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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Democrat Dick Durbin Suggests Filibuster

For John, BLUFFilibuster?  Democrats would do such a thing?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Remember how evil the Filibuster is (or at least was last year, when the evil Senate Republicans were holding up those things that Senator Harry Reid wasn't already holding up).  Here is Law Professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds (The Instapundit) on a possible Senate Democrat Filibuster.
SO THIS MAKES THEM HOSTAGE-TAKERS AND TERRORISTS, RIGHT?  Dick Durbin:  Senate Democrats will block House DHS bill.  If the Dems block it, McConnell can always go nuclear on them.  Because the filibuster is evil, and so are other techniques that thwart the Senate majority.  We learned that last year . . .
What goes around comes around.

DHS is the Department of Homeland Security, which still doesn't have a full Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Budget.

Regarding DHS, there is more to the issue than just the question of immigration management.  There is the question of President Obama's Administrative Memoranda regarding illegal immigrants.  There is TSA (Transportation Security Agency) and its cost vs its effectiveness, and the question of its intrusions on Americans and their freedoms.  There is the effectiveness of the US Secret Service, which was ripped from Treasury in 2003 as DHS was being created.

Maybe DHS should just go away, with its parts redistributed.  On the other hand, as Alexander King used to point out, painting the curbs yellow was effective because it kept the elephants out of the city streets.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Power of the Press

For John, BLUFYes, newspapers are a powerful force.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Somebody I know used the following this morning in an EMail, claiming to have adopted it from a Russian Proverb.
What does a 4-star General and a horsefly have in common?  They both can be crushed by a newspaper.
Regards  —  Cliff

Joe Biden's CENTAM Project

For John, BLUFCENTAM (pronounced CEN TAM) is Central America in military parlance.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Vice President Joe Biben has "A Plan for Central America".

At last a Foreign Policy Vision for Latin America.

And cheap at $1 Billion only.

On the other hand there is this:

As we were reminded last summer when thousands of unaccompanied children showed up on our southwestern border, the security and prosperity of Central America are inextricably linked with our own.
A low-ball on the number and a total lack of transparency on what was happening.  Wasn't this going to be the most transparent administration in history?

I am hopeful, but I just exchanged EMails with a retired Colonel who did planning for US Southern Command and he thinks this is not a serious piece, but rather shallow buffoonery.  "Vapid" was used.

I greet it with hope, but people who have been there may be more dubious, much more dubious.

Regards  —  Cliff

Anniversary Noted

For John, BLUFIt's not like the Soviets were sitting on their hands.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This is the 65th anniversary of President Truman's decision to develop the hydrogen bomb.

Many think this was a bad decision.  For example, Boston Globe Opinion Writer James Carroll.  On the other hand, Mr Carroll doesn't tell us how he would deal with cheaters.  And, an aging nuclear stockpile.

What this doesn't tell us is when the Soviet Union embarked on this same path.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, January 30, 2015

Lawyers and the Law

For John, BLUFIf ignorance of the law is no excuse, laypersons need to be thinking about the law.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

On City Life this morning Host George Anthes, while discussing the Constitution, the US Supreme Court and Law and Great Lowell Technical High School made a reference to me as someone who didn't accept his views, the views of a man educated in the law and with a license to practice.  And a Government Prof at UML.

So, I texted in some comments, and followed up when I called in later, about another issue.  The problem is, I sent the text to my Granddaughter, Jennifer.  And she didn't point this out to me until it was too late.  But we had a nice exchange via text.  She is out in Ohio, married, a Mother and working in Quality Control for a chemical company.

But, back to the Show, George suggested I didn't trust the opinions of lawyers.

Actually, no.

But, to privilege lawyers over citizens, when only 5 Justices (or a Jury) can determine what a law means seems wrong.


And, George is always saying "Five lawyers, five opinions."

Regards  —  Cliff

  I am thinking, actually more than five opinions—n factorial and all that.

Olympic Costs

For John, BLUFI am betting there will be an overrun and it will be in the neighborhood of 45% ($11.75B total).  Not outside reasonable expectations.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Ms Shirley Leung has an opinion piece in the Business Section of today's Boston Globe.  It is about the 2024 Olympics and is titled "At what price will the Games be worth it to Boston?"
I’ve been getting an Olympic-size headache trying to figure out the actual cost of hosting the Summer Games.

Sure, Boston 2024 lays out its budget in a slick 19-page bid document telling us the price tag, not including security and infrastructure, will be $8.1 billion. All of the funds, in theory, will be put up by the private sector and institutions like the University of Massachusetts Boston that will use the facilities afterward.

The underlying question is what will it cost in addition.  There is a graphic accompanying Ms Leung's article, showing how different sites have experienced cost overruns.  Some of them are pretty large, although not as large as the Big Dig, which tripled in price.

People may not view this as a serious issue.  This morning, on City Life, Host George Anthes was bad mouthing those who might be opposed to the Boston 2024 Olympics.  This grew out of his declaring that while he is a Republican, he supports Representative Dave Nangle and State Senator Eileen Donoghue.  That segued into the Olympics bid, of which Senator Donoghue is a strong supporter.

I say let us not, up here in Lowell, go all Marty Walsh and shut down free and open discussion about this event a decade in the future.  Let us not make fun of or ridicule those who have a different opinion, a concern that we don't feel.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Big Dig is sort of the F-35 of public works projects.
  They are both from out in Western Mass.
  I am thinking that the Senator needs to update her Wikipedia page.

Terrorism Backfires

For John, BLUFThere is some natural law about perverse outcomes, somewhere.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Washington Post we have some insight from polling by the Pew Trust, "The impact of Charlie Hebdo:  Americans now back Muhammad cartoons"

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Federal Deficit to Grow Over Time

For John, BLUFIf promises are made by politicians they are either paid for or become part of the deficit.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the TaxProfBlog we have a look at the Congressional Budget Office look at the economy from now to 2025.  It isn't pretty, with a projected Federal Budget Deficit of one trillion dollars for the year 2025.  Lots of links, some interesting charts and a question:
Stupid qs.  I would have assumed corporate income taxes would be way higher % of GDP.  Is that the offshoring and inversions we've been hearing about from the left?
In my uneducated mind the answer is yes.  It is time for Congress to drop the tax rate for corporations so that the overall tax intake from those sources goes up, thus helping to reduce the Federal Budget Deficit.  What we are doing right now isn't working.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Kids Shortchanged

For John, BLUFReading.  Not everybody likes it, but everybody should be exposed to it.  And told there are audio books.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Ms Annie Holmquist at Better Ed we have this offering, "Reading Levels: 1908 vs. 2014".
Some of you may remember the 1908 curriculum manual I dug up in the Minnesota Historical Society archives a few months ago.  When compared with a current public school reading list, it demonstrated that today’s schools are offering a more narrow view of western civilization and a simplified level of reading material.
Basically, it was tougher a century ago.  Sure, no one believes that they had to walk two miles, through snow, up hill, both ways, but Ms Holmquist's blog post shows that more was demanded of kids from a reading perspective.

Hat tip to the Instapundit, who referenced a post by Mr Jason W Stevens at The Federalist Papers.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Republicans Differ on Spending Priorities

For John, BLUFIt is time for thinking.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Behind a pay wall The Wall Street Journal discusses "GOP Split Over Expected Obama Request for More Defense Outlays:  Party Is Forced to Prioritize Among Two Top Goals: Boosting National Security and Curbing Spending".
President Barack Obama will send Congress a fiscal year 2016 budget next week proposing both military and domestic spending at levels surpassing the limits lawmakers agreed to in a hard-fought 2011 deal.

After pledging to use their new congressional majority to rein in federal spending, many Republicans are likely to criticize Mr. Obama's plan to ignore the curbs known as the sequester on nondefense spending.  But on military spending, GOP lawmakers are divided over whether the Pentagon should absorb more cuts.

The debate forces Republicans to prioritize among two of the party's top goals: bolstering national security and curbing government spending.  And GOP lawmakers say minimizing either issue could pose long-term threats to the nation.

I expect Democrats in Congress will have similar differences, but perhaps being in the minority will cause them to band together.  Either way, it should be an interesting year in Congress.

Regards  —  Cliff

Destroying Western Culture, One College Class at a Time

For John, BLUFIs higher education about feeling good or is it about feeling challenged?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Professor Althouse, looking at an OpEd in The Daily Californian, headlined "Occupy the syllabus", focuses on the last question in the last paragraph:
So, if you have taken classes in the social sciences and humanities, we challenge you: Count the readings authored by white males and those authored by the majority of humanity.  Then ask yourself:  Are your identities and the identities of people you love reflected on these syllabi? Whose perspectives and life experiences are excluded?  Is it really worth it to accumulate debt for such an epistemically poor education?
I challenge the author, count the number of free and democratic cultures you can find and then ask yourself:  Are there good alternative writers to those on the syllabi who love and respect your cultural values?  Then ask yourself if your cultural values are compatible with the American Democracy, flawed as it may be?

What are they thinking, or aren't they thinking?

Hat tip to Ann Althouse, who give a hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Where is Oil Going?

For John, BLUFFor the time being the price of oil favors the American consumer and the American Foreign Policy makers.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Bloomberg News yesterday had an article, "Oil Falls to Lowest in Almost Six Years on Global Glut".  The article talks, on the one hand, about OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla El-Badri talking about how low prices could drive out investors and then oil might rebound to $200 a barrel, up from the current price for West Texas Intermediate for March delivery of $45.15.

As an aside, our snow storm, Juno, was mentioned, "A blizzard that may dump 2 feet of snow from New York to Boston bolstered diesel, often traded as a proxy for heating oil."

A surprising thing is:

U.S. inventories climbed to the highest level for December since 1930, the American Petroleum Institute reported Jan. 23.  Supplies increased 7.4 percent from a year earlier to 383.5 million barrels in December, the Washington-based API said in a monthly report.  Production accelerated 16 percent to 9.12 million barrels a day, the highest level for any month since February 1986, according to the industry group.
1930.  December of 1930 would be The Great Depression, which kicked off with Black Tuesday (October 29, 1929) and was worldwide by 1930.

I am not saying this is a sign of the Apocalypse, but it is an indication that fracking has upset the world oil markets to some degree and changed power relationships across the globe.

Regards  —  Cliff


For John, BLUFApparently we can't get no respect.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This is from two days ago, but it is interesting in its apparent disdain for America and our President. From Fox News we have "ISIS threatens Obama, Japanese and Jordanian hostages in new online messages".  This is from a Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translation on Tuesday, based on an ISIL released video.
“Know, oh Obama that will reach America,” says one of the fighters, clad in black and wearing a balaclava, in a translation from Arabic provided by MEMRI.  “Know also that we will cut off your head in the White House, and transform America into a Muslim Province.”
OK!  The ISIL guys (and occasional gal) are talking big, talking trash.  But, it shows their orientation with regards to the US.  They are going to reclaim all the lost territories of former Muslim Empires nd the Americans, and Europeans, will be reduced to paying tribute or worse.

May be time to get serious about Dive Toss.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

PC Is A Problem

For John, BLUFBeing polite is one thing, and we all should be.  Being PC is a different thing and we shouldn't.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

At New York Magazine is a look at Political Correctness run amok.  The title is Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say.  The sub-title is "How the language police are perverting liberalism."  the author is Mr Jonathan Chait.

The story starts out discussing Mr Omar Mahmood, a Muslim student at the University of Michigan (Mr Chait's alma mater), who was harassed over a column he wrote for a school newspaper.  No the protestors were not anti-minority or anti-Muslim.  They were the politically correct bien-pensant of the campus.

His column, published in the school’s conservative newspaper, had spoofed the culture of taking offense that pervades the campus. Mahmood satirically pretended to denounce “a white cis-gendered hetero upper-class man” who offered to help him up when he slipped, leading him to denounce “our barbaric attitude toward people of left-handydnyss.” The gentle tone of his mockery was closer to Charlie Brown than to Charlie Hebdo.
As a side note, The Michigan Daily, which employed Mr Mahmood, fired him for not writing a letter of apology to a fellow student staffer, who felt "threatened" by the column.

Mr Chait the goes on to talk about the pushing, in Academe, of "Trigger Warnings" as a way of helping The overly sensitive.

Trigger warnings aren’t much help in actually overcoming trauma — an analysis by the Institute of Medicine has found that the best approach is controlled exposure to it, and experts say avoidance can reinforce suffering. Indeed, one professor at a prestigious university told me that, just in the last few years, she has noticed a dramatic upsurge in her students’ sensitivity toward even the mildest social or ideological slights; she and her fellow faculty members are terrified of facing accusations of triggering trauma — or, more consequentially, violating her school’s new sexual-harassment policy — merely by carrying out the traditional academic work of intellectual exploration. “This is an environment of fear, believe it or not,” she told me by way of explaining her request for anonymity. It reminds her of the previous outbreak of political correctness — “Every other day I say to my friends, ‘How did we get back to 1991?’ ”
Hat tip to Memeorandum.

UPDATE:  Someone forgot John's Bottom Line.  Tsk, Tsk.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I wonder of the use of the term "run amok" would be non-PC, if the PC Police understood it?


For John, BLUFA reason to be "conservative" in one's political choices.  "It seemed like a good idea at the time" can take a while to work out of the political system.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the blog Neo-Neocon the Blog Mistress gives us Being Wrong. She talks about 9/11, the outbreak of WWI and the ascension of Hitler to Chancellor and an addendum on the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran.  she ends (before the addendum):
I have also known that feeling of “I was wrong about something extremely important.”  My political change was based on a realization that I’d been wrong.  More recently I’ve been wrong about what the American people will tolerate and accept in a president.

I wonder what else I’m wrong about.

A good question to ask.

Reminds me of that TV Advertisement.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Republicans Out and About

For John, BLUFI favor looking amongst the Governors for a candidate.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Ms Amy Davidson, of The New Yorker, serves up some 2016 Presidential Politics with "The G.O.P. Bubble vs. Democratic Stagflation".  My late Mother would have been thrilled by the idea that political activity had come to Rancho Mirage.  Even if it was Republican activity, sponsored by the Koch Brothers, my Mother being a Democrat.

Besides giving us a look at a couple of Republican cotillions she also talked about the Democrats, but without the same level of detail and breadth of field.  On the other hand, I don't believe many Democrats think that the nomination could go to E Warren by the Convention.

Yes, I am still interested in Governor Scott Walker, Governor Bobby Jindal and, as my dark horse, Governor Nikki Haley.

I disfavor dynasties.  And,the Instapundit thinks that Governor Mitt Romney is thinking of a Senate run, in Utah.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Amy Davidson is a New Yorker staff writer.  She is a regular Comment contributor for the magazine and writes a Web column for The New Yorker, "in which she covers war, sports, and everything in between."  What do you think is in between?
  In a different forum I believe I said the Democrat Convention would be before the Republican, but it is a week after, on the 25th of July 2016, venue TBD.  The Republican convention, to be held in Cleveland (upper right corner, on Lake Eire, in Cuyahoga County) will be from 18 July through 21 July.  The informal rule, "since 1956 the incumbent party has held its convention second."  I should have remembered that.  Wikipedia did.

Helping the Commuters

For John, BLUFI was impressed to see new techniques being tried out by Mass DOT.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Heading South on Route 3 around Noon yesterday I saw something I hadn't seen before in this area—a tank truck spreading a liquid on the road, as a prep for snow.  I have seen it in Pennsylvania, but not here.

I expect that while it did not make a difference in the long run, it may well have made for a better commute for those heading home before the big storm got serious.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, January 26, 2015

First Minority VP?

For John, BLUFStrange, isn't it, that in a a time the Klan was still active we could see an American Indian as Vice President.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This item by Blogger Don Surber (self described as The Scorekeeper) is not news to me but might be to many.  He writes of "[US Vice President] Charles Curtis, the Indian who became vice president"

But, it was a different time.  A time of assimilation.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Who Creates Jobs?

For John, BLUFBob Dylan may think E Warren (and President Obama) is wrong.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"Bob Dylan to AARP (!):  'The government's not going to create jobs.  It doesn't have to.'"

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Walker Gearing Up

For John, BLUFEverything is pointing toward 2016.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Professor Ann Althouse points us toward The Des Moines Register and an article on Texan David Polyansky and the fact that he has signed on to the Scott Walker campaign.  Ms Althouse quotes the paper as follows:

Iowa has been a home-away-from-home for Polyansky for years.  He was deputy campaign manager for Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann when she climbed to a surprise victory in the 2011 Iowa Straw Poll.  And he was senior consultant to [Joni] Ernst, who won a five-way GOP primary in June then defeated Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley by 8.3 points in November to claim the U.S. Senate seat held for 30 years by a staunch liberal, Tom Harkin.
She then goes on to quote from an article in The New York Times on an event in Iowa today, hosted by Iowa Representative Steve King, a Republican.  The article mentions "favorite son" Governor Chris Christie and then goes on.
The forum on Saturday has the potential to become a gladiatorial matchup between Mr. Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008 on the strength of conservative Christian voters, and Mr. Santorum, who won it four years ago with the same voters.  In 2012, nearly 60 percent of Republican caucusgoers in Iowa were born-again or evangelical Christians.
But, also on the bill are Wisconsin Governor Walker, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Conservative favorite Doctor Ben Carson.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

  From The Deseret News (out of Salt Lake City) we have a report on "Religion's role in the Iowa caucus results".

Friday, January 23, 2015

Big Greek Vote This Weekend

For John, BLUFGetting one's economy in order is sometimes hard.  Will Greece duck?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Quartz has this blurb, with a link to the Reuters Article:
Over the weekend: Greece takes to the polls.  Alexis Tsipras, leader of the leftist Syriza party, is hoping for an overwhelming national election victory on Jan. 25, to give his party a mandate to reverse years of harsh austerity measures.  “On Monday, national humiliation will be over,” Tsipras told crowds.  “We will finish with orders from abroad.”
Hat tip to Quartz.

Regards  —  Cliff

The President's Update on Foreign Policy

For John, BLUFWe are number one and will probably muddle through.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at Hot Air Blogger Ed Morrissey uses MSNBC Reporters Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell to make the point that the State of the Union presentation was disconnected from the reality of our foreign policy outcome.

Regards  —  Cliff

A Dean of Journalism Says Limits on Free Speech

For John, BLUFSome Journalism Dean wants a suicide pact.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at Hot Air we have (Mr?) Allahpundit talking about the First Amendment, but more, Free Speech.  "Journalism school dean:  The First Amendment ends at insulting Mohammed".


Apparently for DeWayne Wickham, dean of Morgan State University's School of Global Journalism and Communication.  Dean Wickham, a regular USA Today Columnist, sums up:

If Charlie Hebdo's irreverent portrayal of Mohammed before the Jan. 7 attack wasn't thought to constitute fighting words, or a clear and present danger, there should be no doubt now that the newspaper's continued mocking of the Islamic prophet incites violence.  And it pushes Charlie Hebdo's free speech claim beyond the limits of the endurable.
So, if I am following Dean Wickham correctly, if I find that someone is insulting me my best resort is to enlist my friends and go out and wreck mayhem on this person and the institution for which he or she works.  Otherwise they will continue to do it and it will hurt my feelings.  So mayhem is OK, apparently.

What ever happened to the idea that in our culture we tolerate?  If cartoons of Mr Mohammed are verboten, are cartoons depicted Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in a defaming matter sufficient to cause criminal charges, or failing that, I would assume, mayhem on the part of the offended?  What ever happened to the idea that it was tolerable for the American Nazi Party to walk through Skokie, Illinois?

Allahpundit debunks some of Dean Wickham's assertions about the First Amendment.

I just want to know Dean Wickham's home address, so the next time we get something like the Piss Christ I can go march in front of the Dean's home, probably with a sign saying "Charlie Hebdo was Right".

And I am gravely offended by Photographer Andres Serrano's work.

And, once the self-censorship starts we can't control where it will end.  It is likely the Press, the Internet aside, will cease its job as the Fourth Estate, policing Government.  Transparency will not just be reduced, it will end.  These things never end well.

You will know we are in trouble when Political Commentator Mark Steyn elects to move back to Canada.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Subsidizing Child Care

For John, BLUFI am thinking yes, we should provide tax credits for child care.  For those working.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is an interesting question:
Should the government provide tax credits for child care?  Or is it "fairer" to just provide tax credits (e.g., per-child benefits) for all families, and let the parents make their own decisions?
Jane the Actuary takes a look at this question in under 600 words.

Of course it is about more than the taxes.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Doing Bad, Trying to Do Good

For John, BLUF"We must destroy the village to save it!"  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is a quote that Mr Perry de Havilland, writing from London, likes:
Yet Oxfam also claims, without any real evidence, that excessive inequality hampers economic growth.  It suggests that, since we want that economic pie to be as large as possible, we should tax wealth and capital.  The problem is that all taxes destroy some economic activity, shrinking that pie.  And different taxes do so differently.  We also know that capital and wealth taxes destroy more of the pie than almost any others (other than that Robin Hood Tax Oxfam also supported).  So the argument is that we must shrink the economic pie in order to stop inequality shrinking it.  This has shades of having to destroy the village so as to save it.
The source is an article from City AM, by Mr Tom Worstall, "Why we should beware Oxfam’s claims about the world’s richest 1 per cent".

Hat tip to Samizdata.

Regards  —  Cliff

That Salt Consumption Thing

For John, BLUFCheck with your Doctor and if you trust him or her....  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Reason we have a very short item by Mr Ronald Bailey, with this headline—"Salt Is Not the Killer the Government Says It Is".

If you can't trust the Feds to get it right over something as simple as salt, what can you trust them over?

Hat tip to Maggie's Farm.

Regards  —  Cliff

Hottest Year on Record?

For John, BLUFWhy is this climate the best?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Out on The Right Coast, Editor Thomas A Smith talks about how last year was reported (in some quarters) as the warmest on record.

"Last Year Was The Warmest In Recorded History.  It Was Also The Greatest"

And it was a great year.

Regards  —  Cliff

  University of San Diego, School of Law.

Google Joins SpaceX

For John, BLUFSpace is the place.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is some good news, from GizmotoGoogle is investing (along with some others) about $1 Billion in Elon Musk's SpaceX Internet project.
Musk recently revealed some details about his as yet unnamed space internet project to Bloomberg.  A team of about 5o employees at the new SpaceX office in Seattle are working on a project that would use about 700 small satellites to provide internet access to the entire planet, with a strong focus on rural and developing areas.  SpaceX declined to comment on the plans and the Google investment in an email to Gizmodo.
Sure, I worry that Google is evil, but the idea of a free (or low cost) Internet, outside the control of the FCC and all the other global censors, appeals to me.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What About Boko Haram

For John, BLUFIf Boko Haram takes Nigeria and Cameroon, it will try to spread to Europe.  That would not be fun.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

At the web magazine War on the Rocks we have the views of Alice Hunt Friend on "Besting Boko Haram.  The impact of Boko Haram has been horrendous.  While we all reacted to the April 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok, Nigeria, it has been little in the news recently, even though some 2,000 people were killed by Boko Haram in 2014 and over a half million people have been dislocated.  Here is the lede:
Will anything stop Boko Haram?  As Western media became consumed with the wave of terrorism in Paris, the Nigerian terrorist group slaughtered hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people in the northeastern city of Baga.  On the heels of this atrocity, Boko Haram’s deadliest yet, the group executed another ruthless attack:  forcing little girls to detonate suicide vests in a crowded market.
Ms Hunt does have a discussion of the underlying social issues.  She also proposes steps ahead.  In a nation like Nigeria, split between a Muslim North and a Christian South, the social and political side needs to be considered.  I am not sure that Nigeria can simply kill its way to victory.

We need to be paying attention to this issue.

UPDATE:  I meant to hit "Save", but hit "Publish".  Painting the train while it is moving.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I am more of a War, Neat kind of person.
  Alice Hunt Friend is a Senior Affiliate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an Adjunct Senior Fellow with the Center for a New American Security, and a doctoral student at American University in Washington, DC.  From 2012-2014 she was the Principal Director for African Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
  Which means "Western education is forbidden".  The official name is Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'Awati Wal-Jihad, which translates to "People Committed to the Prophet's Teachings for Propagation and Jihad"

Equal Pay for Equal Work

For John, BLUFIsn't there an Equal Pay Act already out there?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The Washington Examiner has a comment on the State of the Union Speech concerning the wage disparity between men and women.  It notes that "President Obama gives up 77 cent wage gap statistic".  Here is the lede and following:
In his State of the Union address, President Obama tried to continue the myth that women are paid drastically less than men, but there’s a catch — he didn’t repeat the debunked claim that women earn 77 cents to the dollar that men earn. . . .

But Obama’s speech is missing any mention of just how differently men and women are paid.  Perhaps this is because the Bureau of Labor Statistics pointed out that it’s not Congress but women’s own choices that result in the supposed wage gap.

And maybe it’s because the White House knows this to be true, as Betsey Stevenson, member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, admitted last April.

Even with the false statistic removed, Obama does a disservice to women by continuing to tell them they’re all victims.

I wonder what the disparity is between men and women with regard to lost time accidents and deaths on the job?

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  To me that reads funny, but I know what they mean.  It is 77 cents for a woman for every dollar for a man.  I guess, in my mind it is 77%.

Yemen Falls, Endangers Our Long War Strategy

For John, BLUFThis loss of Yemen is not a good thing.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Time Magazine we have an article by Reporter Mark Thompson, headlined "As Yemen’s Government Falls, So May a U.S. Strategy for Fighting Terror".  Here are two excerpts:
“U.S. counter-terrorism policies in Yemen worked in the short term to keep al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula from engaging in some attacks on the U.S. that al Qaeda wanted desperately to carry out,” former top Pentagon official David Sedney said Tuesday.  “But that short-term success was never accompanied by a long-term strategy, and the result has been horrific—a country that is now in chaos, dominated by groups with diverse ideologies but who share a common theme—they hate the U.S. and want vengeance for the evils they believe we have wrecked upon them.”

The U.S. anti-terror policy in Yemen of a “light footprint”—drones, special-ops units and training for local forces—isn’t working, Sedney says.  “The drone strikes and fierce attacks by U.S.-trained and -mentored Yemeni special forces have created hordes of new enemies for the U.S. who see us as supporters of a decrepit, oppressive, and corrupt leadership,” says Sedney, who from 2009 to 2013 ran the Pentagon office responsible for Afghanistan, Pakistan and central Asia.

Does anyone really care about Yemen?  I doubt it.  Can they even find it on a map?  But yet, it will be a place from which much mischief can flow.  And across the West.

Regards  —  Cliff

Most Expensive Pentagon Weapon Has Problems

For John, BLUFRemember when we lost one of the prototype B-17s because someone forgot to remove a "gust lock"?  The Navy version of the F-111 died when Bash Nash crash landed it at NAS Point Magu.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Yesterday's edition of Business Insider has this headline—This Map Explains Why The F-35 Has Turned Into A Trillion-Dollar Fiasco.  The reporters, Jeremy Bender, Armin Rosen and Skye Gould, provide the story.  I expect the headline writer is over the top, but the maps which are the story, tell a tale of economic benefit spread across the nation and across the globe.

I suspect that the F-35 will be like most aircraft developments.  A Lot of learning.  There was an item in Bloomberg yesterday, by Tony Capaccio, on the F-35B having flawed software, which translates into incomplete software for the US Marine Corps version in the area of weapons delivery.  The article is "F-35 Debut Hobbled by Flawed Software, Pentagon Tester Finds".

What is important is what is missing in terms of weapons delivery limitations.

I remember one day, back when I was flying jets, back in about 1987, I found myself flying single ship with an F-16C (Block 30), my wingman having aborted or been MND (Maintenance Non Delivery).  So, I loaded up the Data Transfer Cartridge (DTC, a sort of Memory Stick from Squadron Ops to the Aircraft) to program the (simulated) weapons for the aircraft with M-129 Leaflet Bombs and headed on a pre-planned low level route to do a simulated bombing run on some little village on the North Germany Plain.  I made the run and when I pulled up to toss the [simulated] bombs I got no release light.  I pulled off to the left and ran back down toward the Initial Point (IP), checking everything and everything was fine.  So, I "downloaded" the M-129 Leaflet Bombs and upload a B-61.  I headed back in from the IP toward the village and got a nice release notification as I pulled up and tossed that bomb (in simulation) onto the village.  Showed them!

So, there was no ballistics data in the aircraft computer for the M-129.  But, fortunately, there was for the B-61.  The B-61 being our primary variable yield nuclear weapon on the base to which the aircraft and pilot were assigned.  The last time I had dropped M-129s for real was in 1966, over North Viet-nam.

So, it depends on what is not included.  We don't know.

Regards  —  Cliff

Call the Lawyers

For John, BLUFWe shouldn't have colleges and universities playing the law.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

At 12:58 yesterday, the Instapundit posted the following, which I quote in full.
ASHE SCHOW: N.D. may become second state to allow students to hire attorneys.
The U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment guarantees, among other things, the right to counsel in criminal proceedings.  Colleges and universities have thus far skirted this right in campus sexual assault cases by stating the hearings are disciplinary — not criminal — in nature.

But because the information used in those hearings can be turned over to police to be used in criminal proceedings, allowing students involved in the hearing — the accusers and the accused — to have legal representation is just common sense.

And yet, it’s not so common. Only one state — North Carolina — allows students at public universities to acquire legal representation in campus courts for charges of harassment, rape and theft.

A similar bill in North Dakota could be the beginning of a trend of states guaranteeing their students are allowed legal representation during such hearings.

As it should be. And the university should have to pay for students who can’t afford it. It’s only fair.
I am not in favor of Universities dealing out justice for real criminal offenses that would find non-collegiate types arrested.  Administrative justice is not the same as real justice.  The Bill of Rights exists for a reason.  We should not be going around it with some hired bureaucrat who is hired by the college to do the bidding of the college, and Title IX.  Title IX is an example of doing wrong while trying to do good.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Steve Gervais (RIP)

For John, BLUFFather Sannella, and five other Priests, did his friend Steve Gervais proud.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I just returned from the Funeral Mass for Steve Gervais, whose obituary can be found here.  That is the place to find a snapshot of his life, since there was no eulogy at his Funeral Mass.  At his request.  And his Sons did what he told them.

I served with Steve as a counter of money at Immaculate Conception Parish.  He was a quiet, reserved and funny guy.  He did what needed to be done and did it cheerfully.  An inspiration.

I was away on a Retreat when Steve passed away and didn't find out about his death until about 1430 yesterday.  We missed the wake, but he was well waked.  One friend said he got there about 4:15 PM and was in the line for two hours.  My neighbor and fellow counter of money went after work and was in line for one and a half hours.  A tribute.

Under the category, God works in mysterious ways, I arrived at the Funeral Mass via Fayette Street, intending to drop off my Wife and then find some parking space, somewhere.  As I stopped to let Martha off, and as she was instructing me on where to go to find a parking space, I realized there was a spot to my left that was open.  With Martha out of the car I parked it.  I admit I thought of it as a small miracle.  But perhaps God had a purpose.  Right there at the spot was the pay kiosk, with three people grouped around it, trying to make it work.  One was a little lady of Social Security Age, who had already put in a dollar and gotten a ticket, good until 11:38 (not nearly long enough).  She thought that if she bought one more dollar ticket she would be OK.  I explained to her how the cow ate the cabbage and she put in first one dollar and then her second.  And the second wouldn't take, several times.  I took her dollar and turned it around and put it in and it took, and she was on her way after hitting the Green Button one more time and getting her ticket.  One of the men standing there then put in his parking space number and first one dollar and then a second.  His first took and the second would not.  After he made several tries I put in one of my dollars, and it worked.  He hit the Green Button, got his ticket and was on his way.  I put in my spot number and put in two dollar bills, waited, gave up and hit the Green Button and got my ticket.

My mitzvah for the day.

By the way, the machine, which had no ID on it, did not automatically dispense tickets at the two dollar point, as kiosks down town tend to do.  I would therefore judge it broken.

God Rest You, Steve.

Regards  —  Cliff

Hard to Get Respect

For John, BLUFYoung Luke is just 29, so maybe we should cut him some slack.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

So the new US Senator from Iowa is Iowa National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Joni Ernst.  She also happens to be a farmer, raising pigs.  Which leads MSNBC Reporter Luke Russert to tweet the following:
Joni Ernst's meteoric rise continues.  This time last year she was an unknown pig farmer, on Tues she will deliver GOP SOTU response.
If she were a Democrat she would be on her way to being a Presidential Candidate in 2020.  Based on samples from recent history.

Good shooting, Luke.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Denying Healthy Food to Others

For John, BLUFTo what extend should our fears cause others to not benefit from the advances of science?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is an article about how efforts against GMO (Genetically Modified organism) Food are endangering large numbers of people across the globe.  The author of this Scientific American article, by David Ropeik, "Golden Rice Opponents Should Be Held Accountable for Health Problems Linked to Vitamin A Deficiency".
By 2002, Golden Rice was technically ready to go.  Animal testing had found no health risks.  Syngenta, which had figured out how to insert the Vitamin A–producing gene from carrots into rice, had handed all financial interests over to a non-profit organization, so there would be no resistance to the life-saving technology from GMO opponents who resist genetic modification because big biotech companies profit from it.  Except for the regulatory approval process, Golden Rice was ready to start saving millions of lives and preventing tens of millions of cases of blindness in people around the world who suffer from Vitamin A deficiency.
Yes, there it is, in black and white.  Mr Ropeik is saying the tree huggers are taking actions that are allowing millions of humans and suffer and die.  A study he cites claims that "the delayed application of Golden Rice in India alone has cost 1,424,000 life years since 2002."  Yes, life years is a strange metric, but it includes not only the dead, but also those who suffer from blindness and so on.  This is just India.

So, the question is, should those actively opposing GMO be sued for the death and disease they are causing to exist across the planet?  Sort of like we sue oil companies that spill oil into the environment, thus damaging our environment.  What responsibility does Nation of Change bear in this area?

Mr Ropeik seems to be a person who is interested in our perception of risk.  This is an interesting area of study.  My example of trying to understand what A is trying to convey to B is the question of what the President perceives when the National Intelligence Officer for Warning says there is a 50% chance that Iraq will invade Kuwait, which he did, two weeks before the actual invasion.  In that case if was President George H W Bush and Mr Charlie Allen.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Wikiepedia article on Mr Charlie Allen makes he look like a difficult and weird person.  My association with Mr Allen, when he was part of a Joint Staff internal seminar on Warning of War was that he was an articulate and professional and friendly participant.  And, when all of the Intel Community seemed to be saying there would be no war, Mr Allen was on the mark and was on the mark two weeks before the invasion of Kuwait, as he had promised he could and would.

Tracking Snow Plows

For John, BLUFIs there an App for Everything.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Chicago Tribune we have an OK article on tracking snow plowing, by Reporter Jason Keyser, "Snowplow tracking apps hold Chicago, other cities accountable for cleanup".
As another storm flung snow at Chicago, Alexandra Clark wondered how she'd get to work.  Like an increasing number of snowbound city dwellers, she had a ready tool at hand:  an app that tracks hundreds of city snowplows in close to real time.
I wonder if this App reaches to Lowell?

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Lack of Respect

For John, BLUFWell, it wasn't like it was Dr Ben Carson, talking about President Obama.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is some bien-pensant, on MSNBC, talking about Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, saying:
He might be trying to scrub some of the brown off his skin as he runs to the right in a presidential bid
This was Mr Arsalan Iftikhar, founder of, and the MSNBC Host was Mr Alex Wagner.

This apparently was not a particularly interesting or offensive comment to Mr Wagner, as he let it pass.  On the other hand, maybe he was embarrassed by it and just wanted to move on, quickly.

I would have.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Danger in the Baltic States

For John, BLUFYes, peace is not at hand.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From World Affairs Journal we have an article by Ms Elisabeth Braw, "Mysterious Men Linked to Russia Target Lithuanian President".

Russia is conducting a political campaign against Lithuania, one of the Baltic States that the Soviet Union consumed and held on to after World War II, crushing their freedom.

And, from Reuters we have this news item from 15 January, datelined Vilnius, about a Defense Manual from the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense.  The article, by Mr Andrius Sytas, is headlined "Worried about Russia? Lithuania says 'Keep calm and read the war manual'"  The lede and following:

Lithuania is publishing a manual to advise its citizens on how to survive a war on its soil as concerns grow that Russia's intervention in Ukraine heralds increased assertiveness in its tiny Baltic neighbors.

"Keep a sound mind, don't panic and don't lose clear thinking," the manual explains.  "Gunshots just outside your window are not the end of the world."

The manual, which the Defence Ministry will send to libraries next week and also distribute at army events, says Lithuanians should resist foreign occupation with demonstrations and strikes, "or at least doing your job worse than usual".

In the event of invasion, the manual says Lithuanians should organize themselves through Twitter and Facebook and attempt cyber attacks against the enemy.

Lithuania spent much of the last century incorporated in Soviet Union, along with Latvia and Estonia, and upon independence in 1991 quickly sought to join the Western NATO alliance and the European Union.

It is increasingly worried about Russia, not least because of a military drill in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad last month that featured 9,000 soldiers and more than 55 naval vessels.

"The examples of Georgia and Ukraine, which both lost a part of their territory, show us that we cannot rule out a similar kind of situation here, and that we should be ready," Defence Minister Juozas Olekas told Reuters.

So, if you ever wondered about what is happening in the Ukraine and asked yourself the famous question, "What difference, at this point, does it make", the answer is that if Russia can gobble up parts of Ukraine, then President Putin may think that he could take back parts or all of the Baltic States, which the Soviet Union held for decades.

And yes, this could pull in other NATO nations, as an attack on one is an attack on all.  NATO nations?  Like Canada and the US.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, January 19, 2015

Looking For the Root of Freedom

For John, BLUFWe are a God produced people and cannot and should not hide from that fact.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In Commenting on yesterday's edition of Meet the Press, and the interview with Mssr Gerard Biard, the editor in chief of Charlie Hebdo, Professor Althouse catches this point:
We are convinced that religion has no place in the political arena, that once religion injects itself into the political debate, the political debate becomes totalitarian.
Professor Althouse then pivots to Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, and his speech at the Lincoln Memorial and this passage:
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

    Free at last! Free at last!

    Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Then, like a good lawyer, she asks her question:
Could that be translated or even mistranslated into secular language?  That's what Biard wants people to do and insists must be done to avoid totalitarianism.
I am skeptical that it can.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Happy Birthday, Dr King, and thank you for doing the things that merited a holiday in your name.

With Free Speech the Exception is the Problem

For John, BLUFI don't have to hang around you, but I shouldn't murder you, just because you are saying or drawing jerky things.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The New York Post does a much better job of explaining what is needed for free speech than its more staid relative, The New York Times.  Here is Ms Nicole Gelinas, with "Blaming the victim — Charlie Hebdo & free speech".

Here is her "Bottom Line":

The dead cartoonists, in the end, were right.  If you can’t put pen to paper without risking death, you can’t do anything freely.

To make one exception means to make them all.

Now let’s see how many supposed defenders of speech will just stop there . . . instead of adding the “but, but, but” that shows they don’t believe in free expression when it really counts — when people just died for it.

There it is—"To make one exception means to make them all."

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Ms Gelinas is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

New Rules For Gas Pumps

For John, BLUFAnd, that gas is cold in the winter, making the pump handle cold.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the Good News:

Gas pump clips now legal, but may take months to appear

For those of you who have never been outside our Commonwealth, in most of the US when you are pumping gas into your car you can push down a little lever to allow the gas to flow into your tank hands free, until the automatic shutoff valve ends the flow.

This article in last Tuesday's edition of The Boston Globe, by Reporter Jack Newsham, will have me looking for the first gas station to implement this new (new here) improvement.

And, this is a lot safer than someone stuffing something into the handle, because that item may not let the automatic shutoff feature work.  Think gas gushing out of your tank, onto the pad by the gas pump.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Information Control as "Net Neutrality"

For John, BLUFInformation wants to be free.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Boston Globe the Tech Guru, Mr Hiawatha Bray, on Thursday, gave us a heads up about efforts to control the Internet, under the guise of "net neutrality".

The Headline is "Should free data be a crime?"  The sub-headline, "Push for Net neutrality could backfire".

I was so busy hunting down new gadgets at last week’s International CES in Las Vegas that I missed out on the government’s latest bid to “improve” the Internet.

Tom Wheeler, who is chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, dropped by the convention to say the government will soon regulate the Net under a law drafted in the 1930s to oversee telephone companies.

It’s part of the long-running effort to guarantee Net neutrality, the principle that all data on the Internet must be treated exactly alike.

But Net neutrality could kill off a consumer-friendly idea called sponsored data, which is popular in the developing world but is just catching on in the States.

Read the whole thing, it is short.  And it should make you nervous.

Regards  —  Cliff

Demography and Democrats

For John, BLUFWill our all Democrat Delegation cause us long term problems on Capitol Hill?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

At the publication The National Interest is another look at Democrats and demographic changes in these United States, with charts.  The author is Mr Ronald Brownstein and the headline is "Demography Is Not Destiny for Democrats".  The sub-headline is "Redistricting and GOP dominance among white voters have offset the growing racial diversity that was supposed to give Democrats an unbeatable edge."
Growing racial diversity is transforming a lengthening list of congressional districts, but not providing as much political benefit to House Democrats as many in both parties expected only a few years ago, a Next America analysis has found.

Districts high in racial diversity remain the last redoubt for the House Democrats' depleted caucus:  As Next America has reported, almost exactly two-thirds of the 188 Democratic House members in the new Congress represent districts where minorities exceed their national share of the population, 37.6 percent.

But Democrats have clearly failed to squeeze all the possible advantage from growing diversity, particularly as Republicans have consolidated their hold over districts where whites are more plentiful than they are nationally.  While Democrats continue to dominate districts where minorities represent half or more of residents, the GOP remains doggedly competitive in seats where the minority population is either slightly above, or slightly below, its national average.  In fact, in the new Congress, Republicans will hold a majority of the seats in which minorities represent at least 30 percent and no more than 50 percent of the total population.

The tone of this report is against Republicans, but it suggests that the Democrat Party has not found a footing with a large segment of the US Population, except maybe here in Massachusetts.

The other thing is that, unlike what Representative Luis Gutiérrez told us during the debate on the Department of Homeland Security Bill on the House Floor, not every immigrant is in favor of open or semi-open borders, or even ratification of all those who have entered this nation as illegal immigrants.  Those who did it the regular way are not in favor of letting someone come in illegally and then giving them an easy pass to residency, if not citizenship.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, January 16, 2015

Harvard Law School and Evidence

For John, BLUFLaws should be fair to all.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Boston Globe we have an article on another Middlesex County college knuckling under to the US Department of Education, over Title IX issues, in this case sexual assault.  The first embarrassment is that the school ever got in this situation to begin with.  The second is that this college, and its Law School, is willing to throw out constitutional protections to conform with the Department of Education view of equality.  One wonders what the former Harvard Law Review editor would have to say over a cool one.

The headline is "Harvard settles sex assault case".

The University changed its policies after the Federal Department of Education determined the University was not responsive to student complaints.

The US Department of Education announced Tuesday that Harvard Law School had failed to respond properly to two students’ complaints of sexual assault, and violated federal rules governing how sexual harassment and assault complaints are handled.

In response, Harvard agreed to change its policies to bring them in compliance with federal Title IX regulations, which require gender equity at educational institutions that receive federal funding.

The official Harvard response to the Department of Education finding was, in part:
“As the conversation about sexual assault at colleges and universities spread to campuses across the nation, Harvard recognized that, like many peer institutions around the country, we could and should do more,’’ a Harvard statement said.

In July, Harvard announced sweeping changes of its policies for handling reports of sexual assaults and harassment. The university created a centralized office to investigate allegations and adopted rules that would apply across each of its 13 schools to make the system more consistent.

In determining whether sexual assault or harassment occurred, Harvard has adopted a “preponderance of evidence” standard.

There will be law suits to follow, as those accused find that their rights are being ignored.

In the mean time, down at UVA, two fraternities (Alpha Tau Omega and Kappa Alpha) have refused to sign the new Fraternity Operating Agreement, claiming the University violated the old one and now increases risk to fraternities.  Oh, and the University President, Ms Teresa Sullivan, has refused to apologize for previously overreacting to a fake new story out of Rolling Stone over an alleged gang rape at the University.

Regards  —  Cliff

Democrat Downturn

For John, BLUFIn a two-party system there is always a future.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Up here in Massachusetts we would not ask this question—"DOES THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY HAVE A FUTURE?"  But, Mr John Hinderaker does ask that question on Powerline.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Is the T Up To The Olympics?

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

Over at MassterList was this article, which we are all free to publish.

Regards  —  Cliff

It will take more than an Olympic effort to deleverage the T

JANUARY 14, 2015
By George Donnelly

Here’s an interesting coincidence about the Olympic price tag of roughly $4.5 billion: That’s about how much the commonwealth’s public transportation system is in debt. But the T’s $5.4 billion in obligations is a moving target, and really a lowball number. When one factors in interest on the debt (almost $4 billion), repairs from years of deferred maintenance (at least another $2.5 billion), unfunded pension obligations (estimated at $700 million). That’s almost $13 billion, and doesn’t count the extra operational costs that will come with the planned extensions and improvements on the Green Line and the Fairmount Line.

Boston already has won the gold medal for the most indebted public transportation system in the country. As Boston begins to ponder the Olympic dream, one that compels the city to conjure an array of new investments, it already has failed to properly invest in one of the most basic services.

Of course, one of the selling points of the Olympics is to force the region to confront its infrastructure shortcomings. But the T’s woes, even when considering John Fish’s impressive power of persuasion and fund-raising, require far more than Olympian treatment. They require new revenue, and the restructuring of crushing debt.

The T has been trapped in financial quicksand for almost 15 years, burdened with debt and interest payments that eat up over 20 percent of the annual operating budget. It operates deeply in the red, despite significant fare increases over the past few years. Without $100 million-plus subsidies from the state budget every year, the T would have to significantly hike fares and radically reduce service.

One would think that a state with an economy whose future hinges on the brains of young workers who often depend on subways and buses wouldn’t let such a critical economic tool fall into disrepair. The state came to the rescue in 2013 with a transportation financing plan – the 3-cent gas tax increase is mostly paying for it – and fresh money has begun to flow to address some of the T’s pressing maintenance issues and other neglected transportation infrastructure. The state also took on a heap of transportation debt last year. The T, however, can’t afford to pay its share of the repair budget without piling on even more IOUs.

The T has been on the wrong track since 2000, when, tired of runaway costs, the Legislature gave the system a new funding source – 20 percent of the sales tax. It also transferred about $3.3 billion in debt to the T, and the transit authority has since borrowed another $2 billion since for capital improvements. The sales tax failed to grow at the anticipated rate, and has never generated enough revenue to allow the T to balance its books. Thus the T has been running a deficit, still beholden to the Legislature to write it a check. This year that number has been budgeted at $135 million.

The result of the year-to-year tin cup rattling is a massive system that is fraying at the seams, one that is unworthy of Boston and its image of itself as a 21st century city. It’s beyond bizarre to descend into Park Station on a pleasant June evening, only to marinate in temperatures underground in the mid-80s, thick with humidity, as if ventilation had never been invented. Add in sardine-like conditions, commuter rail cars that lack air conditioning in the summer, and the constant screech of ancient steel on ancient steel, and far from appearing primed for 2024, the T looks like it’s trying to escape from the 1970s.

Our public transportation system is the nation’s fifth largest. It serves 1.3 million daily riders with an annual budget of about $1.9 billion (debt service this year will be about $424 million, or 22 percent of the operating budget). A look at the T’s capital improvement plan from 2013 tells a complex story about a large, multifaceted, needy system. It owns about 1,000 buses, 630 subway cars, and 490 commuter rail cars. The plan notes that some of those Green Line cars date back to 1946.

The T has been asked to generate more revenue — fare increases are now limited to 5 percent per year, and you can bet the T won’t miss a chance to raise them. The cost of expanding service, such as the Green Line extension, are being covered by the Feds and the state. But they promise to strain the T’s budget once they’re operational.

The answer is to steadily retire the T’s debt with new, dedicated funds. With gas prices plummeting, perhaps the Legislature could tack another 3 cents on the gas tax that would be dedicated to paying down the T’s debt. No one would notice, right? One way or the other, Boston’s public transportation system must get out of the red and have the resources to begin to think about the future – Olympics or not.

George Donnelly, former editor of the Boston Business Journal, is a regular contributor to MASSterList. Reach him at

Bobby Jindal on Jihad

For John, BLUFI think he would make a fine President.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

One of my progeny sent along this item from The Weekly Standard on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, "Jindal to Bash Hillary's 'Mindless Naiveté' in London Speech—And Declare 'Islam Has a Problem.'"

Republicans have a rich vein of Governors to mine for 2016 and should not even be worrying about looking around the House (or Senate).

Regards  —  Cliff

Demands for EMails—Politics in Academia

For John, BLUFWhatever happened to freedom of privacy?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is an item from the Blog Inside Higher Education.  The item is "Scrutiny of Scholar's Emails", and centers on a funded position at the Lawrence campus of the University of Kansas, funded by the dreaded Koch Brothers.  The author is Ms Kaitlin Mulhere and the dateline is 14 January of this year.

If we are going to release EMails at Universities, I think we should release ALL EMails.  Administrators and Academics alike.  Disrupt all communication.  Maybe prices will come down.  And we will have a better idea of what is going on with regard to Campus Sexual Assault.

Or, we could have some respect for the privacy of others.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Why is it that the Koch Brothers are bad guys, but George Soros isn't?  I am guessing it is because Mr Sores is seen as a progressive.

Justice Kagan on First Amendment

For John, BLUFWhat is OK in Gilbert, Arizona, will be OK in Lowell, once the decision is rendered.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The New York Times talks to us about Associate Justice Elena Kagan and how her writings two decades ago still influence SCOTUS decisions.  The headline is "19 Years Later, Article by Kagan Echoes at the Supreme Court".  The Reporter is Mr Adam Liptak.  From the article:
What is the best way for a scholar to influence the Supreme Court through a law review article? Join the court.

In 1996, a young professor named Elena Kagan published an article in The University of Chicago Law Review.  It sketched a way to make sense of the Supreme Court’s approach to the First Amendment.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. cited the article in his majority opinion in a decision in June that struck down buffer zones for demonstrators around abortion clinics in Massachusetts.

In a case to be argued next week, the Kagan article is featured in four briefs.  Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. cites it twice, and a brief filed by two religious groups devotes four pages to it.

It is about municipal regulation of the size and duration of signs in the community of Gilbert, Arizona.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Clyde Reed, et al., Petitioners v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona, et al.  Actually argued on Monday, 12 January.  Transcript here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Governor Scott Walker Noticed in New York

For John, BLUFWith Rep Paul Ryan having given a definite no, this is the Wisconsin Favorite Son.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the Althouse Blog we have a link to a New York Times story on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as a possible Republican Presidential Candidate in 2016.  Here is what Professor Althouse quoted from the NYT article:
There is no way to know whether Mr. Walker will have the appeal and discipline necessary to win a presidential primary.  But he has won three contested elections in a blue state, even while running and governing as a conservative.  He naturally speaks the language of cultural conservatives, frequently invoking faith and God, which is crucial in the Iowa caucuses.  In 2012, evangelical Christians represented 57 percent of Iowa caucus-goers, according to entrance polls.  It is not at all obvious that Mr. Walker’s Midwestern persona, which may strike some as lacking sizzle, is a negative on the prairies of Iowa.  In the end, Mr. Walker will have to capitalize on his opportunity, and prove as compelling on the campaign trail and in debates as he is on paper.  If he does, he would be a far more serious contender for the presidential nomination than many of the candidates who have received substantially more news media attention over the last few years.
The Professor notes that "The New York Times takes Scott Walker seriously and treats him with respect."  Several Commenters take this as a kiss of death for Governor Walker.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

People Know the Consequences

For John, BLUFFreedom of speech means freedom to be offensive.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I hand it to USA Today, for running an OpEd by Mr Anjem Choudary, in the wake of the Charlie Hobdo killings— "People know the consequences".  And the sub-headline is "Why did France allow the tabloid to provoke Muslims?".
Contrary to popular misconception, Islam does not mean peace but rather means submission to the commands of Allah alone.  Therefore, Muslims do not believe in the concept of freedom of expression, as their speech and actions are determined by divine revelation and not based on people's desires.
That seems pretty straight forward.

And, I am very disappointed in the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and its President and CEO, Mr Bill Donohue, who writes that "Muslims Are Right to be Angry".

If I need a "by your leave" to say something or print something or draw something, I don't have freedom.

Regards  —  Cliff

NYPD Work Slowdown

For John, BLUFI bet that revenue collection is incidental to policing, but a good source of revenue.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This is an issue of Police vs Revenuers.

From The New York Post we have an article on the New York Police Department conducting a work slowdown.  "Arrests plummet 66% with NYPD in virtual work stoppage".  The Reporters are Messrs Larry Celona, Shawn Cohen and Bruce Golding and at the dateline is December 29, 2014 | 11:30pm

It’s not a slowdown — it’s a virtual work stoppage.

NYPD traffic tickets and summonses for minor offenses have dropped off by a staggering 94 percent following the execution of two cops — as officers feel betrayed by the mayor and fear for their safety, The Post has learned.

Here is the question.  Is this a good thing or a bad thing? On the one hand, the con-men playing three card monte and the shell game are already back, taking money from the tourists and the otherwise gullible.  On the other hand, those engaged in reasonable and needed businesses, albeit illegal, are free to ply those trades without police interference. A Commenter on the Althouse Blog, going by the name "Full Moon", notes:
It has helped contribute to a nose dive in low-level policing, with overall arrests down 66 percent for the week starting Dec. 22 compared with the same period in 2013, stats show.
Citations for traffic violations fell by 94 percent, from 10,069 to 587, during that time frame.

Summonses for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination also plunged 94 percent — from 4,831 to 300.

Even parking violations are way down, dropping by 92 percent, from 14,699 to 1,241.

At a hundred dollar fine per offense, looks like almost 2,800,00 lost revenue so far.
So, is this about policing or about government revenue?

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Prof Says OK to Hate Republicans

For John, BLUFIt's not OK to hate anyone.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This is old news, but it is fun news.  This is about a University of Michigan Department Chair having a meltdown.  "U Michigan Department Chair:  We Should ‘Hate Republicans’".  And, of course, she has science to back it up.  "A professor explains that studies show the GOP is bad."

The item, in National Review, is by Reporter Katherine Timpf.  The lede and next two paragraphs:

A University of Michigan department chairwoman has published an article titled, “It’s Okay To Hate Republicans,” which will probably make all of her conservative students feel really comfortable and totally certain that they’re being graded fairly.

“I hate Republicans,” communications department chairwoman and professor Susan J. Douglas boldly declares in the opening of the piece. “I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal ‘personhood.’”

She writes that although the fact that her “tendency is to blame the Republicans . . . may seem biased,” historical and psychological research back her up, and so it’s basically actually a fact that Republicans are bad!

One wonders if, had the Republicans come up with Eugenics and birth control, Professor Douglas might not be on the side of Susan B Anthony, against abortion.  And for some version of "fetal personhood".

In fact, "fetal personhood" is an interesting subject.  If you are Princeton Professor Peter Singer, you believe the recently born human child has less right to life than a new pony, which can make its way in the world within hours of being born, while the human child takes much longer to even avail himself or herself of nursing without the Mother directly and physically making it happen.  I wonder if Professor Douglas thinks that a bit extreme?  What about if the Mother wants an abortion and it turns out to be a live birth?  Should the child be allowed to die, exposed on some tray in the room?  Is there no personhood there since the Mother does not agree to it?

Then we get into the whole question of personhood for the fetus.  Informed by my religion I think it is from conception.  Informed by my youngest grandchild, now two, but born after 22 months of gestation, I experientially believe it comes pretty early (normal gestation is 38 weeks).  On the other hand, your view may differ.

We need a better conversation on this issue, one that will find the political compromise that provides something for everyone.  One that avoids people "hating on" each other.  I would suggest that the present polling data suggests a reasonable compromise.  Upwards toward 80% of the American People believe abortion should be available.  And, upwards toward 80% of the American People believe abortion is wrong.  From a political point of view, let us agree that "fetal personhood" begins at the beginning of the third trimester.  Those with strong views can still say it is wrong (either way), but we will have a working definition that the rest of the people can point to.

If you ask me I will tell you where I think the mark should be, but we can stop litigating this issue and move it into peaceful demonstrations and town meetings with our US Rep and Senators.

In the mean time, I don't hate Professor Douglas.  I would even be willing to take a class from her, but then I already have a degree and I would just be taking for the fun of it.

Regards  —  Cliff

UK Physicians to Report Weight Gain to Gov't

For John, BLUFIt goes in your permanent record.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Maggie's Farm we have a quick review of the new UK policy for the National Health System—Physicians told to report when patients gain weight.

You do understand it is for your own good, don't you?

Regards  —  Cliff

We Will Defend You, Really

For John, BLUFWe have a lot of treaty commitments out there.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Professor Stephen Walt writes in Foreign Policy about the question of The Credibility Addiction.  Professor Walt, at Harvard, is a somewhat controversial commenter.  His article has as a sub-headline "The United States can’t stop fighting other countries’ wars — and its allies are acting like enablers."

Do we have to fight so that our friends and enemies will know that we will fight in the future?

How does Japan know that they can count on us, on our nuclear umbrella, so they don't have to have their own nuclear deterrent?  Because we back up our treat obligations with military force?  So what should we do?

Regards  —  Cliff

This Week's Cover

For John, BLUFWhere to draw the line in news?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the next cover for Charlie Hebdo.

The link is from this blog post at Althouse.  Plus this:

You'll have to look elsewhere for an image of that cover, of course.  The NYT has decided not to show cartoons depicting Muhammad:
I didn't post the cover because I don't have a copyright release.  The Old Gray Lady didn't publish it for fear of offending some of its readership.  From an interview with the New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet by the paper's "Public Editor" (Ombudsman), Margaret Sullivan:
“We have a standard that is long held and that serves us well: that there is a line between gratuitous insult and satire.  Most of these are gratuitous insult.”

“At what point does news value override our standards?”  Mr. Baquet asked.  “You would have to show the most incendiary images” from the newspaper; and that was something he deemed unacceptable.

It makes some sense in that their motto is "All the news that's fit to print".  If those cartoons are judged gratuitous, then they are not fit to print.  If they are not fit to print, are they fit to be talked about?  On the other hand, what happened to "All" the news?

From the comments at the Althouse Blog, "MayBee" says:

If the NYT would just be honest and say they are afraid of being killed, so they won't publish the cartoons, I could handle that.
And, one wonders what is not being reported out of nKorea, Iran, Cuba, etc, due to concerns about offending this or that person.

UPDATE:  Even Ms Amy Goodman, on Democracy Now, flashed up the cover on this morning's show.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Then she raised the issue of no explanation as to why US Attorney General Eric Holder didn't attend the Sunday Rally in Paris.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Stress Reduction

For John, BLUFI wonder if it applies to text messages?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In The New York Times is a short OpEd about reducing stress by checking EMail less frequently.  That does not mean not checking this blog several times a day, even when I am only posting once or twice.  You never know.

Regards  —  Cliff

Not What Was Expected

For John, BLUFWell, sarcasm, anyway.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Someone is trying to maintain some sense of perspective over the killing of the killers of cartoonists.

Here is a cartoon offering from Foreign Policy.  It is titled "72 Virgins and a Five Panel Cartoon".  The tag line is "This paradise isn't quite what the Kouachi brothers expected."

Regards  —  Cliff

To Attend or To Not Attend?

For John, BLUFPeople notice when the US doesn't show.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The headline from yesterday's edition of The Wall Street Journal:
Obama won’t attend France peace rally
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Mahmud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority attended.

The article lists the main attendees, from Albania (Prime Minister Edi Rama) to NATO (Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg).  US Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris, but did not participate in the March.  Our Ambassador did.

There has been some back and forth on this.  Did we do what we should have or did we fail to do our duty in solidarity with our French Brothers and Sisters.

America's Response to Paris March free polls

Sadly, this time, we cannot declare, "Lafayette, we are here!".

Regards  —  Cliff

  Attributed to General Pershing, 1917, upon his arrival in France to lead the US effort in World War I.