China uses the "Nine-dash Line" to describer what is Chinese territory in the South China Sea, territory also claimed by other nations, such as Viet-nam and the Philippines.

Regards  —  Cliff

  For example, the apparent genocide by ISIL against the Yazidi People in Iraq.
  "Sponsored by the Xinhua News Agency, Xinhuanet is an important central news service-oriented website, an important information organ of the central government, and an important platform for building up China's online international communication capacity."
  That would be both Mainland China and also the Government on Taiwan.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Win In/For Hawaii


For John, BLUFVoters are lazy, but not necessarily dumb.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



DESPITE?  Hawaii Governor Loses Democratic Primary Despite Obama Endorsement.  “President Barack Obama endorsed him, but incumbent Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie lost his Democratic primary to a challenger Saturday.  Abercrombie, a longtime Democratic officeholder in the state, was ousted by state Sen. David Ige.  That makes Abercrombie the first incumbent governor in Hawaii history to lose his primary.  Ige handily defeated the sitting governor, winning 67 percent to Abercrombie’s 32 percent of the vote.”
That is lopsided!

I am blaming the Tropical Storms.  That said, could folksvoters be tumbling to the fact that Gov Neil Abercrombie is to the left of V Lenin and J Stalin, but without the mass murder?

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fabled Caswell Going


For John, BLUFI am looking forward to the new business on Route 38.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From today's edition of The [Lowell] Sun, front page, below the fold, is an article on the transformation of the Caswell Motel to Wamesit Lanes.  Given the hostile attitude of the Federal Attorney in Boston toward the Caswell, this is probably good for the property and for we the taxpayers.

My only thought is that if the bien-pensant succeed in forcing a name change on the Washington Redskins, they will eventually go against Wamesit Lanes.  With any luck that will be a long time after Mr Don MacLaren, Sr and his son Don MacLaren, Jr, have moved on.

From the article:

The motel is expected to be demolished in late August or September to make way for a new entertainment complex, owned and operated by Tewksbury residents.
Regards  —  Cliff

  That would be Ms Carmen Ortiz, Esq.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

ISIL and Genocide


For John, BLUFAvoid foreign engagements but be ready to slap down serious terrorism.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Writing in The Washington Post, Reporter Terrence McCoy gives us "The Islamic State’s bloody campaign to exterminate minorities:  ‘Even Genghis Khan didn’t do this’".

This is about the Yazidi People of Northern Iraq.  From the article:

In the back of a cavernous hall, standing behind rows of solemn-looking men, an Iraqi politician known for her passion began to shriek.  Her name was Vian Dakhil:  the lone representative of the Yazidi people in Iraq’s parliament.  And she was asking for someone, anyone, to listen.  The Islamic State had just expelled thousands of her people from the northern town of Sinjar.  Stranded on a barren mountain without food or water, they faced extermination.

Women, she said, were being sold as sexual slaves.  Children, she said, were dying.  Someone, she said, must take notice.

Good luck with that.

However, we need to understand that ISIL, the Islamic State, is a brutal, thuggish, organization.  One is reminded of the Khmer Rouge.

What we should do, absolutely, is open our borders to people like the Yazidi, because they are refugees from serious threats—threats of extermination; threats of genocide.

Regarding ISIL itself, we (the US) aren't going to do anything about the organization, its armed forces and crimes, but by the same token, we should not play nice with this organization without good reason.  We may provide arms and supplies, and trainers, to the Iraqi Government, but we should not be sending ground forces.  Airpower, land or sea based, might be reasonable, but not the Infantry.  Even if we (through our Government) elect not to support Iraq, we need to be ready, if ISIL steps across the line in terms of terrorism against us, to test out the value of the combination of airpower and special operations against such organizations and forces.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

WWI Still Drives Events


For John, BLUFWWI messed up a lot of stuff, even down to today.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Writer Jonah Goldberg, writing in USA Todaay, gives us "WWI Demons Live".
A century ago, the 'war to end all wars' bred conflicts lasting till today.
Studying history gives a hint as to why things are the way they are today.

Regards  —  Cliff

Things Are Bad in Central America


For John, BLUFThis immigration problem the nation faces is, in part, the result of our own neglect.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is an article from The Miami Herald way back in late February of this year, talking about El Salvador.  It isn't "turtles all the way down", it is corruption all the way down.

Not that I am encouraging the movement of the population of El Salvador to the US, but many of them may actually be hoping for a better life up here.

This is a result of decades of US Presidents, the Department of State and the US Congress ignoring our neighbors to the South.  Leo Carrillo was right, back in 1957, when he said that it was time to stop pouring money down the sewers of Europe and Asia and focus on our neighbors to the south.  Now we are reaping the consequences.

The fact that the news today says that Massachusetts won't be hosting immigration children does not mean that a month from now we won't.  This is a long term crisis and it needs a "whole of government" solution.  What are our elected representatives doing to provide the needed long term solutions?

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Distasteful Attacks on An American


For John, BLUFPolitics can bring out the worst in people.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Pejman Yousefzadeh talks "About Those Racist Attacks on Elaine Chao".

It started here, where someone commented that there was no context.  That person (1) doesn't pay attention to the news and (2) didn't see the arrow, which lead here.  Pejman said, in the shorter post:

"Once, it’s happenstance.  Twice, it’s coincidence.  The third time, it’s enemy action."
The fuller discussion can be found here.

So who cares about some wacko making comments about the Honorable Elaine Chao, former US Secretary of Labor and wife of US Senator Mitch McConnell?  Actually a number of people, including people I exchange EMails with.  They find it disgusting.  They believe it is hitting below the belt.  They think that it was possibly a deliberate part of a Democrat Candidate's plan to unseat Senator McConnell.  Frankly, that would be despicable, being both racist and part of the "war on women" (Democrat style).  What is the line we are looking for here?

Have you no sense of decency?
Back in 2011 Ms Kathy Groob, who made the slurs, was characterized this way:
Kathy Groob is a successful business executive with 30 years experience. She has served as a senior executive of a $178 million regional real estate development and construction services firm. Currently she is a partner at November Strategies political consulting firm, a co-founder of Emerge Kentucky, a recruitment and training program for Democratic women, and she is also the publisher of ElectWomen Magazine.
That was in a posting at the website of Ms Gloria Feldt, titled "Breaking Barriers: Kentucky’s First Female African American Senator, Georgia Davis Powers".

Maybe it is just some minorities Ms Groob objects to, like ones married to Republicans.  Maybe that association makes one an unworthy minority.

Someone I know commented on the fact that Ms Groob has taken down her web site with this comment:

Coward.

Don't just slur and run.  Stand up, be counted, show us what you're made of, what you really believe.

Exactly.

One might hope, but these tip and run type attacks exist in politics.  In this era they are especially distasteful when they are combined with the sanctimonious drivel of the Democrats on equality.

We need equality of opportunity in these United States.  And we need a sense of decency in our dealings with others, and especially minorities, so they find the rest of us viewing them as just another valued fellow citizen.

Regards  —  Cliff